If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either. Joseph Wood Krutch

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Talking Trash

In the morning you stumble out of bed, grab a banana off the table, spill a little cereal in the bowl, slice the banana into the cereal and then pour a little milk over the top. The banana peel gets dumped into the trash can, the empty cereal box and inside bag goes there too. As luck would have it the milk carton is also empty so you dump that in the trash as well. Time for the morning paper as you grab your bowl, wander to the table and, eyes not quite open, sit down.

Leaning back slightly you read the morning headline--"Sending trash across the state may be pricey". Oooo...sounds expensive. You read on scanning through the text. Ten million dollars EVERY YEAR--570,000 tons of garbage--burial in the desert, 137 miles away--70 diesel belching trucks every day--trucks traveling 274 miles round trip just to haul garbage. Could this really be?

Garbage, it seems, is better off in a dry climate. I assume it decays better. But 570,000 tons? That is 1,140,000,000 pounds of garbage yearly. Oh wait, let me make that easier. That is ONE BILLION, ONE-HUNDRED-FORTY MILLION pounds of garbage yearly or three-million-one hundred twenty-three thousand-two-hundred and eighty-seven pounds of garbage EVERY DAY. Holy Toledo, that's a lot of weight!

It all starts with us...err I mean me. We, I mean I, put the stuff in the can and dump it without a single thought. Well, actually I do give it a though now after reading "Garbage Land; On the Secret Trail of Trash" but most don't. Just drop it in the can...not my problem now. Every item we, I mean I, drop in the trash can uses petroleum. Not just in the manufacture but also in the disposal. Imagine if this option were not available and I had to start burying all the stuff I throw away in my backyard. For sure I might just get a little embarrassed. Not to mention the complaints from the neighbors. Not a good option.

We, as a society, have learned to avoid embarrassment by paying someone to take our trash away. It's a lucrative business for the trash company. we pay them millions of dollars every year to take our trash out and hide it in the desert. This way we don't even have to think about it. It is just nice little plastic bundles given up for burial without last rites or eulogy and then simply forgotten.

We ourselves can go from dust to dust but much of our garbage cannot. It goes from plastic to plastic and stays that way for centuries, possibly forever. Even paper, when layered and not exposed to the air, lasts for hundreds,or possibly thousands, of years. If this world lasts long enough we will have left enough trash behind to keep an archaeology team busy and snickering at our piggish folly for a very long time. Ummm..the current system is not sustainable so eventually we will have to figure out a different way. But don't worry that will probably be after we have all have been disposed of ourselves...hopefully with a little more reverence than the trash we left behind.

So what should we do with our trash? Well, the first thing to do is think about trash before it becomes trash. Don't buy as much. Refuse to buy things in containers that cannot be reused or recycled. AVOID PLASTIC. Buy bulk as much as possible. If your store does not have a bulk aisle then switch stores and tell the manager why you left. If there are no bulk stores in your neighborhood then start a co-op. Use reusable bags and containers rather than plastic bags as often as you can. Recycle everything you can...everything! About 80% of what we currently use in our household is recyclable and we sort and haul it away to the proper bins. Be conscious of reducing, reusing and recycling. Start a compost or worm bin. Quit buying so much stuff. I know, I know...its hard to do in our consumerist society.

I won't go into the details about my own trash here because I have covered that in previous blogs but I know I still have a long way to go. My goal is to be as close to zero garbage as possible. I have failed that goal in many regards simply because I haven't been conscious. If I keep my mind on garbage and put pressure on the manufacturers to think this way too I can personally help to make garbage less of an issue, financially and otherwise. I must say the numbers I quoted above came from my hometown paper and shocked me a bit. It actually left me feeling a little soiled because I know I am part of the problem. I even used to own a bunch of stock in Waste Management and rooted for all those tossing their trash because it made the company more profitable. Now I am working toward being a part of the solution by Reducing what I buy, Reusing what I can, and Recycling what I can't. It's a simple statement but agreeably it is very difficult to fully implement. But it makes you feel good when you deposit very little trash in the can or dumpster. Try it...you'll like it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Well, our vacation is finally here. And this year it is going to be much more relaxing and slower paced. And that is not just because I am getting old. I can still keep up with the young guys. I just don't want to anymore.

Our normal vacation usually begins with a long list of things to pack, followed by days of packing, repacking, adding and eliminating, then finally bundling it all up, putting it by the front door, rechecking to make sure we have everything, worry a little that we forgot something, and then on the day before leaving retire to bed late for the long travel day ahead.

The morning we leave,in order to avoid the exorbitant parking fees at the airport, we usually drag all of our stuff to the corner and wait for a bus. The bus then takes us to the light rail, which takes us to the airport where we ride the escalator, walk down a super long corridor,find a check-in line, check the bags and then deliver them to a gruff TSA person who sizes up whether our bags should get the mini-nuke treatment or the full service. We then wander off to wait, have our socks sniffed and our carrion checked by the vultures at the security checkpoint and if we are lucky we won't have to strip to our altogether in the little booth while the dentist wannabe checks our cavities. (I've been lucky so far and have only had the mini-nuke treatment and never the full service.)

Once through security we relax a bit and would not even consider leaving back to the real world again. The airport people make this easy since the corridors are lined with shops and restaurants galore. They are all overpriced and lousy but hey, what else is there to do except watch a bunch of tired people. I think it is important to mention here that to have a proper vacation one must first suffer. This is the reason vacation sentences must be served a long way from home. The further the better.

Watching people at the airport gets boring fast because no one is really themselves. If you act normal at an airport you might draw the attention of someone important and then you would need to explain why you stopped looking at your carrion for a few seconds and answer questions about people you don't know. This is why we usually make the cursory wander through the magazine shop to pick up the latest copy of AdBusters and then settle into a seat at the gate and quietly wait, peering above the magazine from time to time and take sucks off our $2.99 bottle of water. When the plane arrives we watch all the people get off to see if they are still breathing or look particularly nauseous. I also try to check out the flight crew to see if they actually look old enough to fly, or conversely...are they over the hill and should I bone up on my CPR skills.

Anyhow, we always buy the cheap tickets so we end up watching everyone else get on before us. When we are finally able to shuffle down the jetway, we try to smile innocently at the flight attendant who is smiling back but really just wondering if we have any contraband shampoo or creme rinse in our carrion. We slide down the aisle to find our seats and hope this time we are not next to someone with flatulence or wearing cheap perfume. We fit ourselves into our seats, properly stow our knees under our chins and then triple check to make sure the tray table is in the upright position. We don't want problems with he flight attendant. We must rely on her for the next few hours for our food and drink. Then we watch the flight attendant give a five minute speech on the proper clicking of seat belts, how to breath through a tube should one side or the other of the plane disappear at 35,000 feet and the proper method of flotation on a seat cushion. I believe you are supposed to throw your arms over the top and look skyward. Have you ever heard of a person being rescued in a plane crash that was floating on their seat cushion in some lake somewhere? We feign attention to the speech but since it is a rerun, we just get out our neck pillows and brace ourselves firmly in the reading position for the long three hours of sitting perfectly still while holding out hope our legs don't thrombose before the plane touches down. I don't want some doc on vacation removing a clot from my leg with a ball point pen at 35,000 feet, do you? I didn't think so. This is fun!

After reaching our destination, the process works exactly in reverse with the exception that the TSA vultures no longer consider us dead meat and pretty much ignore us unless we running through the airport talking about how great the jihad convention was. Once we finally arrive at our room, we flip on the TV and fall asleep weary from the first long day of our vacation. Tomorrow we attack our vacation with all we have left.

I think I have pretty much had it with that type of vacation. This year we are vacationing much closer to home and using our own vehicle. No stress, just a leisurely drive east of the mountains where we can hide from the rain, do a little walking, ride a horse, raft a river,get some rest, read a few books and probably watch a few videos. Carbon footprint for this vacation, about 20 gallons of gas and the same amount of electricity we would use at home. Expenditure for the jet vacation. TONS of fuel. Literally! There is also rumor that jets flying in the upper atmosphere are having an egg beater effect and affecting weather patterns. Who knows what the outcome of that is.

Anyway, I won't be writing any posts over the next week or so, but I don't think too many people are reading my blog yet anyhow. As soon as I can figure out a good hook like "No Impact Man" who has given up toilet paper I should garner a lot more attention. Until then, I am happy just to write to myself and pretend.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ecological Dieting

My wife and I have been in two major car crashes in our life, one from the front and one from the back and this has left us with many aches and pains we would not normally have. The first accident left both of us with some residual back troubles and the second accident hobbled me with a double compound leg fracture and fractured my wife's skull. I was in a cast and brace for about a year and then followed that up by five years of self therapy. She was fairly debilitated for a number of years. It was a long road back and an Andy Warhol moment as we made the front page of the paper. I could have forgone the fame.

When you experience this type of physical trauma you never really do get fully back to "normal". The reminders of the accidents exist in your tissues and heat and ice become very good friends since they help ease many of these discomforts. I have just a few visible scars left but I have quite a bit of unseen scar tissue in my back and leg. Also since one leg is just slightly shorter than the other it messes with my hips a bit and throws off my gait. My wifes injuries are mostly invisible but they cause her chronic pain every day. There is no therapy that fixes scar tissue. It is just a residual agony that must be dealt with. (Here is where you sigh and offer meaningful sympathies in our direction before resuming your normal life. But please, no cards unless they contain money.) I have mostly recovered from my injuries and I am still able to walk, hike, backpack and ride a bike so I have no real complaints. My wife is less fortunate in this regard but she does mostly OK despite having quite a bit of pain still.

Why do I ramble on here about our accidents you are probably asking by now? What does this have to do with ecological dieting? Well, I enjoy walking and right now I try to walk about six miles every day. I am fortunate to live next to a Nature Park that has miles of wooded trails since the air is filled with scents and the sound of birds, there are ponds, creeks, snakes and even poisonous newts and it makes for a great place to walk. Anyhow, as I was out walking yesterday and thinking about all this ecology stuff I suddenly realized that what we have now in America are a bunch of good intentioned people putting themselves on an unsustainable ecological diet. Just like America is getting fatter while at the same time dieting like crazy we are now looking for the Atkins South Beach Zone Deprivation diet for planet earth. We think if we just eliminate this, add that, then boom...the ecological impact will magically drift away, bluebirds will sing, and the earth will be forever saved. Wrong! Deprivation never works. The unaltered human psyche simply catalogs our deprivations and then nags at us until we finally give in and pig out to reward ourselves for our earlier deprivation. (Citation: Human Nature 101)

I was a teen in the 70's and watched the wholesale development of an earth movement sprout into something great. But then over the next few decades the same exact people lost the vision and turned into rampant consumers. For all the weirdness of the hippie movement there was a lot of good that came from the "back to the earth" movement side of it. Not all lost the dream, but it seems most did. Some of us are coming back to the dream. ( OK, I wasn't a real hippie, but I shared in the dream and loved Carole King.)

We can try to adapt our current lifestyle to one that is more green but really the only true answer is to seek contentment without over-indulgence. We need to find what things we actually need and what are the things we just want but don't really need. Keep the needs, whatever they are, and get rid of the wants. It is not the same for everyone. A lot of it has to do with where you live. For example, if you live in an apartment it is just not practical that you are going to be able to start a worm bin, have a solar shower and grow an organic garden. It is not practical or financially feasible for everyone to move to God's green acre and live off the land. However if this is what you really want; worms, solar heated water and organic gooseberries; then by all means find a new place to live and go for it. But simplicity and proper earth stewardship can take place nearly anywhere.

But back to my original topic about the accidents. When I start talking about reducing our consumption my wife often says,"I couldn't get through the day without my morning warm shower". Here, here, I completely understand what she is saying and agree with her. In the first accident we were rammed in the back at about 45 milers per hour by an old fart that should not have even been driving. He was on some sort of medication that put him in a different realm than his automobile was in. He rocketed us through the intersection from a dead stop and as a result we both suffered equivalent and substantial back injuries that left us in pain for quite a number of months. It also left both of us with some residual back troubles. Scar tissue is abiding. That warm shower in the morning sure helps work out the kinks that develop overnight. So when I start talking about limiting our consumption to a few measly gallons of water per day I must decide if that will really work for us. How else could we erase the stiffness without a shower and the occasional soak. Is that a want or is that a need? It's a good question. I am not fortunate enough to have a hot spring in my backyard so if I want hot water I have to produce it myself and that takes resources. Plus, if I abandoned my fridge as well, as some suggest I should do, I would no longer have a freezer compartment with its stack of ice packs. Then my and my wifes life would dissolve into pain. Truthfully, it probably wouldn't be totally debilitating but life would become a drag and the chronic pain caused by chronic inflammation due to scar tissue would begin to take over our minds. Probably make us depressed. That would definitely limit our capabilities and we would become less productive in other ways...such as starting a garden, avid recycling, walking or riding a bike.

When I examine human history, to the best of my availability, I do not discover that we were dropped here from somewhere else and are aliens upon the land. We live here too! We are allowed to leave a footprint. What it really comes down to is, how big of a footprint can I leave before I am no longer a man but a pig? (My apologies to all things porcine, it's just an analogy.)

I read other blogs by those who are trying to "reduce, reuse and recycle". I admire anyone that moves in this direction and support their decision. It's a tough change to make. I too was once a gluttonous consumer pig stocking my larders with things I really don't need and woke up one day to my folly. (OK, I still have a bit of folly in me but I'm getting better) But I also see people anguishing over how they are going to survive without things like hot water. Forget the anguish. If you need a little hot water, then by gum, use a little hot water. The idea is to move to a simpler life and not just go on a complex ecological diet.

Dieting doesn't work and never will. It doesn't matter if it is a food diet or an ecological diet. If becoming green means becoming guilt-ridden and enduring self-flogging hardship, it is not worth it and it will never work. You will just give up and go back to your old gluttonous consumerist ways. True change only comes from finding a new satisfaction and changing inside. Only when something has become truly unnecessary will it truly be gone from your life. So if you want to really be green, then the only way to get there is to learn to be simple. That might still mean some abrupt changes but they should be positive changes that make life simpler and more worth living and not things that bring about deprivation.

Several years ago I switched nearly cold tofu to eating a completely plant based diet. I did it for me. My concern at the time was not the planet or the animals, (although later I did incorporate these concerns in my decision), I did it because I was selfish. My father died at age sixty from a life of eating bad and I did not want that for myself. When I reached middle age and realized I was pushing two hundred pounds on my fairly small frame and saw my blood pressure begin the inevitable climb I started seeking answers. Over a period of about two years I went from being a junk food junkie to a very healthy whole grain, low fat plant based way of eating. I am happy with the food I eat, and I am completely satisfied and free of cravings for junk. But I made the change for me. It made my body healthier, meals are a snap to put together and I know I won't keel over and die in a Mexican restaurant with a mouthful of fatty food like my father did. Had I made this switch simply because I worried about the planet or the animals, but inside still desired the junk food or big juicy steak, my change would fail me and I would eventually go back to eating the old way. I've watched it happen over and over with people I know. We must first admit to ourselves that we are selfish creatures and then realize true change will only come from a true change of heart and desire for our own good...but never from self-sacrifice.

Whoa, this is getting heavy now. That's too deep for me. This is a blog not a philosophy class. OK, so here is the point I am really making without delving into religion. "Happy is he who does not condemn himself in that thing which he allows." That is what Paul the apostle wrote to the Romans when they questioned him about unclean things. If you want to save the animals and the planet, GREAT!, but you have to start with the man in the mirror and change you first. But not through deprivation. If you start with turning off the electricity, running a hose to the roof to collect hot water from the sun, fill your basement with worms to digest your garbage and then convert your one-acre yard to an organic garden you will most likely fail. If life is just a series of chores to save the world you will most likely lose heart. (You could try saving the cheerleafer first but I think that only works on TV.)

From my experience it has taken years to reach where I am now, consumer wise. I am probably not that far along compared to others but I am happy for the moment where I am. I have drastically reduced my driving, I recycle like crazy, I eat plant-based organic, I buy less junk and now I am working on eating locally. I also am trying to reduce my stuff. I have lots of junk and I am trying to end my attachments. Stuff lock I think it is called. That's a pretty full plate for now. I am concerned about the planet but, to be honest, I am more concerned about the stress my stuff brings me right now. I have a desire within me to move to a simpler life. One step at a time I am getting there. But I honestly think a warm shower and an occasional soak in a warm tub will be a part of that simple life. I'll let everyone else feel guilty for me and then won't give it a second thought.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If you wander around long enough you can usually find a garbage can, probably one that is stuffed and overflowing, emblazoned with the slogan "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". I think this slogan was developed in the 70"s and actually meant something back then. Now it is just a conscience buster. It is OK to load up the can as long as you read the slogan and promise next time to try and reuse something. But I really got to thinking about this slogan again. This really is the order we should think about things in.

Reduce--This is probably my biggest goal. I have cut back considerably but recently signed up for the Yahoo Group Riot for Austerity, 90% Emissions Reduction Project and apparently have a long way to go. I'm not sure what they propose is readily possible for a city or burb dweller. This group has the simple goal to reduce what we use by 90%. Here are the austere goals they have in mind to save the planet followed by my own comments.

  • 50 gallons per PERSON, per YEAR
It is my goal to "Divorce my Car" and move closer to where I shop. work etc. but right now that is an impossibility. When I am finally able to accomplish this, I will have met this goal. At least directly. Must not forget that every single thing we buy leaves a fuel footprint as well. We often think this stuff grows like mushrooms in the stores. No...it is trucked in.


  • 1,100 kWh per HOUSEHOLD, per YEAR
To be honest this one is a little difficult to figure out for the average Joe like me. I need to get out my bill and see what I am using now. Living in an apartment I also don't think they would take kindly to me punching a chimney through the wall and putting a wood stove in the corner. So...this may be unrealistic at the time. At least in the winter. However, we have stopped turning the heat on at every slight chill in the air and wear sweatshirts a lot more. We also have a good supply of blankets in the living area and use them quite often. Nothing like cozying up under the blankets too for a little book reading before bed. There are also other ways to stay warm but this is a family blog.

Heating and cooking energy:

  • If your home uses propane or natural gas, 100 therms per HOUSEHOLD, per YEAR
  • If your home uses heating oil, 75 gallons per HOUSEHOLD, per YEAR.
  • If your home uses locally and sustainably harvested wood: Unlimited
  • If your home uses unsustainably harvested wood, 5 cords per HOUSEHOLD, per YEAR
Everything in my home is electric. Everything! Hey, it's the Northwest and we are proud of those fish kills we have labeled hydroelectric dams. Except all that power runs off to California now to run the AC instead of sticking closer to home. Which brings me to a good point. Why would anyone need AC here in the Northwest. We see what, two 100 degree days per year. Give me a break. Even if my apartment had it I wouldn't turn it on. But yet I see AC compressors all over the place. And AC uses a lot of energy. On the really hot days why not just turn on the fans and pretend it is a vacation in the desert for a couple of days. How did we all become such wimps?


  • 0.45 pounds of garbage per PERSON, per DAY
Wow, I guess I will have to weigh my garbage now. We take about one bag a week to the dumpster and so I think we might be getting close to this one but I really have no idea. I buy all I can in bulk and we eat strictly plant-based so most of the stuff leaving in the trash can is biodegradable anyhow. I realize that is not necessarily good for the landfill and am looking for a place to take it for composting. I have no real backyard that is mine for a bin and my wife hates worms so an inside worm bin is currently out of the question. Rumor has it that the county is going to start a composting drop and when they do I will be first in line. We create a lot of compost and I really hate to see it go to waste. If we can find a place with a backyard then I will start a composting bin. Hopefully that will be soon.

I should mention that it is only because landfills are essentially buried and sealed off from the air that biodegradable waste is an issue. It is my understanding this actually converts the decay into a greenhouse gas. and if the dumps were open air then the stuff would just rot on its own and not be an issue. However the volume of garbage we piggish Americans produce every day is more than can be left in the open. We actually truck and barge the stuff around looking for a place to put it. Read "Garbage Land." It is a real eye opener.


  • 10 gallons per PERSON, per DAY
I guess I will have to stop showering and flushing the toilet. How do I meet this rule in an apartment? I don't think it is possible. They suggest buckets of sawdust instead of using the toilet but what do I do with it then? Throw it out the back door? This is an impossible goal for an apartment dweller I think.

Consumer goods:

  • $1,000 worth per HOUSEHOLD, per YEAR.
  • Used goods count only ten percent of their purchase price (so you could buy $10,000 of used stuff).
  • Used goods that were donated to Goodwill or the church rummage sale, etc, can be bought in unlimited amounts (since might otherwise just end up in landfill).
OK, this is one that I may be able to manage easily since I am basically broke anyway. And I actually do love shopping at Goodwill type places. There are some real treasures to be had if you look. We live in a disposable nation and it is amazing what people give and throw away. I recently discovered that if you need furniture just wander around the dumpster areas of apartment complexes. People throw perfectly good stuff away every day when they move. Actually, I worked in an apartment complex years ago and some people would leave out the front door and never look back. Leaving behind literally everything. Clothes, furniture, shoes, refrigerators full of food. Amazing.


  • No less than 70% of food purchases should be organic and be grown within 100 miles.
  • No more than 25% of food purchases should be bulk, dry goods (flour, pasta, etc) from more than 100 miles away.
  • No more than 5% of food purchases should be wet goods (meat, fruit, shampoo) from more than 100 miles away.
This is a goal we are moving toward. We buy about 95% organic now and are working on the "local" part. One of our goals this year is to buy as much as possible at the farmers market. That should solve the "within 100 miles" conundrum, at least in the growing season. When shopping at the grocery store I try to buy as much as possible from Washington and Oregon growers but winter usually gets a little lean in the local department. I am much more conscious of the ramifications of buying lettuce from Mexico now. That is a lot of fuel spent for my salad. Certainly we can grow enough lettuce locally to sustain us. Once I move I will start a garden and produce as much of what we eat as possible. I think we meet the 25% and 5% goal mentioned already.

Mind you now, we all must meet these goals, every single person on the planet, to stop our self-destruction. I assure you most in developed nations are not that motivated. I do fear though that nature is much stronger than any of us, and always seeks a balance to force sustainability. We have mickey moused around with nature so much, eventually it is going to strike back. And then, we will have no choice but to make these changes. Forget the Alamo. we should all remember the dust bowl of Oklahoma and the potato famine of Ireland instead.

Reuse-This is a difficult one. Most of the crap we have now is not made to be fixed. For example, I have a small appliances I use daily to grind flax etc. The only parts that are sturdy are the contact parts. The rest is cheap plastic and over time that plastic is cracking, simply from age and vibration. When it finally cracks all the way the motor will be out of line with the shaft and that will cause it to wear out. Can I fix it? Well, if there were a place to buy parts I guess I could. But, there is no place to buy parts. When I was a kid there were small appliance repair shops, but not anymore. Now we just throw it away and buy another cheap one. Even the computer that sits on my desk that I use for writing this blog is mostly disposable. Hard drive crashed? Buy another one. CD not working, buy another one. No one fixes these things and then puts them back in. You just pop down to CompUSA and buy it again. Convenient, yes but right? Not really.

Recycle-Ah, I love this one. I have become really good at recycling. I have stuff stacked all over which I run to the recycling places on a regular basis. Most of my garbage gets recycled. Any batteries I use get recycled. Anything I can recycle gets recycled. I have become very aware.

This fall I am planning on completing the Master Recycler" program. Why? Because this is the jumping off place into awareness. If you can make people aware of complete recycling you can get them thinking about reducing and reusing too. I'm not talking about the yellow curbside box recycling. That in some ways is a cop out. I mean thinking about everything that can be recycled. Batteries, compost, clothing, old electronics, etc. Things that are not necessarily picked up at the curb but can still be recycled with just a little effort. If you can keep it out of the landfill, then do! It is much easier than one thinks. It just takes a little practice and it becomes second nature. So much so that when my wife and I attended a Sustainability Fair and were handed a sample in a plastic bottle we could not bring ourselves to throw it away in the trash. And guess what? The Sustainability Fair had no recycle bins. We both found that very weird.

Well, I have really rambled on this time. Check out the 90% project. I'm not sure it is attainable for everyone living in the middle of the burbs but it has some worthwhile goals to strive for. The link is over there to your right.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Harping on Junk Mail

Ok, well I really hate to keep going on about the junk mail but I just got through sorting through the mail from the last few days and out of a stack about four inches high, I saved one piece of paper, a reimbursement check stub. That was it! The rest went in the recycle bin. Let's see, a major political party, to which I do not belong, was asking for money. Ummm... you said once you got a majority things would be different, they weren't. Send you money. I don't think so! A big cat rescue facility wrote to tell me about their new enclosure...and ask for money. There was a newspaper stuffed with coupons for places I'll never visit trying to get a bit of my money. A dragon wanted to take over my computer and talk with me while it typed. As long as I sent in just $99.00. Tried that once. The dragon was a lousy typist. I think I might have the disc in a drawer somewhere still. Someday maybe it will help scare some birds in the garden or something. Smithsonian wanted me to renew my subscription early. It's up in October. It stated it was an "urgent request" . My how time flies. Performance Bike, which really is a great store, sent me no less than three thick fliers this last week about their perpetual sale. They do have great prices but have not responded in any way to my request to turn off the paper and just send me e-mails. I don't shop there much anymore. There were a few phony magazines touting some get-rich-quick stocks, vending machines and real estate. Do these things really work? Do some people think these are real magazines and pore over them with breakfast then rush out to buy the recommended stock or flip a house? They smack of phony. Or am I just cynical? They certainly are glossy and expensive no less so they must work.

Well...I probably won't post much more on the junk mail thing. I have probably outdone it already.

This week my car is in the shop. I'm trying to pretend I miss it. I really don't. I think the last time I was thoroughly excited about driving was in high school. After that it just became part of life and lately I just hate driving. Is that part of getting old? No, probably not. I see enough old farts on the road that seem to love driving to the store and back while pretending they still see and hear fine. Anyway, my only transportation right now is an old mini-bus I bought off e-bay from a school district. It gets horrendous MPG but runs fine. I used it when I was remodeling a house because I got tired of hauling cement in my trunk and wondering if the shocks would burst. I've driven it 72 miles in the last four months so you can see it gets lots of use now. I think it gets lonely at the curb and seems to be growing a wonderful green patina around the edges. It is for sale. The first twelve hundred bucks drives it way. It's worth every penny if you need something big and spacious. It still has half the seats remaining.

Well, that is enough of a post for today. I see it is 10:00. That's when the mail comes. I wonder what is in it today. Goody.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Long Time

Well, it has indeed been a long time since I have posted. What a backslider I have become. Shame on me. First it was work then it was other excuses. None of them good. I sort of forgot about weighing my mail and all too. I do seem to be getting just as much as before though. Even though I have called tons of mailers and told them to turn it off. They don't turn it off even when you ask them. I think the system is on auto-pilot and is out of their control. I even posted my name and address with the Direct Mail Marketing Association and paid my few bucks to get off the list. Didn't help yet. I'm still hauling tubs of the stuff to the recycle. The odd thing is that a good percentage of the junk mail are pleas to "help save the earth, animals, air, water, trees, mountains, valleys, people.... Kind of defeating the purpose if you ask me. Why don't they get out in the streets and beg for money if they really want to save the earth. Or how about hauling people out to the woods en masse, and let them see what the beauty of nature is really like...then hit them up for the money to save it. I guess that would use a little fuel at first but it might get people to thinking more than a piece of junk mail printed with soy ink.

I am happy to report though that my automobile fuel bill is still declining rapidly and is now only about 2/3 of what it was before. My goal is to eventually only use flex and rental cars but the wife has not reached my level of fanaticism yet so... This month brings a small vacation though so it will go up a little, but we are staying close to home and not flying so the actual amount of fuel used will be considerably less than other vacations months when you eliminate the jet fuel we would have consumed. We are also committed to making this a relaxing vacation and not drive all over kingdom come to "have fun" like we normally do. I do love a road trip and usually log thousands of miles. Not this time. Only about 400 total for the whole trip, including side ventures. Even the rafting trip we have planned is via bus and the car will just stay parked. I have also mapped out some of the things we want to see and plan to group them together by locale. Most of all I am looking forward to the sun. Bring it on.

I have just started a wonderful book called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. It is the true story of how they moved from the deserts of New Mexico with it's water that would kill goldfish to live as close to the land as they could. She talks about raising animals for food which does not fit my plant-based lifestyle but any move away from factory farming is a plus. Ultimately my desire is to do much the same without raising livestock. However living in Oregon I don't have to move far to accomplish it. Just need a little more space to put out some small raised gardens. Maybe a small glass enclosure or two for a winter garden.
Well, I hope to get back to posting every day. I haven't given up on my efforts. Have gotten a few dirty looks at the grocery store when I used my cloth produce bags, rather than the see-through plastic bags. Really, is it that much more work to open the bag and look inside? Oh well, I still plan to use them. It has really drastically reduced the amount of plastic I haul to the recycle.

I have been keeping close tabs on the "No Impact Man" project and Colin is now facing many of the grey conundrums that appear whenever you try to reduce your impact in this modern world. It is simply impossible to move to a no impact life in a mid town apartment. The biggest being refrigeration and, when winter returns, heat. Most likely if the temperature hits 100 degrees in August they will be driven from their air-conditionless walk up. We humans are a bit like lizards and need just the right temperature to survive. Other societies that live closer to nature do not insist on living in tight gypsum boxes and therefore don't need to worry about this. We as Americans have our codes and rules that drive us away from each other and into our cubicles. Wait, isn't that the first terror in nearly every sci-fi novel? The isolation?

Perhaps when the last drop of oil runs through the veins of our modern world we all finally all look at each other and look for the natural solutions rather than the technical. It is probably wise to learn now how to live without modernity and pass it on through the generations. Hmm...

If anybody is listening, I wish you well.