Friday, June 25, 2010

Computer Equals Commuter

If you are one of the many unfortunate people who lost their job during this hard economic time, now is your opportunity to do something good for your environment. All it takes is to step away form the computer and step into the street when doing your job search. Make your job search local and you will avoid that dreaded commute of the past. My suggestion is to get on a bicycle or simply walk through the area near your home and do your job search there. Most people live close to business they pass by every day on their way to work 10 or 15 miles down the road. If you only allow yourself to walk or ride a bicycle on your job search, you will be forced to apply at places that are close to home. You should also keep your eyes open to those business that may have closed recently. Perhaps you could revive that needed business and make it work.

Imagine walking home for lunch (and a nap!) Life doesn't have to involve a commute.

Polution Isn't Always Black Slime

Mention pollution and most folks will think of garbage piles, smog or oil spills but there are two more forms of pollution that don't immediately come to mind for some.

The first is noise pollution. Several weeks ago I went to the beach to enjoy a nice peaceful lazy day in the hot summer sun. What I found when I got there was anything but peaceful. Just off shore they had set up cigar boat races and the obnoxious unmuffled machines droned on all day long - with loud helicopters flying just over the boats. It may have been exciting to watch for the few people who were interested in the race, but for those of us trying to enjoy a peaceful day it was just annoying. And I've already written about the uber-obnoxious Harley Davidson motorcycles I had to deal with while bicycling though some of the most beautiful scenic parts of our great country last summer. You couldn't escape the noise - they were everywhere. In both of these cases (and many more) we have the easy option to make these machines less noisy but somehow they choose not to. These people feel it is their right and privilege to enjoy their thrill with careless disregard for everyone else.

The second example I wanted to mention is light pollution. Some folks may not even know what that means, but for those of us who enjoy looking into the night sky, it is practically unavoidable. As LED lighting and other lower cost light sources are developed, the night begins to brighten. Now we are starting to see dazzling active billboards along the freeways that are not only a distraction to the drivers, but broadcast their unabated light out and up. Here in S. Florida I can literally count the number of stars in the night sky. But where I grew up in South Dakota you couldn't count the stars in a 1 foot patch of sky. I couldn't even describe the amazing things that can be seen on a dark moonless night. It is a truly remarkable sight that many people who live in cities will never see. I did see it one night here in S. Florida immediately following Hurricane Wilma where power was out to the entire region. Many people who live here saw the true night sky for the very first time that night - and not since.

Both of these forms of pollution are completely preventable - yet we choose not to. Loud is fun and light sells! These are sad statements on human nature. Actually, lets take that last word out because there isn't anything natural about noise and light pollution. Let's call it instead human stupidity. Pollution in all its many forms is not only preventable but also truly revolting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Did God Blow Up An Oil Platform?

During this oil spill, where are all the crazy TV evangelists who are always blaming natural disasters on gays? To them I say this man made disaster is God pointing out how stupid and greedy we have become.

Missed Communication

Today I was getting my hair cut at my usual nearby Haitian barber shop. They were, of course, all speaking Creole and I can't pick out even a few words of that language yet. On the big screen TV they were watching the World Cup game - another sporting event I have no interest in and therefore no concept of what was going on. Add to that the fact that the announcers were all speaking Spanish - of which I can sometimes only get a few words. Needless to say I didn't have much input into the conversation. But I did find the convergence of all these language barriers interesting.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Revolting Oil Spill

The public is revolting over this catastrophic oil spill - too bad it took a spill to cause a revolt.

Much has been said about this spill - the response from BP, the response from the President, the residents of the Gulf Coast, environmentalists and just about everyone else. That's why I haven't written much about it myself. But there are a few things I would like to point out.

First, it appears to me that BP's efforts have focused on containing the spill rather than stopping it. It must be hard for them to imagine just stopping this flow of potential money, but in my opinion that should have always been the first priority - stopping it. This, however, has been proven to be easier said than done and I wish I had a good suggestion on how to accomplish a complete shutoff but I don't - yet.

One thing I am fairly certain of though is that the big plan everyone is waiting for - the relief well to be completed in August - will NOT stop or even slow down this gusher. Here is why I don't believe it will work to slow the flow:

Imagine if you had something like a water balloon that wouldn't pop if you put a small hole in it. If you put pressure on this balloon water would squirt out of that tiny hole. Now imagine that you put a second tiny hole in this same balloon - does the water now flow out of the new hole and stop flowing out of the first one? Of course not. What you have now is 2 holes that have the same amount of flow coming out. When the pressure is relived enough, both holes will stop flowing at the same time. Even if BP were to put the new well right next to the existing gusher - both would still flow at the same rate. It may make a tiny bit of difference if they could pump the oil out of the relief well faster than it is coming out of the first hole - but it would be a negligible difference and the first gusher would continue to gush. It is simply a way that BP can get permission to drill another well into this obviously rich source of oil and money.

Now, I must address all the folks who are calling this President Obama's "Katrina". Let's put aside the truth that in both cases, it was known that the catastrophe was not only possible but eminent. Let's focus on the aftermath. During Katrina, President Bush had at his disposal all the tools and manpower needed to accomplish a massive rescue and rebuilding mission. His fault in that disaster was his lack of quick action and not using those resources to their full potential. With this oil spill, our government does not have tools standing by to stop or collect massive amounts of gushing or floating oil. This is a situation where even the oil companies - who are in the business - have no clue as to how to stop or recover the spilled oil. I ask these folks who are blaming the government - what would you have them do? And please be specific. The only thing I have hear so far is they want us to drop a bomb on the spill and somehow that will stop it. That is CRAZY! Imagine dropping a brick on that water balloon we spoke of earlier - would that stop the flow from the tiny hole? Yes because all the liquid would now be set free. Republicans think they can fix anything with a bomb.

Finally, let me also point out (as others have done) that there are hundreds and maybe even thousands of other oil wells in the oceans of the world that also do not have proper safety shutoff equipment installed thanks to the Cheney / Bush (and others) policies. Before we drill a single new well, lets get those existing ones fixed so this does not happen again!

UPDATE 6/25/10 I just read on USA Today that BP is actually drilling 2 relief wells. This, in spite of the drilling ban President Obama has put in effect (which is being challenged in courts). And now a tropical depression has formed just south of this region and possibly headed for the spill area. Instead of one massive uncontrolled leak, we will likely end up with THREE! In my humble opinion, if relief wells are truly needed to control this leak - why not let another oil company with a better safety record do it??!!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Irritating Grid

Two weeks ago I pre-ordered an HTC Evo phone from Sprint (I'm not going to provide a hyperlink because I'm mad) and tomorrow is the day it would be available. I'm a tech geek and fancy new gadgets like this make me very excited and it was time to upgrade my phone so this was it! But Sprint has decided to add a lot of extra unavoidable fees on top of the normal phone and data plan I'm already paying - who can afford all that? Not me - I won't be picking up my Evo.

This is a big mistake for Sprint in my opinion. Here they had the first real possible i-Phone killer (even with the new i-Phone about to launch) and MANY very unhappy AT&T customers just aching to get away from AT&T. Rather than lure them in with a great new device at an affordable price they will brush them off with extra fees. The new i-Phone will be available on Verizon - that's where the AT&T folks will likely go now. Too bad for Sprint.

When I was debating on splurging on a new smart phone, I was torn. I told myself if I decide not to get this device then I might just jump off the technology bandwagon all together. All this new technology available today is very exciting for someone like me but it is getting very frustrating as well. I'm beginning to feel like my life is just one giant subscription that eats away every single bit of my available income leaving me scratching for enough money to buy food. On top of that the constant bombardment of text messages, phone calls, Facebook updates, advertisements, pin numbers, constantly changing passwords and fraud schemes has begun to make me a very irritable person. I'm irritated just writing that sentence! So while part of me wants the latest and greatest gadget, another part of me just wants to turn it all off, cancel all the subscriptions, pay my bills by cash and just fall off "the grid". Honestly, that is a very real possibility for me at this point - I do still have that nice touring bicycle to take me away into the wilderness.

I haven't made the decision yet whether to keep moving forward or take a giant step back so for now I'll just keep using my outdated technology (heck - it still works) and pay the subscriptions I currently am forced to while somehow trying to keep my head above water. If I decide to jump off "the grid", you will probably hear about it here first - and probably last at the same time.