I question things which people take for granted. I would have been that kid who said the emperor was naked. In real life that kid would probably have been lynched, but I'll take my chances...
I believe truth inherently valuable, no matter how well intentioned the ideology it dispels may be.
I also write about random interesting things from my personal life.
For my entire life I have been the beneficiary of what I
think(?) is an abnormal amount of generosity.
Of course when you're young enough, you tend to take everything which happens
for granted, because you haven't learned a baseline yet. Ok, so the nice lady
gives you some candy, and you are supposed to say "thank you" and
this is considered a normal social transaction.
So, when the administrative staff of your elementary school calls your family a
couple weeks before Christmas and says that someone donated a really nice
bicycle along with all the other toy donations and they want you to have it
rather than putting it in the first-come-first serve toy bin that the whole school
will have access to... you don't really question that either. That was only 1
of 3 bikes I was given by teachers at that school.
In high school I always assumed it was because I was so obviously poor.
I got a steady supply of free meals when I sat looking forlorn while everyone
else ate (there is a fine line where it becomes obvious you are doing it on
purpose. I always blatantly crossed that line. Never seemed to matter)
The free clothes from relative strangers was because of how I dressed. They assumed
I couldn't afford decent clothes, and didn't want to embarrass me by asking, so
I would just get random gifts. So I thought.
It may well be that this is the motivator still, since I couldn't care less
about clothes and I work and play hard and they tend to disintegrate off of me
before I get around to the rather tedious chore of finding replacements.
It can't explain all of it though.
Maybe the very idea of capitalism, Ann Rands virtue of selfishness, it is all
rhetoric, and Burning Man's culture of gifting (not bartering, gifting - major
distinction) is actually a universal standard. Maybe I just never noticed.
Actually, I suspect this is it. I don't see anything so particularly special
about me, (beyond the requisite "everyone is special" kind of way)
This song does a really excellent job of explaining the real
reason why it is I ended up being a bicycle riding kind of guy.
I learned to fix bikes because if I didn't fix the problem, the story line of
this song was my fate.
Chances are, unless you happen to be a black male who grew up in a poor part of
the east bay who never got involved with the "thug" mentality, you
won't particularly sympathize with the protagonist's lyrics.
Suffice it to say this is not merely a bus ride into a fanciful hypothetical
for the sake of an amusing story line. It is quite an accurate
description of travel via AC Transit in certain neighborhoods, from the
inexplicably long delays to the fun characters on the bus.
I particularly like skit 2: "A-yo, you Rosa Parks' son motherfucker?
Bring your ass back here..."
I never set out, intended, nor expected to become a
representative of the environmental movement, an activist, or really anyone
special at all.
As I mentioned in blogs past, I believe the most significant and positive thing
we can do to be responsible citizens is to truly live each of our own
individual lives as close to our own principals as we can. I believe this
makes more real difference than all of the shouting, the signs, the email
letters to representatives. If everyone just did their own little part,
there would cease to even be a need for the grand gestures.
And yet, as it turns out, apparently living by my modest principals has
propelled me into this role without my having to try.
Most people assume all websites to be .com, so this
means a lot of confused customers will be able to find me a lot easier.
The person who owned it until today, a college student
in Oregon, he had a similar
business idea to mine, and a few months before I first set up my website he
reserved the name.
I contacted him and offered to buy it almost two years
ago, but he said he intended to use it in the next few weeks.
However, he never ended up using the site. I
checked in recently, and found it was still idle.
I contacted him again, and offered to buy it and let him
pick a price. He refused payment, and transferred the domain to me the
next day. I wrote again, explaining that I am using the site for
commercial reasons, and offered to pay, at the very least, whatever he paid for
the domain in the first place. Again, he declined.
Without a Paypal address or mailing address (the DNS had
the school's address), there isn't much I can do.
He said he agrees with what I'm doing, and to re-invest
what ever I would have paid him.
The GoDaddy website (who the domain is registered with)
specifically encourages people to register domains for the sole reason of
reselling them at a profit to someone who will actually use them. Plenty of
people do just that, essentially web domain speculating - and making money while
providing literally nothing of value to society.
This person did just the opposite - paid for a site, and
then gave it away.
Take that capitalism!!
I am not the only anti-capitalist still out there.
There is morality, generosity, left in this country.
To the guy in question (perhaps he doesn't want his name
public, but he knows who he is) you have all of my respect and gratitude.
A few weeks ago the creators of faircompanies.com came to my home with
cameras, and I gave a tour of my home, and spoke of some of my political and
philosophical ideas while I worked.
I didn't prepare what I was going to say, and in retrospect,
perhaps I should have.
After, I tried to figure what exactly my overall point has
Some things in personal life have been getting in the way of
writing for a while, but I think I can summarize it all now.
The overall point is this: Do the big stuff.
Having done that, don't sweat the small stuff.
Americans have grown accustomed to a excessively high level of
luxury and convenience, to the point where some of what we take for granted
doesn't even improve quality of life. And among the people who are aware of the implications of our
impact, it has become all too easy to rationalize doing the exact opposite. Today a great many people do all the little things, and this
makes it easier to rationalize not doing what will make the biggest difference.
Something feels off about my last post. Too negative. I forgot the important part about how being "green"
isn't really a sacrifice at all.
Because, really, a great many things that we take for granted
today, many of the conveniences and luxuries, don't really add much to life - in
fact, some take away from it.
Say, for example, you trade your car for a bike and your steak
for a salad. Right off the top you are saving money. In the case of the
car, thousands upon thousands of dollars. Then, after a few weeks, you are getting healthier, stronger,
losing weight, feeling better about yourself, feeling better about getting up
and starting each new day. The same goes of you just take a partial step, say riding the
bike to work (or to the train station, whatever) once a week, and reducing
animal product intake by half. You still find yourself with more energy, a more positive
outlook on the world. After a few months, maybe a year, chances are you are up
to 3 days a week, and meat only for special occasions.
Meanwhile you have this big ole stack of bills piling up in
your bank account - oh, and as a side benefit, you are doing a huge service for
the environment ("the environment" being short-hand for "the
future of all life on the planet, including ourselves")
Its like smoking. For a smoker, there really isn't any reward
to each cigarette, other than the cessation of the withdrawal symptoms. The
reward to giving it up is significantly improved health, both in terms of being
able to catch the bus that's just pulling away, and in terms of a long life.
Plus, all the money you save by not buying the cigarettes (and the health care
costs some day - because yall know we aren't going to get a nationalized health
plan anytime soon). Its just habit (and chemical addiction) that keeps them going
back for more.
Our cars and diet and electricity use and all the rest are
basically like cigarettes. They don't make us happier in life, but we have a
lot of trouble giving them up. (The good news is, no physical addiction!)
Other things that are good for the earth, which in the long
run are good for our pocketbooks, our health, and/or our happiness, include
buying the absolute smallest car you can find, buying less stuff (we all know
stuff doesn't really make us happier), living close to work (or better yet,
telecommuting), eating organic (more nutrients, less toxic chemicals), saving
energy (this should go without saying.) It does take more time to put the
clothes on the line. But not only do you save money, that is time spent outdoors
in the sun, instead of in some laundrymat or the basement.
Then, with all the surplus in good deeds, spend some of that
on the things that make life better, (but maybe aren't the best things
ecologically) If you spent all year saving electricity, go ahead and put up
that elaborate xmas light display. After buying everything on Craigslist.org or from thrift
stores, go ahead and buy a brand new high quality food processor. After biking to work every day, take the car up to the
mountains for vacation. And don't feel bad about it!
It was many years ago when I last rode a mountain
bike on a trail.
I had this heavy old Fuji that
folded in half, weighed about 50lbs, had a 5 speed freewheel and friction thumb
shifters. For those that don't know bikes, that means it was a pretty crappy
But, I had really nice tires on it, and it is just
amazing the crud you can ride over with fat knobbies.
But then I moved into an RV, there was only room for one bike, and I took my
more versatile road touring bike. The mnt. bike went up on the wall in the
garage in Mom's house.
Before long I moved out of the area, then out of
the state, and clear across the country. The bike hung upside down, its tires
sad with nostalgia of mud. We had once encountered a small stream at about
15mph, and before I had a chance to even get scared (nevermind brake) we were
already over and past it. Now, without me, they did nothing but than lose air
molecules, one by one.
I came back, eventually, to CA. I took the mountain bike with me to Burning
One night, I parked it outside next to my RV. Someone came by and claimed it. I
suppose the idea is, in a semi-anarchistic gifting culture, no one can lay
claim to property, and so this wasn't so much theft as involuntary sharing.
I decided that next time I wanted to get a half-way decent mountain bike. Which
meant that for years and years, I had none at all, because there was always
more important things to spend money on.
Many years passed.
I became a hauler. You wouldn't believe the things I get paid to pick up from
people. My TV, DVD, VCR, RePlay, CD changer, sofa, scanner/printer... these are
all things I was paid to take away. I have had several bikes, but none were
quite right, and they passed through my hands to new owners.
And one day, just last week, I ended up with a mountain bike, and this one I