Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Catch-44, the progress trap, and the greedy monkey PT 1

I’ve recently discovered that the term Catch-44 is pretty popular.

By ‘recently’ I mean within the last few hours and after coming inside from my shop.

Not only have I used the term twice today - thinking it was a product of my own imagination - but a Google search reveals Catch .44 is an indie crime drama filmed in Shreveport, LA., starring Bruce Willis and Forest Whitaker, among others.l

Stink. I wanted the term all to myself, just like the litre of ice-cream loaded with Smarties I found in the downstairs freezer a few days ago. (Somehow my wife knew about it!)

I like the term Catch-44 because it conjures up memories of Catch-22 (a gripping book and film with later connections to the movie and TV show M*A*S*H) and... it’s twice as bad.

Feelings that I would describe as Catch-44-ish come up almost every day. Sometimes early in the morning before I’m even out of bed.

(The feelings are unrelated to having to get out of bed. I like getting out of bed - eventually. Coffee awaits. Sorry, I digress).

I used the term first while describing our predicament with rising costs - and not just related to hydro, which much on the minds of many Ontarians.

I said:

“Because no government is effectively encouraging the move toward smaller cars, homes and lifestyles, our roads will continue to support more cars per capita (and the related expense), our homes will continue to grow and demand more energy and production of household goods, and the associated costs of our lifestyle will increase."

It’s a Catch-44, which is twice as shocking and frustrating as a Catch-22 and any hydro bill.

I elaborated a bit on my use of the term in a later post when I said, “In other words, we’re in a Catch-44, a bad trap, twice as bad as a Catch-22.

We’re building and paving roads today that we’ll never repair or replace in the future as far as present home owners are concerned, because they’ll be dead.”

Now, where did I get the idea that we’re in a bad trap?

Stay tuned.


I’d say more now but Corrie St. starts in a few minutes and I have many miles to ride for the sake of ‘fun and fitness.’


The Workshop: The phone didn’t ring once but...

When my wife visited me in the workshop this afternoon she informed me that she had left me a phone message.

A red light flashed inside my little round head.

“Oh, yeah. I said I’d bring the phone out here this afternoon, didn’t I,” I said sheepishly.

No wonder I worked for three hours or more and finished several birdhouses - one, two, three, four - without a single interruption.

["Yesterday's progress": photos GH]

["Today - all finished. $10?"]

We talked about ‘what might have been’ - had I only received her phone call.

“I was going to buy you lunch,” she said.

Though I paid a heavy price, it was nice to get three colourful birdhouses all lined up and another batch of eight (tri- and four-plexes) almost finished.

["One more will fill the old bench"]

If I remember the phone next time, maybe I'll get another offer for a free lunch.


How much should I charge for the painted ones?

$10? $15? $20?


Deforest City Blues: Our road system - it’s a Catch 44

I’ve read we have 3,500 kms of road lanes in London.

I’m not sure if that’s higher per capita than other major cities in Canada but it certainly sounds like a lot.

Actually, the amount of tarmac appears to be more than enough - even more than we can handle - when we look at how much we spend on roads and how well we keep up on the repairs.

Apparently, we spend $20 million annually on work related to our streets and “one half of them are in the ‘now-need' category,” i.e., now need repairs or replacement. (Nov. 24, London Free Press)

You might think that $20 million is a huge amount of money (and it is; I’ve got 12 bucks in my pocket and I feel over the moon!) but when you consider the costs of road work it’s a drop in the tar pits.

According to Deforest City staff, “you would find the budget is so small it would take 110 years to deal with all the road conditions on those minor streets.”

["Cathcart St. is lookin' good and I'm not dead": photo GH]

See, that’s not counting the major roads which take priority.

In other words, we’re in a Catch-44, a bad trap, twice as bad as a Catch-22.

We’re building and paving roads today that we’ll never repair or replace in the future as far as present home owners are concerned, because they’ll be dead.

Will we build more roads? Count on it. It’s happening right now in a far-off suburb named after some wildlife that no longer lives in the area.

Will we increase the road budget substantially? I seriously doubt it. We live in a tax-free zone and household, provincial and national debt is growing like a weed.

Is this a good time to discuss other infrastructure Catch-44s we’ll face in the future, e.g., hydro, gasoline, housing costs?

Maybe later.


Catch-44 was mentioned here, as well.

Such a cheery thought, eh.


Live Small PT 3: Stressed about hydro? It’s nothing

That was quite the little rant the other day wasn’t it?

If you missed it, in Live Small Pt 2, I mentioned that hydro bills will rise for 20 years before we get a little break, i.e., when the Smart Meter 1 program will be paid off.

It won’t be a long break, however, because we’ll have to start paying for the Smart Meter 2 program.

Many Ontarians find rising hydro rates shocking. Some expect more increases to occur.

After all, our demand is growing and infrastructure related to all forms of energy production (solar, wind, water-generated, nuclear, black juice) costs megabucks, even during a down time in the economy.

You want cheap hydro? You may have to move to another country to find it.

Or you may have to get off the grid.

In my opinion, I think we should save our shock and frustration for the future. It may not be long before a rising hydro bill will seem like a small thing.

Though over 90 per cent of Canadians know that a time of much bigger monetary shocks is coming, I bet we don’t want to think about it too much.

For example:

The price of oil today is $85.52 per barrel. As easy-to-find oil gradually disappears we’ll pay more. And more.

We’ll also eventually pay for more of the hidden costs of oil production.

At this time we are not able to pay for our present infrastructure costs related to our transportation systems. We are paving roads today we will never repair in the future.

The average Canadian is not only spending more for energy but is accumulating debt in an attempt to maintain current housing, clothing, transportation, communication, and retirement needs and expectations.

["Live in a small house or apartment. Keep debt down": photo GH]

Because no government is effectively encouraging the move toward smaller cars, homes and lifestyles, our roads will continue to support more cars per capita (and the related expense), our homes will continue to grow and demand more energy and production of household goods, and the associated costs of our lifestyle will increase.

It’s a Catch-44, which is twice as shocking and frustrating as a Catch-22 and any hydro bill.

I say, live small. Tough times are coming.


Does my economic plan spell r-e-l-i-e-f?


My Morning Smile: I have squirrels stymied - for the moment

Recently my wife asked, “Is your bird feeder squirrel proof?”

I said, fairly confidently, “I think so.”

I thought, the beer cans and wooden circles attached to the clothesline should keep them from reaching the feeder and seed mix.

But from the deep recesses of my brain (way, way back there; stored with old income tax returns and confusing feelings toward Mrs. Doxtator, my Grade 9 math teacher) came this thought:

Two squirrels are sitting in a nearby tree right now with pencil and paper and mapping out a way to get to the feeder while your back is turned, Gordie. Stay focussed. Stay alert.

A moment ago I heard one of the clothesline poles fall.

“You know what that means,” said my wife.

I ran to the back window.

["Moments ago the squirrel was attempting a high wire act": photo GH]

One pole was down and a black squirrel was reaching from one clothesline to the other. It looked this way and that. It climbed down the other pole. Stymied.

It’s now under the deck eating seeds I dropped from the pail.

All hail! I got him this time!


I know, I need to put more beer cans on each line. (Later, after Happy Hour).

And bigger wooden circles.

Maybe some barbed wire.

Another Morning Smile right here.


Green Ideas 2010 PT 3: Okay, I got distracted

In 2010 I planned to try a few Green Ideas; so far, during earlier reviews of my progress - or lack thereof - you may have noticed I didn’t do so well.

Yes, I only bought one new clothing item in two years but that was easy. I was once a long distance runner. My closet is full of t-shirts. And I love used jeans.

So, picking out my ‘retired guy’ uniform every morning was a breeze. Easy-shmeasy-lemon-squeezy, as I like to say.

But I didn’t score well with my last 5 Ideas; 40 per cent. If I scored that in high school I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d likely still be working for the man, not sitting here in a well-worn t-shirt and scruffy jeans with a coffee in my hand.

Green Idea 4 (see side margin for complete list).

I wrote:

Vacation - I will walk to Port Bruce (65 km.) and push my gear in a baby-jogger. I just need one week of good weather.

I didn’t do that. Instead I biked about 4,400 km. to Halifax and back. That was adventure enough for one summer. Maybe I’ll go for the long walk next year. I love the idea.

["I had a promise to fulfill in Halifax": photo GH]

5. re Preserving Food I said:

I will hang onto my used canning gear and put up beans and tomatoes if my 'worthy attempt plot' produces sufficient quantities of produce.

Okay, the garden didn’t work out well. Only a few free sandwiches.

6. Solar Cooker

I will build a solar oven out of recycled materials, including a bulky wool sweater for insulation.

The windows that I set aside for the project were broken (not by me, not on purpose!), so I lost sight of that project.

Birdhouses. Bingo!! I said:

I will attempt to build 3 - 4 dozen birdhouses from rescued lumber, photograph them all and bore readers to death with all the brilliant details.

That mission was easily accomplished. I have birdhouses on the brain, don't I?

8. Haiti Relief (not really a Green Idea, I know, but I wanted to list my plan somewhere).

I will make two financial donations to the Red Cross (for Haiti relief) and work hard to repay my savings account by reducing restaurant meals and increasing meatless meals.

Done. Happily. Even on my 2 week long bike trip I cooked my own meals at the side of the road rather than eat at restaurants, where the smell of hot cheeseburgers is my undoing.

All in all, I didn’t score well in 2010 - but next year is just around the corner.


What Green Ideas did you try in 2010 that worked out well?

Maybe I’ll learn something.

Hey, it could happen!


Monday, November 29, 2010

In The Workshop: I tried to get too greedy

I was late getting out to the shop today because I almost fell asleep after watching a few Fireman Sam episodes on the TV with grandson Ollie.

Honest. My head was on a pillow. My eyes were closed. The blanket felt so warm.

Then I thought, can I get 3 or 4 birdhouses out of the blue shelf I bought yesterday?

["The colour sold me on buying a used shelf": photos GH

My mind got working on measurements so I got off the sofa and went to work.

(Now, what I call work isn’t much more taxing than laying under a blanket).

So, I was late getting to work and then I wasted time trying to measure the wood in such a way that I’d get four small birdhouses out of two boards. I eventually realized my miserly-minded plan wasn’t going to work out.

Three will be fine. The blue paint looks good and by cutting around some mars and holes in the lumber I won’t have to tidy up by painting the wood myself.

["I wonder how my Maple Leafs are doing?"]

I will add trim tomorrow, however. And I’ll try not to waste time by over-thinking the process.

Lesson learned.


Click here to see more productive days in the shop.


This Old Economist: Which country will need a bailout next?

The European Union approved an 85 billion Euro ($115 billion US) rescue for Ireland yesterday.

Who is going to be next?

Portugal is in the running. So is Spain.

["Who will save us from our economic woes?": photo of GH, circa 1955]

But can the 16-member Euro-zone afford more emergency loan packages to cover, for example, bad bank debts and huge budget deficits (as in Ireland’s case)?

Perhaps it won’t be a country that next needs a bailout.

Perhaps it will be a zone of countries.

This old economist believes our economic model may require an oil change and lube job. Maybe it needs a new road map in the old glove box too.

Until governments agree to try something other than Globalization, perhaps we should practice our own austerity measures.

I.e., reduce spending, pay down debt, and save money for tough times ahead.


Read more from This Old Economist.

My brilliant economic plan is outlined here.


The Lite News: Belts and pants are still Made in Canada

Occasionally I complain about the fact I can’t find many items Made in Canada or in my home province (Ontario) anymore.

Ask for a cheeseburger or grilled cheese sandwich and chances are most of the ingredients will be Canadian (though the cheese slices will fall short of tasting like real cheese) but so many other things come from abroad.

Well, yesterday afternoon I received a surprise.

While shopping at the Village of Values I found a used leather belt, in great condition, for only $5.00, and - lo and behold - though it is stamped with the name ‘Buffalo’ it says it is made in my own fair land.

The recycled jeans I purchased, though produced by Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco, California, were also Made in Canada.

["Great news, Canada. We still know how to make pants!": photos GH]

I’m feeling better today, for some reason.


One more purchase was likely Made in Canada too.

Read about it and view a photo here.


The Thrift Report: I spent a bit of money to make a bit more

Thanks to my wife, our small house is now more spacious - and at least 100 pounds lighter.

Yesterday she filled our car twice with odds and ends we were not going to use again and delivered them to Good Will Industries and Value Village.

On her trip to the Village of Values I tagged along.

As you may recall, I am in need of a leather belt... to hold my pants up, so my neighbours don’t think I’m down and out.

["My old belt needs a rest now and again": photos GH]

Hey, good news.

I found a leather belt for $5.00. Same price as my old one (circa 1969, from Quigley’s on the Thames), and if it stands up to the daily grind, it may one day be known as “my last belt.”

I found a perfectly good pair of Levi jeans too for 10 bucks. With proper care they’ll last 5 - 10 years. That comes out to $1 - $2 per year to hike myself to The Roaster for coffee. A good deal, in my opinion.

As well, I found an old shelf for $5 that will soon be worth $30 or $45. The lumber is dry, straight and painted a cheerful colour, and after I disassemble it and cut and sand the boards just right, I’ll end up with at least 2 or 3 nice birdhouses out of the deal. And coffee money for December!

Not bad, eh?


Is THRIFT under-rated?


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Green Ideas 2010: Time for a little review

In early 2010 I listed 8 Green Ideas in the right hand margin and said I’d give them a try.

Had I not bought a new straw hat I would have accomplished Goal 1 perfectly.

Dad gummit.

Here’s what I listed next:

2. Victory Garden

2009 was a bad year for my Victory Garden, however...

I will plant a garden in Spring 2010 and call it a 'Worthy Attempt Plot'

All I can say is, I made a somewhat of a worthy attempt - I planted plenty of tomatoes, beans and gourds - but I neglected the garden too often (for two solid weeks in June) and planted the gourds too late, i.e., after I returned from Halifax.

As well, my patch received lots of sunlight in the past but our spruce trees have grown, provide more shade now, so the patch needs to be moved to the sunny side of the yard in order to succeed.

Because my project list is pretty long at the moment I don’t see a garden in the books for next year.

All in all, I’d say I didn’t make a worthy attempt with Green Idea 2.

I did better with number 3.

I.e., the bicycle

I said, “I will ride my used but lovely Miele bicycle on crowded city streets until I bend or break a rim.”

I rode my Miele bike on occasion (I walked here and there more often because it’s more of a racing bike, great for triathlons) but sold it in the summer. I now own a used Raleigh five-speed, perfect for Wortley Village and beyond.

On that positive note, I’ll end for today.


Yeah, I flopped on the next Green Idea. That’s why I stopped where I did.

Click here to see the stand-off at the OK Corral.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Live Small PT 2: Hydro bills will rise for 20 years

I could be wrong but, because of a variety of factors, our hydro bills will likely rise for another 20 years.

Then we’ll get a short break - because the first Smart Meter program will be paid off - before more rising costs.

["Chop down the turbines and your hydro bill will still rise"]

By most Ontarians, our province’s hydro rates (predicted to rise by 46% over the next 5 years) are likely considered to be...

fully shocking,

fully expected,

or somewhere in between.

I’m somewhere in between because I sense Ontario’s energy demands will continue to rise for the next 20 years.

Even if rates stay the same from today onward (which they won’t) most business and residential bills will increase.

Wait, wait, wait, someone will surely say. We have the Smart Meters and they’ll help us smarten up and the bills will go down.

No, they won’t.

First, we’ll have to pay for the Smart Meter program for quite awhile. Those meters don’t come cheap. Wash your clothes on weekends only for the next ten years to save money, if you like (and I hope you will), but the cost of the program will still be on our bills. That’s a debt that will keep on giving for quite some time.

Second, the Smart Meter program is likely the precursor to the Smart Meter 2 program. Better meters. More information for the suppliers and the users. Old meters out. New meters in. More machines. More paperwork. More costs.

Third, conserve as you will (and I hope you will), your savings from your hard work will likely be swallowed up my the next rate increase and the one after that. As weel, the windows of opportunity to use the cheapest rates will close here and there, the time periods with higher rates will be extended. (You thought life was fair? I’m shocked).

Fourth, conserve as you will, the majority of major users and home owners will not. We’ve enjoyed 65 years of growing bigger and better and we aren’t likely to change. The Smart Meter might one day come with vocal chords but the majority will pay it no heed.

“Why can’t you do your work during non-peak hours?” the Smart Meter may yell.

“How many appliances and lights do you actually need?”

[Courtesy of Mojo]

“Can’t you exercise outside rather than run on a treadmill?”

“Try clotheslines. Grind the coffee by hand. Open that can of beans with one of those non-electric whatjamacallits. Don’t plug in the E-car. Walk to work fer cryin’ out loud.”

Just by listening to the Smart Meter’s frantic cries you can tell it really isn’t all that smart.

Even if a future government (let’s call it right wing and really concerned about reducing every cost known to man, especially taxes) chops down the windmills and turns up production of cheap black juice (coal-fired energy), associated costs will rise.

Likely for twenty years.


Live Small Pt 1: Are hydro rates shocking or expected?

Does my economic plan spell r-e-l-i-e-f?


Green Ideas 2010 PT 1: Time for a little review

In early 2010 I listed 8 Green Ideas in the right hand margin and said I’d give them a try.

Let’s see. Where am I at?

For example, I listed the following:

1. No New Clothing 

For the second year in a row... I will buy no new clothes

I’m happy to report that - except for one slip - I am nearing the end of the year and am still well-clothed.

["New straw hat - hiding in the closet": photos GH]

(The slip - I bought a new straw hat in May or June, realized my gaffe a week later, set the new hat aside, and later bought a used one at a flea market in Fenelon Falls.) 

["Used straw hat - now my favourite"]

Though I primarily wear used jeans and well-worn T-shirts every day, when asked, I can shine myself up like a new dime and put on suit pants, shirts and jackets that look almost brand new but were not purchased in the last two years.

Lessons learned - most well-made clothing lasts a long, long time.

And used clothing in great repair is plentiful.

Honestly, I could probably go for a third year without any new clothes except for - okay, this could be embarrassing - two main reasons.

I need a few pairs of socks.

And... underwear.

Sounds like a Christmas wish list if I ever saw one.

I may not continue ‘Green Ideas’ next year but my habit of buying used duds is well established and will last a lifetime.


More ‘Green Ideas’ review to follow.

Read about Climate Change Concerns here.


In The Workshop: One bad movie title deserves another

The first photo below appeared in an earlier post.

Seven piles for seven birdhouses.

(Sounds like a movie title, doesn’t it? And a bad one. Sponsored by Preparation H. Sorry, I digress).

Now, seven are assembled. Some are stained.

The last four are ready for stain but are now in a long queue, because a batch of eight is under way.

["I'll soon add linseed oil plus a titch of maple stain": photos GH]

More photos and bad movie titles to follow.


One "rescued lumber birdhouse" ended up 180 km. down the highway.


I Ask You: Another mystery object. A leaf?

While walking home from The Red Roaster this morning - the refill was delicious, thank you - I noticed brown, fading leaves upon the sidewalk.

["Easy-schmeasy-lemon-squeezy. A maple leaf"]

["Okay, I know this one. Single chestnut leaf"]

Winter is coming in through the side door. Get out your long johns! (Not kidding. See post below)

["More chestnut leaves": pohotos GH]

I also noticed something else.

Another leaf? A tail feather from a mystery bird from a Dr. Seuss book?

It’s time to dust off my old copy of “Mystery Objects in Wortley Village” to find out.


More totally relevant I Ask You right here.


Zoom w a View: Signs of winter on the sidewalk

The fall season has been described as a time of transition, e.g., from skimpy swimsuits to multiple layers of thermal long johns.

["Basswood leaves tell a tale of winter's arrival": photos GH]

Leaves on the sidewalks in Wortley Village (Old South, London, Ontario) also reveal the change in seasons.

Their colour is fading or gone. They are torn.

Their brown surfaces are coated with ice crystals.

And some are encased in a thin layer of ice.

Fall is leaving by one door while winter comes in through another.

Is winter welcome?


My long johns are freshly ironed. I’m ready for colder temps.

More meaningful signs of winter right here.


Bird Watching: Pileated woodpecker in Fenelon Falls, Ontario

I heard the large, noisy bird before I saw it.

Its loud, brash call alerted me to the fact that a jay - or something - might be outside the window at my son’s house in Fenelon Falls.

[Link to Wildwood Tracking.com to see "the characteristic rectangular shape of Pileated Woodpecker holes."]

["Hiding from the wind - and me - in the cedars": photos GH]

Fortunately, though it was a very windy day, the pileated woodpecker stayed long enough for me to fetch my camera and step out onto a nearby balcony.


Have you made any recent sightings of birds this size?

Click here please to read an earlier Bird Watching post.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Live Small PT 1: Are hydro rates shocking or expected?

Or are Ontario’s rising hydro rates (predicted to rise by 46% - likely a lowball figure - over the next 5 years) somewhere in between shocking and expected?

E.g., kind of in “I can see part of the reason but not all of it” territory.

Truth be told, right now, I’m not completely shocked.

["You can't easily surprise this kid!": GH circa 1955]


Our energy demands continue to rise, for one thing

Many people and politicians realize coal isn’t so cheap in the long run, so, want off ‘black juice’ as I like to call it

Infrastructure for nuclear plants is expensive

Maintaining water-driven hydro plants is expensive

And start-up fees for supplemental solar and wind programs are not cheap and we’re coming late to that table.

Taken together, these factors (there are others) add up to a hefty and growing bill.

No wonder people are complaining. My neighbours have taken to hiding their mailbox when hydro bills are delivered.

Opposition parties are complaining. Hydro bills could be a big election issue soon.

And the party in power is feeling so much heat they’re going to preside over a $6.4 billion Ontario Clean Energy Benefit to cushion the blow to some ratepayers, at the same time hoping taxpayers will not understand their part in paying off the $6.4 billion cost. (Hint: Ratepayers and taxpayers know each other quite well).

However, in spite of the loud complaints I’m not fully shocked by increasing rates.

Are you?


More to follow.

Read more Live Small posts here.


It Strikes Me Funny: A flash of juncos is news to me

My column in The Londoner hit the streets this morning, maybe even last night in some neighbourhoods, because I received an email at 5:06 p.m. yesterday from Len M. saying he read it (thought it was brilliant) and included links to Ottawa restaurants I should try on my next trip there. (Helpful, eh?)

The column relates to recent bird sightings at my bird feeder.

Not that I’m an expert bird watcher. I can only name a dozen, maybe two, of the most common birds. Robin, chickadee, junco, birdbrain (no relation), etc.

["Loaded with seeds, ready for a flash of juncos": photo GH]

However, I created my own ‘collective name’ for groups of juncos, i.e., a flash of juncos. Sure is a lot easier to understand than a storytelling of ravens, piteousness of doves or battery of barracudas, in my opinion.

(Have no fear. You are unlikely to see a battery of barracudas in your yard. If you do - call me!)

A flash of juncos.

Catchy, eh?


Visit an earlier column here.


Memory Lane: I’ll now have to look hard for a story

Last night, when a TV commercial started, I hopped up from the couch to return a plate to the kitchen.

“Are you going to the kitchen?” my wife asked immediately.

“Yeeeessss,” I said. I sensed something else was coming. After 40 years of marriage I don’t miss much, eh.

She described what she wanted from the kitchen. Half a Granny Smith apple. Sliced. No salt.

I pointed at her and said, “I knew that’s what you wanted. Great minds think alike.” (Totally bogus).

["Granny Smith, please. Sliced lovingly": photos GH]

As I sliced the apple I recalled a story my mother wrote about events around the family dinner table when my four sibs and I were kids. If anyone got up to go to the kitchen for any reason they received more than one request from others.

“Now that you’re up, bring me a knife.”

“Bring more gravy.”

“And bring me a dish cloth.” And so on.

It is a well written story. Makes me laugh.

Now that I’m up, I’ll have to find it.


More trips down Memory Lane here.


The Big Smile: The economy won’t do it. What will?

Friend Don and I met for coffee yesterday morning at one of the shops in Wortley Village. (I love my routine but that’s not what made me smile).

He brought two books to read in case I was late (I wasn’t. We arrived at exactly the same time): ‘Thrive’ (re the search for happiness) was one. ‘Moral Ground’ (essays re the environment) the other.

Though I ordered the latter from the library on the way home, it was some ‘thinking about’ the first book that made me smile.

["A good belt is hard to find. Happiness too": photos GH]

Most people want to be happy. Me too. Feels good.

However, I also really like the search for it, along with other things.

For example, already a few times this week I’ve said to someone that “the fun is in the search” or “the fun is in the looking.”

I was referring simply to my current search for a good leather belt. I need to keep my pants up. And I don’t want to spend a lot of money so I’m going to have to look long and hard, e.g., at Value Village or at a thrift store or in other second-hand stores.

["Someone is searching the skies over Wortley Village"]

But I look forward to the search. Searching satisfies some basic elements in my nature. E.g., I don’t want a gift. Nothing on a silver platter. I want to work at it. Be involved. And I don’t want the first belt I see just to cross it off some list so I can say, “Next.”

I know I’m pretty patient. I know something will turn up. I’ll know it when I see it.

Now, finding a new or (hopefully) good, used belt isn’t the root of happiness. I use the search for this one item merely as an example of the larger pursuit because the same things apply.

I don’t want it on a platter, silver or gold.

I want to search for it and be surprised when it pops up unexpectedly somewhere along the way.

I don’t mind that it’s fleeting and is hard to pin down.

The fun is in the search.


Is laughter a key ingredient to a long, happy life?


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Old economist: The future of driving - not the E-car

GM’s Volt plug-in electric car can win the Green Car award every year for the next 20 years but will never become the future of driving.

Too many things are stacked against the E-car.

- price (e.g., the Volt is $41,000 US)

- limited range (e.g., the Volt runs only 64 kms or 40 miles before requiring a recharge)

- limited numbers (e.g., battery technology lags behind)

The future lies elsewhere.

GM and other car builders will likely be the last to admit that fuel scarcity and rising fuel prices will end our love affair with the car - and sooner than later. They’ll keep trying to whet peoples’ appetites for toys for boys (and girls) and the desire for convenience and comfort for each and every individual on the planet long after personal transportation vehicles lose their cool factor.

["The Thrift Bank in Sidney, Ohio"]

This old economist says that as personal and national debt loads mount, the common bicycle may squeeze the car out of the hallowed place in our hearts that cars have ruled for so long.

Highways may be the site of future suburbs to cities. (See back issues of DWELL magazine)

Some may already have switched allegiance to rail or buses, hardy, sensible transportation systems that are jeopardized as well by rapid climate change and our growing demands for clean fuel, any fuel.

And as an aging economist I would say that as money and fuel grow more scarce, people will see walking shoes and running shoes in their future. (They both have great benefits attached, do they not?)

But E-cars, dependent upon coal (to a large degree) and expensive infrastructure, will not be seen in a growing, positive light for long.

Look elsewhere.


I recommend the 850 series of New Balance running shoes.

More from This Old Economist here.


Zoom w a View: The last leaves to fall

There are nine leaves left to fall from the apricot tree in the front yard.


I shook the tree earlier this morning but to no affect.

The last nine must be held on with Scotch tape.

Their stubborn will to survive deserves a few words.

nine leaves

catch the sun’s
last warm rays
before they fall

they cling to
the branch
like toddlers to a mother’s apron

let me just go
shake the tree
one more time

["Hey, nice birdhouse!": photos GH]

hey, nice birdhouse



More Zoom w a View right here.