Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

Confessions of a Water Snob

For many years, I had water delivered to my home.  I got the traditional 5 gallon jugs for in-home use and a 12 pack of plastic sport bottles for on-the-go occasions.  Tap water was not only inconvenient, but it didn’t taste that great.  I could barely stomach ice cubes made with tap water, let alone brush my teeth with it!  (But I did, just for the record)

 

Earlier this year, I learned that our landfills became overwhelmed with these plastic bottles.  Sure they were recyclable, but millions of people were buying and consuming water at such a high rate that our recycle systems could not keep up.  Most public places still only provide standard issue trash receptacles.  At home, it’s a different story.  Waste management provides each household with recycling bins in most cities.  Let it be mentioned here that while in Yosemite this August, not only could one could find recycling bins in every place imaginable but they were separated by aluminum, plastic, and glass!

 

So I dropped some coin on those reusable plastic bottles, e.g. Nalgene, Camelbak, Sigg.  We continued to get our water delivered, but now we were filling our own bottles.  We got a variety of sizes and colors. We kept one at work.  We always had one with us when leaving the house and we used them at the gym.  We were hip.  We were green!

 

So one day we are shopping at a store-closing sale.  It was there I spotted a NEW opportunity to bring my environmentalism to a new level:  the Brita water filter.  Now we could save a few bucks each month by firing the water guy!   Plus, it was on sale so I felt ahead of the game.

 

When we put out our last empty bottle, I felt a sense of liberation. Like going off the grid and cheating the system.  Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but after almost 13 years of water service, I was very excited.

 

So now we were drinking filtered tap water.  It tasted OKAY and I figured I would get used to it eventually.  I realized that I preferred it as cold as possible since I had discovered an odd odor from water left out over night on my nightstand in one of those reusable plastic bottles.  Not appetizing, but was it normal?  One morning as I left for work, I nearly stumbled over a 5 gallon bottle outside my door.  Did my wife forget to cancel?  Yes, she confessed and apologized profusely, knowing how important this endeavor was to me.  I left it out there for a couple of days trying to figure out what to do… can you return unused water?  I decided it was too much of a hassle to call back the water guy and finally lugged it inside and affixed it atop the thirsty, empty water dispenser.  Then a sudden urge came over me. I grabbed a glass, filled it to the rim with the bottled water and chugged it down like there was no tomorrow.  It was delicious even at room temp.  I missed it so much.  I was home again.  How could I have ever abandoned it?

 

After 1 week of guzzling this delicious elixir of the gods, I realized I was feeling better.  I had been experiencing some, ahem, digestive issues that I wrote off as a bug.  It could’ve been a bug, but coincidently, all was back to normal after I stopped drinking the filtered tap.

 

I am curious about that tap water, though.  I plan to have it tested with and without the filter.  After all, it is LA DWP and not even their employees will drink it.

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Forgetting Sarah Palin

The Bridge to Nowhere was built in 1936.  It reaches across the East Fork of the San Gabriel River and was supposed to connect a road between San Gabriel Valley and Wrightwood in Southern California.  Plans to complete the road on either side were abandoned after the great flood of March 1938 washed it all away, except for the bridge.  It still stands today timelessly unaffected.  I’ve hiked to this bridge twice in my life.  Once in 1989, I went with friends to spend a night in the wilderness.  And again last summer, stupidly in 100 degree weather, and with the incorrect recollection that this was an easy task (when I was 19). 

Bridge to Nowhere -East Fork, San Gabriel - Southern California

The Bridge to Nowhere is not unlike Sarah Palin’s Gravina Bridge that was budgeted to receive $398 million to build.  She apparently supported this idea until it was ridiculed as the bridge to nowhere – nowhere being the island of Ketchikan with about 50 residents.  Sorry Ketchikan, you already have an airport.  This $398 million was part of a larger $750 million in special funds she has requested as governor, the largest per-capita request in the nation.

This in 2 years as governor of our nation’s largest state – so calls McCain of Alaska.  As of 2000, it ranked 48th in terms of population (Rhode Island has about 400,000 more people.)   But if it’s size that matters, well then Sarah has the biggest.

Speaking of size, Palin claims that her big state produces nearly 20 percent of the nation’s energy.   According to Factcheck.org, Alaska produced 14 percent of all oil from U.S. wells in 2007, but that is far from all the “energy” produced.  In reality, Alaska’s share of domestic energy production was 3.5 percent.

Which gives rise to this: Palin criticized Obama’s plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increases the tax burden on people by hundreds of billions of dollars.  Raise, raise, raise.  There is just SO much to work with on this penis metaphor!   The Tax Policy Center found that Obama’s plan would provide $80 million in tax breaks, mainly for the poor and the elderly, triples the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.  The plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent, or about $2,200 annually by 2012, and raise income, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest (or incomes over $250,000).  McCain’s plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise the after –tax income for middle-income families by 3 percent.   Not much of a difference.  Maybe an inch?

McCain brags about Palin’s authority as commander of the Alaska National Guard with national security as one of her primary responsibilities (because it’s the largest state, don’t you know).   But, there are only about 4,200 personnel which are among the smallest in state guard organizations.   Besides, that authority ends when those units are called into military service.

On to the Bush Doctrine, whatever that is.  Yah, I’m sure that’s what she was thinking when ABC’s Charlie Gibson asked her if she agreed with it.  Look it up, including the interview, and decide for yourself.  From my angle, though she appeared cool, her body language suggested otherwise.  When Gibson explained, she got it, but it doesn’t seem to be consistent with McCain.  Time to sit down and make sure this team is on the same page.

Why do we care?  The swingers:  those voters that may affiliate with one party, but can be swayed either way.  Clinton lead in many swing states over McCain during the primaries.  Some polls today show McCain now leading in those same states.  Obama missed an opportunity for a strong ticket with Clinton. Palin is not the equal to Clinton by any stretch of the imagination just because she is a woman.  But if all it took was a woman to grab those swing votes, well it doesn’t say much for the voters.

And one last item, a myth buster, the teleprompter rumor.  It was rumored that Palin’s teleprompter malfunctioned during the convention causing her to speak at length from memory.  She was praised highly, but briefly, for being rock steady. For one thing, she had extensive notes at her fingers tips, it was on TV, anyone can see it.  For another, it was dispelled that it did not break, it wasn’t down for the entire speech, and that it had only sped up at one spot which was quickly fixed.  If it was true, it doesn’t take much to impress the American people and if this is how they are judging candidates, we are in trouble.

 

LOOKING FORWARD:  CONFESSIONS OF A WATER SNOB

 

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/energetically_wrong.html

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080904/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_fact_check

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/09/11/palin-gibson-bushdoctrine/

 

SHAMerica For President!

My Family, Friends and Fellow Americans:

I, like many of you I presume, am fed up with today’s politics.  I find that the candidates have become nothing more than talking heads sounding like the teacher from the Peanuts (wah, wah – wuh wah) – droning on with nothing but drivel and changing their minds on issues in response to public opinion polls just to tell us what they think we want to hear.

 

Enough of that I say!

 

I am a free thinking American who believes in Democracy, the free market and the American Way. 

 

I am pro-choice, and generally against gun control. 

 

I am for smart immigration and border control policies that neither jeopardize the security of the nation nor unjustly impact families that have come to this nation for a better future for them and their children (like our ancestors did for us I’ll remind you!). 

 

I think welfare has a place and a time, but should not and cannot be indefinite, nor should it be setup as to encourage people to stay on it.

 

I am sick of the “War on Drugs” and am for reducing/limiting the laws against marijuana and other drugs that are no more damaging than alcohol.  If you are going to do it to yourself, you’re an idiot (see “Anti-idiot” below).

 

I hate child-molesters and cold blooded killers and think they should be put to death, and I don’t think death constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment” in these cases.

 

I think there is something after this life, but I don’t profess to be smarter than anyone else and claim that I know what that will be.  I think everyone should be free to believe what they will  – from the mainstream Christian to the radical Muslim and everyone else in between – as long as they in no way harm others in the name of their belief (see my feelings on “cold blooded killers” above).

 

I can be opinionated, but am swayed by logical rationale and make sound decisions based on as much information as possible.

 

I am “Anti-idiot.”  “Anti-idiot” applies to a lot of things, for one I am not for supporting or bailing out all of today’s “victims”, be it victims of the so called “predatory lender” (the same lenders who had been praised for allowing people to realize the American Dream), “victims” in the many frivolous lawsuits (think hot coffee burned my crotch), or “victims” who lose their jobs or don’t make enough money to support themselves due to their chosen profession becoming obsolete, inefficient or out-sourced.  I could go on and on, but you know it when you see it and we should call it what it is.

 

I am tired of America policing the world and getting disrespected for it.  We are criticized if we don’t act or don’t act quickly or decisively, yet we are also condemned when we act unilaterally.  We have young men and women dying everyday and not being supported – supporting the troops but not supporting the war – that’s a hard pill to swallow.  You are telling those young Americans that you support them, but not the cause they are dying for.  Putting your life on the line for something most Americans don’t support, you should try that on for size before you jump out there and preach it.  We need to bring our troops home (ALL of them throughout the world), and put those resources to work in our nation.

 

I will support policies and laws that enrich all Americans and strengthen the nation.  I follow the “Golden Rule” – the same one we were all taught by our parents and in grade school – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  I will fight policies that do not enrich all Americans or weaken the nation.

 

With this said, I am asking you for your support in my bid for the presidency.

 

For a recent news story on how my campaign got started, please click on the link below:

 

http://www.inews3.com/topstory.php?id=207c5348414d6572696361

 

Thank you!

 

LOOKING FORWARD:  FORGETTING SARAH PALIN

 

Minivan Man

I just returned from a 5 day family camping adventure in Yosemite.  It was my first time and it was great.  It’s amazing how much preparation is required for a trip like this, and I pride myself on trip prep.  From maps to check lists, I rarely find myself needing anything during a vacation.  I am happy to report this trip was as successful as any of my trips.  Thankfully we did not trade in our 10 year old Toyota 4Runner for a more economical car because the amount of gear and food we packed would never have fit into a Prius.  After this trip, we agreed that keeping it is the best way to save money.  We have no car payment, the insurance is relatively low, and it is a Toyota – practically maintenance free (knock on wood).

Although I am seeing more compact and economy cars on the road in and around L.A., I did not see many in Yosemite.  The SUV is not only handy, it is treasured.  I happen to love my 4Runner because it not only serves well for big trips, but it is still cool looking.  Part truck and part utility, slender yet rugged, and gets fairly decent mileage, it performed beyond expectations.  Plus, anyone looks cool in an SUV.  Can’t say the same for the minivan.

Ah, the minivan.  There were plenty of minivans on the road in Yosemite Valley.   Packed high with baggage, gear, and kids, the minivan is a streamlined dream.  It’s low enough to the ground so the little ones can get themselves in and out with pure pride that they needed no help from their parents.  Judging from some of the minivans I saw, they looked quite comfortable, like rolling living rooms.  TVs popped out from the ceiling, chairs swivel around, some had tables in the middle where everyone could play games or have meals.  Who wouldn’t love one of these ultimate family machines?

Exit the driver.  He is familiar to everyone – he’s got the ball cap on, the polo shirt, khaki cargo shorts, and Teva sandals.  He’s dad.  His shoulders are a tad slumped and he walks with a tired saunter.  His wife shouts impatient instructions to do something like grab the diaper bag.  He does so, but reluctantly.  

The minivan has stripped him of his masculinity.  There is nothing tough or rugged about a minivan, and certainly nothing manly about it.  It doesn’t even have an ounce of adventure anywhere on it.  Its status is below the wood paneled station wagon from National Lampoon’s Vacation.  Sure, he tries to outfit it with rooftop luggage racks, tying things with bungee cords and such but you can’t hide it even if you drove it into your tent.   He avoids parking next to the SUVs out of pure embarrassment, but envies them from afar.  He’s lost control and his position in the family is no more than driver and mommy’s little helper.  The minivan is a female object.  When dad is driving, he might as well be standing in line at the super market to buy tampons and Midol.  He’s a sucker.   He probably doesn’t even know how he got to this spot.  It was the day you agreed to buy a minivan, only you didn’t know it at the time and may not know it now!  You just know how pathetic you feel every time you get behind the wheel.  It’s worse when your wife wants to drive because now you have to sit in the dreaded passenger seat.  You look oversized and uncomfortable.  And what’s worse, your wife actually looks good behind the wheel.  That’s because the minivan IS a woman’s car, or more of a glorified station wagon.  No matter how they market them or how many SUV-like features they try to lure you with, it’s still a minivan and looks nothing like an SUV.

Come on and fight for your manhood!  Do not give into the minivan.  KILL IT!  Get your SUV and get your balls back!  You know where they are…

…in the glove box of your minivan.