Saturday, March 20, 2010

It’s a glorious March morning here in Bon Accord.  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and my husband is ironing his work shirts — in the nude.  I know, I know, but hey, I live with him. And part of why I love him is for quirky little things like that.

I would never and I mean NEVER even consider doing anything in the nude.  Just all that exposure — can’t handle it.  He, on the other hand, revels in his ‘freedom’.  It’s like his challenge to the world — see me! — and always with a huge, crooked grin on his face.  I just pray he stays away from the windows.

Although I’ve had an extremely busy, somewhat stressful week just passed, it was for the most part pretty good.  I felt like I really accomplished some good and put in some good time at work.  We are close to Spring Break and emotions are always running a little high for a couple of weeks before.  The kids are itching to get out of school, teachers and staff are stressed about report cards and parent/teacher interviews and parents are concerned that their kids aren’t learning up to their potential or are being short-changed somehow.

Give us all a week off in the sunshine and fresh air and we’ll settle down and revert to normal.  Whatever normal is.

Personally, I can hardly wait for the break.  I need some serious ‘down’ time.  Time to get some writing done, time to read, time to start cleaning and purging.  Time to do anything but think of work.

Now, I’ve got to make a comment about the avalanche in Revelstoke yesterday.  The second one.  The first one was bad enough.  The deaths, injury, destruction, recriminations, talk of legislation, etc., etc..  My reaction, like a great many others, was: What a bunch of stupid yahoos!  How do they justify stupidity as a sport?  And how do they justify putting so many people’s lives in danger for what they call their ‘love of nature’?

Yeah, I just love the thought of people being buried under tons of suffocating snow.  I love the thought of someone’s child living without one or both of his/her parents because Mommy and Daddy died doing what they ‘loved’.  I love the thought of parents burying their child and having to explain their heartbreak was caused by a recessive gene for stupidity.   The ensuing arguments over whose side it came from must be a laugh riot.

All the bullshit that came out following that first avalanche about how these ‘nature lovers’ and  ‘thrill seekers’ are not just redneck morons, but actual doctors and lawyers and accountants and. . .  just about made me want to. . . well, I don’t really know what it made me want to do, I just know it made me insane for a moment or two.  As if looking to their ranks and proclaiming that they’ve got ‘professionals’ amongst them somehow legitimizes their complete and utter lack of brains.  An education or initials behind a name is certainly not an indicator of intelligence — merely an indicator of choice and opportunity.

Now, yesterday, another avalanche, bigger and more devastating than the first was yet again triggered by idiots on snowmobiles.  One person is confirmed dead and the search is on for more buried beneath a mountain of snow and debris.

There’s always the argument tossed out that you can’t paint an entire group with the same brush as you would one or two of its members because of stupid or reckless behaviour and questionable personal beliefs and morals.  Not all Nazi’s were bad, if you get my drift.  They just happened to belong to the same organization that sanctioned whole-sale slaughter and ethnic cleansing, but they didn’t all actually DO any of that, or, so they say.  They were, they’ll tell you, good people, caught up by an idea that just went wrong.

and if you believe that. . .

. . .then you’ll believe that snow mobilers are just innocent victims of the nature they so dearly worship and love.  They are seduced by pristine, virgin snows and clear blue skies to drive, en-mass, into the wilderness with their pollution-chugging trucks and SUV’s.

They churn up the valleys and river banks with their high-priced toys and then they leave their garbage and their beer cans, the butt-ends of their celebratory cigars, their baby’s diapers and their children’s snack wrappers littering the place they swear they revere.  They disrupt the habitat of countless species of wildlife, none of which they ever see, because they make so much noise and wreak so much havoc that the wildlife flees in desperation.

Yes, these people are not rednecks, these people are not reckless and selfish and thoughtless and moronic, these people are ‘getting out there’ , they’re ‘experiencing’ life, they’re spending ‘quality time’ with family and friends.  Somehow, I’m just not buying it.

Why, I ask, did this second group of snow mobilers go back to an area that they knew was unstable?  Someone give me an answer to that, one that makes sense and I’ll stop spewing my derision for this group of idiots.  I seriously hope that no one else was killed or injured in that massive avalanche, but I think that’s pretty naive on my part.  I also seriously hope that the government steps in and starts making these people take some responsibility for their reckless behaviour and that they make them accountable for the cost of rescue efforts and clean up.

One more thing — do you know who I feel the most sorry for in all of this?  It’s the police, the avalanche patrol, the rescue workers, the health service providers and the rational people of Revelstoke who have stepped up and provided assistance, help, aid and comfort to the victims of these preventable tragedies — they’re the true heroes.

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It’s been awhile. . .

 

The light at the end of the tunnel -- just trying to stay focused on it.

I’m finally getting back to my blog.  I’ve missed being here, but lately my life has been so chaotic.  There just never seems to be enough time. 

There I go again, with that time thing.  I do believe there is a story or a poem in me somewhere that deals with time.  One of these days. . .

Well, I think I’ve finally bought a vehicle.  A 2010 Ford Edge.  After a couple of months of checking used vehicles out, it boiled down to paying a few thousand more for new over a couple of years old and getting full warranty coverage. 

I HATE buying vehicles.  I find the process so stressful.  All the fancy dancing around over price just about drives me nuts.  I know the salesman is going to try to get the most of me that he can, and he knows I’m going to try to pay as little as I can and yet, we still have to waste hours arguing over the bottom line.  It’s such an unsatisfying experience, all around. 

Other than I’ve got a new vehicle, of course.  Well, I don’t physically have it yet.  It’s on order.  But hopefully in 5 or 6 weeks I’ll be driving my nice, new Edge. 

We test drove quite a lot of smaller and midsize SUV’s and crossovers (glorified station wagons, you ask me) and in the end we just liked the size and the feel of the Edge.  Just like all the reviews we read, it’s not an exceptionally exciting vehicle, but it’s got nice styling, a roomy interior and I felt confident driving it.   the other nice thing is, I’ve got plenty of room for my grandchildren. 

I’ve driven a small, 4 cyl Sunfire for the past 10 years, I think driving this bigger, 6 cyl is going to be a treat.  This morning though, I’m going through the post-purchase jitters.  You know — I can’t believe we spent that much money, did we get a good enough deal, is the dealer still going to try and take us for a ride — all that kind of stuff.  But, really, in the end, I think we made out okay.  Despite how much you bargain and wrangle you know they’re still making money off you if they accepted your deal.  And, they’ve got to make a living, so it’s believe you did the best you could for yourself and move on. 

I have to say, though, that for all the talk about the economic downturn and being able to pick up a vehicle for a song — that’s just not the case, at least here in Canada.  Used vehicle prices — for vehicles one or two years old — are ridiculously high.  So high in fact, that it makes no sense, really, to buy them used — not when you can get brand new for a couple of thousand more. 

And, considering that I’ll probably drive this vehicle for ten years or so, I’ll get my value out of it in the end.  Still, I wonder, wouldn’t I have been smarter to buy something about 5 years old that I could have paid about $10 000 for, driven for 3 or 4 years, and then bought another one?  I just don’t know.  Cars, they drive me nuts, but unfortunately they’re entirely essential to my life. 

So, I guess I’m working for a few more years — LOL!

The Commercialization of Green Consumerism

Out for my walk this morning in the fog with Heather.  We have great talks on these early morning jaunts and this morning we got onto the topic of green lifestyles.  It all started with my relating to her a story I’d heard the night before about young people overwhelmed by their debt load after getting out of school and some of the creative ways in which they’re solving their problems.  We segued into how much affluence we have in this country and that we have absolutely no idea of what it means to ‘make do’.  Unlike, say someone in the Dominican making $3.00 a day.  To us, making do is deciding to eat lunch at McDonald’s instead of Boston Pizza.  Tough decision!

Anyway, this got me going on how living green has become the next big growth industry.  Up til now we’ve all been pressured into buying designer clothes, fancy houses, bigger, bigger and bigger flat screen tv’s, new cars, vacation properties — the list just goes on forever.  Now, however, we are being pressured into living green, but living green expensively.  What is, essentially, supposed to be a way of living your life simpler, less expensively and with minimal impact on the environment, has become just one more way for us to live in competition with one another.

For instance, you’re only a cool ‘greenie’ if you pitch your current household linens and buy 100% bamboo, hemp or organic cotton.  Anyone seen the price of a set of bamboo sheets?  Try $400.00 a pop!  A t-shirt made of 100% certified organic, non-rainforest harvested hemp?  A mere $100.00.  Or what about retrofitting your house with solar panels, a solar powered generator, switching to geo-thermal heat instead of good old coal or water generated electricity?  Upwards of $50,000.00 (and that’s only if you live in an area where something like geo-thermal options are feasible).

Then there are vehicles — switching to a hybrid sounds like a smart, sensible, responsible idea, until you start looking into them.  Cost of these vehicles is coming down somewhat, but have you checked into repair costs?  Ouch!  And, load up a family of 4, a few large suitcases, the dog, some camping gear and head out for the back country for some nice fresh air and discover just how economical and comfortable these vehicles aren’t.  Maybe, while you’re away you can have some home renovations taken care of.  How about installing Fair Trade 100% organic bamboo or cork flooring harvested by hand from naturally sustainable forests?  Compare the costs to North American hardwood made from trees raped from our forests, then manufactured in our embarrassingly modern and technologically advanced mills.  The bamboo or cork is only about 3 times the cost, but hey the investment in feeling good about doing something ‘green’ will be more than worth it.

Going natural, it seems, has become just one more way for somebody else to get rich off everybody else’s guilt.  For years I’ve been trying to live a simpler, greener life and I’ve managed without having to spend a ton of money to do it.  It’s all about changing the way you think, not about how you spend your money.

I recycle everything that I can, and as a result when I shop, I shop with recycling in mind.  I don’t buy over packaged goods so that I don’t have a mound of plastic to send to the recycling depot.  I re-purpose things — meaning once an old t-shirt is too grungy to wear I turn it into rags.  We are renovating, and we are doing as much of the work ourselves as we can, we reuse as much of the old stuff as we can and we try to incorporate environmentally friendly products whenever and wherever we can.  But, our retaining wall is still made from pressure-treated timbers and the new eavestroughing is PVC, not artisan-made tin or copper.

It really annoys me that something so simple that could have such an impact on our world and people’s lives is being exploited so that someone else can get rich.  And you just know that the marketing geniuses and corporation executives behind the push to get you to ‘go green’ aren’t driving around in Smart Cars, eating 100% organically grown Tofu burgers, and that they’re not living in some mud hut somewhere with nothing but the skins of animals to wear.

Seriously, people, smarten up.  Live green, but for god’s sake, do it without buying into the hype.