Saturday, January 31, 2009

Twelve Years Car Free

Click on image to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

Today, Peggy and I celebrate 12 years of automobile non-ownership.

12 years of reducing our personal carbon footprints by almost 13,000 pounds of CO2 each year, for a total of over 150,000 pounds.

12 years of not blowing the putrid stench of our exhaust into the faces and lungs of pedestrians and bicyclists.

12 years of not buying expensive gasoline refined from oil which innocent people are killed over.

12 years of not paying gasoline taxes for habitat destroying road construction.

12 years of not wasting money on tires and car maintenance

12 years of not paying for car insurance.

12 years of not contributing to gridlock.

12 years of healthful exercise derived from walking and bicycling instead of sitting in cars.

12 years of withholding financial support for the destructive biosphere-polluting automobile and oil industries.

12 years of a greatly reduced responsibility for the substantial numbers of living creatures being sacrificed along our highways as roadkill; squirrels, rabbits, deer, birds, honeybees, butterflies, and all the rest.

12 years of conserving what's left of our dwindling oil supplies as the world reaches peak-oil production and economic decline.

12 years of practical experience getting ourselves around on foot, and, with bicycles fitted with utility trailers.

The above are only twelve of countless reasons we celebrate our decision to live without an automobile. To read more about our commitment to being car-free, read our 10th Anniversary post here.

The Chevrolet pictured above appears to be a 1941 Special DeLuxe Sport Sedan fitted with a 1940 Master Deluxe hood that has no way of ever closing properly because of the '41 grille re-design. This was a "wildly popular" best selling car in America in 1941. I especially like the improvised 2x4 wood bumper brackets on this one, with plumbers tape holding the bumper on. The car is a prop out in front of a roadside-Americana auto-themed restaurant in old-town Victorville, along a ragged stretch of what's left of the fabled Route 66, The Mother Road.

I know a lot about cars, the older ones that is. Like most boys of my era, I grew up infatuated with them, totally immersed in the stylish, sexy, hot-rod auto-culture of the 1950s. I could name just about every make, year, and model up through the 1960s. I rebuilt my own engines, repaired transmissions, did my own brake jobs, carburetor rebuilds, and tune-ups. I did auto-body work, and, for awhile, made my living taking apart wrecks and putting them back together, but that was a long time ago. My love affair with automobiles, except as post-industrial artifacts, has been over for many years.

That old Chevy is the style of car that populated the world I was born into. A giddy post-war world of about 2.25 billion people. A world full of promise with a bright shiny future being created for us by the folks at GM ("See The USA, In Your Chevrolet"), General Electric ("Live Better, Electrically"), and DuPont ("Better Living Through Chemistry").

Yeah, the old slogans still echo fresh in my mind, 60 years later, as our gridlocked auto-infrastructure devours more & more tax dollars while it crumbles into disrepair, as our antiquated overburdened coal-fired, gas-powered, uranium fed, hydro-electric charged (as in dammed rivers, or should I say ruined rivers?) electricity grid crashes on a regular basis, leaving millions without power for weeks on end, and our water, air, and food become evermore contaminated with the wonders of modern chemistry.

But, not to worry, the same folks are bringing us new technologies to remedy the incredible destruction caused by the previous ones, and some of them are already on the market, if we'll only start buying into them.

Soon, much of America's remaining open land will be slathered over with whirring aluminum & plastic windmills generating "clean" electricity, while killing birds along their migratory flyways, and destroying expansive scenic vistas (been to Palm Springs lately?).

We'll have mile upon mile of photovoltaic panels glaring in the sun from the surface of former Southwest desert wildlife habitat, all fenced in by chain-link and barbed wire to protect the crap from vandals and terrorists, all of it strip-mined & manufactured from the dwindling resources the world is now at war over, so we humans can continue to power our empire of destruction.

Yes, clean energy is coming folks, and zero emissions electric cars, so we can all have a clear conscience as we sit in the midst of our oppressive mind-numbing gridlocked bureaucratic crime-ridden war-ravaged nightmarish consumer-driven industrial civilization steeped in bankrupt ideology, failed technologies, and moral irresponsibility.

I've been listening to the salesmen of Capitalism and growth for 63 years now and the only thing that changes is the label on the cure-all snake oil bottle.

It's too late to patch all the monstrous holes in this Titanic and there's 5 billion too many of us to fit in the lifeboats.

It's way past time that we face the gravity of our predicament with the appropriate humility and show compassion for one another as the world we know disintegrates around us. We're all in this together, there's no one to blame but ourselves.

It's not the Muslims, the Jews, or the Palestinians, not the Christians, or the Pagans, the Gays, Lesbians, or Homophobes, and it's not the Democrats, Republicans, Commies, or Anarchists.

It's not even God, or Satan!

It's Us

And, it's just the way things happened, we're the victims of our own success.

We achieved too much too fast without soon enough gaining sufficient insight into the destructive consequences of our extraordinary power to alter and overpopulate the natural world we depend upon.

A world of 6.5 billion people, all scrambling for precious resources, is now reaching Peak Everything and we're not at all prepared for the downside of the curve.

So, hang on friends, and hold each other close in your hearts, because our great super-highway is fast becoming a very difficult and bumpy little trail to an extremely different future.

I played with my photo of the '41 Chevy in Photoshop, feathering the image with an oval mask, adding poster edge effects from the Artistic menu in the filters tools, and then slightly increasing the color saturation with the Image, Adjustments tool.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Makin' Tracks...

~Monday Morning~
Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

During our brisk morning walk yesterday, Peggy, Dallas, and I left these fresh tracks in the 4 inches of new snow that fell Sunday night. Today is sunny and colder, 0° F when we woke up at 5:30, and only 28° at half past noon.

A nice day to be at home.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Morning...

7:20 A.M. - Stanfield Marsh
Click on photo to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom

Fog and clouds hung gracefully over the valley this morning as Peggy, Dallas, and I, made our way along the footbridge by Stanfield Marsh.

A few light sprinkles fell during our wanderings but not enough to soak through our layers of clothing.

We enjoyed intermittent drizzles throughout the day yesterday which continued overnight and seem to be moving on out this morning.

Our walk left me relaxed and appreciative of the warm fire that welcomed us home as I checked in on a couple of blog friends, Madcap, and Deb, who have both responded to the below meme of 37 questions.

I've decided to join them...

37 Random Things About Me

1. Do you like blue cheese? Yes, in fact I love it when the cheese in the fridge gets old and starts turning blue. First dibs on the mold!

2. Have you ever smoked? Yes, for 22 years, from ages 11 to 33, I picked it up from my mom. I've been a non-smoker for the past 30 years.

3. Do you own a gun? Yes, a 30/30 rifle.

4. What flavor Kool Aid is your favorite? I haven't tasted Kool-Aid in decades, but, when I was a kid I liked the lime flavored junk.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? I try not to visit doctors, I wish to die a natural death, nowhere near a hospital.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? I think they're absolutely disgusting, but, when I do eat one, it has mustard, onions, and sometimes, chili con carne.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? 'Miracle Down Under' with Dee Wallace and John Waters (1987).

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee.

9. Can you do push-ups? A few.

10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? A cast brass sun-pendant my stepfather made for me. It's the only piece of jewelry I own, aside from my wedding ring.

11. Favorite hobby? Whichever one, of dozens, I'm currently involved with.

12. Do you have A.D.D? If you mean Anti-establishment Dissidence Disorder, then most definitely!

13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Two or three pair!

14. Middle name? Steven.

15. Name thoughts at this moment? Is it beer-thirty yet?

16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Coffee, beer, and tequila.

17. Current worry? Oh nothing major, except maybe the collapse of Western Civilization, and how that might affect my kids.

18. Current hate right now? Elitism, classism, and self-righteous judgement.

19. Favorite place to be? Home, in the garden.

20. How did you bring in the New Year? Celebrating with my wife and son until 12:01, when I promptly passed out.

21. Where would you like to go? Home, where I grew up, but it's not there anymore.

22. Name three people who will complete this? Madcap, Deb, and Jim (I consulted my crystal ball).

23. Do you own slippers? Yes, but I can never find them.

24 What color shirt are you wearing? A black long-sleeved t-shirt.

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Nope, too slippery, always sliding off the bed. Good old high-thread-count cotton for me.

26. Can you whistle? Yes, but nothing to brag about. I can't carry a tune.

27. Favorite Color? Blue & Green, equally.

28. What songs do you sing in the shower? Old hillbilly songs. Clementine, She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain, On Top Of Old Smokey, etc.

29. Would you be a pirate? Only in the sense that RobinHood was a pirate, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. I've got no taste for rape, pillage, and plunder, our species has done more than enough of that crap!

30. Favorite Girl's Name? The one attached to my favorite girl, Peggy Sue, who, by the way, was named several years before the famous Buddy Holly song was written.

31. Favorite boy's name? Jim, handed down through generations of my family, to my father, to me, and to my son. Even my 100% Cherokee, great, great, great, grandfather was named James, James Drury (It was common practice for Native Americans of that time to adopt the names of European settlers and Drury is a French surname). James Drury was born of the Keetoowah Cherokee in Tennessee, in 1798, and died in Bradley County, Arkansas, in 1859, when the well he was digging caved in on him. His daughter, Nancy Jane Drury, also 100% Cherokee, was the mother of my tobacco-chewing great-grandma Garrison, whom I remember very well.

32. What's in your pocket right now? Reach in there and find out! ;~)

33. Last thing that made you laugh? My answer to question #32.

34. What vehicle do you drive? A 15 year-old DiamondBack Topanga Mountain Bike (as in bicycle).

35. Worst injury you've ever had? A shattered right leg from a 1978 motorcycle accident which required bone grafts and 14 months to heal.

36. Do you love where you live? I love the nature of the place, but I'm saddened by the ongoing overdevelopment and destruction of it.

37. How many TVs do you have in your house? None!

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Dodge Sculpture

Click on image to enlarge - © 2009 jim otterstrom
A derelict Dodge becomes an object of art after its useful days are over.
I just had a delightful vision of old beasts like this being placed alongside a national network of bicycle corridors as public art installations.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A One-Minute Reminder From The Lorax!

Click on arrow to play the 'one-minute times millions' video © 2009 jim otterstrom

Time is running out for the Petroleum Age...

...and none too soon if you ask me!

Every day I walk past dozens of trucks, big, bigger, and biggerer, as they just sit there idling, blowing what's left of the worlds oil from their exhaust pipes into my face, my lungs, and the biosphere of our planet.

As you read these words, millions of huge trucks, this very minute, are idling away precious fuel in every corner of the world (Fuel from oil that people are killing each other over). And it goes on 24 hours a day, while billions of other stench-spewing vehicles speed past in an exponentially spiraling pattern of blind destruction.

A stunning thing to witness as the world reaches peak everything, and descends into cataclysmic resource wars, in the waning days of the short-lived Age Of Petroleum.

In a not too distant future the rusted hulks of shiny behemoths like the one above will be weathering away among the ruins of our civilization much like the statues of Easter Island, and, for any survivors, will be a stark reminder of our supreme foolishness.

Mark My Words...

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Everything Under The Sun...

Unfinished Drawing - Early 1970s
Click on drawing to enlarge - ©1974-2009 jim otterstrom
I've been spending the first week of 2009 trying to organize and de-clutter my life, starting with what I'll call the library, where the computer, my desk, our books, and the music collection reside.
There's a steel flat-file cabinet (post office surplus) in the room, where I keep a lifetime of paraphernalia, including old documents, photos, and other memorabilia associated with my odd plethora of interests (or obsessions maybe). Sixteen drawers of crap, each one 18 inches wide by 24 inches deep, and ranging in height from 2 inches to 1 foot.
There was a time, long, long ago, when these files were neatly organized and I could easily find whatever I might be looking for. As the years passed by though, and drawers began to overflow, stuff started getting filed randomly, wherever it would fit, until it became nearly impossible to find anything.
Among these treasures are more than 30 years of newspaper articles on the environment; on pollution and climate change, energy, transportation, population, organic and sustainable farming, native species, diversity and habitat loss, natural and man-made disasters, indigenous peoples and their fates, on urban renewal and habitat restoration, endangered species & recovery efforts, and countless other topics that I have felt the need to research.
Articles that led me to hundreds of books where I could delve deeper into what's good, or bad, or simply interesting about our culture, and about the problems we face, as I strive to understand how we got here, where we might be going, and what solutions we could pursue.
There are also articles about issues and causes I've been closely involved with, such as the Ward Valley Nuclear Waste Dump, and the Headwaters Forest Campaign, among many others, distant, and local.
I've always had a desire to write, and all this input has been fuel for my fire, but I must admit, I haven't honed my writing skills enough to meet my own expectations. My writing is still pretty clunky.
I'm only halfway through cleaning out the file cabinet but I've already found well over 100 letters I've personally written to presidents, vice-presidents, senators, congresspersons, and even The World Bank, on a huge variety of issues, from the GATT & NAFTA treaties, to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, nuclear arms reductions, renewable energy subsidies, the mountaintop mining of coal, and so much more.
This doesn't include another 100+ letters generated, in my name, by our long distance phone company, Working Assets, now CREDO.
And, of course, it also doesn't include the hundreds of online petitions and letters I've submitted in the past ten or so years
I'm exhausted just thinking about all the effort I've put into dialogue substantially ignored by my elected representatives, especially my eternal congressman, the honorable Republican, Jerry Lewis, who thanks me for my letters and then tells me why he voted in opposition to my wishes.
Still, as long as there is a centralized government, I would encourage that government to be---of the people, by the people, and for the people---so, I participate in this so-called democracy, exercising my freedom of speech, and I'll never stop speaking my mind, even if mine is not the majority opinion.
Now, to get back to the organizational task at hand, there's also drawers full of artwork by family and friends; drawings, paintings and photos, geneology documents and historical family pictures, old magazines with articles about the hot-rods & race cars my stepfather built, articles about music and musicians, magazine & newspaper articles about my family and I, collections of stamps from my decades at the post office, old posters, signs, & stickers that I've found artistically or socially relevant to my unconventional vision, and just all kinds of other garbage utterly meaningless to anyone but myself.
Yes, this stuff is clutter, but it feeds my imagination and my creativity, so it looks like I'll only be able to part with maybe 25% of it, if I'm lucky. Not very Zen of me!
I'm having fun going through it all though, reminiscing about past efforts, accomplishments, and failures, and trying to organize it all in some rational meaningful way.
The most fun in all this is rediscovering something long forgotten, some relic from the distant past, like the above drawing, started in my 20s, but never finished.
I wonder what it would've looked like completed, but then again, is anything ever done?
I've decided I rather enjoy my drawing, and my life, in their unfinished states...

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Click on the above photo to enlarge
The mosaic is ©2004 by Jeannie Houston Antes
My photo shows a close-up detail from our friend Jeannie's work, entitled, 'Now Is Your Chance', which resides on our living room wall.

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