Sunday, January 10, 2016

Belated New Year Thoughts on Blogging, Water, Solar, Lost Hats, Blimps, Guns and Foreign Students

Happy belated New Year. 

If it seems more time is passing between postings, you’d be correct. Last year I wrote 79 rants, er, blogs, compared to 85 in 2014, which was a reduction from 107 in 2013, which was 49 fewer than the 156 posted in 2012 and even that was 31 below my all-time production high of 187 in 2011.

Can I explain away this verbal shortfall? Somewhat, though some might discount my excuses. First in my mind is that for the last 16 months I have been driving Gilda to and from work Monday through Wednesday. That’s four to six hours behind the wheel each day, depending on traffic. Writing takes time, and, more to the point, the driving is exhausting. So blame Gilda if you crave but don’t get more blogging.

Second, for the last three years I have had a real estate license. I mostly help my friend Linda, occasionally co-hosting an open house, or erecting For Sale signs, or securing information from city/town hall records. Maybe I work a couple hours each week, not a lot, but enough to carve into my writing time. So blame Linda, as she’s the one who talked me into getting my realtor’s license.

Third, in response to several comments, I’ve reduced the number of blogs devoted to sports. After all, no one has replaced Derek Jeter on the New York Yankees as copy-worthy. 

Fourth, I’m to blame for just being … lazy. Lord knows there’s enough craziness out there, especially during this presidential election cycle, to keep me busy multiple times each week. Yet I too often fail to exert myself. Lethargy prevails. But what good is retirement if you can’t be excused for just goofing off? 

Okay, now that I’ve explained myself, here are some thoughts I hope interest you:

Water, Water Everywhere: Amid all the rainfall out West and the flooding along the Mississippi, not to mention how my backyard looks after last night’s and this morning’s monsoon, we should not lose sight of the real water problem that exists around the world—there’s a growing scarcity of potable water that threatens to be the next reason nations go to war or regions within our country dispute federal water management policies. 

Water has become more expensive than oil. Not really. Just seems that way. While clearing out some old files, I came across our city water bills for 2003. For the full year we used 10,200 cubic feet of water, equivalent to 76,301 gallons, at a cost of $73.80, or .0009672 cents per gallon. For 2015 we used 11,000 cubic feet of water, 82,285 gallons, at an annual cost of $220.60, or .0026809 cents per gallon—a 177.2% increase per gallon over the last 12 years. 

Had the price just increased by the cumulative rate of inflation (29%), our price per gallon of water would have been .0012476 cents for a grand total of $102.66. 

Solar Savings: At least we are saving money on our electricity usage thanks to our solar electric panels. Eight months into the program we’ve saved nearly $700. Equally important, we’ve reduced our ConEd dependence by nearly 5,000 kilowatts.  

Hats Off: I’m bummed out. I lost one of my favorite baseball hats, a promotional gift I received back in 1994 to celebrate the release of That’s Entertainment III by Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Actually, three hats came my way. I kept two and gave one to my art director, Milton, after he said he’d like one. 

The hats are quite pliable, making it easy to fold into a winter jacket pocket. I think I lost the hat in a movie theater while watching the new Star Wars flick. 

Bottom line—I preferred the hat over the movie. and by that I mean both Star Wars VII and That’s Entertainment III.

Hot Air Rising: Today’s CBS Sunday Morning aired a piece on the evolution of the Goodyear blimp. It reminded me of my quixotic attempt to bum a ride on a blimp moored in Miami.

Back in 1972, as part of a graduate journalism program at the Newhouse School of Public Communications of Syracuse University, my class covered the Florida presidential primary. We were stationed in Miami. I was assigned to follow the campaign of John Ashbrook, a conservative Republican congressman from Ohio. He had little chance of winning, especially in the Miami area, so I had lots of free time. Two of my classmates and I came upon a Goodyear blimp moored at a field. The blimp was there for coverage of a sporting event some days later. We talked up the crew who promised us a free ride the next day. When we arrived Tuesday morning at the mooring site, the blimp was not there. Seems Walter Cronkite’s crew had been ordered to film Miami vistas for that evening’s election coverage. I never forgave Cronkite for pre-empting my chance to float in air.

Bang Bang: Christmas Day I headlined a blog post asking if you found an AR-15 under your tree, Seems I wasn’t too far off from the truth. 

Click on this article from Britain’s The Daily Mail and you’ll see some extraordinary pictures of “Americans showing off their new weapons at the firing range the day after Christmas - including a woman’s custom-made pink anti-tank rifle”:

I fail to understand why anyone needs such personal firepower. 

Finally, Some International Humor you might identify with, courtesy of my brother-in-law David, who along with my sister Lee, has participated for several years in a university program to house foreign students in the Los Angeles area. Here are three “thank-you” notes received from Chinese parents by one program host:

“Thank you for teaching my son to wash dishes.”
“Thank you for teaching my daughter to make her own bed.”
“Thank you for teaching my son to cook and heat up his own food.”