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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Carless? Car-Free?

Forget about an epic story like Eight Years in Tibet, I’ve now gone eight years without driving a car. It’s true, the last time I drove a car was my VW Jetta in Seattle, Washington, USA back in 2006. Something my European friends have a difficult time understanding is that for an American not to drive a car is an incredible luxury, or I should say that to have a lifestyle in which owning a car isn't an absolute necessity is a great luxury. For many people in the USA it’s impossible to live without some form of personal, motorized transportation. For the past eight years I’ve managed rather well with only bicycles, buses, and trains.

 Even back when I lived in Seattle and owned a car I rarely ever drove it. People who knew me for years were often surprised to discover that I even had a car. A car for me back then was strictly recreational, something I drove out to the mountains on the weekend. My car was like a snowmobile or a jetski—two stupid toys I wouldn’t be caught dead on and now I’ve added the automobile to that list.

For most of my adult life cars have been a luxury and certainly nothing remotely resembling a necessity. Going backwards in time from the present and going back eight years I’ve had no use at all for cars, then in my eight years in Seattle they were on the weekend fringes of my existence, further back in my life they were a tool to get to work and a few other places, further back in time before I had a license I was chauffeured around by my parents but even back then I wasn’t living in a totally car-dependent world.

The whole idea of cars is completely absurd and horrifying if you think about it for about a minute. Automobile transportation in the current era assumes that absolutely everyone who drives is capable of handling the skills that only a generation ago were only expected of a fighter pilot. Freeway driving in an intense environment like Los Angeles or the entire eastern seaboard in the USA can be a terrifying experience and it’s a miracle that there aren’t thousands of fatalities every day. As it is there are tens of thousands of traffic deaths every year in America and over a million serious injuries yet we continue to go all in for cars to the almost total exclusion of mass transportation. I used to always consider myself a good driver but I never want to go back into the ring if I can help it. I’ve survived this long and don’t want to press my luck. I never want to come out of retirement if that will at all be possible.

What is life like without a car? For one thing there is an almost child-like simplicity in your daily routine when you don’t have to get behind the wheel of a car and negotiate traffic, parking, other assholes behind the wheel, police, etc. Being released from the financial burdens of owning a car is no small benefit. If you don’t own a car you are free from car payments, gasoline, insurance premiums, parking fees, repair bills, and all the other costs associated with driving. One of the worst things about driving is having a breakdown and I can’t even remember the last time I had car trouble—bike trouble is a whole other matter but overall far less of a headache.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Book of Mundane Dalai Lama Quotes

The thing is, if normal slobs like us say something no one gives a shit but when the Dalai says any damn thing at all it’s somehow earth-shattering.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

All About Looks

I guess the message here is to dispose of these plastic things appropriately…or stop drinking six packs but that’s a horrible message. The thing is I’m sure that the turtle’s mom only warned him 1,000 times not to play with the six pack rings so, really, whose fault is it?

Friday, July 04, 2014

Ways to Make Football a Better Game

1) Put a Stop to Diving. This is, without a doubt, what I hate the most about the game. I hate how faking an injury has been turned into a crucial element of the sport, at least for some players and teams. Let players know that this will no longer be tolerated and players acting out injuries will be punished. Period. How can this be achieved? There are a lot of things that could be done but #4 on this list would help solve the problem.

2) Make Offside Calls Electronic. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a game in which there wasn’t at least one bad offside call, the bad call may not have affected the game in any way but it’s still a bad call. We already have the technology in place because on TV we see it immediately. The human eye is not capable of seeing two different points on the field at the same time. With an electronic call flags would go up and a whistle would blow to end the play. No flags and no whistles mean no call and play proceeds.

3) Make Defense More Difficult. If there is one damn thing the sport needs it’s more goals. If there were more goals there would be less of a chance that a single bad call by the referee would ruin a game. The easiest way to hinder the defender is to make it an immediate expulsion to hold on to another player, either by grabbing their uniform or a part of their body. It’s not like players actually pull on someone’s jersey by accident so there shouldn’t be any crying when there is an expulsion for this. Corner kicks would be a lot easier to score if this were enforced.

4) Two 45 Minute Halves. No injury time and when the clock runs out the game is over unless the ball is in the air flying towards the goal. If a player is injured the play continues. If a player needs to be taken off the field then the ref can stop the clock and restart it when play resumes so that everyone knows exactly how much time is left in the game. I have seen games with 10 minutes tacked on to the end and countless games when play just seems to go on forever even after it should have stopped simply because one team is threatening to score. This rule would cut down a lot on diving because there wouldn’t be time for the phony drama as play wouldn’t stop due to someone flopping.  If play is halted because of an injury then the injured player must sit on the sidelines for five minutes or be substituted. The clock means so little in football that I don’t know why they bother with it at all.

We Have Buses in Valencia?

Because the rain kept me from riding a bike I was thinking that a really cool superpower would be an encyclopedic knowledge of bus schedules so I’d never have to wait very long, but like with most superpowers, they probably already have a phone app for this. This means that you would need a real phone with internet which I can’t be bothered with. I just keep hoping that cell phones will go away. 

No joke, I stepped out the door this afternoon in the rain and walked the half a block to the bus stop and it rolled up just as I got there and dropped me off a few steps from where I was going. Bravo buses of Valencia! I’d rather ride a bike but after a wreck on the share bikes in the rain I won’t do that again. If it weren’t for my jiu-jitsu training I would have been in the emergency room after my last accident which was worse than the Hindenburg crash but with more witnesses as I went down in front of a supermarket. And while we are on the subject, "Oh, the humanity!" What the hell does that even mean?