Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Give me good bike parking...or else

I meant to take this pick months ago when I first noticed that the Mission Street strip mall which houses Coffeetopia, La Mission Mexican Restaurant, and Ristorante Avanti, had taken out a single car parking space and replaced it with 5 bike parking rings. This can house at least 10 bicycles - though a better rack could probably fit in at least 5 more. No complaints though, whomever made this happen deserves much props....

Poetically enough, the day I took the former picture was right after that powerful (global warming induced?) storm about two weeks ago. The latter picture here is what really peaked my interest.

I've seen a lot of local gas stations close down over the years - the site of Fin's Coffee on Ocean St, the empty lot on the corner of Water and Ocean that used to house a Shell, the one near Almar and Mission that keeps opening and closing, the former corporate station gone "Bio-Diesel" on Ocean/Soquel that never really seems to have any business - But from what I can tell, these have all been due to crappy economic times. The station above was only temporarily shut down after the storm caused the roof to collapse - still, I always like it when mother nature strikes back.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bike Parking In the SC Boondocks

Conversation w/ Barista @ People's Coffee:

Do you want a receipt?
yes, please. So, you the owner?
I'm the manager. The owner will be in tomorrow.
Any chance we could get some better bike parking out there?
Yeah, well, a rack wouldn't fit on the patio and the cars need access right around there...
Yeah, but I had to lock up on the railing, i don't wanna block foot traffic or anything...
There are racks across the parking lot behind the market
Hmmmm...that's still kinda far, why not take out one of the car parking spaces and put a bike rack there?
*stares at me blankly. shakes his head*
i take my coffee and go

Monday, October 19, 2009

Balloon boy b.s.

Over the weekend the headline reports on CNN radio where all about the balloon boy.

I think it's safe to say issues like global warming and peak oil and resource wars are never gonna be dealt with in a serious manner by the media. At least not the U.S. media - It's completely defined by triviality and commercial interests. What passes for mainstream "news" in the United States these days is basically a corporate-version of Pravda - well produced, entertaining, grade A bullshit.

Pity the rest of the country isn't watching any serious material like this:

Longer lines at New York food banks - Al Jazeera English
Food security in the US has been steadily worsening, with millions of Americans having to rely on charities and aid organisations for their next meal.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Transitions & Harbingers

Got a dehydrator over the weekend.

This means that all those extra the tomatoes we've been growing won't go into the worm bin.

I consider it another small step in the so-called "transition period" my generation is going through - getting ready for the post-peak oil world, global-warming disaster preparedness, simple living, self-reliance, DIY homesteading, yada yada.

To date, I've sold my car, acquired a bike trailer that's been used to haul many heavy things it shouldn't have, use two worm composting bins, learned to identify a ton of edible and medicinal wild plants and herbs, learned how to fix up a bike pretty well, acquired a rain water barrel, learned how to grow a decent garden, and the list goes on.

In retaliation, the capitalist system, vis a vis things like inflation, stagnant wages, and free trade agreements has pretty much stopped me from participating in things I used to enjoy like: sushi, record stores, concerts, eating out, movies, and buying the occasional t-shirt. Honestly though, I only really miss sushi.

I guess this is my way of saying for every little step forward, there's a lot of things, a former middle class rat like me leaves behind. I know I'm not alone in this predicament - All my friends who're still employed have had their hours cut back or furloughed - and at least half these folks are professionals.

Thankfully, there's a growing movement of people who seem to be cognizant enough to read the writing on the wall, check this out:

Reskilling Expo
Sat. Oct 17th
United Methodist Church in Santa Cruz

Of course, my acquaintances at Transitions SC still aren't grappling w/ some of the bigger issues we're all going to have to address sooner or later. For instance - How does one reconcile working 40 hours a week and raising a sizeable edible garden? I know in my instance, the biggest issue is labor time - harvesting the greens, washing them, and then prepping them for eating.

What happens if you wanna kick it up a notch and start raising chickens too?

The other ugly thing to consider is the fact that if certain appliances (think refrigerators, microwaves) we've come to rely on become too energy intensive/expensive, what simpler options do we have? Can you still even purchase an ice box anymore? Can you even buy ice by the block?

There has to be a point where people working on transitioning into what will undoubtedly be a slower, more austere way of living will have to face the contradiction of coming home in office attire then quickly changing into gardening, or bicycle repairing clothes. Imagine this happening day after day, for years on end. I'd say it's a strain many of us are already feeling right now. Something's gotta give.