Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Contemplating Retrospective

I've been busy with a bunch of projects lately, but none too interesting to most people. I get to think while I work on my car, or bike, and reflect quite a bit.

Some reflections are pleasant, like the time I did a winter raly around Michigan in an MG Magnette. Trust me, it wasn't warm, but it was fun. At least now it seems like it was, over a decade later.

Others aren't as good. The time my best friend was killed in a firefight by my side, and I vividly remember trying to put his stomach and organs back into him, and accompanying his body home. We worked differently than the regular Army, and I was with the chaplain and some officers when we broke the news to his family.

Certain experiences are seared into our brains. Often a sound transports me to that faraway place, and tonight it was the most unlikely source. My wife was watching the Sex and the City movie. In the scene where Sarah Jessica Parker is hitting Chris Noth with flowers, she and one of her friends screamed a certain way. And it was exactly the way my friend's mother screamed when we told her he had been killed. Blood curdling screams punctuated by gut wrenching sobs.

I tried to comfort her, but she just screamed at me "HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN TO HIM? YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO WATCH OUT FOR EACH OTHER!!!! I HATE YOU!!!!" I know she didn't mean it. Two years later she was in the hospital and I decided to visit. It was difficult for me, but I knew I needed the closure, as well as her.

We spoke briefly, and just before I left, she said "I know you did everything you could. The other guys told me so. I'm sorry for what I said to you. Please forgive me, it's been eating at me since the funeral."

"Of course I forgive you. It's ok, I figured you didn't mean it. I'm glad I was able to let you vent." We laughed, talked a bit about how things were, and I watched a woman get to a place where she was at peace with everything in her life. I got up to leave, and she said "I'm glad you stopped by. Thank you. It means a lot to me." We smiled at each other as I left.

She died that night.

I'm a very lucky person. For very many reasons. Sometimes I think about it. But most times I don't. Maybe I should more.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Shut the hell up about the price of gas

I think it's pretty apparent I'm not the typical American. I served in the army in special forces. I have no clue what football and baseball are about, as I have just enough knowledge to be able to watch a game and only ask several stupid questions. I prefer euro sports, like cycling, golf, formula one and sports car racing to Nascar, MMA, and whatever other modern gladitorial spectacle is invented this week.

I'm getting this out in the open because I'm sick about the whining I hear regarding the price of gas. Also, I'm sick of hearing about the greenines who drive hybrids and how they think they are superior. So, here I go again ( a sub reference to Whitesnake for David Amulet) offering my solutions for a problem that we created.

First and foremost, the price of gas is not going down if you complain. Drive better, ie slower acceleration, a few mph slower on the highway, combine errands into one trip, etc. Watch how the gas seems to last longer. So we've already started to save some cash. Already we're making up ground.

Don't rush out to buy a new, more fuel efficient car. The resources that went into that car will expand your carbon footprint exponentially. Buy a well maintained, fuel efficient used car. I just sold my 1998 Honda Accord coupe and it got 36mpg on the highway. Even an older, well maintained car is better for the enviroment. I'm rebuilding my 1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500. When finished, it'll get about 30mpg on the highway. The earth is thanking me for putting some personal effort forth to not use more resources, and also fill a landfill.

So we've now done what we can on the vehicle front to save money, use less gas, and hopefully stabilize the price for a little bit. But is that enough? No.

I was reading James May's column in the latest issue of Top Gear Magazine and he hit upon a fascinating concept. Basically, he realized that we get sucked in by advertisers and buy all kinds of crap we don't need. Pissed about the price of gas but were one the idiots to stand on line for hours to buy an iphone? That's a few hundred that could have gone towards gas if you were still using your old phone.

I have about 32 year's worth of tee shirts. I'm trying to use them up by working on my car in the oldest ones, then they bocome rags. Of course, it seems I end up with three of four shirts every time I race. So apparently I'm losing ground there. But the point James made was a great one. Why don't we use up the stuff we have, sell what we don't need, and use the savings for gas money?

Think of it. We save money, the enviroment is better off, and those products aren't in as much demand, so less gas and fuel is used. We all end up doing our part. Some will argue the lack of demand is bad for the economy, but that's another topic for another post.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Detective work

I love history. But too many times, that's what it truly is, a story. Lately I've been delving into the actual facts of the American Revolution. Many of those facts are wrong. Or what we think are the facts. Case in Point: Paul Revere. Without the Raiders. (Bad sub reference, but hopefully someone gets it.)

How instrumental was he in warning the colonists the British were coming? Not very, actually. He was caught just a few miles into his ride. Or how about who fired the first shot at Lexington and Concord? We did. Well, a colonist did.

Anyway, I'm considering taking all this compiled info and making it into an entertaining (to a history geek like me) read. Yup, someday I'll sit down and try to write a short, factual as possible account of the American Revolution. Or make it into a series.

I like how even in these info times, so many events are wrongly reported. Which amazes me, because it should be easy to say "Uh, no actually this happened, so let's end the game of telephone." but it never seems to happen. That's alright, I like being able to annoy people when they're wrong. Because I'm spiteful.

Time to eat, but lord knows what that statement could blossom into in today's media...