With 2006 ending and 2007 just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to have the Bloggers of The Roundtable reminisce. So I ask of you all (and anybody else who ends up reading this post), what was one of your best years ever and why? Was it the year you had your first child? Was it the year in undergrad when you started scoring (and not on tests)? Perhaps it was the year you made the junior varsity basketball team. I know that commenting on this post may age you, but that's part of getting older and we all face it. Some of us are just behind the others.
For me, I would say that one of my best years was when I was 25, so that would be 1996. I had been working for a few years, had a cool roommate, a great social life with happy hours and parties, intramural soccer and volleyball made up much of my free time. I was relatively fit, had a woman in my life and always had something to do. I also hadn't gotten to the point where I had to think about marriage, my car insurance rates went down, and my expenditures were low so I was saving up some cash at my new job.
What was your "Summer of '69" type year? Check through those old planners you've stored on your bookshelves and let us all know.
After the August, 2003 large power outage in the midwest, eastern Canada, and the northeast, and now the one in Seattle that lasted weeks, it's amazing to me that we haven't learned a thing about reducing our dependency on electricity networks. Even transactions as basic as food purchases, fuel purchases and banking all depend on electricity. They cannot be done without power, (no matter how hard you try). Shouldn't all modern societies take a page from less advanced ones and figure out how to have power-free systems for gas, food, and other things so that our society doesn't come to a standstill in times when power goes out. How about mechanical gas pumps at every 5th gas station or battery powered cash registers for occasional use. Weather is one cause of a lack of electrical power. Power grid mismanagement is another cause. But the ones that worry me most are terrorism or military conflict. What an easy target we have made ourselves out to be.
Of lesser severity, there are few things one can do for necessity or entertainment that don't require electric power. For necessity, one would have to depend on canned foods and flame for cooking without electricity. Heating or cooling a house can't be done practically without electricity. On the entertainment front, many of the things we enjoy, like TV, video games, web surfing, and even sewing, (not for me), have become electrically powered activities. I think we should learn to again enjoy activities that don't require power. Drawing just takes pencil and paper, knitting takes needle and yarn, and playing catch only takes human power and some object. How refreshing it is to occasionally simplify our lives. Notice that none of these activities "break down". They are simple and independent of most outside influences.
As a possible partial solution, why don't we use all the power and energy wasted while we all work out to generate power to put back into the grid? One person can't contribute much, but over the course of a day, hundreds could probably provide half the power that a gym needs.
On an interesting and somewhat disturbing sidenote, a Miami businessman was purportedly developing a method to convert fat drawn from liposuction into biodiesel fuel. It turns out that it was a hoax. If true, that would have solved a lot of problems. Eat all you want, don't exercise, (or if you do create electric power), then get fat, get liposuction and create fuel for you car to drive everywhere and get fatter by not walking or bicycling anywhere.
But it's not about creating more power. It's about becoming less dependent on it. So to make us a more robust society, let's fight our need for power.
Vincenzo is up this week to do our weekly Roundtable post and he wants you to follow up the beginning of his intriguing story with a chaser, (a literary one, not an alcoholic one). So have a visit to his blog "Chasing Vincenzo" and add some creative sparkle. The picture of the bird will make more sense once you visit his blog. Think of it as inspiration.
i Won't even mention Christmas shopping in this post, but a recent perusing through a Sharper Image catalog, a Crutchfield catalog, and a SkyMall catalog made me realize that our world is becoming iEverything. iT's very annoying, isn't iT? Do we really need to have our music with us 24 hours a day and an iPod to show others how cool we are? (Well, I have a Creative Labs Zen mp3 player so I'm not that stylish). Sure, we all like to listen to music we like, but how about listening to the radio or even satellite radio to see what other people are listening to? How about hearing new music and not having every song we hear be one that we already know?
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Because iPods have become so prevalent, every other electronics device lets you plug your iPod iNto iT. Everything from a car stereo to a clock radio to a docking speaker system to a massage chair. Maybe it's a conspiracy to get us to buy 10 iPods a piece so that we can have one hooked up to every other electronic device we own. I referred to this in one of my earlier posts, but as an audiophile wannabe, one of my major issues with iPods is that they encourage the recording of compressed music so that we can each jam tens of thousands of songs iNto our little iPod or other mp3 players. Compressed files don't have the sound quality that the original CD's have. This made me think of a quote...
"Listening to compressed music is like observing fine art with blurry vision."
To me, this statement is accurate. With compressed music on iPods, listened to via headphones, we are missing out on the fine details of the music like the singer taking a breath, the guitar player tapping the guitar for rhythm or strumming in a way that brings about a subtle extra noise that lends realism to the listening experience. I wish some of these iPod fanatics would take some time to go to a stereo store and hear what they're missing. Perhaps then they'll understand that music is also about quality, not just quantity. I must say that the iNfiltration of our culture with iPodishness is getting a bit out of hand. iT must be iNterrupted.
I'm sure many of us are feverishly buying Christmas presents for others (and ourselves), and it has dawned on me that this whole holiday season has become little more than a shopfest to the majority of people. With that comes obligations and hassles. Contrary to some of my earlier Quick Quotes, I actually like buying presents for people... when I know what they want. But some people are difficult to shop for. Some people have few interests that you can key on to know what they like. Others have everything and there's little left to buy them. Then there's always the option of buying gift cards, but that's akin to giving cash with restrictions. Cash is a simple last resort that says, "I wanted to give you something, but I didn't have the time to think about what you might like and actually buy it."
Thank God for on-line purchases as they prevent one from having to deal with scarce parking, crowds, lines. The best part of this is that many stores will wrap presents for you and ship it to the door of the person you are giving the gift to. You don't have to even touch it! It's kind of amazing when you think about it.
I know this post has become a rambling of my issues with Christmas gift-giving, but as my family has grown with nephews and nieces, (what I like to call nephieces), life has just gotten more complicated. Then, since we're not Christian, we're never sure which adults are buying presents for which other adults. And for the kids, I either buy what they don't want or what they already have so I have to work with their parents to buy them something worthwhile.
John Sadowski is the Roundtabler of the week and at his creatively named blog johsadowski.com, he brings up an interesting topic in this web world of ours. What websites do you visit first thing in the morning for your morning click of web? Are the sites news, email, or blog sites? Is it the fascinating blog, Things I've Noticed at www.thingsivenoticed.com? (I can hope can't I?) Well, click on over to John's post and let the world know where you go on-line to wake yourself up in the morning. My answers are there too and if you know me, they're not that surprising.
I like to take market research surveys on line because I get the chance to offer my opinion and accumulate points to get free stuff, like on eRewards.net, or get the chance to win $10,000 like on Harris Interactive polls. The survey topics range from things about news to those about medical issues to questions about electronics or cars and I've noticed a disturbing trend. I get all set to take time out to fill out the whole survey and get $5 of eRewards and then after I answer the first few questions, they determine that I'm not the right type of person to ask further questions of. They then kick me out of the survey and give me partial credit. I guess I don't have enough medical ailments or I don't buy enough stuff or I don't live in the right place, but I'm beginning to take it personally. Why doesn't my opinion matter as much? Aren't I just as important of a consumer as "the next guy". It's not like I have no money. It makes me think of a jury selection type phenomenon. They don't want certain people who might have education, knowledge or strong opinions. But that to me doesn't make a person any less of a decision maker or customer from a market worth pursuing.
I'll keep trying to take complete surveys, but this "my opinion's not good enough" partial credit stuff is getting old. And I recently had to fill out an application for jury duty, but I just don't expect to be called in.