Saturday, December 13, 2008

Food Democracy Now

Obama will be picking a new Secretary of Agriculture (Food & Agriculture?) soon. This is a hugely important post. Transitioning away from petro-chemically intensive factory farming would have profound impact on sustainability, security, and rights issues. I have covered this at length before, so I will not go into great detail here. I will recommend a few books though; Farming With The Wild, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Biomimicry.

My recommendations for the Secretary's position are Michael Pollan, Wes Jackson, and Fred Kirschenmann.

Please click on the title link and sign the petition (include these 3 names in the comments section if you agree, or at least trust my recommendations) and perhaps go to change.gov and reinforce your message. We have a receptive President coming in and a very compelling reason to become proactive (survival). Please add your voice and thoughts to the conversation.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cameron Sinclair: TED Prize wish: Open-source architecture to house the world

I have recently been focusing on housing and design, as these represent both a huge draw on resources and a tremendous opportunity for positive change. We can simultaneously improve the vitality and sustainability of our communities through better design and planning. Please check out this TED Talk by Cameron Sinclair.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And Now For My Next Trick.......

I am currently living in Michigan at the Innovative Martial Arts dojo. The upside is that I have my kids 1/2 time and live and play with some of my closest friends (extended family really). The downside is that I'm living in Michigan where the economy has been terrible for years (it's also where the Big 3 Automakers are headquartered). If the Big 3 are allowed to collapse (and this seems likely), our economy will hemorrhage another 1.5 million jobs. The most solid hit will be on the chin of already punch-drunk and reeling Michigan.

I quit a solid contracting job in Ohio this summer (prompted by a demand by my ex-wife) and have been unemployed since. I loved the time with my kids this summer as well as my trip to South America, but with the economy in a tailspin I am starting to become seriously concerned for my family's future.

It looks like the U.S.A. is entering it's first depression since the 1930s. I am not going to bother pointing fingers here. Hopefully we can use this as an opportunity for retraining our workforce and redirecting our economy toward sustainable progress (this requires a governmental investment in education and sustainability) .

My personal story (and by extension my kids' story) is definitely complicated by this economic turmoil. I took a serious financial beating during and following my divorce and also had to leave the military to maintain custody of the Crumbgobblers. I had been trying to set up our family's finances to enable me to finally attend college, but lost everything with the divorce. Now with the unemployment rate locally approaching double digits, there are many people here with degrees (even advanced degrees) competing for underpaid work which they are overqualified for.

Many times now, I have been rejected out-of-hand for not having a degree. Most of these employers/recruiters have been unable to articulate what they were looking for that necessitated the formal credentialing (the majority do not even care what course of study was pursued). Of those that were able, most gave a list of traits and experiences that lined up with what I had gotten out of my military service. When I have pointed this out, most of them began looking at their feet and mumbling about policies and their hands being tied. It seems as if most people believe (consciously or not) that anyone who has bypassed college must lack the requisite intelligence or drive. It is amazing how little regard some people have for alternative forms of education, especially considering the number of people who have told me that college did not prepare them for their work or for real life. It's a head-scratcher.

Adding insult to this injury is my inability to simultaneously attend college and provide for my children (financially/ or if simultaneously working and attending school, with my time & attention). I served in 2 branches of the U.S. military (and am now considering a 3rd branch) with 3 specialties [USAF Security w/EST (SWAT) (inactive SECRET CLEARANCE), Army Infantryman, & Army Infantry Medic]. I have traveled extensively on 3 continents and have a very broad personal library exceeding 1100 volumes. After the military I have also been a welder, taxi driver, and salesman in addition to performing other miscellaneous work for fun and profit. For the past 11 years I've been raising children while riding this roller coaster. Recently I have been doing a bit of writing to begin sharing and documenting some of my research.

I would be absolutely thrilled to be able to finally attend college, but am having no luck in coming up with a way to make this a realistic possibility (financially) at present. My credit score is horrible due to the aftermath of my divorce, so loans aren't the answer. I am considering re-entering the military to reinstate my G.I. Bill benefits which expired while I was trying to recover from the divorce and raise small children. My hope is that I would be able to quickly earn a 2 year degree and improve my credit score while serving again. Then I would be able to go back into debt in order to get a bachelor's degree (or higher) and begin working full-time in the field of creative sustainability (my passion), rather than just volunteering and writing about the work of others.

I would love any advice or input on this. Hopefully it doesn't come across as whining, that is not my intent. Perhaps some of you know some things or people that I do not know, which could help me increase my positive impact.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stuff I Want: Home Appliance Edition

This combination toilet/wash-basin uses the hand-basin water to load the toilet for the next flush at a 70% water savings over the standard practice of a separate toilet & sink. It also saves a great deal of space and simplifies plumbing: reducing manufacturing, purchasing and construction costs in addition to square footage requirements.

Another great idea is the super-efficient combination clothes washer/dryer, which requires 1/2 the space of even a stackable set.

By utilizing technologies like these and many of the ideas from ship-building and small-space living (think Tokyo apartment or Tumbleweed House here) it becomes much more appealing to think of living in a dwelling with a much smaller footprint (like the shipping containers from a post I wrote yesterday). I think we could get creative and seriously reduce our footprint, maintenance and expenses. By doing this we would be simultaneously raising our standard of living and freeing our time and energy.

I found these 2 featured products in a post on Worldchanging. (title link to post)

The 10 Most Fuel-Efficient Cars and SUVs (2009 models available in the USA)

The 10 Most Fuel-Efficient 2009 Cars and SUVs
See the Only 14 Models with Better Than 30 MPG
By Dan Shapley

I found this yesterday on thedailygreen. Let's think about this for a moment. The subtitle is "See the Only 14 Models with Better Than 30 MPG". This in the nation that is home base for "The Big 3" auto manufacturers. Also the same nation that endured long gas lines and rationing in the 1970s and perpetual military involvement in the middle east for many years to ensure that we keep getting our fix. The U.S. government is like a battered woman protecting her abuser (pimp?) from the police.


Coming in at #1 on thedailygreen list is the 2009 Toyota Prius. Fuel Economy= City: 48 mpg/ Highway: 45 mpg

The top reply to the article brings up the point of 2 diesel powered cars available in Europe, but not in the U.S. The more interesting of these is the Volkswagen Lupo 3L TDI passenger car (pictured), advertised by Volkswagen as “the best mileage production car in the world”. In 2000 it was driven around the globe for over 20,000 road miles with an average fuel efficiency of 118mpg!!! This is almost exactly 2.5 times the efficiency achieved by the much-loved and iconic Toyota Prius. Click here for the U.S. standard to metric conversion calculator. Volkswagen engineers are working on a super-economical motor that could go 300 miles on only one gallon of fuel. The Aptera (pictured below) already achieves this, and provides seating for two, which is double the number of people I typically see commuting together during rush hour drives.



Let's not forget electric cars, compressed air cars, mass transit, bicycles and other methods of getting around when we begin seriously overhauling our transportation system. With the U.S. auto industry looking like it may be going under due to a lack of demand, maybe now is the time to lobby the government to begin demanding that these alternative vehicles be made available in the U.S. This would have the additional benefit of forcing U.S. industry to once again become competitive to keep up.

Let President-elect Obama know your thoughts at change.gov. If enough of us do this, the government and industry may finally begin to get the idea. Remember that you vote for change (or maintaining the status quo) everyday with your dollars, and through how you use your time and energy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some Recent Developments in Solar Energy


Today I discovered 2 exciting and complementary (recent) developments in solar energy technology. The first is an article by Mike Chino, which I found on Inhabitat. This article covers research by the Ohio State Institute for Materials Research regarding a new hyper-efficient solar material they have developed, which is "able to absorb energy from all spectrums of visible light at once."

The second is an article I discovered at openecosource covering research from MIT. Researchers there have developed a new method for storing solar energy based on photosynthesis.

These technologies are expected to be available to consumers in about a decade.

openecosource


I just discovered a fantastic resource called openecosource with a very comprehensive overview offered through a large number of open-source links (thanks are due to Linus Torvalds for popularizing open-source). Think of wikipedia, but with a different format. Maybe it's time for an eco-focused wikipedia to streamline research and give a great one-stop starting point for people just coming up to speed on their environmental education. (if one already exists please comment with the link)

Shipping Container Housing (and other uses)



My sister Amy sent me a link for a site about using shipping containers as housing and for various other projects like a self-contained BlackBox Datacenter, offices, or emergency shelter (which they are ideally suited to).

[Through the efforts of many designers, builders and eco organizations, the surplus of shipping containers from China has diminished greatly. The result of two years of publicity and awareness has stimulated a growing trend to construct housing, offices, and apartments using the base of the standard Shipping Container. Much of my statistics and information have come from the LA Port Authority, ISBU Association International, Bob Vila, and the Green Mechanical Council who are one of the main organizers of EcoBuild America. The exposure of the problem, combined with the incredible strength and ease of shipping container based construction has truly turned the problem into one of the fastest growing building trends globally.
...lemons to lemonade.

For many reasons, it's the strongest mobile or stationary structure in the world built to withstand typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes and even earthquakes. One or more of these incredible steel modules are the safest superstructure for a home, school, office, apartment, dormitory, storage unit, emergency shelter. ...where would you rather be in a storm, hurricane or earthquake? I think in a room made of strong Corten steel....(excerpted from title link site)]



I am interested in creative use (or re-use) of our available resources (especially those typically considered waste). I am fascinated by nature's incredible ability to maximize resource efficiency as well as having all waste serve as input for some essential process. Please send me any links (or your own ideas) related to this.

I just entered "shipping container" on google images and found this to be a great starting point for further research, check it out.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Looking Forward To Less Focus On Negative Politics

I am looking forward to being able to focus again on the positive aspects of the future we are mutually creating. I feel a bit burned out on politics (it's the negativity) and want to get back to covering the research and developments within the progressive/green community.

There are so many exciting discoveries being made and so much hope inherent in these discoveries, that I am becoming increasingly happy with what I am seeing. A whole new world is possible.

85,000 U.S. Foreclosures in October

The GOP legacy continues. By the time Bush leaves office the US housing market will almost surely exceed 1,000,000 foreclosed homes. It's hard to imagine why Americans said "enough" of the policies and attitudes that created this disaster.

As government and industry scrambled to stem the housing crisis, another 84,868 homes were lost to foreclosure in October, according to a report released Thursday.

Last month 279,561 struggling borrowers received foreclosure filings, including default notices, notices of auction sales and bank repossessions, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosures. That's a 5% increase from September, and up 25% from October 2007.

"October marks the 34th consecutive month where U.S. foreclosure activity has increased compared to the prior year," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac in a statement.

A total of 936,439 homes have been lost to foreclosure since the housing crisis hit in August, 2007.

(This was in AMERICAblog.com)

BUDDHA/ How much more will it take before we become serious about rebuilding our economy and our society? There are so many things we can do that will simultaneously reduce our environmental impact and personal expenses while fostering a greater sense of community with our fellow citizens.

We need to become informed and then demand changes in our zoning and planning regulations (and remember to vote with your dollars) to encourage more intelligent resource usage and community development. I am an advocate of civil disobedience regarding stupid laws which keep us from living sustainably and force people to work like dogs to meet their basic survival needs (especially senior-citizens and children). With a shift toward some of the already tested and proven ideas about intentional community and mass transit serving clustered developments we could enjoy a much higher standard of living, coupled with the benefits inherent in reduced fixed expenses and time demands. The range of options and their potential impact is truly astounding!(check out The Geography of Nowhere/ Home From Nowhere/ Your Money Or Your Life/ Communities Directory/ many of the books on voluntary simplicity/ and most of the links on this blog)

I am very interested in reader's thoughts and experiences around this topic. Please feel free to comment if moved to do so.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tim Brown: The Powerful Link Between Creativity and Play

It is time to get serious about creating solutions to the problems we find ourselves facing. And perhaps even beginning to transcend them by creating opportunities to simply leapfrog many of our present circumstances and impending difficulties. We should be maximizing the benefits of working together in an atmosphere of trust and mutual support (and the Crumbgobblers always remind me of the many benefits of serious play).

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.-Victor Hugo

Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.-Rita Mae Brown

There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.-Oscar Levant

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.-Martin Luther King Jr.

There can be no progress without deviation from the norm.-Frank Zappa

Neighborhood Swaps Can Save Money

Under 2 minutes. I have been pushing this concept for years now and using lawnmowers as my concrete example, so this just seemed to be begging to be posted. Simplify, simplify, simplify!!!

Keith Olbermann on Equal Opportunity for Love in the USA

Like Keith, I am straight, and also like Keith I cannot for the life of me understand people's incredible opposition to the right of homosexual couples to wed. I simply do not see how extending this right can be harmful. Between 10-15% of the human population is gay, and will remain so irrespective of the denial of marital rights. In a society so overwhelmed with war, economic depression, and inequality on countless fronts I believe that we should do everything possible to promote love, hope, and family stability for ALL of the people within our borders. Check out the video, Keith does a better job covering it than I can.

Friday, November 7, 2008

As The Dust Settles


I have been waiting for a change like this for many, many years. We are on the doorstep of a new world. I have been so wrapped up in this election that I have only now begun to come down from the rush of seeing us move past fear and selfishness and embrace hope, service, and possibility.

I was awake all night leading up to election day, in order to be first in line to cast my vote for Obama. I must admit to being skeptical about the process and to feeling an overwhelming surge of relief when watching McCain's concession speech. I had been bracing for voter suppression, rigged machines, legal challenges, etc. This has finally given me confidence in our process. As Churchill said "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.".

Where do I even begin to focus on the profoundly positive results of this change and the unbelievable global response to it? Let's begin by examining the international response. While traveling in South America this summer I was presented with the idea that citizens of the world, and not just citizens of the U.S. should have a voice in selecting our president. This is because of the huge and disproportionate impact that the post has on the fate of the entire globe. The international response was much more jubilant than (even) I expected. People were literally dancing in the streets and crying tears of joy across the planet.

I have the feeling that this is like an overnight transition from The Dark Ages to The Renaissance. We, as a people have finally gotten to the point where the inherent unsustainability and unfairness of our course under (the thumb of) Bush became blindingly obvious to the majority of our citizenry. Much to my delight (and a bit to my surprise) the people stood up to the corporate interests and fearmongers to cast off the chains of oppression.

We are being presented with an historic opportunity, but we must work to realize it's potential http://change.gov/. The link provided is to the transition team's solid website which offers a lot of information while also soliciting input from visitors to the site. Transparency and an opportunity to directly contribute your voice to the governing of the nation, change indeed. To quote my dear friend Daisy May Erlewine "There is work to be done in the dark before dawn, there is work to be done so you've got to shine on.". Get to work!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ronald Reagan Endorses Obama


Oh my! This is brilliant! Straight from the mouth of the Republican hero Ronnie Raygun. I want everyone in this country to ask themselves the same questions Ronnie asked us in 1980. Simply look around and unless you are in the top 10% financially the answers are obvious. Poverty is violence. Think about it. Do some research and go to the polls as an informed voter.

A question for the Christians: Who would Jesus be in support of here?

A system created to terrorize and impoverish is unjust, immoral, and in need of overhaul. It is way past time to address this, but here we are, so let's start now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Truth About Acorn's Voter Registration


I'm reminded of a song by anti-flag called We've Got The Numbers. The Republicans have been aware for years that without trickery, they do not command a majority of the votes in this nation. Due to this, they use the levers of fear, hateful divisive religion, and racism, as well as outright lies and fraud to divide and conquer the citizenry and seize power. Think back to the shenanigans of the 2000 and 2004 elections (police blocking minority voters, hanging chads, too few or faulty machines in low income areas, etc.).

Steal Back Your Vote (movie)


Steal Back Your Vote! from Greg Palast on Vimeo.
If you are challenged at the polling station, challenge them back. If you lack a government ID please try to obtain one before November 4th. If all else fails, vote on a provisional ballot, and let the attorneys fight it out in the courts. Keep in mind that the attorneys did not do us much good in the 2000 election and do all you can to ensure you are prepared on November 4th. (Republicans, remember to vote on November 5th when you will be expedited and avoid the long lines.) I recommend going to vote with friends, as it is much more difficult for someone to intimidate a group than to intimidate an individual.

Yes We Can! Si Se Puede!
Buddha

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More inequality' in rich nations according to BBC News.


The gap between rich and poor in most wealthy nations has widened, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said.

Since 2000, income inequality had risen sharply in the US and Germany and declined in the UK, Mexico and Greece.

The size of the income differentials varies, with the greatest disparity in Mexico, which has a ratio of 25 to one, followed by Turkey and the US.

The most equal distribution of wealth is in the Nordic countries, including Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

"Growing inequality is divisive. It polarises societies, it divides regions within countries, and it carves up the world between rich and poor," he added.

"Trying to patch the gaps in income distribution solely through more social spending is like treating the symptoms instead of the disease," said Mr GurrĂ­a.

He urged governments to act to increase education opportunities and job prospects for blue collar workers and to offer welfare-in-work to working-class families to boost income.

(Excerpts from article, for full article click title link.)

Buddha/ Does it seem more than coincidental that the inequality in the U.S. spiked since the year 2000 when Shrub & The Neocons seized power in Washington and Wall Street? I just noticed a caption in the article stating that the gap began widening in the 1980s. Who was in the White House during the 80s? Oh yeah, Ronnie Raygun & Poppy Bush with their neocon buddies puppeteering backstage. It all makes sense to me. Follow the dollars and connect the dots.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bioneers

This weekend I attended the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference in Traverse City, Michigan. Traverse City is one of the U.S. satellite sites for the main conference in California. There are plans to take Bioneers international soon. My friends set me up with a ticket and lodging as an exchange/gift. Special thanks to Seth & May, Sarna, and Buzz & Deb.

Bioneers is an umbrella for many groups and individuals working for positive social, political, and environmental change. The attendees tend to be a real mixed bag of nuts, but at least 99% are wonderful people. The event is a mix of classes, lectures, live performances, local organic food, and networking. It is an amazing opportunity to become exposed to a lot of material from the bleeding edge of the progressive movement, as well as many incredible people riding that edge.

I reconnected with some old friends, made some new ones (check out Lee Sprague at Clean Energy Now), and was able to help out a bit. The music was phenomenal as always, and there was even a concert Friday morning for 300 local schoolkids. Hopefully my networking will allow me to find meaningful and gainful local (or telecommuting) employment sometime soon, so I can continue being a 50% custodial parent.

[Neocons and their economic catastrophe =( ]

Friday, October 10, 2008

If the World Could Vote

Click on the title for the link. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yes We Can - Barack Obama Music Video

Darkness cannot persist in the presence of light, and the stronger the light the further the darkness must recede. Please add your light and your gifts to the effort to push back the darkness and cynicism of recent years and replace it with the realized potential of a truly United States of America. Let's bring forth the untapped creativity and energy of the people who've been exploited by the establishment for so long now (we are much stronger united and cooperative than we've been under the neocons). We are on the brink of an historic opportunity. Will we allow the cynics to pull us down, or will we finally take the leap and soar? Whose vision of the future do we most want to create? For my future and that of my children the answer is perfectly clear. Move toward the light, it's really that simple. As my dear friend Daisy May says, "Shine On!!!".

Sarah Palin made victims pay for Rape Kits in Wasilla Alaska and wants to force pregnant rape and incest victims to carry offspring to term.

Sorry for 2 consecutive negative posts, but it is imperative that people understand the choice they are making on the 4th of November. Sarah Palin supports rape victims paying for their own forensic-exam kits. She also supports forcing rape and incest victims to carry any offspring to term (a minimum of 9 additional months of constantly being reminded of the attack). "My daddy, he's also my favorite uncle..." (WTF) She sure is maver(icky).

John McCain: I aspire to be dictator

Can this man be trusted with the federal budget, let alone the Nuclear Codes? You already know my thoughts on this.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Rep. Wilson: Any Criticism Of ‘American Policy’ Is Unpatriotic

I guess according to McSame's political flack (see video through title link), even after 8 years of military service, which I believe included defending the U.S. Constitution (and consequently free speech), I do not have the right to criticize policies which I believe endanger the citizens of the world. Palin has also been upset about the press asking questions. Hmmm....

Well, I have a different perspective. I forfeited my freedom of speech for those 8 years and now that I have it back I intend to make the most of it. I believe that it is the right and responsibility of every citizen of this potentially great nation to become informed and involved. Here's the legal language defending this right. Give this a bit of thought please.

First Amendment
: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence
: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

61 Nobel Laureates Endorse Barack Obama

On September 26, 2008, 61 Nobel laureates announced their endorsement of Barack Obama. More info available by clicking title link. Obama is my choice for many reasons, not the least of which is his position on the global environmental change and what he proposes to do to begin addressing it.

A Fun Visual Guide to the '08 Pres. Election

I found a fun little piece on DailyKos this morning. A picture is worth a thousand words and this is 8 pictures, so I'll just shut up and let you think about it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Link To Voter Registration Deadlines



I found this site for Rock The Vote while researching likely voter turnout for the upcoming presidential election. There are only a few states in which the deadline has already passed. If any of the three of you who read this live in another U.S. state and are not 100% certain your registration is valid, here are the dates you need to take care of it by. We need to exhaust all legal options for progressive social and political change. Obviously taking the time to cast an informed vote should be part of every citizen's efforts to positively impact our collective future.

Just click on the title link.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Comfort Dollars

Posted to BoingBoing by rushkoff, October 3, 2008 6:21 AM/ Title Link

Here's a great example of what we could easily call a "local currency" - that doesn't involve any of the bloody, anti-corporate revolution that detractors of this idea seem to think will attend any such effort.

A great, tiny organic cafe in my town, Comfort, decided to expand to a second, larger location last year. The owner, John Halko, has been renovating the new space for a year, and - thanks to the credit crisis - has been unable to raise the cash required to finish and finally open. With currency unavailable from traditional, centralized money-lending banks, Halko has turned instead to his community - to us - for support.

Granted, this is a small town. Pretty much everybody goes to Comfort - the only restaurant of its kind on the small strip - and we all have a stake in its success. Any extension of Comfort would bring more activity, vitality, and commerce to a tiny downtown (commercially devastated in the 1970s by the chain stores and strip malls of automobile-friendly Central Avenue).

So Halko's idea is to sell VIP cards. For every dollar a customer spends on a card, they receive the equivalent of $1.20 worth of credit at either restaurant. If I buy a thousand dollar card, I get twelve hundred dollars worth of food: a 20% rate of return on the investment of dollars. Halko gets the cash infusion he needs to build the new restaurant - and since he's paying for it in 20% tab adjustments, it just comes out of profits. He gets the money a lot cheaper than if he were borrowing it from the bank, paying back in cash over time. Meanwhile, customers get more food for less money.

But wait, there's more: the entire scheme refocuses a community's energy and cash on itself. Because our money goes further at our own restaurant than a restaurant somewhere else, we are biased towards eating locally. Since we have a stake in the success (and the non-failure) of the restaurant in whose food we have invested, we'll also be more likely to promote it to our friends. And since we have already spent a big chunk of money on Comfort's food, we're more likely go get food there than dish out more cash for a meal somewhere else.

When it gets really interesting is when other businesses begin to accept Comfort's VIP card and dollars for their services as well. But even in its current, limited incarnation, it's easy to see how the math of an extremely simple alternative currency works, why its existence gets cheaper money into the hands of people who need it, and how it circumvents centralized control over commerce.

Admittedly, this isn't a Boingworthy phenomenon in itself. It's simply not "scalable" the way Internet and tech things are. It's a local activity. But it can be modeled by other communities, and the Internet is a great way to share these experiments in social hacking, measure their results, and mutate them further.

Posted to BoingBoing by rushkoff, October 3, 2008 6:21 AM/ Title Link


BUDDHA/ What a great and simple concept for rebuilding local economies and communities. This is reasonably similar to the way a CSA (community supported agriculture) Farm operates. How many other direct-investment opportunities exist in our own local communities?

We could begin very simply by diversifying our local investments, which spreads the risk at the same time it begins to engage investors in strengthening the businesses they support. Think of owner-operated companies and the way workers strive to improve customer loyalty and eliminate waste. With people directly invested in the economic health of the local scene they would have an incentive to work on improving things. This could be an expansion of the phenomenon of homeowners working for better schools, parks, trails, downtown revitalization, festivals, neighborhood watches, etc.

People involved in this would be inclined to assist the business owners by making suggestions and watching out for potential pitfalls. Some people with relevant skills may volunteer to sit on boards or offer their professional services at a reduced rate or even pro bono to increase the odds of their investment succeeding long-term.

There are numerous organizations which network business people to each other and reward them for referring business to one another. These organizations have mechanisms in place to ensure that people genuinely live up to their promises and provide quality and value with a high level of service. BNI uses the motto "Givers Gain" and I feel this sums it up well. These groups already provide the model. It would need some adaptation, but I believe it is a great foundation.

This model, over time, favors unique local businesses, which recirculate their money in the local economy. This is a fantastic step forward in a national landscape dominated by the suburban strip-malls and generic box stores of incomprehensibly large multi-national corporations, which economically strip-mine our communities. In a generation we could have truly unique and identifiable locations and culture replacing "Anywhere, USA".

In closing, we can and should be looking for ways of mutually supporting and uplifting each other. This should be the foundation of our economic bail-out: local networks of inter-dependent (even symbiotic) businesses and customer-investors recreating our national economy as countless interwoven local economies.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Obama Rally 2 October 2008


Let me begin by thanking Amanda Narvaes for my VIP ticket. 'Amanda, you are my hero.'

Barack took the podium at approximately 10:00 and spent half an hour on a message that addressed the serious situation we are facing, while coming across as optimistic and inspiring.

The economic crisis could not have occurred at a more opportune time. I hate that it has had to come to this, but..... People, even in the belly of the beast (West Michigan), have become so frightened by the possibility of a complete economic meltdown that we finally have a strong probability of breaking the Republican stranglehold that's been throttling us for so long now.

Obama pledged to stop hemorrhaging billions each month in Iraq and bring U.S. troops out. He spoke of 50 billion dollars a year pumped into transitioning the U.S. to sustainable energy. His other major points concerned world-class universal healthcare and education.

I met John McCain this spring and found him to be very creepy. In contrast, Barack Obama is someone that I was impressed by and trust to do what he says. Barack is a man that I would be happy to have as a mentor to my children, something I take very seriously.

We face a decision of almost incomprehensible magnitude in about a month. Do we, as a nation, continue to inflict more of the same on ourselves and the people of most of the rest of the world, or do we vote for change and someone who has a positive and progressive message and agenda?

Obama wants to stop fighting unnecessary wars and end the free ride for the corporations that have been destroying this country. He plans to redirect those currently misspent resources (human and capital) toward the healing and rebuilding of our nation. This is a necessary first step toward restoring us to a position of international leadership, both technological and moral.

He intends to utilize the currently misdirected energy and capital on setting our course toward sustainability and justice. We need to begin educating and caring for the people of this nation and Senator Obama recognizes and heartily endorses this reality.

We can create a radically improved future for ourselves and for the generations that will follow us. I am a veteran and I unhesitatingly and enthusiastically endorse Barack Obama for President of the United States!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Indian ban on smoking in public.

India just finalized a ban on cigarette smoking in public places, except for open spaces. Why is India ahead of the U.S. on such an obvious issue of public health? My guess is that it has something to do with the fact that the U.S. has a very rich and powerful tobacco lobby in Washington D.C. This group is always working to ensure a 'friendly' atmosphere for domestic tobacco sales for the cigarette manufacturers. Again, if we follow the money we can get to the source of many of our largest societal problems.

We need to insist that our politicians begin cleaning up the greedy and cynical system of lobbying against the interests of the people of our nation, and in many cases by extension (think certain Defense Dept. contractors or Big Oil as examples) the people of the entire planet.

We can and should be leading on these matters. The U.S. should provide the example on issues of sustainability and social justice. It is a very dramatic redirection, but I truly believe we have the capability, we just need the individual discipline and political will.

(Title Link to BBC article.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Quick Update Before Leaving South America

Oh my, where do I begin? A couple of months ago I gave my resignation notice at the project I was working on in Ohio so I could take the crumbgobblers to stay with my family for a few weeks. My sister has moved back home with her husband and baby and we all had a great time. Barring anything unforeseen, I will be back stateside in 2 days and hope to take my kids traveling again.

So, about my trip... I have been in South America for a month now and have been having a great time. I have focused primarily on southern Brasil with 1 week in Argentina and quick stops in Paraguay and Uruguay. This is a beautiful part of the world, but not without it´s share of problems. Traveling through everything from the world´s largest urban area (by population) Sao Paulo (29 million+), to isolated rain forest, I have seen the almost unbelievable wealth gap that exists in this society. I even had 2 young men try to rob me with a pistol in broad daylight in a heavily trafficked area in Buenos Aires (La Boca), but I had no problems walking some of the worst parts of Brasil at night, alone. Hmmmm...


Traveling lightly here is incredibly inexpensive owing largely to currency exchange rates and troubled South American economies. Argentina was very cheap with a 3 to 1 exchange for the US Dollar. My lunches were typically $3USD and very nice lodging was $12USD. I also discovered a great travel resource called couchsuring.com. I highly recommend it as a way to truly get the opportunity for cultural exchange as well as free lodging with a native guide (please pitch in with food purchases and chores).


I also spent time in youth hostels (for all ages) and had a great experience doing this. For anyone unfamiliar with the hosteling culture, I recommend checking it out. It would be very interesting to stay at hostels in unfamiliar parts of your own country to see the sights and interact with some of the most interesting travelers that can be found. The hostels cater to the backpacking crowd, so do not expect to have 5 Star accomodations and room service. It is reasonable to expect a comfortable bed in a dorm or even private room (at a fraction of the price of a hotel room) and some wonderful opportunities for conversation and various types of socializing with travelers from around the world (most of whom will speak English).

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Today I arrived in Buenos Aires by bus (18 hours including 2 police searches). Staying in a youth hostel for now, but hoping to couchsurf with a local ambassador. (Photo taken in San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires with 2 couchsurfers.)

Much love,
Buddha

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Update


I am currently on my way to Curitiba Brazil (a mecca for design students or those interested in public administration) from Sao Paulo. I love Brazil so far. Very busy, more later. I will include some pics (photo added 1 Oct. 2008) and my lessons from the trip. (see also my post on Curitiba from December 2007)

Much love.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Assault Awareness and Prevention 101


This weekend I will be traveling back to Grand Rapids, Michigan to see my kids and to help teach a self-defense workshop at Innovative Martial Arts (title link). You can go to the school's website for info, but here's a brief overview. Photo from a different seminar at the IMA dojo.

We begin with raising awareness of the psychological factors at play in a typical assault as well as environmental factors to be mindful of. We get people thinking about the little things in their routine life that may be risk factors, such as:walking alone, at night, across campus through the woods with a heavy backpack and headphones on. This is one very common scenario.

We typically split the day up with a combination of awareness training; both general and situation specific as well as some very simple and effective physical skills. We teach these skills primarily through instructor demonstration, followed by partner drills and some group drills performed under supervision, and with on-the-spot corrections. All of this is done with respect for the participants personal boundaries; but bear in mind that it is preparation for avoiding, or if necessary confronting an attacker.

This is a very good starting point and I believe that it offers a lot for the time and money. I encourage this type of workshop for anyone who is concerned about their own or their family's safety. These workshops can be tailored to fit the needs of a group. Recently we did one focused on ladies leaving home and entering college. (statistically this is a very at-risk group)

I recommend some form of awareness and personal-defense training for everyone. Look on-line for instruction in your area. Some keywords to look for are as follows: reality-based, practical, functional, street-based, or combatives. Unless you are looking to preserve an art form for the sake of preserving an art form you are looking for a reality-based system. Competence in all ranges of combat as well as an understanding of modern weapons (both purpose built and improvised) should be your goal with longer-term training. For short-term training, focus on avoidance of assault scenarios and also escaping them.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Looking For A Tax-deduction Or Just Want To Help Alleviate Poverty In South Africa?


For contributions: Through the end of April, we (the DiCocco family) have been given the opportunity to double your one time donations! Anything you give above and beyond will be matched up to $3,000!! We’d be honored if you joined us in making this happen. We also still are in need of 18 people willing to sponsor us consistently at $100 a month. See, there are lots of ways to get involved! We are privileged to be partnered with IDEA Ministries as our funding caretakers. IDEA is a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating cross cultural servants. All gifts are tax-deductable. You can send a check directly to them : just add our name in the memo-line or on a post-it note or something.

IDEA Ministries

4595 Broadmoor SE Suite 237

Grand Rapids MI 49512-5449

Or to use your credit card, you can call Robin directly at 616.698.8393 to set up a monthly with-drawl program.

(Buddha) I have already written about these beautiful people, but would rather allow them to tell their own story from here, as I have not had boots on the ground in their new location. I have included a link in the title of this post (click on title). Some of the most amazing people I know. Check out their family blog, even if just for the beautiful photography by Trace. Tell them Buddha says (just make up something funny) and sends his love.

LOVE WINS

Link Up With Al Gore On Gloal Warming

Climate change is an urgent issue that requires immediate solutions. That's why I've joined with Al Gore and others across the country and around the world who want to halt global warming.

We're on the verge of being over one million strong and I'm asking you to join us. Please click here today to become part of the solutions to global warming: http://wecansolveit.org/alliance

If leaders in business and government are going to make stopping climate change a priority, we need to send a loud message that we want action now. That's why I'm asking you to get involved today: http://wecansolveit.org/alliance

Together, we can stop global warming.

(Buddha) This just appeared in my emails and I wish to circulate it as broadly as possible for ourselves and the generations to follow. Global warming is not just an issue for progressives it will impact everyone and everything. Please copy to any myspace, facebook, or similar sites. If you also write a blog please put it there and send me a link as well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Honey I'm Home!!!!

My apologies to all 3 readers who've been awaiting fresh brain droppings from yours truly. I seem to have fallen in a hole here. I am living apart from my kids right now which is incredibly difficult for me (if you know me well then you understand this), I have had a rather uncertain situation with the duration of my current paying contract work (forcing me to constantly devise contingency plans), and I just needed to step back for a breather (I have a lot going on right now) and a fresh perspective.

I have recently met some incredible people around the world and have been putting a lot of my energy there. Some of this has been just standard networking (friendly exchanges of ideas and info) and some has been part of my slow and careful search for a best friend, partner, and lover, which is a long way to say "wife". There have been many scam attempts as I have opened my search worldwide, but recently I have found reason for optimism. I will continue gently with the communication and see where it goes, but it looks promising at this point. I am in no hurry though and need to regain a sense of balance, even if illusory.

With this renewed balance hopefully will come more consistent writing from me again. Much love and many blessings for you all.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Shell sets new UK profits record


I found this on BBC News UK edition (current). (excerpt with title link)(image added)

Much of the rise in profits has been attributed to rising oil prices, which currently stand at about $91 a barrel compared with $57 this time last year.

In dollar terms its earnings are up 9% on the previous year.

But there is concern among analysts that Shell has delayed publishing figures showing its oil reserves.

The oil reserves figure, which shows whether Shell found enough oil in the ground to replace the amount it was taking out, will not be published until the spring.

"The market really has taken this to imply that the figures aren't going to be great," said Nick MacGregor, an oil analyst from Redmayne Bentley.

"If they were that good Shell would be telling the world about it now."

(Buddha) For me this immediately brings up 2 huge issues. I will deal with them separately for now.

First is the issue of continuing record beating profits over and over for the oil companies. Bush and his cabinet set about making plans to invade oil-rich Iraq immediately upon usurping (oops, assuming) office. Now we have an even more unstable middle east, a devastated Iraq with tens of thousands of war casualties, thousands of dead G.I.s (and many times that permanently scarred or crippled), and thanks to the inconceivable monetary cost of the war we have a ravaged U.S. economy.

The oil companies are not the only ones breaking records. We are witnessing record numbers of home foreclosures in the U.S. in addition to record setting job losses. Bush changed the bankruptcy laws to protect the credit card companies from all of the people trying to get out from under crushing personal debt. Educational expenses are at an all-time high with many sane people questioning whether college is even a break-even venture at this point. Personally, I am doing pretty well handling my education on my own and not racking up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and credit card debt.

I used to work as an insurance salesman and medical expenses were one of the top causes of personal bankruptcy and foreclosure in this country. Many of these bankruptcies were filed by people who had medical insurance which simply proved to be insufficient. How many are unable to obtain insurance in this country? I know that I am still among them.

The Fed (not a government agency by the way) has just lowered the prime to 3% in an effort to jumpstart our economy. This is akin to putting defibrillator paddles on the chest of a long dead person, yelling "clear", and pushing the button. There may be some activity and confusion, but you should expect no positive result. We need to fundamentally restructure our economy!

The second issue is that of sustainability. Shell hasn't disclosed it's oil reserve figures, presumably because they are not very reassuring.

We are at some point in the not too distant future, going to run out of oil for all practical purposes. It will become less and less plentiful and accessible. Due to these factors it will be priced out of reach of most people. It may be approaching that now at over $90 a barrel.

We have before us a crucial decision as to what we are going to base our economic system on. There are many viable alternatives to the oil economy. Many of these would alleviate other problems as well. I will not waste my time repeating much of what I've already posted. Please check out the links I've provided, watch some documentaries with friends, read some books on these topics, and discuss these ideas at your local markets and with your friends and families. If you were so inclined, you could even read some of my archived posts and introduce your network of contacts to my blog. Feel free to respond to my posts so I will know that these rants are serving as more than simply therapy for me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Barack Obama Gets My Support


Published: January 27, 2008

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved. (excerpt, title link)

(Buddha) Now that the Green Party is out of the running I am throwing my support to Barack. I love the idea of a three party system and really like the greens' platform, but they're out. In my opinion this nation needs a serious overhaul, and of the candidates with a shot Barack is the most likely to do that in a positive way. If you insist on voting Republican (don't do it) please consider John McCain. I believe that he has the backbone and integrity to do as good a job as any republican could hope to,or at least do the least damage, if we as a nation are able to pressure the government to end the current wars (and not start new ones).

The Democratic candidates have very small differences in matters of policy so it becomes a question of integrity and the ability to positively impact the citizens of this and hopefully many other nations. From what I've seen, Barack Obama is the most articulate, charismatic, and optimistic among the candidates. He's also fresh enough that he's likely the candidate with the fewest puppeteers pulling his strings. The election of anyone other than a caucasian male suddenly opens our political process to allow for the most qualified person (who can raise the money) to pursue and attain our highest public office from this point forward. This greatly increases the number and quality of potential candidates (open competition is good for the vitality of any market or arena). In addition to all of this HE OPPOSED THE INVASION OF IRAQ!!!

Caroline Kennedy's support is intriguing, as she and many others have been comparing Barack Obama to her father, JFK. What a breath of fresh air that would be, to have someone with the gravitas to engage the energy of the nation's youth in moving us in a radically different direction. Imagine pulling away from empire building/maintenance and redirecting the resources of war. We could have the equivalent of a moonshot for environmental sustainability with all of the social, economic, and environmental benefits of a vibrant green economy. This change would also do a lot to improve our national security (much more effectively than invading multiple countries for fossil fuels). We could lead the way forward in this up-and-coming worldwide paradigm shift.

Barack is much more environmentally aware and progressive than Hillary Clinton, and I think that this is the most crucial issue we face moving forward. He wants to ban legal concealed weapons carry, which I believe is a seriously bad idea, but overall I feel that he is absolutely our best choice.

Friday, January 25, 2008

8 Easy Projects for Instant Energy Savings


By Gary Reysa
February/March 2008 (excerpt with title link)

With these inexpensive ideas you can reduce your carbon footprint and slash your energy bills. Spend $400 once to save $900 a year!

Reducing your home energy use is the best of win-win deals — not only does it reduce your carbon footprint, it also saves you big bucks on your energy bills. That’s especially exciting when you consider that many home energy improvements are fast, easy and inexpensive. Often, the savings from an individual project are small, but when you start putting them together they add up quickly.

Click title for full article.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gaia Community Site

Another point for the Traceless Warrior. (I think he may be winning.) This one is for directing me to the Gaia Community Website. I have not had much time to set up my profile or thoroughly explore the site yet, but my quick browse impressed me and I look forward to exploring it in depth very soon. The site is pretty comprehensive and appears to be a great resource for people who are into consciousness raising and positive change. It offers blogging, forums, and various other outlets and ways to connect.

I anticipate making this a regular addition to my online work and recommend at least giving it a look. The idea of a social networking site dedicated to positive change and spiritual growth can only be a good thing. I expect to see many of you on there soon. The title link will take you to my profile page and you can get started from there. Please give me a "shout out" or set me up as a friend so that I will know you are there.

Namaste

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Study: Bush led U.S. to war on 'false pretenses'

Hundreds of false statements on WMDs, al-Qaida used to justify Iraq war.

updated 2:30 a.m. ET, Wed., Jan. 23, 2008 (excerpt; title link)

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.

(Buddha) The concentration of ownership of the major news outlets should be of some concern to us all. If the powers that be have an ulterior motive or the few watchdogs among these groups are asleep at the wheel we have problems like this. With all of the independent media outlets available there is really no reason for our nation to be led around by the nose like this. Please cross-reference stories that are of critical importance and spread the word. I link to several news sites and blogs that I trust and I encourage you to add to or amend this list as you see fit. The point here is to take full responsibility for and advantage of your 1st Amendment rights. We must be informed in order to have any control over our collective (and individual) destiny.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sicko by Michael Moore

I just watched this film with my friend Jeanne and the crumbgobblers. My kids are 10 and 7 years old and they both liked the film and now they want me to talk to their mother about us all moving to France. Michael Moore is absolutely brilliant and one of the staunchest patriots this nation has. I heartily recommend that everyone see his films.

There is a lot of information that has been tried and proved in other nations for improving our national healthcare system. Many of these nations have a much higher quality of life than most Americans enjoy, as well as a significantly longer life expectancy. Even Cuba has a much better system for treating its citizens in need of care (with a much smaller resource base to draw from).

An American expat living in France said that the difference in quality of life is summed up by fear. The French gov't fears its citizens, and the U.S. gov't is feared by its citizens.

This is another reason for us to become informed and active. Please begin gathering information and sharing it. I have been impressed by the results of gathering people in homes for film showings, discussions, work parties, etc. We need to become networked and begin taking steps to broaden our influence. We have the numbers, and the results are potentially profound beyond explanation. The question remains: Do we have the will?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

DiCoccos Leaving For Africa


The DiCoccos are finally leaving for Johannesburg, South Africa. They are off to do mission work (community development) and are going as a family for at least 2 years. They are some of the most amazing, genuine and loving people I've had the great fortune to call family. Today (Saturday) was their going away party and I drove up from Cincinnati to be there. It was quite impressive to see the crowd who showed up to give their support. I will miss them all a lot, but I am encouraged by the positive impact they will have in their new home. Seeing a family quietly and consistently living their faith rather than preaching it has given me a whole new perspective on the possibilities for interfaith (and everyone else) collaboration toward common objectives for the benefit of everyone. They are members of Mars Hill Church which is largely focused on social justice and community development and everyone I've met from this church has been a beautiful human being working to create a universal heaven on earth. "Love Wins"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Female suicide bomber kills 8 in Iraq

By CHRISTOPHER CHESTER, Associated Press Writer 9 minutes ago (excerpt)

BAGHDAD - A women wearing a suicide vest blew herself up near a popular market and a Shiite mosque in restive Diyala province north of the capital Wednesday, killing eight civilians and wounding seven others, police said.

Buddha/ (WTF???!!!) Okay folks, here we go. This is getting worse. I am certain that I never heard about female suicide bombers in Iraq prior to the U.S. military occupation. Things are obviously way wrong for this to be occurring. Bush seems to be worse for the Iraqi people than their previous dictator was. I am asking everyone who reads this to pause for a moment and consider how bad things would need to become for your mother or daughter to get so angry and/or hopeless that she would carry out a suicide attack. Seriously, do it now! Follow with a minute of silent reflection for all those who've been lost in this conflict. Thank you.



Is it a coincidence that this attack follows still more sabre rattling by (you guessed it) The Uber Diplomat sHRUB? Condie (yes, the one with an oil tanker named after her) has an AP video speaking for the American people and promising to assist Lebanon in resisting outside interference in their government. HUH??? That is the most ridiculous thing she could have said given the very hands-on middle-east policy of the kleptocracy. As long as the U.S. administration's oil requires liberation from it's Arab captors we will have my buddies playing in the sand, unless..........


We can change this dynamic through concerted action. Vote at the ballot box as well as with your money. Become informed and stay aware of what's happening in your name and through your purchases. Pay attention to the upcoming presidential election and get your voice heard on the issues that matter most to you (or if you can't think of any contact me and you can push my issues). Write your representatives in multiple levels of government and let them know what's important to you and that you are very influential among your many voting friends.

Our democracy is rapidly being pulled out from under our feet. It's time to pull back hard! If it goes too far we may begin having women blowing themselves up in public right here in the U.S. Please read The Shock Doctrine or check it out on youtube or The Traceless Warrior. We are on a slippery oily slope to a Brave New World.

Let's get over our fossil fuel addiction before it kills us and everyone around us. Sorry this post is so negative, but the idea of female suicide attackers is just so viscerally wrong that I had to just put it out.

Stay tuned for solutions. Feel free to read from the archives and links also. If so inclined you could even do some research and thinking on this and let us know what you find. We are going to need to be networked and active to overcome this.



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Compressed Air Cars to hit the Indian Roads in 2008


Posted on hybridautoinfo.com by Car Guy (follow links)

I was scooped here by my buddy The Traceless Warrior

Tata Motors, the largest automobile maker of India is all set to manufacture compressed Air Powered cars in 2008.

Other polluted countries could soon follow the Indian example and sign deals with MDI (Moteur Developpment International). The “Zero Pollution Car” as it is being referred to by environmentalists, will definitely make a mark if it is successful in India. Imagine spending almost nothing to fill your car and also helping the environment.

The air car can reach a top speed of 69 mph and can travel about 120 miles on a single fill of compressed air. It takes about 4 hours to fill the tank with compressed air at home or just 2 minutes using an industrial air compressor at the pump. The cost to refill the tank is expected to be approximately $2 for the full tank.

In the future, it is possible that hybrid versions of this air powered cars could soon be in the market. Instead of Electric-Gas Hybrid, other combinations could be Electric-Air or Solar-Air Hybrids.

(Now for some of my thoughts.) We are all aware of many individual improvements that can be made in multiple areas of our lives. Let's explore for a moment the synergistic effect of combining some of the best practices from various disciplines and people. If seriously and consistently pursued, the results would be nothing short of transformational. I believe that we should insist that the next president initiate a sustainability "moonshot". There is no reason that this country should not be way out in front on this. The possibilities with an international collaboration are staggering.

Before we add nifty new gadgets let's determine what results we desire in our private and public lives and then we can begin to plot a course forward. Wherever possible we should simplify. After eliminating the unnecessary and undesirable "stuff" which consumes so much of our resources we should look at ways to share and collaborate.

Since this is a post on transportation let's start there. We have been controlled in many ways by the Big 3 Automakers & Big Oil. Examine the effects of American zoning and land use laws as well as the physical layout of our nation (see image of Levittown). We have what Jim Kunstler calls Clusterf@#k Nation, a sprawling landscape largely scaled to the automobile rather than people (see his book The Geography of Nowhere). How different would things be if folks walked or biked for most of their travels around home. New Urbanism is an architectural movement seeking to recreate the effect of small town living through the inclusion of mixed-use zoning within walking distance of residential clusters. (sidewalks, parks, home-based businesses, mom and pop neighborhood stores, etc.) Maybe we could establish effective and flexible public transportation in more tightly clustered cities (see Curitiba Brazil). This could incorporate compressed air buses and taxis, light rail, rickshaws, horse drawn carriages, and rental bicycles in addition to private autos (air-powered, electric, hybrid, bio-fuel powered). There are many options regarding automobile ownership and use also. People can split ownership burdens and benefits through car sharing. Cars needed only infrequently can be hired or possibly borrowed. Think about how much safer and more tranquil our communities could be without all the automotive traffic they currently have.

More options for transportation would be very significant for those among us who are unable to drive for myriad different reasons (i.e. age, disability, insufficient financial means). We could eliminate the isolation experienced by many who are currently trapped at home (see Madison, Wisconsin in photo above). Perhaps this could reverse the trend of school shootings. I believe this could also seriously reduce the number of dangerously impaired people propelling themselves through our neighborhoods in a game of public Russian Roulette.

Instead of traveling through the world hermetically sealed in an SUV built for one we could be interacting with and getting to know our neighbors. Without having to serve as housing for cars our garages could be re-purposed in a number of ways: as workshops, small-business incubators, additional housing, dedicated space for children, etc. Moving forward we could phase garages out of most housing designs or have them purpose built for more productive use. If eliminated we could use the space they would have occupied in many ways (or simply reduce the sprawl of our cities). We could move toward self-sufficiency by growing food in the space. We could add up the footprint of the hypothetical garages in a neighborhood and use the square footage to create a community garden, park, arboretum, or whatever the local residents wanted. This would raise both the standard of living and the property values in the area.

How much money do we spend on our cars with purchase, maintenance, operation, insurance, fees, taxes, parking, etc.? What is the cost of a typical 2 car garage, both in construction and the land it sits on? What else could we do with all of this money (or the time and energy required to earn it?) I have more than a few ideas on this, but that's a separate discussion (or rant as the case may be).

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that weaning ourselves from fossil fuels will have an enormous impact on our environment as well as our international economic and political situation.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Goin' Back To Cinci'

I just got a call to return to the project in Cincinnati that I had been working on leading up to Christmas. I will return to work there on Monday the 14th and will be working 2nd shift initially. Unfortunately this means that I am having to change many of my plans to be with friends and family in the upcoming weeks, but for strategic economic reasons (broke) I need to do this. My hope is to spend most weekends with the Crumbgobblers in Michigan or have them brought to me. It has been a good break over the last couple of weeks and I've been as far afield as Boulder, Colorado and Long Island, NY. My dear friend Michelle has gotten me looking at some ways to support my family without all the hours or travel, and for this I am eternally grateful. (Thanks Kiwi) Hopefully I can begin implementing these changes in the next few weeks.

One benefit of returning to Cinci' (other than $$$) is that I will have a lot of time for research and blogging once again. I have noticed that actually being with friends and family drastically reduces my time on-line. Sorry dear readers, I do prefer people to pixels.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Martial Madness With KSMA

I arrived at Jay's house in Des Moines Friday night with little warning and was quite warmly greeted by the family (Jay, Paige, and Finn the Barbarian). Jay and I got some food at a great diner and then I went to sleep in the room they reserve for visiting dignitaries (and me). Training began early Saturday morning at Tony ("Look a bird!")'s house. We trained in Silat for about two hours in his basement. It was a really "luxuriant" time overall. Photo when I get a chance.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Traveling

Hello again,

I've been rather busy with the holidays, so I've unfortunately been neglecting writing and gathering new information for all two of my readers (could you be the third?). Things have been good for my family and me. I am leaving for Colorado in a few hours to help some friends move out of the Rotten Apple (NYC) and into the crisp January air of the Rockies. I will be doing a bit of networking (http://www.amtrekker.com/) and research on this trip and expect to return to Michigan in a week or two. One of my stops will be at an off-grid house outside Boulder. I have forgotten my camera, so hopefully my traveling companions will have one with them. Anyone in the Denver/Boulder area interested in meeting up should contact me by replying to this post.

Take care,
Buddha