Worth Repeating: Going Carless

Now, before someone calls me a hypocrite, this post is not about my personal journey of going carless…because I haven’t started that journey yet.

This post is, however, about how any attempt, not matter how big or small, and for any amount of time one goes carless, is a great idea.

Here’s why, in pro/con format:

Pros!

Green is good. Biking makes your carbon footprint smaller. Cars put out approximately 20.4 lbs of CO2 emissions per gallon, SUV’s is up around 28 lbs. If you biked the equivalent of 1 gallon of gas per day (lets say 20 miles), you would lower your carbon footprint by almost 7500 pounds every year! (source)

For your health: Air pollution makes it harder for you to breathe, can send you to the hospital if you suffer from asthma, and possibly worse if you have respiratory problems. Not to mention that where I live, known as the Wasatch Front, is constantly ranked as one of the worst areas in the nation for certain types of air pollution.

Aside from lessening the pollution you’re putting out by not driving, biking is good for your respiratory system, your heart, and your overall fitness level.

It makes you more efficient! Think about it. If you’re going out to run errands on a bike, you’re probably going to plan your trip before you walk out the door so as to save time & energy. That spills over into how you treat the errands you need to run with a car, saving gas and lowering CO2 emissions.

Cons: ummm…sometimes it rains? and ummm, Utah drivers can often be quite scary…?

Sure, there are probably cons, but I personally think that the supposed down sides to biking or even walking to work/errands/whatever aren’t really that bad.

So, if you’ve got a bike, and if things are finally starting to warm up for you wherever you may live, then try it out, or keep it up if you’ve already tried to implement some carless practices in your day to day schedules.

Going carless: definitely worth repeating.

Worth Repeating: DIY

DIY: Do It Yourself

In the last month or so I’ve had the opportunity for two big DIY projects, the first a rather big undertaking, considering I have never done more than change a tire, oil, and fill my car with gas. Yes, I worked on my own car, and not just something small either. It was a two-day project with my father-in-law to change out the water pump and timing belt in my ’95 Honda Civic. Now, for some proof:

Now, as you can see I used instructions, but I kind of knew we were in over our heads a little. My father-in-law has some pretty credible experience, but not on my car.

Here’s the really great part: I was quoted $2500 from Honda to fix everything they diagnosed as “wrong” with my car. Considering my car is worth $2000 if its in immaculate condition (which *cough* it isn’t), I wasn’t ready to swallow they’re “professional opinion”. I started researching what real world cost was to fix things like my “broken radiator” (it was fine), “new muffler” (also fine), timing belt, water pump, rear trailing arm bushings, and rear brake pads.

Here’s a breakdown of what I ended up fixing my car for:

Timing belt: $25.00

Water pump: $33.00

Rear brake pads: $20.00

Replacing a cracked section of exhaust pipe: $50.00 (local guy rather than some overpriced place)

Total cost: about $130 compared to $2500, ummm, n o t   t h a t   b a d!

Here’s a perfect example of how DIY provides an opportunity to learn a new skill, some bonding time between two people, and a significant savings by doing the labor yourself.

Here’s another:

I went home to Sacramento for a week to help out my mom who’s been fighting cancer for about 3 1/2 years now. She has non-smokers lung cancer, and is one of the most faithful and wonderful people I know. It’s quite amazing how she has handled such a diagnosis.

The second day I was there she underwent about 6 hours of chemotherapy. She has made friends with almost the whole hospital staff, and has the best spirit about her, given what she is going through:

The next day I was expecting her to be completely bed-ridden, nauseated, and tired. I woke up to find she had already eaten breakfast, having walked to the table and everything. So, what am I here to do? Obviously I can help by cooking and cleani- wait, who are all these people constantly stopping by the house to clean and bring us food?

So, I did what any loving son would do. I decided to build a ramp!

We have a small step in front of the house, along with a few inch lip where the door frame is. After wheeling my mom in and out a few times, I realized it was probably a bit of a burden for my younger brother Kevin and my Dad to have to do that every time they leave the house. The pictures can be seen here, if you’re so inclined:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2319584&id=17819247

It was incredibly rewarding to hear my mom and others say how much it meant to them, and since then how much it has helped.

So there you have it. I’m a huge fan of DIY projects. If you are looking for something you can do on a limited budget, try here.

DIY Projects: Worth Repeating

Worth Avoiding: Ignorance

Alright, here we go. A meaty post.

Ignorance -noun “the state or fact of being ignorant”

Ignorant -adjective “lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact”.

Common synonyms: uninformed, obtuse, naive, thick.

Now: why?

Why do I bring up ignorance? Because I really can’t stand it; I despise it really. I try hard not to be ignorant myself, at least when it comes to subjects I’m active in, i.e. I’m ok being ignorant in quantum physics because I never try to talk intellectually about it. On the other hand, I make sure that what I say is based on fact when I’m talking about doing live sound reinforcement. Everyone follow? Sweet.

It is frighteningly common, however, how many times I enter a conversation, by choice or otherwise, or encourage a discussion, accidentally or intentionally, that ends with me being frustrated. An excerpt as an example:

Me: “I’m terrified of our national debt problem, especially that it’s still getting worse and there are, at least to my knowledge (or lack thereof) no currently implemented solutions.

Here’s what I am saying: I’m afraid of the rate we have gotten ourselves into debt, how large that debt is, how irresponsible we (and I named a few people/institutions) have been in allowing this to happen, and that it’s not getting better, nor does the outcome look good as we haven’t implemented (again, to my knowledge) anything to make it better.

Here’s some things to emphasize: to my knowledge, or lack thereof. Meaning: I don’t speak as an authority, but rather am sharing an opinion. A statement such as “to my knowledge” usually invites some discussion and/or criticism, that I am happy to enter into, or I wouldn’t have posted such a comment in such a public forum.

Here’s what I wasn’t inviting:      i g n o r a n t   c o m m e n t s

Also, references to any sort of “dribble”, “catch phrases”, or the like. I’m not a liberal. Nor am I a conservative. Not fully at least.

So, to take what I said, spin it to be able to use a catch phrase, and then make ME feel as if I’m wrong for having an opinion based on facts, is ignorant.

Now, if I was wrong, I would politely say something like “thank you for enlightening me and helping me learn more about the topic. Mad props. Word to your motha.”

Alright, so you probably get it. And what’s with that whole idiom about how “ignorance is bliss”? So you feel that not knowing the truth is better than knowing it because it can give you happiness instead of grief…? Isn’t that, um, ignorant? This bothers me too because you are actively choosing to be ignorant. Why would you do that? Just to make me upset?

Anyway, why don’t we do this: strive not to be ignorant. Before you say something, be able to back it up, with facts. And don’t chose to be ignorant just because it makes the situation easier.

Worth avoiding: Ignorance, be it active or passive.

Worth Avoiding: Exes

So to put everything out there, here’s the brief version of my relationship history:

7th grade (c. 1995) first love, first relationship.

9th grade (14 years old) first real kiss…and it was gross.

10th grade (1998) first healthy relationship, lasting about 2 years.

11th grade (1999/2000) few girlfriends here and there.

Summer between high school graduation & freshman year of college: beginning of the longest relationship to date (4 years, give or take. And I waited till the end of those four years to finally kiss her…)

2005, returned from a mission, lots of dating, not really any relationships until I started dating who would be my first wife.

2006, first marriage, lasting a whopping 13 months (to the day!)

2007-2009, random hookups, pointless first dates, watched a lot of movies and enjoyed the company of my dog Toby, the single “person” that got me through that divorce.

2009, decided to start dating April, my wife. We were engaged a month later and married 3 months after that.

Which brings us to 2010. Sorry if the recap wasn’t brief enough for you. And yes, I was married before, which I’m grateful for, because I learned a lot, and am a better husband now for those things, as painful as they may have been.

Now, I make a pretty conscious effort to not have contact with my ex-wife. However I do consider some previous girlfriends good friends that I stay in online contact with – facebook, twitter, yelp, chat, etc.

So I was a little disconcerted when I get an email out of the blue from my ex-wife. I haven’t talked with her since I let her know I was getting remarried, and I don’t sit up at night waiting for the next time she emails or calls.

Now it wasn’t anything serious, she was emailing to say she was thinking about my mom and to let me know our old dog died. No harm done right? Well, maybe not immediately. The harm comes when I have to spend time thinking about why she wrote, as I have felt that due to the circumstances surrounding our divorce she’s quite a manipulative person. I go to my wife and let her know that she emailed me, because we have a very trusting relationship filled with honest and open communication. But what effect does it have on her?

Anyway, I’ll spare you my day to day troubles. My life has just shown me that it’s best to avoid exes when you’re in a new relationship. They cause nothing but trouble, and especially if your significant other is less trusting and loving as mine, they could cause serious problems in your relationship. There are very very self conscious and delicate people that could be devastated from something like this.

Exes: worth avoiding.

Worth Avoiding: SmashBurger

So Alan & I went to Smashburger for lunch today.

When you’re a restaurant, you have a handful of things you’re going to be judged or rated on by your clientele, and they vary depending on what kind of restaurant you are. A mexican food joint, for example, is going to be rated on chips & salsa, tortillas, horchata, etc. When I enter a burger joint, here’s what I’m looking at/for:

Burger

Fries

Shakes

Service

Decor

Now, you could probably nail 3 out of the 5 and still earn my repeat business. But if you have only 1 or 2 good things…you’re S.O.L in my book.

Smashburger has a decent decor, and seemingly enough seating, until you place your order and turn around. The problem isn’t the lack of seating, its that you can combine two two-person tables to make a four-person table, and then nobody resets it…so you have a bunch of 1 and 2 person groups taking up 4 seats…

I ordered the regular fries, and they were ok. Nothing special, nothing unique, and I wasn’t savoring them to the last salty greasy morsel.

The fry sauce was a little off putting. I’m not sure what their mix ins were, but it didn’t yield a desirable outcome.

I ordered the root beer float, as Alan got a shake. The root beer float was good, thanks to ol’ reliable IBC. The shake however was nothing to rave about.

The service was good, as the employees were above-average-ly friendly and willing to be of service. However, and I was actually kind of happy this happened so I could see how they would respond, but they didn’t bring out my root beer float with Alan’s shake, nor did they bring it out with my food….nor did they bring it out 5, 6, 10 minutes later. I had to get up and ask them about it. Now I was nice and pleasant. I don’t get off by being a huge jerk in these sort of situations, I’d much rather be the unusually nice guy…

So they bring the root beer float out a few minutes later, and ask if there’s anything else they can do. “Nope”. “How’s everything tasting?” Good. Thanks!”

Now, if you want to recover with flying colors in the restaurant industry, you come back with something more than a question. My/Alan’s suggestion? Bring out a gift card. Even if its just for a free shake, you’re going to get me to come back in because of how well you handled the situation.

So there you have it…my first food critique of The Perspective Collective. (Hereafter to be referred to as TPC? We’ll see)

Verdict? Smashburger is worth avoiding as you can spend less and get more, in almost every “category” at Five Guys.

Worth Repeating: Early Rising

Why is it that on days that I sleep in, even if the total amount of sleep garnered from that night of sleep is under 8 hours, I am groggy?

Conversely, I could fall asleep at 1 am, wake up at 6, and feel rejuvinated, well rested, and alert; ready to bring on the day.

I’m not sure why, but despite my actions, I believe in the positive effects of “early to bed, early to rise…” I’ve had better days on 4 or 5 hours of sleep than I’ve ever had on 8 or 10.

It seems counterintuitive, I know, but it works.