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Bakari
biodieselhau...
Male
Oakland, CA



 
Posted By Bakari

Occasionally I end up driving other people's cars.

Invariably, I have to adjust the mirrors.
I often question why they were set the way they were, and the answer is usually some variant of "I like it that way".
I realized that probably a whole lot of people probably see it that way.

Setting mirrors is not a matter of personal preference.
There is an absolute right and wrong way to do it.

Before you accuse me of being a mirror nazi, consider that car accidents kill more Americans under 50 than disease and murder combined; 100 every single day.

As someone who rides a bike, skates, rides a motorcycle,  has driven large commercial trucks with large commercial size blindspots, and nearly been run over inside other peoples blindspots, I say again, with emphasis, setting the mirrors on your car is not a subjective exercise.
Doing it wrong can literally mean the difference between life and death.

I have heard on more than one occasion "I don't want to look at the ground."

Actually, the ground is EXACTLY what you want to be able to see.
Cars are on the ground. Bikes, and small children whose heads are no higher than the bottom of the window, and the balls they roll out into the street, all on the ground. When you parallel park, the curb is on the ground.
Even the largest truck has its tires on the ground, so if you can see the ground, you can see the truck.
The chances that you need to be aware of a very low flying airplane, or perhaps a hovercraft coming up behind you as you drive are very close to zero.

Many people set their mirrors so that the horizon is in the exact center of the mirror. This means an entire half of the mirrors area is wasted with sky.
That half of the mirror being wasted means an unnecessary blind spot.
If the horizon were instead at the very top of the mirror, you could still see all the way down the road behind you, and in addition you could see anything right beside you down lower than the window level as well.

The second mistake is setting the side mirrors so that a substantial amount of what you see is your own car. But just like you don't need to worry about the sky when you merge, the chances your rear fender is going to hit you is pretty darn low.

One reason people do this is because at that angle you can use the side mirror to see directly behind. That's what the rear-view mirror attached to the windshield is for.

The other reason is to have a reference point to help determine where what you see in the mirror is in relation to your car.
Of course, with a little time and practice anyone will get used to the new position. And everyone should really know exactly where the edges of their car are anyway (I sure wish the DMV mandated cone tests for everyone). And you can always just move your head a little bit and see the car in the mirror.
But if you really feel you need to see the car you are driving as a reference point, just leave the tiniest sliver of the back of the trunk visible, so you get maximum mirror area for seeing whats out there moving about and potentially colliding with you.

While its still important to double-check by actually turning one's head, with the mirrors set properly it is in fact a double-check, and not a first check of blind spots. Because there are no blind-spots.
Set up properly, you can make it so there is virtually no blind spot at all. So that if a little person were hiding right alongside the door, you'd know it without even having to turn your head. So that a passing car is visible at all times, first in the rear view, then in the sideview, and finally through the window, without any gap along the way.

It will feel a little odd at first. Give it a chance. And when you don't die in a fiery and gory wreck, come back and thank me.


 
Posted By Bakari

So many people, when the subject of christmas lights come up, they acknowledge they are nice, but go on to add "but they are a waste of energy".

As someone who feels strongly that American's use of energy and resources is morally unacceptable, I would like to be very clear about this:
Christmas lights are NOT a waste of energy.

That 80% of car trips have only the driver or a driver and one passenger, yet seat from 5-7 people is a waste of energy.  That we live, on average, 20 miles from our jobs is a waste of energy.  Uninsulated attics and unweather stripped doors and windows in houses and power steering and air conditioning in cars, all electric kitchens, and cars that weigh 50% more than they did 20 years ago and have 200% more power are all enormous wastes of energy.
Buying enormous amounts of crap that no one really needs and that get shoved into a closet or thrown out after a few weeks wastes energy in manufacture and transport.

Not one of those things provides any significant increase in quality of life.  None of them make people happy to be alive.  At most they provide a tiny increase in convince.  At worst they do nothing but cost money.  None of them create joy.

In a land where profit is considered the only motivating factor for nearly everything in life, filled with people who don't know their neighbors, where 50% of people can't be bothered to take the effort to use their turn signals, for a few weeks a year people do something with no financial benefit, no increase in comfort or convenience, no direct personal benefit.
You don't even see them from inside the house.  Everyone else passing by sees them.
They turn an ordinary neighborhood into a magical place.
They create joy.
Which makes them one of the few valid uses of energy in this country.
Because ultimately, making it enjoyable is really the only point there is to life. 

So go ahead and enjoy those giant flashy displays and don't for a second feel guilty about it.
Put up your own even.

You can get a strip of LED lights for less than $10 that use less than 5 watts of power, (far less than a single florescent light bulb).
I even found a set for under $5 that runs for days on just (rechargeable) AA batteries.

But LED or no, the lights are worthwhile and good.

A world without christmas lights is not a world worth saving.


 
Posted By Bakari

In less than a month, I will no longer be one of those people who are "in their 20s".
I'm driving slower, I own my home, I'm self-employed, and I have a credit rating above 800.
Defying all that makes sense in the world, I've been gradually becoming a responsible adult.
As of midnight Jan 9th of next year, it will become official.

Living to 90 is a fair goal.
If you chop life into 3 big blocks, 90 / 3, then 0-30 would be youth.  60-90 would be old age.  Which leaves 30-60 to be middle aged.
Wow.
Man.
Crazy.
I am a month away from middle aged.
I'm a divorcee who lives with 2 cats and is currently researching the tax affects of different types of individual retirement accounts.
I don't entirely understand how this happened.


I'm not one to throw parties.
In fact, the last time I hosted a party entirely on my own was - never.

On Saturday, January 9th, 2009, I will have my "Last Day of Youth" party.

Full Contact Spoons and Amtgard in the park (Lake Merrit in Oakland, between fairyland and the bowling green)

 

Video games: Perfect Dark and Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart.
Like we used to play in high-school.  I've been playing against my 8 year old neighbor, so I don't suck as much as I did back then.

At the Mansion (292 Lee St)


Hours of non-stop dancing starting at sun down


I went through thousands of tracks, one by one, and selected across multiple genres for maximum danceability, ordered them by beats per minutes, and have them beat-matched and cross faded by robot DJ (aka my laptop - nothing like the real thing, but about $600 cheaper). 7 hours worth of rock-a-billy followed by funk followed by hip-hop followed by "gypsy punk" followed by pop.

There are to be no presents or gifts of any kind.  Seriously.  I have enough stuff and enough money.  And not enough space.  This includes home-made stuff and things that would actually be useful to me.  Nothing.
(Edibles and sorbiles -cake, alcohol, whatever- would be appreciated, but that would be to share with everyone.)
Your presence is my present.
Playing spoons and dancing non-stop until my neighbors complain or we pass out from exhaustion is my present.  Might be a good idea to start an exercise program now to prepare...

Because I would like even my feeble friends to attend, I am suspending my usual rule that anyone who shows up to spoons has to play.

I can not think of a good way to end this


 
Posted By Bakari

The Earth has been around about 5 billion years, life about 4 billion.
Half a billion years for animals, 200 billion for mammals.
200,000 years of humans.
For the first 192,000 years or so, the human population was under 10 million people world wide.
Increasing 10 fold took 6000 more years.
We rocketed from 100 million to a billion in just over 2000 years.
The next billion only took 120 years.
And then 30.
And since the 1950s, we have added a billion people every 13 years or so.

We are at around 6.75 billion people now.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Population_curve.svg

Its estimated that it will hit 9 billion in about another 30 years.
That new 2 and a quarter billion people will be our children.

We like to point to the 3rd world, to Asia and Africa, but in the measure that matters, the US is by far the most overpopulated country in the world, as well as one of the fastest growing.

Population is only an issue because of the finite resources the Earth can provide. If we had unlimited resources there wouldn't be any reason not to keep increasing indefinitely.

If everyone used the same amount of water, land, and energy, and caused the same amount of pollution as the average person in the third world, we would all be ok for a long time to come. Due to lack of ability, what we call poverty, people in the third world tend to use less than their share of world resources.
The average person in the first world uses 5 times more than the overall world average.
The average American uses 20 times more. Each of us uses about 20 times more water, 20 times more fuel and electricity, 20 times as much land to produce our food, produces 20 times more waste and pollution.
Which means that in the big picture, each of us counts for 20 people.

So our 305 million population may as well be 6.1 billion, far more than China's 1.3 billion. They would have to increase some combination of actual population and consumption per person by far before we could legitimately point the finger at them.

It also means that each child we have counts as 20 people, turning our fertility rate of 2.1 (already above the replacement rate of 2) into the equivalent of 42 per woman, 6 times higher than the highest rate of any third world country - and almost 17 times higher than the world average.

In the US alone there are 200,000 children waiting to be adopted.


It is one of the most basic and universal desires is to reproduce. How could it be any other way? Because if that drive weren't passed along genetic lines, our ancestors wouldn't have bothered, and we wouldn't be here to think about it.

There has been a widespread assumption that because it is natural and universal that therefor it should be considered a human right.

Our modern world does not resemble the savanna we evolved on. We also have biological instincts to eat whenever food is available in case it isn't tomorrow - and the result is rampant obesity - and a good number of us making the conscious choice to go against instinct and manipulate ourselves in ways that take into consideration the reality of our world. Violence is natural and universal, but we agree as a society that the costs are not acceptable and make the conscious decision to repress it, both as individuals and as communities.
Because, we can do that, we can think, and make choices.

To make wine or beer, you start with grape juice or grains and add microorganisms.
For them it is an incredible feast!

Character limited blog server; read the rest here: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/wine-barrel-population-and-parenthood.html


 
Posted By Bakari

My last collection of status messages was way too long.
I wouldn't want to go through and click all those links.
But they were all very interesting!
For reals tho!

So I'm going to post the collections here a little more often.
Plus, then I don't have to write anything new.  Writing is hard.  And time consuming.
And it consumes a lot of calories, having to think so much.

Without further ado, the gmail status messages I have had between my last post and today (most recent at the top):

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

parkour class = most fun thing ever
http://www.sfparkour.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2639

THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN

my legend builds... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kirsten-dirksen/when-hackers-took-my-vide_b_356801.html

The brain uses about 20 percent of the calories that we eat.

finally scientific confirmation that men are jerks http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/11/12/men-are-far-more-likely-to-abandon-a-seriously-ill-spouse/

large SUVs may be illegal on your street. http://slate.msn.com/id/2104755/

I am not off the grid. More like I sip and nibble at the edges, while typical Americans gobble giant gluttonous globs of grid.

Incompetent people more self-confident than competent people.  This explains SO much http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/01/18/MN73840.DTL

The best predictor of whether someone voted for or against Prop 8 was how frequently a voter attended a place of worship.

culture=conformity

2 hours by car, or 12 min by BART - the choice is clear; you might accidentally touch a stranger on BART.
BART ridership up 50%.  San Mateo bridge traffic up 300%.  Americans make me sick.

"the only difference between the good guys and bad guys is who's paying the bills" - Jacob Aziza, problem solver.

http://trackersbay.com/outdoor-adventure.php

I am down to 35 inbox messages and 2 marked unread

removing a quarter million single occupant commuters sure makes for a smooth rush hour

I get a perversely intense joy from the bridge closure

http://progressiveboink.com/jon/images/calvinhobbes/jon2.GIF

I have normal cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure levels

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/01/fiscal-therapy

week 2 of gym membership.  intensity level mixture of almost crying and almost throwing up.  I will be in the best shape of my life, assuming I survive it long enough.

I've been thinking about mortality lately. I've decided to spend the brief time I have here being awesome.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Chu

I am short, Black, and poor.  The three least attractive traits for single women, statistically.  I must be one hell of an amazing individual to have had the experiences I had dating this past year.

just because I agree with you once does not make you an idiot

The more charming a guy is, the less he respects her

not learning from your mistakes is the ultimate sign of living in the present

cats don't worry


 
Posted By Bakari

Last time it was almost a years worth of status messages.

This time was only a month or two.  Even so, it wouldn't all fit in a single entry of my extremely character limited blog server that comes free with my cheapo website host server.

 

Here are a few more:

 

"You don't make me feel guilty at all.  You inspire me."

white women are racist http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/2009/10/05/your-race-affects-whether-people-write-you-back/

word hard, makes lots of money, die young: http://tiny.cc/moneyVlife
perhaps government should be looking for ways to extend the recession

My home; clean. In 3D. http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=BFE455B7-3CC4-478C-9AD6-D51C2CF8393F

Vigilante coast guard turned pirates: robin hood or thug? http://www.playboy.com/articles/playboy-forum-pirates-of-somalia/index.html

http://www.parkingday.org/

It is a luxury of the economically comfortable to cater to irrational fears

Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is just as effective as anti-depressants.  Without any medical side-effects.
http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/156/7/1007
http://www.womensmentalhealth.org/posts/cognitive-therapy-versus-medication-in-the-treatment-of-depression/

"Green" too often today means "moderately less destructive version of something we don't need in the first place

Schools taking fingerprints of poor children before giving them lunch http://www.woio.com/Global/story.asp?S=2885663

So much for "large heavy vehicles are safe" http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/a-2009-chevy-malibu-destroys-a-1959-bel-air-literally/

New anti-capitalist rate structure http://biodieselhauling.org/rates

1500

"Good taste is the first refuge of the uncreative."

Health insurance companies make over $1 million per employee http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2009/performers/industries/bangbuck/employees.html

lest there was any doubt the real reason medicines cost so much:  the money is going to profits.  Also note that air travel is highly subsidized, and neither environmentally nor even financially sustainable: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2009/performers/industries/profits/

Math, Geography, and Reading Tutor

teacher = hero

I worked with a guy who is 70 years old
I told him I could handle the work, but he insisted on helping
I said I hope I can still do this work at 70
I asked him the secret
he said, kind of quietly, "lots of sex"


Now accepting information, contacts, and donations regarding non-profits, grant writing, education, and libraries.

I am now officially a treasurer. 
Now I need to figure out what that actually means...

Free wood http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/zip/1359697320.html

http://laughingsquid.com/never-go-to-work-by-they-might-be-giants/

http://community.feministing.com/2009/08/the-irony-of-anti-sex-positive.html

Commuter dog http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2372125.ece

http://gubbinsexperiment.blogspot.com/2009/08/questioning-industrialization.html

 


 
Posted By Bakari

I have not been writing much lately.

 

Spending my time with work, and new friends, and classes.

 

Work remains fun, after 3 years of doing the same things (compare to a record of 10 months max at any one job for the rest of my life prior), easy enough to be good at it, challenging enough to stay interesting. 

Just the past few days involved somehow fitting about 10cubic yards of random stuff into the truck for the largest hauling run I've had so far, installing drywall in an attic furnace room so the building could pass fire inspection, and careful deconstuction of the walls holding in the old biodiesel tanks at the old biodiesel fuel station so the lumber could be reused.

 

But far more important and interesting is the classes.

 

Little by little I add to my stable of random skills.

 

Expert in nothing, but my goal is for everyone there is, I can do at least one thing moderately well that they don't do at all. 

Maybe there is someone who does a little carpentry and electronics soldering and computer software troubleshooting and lockpicking and sailing and shooting guns and bow and arrows and swordplay and bicycle repair and auto mechanics and unicycling and gardening.

Just in case, I'm taking muy thai and jui jitsu and I just took a seminar on making fire with natural materials, another on edible wild foods of the East Bay, and today one on tracking animals, and also took my first parkour class.  Judging by the skill level of my classmates, watching YouTube videos and practicing on my own at the playground and on random obstacles I find walking around the city has been more beneficial than I realized.

 

I feel more and more like a character from an action/adventure movie, where the hero somehow knows how to do everything. 

And yet what strikes me continually is how much I still don't know.  Not even counting all the stuff I am not interested in learning, but the skills I still want, if money was no object, would take a lifetime to learn.

And money is an object.

So one lifetime isn't enough.

 

I have had debt for a few years, collected over a cross country trip/move and major vehicle failure, months of unemployment,  going back to college, buying a newer larger trailer, and having to buy my ex out of said trailer when she moved out.

I am getting tantalizingly close to paying off the last of it.

 

I decided once I do, classes take priority one.  Jobs will be fit around them, not the other way around.  I'm looking to work about 20hrs per week.

I am saying this publicly so as to have some accountability.  If you hear me say I am working too much come next summer, remind me I said this.

Thanks

 


 
Posted By Bakari

I had been looking forward to buying a tankless instant water heater before I had even moved out of mom's place.

Unfortunately, each place I lived had a perfectly good water heater already.
Besides, my 6 gallon tank was no where near as wasteful as the 80 gallon monstrosities in regular homes.

Then, last week, the tank began to leak.
I had my excuse.

I discovered that there is only one company which makes instant water heaters specifically for RVs. Having no competition, they price it around 5 times higher than others.
I decided to go with a small house/cabin unit instead.
I found the least expensive one online; it arrived quickly. It spent a week in the box as I didn't have the time to install it. When I finally did, turned out I hadn't considered the vent when I measured, and it wouldn't fit. Damn.

I sent an email asking about exchanging it for a smaller unit.
Within 15 minutes they called me by phone. They said they couldn't accept a return since I had already begun installing it.
I was ready to just sell it on craiglist and buy the smaller one, accepting that it was my own stupidity to begin installation without measuring, plus the website did clearly say the original box was needed for returns, which I had already recycled.
And then, without being asked, the guy offers me a 15% discount on the new smaller one I was going to have to purchase. He emailed a custom order form, with a price even slightly lower than what he had just offered over the phone.

Wow. Beyond expectations.
The only business I know with customer service like that is, well... my own!

If you ever need a water heater, seriously, this is the place to buy:
http://shop.ebay.com/gas_water_heaters/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25
And no, I don't get anything for recommending them. Come on. You know me better than that, don't you?

So, now it'll be a few days before I get the smaller unit and I can install it properly.
In the meantime, I was sick of being without hot water so I jerry-rigged the one I have into place. Between some parts from my old water heater, a flexible metal pipe I found on the street, a piece of wood 2x4, and a generous amount of tape, I have hooked up the water heater. It leaks a little where its attached to random-found-pipe, so I have to put a bowl under it while the water's running.

But as far as the heater itself goes...
you turn on the faucet, and within a second, the fire is blazing. You turn it off, poof, like that, its out.

It is much hotter than my old one ever was.
The total flow rate is higher too - its like taking a shower in a real house!!

I had gotten used to low flow showers. I had forgotten how pleasant being drenched with warm water while naked can be.
And it NEVER RUNS OUT!!!!
Well, I guess once my propane tanks ran out. In a few months.

As I was taking my 30 min long shower, I thought about how I am actually saving energy overall, compared to before. While before I was limited in the length of a shower when the hot ran out, the tank also kept the water hot 24hours a day, while I was a sleep, while I was at work, always.

The biggest unit they sell should be enough for a one bath house. For a really big house, if everyone wants to shower at once, you can double the capacity by linking two of them in series.
Or using with an existing tank heater, you could leave the tank at its minimum and have the output of the tank go into the instant, which would then raise the temp the rest of the way only when you turn on the hot faucet.
Way more energy efficient, endless hot water.
While an 80-gallon tank heater is anywhere from $600 to over $1000, a 4GPM tankless is only $325.
Why tank heaters even still exist, I really don't get.
Akin to American's rejection of the metric system and Dvorak I suppose.
Well, at least you know


 
Posted By Bakari

My original comment was not meant to imply I don't believe that there are tangible effects on people (most notably unemployment, which is certainly up compared to a few years ago).
All I said was that media and politicians largely made it up.  I think it is a self-fulfilling prophesy to an extent, where in people hear constant messages that times are tight, therefor they cut back on consumption, therefor retail markets fall, therefor manufacturers cut back, and employers start laying people off.  Which fuels the beginning of the cycle even more.  This is why business analysts track "consumer confidence".  In fact, to a large extent it is what the stock market is all about.  Its less a question of how well a company is doing and more one of how popular are they.  If people think its doing well, they buy, which itself drives the stock price up.  It works both ways, so if everyone is convinced the market is doing bad, they sell so they don't lose too much by waiting, and then companies don't have the capital to invest.

-

I think it is totally unreasonable to adjust what it means to be "poor" based on those around you.
If we did that, billionaires could claim to be poor if those around them are multi billionaires.  In fact, everyone except for the single richest person in the world would be "poor".
Clearly there should be some objective standard of poverty.
I think the only reasonable one is the point at which you have a reasonable fear of not being able to provide the basic necessities for oneself and family.  Food, shelter, clean water.  If you can afford so little food that it affects your health, you can claim to be poor.

It doesn't have to be a "big" car.  If you own a car, you aren't poor.  Period.  Never mind that most people in the world couldn't even afford the up-front purchase price of a car.  Much higher than that in the long run is costs for fuel, insurance, parking and tolls, maintenance, tickets...
For hundreds of thousands of years of human existence even the wealthiest people in the world could not buy cars.
Only in the US do people honestly believe that they are a "necessity".
All over the country people claim to be struggling who are paying for cable TV.  They eat out and buy $2 cups of coffee.  They have cell phones and internet connections.  These are things most people and the world can't afford.  They are not basic necessities.

Supposedly a person in the bay area needs 3 times the federal poverty level in order to live "comfortably"
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/17/business/fi-wages17
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/10/17/MN0ISQEFP.DTL

They take it for granted that everyone needs a car.
And since when does every 6 year old need her own room?!
In the case of the 2nd article, I have no contempt for the person they profile.  She (rightly) considers herself middle class.
(Hopefully, after having been interviewed she doesn't change her own standards).
Now, going into collection, obviously a problem.  Thing is, that is another of those uniquely American things: living beyond your means.

 

[Due to charcter limit, this essay is continued here: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/spoiled-economic-downturn-luxury-as.html ]


 
Posted By Bakari
Very important first point of note:
There is an unfair implication in the title.

The...

 

[While this entry is not entirely unsuitable for public consumption, my readership is likely to include those for whom it is unsuitable for.

For this reason, you may click the link to the full post if you like, but it won't do you any good

 

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=97022263&blogId=511399307

 

Perhaps I will end up doing the same as I did last time I posted something blocked, and go back half a year later and unblock it when no one will notice and its no longer relevant anyway.

Or maybe I won't.  Who's to say?

...Well, me I suppose.  But see, while I have nothing to hide, sometimes when what I write involves other people, its best to use some descrition.  So we'll just see how things go, ok?  If you are really desperate to know all the personal details of my life, you can always ask me to send you this entry.  Or you can just wait until tomorrow when I will post another general social commentary essay for your Bikeari writing fix]


 
Posted By Bakari

A few days ago, coming home from work after dark, a neighbor came over to ask for a jump.
I took the alternator out of my truck, but the charger I use in its place has a quick charge / jump start option, so I brought that over.
While we waited for it another neighbor, someone new I had waved to but never met, came over to see if we needed any help.
Somehow we got onto the topics of being "green" and the recession.

The neighbor with the dead battery is involved with a local semi-official flea market. They are conscious of the fact that, along with being a way to make money, selling things second hand is also environmentally responsible. They are actively looking for ways to be more so, for example sourcing "plastic" bags made of plant materials. She had never heard of plastic island, but understood how it happened and the significance as soon as I described it.
The new neighbor talked about the house of cards credit schemes that led to our economic situation, about concentration of wealth, government and banks and stock markets roles.
While I had plenty of my own to add, I found myself agreeing with nearly everything both of them said.

This in contrast to interactions with neighbors over the past couple years: the neighbor in the 10ft long trailer who blamed all the countries problems on "the liberals", the neighbor who couldn't see any possible reason to run bio-diesel instead of petrol when it costs more - even when I pointed out that even if he doesn't live long enough to see environmental harm affect his life his kids might, not to mention the narrowly avoided fist fight and the 3 year old who buried his dads meth needle.

Like I have written, its funny that global warming is the thing that finally got peoples attention - even though there isn't hard scientific evidence that human activity will change it in a significantly more dramatic way than the natural climate cycles already do - when we have known for many decades that our use of resources is totally unsustainable.
But whatever. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is better than not doing the right thing at all.

Now combined with economic changes, ideas I have been thinking about all my life are becoming more and more popular. What will life be like after the credit based economy has its debts called in, and we no longer have the capacity to exploit natural resources at an unsustainable level, (as is absolutely vital for the American way of life as we know it)?
Of course there were always others who imagined it coming someday, with varying levels of serious - movies like Six-String Samurai on the one end, cults and militias on the other.
But now I am finding it everywhere.
The Gubbins Experiment, a blog I read about a guy who has given up not only driving, but also accepting rides in any motor vehicle for a year, wrote his most pessimistic post ever. My boss, a small business owner with a contract with BART to run the BikeStation seemed to imply that the end of civilization as we know will happen within the next 20 years, and that it will hit dramatic and fast when it does. I met my most recent friend in part via (literal) dreams of a post-apocalyptic future.
And now, even here in the trailer park, people are thinking in global terms about sustainability and economics.

Contrast it also to discussions I have had recently with some single issue activists, who I found by and large narrowly focused on not just one issue, but one side of one issue, unable or unwilling to consider other points of view, ignoring historical and current contexts that don't support a pre-determined conclusion, and offering more criticism than real solutions.

Maybe I had it wrong all along.

Maybe it is the general public, the random ordinary everyday people in whom our potential salvation rests.
That is the most encouraging possibility I have come across in many years.


 
Posted By Bakari

I am considering asking for a raise.
A 33% one at that.
I am fairly confident I will get it, seeing that I am the CEO and majority shareholder as well as the sole employee.

It is not because I need the money.
Just the opposite.

I have too much money, not enough free time (well, maybe not "too much", but more than I need)

I am hoping that a moderate price increase will discourage people from calling me.
The decrease in work would be made up for by making slightly more when I do.

I justify raising my prices to myself in two ways:

1) I now have 3 years of experience.  I have all sort of fancy equipment.  I have moved hide-a-bed sofas, large potted trees, and several 600lb safes.  My repair skills are getting increasingly refined (as I get to practice on my clients houses).  I am gradually moving along the skill level scale from day laborer toward contractor.  That experience makes me more useful.

2) I am still well below the standard moving company rate.  Not long ago I got a call from someone who wanted to hire me to unload a U-Haul from a local move.  I pointed out that the cost of the U-Haul rental alone would be as much as my charge, and wouldn't include a laborer (me).  I priced the job at about $130.  She was immensely relived, and told me she had gotten several quotes, all above $500!
At the new rate, it would have been $160; still far below what she was told elsewhere, and in fact still competitive with renting a truck and trying to do it all alone, (including a dolly, blankets, and insurance makes a one way U-haul rental $155)

Wow.  I was on the fence when I started writing this, but after doing the math just now, and looking up U-haul's rates, now I am quite sure!

So, anyway... I'll leave my minimum where it is, at $50.  Going up to a more divisible number means I will be able to charge to the nearest 15 minutes instead of the nearest half hour.  And I'll be able to afford to make my no car discount $10 off per hour instead of just $5.
Also, I am instituting a sliding scale.  If someone genuinely can't afford even the discounted rate, I will add in an additional $5 per hour poverty discount.
I'll count that at $10,000 (approximately the federal poverty line for an individual) even though things are expensive in the Bay Area, because I don't really buy that things Americans have gotten used to calling "necessities" really are.  Granted, I don't have kids, but I did live nearly half my adult life on less than $10,000 a year - and pretty comfortably at that.  Of course, I will trust my clients on their word regarding income.
I'll also add something explicit on my pricing page about tipping for people above the median income for our area (about $50,000 for a family, $35,000 individual).
I had been excited for a while about having a sliding scale, but couldn't figure any reasonably simple way to institute it.  I think having a base rate, but with exceptions, will be the best way to accomplish it.

I'm thinking beginning of next month.
So if you need something moved, recycled, or repaired, you may want to schedule it quick.


 
Posted By Bakari

My Gmail-integrated-chat status message is sort of my version of twitter. Character limited blurbs of whats going on, interesting facts and quotes, links to various stuff.
For some reason there are still some people who don't use gmail as their primary personal email client. So they don't get to see any of my status messages.
Not to worry! I have been collecting them for about the past 10 months:


going-prius-green

To pull a man out of the mud, a friend must set foot in that mud - Rabbi Nachman

"In my day, television was called 'books' "

Eat Drink and Be Merry, for tomorrow we die

if you can read this, thank a teacher

poor and happy

do you deserve to be a citizen? citizenship exam or citizenship exam v2

I want to cuddle her fucking brains out

I consider cuteness an unnecessary bonus. Fucking jackpot, man.

Set Status Here

History of Birth Control

BalkanBeatBox

Too Much

You feel the way you do right now because of the thoughts you are thinking at this moment

Bush Ducks Shoe

No one can cut you off if you choose to slow down and let them in

sex and sustainability - a sex toy story

Race and B2B

Dinosaur Rap


"I think presumptuousness and judgementalness are major traits of your personality"

Governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deducted from it. - Georg Hegel

Spare The Air Day Tomorrow

I can not think of any clever or informative status messages

[Free blog server has character limit; OH NO!  No worry, more clever or informative status messages past are here: http://tiny.cc/setstatushere]


 
Posted By Bakari

I have been requested to post something positive.

While I am generally good at pointing out problems and at complaining, I don't generally offer much by way of solutions.
This time I have a very concrete solution, which is within easy reach of ordinary Americans, with no risk, no cost, and a negligible amount of inconvenience.
It is something you, the reader, can do.


But first, a short history lesson:
In October of 1973 a group of nations got sick of the US foreign policy of military intervention, and, knowing we had developed a lifestyle totally dependent on oil, they agreed not to sell us any.
This caused massive and immediate effects throughout the US economy. Buying fuel, at any price, meant waiting in long lines - on those days you were even allowed to buy gas at all (hmm, so maybe Soviet era lines for goods were not caused by the distribution system of communism, but by a plain lack of resources...)

The government took steps to encourage conservation, which (unlike sourcing new oil) could be done immediately, such as banning Christmas lights.

Another major step they took was to enact a national speed limit of 55mph.

The reason for this is that at higher speeds air resistance increases exponentially* relative to speed. Going twice as fast requires 4 times the energy. This is as true of modern vehicles as it was in 1973. All vehicles, small or large, gas or alternative fuel, use more energy at speeds above 60mph. In fact, going from 55 to 70mph typically uses between 20% and 25% more fuel to go the same distance.**

Next, a physics lesson:
Similar to the relationship between wind resistance and speed, momentum varies with the square of speed.
Energy=1/2m*v2***
This means that if you are going twice as fast, it will take 4 times as much force to stop - and 4 times the braking distance in an emergency.
It also means that if you do end up in a crash, at twice the speed you will have 4 times the impact. At 4 times the impact, crumple zones and airbags can't stop your organs from hitting your ribs hard enough to explode.

Most people actually believe they are safe when they are driving a car.
The number one cause of death of youth in the US in car crashes. It causes more deaths among young people than murder, suicide, cancer, and heart disease combined. It is the number one cause of death up until age 40, at which point it is still in the top 3.
We don't hear about it much in the news precisely because it is so common. There are roughly 16,500 accidents significant enough to be reported in the U.S. EVERY DAY. Of these, roughly 1/3 result in permanent injuries. Every 12 minutes, an American dies in a car crash. Every time you get into a car, you may die.

The number one factor in causing all of these deaths and injuries? It isn't alcohol. It isn't teen drivers or cell phones. Its speeding. Speeding is the single largest factor in injury and fatality collisions. Contrary to popular belief, driving slower is safer even when other cars around you are speeding.****

Note a couple studies on the issue:
"risk of involvement in a casualty crash, relative to the risk for a car traveling at 60 km/h, increased at an exponential rate for free traveling speeds above 60 km/h [37mph]"**

“... summarized in a general rule of thumb: When travel speed increases by 1%, the injury crash rate increases by about 2%, the serious injury crash rate increases by about 3%, and the fatal crash rate increases by about 4% ”**

(continued here, due to character limit)


 
Posted By Bakari

A number of things I have read recently have had the same saddening undertones to me lately.

Whether its queer folk expressing prejudice against heterosexuals, feminists who hate men, or people of color claiming that white activists who have no money coming into their neighborhood is a gentrification issue. http://www.anarchistnews.org/?q=node/8794

I hear about "gentrification" here in Oakland too.
Oakland has rent control, which means no tenant can be forced out or have their rent raised dramatically just because local property valuations have gone up.
Raising the average income in an area serves to increase the tax base, lower crime, and is not bad for a neighborhood.  If, thanks to rent control, no one is being displaced this means that, like in the clash between anarchists in Pittsburgh, what people are really fighting for is something activists spent years trying to dismantle: segregation.

Bigotry which comes from an oppressed group is still just as much bigotry as it is when it comes from wealthy straight white men. 
In all cases it is counter-productive.
Activists, please - stop alienating your allies just because they look different than you.

That is exactly what they want us to do.