My carbon footprint: Looks like I’m a diamond

New Year’s Day (Rosh Hashanah) is approaching and along with that I am daily more aware of just how ‘different’ I am. Talking lifestyle here. I’ve assembled a few categories, to help me understand/ gloat.
I’ve almost completed the year-long transform of a filthy junkyard/wasteland/hovel into a Paradise, through thousands of hours of unashamed hard work and surprisingly little cash outlay. The place is unrecognizable, teeming with crops, birds, wildlife, quiet stars, and a host of inventions in varying stages of success. Now to the itemization:

1) Electricity: Ten months usage was 650 KwHrs. That’s a bit over 2 KwHr/day, and it cost me about $100 total. An average residence here uses more than that in one month, what with AC on and the windows open (too lazy to close ’em), the TV on 24/7, nuisance outdoor lights blasting in people’s eyes (again, day and night: the timer stopped working a couple years ago), and who knows what other junk draining our poor little country’s generators. Anyway, go me!

2) AC: With daily high temps here making boring excursions from 90 to 100 and back these last few months, I don’t even dream of needing an air-conditioner. Why? you ask. Well, with no buildings nearby to block the on-shore breeze (about 10 mph every day, 8AM to 7 PM), I have free evaporative cooling to spare. The passageway between my main hovel and the tacked-together with spit shed behind it gets a perfect cool breeze which passes through an oak tree. It can be 98 in the shade, but the air blowing past me in the corridor in down in the low 80s. I’ve channeled it into the bedroom with baffles and ducts, installed a pair of free fans high on the East wall to exhaust hot air from the tin building, and I also drip water slowly on the main exposed tin roof. I’m always happy to come here after working at, or even inside other people’s houses. All this is free, by the way.

3) Cell phone: I place an average 1 call every two days, this despite a busy work schedule. (Yes, I converse face-to-face, tough at times but worth knowing in an emergency.) Other jokers here seem to call somebody every time they fart, and spend most of the day with one arm holding phone to ear, the other gesticulating into the wind. Sad and Stupid. Look at the sidewalk; you see at least 50% of pedestrians babbling away. (Or getting an update on walking? “Is it ‘left, right, left, right’.. or ‘right, left’?” Anyway, I pay an embarrassingly pitiful bill for my phone. Average $8 a month. What others pay, I don’t know, or even ask.

4) TV: I have one, but haven’t watched it, or anyone else’s, in months. Probably no more insidious waste of time was ever invented. We have excellent commercial-free radio news and analysis here. Two hours in the morning and you know what’s happening. Plus you don’t have to sit down like a tired zombie to listen to the radio.

5) Clothes: Total clothes purchase this year= one new pair of sneakers, $19 at Payless. I have the receipt. We seem to have a phenomenon here I’d call ‘Newly Nudist Apparel Castoff Syndrome. Piles of perfectly serviceable clothing mysteriously appear on the sidewalk every few days. I have a different colour sweatshirt for every day of the week. No, make that ‘every hour of the day… and week’. Almost costs more to wash them than it’s worth, with my ‘back stock’ filling boxes to the ceiling. (Of course one needs to compromise a bit on fashion choice, but 99% of my day is work or in the fields. Never heard a complaint from the Broccoli.)
6) Transportation: Although my little 1987 car gets about 35 mpg, I still think twice before any trip: ‘Can this be combined with another task? What’s the best time/ shortest route?’ And whilst  hordes of bozos here drive useless pickup trucks around just for show, I modestly carry a metric ton or more of lumber on my 2X4 roof racks, bolted snazzily into the car-body. Meanwhile, the hot-air balloon ‘carpenters’ are trying to tie a couple 2X6s into the short bed and rear-view mirrors, ending up with a pathetic load which threatens every overhead electrical line. But I’m already at work.

7) Plastic goddamn bags: Here called, absurdly, ‘nylon’, they litter the landscape like psoriasis. I’ve barely used one in years, preferring to demonstrate to the ‘People of the Bag’ how a grown man can actually carry 5 items in his hands at once. Bags, in my opinion, are for the defective, born with only prongs at the ends of their forearms. We’re supposed to have a law in effect mandating a one shekel cost per bag, in an effort to stop the bleeding, but it will never be enforced. Too many prongies, I guess. We are loudly green here… mainly on paper.

8) Turn signals: Number of turns I make a day: Oh, about 50. Number of times I didn’t signal this year: Maybe a dozen. Must’ve been drunk. Anyway, this is an environmental issue because the Israelis with their close-to-zero use of signals waste each others’ gas, brakes, and nerves every stupid minute they drive. Oh, and time. Like waiting for some brain-dead to pass through a ‘T’ intersection, only to watch the fool turn right before he gets there.
Like I said before, ‘go me’. At least you know which direction I’m going.

Ok, the Reader can  easily say “Big Deal, one righteous yid; what about real change?” and yes, my second-by-second attempts to diplomatically effect a sea-change in every one of these issues for 17 years have mainly left me angry and bitter. A few isolated victories, but to call me a one-man whirl-wind whistle-stop of social progress would be to vastly overestimate the wind left in my whistle. Still I persist, though the temptation is to drop by the airport, you know, to see if the planes look up to a transAtlantic flight. Let it never be said that my motto was ‘Veni, vidi, Vacati’ (‘I came, I saw…(!)… I bolted’.)
What I need, reading all this, is some ‘swagger’. Some visible sign in public that my choices give me a life worthy of envy and emulation. (Ok, I want the jealous to just die inside every time they see me.) But I am fighting a very stubborn and deeply-entrenched role model here, the user, the consumer, the ‘don’t give a shit, what, I care? personna. “Wake me up when we run out of oil, or water, or electricity, when the place is finally so slopped-up with thoughtlessness and thoughtless litter that I can no longer breathe. Until then, f*ck it.”
9) Oh yeah, I forgot one: Sound Pollution. I suffer around the clock for every local dildo’s mandatory barking dog, his failed car alarm, ditto house alarm, his pitiful ‘gardeners’ using 120 decibel blowhards instead of working five minutes with a goddamn broom, and all this on an irritating background of cell-phone conversations in my face. Now I can honestly say that in 15 years, almost no one has ever heard me speak a word into my phone. It’s not rocket science, and there’s always somewhere to go for a few minutes if one is considerate. Speaking of which, I don’t even know whether my car horn blows. Never use it. This in a country where they start the clamour even before the light changes. And sit on the stupid thing anytime they

a) pass by someone they know
b) need to brake, whether it’s a crippled old lady in a cross-walk or a child in a stroller
c) and yeah, every time they ‘get somewhere’. To, like, announce to all the mothers in the neighborhood who just spent 4 hours getting the little kid to fall asleep.
Needless to say, I don’t do any of this shit. Now to receive my medal. There was a medal? Uh-oh, no medal.


23 thoughts on “My carbon footprint: Looks like I’m a diamond

  1. Roadkill_Spatula

    It’s fun to hear you rant. Your integrity is yet another sign that God is not through with you, even if you don’t particularly care about him. You are indeed created in his image. I’m impressed with your extremely low-budget lifestyle and the amount of beauty you add to the world, between your gardening and your remodeling/construction. Can your car’s springs actually hold a ton? I brought home 750 square feet of tile a few years ago in a couple of trips in my van; it made the leaf springs bend the wrong way, and the vehicle bounced and floated in a most alarming way on the freeway.

  2. ordinarybutloud

    I paged through about 11 pages of Xanga minis to find one with a medal and it turns out we don’t have any “recognition” minis. At least ones that include medals. I am an absolute model of waste and Earth defilement next to you. Although I’m really good about using my turn signal and I never watch TV. I probably have a brain tumor from talking on my cell phone though. Luckily for me the bill doesn’t vary with the # of minutes I talk because I have one of those super-fancy extra-wasteful and expensive cell phone plans where they charge you an outlandish amount of money to talk as much as you want. Which for me is evidently a lot.

  3. gnostic1

    People around you are aware of your victories and would like to come up and thank you for leaving more resources about for them to squander but your visual appearance may overlap with that of the cadre of homeless folk who live under the bridge down the lane so the people are a bit hesitant to approach … perhaps you could make yourself a button to wear.( In this comment I’m trying to save commas)I like the water on the roof . I’ve tried that on the few days it wouldn’t just produce an enormous icicle and it works well. Here though the available water is cleaned, pumped etc before it gets to my tap so some energy is used somewhere. If only we had rainbarrels or an underground ice room where water would freeze in the winter and we could access it in summer. Just like in pioneer days.All across Canada and the northern USA people, as you well know, keep their food frozen in refrigerators in the artificially warmed kitchen even when there’s footprint-free 40 degrees below air on the porch. What is up with people?

  4. an_OM_aly

    Made me laugh: left, right or right left, ‘people of the bag’, and that i am almost no go guy//   here’s the closest i could cone to making a diamond medal

  5. dirtbubble

    I wanted to find a medal graphic in one of those Minis but sadly they have overlooked medals. So, still no medal. Horn honking must have legitimate uses. In Denver people only honk due to the pressure of the poo backed-up to their eyeballs. In Bogota they honk reflexively, yes before the light even turns green, or whenever they’re about to do something really stupid – which is often enough. Neither mode is to my liking, but at least Colombians take the malice out of it.

  6. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula – Thanks for the abundant compliments. I try to kinda act the same in the absence of a god as I would had there been one. A sort of reverse Pascal’s wager, since any god I’d dig would prolly love clean experiments; (“made the thing with 28 k of onboard brains; now let’s see how it behaves when I’m not watching”) The Fiesta’s been field-tested with 42 4.2 m 2X6s. Heavy yellow pine, soaking wet, I doubt they float. That’s pretty close. It’s the cussid speed-bumps every few feet that kill me. (My ’84 had broken springs all around, and I floated comically like a Jack in the box.(And no, I’m cruel to scofflaws drunk or sober.)

  7. jsolberg

    @ordinarybutloud – If you find a medal: all-purpose, get us two. Your’ll be for blogging under fire from Telluride.And the cell-phone is relevant mainly for noise, interruption of useful life… and my bizarre ham-radio belief that the spectrum should be filled with only high-priority nocturnal emissions, ha. IDK, sometimes I wonder how any of us had meaningful lives back before cells.

  8. jsolberg

    @gnostic1 – On the first point; bingo, bro. I myself am pondering taking a sartorial break from ‘scum-ball chic’, just for the learning experience.I do survive on the wastefulness of strangers; most of my found appliance collection needed only the power cord replaced… or the prongs bent. //Thinking to send you, this winter, a weekly well-insulated 1 cubic meter block of Aluminum, or spent Uranium. Use ’em anywhere you need heat.

  9. sleekpeek

    If I could give you a medal, it would be my jealousy. Instead, I’ll keep working on reducing my laziness, because that’s what being wasteful is is lazy; unless, it’s carelessness (or ignorance). I have a long way to go and will likely never reach your degree of usefulness. I’ll try, though, based on your reporting of your role-model-ness.

  10. elgan

    This was an inspiring read, JS. Those plastic bags are a bugaboo (I have no idea what that means, I just needed to say it). They charge a nickel for them in stores here, and I, not having the man-sized hands that you do, use reusable cloth bags to carry my peklech around in. I am in complete agreement with you regarding cell phones, television and clothing. I have discovered a local 2nd-hand store where I can outfit myself for babkes. Also, I always signal my turns. I’m wondering if you couldn’t generate your own electricity somehow, either by training hamsters to run on wheels, or by channeling some of that free sunshine that pours down on your holy land 12/24 into solar panels. Just a thought. Keep up the good work. At least when the apocalypse comes, you’ll be ready!

  11. gnostic1

    @jsolberg – 1) What a way to get my stock pole of freshly mined fishin’ Abels into Iran’s carnival spinners! (Note the clever end run around the ears of the censors (eyes of the sensers?)). I freeze the glowing stuff and ship it as mosque cooling blocks and you send the remains back at a higher temperature. At high volume we may even solve global warming … or make it worse, I’ll have to think about it for a bit.                     2) The only thing I ever medalled in was other people’s business.

  12. jsolberg

    @elgan – I think a bugaboo is like a shibboleth, but without the pop-quiz. And I’m ready for most calamities, except wind-driven brush-fires. Every time I smell smoke here I panic; too many careless foreign and domestic workers on the horizon. (A week ago there were actually Thai workers sleeping in the trees out past my chickens. Arboreal and primeval though it was, I was pissed.

  13. jsolberg

    @hellnohateyou – Hey thanks, buddy. I must be feeling a need to be praised lately; most of what I do is done in solitude, with only Nature as a witness. This is the first year I’m actually up for the rains to start, about October. Fewer buckets of water to carry.Thanks again for the nice medal.


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