Whew…There.

June 11, 2008

Glad I got that last post out of my system. Momentary mental collapse, nothing out of the ordinary at MC.

Things will be better from here on out, I promise.

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New Page

June 9, 2008

I added a “Recommended Reading” page to the top bar. I’ll post links there to individual articles I like and that can help inform the reading of some of the site’s other content, with helpful comments whenever possible.

Yeah, I know I ragged on del.icio.us last week. And I know this may look like it’s basically the same thing.

It isn’t.

So. No posts for awhile. I know you’ve all been wondering what Master Caution has been up to. Mostly working, thinking, applying for jobs, getting jobs, and trying not to freak out about peak oil so much that it keeps me cuddled in the fetal position next to my hot water tank.

Here we are. A gallon of gas is nearing the cost of a pack of cigarettes. A national average of $4 a gallon, according to 60 Minutes, which is playing through the VHF snow on the one channel I get on the 28-inch TV that sits like a walrus in a toll booth in the corner of my living-slash-bedroom-slash-office. I miswrote, actually: a gallon of gas would be approaching the cost of a pack of cigarettes if the recent New York tax hike hadn’t gone through. A pack of smokes is now equivalent to an hour of work at minimum wage. I tell myself it will make me quit, but I doubt it. At best, I can hope that it will keep me from bumming out cigarettes to the “only smoke when I drink”-ers.

My old editor at Generation came into town last night. “I quit smoking,” he said, as he smoked one of my cigarettes outside the bar. “I was shocked and appalled at how easy it was.”

Me too.

While I’ve been a smoker for over ten years now, I haven’t owned a car since December 3, 2005. I know the date for two reasons: my car, my beautiful Subaru Legacy Outback, was totaled on the street in front of my house. There was a lot of paperwork to fill out. Filling in the “date of collision” has commit the event to my memory. Secondly, the date is a part of the best and worst 9/11 joke I’ve ever heard, depending on where you sit. Taylor Negron. The Aristocrats. If I could find the video (help?) I’d post it. And I can’t tell it here. It’s just not that kind of a joke. But the next time you watch it, if you watch it, look for Taylor Negron near the end or during the credits. I can’t remember which.

Sorry.

At any rate, the date is burned into my memory and life. I’ve even started an informal holiday of sorts. I don’t do anything serious on December 3. If anyone asks, I tell them it’s a religious holiday. If they ask which one, I say, “It’s December Third!” Which probably leads to confusion on their part. “What? Is that like an orthodox thing? Is this guy fucking with me? What sort of holiday mandates the consumption of whiskey-root beer floats?”

The point.

Cars. I haven’t had one since December 3, 2005. (Gesundheit, lady-who-has-loud-sex-across-the-alley.) And I’ve enjoyed the shift. I travel by train or bus. It takes a lot more planning, but every voyage feels like a field trip. I walk everywhere else. I come in contact with other human beings and with nature. Sometimes that means trudging through eighteen inches of snow or sprinting through violent thunderstorms. Most days, though, it just means getting to where I need to go, without being beholden to the costs of gasoline or automobile maintenance.

Of course, the places I need to go are closer than the places I went when I went wherever I wanted to go, back when having a car made sense to me. And I can’t as many people or goods with me as I used to. Grocery shopping has become difficult at times and impossible at others. But I’ve gotten to know my neighborhoods. I’ve been forced to look for food closer to my home, forcing me to look closer at my home and its immediate surroundings in order to survive on more than beer and whatever I scrounge from work.

I’ve had to change my idea of a good neighborhood. According to walkscore.com, my addresses since 12/3 have received a rating of 52, 83, 82, 77, and (currently) 91 out of 100. All this in comparison to my house, my home, the ex-urban Rivendell that I loved and bled and grew up in and for which I rarely go a day without singing a silent boxcar spiritual, which rates a 5. (I still love you, yellow lunch box, stuck in the throat of Dolphin Drive from both ends like a swallowed pill.)

I didn’t know then what I know now. That gasoline prices will never go down. That even if they do, it will be temporary and more damaging than if prices tripled tomorrow. That the world has reached the point where it has pumped the most oil out of the ground that it ever has, that it ever will. And that from here on out, things will get tougher for the new owners of my yellow lunch box and everyone else who lives in a lunch box just like mine. They will find less time for leisure and television. They will need to find new ways of getting work, food, medicine, electricity, candles, mail, flowers, water, clothing, and a host of other necessities, perceived and actual. They will find their government more and more occupied by dangerous and consuming wars over the last of what’s left of our planet’s resources–and they will need their government to win. Many will die–and they will need to die for others to live.

Or maybe not. Maybe hydrogen isn’t as impossible as it seems. Maybe suburban families will begin converting their massive grass yards into the farmland they were meant to be. They’ll stick to the neighborhood and trade their minivans for milk cows and draft horses. Or they’ll move back to the abandoned cities, and sell their old homes to the state to be destroyed, ploughed, subsidized, and made valuable again by the farmers that sold suburban developers the land to in the first place. I don’t know where we’ll put them when they get here, but…

Ugh. Fuck it. It will probably be ugly. In twenty years I’m going to get stabbed in the neck over a loaf of bread by a former Reagan Youth leader and I won’t even have the chance to tell him I’d told him so.

Jesus, who wants to end on that note? This was supposed to be a much more focused post than you normally see here, but apparently all I’m good for today is devolving into this kind of nonsense. But hey, it’s Sunday. I don’t have God anymore, but we all need someplace to speak in tongues for a few hours a week.

I’ll get back to this later tonight. Until then, what are you doing about peak oil?

Live From Allentown

April 23, 2008

Well, I’m finally moved in to my new apartment (minus a few things like towel racks, the Internet, or a place to sit), I started a another food service job (busing) today, and the new Master Caution world headquarters on Allen Street has officially gone live.

Woot.

Here’s some local niblets before the café closes and I lose wi-fi:

The Buffalo Police Department and block clubs around the city seem to support the recent video surveillance program. You may have seen the flashing blue lights of the security cameras on lightposts around Allen, Elmwood, and the Chippewa, but there are currently 43 locations being watched around the city, with plans for 100 more by year’s end.

The NYCLU website has begun an initiative to raise awareness about the affect of these cameras on Buffalo residents’ civil liberties, but most of the reaction from neighborhood groups has been positive.

And Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson says the cameras only serve a partial role:

“They help enhance our ability, but the real job of policing is still left to boots on the ground,” Gipson said.

It’s always interesting to see how pervasive national punchlines like “boots on the ground” can be even at the local level.

Royal Toybox has a pretty sweet idea for a more masculine version of the traditional Thank You card featuring Samuel Gompers gesticulating and thanking the card’s recipient; with the current state of American labor, it’s hard to see what he could be grateful for.

My ideal cover candidates for the next phase of man-thank-you cards:

-Sam Perkins

-“Legs” Diamond

-R.J. Umberger

-The grizzly bear population of the western U.S.

-A Dodge Durango

Buffalo has a bike museum. Well, it’s in OP.

John Paget wants to bring it downtown. It would make sense. There’s certainly a ton of interest in bikes and bike culture in the city.

My hope is that if the Bike Museum comes to Buffalo proper it follows the standards and practices of the city’s reigning cycling insitution: open once a week for six hours with free booze until dawn.

More posts when I get more settled.

Mean time, get the F outside.