Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My new take on "extremism"

I have always considered myself (hmmm...) a level-headed person. I'm weird, but I like me some logic. This logic drove me away from some things: protests, for instance. I thought of myself as "evolved", that protests were for fundamentalists and people who were into public displays of their politics and values above the hard work that should lead from those values. Plus, all those hippies! Those open minds, leaking out!

Recently, I met a fellow recently who asked me what I thought about "attachment parenting". I have had a somewhat love/hate relationship with attachment parenting. It once again seemed fundamentalist, (or it was *portrayed* that way...). All those hippies, never letting their kid out of their sight, forcing it to sleep with the parents on a bed that was not big enough, kids getting claustrophobic; how could that be good? I said none of these things to him, only let him bring up the idea of the "8 principles of Attachment Parenting". I was expecting some serious rules, all of which would need to be observed or I'd be labeled a bad parent for life. Instead, he asked me what kind of parenting I was doing. I told him, and he said to my surprise that I was *already* doing attachment parenting. Then he went over the 8 principles:

  1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
  2. Feed with Love and Respect
  3. Respond with Sensitivity
  4. Use Nurturing Touch
  5. Engage in Nighttime Parenting
  6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
  7. Practice Positive Discipline
  8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
Wow! My wife and I pretty much do as much of those as we can, not knowing what it was we were doing; we were attachment parents. I suppose what it taught me was that "common sense parenting" and "attachment parenting" are really pretty synonymous.

Now, there are actual extreme attachment parents out there, and bless them for doing all they can to love their kids. Some things I don't think work for us, (like never letting your child out of your sight for 2 years), but hey, that's your kid and your life. Do what you want as long as you don't hurt people. But the other stuff, especially if taken in the general sense, that's spot on. It's still on the spectrum and you can pick and choose what works for you and your child. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition.

Cut to another form of supposed extremism: hypermiling.

Yep, it's that fetishistic practice of getting every single mile per gallon you can from your car. There I go, degrading it by calling it fetishistic. Anyway, I went to Arizona for my grandmother's 85th birthday and we rented a Toyota Prius. Now, I know what you're thinking: why not a Jetta TDI? Well, they don't rent those very often, and at least it's a high-mileage car. In fact, we got an average of 44.6 mpg for around 400 miles driven. That's pretty good.

Truth is, I think I know why the Prius people get such good mileage. Is it the nifty electric motor? Nope. Is it the super-stealth streamlining? No again. It's the simple fact that there is a real-time readout of your current gas mileage, and that you can see when the internal combustion petroleum-powered engine (ICE) kicks in and when it goes back to clean electric power. You change your behavior almost immediately. I found myself learning the tipping points of the two motors, timing the hills, braking way earlier, accelerating much more gradually, thinking about brake return power.

So, I started to become a hypermiler, without even knowing it! I've always been somewhat of a recycling extremist, but I figured that was okay here in Seattle. Now I'm thinking seriously about getting a readout for my TDI and really gunning for the highest mileage possible. It frankly sounds like a lot of fun. Damn.

Now I can see that there must be some kind of attitude shift required if we're to do anything about this climate change thing, and this world-changing
-for-the-better-thing. We've just got to push through the anti-hype, media blitzing, and peer-pressure assaults that label anything out of our comfort zone "extremist". That's the lesson I've been learning.

I'm coming to the conclusion that there are real and imagined forces lining up to tell you that you shouldn't do this or that because you'll be a "------nazi". Some of these forces are in your own head! You might be thinking, "I don't want to join up with my friends and interested people to do co-housing, they are going to be "consensus- nazis". Or I don't want to pick that dirty aluminum can out of the office trash bin because someone will call me a "recycling nazi". Or "I don't want to tell people how cool it is that my wife breast-feeds and we don't use formula because we might be looked at as unreasonable people, La Leche Leaguers, breastfeeding nazis".

Sheesh! that list goes on and on! Organic foods, solar hot water, biodiesel, CFLs, this is all stuff that when taken to the seeming "extreme" (i.e. actually doing it) is somehow leaving the realm of the logical and entering the shady polly-ana world of dangerous fantasy. But look at all the things I'm listing off:

Attachment Parenting
Recycling everything you can
Using solar power or alternative energy
getting the best mileage possible
eating foods that are as natural as possible

This is all stuff that the culture (even my supposedly "Green" version here in Seattle) has been labeling as extremism in one form or another. They take the most strict fundamentalist versions of things and point to the "slippery slope" of becoming an avid supporter. They denigrate the efforts as "fetish". They pull out that old Nazi saw. Yawn already! I'm seeing that all the stuff that makes sense (logic and science anybody??) is pointed at and made less "sensible" so people can feel better about not giving a shit.

It's freaking lazy to not hang on to your Coke can until you can recycle it later (and also lazy not to simply ask if a recycling program could be started!). It's good for your kid to breastfeed as long as it wants to. It's good to get the most mileage you can from your car. This isn't extremism, it's progressivism!

Now, I don't think people should enforce their own way of life upon another when they need to get to these places on their own and in their own time. I think people should leave their minds open to all kinds of improvements, but do so with desire instead of guilt or coercing. That's the stuff that the bulk of the world is rightly worried about, it's not the science and logic, it's the enforcement and coercion. We want to see the good in it for ourselves, not have it inflicted upon us from the outside. We worry about that so much that anything that smacks of seriousness gets labeled as extremism. *THAT* is the slippery slope, friend. Let's pull our collective heads out of the sand, open our eyes and minds, and judge things for ourselves. That's how we'll move forward. And if you want to get a little extremist on yourself, go for it; as long as you don't force it on others, or hurt anyone in the process.

Peace, seriously.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Staying up with coffee, thinking

Yes, I am simply blogging what is going on right now. Twittering old school. I can't sleep right now (and didn't even try!), so I am typing with my ouchy fingers (due to cutting my nails too damn short).

I am thinking the following thoughts:

  1. should I talk about my giving up a bunch of bad habits in my blog
    1. call me if you want to actually know which ones
  2. is it okay to be happy and not to show it outwardly?
    1. yes it is
  3. is "enlightenment" really the final obstacle to enlightenment?
    1. duh
  4. every time you take a hot shower, consider it a baptism, and remember how freaking lucky you are to get a) a shower stall that is your own b) water that you can freaking drink c) HOT water. There's more, but holy crap that's plenty to be thankful for.
    1. seriously. People praise {∞} for food all the time, but best be thanking your Stars you can take hot showers, people.
  5. lately all the proverbial wisdom I thought "someday I hope to understand that stuff" is actually making some sense (one day at a time, let go and let {∞}, a stitch in time saves nine, go with the flow, etc.)
    1. okay, the stitch one I still don't get.
  6. my idea for {∞} will have a hard time taking off since I have to hit so many keys to type it out!
    1. but it's still a great idea. Seriously. Who else (lately) has a Grand Unified Theory in physics that includes religion, love, and community, but also has its own icon? Send me their links!
  7. lists of things seem easier to read than huge bungly paragraphs?
    1. I know, bungly isn't a word. Yes, lists are boss. Outline format for blogging? Super-Boss.
  8. single parents are mostly heros, it's friggin hard to parent a baby by yourself, even for a few hours!
    1. I love my wife and daughter for reals, and appreciate my wife a snick-ton.
  9. I missed Green Fest 08, but my wife was sick. I was glad to stay home, actually, because I got a chance to take my baby out for two walks in the neighborhood, soaking up the excellent warm sunshine.
    1. I'm planning on meeting the people I wanted to meet at Green Fest, only in person and for more than 2 minutes.
  10. my life is going stupendously, and always has been. With or without my knowledge, things were unfolding as they should.
    1. it really is. I'm technically drowning in blessings again. Call me for more details, or text my iPhone, yo. Crap. Did I just say that?
      1. yes, you did.
        1. What the heck is wrong with this outline formatting? Every new indentation gives me a #1? Double Crap.
          1. It's not even a Roman numeral! I'll get over it.
            1. Love is all you need.

Science on hold?

Perhaps this is the ultimate in my secular/humanist heresy, but I think we need to put expensive particle science on hold until we FEED THE PLANET.

That's right, and no more space shuttle launches. For a year. We can do the major research, but hold back on the Large Hadron Collider, things like that.

In addition, of course to STOPPING THE WAR IN IRAQ AND IRAN. That's a given.

The price of rice in Africa has on average doubled this year (between 20-80% more expensive). We cannot in good conscience continue to spend like we're not in a global crisis with water, energy, and food.

This is all (not surprisingly) tied together.

The current push for expanding our military muscle around the globe actually makes the need for that muscle even graver. We must divert money from war to environmental protection and distributing resources for self-sufficiency.

For my part, I'm working on getting the USA on a path to increased energy efficiency and decreased waste of water resources. That's what my work is about, that's what I am here for.

If we can stop wasting so much household energy and water, we can help reduce the global devastation caused by skyrocketing oil prices and drought. All our power needs to shift into the real present catastophes of the developing world.

If we can as science-loving people put our expensive research projects on hold for a bit, we can show the world we have a conscience and the willpower to use it for peace.

Sent from my iPhone

"Third Eye" videos for people on bed-rest

It occurred to me that if you don't have a person in your life that can tell you stories about the world outside while you are sick or disabled and cannot leave your bed, you should by rights have access to the world outside nevertheless.

TV is a pretty stock version of this, quite incomplete, rarely localized, and full of advertisements. Video footage, on the other hand, can be targeted, localized and is blissfully ad-free.

Perhaps a crew of digital video tapers could be employed to help bed or home-confined people see their own world outside. They could get directions via text, email or phone, and of course in person. The service would be like seeing eye dogs but for the seeing.

The footage could be loaded to an online server so the recipient can see it again and again but leave the videotaper free to make more videos.

Think of it, footage of your grandchildren, children or spouse. Footage of an event you missed. Footage of your local neighborhood in spring bloom. A window to the world.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Stamp a carbon number on all sustainable products

That's right, just like the FDA did for food. A list of all major carbon expenditures would also be nice, on the side of the box.

I want to know (and the company to tell me, verified by a 3rd party or the govt) why the product you are selling me is referred to as "Green" or "Sustainably Produced". One can calculate an average of the total embodied energy and carbon in most things. While you may not know what happened to the product once it hit the shelf, you'd know it's carbon footprint right up until then.

Where was it made? How much energy was required to make each unit? How far did it travel before it was unpacked and readied for sale, and how energy intense was that traveling? Once it is used, can I return it, recycle it, reuse it or must it be landfilled?

This won't be an option as the energy crisis worsens and climate change laws begin to go into effect globally. Companies need to get on this now, or be forced to later.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Iphone network cloud app

A visual version of LinkedIn, where you can drag and drop your current contact list to make mindmap networks of people. Useful in gathering a particular team (and doing a group mailing, natch), brainstorming possible business connections, and even setting up the noble phone tree.

The Good Virus

Then it started happening more rapidly, consistently, thoroughly, lovingly.

The idea of discovering my right livelihood and it not being hokey. That there really is a false veil of Matrix complexity that acts like a fog of morphine. That we're interconnected for real.

As I deliberately pick up the gauntlet and settle in as a lifecycle energy consultant, I simply can't continue seeing life any other way. I began to have a Hope that outpaced Fear, permanently. I see I have (blissfully, thankfully) no choice. All my energy and resource consumption is intimately and directly connected to everyone else's.

All my networks blur into one. All my nodes form an interwoven web of influence and support.

Without doubt, I see (personally) the very fabric of the world I inhabit, and how that fabric can be altered with and for, Love.

All my formerly secret theories overlapped and then were transcended, leaving only the experience of the present as reality.

My friends and family instantly become glowing lanterns by which I can see in the darkest night. My wife glows radiantly, lovingly as I see her for who she truly is. My father comes almost literally back to life before my eyes as I connect more and more deeply with my mother and siblings.

Realizing that we're All siblings, the good virus spreads and we all get a touch of the flu, forcing us all to step back from our daily routines to reevaluate our position and speed as we spin around the universe.

I'm just passing on my collective knowledge chunk as I become aware of my certain and timely passing. We'll all do the same whether we intend to or not, so I want to be intentional about it.

My daughter is asleep in her crib and when she wakes up, I'm ready. Ready to share this beautiful world with her.

Finallly, permanently, I realize my father would be proud of me, that he always was. I got the message, Dad. Thanks. I love you too.


Sent from my iPhone