Saving the world (or not), one car at a time

Well, it looks like we’ll be getting a car.

I think somewhere in my mind I’ve worn the “I don’t have a car, and I’m saving the planet” badge and now I have to take it off. It seems to flow that environmentalism means not having a four-wheeled vehicle or else you’re contributing to the global environmental problem (though airplane rides contribute more). I’m trying to be positive about it, as much as possible, and also to diversify my methods of reducing my carbon footprint by eating less meat, shopping locally, and bicycling more (not to mention some other ways).

One of the downsides to hybrid cars, which we’re considering, is the lack of choice in models. We love the Honda Fit, though it’s a gas car, for its size and flexibility of inner layout, but would prefer a few more features (and a hybrid engine). Instead, we have the Prius which, to me, seems a bit bulky and, yet, the trimmer hybrids, such as the Civic Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and the Toyota Camry Hybrid don’t have the trunk space. If you want any other styles or models (other than a hybrid SUV) good luck. You’d think, after the demand and high ratings, that companies would expand the choices, but it looks to be a few years away (thanks to the introduction of the hydrogen-powered vehicles), if ever. Looks like we’ll have to settle for one of the few choices out there.

Quaker guilt?

I’ve been pondering this one for a while–is there such a thing? Somehow, I seem to also ascribe a “saving grace” to preserve my own desire for whatever I feel guilt about. If there were a list of things I feel guilt about include:

  • Enjoying my motorcycle too much (guilt: gas/environmental impact/pollution; saving grace: smaller footprint than a car)
  • Computing (guilt: environmental impact for cheap construction/labor, hazardous materials, digital divide; saving grace: less paper use, greater equality among who controls media sources)
  • Television/Movies (guilt: less focus on interpersonal relationships; saving grace: greater storytelling possibilities)
  • Listening to my iPod (guilt/saving grace: see television/movies)
  • Living in a city (guilt: greater impact on the environment, dependence on “the grid”; saving grace: options for transportation, smaller “footprint”, shared resources and systems)
  • Working in a private school (guilt: separate school for money; saving grace: ability to openly combine religion with education)

My Quaker guilt seems to have less to do with Scripture and righteousness and more to do with whether I am living equally with others and within a sustainable, environmental life for the Earth.

The “invisible third lane”

If you are considering road travel in Thailand, it pays to know about this.

Consider it like “reading between the lines”–you don’t actually see the space between the yellow line down the center of the road, but it’s there, and Thais use it.  I don’t mean like, “oh, there’s a long straightaway and I’ll pass the person(s) in front of me” or “I’m a motorcycle, so I’ll squeeze through” but rather like it’s actually a usable space by anyone willing to go head on with another user to see who compromises first; maybe akin to a street which is two-way but with too many cars parked on the street on both sides to you have to sidle down the street with other oncoming vehicles.  Add to this the notion that there is no liscensing (that I know of) for drivers for special-sized vehicles (meaning it could be the first time the person has ever driven an 18-wheeler or not) and that many drivers are paid very little (meaning the faster they go, the longer their break) and you get the idea of who’s on the road.

It’s exciting, to say the least, and it made me glad that I brought a video-iPod so I could concentrate on something else visual and auditory.  Oh, and I don’t recommend sitting in the front of the coach of buses (especially on double-deckers with the driver below you) or buses where the engine in the middle or back (a la VW buses).

Crack in the neighborhood

I came down to the garage to hop on my motorbike yesterday and discovered the spark plug caps had been smashed off.  Now, I know this phenomenon exists in certain parts of the city where crack is notoriously smoked, as the ceramic insulators are used for smoking rock, but I live in an apartment complex and this type of thing is usually a street-parking crime.  I was surprised and upset not because of the crime (it took me a few hours to go get some new plugs and reinstall them, though some of the air vent fins are irreparably smashed) but because of what it meant.  Someone in our building is smoking crack, literally, and now they are so desparate that they’re committing petty crimes like this.  Thsi does not bode well.

Apparently some other vehicles around our parking spot were also vandalized, so we know the user is in a hurry, meaning they’re desperate for a high.  Also not good.  This kind of crime, to me, means they are also going to be probably dangerous since they are hardly being sneaky.  I notified the manager and filed a police report.  I’ve also noticed that neighborhood car windows are being smashed almost nightly.

Drugs are bad, but bad drug use is really bad.