Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Books books books

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to read at least 15 books. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but reading really helps calm me down. I’ve always described myself as having “duck on the water” syndrome. Though it may look calm on the surface, the feet below the water are constantly moving. It’s the same with my mind. I’ve been told on a couple occasions that I am a “calming force.” It’s hard for me to understand cause I don’t usually feel calm. I’m usually on edge and thinking very hard about something. That’s why I have a hard time finishing sentences, speaking loudly, or driving anywhere without making at least 2 wrong turns.

Anyway, the 15 books goal is one I actually think I might meet. So far the books I’ve read this year are…

A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

The Orphaned Anythings – Stephen Christian (the singer for Anberlin. Great book and brief. New readers will be able to finish it in a couple days)
Black – Ted Dekker
Red – Ted Dekker
White – Ted Dekker

(These 3 books were actually bound into one book, the first book I’ve ever read with more than 1000 pages. I don’t usually read modern fiction, let alone modern "Christian" fiction, but this was a gift and it proved interesting. For the sake of my goal, I’m counting it as 3 books ;^)

So there you have it, 6 books in the first 4 months of the year. I’m currently reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and am about 1/3rd of the way finished. I also hit a gold mine yesterday and found "The Invisible Man" by HG Wells, "Dr. Zhivago" by Boris Pasternak, "Ivanhoe" by Sir Walter Scott, and "The House of 7 Gables" by Nathanial Hawthorne at a thrift store. I spent $2.16.

For those of you who would consider me a bookworm, I would have to argue otherwise. The bulk of my reading is done about 1 to 2 hours before I go to work. The mornings, in combination with the time I spend reading in the van are the only times I read.

Not that I care about labels, but you might, and if you think reading more might earn you this title, I would suggest you can do it without anyone knowing (unless you blog about it) and you’ll be better person because of it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My foray into vegetarianism

Yesterday, April 25, 2008 I became a vegetarian.

Only for a month though. Are you kidding, this is PRIME grilling season. I couldn’t last any longer.

I’ve actually been thinking about doing so for quite a while. I’ve noticed myself eating less and less healthy over the past couple years and doing less and less exercise. To top it off, I don’t have near the time or motivation that I used to, so trying to fix these problems has been next to impossible.

I understand myself though and realize that the only way I’m actually going to do something difficult these days is if I build it way up and then force myself to be accountable by writing a blog about it.

Now I don’t actually think that eating meat is wrong, but I do think the US eats more than its fair share.

I found some statistics at http://www.youthxchange.net/main/b223_food-supply_meat-h.asp, and they’re a little disturbing.

Each year, the average American consumes nearly twice his/her weight in meat…

• 195 pounds (about 88.4 kg) per person of red meat + poultry + fish (boneless, trimmed-weight equivalent);

• 57 pounds per person more than in the 1950s;

Consequences on human health:

• a global epidemic of lifestyle diseases (such as heart attacks, strokes and cancers)

• increasing pressures on land and water resources (water pollution, global warming, etc.)

Consequences on the environment:

• In the United States, over 90% of all agricultural land is devoted to livestock agriculture in some form. Most water consumption goes to livestock agriculture;

• the waste generated by livestock is 130 times that produced by humans, livestock wastes are implicated in waterway pollution, toxic algal blooms and massive fishkills;

• the US uses twice the energy per capita on food production than the less developed countries use per capita for all purposes. Meat production typically uses 5, 20, or even 100 times the land, water, and energy that plant food production does.

Personally, I don’t really buy a lot of the hype these days that our environment is doomed. If you read in the history books, there have been many periods when weather conditions have been extremely harsh and unpredictable and the earth has always adjusted.

On the other hand, I do feel that we as Americans are extremely wasteful and should be much more considerate. We act like a greedy pig that devours anything and everything it gets in its path. We feel we somehow deserve it. If someone tries to take it away or tell us otherwise we complain as if there were no tomorrow. We are consumers to the utter most. We take away far more than we give back, and personally I'm doing my best to reverse this trend in myself.

Maybe this is why I’m going to be a vegetarian for a month. Maybe I just want a challenge. Maybe I want to inspire someone else to live a healthier lifestyle by proving it’s not really that difficult. Maybe it’ll just be a story to tell in the future.

Whatever the case, I’m going to be getting a lot more familiar with the plant kingdom in the next 30 days.

I’ll keep you updated.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Three Cheers..

...for uninsured drivers.

I was in a car accident today.


I was driving to work and an S-10 pickup pulled out of a gas station in front of me. I had no time to react and hit the other car at probably 20-30 miles an hour. We filed a police report and the other driver was cited with failure to yield. I was not cited.

Everything seemed like it was on the up and up until I got home and called his insurance company to file a claim. The insurance policy for that vehicle was no longer valid. There is still hope that the other driver may have switched insurance companies and has a policy elsewhere, but I won't know for a while. I am hoping this is the case but am skeptical.

Though I'm annoyed at the whole ordeal, I do need to step back from the situation and take a good look at it.

If in fact the other driver is not insured, what do I really lose? I've been driving my truck for 5 years now and it has served me well. I have no outstanding debt on it, and if push comes to shove, my folks have a car I can borrow until my vehicle is either fixed or parted out. Really it boils down to an annoyance; nothing was lost that can't be recovered.

What about the other driver though, what does all this mean for him? First off, he was cited for the wreck so he'll have to pay that fee for starters. Second, if he really is uninsured, then his license will be suspended, and who knows what that means for him. Third, if he's uninsured, his vehicle, like mine, is now inoperable and he'll have to pay to have it fixed.

In this scenario, it sounds like he stands to lose more than I do.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not excusing uninsured drivers. It's illegal, it's irresponsible and they pose a serious threat. If I had been seriously injured today and didn't have good medical insurance, I could be facing a crippling amount of medical bills. (It's for reasons like this, you yourself should be responsible and have an emergency fund set up. We never know what tomorrow may bring.)

Despite all this, I can't help but at least have some compassion for the situation.

Even though it was only an old beater, I really did love the Bruiser (Blazer). In the winter, there wasn't a hill icy enough that she couldn't tackle with a little effort. Other than when I first bought her, I've never had to make a payment and though she's broken down a couple times, she's actually been a very dependable car. I'm hoping this situation turns out better than I'm expecting it too, cause I'd love to be able to get her fixed back up to live out the rest of her life.

We'll just have to see. It's not in my hands.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Parts 3,4 and 5

I grow tired of this series...

The last 3 pet peeves are

3. Things that break right after you buy them (even under normal use).

Just because a pair of sunglasses only costs $15, does it really mean that it's only allowed last for little more than a week?

4. Being interuppted.

Is there a bigger sign of disrespect. I understand if it happens accidentally, but when someone blatently cuts you off, there's no excuse.

5. Repeating myself.

Yes, yes, I know. A guy complaining about repeating himself that chooses to work in a call center. Well, I didn't really "choose" it, I really don't enjoy it, and I'll be done with it as soon as I possibly can be.

There you have it. Now we can start talking about something productive.