Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Live where you walk, walk where you live

We've known it for years - oil is limited, demand is growing, and the exhaust is killing us. On the national and global scale, new technologies and treaties are being developed to help solve the problem, but these solutions will take years or decades before we see any significant changes on the street level. Meanwhile, it's up to normal citizens like us to work on short term change by re-evaluating our lifestyles. In other words, drive less, walk more, and shop local. I recommend finding a good walking district.

Just a few years ago, living in a walking district was a luxury. Sure, it was more expensive, but like plasma TVs make some people feel better about their lives, exercise and community helped me feel better about my own. These days, living in a walking district is just smart money. I save over $100 per month in gas and get exercise to boot. You'd be surprised at the difference it makes in your life when you give up the Mission Valley traffic maze in exchange for a walk through the Farmer's Market once a week.

I was first turned on to the idea of a walking life when I lived in Ocean Beach. I'd walk to People's Food Co-Op for groceries or to Winston's to catch a show. I'd hit up the OB Townhouse for hashbrowns on a Saturday morning and follow it up with coffee and conversation in the shade of Jungle Java's bamboo-framed plant collection. I'd shop at the Buffalo Exchange and usually all it would cost me is some clothes I had stopped wearing months ago. There's a summer Street Fair, and a well-lit Christmas tree on the beach in December. In Ocean Beach, you won't see very many under-walked dogs.

We're fortunate to live in San Diego where there are several well-established walking districts - Ocean Beach, Hillcrest, Normal Heights, and Little Italy are a few of my favorites - and anyone willing to walk through a few neighborhood blocks can afford to live nearby without breaking the bank. What is more, the idea is spreading - San Marcos is building its own "downtown" from scratch (next step: trade the Escalades for Civics). I say let's pump up the momentum - by either moving to walking districts or creating our own where we live.

I know moving may seem drastic, but like it or not, the world is changing now faster than ever, and like those of us who are just now trying to sell our SUVs are finding out, there really is such a thing as "too late". Anyone want a '93 Ford Explorer? Didn't think so.

Originally published at


Monday, July 21, 2008

Catch Karl!


Friday, June 6, 2008

The Example We Set

Since World War II, America has been the de facto leader of the free world. Today, the scales are tipping. Globalization is evening out the playing field, and, although it seems as though our economy is faltering, really it's just the rest of the world who is getter richer. A global free trade market is spreading out the wealth. India and China are each growing an enormous, car-driving middle class. That's what prosperity looks like. Cars and KFC.

Today, we are still in position to be a leader of the world, but all signs point to a waning of our power in the coming decades - or more accurately, a growth of power abroad. Some call it the end of an empire, and history supports that idea (e.g. Rome, Spain, England, et al).

The question I would like to ask is: What do we want our legacy to be from our time as the a global superpower? If the empire ended today, we'd have a spotty reputation at best. Fifty years of perpetual wars, cold and hot. A foreign policy of bullying instead of collaboration. Hyper-decadence and skyrocketing obesity coupled with weak foreign aid programs to help people in nations that aren't as well-off as we are. A nonchalant attitude towards torture and the Geneva Convention. If the empire ended today, we would have to admit that we have sent a bad example abroad - and we would most likely pay for it once someone else takes the lead.

As a nation, it is imperative that we set a good example. For, as history tells us, it won't be our planet forever. In a thousand years, it could be Brazil that is the worldwide superpower, or Russia, or China. If we neglect global Good Neighbor standards, we are making the statement that it's OK to get away with what you can. We are encouraging the next world leaders to push the boundaries of civility and help out only when necessary.

I would not want to be on the receiving end of our foreign policy, but if the next superpower takes our example, our descendants some day inevitably will be.

Here's to preventative maintenance.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Live Drawing


Wednesday, May 7, 2008



Tuesday, May 6, 2008



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Military Thug Life

Between September 2006 and 2007 the US Army granted "conduct" waivers for misdemeanors and felonies to 18% of new recruits. New Pentagon statistics show that the numbers have more than doubled in a year. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, released the statistics yesterday and says that "the significant increase in the recruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq War." Waivers have been given to recruits convicted of burglary, grand larceny, kidnapping, making terrorist threats, rape/sexual abuse, and indecent acts or liberties with a child.

What's next, a recruiting office in San Quentin?


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Iraq: The Idea War

I've been watching a live feed on of Ambassador Crocker and Gen. Petraeus being grilled about the current situation in Iraq by our Senate. The questions they must answer are not easy ones. Gen. Petraeus is fielding most of the security concerns and Amb. Crocker is handling the issues of Iraq's economy and internal political situation. In the middle of a conversation on the strengthening of Iraqi currency and 7% projected economic growth over the next year and just when I am beginning to compare that to our own falling dollar and shuddering economy, the shot cuts to President Bush, his head bowed in prayer, at a Medal of Honor Ceremony for a Navy SEAL who jumped on a grenade to save his friends.

This is George Bush's statement for the Iraq hearings, a statement about patriotism. To me, it is a reminder of my friend, also a Navy SEAL, who died a few years ago in Afghanistan. It is a reminder of the friends I went to Iraq with in 2003, and what it was like to have brothers in uniform. President Bush starts speaking - is he tearing up? It looks genuine. I think about who let this war happen, now that we all know it was a bad idea. It wasn't Pres. Bush's idea, but he pulled the trigger. For a moment, I wonder if he feels guilty. He's still human, after all, and he's reading a Medal of Honor citation for man who died doing something so honorable, while fighting a war that at best is somebody else's responsibility, and at worst is a frightening example of the power of special interests.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Costly Campaign

Can someone please stop Sen. Clinton? She's dragging the American political process through the mud, and everyone's getting a bit on them. Her only way to win is if Sen. Obama has some major screw-up.

He hasn't yet, so the fact that she is still running means her paid staff has two choices: keep her in it long enough for a major party foul to happen by chance (statistically improbable since it hasn't happened yet, and near-impossible if Obama is who he says he is), or seek a victory for Sen. Clinton by willfully destroying Sen. Obama's reputation.

So, if she wins the nomination, she will have won either by luck or by underhanded subversion. Is this how we want her to run the country? Not love your neighbor, but destroy your neighbor? If she is this vicious with a fellow American, fellow member of the US Senate, and even fellow member of the Democratic Party, what will be her tactics for other, more foreign entities which she will need to compete with as Commander-In-Chief?

She is doing more harm than good, and we are all paying the price. Obama is right when he derides divisive politics on the basis that it turns the public off. He is also right when he suggests that the strength of a Democracy comes through interest and involvement by the people. Hillary Clinton is intentionally undermining Democracy for her own gain. She and Mark Penn might be playing dirty enough to win. Just like Karl Rove and George Bush did.

I value Sen. Clinton as a public servant, and understand that she has been the target of such tactics as much as anyone, but she, of all people, should know the negative effects such tactics have on the individual and on America as a whole.

We want change.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Painting, Vegetables, and Climate Change

It's winter, and warm outside. I swear it's Global Warming. A glance to the mirror and I'm out the door, across the street to the grocery store to buy some vegetables because I feel better when I eat them.

I have spent much of the day painting another depiction of a human head; this one is a bit more abstract. I paint because something inside me tells me to. It's the same reason I will greet those I pass in the street and the same reason I travel whenever possible. All this to say that I have no idea why I paint. I have no idea why it seems like a good idea to collect canvases and then one day make the time to jump into a new painting that will very likely resemble the ones I have painted before.

Today I am buying a cucumber and some broccoli, maybe some squash. In my mind, I imagine the color green washing my insides and strengthening my molecules. I feel deeply whole.

I walk into the store and find the produce section. I inhale deeply. I think for a moment about farmers then the mist starts and I am awakened. I sort through the piles of vegetables and look for produce without scars, but I know scars don't affect the flavor. I pay in cash and ask for paper. As automatic doors slide shut behind me, I say hello to a man out front with a clipboard who, in response, asks if I'm a registered voter. I say yes, but decline to sign his petitions. I don't feel like it today.

The air is growing colder, but I enjoy the short walk home and plod noisily up the steel stairs to my apartment. The door closes behind me and I hang my keys with a jingle. I find my painting where I left it next to my brushes, so I squint and stare then cock my head and squint and stare again. It looks the same. Perhaps I will paint over this one, I think to myself, or perhaps I will sit down to it and add the perfect stroke and want to show everybody.

Looking out the window, I notice the blue sky being replaced with white and gray, so I put on a sweatshirt and start a pot of tea to seal the deal. Maybe Global Warming will kick in next year, my mind says, which starts me laughing.