Wednesday, May 10, 2006, posted by Q6 at 7:22 PM
When I heard that our illustrious (okay, comical) federal government was proposing a $100 "rebate" to make up for the rise in gas prices, I couldn't help but think of that scene in the first few minutes of The Godfather where Sonny breaks the reporter's camera, then throws a little money at him. The whole thing seemed . . . well, insulting. Now they're proposing better fuel economy, which makes sense if you think about it like you've got the president's IQ: better economy, less gas used. But is it a solution? A short term one, perhaps. My suggestion--and I doubt that the president reads my blog, but whatever--not only solves the problem, but solves it for good: mandate that no automobile will run on petroleum products by January 1, 2026. I think twenty years is long enough to come up with viable solutions and get them into the marketplace. Hell, if I had the money I'd convert mine over to natural gas in a heartbeat. Automakers can start looking to the future now, but they shouldn't whine if someone else steps in with an economical alternative before they get there. Big Oil is just gonna have to face reality; the age of gasoline is rapidly coming to an end. And the public is going to have to, at some point, get up out of their chairs, go to the window, and scream, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
Monday, May 08, 2006, posted by Q6 at 6:47 PM
When I was in the ninth grade, I was up for an academic award from the Social Studies Department. I was graduating from junior high school at the time, and each department had an award they gave out (there was a cool certificate and, I think, a cash award). It was dependent on a teacher reference, an application, and an interview. They asked only one question in this interview, and it was a brilliant one: "What's the biggest problem facing the world today?" I think they wanted to get the young person's opinion. When it was over, my history teacher (who had become something of a personal mentor--almost surrogate father--to me) told me that I was very "flip" when I answered. I didn't believe it at the time; but it's been a trait that has been identified by just about everyone I've come into contact with, so I've come to accept it.

Here was my answer: "No one takes anything seriously anymore." I went on to explain that many of the things that are considered "important" (such as voting, taxes, abiding by laws, being kind to others) had more or less been reduced to nothing important at all. Taxes, I explained, had become some game in which the player must find a way to pay the least amount; everyone seems to have forgotten what that money goes toward. "Let's go get drunk and vote for Jesse Jackson" was another example I gave. People seem to disregard the meaning behind the things we were taught, as young people, to consider important. How these "role models" perpetuate this behavior is a whole other story.

So I become disheartened at work when I realize that some people are more interested in presenting the appearance of good work rather than actually working well. I become frustrated when I hear people complain about things they do nothing about (more so when these people actually could do something about it). I become angry when I find someone negotiating for a lower-than-reasonable price for quality goods or services (I even keep my pizza guy from giving me the coupon discount; I have no problem paying full price for a good thing, fulfilling my economic duty, and supporting local business). I have a problem with parents who think the rules should be enforced to the fullest degree EXCEPT when we're dealing with their kid. I don't mind when a student gets a "C" or a "D"; I do, however, take issue with the kids who set the "C" or the "D" as their goal.

I recently read an e-mail (a chain letter, but I read it) that made a really interesting suggestion: if everyone bought their gasoline from a company other than the biggest chain (ExxonMobil, I think) and just left them to twist in the wind until their price went down just below two bucks a gallon, everyone else would have to follow suit just to compete (the idea being that everyone avoiding all gas purchases on a single day, last year's suggestion, doesn't have any impact at all; leaving the number one guy stranded indefintely would cripple him badly). I have no idea if this idea is viable, or if it would work; and strangely, that wasn't the first thought that entered my mind. The first thing I thought was this: it would never work. Not because of the petroleum market, or the strategic reserves, or the market share; it wouldn't work because you couldn't get enough people to take it seriously.

Am I a cynic? Look at some of the groups in the world today with some pretty strict societal rules: Orthodox Jews, devout Catholics, The U.S. Marine Corps, . . . . Each of these groups lives under very precise guidelines, difficult ones, and succeeds at it. Granted, each group has its detractors; but the number of slackers in each is a very small percent. Why do these systems work? Because they believe strongly enough in what they're doing to do it well. Because they take it seriously.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006, posted by Q6 at 9:51 PM
I have a birthday coming up soon. Unlike birthdays of the past, no one has asked me what I want (especially my son, who apparently has this all worked out without my input). Ironically, this is the first year in the last several in which I have actually composed a list. Most of it consists of gift certificates to specific stores, mainly because I have plans for home improvement projects, furniture acquisition, iPod enhancements, and clothing needs. Some of it is books by authors I've come to enjoy. I'm not complaining, to be honest; I've never made a big deal of my birthday, and don't particularly like being the center of attention for an occasion with which I had very little to do (my mom deserves all the real credit--all I did that day was show up and scream a lot). On that day, my girlfriend is taking me to L.A. to see Stomp. I'm looking forward to it.