Reminds me of Silver City

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This post over at Jim Kunstler’s place reminds me of Silver City for some reason:

The towns along way — Salem, Granville, Fair Haven — may be even sadder than the farms. All civic vitality seems to have been drained out of them by a persistent wasting disease. Little of any value has been built in decades, and certainly nothing with any beauty. Here and there gas stations bloated into snack marts vie for supremacy of the highway intersections, but the little downtowns with their vacant storefronts echo with loss and grief.

Peak Oil and Silver City

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I attended a forum on peak oil this weekend here in Silver City. The forum was informative, in that it explained the problem of peak oil, and also some of its complications (e.g. global warming and overpopulation).

The problem with the event, in my mind, was the format. I think the overall thrust is a good one: educating local communities about peak oil is great. If it were truly a first step, I would laud it even more.

But this is the second presentation this group has done in the last six months (that I know of). This forum needed something else: it needed to move beyond information and toward action.

I have a hard time not comparing the forum to the recent tourism summit. That two-day conference was well-structured and meaningful. Goals were established, and a new marketing plan for the Grant County area was developed. All that’s left is follow-up, and I feel confident it will happen. Silver City will need to drastically re-define its image if the area is going to succeed as a tourist destination, especially if peak oil theories hold true.

The peak oil forum, however, provided no real opportunity to take action. One man hit the nail on the head when he said, “We’ve heard a lot of discussion today about preaching to the choir ? why don’t we try and get the choir organized?” This is precisely what needs to occur.

The Southwest Desert Sustainability Project is planning a Global Conference on Sustainability. The two issues are intimately related, and now we are faced with a conundrum. The conference is scheduled for August 2006. Do we, as a community, wait that long before working to develop not just ideas, but measures to combat peak oil problems in Grant County? If not, do we risk taking the wind out of Southwest Desert’s sails?

I hope that this topic does not fall prey to that scourge of Silver City: talk. There are groups all over this town and area who get together regularly to talk about a topic. And that?s all they do.

Peak oil is something that does need to be addressed, and Silver City can land itself on the map if it moves quickly to implement new ideas. The location is perfect for testing responses to diminishing fossil fuels: moderate climate, nominal population levels, an active base of community members, and remote location.

I can?t think of a better place to begin projects that prove sustainability, or prove you don?t need to import huge quantities of commercially-grown food to survive as a community. With cool summers and not-too-cold winters, Grant County offers a great opportunity to showcase homes that don?t need propane or natural gas or heating oil to stay warm, and to look at passive designs that remain cool.

Why not seek some government help to fund such projects? We have two U.S. Senators, who happen to be the chairman and ranking member of the Energy Committee, sitting there in Washington. What about the state?s upcoming windfall in oil and gas money, expected to exceed $700 million for one-time capital outlay funding? Why can?t we tap into that to fund some solar or wind-energy projects, or for development of passive homes? Where?s the money to establish trial programs for new irrigation systems and agriculture techniques?

Currently, Los Alamos, Sandia, New Mexico Tech, and NMSU have the market cornered on such projects. If Silver City wants to become a global leader in sustainable development, that has to change. To do that, the discussion needs to move beyond discussion. Legislation needs to be written and passed. Our civic leaders need to become engaged. Projects need to be started.

Otherwise, we’re just another community that has great ideas.

I’m sure you’re aware

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A post by Ezra Klein over at TAPPED got me thinking: do Democrats really want to win back Congress in 2006, and the White House in 2008?

I?m sure you?re aware, but the Republican Party is completely tanking all over the country. This, I have to say, is a good thing. However, Ezra makes a good point:

?When (Democrats) regain power, those arguments will return to the fore, once again splitting environmentalists from unions, hawks from doves, and big spenders from deficit hawks. It won’t be pretty, and it’ll be all the tougher thanks to the many train wrecks that the Bush administration has set in motion. Spending is far higher than revenues, entitlement growth is set to bankrupt the country, troops are deployed in a foreign land, and things are generally a mess.

?My mind remembers the first post-Clinton days, with tales of missing furniture. It jumps to the burst of the tech-bubble, resulting recession, and Republican blame for the whole fiasco squarely aimed at the previous administration. And even now, in 2005, we?re hearing those Bush sympathizers lay 9-11 and ultimately Iraq on Clinton?s doorstep.

What will the Democrats inherit if they return to power? Ezra hit them pretty well: a huge deficit (though we always get one of those from a Republican president); the possibility of troops staged in a foreign country (if we?re talking 2008, it might be Iraq or Syria or Iran, for God?s sake); a looming energy crisis (if you believe in peak oil); a healthcare system with costs rising faster than inflation; the list goes on and on.

But it was the first part of that paragraph that got me thinking, because I saw it happen here in Silver City recently. A meeting of the Southwest Hispanic Roundtable featured a discussion on roadless forest areas. The discussion turned to the cultural heritage in our area afforded by hunting, and I heard the always-wonderful ?tree-hugger? tossed about as well.

Only the most extreme environmentalists want to ban hunting, and would propose changes that would have a noticeable impact on the Grant County/Silver City people. But Republican propaganda has enabled them to use Democrats? own issues against us. We should maintain the roads already built (for safety reasons as much as anything else) while preserving what we can. Have we really come to the point where our forests don?t provide enough access for our citizens? recreation?

But, we have a group of Hispanics that should be united in defeating Republicans, instead working to limit conservation efforts that have no real bearing on how they live their lives.

The Meyers nomination showed a rare sign of Republican internal dissent (following the smaller revolution of fiscal conservatives in Congress after Katrina). Otherwise, they?ve kept up a good racket by uniting against Dems.

Do we want to take back the government if we?re just going to go after each other when we do?

Food Is Good

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Howdy again, and welcome to Avelino?s Happy-Action Fun-Time Hour-Thingy™! No, just kidding, there?s no fun to be had here. Or “happy-action,” whatever that is. Only sorrow, misery, and pain. Lot?s of pain. With the poking, and the stinging, and the hmm-hey.

Alrighty, now that I got that nonsense out of the way, I want to take a moment to wish my Mom a happy birthday. Why not send her a quick little “Happy B-Day E-mail?” You could thank her for having such a wonderful son, who takes time out of his day so that you can have a few laughs. Yes, I know, I?m always motivated by selfish reasons. I can?t help it, I was raised that way.

The WNMU Football Team has their home opener this weekend, on Saturday, to be specific. I?m looking forward to watching my first game in the new stadium, and taking a few pictures for The Mustang. I?m considering the Editor?s position with that publication, trying to determine if I can fit it in to my schedule, decide whether it would be worth my while. I?m sure that if I did take on the workload my time here would be drastically reduced, and that has as much bearing on my decision as any other factor.

Might be heading out to Meadow Creek this weekend, with a few new friends. We?ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can borrow Archon?s camera again, so I can take some pictures out there. Meadow Creek is usually beautiful this time of year: lot?s of flowers, and some decent water running in the waterfall. If so, it?s swimming time. I?m gonna take the Banana Dog, and if anybody has a problem with that they?ll just have to sit in the bed of the truck and contemplate their miserable existence. And let me assure you: it will be miserable.

I?ve taken a liking to the caf? located on WNMU?s campus. They sell these fatty sandwiches made with focaccia bread. For those of you not in the know (would you stop that, by the way), focaccia is an Italian flat bread seasoned with a variety of herbs. The focaccia that comes as a hot sandwich at the caf? is conspicuously not “flat,” but that didn?t lessen my appreciation for it by any measure. Lemme tell you, those be some tasty sandwiches.

My cousin invited me to Jalisco?s for lunch today, so I had better get going. This will mark the second time in a week I?ve been invited to Jalisco?s, and I can assure you it is not helping me stay fit and trim. Not that I am either fit or trim, but that?s besides the point. Their chicken tacos are perfect for dipping in ranch. As I?m sure you?re all aware, ranch dressing is the ultimate condiment. Those in disagreement should seek professional services at their local mental health center.

91803614

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In response to my colleague’s recent writing on the meaning of life, I felt I should add my take on certain aspects as well. It is widely known within my small circle of friends, family, and acquaintances that the previous 2.5 years of my life could be characterized as tumultuous, and blessed. While this partially speaks to my friend’s idea that we’re always clawing our way through life, I also find that sometimes good things happen to us that we did not strive for, plan for, etc. Hence, my friend brought up the age-old (well, not really) question: is life like a box of chocolates? Do you ever know what you’re going to get?

So I sit here in front of my computer monitor, that glorious portal to this thing called the Internet, and I read my friend’s words questioning the essence of human existence. And many different things come to my mind, sometimes in waves, then singularly. Questions of faith and religion. Thoughts on politics and government. Ideas about humanity, mortality, adventure. Hope. Joy.

Joy. Is that what Archon was referring to when he mentioned ‘the first kiss?’ Incidentally, I have few memories of first kisses. Several stand out, but really, some did not warrant permanent fixture in my thoughts. I know they happened, but beyond that, I simply have no recollection of those actual moments. Certainly it is a degree of meaning that he was referring to. But Joy? Truly, those meaningful kisses fill one with Joy, do they not? And need it be the first kiss that provides that sense or wonder and helplessness? If that first kiss is later surpassed, does it no longer form the basis of judgment for future kisses? Or does the more excellent kiss take on that role? Does the Joy we feel at that moment in time really have a lasting effect on life?

Six months ago my thoughts were focused on the strangest things: intangible, abstract ideas. Like Joy and Hope. How does one define an emotion, a state of mind? Fortunately, I was not attempting to define them. Instead, I had reflected on the roles they had played during my life. A dear friend had hurt me, and another had asked me what it was I valued most. I’ve always struggled with that question, because I am always torn between Hope and Joy.

So, my mind twisting and turning in deliberation, I dwelled on the impact of Joy on my life, and the way Hope always seemed present in my thoughts. Which leads me to Archon’s question of Destiny: what good would Hope be in a world were your choices were already made for you? Could you really still feel Joy from that first kiss, knowing that it wasn’t a result of your actions and emotions? Questions that I doubt anyone could answer.

Destiny is always tied into religion in this type of discussion. And why not? If things are pre-ordained, they must have been preordained by somebody, right? Or are they actually, truly, laid out in the stars? While this is most definitely a topic for another discussion, I feel it’s important to point out how the most simplistic, yet profound moments and events can lead to that discussion. How a kiss can ultimately make one question their life, and whether or not there is such a thing as Destiny.

The meaning of life? Easy… in my own interpretation, we’re merely hoping to experience moments of joy. Everything else is a means to that end. And of course, what people Hope for, and what things cause them Joy, are as varied as humanity itself. The meaning of one’s life, my friend, is defined by each individual living that life.