Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's garbage, man!

I walked outside a little while ago to place some additional garbage into our cans at the curb. I discovered that some delinquent individuals had dumped two of our neighbors' garbage cans into the street. I don't know why ours were not dumped, too, but I'm grateful for small favors.

I didn't want the neighbors to discover the mess as they were rushing off to work in the morning, so I went out with some gloves and proceeded to put the garbage back in the cans. Interestingly, the offenders only dumped the recycling cans and not the ones containing garbage. Perhaps someone was looking for aluminum cans to cash in, but usually such people are more discreet.

One thing I learned about our two neighbors, neither of them have a clue about what is recyclable and what isn't.

What is:
  • Tin cans
  • Aluminum cans
  • Glass bottles and containers
  • Plastic bottles and containers
  • Paper including magazines
  • Cardboard
What isn't:
  • Plastic bags
  • Used Q-Tips
  • Video tapes
So in addition to helping my neighbors, I helped the garbage company by properly sorting their recyclables.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let the Herald do its job

On December 13th the Monterey Herald ran two contrasting stories. One was about a local family facing hard times and living in a motel. The other was about a lady in Southern California who spent $20,000 to build a mini Victorian mansion in her back yard for her doggies Chelsea and Coco Puff.

The clear lines between need and excess prompted four local women to write letters to the Herald expressing their justified dismay about the dog house. All well and good, so far.

However, two of these women went as far as to say that the Herald shouldn't have even printed the dog house story. One called the article a "slap in the face" to local residents and asked "Did you have a purpose in printing the article or did you just not think?" The other was even more direct and simply said the article shouldn't have been printed in the Herald.

Why not? Is it the job of the Herald to only print politically correct stories? Or is it the paper's job to tell people what is going on in the world?

By printing the dog house story, the Herald was not advocating excess. The paper was doing what it is supposed to do - show us the world as it is. Sometimes it tells stories that are heartbreaking, some are heartwarming, and some are just plain crazy.

If the Herald had not run the story, how would anyone know that $20,000 is going to the dogs? If you don't know about excessive lifestyles, how can they be denounced?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No more Love

Less than half a day after I wrote my last entry, praising our Chevrolet Impala, our local dealership, Love Chevrolet, shut down. I am both sad and angry.

From what I've gathered from news reports, it wasn't so much a lack of willing buyers as the inability for buyers to obtain credit from financial institutions. Those same financial institutions were given billions in bailout money which was supposed to allow them to keep making loans. Your tax dollars are not at work.

I guess I won't get to test drive an HHR anytime soon.

This comes on top of losing our Volkswagen and Dodge dealers when the Wester family retired last year. Who will be next?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Speaking of Cars

Whatever you may think about the competency of US automobile executives, please don't tell me their companies are failing because they're putting out bad products.

My favorite cars of the last 20 years have all been GM products. Right now I drive a 20 year old Buick. While it is showing inevitable signs of wear and tear, it still gets me where I want to go just fine.

Five years ago we bought Mrs. Toy a 2003 Chevy Impala. It is the best car we've ever owned. Prior to that she had a 1995 Mazda 626. The Mazda's transmission failed and had to be replaced before it got to 30,000 miles (still under warranty, thank goodness). We wanted to avoid the next failure and decided to trade it in before it reached 60,000, and thus the Impala came into our lives.

The 6-cylinder Impala is roomier, more comfortable, bigger, safer, and more powerful than the 4-cylinder Mazda. But best of all, the Impala actually gets better gas mileage than the Mazda. Our Impala gets 32 MPG on the highway, and on two road trips we've gotten as much as 33 MPG, which is actually better than the EPA ratings. The Mazda never did better than 29!

GM better not go out of business. I don't want to buy Japanese ever again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cars & Conservatives

Ya gotta love the thought processes of modern conservatives. It wasn't long ago when they were saying that Ford, GM and Chrysler were selling big gas hogging SUVs because that's what people wanted. It fit in so neatly with their confidence in market forces to keep the economy humming along. Their beliefs were accompanied by firm opposition to tougher fuel economy standards, saying it would stifle the free market and force people to drive cars they don't want.

Now that the Big Three are failing, largely due to their reliance on SUV sales which went SPLAT on the pavement when gas prices went through the roof, these same conservatives are saying that American automakers were too stupid to realize that people wanted fuel efficient cars.

This obvious contradiction has its own internal logic. It allows conservatives to maintain their ideological purity without admitting to any lapses in logic. This tactic will work as long as they can maintain the illusion that they never supported the sale of gas guzzlers in the first place. Maybe nobody will notice.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Beauty Takes a Beating

There were two (so far) letters to the editor of the Herald this week complaining about the cover photo on Sunday's TV Week insert. What was it they found so offensive?

I'm offended by the ever increasing popularity of violent "reality" programming showing video of actual plane crashes and police chases; crime dramas which depict grisly killings in horrific detail, that sort of thing.

I'm offended by so-called "news" commentators on both the right (Mostly FOX) and the left (mostly MSNBC) who belittle anyone they disagree with by shouting and getting angry on the air. I'm offended by people like Nancy (Dis)Grace (a CNN product) who blows every sensational small-town crime into a national calamity.

I'm offended by programs that turn everything from dating to cooking into spectator sports that humiliate the losers.

But nobody complains about those.

Instead they complain about beauty. Those two letter writers (one of whom is a friend of mine) went out of their way to tell everyone they were offended about seeing a Victoria's Secret model on the cover of TV Week. They said it was degrading.

This is how warped our culture has become. Violence, anger and humiliation are broadcast on almost every channel, but it is a photo of a beautiful woman that prompts outrage.

I find that outrageous.