Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An Open Letter to Mayor Jim Dear

Dear Mayor Dear,

This morning, I took my car into Midas on Carson for an oil change and checkup. I expected to wait a half hour or so, but was told it would be a couple of hours. So I grabbed my Kindle and camera, and set off for a walk around the neighborhood, thinking I would walk, read, get a cup of coffee and basically kill a couple of hours. Which I did, quite pleasantly.

After a while, I came to Carson Park. I thought I would stop there and read a bit. It was early and the park was almost empty. Three women were walking, chatting in Spanish. A city worker was going over the park with a leaf blower. A noisy, energy consuming leaf blower. Too noisy to sit and read. I decided to walk on.

I’m a tax and spend Democrat, happy to see my tax dollars and the people they employ at work. But I couldn’t help noticing that the areas the man had gone over with the leaf blower didn’t look noticeably different than the areas he hadn’t got to yet.

One of the women from the trio of walkers came past me alone.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I don’t mean to bother you. But what do you think of that?” I pointed to the leaf-blowing worker. She said that she and her friends were talking about that, how annoying it was, and unnecessary. Just what I think, too.

I’m not complaining about the worker. I’m sure he is following his department’s procedure. But I am wondering if this procedure needs to be reviewed.

On a planet with unlimited resources, this would be only annoying and wasteful. But on our planet, where our thoughtless habits of consumption and pollution threaten the health and security of generations to come, this thoughtless, kneejerk behavior is harmful and should be reviewed.

As I thought about, I began to wonder how widespread this culture of wasteful fuel consumption is in our city. I realized that a huge gas-guzzling street cleaner goes by my house every Monday morning, leaving the appearance and cleanliness of the street virtually unchanged. I bet this could be reduced to alternate weeks instead of weekly without having any noticeable impact on the appearance and livability of the city.

I wonder if it would be worthwhile to convene a committee to study the practices of all city departments with the goal of making the city more environmentally friendly. In the park example, maybe a review could lead to decreasing the frequency of leaf-blowing, if not eliminating it entirely, which would save money, improve the quality of life (walking in the park without industrial noise), and decrease our impact on the environment.

Wouldn’t that be good?

Peter Rashkin  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NSA – Bring it on!

I’m a civil libertarian; always have been. ACLU, etc. I’m nostalgic about the old days, before the Wars on Terror and Drugs, when we had a fourth amendment to protect our privacy.

But I hope the NSA is monitoring my phone calls.

I hope they notice that 45% of my incoming traffic is “courtesy calls” from local hustlers trying to give me a free estimate. I want the NSA to note that I hang up on these people without speaking. I’m rude, even though at least it’s real people on the other end. Make a note of it. I love it when they wait a minute before they even talk; I often hear office noise and side conversations in the background.

Another 45% is computer messages, often starting: “Did you know the FBI…” I never get beyond that.

I’ve signed up for the “Do Not Call” list, but the calls keep coming. NSA guys…can’t you do something about that?

Remember that great (and prescient) line from Invasion of the Body Snatchers: “If they get the phone company, we’re done for!”

They did. We are. NSA: Help!