Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hollandia in the 21st Century

After months of anticipation, and harried last minute packing, we left for Europe. I'd like to just float on the word Europe for a few moments. It sounds so big, so cosmopolitan, so diverse. Yet, we went to just one tiny country; Holland, the homeland of mijn maan. For two and a half weeks, I did not have to drive into work, turn on a computer, or grapple with questions about our lives in Santa Barbara, because I was completely immersed in my surroundings. Usually I find it hard to let travel take me in immediately. I attribute my newfound present state of mind to my buddha baby who constantly pulls me into the moment.

Highlights: introducing Ezra to the Dutch clan; Seeing Ezra wave for the first time; Cruising around Delft at night; playing a soprano saxophone in a small music shop; Dining at a fabulous Portuguese restaurant in Zierikzee--an ancient fishing village in Southern Holland; a fab hotel in Middelburg, also in Southern Holland in the Zeeland province; watching an 1850s strip show in a Middelburg museum; walking my old haunts in Amsterdam; friends & relatives; public transporation that works; bicycles, canals and lots of weed. Oh, well, not really. No coffee shops for mama! Ahh, and Ijburg, a Dutch polder where we stayed with friends who own a beautiful new 3 story flat in the midst of a contemporary enclave. Very hip.

Here's Ezra taking in the historic sites of his father's homeland:

Monday, November 5, 2007

Why we should Walk

Yesterday as I waited for a friend to come by in her car so we could drive to the beach to go for a walk, I read an article about the evil automobile in The New Yorker. (Yes, I see the irony here, if irony is indeed the correct word). It was written by one of my heroes, Elizabeth Kolbert. I bet you anything, if Bush could read, or let's just say that one of his aides or Laura or one of his daughters read it to him, he would make a strong suggestion to China and India that they 'not become automobile dependent societies.' Articles like this make me feel a tad shameful. I mean, what sort of air will Ezra be breathing 20 years from now? And, what about his kids? We'll be old geezers by then (some of us), and that toxic air will be a burden, part of the scarlet alphabet branded upon our conscience.

Here's an excerpt:

Consider what’s happening in India and China. As Carson and Vaitheeswaran point out, car ownership in both countries has been and still remains, by U.S. standards, almost absurdly low. There are nine personal vehicles per thousand eligible drivers in China and eleven for every thousand Indians, compared with 1,148 for every thousand Americans. But incomes in the two countries are rising so rapidly—the Chinese economy grew by eleven per cent last year and is expected to grow by the same amount this year—that millions of vehicleless families will soon be in a position to buy automobiles. Assuming that incomes continue to rise, in a few years tens of millions of families will be buying their first cars, and eventually hundreds of millions. (To satisfy increasing demand in India, the country’s second-largest auto manufacturer, Tata Motors, is set to start producing a four-door known as the one-lakh car—a lakh is a hundred thousand rupees—that will sell for the equivalent of twenty-five hundred dollars.) Were China and India to increase their rates of car ownership to the point where per-capita oil consumption reached just half of American levels, the two countries would burn through a hundred million additional barrels a day. (Currently, total global oil use is eighty-six million barrels a day.) Were they to match U.S. consumption levels, they would require an extra two hundred million barrels a day. It’s difficult to imagine how such enormous quantities of oil could be found, but, if they could, the result would be catastrophe. “Just consider the scale of the potential problem—for instance, the effect on global warming of seven hundred and fifty million more cars in India and China, belching carbon dioxide,” Carson and Vaitheeswaran write.

You can read the full article at this link.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Meter maids smiling

While walking toward work on Friday, a meter maid saw me in her little tag car, stopped at an intersection without a crosswalk, smiled and waved for me to cross the street. A shocking experience and the first of its kind in my knowledge bank. How could this happen? Well, yes, as a matter of fact I did have a baby strapped to me kangaroo style and yes, I agree, he does have a terrific smile.

That same day, I was one of the lucky winners of the office Halloween contest, AND my baby slept through the night four nights in a row! (THat's all changed now, but damn, it was good while it lasted.).

Hollandia is calling AND I remembered the time change for the first time in three years.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Waters a wasting

In Architecture magazine this month, I came across an ad for an ultra luxury shower with five shower heads, allowing a 'spa' like treatment at home. THe lucky homeowners can have 22 gallons of water per minute flowing over them. Wow, how cool! Wow, how absolutely insane! How can the creators of this 5-headed medusa live with themselves? With a very fat pay check, I'm sure. This should be illegal. In fact, take this, randomly selected from a California city's water municipal code: "No later than January 1, 1992, every showerhead shall emit no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute." We know drought. We take water seriously. Or do we?

Manufacturers of this insane 'daily spa experience' go around the law by installing multiple shower heads. Yet, Severe drought is gripping our nation in multiple areas. Water is a precious commodity. Georgia, Alabama and Florida are experiencing extreme drought and shutting off people's water taps because there's just no water left.

Anyway, love, peace and namaste!