Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Life's paradoxes and musings on current events

I received news today that my book, When Towns Had Teams, will be on the presses on Friday morning. My printer, JS McCarthy, informed me to be at the plant at 7am to take a look at the first run of my cover and the first signature.

This brings me tremendous joy, having been through the ringer the past 6 weeks, or so, doing my pre-press duties and performing a myriad of other tasks that are associated with independent publishing. The book has been a tremendous project and knowing its going to be in bookstores and available via my website is gratifying.

The past week, things have started to slow down and my mood has been tempered with cautious optimism. There’s also a side of me that feels somewhat guilty—I’m concerned about marketing my book, when thousands upon thousands of residents of the Gulf Coast have lost everything they own—I don’t know how to juxtapose these two things. I didn’t cause this event, I know, but I still empathize and sympathize with what so many must be feeling and experiencing.

In addition to that, I’ve had to do a considerable amount of driving of late, particularly yesterday and today. Yesterday, I drove to Bangor and back and then today, I had an appointment in Westbrook this morning, and had to have my final proofs back to the printer this afternoon, in Augusta. Recently, I was forced to purchase another automobile, due to my son’s return to college and the fact that his 1993 Toyota Camry wagon died; actually, it didn’t die, but it won’t pass inspection without major repairs. Just around the corner from where I live, a sweet old lady was selling her beloved Pontiac Parisienne, a vintage 1985 model. If anyone knows this model, it’s a hulking mass of automobile, equipped with a V-8, 305cc engine. They don’t call these babies “land yachts” for nothing. At the same time, the car is in great shape and has been meticulously cared for, particularly on the mechanical side. With limited funds to invest in an auto, I had few options but to invest my meager resources in a 20-year-old vehicle. Actually, the car gets about 22 or 23 mpg on the highway and boy, does she ride nice.

Having to fill the 30 gallon tank the past week, however, has driven home the reality of the escalating gas prices. With gas having risen from $2.62/regular on Monday night, to $2.81/regular today, I’m concerned where it will all go.

Then, on top of all of this, I read the following on the Oil Drum site and recognize that we could be in for an interesting next few months, if not much longer. Gas prices will continue to rise, as our refining capacity cannot match our demand, not with the destruction to the Gulf Coast oil operations from Katrina.

I’ve been following all of the events pertaining to peak oil since early in the summer. I don’t bring these types of pronouncements to you lightly. While some might think I derive some measure of schadenfreude from this, I would vehemently disagree.

I’m not sure what all of this means? It seems like we are facing some defining moments as a country in the coming days. I think we’ve had too much prosperity, foisted primarily on the availability of cheap oil. Our bloated materialism and quest to consume might finally be catching up with us. Along those same lines, Richard, over at Commie Curmudgeon, has an interesting post on a book written in the 1970’s, by Andre Gorz, Ecology as Politics.

As usual, Richard chimes in with an erudite analysis uniquely his own, prompted by a comment I had left regarding James Kunstler’s book, The Long Emergency and cheap oil.

Richard posts several provocative quotes from Gorz’ book, all particularly interesting and I’d argue, relevant, in regard to this post and the issues that are facing our society and maybe, our current way of life.

All of us who aren’t well-heeled are going to have to make tough choices this winter. We may have to curtail our driving. For those of us in states like Maine, which lack any significant public transportation infrastructure, it could be particularly challenging. I'm afraid that we may be reaching a point where we may have to downsize our expectations in the coming days, months, and most assuredly, years. This doesn’t necessarily have to be thought of as a bad thing. Maybe, the blight of development and sprawl might be finally checked and even ended. With the possibility of multiple trips to Wal-Mart losing their feasibility, maybe the local hardware store might be a more attractive option. What would happen if we suddenly recognize that our big box, retail-based economy, isn’t sustainable and we begin to focus on our own local economies and rebuilding our communities?

Obviously, I’m throwing a lot of information out there tonight, but in light of recent developments, I think we all should begin having conversations and dialogue about them.

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