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100 Miles of Solitude How riding a century saved one woman’s sanity BY DANI BURLISON P23
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;^fCTRWFaTRZ A minor domestic blip conjures visions of a less privileged future
By Marc Polonsky
was curled up on my couch one evening last month reading a book about peak oil and climate change and the inevitable lower-energy-consumption future that awaits us all. I got up to boil some water for tea and found that there was barely the thinnest imaginable thread of water running from my kitchen faucet. It would have taken 30 minutes or more to fill the tea kettle. I checked the bathroom sink and tub. Same thing. I called my neighbors to find out if the problem was widespread. Camp Meeker has had water issues in the past. But this time, I quickly learned, it was just my house. I couldnâ€™t shower that night. I like to go to bed feeling clean. Stress and disorientation woke me after five hours of fitful sleep. A few hours later, I started calling plumbers. One came over at 11, found a leak near my water meter and fixed it. By 2 oâ€™clock, my water supply and pressures were back to normal. I felt relievedâ€”and a little spoiled. I had just read that having electric service is the equivalent of having 50 slaves furiously pedaling away on stationary bicycles to generate my energy all day and night. Water from the tap doesnâ€™t just f low out by force of gravity; itâ€™s pumped from somewhere, with electrical energy. In the days before home electricity and modern plumbingâ€”a fairly short time ago in human historyâ€”people had to fetch water from wells and streams. Going outside of oneâ€™s home to obtain water was a fact of life, not a horrendous inconvenience. In fact, to have only to step outside oneâ€™s door and fill water buckets from something as astonishing as a spigot would have been viewed as a miraculous, incomprehensible luxury. Yet I had found it intolerable. Why? It was not so unpleasant to get a little wet in the rain and then come in and dry off. I wasnâ€™t even worried that I might catch a cold. But I was afraid that I couldnâ€™t afford the time. I couldnâ€™t live with this disruption of my routine. Or so I felt. I was also aware, based on what Iâ€™d been reading, that things may get a lot more inconvenient for all of us, and even the days of water spigots may be (forgive the pun) tapped out in our lifetimes. What if limitless electricity and endless
conveniences go extinct? I have few practical skills. Iâ€™ve scarcely even weeded a garden, much less dug a well. In the back of my mind, Iâ€™ve long imagined that the down slope of peak energy consumption may look something like Maoâ€™s Cultural Revolution, and that soft intellectual types like me will require â€œre-educationâ€? and be forced into some sort of land-based indentured servitude. I imagine wielding a shovel or a pick all day, and shivering in the cold at nightâ€”my just desserts for a life of privilege. So there it is: guilt. Another hidden ghost that makes going without running water for less than a dayâ€”and the thought of a power-down worldâ€”intolerable. In his The Transition Handbook, author Rob Hopkins points out that humanity ascended the oil slope with enormous creativity and inventiveness. Cheap energy has made incredible things possible, from computers and air conditioning to stereo speakers and airplanes to bombs and leaf blowers. But these are products not just of fossil fuels, but also of human brilliance and innovation. So, Hopkins suggests, humanity now has an opportunity to apply commensurate creativity and brilliance on the down slope. Hopkins offers visions of locally based, interconnected economies, new forms of community life, interdependence, transportation, communication, conservation. Much of this has already been put into practice, in model transition towns around the world. But transitioning to a world of severely curtailed conveniences is not merely a practical matter. So Iâ€™m wondering what types of spiritual, social and psychological technologies the human genius will need to cultivate as we slide down the energy slope. For example, on the day that my water was not running, if I had possessed the skillâ€”the â€œconsciousness technology,â€? if you willâ€”to experience every moment as sacred and vibrant, I doubt Iâ€™d have been so unsettled. Hereâ€™s hoping that human technologies of the heart can calm and supersede our fears, our insularity, and even our desperation when it comes to that.
Having electric service is the equivalent of having 50 slaves furiously pedaling away on stationary bicycles to generate my energy all day and night.
Marc Polonsky is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Camp Meeker. His website is www.marcwordsmith.com. Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 700 words considered for publication, write firstname.lastname@example.org.
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3>F=78;;B8=24 '&" I enjoyed Ronald Baileyâ€™s article â€œPeak Everythingâ€? (May 5). But his conclusionâ€”â€œwhile the production of physical supplies of resources may peak, there is no sign that human creativity is about to peakâ€?â€”is open to debate. In my 2007 book, coincidentally titled Peak Everything (which Bailey fails to mention), I cite a peer-reviewed study by physicist Jonathan Huebner showing that the rate of invention of significantly new and different technologies peaked in 1873 and has been declining since then. If Huebner is right, it is unlikely that humanity will be able to innovate its way out of the population and resource bottleneck we have entered. Our best hope is to reduce both our numbers and our consumption rates. Fortunately there are ways to do this that could preserve whatâ€™s best about usâ€”our culture, science, compassion.
But weâ€™ll likely miss that safe exit if weâ€™re frantically pursuing techno-fixes, stomping on the gas pedal as we go.
voted for her feelâ€”betrayed! As part of the great PDA movement, we thank you, Norman Solomon, for this revealing and disturbing article.
14CA0H43 As progressive Democrats and advocates and activists for peace and social justice, we are saddened to know that our one-time heroine, Lynn Woolsey, would make such a terribly wrong-minded decision to support war-hawk Congresswoman Jane Harman (â€œBlue Dog Blues,â€? Open Mic, May 5). What are progressive Democrats so afraid of ? How can they desert the core values of the Progressive Caucus and betray their constituents? This is exactly what the people who
Stephan Passalacqua has been reaching out to the community in partnership with volunteers to get the word out about the growing problem of elder abuse. There have been several very successful Elder Protection Summit seminars at different locations in Sonoma County. The seminars bring information to seniors and caregivers about protecting the rights of seniors and preventing both financial and physical abuse of elders. Mr. Passalacqua has shown that he values input from the community, and is committed to fighting the problem of elder abuse and protecting the rights of seniors. Outreach to the community and the desire and ability to work with the community are always important. In the present climate of budget cuts and subsequent staff reductions, it seems more important than ever. District Attorney Passalacqua has worked well with the senior community. He deserves to be re-elected.
Perhaps the author of this story (â€œHot Wines,â€? April 28) should have educated himself on alcohol labeling laws prior to writing this article. A winery with wines under 14 percent alcohol by volume must merely state on the label an alcohol level within 1.5 percent of the exact figure. Thus, in the 1970s, many wineries simply printed 12.5 percent, giving them the 1.5 percent leeway to go up to 14 or down to 11. Wines over 14 percent must adhere to the same rule, but must state a figure above 14 percent; i.e. a wine with 15 percent alcohol must state at least 14 percent but could say up to 16.5 percent. Utilizing labels as a way of determining average alcohols during a specific time period is a flawed method.
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Saturday May 15th noon - 5:00 pm
a Celebration of all things Fermented Salmon Creek School - 1935 Bohemian Hwy
• Enjoy exhibits on the magic of fermentation • • Sample a wide variety of fermented foods & drinks • Festive Music
Õ Great Kid’s Activities Õ Gourmet Food Keynote speakers:
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#1 again, thanks for the continuous support Sonoma County, see you in the water, or come by the shop!
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