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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Thoughts at Five in the Morning

Well, I'm going on day ten without smoking. It's getting a little easier, but I think it's going to continue to be a challenge for quite some time. I'm fighting over twenty years of accumulated habits and mindsets... The reason I'm awake at five in the morning is that I keep dreaming of cigarettes. It's easier to be awake.

I seem to have picked up a case of the Screamin' Gottahaveits. For some reason, I gotta have an iPod. To be honest, I don't know what I'd do with one if I managed to get my grubby little paws on an iPod, but I gotta have one. (Actually, it'd be nice to have in the car or on the bike or when the band's setting up or when I'm mowing or shovelling snow.) Kind of a bummer they're $400... That's more than my weekly paycheck. I need to talk myself out of this, but I'm notorious for not being able to do that. If a cool gadget comes along, sooner or later I'll end up with one. I positively HATE talking on the phone, but I have a neat little flip-open cell phone that I can take pictures with. I also have a digital camera, though until six months ago I'd shown no interest in photography. I have to admit, though, that I use the phone quite a bit, and Dagmar and I take between 150 and 200 photos a week with the camera - so the gadgets DO get used.

But I really don't need an iPod. I think I may be falling prey to marketing. For the price of an iPod I could make a pretty good credit card payment. I must keep in mind that iPods will still be around in fifteen or twenty years when I get all my credit cards payed off. THEN I can get a toy.

What put me on this little iPod rant this morning was an e-mail I got about Cheerios. "Take our survey and get a year's supply of Cheerios," said the e-mail. Being the cynic I am, I went to the Internet and Googled "Cheerios Survey." I found that the company doing the survey seems to give away a lot of stuff - "seems" being the operative word. There were many complaints on the web from people who were waiting for their "prizes" or "promotional offers" from the survey company. So I declined to take the survey, though I do like Cheerios quite a bit (oh, those tasty O's). But, whilst researching a year's supply of Cheerios, I ran across an inordinate number of websites claiming to give away free iPods to people who take their survey or answer their questions. I just can't believe it's true, so I'm not gonna do it. But I have to admit I'm curious as to how the scam works. If I figure it out, I'll let you know...

On a completely different (and slightly more important) subject - our government has managed to throw an energy bill together. It seems that they're using the "Patriot Act" theory of pushing things through the government - three paragraphs of bold print, followed by hundreds of pages of fine print. How many of our esteemed Senators or Representatives do you think actually read the 1,725 page bill?

A few things I've learned whilst searching the Internet... The bill gives $3.1 billion in tax incentives to renewable energy sources. That's laudable and good. The bill also gives $2.6 billion to the oil companies. That's not so good. Compare the $2.6 billion the oil companies get to the $200 million the bill gives to research bio-based fuels and you know where our administration's heart lies. (A billion is one thousand million, mind you. The difference is considerable.) According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the bill as passed will save the U.S. one-half of one percent of 2020 oil use. That's not much.

There are good things in the bill as well, though. Daylight Savings Time will be a month longer now. And someone's getting $10 million to promote commuting by bicycle. There will be a boost to Midwest agriculture, as the bill is expected to double the use of ethanol and biodiesel. But, in my admittedly casual research, I've not run across any provision in the bill that truly promotes hydrogen as a fuel, or anything that will considerably lessen our dependence on foreign oil - both things that President Bush has promised us.

We WILL run out of oil in my lifetime. (Current estimates are 25 years.) That WILL cause our economy, as it is now, to collapse. Remember, oil isn't just used for fuel - plastics, my boy, plastics! We need to pull our heads out of the sand - soon.

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