Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rusty Resolutions

Here we are nearing the end of January, and I haven't made my new year's resolutions. This is primarily due to the fact that last year I resolved not to make any more resolutions. However, breaking the resolution is a time honored tradition, so here goes:
  • I will endeavor to stop using the word "sustainable". Realizing that this is currently the most misused and over-used word in the American vocabulary, and that nothing is truely sustainable, I will use more appropriate descriptives such as, "not really bad for the environment" and "not likely to collapse of it's own weight tomorrow" or "less deadly".
  • I will try to avoid thinking unnecessarily. It has become apparent to me that I waste a great deal of time thinking about things which have already been thought out by others, and that I can rest easily knowing that there is a large group of "thought leaders" out there doing all of the important thinking. I am still going to allow myself to "ponder" on occasion and I may even "muse" from time to time. But, there will be no thinking about things unless the "leaders" have not gotten around to thinking about them yet; which would make them decidedly unimportant subjects of thought and therefore, acceptable areas of my mental activity.
  • I will adopt a positive attitude toward the following:

nuclear power: ..dependence on foreign oil is independence is good...nuclear reactors are safe...the nuclear waste disposal problems will be solved (anyway that will be the problem of the next 127 generations and surely they will be able to find a solution or evolve into compatible creatures).

green washing: "green" is good and connotes products and practices which claim to be "sustainable" (opps! there's that word again). Claiming "greeness" is beneficial to business as people want to be as "green" as Kermit. "Green" labeled products sell better and at higher prices than regular (would these be "brown"?) products. Buying more products claiming to be "green" is good for the economy since the economy needs more stimulus, we should buy more green stuff. (Note: "green" products don't really have to be any different than "brown" products. Manufacturer's just have to say "green" three times and bow to Madison Avenue.)

the economy: the economy is OK, the declining value of the dollar makes US products more affordable abroad and therefore, increases exports. Our government (a group of thought leaders endowed with much wisdom gained from affiliation with one of two political parties), keeps the economy on track by raising or lowering interest rates and by providing stimulus packages whenever recession threatens. "Stimulus" means giving modest amounts of cash to taxpayers and reducing taxes on business. This encourages people to buy "green washed" products and improves the profits of business who can keep more of these profits due to the tax breaks. Since government cannot run on the revenues it generates, the tax breaks have to be offset by borrowing from (a) future generations or (b) foreign investors. The debt resulting from this borrowing further reduces the value of the dollar and further increases the export of US products and greater consumption of "green" stuff. This has all been thoroughly considered by government "thought leaders" and requires no further pondering.

There, I feel much better already. It is truely amazing how much improved my attitude is when I curtail non-essential thinking. I just wonder if this moratorium on thought is sustainable?

R.K. "Tex"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Drifting Thoughts

It is snowing a little and very cold outside today. Honey and I have been cooped up in the house for most of the long weekend and I'm hankerin' to get a little fresh air. Now, fresh air is not rare in Denver, but it isn't always available at lower elevations; that's below 7,000 feet.

I'm an architect by training and a bureaucrat by accident. After 15 years of practicing at Architorture, I elected to apply my skills to government work. I am proof positive that those who can't make it end up supervising those who can. There is definitely something wrong with that, but I have deluded myself into believing that 15 years of practice really wasn't a failure and that my dedication to technical excellence kept me from realizing my true potential. "True potential".... that would have something to do as being recognized as the world's greatest architect, surpassing Frank Lloyd Wright and all those other pretenders to genius.

Still, I am now wearing the golden handcuffs of a pension plan that keeps me from slipping the bonds of bureaucracy. After 17 years of "service" I am becoming more and more convinced that things just don't operate as they were intended.

My special hell is in working for a school district. In this hell, the devil is played by multiple players including the school board and the superintendent. Now all of these folks are smart and well intended, but they just never seem to stick around long enough to realize their goals. I don't know if this is because they become defeated and give up, move on to greater challenges or are just declared a "has been" when the term limits force retirement. Anyway, a large urban school system is like an ocean liner. She can't be turned in an instant. And, the "don't work" part of the system is that superintendents and board members can't seem to steer the ship long enough to aim her at the desired port. This crew is soon replaced by new sailors who see that charting a different course is the way to utopia.

We'll talk more about this later. At present, I'm cold and hungry and I'm going to go upstairs and get a bite to eat.

Ya'll be good,
R.K. "Tex" Arado