Tuesday, June 17, 2008

30 Years

This picture was taken 30 years ago - June 1978. Left to right is Dennis Haberkern, Jeff Thinschmidt, Rob Rando and me. My very first paying gig, we got five dollars.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Nice Moment Pumping Gas

I'm standing by my car at the gas station. It's almost completely empty and the tripometer (which I reset every time I fill up) says 359.8 miles. Gas is now $3.849/gallon, which is down from the weekend.

It the pump behind me is an older gentleman filling Prius. And on the other side from him is another feeding a full size pick-up. I won't deny the convenience and necessity of a pick-up at times, I've owned a few myself, but I couldn't help but notice the two vehicles from the opposite ends of the spectrum at the same pump.

As I was returning the pump nozzle to the pump, the guy from the Prius approached me and said "I was following you the other day. I really like the statements on the back of your car. Just wanted you to know I really appreciate it. Thank you."

Needless to say, this made my morning. It no longer bothered me that I was driving to work in a torrential downpour.

As a side note, it took 9.86 gallons to fill my tank, which means I averaged 36.5 miles per gallon. Not too shabby. I've noticed that I'm able to stretch another 1.5 - 2 mpg just by modifying my driving habits. I don't floor it to accelerate, I keep it under 60 mph, and I keep the engine breaking to a minimum. I gained another 1 mpg or so just by changing the air filter. All worth it I think.

Monday, June 9, 2008

This Hell Called Suburbia

I hate living in the suburbs:

How did I get here?
We were living in south Jersey with two little girls and no support system. We moved to Columbus in order to be closer to my sister-in-law and her daughter. (I'll spare the reader an analysis of the flaws of that logic.) Just as we were running out of money and thinking of just renting an apartment here, our house in SJ sold so we bought our current house. Had we not bought when we did, we would have lost certain advantages that were worked out in my relocation package.

But don't get me wrong. We liked the house. Decent neighborhood, good schools, blah blah blah. Besides, it's all part of the American dream. A house, a mortgage or two, two cars, a green lawn surrounded by a picket fence. This is what our parents and grandparents struggled for, right?

do I hate it so?
For starters, there's the house itself. It looks like every other house in the development, which looks like every other house in every other development. The main feature of every one is the garage. A garage with an attached house. Nobody uses their front door, they use the garage. The walkway from the front door doesn't even go to the sidewalk out front; it curves around to the driveway. Even those houses with the driveway on the side instead of the front have no way of getting to the front door without walking on the grass.

But that's not really a big deal I suppose, because the development is not set up for walking. Sure, you have people walking for exercise in the morning, before they get in their car and drive to work or the store or just down the street. Every street is curved. Every land plot is oddly shaped to account for the curves. I have to go to Google maps just to find how to get to a different street in my development because you never know where a street is going to take you. I once got lost walking the dog around the block. I'm not kidding.

Even if the development were constructed on a grid, we'd still be screwed. There are no sidewalks anywhere outside of the development. My sister-in-law lives less than a mile away, but there's no way of walking there without taking your life in your hands. All of the restaurants are located by the interstate, and the grocery store is too far away to do anything but drive. Even the local "convenience" store requires walking along a busy road with no sidewalk. It's all just very ridiculous.

We haven't even touched on why I should probably not be a home owner to begin with. I don't like working in the yard. I don't like working outside. I don't like doing home improvements. All of which goes a long way toward explaining why the house and yard looks as it does.

If not here, where?
Central Ohio is a cultural wasteland. We can't maintain an orchestra or a jazz club, and touring companies come here as a last resort. It seems that the only places to eat and shop are chains. It's no wonder Men's Health magazine listed Columbus in the number 2 spot of their rank of cities with the most sex. There's nothing else to do here!

All of that aside, I'd still much rather live within the city itself than the suburbs. A condo or apartment in the city, with public transportation, no grass to mow or snow to shovel, and restaurants and grocers within biking distance.

Now, we're pretty much stuck here for some time. The economy is in the toilet and it's a buyer's market. Plus, I think the kids would hate me more than they already claim to for "ruining their lives" if I moved them now. But after the kids move out, it's all open. Philly, Toronto, The Cleve. Who knows where we'll go. But you can bet it won't be a suburb.