Saturday, June 28, 2008

Car for sale?

You all know I love my car. I've had the Prius for less than a year-and-a-half, and, well, I just love it. But you also all know that I bought this car when I still lived in Salt Lake City and didn't know I would be leaving. Didn't know I would be moving to a city in which I very rarely actually need a car. And now I'm wondering if I ought to do something very scary: sell my car.

It's been very nice having my car while I've lived here. I've only used it about once every two weeks, but when I've used it, I've been glad to have it. Without it, I couldn't have taken all those trips to Richmond to visit relatives. I couldn't have taken Edison to the vet in Maryland - or anywhere, really, since you can't take dogs on the Metro or buses. I couldn't have picked visitors up from the airport or made big grocery shopping trips where I bought too much stuff to walk home or gone to Ikea to buy a new coffee table.

Well, actually, I could have, with Zipcar.

Zipcar is a service that lets its members use one of their cars when they need them, without having to pay for insurance or a monthly car payment or registration at the DMV. There are different plans, etc., but basically, the one I am considering comes with a $50/month payment, which goes toward your car use. So I am committed to using the car at least $50 worth, and when I use it more than that, I pay $8.10 an hour or $60.30 for a 24-hour period. The best thing is that that price includes insurance and gas! So even with heavy use, I couldn't see myself spending more than $200 a month on driving, rather than the more than $550 I currently pay for my car payment and insurance, plus gas. And Zipcars have reserved parking spots - a huge plus in a city where it sometimes takes a half-hour or longer to find a parking spot in your own neighborhood. And yep, pets are allowed in Zipcars.

Bonus: Blue Book tells me that my car right now is worth about $4,000 more than I owe on it! The beauty of owning a car that is in super-high demand!

But this is a hard decision for me to make. I have lived without a car before - in Logan, Utah, no less, where there is not quite the level of public transit available that we have in D.C. Still, it's nice knowing that I have a car right there when I need it. (Of course, the concept with Zipcar is that you still have a car right there when you need it. There are Zipcar locations all over this city, some closer to my house than some of the parking spots I end up with now.)

So I need your help. This is one of those decisions I need people's input on. Is this a terrible idea, or a brilliant one? Can anyone think of any possible problems this would cause that I've overlooked, or any other benefits that I hadn't thought of?

Monday, June 16, 2008

I posted too soon

So I guess I should learn to be patient before I post on this blog. My last post talked about "Greensburg," a new show on the new Planet Green network. I talked about how in November some students from the town of Greensburg came to Greenbuild, the yearly conference and expo put on by the U.S. Green Building Council (ahem, where I work), and how it was my job to help them find their way around Greenbuild. I posted that I didn't know just what role Greenbuild would play in this show - I figured it would maybe make a small appearance somewhere in a future episode. But shortly after I posted, the kids went to Greenbuild! The last quarter or so of the second episode is dedicated to the kids' trip to Chicago. They talked to our president and CEO, there were clips of President Clinton's speech at Greenbuild, and it was actually a pretty pivotal moment in the show. I didn't realize that it was at Greenbuild that the idea of building the town's buildings to LEED certification first came up. So anyway, definitely track down Planet Green and find a rerun of episode 2 (it's called "Homecoming")!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Greensburg

Just a quick TV recommendation for those of you looking for something interesting to watch during the summer downtime. I guess it's a double-recommendation: a new show for you to watch, on a brand-new network.

Discovery Home has been replaced by Planet Green, a channel dedicated to all things green. (Find out where to watch it here.) It just launched at the beginning of this month, and it's a really entertaining network so far. It has all the formulas for TV shows that are popular on other networks - home makeovers, celebrities, lifestyle makeovers, science and technology, etc. etc. - but it's all with a green twist. One of my favorite shows is "Wasted," which focuses on a different eco-disastrous family every week and shows them how to reduce their ecological footprint. If the family manages to reduce their footprint, they win the amount of money they are expected to save in reduced utility bills annually.

But the best show I've seen so far is "Greensburg." It is the story of Greensburg, Kan., a town of 1,500 people that was destroyed in 2007 by an F5 tornado. The residents decided to stay and rebuild the town - and they decided to rebuild it green. It's one of those Midwest, all-American towns full of people you can't help but love who all want to do the best for their community, and it's really interesting to see what they went through after the tornado and how they are pulling together to rebuild. The show doesn't sugar-coat the controversies that came up when city leaders decided to build green, either, which adds some drama and makes the show a lot more realistic.

I've been excited for this show since November, when the crew came to Greenbuild, the conference/expo that my employer puts together every year. I was given the duty of helping the cast and crew find their way around the conference, get into some of the educational sessions, etc. I'm not sure how it's going to fit into the show yet, but my understanding was that the Greenbuild part of the show will focus on some students who attended Greenbuild to learn all about building green.

Anyway, find Planet Green on your local cable provider, set the DVR to record "Greensburg," and enjoy! You've missed the first two episodes - it premiered Sunday night with two episodes - but I'm sure they will rerun it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A little starstruck

Blogging is a funny thing. It's sort of like walking into a very public place, getting up on a stage, and talking about whatever's on your mind. You know there's an audience out there, but you don't know much about that audience. Sure, you know of a few family and friends who are likely out there. But other than that, you don't know how big that audience is or who else is in it. And yet, somehow, you feel free to just talk and talk and not worry a whole lot about what you say or who's listening.

Throw into that a little tool called Google, and you have to realize that, if you happen to talk about someone by name, there's a chance they are going to find out and stop by to hear what you have to say.

Now, when I blog about well-known people, I think I'm pretty safe in assuming they won't ever be all that interested in what I have to say. I doubt Barack Obama is about to stop by to read my posts about him - after all, there are one or two other people out there blogging about him these days. Likewise, Hillary Clinton probably will never know that All Up Inside This Beltway thinks she's a nepotist who has lost all sense of propriety. That's all well and good. But with celebrities of slightly lesser-known status, there is always the possibility that their new-found fame is still novel enough that if you talk about them, they're likely to perk up and listen.

So I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that Phucdat "Danny" Nguyen, aka Atomic Goofball, one way or another stumbled upon my recent post about his all-too-short stint on "So You Think You Can Dance," his appearance in a street dancing competition here in D.C., and his visit to Crafty Bastards in the fall. Still, it was an unexpected and super-pleasant surprise to find a comment posted by him on that entry, and although I am sure it was a one-time visit, I still have to say: Welcome to my blog, Goofball. And thanks for rocking our socks off. Keep doing what you do! (OK, so that site is currently under construction, but I'll bet it will be pretty rad someday!)

Oh! And speaking of starstruck, did I mention that I met Mo Rocca last week?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Only in America



Just a few thoughts about tonight.

  • Tonight, the general election for America's next president began, and one of the two men chosen to represent their parties in that race is a black man. I don't want to overstate that fact - if Barack Obama looked like John Edwards or John McCain or John Candy I would be just as excited - but I don't want to understate it, either. A black man has a better-than-even chance of being the next American president. And he got there not by being a black man, and he got there not in spite of being a black man. He got there, and he's a black man. Historically significant for a host of reasons, one of which happens to be that he's black. He didn't win by insinuating that America owes it to its black citizens to vote for him. He didn't win by playing on our collective guilt or by rallying his "black troops" or by capitalizing on racial polarization. (Contrast: a certain woman who banked quite a bit on the one-dimensionally historic nature of her candidacy.) It's worth pausing and remembering the history that has brought us to this point, the significance of his race. And then it's worth moving on and observing that, above and beyond his race, this is an important day in American history.

  • Hillary Clinton still isn't giving up. She still can't get it through her head that nepotism and dynasty and selfishness are not American values. If she was an actress and wanted to put on a one-woman show to symbolize and portray what Barack Obama means when he talks about the "politics of the past," she couldn't have done a better job than she did in her speech tonight. In the past, being a good Democrat meant having an ax to grind, having a list of slights and fights and grievances to fight over. In the past, being a successful Democratic candidate meant rallying your angry troops to take on that fight. We're all sick of fighting - all of us except those people in New York City tonight chanting "Denver! Denver!" This is not going to Denver. This is over.

  • Hillary Clinton thinks she is the boss. She is demanding a private meeting with Obama to talk about the vice presidential nomination. She wants this story to be all about her, even as she has now become a historical footnote.

  • Most importantly, we now have a presidential race the outcome of which will, no matter what, result in a president who recognizes that torture is not a tactic America embraces. We have one candidate who lived through torture as a prisoner of war and who has seen how it belittles its victims and its perpetrators. And we have another candidate who instinctively understands that America is great because she is good, and when American ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. And, regardless of the outcome of this race, our next president will be a man who acknowledges the threat of global warming and who wants to tackle it.

  • America remains the best country in the history of mankind.

Time to say goodbye!

Way, way past time, actually.