Saturday, December 29, 2007

Houston's air quality CAN improve

I've been in Houston for 4 days now, and I'm leaving for Austin today... and not a moment too soon, as the air quality here leaves much to be desired...

I feel what seems like chemicals searing through my nostrils... and I've been told that it's due to the refinery and chemical plants located in areas such as Pasadena and Texas City. It's a shockingly vast expanse of industry, as I noted it from the buildings as I was touring a medical complex in town here on my visit.

Lackadaisical environmental regulation from the Bush Administration and the lack of EPA enforcements contributes to this problem.

...but it doesn't have to be that way. The citizens in Houston can choose to NOT TOLERATE their city and air being awash in the toxic soup spewed forth by this industry. They can demand accountability from industry and better air quality.

Folks protest and bring to the attention of the world-at-large the behavior of what I refer to as "eco-saboteurs" everyday. Environmentalists in Oregon strap themselves to trees to battle insane policy on the management on our national forests and unreasonable practices by the logging industry. Also in the Pacific Northwest, similar groups organize and find solutions to preserve and enhance river habitat to further healthy salmon spawning runs. Native American tribes and the populous of Arizona and Colorado keep mining industry at bay to make sure they behave and are accountable to the damage they have created with their practices.

It's all about choices... we all have the choice to decide what we are going to stand up for, or if we're going to accept the status quo. The citizens of Houston and Texas can choose to not tolerate the status quo...

Frankly, I don't understand why they do. I simply don't get it. S

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wow, we can actually agree on something...

The President signed it yesterday... he signed a bill sent to him by the Senate... yes, it's true... the first since Democrats took over Congress last January.

It was the Energy Bill, which Democrats and Republicans spent the last several months bickering about... and while in my opinion it isn't effective enough, at least it's a start in the right direction.

I'll let Peter Baker of the Washington Post elaborate further:

After a year of partisan combat and legislative stalemate, President Bush and Democratic congressional leaders came together yesterday for a holiday season consensus as they enacted legislation to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) joined Bush for their first bill-signing ceremony with him since Democrats took over Congress in January, using the occasion to look past the disputes that marked a year of divided government.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined President Bush for their first bill-signing ceremony with him since Democrats took over Congress in January.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined President Bush for their first bill-signing ceremony with him since Democrats took over Congress in January. (By Evan Vucci -- Associated Press)

"The legislation I'm about to sign should say to the American people that we can find common ground on critical issues," Bush said with Pelosi, Reid and other Democrats at his side during the event at the Energy Department headquarters. "And there's more we can accomplish together."

The rare show of solidarity followed a year of clashes over the war in Iraq, children's health care, spending priorities and other issues. Bush has vetoed six bills this year, compared with the one veto he issued during his first six years in office when Republicans controlled one or both chambers of Congress. Democrats have complained bitterly that he does not accept the mandate they claimed after last year's midterm elections. But along the way, many Americans have grown disenchanted with the Washington impasse, and public support for Congress has fallen to levels as low or lower than that for Bush.

Even the energy legislation that Bush signed yesterday emerged only after a stare-down over $21 billion in tax increases that lawmakers had included until the president threatened to veto if they did not remove them. But by the time they showed up for the ceremony, both sides were focused on the areas of agreement and claiming credit for pushing it through.

The new law increases the fuel-efficiency standards for passenger vehicles for the first time since 1975, requiring new cars to average 35 miles per gallon by 2020 instead of the 25 mpg now required. It also requires fuel producers to use at least 36 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels by 2022, a fivefold increase over the current standard, to reduce the dependence on oil. And it includes new rules and incentives to encourage greater efficiency in light bulbs and buildings.

Bush used the occasion to reach out to Pelosi and Reid. "I appreciate your leadership on this important issue," he told them. Pelosi said later that she was "pleased to join the president at the signing ceremony" and called it a harbinger of future achievements. "It did not come easily," she said during a news conference. "It took a lot of struggle, a lot of convincing. And much more needs to be done. But nothing signaled change more clearly, I think, to the American people than the successful passage of the energy legislation."

Even as they joined together, though, both sides tried to suggest that the other was the follower. Bush noted that he had proposed increasing alternative energy and fuel-efficiency standards in his State of the Union address to reduce projected gasoline consumption by 20 percent over 10 years. The alternative fuel provision that Congress ultimately passed largely tracked his proposal, although it permitted producers five extra years to meet the goal.

Bush went on to note that he called for higher fuel-efficiency standards in his speech. "The bill I'm about to sign delivers on that request," he said. But in fact, Bush proposed giving his administration the authority to set the standard for cars. "Congress should not legislate a particular numeric fuel economy standard," the White House said in a position paper at the time. Congress did just that by setting the 35 mpg standard.

Those were distinctions lost in the comity of the moment. Asked whether the bill-signing ceremony signaled the first of many, Reid spokesman Jim Manley said, "Hope springs eternal."

Let's hope the two sides can bring their heads together and make more progress in the next year, assuming King George II doesn't "lose his faculty" anymore than he already has. S

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Bozo Bus: from THE MITCHELL REPORT, here's the list of dopers in MLB

The Mitchell Report is out... and it ain't pretty...

Most of it involved former players. Those highlighted in red are current players. Those highlighted in blue are former Mariners (my personal favorite), and those highlighted in purple are former Diamondbacks (had season tickets to them for 6 years).

I've literally gone through The Mitchell Report myself to reveal the full listing here. Read it and weep.
  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Ken Caminiti
  3. Jose Canseco
  4. Wally Joyner
  5. Mark McGwire
  6. Derrick Turnbow
  7. Jason Giambi
  8. Jeremy Giambi
  9. David Bell
  10. Matt Williams
  11. Lenny Dykstra
  12. David Segui
  13. Larry Bigbie
  14. Brian Roberts
  15. Jack Cust
  16. Tim Laker
  17. Mosias Manzanillo
  18. Todd Hundley
  19. Mark Carreon
  20. Hal Morris
  21. Matt Franco
  22. Rondell White
  23. Roger Clemens
  24. Andy Pettitte
  25. Chuck Knoblauch
  26. Jason Grimsley
  27. Gregg Zaun
  28. David Justice
  29. F.P. Santangelo
  30. Glenallen Hill
  31. Mo Vaughn
  32. Denny Neagle
  33. Ron Villone
  34. Ryan Franklin
  35. Chris Donnels
  36. Todd Williams
  37. Phil Haitt
  38. Todd Pratt
  39. Kevin Young
  40. Mike Lansing
  41. Cody McKay
  42. Kent Mercker
  43. Adan Piatt
  44. Miguel Tejada
  45. Jason Christainson
  46. Mike Stanton
  47. Stephen Randolph
  48. Jarry Hairston, Jr.
  49. Paul Lo Duca
  50. Adam Riggs
  51. Bart Miadich
  52. Fernando Vina
  53. Kevin Brown
  54. Eric Gagne
  55. Mike Bell
  56. Matt Herges
  57. Gary Bennett, Jr.
  58. Jim Parque
  59. Brandan Donnelly
  60. Chad Allen
  61. Jeff Williams
  62. Howie Clark
  63. Exavier "Nook" Logan
  64. More to come...
Now that these dopeheads have been exposed, Seling NEEDS TO TAKE ACTION. Common sense (of what's left of it) tells me that this list doesn't tell the whole story... there's more of them out there.

I say put the guillotine on standby for those guilty as charged.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Helpful hints: laundry... and how to make it an environmentally friendly experience!

I recently had someone suggest I do a post on laundry -- since I did one on showering -- so here it is...

...I figure since I've already broken into your bathroom to dictate my in-your-face showering methods to you, now I'm moving onto the laundry room... so get your pen and paper on standby and be ready to take a few notes...

Attention! Role call!

I'll give you a short list today, for added convenience with your note-taking:
  1. When given the chance, use front-load washers. They use 50% less water.
  2. Detergent is important too... try purchasing one that's biodegradable and does not require hot water... an Earth-friendly brand that comes to mind is "Seventh Generation," but there's others out there.
  3. Be mindful and economical with the laundry load versus the water level... and typically the water level difference in the settings isn't that significant, so it's definitely better to wash with a full load considering the power and water use.
  4. If you think your load can get away with a shorter cycle, go with that.
  5. Try to avoid, whenever possible, the use of the extra rinse setting.
I realize chatter about environmentally-friendly laundry methods might seem a bit over the top, but I can guarantee you won't be laughing at energy and oil prices as they continue to sky-rocket, and as water starts becoming a harder commodity.

We need to be prepared for what is going to feel like an unrelenting ambush on our way of life, the many conveniences we take for granted, and the false perception that we have unlimited resources to waste.

...the keyword being SUSTAINABILITY. Think big picture.

All I can say to that is READ UP ON IT, THINK IT, LIVE IT... and spread the word. It's really no skin off your back, and simply involves a little education and awareness. It can only serve your life, and those around you, in a positive way.

At any rate (hopefully lower rates), happy laundering!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Helpful hints: saving water in the shower

Ooo laa laa, it's shower time.

I apply a special practice to about 90% of the time I shower... actually, more like 75% of the time (as if I'm keeping track with a calculator on standby as I towel off each day)...

I've been doing this for probably the last 10-15 years... not the showering, I mean... well I mean the practice I'm about to describe... I mean, I've been showing longer than that... oh shut up, man!

In the morning (or whenever) I'm planning to shower, I turn the water ON, get in with the water running from my water-saving shower head, and proceed to get wet. Then I shampoo and rinse.

Then I shut the water OFF... yep, that's what I do... I won't deny it.

I then put in a very small amount of conditioner (being the conservationist that I am), and then turn to the next step, as I lather up with soap... actually as many as 3 different kinds of biodegradable soap.

There's absolutely no reason to have the water on during this portion of the shower -- as you'll simply detract from the lathering up and lufa work that you're trying to achieve... yes, we must "achieve" EXFOLIATION UTOPIA with the illustrious lufa every other day.

After you've lathered and scrubbed, then turn the water ON again to rinse... then promptly turn it OFF again when you're finished... and please make sure you're PROMPT, or the shower police will enforce your ass.

Some might say this takes away from the pleasure of a hot shower waking you up -- and even I will occasionally treat myself to that... but you will be amazed how much water this practice saves. you get cleaner anyway, because of more accurate and comprehensive soap lathering... so there you are, try it out!

...and don't screw it up, or you'll get an earful! S