Sunday, August 17

The best place to live car-free

I don't think it's New York City. I don't think it's Boston, San Francisco, or any of the other names that always come up.

The places that are always touted as great for the car-free lifestyle are expensive. Really expensive. You give up the expense of car ownership, but you pay like crazy for housing instead.

I think the best place to live car-free is a smaller city. One where the cost of living is lower, and the transit isn't as fantastic, but still good enough to get around and have a decent quality of life. I think Durham is one of these places.

The right transit-geeky person could probably come up with an index of where in the USA the best car-free deals are—an optimization of low cost of living and high enough quality transit to make it worth your while to give up your car.

Saturday, August 16

Still can't get used to it.

There's service from the bus station to my house every 15 minutes on Saturday afternoons (as of about a year ago).

I'm still stuck in little-town transit thinking where NOTHING happens every 15 minutes on a Saturday. Living in a city rocks.

Friday, August 8

The status symbol of choice

Okay, it's not like my 20-year-old Nissan with bumper stickers all over it was ever really a status symbol.

But car ownership implies a certain economic status. A certain minimum economic status. In a town like this one, it does, anyway. This ain't Manhattan (and it sure ain't San Francisco).

I'd be lying if I said it never bothered me. I wince a little, inwardly, every time I feel like I'm giving off a vibe of "can't afford a car" or "got rid of her car in a desperate bid to make her budget work."

The truth is, ditching my car was part of my five-year plan to get to where I want to be financially. Five years from now, I'll have a status symbol that's way better than a car.

But even then, no one will really know about it. Five years from now, I'll probably still be hanging out at the bus station.

It would be easy for me to say that I'm independent-minded and I don't care what anyone thinks about my not owning a car. And in a way, it would be true. I don't care a lot. But I do care some. I'm not sure that will ever go away.

The loss of the status symbol is definitely worth it, though. Even more worth it than I imagined—both in money and in just plain not having to deal with a car.

Tuesday, July 29

Kids and cars

The website kidsandcars.org has some clever suggestions [PDF] to make sure you don't tragically forget the baby in the back seat on a hot day...

I really do wish everyone would give up their car.

Not everyone. But, you know, a lot of people. Because then everyone would be out and about early in the morning in the summer, and I could do an errand at 6:30 a.m. to beat the heat. Instead (for safety reasons) I'll be doing it at 5:30 p.m. when it's hot and everyone is around.

Thursday, July 24

Giving stuff away on Craigslist

A guy sat in his truck on the street for literally half an hour waiting for a car to pull into the driveway to signal him that I was home. Rather than, you know, knocking on the door or calling to check whether I was there.

Guy wasn't dumb. Stuff like this actually happens all the time. People are SO CONFUSED by the empty driveway.

Wednesday, July 23

Thought for five seconds

about boycotting the bus until they catch Mr. Dipshit Drano Bomb or at least name a suspect...

...then stepped outside my front door. Ninety-seven percent humidity. Nope, I'll take my chances on the bus.

Sunday, July 20

Housekeeping without a chore chart?

Ever since I started living alone, I've used a chore chart—for me, not for any kids who have lived with me—and it works really well.

But then I think about it occasionally, and I'm like, who does that? A chore chart? For an adult?

I'm sure most people probably don't use a chore chart, but then, most people probably aren't on top of their chores, either.

Is it possible to be a normal person who has a full-time job, or kids, or whatever, and be pretty much caught up on your chores without a chore chart?

By "pretty much caught up," I mean 95 percent of the time you don't freak if someone comes over unexpectedly...

Thursday, July 17

Totally got laughed at on the bus

for reading The Lord of the Rings. Guess some bus-riders share my parents' opinion that fantasy novels are for kids...

Tuesday, July 8

Is it loud?

When I moved into my house, I had the old asphalt shingle replaced with a standing-seam aluminum roof. The idea being that if I had to reroof my house, I wanted to make sure that I'd never, ever have to do it again, no matter how long I end up living here.

Let's just say that the metal roof makes a statement in my older, historic-homes type neighborhood. Even my elderly neighbor now admits that she likes the way it looks, though.

The main question people ask me is whether it's loud when it rains. I wouldn't say the sound is loud—just different from the sound of rain striking asphalt. One time it hailed, and yeah, that was loud. Other than that, I can only think of one day when I noticed rain actually sounding loud on my roof.

Last winter, the top of my neighbor's tree snapped off and fell on my roof. Right over my head, actually, as I sat in the dining room eating breakfast. The roof came through without a dent.

Wednesday, June 18

Parasols go viral?

I really stood out at the bus station today. I mean, I always feel kind of stand-outy at the bus station, but today it was almost comical.

It was full sun and about 96 degrees. I was standing at the gate for the bus, in the sun, parasol up, while most everyone else was backed up into the mulch in order to stay in the shade.

I didn't even notice that I was standing way out in front of the crowd until one guy came up and pointed it out, and told me how smart I am.

The thing is, I'm not smart! I didn't invent UV parasols! I just don't understand why they haven't taken off here in the South. I'm kind of hoping to help start a local trend.

Then again, East Asian woman in Durham/Chapel Hill have been walking around the place with parasols for decades now, and it hasn't spread to white and black women (let alone men of any color).

Why?? It really works, and it would make life soooo much better for so many people.

Wednesday, June 11

I can tell I had caffeine today

because it's long past my bedtime and I'm still awake, trying to figure what the purpose of earning money is.

I think it's so you can deworm tens of thousands of kids, but I'm not totally sure yet.

Thursday, June 5

Blogging and not blogging

R and C's mother used to be a blogger. You guys think I share a lot on my blog—you should see hers. She blogged very openly about herself and her family life, including all about becoming an adoptive family and getting R and C.

And then she stopped blogging. Completely.

The thing is, I get it. Once foster care or foster-care adoption enters your life, it just becomes too private for blogging. Or maybe not private, exactly, because I'm not even really talking about the things you're obliged to keep confidential. It just becomes too personal.

Or maybe she stopped because of R and C's birth family.

Or maybe she stopped because she's just too freakin' busy.

Or maybe she did what I always thought about doing and abandoned her personal blog for a totally anonymous, key-facts-altered-for-privacy, honest truth-telling about foster care/adoption blog. Probably not. But maybe.

I think that's probably the best way to do it. If I had it to do over again, that how I would blog about foster care.

Thursday, May 22

Warm feelings

Maybe it's the car-free lifestyle, but suddenly I REALLY want solar panels.

Not feeling the urge to compost yet, though.

Tuesday, May 20

The driveway fake-out

Last night my neighbor called and asked if her daughter could park in my driveway. I said sure, thinking she meant just for the evening. So I was surprised this morning when I came out and the car was still there.

After I thought about it, though, I realized that this is to my advantage, even if my neighbor ends up parking in my driveway all the time. A couple of months after I got rid of my car, I realized that my empty driveway makes it look like I'm never home. It's been empty long enough now that a smart caser of houses will have realized that I don't own a car and I'm away from home all day.

If anyone's watching, a car suddenly parked in the driveway during the day will confuse them. That's a good thing!

Sunday, May 18

On foot


It's hard to describe how different our world is on foot.

I'd imagine most people think they already know—I thought I did, before I gave up my car. I went places on the bus. I did errands on foot. But I was really just a tourist in the car-free world. I didn't see as much of the everyday reality.

Today I wanted to count how many steps I took through parking lots. It didn't work—I lost count somewhere between 400 and 500.

At times, it almost feels post-apocalyptic. Like the world has completely changed, but the old structures still remain. I'm traveling on foot through a prior age.

Saturday, May 17

One thing that will have to change to get people on the bus

I'm just gonna say it. The bus is awkward if you are fat. It's also awkward if you're sitting next to someone who is fat.

And heaven help a fat person who has to stand in the aisle between the rows of seats.

Yes, the USA is overweight. But it's gonna be a lot of years until we figure out how to stop obesity, and until then, there needs to be more room on the bus.

I'm guessing buses aren't made deliberately too small. I'm guessing they're optimized pretty well, and the only way to give people more room will be to have fewer seats on the bus.

Which will raise the costs of transit. Which stinks. But it has to happen. I guarantee there are people avoiding the bus in every transit-happy city simply because it is way too awkward if you are fat.

Monday, May 12

What are they doing with our video game music?

I remember flipping out a few years back when I thought I heard some music from Final Fantasy 8 on a yogurt website or something like that. Well, today I heard a track from Chrono Trigger in a YouTube commercial for some informational site created by a conservative think tank. This time I'm absolutely sure--it was definitely music originally created for the game.

I would love to know how the rights to this music get detached from games and sold. Would it be possible for some hardcore fan of old Square RPGs to track down these rights and compile a list of where all the music has been used over the years?

Is it possible that it's being done illegally? Or perhaps no one cares what you do with the music from a 19-year-old SNES RPG, and it's free game (pun)?

If so, I'm appropriating ALL of the FF6 soundtrack for my personal online use...

The UV parasol

I.e, this thing.

Everyone in this part of the country should have one. Nothing makes it possible to walk around comfortably at all times of day in a North Carolina summer (or, heck, spring), but this thing definitely expands the times and temps that are somewhere between comfortable and bearable.

There should be a charity to give these things out to people who are car-free not-by-choice. When I think about the number of people I've seen suffering through hellish sun over the years because they had no other options...