I always thought it was naive to think that by placing our lives, values and trust in the hands of one person, that we would all live happily ever after….but hey, I always make sure I vote! So, when I voted for Barack Obama, I voted for the kinds of changes I would like to see in this country. Regarding this nation’s energy issues, I am not satisfied with the President’s recent push for off shore drilling.

I wrote an article about why I felt off shore drilling would not fix the US energy woes during the McCain/Obama election race so I won’t go into what I discussed in the past other than saying that we use oil at a rate in this nation faster than we can pump it out of the ground—and no amount of holes we drill in the ground will satisfy what should be curbed—and that is, our insatiable addiction to the oil habit.

It just seems to me, however, that the President is somehow caving in and trying to attract support from the Bush, Cheney, McCain, Palin, and oil lobby club–all who which were adamant opponents of his ideas on energy policy. But rather, than getting to political, I would like to focus more on the idea that the US as a nation, needing to take inventory, responsibility, and accountability for how we presently use the oil we have.

To me, it is not worth leaving our dirty footprints on what are some of the earth’s last high quality environments—all life support systems, providing for free, some sort of sustenance for our very own lives. To me it is not worth polluting the last breath of air and last swallow of water for the sake of sustaining the kinds of economies that have our markets flooded with cheap Chinese plastic goods like Happy Meal toys we really don’t need in the first place.

Instead, why don’t we take a look at how we can find much of the fuel we supposedly need, in the fuel we waste on a daily basis as individuals. Let’s ask ourselves many questions how we use fuel daily, and if we really need to be using it the way we are using it. Some questions that pop up in my mind are the following…..

In terms of transportation: Do we really need to own a vehicle that gets a whopping 7 MPG in the city? Do we really need to add a gas powered motor to a bicycle? Do we need to let our cars idle for moments on end on a weather perfect day while waiting for someone? I am sure most are smart enough to figure out sensible alternatives if they put their minds to it and stop letting mass marketing tell them what they need to drive and how they need to drive to be a satisfied customer!

How about how we approach yard care? Do we really need to have a lawn treated with carcinogenic petro-based chemicals because we have been conditioned by companies like the one that rhymes with SNOTS—that a lawn has to be a colorless, fragrantless, sterile, lifeless and mono-culture patch of green turf that isn’t even used for a sporting event? I liked the neighborhood better when it was a peaceful, fragrant and colorful scene—especially after a long winter’s hibernation! Do we really need to keep all 20 acres of our rural property mowed? Why not plant a wildflower meadow on half of it instead? Furthermore, do we really need to mow the lawn 3 times a week just for the sake of making it look like a groomed carpet?

Do we have to use gas powered filthy emissions producing dirt blowers that just rearrange dirt and create a storm of ambient air pollution just because we think a driveway has to present the illusion of being anti-septic?
Thanks for covering my house, car and lungs with filth. Try a broom; it is much more social and far less polluting.

How about how we carry groceries or other products? Paper or plastic? How about neither? Why not use something re-usable.Besides, ever notice how much these plastic bags are turning up in our environment. They are literally choking lakes and oceans.

These are just a few questions that address how we may be wasting oil on a daily basis that we may totally be taking for granted and never making that particular action’s connection with oil consumption. All involves the use of oil in either using it directly, or in the manufacture process of what product we are using that we do not really need to be using. Try and think of many more ways you may be using and wasting oil on a daily basis that you may not have considered–such as leaving the computer on for too long!

Finally, as a nation, we have been accustomed to using a certain level of oil and thus, we think we actually need this much. And, so drilling for more while ignoring the fact that we need to seek alternatives and conserve what we are already using— would only increase the dependence and addiction. Such is analogous to buying an alcoholic more to drink or a fat lady the all-you-can-eat buffet! We make up a small portion of the world population, but use most of its resources and demonstrates a total imbalance in how we live with the rest of the world. We really don’t need to be using this much oil. We use it because of selfishness, greed, and for some….a choice to remain oblivious—and because many of us have never been taught that resources aren’t limitless. It is time for a change…the real change I thought I was voting for. So, please…NO Bama…No oil drilling, for the fuel we think need can be found in the fuel we waste. Don’t cave in to the short term profit driven greed of a few.

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 9:33 AM No comments:


For as long as I can recall I have hated junk mail. Credit card offers, coupons, catalogs, insurance, grocery ads, or just anything I did not solicit on my own. I have no problem of being informed from time to time about a product, service I have shown an interest in—-or a worthy cause I have supported. However, in recent years, the stream of unwanted mail that goes above and beyond the occasional update, has seemed to escalate to the point it has undermined any effort I took over the years to curb its flow.

I used to call every sender of junk mail that I would have never solicited and requested that I be removed from their lists—and—EVEN tried to create a mailbox that would only allow for standard sized envelopes to be delivered. That worked for a little while until the carrier started leaving junk mail elsewhere. Most recently, I wanted to take a stand to curb excessive junk mail once and for all when I discovered a whole new heap of it in my mailbox from sources I could not possibly trace to any purchase I made or submission of personal information. No matter how hard I tried to connect the dots as to how this mail could have found me, I could not. Maybe there is someone out there who does not like me and thought it cute to give my name to a supplier of urinary health and control products for the elderly, as well as a manufacturer of an electronic cigarette! Who knows?

How ever this mail must have reached me, it was either going to be recycled, burned or pitched as I have always done–and to be truthful, these are tasks I wish to not have levied upon me by a relentless direct mail marketing industry, or our very own post office management which must seem to feel it is ok for the public to serve as their dumping grounds. I called the post office and spoke with the manager on how to best deal with the new wave of junk mail assault. I was given a few numbers to call for those “do not mail” services that are supposed to stop the flow, (I have already tried this in the past and have had marginal success) but after the manager offered what she must have thought to be helpful tips, I had to wonder about their interest to curb it at all when she then tells me how much they depend on the delivery of junk mail these days to keep the US Postal Service functioning!

The manager insisted their funding from the government has reached an all time low. I immediately thought that if they would find a way to stop being the sole conduit for mass mailing from advertisers, perhaps they’d save quite a bit of operating cash that goes out to simply deliver unsolicited mail which most, the moment it is received, ends up in the trash can! I also had to wonder just when has the sole purpose of the US Postal Service become about serving the needs of advertisers sending unsolicited mail?

Sure, I can understand mail order business being of value to them due to the growth in internet usage which has all but eliminated anyone ever sending a real letter anymore—But I am not talking about the USPS serving the needs of customers who have ordered products/goods/services through mail; rather, I am talking about downright plain and simple unsolicited mail. I have little pity for the struggles of the USPS if in fact, their main function and source of revenue now depends upon them sending people garbage they don’t need or never asked for!

Because of all this, I have read a lot of the latest information about how to curb the junk mail. What was so illuminating to me was being reminded of the staggering and alarming waste of natural resources that goes into this whole direct mail marketing industry from the forest that produced the trees that supplied the paper, to the journey to the landfill where most of it still goes, and all the oil used throughout the production, delivery and disposal processes.

Even if some of the junk mail is recycled, such a process still consumes energy that did not have to be wasted in the first place. So, again, if delivering junk mail is the main source of sustenance for our postal service, perhaps they need to find a new sustainable and productive function in this day and age. Think about it: From life giving forest….to paper….to junk mail….to delivery… garbage can…to landfill! What a futile waste of natural resources. The act, in my opinion is about as productive as bailing water out of a boat with a bucket full of holes!

The postal manger I spoke to basically justified the junk mail delivery for the sake of job preservation and her “just throw it away” attitude was a sad testament to the wasteful attitudes pervasive today. Her comments reminded me of the sentiment of the whalers of the 1800’s how they justified the endless slaughter of whales in the name of preserving the whale oil/product industry. The only difference is that we slaughter forests as the living entity. The old “destroy much to save little” ideology! (The end of the hey day of whaling didn’t give way to any kinder of an industry, but that is another story!)To top it all, the manager added that any junk mail returned or left behind is NOT recycled by USPS! The question I left her with was simple: Do you really think this is a wise use of limited resources? Well, if she didn’t think of today, maybe she will think of tomorrow and her children.

Finally, I want to take this time to pass along helpful websites that I have discovered to be very helpful in curbing the stream of waste and environmental destruction caused by junk mail. Here they are:




(Oh, by the way, here is a little tip too…. Just save all your junk mail in a box, black out your address on all articles….then send it back to the post office or the last or most frequent mailer of junk mail with a note that states: “YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THIS MONTH’S JUNK MAIL AWARD!”…. No, just kidding… seriously, don’t try that at home folks!)

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 3:39 PM No comments:


Photo: Public Square Holiday Lights

Contrary to the big push in America by crash commercialism that suggests the more we spend the better our lives and the economy will be, I have some alternative thoughts about that idea. Let me share…..

For too long we have all bought into the myth that spending more will rescue the economy—when in fact the opposite is true, and that is, it simply creates more debt and increases default chances. There is an organization on the web, called The Center For A New American Dream that challenges the prevailing market driven mentality that ‘more’ or ‘cheaper’ is better. Reading their information over the years has helped me understand the difference between quantity and quality in our overall lives and particularly, the consumer economy.

Additionally, reading a lot of CFNAD material has helped set me free from staying on board of the robotic never ending tread mill of guilt trips we are on, instilled by heavy marketing–that if we don’t buy this time of year, we are not showing our loved ones we care, or that we‘re not patriotic….or any other number of warm and cozy guilt trip sentiments. Such mentality, in my opinion, is just another way the marketers have brainwashed and have the public under a spell. Mass marketers are running our lives and we rarely stop to see how and why. They tell us what we need to live well and be happy. Excuse me, but I’d like to make that choice myself.

The great news in all that commercial chaos is there is a different way to give during this time of year, and surprisingly it does not always have to involve a lot of STUFF that will one day clutter the garage or wind up at the curb, or worse yet—the landfill! One Christmas not long ago, every gift I gave was creatively crafted from recycled materials I found around the home. Adding to that, I found many other alternative gift ideas through the CFNAD organization. For example, I bought an old small book shelf from a local-independent retailer who sold second hand items…and refinished it myself.

I always thought using wrapping paper once and pitching it was such an injustice to our natural world so I used old comic sections from newspapers to wrap other re-used gifts I purchased in the same way I described above. As you can imagine, most of the gifts were second hand–but when they came together to make the new item, the end result was something new to the recipient of the gift!. I also did favors for loved ones. I did things such as clean their carpets or wash the car–and even offered the gift of time by cooking for someone. If you have any talents that may be useful to someone, you may want to consider offering them as a gift.

It really felt good to give and to help the local independent business economy AND the environment in this way by re-using and recycling through my gift giving. This is so very opposite of conventional ways—which makes Christmas time not the ‘most wonderful time of year‘…but, the most wasteful! Those who received my gifts really appreciated me taking the time and exercising a bit of creative fun in how I chose to ‘give’ Best of all, people were happy, and it was something I did not have to go into an insurmountable amount of debt to achieve! It was such a great feeling all around to break the bonds of the conventional consumer chains.

The alternative ideas of gift giving and buying are endless and creative….and are such that actually help the local independent economy by supporting those businesses….as well as not creating insurmountable public debt. I urge people to have a glance at the CFNAD website and learn why Black Friday as we know it, is actually more destructive to the economy than it is helpful.

The moral of the story today is doing more of what matters and has meaning, instead of doing just more. The message is that sometimes less is actually more. If we are going to spend money on Friday, please try what I did for a change, if you never have….and support your local and independent neighborhood businesses as often as possible as an alternative to the big box chains. By doing so, you will help to keep neighborhood storefronts and town centers from becoming ghost towns. By doing so holds many benefits too numerous to mention—but for starters, you will likely develop new friends and connections with the merchants as well as help keep money, jobs, and taxes in the neighborhood, create more walkable and less auto-dependent communities—AND help to mend tightly the very fabric that makes up a real community of connections; people knowing and helping people!

One final note….The Center For A New American Dream will also teach you about what “BUY NOTHING” day is and how it can actually benefit the economy more than spending can –However, as I demonstrated above, if you still want to spend, ok, but try the suggested alternatives because they have a more positive impact on the local economy and environment. How about promoting a time of year when we focus on more of what matters, than simply “more” (stuff, that is) You’ll feel prouder and better, trust me!

Posted by Angry Man In The Basement at 9:09 PM