Left Undone

For those of you who don’t want to read a deeply personal blog, skip this one.  I have only one topic on my mind and it’s something that can’t be written without using the pronoun “I” far too often.

My partner in life, Cristy, has decided to leave me.  It’s a trial “temporary” thing for now, to give her some space, but I have to regard it as permanent.  If there’s any chance left, and I’m not sure there is, it’s going to involve resetting our lives completely.

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The Latest

“Hey, Erik, you’re a techie – you gotta see this!”  Comparing new devices in a bar or coffee hut goes down a lot like guys used to walk to the curb to show off a new car.  What is the latest?  How impressive will it be?  The Sprint Evo device looked like just another iPhone or any other gadget, but this one has something very different.  After a brief introduction to the owner he showed off what he thought was the most impressive feature – messaging with a nearly bullet-proof voice recognition system.  No more texting, this sleek black slab of tech was something you talked to.  Let me tell you why this is so impressive and why I’ve been waiting decades for this small advancement.

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Car-ful Living

It had to happen one day, I guess.  Relying on buses to get around is not a bad option in the city, but getting work and shuttling the kids around eventually made it necessary to buy a car. Joining the ranks of the car-ful wasn’t easy for me, but I was able to find a 1997 Ford Escort that set me back less than $1000, my running average price for a car over my lifetime.  I may be consuming more gasoline than I did before, but the experience highlights just how wasteful our society is – and how much we could save if we tried even a little.

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The great Bob Collins of MPR recent wondered aloud on twitter, “How many World Cup stories are actually about soccer?”  It turns out that football, or whatever you want to call it, really is a bit dull outside of the cultural stuff.  The stories are all about people, not the game.  Take that to an extreme and it’s hard to not notice a solid trend right now among the nations that are having a great time in South Africa and those that are not looking so wonderful.  Does World Cup performance say something about the mood of a nation – and perhaps even its future?

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The Gulf of Life

I’ve been slow to say anything about the Gulf of Mexico situation because, in all honesty, words simply fail to express my disgust.  Dwelling on blame doesn’t seem reasonable because in an economy that pigs out on oil the way we do something like this seemed inevitable.  The cleanup is going to be long and difficult no matter what.  But one angle that seems to have been lost in furor is the critical role that the Gulf of Mexico has in bringing life to North America and Europe in the form of warmth and rain.  A tremendous slick of oil has the potential to change the climate in ways that are, at the very least, worth keeping an eye on.

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“At least,” my daughter tells me, “We learn about countries we’d never hear about otherwise.”  This on the second day of summer vacation and about 15 minutes after a tedious lecture on the short, sad history of Yugoslavia.  We’re watching the USA get beat by Slovenia in World Cup action while the angry bees in the stands sound as if they approve.  This is how we bond as a family, learn about the world, and generally pass the time these days – sports.

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Public and Private

Like any good urban dispute, it seems simple enough on the surface.  Along a stretch of golf course known as the Town and Country Club there is no sidewalk, but many people walk there.  A well-worn dirt path to the bus stop seems out of place in the middle of the city, so paving it with concrete to look like the rest of Marshall Avenue is only logical.  But is this something that the club should be charged $42,850 for – and be held responsible for keeping clean from now on?  It won’t benefit them or their members, but this is how we build sidewalks in Saint Paul.  A suit has been filed to stop it.

A court case over a sidewalk may seem trivial, but it’s a great illustration of how the public realm is a kind of neglected after-thought based on The Way Things Are™.

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