Nostalgia with an edge: Back before we were ‘green’

Bart shares this with me, apparently one of those email things that goes around.

As the “why, back in my day” genre goes, this one has a pretty good point:

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to me the other day, that I should bring my own grocery bagsbecause plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

I apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

The clerk responded, “
That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs
, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain 
when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razorinstead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we older folks were just because we didn’t have the 
green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish older person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart — young GREEN person.

And dagnabit, we played outside instead of staring at a screen all day. Of course, that’s because there was nothing good on…

90 thoughts on “Nostalgia with an edge: Back before we were ‘green’

  1. Mary Pat

    I never say that about older people. In fact, I have always called the “Greatest Generation” the original recyclers! They may not have called it “green’ or “sustainability,” but they were true conservationists.

    Reply
  2. Mab

    There’s still nothing good on TV — but don’t forget our using brown paper bags and/or newspapers as grease catchers for fried chicken and catfish. Also newspapers went into quilts — for posterity — known as the ‘paper piecing’ method by South Carolina (African) Coastals/Gullah-Geechies.

    Reply
  3. Scout

    My grandfather reused cardboard half gallon milk cartons to make giant blocks of ice that he stuck in his cooler when he went fishing. I think he also used them to freeze fruit juice in, that he later made into jelly – like mayhaw and muscadine juice. He also saved everything on earth. When he died in 1997 we found every appliance or piece of furniture he had ever owned in his storeroom – most of them broken, but he wouldn’t throw them away. He even saved tiny little bits of the remains of bars of soap – he lumped them together and took them on boy scout camping trips. He lived through the depression.

    Reply
  4. Norm Ivey

    Unfair to blame one generation, or to give one generation credit. We all wanted everything cheaper and easier, and the market responded to us. Plastic bottles were cheaper to make and did not have to be transported back to the plant. Stores switched to plastic because it was cheaper. Disposable diapers are more convenient, and many neighborhoods implemented bans on clotheslines because they are “unsightly”. I could go on.

    Being green for green’s sake is good enough reason, but if you need better reasons, do it for patriotic and personal finance reasons. Every drop of oil we don’t buy from the middle east strengthens us and weakens them. Conserving energy saves money–you might be surprised by how much power and gas bills can be decreased.

    The further back you go back in history, the greener people were–it was a necessity. It’s only been the last 70 years or so that we have made things so cheap as to be disposable. Which is another issue, because everything goes somewhere.

    I saw on NPR.org the other day that we reached 400ppm CO2 levels in the atmosphere last week–the highest it has ever been in human history. Gaia will make us green again whether we want to be or not.

    Reply
  5. die deutsche Flußgabelung

    And y’all had lead in your gas, rivers catching on fire was a common occurrence, and y’all nearly killed off birds with DDT. Yeah y’all were some real great environmentalists back in the day.

    Reply
    1. Steven Davis II

      Before there was leaded gas, there was unleaded gas.

      The past two generations have been the throw away generations. If it breaks, you don’t fix it you throw it away and buy a new one filling up landfills in the process.

      Reply
    2. susanincola

      I’d forgotten about the rivers burning — I lived in steel mill country in the sixties and seventies, and not only did the river catch fire, all the downwind houses were black on one side. Even after pollution control requirements were put in in the seventies, because of local political corruption, the smokestacks put out clean white steam during the day, but still ran orange at night. (That’s all been fixed now — for one thing, the steel mills moved south, but also, folks got more “green” and insisted things got cleaned up).

      Reply
  6. Bryan Caskey

    Just go a little further back.

    Founding fathers? Ultra-green. They rode horses or walked everywhere. You like all that local, organic farming? Yeah, that’s pretty much all they had.

    The Native Americans? Bro, these guys were the original environmentalists. They didn’t even have the concept of land ownership. And you want to talk about a small carbon footprint? One word: Teepee.

    Reply
    1. bud

      Horse poop was an issue that created some interesting environmental consequences in cities. There was also the ultra dirty business of heating homes with wood burning fireplaces and later coal. But overall folks did a better job utilizing what they had. But it wasn’t out of a sense of environmental consciousness it was a matter of necessity.

      Reply
      1. Silence

        horse poop and flies that spread disease coupled with poor sanitation killed more people than emissions from my car ever did.

        Reply
        1. bud

          Car crashes claim 30k lives per year. Thanks to liberals that is a figure far lower than just a few years back. Pollution from car exhaust created a huge environmental threat until effective pollution devices were developed and leaded gasoline was removed. Again you can thank liberals for those improvements. CO2 emissions could ultimately wipe out mankind entirely. Liberals are trying to fight that battle as well. So while the waste from horses was a considerable environmental problem it is doubtful that killed more people than automobiles.

          Reply
          1. Norm Ivey

            I’ll quibble with just one claim, Bud. Rising CO2 levels are not likely to “wipe out” mankind. There may be enormous disruptions to lifestyles, especially in economically and technologically advanced regions, but man is an adaptive, resilient species, and we’ll find solutions. Some of those solutions will be technological and positive choices. Others will be war and famine. We can solve it or nature will solve it for us.

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        2. Mark Stewart

          Sewers, not the open trenches down the middle of streets, and garbage collections also helped, too.

          Unlike cow pies, horse manure isn’t a contaminant after drying out for a few days.

          Still, Silence, getting the lead out of the gas was a huge step forward.

          Reply
        3. Norm Ivey

          From a sanitation standpoint, perhaps. We don’t how many people are going to die from vehicular emissions yet. One of the big differences is that burning coal and oil releases long-stored CO2, while burning wood and decaying poo releases current CO2 (carbon cycle). If we were still using horses and burning wood, there really would be no anthropogenic global warming to speak of.

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          1. bud

            Norm, I don’t think global warming will kill off mankind either BUT it’s not completely out of the question. Some very scary scenerios have a runaway warming that could continue for many centuries. Most folks believe global warming will continue for a while until we’re able to grow grapefruits in Antarctica then things will settle down. But what happens if the warming goes way beyond even that because of feedback cycles that accelerate the process? We could end up like Venus. Man is adaptable but not to that extent. But again, I don’t really think that’s where we’ll end up.

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          2. Silence

            Norm, It doesn’t matter where the carbon comes from or how long it’s been stored. Let’s say that a pine tree weighs three tons. it’s virtually all carbon. We can plant our way out of any increase in atmospheric carbon. Plants store carbon and release it into the soil after they die and decay. Planting trees = sequestering carbon.

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  7. JesseS

    The plastic bag thing never made sense to me. We charged a nickle for each paper bag when I was in high school, $5 or something horribly shaped cloth bags while plastic bags costs us about $0.02 each and 5 of the little freezer bags costs us a penny. Why on earth were we charging for the cloth bags? Just give them away and don’t brand them. Also the designs were always crap. They took the worst aspects of paper and plastic and made them in cloth. Horrible execution.

    Also what is up with WalMart? I know their cashiers are overworked, but man, would a half hour instructional video on bagging kill anyone? 4 items and you walk out with 3 bags (don’t forget ice cream in the same bag as hot soup, not with the bag of peas and frozen french fries). Guess you can afford to throw that $0.02 away with low labor costs and selling high end items like TVs.

    We still had returns on glass bottles, but you’d have one or two customer a month returning them. Probably, 0.001%. Can’t help but think it is about health concerns more than anything else. Lord knows the hipsters love some Mexican Coke and don’t have too much of a problem bringing back their plastic bags for recycling once a year or so.

    Reply
  8. Kathryn Fenner

    Plenty of places have returnable bottles. Twelve states, according to the label on my ginger ale. Maybe the residents of those states are just more civic minded, but when I lived in Maine, it was a standard stop to return bottles at the grocery store before shopping. Everybody did it.

    Reply
    1. Mark Stewart

      The cities of South Carolina could try recycling. It’s really easy when everyone does it.

      In some states the recycle containers are 2-3 times larger than the trash (landfill) containers for pickup.

      Reply
      1. Kathryn Fenner

        We usually put out three recycling bins and our rollcart has about a third of that amount. It isn’t that hard, especially if you get a newspaper every day.

        Reply
    2. Steven Davis II

      In many parts of SC, recycling is throwing it out the window as you drive down the road and later on someone else picks it up and sends it to the landfill to be separated.

      Reply
  9. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, as a couple of y’all noted above, this one-upmanship between generations IS pretty silly, even obnoxious.

    It would be ridiculous for either young people or their parents or grandparents to try to seize the moral high ground on an exclusive basis. I think we all have a lot of sins to answer for in this regard. I just thought this was an interesting listing of all the ways we have moved away from “green” over the years.

    One of the things I like to be smug about is diapers. By the time we started having kids, pretty much everybody was using disposables. We thought that was unconscionable — to anyone who has had a child, the sheer volume of landfill space the smelly things must take up is mind-boggling — and went the cloth diaper route.

    Of course, I have no right to be smug, since it was almost always my wife doing the hands-on work of cleaning the things. She stayed at home when our kids were that age. But I like to be smug on her behalf…

    Reply
    1. Kathryn Fenner

      My friend, the environmental expert says it isn’t that clear what the environmental advantage is with diapers. Cloth diapers use a lot of resources when properly cleaned.

      Having fewer kids, though, that is better for the planet!

      Reply
      1. Steven Davis II

        “Having fewer kids, though, that is better for the planet!”

        And ruin the Democratic voter base?

        Reply
      2. Norm Ivey

        @ Silence

        It does matter when the carbon was stored. When the carbon stored in fossil fuels was originally active (400 million years ago–Devonian period), atmospheric CO2 was as high as 4000 ppm–ten times the 400 ppm we just surpassed, and the earth was much, much warmer. The sequestration of the carbon in the form of coal, oil and natural gas was in part responsible for the cooling of the earth in the late Carboniferous period.

        Yes, trees store carbon, but even the oldest living trees are storing carbon only several thousand years old–still within the frame of human history. Planting trees helps, but after a period of time, they become ineffective at storing additional carbon, and when they die, that carbon is released again, partly into the soil, but also into the atmosphere. The amount of carbon in our current atmosphere is here to stay for a very long time unless we develop a technological solution that will once again sequester some of the carbon.

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        1. Silence

          @ Norm – You are correct that atmospheric CO2 was higher in prehistoric times, but it’s just a question of volume, not age. Plant more trees, when they die or drop leaves, they decay mostly into new soil. Some small amount may be released back into the atmosphere, but over it’s existence a tree should store several tons of carbon, even long after it decays into soil.
          This one’s actually an easy fix.
          Speaking of carbon… ” We’re made of star stuff” – Dr. Carl Sagan

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          1. Norm Ivey

            @Silence,

            We may be talking past each other. Trees and leaves decompose as the result of microbes, fungi and other organisms breaking them down. Those decomposers release CO2 as waste into the atmosphere. The only way to trap the CO2 from a fallen tree is somehow bury the tree (before it decomposes) in an anaerobic environment so that the CO2 cannot escape into the atmosphere. Oil and coal were formed from plants and algae that were sealed off from oxygen that decomposing organisms need to survive, and subsequently went through a chemical change from heat and pressure. That not-quite-permanent sequester of carbon allowed the earth to cool to the point where larger animals could evolve.

            We agree that the volume is the difference between then and now. The reason the volume changed was because large amounts of carbon were stored in coal and oil deposits for hundreds of millions of years. The longest-lived trees on earth are 3000-5000 years old–they don’t live nearly long enough to sequester enough carbon to reduce current atmospheric (and oceanic) carbon by any appreciable amount. We disagree that planting trees will sequester enough carbon for long enough for it to make any difference. I’m not discouraging anyone from planting trees–it’s just not a solution to carbon in the atmosphere.

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      3. Norm Ivey

        Likewise, the difference between paper and plastic bags is negligible in terms of environmental impact. Both require the use of energy to produce–it’s how we produce the energy that matters most.

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    2. Kathy

      When I was expecting my only child, I planned to use cloth diapers to save money. My mother convinced me to use disposable diapers. She said by the time I washed them properly to get all the ammonia out and dried them in the dryer so they wouldn’t be scratchy, I wouldn’t be saving much.

      Another benefit of disposable diapers: They are super absorbant and don’t require the use of rubber pants. I’m convinced that those two factors result in a much lower incidence of diaper rash.

      Being smug is fun! :)

      Reply
  10. Rose

    Plus, those reusable green grocery bags tend to have lots of bacteria in them, because people never wash them.

    Reply
  11. bud

    While I was pumping gas the other day I observed the cars passing by and did a quick and dirty estimate of the average occupancy of the vehicles. Very few cars had more than just the drivers. Very, very few had as many as 3 people. I would guess that the average vehicle was capable of carrying 4-5 people in reasonable comfort. The average occupancy was probably around 1.1. Bump that up to 3 and voila we reduce the number of cars by more than half and save a ton of gasoline. And with it many of our environmental problems are solved.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      What is your mode of transportation, bud? How many people are normally in your car? Just wondering.

      Reply
        1. bud

          Problem is folks like Silence, who want to starve children; pollute the water, land and air; and make old people eat cat food make it far more difficult to change our culture in a meaningful way.

          Reply
          1. Silence

            bud – That’s hardly fair to say. While you are cruising around in your car and advocating massive public infrastructure building projects, I’m out planting trees and reducing atmospheric carbon! In fact, I’d encourage the old people to grow a garden at their house which would have the benefit of offering nutritious fruits and vegetables, all while providing at home recreational opportunities and helping the environment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden

            Reply
      1. bud

        Small car that gets about 25 city/30 highway mpg, 1 occupant which I drive about 7-800 miles/month.

        I’m not being self-righteous I’m just suggesting that our culture has led us to this wasteful place and if we all could change our behavior a bit, myself included, our roads would need upgrading less often, fuel would cost less and the environment would be cleaner.

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        1. Silence

          I also drive a small car (10+ year old one at that, don’t laugh, it’s paid for) which I drive 2,000 miles/month. I average 25 mpg in mixed driving, I know this because I calculate it at every fill up. If it drops, I’ll take the car in for maintenance.

          I used to carpool thanks to Obama’s gas prices, but we had some office changes and It’s no longer feasible to do. I’d love to do it agin though if the opportunity presented itself. I never thought that I’d be a professional, at the top of my game, making a solid salary, and carpooling with 3 other similar folks. Of course fuel is now my second largest monthly payment, behind my mortgage. Thanks a lot, Obama!

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          1. Mark Stewart

            Silence: Son of Sanford

            In a pecuniary way, that’s all, don’t want to imply the other “issues” Sanford carries around.

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          2. bud

            Highest price for gasoline ever? July, 2008, a whopping $4.14/gallon. Guess who was president then? Jimmy Carter? Nope. Bill Clinton? Nada. Barack Obama? Uhuh. How about Mr. Oil Man himself, George W. Bush. The high Obama gas prices make for a nice conservative narrative but only if you don’t let facts get in the way of a good story.

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          3. Norm Ivey

            They’re not Obama’s gas prices–they’re driven by speculators, but that’s not my point here.

            Higher gas prices force us to look at ways of conserving, although we tend to think of it as economizing. The Energy Party platform calls for essentially the same approach–that gas should be expensive enough that we seek out alternatives as individuals and as a nation. So while we may dislike higher gas prices, they will, in the long run, be good for national security and for the environment.

            I commute most days by myself in a Nissan Sentra. I track my mpg religiously, and generally get 27-30 mpg in the 8 miles to work. My wife drives a Smart car (36 city). When and where I can I drive our GEM (to the Village at Sandhills and other nearby locations, and when I taught at Summit Parkway Middle School, it was my daily driver).

            Reply
    2. Steven Davis II

      How many people were in your vehicle while you were pumping gas? How many would you say are in your car on an average trip? More than one? Doubtful.

      Reply
  12. Kathy

    My “diaper comment” was supposed to be in response to Brad’s comment. I’m using my “smart” phone, and I don’t think the comment ended up where I intended it to end up.

    Reply
  13. Kathryn Fenner

    My dad carpooled pretty much his whole career. The Savannah River Site is a good twelve miles from Aiken, so everyone did. At least in his day. Now a days, I’m told the traffic is considerably worse than back then, although far fewer people work there.

    Reply
    1. Bart

      Kathryn,

      I still have to make long day trips to Richmond, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and other large cities in the Southeast. The one thing they all have in common on the freeways where there is a HOV lane is that it is the LEAST used lane out of 2, 3, & 4 lanes available. Another interesting point is when driving in heavy traffic, the so-called high mpg vehicles with Obama-Biden bumper stickers are usually occupied by one person and driving like a bat out of hell, weaving in and out of traffic.

      And similar to Silence, my vehicle is a 2006 model and when it was new, city mpg was around 22 – 25 and highway was 28 – 32 depending on traffic. Now it gets 18 to 22 mpg in the city depending on traffic and 24 – 28 on the highway. The noticeable change in efficiency came after the removal of regular fuel without 10% ethanol from the market. Fuel without ethanol is still available if you want to pay for premium or $.25 to $.50 per gallon more. My vehicle is maintained on a schedule and the tire pressure checked often and adjusted if needed.

      On a last note, referring to the comment bud made about old people having to eat cat food. When was the last time anyone checked the price for a can of cat food? Believe me, it is not cheap, even the low end brands. My wife feeds several feral cats that live in our yard and it does get to be an expensive proposition.

      Reply
  14. Mark Stewart

    I am happy to take the train, walk or fly to work (and I would take the bus if that was possible). But don’t ask me to carpool with coworkers. I don’t even like driving them to meetings; we’d take separate trucks if I had the choice.

    Reply
    1. bud

      Mark you must have some disagreable co-workers.

      I wouldn’t mind car-pooling but if the buses ran out to Lexington that would be even better.

      Reply
      1. Mark Stewart

        My vehicle is my personal space.

        I like the crowds of the subways, trains, planes (minus the middle seat) and even buses. But my only fully approved passengers are my kids. They can come along any time…

        Reply
        1. Bart

          “My vehicle is my personal space.”…Mark

          Another great comment. When I have to make the long day trips, my usual practice is to not listen to the radio or music. It is a rare exception for my iPod to be plugged in. The solitude and relative quiet affords me the alone time to think about things like family, friends, and projects I need to do around the house. It also gives me time to think about the upcoming meeting or site visit and what is needed to be accomplished.

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      2. Steven Davis II

        bud, how many people would you say would want to carpool with you? It’s a two-way street. I can’t stand about 75% of the people have to work with, being stuck in the same vehicle them would be total hell.

        Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      If we had a subway, I would ride it wherever it went. Wouldn’t matter if that’s where I needed to go. I would just go where it went — I like subways that much.

      Reply
      1. Silence

        I’m all for trains of any sort. I just like riding them. Subways, passenger trains, monorails, check! I wish that our esteemed Riverbanks Zoo had a proper train instead of that infernal contraption that they run.

        Reply
        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Yay, trains! I rode the monorail for hours at Disney World when my high school band played there. More fun than the rides and no lines!

          Reply
          1. Kathryn Fenner

            We also took Amtrak from Boston to Seattle once. The Chicago to Seattle part is very scenic!

            Reply
      2. Steven Davis II

        So you want to build a subway/urine train system in a small city with a water table high enough that homeowners can’t even put basements in their houses.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          What I said was, if we had a subway, I would ride it. I don’t expect us ever to have one.

          I don’t know where the “urine” thing comes from, based on my experiences with subways in New York, Washington, London and Atlanta.

          The Tube in London is just amazing. It’s so shiny and new and modern (and clean, since you seem to think that’s a problem), it’s like all the cars in which I rode had just been delivered that week. New York’s system is grittier, but I haven’t noticed a problem with odors or filth of any kind.

          Mind the Gap…

          Reply
          1. Phillip

            I lived in NYC through most of the Koch-through-Giuliani era and maybe things are different now, but my impression was that it’s not so often a “urine” problem per se on the NYC subways, but let’s just say that if you see one car of the train conspicuously empty, the reason is almost always an olfactory-related one.

            But my most distinct memory of subway aromas has to do with riding the Tokyo subway system, which is superb, if mind-blowingly crowded at rush hour (uniformed staff wearing white gloves literally help squoosh people in so the train doors can close). Anyway, they’re always spotless and smell fine, but one day I’m reading something as we come to a stop…doors open and all of a sudden a massive B-O aroma like I never encountered in Japan enters the train. Sure enough, at the other end of the car I hear the animated conversation of a group of tourists speaking in…you guessed it, French.

            Reply
          2. Kathryn Fenner

            In Chicago, at any rate, the smell is sewer gas. It dissipates when the trains go above ground….sooner or later. Mos def prefer the Metra trains, which run on a schedule…..

            Reply
          3. Mark Stewart

            Phillip,

            We were also fellow strap-hangers! Small world. Yes, unfortunately the homeless who cleared the cars usually also had some kind of festering infection; it was really disturbing to see that when I would race through the turnstile and jump through the closing doors only to find myself caught in an empty, putrid car with a black bag guy until I could dart through to the next car.

            The only thing that did smell close to as bad were groups of French tourists in the summertime. Instead of mace, I always wanted a small spray bottle of Lysol handy. But they would have thought me a rude New Yorker to spritz them…

            Reply
      3. Norm Ivey

        When we traveled to DC a couple of years ago, we stayed in Maryland at the end of one of the Metro lines and rode the trains everywhere for the entire week. I can’t say they were the highlight of the trip (I mean, it was DC!), but there are convenient, clean and fun to ride. Trains are far, far more efficient at moving people and freight than rubber-wheeled internal combustion-powered cars and trucks.

        Reply
          1. Doug Ross

            We did the Anchorage-Denali railroad roundtrip last summer. It was about seven hours each way (with a stop in Wasilla). It was definitely better than all of the 100 plane trips I take in a typical year but I wouldn’t do it again… seven hours of trees is pretty dull. I’d rather drive five hours than ride seven.

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          2. Silence

            I rode the Phoenix-Durango line out in Colorado a few year’s back, through the oil fields. It was quite the experience.

            Reply
    3. Brad Warthen Post author

      My attitude toward subways is vaguely related to the strategy employed by Dirk Gently, the Holistic Detective, when he is lost:

      There is a school of thought which says that you should consult a map on these occasions, but to such people I merely say, ‘Ha! What if you have no map to consult? What if you have a map but it’s of the Dordogne?’ My own strategy is to find a car, or the nearest equivalent, which looks as if it knows where it is going and follow it. I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be.

      Of course, that was written well before we had Google Maps on our phones.

      Reply
  15. Kathryn Fenner

    Bart,
    Your observation of Obama supporters driving could be confirmation bias, or just the likelihood that they are younger.

    I drive a Prius, within five mph of the speed limit. I used to regularly get 50 mpg around Cola., but with ethanol, it is more like 44. The bigger numbers make the mpg drop seem that much more!

    Reply
    1. Bart

      Kathryn,

      No bias or racial inference intended. If anything, the majority of the vehicles with Obama-Biden bumber stickers were older white women. And, you better not get in their way either. They will run over you.

      Reply
      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I note how many frat boys, evidenced by the stickers on the back of their monster trucks and SUVs, drive like they own the road around Cola. It is confirmation bias. I see what I expect to see.

        Reply
        1. Mark Stewart

          The only sticker I ever had on my truck was a 33 star US flag that I got in ’07.

          Only one person ever commented on it; an older guy wearing three types of camo clothing with about seven different confederate flags attached (plus a couple of similar tattoos) and driving a camo painted muddin’ truck. He said “I getcha, that’s cool”. Was easier to respect his choices then, though our messages remained poles apart.

          The only bumper sticker I ever made was a black square and said “W – the 23rd letter” – parodying those awfully smug Bush bumper stickers that sprouted across Lexington for a while. Sorry people, those were just bizarre. That sticker got stuck to the kitchen bulletin board for a while until the neighbors caught on.

          Reply
          1. Kathryn Fenner

            Supposedly a drop or two of water releases the volatile compounds and improves the flavor….

            Reply
  16. Libb

    “We usually put out three recycling bins…” – Kathryn

    How can this be? City ordinance allows only 1 bin per household.

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    1. Silence

      @Kathryn – does recycling really save the city money? I’m not disputing that it does, I’m just very suprised. There’s a lot of infrastructure that goes along with it. Besides the bins, there’s the additional trucks, fuel, maintenance and workers who collect the recyclables. Then they’d have to be sorted and recycled.
      I know that they may make money on aluminum, maybe other metals as well. I can’t believe that they’d save money on glass or paper. My agency used to lose a fortune on recycling paper, but we were mandated to do it.
      Anyways, if it honestly saves money, maybe I’ll start using the bin.

      Reply
      1. Steven Davis II

        When I lived in Richland County people would set out their little bins and they guys on the truck would throw all three bins into the same compartment on the truck. Never understood the need for separate recycling bins.

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      2. Mark Stewart

        The more who recycle, the more that is saved. The hurdle is getting the product into the required infrastructure.

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      3. Kathryn Fenner

        It used to cost, but now they have some deal where they don’t have to anything but ship it en masse to Florence? Or wherever. The folks at the recycling place glean all the valuables….

        Robert used to be all grumbly about having to deal with recycling, but now he’s all over it! He is nothing if not a careful steward of his department’s budget!

        Reply

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