This year, I've made a huge move to another town, knowing no one, all by myself, with the goal of changing my life. I left a huge metropolitan area for a small town; a steady paycheck for part-time chump change. Friends and family were left behind, and only the unknown lay before me. At 45 years young, it has been both exciting and scary. I wanted to Powerdown, but what have I done besides using one Q-tip instead of two? How different are things really?
I blew into town last May 2006, a full seven months ago. Within one month, while parked in a local campground just outside of town, I had an apartment and a job, albeit part-time, for the fall. I spent the summer camping and learning about prospecting in the Klamath and Siskiyou mountain wilderness.
I learned how to make fires and cook in one pan. I learned how to exist without a daily shower, and use a Solar Shower to wash the dishes and myself. And I learned that finding gold by digging in the dirt does not payoff immediately, beyond, of course, the exhilerating joy of being in beautiful forest locales. I learned that if you are at a stream named Cougar Creek, there's a good reason why it has that name, and you should always carry a walking stick that can double as a weapon, just in case.
By the fall, I was teaching two math classes at the local university and walking to work. I could walk to the laundromat, the food store, and the little downtown where I started kung-fu at a small fitness studio. My paycheck wasn't much, but it would pay the basic bills until I got into something else.
As far as burning gasoline, I was way down.
So how many gallons of gas did you save, you ask?
Well, in Los Angeles, I used to drive 84 miles per day to get to work and back. Five days a week, that's 420 miles per week. At about 20 miles per gallon, that's 21 gallons of gas burned each week.
At 20 pounds of CO2 per gallon of gasoline, that's 420 pounds of CO2 each week!
So not only did I save 21 gallons of gasoline a week, I save 420 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere! Now that's what I call political change.
I'm far off of my goals in energy use, but those CO2 savings alone was worth radically altering my environment and uprooting my entire life!
Well, I can't act like much of a hero anymore, cause I've lost that job now, and I'll be pushing off outta here in the spring. Before I settle again, this time at a coastal town, I'll probably be driving to the east coast to visit family and save some rent, stopping off at a few locations to drop off resumes and introduce myself for hire.
Is that carbon trading?
Ok, I'm half-steppin, forgive me, Lord!
But I'm gonna do better. I've got a few months more in this apartment, and I'm going to make the most of it.
When I went on this journey seven months ago, I had a solar power system on the roof of my van and it worked incredibly well. I not only had full power for lights, computer, and radio every night, at the campground, I set up an electronic music tent where I and a few fellow campers jammed on synthesizors, with drum machine, computer, and watched DVDs and videos.
Sounds like hardly camping, huh? Well, let me say that jamming electronics in the out of doors, inside a big screened tent, is My Kind of Camping!
When I got into my apartment, I ran an extension cord from the battery in the van through my window and ran my household items off of the solar power.
Well, the system worked like a charm, that is until I spent the entire day digging in the stream, not realizing that I'd left the van all shut-up tight in the sun, where the outside temperature went up to 105 degrees.
I fried the charge controller, and perhaps the battery. I needed repair or replacement. I've got to get that system going again before I take off.
I've also realized that finding a job sometimes means creating a job. Lots of research ahead, lots of work, but lots of opportunity as well.
All in all, I'm a better person than I was last year. I've drastically cut down on gasoline consumption and that makes a better world for everybody. I've got lots of ideas on projects, and it only remains to get busy actually producing.
Wish me luck!
I may be a doom and gloomer, but I'm sincere in wishing all of you a Happy New Year 2007!