Tag: change

How to change

June 30, 2010 | By | Reply More
How to change

Most of the big problems we face today are created by human beings, and they have human solutions. If only we could and would change our ways. If only we could switch to a non-fossil fuel economy, we could solve dozens of well-known environmental and political problems. If only we would “just say no” to drugs, reckless conduct, sloth, and rampant consumerism. If only we would just buckle down and be more informed and more active citizens, we could keep a better eye on our government. It goes on and on. Well designed solutions already exist for so many of our problems. If only we would change, but we can’t seem to change. We tend to be trapped in our own destructive and ignorant ways.

How can we break out of this stagnant cycle? Back in 2002 at Psychology Today, in an article titled “The 10 Rules of Change,” Stan Goldberg wrote that change isn’t easy, but it is possible, and there’s more to it than just saying yes (or no). He offers ten observations and strategies for implementing change. They include the following (these are Goldberg’s ideas, as I interpret them):

1. All behaviors are complex. Therefore, break down the behavior into smaller parts and take baby steps. If you want to be a better musician, practice your scales, study your theory, practice new pieces, listen carefully to others performing, and a dozen other things.

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Delighted to be back to changing my own oil

December 14, 2009 | By | 7 Replies More
Delighted to be back to changing my own oil

Back in 1974, when I bought my first car (a green 1969 Ford Fairlane 500 – see inset), my limited income as a teenager required me to do most of my own maintenance. That included such things as oil changes, as well as brake jobs, replacing a carburetor, and many other parts. I purchased a big manual for my car and spent some long nights in the garage making lots of mistakes and learning from many of them. I also remember the feeling of being self-sufficient and frugal.

1969 Ford Fairlane; Former girlfriend serving as model

After I got my first full-time job, I drifted away from working on my own car. Until now. Seeing a $27 oil change sign from a distance, I pulled into Jiffy Lube. Only after I pulled in did I notice that this was a special price that didn’t apply to me because it wasn’t 7-10 am. Then, after the Jiffy Lube guy treated me rudely and then told me that my oil change, using basic 5W30 oil, would cost almost $40, I blurted out, “Forty dollars for an oil change?” The Jiffy Lube guy protested, “That includes topping off your windshield washer solution and cleaning your windshield.”

I said, “No thanks.” I decided to remind myself what it’s like to slide under the car and get oil on my hands, and to do physical work, a welcome change from my desk job. I drove to the local O’Reilly Auto Parts store, where I bought enough oil and oil filters for three oil changes for $40. O’Reilly told me that they would happily dispose of my used oil at no charge. I also bought a gallon of windshield wiper fluid, an air filter and some new wiper blades for a fraction of what Jiffy Lube charges. Jiffy Lube specializes in telling you that you need these sorts of things and then gouging you for them. If you don’t believe me, check the Jiffy Lube web site — what does it tell you when a big company doesn’t have the balls to tell you how much they will charge you for standard services until they have your car hostage?

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Back at home with a case of oil in my trunk, all I had to do was find my old jacks (a hydraulic jack for lifting and a stand jack for safety), plastic oil pan, funnel, oil filter wrench and a few other tools. None of this is expensive stuff, in case you’re interested in joining me in the Jiffy rebellion. BTW, my Jiffy Lube story is not unique.

One hurdle: it took me about 10 minutes to locate the oil filter on my ’98 Saturn SL-2 (It’s deeply buried under the back of the engine, requiring me to crawl way under). Because it got dark while I was working, I pulled out my trouble light and that made it official: I was now reliving my teenage years and enjoying it immensely. Take that, Jiffy Lube! Added bonus: I now know exactly what kind of oil is really going into my car and that the right amount is going in. Another bonus: Next time I give one of the cars an oil change, I’ll give my daughters a little lesson about car maintenance–a passing of the baton. Yet another bonus: In less than the time it takes to drive to Jiffy Lube and back, I will have changed my own oil without burning any gas.

Changing one’s own oil is not a big deal. But saying no to old expensive habits and getting back to a simpler, cheaper and self-reliant way of life, one step at a time, can be a big deal.

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Maher: American is the land of get nothing done

September 25, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More
Maher: American is the land of get nothing done

Bill Maher is distressed about America’s lack of capacity to do good things and stop doing bad things. Our mechanism for meaningful change is completely broken.

Well, I hate to be a nudge, but why has America become a nation that can’t make anything bad end, like wars, farm subsidies, our oil addiction, the drug war, useless weapons programs – oh, and there’s still 60,000 troops in Germany – and can’t make anything good start, like health care reform, immigration reform, rebuilding infrastructure. Even when we address something, the plan can never start until years down the road. Congress’s climate change bill mandates a 17% cut in greenhouse gas emissions… by 2020! Fellas, slow down, where’s the fire? Oh yeah, it’s where I live, engulfing the entire western part of the United States! We might pass new mileage standards, but even if we do, they wouldn’t start until 2016.

What do we need?

a) leaders with balls, and b) a general populace who can think again. Barack Obama has said, “If we were starting from scratch, then a single-payer system would probably make sense.” So let’s start from scratch.

I find Bill Maher to be especially insightful–he cuts right through the BS over and over. This particular article by Maher was especially well written.

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Culture and Copyright in the 21st Century

April 30, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More
Culture and Copyright in the 21st Century

On 24 March, 2009 Lawrence Lessig delivered the keynote speech, Getting the Network the World Needs, at the OFC Conference in San Diego, CA. This is a revision of a REMIX talk, distinguishing between parts of the 20th Century that were Read-Only and parts that were Read-Write.

His brilliantly delivered thesis discusses how culture prior to the 20th century was essentially read-write, everyone consumed and created the culture interactively. During the 20th century centralization and control of media and distribution transformed our culture to a read only – where creation was almost exclusively the province of professionals and professional distribution channels (tv, movies, music).

He then suggests that the 21st century brings the promise and the demand for building a read-write culture once more, and for moving far beyond the mash-up of the past decade. He also discusses the necessary legal and infrastructural changes needed to accommodate this changed reality.

Warner Music has tried to serve a DCMA takedown, based on his inclusion of some music and media clips – despite the obvious and clear “fair use”.

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In by the hair on our chinny chin chins

January 21, 2009 | By | 12 Replies More
In by the hair on our chinny chin chins

Yes, the Bush Administration is now gone, with Bush himself finally helicoptered out.  And just look at this exquisite satellite photo of yesterday’s crowd for the swearing in! We’d like to think that the American people have now seen the light, and that we can now rationally approach solutions to the massive problems we now […]

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Complacency II

July 10, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More
Complacency II

I wrote about complacency once before. I focused on the complacency of most Americans in the face of the energy crisis that is clearly upon us. We have no assurance that gasoline won’t double or triple in price over the next five or 10 years, throwing our economy into a massive depression. With stakes like […]

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How often should one clean one’s bathroom drinking cup?

July 9, 2007 | By | 5 Replies More
How often should one clean one’s bathroom drinking cup?

I raised this question at a recent family gathering, because I see it as my role to raise such questions: Assume that you’re living alone. How often should you clean the drinking cup you use in at your bathroom sink? The first answer came from a brother-in-law who cautiously answered in the form of a […]

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Who changed the Bible and why? Bart Ehrman’s startling answers

October 22, 2006 | By | 729 Replies More
Who changed the Bible and why? Bart Ehrman’s startling answers

How often do we hear people “explaining” religious beliefs by stating “The Bible says so,” as if the Bible fell out of the sky, pre-translated to English by God Himself?  It’s not that simple, according to an impressive and clearly-written book that should be required reading for anyone who claims to know “what the Bible says.” The 2005 bestseller, Misquoting […]

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