Thursday, June 26, 2008

Painful disbelief

I was distressed greatly by an entry I read on my nephew's blog this morning. From it, I gather that he feels there is no shortage of oil, and that the rise in oil costs is a big game that oil speculators (whoever they are) are playing to . . . what? He doesn't say. Scare Americans? (Can you say Code Orange?) Line their pockets? What?

An articulate writer, my nephew believes that these "artificially inflated" prices will eventually correct themselves, and living in America will be a Utopian experience. (As long as you don't charge anything on your credit cards; he works for the financial counselor Dave Ramsey.)

An actual quote from his blog is: "In the meantime, don't fall victim to the fuel efficient car trap."

I don't know if my nephew has ever driven in Europe where gas is sold by the liter (about a quart) because that makes the prices look lower. You don't see many SUVs in Europe because they've been paying exorbitant fuel costs for years and years. The cars are tiny over there as they should be. I'm sure Europeans would be delighted to learn that when they wake up tomorrow, fuel prices will have plummeted (because the economy has corrected itself).

From a May 2008 Time magazine article:
"Across the European Union, the average cost of a gallon of gas runs to about $8.70 — more than twice what Americans are shelling out to fill up. And Europe's dizzying fuel costs would be even worse if it weren't for the considerable appreciation of the euro and the British pound against the dollar over the past year, which has partially offset the price escalation in dollar-traded oil." [That $8.70 would be about $17 out of our pocket if we visited Europe today.]

I am appalled that anyone would believe that we have an unlimited supply of natural resources on this earth and that we can use them up without regard for future generations. Maybe my nephew believes that Jesus will come again before we have to worry about our fuel supplies, but he has a baby on the way and I can't imagine that he doesn't consider the future of his child.

One of the points he makes is that he doesn't think people should rush out and buy fuel efficient cars just because of the current oil crisis, thereby sustaining new debt. Because he works for Ramsey, I would expect him to say that. Fine, don't rush out and get into debt buying a fuel efficient car. If you don't already own one (and why wouldn't you?), make a small or hybrid or clean diesel car your next purchase. When you buy a new car, buy one that doesn't guzzle this earth's natural resources.

What would Jesus do? He would walk.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Meat and three

Saturday, Bob and I flew into Nashville for one day to attend St. Ann's 150th anniversary celebration. As a priest that "came out" of that parish, Bob was invited to process. I found a Southwest ticket for $49 each way and decided to go with him. We woke at 4:30 a.m. to make our 7:30 a.m. flight. Got there, rented a car, and just made it in time for the 10 a.m. service. Which was held in a tent on the parking lot. It was hot as hell. At least 95 degrees and sweltering. A normal Nashville day. It was a nostalgic event. We saw a lot of our old friends and reminisced about the 1998 tornado that destroyed the church.

We ate lunch at the Gerst Haus where they serve beer in frozen "fishbowls." Yum, I needed that.

We drove around our old East Nashville neighborhood and by our old house on Russell Street, my dog park, and then headed toward the airport. The Nashville airport has been renovated. You actually wouldn't even have to leave the airport to "see" Nashville. It has a Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and Swett's restaurant--a meat and three.

The whole point of this blog is to show my friends a photo of a meat and three. They just don't seem to understand what a meat and three is. When I tell them what I miss most about Nashville (besides my friends, of course), it is the restaurant that offers a meat and three vegetables (or two or four). You don't even have to get the meat, you can just order the vegetables. And you can add a good ole Southern dessert to that too.

Chicago has no vegetables. You can't walk into a restaurant and sit down for a good home (like) cooked meal. I miss my Southern vegetables. No wonder I never learned to cook. I grew up in Nashville where you could get a great meal for under $5. (It might be about $7 or $8 now.)

Speaking of tornadoes, our flight was diverted because of them. We were expected to be home about 6 p.m., but we didn't make it until 9. Luckily, our neighbor was home when I called her and she gave our dogs a bite to eat.

Click on those photos if you want your mouth to water.

Regardless of what I said in my previous post, you just can't take the Southern out of the gal.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Elevator speech

I’ve decided today (or really a week or so ago) that my Southern-ness is slowly oozing out of me. When I get in an elevator with just one other person now, I no longer feel that I must carry on a conversation with him/her. I just stand there, staring at the buttons or the door or the floor. If they start the conversation, then I will happily join in. I have no trouble holding my own. But my compulsion toward idle chat seems no longer necessary. At least in an elevator.

Is that good?

Midwesterners, though not Southerners, are actually quite pleasant. I was surprised about that when I moved here. I expected them to be like New Yorkers (or at least like how people say New Yorkers are). I thought that if I asked a silly question (something I’m full of) they would slap me. Or worse: give me that “You’re so stupid” look. So I was thrilled when I found everybody (ok, most everybody) here is very agreeable.

But Southerners are so accommodating. If they meet your eye on the street, they say hello. And they try to meet your eye. They do not look down or up or around just so they don’t have to say hello. They (we) have a cultural rule that if someone doesn’t return your greeting, well that person is just plain rude. Or at best, in a really bad mood.

I guess since I am thinking about finding it unnecessary to chat in an elevator, then I have not quite shaken off my Southern roots. When I no longer think about it, that’s when I’ll be integrated into the new culture. But how I am going to know? If I don’t notice.