Old cars vs. new cars

Ford Galazy 500I snapped this old beauty on the way to work a week or so ago. I love the blocky style of the mid-1960s Ford Galaxy 500. It weighs enough to stop a tank, should the driver encounter one on his way to work. It has no airbags or shoulder belts, so his safety was in his own hands.

I do love the style of old cars. But they pollute. The gas coming out of the tailpipe is significantly more polluting than what a modern car produces. Paris, Santa Barbara, California and Texas all have programs to take old cars off the road.

But it’s not necessarily an easy equation. Sometimes keeping your not-very-new car may be more environmental than buying a new one, because of the environmental impact of manufacturing a car (details).

I would totally support a ban on really old cars being daily drivers, or maybe a tax on using them as commuter cars. That would keep the environment cleaner. And the drivers would have less chance of getting in an accident and ruining that piece of history. Additionally, fewer drivers are out on the weekends, so each drive would be more pleasurable. Why not create an old car sharing club and split which weekends you get the old beauties? Then you will have some variety in which ancient iron you take to the highway.

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We need pain, we need variety

You go barefoot. There are rocky, muddy, sandy and grassy sections. A nature preserve in Belgium allows you to experience a wide variety of textures as you explore footpaths in the slightly hilly park. As their website says, you can feel the extremes of “hot and cold, moist and dry, pleasant, exciting and stimulating.”

In western life, our feet are not used to feeling much beyond the insides of our socks, the floor, grassy lawns or sandy beaches. The Lieteberg Park allowed my vulnerable feet to experience something different. The pain of rocky sections made me appreciate the squishy mud.

bath-matAnd as I recently bought a bathtub mat to prevent slips and falls, I experienced tiny bits of pain from the soft bottoms of my feet. The mat’s spiky plastic tines poked into my soles. At first, I thought of taking the mat back. Then I realized it made my feet feel alive.

Life is like that. If we live a life of ease with no pain, we cannot truly understand pleasure. And variety keeps life interesting. You know this. I’m just reminding you — and me — that pain is OK. I also hope your life has variety and some respite from pain.

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The humble brag

Humble brag (n) — to brag about how humble you are.

I often fall into this trap. Readers of this blog have seen me brag about how humble I am, many times. “I save money this way, so I’m better than those who don’t.” “I’m more environmental than the people who drive that kind of vehicle.”

Humble-bragging is obnoxious to anyone who detects it. And as T Bone Burnett sang, “It’s a funny thing about humility, As soon as you know you’re being humble, You’re no longer humble.”


Having said that, let me launch into a humble brag.

an entry-level bikeA recent Wall Street Journal article on triathlons had a sidebar featuring recommended equipment. the “entry-level” road bike was $1,449. that freaked me out a little until I realized that their normal readers are in a class where that price is entry-level.

Across the page, the featured mountain bike cost $11,000 (with an integrated hydration system).

My humble brag: my road bike is worth a lot less than $1,449. But I know that having both a road bike and a mountain bike puts me into the 1%. So there goes my humility.

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Matatu names

names of matatus in KenyaMatatus are the minivans that transport people all over Kenya (and Tanzania). They have some very creative artwork — and names! The first time we lived in Kenya was from 1991–1994. I kept track of some of the names in a little notebook, which you can see in the photo. (Double-click the photo to see a larger version of the notebook pages.) There are some great ones, such as: Beauty Options, Bush Poucher, Texas City, and Bison Jnr.

The artwork on the sides of matatus is uniquely African — and often very creative. (Do a Google image search for “matatu art.”) Matatu owners invest in creative artwork to give a competitive advantage. Wouldn’t you rather go in a cool matatu than in one with no artwork?

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