Saturday, May 30, 2015

ten thousand miles

By Fred Owens
Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe is over ten thousand miles from Los Angeles. That's a long journey to a far away place, a very different place -- exotic, mysterious, dangerous, and beguiling. You might go and come back wounded and ravaged by disease, or come back laden with precious jewels, or disappear without a trace and never come back at all  -- if you went on this journey of 10,000 miles.
But that's not what I am writing about today. I am writing about the sidewalks of Los Angeles, which have never been inventoried precisely. The best guess is that Los Angeles has 10,000 miles of sidewalk. Ten Thousand Miles!
The sidewalks are deteriorating badly, an estimated 40 percent are in need of repair. This is obvious to any casual pedestrian.
The problem is tree roots. The problem is good versus good, which is what intrigues me. Trees are good and sidewalks are good. Tree roots grow under the sidewalk and heave them up. That doesn't bother me as a walker, I can just step around and over the bad parts -- but it's a harm for the wheel chair or the baby stroller, or the grocery cart, or any impaired walker.
It will be hard to make the sidewalks level again without severely damaging the trees. Los Angeles needs a sidewalk genius to to solve this problem.
Ten thousand miles of crumbling infrastructure  -- another example of a failed civil society.
The Real infrastructure. Bridges are falling down, Water pipes are bursting. Highways rumble with potholes. Nothing is getting fixed properly.
But it doesn't matter. The real infrastructure is in your pocket. It's your smart phone and it connects you to the Internet, which is the highway that actually matters  -- if you're 25-years-old and ready to take over the world.
The kids don't care if a bridge collapses, they just download the Bridge Down app to find an alternate route. Every problem has an app that solves that problem. That is the  new infrastructure -- the one we keep in good order because it has become  essential.
Imagine Google being down for a day, or Facebook being down for a week -- that would be a total calamity. The kids would hurl themselves into traffic or jump off cliffs and die  -- their despair would be fatal -- which is why these vital systems rarely fail -- they are too important.
But ten thousands miles of sidewalk in Los Angeles  -- that was yesterday's problem and nobody cares.
America Needs a Nap. Napping would improve the quality of life in this country and do so cheaply. A well-rested country is a happy country, Go to bed! Now! People who use their laptops or smart phones after ten p.m. should be arrested for Disturbing the Peace. At ten p.m. you make herb tea and read a book  -- unless you're out having fun, which is permitted.

Internet usage is isolating -- and you are alone when you do that even if someone else is in the room. People tend to engage their laptops for a reason, and these reasons often resemble something we call work. Stop working! Go to bed!
Or take a walk. Or just just lay your head down on your desk for ten minutes.
If you don't get enough sleep you will gain weight. Poorly rested children are candidates for obesity -- they substitute food for sleep and get fat.
Teenagers should not be allowed to drink coffee or caffeinated soft drinks, none, not until they are 18.
Get some rest. Take it easy.
$15 Per Hour or Bust. I don't care how many small businesses fail -- I have no sympathy for Mom and Pop. The minimum is $15. If you can't pay that you deserve to fail. I've worked in small businesses all my working life, and there is no virtue in smallness, no inherent benefit that I can tell, no excuse for not treating the help well. Your small business may be your dream, but it's not my dream. If you want to work 60 hours a week to stay afloat in your little shop, then fine. But don't think you're doing the world a favor by sacrificing your life on the altar of free enterprise. Freedom is the freedom to fail and if you can't pay a decent wage, I hope you do fail.
I'm not at all sure I am right about an increase in the minimum wage. There are many sound arguments against this, but I am right, or at least convinced, that we ought not be sentimental about small businesses or make efforts to save them.

Otherwise.  Otherwise I'm staying out of politics.
Frederick Winyard of Anacortes, shown here, about to take his out-of-town guests for a walk to view the Deception Pass Bridge.

Winyard wrote:

Your story about the drought tells it all. You live in a state with an
anti-industrial mindset. California greens drove
out timber, electric-generation, manufacturing,
agriculture is next. Return to natural-man, but
keep smart-phones and the media-industry.

The Pacific Ocean is an enormous reservoir of
water, just need to remove salt. Israel does it,
they bloom a desert by adding fresh-water. 

California loses population to states with more
economically-constructive politics. Your article
describes unimaginative morally-superior folks
fighting over the diminished remainder.
Frederick Winyard of Anacortes sent in this pithy rejoinder. His astringent style makes a good counterpoint to blind optimism. Fred has been my great pal and hiking buddy. He strides rapidly over the hills and mountains of Fidalgo Island, all the while talking as rapidly as he walks. He is a retired software developer with some interesting stories to tell about where he has been and what he has done. His wife Nora is a lovely woman -- warm hearted and cheerful. She is a talented seamstress. I have enjoyed many fine dinners in their Anacortes home. I have also been of some help doing their garden work and pruning.
African Dreams -- all the cool stories about Zimbabwe and the journey of Ten Thousand Miles can be found on my Frog Hospital blog

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