08 May 2010

Not My Most Prized Possession

"Why would you keep your most prized possession on the street?" The guy at the bike shop wanted to know, when The Mate asked if he had a security camera in his store that might have gotten some video of the guy who smashed the window on our car.

"It's not my most prized possession," The Mate tried to tell him, but he was already lost in his rant. Fair enough; I'm not thrilled about the configurations of work, family, and health that make it almost impossible for me to live without a car, given the sorry state of public transit in this part of the world.

But then I got to thinking about the idea of "prized possessions" -- because ordinarily, I wouldn't use the two words in the same sentence.

Sure, I have stuff; and sure, I like much of my stuff: I'm particularly fond of the desk I'm typing this on, because it belonged to my Great Aunt Helen, who was a smart and independent woman in a time when it wasn't easy to be all those things at once.

Plus, she was a librarian, and if I prize anything, I guess it's my books, in the aggregate. I love getting lost in a narrative or following an argument; I love re-visiting a favorite book and savoring the language and the flow of ideas or images.

But really, I prize the intangibles.

The Mate and the Offspring. Family, and extended family, who are smart, creative, funny, and committed to making the world a better place.

My job, which allows me to spend my time reading, and thinking and talking about books, with good students and valued colleagues.

Living in New York, where there are a gazillion more smart, creative, independent people (who do things like this, and this). And of course I can't forget The Pet.

05 May 2010

Beyond Palatable

I've been buying gasoline from BP for the past couple of years, because I bought into the "Beyond Petroleum" slogan, let myself be convinced that they were invested in alternative energy.

But as the entire planet knows by now, British Petroleum is the owner of the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that is spewing petroleum into the water.

Consequences are disastrous. The spill is killing marine life. But the folks in charge at BP are going around telling anyone who will listen about what they're doing to keep the oil from reaching shore, and trying to get everyone to forget the fish, shrimp, turtles and other creatures already dying in the water.

And worse, it appears that BP avoided putting in various safety features--required in the North Sea and elsewhere--could have stopped the spill from happening, or mitigated its severity. BP executives acknowledge they don't use such safety features, but they claim it's because they're not necessary.

It really, really makes me wish I could get rid of my car. In any case, I'll stop buying gasoline from BP, though I really have to wonder what difference it will make.

03 May 2010


These have been on my radar for some time now, but I couldn't quite wrap my mind around the idea and didn't feel comfortable buying them on-line. Then they turned up on the shelf at Whole Foods, so I bought one and brought it home.

And I can't believe I waited that long. That's all.