Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Musings

2005 brought us lots of good things: wedding, good health, and financial goodness. The kind of things that make you sit back and evaluate where you came from, where you are, and where you want to be. The answer to the last question* has both some simple answers and some that are far more complex. On the one hand, conventional wisdom gives us some pretty clear answers: take our savings, invest it - probably the stock market, sell our townhouse and move to a larger place, get a dog, and so on. But, despite the civil service job, the two sensible automobiles, the buisiness casual wardrobe - I don't see us as conventioal. Or at least I don't want to be conventional. Despite doing pretty well in the late-90s stock market, I can't bring myself to invest more in it than I would spend on vacation. Despite the fact our townhome has appriciated quite well, we can't cash out, upgrade, and move closer to our jobs.** And besides, I'm a cat person.

So whats holding me back? Frankly, I'm a pessimist when it comes to this life we, as a country and world, are living. I don't think this way of life can be sustained. I don't like that we are so dependant on energy that we go to war for it. I don't like that we (Kyle and I) drive about 150-200 miles a day. I don't like that everything we buy comes from China and is shipped thousands of miles to be sold at cheap prices by people who can't afford to feed their children. I don't like that all the signs of global warming are coming to life. But I'm stymied as to what I can do about it. Other than protect what I have. Because, when it comes down to it, human beings, as a whole, are selfish. We can be charitable, and practice random acts of kindness and selfless at time. But, we act to protect ourselves and our family. I, like most people, can't give up everything I have to go live in a cabin in the mountains, hunting for my food and chopping logs for heat. There are a finite few who can, but about 99.9% of Americans can't. And I'm one of the majority. So I troll along, living my middle-class life, wondering how long it will continue before the whole fantasy comes crashing down and oil prices go so high most can't afford to get to work and the polar ice caps melt and put my current home unerwater.

My plans for 2006, include frivilous things like take a trip to Las Vegas (a homage to crass consumerism and excess of everything) and granola things like run a car off biodiesel or veggie oil. I like to expierment with solar panals, but my HOA would have fit. So I will leave that to the hypothetical next house.

And maybe I'll stick my money in green mutual funds, biodiesel and solar panel stocks.

* I realize I didn't phrase it as a question. Bear with me, I'm an engineer.

** It doesn't help that we work 180 degrees apart along the circle that is the Beltway.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just checked your blog - I'd forgotten to do so in the past couple of months. I agree with pretty much all you said. I've also been there and had those thoughts over the decades, and things are still carrying on in the world! Go figure. Love, B

9:52 AM  
Blogger Ally said...

I finished treatment for Hodgkin's in July, and I got married 8 days after treatment, and was very bald! :) I had a hard time with the whole hair thing as well. It is SO hard to lose your hair. Anyway, I've enjoyed reading your blog! Here's to a better year in 2006.

3:33 PM  

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