Friday, April 13, 2007

Peak Oil

"It is my opinion that the peak will occur in late 2005 or in the first few months of 2006," says Princeton geologist Kenneth S. Deffeyes in a new book, Beyond Oil. A more conservative estimate by Mike Rodgers of PFC Energy locates the peak somewhere in the vicinity of 2010-2015. If either of these predictions proves accurate, global oil supply can never climb high enough to satisfy the elevated consumption levels projected by the DoE for 2025 and beyond. (

I calculated how old I'd be in 2025 and I would be 62 years old. Kind of worrying in view of the fact that this is when my legs would have become weaker and perhaps I would need a car. Right now, I don't even have a driver's license but my longterm plan had been to get one and then buy a car...for my old age.

I guess all we can do to prepare for this is to live pretty much the way we've been living because you can't stop driving cars depending on where you live. But you can make sure you are living in a place and have a lifestyle where it's not integral to take a car everywhere.

My flat here is walking distance from a train station, the supermarket and the beach. I walk mostly because I am not an exercise freak and walking is virtually the only form of exercise I ever get. But I'd been contemplating other means of transportation lately because it has been raining quite a bit this spring and I may soon be living with someone who may have to commute to place that might be a tad difficult to walk to in the rain. Rain also means you won't be going there in a bicycle or motorcycle even. It has got to be a car.

I mean if you're retired by the time petroleum costs escalate it won't be so terrible, but if you're in the peak of your career I don't know how you're going to be able to cope with it. You've got to get to work and the job has got to be done and it will probably take petroleum to get to work.

Reminds me of something my father who was a scientist said when he was still alive:

"With the way things are going now, who knows what will happen in the future? I think things will be fine in your lifetime, but I really can't say if it will still be fine in the lifetime of your children."


Here I am waiting for the REPSOL guys to show up the week after Semana Santa and of course nobody shows up. Judging from the previous years, it seems to be some kind of a tradition of theirs to do a no-show the week after the Easter holidays - when I suspect most people are really in need of new gas tanks.

Gas tanks. Yes, it's uncivilized where I live. I need to buy these gas tanks to get my gas water heater going because they don't have central gas here. Not only that but since they don't have any civilized methods of replacing the tanks it's like a fish market every time I need one.

When the REPSOL trucks approach they blare their horns so loud it would awaken someone in a coma. Then, you have to literally run down the flight of stairs before they decide to leave and shout: Un butano para 2D!

While you're doing this you see women leaning out of windows shouting something like that too.

I really don't enjoy doing this and am sorely tempted to get an electric heater. But then again, since we do have power cuts sometimes, it's nice to risk hedge and have the hot water heater running on something other than electricity. After all, I'd be able to take a nice hot bath even during a blackout.

The fact is, when I first moved in here. I lived without electricity for 2 weeks and this was only possible because my water heater runs on gas. It was very boring with nothing to do except read and play games on my GBA and while the sun was up, but I could take baths at night by candle light here and this meant I could live here instead of having to move to a hotel. I woke-up at sunrise and went to bed pretty much at sunset. It was a pretty healthy lifestyle but horribly uncivilized. Compared to that life is very civilized now. I have electricity, Internet, a landline, hot water, a working kitchen and so on...and these things work....most of the time.

Anyway it doesn't look like the REPSOL guys are going to show up today so I will have to wake-up and wait for them again on Monday morning. Just great.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What is Life All About?

This is a question that even the 82 year old Kurt Vonnegut was asking. In his A Man Without A Country: A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush’s America, (Bloomsbury), his son and pediatrician Dr. Vonnegut gave a pretty good answer: "Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."

I sometimes think that we are unhappy with our lives because we try too hard to live it the way someone else thinks it should be lived. Unfortunately there are so many people - some of them family and friends - who like to dictate to us how to live life.

As children we are in a position where we can't really be too rebellious toward the views our parents are imposing on us but in your 30s and 40s do we still need to be so easily affected by what others say and what they think you should do?

I noticed this a few years ago when some people got upset when they asked me where I went on holiday and I said I'd not gone anywhere. It seems there is this expectation that one must go on a holiday and boast about the things they did. Some of them even launched an attack on the way I lived my life saying: You need to go on holidays.

In my opinion this is just as narrow minded as saying: You need a man.

So, what is it that people demand you do?

In the case of girls: You need to be beautiful, have perfect skin, the body of a model, wear designer clothing, perhaps have a diamond or two, have lots of friends who you go out clubbing with all the time, meet and marry a guy who not only looks like Juan Garcia Postigo (Mr. World 2007), but has a great job with a great company and the salary and benefits that come with it. You'll travel with him to exotic locations in the world and have some kids who grow up to be just as perfect as you and Juan.

If you don't subscribe to these you will invariably meet criticism. If you do, people will say bad things about you anyway because they're jealous. So, you can't really win.

Actually the ideas of what you should be doing are even more specific. For example, take the holiday. You're not only supposed to go somewhere cool, but you have to say you went to this restaurant and that and stayed at this hotel and that. You might even come back from a holiday that you personally thought was fun until you told a friend who said: That doesn't sound like too much fun.

But at the end of the day it's the same as the overall way you live your life. Some people will have bad things to say no matter what because there's this competitive edge to people that makes them say negative things about what you do just so they feel good about themselves by reaffirming that: My life is better than yours.

Who needs friends like that?

But a lot of people tolerate such friends because successful people are supposed to have lots of friends and to have lots of friends you have to tolerate a lot of crap. I find this more prevalent amongst younger people and when people get older they do generally seem to wisen up about this a bit. Notice that older people seem to have fewer friends as a rule? But then again maybe some people are happy about being around people who are always trying to get one over them and insulting them constantly - if it makes them happy, fine.

In your life time you will meet very few really nice friends...but you'll find that when you tell these few friends about things you did in your life they will most likely say: So long as you enjoyed it, it's great.

Maybe they don't approve of what you're doing or approve of your guy or your girl or your new outfit or new house - but at the end of the day your happiness about these things is more important to them than finding fault in these things to make themselves feel good about themselves and their lives.

And these friends will help you get through life whatever it is we are trying to do here.


Kurt Vonnegut RIP

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gold Diggers

It's raining again in Costa del Sol and I guess that's why the fields are literally bursting with flowers. It's spring weather here and the plants are well-watered.

I was reading a bit about Dewi Sukarno, a former Japanese insurance sales lady who worked as a hostess at night and married the then Indonesian President Sukarno.

What can I say? Dewi Sukarno certainly lived a much fuller, exciting and enjoyable life as a so-called gold digger than if she'd stayed a 'insurance lady' in Tokyo.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being an insurance lady but I know of an excellent one who really does her job well...and her life is well...a bit sad.

I say she does her job really well because when a father of an acquaintance went into a coma after being hit by a teenager on a motorcycle who was uninsured and did not have a driver's license - it was this particular insurance lady who helped my acquaintance through the gauntlet of bureaucracy and made it possible for her to get her father's life insurance and as a result buy an apartment in Tokyo. This insurance lady also used to be a manager in one of Japan's most prestigious companies and well she left them because of male chauvenism that was helped along by jealous women in the company who could never hope to be promoted.

They pulled stunts like putting salt in her coffee.

I admire her for keeping her head up and her liberty and having a real career. But I feel life has been so hard for her she's forgotten how to enjoy it. She lives in a very modest apartment and feels buying scented candles and soaps is too much of a luxury. She wears very drab clothing but has funny idiocyncrasies about which brand of panty hose and underwear she wears. She is about as adamant about these unaspirational brands as a fashion victim is about wearing things from the most popular designers. She has her job and her career but somehow she has lost the plot of living. She lives to work instead of working to live. If she contained this world to herself, I don't see a problem but she criticizes her friends for not living like her and lectures them.

Compare this to Dewi Sukarno. She pretty much took steps to ensure that she got the money to live as she pleases...and she succeeded.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Dewi is better than my insurance lady friend. What I want to say is that I don't think Dewi was less dedicated to getting what she wanted than the insurance lady I know.

Being a basket case myself at being a gold digger, I might say I even admire her single-minded dedication and drive to achieve this. It's not easy to get the attentions of men with money and an attention span as short as the skirts the girls around them are wearing. It's not easy to convince such men to marry you because they have a world of women to choose from.

So though I will never go down this route - I have to say I cannot help but admire women who follow through on their gold digging. It's probably even harder than doing an honest job in some ways.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Spanish Chauvenism

It's raining today in the Costa del Sol and we're getting a much needed steady rainfall after the drought from two years ago. Last year wasn't too bad, but it didn't rain quite enough to fill our reservoirs to full capacity again so it's very important that it rains a lot this spring.

So, today I want to write about Spanish male chauvinism, which incidentally has nothing to do with the lovely weather we're having here today.

Anyway, I kind of had this sneaking suspicion that Spanish males might be a tad more chauvenist than other men I've encountered. I realized I underestimated the degree of their chauvenism when a Japanese male over 50 years of age - himself a chauvinist clearly from the way he was talking to me said:

"Spanish men are such male chauvinists. You should see the way they treat women!"

When I told this story to another female Italian friend of mine she said:

"They are really terrible chauvinists. When I first moved to Spain I worked in the stables because I didn't have any contacts here. A week into my work I noticed all these men were flirting with me and wondered why. Then I found out they had set up a betting system to see who would sleep with me first! That's why I stay away from Spanish men and try to date Japanese men."

She was having fun scaring Japanese men on the Internet with her muscles and her skill in Karate at the time.

"Spanish men have no respect for women and they will always try to see if they can get the better of you. Physically they are either stronger, or if they are not that strong they are so fat you can't really win."

The reality is that she was pretty strong.

One night after going out with her friends, a Spanish man stalked her back to her car and tried to assault her. Apparently her Karate reflexes kicked in and before she knew it the man was on the ground groaning and she quickly got into her car and drove away as fast as she could.

"I didn't bother to ask him whether he was OK, but my hands were trembling as I drove away I was so frightened..."

Being quite weak even compared to the rest of my gender, I just hardened my resolve not to go out late at night after hearing this, but did contemplate going to Karate classes.

Never been into clubbing because I don't enjoy dancing, drinking or man hunting - so leaving these options out there has never been much for me to do when clubbing anyway. In essence when people try to tell me I'm missing out on life if I don't go out and stay in a place I don't want to be until 7 a.m. in the morning so that I can feel shitty all day next day, they're wrong. I'd rather stay home at night and play an online game. Much safer because you can only die a virtual death here...and I can go to bed before dawn.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Freedom and Irresponsibility

Some people say men have become less chauvenistic. Younger men are supposed to be less chauvenistic than their fathers were and respect women more. I'm not sure this is quite true. But I think it's fair to say they have become less responsible.

If there is any woman out there who thinks she's enjoying women's liberation through sexual freedom, I think she's got to be kidding herself. True, perhaps they can't lock you up anymore in some Irish Catholic laundromat for having extra-martial sex anymore, but on the whole I personally believe that men have exploited this new freedom very well. Think about it. The slaves that were brought to America were free before they were kidnapped and sold into slavery too. Freedom is something that can be taken away. It doesn't mean that once you have it, you have it forever.

Typically men these days want to have sex with no commitment of any kind. To be fair they were probably always like this but there were certain social pressures in place that attempted to prevent them for doing so. And we aren't even talking about marriage or co-habitation here. Men these days don't even want to go 'steady' anymore because well, it's just too much commitment. Even women are getting this way. A fifteen year old Spanish girl told me that the average time span for going steady is 2 weeks now. Yeah, right.

So boys and men are going around having sex indiscriminately with anyone they want at any time they want. Girls see this and do the same. After all, they're equal right, so why not? Many of them don't even stop to think that they can get pregnant and boys can't.

"I'll just get an abortion."
"I'm on the pill."
"I'll take the morning after drug."
"I have an IUD."

Well, the ones that do think about pregnancies often don't think about STDs and now STDs have reached epidemic proportions in some cities such as....London. So the diseases just spread and spread.

For those that are sexually liberated but don't want to get diseases the only, the only option begins to be total abstinence because everyone is infected with something. Just great.

Anyway to get back on track. Here are some statements guys make to convince women to have sex with them with absolutely no commitment (and we're talking about not even talking to them the next day in some cases) :

"Sex is part of getting to know you." (English Male, 40)

"But you're a liberated woman and I'm single and you're single, so why not?" (Spanish Male, 26)

"It's OK to do this in America." (American Male, 22)

In a way if women are silly enough to fall for these insipid statements, they have only themselves to blame. Problem is they usually have this nice support group of peers who are also women who kind of pressure them into thinking they aren't cool if they're not having sex. Peer pressure is a real bitch for younger people really. And with the whole of society kind of pressuring women to pair off with men or just simply have a lot of sex, what do you expect from them?

It's all about making use of your 'freedom' responsibly really...not because it's the right thing to do but because all the crap comes back to you in the end. And it really does.

I know some older guys who are in their late 30s to early 40s going totally nuts because their cleaning lady got sick of them and left them. One of them even tried to con me into cleaning his place in exchange for using his Internet.

I said: Absolutely not.

I went to a cyber cafe instead and paid them to let me use their Internet, hence helping drive the economy instead of getting exploited by some irresponsible male.

Well, it's a liberated world right? So who are they going to ask really until they find their next cleaning lady. If they have mothers that still dote on them (as in the case of the Spanish), well, she's not going to live forever.

It's going to be a great world. We'll have to work harder and harder to pay money to people we don't know to do stuff that partners or even friends used to help you out with. But with this new sense of freedom and irresponsibility, we often find that we neither have partners nor friends who will lift a finger to help anymore....often because they are too busy working over time to pay strangers to do that work for them too.