Thursday, July 3, 2008

Walkin' it off

An episode of On Point I was listening to this evening while cooking dinner reminded me of a line Kurt Vonnegut wrote in an essay entitled “Cold Turkey”; the line reads:

Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil
fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
The subject of the On Point episode was the new realities of oil at $140 plus dollars a barrel and the guests talked about the short-term behavioral changes taking place now in the U.S.; they also speculated about some of the longer-term changes that may occur as gas prices continue to rise. The most immediate and simplest adjustment being made by Americans (and others
around the world I’m sure) noted by the guests was that people are driving less.

Driving. . .ah yes. . .this is a mixed bag here in Otaki. Most of the time our car stays put in it’s parking space. The village is small enough that we can get to most places we need to go by walking; and, we don’t really have too many places we NEED to go anyway. The exception is grocery shopping. Buying food requires about a 25 minute drive down the canyon to Kiso Town (木曽町)—the nearest town of moderate size with a decent supermarket and other “conveniences”. Of course, such minimal use an automobile may not be the norm in Otaki. I know that others here in the village make the commute to Kiso almost daily; and, actually, Chizuko and I walking around everywhere seems to be a bit of an oddity.

Still, on the whole, I would imagine that most people in Otaki do less driving than many folks in Japan’s bigger cities; and they definitely drive less than many Americans, who lack public transportation options. Otaki is small, life is slow, and most of us don’t have many places to be. . .of course this may just be the perspective of yours truly, who lacks and formal employment.

As we face the prospect of “cold turkey” in terms of oil, there’s a part of me that feels relieved—the day was bound to come. So, instead of lamenting, we humans might be better off embracing this chance to get back to one of our greatest achievements: bipedal mobility. . .walking. Perhaps we’ve all been crouched back on our haunches too damned long. Time to walk it off.

Go Walk Mathematics

Suppose you walk 3 kms a day for 40 years.
3 kms X 365 days = 1,095 kms.
Forget the 95 kms.
1,000 kms X 40 years – 40,000 kms
40,000 kms – the length of the terrestrial equator
Walking 3 kms a day for 40 years
You complete your circuit of the earth.

Suppose you walk 30 kms a day for 36 years.
30 kms X 365 days = 10,950 kms
10,950 kms X 36 years – 394,200 kms
This figure goes beyond the average distance
Between the earth & the moon 384,400 kms.
Walking 30 kms a day for 36 years
You reach the moon.

Winter Solstice 1993

by Nanao Sakaki (from Let’s Eat Stars)

Goodnight ONTAKE-SAN!

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