Cutting Your Car Use

Cutting Your Car Use by Randall Ghent with Anna Semlyen
2006 – 5″ x 7″ – 116 pgs – US $9.95
New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
(There was a website that went with the book which seems to be gone now –, for the original British version by Semlyen alone, is still around.)

I picked up this book in San Francisco last year. I guess I probably first realized I might ultimately want to stop owning a car when I was in college (pre-2000). I didn’t have a car there, so I walked a lot and used the campus shuttle sometimes – and it was around this time that I learned you don’t really need a car if you live in a city. Sometime in the year before my trip to San Francisco, I’d been introsuced to the concept of Peak Oil and it’s uncomfortable nearness. Mostly that just paralyzed my brain with horror; I think of this book as marking my first step toward actually doing something to live more sustainably. It’s not a mind-blowing book, and it didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know (nor did I expect it to), but it’s a nice little book, full of tips, facts, lists, testimonials, and cartoon illustrations (by Axel Scheffler). I suppose one way to go about changing your habits is to foucs on one area at a time; if you choose to focus on transportation, than this can be a handy little book (it introduced me to the concept of folding bikes, which is a whole other story). You might also have a look at the website

Another book I’ve only flipped through in the bookstore but looks pretty good is How To Live Well Without A Car by Chris Balish. It’s another small book with cartoon illustrations, but seems to have more prose than lists, which I like. Another book I haven’t read but would like to is Divorce Your Car! by Katie Alvord. in addition to practical advice on living car-free, she offers a history of how we became so car-dependent. A book that I have read which covers that history in depth in Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States by Kenneth T. Jackson.

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I’ve been cleaning my room for a while, and it’s still pretty bad. My goal is to be able to fit all of my possessions into this 10′ x 12′ room (it also has a 28″ x 36″ closet). I think it’s safe to say that Americans accumulate too much stuff, and though I’m not much of a consumer by that standard, I clearly have TOO MUCH STUFF. My room has been a pile, with a bed and desk embedded in it. I’ve always been a casual housekeeper, figuring if I can find things without frustration then it’s probably OK. But as my life has busied, I’ve become more negligent. This came after a few moves where I procrastinated and packed in a frenzy at the last minute, dragging boxes of disordered junk with me from place to place. Now I only work outside the house two days a week, and I’ve snapped into this mode of reorganizing and getting rid of things. At one point I recycled nearly half the contents of a 2-drawer filing cabinet (which hadn’t seen proper use in quite some time). Continue reading

New Stars release party this Saturday

newstars-flyer.jpgThe Illustration Show yesterday was fun; the good times lined up for this weekend include the New Stars release party this coming Saturday, which is where I’ll be. Check out the calendar over at Trees & Hills for other cool comics happenings of the future. Also don’t forget to stop by the Trees & Hills Distro to get your copy if you can’t make it to the party.

Here is some altruistic shilling for those who feel compelled to buy things for the still-distant winter holidays:

-Diane DiMassa‘s Hothead Paisan calendar – a must-have for any discerning household! Get one for you, and one for a friend.

-Anne Thalheimer’s chompy monster hats – another must-have! They come in a range of colors & styles and cost a mere $10 – email Anne for more info: motes at simons-rock dot edu.

[Downpower] Introduction

[Update 2014-06-21: Downpower was a secondary blog I kept briefly and have now merged into the main site.]

Welcome to my brand new blog (and eventually zine), Downpower! Here’s what it’s all about:

As the end of the brief, intense Oil Age approaches, we are in for some big changes; this journal is the chronicle of my efforts to adapt to these changes. Downpower, of course, refers to the need to use less energy – but it also refers to the need for power to be distributed evenly in small amounts rather than piled in the hands of a few. I originally conceived of this as a print zine, but started it as a blog to give myself a little more impetus to keep up with it. I’ll be writing about how I got to where I am; my current thoughts, schemes, goals, and readings; some essays & informational writing, and a journal of my actual activities and progress, peppered with drawings and comics (though there may be more of those in the print version than here online, along with some handwritten bits). I hope to be able to provide some sort of inspiration, and to show that although it may not happen all at once, change is possible. I believe that if enough of us can change in time, we can have a relatively pleasant low-energy future of bicycles, edible landscapes and local community instead of a fascistic ecocidal death-fest.

I hope you’ll join me!

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First post on the newly-redesigned site!

Hi, welcome to the latest version of my website! I’ve finally gotten around to converting it to run on WordPress, so it should be much easier for me to update and maintain. Also, you can leave comments all over the place! I haven’t yet re-uploaded some of the older stuff because it’s a lower priority, but I suppose I’ll get around to it at some point (probably not ’til I convert the Trees & Hills website to WordPress, though). The biggest content changes are that the Before Sleep archives are no longer viewable online in their entirety (but there’s a book on the way!), and that I have a new blog (& eventually zine) project called Downpower, which is about my efforts to live a happier, simpler life using less energy and fewer resources (yes, it will include some comics & drawings). You should be able to subscribe to this front-page “blog” via RSS if that’s your cup of tea, and I plan to post regularly about what I’m up to. Cheers!