Welcome to the mountains of California where we enjoy winter in the spring and spring in the winter. It is only appropriate that the seasons get all mixed up at times because we humans get mixed up sometimes too. Seasons out of season are a sign of the perfectly natural harmonic connection that exists between the ambiguities of certain kinds of human thought and behavior and the ambiguities we find in our topsy-turvy weather. I know, that sentence is too abstract and poetic for the Twitter Age.
Some friends of mine who live on Pacific Avenue in San Francisco said it was absolutely nuts up there a few weeks ago when Obama was in town visiting some of his rich friends in Pacific Heights. As far as I know, Barrack did not meet with any poor people while he was in the city by the bay. That stands to reason. Poor people don’t have any money, and politicians like to go where the money is. In San Francisco that place is Pacific Heights.
When Obama showed up at his friends’ mansion (we can be sure it wasn’t to help them with their taxes), traffic jams and crowds almost trapped locals in their homes, and they definitely had a hard time getting in and out. But it wasn’t just because the president was in the neighborhood. The Keystone pipeline protestors showed up in force, clogging the arteries. They were carrying signs with all kinds of slogans written with magic markers made from petroleum by-products, which is pretty hilarious considering the protestors were expressing their opposition to the distribution of fossil fuels. Some of them were wearing sunglasses too, which are made with petroleum goodies.
Protestors have good reason to object to oil pipelines. The Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound in Alaska and the Gulf oil spill come to mind. But those incidents were due to alcohol and human error more than a protestor’s demand for magic markers.
If anti-fossil fuel activists get their way then they might realize the fact that their everyday life, including their politics, would be impossible without oil. They would not be able to get ready in the morning for the next protest march because they wouldn’t find any soap, shampoo or hair brushes. Yes, almost every item in the bathroom is a direct result of studying chemical compounds derived from oil and developing and producing useful, necessary, everyday products. I support the continuing education of protestors 100 percent.
Without oil we would have no ski goggles or skis, no hot tub covers, and no children’s playgrounds at Commons Beach or in the schools. There would be no skateboard wheels, no mosquito repellant and no first-aid kits. There would be no hearing aids, no heart valves and no artificial limbs for amputees, and no insulated boots. There would be no casinos because oil derivatives are also used to make poker chips and playing cards.
Without the benefit of fossil fuels there would be very little music in the world. Piano and guitar strings would not exist, nor would guitar picks. There would be no CDs and no Pandora, because there would be no computers! And, there would be no Frisbees! I could waste an entire 700 word column listing essential, everyday products made from oil.
There are non-oil-based alternatives to some of the products we use every day, but not for all of them. It is hard to say, but I figure if we switched over completely to non-oil-based products, and quit drilling for oil to protect the environment, it would put us back somewhere in the early 1800s as far as lifestyle and quality of life are concerned.
Frankly, I wouldn’t mind that at all. The only problem is, the countries that decide to continue with modern life and technology would pulverize us in a flash.
Nobody ever said life was perfect. If life was fair and common sense ruled the world, everybody would have “Obama lied” bumper stickers on their cars by now.
What did he lie about? The different climate he would bring to politics, for one.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 30 years.