Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Water, Water Nowhere, Still Not a Drop to Drink

Looks like that teeth-rotting lovey-dovey part of February's behind us now. Whew. "Eff that," even, as people too lazy to pronounce entire curse words might say. "Eff that in the em-effin' ey." Those people are weird.

I'll have some longer ramblings for you later this week - just as you've all no doubt been dying for more of - but today? Environment talk and another meme! Put down that baseball bat - you're thrilled, damn it.

I wrote about this last fall, but I figured I'd post an update, just so we can all bask in the glory of what continued climate change is doing to the American southeast. (Unless you're surrounded by water like Florida. I'll get you yet, Florida, you and your awesome manatees.)

To recap, for a long time, we've been caught in this ongoing cycle - every summer we enter drought conditions, and every autumn, we get enough rain to take care of that and leave us in comfortable condition, in regards to our water resources. As of 2007, this is no longer the case. We had a much worse summer than usual, with minimal rain. By the end, we were facing one of the worst droughts in a long time - and certainly the worst we've seen in the 13+ years we've lived here. We saw little rain over the fall, and winter hasn't changed that either. The situation? It is not looking so good.

Last fall, the state began passing restrictions on water use and emphasizing that each and every one of us should begin doing what we can to conserve. In following their instructions, my family and I became much more conscious of our water use, taking shorter showers, making sure to never leave water running, and so forth. We successfully lowered our water bill a decent bit. The majority of North Carolinians? They ignored the governor and continued to use water as though we weren't going through anything out of the ordinary. A-hyuck, if this here faucet-thinger still works, there must not be a prob'lem! Gub'mint's just tryin' to screw with us again! (Because yes, we're all backwater hicks. I'm simply an exception from the north, living in their midst and learning their ways. Sort of like a male Jane Goodall. Except stupid enough to rely on bad southern stereotypes for this routine when redneck jokes have never been funny.)

The wealthy, as mentioned in the past, continue to see watering their precious immaculate green lawns (Covered with lots of all-important pesticides to ensure that everyone knows how superior they are by the quantity of dead squirrels around their property.) as a guaranteed right, rather than the superficial bullshit it is. They haven't helped the water issue at all. And with few taking the situation seriously, we've had to curb our water usage even more.

As you can imagine, this includes some fairly unsavory sacrifices. Like no longer flushing the toilet as often. That's not exactly a pleasant sacrifice to make. We're also going to be placing one-liter plastic bottles in the back compartments of all our toilets to reduce water usage when flushing by close to that one liter, at least, which should help a smidgen. And in using the dishwasher even less, we've switched to using paper plates more often so we can simply toss them, while doing what dishes we need to in the sink. All inconvenient, but ultimately decent ways to reduce water use.

The question, however, still remains - will North Carolinians wake up to what we're dealing with before it's too late? At the rate things are going, we're going to end up in a state of emergency by early-mid summer unless people start conserving water more and we get some real rain in the coming months. Will it take losing our drinking water and the ability to practice regular, proper hygiene for people to open their eyes? I sure as hell hope not. Proper hydration, cleanliness, and clean teeth are not things I'd like to see become rare privileges. And I sure as hell don't see this administration doing much if and when we end up in a state of emergency here. They've sat on their hands and claimed they were helping while doing little when worse has occurred, after all, Hurricane Katrina in particular coming to mind, while the right likes to blindly sit back and say that New Orleans has made a full recovery, when in reality, no matter how you look at it, it hasn't. And at the rate things are going, it'll never be the same city it once was again.

This whole situation makes me hope all the more that I manage to make it into one of the grad schools I'm applying to - for either this August or next January - the sooner I can get up north and into an area where water is more plentiful again, the better.

With that thoroughly rambled about, onward to part two! Hye tagged me with this "Rules of Four" meme, so in the interest of helping you to Get to Know Your Blogger better, in pretending you're actually interested, here's my responses:

4 Jobs I have had:
Technically, I haven't had an actual paying job yet - and yes, I do realize how sad that is when I'm turning 24 in a couple of months. Granted, I am a "Blogger," with these eccentric ramblings of mine, or whatever they're worth, and I do have a minimum of advertising I'm not expecting to ever really make any money on in the end, but still, blogging is something, experience-wise. I also work as a reviewer over at Anime Dream, a geeky Japanese animation news and review site I've been a part of since summer 2002, though I haven't done much work there in a while. We take things at our own pace though, and I've got more stuff coming in the pipeline there yet. I also spent 7 months last year working as a Teaching Assistant at the North Carolina State University Japan Center, pretty much from as soon as I got home from my final semester of courses at Charlotte in May until a couple of weeks before Xmas. It wasn't for pay, but to fulfill some international experience requirements for graduation, and it was a worthwhile experience, meeting a lot of interesting people and getting to assist in low level Japanese language instruction. That's three, anyway. I don't have anything I can really put down as a 4th yet, but if I'm lucky, I'll be a published novelist by the end of 2008, so that should hopefully take care of that.

4 Movies I watched over and over:
There's a number of movies that qualify for this. The most frequent four though are definitely Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Last Life in the Universe. All wonderful movies, all highly recommended.

4 Shows I watch:
I watch a lot of shows, so these are tough picks. Going with two of my favorites in primetime, I'd have to say Pushing Daisies and Chuck. (Though The Office is way up there too.) And going with two of the three shows I watch nearly daily, The Daily Show and Colbert Report. (Though I watch Late Night with Conan O'Brien all the time too. The fake feud the three hosts orchestrated a little while back as an opportunity to kill time on all three of their shows before the strike ended last week was pretty hilarious.)

4 Places I have been:
I haven't been outside of the USA yet, so nowhere foreign, but I've been all over the east coast. I went to New York City on a 6th grade string orchestra trip back in the mid-'90s, and have wanted to return ever since. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland - though we left shortly afterwards - and back in summer 2002, after graduating from high school, I went on a weekend "returning to roots" trip of sorts up there with my father, and really enjoyed that city too. Definitely far more my kind of place than the south. Because I've had a lot of family down there, we used to go to Tampa, Florida every summer when I was a kid, so I've spent a good time in that part of the country. Florida's nice, but way too hot for my tastes. Fun to visit, but I couldn't live there. And that pretty much does it for vacation places, but I did spend the first decade of my life growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I still consider that to be my hometown, despite having lived in the south longer - this just isn't my place. (And if that doesn't count, I also went to Indianapolis, Indiana for an aunt's wedding when I was pretty young, though I don't remember much about it.)

4 People who email me:
I don't tend to get much in the way of personal email, but I occasionally get pictures and such in the mail from friends, particularly a good friend who's abroad, working in China now, after he was in Japan for a year not too long ago. He always has amusing stuff to share. Then I get messages from Facebook and livejournal on there, just for various notifications of things. And I get email from a few mailing lists I'm on - Robert Wexler's mailing list in working to check the Bush administration's power, Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac daily poetry and history mailing list, and the Human Rights Campaign mailing list, being a member of that as well.

4 Favorite Things to Eat:
This is a tough one. I love lots of different kinds of food, so picking a few favorites isn't easy. To take a stab at it, though, I love nikujaga - it's a wonderful Japanese stew of sorts that's hard to stop eating. I'm also quite fond of good, fresh sashimi - I love sushi in general, but biting into some well-prepared fresh raw tuna or salmon is pretty incredible. I'm also quite fond of Japanese gyoza dumplings (As well as Chinese shumai dumplings.), though I usually only have the frozen kind. And to throw something more western in there, I love cheese ravioli with a good tomato sauce - Italian sausage in it is always a nice plus, too.

4 Places I would rather be:
I haven't traveled enough to easily throw a list like this together. I'd love to see Japan and what I can of Asia in general, though. Same goes for Europe and Canada. And visiting South America - especially Brazil - would no doubt be a fantastic experience. Though at this point, my main geographical focus in my life right now is more in the New England area.

4 Things I look forward to this year:
Hopefully watching the Republicans suffer a crushing defeat in the November election so we can get a serious start on repairing the decades' worth of damage the Bush administration has done to this country and world, for one. I'd also really like to get into a grad school and finally get out of the south. I'm also looking forward to hopefully getting my first novel published, if things actually go well at all after finishing it, though I'm not exactly counting on a response from the woman I'm writing it for this year - not that I'm holding my breath for it to be a positive response I get from her anyway, rejection being what's to be realistically expected. And in and of hoping to get my first book published this year, I'm looking forward to hopefully getting my first paycheck then as well. (And not so much the part where if I do indeed get into grad school, I end up buried up to my neck in debt for the next several years at least.)

Well, that's that. I'm no good at the tagging part of these things, so hey, if you're looking to tell your readers more about yourself, feel free to consider yourself tagged by me and have at it! Hopefully all that random information didn't bore you too much.


Adam Maillet said...

nice rambling! I'm definitely looking forward to the Republican defeat.

I too would like to go to Japan, g-d i'd really like to take a mf'ing trip to Japan.

Good luck getting into grad school. having just graduated in May I can say, with confidence, College > work.

And just to prove I'm not weird: fuck.

Benjamin Fennell said...

Thanks! That tends to be my usual focus. I don't write about gaming too often, but when I do, I try to put interesting twists on it for the general public. I'm still planning to do a spotlight post on quirky games I played in 2007 worth noting at some point - far as we're getting from '07 now, as I'd intended it to be a January post before - regardless of whether said games were actually released in '07. But yeah, same here. I'm a Kucinich supporter myself, but whether I have to vote for Hillary or Obama in the end - preferably Obama at this point - I'm looking forward to either of them in the White House in finally being rid of Bush.

Yeah, I actually got into a university in Japan to study abroad years ago, but I couldn't go since I couldn't get any scholarships to pay for it. One of my friends made it into the same school though, Oita University, the same guy who's in China now, and he related lots of interesting tales and pictures to me via the internet while he was there, at least. I swear I will get over there at some point yet, whether on vacation, or on a book tour or something, if I can make it as a novelist.

Thanks, I'm at least applying to Boston University and trying to find another one with a creative writing MFA program with an early March deadline to apply to. If I don't get into either for August, I'll shift my focus to January admissions. Whatever it takes. I just graduated in December after finishing the last of my classes last spring, after spending 5 years in college - would've graduated in '06 were I not a slacker, and fond of taking side classes for credits that didn't really contribute to my major itself too heavily. I'd definitely like to be in college full time for another year or two while working on my writing career and enjoying health insurance and time to relax before I've gotta bite the bullet and find some kind of job I'm cut out for, since it'll probably be a long time before I'd ever be able to live off book royalties - if ever.

Excellent, excellent. Sometimes proof like that is necessary. Hell, we've both spent enough time on the GameFAQs boards to know how disturbing the internet can get.

Larry Powell said...

Hi Benjamin.
I feel your pain in some of the thoughts you express in "Water, Water..." I sometimes despair at the cavalier attitude of too many people when it comes to protecting our precious and vanishing water, not to mention the battle against climate change.
I'd like to post a link to your blog on mine, if I may.
Just let me know by emailing me at
My own blog is at
Thanks for your attention!
Larry Powell

Benjamin Fennell said...

I'd definitely like you to post that link. Small and off-the-radar as this blog is, I can always use more publicity and referrals. And water conservation is a plenty serious issue as is. Thanks for noticing the blog, at any rate.