Thinking back to my days as a little boy, remembering how things were and comparing them to the way things are now I really see just how fast and immensely things have changed and are changing.
I was born in Kansas City, Mo and moved at the age of 5 to Independence, Mo - home of Harry S. Truman. My parents had bought a typical post WWII tract house at the edge of the growing suburbs similar in style to all the others around it. When we moved in we were at the absolute edge of urban sprawl. Everything west of us was developed. Everything east was rural farmland.
It was a great environment to be a young boy growing up. There were cornfields to get lost in, woods to explore and build tree houses and forts in and grapevines to swing on while imagining yourself as being Tarzan. As the sprawl continued its endless march east there were plenty of abandoned buildings awaiting demolition to explore and set up temporary clubhouses to hang out. By the time I finished grade school most of this "playground" in the range of a boy on a bicycle was gone as the city continued its endless drive eastward. Gravel roads were converted first to 2-lane paved ones which soon gave way to 4-lane ones. By high school graduation the edge of the city was some 7 to 8 miles further east and the expansion was and still is continuing with no end in site.
During the 15 years my wife Kathy and I lived and traveled in Asia I wrote about the degree of change I witnessed there. Let me share that with you.
Written Wed, Feb 16, 2005
Time is funny. Each time we return to Bangkok, we’re always hit with the amount of changes happening.We've been back from Asia for about 9 years living in Seattle. While we were gone the city changed and grew tremendously. In the years since we've been back that change has continued. It's always called progress but as I reflect on the changes around me I'm not so sure it's the correct term. If birds could talk I have a sneaky suspicion that progress is not the word they would use to describe the changes either.
Where once there was a two-lane country road lined with trees leading from our apartment to the school there is now a ten-lane major artery complete with overpass. Looking out our 7th floor balcony, where once we saw rice paddies and trees, I can count over 20 new high-rise buildings constructed since moving in 7 years ago.
Since our return from Taitung, Taiwan 3 weeks ago, there have been two major construction projects begun within a stone’s throw of the balcony. Where once we could gaze on trees below, we now gaze on worker’s shacks and a huge pile driver. Instead of hearing birds chirping early in the morning we now awaken to the sound of that pile driver beating huge concrete support beams into the earth and hammers driving nails. Soon there will be another high-rise dotting the horizon visible from it.
Where once we used to breathe relatively clean air from that balcony, more often than not we close the door to block out the stench of smoky, smoggy dust-filled air that surrounds us. From that balcony, around dusk, it’s common to see the sun glow eerily red before setting, an indication of the amount of pollution in the air.
When we first got home, I was in our bedroom with the balcony door open and was surprised by a disoriented bird that flew into the room. He banged into the wall, flopped around for about half a minute, regained his bearings and quickly flew back out. I thought to myself, “Was he invading my home or was I invading his?”
These past 3 weeks I can vividly remember three occasions the air being so putrid I was having difficulty breathing.
Last night was one of those nights. As I lay awake in bed smelling the stale air, my thoughts went back to last Saturday night. We were out with friends doing karaoke in celebration of Kathy’s birthday. (It was a blast, by the way!) Anyway Chow, a Thai friend of ours, is a big wig in the auto industry and routinely travels to Hong Kong, Mainland China and India with his work. In the course of our conversation he stated an amazing statistic. He said his company estimates that by 2010 China will be buying a whopping 5 million new cars a month!! Yes, a month!!
While lying in bed my thoughts float to cities we’ve traveled to in the past. Hanoi, where 9 years ago we traveled around by bicycle as did 95% of the rest of the city’s population. Now we have heard it is 95% motorcycle.
Beijing, where we peddled on bicycle freeways totally segregated from motorized vehicles. Now we’ve heard this freeway system is being systematically dismantled to make room for wider streets.
My thoughts then switch to a message I’d received that
day from a friend now teaching in Moscow. He said
traffic there is sometimes worse than Bangkok. I
wonder about similar changes taking place in thousands
of other cities and towns around the globe.
Then my thoughts drift to a fading childhood memory -
of how fresh air smelled early in the morning while
growing up in the outskirts of Kansas City. I wonder
if that smell still exists today or if it’s been
permanently altered. Have I forgotten how fresh air
really smells? Does it really still exist?
As I begin to get sleepy my thoughts shift to the issue of global warming and to the Kyoto Treaty on CO2 emissions. (It came into effect today by the way. The US has not signed it. It has no intention of signing it. It makes one really proud to be an American.)
Then I enter a dream state. I’m engulfed in a nightmare.
I’m one of a flock of birds flying into the newly
arisen high-rise outside our balcony. Before I hit
it, I bolt upright. Sweating and breathing deeply, I
once again smell the fetid air permeating our bedroom.
I turn on the air-conditioner hoping for a little
filtered relief and eventually drift off back into an
A question to ponder....When has capitalism conserved
I’m thinking we should change our national bird from
the soaring bald eagle to the chicken. It can’t fly
so it can’t be harmed by the high-rises!!!!
The Church of the Holy Shitters will post articles on our holy S.H.I.T. day ( So Happy It's Thursday)
Last week 3/7/13: Stop Plugging Away and Start Unplugging Away
Next week 3/21/13: I Have a Dream - A Newer New Deal
Hoping to add some humor, provoke thought, spark debate, deepen understanding, and shed some light on the fecal side.Remember: "If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit." ( Shitbit by Poop John the First of the Church of the Holy Shitters)Church of the Holy ShittersA secular environmental religion, scientifically based, with a focus on the psychology of it all. Our ego is the culprit when it comes to dealing with climate change. We cannot save the planet. We can only save ourselves. Our current egotistical self-perception makes that prospect a dubious one at best. Meekness, humility and a realization that our shit does stink, guides us on our path to true sustainable living and climate equilibrium.
Originally posted on http://holyshitters.com/