Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Starbucks - just like Denny's?

Pretty soon after my observation about Denny’s it struck me that Starbucks is more similar than I would like to think. The corporate machine is still selecting the music, they are just doing a much better job of it than Denny’s. The products are homogenised and are not particularly healthy, though some healthy options are available. Don’t get me wrong, I like Starbucks, especially the Chai Tea (mainly sugar), the atmosphere and the polite staff. I used to like the free internet too but I’ve realised this is just a US thing.

I put the similarities of Starbucks and Denny’s to a Starbucks barista in Cambridge Borders recently (she was American). I guess it was a little offensive!

I’m surprised that, since my long hike, rather than coming back with senses dulled to commercialism I am far more attuned to noticing it than ever. I think it may be that living a simple life in a tent for some months, with a need to stay aware of wildlife around you, leads to a different kind of awareness of my environment. I don’t really understand it.

I was recently on the 26th floor of a building in San Francisco and in a spare moment took time to admire the view. I had not seen so many man-made structures for a long time. In the forest, a man-made shape, like a signpost or something, stands out. You see it from a long way off and notice it quickly as something out of place in the environment, mainly because of a more regular shape than you commonly see in nature. Looking out from a skyscraper in San Francisco was quite a contrast. Up there I played a game of counting how many iPod billboards I could see. I recall it being about 5 just from standing in one spot. So, this is what we did with our environment. We built such thriving metropolises and then came up with media channels to stoke up furious demand for buying the goods which keeps the whole thing going. I can’t get my head around how these realisations feel coming from the forest and the mountains, I just find that I cannot stop noticing them. And noticing too the people furiously buying things and, you know, not looking very happy despite the things.

Last night I signed up to Freecycle. This is an international network of local groups of people who give things away for free. People who recognise the horror of landfill sites and want to do what they can to avoid their unwanted stuff ending up there. It seems like an excellent idea to me. I got onto this because I really need a computer printer and went out yesterday to buy a used one. The guy in the second hand shop on Mill Rd advised me to buy a cheap bubblejet from Argos. What a horror. Those bubblejets are scandalous in their use of ink, allegedly more expensive than the most expensive perfume. What really gets to me about them isw that they are so disposable, almost as bad as plastic bags. So, I am now seeking some kind of printer from Freecycle. We’ll see how it goes.


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