Monthly Archives: June 2009

A lesson in patience and persistence.

The past two weeks have been chock-full of lessons.

The first was a lesson in time management. Last week, I ended up with eight assignments for the Town-Crier, six with bylines. The first was a photography assignment at Whole Foods in Wellington on Saturday, June 13. The event was an arts and crafts project where children made Father’s Day cards by marbling paper with shaving cream. I ran around writing down every child’s name and age, then realized later that I didn’t need their ages. My editor actually scolded me for including ages in cutlines. That was my lesson on knowing how much I need to do before I go into an assignment so that I don’t kill myself for nothing.

The second was another photography assignment later that same Saturday at Palm Beach International Raceway. I stood in the hot sun for two hours with nary a race to be seen. The cars were late getting on to the track, and it was pushing 110 degrees. I, being the brain surgeon I am, was dressed in jeans and a polo shirt in an attempt to look semi-professional. I sweltered, and that was my lesson in properly thinking through my attire.

The third assignment was on Monday morning at Wycliffe Golf and Country Club. The USGA was holding a junior girls’ qualifier that I was assigned to photograph. I got to the location and was offered a driver and golf cart to take me out to the sixteenth and seventeenth holes. I took three shots and realized that there was something wrong with my camera. Luckily I live 10 minutes from Wycliffe. The driver of the golf cart was gracious enough to drive me to my car. I sped home, diagnosed the issue and hurried back. That was my lesson in testing my equipment before heading out on assignment.

Three of the other assignment were basic enough to the point where I was not very involved with them. One was a meeting of the Acreage Landowners Association, where I was instructed to write a wrap-up of the event. That was my lesson in plundering articles from the past that relate to mine.

Two of the assignments were opinion pieces. One was about fireworks. I busted my hump putting together safety tips and information about Fourth of July events in the western communities. Apparently it sucked. The Executive Editor went through and changed everything. I was disappointed, but that was my lesson in writing down instructions and paying more attention. That was also a lesson in keeping my mouth shut. The second opinion piece was a topic that I suggested: Father’s Day. I think I wrote a pretty good one there. The article was pointed, and I wasn’t just spewing out facts the way I tried to with the fireworks bit. The difference, I believe, was that the fireworks opinion wasn’t mine, but the Father’s Day one was. That was my lesson in putting my heart into everything I write and finding an angle I’m happy with.

Right now, I’m trying to write an article about the school grades that were released last week. Three high schools in the western communities dropped a grade level, although one maintained the same number of points from last year. I’ve been trying to contact the principals of these three schools for two days, but they will not call me back. I finally decided to ambush them this afternoon. One scheduled a meeting for me early tomorrow morning, and I left messages with the other two. This has been my lesson in patience and persistence. I’m not going to stop until I speak to all three of the principals tomorrow morning.

Hybrid vehicles.

The following is a rough drafted opinion for a weekly assignment that I’ve been given where I have to write an opinion to respresent the entire Town-Crier staff. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Soon enough, more Americans will be worrying about charge time rather than gas mileage as we look for better alternatives to rising gas prices and the nation turns to electric vehicles. Many Americans seem to have forgotten the $4 gas prices every driver faced last summer. Slumps in the cost per barrel of oil saw us growing complacent this past winter, and now with prices on their way steadily back to where they were before we seem to once more be growing aware of our options.

The United States government aims to make all new vehicles more fuel efficient, calling for manufacturers to produce cars, trucks and sport-utility vehicles that achieve 35 miles per gallon (mpg) or better by 2020. However, the European Union is already well ahead of this: manufacturers in the EU chose in 2008 to voluntarily raise their standard average to 44.2 mpg. The U.S. has lagged behind, with resistant automakers that have for years lobbied against a change finally giving in to the demands of an increasingly power-hungry market. But the power that Americans are hungry for has switched from muscle to plug.

It is time for American automakers to redesign the outdated stereotype of what makes a good automobile. We have for generations been ingrained with the mantra of “bigger is better.” Now with the Hummer brand being sold to Chinese company Tengzhong and General Motors filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the matter has become more urgent. Where Americans used to call for bigger engines — a 10-cylinder Dodge here, a 12-cylinder Aston Martin there — they are now calling for more reliance on electricity and less on gas.

For those who are truly concerned about their bank accounts — and the condition of our planet — hybrid and electric vehicles are looking more and more appealing by the day. The 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid boasts an impressive 51 mpg on city roads and 48 mpg on the highway. In fact, a local Toyota technician recently made headlines when he took a lithium ion-powered Prius, which will be available in 2011, from Lake Park to Washington, D.C. in 11 days on 11 gallons of gas.

Toyota also proved that hybrid vehicles could be luxurious by releasing several vehicles on their Lexus line with hybrid engines. The arrival of hybrid luxury vehicles is another step towards convincing often-dubious American consumers of the benefits of a marriage between electricity and gasoline. And with Tesla Motors’ release of their Roadster, a high-performance vehicle that runs entirely on electricity, Americans should be ready to admit that perhaps it would be okay for the Corvette to get a hybrid makeover.

With the technology available, why are we so resistant to the change that is inevitable? It cannot possibly be that style will be sacrificed for efficiency. We can see that in the design of the Chevrolet Volt, which moved quickly from a sporty electric concept vehicle to a more practical four-door sedan, reminiscent of newer Malibus, and is proposed to run on a lithium ion battery.

We have waited too long already to decrease our dependency on oil. Americans are going to have to bite the bullet and accept that electric vehicles are not going away and should be embraced. It is the best way for us to achieve the 2020 deadline without losing our brands or our style.