Thursday, February 26

Stroller Shop 1 - Evenflo Journey



Total Grade:
Safety:
This uses only a three point harness, which can cause severe difficulty when the little terror leans out to grab things off shelves, or when he is straining to get out. It is also fairly large, which makes it difficult to lift when it is occupied. It doesn't tip, however, and the small plastic window on the top of the canopy allows for great child observation. The mosquito net is nice also, and keeps the demon at bay.

Durability/Terrain:
This has those cheap plastic wheels which I hate, but it has four on the front, which swivel. This is a nice arrangement which makes maneuvering easier. It handles fairly well on the road, but doesn't do well in confined spaces, like stores or elevators. Off-roading? Forget about it. It has held up fairly well under daily, consistent use, although the front wheels are starting to go. Snow is a bit of a joke, and doesn't work well, particularly with the tiny wheels.

Cargo Space:

The storage space underneath is great, allowing for quite a bit in the way of groceries or other stuff. The parental cup holder is really nice, although the larger cups don't fit (but who really needs a large Coke anyway?). The child table thing is great, and swings out of the way when you need to get him out. It doesn't really have any other storage or pockets, though.

Price/Accessories:
This stroller is incredibly cheap, pretty much everywhere. Particularly if you buy JUST the stroller, and not the whole travel system. The travel system is the only 'accessory' which makes them relatively useless without a car.

Aesthetics:

There are those who think this stroller is cute. I am not one of them. The only thing going for it is that the fabric pattern we got has cute little elephants on it (Safari them). Otherwise... it is pretty much a basic, boring stroller.

Aggregate of Online Web Reviews:
This uses reviews from Amazon.com, Kmart.com, Epinions.com and Buzzillions.com.

Bus Envy - First International Example

I picked this up from Treehugger. Bus Envy is that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you glance out the window of your friends house to see the third bus in an hour drive by, at 7 pm on a Sunday evening, when your bus stops service completely at 5. On a broader scale, it occurs when you are visiting another city, and realize that their mass transit system is better than yours because of its frequency/schedule/fare price/small crowds/etc. It happens to just about everyone who uses mass transit frequently, just about everywhere, as no system anywhere is perfect. I intend to examine Bus Envy more closely in the future, but saw this shiny new train as a perfect example.

I could just see that flying down the I 15 corridor, going 185. I'm turning green already.

Wednesday, February 25

Why Go Carless?

We are often asked, and very rarely have time to fully explain the answer, “Why don’t you have a car?”

A portion of the reasons people ask this question, I suspect, is societal. It isn’t just an America thing, as many people go without a functioning vehicle in major cities across the nation, so much as it is a question that stems from living on the fringes of a city. Salt Lake County is heavily Suburban, with the occasional patch that is Urban and (rarely) Rural. Much of this change has occurred within the last ten to twenty years, and Salt Lake has grown significantly with the housing boom of this decade. Although the area we live in is only mostly Suburban (we are on the fringe of Sugarhouse, a “second downtown” if you will), many people in the area consider a car a necessary part of life. Here then, are some of the answers, in no particular order:

  • Cars cost a great deal of money. During the Great Oil Scam of 2008, my older brother was paying almost as much for his car as we were paying for our two bedroom apartment in a nice part of town. The monthly expenses really add up. Most people hear this and think “Car Payment. Big deal,” but there is a lot more to it than that. In addition to a car payment, there is also Gas, Insurance, and other Maintenance, not to mention the dreaded Unforeseeables, expenses you must pay in order to keep driving, but can’t plan on in advance, such as significant repairs, parking tickets, speeding tickets, and so on. Joseph estimated that he was paying between $600 and $700 for his car. We pay about $800 for our apartment (and that includes utilities).
  • Lack of Licenses. Neither Holly or I have a Driver’s License, we both have State ID’s instead. The reasons for this are numerous, and include an unfortunate accident involving a dog, one of the dreaded Unforeseeables mentioned above, the extra cost involved with paying for a license instead of an ID, and more.
  • Avoiding Addiction. This one is hard to explain to people who have never gone without a car. They don’t realize just how much they depend on it to get from where they are to where they think they want to go. It’s a beautiful February day, highs in the mid 50’s, but instead of walking to the store, the bulk of the population gets in their cars and drive. For a whole quarter mile! What a waste. Which brings me to my next point,
  • Focusing on the Journey. When you drive a car, you miss the fine details, the pretty little houses and the fun things on the side of the road. You don’t walk past the park and decide to turn in for a few minutes to play in the grass. You don’t get the opportunity to even consider stopping to smell the flowers, because you just ran them over at thirty five miles an hour. Life is a little slower paced, you can relax a little more, and when you are with your family it gives you a few extra minutes of time together before you go your separate ways.
  • Reading Time. This is not to say I walk everywhere; I work several miles from home, and walking would not really be a feasible option. So, I take the bus! Driving this distance takes about twenty five minutes, depending on time of day. On the bus, it takes me roughly fifty minutes, which includes walking time and waiting time. Most of this time I spend reading, which drives Holly bonkers, as I finish a book or two a week. I wouldn’t get any of this time if I drove, because as soon as I get to work/home I have things to day or a kid to play with.
  • Philosophy. I firmly believe that the lifestyle of the suburbs is a significant portion of the reason behind many of America’s problems in the world today. I also firmly believe that the rise of the automobile in the lives of Americans has directly led to and aided the rise of Suburbia. I believe that if I take my time and walk more, ride the bus, and try to avoid the pitfalls of the suburban lifestyle, my life will be better for it. I believe that one person can make a difference, and through small, careful steps, can bring about change for the better. I believe that intentionally going carless is a major part of this, and can only hope that through this blog I can help influence others to change their lives for the better also.

These things do not necessarily make living without a car any easier, but knowing the reasons why changes the direction of the debate. There are many negatives to being carless, but few (if any) of them are insurmountable challenges. Finding creative solutions to these challenges is part of the fun!


Weekly Format

I'm working on establishing a regular format and trying to figure out what I have enough of to last over the course of several weeks/months before I run out of material on a given topic (this may not ever happen, as I learn more and more and constantly have new adventures). Part of the point of this blog is to present new information in a way that can't be found other places, with a perspective that carefully looks at things like new technology, products, and other news. As a result, I'd like to be more informed than your average blog, and am trying to bring a shape to the long term result. A rough idea of my schedule is below. I make no promises to adhere to this 100%, although I will try to err on the side of more consistent posting than this, rather than less.

Monday: Personal Opinions and Ideas
Tuesday: Technology and Developments
Wednesday: The Path and Perspectives
Thursday: Random, if any. This is my D&D day, so I'm busy.
Friday: Product Comparisons and Reviews.
Saturday: Random, if any. This is either Date night or my other D&D day, so I'm busy.
Sunday: Random, if any.

Tuesday, February 24

Purpose behind the Blog

H and I were looking for strollers in an attempt to find a reasonably priced Double Stroller for R and the Hatchling. We have time, and don't have money until June or July, but advance knowledge prevents stupid decisions, so we started looking into it, and we realized: We don't have a car, and this effects everything.

Most parents, when shopping for a stroller, are looking for something for part time usage, something they can use once in a while on a jaunt through the park, or a trip to the mall. As a result, the reviews and perspectives published (and considered most useful) on various shopping sites are fundamentally useless to us. We, as carless parents, need a stroller that folds up in the time it takes us to see the bus, get the kid out, and have it ready before the bus rolls up. As carless parents, we need a stroller that fits through the narrow doorway of our apartment (30 inches), as we will be rushing in out of the cold. A stroller ideal for carless parents includes airless rubber tires (the cheap plastic kind wear out, the air-filled kind get holes), an undercarriage (to place groceries, diaper bags, coats, leftovers, etc), a cupholder (ha!), and more. All for less than it costs to just buy a car, please.

After searching the blogosphere, we realized: there simply isn't a website that does what we want: researches strollers or baby wraps or the logistics of juggling ten bags of groceries on the long walk home. One that discusses the vagaries of life as parents without a car. One that investigates how being carless effects your relationship with your kids, your neighbors, your family, your life. One that is willing to look at a life exposed to the elements all year round, exposed to the dangers of the mass transit system, construction in the area, and what (not) to do if you get stranded three miles from home in the middle of the night on Valentine's Day, with Number 2 on the way.

So that's the basic idea. If you feel we are missing anything, or skipping stuff, or there is a slew of products out there we haven't looked at or talked about yet, this is the place to comment to that effect.
Family Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin
Share/Save/Bookmark