The Things I Carried

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first_imgLive simply.It’s something I’ve always preached, one of the few things I’ll stand on my soapbox for and the underlying principle behind Live Outside and Play.In fact, I feel so strongly about the importance of living simply that I actually included it in a presentation I gave this week to a group of students from Garrett College.“Live simply,” I told them. “If you can learn to be happy with less, you’ll find more fulfillment in your lives.”I stand behind that statement and, judging from the number of nods-in-agreement that I got from the students, I think most of them do as well. But after the presentation, I opened the door to my Jeep and immediately felt like the biggest hypocrite that ever walked the face of this planet.Sweatshirts, empty cardboard boxes, a bag of almonds, hand lotion, old batteries. My passenger seat was literally buried beneath a heap of stuff.Now, I’ve never been one for OCD levels of organization. In general, my life is perfectly content to exist as, what I like to call, “organized chaos.” What may at first glance appear to be nothing more than a pile of crap is actually my organizational system. You can ask me where anything in my car is and, usually, I can tell you exactly where to find it, down to which pocket of which Deuter pack you’ll find my blue Petzl headlamp.I think I’m okay with this approach because, in general, that pile of organized chaos only contains the stuff I need. But on further inspection of my passenger seat, I realized that I had a number of things with me that were just that – things. They had no real intended purpose and I hadn’t touched them in the seven months I’d been on the road. Why had I let these things sit here for so long, cluttering up what little living space I had?The truth is, we’re all hoarders in some capacity, perhaps not to the extent that you associate the word “hoarding” with, but regardless of how simply we try to live, stuff accumulates and surprisingly quickly, too. With houses and apartments though, you can hide that hoarding pretty well. Basements and attics and crawl spaces, sheds and garages overflowing with items who’s sole purpose is to sit and collect dust. Boxes, junk drawers, baskets for old bank statements. Whether we’re out buying new things every week or not, somehow, we magically end up with more stuff than we know what to do with.Living on the road only heightens my awareness of how often this happens. I can’t live in denial about it, because that junk sits right there in the passenger seat, staring me in the face. Yet somehow, I haven’t fixed the problem. No matter how many times I clean the Jeep, all it takes is a weekend of adventuring, a few days at a festival, really anything, and it’s back to looking like an overflowing storage shed. Granted, yes, I know other people have the same issue with their cars. Even when I wasn’t living on the road, I always felt like my car acted as a second closet of sorts, a catch-all for anything and everything I might need if I was away from my house for more than a day – sleeping bags, extra sets of clothes, dishes, running shoes. It was like a yard-sale-on-wheels.But as I sat there staring at what once was my passenger seat, I decided I needed to end this once and for all, even if it was just one baby step at a time.That night, I took the first 10 things I laid eyes on and spread them out on the floor. The goal? To get rid of one thing from that pile.As I picked up each item and held it in my hand, I realized that my problem was worse than I initially thought. Not only had I let this junk accumulate, but I’d actually gone as far as to associate a memory, an emotion, an attachment to this stuff.There was the coffee mug I bought for $5 during a trip to Asheville with my best friend, a photograph of the Blue Ridge Mountains at sunrise that I’d taken on my first day of road life, a bar of handmade soap from my best friends’ wedding, a customized pocket mirror my great-grandfather made for my great-grandmother (family heirlooms warrant attachment), a palm-reader-doohickey my mother gave me during our two weeks together on the road, my first pocket knife (heavy as it is), the purple spork I’d taken to the Amazon, an empty harmonica box I’d bought with my father at Cracker Barrel (for the record, there was a harmonica in it at one point), and last but not least my road warrior Tang, a hand carved jaguar I bought on the streets of Brazil.Part of me didn’t want to get rid of any of it – they represented such positive moments in my life, memories I never wanted to forget. But the other part of me screamed, “Just throw it away and be done with it!”I mean, think about it, do I really need any of those things? Even the pocket knife I’d never used for anything more than opening boxes and spreading peanut butter. The answer is, obviously, no, but throwing the entire lot in the trash would have been a drastic step.Nonetheless, I was committed to my goal and decided to part ways with the empty harmonica box. I shed a little tear as I watched it slide down the walls of the trash can but knew that the decision was for the best – my goal now is to continue downsizing, one piece of crap at a time.###What are your thoughts on living simply? Any tips for eliminating junk from your life? I’d love to hear what you have to say!last_img read more

Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC) in 2014

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first_imgIn 2014 the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) encountered its share of challenges and constraints due primarily to the deadly Ebola virus and some funding gaps.One major challenge faced by LWSC and the bane of most large and small entities throughout the nation is the cost of power supply needed to operate. In the case of LWSC, the management relies on one major power supply source, a 1700 kilowatt diesel generator that consumes enormous fuel oil to the detriment of the Corporation.Not only is the cost of fuel oil for a large scale operation like LWSC prohibitive, but the maintenance cost on its generator is equally considerable.The Corporation continued to encounter technical breakdowns during 2014 thus hindering the pumping of safe drinking water into Monrovia and its environs.The popular slogan ‘Big Water Today and Small Water Tomorrow’ is used by LWSC customers with an equal mix of approval and dissatisfaction as the system made some significant strides and stumbles in the provision of safe drinking in some critical parts of MonroviaLWSC undertook several water development projects in urban Monrovia and some rural parts of Liberia signifying that the Liberian Government has some degree of confidence in the current management of LWSC, well-placed sources in the Corporation told the Daily Observer. These sources say plans are underway to ensure that before end of the year 2015 an additional generating unit will be installed in order to enhance the provision of safe drinking water to Monrovia and its environs. LWSC executives told the Daily Observer that the funds for the procurement will be provided by the Liberian Government.Such confidence was manifested during the year under review when the Liberian Government provided funds to rehabilitate the 112 damaged kiosks (hand pumps) in various communities and 43 public latrines, reflecting a sixty percent increase in access to safe drinking water in deprived communities in Monrovia.The renovated latrines were turned over last year to the General Services Agency (GSA).Another success story of the LWSC was its improved billing and customer service which have provided a significant increase in cash flow, permitting the Corporation to utilize funds provided through government budget to be utilized for capital expenditure.Meanwhile the LWSC’s Board of Directors has also continued to monitor and provide substantive oversight of Liberia’s prime water agency.A heightened level of government confidence and financial reporting have led other stakeholders such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank to show support for the management of LWSC.With regard to outstation facilities, three city water projects are being funded by USAID under the Liberia Municipal Water Project (LMWP). A 12 hour regular water supply has been restored to Kakata City in Margibi County and improved access via a two-kilometer pipeline for services to Robertsport in Grand Cape Mount County is to be completed within the next two weeks.Technical officials of the LWSC also disclosed that the subsequent phase in the next 18 months is to cover the rest of Robertsport with Voinjama City and Sanniquellie City scheduled for 18 to 24 months hence.However, under the AfDB project for Zwedru, Kakata and Buchanan Cities, the sanitation works commenced but were suspended due to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease in the country.Meanwhile Monrovia, which comprises a significant portion of the nation’s population, continues to experience an insufficient supply of safe drinking water.Under a 90-day program it is planned that by the end of March 2015, central Monrovia should have increased access to the same level of services now being experienced by the rural parts of Monrovia and its environs.The 90 day action plan which was previously underway but stalled due to funding constraints, will improve water access in the areas of Randall, Broad, Carey, Ashmun and Newport streets, Mamba Point as well as Clara Town.When the renovation works for the Water Treatment Plant at White Plains have been tendered in early 2015 and are completed within 12 months, the citizens and residents of Monrovia will enjoy a three hundred percent increase in potable water, according to LWSC management.Other ChallengesIn 2014 LWSC continued to be challenged with limited sewer services, inadequate equipment including de-slugging trucks on one hand and beleaguered on the other by citizens’ apathy, failure to report damages to distribution lines and water theft.In spite of these perennial setbacks, water supply to Monrovia increased from four million gallons per day to six million gallons and 12 hours pumping schedule during the year under review, according to top LWSC’s officialsThe officials also explained that, for the second year in a row, its customers have come to expect the delivery of water as a norm, rather than an exception.The Managing Director of LWSC, Mr. Charles B. Allen, during an interview with this newspaper, assured Liberians, foreign residents and customers that the greater Monrovia will in the near future be connected to the system’s water delivery services in homes and business entities.He disclosed that construction work has resumed on the 36 inch pipeline from the White Plains Plant in Careyburg to several parts of central Monrovia intended to enhance the smooth delivery of safe drinking water.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more