Consumer Society

Who is in charge, the piles or me?

It is always unpleasant to realize when we are no longer the true masters of our destiny. Ceding our freedom to things, and their entanglements, is a struggle for most of us in lands of affluence. I confronted this struggle intensely this week. Many wise folk say, simplify your life, reduce your belongings, and takes steps to being more free. I think that is the correct path. Doing this is clearly not. (Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

There and back again: commuting Seattle style

The massive Port of Seattle provides an impressive backdrop for my there again and back again, and there again and back again commute. This is one of the country’s largest cargo container ports (eighth busiest, it claims), and most of it is blocked off to the public for miles. Highway 99 is one of the few places citizens can see where our nation unloads containers filled with consumer goods destined for Walmart and other retailers nationwide. In essence, I am penetrating the beating heart of our nation’s mostly consumer-driven economy everyday, enveloped by its brawn, by its scale, and by its relentless motion. For some stretches, this also happens to be one of the most scenic commutes in the country, too.