Burning Calories One Step at a Time

One of the newest buildings in Bangkok is Park Ventures, a beautiful structure that has opened on the corner of Ploenchit and Wireless Roads. The builders have marketed Park Ventures as “Bangkok’s first eco-plex” – whatever that means. Perhaps more green-washing than reality or maybe a legitimate stab at reducing the carbon footprint of the modern office building, hotel, and retail complex.


That said, I was bemused by the steps leading from the footpath to the main lobby. They are marked with the number of kilocalories one ostensibly burns with each step. Looking at the progression – 0.6 kilocalories per step – it looks like the fourth step may have been corrected from 2.0 to 2.4. (That may just be an optical illusion from this angle, though.) Best of all is the Thinglish admonition: “Use calories lose no electricity.” Perhaps they meant “waste”?


Response to Rep. Moran (R-KS)

Trying to be an active participant in our American democracy, I subscribe to newsletter updates from my Senators and Congressional Representative.  All three of them are very conservative, more so than I am on most issues, so their newsletters often provide an opportunity for me to write them with an opposing viewpoint.

I do have to give credit to Representative Jerry Moran, though, who has started posting video responses to questions from his constituents.  At least he gives clear statements about his position on issues.  Representative Moran recently posted the above video, ostensibly in response to a question from a constituent, “What do we need to do to get President Obama to let us drill for oil and natural gas here in the U.S.?  It would certainly decrease our dependence on foreign oil.”

I shared my thoughts with Representative Moran through the following email:

Dear Representative Moran:

Just finished watching your video about drilling for oil. I appreciate you providing this kind of clarity on your positions; please continue doing so. Regarding your answer, though, I have two concerns as a constituent and pragmatic American:

First, you describe this as a “battle we must win” against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama administration. I disagree that it is a “battle”. The EPA continues to play an important role in protecting our fresh air, our clean water, and our natural environment. Perhaps you noticed the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year? Perhaps you have read the considerable scientific concern about fracking? Fossil fuels are dirty forms of energy and their extraction comes with costs to our environment. The EPA plays an important role in us considering the bigger-picture and longer-term costs, not just reacting to the price of gas at the pump.

My second concern is that you seem to be giving short shrift to non-fossil forms of energy. Sure, you mention them twice in your video but both mentions seem to be an afterthought. Any way you cut it, fossil fuels are a finite resource. We can’t drill, mine, or frack our way to national security and energy independence. We need to be encouraging more investment and research in renewable energies because that is ultimately going to be a necessity in the future. China is already surpassing us in green energy technologies. Surely you want the US to remain competitive?

More drilling off the coasts or up in Alaska, more digging up of the northern plains, more fracking of the rocks beneath Pennsylvania and Ohio – all of these are very short-term, costly, and dirty fixes to our problems. It is time for a smarter, longer-term, more sustainable approach to our energy needs.


I’m curious, what are your thoughts about the U.S. energy policy?  What should we be doing differently in order to ensure energy security?


When I Am Through With the Hong Kong MTR

Before doing a final back-up of my November 2010 photos and videos and removing them from my laptop’s hard drive, I realized I had an unfinished project from my most recent trip to Hong Kong.  I was in the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station on a Friday evening during rush hour and shot some video of the mass of humanity.

At the same time, I had just completed the third season of the Glenn Close TV show “Damages” and they have an interesting effect in the title sequence that I wanted to try to recreate: they show a crowded intersection in New York in fast-motion and then suddenly cut the clip to slow-motion.  (If you want to see the original, a link to it is here.  The shot I’m talking about lasts all of one second and takes place at about 0:08.)

As an homage to my inspiration, I “borrowed” the same title song, “When I Am Through With You” by The V.L.A.  It is an energetic, guitar-driven song which I crudely edited to just over one minute.  I hope you enjoy it.

I’ve been making an effort to post on a daily basis.  Right now I have a backlog of several entries and am trying to work through them.

Dear George…

Body of the email I just sent President Bush:

Dear Mr. President,

I ask for your support of the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, HR6049, which has been passed by the House and was introduced to the Senate last week.

Two years ago, Mr. President, you said that America was addicted to oil.  You even made it sound like you would take some action to break that addiction.  Your latest blustering to Congress shows that you aren’t serious about breaking the addiction at all.  You’re encouraging it!

America needs a strong and innovative energy policy, one that breaks our dependence on oil and that promotes alternative sources of energy.  Offshore and ANWAR drilling are not the answers.  Increased fuel efficiency is important.  But the most important thing is to extend the incentives for alternative energy sources.

Thank you for taking the time to consider changing your position on this issue and lending your support to this important legislation.  You still have a few more months left in which you can work on improving your legacy – this could be your opportunity!


Chris Schultz


I also sent similar emails to my Senators, asking for their support of the bill.  Here’s a link to the Thomas Friedman column that spurred me to write.