Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Potpourri: The Green Roof Doghouse, the Disappointed Australian, and the Popularity of SUVs

Here's a bit of potpourri for your 4th of July weekend:

The LA Times featured an article today about building a doghouse with a green roof. Sounds a bit odd, but it does make sense. It offers you a lovely little gardening area and it will make your pet's home cooler -- "in every sense of the word," as the article mentions. You can get instructions from the article or link to a landscape architect and sculptor who will happily sell you their snazzy versions for $1,000 to $4,000.

In case you're wondering what happened to the Ian Usher, the Australian who auctioned his entire life on eBay, here's the scoop: he was disappointed that he had to settle for $384,000, a bid that doesn't even cover the value of his house. He's committed to honor the bid, however, and is ready to move on to the next phase of his life. He's decided to complete one hundred life goals in one hundred weeks and has set up a website where anyone who's interested can track his progress. The goals are primarily adventurous (skydiving, bungee jumping, running with the bulls in Spain) but one is to sell a book telling the story of his adventures. Does anyone do anything without a film crew following them around or a plan set up in advance to sell a book?

Finally, I had hoped that the cost of gasoline would result in significant changes in our auto-buying habits and, fortunately, that seemed to be the case. The popularity of hybrids is up, that of SUVs is down. Or so I thought. Then Jacqueline Mitchell at Forbes Magazine reported on the most difficult cars to find -- the ones that are "so popular that auto manufacturers are selling them faster than they can build them." In first place on the list, no surprise, is the $21,500 high-mileage, hybrid Toyota Prius. But in second place is "the not-so-expected gas-guzzling $74,700 Lexus LX Series full-size luxury SUV that gets a combined 14 mpg." The likely explanation? Brand loyalty. Luxury-loving Lexus owners are willing to pay a premium for comfort. I wonder if they'll be willing to pay the price of the effects those kinds of vehicles have on our environment.

The Fourth of July is our celebration of Independence Day. Maybe eventually we'll realize we should also celebrate Interdependence Day -- every day.

© 2008 Cynthia Friedlob

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