Monday, December 21, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Q. You talk a lot about livable communities. How would you describe one?
A. It’s a community where if people don’t want an automobile, they don’t have to have one. A community where you can walk to work, your doctor’s appointment, pharmacy or grocery store. Or you could take light rail, a bus or ride a bike.
Finally! A Secretary of Transportation that understands it's the Department of Transportation, not the Department of Highways. And I like his approach: don't force people out of their cars -- entice them. Create communities with a range of transportation choices and let people pick the ones that work for them. Cars, for some. Bicycles, for others. And for some, a comfortable pair of shoes.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
"Crude prices slipped below $77 a barrel Thursday after a U.S. government report showed a higher-than-expected increase in oil inventories across the board and a further fall in refinery processing rates."
And now for the money quote:
"...refiners are still struggling due to poor profit margins and are attempting to cut stocks in the face of continued slack demand by trimming back on refinery processing rates with a fall in utilization levels to below 80% of total operating capacity."
So the next time groups like The Heritage Foundation publish claptrap like this, give them the appropriate response: Liar!
Update (11/20/09): Valero to Close Money-Losing Delaware Refinery
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Turns out there's a field of economics asking the same question. I read an interesting article in Ode Magazine, called "The altruism in economics". The article covers the blood donation scenario, along with something called the Ultimatum Game. In the game, two players are given a sum of money to share. Player A is to offer a portion of the sum to Player B. If B accepts, they share according to A's offer. If B rejects, both players get nothing. Traditional economics would say that A should offer B the minimum amount possible, since B should logically accept any offer. Interestingly though, the typical offer approaches a 50/50 split. It may be that humans have an inherent sense of fairness, or that Player A looks at it from B's perspective and (irrationally) decides that he should offer close to half in order to get B to accept.
In either case, it gives me hope for the future. When we finally realize that there is just one Earth, maybe we will learn to share.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
What's so special about October 24th? It's International Day of Climate Action. It's being organized by 350.org, dedicated to "building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that science and justice demand". The number "350" refers to 350 parts per million, a level scientists have determined as the safe upper limit for CO2 in the atmosphere.
We're currently at 387 and rising, so there's a bit of work to do. 350.org recognizes it will take much more than individual action to reverse course. There's nothing wrong with switching out lightbulbs, driving less, and getting an electric lawnmower, but governments need to step up and stop subsidizing the extraction, production, and consumption of fossil fuels.
So leave the car in the garage and take a walk around your neighborhood. Let your family and neighbors know why you're taking a stand. And then call your elected representatives and ask them what they're doing to stop the destruction of our planet.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Unfortunately, Referendum 71 seeks to roll back even this measure of progress. Remember, some of these laws have been in place for years. Ask yourself, has your marriage been destroyed? Has the fabric of society been rent asunder? I submit that investment bankers have done more damage to the American family than gay marriage. Maybe we should enact laws prohibiting investment bankers from reproducing.
Vote Yes on Referendum 71. Keep the status quo. My marriage and family survived intact. Yours will too.
*It's probably because of the vasectomy I had after the birth of my last child, but you never know. The dog was fixed when we adopted him.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stops the dedicated bike commuter. Take a look at these statistics on commute method from the Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey:
|City||State||% by bicycle|
Heading up the list is Portland, a city known more for ice storms than balmy breezes. I've never wintered in Minneapolis (#2), but I'll wager it's a little on the snowy side. My town, Seattle, squeaks in just ahead of the top-two California cities. San Diego (#22), Miami (#34), Las Vegas (#52) -- what's your excuse? It sure as heck can't be the weather.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Oh Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you.
To your messengers the four winds,
and to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect,
and to be kind to each other
so that they may grow with peace of mind.
Let us learn to share all good things
that you provide for us on this Earth.
Tomorrow, September 22nd, is World Carfree Day. Leave the car in the driveway. Walk, take the bus, ride a bike. Be kind to the Earth.
I can't help but think that the two days are intertwined. As we grow more desperate to secure increasingly scarce supplies of energy, we engage in un-civil and un-peaceful acts. If we were able to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, would we have more respect for one another? Would we be more kind?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
"The battle between those who accept global warming and those who don't is like a really bad marriage where the two sides bicker endlessly over who's right. This marriage cannot be saved. It's time for a divorce."
It's time to move on. The clock has run out on the existential debate. We need to move on to solving the unprecedented problems that lie ahead of us:
"Journalists and others need to turn our attention to solutions. Debating solutions to global warming is a sign of a healthy relationship."
So when faced with a denier, wish them well, and tell them you've moved on with your life. And then pedal away.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Friday, September 04, 2009
What if you turned this idea on its head? There are many issues and concerns I would like to impact in my life and in the world. Some of them require money. There are other things I don't need or care about. What if I stopped investing in those activities? I'd have more money to invest in the things I do care about.
Walk, or ride a bicycle instead of driving/owning a car. Drink tap water instead of soda or imported bottled water. Cook at home instead of takeout. Unplug the television and read instead. Get off the consumption merry-go-round.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
(1) Remove 1-5 meters of muskeg ("topsoil"), where trees, mosses, lichen, arctic fox, muskrat, beaver, caribou, and moose live. Dump it in a big pile for later use ("reclamation").
(2) Scoop up the next 10-30 meters of bitumen ("asphalt") and dump it into a mixing container.
(3) Mix the bitumen with sodium hydroxide ("Drano") and water from a nearby river, and heat to near boiling using lots of natural gas or another hydrocarbon fuel.
(4) Add more chemicals to separate the synthetic petroleum from the sand and water, then send it on to the refinery.
(5) Dump the toxic sand and water mixture into a tailing pond and let it settle for 150 years. Scoop out the dead birds every so often.
(6) Take the previously-saved muskeg and spread it over the big hole you made. Maybe plant some grass for a golf course.
Congratulations! You've taken a thriving biome and converted it into fuel for automobiles. Next week, we'll show you how to completely decimate a fish population in less than half a century.
Updated (8/27/09): The Pembina Institute has posted some photos of the mining operation on Flickr.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Here's the proposed site of one of the open-pit mines
Monday, August 17, 2009
Good news! Unless, of course, you're an investor in this abomination. In which case, I cry crocodile tears for your 401K.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Want to experience life as Jose did? Three simple rules:
Thanks for the ride, buddy. Wish you could have been there.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
But in the end, results are what count, and the results look pretty good: said the average mileage of new vehicles purchased through the program is 9.6 miles per gallon higher than for the vehicles traded in for scrap. Buyers of new cars and trucks that get 10 mpg better than their trade-ins get the $4,500 rebate. People whose cars get between 4 mpg and 10 mpg better fuel efficiency qualify for a smaller $3,500 rebate. LaHood said some 80 percent of the traded-in vehicles are pickups or SUVs, meaning many gas-guzzlers are being taken off the road.
It's not that big a surprise, actually. With gas prices poised to resume their upward trajectory, a lot of people were looking for an opportunity to dump their gas guzzlers. The C.A.R.S. program gave the trade-in value of pickups and SUVs a nice boost. Still, four grand would buy a lot of bike...
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
"This is only going to cause more accidents. Because people will just fumble around with their phones in the seat next to them, while trying to use the speakerphone option instead. Or even worse, text with the phone in their crotch while repeatedly looking down instead of out of the windshield."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Q: As far as conservation, what are the trends you are seeing?
A: I'm hoping that consumers will see through the rhetoric about consuming less, demanding less, as faulty. It is not a given that consuming less will be good for our economy or for our personal freedom. It is not even established for our environment that we [should] deprive ourselves of gasoline for our personal mobility as well our commerce. And to suppose that it is good to do that, and pretend that we have consensus and put our heads together to deprive ourselves of this great product that makes the country go around, commercially and individually, I think is flawed. I'm hoping consumers and voters will see through that and be able to ignore some of the most extreme suggestions.
I think that there has been friendly as well as unfriendly brainwashing taking place. And when I say friendly and unfriendly, I'm talking about decades of extremist views that have now achieved mainstream acceptance. And the No. 1 item among those affecting current oil politics in Washington is the boogeyman, also known as global warming.I don't accept it as established fact, nor do I accept that it would be caused by petroleum consumption, nor do I accept that the human species should not affect its environment. So even if it were someday to be shown to have some small effect on the environment, I see no crime. In fact, taking into account the many, many millions of people around the world that envy our way of life, it would seem more humanitarian to wish them the kind of plentiful petroleum products and vehicles ... that we enjoy ... to lift themselves out of [a] backward, poor way of life.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Interesting article by Elizabeth Kolbert in this week's New Yorker: "The Sixth Extinction?". In it, she examines the causes of the five previous "great extinction" events, and proposes we may be at the beginning of a sixth. Except in this case, the cause might be a little closer to home.
Humans now occupy every continent on the planet. We may be the most "successful" large organism in history. We are certainly adaptable and our intelligence has enabled us to dominate our environment like no other species.
Through such "innovations" as industrialized agriculture and high-speed transporation, pathogens can be distributed across the globe in days, rather than millenia. Are we our own worst enemy? Elizabeth doesn't mention it in her article, but I'm deeply concerned about the potential impact of monoculture in farming. Not only are we all consuming vast quantities of a single foodstuff (corn), but thanks to Monsanto, it's all one strain. A single virus could have a devastating impact on the food supply of the entire planet.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
League of American Bicyclists
Commute by Bike
Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips
Thursday, May 07, 2009
May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened cease to be afraid,
and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power,
and may people think of befriending one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wilderness–
the children, the aged, the unprotected–
be guarded by beneficial celestials,
and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I like to impose arbitrary limits and then see what's possible within those limits. My all-time favorite camera is my Olympus OM-1. Fully manual, with built-in meter. No spot metering, no subject tracking auto-focus, but it will take pictures with a dead battery. I take it out occasionally and shoot a roll or two with just the 50mm. Forces you to work with your subject to get the framing just right.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
As I type this, I'm lying flat on my back. Too much gardening yesterday, resulting in a muscle spasm this morning, followed by prone typing this afternoon. Not concerned, just a little frustrated. I don't much like physical inactivity.
For some reason, I don't mind mental inactivity. I find meditation quite relaxing. I guess it's more an issue of wanting to do something I can't. I was supposed to be racing my bike today and instead I'm just lying around. The Zen thing to do would be to lie on my back and focus on lying on my back.
Maybe instead of complaining, I should take advantage of the opportunity and breathe deeply.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Oh, and Happy Earth Day! Still driving? How's that working out for you?
Monday, April 20, 2009
One needle: blood goes out, through the centrifuge, and then back in. Goes out for about a minute, then the pump reverses and it goes back in for 15 seconds. Bag slowly fills up with this yellowish-looking fluid. Ninety minutes later, there's 7.5 x 10^11 of my platelets in there, and I'm free to go.
The big test came the following day. I was told that donating platelets wouldn't impact my hematocrit, since they put all the red cells back in. So Sunday, I made six trips up Holmes Point Drive. No problems! Well, I mean it still hurt like hell, but not any more than it normally would. This is great! I donate whole blood during the off-season, but now I can donate platelets during race season.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I'm willing to give up on the jetpack and time travel. But Dude, where's my (electric) car? It's been twelve years since GM introduced the EV-1 and we're still "2 to 3 years away" from a mass-production electric car. I'm losing my patience. I even bought stock in ZAP, hoping they'd be able to bring something to market that didn't look like a golf cart.
Is it too much to ask for an electric car that looks like a car, reaches freeway speeds, and goes 100-150 miles between charges? I can live without the hover capability and cloaking device for now.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Besides, there's nothing like the smell of a new car.
Don't get me wrong -- I have no intention of actually driving the thing. But I've been seeing these ads for "man caves". Satellite radio, dual DVD screens, leather upholstery, and 400+ horsepower. Just the ticket for us real men.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Since it was a short distance, I decided to walk over and return the wallet. Much better to be out and about on this fine day than wandering around that musty hospital. A clear purpose. Returning the wallet gave me a clear purpose, something I've been recently lacking.
Almost there. Should be a left at the corner, and then the third house on the right. Odd. How should I know it would be the third house?
I ring the doorbell and a woman opens the door. She starts to inquire as to my business when she suddenly freezes, staring at me. I explain about the wallet and assume that it must belong to her husband, and that it was really no trouble to bring it by, it being such a lovely day and all.
She throws the door aside, taking me up in her arms, tears streaming down her face.
I stammered, somewhat flustered, "My dear madam, there's no need for that. No need at all."
"Frank!" she cried, "Don't you understand? The wallet -- it's yours."
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Back in January of last year, I talked about the Alberta oil sands in this post. Andrew Nikiforuk has a new book out, Tar Sands, that discusses the environmental disaster unfolding in the boreal forests of northern Alberta. Although I recommend buying the book (it's the only way that people like Andrew can bring us this information), it's currently available as a free PDF download from D&M Publishers. If you don't have time to read the book, National Geographic has a feature article (along with some stunning photos) in the March 2009 issue.
Should be required reading for anyone applying for a driver's license.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The movers would be here soon. She approached the machine, and with trembling fingers touched the play button. She listened to the message all the way through, and then hesitated only briefly before pressing delete.
“You have two messages. First message.”
“Jane, it’s Lisa. We just saw it on the news. Oh my God, are you okay? Call me as soon as you get this, I’ll be right over. You shouldn’t be alone at a…”
Not now, not yet. Maybe someday, but not now.
“Honey, it’s David. The plane was delayed because of weather, but we should be taking off within the hour. See you soon. I love you.”
Her body began to convulse with uncontrollable sobs and would not stop for a long time.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
American reporter John Tesh caught up with Panasonic’s Theo de Rooy after the race (Paris-Roubaix, 1985) and asked him about his day in the saddle:
de Rooy: "It's a bollocks, this race! You're working like an animal, you don't have time to piss, you wet your pants. You're riding in mud like this, you're slipping ... it’s a pile of shit.”
Tesh: "Will you ever ride it again?"
de Rooy: "Sure, it's the most beautiful race in the world!"
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Into it, I put everything
that keeps me
comfortable and warm.
Even with my eyes shut tight, I can reach out
and touch the things I know are there.
Today I stepped outside
that it wasn't a world at all.
It was just a tiny globe.
When I shook it
except the snowflakes
that swirled around and around.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Friday, March 06, 2009
I drove to and from the airport because our light-rail link isn't up and running yet. I drove to and from the coast because there isn't any other way to get out there. I use public transportation sporadically, mainly because I normally ride my bike. Another reason is the nearest bus stop is a mile from my house.
My brother is literally at the mercy of our investments (or lack thereof) in public transportation. He's the canary in the coal mine of what will happen to the rest of us once the private automobile goes the way of the dodo.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
2. Most of them told the time very roughly by their meals, which were unpunctual and irregular: they amused themselves with the most childish games all through the day, and when it was dark they fell asleep by tacit consent -- not waiting for a particular hour of darkness for they had no means of telling the time exactly: in fact there were as many times as there were prisoners.
3. O prairie mother, I am one of your boys. I have loved the prairie as a man with a heart shot full of pain over love.
4. All your base are belong to us.
5. I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods. For instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies where, during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment.
7. Can you hear me now?
8. Why do you park on the driveway and drive on the parkway?
9. They talked on into the early morning, the high, pale cast of light in the windows, and they did not think of leaving.
10. This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was fast dying.
11. I've fallen off my chair, Brian.
12. Victor was dancing with a Lakota woman in a Montana bar. He had no idea why he was there; he couldn't even remember how he arrived.
14. There is no #13.
15. Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind.
16. So I turned myself to face me, but I've never caught a glimpse of how the others must see the faker. I'm much too fast to take that test.
17. Oops, sorry. Must have dozed off for a bit.
18. When the war came to Monterey and to Cannery Row everybody fought it more or less, in one way or another. When hostilities ceased everyone had his wounds.
19. I'm not a present for your friends to open, this boy's too young to be singing the blues.
20. What's the frequency, Kenneth?
21. I’m very good at integral and differential calculus. I know the scientific names of beings animalculous. In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral, I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
22. Oh my God -- it's full of stars!
23. Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese. And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee.
24. Someone has put live piranha in our swimming pool. If we don't swim there anymore, the piranha will starve.
25. You know, everyone thinks we got this broken down horse and fixed him. But we didn't. He fixed us. Every one of us. And I guess, in a way, we fixed each other, too.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
As punishment, I'm starting under/at/over intervals where I do 2 minutes @10% under AT, 2 minutes @AT, and 2 minutes @10% over AT. Repeat until overcome by nausea.
High mileage month was July (698). Not surprising since 150 of that was in one day (RAMROD). What was surprising was November was the second highest (681), when all I was doing was riding to/from work and some longer training rides on the weekends.
This year, I'm going to track miles walked in lieu of driving. The definition is a little loose, but includes trips to the local grocery store (1 mile each way), and to the sandwich shop at lunchtime (not totally legit, since I bike to work and have to walk to get lunch anyway).