This just in ~sorry for the late notice

On 1 February 2007, please participate in the biggest mobilization of Citizens Against Global Warming to date!

The Alliance for the planet (a group of environmental associations)
(I know nothing about this organization-but I advocate the idea) is calling on all citizens ALL OVER THE WORLD to create
5 minutes of electrical rest for the planet.

People in eastern North America turn off their lights and electrical appliances on the first of February 2007, between 1:55 PM and 2:00
PM, (and 18.55 for London, and 19.55 for Paris, Bruxelles, and Italy, 10.55 AM on the Pacific coast of North America.

This is not just about saving 5 minutes worth of electricity; this is about getting the attention of the media, politicians, and our selves.

Five minutes of electrical down time for the planet; this does not take long, and costs nothing, and will show all political leaders
that global warming is an issue that needs to come first and foremost in political debates.

Why February 1st? This is the day when the new UN report on global climate change will come out in Paris.

This event affects us all, involves us all, and provides an occasion to show how important an issue global warming is to us all.

If we all participate, this action can have real media and political weight. Please circulate this to your utmost ability in whatever way you can.


Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

So heres the thing: if you injure your knee in May, don't wait until the following January to have it looked at.

It started out innocuously enough, I was in a yoga class, last May, and made an unfortunate move: I felt a bit of a twinge on the back of my knee. I figured I had pulled a muscle, so I iced it and rested it for a day or two, but I am a single mother and full time student, I don't have time to go lame. Heres the problem with that logic, neither reality, nor the injury, care whether you have the time.

The pain came and went, seemingly of it's own accord. Sometimes it felt as though it was on the mend, sometimes I couldn't walk on it, but even when I couldn't walk on it I could still ride, so ride I did.

This month I wanted to take my cycling to another level, 'kick it up a notch', so to speak. I started riding faster and harder, I started a new route with a significant hill. Unrelatedly, I started a self defense class where we assault a padded attacker. This week my knee took an ugly turn and I was essentially forced to go see our family naturopath.

Turns out I probably ought to have seen him last May. Turns out I may very well have and ACL tear, an MRI will say for sure. Turns out that, had I gone in last May, naturopathic remedies might have offered a promising alternatives to surgery, in a way that they don't now.
So, I have a house full of stuff for Sprocket Smoothies ~and a bum leg. Yuck.


How We Get There Matters

Particularly in during the dark cold Northwest winter, even the heartiest among us can feel our enthusiasm for bike commuting dwindle, and I have discover that having an enticing and inspiring route can make all the difference when steeling one's self for that morning commute.
When I began bike-commuting to Portland State about a year ago, I initially used the same traffic roads I would have driven on, not exactly the kind of route that beckons one from under the covers.

This quarter my classes start at 9am, meaning I have to leave home shortly after 7am. Meaning I have to get up around 6:a.m. Prior to this quarter I had essentially been unaware that there was an a.m. version of 6:00. I am a hard core night owl, and the new schedule has turned everything on it's ear. Each morning I have to put great effort into remembering why I agreed to this, and only slightly less effort into considering whether it could possibly be worth it, especially given my renewed commitment to not ever traveling in anything that burns fuel. After perusing a number of bike maps, and experimenting with different routes, I think I have come up with the perfect path, if not the perfect schedule.

The other thing about my old route is the extent to which I went to avoid steep inclines ~no mean feet when traveling from sea level to approximately 100 feet above sea level. In cycling, as in life, sometimes when you face challenges head on, you reap unforeseen rewards, like this view.
My morning begins with a stop at Bipartisan Cafe, arriving as I do right after they open at 6:30 am, the "Hair Raiser Blend" coffee is good and fresh, then I head straight for Mt Tabor park, steep elevation and all, knowing I will be witness to a view few get to see.

Not everyone is going to have a gorgeous volcano with forested vistas to include in their ride, but coffee shops, bridges, tree-lined boulevards, historic neighborhoods ad parks can all make a difference is how much you enjoy your ride, and how willing you will be to pull yourself out of bed and ride


The B3 is Here!

I have been so busy with school and life and all that, that I have had no time to read blogs, let alone post in mine, but I just had to share the good news, my B3 is here! After due consideration and pondering of the possibilities, I am moving forward with this idea of creating a part time summer income from bike-powered smoothies and libations.

Rather ironic, then, that the B3 arrived during a freak snow storm (not exactly smoothie weather). Undaunted, I assembled the blender and set up a blending station on my front porch, where, in addition to smoothies, I have been using it to blend home-made soups! I have also been adding to my collection of books on making cocktails and mixed drinks ~sure to keep a soul warm on a winters evening!

The B3 is elegant in it's simplicity and cleverness of design: unlike the bike blender I used at last summers Geek Fair, the B3 is direct drive ~you dont mess around with generating electricity, the turning of the rear wheel turns the blender blade. It's just that simple. Shifting your bikes gears allows you to adjust the effort it takes to whip up treats, and the 'Rock Sturdy' stand that elevates the rear wheel while blending is SO sturdy that you couldnt flip your bike even if you wanted too. With just a few turns of the nuts, the direct drive gizmo can be swivled away from the wheel to allow you to peddal off into the sunset.

I have always loved throwing parties and cooking for people, which has lead to a wealth of experience in food service and catering. What I didnt know until recently is that private bartenders in this area command an impressive hourly income ~and thats without a B3 to mix the magarittas. Given Portland's thriving cycling community and environmental conscience, pedal powered libations could potentially be more lucrative than being a therapist ~especially during our increasingly hot summers~ at the very least, it could support me while I get my therapist credentials.

I have been kicking around some ideas for business names, and think I have settled on 'Sprocket Smoothies' I would welcome any thoughts or ideas about the venture; and, if you in town, stop by and I'll whip up some hot buttered rum batter! ;)


Cycling with Children in the Chill

Due in part to the fact that, in the arctic-like temperatures we have been having of late, The Boy has become more than a little cycling resistant, which puts a real wrench in the works. The cold certainly effects my enthusiasm as well, but I am still willing to drag my sorry butt out there; but dragging the boy kicking and screaming behind me really slows me down, as well as creating a scene.

In Europe they have all manner of devices and accessories that allow one to take one's children, laptops, groceries and what not by bike without getting wet or frostbitten, just one more way in which this country is missing the proverbial boat.
When my son was an infant he rode almost daily in a bike trailer, but now that he is approaching age 12, we find that our options have dwindled to almost nil. Meanwhile, in the time that he has been alive, the rate at which arctic ice is melting has doubled. Doubled. Hearing this fact on a PBS special, my son is understandably outraged, and demands to know when people are going to get it through their heads that they need to change. "When" he asks "are they going to get a brain"
I don't think it's a matter of getting a brain, I tell him, I think it's a matter of getting the courage to change.
What is required here is not information, or knowledge, or even understanding. We got that covered. What is required is our acting on what we know and understand. It requires recognizing that we are not talking about someone els, it is not about "they", it is about "we".
I point out that we have ridden in cars in the past decade, in the past year for that matter. WE need to take responsibility, and we need to stop doing the damage we know we are doing. We need to find a way to ride, even through Oregon winters.
He ponders this, and then watches the PBS images, see the icecaps evaporating through time laps photos taken over the course of his lifetime; from white to barren brown, and open sea. In that moment he understands.
I know this is not the end of this conversation, but it is a beginning


Plausible Solutions

My association with Free Geek introduced me to this crazy-brilliant idea for problem solving that works in meny areas of life, which is this: sometimes, if you point two problems at each other, they solve each other! Free Geek does this by taking (1)the problem of all that toxic technology waste flowing into our landfills, and (2) the problem of the inequitable distribution of resources that keeps segments of our community poor and without the means to pull themselves out of poverty. Point the two at each other and BAMM! You have all these low-income folks getting skills, training, job experience and their very own personal computer while diverting all that toxic tech outta the waste stream. Cool, but it doesn't stop there, the approach works on meny kinds of problems, both global and personal.

Case in point: I had two problems (well, really I have far more than two, but lets not digress) which were a) although I love to cook, I have almost no time to do so, so I find myself falling back on packaged and convenience foods ~and thats not good. Problem b) my circle of friends here in town is currently smaller than I would like, as several friends have moved outta state, outta country, or otherwise left my life in recent years. So, I don't have as many friends in town as I would like, and I don't have time to find more Seemingly unrelated problems, but heres the thing, often the less related the problems are, the better this system works. So, I pointed the two at each other, and heres what happened

OH MY GODDESS, PEOPLE, this idea is too cool, I just HAD to share it with you. Heres how it works.
Each participant makes up one big (6 quart) batch of soup ~a slow cooker can make quick work of this. The soup gets divided into 6 single quart containers and popped in the freezer until the day of the swap.

On the day of the swap, folks gather, have a little wine, chit-chat, before the "telling of the soup", where we hear what is special about each of the varieties in our bounty. Then we take turns selecting our soups, going around the circle and each selecting one variety until each person has selected 6 soups (you bring six, you go home with 6). So, for the little bit of time it took you to make one batch of soup (often less than an hour) you get your freezer stocked with six hand selected, home-made soups ~PLUS you get an evening with a circle of friends that grows exponentially each month, because everyone loves home cooked food and good company, and everyone benefits from time saving strategies, so everyone wants in and everyone wins!! It is JUST TOO FREAKIN COOL! Kids, try this at home!

I actually didnt think I had enough "foodie" friends in town who would be up for this, so I posted the idea to a couple of local listserves I am on, and within a few hours a dozen people had contacted me regarding their interest in joining! So I am meeting new folks who share my interest in cycling, permaculture and food; all while saving time, money and filling my freezer with good wholsome food, you just cant beat that!


A Verritble Quandry

"I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult."
-- E. B. White

Came across this quote today, and it made me laugh out loud; not only becuae of how true it is ~at least for me~ but also, I think, becuase it seemed to appripoe for the first of the year, when so many have resolved to make themselves miserable in the name of change. Jung had the right idea: it's not about either/or, it's all about both/and. Or, as Paul Stiebitz said 'all things in moderation, including moderation' Ok, enough talking heads and dead white men ~go out there, make some change, have some fun, remember to laugh!

Cycling For A Better You, and a Better Life

Just to be clear, I do not primarily ride as a means to a weight maintanence scheme. That is not my motivation, but it is a fringe benefit. And since I am all about encouraging and empowering people to reduce their drive time, lets explore this angle; it might just be the motivation you need.

I pass a couple of health clubs in rout to school, and rare is the day that I dont see people circling the block in their big ugly SUVs, looking for parking so they can go in and excercise, before driving on to their next stop. This confuses me to no end, it is obtuse, wrong-headed and inefficient.

So, say you plan to spend 45 minutes exercising at the gym, and another 45 minutes getting to the gym and on to your next stop. An hour and a half. Of course that does not include changing in and out of your gym clothes and showering, but bare with me, more on that in a moment

The following table appears in the '92 Schwinn ATB catalog which references Bicycling magazine, there are dozens of charts out there, and each one has slightly different numbers because the actual calories burne will depend on a number of variables, including terraign (are you riding up hill, on the flat, or all downhill), is there a headwind? are you towing a trailer? In any event, this chart gives us a point to start from

(mph) 12 14 15 16 17 18 19
Weight Calories/H
150 383 457 534 593 675 779 883
160 405 485 567 629 717 828 938
170 427 512 599 666 758 876 993
180 450 540 632 702 800 925 1048
190 472 567 664 738 841 973 1104
200 493 593 695 772 881 1019 1157

So, even at a recreational pace of 12 MPH, 1 hour a day of riding will burn over 3000 Calories per week, the equivalent of approximately 1 pound of fat (if your route has hills you will burn even more). Over the course of a year you could loose over 50 pounds! If you took that hour and a half that you would have spent getting to the gym, circling the block for parking, doing you work out, and getting to your next errand; and just spent it cycling to your next errand, you would burn over 5000 calories, potentially loosing some 75 pounds a year while acomplishing your errand running! WOW! Yes, at some point you will need to take a shower and change clothes. Just as you would at the end of your work out at the gym. In the mean time, you will be saving time and money while improving your life and getting stuff done ~AND, because you are intergrating your exercise into your daily life and the things you need to get done anyway, you are more likely to stick with it. How cool is that?!