Giving up the meaningless for Lent

I heard a very interesting piece on NPR recently about the notion of Lent, advocating that -rather than giving up chocolate or the like - that we give up for the inconsequential and meaningless in order to focus on things of real importance.
For a number of reason I find myself applying this notion to my own life,

It is less about "spring cleaning" and more about reflecting on that which I surruound myself with, and reconnecting to those things that truely resonate with me, and those people people who reflect and support my core values. Finding what resonates with me and letting the rest fall away. Because the problem with clutter isnt is not so much that it covers the good stuff, but it interfiers with one's connection to the good stuff, and thus our connection with ourselves.

I have been looking into several Co-Housing opportunities, a couple of which would offer far less personal space than I currently have. Although the one that would reduce The Boy and I to sharing one room is doubtless impractical, in looking at the space I am using, and how I am using it, I see that I could do with far less space and stuff. Like so many Americans, I am a bit of a pack-rat, and much of the stuff filling my current space is not truely meaningful to me. I am becoming aware of the extent to which clutter (whether pysical, mental, psychological or metiphorical) impeds our ability to enjoy the precious things we have, and blocks the arrival of truely meaningful things (be they material objects, people or ideas). The treasures get burried, and new things we might treasure have no place to land, literally or figuritivly.

Not sure I will ever qualify as a minimalist, and that may not be te point, but I believe there is value in weeding out the superfulous and unnessisary, and tending the roots of what really matters.


A Revolution of One

Although I am intrigued by the Branson/Gore plan to reward inventors who come up with devices to remove carbon from the air, I have enough experience as a mom to understand that the most effective way of dealing with a mess is not to make it in the first place. Prevention is worth a pound of cure, or in this case, a ton of carbon.

So while the geeks are tinkering with their gadgets, lets take our cue from those prophetic lyrics of that Mr Rodger's classic and "think of something to do while we're waiting" It wont get me the 25 million dollar prize, but it might provide my son with a planet to grow old on, so here is my plan for eliminating 1,000,000,000 tons of carcinogens and greenhouse gases by the end of 2010.

Over its lifetime, one compact fluorescent bulb prevents 1,000 - 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from heating the atmosphere, they also last far longer than traditional bulbs. My home has about 10 fictures that use light bulbs, so just by switching to compact fluorescents (as I did a few years ago) I am eliminating over 10,000 pounds of carbon from the air annually, or about 30,000 by 2010. If every American home changed just 5 high use light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, together we'd keep more than one TRILLION pounds of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Due to my bum knee, I am cycling a bit less at the moment, but I still get in half a dozen or so miles a day, and use mass transit for the rest. As noted in an earlier post (and the point can not be emphasized enough) replacing just 20 car miles a week (less than 4 each day) eliminates one ton of carbon from the atospere annually per cyclist. One individual, replacing just 4 car miles a day with cycling, will eliminate over 4 tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by 2010, on their own, while running errands and doing daily tasks. In essence, they will save the world in their spare time.

Census data indicates that there are approximately 200,436,329 Americans between the age of 15 and 65, the age range within which most people are operating cars. If each of those Americans were to replace 20 miles of driving with 20 miles of cycling each week, the United states could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 200,000,000 tons annually. 800,000,000 by 2010

If every household in America replaced just one 4-pack of virgin fiber toilet paper with 100% recycled, together we could save 1.22 million trees, 537 million gallons of water, 5.1 million cubic feet of landfill space, and avoid 230,000 pounds of pollution.

Trees are the lungs of the earth, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen. I don't have a number for how much C02 per tree, but I have no doubt that it is a good number, which is why all the paper products I use, from printer paper to TP is recycled

So, by using compact fluorescent bulbs, replacing a handful of car miles with cycling,and using recycled paper products, I personally will eliminate some 5 tons of Co2 and other greenhouse pollutants from the atmosphere by 2010. No new gadgets, no million dollar budget, no government program, just me and my choices. If the 200,436,329 Americans between the age of 15 and 65 were to do the same, it would add up to the elimination of over 1,000,000,000 tons of carcinogens and greenhouse gases by 2010.

You personally, on your own, could eliminate over 5 tons in that time, without any major lifestyle changes, without giving up much of anything. That is real, and significant, and perhaps most important, immediately attainable.
We have what we need, right now, to make the difference. You have the power to save the world

Additional Co2 reduction can be acieved by eating and shopping locally, choosing organic foods and foods with minimal packaging, weatherizing your home and conserving energy, and recycling. The average American generates about 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year from personal transportation, home energy use and from the energy used to produce all of the products and services we consume, but we are capable of being so much better than average.

for more information on how to reduce you environmental footprint, check out this link


Happy (Chinese) New Year

All sorts of things are coming into alignment for me at the moment, new beginnings, final endings; cycles of all sorts coming full circle. I began this blog a year ago, near the start of the Chinese New Year, which is apon us once again. It is the year of The Boar, the same place on the Chinese calendar when my son was born, and much is happening related to The Boy, and parenting him.
Many things coming together, both Yin and Yang, and several are weighing heavy on my soul. Among them are these two:

The first is a number:One Ton. A few weeks ago, as part of a cycling advocacy project I was working on, I was doing research and crunching numbers related to auto emissions. Math has never been my fortay, but in the interest of cycling advocacy ~and bullet-proof stats~ I did some calculations, and the result has been haunting me. The point of the exercise was to illustrate the value and impact of replacing even a small number of car miles with cycling, in doing the reseach I found that automobiles produce between 1000 and 2,500 lbs of C02 per 1000 miles, with the average car trip being less than 10 miles. This makes individual transportation choices a very powerful and very effective means of reducing Greenhouse gases. An individual who replaces just 20 miles of driving per week with cycling literally eliminates the release of over a ton of greenhouse gases annually. One ton of C02.

This is, of course, great news: absent good government, policy changes or a giant carbon zapper in the sky, individuals can eliminates literally tons of toxins and carcinogens by riding less than 4 miles a day. I find that this knowledge is making me hyper~conscience of any time I make any use if a motor vehicle in any fashion. If I ask The Boy's father to come pick him up from my house, rather than dropping our son at his office by bike, thats 6 miles. If I accept a ride to school from a fellow student, thats 10 miles. Those choices add up, both ways.

The second thing tickling my brain happened on the precipice of this New Year, I met a man who has never bought so much as a single gallon of gas ~not ever. Now in his 30's, he has been riding a bike since childhood, and has never owned a car. I like to think of myself as a radical visionary who thinks outside the box and is able to imagine the most unfathomable and unlikely of alternatives. But the notion of someone never once succumbed to the automobile at any point in their life, to have lived car free from day one. Apparently, it can be done, and I live in a town with a guy who is doing it. I am in awe.

Perhaps it is my connection to the Year of the Boar, the Year my magical boy was born, or the fact that celebrating the new year at a time when you can sense all the signs of the change of season, rather in the dead of winter, has always felt more authentic to me; in any event I am feeling this New Year potently, and all that one associates with the New Year. I am feeling a renewed excitement about to cycling and cycling advocacy. Armed with the knowledge that one can go years without using a car, as well as a deeper understanding of the impact a single individual can have in doing so, I am feeling renewed energy ~and urgency~ around these issues.

The concers are so monumental, and the stakes so high, both essential and danting, I have been taking comfort in a passage from the Talmud:
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not
obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."
There is much work to do, and we all have part to play
May we all be the change we wish to see in this new year.


Hope Everyone Is Feeling Bikey Love Today ~and Every Day!


"You want to blend those smoothies with WHAT??"

"Dont be officoius, your not yourself when your officoius ~thats the curse of a government job"
--Ruth Gordon as Maude in "Harold & Maude"

Portland's cycling community may be yearning for bike blended smoothies, but I am not sure our Health Department is ready. So many hoops to hop through I am beginning to feel like a circus dog.
I had had this notion that because all the smoothie ingredients could be loaded into the bottle blenders and sealed up at a commercial kitchen prior to events, that licensing as a mobile unit would be s snap, but ah-ha! Although the Bottle Blenders are completely self contained and do not need to be opened for blending ~The Bottles must be opened to dispense the smoothies, after they are all blended and good to go, and for that the Health department is insisting I get licensed as a temporary restaurant. grrr

The upside is that this will allow me to custom blend smoothies on sight at farmers markets and other events, and when bike-bartending at private parties I will be largely free bureaucratic red tape. Got to stay positive, it's like The Boy says "there are only two kinds of problems: those you can do something about, and those you cant. No sense worrying about the ones you can do something about (just do it) and no sense worrying about the ones you cant (nothin you can do)” thats my boy

For folks living in the area, we will be offering samples at People's Farmers Market just as soon as we get a clear day, which according to the current forcast, wont be this Wednesday, better days are comming

Sprocket Smoothies Goes to Town

Prior to getting the news that I may have an ACL tear, I had set up a photo shoot of the B3 in action: the plan was to provide smoothies to volunteers at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's volunteer outreach day. I am finding that "spinning" does my knee good, and that riding down hill or on the flats does no harm, so I packed up all the gear, and an abundance of pre-packed Blender Bottles and headed off for the BTA's office. The one bummer was that I had to accept a ride there to avoid peddling up steep hills. Props to Michael for getting my gear and I there.

The B3 made quite a impression on the volunteers at the BTA office, and the smoothies were well received, but the photographer didn't make it, and there were several full bottle blenders left over, so I coasted dow the hill to Free Geek and served up a bunch of smoothies there. It was a real hoot: one guy, seeing the stoker handlebars and snap deck, exclaimed "The bike turns into a blender and then can turn into a tandem? DUDE!" Another fellow, who was there to use the free computer resource room, said that the smoothie I gave him was the most nutritious meal he had had all day.

The new Blender Bottles, that replace the old-school blender jar, are just too cool! Much as I personaly like the look of the traditional blender jar, the Bottle Blenders allow one to "assemble" the smothies in advance and seal them into these individual, freezable "bullets". Not only does this make the Health Department very happy, it really streamlines the opperation when one is at an event. Each Bottle Blender holds 2 servings, when poured into the large, fully compostible corn-based cups we are using.

Everyone had a blast, the smoothies were a hit, and I got a great deal of positive feed back and valuable insight about operating the "smoothie mobile". Interestingly enough, there were no digital cameras at Free Geek, The Boy snapped a few pics on a little point and shoot, if any of the shots turn out I will post them


The Boy and I ventured out for a short, leasurly ride: the first since I got the news that I may have a torn ligament.
Not riding had all but eliminated my will live, so I checked with my doc and got the go ahead to ride ~as long as doing so didnt hurt. Walking sometimes hurts, so I'm not sure how relavent that limit is, but I took it under advisment.
The ride went well, and was almost essentially pain free. I wonder, if I just wear the brace for the rest of my life, and Ice daily, if I can forget this surgery nonsense?
I have been taking mega doses of Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin, Cod Liver Oil and Vitamin E while waiting to schedule my MRI, as well as working with an herbalist, a Reiki preactitioner, and anybod els I can find. And hoping for the best.