Friday, September 30, 2005
Thursday, September 29, 2005
This is a movie the whole family can enjoy. The Boy 7 practically became part of the show by the end. Two stars because the first half felt a lot like they taped the actors reading the script for the first or second time and called it a wrap. By the end the story redeemed the movie by overtaking that annoyance.
9/17 – (dvd) Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith ****
Four stars probably aided by the fact that this was clearly, far and away, the best of the first three Star Wars movies. Anakin spent much of the movie looking for something, part of the time I suspected it was a good script he was seeking. But seriously the show stands by itself as a very good movie. Maybe all the effort of the other two could have been combined into this one and saved lots of people a lot of time and a lot of money.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I had heard rumors. I caught a whiff of the buzz. Today it happened...someone visited The MinusCar Project from the Balancing the Universe on a Wheel blog.
Uncle Albers - Friend of The MinusCar Project is the Balance.
I love the pictures! Pictures of places that I see everyday from angles that I didn't know existed. He's making me wish I'd stop and look around once in a while.
Very nice! I can’t wait for coming winter scenes.
Company | Stock | Net Gain | Percent Gain
DayStar Technologies | DSTI | -17.46 | -7%
Energy Conversion Devices | ENER | 7.42 | 3%
Evergreen Solar | ESLR | -4.48 | -2%
Spire Corporation | SPIR | -4.25 | -2%
I've lost 18.77.
I'll hopefully find a better and easy way to post spreadsheet looking data.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
We ran a bunch of errands together after the CAVITY FREE appointment. The errands included a Wendy’s Frosty. Clearly this boy needs more sugar because there's no way good brushing explains the lack of cavities!
As we were gallivanting about town in my 4,000 pound chariot, I observed two busses with an average of 1.5 bikes on each of them. None of them were mine. Looks like some people are taking the president seriously. Good job some people! How would you like to make it a habit?
Bush? Asking Americans to conserve? On Gas? What? There’s some sort of problem? How unAmerican! I think the last president that did that lost his job, and then became perhaps? arguably? the greatest xPresident ever.
Speaking of Jimmy, Hairy Man Sasquatch, in his own post regarding Bush and conversation, points readers to the text of an April 18, 1977 Proposed Energy Policy speech given by then President Carter. I read the whole speech. I liked it. A lot. You might not.
In other xPresident news, this week in an e-mail that I don't normally read from former democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark I learned of the Clinton Global Initiative. The MinusCar Project is pleased to see that global warming is being talked about at higher levels than blogspot.com.
Finally, yesterday my Google News Alerts for “North American Solar Car Challenge” fed me this alterNet article which happens to contain the words north, american, solar, car, and challenge. Here is a quote I liked:
...the political force that finally manages to take this issue on is the political force that also understands and helps to nurture the deep-rooted and unsatisfied American desire for real community, for real connection between people. The force that dares to actually say out loud that "more" is no longer making us happier, that the need for security and for connection is now more important.
So, are you listening to the President? Are you conserving? If you need help, I'm here for you.
(This has been a hopelessly lefty blog post from The MinusCar Project. Forgive me if you must.)
Thursday, September 22, 2005
(That’s the temp in the lower left.)
Speaking of temperature I use the back door at work to access the “phone booth” where I transform from sweaty-bike-boy to business-casual-IT-boy. The back door happens to be the smoker’s door. Smokers often include an executive of the company. I’ll never get tired of the irony when the sweaty bike riding peon wishes the smoking executive a good morning. I work in health insurance.
Today, prior to my transformation from business casual to boy-who-wears-clothes-previously-sweated-in, a smoking workmate declared, “You’ll be switching back to driving to work soon, eh?” “Ehhhh…we’ll see.” “Biking in the winter!!??!! What about ice?”, she responded. I kept walking; I’ll let my studded tires answer that one. These people think I’m crazy now!
Speaking of fellow crazies! Geoff at Rubber Side Down lives and rides in Calgary. It was 3c this morning in his commuting world. I’m not sure what that means but I suspect it has something to do with low temperatures. He e-mailed me the other day and invited me to join their Winter Commuter Challenge. 1 point per complete commute above -1c and one point per degree for complete commutes below -1c. As soon as I figure out what this c stuff is about I’ll be ready to roll.
Uncle Albers? LBS Owner? Dad? Are you guys IN! I’m practicing right now. Shorts, t-shirt, ice cream bar, window open, 48 degrees outside, 64 inside (honestly I feel colder than that). Come on!
I performed my most controversial (in my mind) bicycle commuter maneuver in the presence of an officer of the law today. I don’t think it’s an illegal maneuver, but I don’t know that it’s not. I just don't know if it's legal to pass vehicles on the left [originally this said right, but I was half asleep when I originally wrote it] in a school zone.
My daily route takes me near the home of a classmate of The Boy 7. This morning I was struck by the resemblance of their family Shitzu to the classmate. (Maybe this one should be labeled as raff.)
I laid in bed long enough last night to get all the way to an REM cycle. “Congratulations” the man said, “here’s your reward.” I dreamed that I picked up The Boy 3 in the bike trailer and by the time I got home he was gone. It was as if he’d never actually been placed in the trailer. I had no clue where he was. My only hope rested in that he knows my phone number. Fetch me my Prozac.
A simple analysis of this dream reveals these anxiety factors: The MinusCar Project, the danger of coexisting on roads with automobiles, all the people who don’t know where their loved ones are because of Katrina, and how proud I am that The Boy 3 knows my phone number.
Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite (this is gross)
Two weeks ago as I slept I felt a sharp tickle in my nose. I woke up enough to not fully realize something had crawled in. I exhaled sharply and felt the unique satisfaction that a hasty nasal exit gives. You know what I mean, don’t you. Come on, admit it.
That morning I awoke with a bite on my leg the size of a half dollar. Over the next few days it grew to it’s current size of two paper dollars.
I went to the doctor yesterday and came home with a cocktail of topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics, oral antihistamines, and instructions to “take three antigens and call me in the morning.”
Katrina Relief (He Gets It)
The Boy 7’s school is raising money for Katrina help. At dinner we discussed his potential involvement in the effort. It sounded like he’d like to give a dollar. Thinking $10 seemed reasonable for me to give I offered to multiply whatever he put in by 10. The next morning he came to me with a five-dollar bill. I think I'll stick to the more common 2 to 1 match from now on.
I’ll take the guy on the recumbent with the full-face helmet that has happily waved to me each morning for the past 10 as we pass each other on the local bike path. You guys can have the local shop owner’s brother and the other well-known local cyclist who’ve recently refused to even acknowledge this fellow cyclist.
Ok. Let’s play.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The MinusCar Project is (perhaps painfully) obviously interested in seeing positive news related to alternative forms of energy. In fact The MinusCar Project finds quite a lot of hope in finding news items related to the increased use and acceptance of alternative forms of energy.
Since becoming a regular reader of Clean Break and other related websites (I’d hate to reveal ALL my sources) I’ve been interested and pleased to see that altEnergy is also gaining acceptance in financial markets.
“About $100 million (U.S.) has been invested in solar-related ventures in the first half of 2005.”
“Shares of publicly traded solar-focused companies have jumped 150 per cent over the past 12 months.”
New blog feature: The MinusCar Project altEnergy Stock Portfolio (McASP). You did this in high school economics class, right? Take $1000 imaginary (or real if you like) dollars, invest it in alternative energy stocks, see if you are able to retire when you turn 50.
My initial picks reflect my choice of solar power as being the most accessible and interesting. Future portfolio purchases will not necessarily be limited to solar powered stocks.
Buy/sell onsiderations will occur during weekends with Monday's closing price being the official transaction price. McASP progress reports will be given on Tuesdays.
Here is what I did with my $1000 over the weekend:
DSTI – 18 shares @ 14.26
ENER – 7 shares @ 39.26
ESLR – 32 shares @ 8.14
SPIR – 20 shares @ 10.17
Cash – 4.62
Here is a Yahoo! Finance link to the McASP stocks.
The Boy 3 began attending pre-school. We performed our customary routine of meeting with his handlers to explain the allergies and the need to be careful. We agreed with the handlers that we'd send food that he could eat for snack, and we discussed things like the "sensory table" and the need to consider its contents.
It was a relief to learn that the teacher raised three food allergic kids of her own.
On day two of pre-school he took a bite of cracker. I view this similarly to him taking a swig of Drano. However they saw it differently, instead of reporting to us directly incident was relayed to us through our daycare provider.
Last week, instead of putting energy into blog posting, I put it into a missive to the pre-school. The Wife explained that it might work better for everyone involved if we behave in such a way as to maintain relationships. She’s so smart. She talked with them Monday.
The Boy 7 got sucked into scouting by the offer of a pinewood derby car. I expressed my allergy concerns to the Cubmaster and he expressed his interest in having me as a leader to be in a good position to know about food and environments.
From now on I prefer to be referred to as Den Leader…this ought to be interesting.
Multi-occupant Auto: 6
Single occupant Auto: 5
Single occupant vehicle trips were high this week. Most of them involved failure to plan for daycare and school pickups. One of them was unplannable so The Wife could work late, but others involved my failure to realize that if The Boy 7 doesn't bike to school in the morning then I don't have a way to get him home without a car; which is to say I haven't mastered the school routine quite yet.
My Car Miles: 34
My Bike Miles/Hours: 93/6
The car miles were a little higher than I like and I place the blame squarely on Saturday. It was going to be a banner MinusCar day. I was going to load up the backpack with about seven different errands to run beginning with an investment club meeting at the country club. And then it rained.
I was going to represent The MinusCar Project by sitting in the country club eating breakfast with cycling shoes and mildly sweaty clothes. It was going to be great. Sitting the in the country club soaking wet and muddy after a ride in the rain wasn't going to be great.
The hourly forecast indicated that it would be mostly done raining by the time the meeting finished, so I put the bike on the car and drove thinking that I'd use the car as a base camp as I performed my errands. The rain continued for most of the day. I postponed my errands.
I ran my bike into the garage when I got home.
KT and I decided to go to a 9pm movie. Either I could drive so that we could be on time or he could drive and we would be late. I drove. We went to the movie. It was a very, very good movie. Funny, I just remembered, we were late anyway.
I didn't really run my bike into the garage.
Friday, September 16, 2005
I think this is the second publication from Project 86 guy Andrew. It’s as tedious and painful as any high school literary magazine could be. Take that statement as an indication that Andrew succeeded with what he was trying to do. My favorite section what his accounting of being recognized while standing at a urinal. Do not disturb, indeed.
9/10 – (cineplex) March of the Penguins ***
I dragged the whole family and parts of the neighbor’s family to this, and by dragged I mean it didn’t work out. Yes it’s an awesome story about life and penguins and gives plenty to reflect upon in relation to what living on this earth could mean. But that’s not enough for three kids with a combined age of 17 who’ve already seen (been poisoned by?) Disney movies. There were some sections that kept their attention but…
9/16 – (dvd) Million Dollar Baby *****
By total coincidence this week turned in to a Morgan Freeman as narrator fest-a-thon-ival. A person could do worse, eh? I really liked this one. There are examples of community with the gym, finding and living with dignity, finding and dying with dignity and a small twist at the end.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
9/12 – 8am - Home to Work – nil, nada, nothing, zero
9/9 – 12pm – Work to Lunch – 9 aboard
9/8 - 12pm - Lunch to Work - 9 aboard, 4 pickups, 1 drop
9/8 – 11am – Work to Lunch – 4 aboard
I’m biking both ways for work so my bus trips are fewer. As you can see I’m utilizing it primarily for lunch meetings. I really like the change to a bus every 30 minutes.
Generally I think the passenger counts have been a little higher over the past couple weeks, with the exception of the 9/12 ride to work. I’ve learned from reading TransitLibrarian that the rain keeps bus riders inside and this was a wet day. Still, I was very surprised to be alone for the whole trip. I began tracking passenger counts July 18, this was the first time I’d been on a bus alone for an entire trip.
The Park/Ride has become my preferred method for bus rides to work. It’s twice as far as my old neighborhood stop (2 v. 4 miles) but a bus departs every 30 minutes, the parking is meant for what I’m doing, and I won’t have to be as concerned with snow. Have I mentioned that I really like having a bus ever 30 minutes on that route?
Monday, September 12, 2005
First we found Enjoy Life brand foods. Their food is “formulated to be gluten-free and free of the 8 most common allergens.” We quickly ordered up a sample pack of treats.
Over the weekend we discovered My Own Meals, Inc. This company supplies MRE’s (meals ready to eat) to the military. MRE’s are packaged such that the container can be opened and consumed without cooking. We found their My Own Chicken meal at the local natural food store. They have a handful of other meals that are free of the allergens that we avoid for both the boy’s.
This is an incredible find. To be able to carry non-refrigerated meals (MEALS I SAY) into restaurants or on vacation was before yesterday UNTHINKABLE! Just wait till he finds out he’s eating food that most military personnel distain. Heh heh.
Multi-occupant Auto: 6
Single occupant Auto: 2
One of my single occupant trips this week was a rain induced outing to the brand new Park & Ride Station, where I parked and rode to work. The new bus schedules and rules resulted from the assimilation of this station into the existing transit program.
There are 20-ish free parking spaces available for those who’d like to park/ride. I’m guessing (I think it’s a pretty educated one) the main intent of these spaces is for people who will park and ride the “mall circulator” that circumnavigates what I like to call Shopping Central. It is easy for me to imagine a time when there will be rule changes for these spaces to make it harder for a person like me to park there for 8 or more hours at a time.
There was one other car parked there.
My Car Miles: 13
My Bike Miles/Hours: 73/5
New in September: I’m going to keep track of the miles I ride. By this time next year it would be very cool to say I’d ridden 10,000 miles during the year. I suspect though that I’ll have to settle for something closer to 7,000.
Friday, September 09, 2005
The first one, September 3rd he directs his readers to this post on a different blog entitled "Being Poor." I spent a few minutes reviewing the entire blog of this author and found it quite interesting. Seems his "Being Poor" post has moved into the print world which is getting him an unusual amount of noteriety.
The second on September 6 quotes extensively from a PodCast he listens to. Having been involved in at least one group discussion (not involving PP) where racism figured heavily in the converation, his confession and guilty plea were refreshing. Plus, the idea that some of the "looters" in New Orleans just plain needed some food was a new idea for me at the time, even if the photo comparison (while even true) is cliche'.
I'm sold. I can't wait to see what happens to everybody in the next episodes. Hickock got shot at the end of 4. I knew it was coming, I'm very surprised it happened so soon.
9/7 – (book) Brian D. McLaren, A New Kind of Christian ***
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
9/6 - 2pm - Lunch to Work - 10 aboard, 4 pickups
I discovered an improvement under the new bus route and rules. The route that passes work now runs every half hour all day long. Previously during midday the route was hourly plus a few minutes, which meant biking or getting a ride for at least one leg of a lunch meeting trip. Now, with higher frequency it will be easier to use the bus for both legs of the trip which means being able to stay in work clothes and being able to get a full hour for lunch.
Monday, September 05, 2005
"Since I gave up hope, I feel a lot better." – Steve Taylor
With all the talk of high gas prices it's hard to remember why I'm doing this...let’s try.
On January 24, 2005 I experienced what I consider to be an abnormal response to reading this news article, “Climate Change: Countdown to Global Catastrophe.” Abnormal because I believed what I read. I did the math on the ages of The Boys and began mentally preparing for The End. While part of me was going through preparations, another part of me was trying to figure out what went wrong with my mind. I knew my life had arrived in a new place when I departed my doctor’s office with a prescription for Prozac.
I found myself reluctant to medicate my situation, so I didn’t. I also found myself able to postpone preparing for the end by exploring my problem with my family and trusted friends. Thanks family and trusted friends. By May I had settled on something I could do different.
I took the red pill instead…I changed my behavior…The MinusCar Project was born.
The MinusCar Project exists because I believe people that think that the globe is warming because of human activity, specifically carbon emitting human activity, might be right. Because I think they might be right, I think humans need to change. And because I think humans need to change, I think I need to change.
And even if they’re wrong and I’m wrong, there are separate benefits to removing the automobile from my life. Many of them I've already detailed in this blog. Here’s one I’m currently looking forward to. Wednesday I will take The Boy 3 to his first day of pre-school. We will take the bus. The bus schedule has us arriving ahead of the official pre-school start time. Because of that we will spend 20 minutes together playing at a nearby playground.
Oh, and I don’t have to pay for $4/gallon gas.
For these reasons, The MinusCar Project will continue. I’m predicting a mild winter, how about you?
During the project I utilized alternative transportation 104 times, I made use of my car as a single occupant 33 times, and drove or rode in a multi-occupant vehicle 77 times.
I have good history that shows prior to The MinusCar Project my car averaged 450 miles per month. Throughout this three month project my car went a total of 334 miles, or 111 miles a week average. These miles included a 180 mile trip to Nebraska and a single very high 112 mile week caused by poor planning.
The bottom lines…
I didn’t think the total miles driven would end up so high, but I’m still pretty happy with these numbers: pre-MinusCar Project 1305 miles, MinusCar Project 334 miles.
I knew I’d still need to use a car; after all I have a wife and two young kids. I’m mildly happy with these numbers: 104 MinusCar trips, 110 automobile trips.
So, to answer the big question: Surviving in the northern plains without a car...is it possible? Yes it’s possible. But it’s difficult. Did I succeed? No.
Multi-occupant Auto: 5
Single occupant Auto: 2
My Car Miles: 22
After a couple weeks of heavy driving I was back into the MinusCar swing of things. Single occupant auto trip 1 was when I returned the car to home from the service station. It wasn't totally necessary to drive it home, and I did leave it in my employer's lot for one night, but in the end I thought it prudent to park it in my own driveway.
Single occupant trip 2 was the previously reported trip to LifeLight, and was good for MinusCar in that it saved KT and DDD from making extra trips in their cars.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
I ride my bike on the road because it is much more efficient than riding on the sidewalk. Just like automobile drivers, when I ride my bike for utility (to and from work or for errands) I’m looking to propel myself through the city as quickly as legally possible. I’m trying to get from point A to point B so that I can get my work done. Riding bike for utility is serious business…deadly serious if I happen to get hit by a car.
Not surprisingly roads exist for the very purpose of efficiently moving vehicles. The Congress approved 268.4 billion dollars recently to make roads even more efficient for travel. That’s roughly $6,000 for each average American family. This money buys a complex system of signs, lights, and laws that describe how vehicles and their operators should behave on the road to help facilitate efficient movement. In fact, the system is so complex that some public schools take time away from reading, writing and arithmetic to offer opportunities for students to learn the system. And the system is so critical that failure to follow it resulted in 115 deaths every day in 2004.
Here is what the system says about bicycles on roads:
Every person driving a bicycle shall have all of the rights and all the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.
Here is what the system says about bicycles on sidewalks:
A person driving a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian. A person driving a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall stop before entering a crosswalk or highway from a sidewalk and must yield to all traffic therein.
On a sidewalk I’m legally required to yield to every single person I encounter, I’m legally required to stop before entering every single intersection and I’m legally required to yield to every vehicle I encounter.
On the road I get to take advantage of a traffic system put together by experts for the express purpose of moving vehicles from point A to point B.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Interesting to me is that three of the bands at the concert became staples in my listening library: Project 86, hed (PE) and the opening act that we skipped…a small band…maybe you’ve heard of them…Linkin Park. We were idiots for missing them.
Five years later Project 86 comes through this town as part of “the biggest free Christian music festival in the country, LifeLight.” I went. With KT and DDD. It was a good show of course.
Special props to the organizers and people involved in making the festival apparently successful. For the short time I was there I found my way easily in and out and very much enjoyed the long walk through the 8ft tall corn. Hopefully it was as smooth on the inside as it appeared from the outside.
Here’s a free tip to the older people who don’t get to go to concerts very much anymore. If you aren’t going to be able to resist the mosh pit, don't wear sandals. Has anyone seen my toenail?
A quote attributed to their website says, "If you live in or near the city and you can commute by bus, carpool, bicycle or foot, you can probably save hundreds of dollars a month by relying on Flexcar rather than a personal vehicle for your occasional driving needs." Essentially I've been running my own flexcar company since May. I am the sole owner and customer. Anybody want to buy me out?
Thursday, September 01, 2005
35 minutes seem slow? I’m on the 12mph bike! Free your right brain, ride single speed.
The best part of the new routine? Stopping at school, picking up The Boy 7 from the after school program, and biking home with him every day.
She described that she was in a short line of cars that were trying to figure out how to pass me. This particular road is two lanes with on street parallel parking. It’s busy with college students. I often take up much of the lane to avoid getting doored by a student.
She said she was grumpy until she realized it was me. And then she asked…
“Why don’t you ride on the sidewalk?”
The closest stop to me is now within a half-mile, formerly it was two miles from my home. Special added bonus, the stop is a timepoint so if the driver is early they must wait at the stop to get back on schedule. In theory this means it’s unlikely I’ll miss an ahead of schedule bus, which has happened once.
The Public Transit Advisory Board minutes are now available from the city website. Within these minutes is confirmation that this route close to my home is the most under utilized in the system. Because of this the frequency of busses is less with the newly designed routes.
The new route passes within two blocks of daycare. The bad news here is the evening times that it passes: 4:40pm which means I depart work at 4:01pm which isn’t impossible but isn’t something I could make a habit, or 5:37pm which is seven minutes after my daycare provider puts the kids out on the street. (She doesn’t really do that.)
The big new rule is that the bus will stop at specially marked designated points only. I read somewhere about a two week transition where drivers will pickup anywhere but tell you of the new rule and instruct where the designated stop is. I took advantage of this after a lunch this week. The driver was none too happy when I mentioned that I knew the rule but was taking advantage of the transition period. The exchange began with him mentioning that if a driver sees me doing that again he won’t pick me up, and it ended with him saying at least he got me picked up this time. He wasn’t quite a jerk, but boy it was close.
If you look at the passenger counts you see that often there are only one or two passengers at 8am from my home. One of these passengers is often the same person. This week or maybe beginning with the new routes this person has begun bringing a bicycle along. Competition for the bus bike slots is heating up. Get yours today!