Friday, March 30, 2007

Day & Night | Ny & Day

According to Google, no one, in the history of the internets, has every wondered, "Why aren't DayQuil and NyQuil packaged together?"

Todday I begin to suffer this cold with dignity.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The DeWeese Report v. The MinusCar Project

“Please don’t worry. Global warming is not a horror that will destroy the earth. It is completely natural. We’ll get used to the warmer winters and the longer growing seasons for our crops. The sea levels will not swallow whole islands and the 911 Memorial in New York will never be underwater – I promise.” – Tom DeWeese, American Policy Center

Can I stop sabbathing, fasting and tithing then? – The MinusCar Project

I wasn’t five days removed from sitting in front of a Baptist Sunday school class explaining how my little nightmare (global warming) had morphed into the bigger question of my own mortality. The answers to the question having brought me to a much fuller appreciation of the biblical disciplines of Sabbath, fasting and tithing; nevermind the positive effect a brazillian people practicing these disciplines might contribute to the health of humanity, the planet, or...

Volume 13, Issue 3 of The DeWeese Report. Of particular interest is the article, “Forcing Global Warming Nightmares On Children.” The same article can be found online here at the American Policy Center’s website. The article is inspired by the story of an elementary classroom viewing of An Inconvenient Truth followed by a student letter writing exercise to global warming skeptics, of which Mr. DeWeese is one.

My own position on the Oscar winning documentary – I’m not old enough to see it. I'm afraid it will give me nightmares. My own position on the whole classroom exercise – there’s a big difference between a first grader and a sixth grader and it would probably do me some good to have this sort of conversation with The Boy 9 when he's more like The Boy...well any day now I suppose.

The setting is a letter written to Tom DeWeese from “a little girl in elementary school” followed by Tom’s educational (if not patronizing) written response. He gives some remarkable advice that I think everybody should follow.

More to come…

Monday, March 26, 2007

Electricity: Part 3 (of 3)

Not very long ago The Wife asked me if we’re saving any money with our compact fluorescent bulbs and our consciousness of wasteful electricity use. I told her I didn’t think we’d be able to see a difference. I suggested the savings in energy is significant only if thousands of people conserved. I did some research anyway.

Quicken says we spent $450 less in 2006 than 2005 (years on this graph run from March to February.) In fact we spent less this year than the three previous years.

I’ll keep the $450 in the same jar as the $3,200 I already don’t spend on automobile expenses.

The money’s nice but this is really about saving energy. Xcel Energy says we used close to 50% less electricity in our home from April to November compared to the year before. For the year as a whole we used 41% less electricity.

This could be explained away by lower temperatures in the air conditioned months…except that temperatures weren’t significantly lower.

Soon I will do some work in the back yard. Tilling for a garden…the community garden is too disconnected from us. A post, hopefully with a solar panel on it, will serve to hold a retracting clothesline that we bought years ago. The Wife likes to line dry clothes. I've been dragging my feet...until I found a new appreciation for clotheslines.

Maybe this year we can use even less energy.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Electricity: Part II

Anon: I think “The Pastor” is a more appropriate search term. Here – I’ll do it for you. Remember, that’s capital T capital P – don’t be fooled by other more mundane uses of “the pastor.” Does that help?

As the inside of the home dims conservation as demonstrated in the previous post becomes less and less attractive and the compact fluorescent bulbs that I’ve heard so much about become more and more attractive. Apparently Australia has banned use of incandescent bulbs.

I installed my first CF’s quite a few months ago in my home office. A pilot experiment in arguably the most used lighting fixture in the house. During February we committed to CF’s – most of our well used lights now have them. The Boy 5 readily accepted the CF’s for his bedroom. The Boy 9 refused. They don’t fit in some fixtures and I refused to put one in a stair well due to occasional delays between flipping the switch and actual illumination.


A few weeks ago I viewed the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

While the automobile industry was petitioning the California legeslature to ease up on their law restricting carbon emitting vehicles there was no mention of electricity and the gains some companies whould acquire from electric cars.

I can’t help but wonder why the electric companies aren’t involved in the mess. It seems to me that they would have quite a lot to gain from plug in automobiles. If compact fluorescent bulbs really do take off it also seems likely they are in a position to lose some business.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and a highly placed electric company employee will read this an offer some insight…


Next up: let’s talk money again. Just how many pennies a year do my conservation efforts get me?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Electrickcity Conversation

I've overcome my unwillingness to ride bike in non-cycling clothing. I can't go far because I sweat too much but...yesterday to meet The Family for dinner and today to meet KT for lunch...short distance trips...roll up the pant leg and roll out the wheels.

Lately I've been considering our household use of electricity. A long time ago I posted about putting the computers and entertainment system on power strips so that they could be completely turned off.

I also remember posting about a relatively cheap and small invention that generates 1kWh of sustained power...enough to light 70 light bulbs. This would be a boon in places that have no electricity. I counted light bulbs in my home...70.

One evening, after harassing The Boy’s about leaving lights on I suggested we implement a points system. A bonus points rule entered the conversation and for the past few months lights on in empty rooms have not been a problem. The remarkable thing…it was just a suggestion; it didn’t need to be formally implemented. I have smart The Boys.

During this time I have implement an electricity conversation plan.

Uses 28% less energy than similar fixtures.

Uses 12% less energy than similar fixtures.

Uses 50% less energy than similar fixtures.

There are mother-in-law considerations to this conversation plan. For many there are marital considerations to this type of plan...for wife is cooler than most.

Do you suppose my electricity conversation plan saves me any money? Geeky empirical data to come.

Do you suppose my continued use of conversation instead of conservation is funny? Empirical data may come.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It Will Be Colossal!

Some days just seem to work.

I just got back from a Bike 2 Work committee meeting. In my head I’m thinking we’re screwed. We’re biting off way more than we can chew. On my left is Mr. Bite saying, “I think there needs to be a little chaos that day.” Whatever goes down on May 18th at Fawick Park and the post-event bike pub crawl it will be colossal…failure or success. And part of The MinusCar Project story is…dooooo it!

I rode 23 miles today between home and work and the downtown Bike Committee/Bike 2 Work Committee meetings. I love this sort of day.

Once upon a time there was Full Face Helmet Guy keeping me accountable to my ride to work. Our paths would cross just about every day and we’d acknowledge each other in various ways featuring various levels of creativity. My employer changed locations. I have a new accountability partner. He’s known around here as The Dad. The Dad works on the same block I do. I parked my bike next to his today. Family values. See, some days just seem right.

I was correct in my previous post. My friend DDD did read this and did send me the picture he took. Here is the coolest hole from Saturday’s partial round of disc golf.

Sew Green. I know there are some crafty women (and I mean that in the best of ways) who, for some inexplicable reason (probably my darling The Boys), read The MinusCar Project. Welp, be aware that Sew Green has arrived.
“One day last November, on my regular blog, I mentioned wanting to start a blog about consumption. It turned out, some dear crafting blogger friends were also interested in this idea.”

The blog shows 14 contributors and they received 50 comments to their introductory post. If you visit and end up replacing your reading of The MinusCar Project with them…just remember once in awhile who sent you. Heck, maybe I’ll replace my reading of The MinusCar Project with Sew Green.

Additionally, it appears one of the contributors is friends with the Blue Greenie…go. Now.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Very Good Weekend

In reverse order…

The Family joined me in checking out my employers new digs. The MinusCar Project got a whole lot easier over the weekend. My company moved (I’m guessing) 33% closer to my residence. I now have three acceptable ways to ride to work. That’s 66% more than the old location. It will be harder to equal last year’s bike miles, but it could mean more time to ride recreationally.

I missed out on a couple chances to get my position on global warming corrected…

Sunday morning there was a bike parked inside a local church. The MinusCar Project was a special guest in a Sunday school class. I forgot to pack shoes which worked out great. It provided me a nice way to begin the conversation…as we sat in a circle and looked at my shoes. I’m just glad I don’t ride Look pedals.

The actual class was good too. It’s extremely nice to be given the opportunity to practice some of what I write front of real people. I think it came out pretty well in that setting. Hopefully the church doesn’t burn down this week. But seriously… to anyone from that class who happens to come this way, thank you.

Saturday afternoon a group of cyclists joined the local St Patrick’s Day Parade. This parade is a people’s parade which I think means all you need is a face to enter. Or perhaps all you need is a placard and a magic marker. These are some sweet signs.

If I would have stopped to fully read their signs I would have learned they were offering an opportunity to get more information about their cause post-parade at a nearby park. It wasn’t ‘till tonight that I realized I missed out. Oh well. It would have dampened the post-parade high and I had moving work to partake in.

I think this is The Owner. Note the three inches of sweat around his neck. It was around 40-degrees. I named him G. O’Rilla – which I guess isn’t very funny, judging from the responses I received from parade attendees.

Here's Snakebite looking real nice warming up my parade bike before the start. A few miles on it each year keeps me young. It’s a great way to jump start the quadriceps and the monkey butt for the season…and my knees can still handle the pressure.

Finally, I got out and played my first round of disc golf with DDD Saturday morning. I haven’t played since September. It was a great morning. One of the holes was drifted in. He’s supposed to send me a picture. Either he forgot or it didn’t turn out. He’ll read this and let me know which. (Hi DDD!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Friday's With Snakebite

Recently I met Snakebite downtown to recognicise Fawick Park to see if the facilities could handle the party our group is intending to throw for National Bike To Work Day on May 18. We met outside the Snakepit…

Late last summer he determined it was time to give up on his car as primary transportation. To do this he needed to be more centrally located within the city. Previously his residence was extreme south and his employment is extreme north. He moved downtown.

We met outside his apartment building and selected a lunch destination. Instead of the establishment directly beneath his apartment we went one door down to enjoy a relatively new place. Our meals were prepared and delivered by the owner.

While we ate a gentleman arrived and briefly conversated with the owner. Snakebite observed the various relationships between the two people in conversation, their work and their residence. All are downtown.

Community. Is it a side effect of deciding it’s time to consume and produce less? Perhaps it’s no coincidence that living downtown is becoming more attractive.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Third Grade Social Studies - Vocabulary

“Hey The Boy 9 (not his real name) what’s demand?”

The Boy 9: “The people and their wanting stuff.”

“What’s the stuff?”

The Boy 9: “Huh?”

“There’s a word.”

The Boy 9: “Product.”

“Who are the people?”

The Boy 9: “Consumers.”

“How do you get the consumers to want the stuff?”

The Boy 9: “Advertise.”

It’s that simple. I’ve never appreciated home schoolers more (by that I mean we don't. Homeschool).

Import, export and international trade are on the list too. Perhaps tonight we’ll discuss trade deficits and global slave trade. Because right now, while he doesn't have money to spend, is a good time to talk about what 9 year olds in other countries do with their time.

Social Studies indeed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Of Things Bike

You remember Dr James Dobson was attempting to get Richard Cizik fired? Bummer for Dobson...

"The National Association of Evangelicals board, meeting this week in Minnesota, supported a broad agenda that includes environmental protection...also declined to censure Rev. Richard Cizik, an evangelical lobbyist who has embraced environmentalism as a moral issue."

A couple guys from the local bike club announced a ride today. I woke up stoked to attend but at the same time I should have been getting ready to roll I learned that some of the city bike stuff I’ve been working on was in the local daily today. I wondered why a reporter sat through our last meeting. I couldn’t believe he was offering himself up as a Bike 2 Work volunteer. Oh…you say he’s doing an a.r.t.i.c.l.e?

The Owner is quoted. This is the third time this week The Owner has been in the daily (if rumors of his gun permit acquisition are true (they’re not)). The other time was for a local telling of the Red Bull Ride the Sky experience. Look at that article to see a very nice picture of two guys riding stairs inside a building (go fast though because I think they only keep a seven day archive).

I’ll just poach it -

Solve for x: small business owner + community involvement = x.

I joined the ride in progress and waded through a few hub deep puddles of melted snow with Mr Bite. Today marked day three in a row of Bite-related activities. Jealous?

Post ride I stopped at the LBS and salesdudepel gave me status on The MinusCar Bike. Looks nice doesn’t it?

It was a 30 mile/50 degree day. Ahhh…

Friday, March 09, 2007

T-Shirt #2.8.d

This snippet, "seek out time to be still" coincides nicely with a beautiful poem my friend at White Open Spaces posted recently, a response to my fasting/sabbath post from a few days ago. Check it out here.

Now, the final installment of essay 2.8.

When you are 18, society will consider you an adult, both legally and figuratively. You can keep those things that work for you and discard those that don’t. You might decide to become an ultra-conservative right wing Christian (although I truly believe such a position is fraught with loads of cognitive dissonance – look it up, you’ll understand). If you save that $160/mo you can even buy a pretty decent car. I hope you’ll choose a car free life, but I’ll understand if you don’t. For what it’s worth, here are a few of the things I hope you’ll learn these next few years if you already haven’t.

I hope you learn to depend on your friends and that they learn they can depend on you. I hope your relationships are deep. I hope you learn to weigh the satisfaction of an activity against the effort it takes (in human power) to get there and back. I hope your actions match the expectations of your spirit rather than appeal to what everyone else might be doing. I hope you learn to be comfortable with your thoughts and seek out time to be still. I hope you find people who love you because of who you are and not because they ascribe worth based on your possessions – where you live, what you drive, how you dress. I hope you surround yourself with a community whose deliberate actions serve to make a positive difference for the generations who’ll be here long after you and I have died.

And I hope you are always aware enough to know that minus is the new plus.

With much love,


p.s. for future reference - if you are going to concoct a story so your girlfriend can come home with you, I really need to be in on it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

T-Shirt #2.8.c

The South Dakota Peace and Justice Center showed Who Killed the Electric Car? free at Sankofa Coffee Bistro Thursday night. I went and enjoyed the show very much. Mr. Bite was there. I sat with The Dad. It was a good night.

Now, back to the current essay. This is the portion that challenges me the most.

Years ago I attended a motivational seminar where the speaker urged us to ‘observe the masses and do the opposite’. He was talking about wealth building and not transportation issues, but the world is hurting because of our transportation issues and the advice is still good on many levels. Part of my paradigm is the belief that global warming is real. I truly believe this, and while everybody talks about what everybody else should be doing to solve global warming, I decided to observe the masses and do the opposite. I lowered the thermostat, I rarely use the clothes dryer, I eliminated most meat from my diet, and I bicycle for most of my transportation needs. The masses are trapped in the cult of the car. I decided to free myself from that paradigm. I’m certainly not there yet, but I can never be unaware again.

One of the things the masses do is automatically award 16 year old children driver’s permits and sometimes even buy them cars. I’ll not be doing that. You will not get a permit at age 16 or even 17. If you’ve read up to this point and all you’ve gotten is the message that I’m not going to let you drive, you’ve missed the lesson. You don’t see the plusses, only the minuses.

Your relatives will think that I’m doing this because of the money, but they’ll be wrong. A teenage driver certainly costs more. Insurance costs would be $75/month extra. 2 tanks of gasoline a month (a very conservative 15 miles a day) would be another $60/mo and general wear and tear on the car about $25/month (upkeep and repairs). That’s $160 each and every month that I won’t be spending on the car via the oil and insurance industries.

So what will I do with that money? I’ll give it to you. Each and every month until you turn 18, you’ll get $160. If your relatives decide to buy you a car, and they might, and if you accept the gift, the money stops. I will NOT subsidize your entry into car culture by underwriting any cost associate with it. If you would like a nice bicycle (and I mean NICE) I’ll get you a nice bicycle. But a car? NO. To do so would not only go against everything I believe in, it would feel as if I wasn’t properly preparing you for the future you will have to live if the planet is to survive.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

T-Shirt #2.8.b

I’m big on paradigms these days. I’ve come to realize that paradigms reveal themselves in behavior and when you blindly and unthinkingly accept things the way they are you do a great disservice to yourself and the world around you. You might even behave in a way that is counter to what your spirit demands of you. For instance, operating from a paradigm of finding the lowest price, no matter what, might cause you to support a business that exploits children in India, poisons groundwater in Peru, or enslaves young women in China so that the price you pay at the checkout is a few cents cheaper than the store down the street – the store which pays its employees an adequate wage and gives them time to be with their families. I believe it pays to know as much as is possible about your world because when you are armed with knowledge, you have a better chance of behaving so that you’ll have no regrets. And here’s something I’m pretty sure of: cars are not going to be a part of the future - not like we know it now – and I’m pretty sure most folks at some gut level know this too.

I realized long ago that you don’t really belong to me. Yes, you are ‘my’ child and I love you dearly, but you belong to the world, not to me. I’m just cosmically entrusted to provide safekeeping and guidance and preparation until you fly away to your future, a place where energy will never again be cheap, where cars will be scarce, and where all social, religious, and political institutions are certain to be quite different than they are now. It’s odd for me to realize that my very liberal view about religion, drugs, rock & roll or my gay sexual orientation will cause less of a conflict to your ultra-religious, very conservative relatives than my reticence to allow you easy access to car-culture, but such is the power of a paradigm.

Monday, March 05, 2007

T-Shirt #2.8.a

I recieved an essay from my friend in Kentucky. He's the author of essay #15. It's really really good. It's also really really long. I'm splitting it into four (maybe five) parts. I think the most challenging part for me is part three.

Dear Son,

Earlier tonight we drove 2.6 miles (one way) to pick up your girlfriend so she could eat dinner with us. We were one car among many cars on the highway, a ribbon of asphalt lit up like a Vegas gaming table, lined with halogen lights, LED billboards messages hawking sales of goods that travel thousands of miles to get to the shelves, all while the radio brought us the news from Iraq via the BBC world news. As I’m writing this I just asked you about what you were thinking when we were traveling there. You said you were thinking up what to tell her parents if they asked where we were going since they would never consent to having her come to our house. I was thinking of something else.

I was thinking of the world you will inherit, and how this seemingly ordinary act of driving a short distance to pick up your girlfriend is a luxury, of how the news about the Iraq war is related to the 1/3 gallon of gas we would be using tonight, how the world seems to be on an insane path because of energy addiction, and how I’ll be able to handle a coming ideological impasse, your 16th birthday.

A major excitement in my life was the acquisition of my driver’s permit at age 15. It was a rite of passage that ranked right up there with getting laid for the first time, and I couldn’t wait. I’m not sure what you think about your 16th birthday, but every time I’ve mentioned your age to anyone in the past 6 years, a common reaction would have an oblique reference to it … ‘before you know it, he’ll be driving’. Your mom’s relatives -especially your uncle Mike- has been talking to you about how ‘you’ll be needing a car when you’re 16’. Your 17 year old cousin owns a car. I’m not angry with them (or anyone else) for this reaction because it’s what they know. It’s the way they think, their worldview, their paradigm. Just like you and me, they have always known a world full of cars and, as a result, structure where they live, where they shop, what they buy, and maybe even who they choose to love on some level due to the luxury of easy transportation that cheap energy and the car allows. They filter their world through the car windshield and don’t even realize they are doing it. It’s their paradigm, this cult of the car.

To be continued...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I'm Fast

“Fasting – to abstain from food.” February I fasted from blogging.

“You can’t fast from blogging. Fasting is about food. Fasting has been about food for thousands of years.”

Fasting is a form of asceticism – “rigorous self-denial; extreme abstinence; austerity.” And maybe the desert fathers and mothers in essay 2.7 knew a thing or two that I wish I could know today.

I didn’t blog. I didn’t listen to as many podcasts. I didn’t bike.

“That’s hardly rigorous self-denial!” True. But what didn’t you do in February?

I also practiced Sabbath. Sunday. Did nothing. Another form of fasting.

The point of fasting? It makes space. It doesn’t have to be religious.

Sunday is a reading day now. Sunday night has become game night. The Boy 5 continues to dominate dominoes.

“Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don't work, I don't get in a car, I don't fucking ride in a car, I don't pick up the phone, I don't turn on the oven, and I sure as shit don't fucking roll! Shomer shabbos!” – Walter Sobchak


Turns out it’s true. Dobson did try to get Cizik fired. He’s trying again this week. Enjoy. Lent.


In better news, the Globe Squatters blog is the story of two people as they leave home (Tasmania) and explore the globe. Why?
"Well, we have found ourselves in the routine of working, paying off our mortgage and general busyness - leaving little time for the things we consider important. We realised we were in need of a change of pace. So after many ideas, thoughts and dreams we hatched a plan to head overseas on a working holiday, hoping for more holiday than working!"

Thursday, March 01, 2007

T-Shirt #2.7

From MC in Harrisburg, SD -

Let's take the minus and plus in a different direction. Let's go away from Western thinking for a bit. It's time for some Eastern thought.

It's visual. Look at the minus – sign and its horizontal tilt.

Let's observe the plus + sign and the vertical and horizontal leanings.

Taking those pictures into the spiritual relationships one can see the horizontal connection of God through interaction with God's creation; be it man or nature on the physical plane as suggested in Romans chapter 1.

Look at the plus and one can see the vertical approach to God in an upward longing, stretching to the heavens begging to hear His voice or feel his touch as the horizontal plane cuts through the middle causing the upward gaze to fall downward into the eyes of the awaiting chosen vessels to share His love with open hearts and arms ----

Embrace the horizontal connection of God on earth and enjoy the minus as the new plus.

In a mathematical sense, addition through subtraction makes minus the new plus. Cities and their multitudes are often represented in literature as places of bad influence and corruption. In contrast, rural areas with their sparse populations are refuges of rest. Christ often started his day in solitude to give himself strength. During the day he visited villages and sought solitude within the multitudes. He sought individuals to affect solitary lives. As night approached, he found in solitude, a time to heal from a single day filled with a myriad of moments with many.

The desert fathers and sisters of the 4th century isolated themselves from society so they could hear the voice of God more clearly. The more they prayed and sought Him in prostrate form, the less time they had for the world. They would go for weeks and months without seeing others so as to become more in tune with his will. Multitudes would flock to the desert to hear the wisdom of God when the contemplatives would break fast.

Minus – and plus +. It's time for some quiet reflection and a search for solitude.