Archive for the ‘bicycle’ Category

Climate change. Does it exist? Yes. Can we do something about it? Maybe. What the world needs now (besides love, as they say) is concerted action. We need to educate people on the true consequences of their actions, and what they can do to reduce their impact on the planet. For a few things you can do individually, check these out:

1) Live close to work & play. I know that for many people, they are settled in to where they are living. But the average American only lives in a house for seven years. So you still may be able to do this at some point in the future. Look at where you live now, and how far you commute. Can you live closer to where you work? Can you get a new job closer to where you live? When my wife and I were buying our first home, we took this into consideration. We decreased her commute time from 30 minutes to 20 minutes, and I was close enough to ride my bike to work most days.

2) Ride a bike. If you are physically able to ride a bike to do short errands, do it. Many car trips in the U.S. are for distance of less than a mile. Have to run down to the drugstore for something small? Take a bike. This alone will reduce your carbon footprint a great deal. Plus it may be quicker. What? you ask incredulously. Yes. My commute was 12 minutes by car and 7 minutes by bike…because of all the traffic. I can always go to the front of the line at a ed light, and speed by cars that are bumper to bumper.

3) Get an energy audit for your home. Many companies that deal in windows, insulation, or heating will offer these for free. A technician will come in and go around your house check for leaks. Not leaks from water in pipes, places where heat is leaking out. They seal off your front door with a big plastic gasket with a fan inside. This creates negative pressure in the house, so any place where heat would have been going out is now coming in. They use a thermal IMG_0251imaging camera to spot areas of cold. (white is hot, black is cold. You can see in the picture that the bottom panel of our back door is very cold, and cold air is seeping in underneath the door.) It was very cool to follow him around and see cold seeping in through the baseboards and around the door to the attic. Then I knew exactly where to seal with caulk or expanding foam. We also got our furnace replaced with a 95% efficient model and insulated all the exterior walls with blown-in cellulose insulation. This cut our utility bills in half! I wrote in more detail about that here.

There are so many other things you can do, so I will say that the biggest one is:

4) Read. Educate yourself on how you can live a better life for yourself, and the environment. You’re doing it right now! There are tons of simple things you can do. There are also things that many people believe will affect the climate a great deal, but actually don’t.

I focused on only one small part of the climate change issue, but there are myriad facets to this. I expect to read posts from other people doing Blog Action Day today about how coastal regions may be affected, our food supply, desertification, water shortages, international policy changes, new advancements in science, and much more. So just try and do your part, and we can make some change for the good of us all.

For more info, go here:

http://www.blogactionday.org/

Break-in

burglar

My garage was broken into last night. Whoever did it had vehicular support because they stole my lawnmower, my 80 lb. truck jack, and saddest of all, my bike. Now I can’t ride around the neighborhood with my son on the back in his child carrier. (one of my favorite pastimes). They did my nextdoor neighbor’s garage too and got their mower as well. The garage door was padlocked, and the two side windows were boarded up, but they stood on a trash can and broke in the rear window, taking it entirely out of the frame.

If you have ever had a break-in, you know how it feels. Awful. You feel violated. You feel watched, like they might just come back the minute your back is turned. You feel regret at the things you lost. You feel apprehension at having to report all this to the police and your homeowners insurance. You feel stupid for having a $1,000 deductible. You feel ineffective at keeping your home and family safe. So what do I do now?

I made a list of things missing and their replacement cost. $2,090. I boarded up the back window, and changed the padlock around so that someone from the outside can’t access the screws. What else? Reassess security.

Please do this now before it’s too late for you. Go outside. Now look at your house/ garage/ property with a burglar’s eyes. Where would you break in? What looks like the easiest way or the weakest area? What is stored where? Thankfully all my expensive rock/ice climbing equipment was left untouched, due to the thief’s ignorance. But you may not be so fortunate. Go out to your garage and write down the serial numbers of the most expensive things there. I did not do this to my bike, much to my frustration. Keep this list in a safe place. Realize that if someone really wants to get in, they will, but do not make it easy for them. A single-pane window held in by rusty nails ended up being the weak link in my garage. Make sure you know yours, and then do something about it so that this does not happen to you.

In a time when most fast food chains are offering healthier options on their menus, Burger King sends a different message. “Stay Fat America.”

I was out doing errands today. My wife has our only car so I was on my bike. It was lunchtime and I was mightily hungry from riding five miles to the bank, post office, etc. So I thought I would grab a quick Whopper Jr. from the drive through. Or as they so charmingly call it, the drive-thru. The car ahead of me pulled ahead so I pulled up and waited. A squawky intercom voice told me to hang on. Then they told me to move to the second window. “But I  haven’t ordered yet.” I replied. “Move up to the second window.” They repeated. Once there, a helpful cashier leaned out and yelled that they can’t serve people on bikes. I would have to come inside to order. “Why?” I asked, my money flapping in the wind, just waiting to be given away. “BK policy” she yelled. At this point, fearing I might do something stupid, I just said “Fine” and rode off in a huff.

When I spoke with the manager of this particular “restaurant” later that day over the phone, he said that the only reason they can’t serve bikes is because of insurance. I asked about serving drivers whose cars aren’t insured. He said that was between them and the state. When I asked him about people who just walk through the drive through, his response was, “coupons.” Clearly the type of manager I would want to have serving me food. I’m glad I ended up not eating there.

Corporate Headquarters assured me that bikes can’t be used in the drive through because of safety concerns but said nothing of insurance. I asked if there had been any previous accidents where a car had hit a cyclist and she denied any such occurrences. If I was on a motorcycle though, it would have been fine. So a machine that goes 200 mph and kills 5,154 people every year is much safer than a bicycle that can get up to 30 mph in the city and kills 698 people a year. Hmm. Especially the high-speed lane of the Burger King Drive-Thru. Gosh, I think I got up to 4 mph going around that corner. I’m such a daredevil.

Apparently Burger King is fine promoting riding bikes in video games though, but not real life. God forbid people should want to get in shape. Stay off that bike America. Stay in your car instead.

So I’m asking you to boycott Burger King and take your money elsewhere. Will you join me? What do you think?