If writers stopped writing about what happened to them, then there would be a lot of empty pages.
- Elaine Liner,
May 31, 2007
If writers stopped writing about what happened to them, then there would be a lot of empty pages.
Somehow, I guess similar to the way that our children grow up and change on us, this blog seems to have morphed into something resembling an environmental action blog. I don't have a problem with this per se, and I’m sure that in time it will evolve further. I still hold to the vision I started with and laid out in my blog goals, and I think things like participating in the upcoming Low Impact Week holds with those goals. I have noticed that a large number of the persons coming to my site are from other sites like No Impact Man, (where I am not linked to but am a regular commenter) Crunchy Chicken and Exploring Not-So-Big-Living, both of which link to me. (There are a couple of others, and I appreciate each of them, but for the purposes of this entry they don’t completely apply.) This has come about, because I am very interested in the things going on at those blogs and, like I've said many times, am so stuck on my own opinion that I feel the need to give it whenever possible. Recently I was in a debate with another blogger over the issue of whether or not Colin at NIM should be getting chastened by so many people for possible future profit related to his NIM experiment. The debate came to a point where I basically called the person on the fact that while they claimed to not be able to afford a “$5.oo light bulb” (his words not mine) they were able to go on multiple amusement park/zoo trips to include a six hour weekend trip to Disneyland. I didn’t intend to embarrass the person and as far as I can tell he understood, although still disagreed with, my point. At any rate this exchange, coupled with the growing number of people that read me that are “environmentally conscious” has prompted me to feel like I need to come forward with some facts about myself and my lifestyle in the spirit of full disclosure so that you know where I am coming from, and so that I can maintain whatever credibility I may have earned thus far.
For the record:
1. I own a Full sized Ford F-150 v8 truck, and a v6 Mitsubishi SUV.
I don’t drive my truck other than for hauling things or going camping in the mountains. It is not a commuter vehicle. For one it would kill me to pay for the gas. But really I just don’t see the need for it. I drive an old Toyota Tercel that get’s great mileage, and am trying to ride my bike as often as I can. As for the SUV, I have three boys, sometimes four and they aren’t getting smaller. Really it’s just a practical vehicle for that reason. My wife and I are having her drive the Toyota whenever I ride to work, so although we do have the potential to consume quite a lot of fuel, I think that we are doing pretty well.
2. I have a movie theatre in my basement.
This may seem excessive to some; to me it comes down to dollars and sense (yes sense, not cents). Dollars in that with a family of five, a trip to the theater will cost us I the neighborhood of $50.00 and that’s with me and A~ sharing popcorn and a drink as well as the boys. That is a lot of money when you take into account the fact that we all LOVE movies. Sense, because for reasons I won’t go into, the collective sense of so many parents has gone out the window. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had terrible experiences in movies because of uncontrolled or crying children (Note to parents, 3&4 yr olds need not watch the Lord of the Rings with you, it will scare them!). So when we I finished our basement I put in a theater.
3. I hunt.
I think this explains itself. I also fish. I cannot think of a better or more rewarding way to gather a meal than to have to literally go out kill it and bring it home. You have earned the food, and will respect the life of that animal more because you will have a more complete understanding of its place in the life cycle. I think that is why so many hunters are such good stewards of the land. They are rarely hailed as such, and more often than not the beer guzzling party hunter is the guy shown on TV. This is not the norm. Notice also that I say I hunt and fish, not shoot and catch. In the natural world unlike the supermarket there is not guarantee.
4. I eat meat.
Well, yeah, I hunt don’t I? I have always been a meat eater. I always will be to some degree, although, I have been reading the Omnivores dilemma By Michael Pollan recently and have been rapidly getting disenchanted by commercial meat production. I am just about to the point of refusing to eat any meat that I have not either gathered myself from the wild, or purchased locally from grass fed cattle operations. (I am lucky enough to have a couple with in a very short distance.) Either way, I have reduced the amount of meat, particularly beef that I eat in favor of a healthier and more well-rounded diet. I feel great by the way and have lost nearly 20 lbs.
OK, break time, get a glass of water and go to the bathroom…
Better? Ok let’s continue.
5. I live in a dry climate and don’t have xeriscaping in my yard.
Xeriscaping, if you didn’t know, “refers to landscaping in ways that do not require supplemental irrigation.”
I like a garden, and I like fresh veggies. My wife and I have been working at introducing primarily low water requirement perennials. We also mulch to reduce water need, and drip irrigate directly to again reduce water use. But still, we have a lawn, and we water it with local reservoir water and our food garden uses a good bit as well.
6. I fly and drive long distances for vacation.
Yes, I do. And this summer I will be again. I have a long family vacation planned that will require us to drive almost 2000 miles. And unfortunately the vehicle that we have that is the most reliable is the truck. This will hurt, I know. It’s not a good thing for fuel consumption or my pocketbook, but it is the most reliable vehicle that we have and get’s fairly decent (15-17 mpg is good for a full size truck.) mileage for its size. My family and their safety come first. I have already stranded us in the middle of Nevada once before in a 76 VW bus, I won’t do it again, and I won’t apologize for it.
7. I am a conservative.
I know this may be my biggest crime to a lot of my environmentally conscious readers. I am conservative and I don’t think that precludes me from caring for the world around me. As a matter of fact, from my perspective, it obligates me to a couple of things. I need to be more self sufficient; since I believe in reducing the size of government and keeping them out of my business and my decisions, I need to be able to be responsible for myself and my family to make up for that. This includes taking responsibility for my actions and being available to care for not just our children, but our parents should the need ever arise. I believe that we need to also be more self sufficient as a country meaning that we need to take responsibility for our habits that continue to drive the need for foreign oil. We won’t eliminate the need for it, oil that is, but we can certainly begin to change habits that will mitigate the damage and move us toward energy self sufficiency. As for as social issues, there are too many to cover, but I am conservative. I don’t always follow the party line so to speak, and even when I do often times it is for my own reasons.
8. I voted for Al Gore.
Wait a minute; I said I was a conservative didn’t I? Yes I am, and I was at the time, I just didn’t know it. This would be my biggest crime to any conservative readers that I have. That election cycle was the first time that I ever bothered to get out and vote. I didn’t pay attention to what candidates were about, or what the parties were about for that matter, I just voted. After 911, I began paying a lot of attention to what was going on in the world. The more I heard what the positions were, the more research I did. The more research I did, the more I realized I was a conservative and had been for some time. I wouldn’t do it again, but I won’t kick myself for it either.
Well that ought to give you a pretty good perspective on me. More than anything I just wanted to make sure that at some point I don’t end up shocking someone with this or that, or get accused of playing to an audience. The things I say I stand by and believe in; I will never tell you what I think you want to hear, only what I think. I am a work in progress so to speak, these are just some of the brush strokes that have been painted so far. I appreciate the time you’ve given me, and I’m flattered to see that I have a small group of readers that regularly return. I hope I am able to give you a positive message at times and that at others we can disagree; but always to be honest and open.
May 30, 2007
I was inspired by Phelan over at a homesteading neophyte, by her happiness with strawberries. Thought I might share my first harvest of them this year as well. I hope to make another rhubarb pie with some of these this weekend. Mmm Mmm Good! If you don't have some already, plant some for next year; you will never be sorry for planting strawberries as long as they have room to run, because they will spread!
May 29, 2007
I was reading No Impact Man this morning, and again, was motivated by todays blog entry and decided to repost a previous writing of mine. It's a slightly different take on essentially the same thing that he was covering. I think it's an appropriate issue, and a legitimate one to address around Memorial day. We have a great number of fine men and women out there defending not only us, but our way of life. As long as we maintain the status quo, we will continue to have to fight for stability in a region that controls the majority of the resource that that way of life depends on; OIL.
So, why not jump right in with one of my loves; alternative power. I have been reading an article about a new solar polymer foil that is being worked on by a Swiss company. good reading if one is so inclined. I want to state for reference and posterity some opinions of mine with regard to this, alternative energy and self sufficiency that is. Let's get a couple of things on the record. I am first of all conservative, nay not just conservative but A Conservative. Now don't take this too mean that I am a kool-aid drinking, bush can do no wrong, republicans are always right no matter what conservative. There are many issues that I will deal with in the future that I know I will disagree with many people on, I'll do this because I am irrepresibly stuck on myself and my opinions. I admit it, but I am also able to see two sides of a coin. This brings me to the alternative power debate. I do agree with seeking alternative feuls, and power generation sources. I think that we will be failing ourselves and our posterity if we do not. Where I diverge from many peoples argument is that I do not buy into the panic regarding the plight of earth. That's not to say that I deny that the world is getting warmer, but I am also not arrogant enough to think that we as humans are so advanced that we can begin to understand the way that the good Lord made our planet to function. I remember being told the globe would be well frozen by now back in the 80's. I look at the issue like this; we are consistantly paying ever increasing rates for fuel, and fighting wars in countries that control the oil. And no I don't believe the bush war for oil mantra of a lot of the protesters out there. But with so much of a vested interest in maintaining oil supply and fuel flow, how could our government, left or right, not fight for our interests there. Another reason for my advocacy of alternatives is best illustrated by the havok in the New Orleans floods, Seattle wind storms, and the frigid northeast recently. We have such a mindset of waiting to be done for, that when circumstances change, or are thrown into chaos, where are we left? For my part I look at the need for alternatives as both a fiscal and responsibility issue. Fiscal in that I will save in the future, and will be self sufficient as much as possible. Responsibility, because as a husband and parent I want to make sure that I 1.) provide as best I can for my family, 2.) take care of the environment and the resources that we have and 3.) help my country to achieve true independance by severing our dependance on foreign oil. That pretty much wraps that up. Quite a digression from a quick post about some new energy technology wasn't it? Til next time.
May 28, 2007
Today is Memorial Day; a day that we should all take a few moments to think of, be thankful for, and to remember the service men and women that have served our nation during wars and times of peace. My grandfather was a part of that greatest generation that liberated Europe, my father was one of the volunteers to serve in the Pacific during the Vietnam conflict, and I completed two tours in the Persian Gulf during my 5 yrs in the ARMY. I am proud to say that I was a part of the uniformed services, and an quick to say that in many ways it played a great part in making me the man I am today. Far too often we hear about bad things that have happened, or our attentions are drawn to misfortunes or mistakes in our conflicts abroad. I would submit that regardless of our different opinions with regard to policy or administration, the soldier is not to be anything but thanked. Don't let us forget that these men and women are volunteers. They have put their lives up to protect our way of life. A way of life that is all too often taken for granted. I thank you all, Army Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard for your service and your time. I remember and honor the fallen and thank them for theirs, the greatest, sacrifice. I am also thankful for those that wait for these men and women, the wives and husbands that keep the homes and wait with anxious children; without their support the soldiers job would be infinitely harder.
Thank you and God bless you.
May 26, 2007
A lot of the criticism around the "no impact man" project comes from the possibility of him earning a living off of it. Or in some way benefitting it. This is something that I have noticed in a lot of the different comments that have been made to his postings since I have been reading it. I particularly noticed a lot of it during the period right after his televisions appearances. Today it showed up again, in his posting about taking matters into your own hands, it was again brought up by a commenter to the site that;
"If you really care about the earth, then donate the profits of your upcoming book to a worthy charity. Otherwise, stop pretending that you care about the environment more than the almighty dollar."
I may be overestimating myself and my powers of perception, but I don't see what one has to do with the other. We have all heard the mantra about the evil corporate entities out there corrupting everything they touch. To the extent that there are businesses out there with no concern towards anyone or anything but the shareholders and the bottom line this is based in fact. I don't believe that Colin falls into that catagory. The thing I see as a common thread to a lot of the activists and/or very environmentally conscious persons out there is the idea that it is better to be poor and working only for "The Mission", than to be able to make money at the same time as taking a stand for causes that we believe in. So often it is a topic of conversation about companies that are environmentally conscious, or are trying to reduce there footprint on the earth, and these companies are held up as beakons of what is possible, and how things could be(Which I agree, should be the case.) . Even in the same comments section as the one I am referring to here, Patagonia was held up as a positive corporate role model. Are these companies expected to give back the money that they make, or even the money they may save for that matter in order to validate that they do in fact care about the planet? I don't think most of us would argue that point. I certainly would not. If fact, I would argue that by showing that these companies and individuals can make a living, at the same time as having a positive influence on the environment, we will encourage other companies to look to alternatives to the mainstream ways of doing things and could in fact have a still greater influence on the world than they are already.
Do I believe that Colin, the "No Impact Man", is deliberately trying to profit off the environment by drawing attention to his project? No. Do I think that it is beyond the scope of such a thing to happen today. Again, No. In this day and age we have to be discerning with the people or entities that we hold up as role models. Unfortunately I think a lot of people out there are far to fast to believe anything that they are told or see in a soundbite news media, and are far to influenced by what the world says they should care about. But I submit that if a person is genuinely doing something that can influence huge numbers of people to rethink there actions, or to begin to take steps to reduce their impact, and that person is able to make a buck at the same time while maintaining their integrity, good for them.
Please share your thoughts with me, I'd love to know if I am alone on this one?
May 24, 2007
And I mean that literally! I did the ride into work this morning, only 5.5 miles but that sucker was uphill all the way. Not big steep kind of uphill (other than going over a big bridge that is.) but the long slow never ending uphill slog kind of uphill. I know, I know, Whaa Whaa! Anyway, I am pretty proud of myself if I do say so. This was one of my goals for this year, to ride to work. I guess if I only do it once this year at least I'm 100% more than last year right? But I won't, I hope to ride to work for at least the majority of the Low Impact Week that's coming up end of next week. (You can see the rest of my goals for that week HERE.) I really have to say that I was pleased to see the kind of comments that I received on the last entry I put up about riding. It is actually the post with the greatest reader input surprisingly. It's good to see a lot of people are getting out to ride more often, although I still have to give the prize for total ambition to Cynthia for her nearly 20 mi. one way ride to see her boyfriend.
Addendum: Well I made it back home tonight. I had a headwind, and got caught up at two lights, but still made it home in just under 25 mins. It took me nearly 40 to get in this morning. I hope that as I ride more often It will get easier.
I wanted to keep a count of the number of days that I ride to work this year, just for posterity. I will update this as I go.
todays count: 7 (Last Update 6-12-07)
May 23, 2007
There is a new IKEA store opening today just south of Salt Lake City. I was born in Sweden; my mothers side is 100% Swede. I grew up with that sense of style and love for all things culturally swedish, so yeah I have to say I am a little excited to be able to pick up a Marabou chocolate bar, and some good meatballs. But the buzz that I have been hearing about this place has me stopped dead in my tracks. The city of Draper where the new store is located has actually been working on a traffic plan for the last 6 months because of the number of people they are expecting! Last night the news was talking about the number of people camping out there waiting for it to open. ??? Are we THAT deprived of shopping venues here? Like I said, I look forward to going there. But I just can never wrap my brain around waiting overnight for a store opening. I kept thinking, "We have really gotten to a new level of mad consumption habits when a new store is like a cultural phenomenon." I guess the best I can say is that at least from my understanding IKEA is a pretty responsible retailer. For my part I'll wait until the fervor dies down a bit and I need to go that way for something anyway.
May 22, 2007
A Homesteading Neophyte: Now this is just sneaky
The link above is to a posting that was made on "A homesteading Neophyte's" blog today. It deserves attention and action TODAY.
Stop reading my blog and go there to sign a petition to stop Organic foods standards from being further watered down.
(Of course I want you to come back when your done though!)
Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.
- Charles Bukowski
(I had this quote writen on my high school notebook and could never remember who said it, I know it's a little silly, but it makes me smile to remember back. Besides, don't we all get a little crazy once in a while?)
Crunchy Chicken has been sponsoring a book club reading the Omnivores Dilemma by Micheal Pollan. She asked some questions to spur the debate, and I hope to continue it here. The following are my answers to here questions as I have finished the chapters.
1. Before reading the first chapter, did you know how pervasive corn and its byproducts were in the foods we eat?
The short Answer is No, I didn’t. I mean I’m no dummy but I really had no idea how pervasive it was. To be honest I was a little shocked.
2. In chapter 2, Michael Pollan claims that modern monoculture corn farming is basically the conversion of fossil fuels into corn, where it takes around 50 gallons of oil per acre of corn. He also states than it takes more than 1 calorie of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of food energy for animal consumption. Do you think that the price of corn and its byproducts should more accurately reflect the true costs of production? Are you willing to pay significantly more to make up for this discrepancy down the line?
Yes and No. Yes, I think that the cost of corn should reflect accurately what it costs to produce it. This is not necessarily because I want to discourage the fossil fuel usage so much as it is because I want to encourage the change of diet from one of nothing but corn derivatives to one that is more nature based and healthier. I am willing to pay more for food down the line, but I would add the caveat that in paying more for food, I hope to be doing it by paying a premium to local farmers that are raising healthy crops be those corn or others.
3. In chapter 3, we find out that 1/3 of all the corn grown in the U.S. is sold to a select few companies, Cargill being one of the biggest (as well as the biggest privately held corporation in the world). These companies also are the biggest winners regarding government subsidies. Do you feel that this should change, or that the subsidies help out the right people?
I am really not a proponent of government subsidies. I think that in the long run, someone is paying for it somehow. The farmers have now become slave to the Dept. of Agriculture subsidies, and we have become slave to a falsely low price for the foods we buy. I look at them in the same way that I do with welfare checks. Unfortunately we humans are a lot like water in that we will always tend to find the path of least resistance. If someone will pay you for a certain behavior, (raising corn, or not working) the majority of people will continue that behavior until it is unsustainable to do otherwise.
4. Chapter 4 exposes the problems with feeding corn to livestock animals that never used to eat it. The benefits are many -- cheap feed, faster growth to market. And, in regards to beef, feeding corn results in a flesh that marbles nicely (as well as in those that eat the beef in turn :). Do the benefits outweigh drawbacks such as increased animal sickness, issues with the feedlot environment (overcrowding, filthy conditions)?
This chapter honestly made me really ill. I was astonished at the denial I have been in with regard to commercial meat production. I certainly don’t think that the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. I can’t say enough about this, really, it was abhorrent.
5. In chapter 5, we learn that wet milling of corn for human consumption requires 10 calories of fossil fuel energy burned for every 1 calorie of food produced. The differential is enormous, yet with farm subsidies, the big winners are, again, the manufacturers. For example, it costs approximately 4 cents of commodity corn to product one box of cereal, yet you pay $4 for the processed food. Is this fair? Is it possible that the manufacture of cereal costs that much more than the materials themselves for this sort of margin? Or do you think the consumer is getting fleeced?
I am Mid chapter and will update this post with my responses upon completing it.
6. Chapter 6 states that the farm bills were designed to keep the river of cheap corn flowing, thereby guaranteeing that the cheapest calories will continue to be the unhealthiest. Based on what you've read in this section, will you do anything to change this (e.g. contact your legislators towards creating an equitable farm bill, avoiding or limiting your consumption of these products, etc.)?7. Is it a bad thing that we have become a "race of corn eaters", or do you think, in the grand scheme of things, it really matters whether or not we are "corn chips with legs"?
I will update this post with my responses upon completing it.
May 21, 2007
May 17, 2007
I was led the other day by the hands of inspiration. A little deep huh? Don't you sometimes feel like the stars align and you know that you are supposed to do something? I do. For whatever reason, the other day I was struck with the idea of digging up and reading by copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I suppose that it was a culmination of a lot of things. As I began making incremental changes in the way that I live and what I want to focus my energies on, I have become more and more in tune with the choices that I make, and perhaps more to the point the choices that I don't make. The thing that brings me to Thoreau is a specific idea I took from it nearly 20 years ago when I first read it; an idea that I seem to just now be implementing, the idea that we could live deliberately.
What so I mean by this? Don't I get up deliberately? don't I choose what to wear? I make the choice to buy what I buy. Do we? To a certain degree of course we do. But there is, I believe a certain portion of our day that we just run on autopilot. How often do we just pick up something quick for lunch because we didn't think to make lunch the night before? Or perhaps we make two or three trips to the same store over a weekend because we just jump in the car and run out real quick when we need something? I know I do these things all the time. When I say we can live deliberately I think the biggest point that I want to make is that we are the only ones that can plan and live our lives on purpose. As I have begun to focus more and more on my choices and my actions in life, I notice more and more the times that I am not making conscious decisions. It takes time, and in a lot of ways slows me down. But you know what? it's nice to know when I do make a decision that I am making it not my reflex. Whenever I walk into the kitchen I flick on the light, even in the middle of the day, that's a relex. When I realize it and turn it back off, I am living deliberately. When I lay down at night and flick on the television, that's a reflex. When I turn it back off in favor of reading or writing, I am living deliberately.
I guess what I am really getting at is that although I am a long way from say, "No Impact Man", I can make a difference everyday by living deliberately and making choices. I can choose to eat a healthier diet, I can choose to ride my bike to work, I can choose to play a game of chess with my son rather than veg out to another cartoon with him. In short, I can choose to be the power that directs my life rather than simply floating along the river of life and enjoying the view. It will be a long course I think, but so far, it's been interesting.
I'd love to hear your opinions on this, and maybe some examples that you've seen in your life of the relex-vs-deliberate paradox.
A couple of quotes from Walden to round out the entry, if you've never read it, don't delay, go to the library and get one today. Or read some of it here.
•When we consider what, to use the words of the catechism, is the chief end of man, and what are the true necessaries and means of life, it appears as if men had deliberately chosen the common mode of living because they preferred it to any other. Yet they honestly think there is no choice left.
~The Economy (ch.1), Walden
•I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
~Where I lived and what I lived for (ch.2), Walden
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
-Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)
This quote makes me think... I may have to revisit it in the future.
May 15, 2007
May 14, 2007
Well we'll see how sore I end up being tomorrow. I got out today for about a 4-5 mile ride in order to see where I stand before doing the ride to work this week. I did learn that my rear wheel needed a little tuning though. When I got back I found that it was a little out of shape and was rubbing against the brake. I think I was able to get that issue resolved though so we'll see I guess. If I'm not too terribly sore tomorrow, I'll go for a little longer one.
Did anyone else out there get out for a ride. How'd it go?
Posted by P~
May 13, 2007
Being Mothers Day today, I first want to say Happy Mothers Day, I realize this is probably pandering to my audience, since for some reason it seems like the majority of comments come from the ladies that visit here. Guys you really need to speak up. Anthony, notice I said the majority of comments, not all. Since it was Mothers Day, we of course pandered to the most important mom in our house, my wife. What she wanted, and we were more than happy to accomodate, was to spend the day outside and enjoy all the work we've been doing lately. What a great idea! Today will no doubt go down as one of the best weather days of 2007 so far. Not too hot, probably in the low 80's, with just the right amount of a breeze to cool it off. While I was out there I thought it'd be a good idea to snap a couple of photos to update this years progress. First we got a picture from the house side of the garden with the really nice firepit we just put in. This was a steel manhole cover with great rustic, well, rust that we were able to get for nothing from a contractor that was going to junk it. Coincidentally an old bar-b-que grill fit perfectly on the inside. The next one is a picture from the other end of the length of beds facing the house. Those in the front are the peas, I finally
got a trellis thingie in place so they can climb. I noticed a couple of small pods forming this weekend. Speaking of which, I was shocked to already find a little cluster of yellow pear tomatoes shaping up. After the cold weather of last week, I guess I can safely say that the plastic sheeting pup tent method I used to keep them warm worked!
That next photo, is not too pretty, but is a lot better than the ugly pile that I had last year. This is the wood hutch that I mentioned a month ago that I had started. All the concrete work we've been doing took precedance so it hasn't been completely finished yet, but it is holding the firewood pretty well I'd say. Everything you see is salvage from all of the construction going on around us. We were lucky enough to find some roofing that matched ours, and siding that was close enough not to tell the difference. As soon as I find some decent corner peices or straight wood I'll finish it off.
The next two pics are in homage to Mothers Day. The first is obviously Dad cooking. Yes I do cook, but I have been banned for the most part from the kitchen (jeez, I misplace a pan or two, and they never forget.) but I do OK on the grill! This is my famous beer can chicken. Todays recipe was dubbed Tecate Chicken; Mmm Mmm good! Finally what Mothers day post during the National Bike Month would be complete without Mom and her "little" boys out on a ride. For that matter I can't think of a better way to end the day; we took a leisurely ride around the neighborhood, that way I could still breath (I'm trying to get over a cold so I can ride to work this week). All in all this was a great day. We spent the day together, played bocci and egyptian golf, shared a great dinner together and rode it off. I can only hope that you all were able to have as relaxing and happy a day and that you took the time to call your moms. Which reminds me, I love you Mom!! (don't worry, I called her this morning, but more than one shout out never hurt!)
May 12, 2007
Well, I think we've finally had enough with the concrete already. My wife and I had a great idea to recycle some concrete and use it in our landscaping rather than buying a bunch of basically the same thing for $3.00+ a piece. I should correct myself, I had the idea to use the stuff for a retaining wall around our front flower beds and brought home a few pieces to show her. After she decided she liked it, I felt like I had created a monster. She figured, hell it's free and it looks good, why not put a wall around the back garden bed too? And while we're doing that, why not use it like flagstone under the pergola? We could plant some creeping thyme; it'd look like a old english garden. Mean while I'm like," Hold on now sweetie. I mean, this stuff weighs a ton. Maybe we could just do a little at a time?" But really, I have to admit, I thought I would have ended up doing most of the work, but I didn't. The amount of pure labor that this woman put into it, was nothing short of amazing. She went with me to get the rock, she stacked most of it, even started swinging the sledge hammer towards the end. By the end of this project we had put such a dent in the pile of scrap concrete that we used for these projects that what was a 10x10 and 5 ft high pile of ugliness laying by the side of the road, can now be entirely missed if you don't know that it's there. We hauled in around 7 loads of concrete scrap that we had broken up on site and worked for oh, I dunno a month I guess every weekend and a couple nights a week. but all told I would say we saved about $1200-$1300 plus the fact that not only did we keep the concrete out of the dump, we didn't contribute to digging more rock out of the ground. Win win situation in my book. So here I am, enjoying the fruits of my labors so to speak, and here shall I be as often as possible. But now, I need to get a second one for the wife, she certainly earned herself one! So, what do you think? Just because it isn't sold at the home store and just because the neighbors don't have the same thing doesn't make it not nice; in fact in my book it makes it that much better.
May 11, 2007
I learned yesterday that next week is National Bike to work week, and that Friday the 18th is National Bike to work Day; in fact I learned that May is Nat’l bike month for that matter. With the upcoming Low Impact Week activities and with one of my main goals being to bike to work and significantly reduce my driving for the week, I think that this is a fine opportunity to get in shape, or probably more realistically to learn how out of shape I am so that I know what I have coming in June!
If I can get over the blasted spring cold that I have had for the last three days, I am going to try to bike it to work at least a couple of days next week. I invite you to do the same if it is possible for you. Many of us live a great distance from our places of business, in this case, I would encourage you to at least try to make a few of your local trips by bike; perhaps a run to the store, library, or even riding to school and back with the kids if you have them. Anyone who had the opportunity to watch the GMA or Nightline interviews with Colin from “No Impact Man” saw he and his wife making the trips to work and daycare on a push scooter, with a toddler no less. I don’t think it would be such a stretch to think we could try to at least supplement our driving with pedal power to some degree. Even for those of you out there that aren’t worried about the environment or reducing our impact on it per se, I’m sure you’d agree that the $$ savings at the pump would be worth it! So get up, pump up those tires, and get on the bike!
May 10, 2007
I was thinking yesterday that I have… how should I say this… evolved, in my goals for this blog since I began writing it. A reader, Heather from Nashville, called me out on a previous entry that I had made early on, I think it was my second or third posting ever, and made me revisit my objectives and take a look at how I want to “do business” here.
Early this year, I decided that I wanted to begin to actuate a lot of the changes that I had been mulling around in my mind. Changes that included, eating healthier, reading more rather than vegging in front of the TV all evening, spending more time outside either working in my yard or just enjoying nature and pursuing my desire to share my opinions with others via a blog (which I initially set up on Myspace to see if I would actually continue it). I attacked these goals rather intensely as I have a habit of doing, and the early posts on this blog reflect that. What I mean by this is that at the time I began to write, my mind was very much in a mindset of focusing on my frustrations with a lot of things. I found myself beginning to become a very pessimistic person. I didn’t realize it until I started to think of things I wanted to write about and the first things to my mind were basically just rants about this or that. During this process I began to see that I got much greater satisfaction from looking for and focusing on the positive things in my life, than I did by complaining or being negative about the things that I did not have or did not like. I found great satisfaction in keeping record of not just my ideas and accomplishments, but my feelings about my family, and my optimism about what is possible in life. It was at this time that I moved to Blogger.com and renamed the Blog “A posse ad esse” a Latin phrase meaning “from possibility to reality”. I have since that time made a concerted effort to maintain a positive outlook towards anything that I deal with in this blog.
My hope is to move you to care deeply for whatever it is that you are passionate about, to remind you of the simple things everyday that make me smile, and to share possibilities as I see them when I see them in an effort to move people to come together on things where perhaps they are closer than they know. I have said before and will say again, I am not trying to change anybody’s mind, but I am trying to open it just a little.
Thanks for your time and comments.
May 9, 2007
Crunchy Chicken posted some great ideas over on the main Low Impact Week section of her blog. Many of these we already do around our home, I won't go into them in much detail because I see this challenge as being about what new things we can do to conserve and reduce our impact; suffice it to say that we do at least some of the ideas in all of her suggestion sections. I personally have come up with what I think are reasonable next steps for myself, and that I will be focusing on for that week. They are as follows:
- Unplugging appliances when not in use. TVs, Computer, Radios, Printer.
- I will decide to not watch television for that week. I certainly have enough reading to catch up on.
- Turn off water when brushing teeth, and/or shaving.
- No take out food, and no restaurants.
- I will eat as much as possible from my home grown foods, and choose locally produced foods whenever available.
- I will use a washable towel for hand washing and cleaning both at home and at work.
- I will not drive to work. (This is my biggie.) I will instead use pedal power.
- I have a compost bin, but I will make a bigger one from recyled materials, and will compost as much of my household waste as possible.
- I will use organic and/or homemade cleaners to do all of my household cleaning and washing. (This is a change that our household plans to make on a permanent basis.)
This is the list I have come up with. I think it includes a fairly well rounded grouping of tasks from all areas. I will commit to these for the duration of the Low Impact Week and will keep you updated on my progress and impressions of each of them. In the coming weeks I will prepare for these actions by assesing what needs I will have during that time to make sure that I am successful. Some actions like number 9 I will begin to phase into as our current cleaners are expended so I may actually begin prior to the Low Impact Week start.
If anyone reading this plans to participate in this challenge, I encourage you to either post your action items in the comments here or at Crunchy Chickens blog, and look forward to participating with you.
May 8, 2007
Update on the attic fan:
I got a call from A~ yesterday afternoon, to tell me she had gone upstairs for essentially the first time of the day, and to her surprise our usually HOT bedroom was one of the coolest rooms in the house. Indeed at the end of the day, when the room is usually unbearable, it was actually quite comfortable, a little on the warm side perhaps, but very tolerable. So I think that the attic fan will be making a difference. Yesterday was not really a super hot day, but this weekend should be nearing 90 here, so we'll see. You know I'll blabber on about it when the time comes.
May 7, 2007
I live in a place that nature really wants to be a desert. It isn't one because of some pretty creative irrigation. Every year we have multiple weeks of 90º - 105º weather. And every year we try to keep our home cool and end up battling mother nature (who might I add puts up a hell of a fight!). We live in a new home with good insulation, good windows and such, and we try to bear with the highest comfortable temp that we can. Still, I know that our A/C ends up running a lot more that we would like. So this year I have installed a powered attic fan. This should help us keep the house cooler by assisting us in fighting the biggest heat load that we have; an attic the gets well into the 120º range. This load of heat sitting over our top floor (it's a two story home), combined with heats' natural tendancy to rise makes our second story a sauna. We have however learned a few really good lessons over the last couple of years from researching how to save $$ and reduce our energy consumption.
• Get a programmable digital thermostat first thing. They are far more accurate, and less susceptible to human error( i.e. forgetting to turn off/down at night). They can be programmed to run during the specific hours needed, or can stay off all day while your out, and turn on only an hour before you get back home so you return to a comfortable house, that hasn't been that way all day for no reason.
• If you have the option of "AUTO / ON" on your thermostat for the fan. Try leaving it "ON" whenever your in the house. the AUTO setting will only kick on the fan when the thermo. senses that the A/C needs to kick on to cool the house (this works for heaters in the winter also). The problem is that as I said before heat rises and cool air settles, we all know that, but our thermo. doesn't; it senses the air around it and that's all. Leaving the fan on all the time, will bring in air through vents cold air returns and will recirculate it through the vent registers. In a home like mine with a second story this has the effect of leveling the temperatures so that the colder air from below gets mixed with the hotter air from above and results in a more even and comfortable house and the A/C needs to kick in far less frequently. We noticed a significant drop in our heating and cooling costs the first year that we did this.
• If you can, work with Mother Nature, she really wants to and is quite helpful if you let her be. Every morning, the west side of our house is much cooler, because the sun is not beating down on it. However in the evening, and even to a greater extent, the opposite is true. We open the windows on the cool side of the house and circulate that colder air in the morning, and in the evening do the opposite; both while running the circulating fan as mentioned above. This allows us to really reduce the running time for our A/C since we don't need it until much later, and then can merely maintain the coolness rather than have to create it. As a side note to this, if you don't have the ability to run a circulating fan but do have a second story, or even a high window or fireplace chimney, open the windows on the highest level or the flue to allow hot air to naturally move up and out creating a vacume that will draw in the colder air from below. This is called creating a thermal chimney and can be a very low impact way of cooling.
There are a lot of other suggestions, but these are a couple that I have employed and can attest to. Hope this can help someone with their home cooling, and maybe save some energy and a little $ to boot.
May 4, 2007
Crunchy Chicken, as inspired by converstion over at No Impact Man, has come up with a great idea, Low Impact week. I fully support this idea, and to one degree or another I will be participating in the challenge. This whole idea I think goes right along with the way I believe that environmental impact should be addressed. It should be a personal matter. Not to say that we shouldn't talk about or raise awareness of it, or what would I be writing about most of the time? But I believe firmly in personal responsibility, and in our own personal journey to find our stride and live deliberately. I encourage any of you reading this to give it a look see, and set a goal for yourselves... I mean it is only a week right? I will post my goals soon, and see what I can do to prepare.
May 3, 2007
Well, todays my birthday. Not that it really makes a huge difference in the greater scope of things. Although now my kids feel the need for a few days to call me "Old Man" and my wife get's to giggle that I'm on the "downhill side of thirty" now. So what big plans do I have for the day? Not a whole lot to tell you the truth. We went out to dinner with my Dad who was out visiting last night, and I'll probably go out to lunch today witht the guys from the office, but that's really about it. (yeah, the ole' healthy eating things been put on hold for 24 hours.) I think about when I was a kid, or any of us were kids for that matter, and remember what birthdays were like. Remember how excited we would get? I know that for me I was counting days till the next one, telling everyone I was NOT 10 I was "10 and eight months", and I'll be driving before you know it... well you get the point. I can't remember when it stopped, the exceitment that is, can you? It wasn't sixteen, because your still in high school and can't vote or anything yet so you have eighteen to look forward to. It wasn't eighteen, because you still have twenty-one to look forward to. (Come on, really, everyone looks forward to 21 right?). And I can't even say the twenty-one was the age it stopped, because then you have really good birthday parties to look forward to. I guess for me the age was twenty-five. Why 25 you ask? What happened, you suddenly matured in the blink of an eye and all things childish and immature such as birthdays and parties and the like lost their fascination? I think any one that knew me at twenty-five will earnestly tell you I did not suddenly mature, or that I have yet for that matter. No, I think it was twenty-five because that's the age when my oldest son started realizing that he had birthdays, and that they were good, great even, and he was now not just three, but three going on four. At that time, my focus shifted, the important birthdays were not mine anymore, they were my childrens. After a few more years of reflection I can see that that's the reason why I looked forward to birthdays so much when I was a kid. Sure, presents were always great, but your parents and your family now focused on you. You were the star. You picked the dinner, you got the songs, and gifts. Whatever the tradition, you were at the center of it. Now that I am in "their shoes" I can see how much effort my parents put into my birthdays, and understand why. It was purely selfish; they got greater joy out of watching their kids birthdays than watching their own. Now so do I. So today I'm not just 36, I'm 9,10,12,14 going on 10,11,13,15.
Happy Birthday P~
May 2, 2007
May 1, 2007
I thought this morning that I would share with you a little beauty. My favorite flower, the Columbine. They are delicate but strangely hardy; I planted all of these plants three years ago, and every year they come back bigger and have even self seeded a couple of others in the beds near them. I like to think of them as mountain orchids, Enjoy!
Posted by P~