Reading, thinking, biking, sharing…

Wake up and smell the gasoline April 24, 2008

Filed under: environmentalism,gas prices,oil,sustainablility — onarete @ 4:50 pm

Photo Credit

If America can go to the moon, then in the decades to come we should not ever have to have young Americans sent to any part of the world to defend and die for America’s gluttony on fossil fuel.” -Senator John Kerry

With gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon here in Seattle, the state of oil consumption in the United States has been forefront in my mind.  I don’t understand why people aren’t outraged.  Get pissed!  Oil companies are making record profits, food prices are sky rocketing, and most of us still don’t have many good alternatives for getting around without using gasoline.

I for one dont think cheap gasoline and driving huge pickup trucks are God given rights.  I would be entirely happy to sell my car tommorrow and use public transportation for the rest of my life.  But unless you live in New York City, that isn’t so easy, especially in the West.  For Americans traveling to work, only 9% use mass transit; in contrast, 39% of Europeans use mass transit to get to their jobs.  Bicycling as a means of transport is also significantly lower in the US.  Only 0.6% of all trips are made by bicycle in the US compared with a whopping 26% in the Netherlands.  This really isnt that suprising considering we have a Secretary of Transportation who has said that projects like bike paths and trails, “are not really transportation.”  The truth is, in many places, riding your bike or walking is just not safe or easy. 

With it difficult to use public transportation or to travel by human-power, a nice alternative would be fuel efficient vehicles.  Unfortunately, theseare limited in the United States.  Only two cars with fuel efficiency of 40mpg or greater are available in the US — the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius Hybrid.  And the trend isn’t a positive one.  In 2005, there were five available in the US market.  Overseas, there are 113 vehicles on the market that get more the 40mpg.  As a MSN blogger chimed, “Adding insult to injury is the fact that nearly two-thirds of the 113 highly fuel-efficient models that are unavailable to American consumers are either made by U.S.-based automobile manufacturers or by foreign manufacturers with substantial U.S. sales operations, such as Nissan and Toyota.”

Clearly, American citizens are the losers here; but who are the winners?  Oil companies.  The oil industry continues to make record profits; Exon alone had profits of $40.7 billion last year, while the five leading oil companies had a combined profit of $123 billion.   Do you think these huge power players might have an incentive to keep us in gas-guzzling vehicles?

Get angry!  Ride your bike.  Demand alternatives with your pocketbook.  Pay attention.


Earth Day April 21, 2008

Filed under: Earth Day,environmentalism,Nature,sustainablility — onarete @ 4:43 pm

If you believe in prayer, pray that people will have the strength to change. -Unknown

In anticipation of Earth Day tommorrow, I have come up with a list of environmental resolutions for the coming year.   Living sustainably and protecting the environment for future generations is a moral issue for me; and yet, I dont always walk the walk.  It is easy to think that you aren’t the problem.  And yet, it isn’t a problem “out there.”  Our current environmental problems are very  much the problems of individuals multiplied millions of times over.  No change will happen without change on a personal level.

In that light, here are small steps that I am committing to taking every day this year.  And if you notice me slacking off on my promises, please hold me accountable.

1.  Only use re-usable non-toxic water bottles.  It takes 1.5 million barrels of oil to produce all of the bottled water American’s drink in a year.   In addition, I am only going to use non-toxic waterbottles.  Nalgene and Camelback (two of my favorites) are both made with toxic resins.

2.  Take my own bags grocery shopping.  From now on, I won’t be using anymore plastic or paper grocery bags.  When I hit up the grocery store, I will be bringing re-usable bags.   An estimated 8 billion pounds of plastic bags, wraps and sacks enter the waste stream every year in the US and in a landfill, they take 1,000 years to degrade.

3.  Eat green.  I might do better on this one than the average person, but I still need to make a consious effort each day to make sure that my food consumption is sustainable on a large scale.  This means eating organic, local, and vegan.

4.  Spend one day a week car-less.  For me, it is way to easy to justify driving places that are within walking or biking distance.  As a start, I plan to leave my car parked at home one day per week.

5.  Buy for the long term.  Only make purchases that are necessary and that won’t end up as consumer waste.  Buy quality items that will last a long time, and research products to make sure I am buying from the most sustainable company.  

Think about what you can do this year to make a positive impact.


Worlds away April 18, 2008

Filed under: tokyo,travel — onarete @ 9:09 am

I’ve been in Japan this week, working.  But that seems to be the theme here in Japan, so I fit right in.  My hotel is in Tokyo, the cleanest city in the world I suppose.  There is no trash (or trash cans) anywhere.  The taxi windows dont have so much as a fingerprint on their clear glass.  The people are clean too, all dressed in their uniforms, all matching.

I love the culture here.  The bowing, the quiet tones of speech, taking your shoes off inside.  It all fits my personality well.  If I were going to live abroad, this might be a good place.

A view from my morning run at the Imperial Palace:


Thursday April 10, 2008

Filed under: God,love — onarete @ 10:13 pm

The Dalai Lama is in Seattle.  It seems like a good day to say a prayer….

Photo Credit


Mud, mud, and…..mud April 8, 2008

Filed under: adventure,Black Diamond,Japanese Gulch,love,mountain biking,Nature — onarete @ 3:15 am

Did I mention the mud?  I got two mountain bike rides in the last couple of days and both were the muddiest mountain biking I have ever done.  I got my butt kicked by it!

Thursday, I rode Japanese Gulch after work.  These trails are perfect because they are literally right up against Boeing property.  Five minutes into my ride I ran into a washed out section of trail that was unridable.  The steep and muddy hillside forced me to hike-and-bike.  I would make it two steps, fall on my butt, and slide three steps back.  I couldnt even hold my bike up.  Then I found a tree in the middle of the trail.  I had to crawl under and then pull my bike under after me.  From there on out my ride consisted of me biking a tenth of a mile coming around a muddy corner and and sliding out.  Then riding another tenth of a mile and hitting some wet roots and falling.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Saturday, Blair was here and we drove down to Black Diamond to ride.  These trails were a blast.  I’ve never been to a trail system with so many teeter-totters, bridges, and other obstacles.  I would never ride any of it, but I was fascinated.  Again, I must have fallen half a dozen times.  My whole body is covered in bruises.  I nursed my wounds at Dairy Queen with a mint Oreo blizzard and my great company. 

I have a feeling that more mud is in my forecast for the week.


At last April 2, 2008

Filed under: happiness,life,Nature,road biking — onarete @ 7:39 pm


When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.  ~H.G. Wells

Those chains that come with the real world have been dragging me down.  Long hours at work, big life decisions, things I would rather not deal with.  Between responsbilitily and the weather I was starting to worry I might never ride my bike again.  The stars aligned last night though, and I hurried off to get in a ride.

Overdressed for the (rare) nice weather, I felt sweat run down my neck.  Wonderous.  Too many hours of spin class as of late left my legs feeling tight.  The longer I spun, the more relaxed they become.  The more relaxed I became.  As the sun dropped low in the sky, I rode faster, pushed harder, wanted to go just a little farther.  Life came back into focus; the static disapeared.  Passerby smiled and slowed, happy to delay their return home.  Just as the last light slipped beyond the horizon, I reached the parking lot.  A final revolution of the pedals, and I was free.


High Tide or Low Tide April 1, 2008

Filed under: bob marley,family,life,love — onarete @ 3:15 am

Yes, in high seas or in low seas
I’m gonna be your friend
You know that I’m gonna be your friend.
Any so in high tide or in low tide
I’ll be by your side
You know that I’ll be by your side.


I said, I heard my mother,
She was praying
And the words that she said,
They still linger in my head,
She said, “A child is born in this world,
He needs protection,
God, guide and protect us,
When we’re wrong, please correct us.
And stand by me.”


In high seas or in low seas,
I’m gonna be your friend,
You know that I’m gonna be your friend.
And, baby, in high tide or low tide,
I’ll be by your side,
You know that I’ll be by your side.


Lyrics by Bob Marley, Pics by Debra Bonkoski