Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sans TP

In our attempts to live lightly off the land we have made another big change. I want to preface this by saying that it was my wife’s idea. She is the one that made the suggestion. So since we were out of toilet paper my wife suggested that we do without. Imagine the trees that could be saved by not flushing the paper down the toilet.

I have heard of others going without toilet paper, it’s really not a new thing, we’re just copying others. Frankly I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Sure you get the shock affect when you say that you don’t have toilet paper, but I’m really enjoying this new system and I don’t think it’s weird or gross.

I should also note that I am a toilet paper connoisseur. I grew up camping and I loved finding new things to use as toilet paper. For example, there are some big, soft leaved plants in the Pacific Northwest that put Charmin to shame. Pine cones on the other hand were a bad idea. In fact I don’t know why I ever thought that would even be a good enough idea to try. Snow was really one of my favorite TP substitutes. It’s cold, refreshing, slightly abrasive and cleansing. The only problem is that it melts. You have to start with a lot of snow because it melts quickly and you could end up quite vulnerable. Oh, and it's cold. Besides that, if your snow is too powdery, you're doomed and if the snow is too icy, you are also doomed.

So the alternative to toilet paper is a wash cloth that you get a little damp. It’s cool (unless the water has warmed up), refreshing, and it cleans well. Sure you have to do the laundry, but it’s no different than the cloth diapers we wash (maybe I should note that my wife generally does the laundry). The water makes it cleansing and it works great.

Does it make a difference? On the one hand, it’s not a lot of TP that we’re saving, but at the same time we are one family that doesn’t use any. It’s the little things that make a difference.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Who knew that a birthday these days lasted a week? One of the gifts that we received was a trip to Thanksgiving Point which is an attraction with a farm, dinosaur museum and other cool stuff.
The Mugwump was able to ride a horse. He really enjoyed that.
Six-pence also got to ride a pony. He wasn't a big fan, but with Mom's help he stuck it out and may have even enjoyed it there at the end.

"My what a big nose you have." I think this was a Clydesdale, but really I don't have a clue since I'm not really a horse person. Six-pence liked the big horse, but wasn't ready to pet him.

In the dinosaur museum the Mugwump was almost eaten by a triceratops. Luckily the dinosaurs there were all dead.

The best part of the dinosaur museum was the erosion table. Using pumps and a fun shaped table you could build things with sand (like dams, I liked building dams) and then wait for the water to work it's magic and bury some dinosaurs and uncover others. I REALLY enjoyed the erosion table. I think the Mugwump had a good time too. He did lame stuff like plant trees... I liked seeing the powerful water break dams and create mass carnage to everything downstream.

The Mugwump also got swimming lessons for his birthday. He's looking forward to a slightly larger pool. I think he's also looking forward to seeing something besides the grime at the bottom of the bathtub.

The boys really like the tent. I don't think the tent is quite big enough. If the boys ever ask me to sleep in the tent, I will have to call the giver of the tent and ask that she sleep in the tent instead of me. You see, I am over four feet tall and therefore do not fit in the tent. Thank you Grandma, the boys love it. Well, the Mugwump still loves it, Six-pence has become a little suspect since older brother learned that if you zip younger brother inside the tent, he doesn't know how to get out. Little brother doesn't like that.

Thanks to all for a wonderful birthday for the Mugwump.

As for the "adults" in the family, we weed the garden with every spare moment. It's amazing, by the time I am done weeding all the way through, the morning glory have almost completely taken over the part that I started with. This is different than I envisioned. I thought I would weed it once and then pull the occasional weed just to stay caught up. Pretty soon the squash will catch up and we will no longer have a morning glory problem. Then I will have to figure out how to keep the squash from overtaking the rest of the garden.

You know, I think that a garden update is a post in itself, but I've got other posts on the burner. Stay tuned the next post will be a good one. We're making changes to a simpler, lower impact life and my wife wanted to make the big steps first.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bikes as transportation

Bikes are not toys, bikes are a valid form of transportation. This is sort of a funny topic for me. I am one of the greatest proponents for using bikes as transportation, yet I often unintentionally give it "toy" status.

I bought brake pads the other day. It took me weeks to finally get around to buying them. I was wearing real thin on the old pads and the replacement was overdue. Why did it take so long? Because I didn't want to spend the money (~$10). Sure it's what I use to stop and that's important, but I could use that $10 for lots of other things (like watermelon).

I feel bad for even hesitating to buy break pads. What makes the situation even worse is that when the car needs gas I don't hesitate to fill it. Why the hesitation? I think it stems from the fact that my bicycle has always been a recreational venture. Now I commute and it is my transportation, yet cycling is still in the "recreate" category. That needs to change so that I can keep my bike in safe working order (and let the car fall into a state of neglect). OK, I'll maintain the car, but begrudgingly and only after the necessary repairs have been made on my bike (as well as my wife's and the kid's trailer).

The irony of this is that I know the consequences of thinking of a bike as a second class form of transportation. I know that most of the incidences that I have with cars are due to the fact that I am considered a second class vehicle when I'm on the bike. In the perspective of most motorists, bicycles are for recreating so cyclist certainly aren't in a hurry and therefore should yield the right of way to motorist... ALWAYS. Is it deeper than that? Are cyclists seen as people who can't afford a car and therefore "lower class" than those who can afford a car and gas? Based on what people yell at me from car windows, they don't think I belong on the road, even when I follow every law in the books. They think I'm playing on my toy.

For whatever reason, most motorists feel that they are in a hurry, but certainly the guy on the bike isn't, he must be recreating. Guess what, I'm in a hurry too, my bike is my car. Not only do I need to get to work, but I like to maintain my pace so that I can get worthwhile aerobic exercise.

So I did a little research on cycling (OK, I lied, it just happened to be in a book I am reading). A car with one passenger takes 1860 calories to go one mile (everyone knew that gas had calories, right?). One mile walking will consume about 100 calories. One mile on a bike takes about 35 calories. Bicycles are one of the most efficient forms of transportation available, consuming one third the energy of walking and 53 times less energy than driving a car. As far as fuel efficiency goes, the bicycle is far superior. It is time that we think of a bicycle as a legitimate vehicle and means of transportation and not a toy used by second rate citizens to recreate.

Monday, May 21, 2007


OK, I'm back on track. This is sort of a continuation of the post I did on free stuff.

Just as Free stuff that you pick up isn't free, freedom isn't free. I know, everyone has already read the bumper sticker that says, "Freedom isn't free", but I'm looking to make a bigger point here. But while we are on the topic, I think it's important to recognize the importance of the military's accomplishments in keeping us free. Without the revolutionary war we (speaking of those who live in the US) could still be under British rule. Without WWII we could be speaking German.

While I was in France I was having dinner with an older couple. We were talking and I mentioned that my grandfather had served in WWII. Actually both of my grandfathers were in WWII, but on opposite sides of the world. My grandfather who was in France, was in the Navy. He took loads of army troops up to the beach during some pretty major battles. He remembered dropping off loads of troops and watching many of them get shot before they could get to safety. These men sacrificed everything. The man with whom I was having dinner started to cry and asked me to tell my grandfather, "thank you". I did that before Grandpa passed away, but that experience remains vivid in my head. That man I had dinner with knew the cost of freedom. He knew that my grandfather was willing to pay the price of freedom along with many other soldiers who weren't even defending their own land.

While I think highly of our military and the sacrifices they are willing to make for our country, that wasn't the direction I wanted to go with this post. The freedoms that come with a "free" democracy demand that ordinary people take responsibility and work hard to maintain their freedoms. I was reading over at simple perspectives and started thinking about her call for people to take action on the immigration policies being considered in the U.S. Beyond military service, that is a cost of freedom. Sure we have the freedom of speech so we can argue and have our own opinions, but more importantly the citizens of a democratic country must make their opinions known. Not just ranting on a blog or writing an editorial for a newspaper, but real communication to policy-makers. The source of our freedom (the constitution and our government) requires our participation in the process in order to maintain our freedoms. The freedoms that we have are of great value and are certainly not "free". They require our participation. So many people float along in the system and never participate in democracy. For them I suppose democracy is "free", but they are also leaving themselves open to having their freedoms taken away by not standing up for them.

I'm done ranting. Maybe next time I will talk about bikes again. I like bikes and I started this blog to talk about bikes. That could be a good step for me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Update (4th Birthday)

First off, I want to make it clear that I didn't make the Euoplocephalus by myself. My wife helped every step of the way. OK, with the way most people use the English language it should be stated that I helped every bit of the way since she was really the one who did most of it.

This is the Mugwump with his Euoplocephalus. You can see the rocks that he added. After adding the rocks, the Mugwump noted that the Euoplocephalus looks "stoned". I thought it looked like a giant slug with spikes and floppy dog ears... Maybe stoned is a good way of putting it.
I would say that the Mugwump chose well. He went for the club of the tail of the Euoplocephalus. There may have been a full pound of sugar in the club of the tail. He did NOT finish the club and we will be taking the cake to the park on Tuesday to share with any innocent bystanders that don't know what they are getting themselves into.
Six-pence was involved in this whole thing. He likes to eat with a utensil in each hand. Notice the use of the fork. He holds the fork in his fist and then uses the fist to grab a handful of cake. I believe this is a primal instinct. Notice that if you were to try and take that cake away from him you would be stabbed by the fork. He's a genius. If there is anyone from Homeland Security that reads this, you need to wait a bit before recruiting him, he has a couple more skills to develop yet (like talking).... Or maybe he's just the one you are looking for.

The Mugwump turns 4!

Well, I said that my next post would be a continuation of the last. I lied. I need to do a family post and now is a good time. The continuation will come next time.

Yesterday we had a party for the Mugwump. We asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday months ago and he said that he wanted to climb "Y mountain" (that's the hill overlooking the town with a big Y on it). It's a steep hike of about 2-3 miles (I'm guessing, I really don't have a clue). So, for the Mugwump's birthday the Mugwump invited two of his friends (and their families) to go "hike the Y". All of the kids fared pretty well with just a little complaining. Although there wasn't much complaining from the parents, I think that there will be some sore parents. Especially Jacob who spent the entire descent jogging behind his 18 month old, holding on to the back of her shirt so she didn't fall (that meant he was leaning over and jogging. That would have destroyed me.

At the Y, we had cupcakes, sang Happy Birthday and played around on the rocks. Nobody brought gifts (as the invitations indicated). There was no clean up (although we packed out our trash). We got to spend time with our families and with our friends (grown and young). I could think of no better birthday party. Brian, Nate, Reid, Kevin, AJ, and Jenn you need to fly out for my party in June. We'll climb something bigger since I"m older. (I'm not anticipating that anyone will show up for my birthday, but that's OK).

The highlight yesterday was asking the Mugwump what he was excited about for his birthday (which is actually today). He said that he was excited to get a horsey. I was a little taken back because my mom got him a toy horse and a pass to go to a local park where he'll be able to ride a pony. How in the world did he guess that? So I asked how he knew he was getting a horse and he told me that he wrapped it himself, it was the present he was getting for himself. Sure enough, it's in the pile. The Mugwump did have to explain to me that really it was a stuffed bear, he's just pretending that it's a horse.

Yesterday my wife and I spent some time making a cake for his birthday (I thought we climbed Y mountain so that we wouldn't have a mess to clean up... Oh well). The cake that the Mugwump chose was shaped like a Euoplocephalus. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make a cake shaped like a Euoplocephalus? Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is when your 4 year old can say Euoplocephalus and you can't? Anyway, I won't describe the cake making process, I think the pictures are more telling. Just 7 pounds of sugar and a couple of pounds of margarine and you can shape it into almost anything. I think we may have added flour too, but I'm not sure.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I was going to have a family post today, before I got into my next ideas for blogs, but another blog inspired me to get caught up. So my next post will sort of be related to a post by Peddlinshutterbug. I'll put up another link when the relationship will be more obvious.

I manned a booth yesterday for the SLC bicycle collective at the Utah state PTA convention. I was "selling" free bike ed classes for kids (or adults, although at the PTA meeting the focus was for kids). Of course I wasn't the only one there with a booth handing out fliers and stuff, there were several large rooms full of vendors selling things, and giving things away. I'll come back to my part of the meeting, but I want to focus on the "free" stuff that almost every booth had to give away.

Nothing you pick up at a booth is free. Nothing. I think of the trade shows where you get little rubber balls that light up when you bounce them and the lights you can put on the valve stems of your tires that light up when they are moving. You go to the booth, you don't give them anything and they give you a product, it seems to be free. It's not.

First off, do you think that the toys given out by Kraft or other food manufactures are purely from the goodness of their souls? Or, do you think that you pay for those stupid little toys every time you buy products made by that company? Is the toy worth the extra that you pay for the product? I don't think it is.

Now you're thinking, "Sans, I got you, because I don't buy stuff made by that company, and in fact the advertising doesn't influence me, I just get the free stuff and other people pay for it". (You shouldn't think in run-on sentences like that). First off, you're wrong, advertising is persuasive in ways that people don't recognize. That is the reason companies spend millions upon millions of dollars on advertising. Second, even if you don't take the stupid little toy and you don't buy the product, you still had to pay for the product, in a roundabout way. That toy was produced using electricity, plastics, and electronic equipment. The electricity and plastics used in the production let off gases that influence global warming. Additionally the factories (or the power plants providing the factories electricity) will produce gasses and particulate matter that leads to asthma, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and other health issues. Finally the plastic toy will end up in a landfill where it will not decompose for thousands of years. That's probably a good thing since once the plastic does decompose it will allow the heavy metals in the electronics to leach into ground water.

So that "free" item that you take from the booth contributed to global warming, air pollution, contaminated ground water and the filling of landfills. I don't think that's free for anyone. In fact that is VERY expensive for all of us. Even the simple fliers that I was handing out took trees, energy, and chemicals to produce. That has an impact on the environment.

Am I saying that you should never take another trinket or flier from a booth at a fair? Well, that certainly would be nice, but I don't think it's necessary or realistic. If you don't need it, don't take it. Resist the "oh, little Johnny will really like this". Yeah, he might, but it will be short lived and if you don't take it, they won't make as many in the future. You might even save on some of your bills in the future (or let some really rich guy have just a little more). If you come upon a booth that has something that interests you and that you will certainly look into at a later date, take some information.

So how do I justify my participation in this event? First off, I wish I had said more to people about only taking stuff if they were interested. So many people came by, took a few things because they were there and then left. Will they ever look at them again? Maybe some of them, but the majority of my fliers will end up in the trash, or if we're lucky the recycling bin (this is Utah, most will end up in the trash). Those who will look at them again may sign up to have a bicycle safety class taught at their school where kids will be introduced to safe cycling (and their parents may even catch on). I hope it makes a difference. I hope it makes kids more confident in riding a bike to school. I hope it makes people realize that a bicycle is more than a toy, it's a form of transportation.

Don't pick up free stuff just because it is free. It is more than is worth paying.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Introduction to Gardening

If anyone came to this site to learn how to garden, you are in the wrong spot. I am of the opinion that most innovations are a result of mistakes. While farming, gardening and agricultural practices have a long history with substantial success, we've decided to take a new approach. If it isn't broken, why are we trying to fix it? I am not completely sure, but I'm jumping in with both feet.

The first step to my approach to gardening involved pulling the morning glory out of the garden plot. Now I don't want to be misunderstood, I certainly didn't get rid of the morning glory, I pulled out a long root with about 50% of the weeds that I pulled, the rest I just ripped the tops off and promised myself that I would return and pull the rest when it came up again. So far that has worked, they are coming back up. Unfortunately I understand some basic calculus. If I get the roots of half of the plants every time I pull them, I will never get rid of the morning glory problem. You should also notice that I said that I pulled a long root out about half the time, that does not mean that I got all of the root.

After I pulled all of the weeds and prepared them for their second attempt to overtake my garden, I decided it was time to plant seeds. Usually my wife does this and she does a fine job of it. I wanted to give it a try because I like to work in the yard and I want to better know how to do it. She told me that I would have better luck if I soaked the seeds, it would help them germinate. I thought it was a wonderful idea so I did. Unfortunately she was only talking about the corn, bean and sunflower seeds and I thought she was talking about all of the seeds. Anyway, I took my container of soaking lettuce, Brussels sprout, pepper, watermelon, cantaloupe, beet, spinach, kale, and other seeds out to the garden to evenly distribute them according to the diagram my wife had made. (My wife did a wonderful job of diagramming our garden so that it would look nice.... We'll see).

Have you ever seen a lettuce seed? If you have, you know about how big they are. If you haven't, that is because they aren't very big. So I stood there in our garden with a container full of hundreds of seeds and meticulously fished them out one at a time, tried to remember what kind of seed it was, how deep and how far apart they should be planted and deliberately placed them into the soil. After about 10 minutes I had planted 3 or 4 seeds. I also noticed that when I put the seed into the soil and then I put my finger back into the container of water, it made the water murky. After about the fourth seed, I could no longer tell the difference between seeds and floaters from the dirt on my fingers. (I was still able to identify cantaloupe, watermelon and pea seeds, just so you don't think I'm completely incompetent).

At this point I decided on a new method, I would reach into the dirty water and take out a pinch of seeds and dirt. I would then rub my fingers together and let the mixture fall into a portion of the garden. With the seeds on the soil, I would move the soil around with my hand, attempting to put the seeds (or dirt) under a thin layer of soil as dictated by the package (for some of the plants). I think that was successful, I got the seeds into the soil. Eventually I felt that I had fished all of the seeds out of the container that I had, so I dumped it in the garden.

Unfortunately I only finished about half of the garden. So I went back into the house and grabbed all of the seeds that were not from 2007. This time, having learned something from my first experience, I used the same procedure, except without the water. This technique works much better without water. I don't have any idea what is going to come from our garden. I take that back, I know that Morning Glory will come from our garden, but I don't know what will come from our garden that is edible. Actually I did a little research and found that morning glory roots are edible, they have been used for medicinal purposes as a laxative. So if you are having any problems, you can come on over for a morning glory salad. I also learned that the flowers produce a chemical similar to LSD that can be used as a hallucinogen. You can't come to my house and get any of that, we pick them before they blossom and I'm not the kind of person who does (or distributes) drugs.

I'll keep you updated on our garden. If anyone knows of a [legal] market for morning glory, let me know and we'll go into business. If it's produce that you're looking for, go to your local farmer's market, that's where you can get the good stuff.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there. OK, I made three attempts to add pictures, but I got an error each time. Maybe I'll post pictures next time, if the computer will allow me.

I thought that Mother's Day was Next Sunday. Luckily I'm on the ball, I already have the gift all ready to give my wife, but it's sitting on my desk at work. So my wife got nothing for mother's day. I tried to redeem myself by making her breakfast in bed, except that didn't work out very well because the boys didn't wake up in time to get it to her in bed. I also made dinner and did the dishes. Frankly I think that is a lame Mother's Day gift. Be serious, doing one of my wife's MANY chores for one day (I do try to do it more often than that), is a sad excuse for a gift. I really don't think there is a gift in existence that would sufficiently say "thank you" to a mother. The beauty of it is that my wife is completely OK with me not getting her anything (I did get her something, I just forgot it on my desk, really, I did). You see, my wife and I share the same ideas. She doesn't want to accumulate stuff, just like I don't want to accumulate stuff. Her idea of a good gift is centered around thought, being environmentally friendly and inexpensive. I agree with her completely. I sometimes wonder how I found someone with whom I have so much in common.

In my Environmental health class last semester we spent some time talking about mothers and how they pertain to environmental health. Ultimately they are frequently victims of all sorts of atrocities. When families in third world countries are impoverished, diseased or otherwise afflicted by their environments, they don't often stay together. The father often leaves, looking for a better situation, not to better provide for his family, but to fend for himself. Men often leave their families in difficult situations in order to save themselves (I realize this is a generalization, but it also reflects a problem we see in parts of the world). Women, on the other hand, and more specifically mothers, almost always stick with their children. Many of them will suffer death while caring for their children. There is something innate in mothers that makes them nurturers and makes them care more about others than themselves.

Of course my wife and my mother are the best examples of mothers I will ever be able to find, I sometimes wonder (not for long) if it is only because I know them better than most mothers. I'm sure that's not it. I'm positive that my mother and the mother of my children are the best mothers ever, but mothers in general still stand heads above the rest because of their dedication to protect the next generation.

So I want to give my thanks to mothers. Of course my own, but also all mothers who are willing to sacrifice for the good of the next generation. It's a thankless job, but the most also the most important job in the world.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mass Media

My friend Emily recently had a post that posed questions about media coverage. It made me think and I want to answer her questions (actually I tried to comment on her blog and I think I hit a wrong button and lost a really long comment, so I'm doing my own post).

Emily asked why media doesn't cover stories of good news, brotherhood and the more personal real life situations associated with war and other world events.

Media isn't about providing news, it is about selling advertisement. Would television exist without ads? Would newspapers exist without ads? I realize that we have PBS and premium channels that have different funding mechanisms, but those are the exception. Television and newspapers run stories (or entertainment) that attract media consumers so that advertisers will pay to have an advertisement that will persuade the consumer to buy their product.

So why doesn't the media report the warm fuzzy relationship stories? People say they want to hear the good news, and I think they do, but it isn't what people go to. If you are flipping through channels looking for something to watch are you going to stop on a channel that has a story of a complex relationship with a happy ending (imagine the images that would be on the screen as you flipped by). Or would you stop on the channel showing coverage of an overpass in San Fransisco collapsing in a ball of fire? People are generally attracted to the more action oriented stories. If that is what people tend to watch, that is what advertisers pay to have on the air.

I want to take this a step further. Image that you are watching the evening news and they start reporting on the relationship between the war in Iraq and gas prices. Their story focuses on how the American consumption of fuel is in a way driving the war in Iraq and gives a sense that our consumption is driving the war and if we were to stop consuming oil the war would end. The following story focuses on the impact of consumerism on the American public and how we could make a huge difference in the world by consuming less, buying fewer things and making more of our own resources. Following these two stories we go to commercials for Ford Pickups, SUVs, processed foods and the latest, greatest toy for kids. Did the program encourage or discourage the audience from purchasing the products? Will Ford, Chevrolet, Kraft and Tonka continue advertising in such programming? I don't know, but if I were in charge of the programming at ABC I would be unwilling to take that risk.

I don't want to be misunderstood. I'm not the type of person who thinks that the news is nothing but political propaganda. I think there is truth in news reports, but I also know a thing or two about economics. If nobody is watching the programming because other options are more exciting, advertising revenue decreases dramatically. If the programming is contrary to what is being advertised it may displease the advertisers and they may look for different programming. The media that we are exposed to is a means of selling advertising. If you think their sole purpose is to the truth to you, you are naive.

There are several things to be done about this. First, watch the type of news that you really want to see and not the attention getting stuff that most people watch. Then when you watch a program that exemplifies what you want to see in a news program, write a letter to the network and let them know. Those letters have a greater impact than you know. Secondly, and of extreme importance, DON'T watch the type of news that you dislike, and let the network know of your displeasure. It may even be beneficial to contact companies that advertise on programs that you don't like and let them know that you think less of their product because of the programs on which they advertise. But as for me and my family, we will not own a television and we will not subscribe to a newspaper.

If you are looking for accurate news, you probably won't find it. Personally if I want to know the truth about something I will go to a right wing political site and read what they have to say. Then I will go to a left wing political site and read what they have to say. The truth is likely somewhere in between.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Near crash

Last night on my way home I nearly crashed. It was quite the experience. I went up to Orem for an open house on the I-15 project (evidently 6 lanes in each direction 20 years from now is going to solve all of our traffic problems). I was on my way home at about 9 and I was going through a roundabout. So I turned right to go into the roundabout and then I turned left around it for 270 degrees. As I came out of the corner I stood up to accelerate and get back the speed I had lost in the corner. As I was accelerating, I pulled out of my left pedal. (For those who don't know cycling, my shoes attach to my pedals like a ski binding so I can pull up and apply force to the pedal. When I say I "pulled out", that means that the binding unexpectedly failed, leaving my foot free of the pedal). So when you pull out of a pedal, it throws off your balance because your left leg continues up and forward, even though the pedal continues back down.

On a bike with a freewheel (a bike that can coast), this wouldn't have been that big of a deal (although it has caused crashed before). If I had a freewheel, when my foot came out, my right foot simply would have dropped to the bottom of the pedal stroke and I would have coasted until I could get everything back in position. On my fixed gear when I pulled out, my right leg continued going around in circles.

Imagine with me for a minute. When I pulled my left foot out of the pedal it went forward with momentum. This made it so I was sitting on the top tube just behind the stem. My left foot, free of the pedal, banged a couple of times in the front wheel, but luckily did not enter. So I was sitting there just behind the stem, with my left foot nearly in my spokes and my hip in a funny position as my right leg continued to go around and around. This was the point where I wondered when I was going to hit the ground. I didn't (although I really think I should have).

Next, I had to figure out how to get back up onto my saddle. My weight was way further forward than it should have been and my right leg wouldn't stop going around in circles. I pushed myself up using the handlebars getting myself back on the saddle. It worked out pretty well for me and I was no longer afraid of crashing. Except I still had to get my foot in the pedal. I realized that it is easier to get a foot in the pedal while just starting than it is at 15-20 mph. I still can't believe I didn't crash. I really should have and I was fully expecting to, but for whatever reason I still have all of my skin today.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Morning Glory (How to succeed in life)

So I was weeding the garden this weekend and I had time to come up with a little analogy. OK, I came up with a big analogy because I spent the ENTIRE weekend weeding the garden and am still not finished... I'm still not close to being finished.

We want to do our garden without chemicals because we are going to eat the things out of it and don't especially want to poison ourselves. I like the idea of organic and keeping nature going the way it is supposed to go. With all things in balance, things get planted and do their thing all by themselves, why do we need chemicals to "help". People use chemicals so they don't have to spend their entire weekend coming up with an analogy on Morning Glory.

If you don't know about Morning Glory, they are a weed. I have heard that some people plant them as flowers and maybe there are varieties that don't try to take over the world, but every Morning Glory I have ever seen I have tried to eliminate from my garden or lawn. Morning Glories have roots that can be up to 15-20 feet deep. They can be present and dormant up to 50 years before sending out shoots. When they do send out shoots they are persistent and fast growing. I used to think that Blackberries were one of the worst weeds. I had a field of blackberries behind my house in Astoria and the Morning Glory was invading and taking down the blackberries.

The analogy....
If you want to be successful in life you have to be like a Morning Glory. First it takes deep convictions. Deep in the root of your being you have to be dedicated to your idea. Like the root of a Morning Glory, weeding and even rototilling won't touch it. Your convictions have to be so firm that they will withstand varying opinions and even insult.
Then, with a deep root system you have to go after the goal. You have to send up shoots everywhere. You spend all your energy going for the goal. With all of the resolve that you have you go for the goal. Even if it means spending all of the energy you have stored, you go for the goal. In the end you will either succeed or die trying. That is how to succeed in life, that is how Morning Glory succeed.

The Theory...
Here's my thought. The root system is the store of energy that the plant has. With that energy the plant sends up shoots. According to what I know about plant physiology, that plant cannot store energy without photosynthesis which occurs in the green leaves. So if I pluck the leaves before they open, the plant will use energy to get the shoots up there, but it will not be able to store energy because I won't let it photosynthesize. In theory the Morning Glory will eventually run out of energy and I will have won.

A couple of potential problems...
I don't know how long this will take. There could be 100 years of energy stored in the roots in my yard. That would be bad, but it may very well be the case.
I also don't know how far the roots run. What if the plant is storing energy from leaves in the neighbor's yard? I'm not weeding her yard too. That too is possible.
So I may lose the battle with Morning Glory, but in my life I will try to follow the example of Morning Glory. It's a sure route to success.

Sorry, that got a little cheesy at the end... If anyone knows how to get rid of Morning Glory without poison, let me know....PLEASE!!

Saturday, May 5, 2007


As I took this picture I remember thinking, "It's pretty, but the picture does it absolutely no justice." The rims that you see are lime deposits which make the pools and cascades. You can see that some of the lime deposits have plants growing on them. Do you see the brilliant red flowers growing on those plants? Probably not, they are too far away and the camera didn't capture them. I figured that would be the case when I took the picture. Do you see the red rock in the upper right hand corner of the picture? Noticing that and the fact that the picture is taken in the shade you may be able to guess that this pretty little place is surrounded by red cliffs that are hundreds of feet tall. At certain points you can see beyond the confining red cliffs and see more cliffs, some red, and some white that extend more than a thousand feet above where I stood to take this picture. The fact that this picture was taken in the shade makes the colors far less brilliant than they were in real life. While a picture is worth a thousand words, it limits our vision that is experienced in reality.
My last post was on being offered a plastic bag and Gewilli commented that plastic bags can be recycled and paper takes a considerable amount of petroleum to produce. She's right, and that is why I chose to use my backpack that I won in a bike race 15 years ago. (Trek makes a good backpack). She (I don't know why I'm assuming Gewilli is a girl, but I will continue with that assumption) also suggested that I find an electronic source rather than the books... Well, I tried, but as a doctoral student I needed all the info possible and only one of the sources I needed was available online (and I will use it online without printing it). See, I didn't give the whole picture because that wasn't the point of my story. I agreed with everything that Gewilli had to say about bags, except that plastic is recyclable. Yes plastic is recyclable, but reuse is better and not using the plastic (or paper) bag is really the best. Just because something is recyclable doesn't mean that it doesn't impact the environment. I would guess that Gewilli agrees with me that reusing canvas bags is really the best solution, but that wasn't the point she was making so she limited her vision. I think we often limit our vision to reflect the point we are trying to make.
I recently wrote that I liked it when people called me "sans" because I do without and am proud to do without. An anonymous response indicated that I should call myself the French word for more (davantage). I agree completely with what he said (I don't know why I think he was a male, but we'll go with that). I really don't feel like I'm missing anything by going without a lot of the things others have. In fact I believe that I have a lot more in my life (immaterial things that are far more important than stuff) than I would if I allowed stuff to accumulate in my home. I agree completely with Mr. Anonymous, but I haven't figured out how to rename myself using "davantage". I don't want to have more stuff, I want to do without. It's just a matter of how you look at it. I think I have to refer to myself as Sans because that is my distinguishing characteristic. I will always profess how much going without brings me, but I haven't found a way to include it in what I call myself.
Having less brings more to my life, that is my vision. We strive to get rid of stuff. Not only do we not want stuff, we have a sincere desire NOT to have it. I don't think people understand my family because of that. Everyone wants more, it's America's vision... It is completely contrary to our vision. We find far more value in life without the stuff. Our vision is based on our experience.
The media portrays its vision. It is not the "truth", it is a view of the world. It is the view that sells. Corporations portray their vision. It's not truth, it is what will make the company money. Al Gore portrays his vision. It's not truth, it is what will help him (or his party) get elected. There is a truth. There is one and only one truth, but it is blurred by the multiple visions that people try to force on us. I appreciate it when people comment and leave their views. Maybe you will change my view. Maybe not. But hiding your view may be hiding the truth. I blog to let my perception of the truth be known.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


I'm pretty verbose. It takes a lot to leave me speechless. I went to the library yesterday to get some books on how traffic and zoning effect the environment and health. The girl behind the counter commented that she liked my shirt (it is a home made iron-on that says, "what high gas prices" and has a picture of a gas pump and a bicycle). I said thanks. When the girl was done scanning and stamping the books she asked if I wanted a bag. I responded that it would be sort of silly to get a bag to check out a bunch of books on how to protect the environment. She said, "It's OK, the bags are plastic. It's not like they're paper and we had to cut down a tree for it." I don't know what my facial expression said, but there was a lot going through my mind. I was perplexed and completely unable to formulate a sentence, so I left... speechless.

Trees are renewable, plastic is a petroleum product and therefore not renewable. Paper biodegrades, plastic doesn't. Plastic grocery bags have recently been outlawed in San Francisco because of their environmental impact. Do people really think that plastic is a good thing? How do you respond to a question like that?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Free time?

So spring term is here and I knew that I was going to have tons of time... I was wrong. I am now doing different stuff besides studying, but I'm just as busy as I was before. I will add some story to the pictures later, but here are just a few scenic pictures to get you started. These are a few of the scenic pics from Havasu canyon. It is really a beautiful place.