Monthly Archives: May 2007

Day 90: My Life w Car…the 90 Day Round-up!

The truly big news today is that this is Day 90 of my ongoing project to see if I can wean myself from a car in the space of a year. Mostly, I’ve been interested in just becoming more conscious of

  • How I use transportation
  • How I use my car specifically

So, here’s the lowdown: when I first started this, I thought of using my car every single day. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t have to struggle at least a little to think around the use of the car.

I can very happily say that somewhere along the line, not sure where, that all changed. Now it feels like a drag to use my car. Gas, parking, traffic–you name it, it’s just not pleasant.

traffic jam

Next big news: I paid some bucks to have my bike fit me and tuned properly and it made all the difference in the world. I don’t think twice about using my bike now, and I’m more fit, happier and more connected to my sweet West Seattle. I look forward to running an errand most days–it’s a great break from my work, and a chance to get ouside.

bianchi bike

Next really big news: The Bus. The first day I took the bus, I hated it. It was around Day 60 and I only did it because it was part of this experiment and I needed to learn about it. Well, guess what. Now I love it–I bought a pass to make the whole change thing easier, it takes me right downtown in 15 minutes and I get to catch up on reading or ipodding or whatever. And once downtown, I get a nice walk to whatever meeting I’ve got set up. Sweet deal–return trip within a couple of hours and the whole thing costs $1.25. Look, I’m not poor, that’s not the issue. But suddenly I begin to see that the money I’m spending on gas, parking, insurance, upkeep, etc could be going to something I enjoy a whole lot more…with very little trouble. Just a matter of changing habits. Which they say takes about 90 days.
seattle071.jpg

90 Day Round-up!!!

Overall stats:
Car: 535 miles, approx 85% multi-task, multi-occupant
Bike: 176.30 miles, increasing daily mileage from Day 1 to Day 90 (by a lot!)
Hybrid-electro Bus: 60 miles (didn’t utilize the bus until around day 60)
Flexcar: 9 miles (didn’t hold quite the attraction I thought it would…)
Plane: 6,018 (that’s where my carbon footprint turns into carbon karma that I try to work off)

Day 90 stats (that’s today):
Car: zip
Bike: 5 miles
Bus: zip
planes, trains, flexcars: zip

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Day 88 & 89: my life w car, Wilson’s Warblers and Wikis

It’s all about W’s today: Wilson’s Warblers and Wikis.

Wilson’s Warblers come through our Puget Sound area in early spring as the head north and again at the end of Summer as they head south. They’re the most fantastic little birds, wildly energetic and full of song, bright yellow heads with a black cap, dusty yellow bodies with olive/gray on their wings. I always look forward to seeing them because it means Spring is really here–which in some years like this one in Seattle is nothing short of a miracle with its ongoing unseasonably cold weather.

But, they’re only here for a very little while so, I snapped a bunch of picture of one of these little guys in a blossoming tree out front and while I got some great snaps, this one was my fave–he’s almost like a cartoon character mid-jump:

Jumping Wilson’s Warbler
Check his little legs and feet! This guy was moving so fast from branch to branch, I just set the camera to snap him as he moved.

Onto wikis. I gave a case-study presentation last week to an audience in Sydney, AU on the successful launch of a global internal wiki for customer facing tech help agents. As my prez was part of a larger, jam-packed agenda, I didn’t have much time to cover a fairly complex issue, that of how to successfully integrate a wiki into a large, global, unwieldy enterprise environment.

The questions were pretty good–the excitement about integrating wikis into enterprise environments is growing, that’s obvious. But I found it interesting that the focus really fell on how to measure its success…a predictable response from a group that lives and dies by metrics. I don’t fault them, I just find it sort of…well, predictable. I follow this plan: you continue to measure standard issues, such as Handle Time (which in this case showed a decrease of approximately 10% in 4 months), but you make room for adoption and understand Adoption as your number one metric for about 9 months. Because just like the internet, if you don’t have users (traffic), you don’t a wiki.

For now, wikis will resist the standard measurements. But if you care about getting the info out of your agents’ head and out to the customer–that most sought after tacit knowledge–you’ll learn to measure adoption over the usual suspects and then focus on content, quality and customer sat.

Some very interesting trends in wiki use indicate that smaller communities of practices do better with wikis than larger ones. For a global group like the one I was discussing, this presents a problem and it remains to be seen if the problems resolves itself through usage. Another interesting trend is culling the information that is added to the wiki for potential self-help use on the corporate web site–I would dearly love to see this practice flourish, for all of us customers out here who go to the website first for answers–and so often find it lacking in effective KB, especially true with tech or tech-related companies..

Wiki interest is alive and well in Sydney.

Daily Stats:
First full work week without the use of a car!
Car: 10 miles (2 people/4 tasks–Saturday errands)
Bike: 8.5 miles
Bus: 14 miles
flexcar: I’m just about to take this one out, I’m not using it at all.

Day 87: my life w car plus Big Blue Goes Green

IBM is investing a billion a year in figuring out how to utilize alternative energy resources for their systems–from cooling mechanisms to software. The company promises higher CPU without any more energy use. Sweet!

read more | digg story

Also, a friend (sorry Yo, now you’ll really have to do that site ;-))and I had coffee yesterday in Pioneer Square and discussed the issue of.. well, Web 2.0 and knowledge management–though I wince when using the Web 2.0 term. It seems hackneyed, yet what can we call this internet wave that’s upon us? The one where we are increasingly in touch, sharing info at such a massive level–truly a big tent community with all the noise and chaos of a bazaar. At every level, corporate and personal, the sheer amount of information out there is mind boggling yet at every moment has the potential to organize itself organically and pretty doggone effectively.

My point was, how can you deny that information sharing is morphing right before our eyes when companies like Dell are forced to change their ways by the popularization of a term to describe their dysfunction on a single customer blog–the blog heard round the customer experience world?

A side note on Dell–Dell himself. How come these guys get big money? Thanks for this, Yo!

Daily Stats:
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Bus: 0
Flexcar: 0
Run through Park along waterfront: approx 3.5 miles

Day 85 & 86: my life w car, Urban Birds and Green vs. Gray

Cornell Ornithology Labs–which sounds pretty daunting for us average folks–is really stellar at bringing bird watching to kids and communities all around the world. Their focus is the coolest: Citizen Science. They make awareness of birds fun for urban kids and country kids, for seasoned bird watchers and rank beginners, for scientists and regular folks as well. I’m a huge fan of this organization!

city_song_birds.jpg

So then, I’m really psyched about their latest online endeavor: Urban Bird Watch. Mainly for kids, but for anyone who wants to participate, it’s an online, multi-month, easy-as-pie survey of the birds around us. Sign up and they’ll send you a packet of pretty cool stuff to get started. If you have kids, or have friends or family with kids–check it out. It’s a great way to spend 15 minutes with the birds…and your kids!

Here’s an interesting site with a discussion of Green vs. Gray Economy. Not sure “gray economy” conjures up what they hope it does–it really does feel more akin to Black Market than Green Economy. But the point is: there are companies that are taking steps toward sustainability or improved carbon footprint…and then there are the other companies. The ones that will live and die by fossil fuels.

dinosaur.jpg

Daily Stats:
Car:0
Bike 19.5 miles (4+ tasks)
bus: 2 miles
flexcar: 0

Day 85: my life w car

Check out the green news for the day:

Pepsi goes 100% green, rubbing shoulders with the likes of WholeFoods and Starbucks. Can Walmart be far behind?

Green and stylin’ –get it here. You can have it all!

And call me a silly nationalist, but why couldn’t the world’s first zero-carbon city be San Francisco instead of Abu Dhabi???

Daily stats:
car: 0
bike=0
bus=0
flexcar=0
run through park: approx 3 miles.

A Diagram of World Fatness

Just a quickie: I liked the graphics of Fatness shown by nations of the world.

read more | digg story

day 83 & 84: My life w car *and* Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

My Mom called and said, “you have to get this sauce: Frank’s Red Hot.” Why? Because cayenne will cure just about anything and it’s the best hot sauce she’s ever had. Hmmm. She said it’s curing her arthritis–and that has some basis in fact, apparently.

franks-red-hot.jpg

They don’t sell Frank’s at our local organic food store, couldn’t find it at the other market we frequent. But they did sell it at Safeway–a store I never frequent for lots of old, Chavez days reasons–so we picked up two bottles and tried them tonight.

The weird thing: Frank’s Red Hot has got the most basic ingredients you can imagine. Cayenne, vinegar, salt, water. That’s it! So how come my back-to-basics grocery store doesn’t stock it? And also: it’s cheap! Maybe that’s why–they don’t give away shelf space for nothin’.

What else is going on? John Lombard wants to save us from ourselves: he’s single handedly trying to raise awareness about the degradation of the Puget Sound, the destruction of salmon habitat. I’m still really unclear about how come salmon is a common dinner entre when its numbers are diminishing at an alarming rate, but here’s a site that explains how to eat salmon if you are inclined, while still protecting the environment.

Saw “My Name is Rachel Corrie” at the Seattle Rep the other night and was blown away by it. It’s closed now in Seattle but has already hit the road and is making a wave in EU international tour. This is about the young American woman who was run over by a bulldozer and killed in Gaza in the Palestinian camps. She was a writer with wonderful journals she kept from 5 years old on–the play is based on those journals, right up to the last 5 minutes of her life. Wonderful, amazing–one woman show. The pamphleting outside the theatre seemed a gross continuation of the same politics that killed this young woman and kills young innocence the world around. Made me sad.

What else? We just put organic compost on all the beds in our yard (we have a lot of yard) so spring must really be here even though the temperature is so abnormally low, the evenings still dropping to the high 30’s. Also, the local Farmer’s Market started–paltry pickings, it’s still too early for much produce, but it’s a great thing to have it back! Support Your Local Farmer’s Market!

p1010194.jpg

And I think that’s all for now.

Daily stats:
car: apprx 35 miles (2 people, about 9 tasks)
bike: zip
bus: zip
flexcar: zip

day 81 & 82: My life w car

Read an oldie the other day, The Victorian Internet, by Tom Standage. It was a quick, fun read but sort of silly in some ways.

telegraph.jpg

His claim is that the singular invention of the Telegraph was the first Internet…and to take a phrase from Standage himself (out of context): “Well, sort of.” In fact, it seems the invention that is most strikingly a first step on the way to the modern internet is the use of electrical pulses as a means of conveying information and data from point A to point B. The rest—how humans wrestled with the new communication potential—may well be a repeat of previous “great leaps” in human history and a reflection of the human impulse or instinct to communicate and share information—whether it be in words, electrical impulses, art, oral tradition, trade, or teaching, we seem driven to communicate—and to leverage communication to our own ends.

Among the interesting tidbits that have stayed with me is the change in work culture (from a sun-up-to-sun-down schedule to a newly global 24/7 schedule)–we struggle with our 24/7/365 always-on, always-open global culture and it’s interesting to consider how 24/7 changed things way back in the Victorian age. But in the end, Standage lost me when he boldly asserted that the changes Victorian era society went through during the introduction of the Telegraph so thoroughly modernized them that “time traveling Victorians…would, no doubt, be unimpressed with the Internet.”

I mean, come on. In my own lifetime, I’ve marvelled at the new forms of technology that interconnect the world. I’ve even marvelled at the innovations with bicycles, ferchrissakes. To think that folks from the 1880’s would not be blown away by our technology and interconnectedness now is surely ridiculous. But, someone 100 years from now will be writing something similar to Victorian Internet and gather together a treasure trove of quotes about how the internet made our lives (choose one): easier/smarter/harder/better/faster/worse and will come to various conclusions about technological impacts based on that.

drop-impact.jpg

The world is on a trajectory of inter-relatedness (interesting related thought here). When the printing press was invented, it spawned the creation of entire new religions and the Holy Roman Empire took a huge hit. Suddenly the written word was available not just to those in the cathedral but to anyone who could get a hold of a manuscript. The rise of the first person narrative novel can be linked to MySpace; oral tradition can be linked to the blogosphere; tribal knowledge can trace a direct line to wikis; and certainly the old market and bazarre network can be linked to craigslist and ebay. But all those parallels speak more to human nature and the impulse to inter-connect than to any of the devices invented to achieve that goal.

Daily travel stats:
Internet: a million miles, give or take
car: 6 (4 tasks, 1 person)
bike: 10.5 miles
bus: 2.5 miles
flexcar: 0
passenger ferry to downtown Seattle: 3 miles

Day 77 thru 80: My life w car

Been flying all over the place running errands in the car–it’s just like that sometimes. And this week promises to be busy as well. A lot of travel to the eastside where it seems no buses go…

newyorkart-michael.jpg

Somewhat unrelated (at least on the surface) to the environment, yet related in a systems kind of way…I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the social organization of Europe in medieval times. Yeah, really. It’s all related to a larger thought about communication networks, the larger conversation of culture, our interconnectedness and denial, but here’s what I’ve been mulling over:

In medieval times, there were basically three channels in life: the Church, the Military, and Commerce. The Court (royal, not judicial) had all of those rolled into it and was the center of all things.

In a way, we still have this organization, though much more complex and hard to read. I’ll stop here and tell why I started on this train of thought: my partner is a therapist, and as a result, we socialize with a lot of therapists, analysts, and others in the psychological care world. People in this world have a certain disdain for people in the Commerce world, and I won’t even mention the Military–it goes without saying.

I view the therapy field as an extension of the religious channel of medieval times; that channel served a spiritual need, a community need, for guidance that is not offered in the other channels.

What my partner and I got to talking about the other day is how each of these channels views the other channels as “less than,” or somehow corrupt in ways that they themself are not. So goes the military in its view of the non-military world and its concerns; so goes commerce with its profit imperative which it believes is paramount to all others; so goes the care-giving fields which certainly claim a higher moral ground to the other channels.

And yet…in truth, none of them live very well without the others. A military that is detached from the moral and emotional imperatives of the community is simply a dictatorship and a brutish one at that; a culture of commerce that does not see itself as part of a larger system wherein the health and well being of the system upon which it is dependent is paramount is simply greed gone awry (yeah, maybe we’re there…); and those charged with giving care of one sort or another who are disconnected from the other channels will become untethered at some point and unable to add a valued voice to the larger conversation of community.

At all times in our human history, we’ve seen these channels of organization be recreated in different ways; we’ve seen them struggle for ascendancy, usually to the ultimate detriment of the the larger community. I guess I’m thinking about these things right now because it seems we are so close to having every possible form of communication available to us short of Vulcan Mind Meld, and yet we still strive to shut down communication of our shared experience.

The Church does not want to hear about the crushing effect of over-population and diminishing resources and so it retreats to a sanctimonious ground which they will call “higher ground.” Therapists do not want to associate themselves with business because their own view of themselves does not include a desire for profits (I mean, come on!), so they deny business as a valued aspect of life and therefore shut themselves off from a very needed participation in that larger conversation. The Military does not want to humanize the world since it may have to go to war with it, so it denies the human aspect of its own people, not to mention other cultures, it objectifies so it can rigidly command and control.

It is, at the end of the day, our own attachment to the outcome of our actions–our concepts about who we are and how we’re defined–that causes us the most trouble.

Well…after all that, here’s the details of my carbon-based life:

Daily Stats:
Car: Whew! about 50 miles total (approx 12 tasks, sometimes 2 people)
Bike: 5 miles
Electric-hybrid bus: 0
fexcar: 0