Monthly Archives: September 2007

Days 218 thru 221: MLwC, the rainy season and the restlessness of desire

The rainy season has come early to the Northwest this year. The temp has dropped quickly and I’m having to pull a lot of tomatoes off the vine and ripen them indoors. I was thinking today of how this new season will impact my fledgling transportation habits…for example, I’m nervous taking my laptop in my pack when it’s raining super hard and I have an appt out and about.

Or am I just reluctant to change habits? Think things through and come up with new approaches? All through this project I’ve faced that reluctance. Sure, after a while I come around but at first, my response is always: couldn’t I just take the car? It’d be so much easier, not to mention drier. But I just bought two new bus ticket packets and I’ll be using them. And the bike is still a brisk alternative on a windy Autumn day, making me feel more alive and connected than the other two alternatives combined.

Speaking of which, I read a post over at NoImpactMan the other day which echoes some of the feelings I’ve had at various points in this project. To whit: he finds himself more able to be grateful for things when he has less of them. Makes me think of “less is more,” a truism throughout the world of design, art, and life.

But NoImpactMan isn’t talking about art, he’s talking about living in a state of gratitude rather than desire. And when you start to cut the unnecessary out of your life, and get back to more grounded ways of living each day, it becomes easier to cultivate gratitude and recognize socialized desire when it pops up.

Have you ever read the magazine Ad Busters? It’s pretty interesting, though sort of depressing sometimes. What I love about that magazine is how they nail our culture of desire and strip it bare to reveal the inner workings. Some of their pieces on how women are taught to view themselves through media bombardment as inherently flawed without the intervention of multiple products are at once spot-on, sad, and hopeful–that last because it’s good to see the issue discussed so intelligently and by people who truly understand the advertising media.

Here’s an interesting article by Bill McKibbon in Ad Busters, from a while back, that discusses the possibility of seeing ourselves not as individuals but as part of a larger system, a very very large system. Seeing ourselves thus takes satisfaction out of the hands of media and puts it back into our own hands, our community, our neighbors, our own lives:

The dirty little secret of our individualized consumer age is that it hasn’t made us quite as happy as it promised it would. In fact, to the degree that we can track such things, our sense of well-being has retreated almost as fast as the Arctic ice. Polling data on ‘life satisfaction’ shows it has been falling since the mid-50s; even a growing chorus of economists has begun to wonder if their constant prescription (More!) has lost its curative powers, or even turned subtly toxic. It’s not precisely clear why we find ourselves less happy, but the sociologists and psychologists seem to think it has something to do with loss of community. The same loss of community that the fossil fuel infrastructure made inevitable.

As we continue to strive for happiness through “more,” we fall further into despair. I hate to be so focused on this driving/transportation thing, but I really did find the same exact thing happened when I stopped driving everywhere. When I was driving all the time, I felt like I needed to drive even more and faster, faster! I needed to get past everyone in front of me! I didn’t even know why, I just needed to. Only when I stopped driving, and speed of arrival wasn’t the only unit of measure that counted, I felt happier. Less is more.

Daily Stats (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun) (This office project must end soon!)
Car: 9.5
Bike: 6
Ped: 4
Bus: 15

Day 217: MLwC and the Very Important Bike Conversation

Bikes in traffic

B2 sent a great comment to my previous post about Bike Conduct. Since Brian commutes all over the area, I take his thoughts and opinions to heart.  As he notes, it sounds like the rider in the previous post was indeed obnoxious but that, “your friend, through no fault of her own, became the focal point of an ‘I’m-fed-up-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore” moment.’  Maybe so, and lord knows, we’ve all had a few of those now and again.

Brian goes on to list in his Howl skree a litany of car-related insults and near-misses that I, and I’m sure every bike rider out there, can identify with:

Personally, I’ve been cut off by turning vehicles, cut in front of by cars, passed on narrow streets with inches to spare by cars that couldn’t slow down and wait an extra 10 seconds to pass a bit more widely, nearly hit by clueless u-turning taxis, nearly doored by clueless drivers opening their door wide open into traffic without looking behind them first, screamed at to get the hell out of the way, and had shit thrown at me, among other things. So I can definitely see where a cyclist could get pushed to the breaking point by someone she perceives to be an impatient driver who can’t seem to wait an extra minute or two on his way to do what must be Very Important Things indeed.

Yes, indeed.  A while back in this year long project I began to notice and commented on at many points how driving made me feel in much more of a hurry than I actually needed to be.  Just getting behind a wheel made me feel…well, aggressively interested in getting wherever I was going as soon as I could, viewing, as B notes, everything in my path as an obstacle to get past.  It’s true.  I’ve broken the habit of driving everywhere, I live on both sides now and I know: driving makes you obsess on one thing–getting past the thing in front of you.  As Bri describes it:

One of the issues with car and truck drivers is that the mentality of many drivers behind the wheel is that “everything on the road is an obstacle that is in the way of me getting to my desitination as fast as possible, so everyone and everything just get out of my fucking way now.” The physical structure of the car (which cuts you off from your environment) feeds into this mentality.)

In the case of my friend Susan’s close encounter with Bike Rage, however, the cyclist was expecting the driver to go uphill at what was likely 3-4 miles per hour.  That’s not easy to do in a car, not at all.  So in that case, I think the cyclist was asking too much.  Just my opinion, and had it been me, I would have hopped over to the sidewalk.  There’s a very steep hill in my hood, on the north side of Lincoln Park–long, winding, narrow lanes and steep.  To me it just screams “accident waiting to happen,” so I avoid it at all costs.  Fortunately for me, the alternate path takes me along the waterfront of the park and for the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone would take the long and winding road, but hey.

Thanks for the comment, B2!

Daily Stats (Wed)
Car: 6.5 miles (will this office project never end? 4 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: 1

Bus: 0

Raw Video: San Diego Mayor Sanders Supports Gay Marriage

I was reading this morning about how the Buddha, when he first left his ascetic life and began living in the world again, reached out to the “untouchables.” As he said, you may think whatever you want but a lie will never be the truth and the truth is we are all connected, we are all the same. Then b2 sent me this vid…hope you find some truth in it. Jerry Sanders is no Buddha but you gotta give him credit for listening to his heart and speaking the truth. I hope he doesn’t get too beat up for it.

Day 215 and 216: MLwC and the secret bicyclist code of conduct

If I were to say, “Bicyclists have the same rights as car drivers on the road,” would you agree? And if you agreed, what would that mean? Does that mean, for example, that bicyclists have to signal before turning (not that all car drivers do, but by law they’re supposed to). Does it mean that bikes should watch the speed limit and maintain it at all times?

Anyway, do bikes have the same rights as cars on the road?

In lots of places they do. For example, there’s an online quiz out of Madison, WI to help you figure out your bike IQ and the first question lays it to rest: cyclists have the same rights as car drivers. The thing is, though, they are quite clear in stating that cyclists also have the same responsibilities as car drivers. And that’s where things might be a little dicey, it seems.

My neighbor Susan recently encountered a bicyclist on 3rd Ave W in Seattle. 3rd Ave W is a very steep hill in Seattle, heading up to the Queen Ann neighborhood which is high atop a hill overlooking the rest of Seattle. (Brian has corrected me on the Counterbalance issue–while 3rd W is steep indeed, it’s not as steep as the Counterbalance, and he as a cyclist living on Queen Ann, often takes 3rd W and finds it a path with all its own difficulties–it’s steep, it’s narrow, you’ll likely not go faster than 3 or 4 mph, and there’s not really room to pull over to the right for cars.  That said, from what Susan indicated, this cyclist didn’t even try and eventually managed to stop traffic in both directions.

So Susan is heading up this hill in her car when about halfway up she finds herself behind a cyclist who is riding in the center of the lane…and riding very slowly, as one might imagine. If I were riding up the counterbalance, I expect I would be doing about 4 miles an hour. Is it fair to expect the cars on this very busy street to do 4 miles an hour behind you, with the steep grade and traffic lining up? Of course not. And that’s where responsibilities comes in. But apparently this cyclist had other ideas….

When Susan tried to go around the cyclist, driving into the oncoming traffic, the cyclist lost it, dropped her bike in front of Susan’s car and began screaming at her that “she has the same rights as cars!” Same rights, perhaps, but same responsibilities, too.

So, I have no illusions that the cyclist Susan encountered will read this, but if she does, I personally want to thank her for doing damage to the tenuous relations between cyclists and cars.  (please read Brian’s forthcoming comments on this last bit, as he rides more than I do and has a LOT to say about the tenuous relationship between bikes and cars in traffic.)

Personally, I try to avoid cars as much as possible, and will zip here and there in my efforts to be as far from them as possible. I don’t assume I have more rights or anything else because truth be told, if a car hits you, all the rights in the world won’t protect you from harm. That said, I will note that Pemco Insurance wrangled full coverage for me the one time I was hit and made it clear to the other driver that indeed, I had the same rights as a car driver. Much appreciated, for sure, but I still won’t pit myself against a car.

My pal Brian is scrupulous about following the same traffic laws as cars and I admire him for that. He rides more than I do and I envy his approach. When I used to commute downtown on a daily basis, I found traffic made me cranky and nervous–even if you do follow the laws, that doesn’t guarantee you won’t get side-swiped or yelled at or all the other things that happen to cyclists on a regular basis.

Still, I love my bike and I love running around on it. Makes life easier lots of times, and more fun too. But you won’t ever, not ever, see me take on a car in traffic. I will zip through stops, ride on sidewalks, cross wherever I can–all to stay clear of cars and maintain my forward momentum.

Daily stats (Mon, Tue)
Car: 10 miles (6 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: 3+
Bus: 0

Day 213 and 214: MLwC and the discreet charm of an older car

When I first started to drive, the general expectation was that I would 1) have an older, hand-me-down car and 2) I would maintain it for a long time, without the real expectation of a brand, spanking new car anywhere in my dizzy head. The first car I had was a Ford Falcon which I inherited from my parents’ divorce somehow…I’m still not sure how that transaction worked but I tend to think unexpressed guilt was at work in there somewhere.

my first car

I didn’t love the car, it had absolutely no cool factor at all, but it got me around and liberated my life at a crucial time. I don’t even remember at this point what happened to the car, though there’s a vague recollection of a tow truck and a purchase for parts.

My next car was beloved, even though it too, was the product of a divorce. A friend of my mother’s had a VW bug, yellow, that she used for zipping around; after her divorce, she felt she needed something more substantial and besides the car reminded her of her ex, so she wanted to dump it. I picked it up for One Buck, the minimum you have to pay for a car to avoid some kind of taxes or something. I loved this car and drove it all over, to Wisconsin for Grad School, to Florida for vacation, and on and on. My old cat Mo grew up riding around in the passenger seat, and thought nothing of 3 day road trips.

1965 vw bug

My next 2 cars were VW bugs as well, the last one being an older model that I adored, a 1965 turquoise sweet thing that caused boomers to stop me in plarking lots to tell me their youthful VW stories.

My current car is also a VW, a Jetta that I bought during the dot com bubble for cash–my First New Car Ever. I adored it also: heated leather seats, fabulous sound system, zippy engine and a compact cool look. I was exceptionally proud of my brand new car, purchased on a whim with stock money. It was more than a car, it was a marker in time.

But now my car is old, certainly old by current standards, and it doesn’t have the je ne sais quois of before. It gets me around just fine, but doesn’t flatter my ego at all. So, where am I now with regard to my old zippy car? Well, I’m starting to notice older cars–people who are still driving their 1990 whatever, keeping it in good shape, not asking it to be more than it is, and counting on it to be all that it still is.

I notice older cars that are washed and polished, clean machines, and that still look good, and presumably function well. And of course, in contrast, I think of all the new cars out there–the thrill of them, the status and such. I wonder if anyone coming out of high school shares the expectations I had around cars anymore: nothing new, but something that will get you from point A to point B, which was really all I cared about.

And I think of the huge mountains of cars that we go through in search of that new-car-high, which is admittedly pretty intoxicating.

I came across this article in MSN about the upside of keeping your old car. Some good ways of thinking about your older car are, it turns out, pretty quantifiable. For example, keeping the thing running might cost you $1500 in repairs–every year. But that still falls short of buying a new car, a new car which will be old very soon, and within a few years you’ll find yourself choosing between repairs and a new car–and endless cycle. Your insurance will be the lowest around, your taxes even lower and in fact, even if you have a major repair every year, you’ll likely still come out ahead.

But here’s something subtle to think about: new cars are like guns in Hollywood films. If a gun appears in a scene–over the mantle, in the drawer, on the shelf–it’s a guarantee that gun will get some use in the course of the film. Same with a new car–if you have a new car, you will use it. There’s no earthly way you will choose to ride your bike, walk or take the bus, it’s just a given you will drive that car everywhere.

So, today I want to sing the praises of older cars. Not the old-old-old cars, that are poorly maintained and spew clouds of smoke as they go–those are a dying breed. Cars with pollution controls have been around for a long time so even a 17 year old car does a pretty good job of minimizing pollution. I’m talking about older cars that are maintained and loved for what they are: reliable transportation tools. Appliances, even. You take care of them, they take care of you, and that odometer is a badge of courage. Recall Seth Godin’s idea that in the future, the best made cars will have their LED odometers on the outside so people can oooh-and-ahhh about how well made this car is.

Daily Stats: (Sat, Sun)
Car: 8 miles
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0

Day 210, 211 and 212: MLwC and the upside of assholes

Hmmm. I’m not sure about that title, but it’s late and I’m tired.

I read a post of mine from a while back, Day 49 and the upside of assholes or something, that was a scree about asshole managers. And you know what’s really weird? Just today I had another run-in with that very same manager, and had completely forgotten about my previous post. Some other readers have been viewing it and it showed up in my statistics so I checked it out.

Oh, what a balm to my soul to read it! I’ve only had a few encounters with this guy I worked with on a previous project and today was one of those encounters. What gives people the right to just lose their tempers about stuff that’s–sorry!–not worth losing one’s temper about. How come some people can just be counted on to make a scene, reach for the nearest throat, blame someone for something…even if the “blame” is probably a widely shared thing, including the asshole in question, for starters.

I work with a lot of people who are just trying to do a good job, and a lot of other people who are just trying to get through the day. For the most part, I have compassion for the second group and prefer the first group. Bottom line, though, we’re all mostly doing the best we can, and getting everyone riled up and freaked out just doesn’t help anything. AT ALL.

It was great to read that previous post. I should do that more often.

Daily Stats (Wed, Thur and Fri)
Car: 24 miles (5 tasks)
Bike: 5 miles
Ped: approx 5 miles
Bus: approx 15 miles

Day 208 and 209: MLwC, Fremont adventure and more on whales

Fremont Seattle

Neighbor Susan sent me the directions for taking the bus to Fremont yesterday….but too late! I’d already been and back, and it all took a lot less time than I thought. Two buses there, two buses back, little waiting and a lot of sight-seeing on the way. That’s the thing about riding the bus–you actually get to look at stuff. While on Dexter to Fremont, I had the chance to see the new condo corridor that comprises the west bank of Lake Union. Urban living at its best–it’s actually a vibrant, attractive community. Where once there were few people out walking or riding bikes, now there are outdoor cafes, sufficient population density and plenty of walking traffic.

And then there’s Fremont (aka Center of the Known Universe. Please set your clocks back 5 minutes.). Fremont has never been without its vibrant community, and while a long time ago when Adobe moved in I dreaded a lot of the things that were happening because traffic became even more impossible and the funky little hood was suddenly a lot more glitzy, somehow Fremont has maintained its predictable quality of weirdness while supporting a level of sophistication. The transition period in the late 80s and early 90s was a painful series of miscalculations (the old PCC was dreadful; the new PCC is divine, however), but the new Fremont is a walker’s heaven, and if you like Thai food, there’s nowhere better to go. And don’t forget Peet’s. In a town bristling with Sbux, it’s nice to find a Peet’s coffee where you can settle in for a good long while at the epicenter of the Center of the Known Universe.

So, I’ve branched out on the bus front.

On the gray whale front, I’m still thinking about and following the issue with the rogue hunt team from the Makah tribe out of Forks, WA. Previous post here. On Sunday, the Makah tribal council denounced the action and will prosecute the hunters to the fullest extent of tribal law. At the same time that this event has been in the news, studies regarding the “success story” of saving the gray whale from extinction have been thrown into question by recent studies; it appears that there is maybe only a third of the population recovery previously reported, and that the populations are not healthy, some are even emaciated due to vastly diminished food sources. It’s a systemic issue: global climate change impacts food sources, over fishing impacts food sources, over fishing is related to population increases, and on and on.

Last week I ran across a letter to the editor, written by First Nation tribal member Ann Stateler, which helped open my heart again regarding this incident. Here it is in full:

We are First Nations whale conservationists who regard whales as our sacred brethren. The heinous poaching of a gray whale by five Makah tribal members pains us deeply [“Gray whale shot, killed in rogue tribal hunt,” Times page one, Sept. 9].

No tribal tradition we know of would condone the ruthless killing of this whale. The poachers desecrated an ancestral whaling legacy, compromising it beyond redemption. Their selfish, cruel act betrayed whales and the Makah Tribe.

Inflicting mortal wounds that cause an animal to bleed to death over 10 hours; killing out of frustration with bureaucratic delays; putting ego and self above community — such behavior mocks traditional Native values. The poachers’ blatantly illegal actions warrant full prosecution in Makah tribal court and under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The time is overdue for Makah elders, culture bearers and tribal leaders to reassess the viability of whaling in the 21st century. Imperiled by global warming, habitat destruction and other monumental threats, fragile whale populations will not endure for the next seven generations if only select groups of humans commit to protecting whales, while others persist in exploiting whales.

— Ann Stateler (Choctaw/Five Tribes)

Daily Stats: (Mon, Tue)
Car: 0
Bike: 4.5
Ped: 2
Bus: approx 25

Day 205 thru 207: MLwC and Bus Ridin Chick

Pal Jodene showed up in West Seattle today after traveling to Bellevue from her home in North Seattle. I don’t know how many miles that is but it’s a lot, so she is my hero today. She noted that it’s funny how going from her home in North Seattle, all the way around the north end of Lake Washington into Bellevue was a measly buck twenty-five, while traveling from Bellevue to Seattle was a whopping 2.50–a two zone ticket. She wondered why, I suggested because two major shopping areas equals two different zones.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the Fremont district, north of downtown. I’ve toyed with the idea of bussing it but am a little intimidated by the idea. Jodene has thrown the gauntlet down and I’m feeling I must answer the call. I wonder how many zones that is, from West Seattle to Fremont, home of the Lenin Statue and all that is truly funky in Seattle.

Lenin in Fremont

The end of summer is at hand around here, the rains have started and the temperature is chillin’. It’s a funny mixture of relief that things might quiet down a little, and sadness that the beautiful long summer days are behind us. For MLwC, I’m entering a new season and will see how this impacts my alternate transportation plans. Riding a bike in the rain isn’t all that bad, but not all that fun either. But, who knows? Most everything I used to think about transportation has changed in the course of this project, so we’ll see.

Speaking of driving. I was transfixed the other day, checking out the size of the gas cap on a Hummer. Seen one lately? I know, I know–Hummer’s are so overwhelming in general, but check it out next time you’re next to one of those monsters, waiting for the light to change. The gas cap itself speaks volumes (it’s Huge).

Hummer gas cap

Daily Stats: (Sat, Sun, Mon)
Car: 7 miles
Bike: 5 miles
Ped: approx 2 miles
Bus: 0

Day 203 and 204: MLwC and Blog Action Day

Just a note regarding Blog Action Day–the idea is that everyone will blog on the same topic on the same day–October 15th, that topic being the environment. That’s a big, wide open topic and the date is right around the corner, it will be pretty interesting to see what comes of it.

Blogosphere

There are currently 3,557,195 blogs signed up to participate in this experiment. Check it out, and join–if only for the fun of something new in the blogosphere.

Daily Stats:
Car: 31 (3 tasks–seems like biz is taking me to the eastside a lot lately)
Bike: 7 miles
Ped: 0
Bus:0

Day 200 – 202: MLwC and the New Continent of Synthetics

 

Over at Strange Maps, there’s a new map for the Continent of Synthetics. It’s quite intriguing, a geography of artificially created materials with poetic, if not sort of nightmarish descriptions:

• “Petrolia is the land of the new synthetic rubbers.”
• “Cellulose is a great state, something like Texas, with many counties, all of which grew out of old Nitrocellulose (Celluloid).”
• “Rayon is a plastic island off the Cellulose coast, with a glittering night life.”
• “Vinyl-land, a fast-growing new country of safety-glass (…) and rubbery plastics, will probably subdivide soon.”

All of which makes me think of farm fresh food. As our local Tomato Wars continue (turns out Neighbor Susan isn’t all that much ahead of our harvest of tomatoes), we find ourselves swamped with a vertible cornucopia of fresh tomatoes which we are busy turning into fresh sauce for this winter. We lightly bake them with fresh basil and oregano and then freeze the resulting gumbo in dinner size plastic bags for a deep January taste bud extravaganza reminding us that spring and summer are around the corner. You don’t find tomatoes like this in Petrolia!

But how I got on this topic…I read an article in The Grist about local vs. long distance food resources. This article was based on an article in the NY Times by James McWilliams debunking the idea that local food is better for all concerned and easier on the environment in general. He slices and dices the data and presents some interesting ways of looking at the issue…but I come down squarely on the side of The Grist:

Purchasing locally grown food, as Maiser observes, “is fodder for a wonderful story. Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.” Buying local builds relationships, almost organically forcing the consumer to become aware of the plight of the producer and the producer to become familiar with the needs of the consumer.

Author David Morris then explores issues of equity to small farmers who depend on foreign buyers of their goods, etc. All good points. There’s undoubtedly a middle ground here where local is the best path for many reasons including community, relationships, importance of story and connectedness–those might seem like “soft” arguments but they’re important to me. And then there are other markets globally that depend on foreign participation to stay afloat. What I’m not thrilled about participating in is the global agri-business that puts local-everything out of business and has little to no accountability, not to mention “story” or community.

Cherry tree

That said, neighbor Susan and I had a discussion the other day about buying local and here’s the rub: I’m such a fruit freak. I mean, if there were such a thing as a fruit gourmet, I might qualify. AND I live in Seattle, Washington. I mean, in the winter, there’s not a lot of fruit. Apples, apples, apples. And then Apples. Come Spring and Summer, things open up a bit, but I would do back-flips to get some of the fruit I grew up with in Southern California, and baby, that stuff ain’t local. So, if push came to shove, I guess I’d move. I’d move to a place that grows good (I mean Good) watermelons, for example, and Santa Rosa plums.

So, anyway. It’s the harvest time of the year. I hope you’re enjoying the fruits of the season!

Daily Stats: (Monday, Tues, Wed)
Car: 0
Bike: 8
Ped: 4 or 5 miles
Bus: 0

Day 198 and 199: MLwC and WTF?

Under the heading of WTF? we find this story from Forks, Washington, a fishing town near the Makah Indian Reservation on the Olympic Peninsula. Apparently five guys from the Makah tribe decided it was time to kill a Gray Whale–weather was fine, water was calm, and they were armed to the teeth with the largest rifle on the market. The odds of successfully killing the creature simply could not be better, so who could resist?

My nephew is a resident out there and stood on the shore with a lot of other people watching this scene. He said there were grown men crying to see how the whale suffered the inept and senseless attack. The Coast Guard was slow to respond and ultimately took action seemingly only after the television networks picked up the story.

What’s the matter with us as a species, anyway ? We wait for a migrating population, arm ourselves in order to galvanize the odds in our favor and then call it, what? Shooting fish in a barrel? No. Tribal rights. Part of a cultural prerogative. Call me callous, but I have a feeling the previous generations didn’t use .460 Weatherby Magnums and didn’t let the poor creature struggle and suffer for 10 hours before it drowned and sank to the bottom of the ocean. Subsistance and cultural needs, my ass.

So, that’s it for today. The perpetrators have been handed over to the tribal council for punishment–perhaps jail time and 20K in fines. Whew. Can’t quite rid myself of this event.

Daily Stats (Saturday and Sunday)
Car: 0
Bike: 12 miles
Ped: approx 5 miles
Bus: 0

Day 195-197: MLwC and more on Green Christians

tomato.jpg My neighbor Susan, from whom I learn so much and with whom I have a deadly serious tomato growing competition, recently dropped me a note regarding her evolving thoughts re the environment and Christianity. But first, let’s get back to that deadly serious tomato competition (Lower Cloverdale Tomato Wars). For those who are interested in such things, I believe Susan is the Big Winna this year, both in Quantity and Quality. We have a stunning selection of tomatoes–French salad, black Italian plums, an heirloom and a Japanese variety. All good but because of work earlier in the year, we neglected to properly prune our apple and pear trees and only too late did we notice that our tomato bed was in shade most the day. Anyway, right now, the Japanese variety–the Momotaro–is the run-away favorite, while the French salad are monster big and impressive, but not as snappy tart as the others.

But I digress. Susan mentioned to me that she’s noticing the presence of Earth Ministry at her college, SPU, and will be checking in with them to see what they’re up to. Earth Ministry is primarily Northwest based and is currently celebrating its 15th year anniversary–good for them! They have a quarterly publication called Earth Letter with contributions by such luminaries as Wendell Berry, Bill Moyers, Barry Lopez, Pattiann Rogers, and others. They’ve celebrated previous events such as the Celebration of St. Francis (even I know that St. Francis is the nature-guy in the constellation of saints) with talks by Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibbon, and others. It seems like an outstanding organization and a proud offering from this beautiful neck of the woods.

She also pointed to an article in the latest Sojourner magazine that includes three articles on the green movement and what it means (or should mean) to Christians and Christian leaders.

Here’s a funny thing: when I went to the Sojourner site, I found the articles and clicked through. The magazine is more than willing to let me read the article for free, but predictably asked that I give info on who I am, etc in order to get it. I could lie (Mary Brown/111 Brown St./Brownsville, OK) but I tend to not do that so often; giving them my real info wasn’t an option…because I don’t consider myself a christian (or anything else, to be honest).

See? That’s why I don’t like these artificial boundaries like religion and politics and what not. They lock people in ideologically and block others out. Well, I won’t get on that rant. It just struck me that I didn’t want to give my name to an organization with a strong religious identity to which I didn’t belong. I dream of an open source world.

Last but not least, I ran across a Blog for Green Christians, by Sander Chan out of the Netherlands. It’s interesting, you may want to check it out if this topic intrigues you.

Daily Stats: (Tue, Wed, Thur)
Car: 28 miles (trip to Eastside, 3 tasks)
Bike: 16 miles
Ped: 1 or 2 miles
Bus: 5 miles

Day 191-194: MLwC and still partying like it’s 1959!

As Saturday was “Take a Conservative Friend to Lunch” day (not really, I just made that up), my partner and I took my friend Tom B. to lunch. First off, we love Tom.  He’s a good guy, and mostly we should just talk about movies and music, and mostly we do.  But not Saturday. Talk turned to the usual list of Talk Radio Hit Parade “issues” –Immigration, Global Climate Change Fraud, Taxes, and unexpectedly…Wildlife.

This last was too much for me. Tom was going on about how wrong it is that if he’s hiking in a National Park, he’s not allowed to carry a gun to protect himself in case he’s charged by a bear. I’m not aware of that law, but I like it.

Tom feels that humans should be able to carry guns in the wild in order to “even the playing field” with ferocious beasts. That was hilarious to me, and I thought, “Oh yeah, there’s that whole weird twist on the ‘dominion’ thing again.” I suggested that once upon a time, people didn’t go into the wilderness unless 1) They knew what they were doing and 2) They understood the risk. But now, you have so many people out there at any given time it’s almost not like hiking anymore.  And worse, people are building their 5,000 square foot houses in the middle of the wilderness and being outraged when a cougar attacks one of them when out jogging. This is not a ferocious beast, this is a response to lack of territory and resources.

We’re still living like it’s 1959

Here’s the deal: we are still living like it’s 1959 and there are only 3 billion people on the planet. 37 years later, world pop is well on its way to 7 billion. We are the only species on the planet that has the wildly extravagant idea that we can populate endlessly, use all resources available, without systemic change. How does this relate to Tom’s desire to go wherever he wants without incursion from wildlife (or any other natural barrier)?

We seem to think that the entire planetary system is without the very reactive wiring we take for granted in ourselves: loss of territory and defensive strategies, fear for resources and reactive measures, protection of offspring and dwellings. Just about every creature on this planet shows evidence of that behavior–from vegetation and invasive plants, to cougars and loss of territory/food resources, to humans and fear of invasion by all kinds of forces. We’re just organisms responding to stimuli. I know, I know, a lot of people are truly offended by that and I can understand the offense. I just find, for myself, that I am much more able to live in harmony with other creatures and systems when I remember I am just an organism like them…except with a whole arsenal of tools to make sure I win any argument we might have.

All creatures on this planet respond to threat and loss of “freedom” pretty much the same we do.

Anyway, back to Tom B. I may be deluding myself, but I do think he sort of understood that we have gone way too far in expecting the animal kingdom to be fine with inexperienced hikers and joggers just willy-nilly crashing into their environments. They react as they are wired to react. We’re the ones that are jimmying the game, we’re the ones that expect the laws of nature to change.

One last thing on this rant: I’m not really out to change Tom, just to make sure some little bit of the other side is represented in the conversation. I don’t want to change anyone–I just want more information to be included in the conversation. I want us to wake up our brains with just a little more new information.

Oh and, yeah, I do wish we’d realize it’s not 1959 anymore and we are close to 7 Billion People on this planet and things really, really do change in big ways with that kind of impact.

Daily Stats (Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 0
Bus: 0
(been sick with a summer cold and ain’t doin much of anythin’ these days)