Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Introducing the Top Five!

This is an idea I’ve been ruminating on for a few years now but never had the gumption to get started with it. But now, I’ve hit a point where there is so much crazy shit going down that people seem ambivalent about …or feel helpless about… or just don’t seem to fully understand how ridiculous the world is. (I have to believe the latter because if people really understood what is happening there would be rioting in the streets.) So I’ve decided to narrow it down to the “TOP FIVE Big Issues of the Day”—bite sized chunks that hopefully will reach someone to stand up, sign a petition, speak out or not back down until real change is made.

Without further ado…today’s TOP FIVE:

1. Overturn Citizen’s United: There currently was a Supreme Court case (Citizen’s United vs. Federal Elections Commission) that gives corporations the same rights as individuals (also known as “corporate personhood”)—which has meant that corporations can give almost unlimited donations to political candidates  (want proof? individual political donations in 2010: $15m, 2012 (after Citizen’s United was enacted): $88 million.) What does this mean for you, me and the rest of the little guys? It means super billionaires (such as the conservative Koch brothers) can give as much money as they want to ensure that their candidates are elected. Money buys every election in America today. Legally. I don’t know about you, but that seems extremely unfair and undemocratic and shows money can buy you anything you want, especially climate change denial.

Learn more about the evils of Citizen’s United.



Sign a petition to tell Congress to support the overturn:

2. Western drought: The western U.S. is currently experiencing a drought of epic proportions, (Southern California is currently experiencing the driest year in 1,200 years…) and yet there are no usage bans (your local golf course and car wash can use as much water as they want without penalty). The effects of climate change are here and debating the science won't rehydrate America's farmlands. We need to start wide-scale conservation methods, ASAP.

Learn more about the California drought here:

Get POTUS & Kerry to address the mega-drought head on 

3. Ocean plastic. You may have heard about the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch (a massive area of floating plastic trash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean), but what many people don’t realize is that in a single year, anywhere from 10.5 to 28 billion tons of plastic ends up in the ocean, most of it will never biodegrade, and that which does break down, just makes smaller pieces which are ingested by marine life. What’s the solution here? First and foremost, we have to curtail the purchase of plastic and support efforts to create more biodegradable options. Secondly, proper disposal is of utmost importance. Cigarette butts? They are plastic, that millions of people drop on the ground, the rain will wash down storm drains and most likely will be washed into coastal waters. Spend a day doing beach clean up and you’ll never look at plastic the same way. It’s time for citizens and businesses to move away from one-time use plastic for convenience.

I’m reading the great “My Plastic Free Life” right now and this quote sums up convenience plastic perfectly: “Seconds in the hand, forever in the landfill.”

Here’s a petition to ask Secretary of State John Kerry to make ocean plastic pollution a priority


4. Save the bees: No bees, no food. Well that might be an overstatement, but most people underestimate how important bees are to pollination of food crops. Unfortunately, bees are being killed off in massive quantities and for years, scientists were unsure exactly why. Now, they are learning that a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids (the most widely used insecticides in the world) are causing “causing impaired learning and navigation, increased mortality, heightened susceptibility to disease via impaired immune system function and reduced fertility.”
Sign a petition to POTUS to ban bee-killing pesticides:


5. Keep the pressure on killing Keystone XL dead. Anyone who knows me, knows that this has been my hot button for years now, and the only reason it’s #5 on the Top 5 is because POTUS just vetoed it yesterday. But politics being politics, even a veto does not signal the end of this fight. I never believe anything until pen is to paper. The other big issue is that while Keystone might have been the most visible pipeline fight, there are dozens of other oil pipelines that criss cross America and Canada (and most likely if Keystone fails, there will be a re-route effort).
Sign a unity letter to support the President’s veto here:
 
Or if you’re still not convinced that a 3,500 mile oil pipeline is humanity’s worst idea, read more here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

t-t-t-too much time on my hands

 I’m not gonna lie, I’ve got a bit of free time on my hands right now…and considering I’ve been off work for about 2 months, I’m trying to keep my cash outlay low. That said, what I’m about to reveal is not for financial gain, but more of trying to keep my community clean and get a bit of exercise at the same time. Here in Maine we have a bizarre littering problem. Every state has litter, but for some reason, my state feels the need to throw all of their recyclable cans and bottles out the car window. I can’t find the logic behind it (and even more disturbing is the fact that 80% of those cans and bottles are alcohol related). This is strange because we have a bottle deposit law here which means, you paid that .05 cent deposit when you bought the beverage so throwing it out the window is literally throwing away a nickel. (I know for a fact my fellow Mainers need those nickels which makes this all even stranger). Even if all those cans were bought down in New Hampshire (which has vehemently opposed a bottle bill for almost 35 years), there are recycling centers that will take them here (as opposed to places like Michigan and California where machines scan the bar code to make sure you bought the beverage in state. So in an effort to clean up my ‘hood, I’ve been taking 30-45 minute walks this week and bringing along a satchel (and my trusty Deluxe Grabber) to see what I could get. And wow. In just 3 days, I picked up the 2 bags in the photo here. I have a redemption center within a mile of my house so I headed over to see just what I’d get…that’s $5 going right into the #mainerscanbeidiots fund.

PPS: I almost forgot that during yesterday's walk, I found a working iPhone on the ground before I could attempt to figure out how I could find out who it belonged to, someone came up and claimed it. A very Maine thing to happen...but still surreal. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Today in Training: Why I ride...

As part of the Climate Ride experience, I have signed up for Advocacy Day once we arrive in DC, (they'll set up meetings with my Congressional reps where we can advocate for action in person!) Part of the training for these meetings involves building our "personal stories": the reason why climate change advocacy is so important to us.

My story involves being literally hit over the head by climate change. Back in 2005 (last weekend of August to be exact) I was attending a forum on simple living in Estes Park, Colorado, at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park. As the group was sitting by a river, taking a break from a short hike, I heard a crack and next thing I knew a watched a 40' pine tree come crashing toward me. It hit me on the head, stabbed me in the leg and broke my finger—in short I was extremely fortunate I wasn't more hurt. Someone wisely took a few photos of the offending tree and we knew in an instant that it was the victim of dreaded pine beetles, a critter that has decimated forests throughout the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains—a critter whose population has exploded due to warming climate trends.  Since I had driven my car to Estes Park, I had to wait all bandaged up in a hotel by the Denver airport for 3 days for a friend to arrive to help drive me back to Los Angeles. As I sat there, I had nothing but time to watch Hurricane Katrina (and it's after effects) demolish New Orleans. I began to realize that climate change was not just a single issue, it is many complex and catastrophic problems that create devastating environmental, health, and social justice issues.

Climate change truly is the most important issue facing humanity. Unlike other causes, you can't buy your way into safety; it is something that affects every single living being. So I ride in hope of bringing awareness to this critical cause!

T-Minus: 12 days  
Fundraising: $2895... thank you all for helping me make my fundraising minimum!

Total training miles ridden: 1669.29
Total books read since started: 31

Friday, September 05, 2014

Today in Training: Staten Island. Why? Because it's there.

Let the river run.
I know what you're thinking... Staten Island, whyfor? Staten Island has that reputation of being NYC's landfill, but actually today's ride was one of the better ones I've had this summer. The ferry is free in both directions, and the riding is smooth and fast (it seemed like I was going down hill for most of the ride). I had originally had a master plan this morning to ferry over, ride around a bit, and then ride back over the Bayonne Bridge through New Jersey... until arriving at the on ramp to find the pedestrian path has been closed for over a year. Instead, I took the ferry back after about a 17 mile loop around the island.
On 2nd thought, the Bayonne Bridge wasn't inspiring much confidence.





T-Minus: 14 days
Fundraising to go: $-45... thank you all for helping me make my fundraising minimum!
Total training miles ridden: 1632.24

Total books read since started: 31

Monday, September 01, 2014

Today in Training: 242nd St->Tarrytown->242nd St, 125th->BPC

View from Washington Irving's Sunnyside house
Happy Labor-free Day! Today was an exercise in training in humidity...(even though it says it's only 63% humidity, that is a big ole falsehood. It feels like Miami in August out there today) 1 mile after I got off the train I was questioning my sanity but I managed to make it up through Yonkers, Hastings on the Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and on to Tarrytown (Sleepy Hollow would have to wait for another day) before finding the North County Trail which brought me back to my old friend Elmsford, NY and the South County Trail. Rain held off through the afternoon, so I was able to make it back home slightly less damp than if it were a torrential downpour. Since returning I have eaten the entire 8 oz bag of Cape Cod potato chips. (Still waiting on that sponsorship deal...)

T-Minus: 18 days!!!!!
Fundraising to go: $365... 10 days til fundraising deadline!
Total training miles ridden: 1557.24

Total books read since started: 31

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today in Training: Jersey City and Liberty State Park

Not sure why I don't cross the river more often to ride in Jersey...it's a quick 1-stop PATH train ride and there are some nice paths. Today I hit up Liberty State Park, which is flat and uncrowded during the week and you really can't beat the views.
T-Minus: 22 days
Fundraising to go: $365
Total training miles ridden: 1452.87

Total books read since started: 31
Looking toward the Freedom Tower/Manhattan



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Today in Training: 242nd St ->Elmsford (???), NY + 125th St -> BPC

Where on earth is Elmsford, NY? I'm still not entirely sure, but it was the terminus of the South County trail in Westchester County so I decided to turn around and head back to the city. Still my favorite trail of the summer (it's about 15 miles end to end)—still cool and shady, not very crowded and smooth like a baby's bottom (frost heaves are my worst nightmare). Glad to get my numbers back up, considering a week ago I was afraid I might not be able to get back on the bike again at all. Less than a month to go and I can't believe how generous everyone has been supporting me. So close to that fundraising goal! Crazier still is the fact I've ridden over 1400 miles since I started training... (that's like riding to Salem, South Dakota for reference)


T-Minus: 26 days Fundraising to go: $365
Total training miles ridden: 1407.95

Total books read since started: 29