|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|For Fox Sake!|
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
The Amazing Cape Verde Bicycle Organization
Click the link above that will take you to the Kids Talk Radio podcast page that houses my divine utterances.
Isn't that enough, doesn't this alone blow your mind? Well hold on my poor little binglers cause there's even more. The world was awed when the first Cape Verde Bicycle shirt was revealed. Some countries declared national holidays, some broke into civil war. One country even altered there currency to include a picture of the CVBO shirt. But lo, we never stop dreaming and creating. And so, with that humble and factual introduction, I proudly present the newest Cape Verde Bicycle Organization shirt featuring the one and only, Amilcar Cabral.
Amílcar Lopes Cabral : CVBO Design (Click here to purchase this awesome shirt). You can also get the design on a messenger bag!!!
For more information about Amilcar Cabral and why he is an important figure in Cape Verde, please click here.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Meet your Meat: A friendly video introducing you to the lovable critters that are lovingly cared for and treated with respect and care before being hacked to death, shoved in a plastic bag and sold in the store.
"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men."
Leonardo da Vinci, artist and scientist
"Our task must be to free ourselves . . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel Prize 1921
"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."
Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist
"If a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth -- beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals -- would you concede them the rights over you that you assume over other animals?"
George Bernard Shaw, playwright, Nobel Prize 1925
Killer cow emissions
LA TIMES OPINION
Livestock are a leading source of greenhouse gases. Why isn't anyone raising
October 15, 2007
It's a silent but deadly source of greenhouse gases that contributes more to
global warming than the entire world transportation sector, yet politicians
almost never discuss it, and environmental lobbyists and other green activist
groups seem unaware of its existence.
That may be because it's tough to take cow flatulence seriously. But livestock
emissions are no joke.
Most of the national debate about global warming centers on carbon dioxide, the
world's most abundant greenhouse gas, and its major sources -- fossil fuels.
Seldom mentioned is that cows and other ruminants, such as sheep and goats, are
walking gas factories that take in fodder and put out methane and nitrous
oxide, two greenhouse gases that are far more efficient at trapping heat than
carbon dioxide. Methane, with 21 times the warming potential of CO2, comes from
both ends of a cow, but mostly the front. Frat boys have nothing on bovines, as
it's estimated that a single cow can belch out anywhere from 25 to 130 gallons
of methane a day.
It isn't just the gas they pass that makes livestock troublesome. A report from
the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization identified livestock as
one of the two or three top contributors to the world's most serious
environmental problems, including water pollution and species loss. In terms of
climate change, livestock are a threat not only because of the gases coming
from their stomachs and manure but because of deforestation, as land is cleared
to make way for pastures, and the amount of energy needed to produce the crops
that feed the animals.
All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions
worldwide, according to the U.N. -- more than all the planes, trains and
automobiles on the planet. And it's going to get a lot worse. As living
standards rise in the developing world, so does its fondness for meat and
dairy. Annual per-capita meat consumption in developing countries doubled from
31 pounds in 1980 to 62 pounds in 2002, according to the Food and Agriculture
Organization, which expects global meat production to more than double by
2050. That means the environmental damage of ranching would have to be cut in
half just to keep emissions at their current, dangerous level.
It isn't enough to improve mileage standards or crack down on diesel truck
emissions, as politicians at both the state and national levels are working to
do. Eventually, the United States and other countries are going to have to
clean up their agricultural practices, while consumers can do their part by
cutting back on red meat.
Manure, methane and McGovern
In a Web forum for presidential candidates in September, TV talk-show host Bill
Maher asked former Sen. John Edwards a snarky question: Because Edwards had
suggested that people trade in their SUVs to benefit the environment, and
cattle generate more greenhouse gases than SUVs, "You want to take a shot at
meat?" Maher asked.
Edwards wisely dodged the question. It is extremely hazardous for politicians
to take on the U.S. beef industry, a lesson learned by Sen. George McGovern in
the late 1970s when his Select Committee on Nutrition dared to recommend that
Americans cut down on red meat and fatty dairy products for health reasons.
After a ferocious lobbying blitz from meat and dairy interests, the committee
rewrote its guidelines to suggest diners simply choose lean meats that "will
reduce saturated fat intake." McGovern was voted out of office in 1980, in part
because of opposition from cattlemen in his home state of South Dakota.
Beyond the dangers of taking on the beef bloc, legislating food choices is an
unpopular and nearly impossible task, so it's unlikely any candidate will
endorse a national vegetarian movement to fight global warming any time soon.
There are other approaches, though.
Cows and other ruminants have four stomachs, the first of which, called the
rumen, is where the trouble lies; bacteria in the rumen produce methane.
Scientists -- mostly in Australia, New Zealand and Britain, where the problem
is taken a lot more seriously than it is here -- are working on a variety of
technical solutions, including a kind of bovine Alka-Seltzer. Scientists are
also trying to develop new varieties of feed grasses that are more energy
efficient and thus generate less methane, and they are experimenting with
targeted breeding to produce a less-gassy strain of cattle.
But it's not just about the belching. Livestock manure also emits methane
(especially when it's stored in lagoons) and nitrous oxide, better known as
laughing gas. There's nothing funny about this gas: It has 296 times the
warming potential of carbon dioxide, and livestock are its leading
anthropogenic (human-caused) source. The best way to reduce these gases is to
better manage the manure; storage methods and temperature can make a big
difference. The California Air Resources Board is studying manure-management
practices as part of a sweeping effort to identify ways of cutting
greenhouse-gas emissions, work that by the end of next year might lead to
regulation of the state's ranches and dairies. Other states should do the same.
There are also smart ways of treating or converting animal waste. Manure
lagoons can be covered, capturing gases that can be used to generate power or
simply be burned away (burning the gases converts most of the emissions to CO2,
which is far less destructive than methane). That's the strategy being pursued
by American Electric Power Co., a gigantic utility based in Columbus, Ohio,
whose coal-fired power plants make it the nation's biggest emitter of carbon
dioxide. This summer, the company began putting tarps on waste lagoons at farms
and ranches and sending the gases they capture to flares.
American Electric is under heavy regulatory pressure. Last week, it was on the
wrong end of the biggest environmental settlement in U.S. history and agreed to
spend up to $4.6 billion to clean up its smokestacks. Its work on manure is
part of an experiment in carbon offsets; the company anticipates that someday
Congress will cap the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted and allow
polluters to trade pollution credits. As a previous installment of this series
noted, that's a less effective way to combat global warming than carbon taxes,
but the American Electric example shows that it would also direct the economic
might of industrial polluters toward solving off-the-beaten-path problems such
as livestock waste.
Other possible solutions include providing more aid to ranchers in places like
Brazil, where forests are rapidly disappearing, to make cattle operations more
efficient and thus decrease the need to cut down trees. Changes in farming
practices on fields used to grow livestock feed could help capture more carbon.
And U.S. agricultural policy is overdue for changes. Subsidies on crops such as
corn and soybeans have traditionally kept the price of meat artificially low
because these are key feedstocks.
Broccoli: It's what's for dinner
Such policy shifts and new technologies would help, but probably not enough. A
recent report in the Lancet led by Australian National University professor
Anthony J. McMichael posits that available technologies applied universally
could reduce non-carbon dioxide emissions from livestock by less than 20%. The
authors advocate another, fringe approach that has long been embraced by
dietitians and vegans but is a long way from going mainstream in the United
States: eating less meat.
Americans love beef. According to the 2000 census, the U.S. ranks No. 3 in the
world in per-capita consumption of beef and veal (after Argentina and Uruguay),
gorging on 100 pounds per year. We're also among the leaders in obesity, heart
disease and colorectal cancer, and there is a connection -- fatty red meat has
been linked to all of these conditions.
McMichael's idea isn't likely to gain much traction outside Australia; he
proposes that developed countries lower their daily intake of meat from about
250 grams to 90 grams, with no more than 50 grams coming from ruminant animals
-- that's less than 2 ounces, or half a McDonald's Quarter-Pounder.
Still, as evidence mounts that cutting back on beef would both improve our
health and help stave off global warming, a campaign urging people to do so is
clearly in order. It's understandable why political candidates are wary of
bashing beef, but less understandable why environmental leaders with nothing to
lose are reluctant to raise the issue. They would be more credible in targeting
polluters if they were equally assertive in pointing out what all Americans can
do to fight global warming, and at the very top of that list -- way ahead of
more commonly mentioned approaches such as buying fluorescent lightbulbs or
energy-efficient appliances -- would be eating less red meat.
A University of Chicago study examined the average American diet and found
that all the various energy inputs and livestock emissions involved in its
production pump an extra 1.5 tons of CO2 into the air over the course of a
year, which would be avoided by a vegetarian diet. Thus, the researchers found,
cutting out meat would do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trading
in a gas guzzler for a hybrid car.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture assesses ranchers, dairymen and producers of
other commodities to pay for marketing campaigns to promote their products,
raising millions of dollars a year and turning such slogans as "Got Milk?" and
"Beef: It's What's for Dinner" into national catchphrases. This isn't quite
tantamount to a government-mandated campaign to promote cigarette smoking, but
it's close. The government should not only get out of the business of promoting
unhealthful and environmentally destructive foods, it should be actively
Sunday, November 29, 2009
by Christine Lepisto, Berlin on 11.29.09
Americans are still reacting to the news that a man got away with only a four-month jail sentence after shooting a bicyclist in the head in cold blood, in front of his three-year old child. In Germany, the web is buzzing about a sentence equally extreme, on the opposite end of the spectrum. Christopher-Felix Hahn, a student of theater science in Gießen, has learned he is banned from riding a bike, skateboard or any other "unlicensed vehicle" on the streets -- for fifteen years.
Most cyclists in Germany know someone with a friend-of-a-friend who lost their driver's license because they were caught cycling drunk. Cyclists are vehicles subject to street laws just like everybody else, under the law. When conversation turns to the topic, the question of what happens if a cyclist has no driver's license soon follows. Now the Hahn case provides the answer.
Christopher-Felix Hahn says he did not feel unduly impaired when he made the decision to take his bicycle home from a party in June of 2008. On his way home in the wee hours of the morning, he attracted the attention of the local police. The police administered a breath test and found a blood-alcohol content of 0.171%, over three times the German legal limit of 0.05%.
Hahn was given a €500 ($700) penalty, which he paid. And he would have to live with the fact that there would be no chance to apply for a driver's license until his record cleared. He thought the affair was over and done with.
However, in Germany, all arrests with a blood alcohol content finding of over 0.16% must be reported to the drivers' licensing bureau. Hahn was surprised to receive a letter requiring that he submit to a medical and psychological examination. He ignored the letter. After all, he had no plans to seek a driver's license. And the €500 euro cost for the examination was a steep price for a student.
The lack of response did not go unnoticed. The letter was soon followed by a second missive, this time forbidding Hahn from using any license-free vehicle on the public streets. According to the Geißener Anzeige, the local newspaper, authorities indicated that such a ban cannot be lifted for at least fifteen years.
From Treehugger (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/11/student-drunk-biking-banned-from-cycling-15-years.php?campaign=th_rss)
I'm not sure which is more insane, the guy shooting someone in the head and getting 120 days or some guy BUI (biking under the influence) and not being allowed to bike for 15 years! Oh. My. God.
Here's a little more from Treehugger:
Beijing Hits 2,100 New Cars Per Day, and Welcomes More
by Alex Pasternack, New York, NY on 11.29.09
The announcement yesterday by Beijing's environmental officials that the city was about to hit 4 million automobiles -- and could withstand more -- was, at the very least, poorly timed.
Official readings said the city's air was largely "unhealthy," while the US Embassy in Beijing, using a stricter air pollution metric, gave a "very unhealthy" warning. Automobile emissions are a major contributor to levels of particulate matter, ozone, and the carbons NO2, CO2 and black carbon, or soot. Such auto pollution in China has been tied to lead poisoning, respiratory illnesses, sterility and more.
So why on earth were officials so upbeat?
Article continues: Beijing Hits 2,100 New Cars Per Day, and Welcomes More
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Another Reason to Hate Texas
via Getoutdoors.com Outdoor Blog by firstname.lastname@example.org (Liquid Astronaut) on 10/26/09
This poor child is 7-year-old Kylie Bruehler. She lost both of her parents when a driver veered onto the shoulder a couple weeks ago and killed them. They were riding together on a tandem. Not only are there no charges pending against the reckless driver, but the Texas Governor actually vetoed a bill that would have required drivers to give cyclists a 'safe distance' when passing them after the tragedy. He called the bill unnecessary. A San Antonio columnist nailed it when she penned a column, "Bicyclists on the road treated no better than deer." Indeed. I'm trying really hard not to blame all of Texas for this, but the least they could do is demand the driver get tossed in jail and pass a bill making it illegal to run down bikers.
via Urban Velo
Man Gets 120 Days for Shooting Cyclist in the Head
via TreeHugger on 11/24/09
This is downright infuriating. Perhaps you recall this story: while driving down the road one day, Charles Diaz grew upset at seeing a man riding his bike on a busy street with his 3 year-old son. So he shot him in the head. Thankfully, the bullet narrowly missed his skull, instead getting lodged in the cyclists' helmet. Well, Diaz has just been sentenced for admitting to nearly murdering a man by firing a gun towards his head--and he's received a paltry 3 months in jail. That's right. Three whole months--120 days. For comi...Read the full story on TreeHugger
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
And away we go...
Long enough have you dreamed contemptible
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light,
and of every moment of your life.
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod
to me, shout, laughingly dash with your hair.
This section, to me, seems pretty obvious of what the message it's getting across, yet one that a vast majority, and we all find ourselves in the group at times, seem to never hear. We all get gunk in our eyes, we all have fears and at times training wheels on our life to keep us upright and steady, but its not really biking (or living). "Habit yourself to the dazzle of light"
|Racha de Bicicleta 2009: Bicycle Race in Sao Nicolau, Cape Verde|
Some viewer discretion is advised for Carnival pictures.
|Carnival 2009: The Sao Nicolau Way|
|Trip to Sao Vicente and Santo Antao|
|Sao Nicolau Carrical hike|
|Sao Nicolau: Monte Gordo-R. Calhaus-Tarrafal|
|Sao Nicolau: Cachaco verde|
Monday, November 23, 2009
|Bicycling Japan: Honshu - Kanazawa to Hiroshima|
|Bicycling Japan: Shikuko|
|Bicycling Japan: Honshu - Tokyo to Osaka|
|San Francisco and the Bay Area|
Saturday, November 21, 2009
|Hiking and some biking in Luxembourg|
|Bike Touring in North Ireland|
|Bicycling Japan: Hokkaido|
Friday, November 20, 2009
View Tour de Monmouth in a larger map
On this ramble i passed through historic Red Bank, where in my former days i might have stopepd and walked around, but its seems to be gentrifying so i cycdaddled off. I crossed the might Navesink river to hit on of the many parks in Monmouth county. First was Huber Woods Park and then onto Hartshorne Woods Park where i did a little off road biking. From here it was to one of the most famous spots in New Jersey, Sandy Hook which is part of Gateway National Park. Went up and down then headed north along the coast to Mt. Mitchill, the highest point along the eastern seaboard at a whopping 266ft.
It was then onto the start, or end, of the Henry Hudson Trail, a beautiful off road bike path that goes from the Atlantic Highlands to Freehold, roughly 22 miles in lenght. From there it was a skip and a pedal back to Marlboro whence i began.
So the enxt time you here someone bad mouthing Jersey, either punch them in the stomach and run away, or let them know there's a reason this state is called "The Garden State"
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
... This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue no concerning god, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take of your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.
-- Walt Whitman
So i am in the nations 4th smallest state yet the state with one of the biggest percentage of protected land, New Jersey. Only been on the hallowed garden state ground for a few days and still trying to get over some of the strangeness that comes with returning whence you began, but we'll see what happens and try to cycle it out. There's over 1,000 miles of trails to choose from and even one national route that cuts across the state, so before the snow falls (maybe) i'll see if i can get some cycle on.
So i suppose till next time, remember to layer when you get on the bike and keep your chain greasy.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
So please, don't ride a unicycle, mock those who do.
Monday, November 9, 2009
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I suppose their heyday is over because the grand statues and monuments i expected to see to the glory that is Rice a Roni, that San Francisco treat, are nowhere to be found. Regardless, there is still plenty to like about San Fran and the Bay Area. First and foremost, is its amazingly beautiful. I keep trying to image how Muir saw the area before it had buildings and roads spilled in and trees cut down. But it still has some of its grandeur left. I have spent many days exploring the city center itself, cycling up some ridiculous hills, 17% incline, just to learn the street i ws looking for was back down the hill.
On recommendations i have frequented such institutions as Toronado Brewery, awesome vegan pizza at the cycle friendly, award winning (and proud hosts of this RPCV) at North Beach Pizza and a killer vegan burrito at Papalote in the Mission. Today i wandered through the tallest living things on earth, Evergreen Sequoias, aka Red woods, in Muir Woods National Monument.
I will remain here for a few more days exploring the various areas by bike and head off to sunny Seattle for the weekend before flying to the eastern portion of the United States, quazi brinign my travels, for the mean time, to an end.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
My idea was to get back to Tokyo to head west, hitting Mt. Fuji and then make my way to Osaka. It was two days to get to Fuji, its surrounded by moutains. The top of the cone was covered in snow and even more after a night of rain on me and snow on Fuji. Stopped by the Earth Embassy for a tea and a chat before camping in a nice bird sanctuary.
From Fuji it was downhill to the coast and then just days of ugly riding along the very industrizlied southern pacific coast of Japan. Though i did have a chance to bike on the Pacific Bicycle Trail, though it actually wasnt by the coast.
Anywho, after several days of ugly riding, a day of rain i finally shot across 100 miles to reach Osaka, camped one last time and checked into the J Hoppers hostel and am offically calling my touring adventures over as of today.
Here are the final stats:
50 days cycling from September 13 to November 1
3,000.1 miles (5000.1km)
60 miles average per day, 12.42 mph average.
241 hours and 46 minutes cycling
Longest day 113.62 miles, shortest day 9.43
28 nights wild camping, 8 nights paid campground
7 nights hostel, 3 overnight ferries, 2 nights internet cafe, 1 minishuku, 1 night couchsurfing
3 flats (all rear wheel)
3 islands visited: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikuko
8 National Parks: Akan, Shiretoko, Daisetsuzan, Shikotsu-Toya, Joshin-Etsu Kogon, Chubu-Sangaku, San-in Kaigan and Fuji-Hakone-Izu
3 expressways illegally cycled, 1 gay park camped in, 2 days with no biking
5 books read: Grapes of Wrath, A Walk in the Woods, Knitting under the Influence, Temple of the Golden Pavillion, The Mystic Massuer
4 ferry rides, 10 different convience store chains visited, 5 100 miles or plus days, 1 fall and 2 new scars
Next up is a little west coast action, going from San Francisco up to Portland and finally Seattle before returning to the Garden State, aka New Jersey．So for now, reporting from Japan, i guess thats all she wrote. Till we next meet in the United States of America, ta ta
Monday, October 19, 2009
Leaving the industry strewn Niigata and riding a bit on the expressway, i bombed south untill i got to Nozawa Onsen. This onsen town is in the mountains,m and the road up was so steep i thought i was going faint, and then the bath was so hot i thought i was going to faint, but a beautuful town. Then it was a few days journey through Nagano, home of the winter olympics and finally to Matsumoto where i turned west to cross the might Japanese Alps.
After a miseravle day riding in the rain up the mountains i made it to Kamikochi to spend a miserable night cold and wet in my tent, but the next day saw some sun and i was able to dyr off, hike and see monkeys, always a good time. It was more hard uphill afterwards untill i went down, at my fastest 40mph to Takayama and ,y longest day of over 113 miles to hit the coast up north again and begin the Noto Hanto Penisula.
Beautiful coast line with dotted lava rocks craggy cliffs and lush green mountains were all the rage. As we all know this is where i had my date with the typhoon before heading down into Kanazawa. From there i went south to the large Biwaoko lake, camping two nuights on its blue shores untill entering what i though to be the disappointg Kyoto.
Got out after a day in Kyoto and went back to the coast along the Sea of Japan. Small fishing villages, cliffs and rocky coasts once again, but this time something was different. This time i felt like i was growing a watermelon in my stomach. Four days of stomach pains slowed me down and attacked me at all stages. Spent one day simply being confused by woodworking talk from some American who hasnt speken to anyone in a while as i could tell, and finally at Yonago decided to cut south across the mountains to Hiroshima. The ride south was one of tyhe best rides except for the wind. The valley was empty of cars and ugly development and was just nice cycling.
So here i am in Hiroshima, and i have also changed my plans and will be elaving Japan two weeks earlier, so maybe i can still cycle the route i plan. Today i will take a ferry south to Shikoku, head east, ferry back to Tokyo and head west, catching Mt. Fuji along the way. I am not sure really how far or long it is, so ill see what the what is. But for now i jet from Osaka on November 3rd.
Here are some stats from the first 30 days:
1,833.4 miles biked, 61.1 miles per day
143 hours, 48 minutes
24 night camping, 1 flat, 1 fall, 4 wild pigs, 1 typhoon
7 times bathing,
0 times changing my socks ( i washed them yesterday)
5 national parks
2 free dinners
Ok, thats it for now. Maybe i can blog again before leaving Japan or ,maybe i shall blog in the glorious empire of America
Thursday, October 8, 2009
So, we havent made it quite yet to the end of part two, but have made it through my first typhoon. Turns out thatyou cant, as the saying goes, trust an Australian to tell you when a typhoon is going to hit Japan. Twas supposed to be tonight, hence my seeking shelter in the nice city of Kanazawa. I am staying at my first 24 hours manga cafe and have internet and coffee galor. Anywho, the typhoon actually hit last night when i was naivley camping. The winds grew fierce and ugly and snapped my brittle little tent in two and i scurried for shelter under some sinks and watch the roof come off a nearby shed. Really amazing stuff.
After leaving Hokkaido i have been cycling moslty the north part of Honshu after a trip to the heart of the Alps in Kamikochi, watching monkeys get chased and then it was a dizzying downhill to Takayama and then back north to cycle around the Noto Hanot penisula. In a few days time i will make it to the real cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto, and then head north to cycle the oft forgotten northern coast to make my way around to Hiroshima.
I have put Mt. Fuji back on my map and might try to hit it near the end of my travels if certain ferries work out in my favor, who knows, plans and typhoons seem to change all the time. The hills seem to be getting easier and my cycling seems to be getting faster. I normally cruise through towns so i can enjoy the nature outside of them.
When i get to Hiroshima i will try to give a bit more details, as i have really only been in Honshu for about a week. I can say that Hokkaido was much nicer for cycling in terms of the width of shoulder space on raods and the availability of not being almost hit by rumbling trucks as i pass through 1,000 mountain tunnels across the Alps. But all in good fun.
Well binglers and Binglets, be kind
Thursday, September 24, 2009
After two days cycling lowlands and cookie cutter towns, i made it to my first national park, Akan, which is made up of three lakes. Camped at the first lake, Akan, and then made my way all rambly like to the biggest of the lakes, Kussharoko. Twas a beautiful lake, and i camped right along the waters edge. All very nice. I had my sights set on the enxt park, Shiretoko, up at the tippy top of the north east of Hokkaido. Soooo, thats where i went.
Shiretoko Penisula, a world heritage sight, is amazing, probably more so in winter when drift ice covers the western shores. Spent two night here, hiking along the five mountain lakes and falling off my bike. What? Thats right, had my first little mishap. I had unloaded the bike and so when i had a little down hill i went faster than expected and didnt seem to brake enough and opps, went off the road into a muddy watery ditch. But no worries, the bike is fine.
The only way to go from here was west so thats where i went, towards my third national park, Daisetsuzan. Took two days but made my way to Sounkyo for another two nigths, and my firsts day off the bike completely. Why, becuase i went on a stellar 6 hour hike up in the mountains along a volcanic crater through alpine vegtation. There was permafrost, my first snow sighting, smeels and colros of autumn. It was AWESOME.
Back on the bike a new man, i headed further west, wanting to make my way to the Sea of China on the west. Had to camp one night at an abandonded Buddhist temple which was a bit strange, but today i pulled my longest day yet, 104 miles and went down along the coast, through many mountain tunnels (got my first honk in one of them) and am now sitting pretty in the capital, Sapporo.
Tomorrow, its a free tour of the Sapporo distillery and then a small jit south to the next and last naitonla park on my itinerary for Hokkaido, Shikotsu-Toya Park, another lake park but with pure volcanic cones in the middle. This will take me back down south for two days and then i will head all the way back north to Otaru to take the ferry to Niigata, back to the main island of Japan. Whats my ideas for there? Well, to do the stupidist thing a touring cyclists could do, to corss the Japanese Alps. I just got to.
So far, the cycling has been great, my legs are still strong and taking me where i need to go, the bike, a Marin Muirwoods Urban bike that i outfitted with cargo racks and Deuter Rack packs has been humming like a beauty. I have seen and nearly touched some deer, no bears, some dead snakes, a dead fox, a live fox, meowing cats chasing a man, CROWS!!!! man i cant stand those crows, mountains, blue skies, gray skies, temples, shrines, wierd signs, and best of all the insane and strange Japanese. I have also been trying to experiment as best i can with food, the nato is actually really good.
So thats it, only two weeks into it, and a whole lot to go. My routes have been changing as i go, so i dont really know where i will go or end up. Also, i have no idea the enxt time i will get back on internet, seems only the bigger towns have internet and i try to steer away from bigger towns. So untill next time all your binglers out there. Stay in the saddle.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
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I will spend five days in Tokyo, a sleepy fishing where i will purcash a touring bike and needed touring gear... and bike shorts with padding. Then, the idea is to hop, or pedal, onto a ferry to the northern island of Hokkiado where national parks abound, the bears roam free and the water can kill you. Then, well, south as far as i make it. I have no schedule or stops i need to make, so where ever i get to i get to, i can always get a horse and buggy to Osaka where i ultimatly fly from.
So thats its, a touring holiday in Japan. I will post about Tokyo and the gear i get prior to departure to the north. So till then, cheerio from London.
Lastly, on the lighter side of bicycle news (OH, i almost forgot, Lance Armstrong was in Ireland the same time i was, maybe even stalking me, not sure, but he was taking part in a Tour de Ireland) watch a video of some famous french dude who i never heard of celebrating a tour stage for some random brit bikers:
Saturday, September 5, 2009
After two years, i have returned to an English speaking place, the United Kingdom. After a brief stint in London, about half a day, it was 14 hours on a bus plus a ferry ride over to Belfast in north Ireland. not one to sit still, i decided what could be better after two days on a bus from Belgium to London to Belfast with no sleep than to rent a bike and head off in the rain, wind and cold. So that's what i did after arriving in Belfast, got a bike and headed off to bike the Causeway Coastal Route while normally a driving route, i made it a biking route, partly following the Causeway and partly following the National Cycle Route 93.
That first night camping in the howling winds and pouring rain were, under normal circumstances, not the best, but being that i hadn't slept for days, were fantastic. Awaking semi refreshed, it was off for another day along the causeway, 100% against the wind. Every mile felt like two, and felt like all uphill. But it was a day of the natural beauty of north Ireland, and also its one UNESCO site, The Giants Causeway (its whats the picture is off above) 43,000 hexagonal columns formed 60 millions years ago from very quickly cooled lava. Before reaching this though i went to the rope bridge, which i had one idea of based on some pictures and then a whole new idea of once i got there, but still nice.
Arrived at Bushmills, home of the worlds oldest distillery from the early 1600s, still making whiskey. Stayed in a hostel for the first time and slept, well, i slept and slept and slept. Day 3 and who would have guessed it but again 100% against the wind, and the most hill climbs of the whole route. For about 5 miles it was uphill, against the wind. It was... torturous to put it mildly. However, the downhill afterwards was sweet. And finally, after about 8 hours of hard cycling, i made it to Derry, or Londonderry, or the walled City. The old part is still encircled by walls, and this is the site of a violent uprising now known as Bloody Sunday
And that my friends is the Causeway Coastal route. The coast of North Ireland is beautyful, green as can be, and windy. If you plan on biking it, start from Derry and make your way to Belfast, it'll save you. In two days i head back to London and then off to the Empire of the Rising Sun, Japan. What lays ahead in Japan.. only time and the next blog post will tell.
Until then, be sure to bike on the left in the United Kingdom, the weirdest thing ever, even the bell is on the wrong side of the bike. North Ireland is a great place for cycling, and they are working hard to make it a great place to cycle, the buses and trains all allow bikes on board, the cycle route signs were great, they were everywhere and always told you where to go.
From biking North Holland in the Netherlands, a day bike ride in Belgium, and now biking the Causeway in North Ireland, it seems like Europe, and whatever the United Kingdom considers itself, are working to make cycling easier, and more integrated as a apart of life which it is already in many parts, like in the Netherlands. They are a great example of how the most efficient means of transportation can be an integral, useful, important way for people to transport themselves and cargo, and also an easy, impact free way for people to exercise and see the wonders around them.
So get out there and BIKE!!!!!
Did you know that the bicycle is the most energy efficient transportation mode? It is 3 times more efficient than walking, 5 times more efficient than using the train and 15 to 20 times more efficient than driving a car.
Here is where I am:
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I partly came to Gent because the bus to Luxembourg passed through Brussels and Antwerp, so i sorta alrerady saw them...sorta. But i read good things about Gent and they were true, a lovely little town. The only downer was i wasnt able to get a bike to go cycling around the Flanders regio, so i hightqiled it to Brugge. Lots of people have seen the movie, and you know what, it really is as nice and old and cool as the movie makes it out to be. Spent lots of time walking the little streets, getting french fries with spicy sauce that wasnt really spicey, and by request drank some really good Belgium dark beer like Chimay, Leffe, Gulden Draak, Grimenbergen, etc. But the best part about Brugge, i got a bike for the day and went...to the Netherlands? Oppsq, i cycled for a bit to Sluis and didnt realize i crossed the border. But went up along the Belgium coast whiwh while a nice bike ride, the Belgium coast is super ugly.
So i figured my time in Belgium was done, but where to go and how? Well, Brugge isnt the transport hub of Belgium,; so here i am, again; in Gent. Being Sunday; i aint goig nowhere. So early tomorrow i hit the Eurolines office and discover where i am off to next.
Sorry that i dont have too many details, and clearly no pictures as of yet, but its really hard typing with the keyboards here, i think they are french or something, letters are all over the place, the a is where the q should be, the m is way out of place, etc. But comment or email for more info.
I recommend Luxembourg, nice city, nice country, easy to bike and the hiking was very good. Well, time is clicking down untill i leave for Japan and i am still trying to figure that one out. Till next time,
Friday, August 21, 2009
Grotere kaart weergeven
Thursday, August 20, 2009
After some gripping, headed north. Took a free ferry across a large canal, and the rains seemed to had let up at that point. I also started the long northern strech through the Dune Reserves (http://www.northseatrail.org/show_single_article.php?article_id=2595&lang=uk&) partly a protection from flodding, partly naturally created but 100% beautiful and nice to bike through. Stopped for my first night of camping in Petten. The enxt day went to the tippy top of the mainland to Den Helder where i caught the ferry across to one of the many north sea islands that are part of the Netherlands, Texel.
Texel is small so i burned through Texel as i was secrelty trying to get to Vlieland, which i did after waiting around a while for the little, little ferry. The island if Vlieland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlieland) is small, and about half is all sand, which we had to traverse in a large truck that took us from the ferry 10km inland to the little depot. From there, i hit a nature camping spot and also stumbled into the one and only town on the island, Oost-Vlieland where i got me a dark, dark, strong belgium beer. Yum!! Vlieland was so nice i decided to take a day reast and wander the island, canberry bogs and beaches and the one town, and well thats about all there was. It was biking heaven there, nearly no cars.
But duty called and i headed east to make my way deep into the heart of north holland, from Harlingen to Leeuwarden and finally to the univeristy city of Groningen (http://gemeente.groningen.nl/english), where i camped a night. being that i was really tired i decided to do one of my longest days, heading south south south all the way down to Vlisteren, a nothing town with a big church and anature camping site which turned out to not be free the way i had thought they were, so it turned out that i simply just didnt pay in Vlieland...
Anywho, i wanted to get to Utrecht so the next day i headed out once again for another 10 hours of biking, south and then west thrugh Apeldoorn to Amersfoort (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amersfoort) where i ended up staying since Utrecht didnt have any campsites, and Amersfoort was really nice. Nice enough that i spent two nights there, and while this time i knew i had to pay, i couldnt, the office was never open. Oh well.
The next day i breezed through Utrecth, in fact, i went around it, through the really cool named town of Meerkerk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meerkerk) and onward to the bustling, new, clean city of Rotterdam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotterdam). Most of the city has been rebuilt after heavy destruction during WWII, and they did a nice job, a lot nicer than my next stop, Den Haag (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hague). (I did pass through Deflt but didnt see much). Den Haag was dirty, and didnt give off a good vibe, i had wanted to find the International Tribunal and sit in on session, but i decided to skip town and instead ehad towards Leiden. Before i got there though, i decided to camp a night on the lake at Vlietland.
Finally, headed off to Leinden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leiden), a very charming little city, old and with canals like Amsterdam. In fact, they claim the second most canals after Amsterdam but i didnt count. I did get a really HUGE cup of coffee at this place which caught my attention right away, Bagels and Beans (http://www.bagelsbeans.nl/). I recommend them when in the Netherlands, they make really big coffees. Anywho, from there it was a skip, hop and a jump back to Amsterdam, 8 days after i had left. Now i am back in the library trying to figure out what to do next, as the world seems pretty open right now. I do know wherever i go i might not do it on a bike, at least for a few days to allow certain parts of my body to recover.
Biking in The Netherlands is very simple, i barley even needed the maps i had gotten, there are so many signs, routes, paths, tracks, etc that sometimes it seems its harder to get around if you had a car. Also, the biggest hill i ever had to climb was a bridge over a canal. I spent a week and could spend another, but i shant. If you are thinking of a trip, even if you dont realyl bike, its so easy to do it, i did it on a rented granny bike with 3 gears and a pack on my back.
Info about biking in the Netherlands: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_in_the_Netherlands
This has a map nearly of the same trip i did, but not quite: http://www.micquality.com/cycling/cycling_netherlands/
Well, i suppose thats all for now, just wanted to spread the word about my biking, my long week, the fantastical journey, i cant belive only a little more than a week agao i was still a PCV in Cabo Verde. Life moves on.
Till next time from somewhere in the world, ta ta
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
It has thousands of computers with free internet, macs for you to play with, multimedia up the wazzoo, a cafe with coffee (or so i'm told) and lots of funky chairs. It really is amazing. Its also the biggest library in Europe in case you are watching some trivia shwo or something. Anywho, i got a tent, got panniers and got my maps, so tomorrow i should hopefully be off and away. First stop will be Haarlem and then north.
Grotere kaart weergeven
So, untill i stumble upon some internet, i'll be somewhere in North Holland, hopefully dry.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I belive i get incoming calls free so call if you want, but not excesivly, like everyday or i wont answer. 06 is the Netherlands country code.
Day 2 n watery Amsterdam and i think i could just walk around and soak in the beuaty of this palce for an entire month, but the bike calls. Today i got a bike from MacBike. I have it for as long as want/can pay for it. So today just biking around the city and parks, re-learning how to bike around lots of people and how to semi-stop using just a back brake. Now its time to figure out where and how long to go for, maybe start with Haarlem, or maybe go north...
Well, till next time. Ta
Saturday, August 8, 2009
"Dreaming is a dangerous proposition; it dares us to risk everything, to walk blind into the hills, to do the hardest work in ourselves and in the world - and to reap the richest reward. Sometimes, possibly, our dreams urge us to reveal ourselves intimately to an audience of strangers, and hope they'll meet us where we most want to be."
"This is what it means to be an adventurer in our day: to give up creature comforts of the mind, to realize possibilities of imagination. Because everything around us says no you cannot do this, you cannot live without that, nothing is useful unless it's in service to money, to gain, to stability."
" In the end, the only thing standing between each of us and what we most want, is ourselves. We're our own border guards. And sometimes the crossing is easier than expected."
Basically, live your own life, your own rules, your own road.
Friday, August 7, 2009
They cap of the bike project with stunning glory. Once again thanks to everyone who had a part in this. And speaking of bike project the book project is also coming along, expect a publication date sometime after August 7th.
Untill then, goodbye Cabo Verde. Next stop, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Ver Amsterdam num mapa maior
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Cue the Ghostbusters theme music, grab your girl for the last dance, and lets start taking the table centerpieces before someone else gets the good ones, cause this party is about over. Two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cabo Verde have gone ridiculously fast. When I got here, I imagined that two years would go ridiculously slow, according more to Afrikan time, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case. Either way, here I find myself at the end of my service, saying goodbye to the community of Cachaço, to my island home of São Nicolau, to this identity confused archipelago Cabo Verde, a little bit Afrika, a little bit Europe.
Past PCV’s mention the kinds of questions they got when returning home, which mostly boiled down to “How was it?”. How do you answer a question that asks about how living in a foreign culture, learning a new language, becoming a part of a rural community, working on projects that were successful and failures, and all the in between, when the answer that the person is basically looking for is a one liner: It was good.
It’s hard to explain, it’s hard even for me to understand what these two years have been, for myself or for those whom I have lived with and interacted with. The bureaucratic aspects of PC looks for quantifiable things: number of people taught, number of things built, etc. That’s the government side of Peace Corps, and not the aspect of it that matters, either for the people we come to assist or to the volunteers themselves. It’s the friends, understanding a joke in a foreign language, making a joke in a foreign language, having locals realize after two years that you aren’t a tourist, haggling in the market, the frustrations of life in a place where development and motivation are different concepts to that which an American understands them to be… Being a Peace Corps Volunteer, at least to me at this time of Peace Corps, is about the little daily interactions and daily conversations the PCV has and not the number of students taught, but the one that learns, the one that remembers your name years after you have gone
I don’t know if I would be where I am today if not for having served in the Peace Corps, maybe yes, maybe no. But for over two years I feel I have been part of something amazing, whether in the Peace Corps aspect or simply my own personal aspect. So I’m ready to move on, to take what I have given and gotten from this land and these people, to continue along the cycle and see where I go. I hope to continue documenting the things I discover through this blog, albeit in a different pretense, to share the wonders I come across, information, different ways of seeing, being, thinking, living, loving.
Together with the failures and successes, thank you for everyone who has helped, I hope you too have felt that you played a part in something bigger. Whether through buying a t-shirt, sending me letters, or much needed vegan food stuffs, thanks.
Wonderful to depart!
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak--to walk--to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed, to look on my rose-color'd flesh!
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large!
To be this incredible God I am!
To have gone forth among other Gods, these men and women I love.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
The 26km race followed the National road on the island, from its capital Vila de Ribeira Brava to the youthful fishing town of Tarrafal. From the central highlands to the ocean, the race covered all types of terrain, from steep uphill’s to flat coastal sections, to eye tearing downhill’s. The race began, SHOCKINGLY, at the exact hour set, 10am on Sunday, July 12th. With representatives from all parts of the island participating, the race crossed social and political classes. Truly this race was multi-racial, diverse event that may be the beginnings of world peace.
15 cyclists headed off after a “Tres, Dois, Um, BAI!!!!” count down from the Veriador de Desportivo in R. Brava. From the start, the riders had to complete a small uphill to get to the coastal section of then road that dips down and up over three ribeiras. With the Police in front, the road was cleared of traffic and the riders were able to switch back on some of the steeper parts. As the hills began to add up, the riders began to break away from each others, with a few of the stronger in front and some of the weaker climbers in the rear, but all making their way.
With a last descent to the lowest part of the road, near Quiemadas, the riders let out an audible sigh as the most tortuous part of the race was upon them, nearly 10km of all uphill. As the caravan made its way through Fajá, we learned that one of the bikers in the rear had taken a spill on a notoriously dangerous curve and had been taken to the hospital. While he didn’t finish the race, he needed up with just a few scratches and his bike wasn’t damaged.
The leader was well ahead of the rest of the riders through the uphill struggles of Fajá, Lompelado, Canto and finally into Cachaço. Being in the led car, we speed ahead to make it down to the finish line in order to catch the first place biker soaring in. From Cachaço, it’s a 10km downhill bomb were a new set of skills are needed by the riders: braking curves and basically holding on for dear life as your bike reaches frightening speeds.
Finally, after an hour and 35 minutes, the leader from the start cruised past the finish line to a roar from the local crowd. Three minutes later, second place came in followed a minute later by third place. Every minute another rider came speeding down the last hill to the finish line. All who started, whether a winner or slight worse for the wear, made it to Tarrafal by mid-day to applause from all who had a hand in the race and a final speech from the Veriador de Desportivo in Tarrafal.
The race was an amazing success. All riders had helmets and wore them, and more helmets are going to be given out to those who weren’t able to ride in the race. All the riders are talking about the next race, the next time they can get together. The budding of a Bicycle Association was born on July 12th, 2009.
And so, after a year and a half since my first email with Sonadei, the bike race is completed, but the work isn’t done. More helmets will be distributed, an association will be formed, and future bike events will be planned. A huge thank you to everyone who supported this event through donations to purchasing multiple t-shirts, to Garrett from Sonadei for his tireless work, to my local partner Floriano, to the Camara’s who provided support with cars and water, and finally to all the bikers who made the race what it was.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Check out the spiffy update from sonadei all about how after over a year of work, we are very close to the end of the first part of this project, the bike race and handing out of helmets
Sonadei Website Update
In other news, i am down to the last month (sorta) count down. I check out of Cachaco and Sao Nicolau on August 3rd when i head to Praia for my close of service, or COS, or EOS to some people. Two years have flown by, or at least driven crazily fast on winding streets with pigs and chickens in rice sacks. Either way, stay tuned for the last post under Trials and Tribulations before this blog metamorpuhses into its second life. Till then...
Oh, ps, as of i think yesterday or the day before that, the original settelment in Cape Verde, first known as Ribeira Grande but now as Cidade Velho (Old City) was declared a UNESCO World Heritiage Site. I belive it was the first european settelment in West Afrika. Click the link above to read about it on wiki. Go Cabo Verde!!!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Time is a ticking. Tick, tock, or perhaps time is simply a stream dancing by... Either way, that part which is my life as a PCV in Cabo Verde is coming to a close. So i did what any normal person would do is to cycle the new road to take some pics before the great bike race which may or may not happen on July 5th.
Regardless, i am swimming in uncertainlty about where i will be and go afterwars, only knowing ill end up back in America at some point. If you have a hankering for some answering, email me and ill lay out my possible travle plans, otherwise i leave it a mystery.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
AnyWAY, this little part of the circle I call “My time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cachaço, São Nicolau in the Republic of Cabo Verde” is nearing its natural conclusion. By the time I get around to having posted this, it will be about two and half months until Peace Corps kicks me out and slaps a RPCV label on me. They say that RPCV is Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, but not all come back, so I like to think of it as Retired Peace Corps Volunteer. Regardless, come early August I shan’t be a PCV and will begin the journey back towards the US. So let me say before I forget that the last call for any mail, letters, packages, live animals being sent to me should be sent no later than the first week of July, otherwise it might not be me who gets it.
Before we get to “What will you do when you are back?” lets get to what will I do before I get back. The bike project is rip roaring ahead, but in a Cape Vedean pace. Thank you to one and all who has helped with this project. The helmets are all in Cape Verde, though not all are yet in my possession, but almost. The road, despite them digging new holes and tearing away parts of the cliff, is close to being finished. I am predicting sometime in June, so probably July. Either way, we are gonna rock the 26km, brand new road with bikers wearing apple red helmets, and its gonna be awesome.
The book is being reviewed by the New York Times for its possible entry into its elite “The Best Book of Past, Present and Future” list, of which currently no book yet exists. Be on the look out for a news conference by Obama declaring an end to all wars, the end of poverty, and the end of an oil based civilization all thanks to my book.
I have received tons of yarn, and other stuff that looks like yarn for the in theory craft project. This project has been stalled because it hasn’t gone anywhere, but the yarn is being used and is inspiring the recipient to get her butt in line and do her part in this project. She’s also pregnant and that doesn’t seem to be helping her move any faster. I’m not the father.
Um, the park. Yeah. The Park. Trees and stuff.
It might seem foolishly late in the game to start a new project, but this one is interesting and shall expand beyond the time period of my status as PCV into RCPV. My bike project partner is a budding politician with the youth sector of one of the local political parties. We have been brain storming ideas about a collaboration between Cape Verdeans abroad in America and local organizations here in São Nicolau. Using my knowledge of Cape Verde and the fact that I will be in America, me and him are working on creating a means of Cape Verdean immigrants to give back to the youth in São Nicolau which will focus on four major areas of need for the youth:
Improvements in technology and resources in Youth Centers
Annual Summer Programs for Youth
Funds for workshops and education
Youth Volunteer and Training Programs
I know what you’re thinking, “Ross. You are just too awesome and selfless; you give and give and give. If it weren’t outlawed we would make false idols of you and pray to you above all other gods. And then covet thy neighbor’s wife.” I thank ye.
On May 24th it is the grand daddy of all Cachaço parties, Nossa Senhora de Monte Cintinha. It’s a happy time for many, a sad time for pigs and goats as it implies their doom. Afterwards, it’s COS conference in Praia and the last time all 2nd year volunteers get together. Its also the first time all 2nd year volunteers have gotten together since we were 1st year volunteers back in December 2007.
I will officially COS sometime in the beginning of August. I have this idea of completing the little circle around the world I started back in the end of June 2007 by flying from Atlanta to Cape Verde. Instead of doubling back, I want to keep on going. So I think I am going to go to Japan. In fact, I am going to Japan. Why? Because any country that invests so much technology just in their toilets is worth visiting and spending some time in. Also, I want to try out my Japanese. I have secretly been studying Japanese. Or at least I am going to start secretly studying Japanese.
And then I am back in the US. Hopefully I meet up with a friend and do a little west coast action and then hop on over to the east coast, my alma mater. So that’s it. That’s 3 months wrapped into a few minutes of reading. Amazing isn’t? I’ll be back on the blog again, but my internet time has been radically altered and I don’t really mind. Once you pull yourself away from checking email all the time, reading any and all news, it slowly leaves your blood and its doesn’t matter no more no more.
Until next time, thanks to everyone who has helped me with everything I have tried to do here, thanks to everyone who has written and emailed me, and thanks to everyone who has read this blog. Also, thanks to Sonadei (www.sonadei.com) for everything they have done with the bike project, our collaboration on the soon to be greatest book ever written, and everything in the future we may do to help bikers, the environment, and all in-between.