Monday, November 30, 2009

What happens when it rains

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

What they WONT talk about in Copenhagen,0,1365993.story?coll=la-tot-opinion&track=ntothtml

Killer cow emissions

Livestock are a leading source of greenhouse gases. Why isn't anyone raising
a stink?
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
discouraging them.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Biking News Around the World

Student Caught Biking Drunk Banned from Cycling for 15 Years
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 (

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 Outdoor Blog by (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

Whitman Interlude

Something i have been thinking about for a while now is how to incorporate more of the poetry of Walter Whitman into not only this blog, but my life. For now, I'll focus on the blog since that is where we find ourselves at this moment. So, a new feature of the multitude of readers i have out there will be a some Whitman poetry and maybe some thoughts of mine regarding the particular piece or section chosen. Should we try it out? Are you excited?

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
the shore,
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"

Belated Cabo Verde action

Better late than never or so they say in Estonia. Here are some photos mostly form my second year in Cape Verde, Sao Nicolau:

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

As you can see, i have been doing little else but going over the many pictures and getting them online. And i do it all for the greater good, i can't seem to get the PCV out of me. Anywho, lots and lots and lots and lots of pictures from all over to see. I recommend viewing them at your job instead of doing what it is your are supposed to be doing for your job.

Hiking and some biking in Luxembourg

In Belgium

Bike Touring in North Ireland


Bicycling Japan: Hokkaido

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pretty Pictures

Some of the long awaited photos are now ready for your enjoyment. Get a cup of coffe cause there's a ton of them. The first album up and ready is my tour of north Holland

Bicycle Touring in the Netherlands

Tour de Monmouth

Not the wooly kind. Jersey gets a bad rap often of being the backwater cousin to New York City and the upscale, clean Uncle of Philly, but with not much of it's own going on. Well i say hooyey, thats right, HOOYEY! Today i discovered right in my own county backyard some of the wonders this little couty, and state, have to offer. I introduce the Tour de Monmouth

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

Two wheels good, one wheel just stupid

Perhaps i am a bike snob, or perhaps i simply am not an idiot, because i can no longer remain quite on the unicycle. It is, by far, one of the top five STUPIDEST modes of transportation, ever. There are few things more upsetting, more nauseating, more moronic than seeing a real live human riding a unicycle. Why? For starters, its just stupid. Secondly, you have to hold on to the seat to constantly keep yourself from falling as the unicylce doesn't naturally want to stay upright; it wants to fall down and die from embarrassment.

So please, don't ride a unicycle, mock those who do.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rice a Roni

View Larger Map

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

Cycling Nippon: Part 3

And so my fellow binglers, we have reached the end of the cycling in Japan. Last we spoke i was in hiroshima, and from there it was a short ferry ride over to Shikoku, my third island. Two fast and furious days through mountain passes and through gorges and canyons took me west to east and another ferry ride back to whence we began, Tokyo.

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