Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Thing #122: My new bike, and things you can do for Johnny Kang Patterson

I’m freaking out.

It’s the heat.

And the fact that I saw An Inconvenient Truth.

I mean, I saw it a few weeks ago and I was like, whoa, holy shit, gotta do something.

But now this heat has hit and I’m like:
This is the beginning of End Times.

And I realize I’m prone to over-reacting,
but still:

If we don’t do something…
If we don’t ALL do something…
we’re seriously fucking ourselves.

New Thing #122: I got a new bike today. My first bike since I was old enough to drive and therefore didn’t have to have one.

(PAM actually got the bike for me—for my birthday—which isn’t actually for another two weeks or so—but I was freaking out about the Earth and all of the driving I do and I think she wanted to stop hearing about it.)

(Thank you, PAM.)

Anyway, I’m still freaking out.

Because one of these days I’m going to adopt a whole litter of little children—well, okay, I suppose “a whole litter” is probably exaggerating. I’m not gonna go Mia Farrow on the ass of adoption, but I’m into the Angelina Jolie thing. I’ll either adopt one kid who I can spoil endlessly, or I’ll adopt 4 because I think 4 is a really great sibling number (as one of four brothers myself), or I’ll adopt nine so I can have a baseball team (I’m not even sure if nine would constitute a baseball team—maybe I’m thinking of the wrong sport—but how funny would it be if I had nine kids and they were a baseball team) (it’s funny because I hate baseball) (hate is a strong word—it’s more that I’m completely eh about the whole sport and I’ve been surrounded my whole life by people who are really huah about it) (maybe my future husband will be a baseball player) (that would be ironic) (hey—Urp, there’s an example of irony for you) (I was thinking, if I have a girl, I want to name her Johnny Kang Patterson) (is it wrong to want to name a girl Johnny?) (of course, I’ve always wanted to name a boy Oedipus because, fuck, the name really needs to be reclaimed after all of these years) (he’d go by “Oed” for short, “that’s a silent “o”) (but I have sooooooo gone off track) (the point is that one day I’m going to adopt a whole shitload of children) (or one) and I want the world to still be here for them. I don’t want them to all, like, melt to death when they’re in their formative years.

So I got a bike, and whenever I have to go someplace that’s within biking distance—instead of getting into my car like I normally would do, I’m going to bike there.

And I’m working on other Earth-saving behavior changes, and I encourage you to do the same.

1. Go see An Inconvenient Truth. Seriously.
2. And take some of the advice I’ve cribbed from An Inconvenient Truth’s official website.
3. (I’m literally just copying and pasting these suggestions from their website, so they deserve all of the credit for these ideas) (but they’re good suggestions, and most of them aren’t that hard, and if we all start changing our habits, then maybe my future kids will have air to breathe) 4. Do it for Johnny Kang Patterson:

(even if you don't do ALL of these things, you can totally do SOME of them) (come on)

And this is where I start to just copy and paste from An Inconvenient Truth's website:


--Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds! You can purchase CFLs online from the Energy Federation.

--Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summerAlmost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has more tips for saving energy on heating and cooling.

--Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

--Install a programmable thermostatProgrammable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.

--Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most efficient models. If each household in the U.S. replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we’d eliminate 175 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year!

--Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

--Use less hot water It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.

--Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible. You can save 700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.

--Turn off electronic devices you’re not using. Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

--Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!

--Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load and use the energy-saving setting. You can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

--Insulate and weatherize your home Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year. The Consumer Federation of America has more information on how to better insulate your home.

--Be sure you’re recycling at home You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates. Earth 911 can help you find recycling resources in your area.

--Buy recycled paper products It takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.

--Plant a tree. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%. The Arbor Day Foundation has information on planting and provides trees you can plant with membership.

--Get a home energy audit. Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Energy Star can help you find an energy specialist.

--Switch to green power. In many areas, you can switch to energy generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. The Green Power Network is a good place to start to figure out what’s available in your area.

--Buy locally grown and produced foods The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.

--Buy fresh foods instead of frozen. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

--Seek out and support local farmers markets. They reduce the amount of energy required to grow and transport the food to you by one fifth. You can find a farmer’s market in your area at the USDA website.

--Buy organic foods as much as possible. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!

--Avoid heavily packaged products. You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

--Eat less meat. Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.


Almost one third of the carbon dioxide produced in the United States comes from our cars, trucks and airplanes. Here are some simple, practical things you can do to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you produce while on the move.

--Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible. Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Click here to find transit options in your area.

--Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates. Sharing a ride with someone just 2 days a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. eRideShare.com runs a free national service connecting commuters and travelers.

--Keep your car tuned up. Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

--Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated. Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!

--When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicleYou can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid! You can find information on fuel efficiency here and here.

--Try car sharing. Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance. Many companies – such as Flexcar -- offer low emission or hybrid cars too!

--Try telecommuting from home. Telecommuting can help you drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week. For more information, check out the Telework Coalition.

--Fly less. Air travel produces large amounts of emissions so reducing how much you fly by even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. You can also offset your air travel by investing in renewable energy projects.

Okay, this is Erik again. Those are all of Al Gore's suggestions. Seriously, take some of them. I said it before, and I'll say it again: do it for Johnny Kang Patterson.



Jesse said...

I give all this like 2 weeks tops.

Erik said...

Jesse, you have no faith in me.


And you didn't say anything about Johnny Kang Patterson. What do you think of the name?

Melanie said...

Congrats on the new bike! Oh, and Johnny is a lovely name for a girl. She'll have to explain it a lot, but I like it anyways.

Erik said...

Melanie, thank you!

And I'm glad to hear there's some support for Johnny as a girls name. It's totally my number 1 name for a girl--it has been for years--and I figure if Gwyneth can name her daughter Apple, I can name mine Johnny. I just really like it. A lot. I'm glad I'm not alone.

joe chandler said...

9 is enough for a baseball team. but you'd have no subs. However, the batting order could look like this:

Erik's Kids:

1. Patterson, CF
2. Patterson, 2B
3. Patterson, C
4. Patterson, 1B
5. Patterson, RF
6. Patterson, 3B
7. Patterson, SS
8. Patterson, P
9. Patterson, LF

In this scenario your son who plays left field is a very bad hitter.

Erik said...

Joe, your comment might as well be written in Latin for all of the sense it makes to me. (okay, actually, that's a lie, I get it, but it looks like gobbledygook) (should I start a bowling team instead of a baseball team?) (nine players is enough for a bowling team, right?)

Erik said...

Oh, and also: I feel bad for my kid who plays Left Field. But I also identify with him.

joe chandler said...

i figure that he's spawned from your seed. the others are probably adopted.

Erik said...

so so true, joe.

Rebecca said...

I like the name Johnny for a girl. But then, have you caught MY kids' names? Probably not the best person to ask.

And my next car is totally going to be a hybrid!! Biking, however, is not an option at this point in time. I can't really see me riding to the grocery store with the 18 mo old strapped on the back AND managing to bring everything home. Plus, I have a bit of a commute to work. I will, however, walk more when possible. For Johnny Kang Patterson... and Jaben & Kyan too.

drc said...

You only need 4 for a bowling team...And I like Johnny for a girl, too...And I do my share for the environment by not using air conditioning in the house or car...And I take cold showers.