Monday, August 27, 2007

Burning Down the House

Friday night, work week is over, time to kick back, relax and throw back some cold one's at the favorite watering hole right? Not anymore. Although Gina and I met at a bar, we really don't go out drinking all that often on the weekends, even before she was pregnant and this weekend was no different. Well, except for the new Friday night hotspot on Rt. 40 in Catonsville. After working out, eating some burgers and enjoying some Hoegaarden we decided to make our journey to Babies'R'Us. Yes folks, that's right, my Friday night was spent trolling the isles of B'R'U with an infrared scanner registering for baby products.

I pretty much have no clue what's needed so I tried to convince Gina on letting me pick out what we wanted and she would pick out what we (the baby) needed. That thinking would pretty much relegate me to the toy section, no such luck.

My bread and butter and learning about the extensive range of strollers
Are these bottles girl specific? I'm so confused.

I can't remember the last time I closed a place down on a Friday night

Saturday I was up early (by my standards) to go help paint arrows for this weekend's Bay Country Century. If you don't have Labor Day plans and are looking for something to do come enjoy a scenic ride through southern Maryland's shore area.
Packing up Special Sauce and hitting the road in the fog.

Round 1 of liquid energy

Round 2 with a little bit of McSin for breakfast
The rest of the weekend was spent in Lancaster with Gina's mom so except for the hellish storm that rolled through in the middle of the night Saturday and had the dogs all out of sorts, it was a relaxing stay. Although the dogs were definitely wore out from the excitement of a road trip.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


It's hard to remember what I did before the Internet, even though it was only a couple of years ago I purchased my own computer and had my own high speed Internet access at home that wasn't monitored by my employer. I managed without it from about 8pm last night until 4:30 this afternoon, minus a quick gmail and hotmail check using my Blackjack. What did I miss? Spending money bidding on a few items on ebay is about it and a ton of useless emails to the MABRA listserve, so nothing really, but why do I feel so grateful to have it back? My ride tonight was definitely time better spent that sitting in front of this monitor. On that note, in looking for motivation for 'cross, I reposted all of the race pics from the past two seasons so the links to the right should work now.

Ah, the Ampitheater of many fond memories
Gina had another ultra-sound this morning, the baby is fine, well normal as the tech put it. It was again being a bit stubborn but she got the shots she needed and we were out of there in 30 minutes. This afternoon I went to Dr. Collins to review my MRI films. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) there's nothing wrong with my back. Two slightly bulging disks but not enough to put pressure on the nerves. This was actually somewhat disturbing news as I am no now closer to understanding what the hell is wrong with my leg than I was 5 months ago. Now I know how Hebe was feeling trying to figure out his rot gut. I have been riding a lot of base miles for the past two weeks on the rollers and the fixed gear to try and re-condition the leg. I realized last night on the rollers that it took all of my concentration to pedal circles with the left leg. If I didn't concentrate, my leg would just follow the motion with no real coordination or flop to the side at the top of the pedal stroke. I still think something pinching a nerve somewhere if I'm having such trouble at the neuro-muscular level.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Carbon Neutral - Or Just a Clean Conscience?

Two years ago I had never even heard the phrase "Carbon Neutral", even a year ago I couldn't fully explain what it meant to be Carbon Neutral. My friend Arch sent me an email telling me how he was offsetting his carbon emissions through a company called TerraPass. Then I started seeing it pop up in the cycling community with the advertisements for Carbon Neutral events, then this year the buzz around the Tour (besides the doping allegations) was how the entire Discovery team was carbon neutral.

So, as any curious person would do I began researching this whole industry of carbon trading. I had already heard of carbon trading as a standard practice within the manufacturing industries. All companies regulated by the EPA are granted a certain weight, in tons (2,000 lbs.!) of carbon emissions, if a company does not emit (pollute that is) all of their alloted carbon, they can sell or trade their credits to other companies. There's actually a Carbon trading stock market, the Chicago Carbon Exchange. But I had never really heard of this phenomenon in the consumer market until that email.

And to date what have I found? That for the most part, I think we're looking at the next Enron scandal quite frankly. The theory is sound, but as always in what is a largely unregulated market , the practice is very, very suspect (remember the energy trading? now we're just talking carbon molecules instead of electrons). So basically it works like this, I go to a company like TerraPass or and calculate my estimated carbon footprint or a subset of it comprised of my car, my home and if I travel alot, my flying. Based on my calculated carbon emissions, I can pay to have those emissions offset. The company which I've just handed over upwards of several hundred dollars a year is suppose to take that money and use it to fund programs that basically do one of two things, the first is to implement projects aimed at directly reducing the level of carbon in the atmosphere, such as planting trees or seeding the oceans with iron to draw phytoplankton to the surface so they will pull carbon from the air. Hmm, sounds like the only benefactor there might be the whales. The second way to help reduce emissions is to fund renewable energy projects such as solar panels or wind turbines. Ok, sounds good although I have this long standing issue with the term "renewable energy" altogether. There really is no such thing as renewable energy people, there is sustainable energy but once a electron molecule is consumed to power something, it's gone, it doesn't go back in to the wind or back to the sun on some secret space ship housed at a ranch in Crawford, Texas.

So this is where the whole deal gets hairy, no one can actually calculate the true offset of carbon emissions by any of these projects that your money is going to! The EPA (albeit run by a Bush crony from the chemical industry) admits they cannot tell you how much carbon is offset by planting a tree. What species of tree, how large is it, where was it planted? It all factors in, especially if it was ever planted at all. Remember, this is an unregulated industry, your money doesn't have to actually be going towards any of these projects, at least ones that have a sound scientific basis, remember the phytoplankton? In the last 10 years we've had the .com bubble, Enron and now the housing market collapse, next is this dark and mysterious world of carbon trading. America is now the land of the get rich quick, everyone is looking for the next bubble to ride and why not carbon? You can't even see it.

So is going Carbon Neutral worth it if you really want help save the planet? Probably not. Your money is better spent on projects that will directly reduce your carbon footprint such as updating your appliances, putting in energy efficient windows and light bulbs and not driving the three miles to work in your gas guzzling SUV. About the only thing carbon neutral is cleaning up is your conscience until someone can quantify the effects of this industry on reducing pollution.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I'm officially pulling the plug today on any thoughts of a real 'cross season. Not to say I won't race at all because that would just suck, but it will just have to be for fun. I was hoping my leg would feel better after a week off the bike, but a short ride Saturday told me otherwise. Funny part was it actually felt better Sunday. I can't really train for 'cross in my current condition and to dedicate the next three months before the baby is born is a bit selfish knowing I won't be competitive. At this point I'll just offer up my services to work the pits and clean bikes and enjoy the 'cross scene from the sidelines taking photos.

My Dr.'s appointment on Monday wasn't very optimistic either. After discussing the growing list of symptoms, which now includes sharp, shooting pains down my leg, and a short evaluation, he sent me for an MRI of my lower back. With that, let's just say I'm not feeling hopeful as to what he might find when he reviews the films. The MRI was worse than what it looks like on television. I went to the place around the corner by the local coffee shop because I know they give you a coupon for a free muffin. They don't have the newer MRI machine that's open so I was crammed in a tube for half an hour unable to move, not really because I wanted to, but because there was no where to go. I'm not the biggest guy, but I wouldn't want to try and fit in that thing if I were any bigger for any extended period of time.

The good news is though I may have found a new calling. Gina and I met up with my parents and my brother and his wife at the Howard county fair Saturday night and while strolling through the farm animals, this sheep seemed to take a liking to me. I'm not even Scottish. Call me the Sheep Whisperer, baaahaaaa.
In other news, while leaving the aforementioned coffee shop this morning after redeeming my free muffin coupon and grabbing a coffee, I could smell smoke and happened to see that the roof of our favorite Thai restaurant was apparently on fire. The lone worker must have also noticed the smell and was outside looking around. I pointed out the smoke and called 911. Within a few minutes the Ho. Co. fire dept. was rolling down the street sirens screaming. I never saw fire, but there was plenty of pitch black smoke pouring from the roof. Hopefully there's not a lot of damage since there are no other good Thai restaurants in the area!