Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wish you a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
May your dreams come true!!
Peace :)

Happy New Year!

Wish you a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2011!
May your dreams come true!!
Peace :)

Follow-up Post # 2: Nutcase Helmet --- 6 month review!

It's here...Thanks, Nutcase!
 





Now, I get to decorate my new helmet with reflective patches, woohoo!

Peace :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cannondale T-800 goes to work!

Having a stable of many a velo has its advantages, as we all know. But, sometimes, inadvertently do not ride one of them for a long time. Such was the case of my Cannondale T-800. I hadn't ridden it since my ride to Athens, TX.

So, in order to be a good person, without any specific velo biases, I rode the T-800 to work yesterday. During the holiday season, everything slows down at work and so I simply parked my bike in my cube. This is not my standard Modus Operandi.
 
 By the way,the plant pictured is the best 3 dollar plant I ever bought. It loves the ambient lighting in my office and has grown to be a really big, lovely plant.

How do you all make sure all your bikes are ridden, regularly?

Peace :)

Mounting Arkel Handlebar Bag on a Bike without Bar-end Shifters!

Recently,a good blogger buddy of mine and I had a chat about mounting the Arkel Handlebar bag on a bike which is not equipped with bar-end shifters. In addition, the bike also had cross-brakes. The combination of having the cross brakes on a bike with drop bars and the added complexity of the presence of cross brakes, eats up a lot of room on the handlebar and makes mounting the handlebar bag somewhat tricky. I wrote about this once before and I believe I have added some more finer points to this post on the same topic. By the way, I don't claim to be a bike guru, but this is how mine is setup.

I attached a Nitto Lamp Holder to the handlebar first. Then, the  Arkel Handlebar bag clamps were attached to the Nitto Lamp Holder. Obviously, Shaggy can vouch for it!
Then, you simply attach the bag to the clamps!
One word of caution: Keep the bag parallel to the ground. Otherwise, IMHO, it can mess with the handling of the bike!
Peace :)

Follow-up Post # 1: Nutcase Helmet --- 6 month review!

I contacted Nutcase and a replacement is on the way. It should be here tomorrow. I can't wait :)


On Schedule


Departed FedEx location
HUTCHINS, TX
 
Shipment Dates

Ship date
 
Dec 27, 2010

Estimated delivery
 
Dec 31, 2010
 
Will post more on the new one, may be tomorrow?
Peace :)

PSA: Cyclist - Please be courteous and obey the law!

You passed me on my right, on Rodeo Drive, a single lane road, this evening. Just as you were "stealthily" passing me, you probably did not know that I was planning to move over the my right. Had I done that, we would have crashed, although it would not have been because of my fault.

So, I have somethings to ask of you:
  1. Please do not pause other cyclists illegally. 
  2. Please signal as you pass other cyclists. Announce your presence by saying out loud, "On your left". Again, you are not supposed to pass other cyclists on the right.
  3. Please do not run STOP signs. I saw you doing it and I have seen you do this before as well. By running a STOP sign, a) you are breaking the law, b) you are increasing your probability of being in a crash with another vehicle and c) you are giving the other thousands of law-abiding cyclists like me, a bad reputation. By the way, I know another cyclist in Irving, who recently was fined a large sum of money for running a STOP sign by the Police.
You know who you are from your photo below.

Thanks for your attention to this matter!

Peace :)

Co-Motion Americano v. Thorn Nomad MKII S&S - Observations!

I have had the Co-Motion Americano (Americano/Gikma/GCMA) for over 2 years now and the Thorn Nomad MKII S&S (Nomad) for about 9 months. I have ridden both bikes on loaded trips, although in the case of the Thorn, it was a trial ride. I love both the bikes.

Vik left a comment on my post recently, which prompted me to create this particular post. Below are my observations about the two bikes:
  1. Being an Expedition Touring Bike, the Nomad is great for off-road riding. I did the 2010 Sanger Fall  Ramble on the Nomad and it held up excellently. I felt it was easier to do the Ramble on the Nomad, although the Nomad with the Rohloff and other accessories weighs a tad more the Americano (40 LBS 13 OZ v. 37 LBS 11 OZ). The Nomad gave me the confidence that I would not slide around in the gravel and I did not. The Schwalbe Marathon Extreme HS 402 26x2.25 tires on the Nomad gobbled up the gravel like it was grits. I did the 2009 Sanger Fall Ramble on the Americano. I only had 38mm tires on it and the bike did very well. If I had used fatter tires on the Americano, it may have performed differently and I may simulate that experience sometime.
  2. I have ridden the Nomad in soaking rain and through lots of mud on the Greenbelt Trail. I had no problems at all. I say Amen to the Rohloff! With the Rohloff being an IGH, none of the crud went into it and it was smooth sailing through all the gunk.
  3. I love the Thorn Expedition Rear Rack and the Thorn Front Rack the Nomad. I especially love the rear rack. It accommodates larger objects without much trouble. Dimensionally speaking, the Nomad's Thorn-branded rear rack may be a tad bigger than the Tubus Logo rear rack on the Americano. 
  4. The Thorn Expedition Rack is 380mm long x 130mm wide and its height is 350mm from lower mounting bolt. I have the Thorn Expedition Rear Rack mounted with 6mm screw adapters which permits me to haul a whopping 60kg on the rear rack. The Tubus Logo Rack is 324.73mm long x 100mm wide (actually the width tapers down to 86.14 near the seat-stay mount) and is rated good for 40kg. I have hauled food for our dogs on both the Americano and the Nomad. I have to say, two bags of dog food was more comfortably seated on the Thorn Expedition Rear Rack than on the Tubus Logo. Don't get me wrong, the Tubus Logo is an excellent rack. Here, I am simply comparing the two, from the POV of the utilitarian value of the surface area of their respective designs.
  5. I have NOT felt any shimmy in either bike. That's great!
  6. Both bikes feel solidly built. I bought the Americano from LBS, custom built. I ordered the Thorn through email, basically. Back in February/March 2010, when I was contemplating which Expedition Touring Bike to buy, Vik educated me on the merits of a Thorn Nomad, especially their affordability (relative to other bikes with all the goodies). I seriously considered the Co-Motion Pangea, but I did not buy it as it was several greenbacks more than the Nomad, especially for the specs I wanted, in particular the SON, the Rohloff and the S&S. To date, I have not had any problems with the Nomad, either in terms of the build or the quality of the parts used. While the same is also true of the Americano, I still have to give special Kudos to Thorn for building a bike simply based off some rough measurements I took of myself on the Americano and doing a phenomenal job building a bike for me.
  7. When riding the Nomad, it is extremely comforting to know that I do not have to worry about bending the derailleur. So, I ride the Nomad pretty hard, as hard as a suburbanite-who-doesn't-scale-mountains-on-a-bicycle can.
  8. I love the paint job on the Nomad better. I had a small piece of gravel hit the Americano during the 2009 Sanger Fall Ramble and the paint chipped. I know for a fact that many a piece of gravel has hit the Nomad, but no chips - knock-on-wood!
  9. Thorn's customer service is, IMHO, outstanding. During the shipping process, a bracket on the Thorn Expedition Rear Rack got scratched. I emailed Thorn about this and they sent me a replacement, free of charge, right away. They did NOT bug me to send the scratched part back, as do some businesses these days. 
  10. The Rohloff is simply amazing. Yes, it is heavy, but given the hub's superior functionality it is definitely worth it. Some might question the utility of the Rohloff in a place that's relatively flat, like where I live in Dallas. To those, no offense, I did not buy the Nomad with the Rohloff thinking that I will only ride in Dallas!
In summary, I love both the bikes. I love the Americano for its robustness combined with its phenomenal performance, classic looks and panache. I love the Nomad for its extreme ruggedness and its supreme performance off-road. If I put thinner tires on the Nomad, it will probably move a bit faster on paved roads, but I am really not looking for speed. It is the overall chemistry of riding the bike, reducing my carbon footprint, staying fit by riding a bicycle, photographing and journal-ing things I see along the way, stopping to smell the roses, that I dig!

Doing longer self-supported tours still is one of my long-term goals. I will do them someday, hopefully sooner than later :)

Peace :)

    On The Utility of Reflective Safety Vests and Ankle/Knee Reflectors!

    I found a link to this great research article on reflective clothing on Vik's page.

    Here is the abstract of the paper:
    “Visibility limitations make cycling at night particularly dangerous. We previously reported cyclists’ perceptions of their own visibility at night and identified clothing configurations that made them feel visible. In this study we sought to determine whether these self-perceptions reflect actual visibility when wearing these clothing configurations. In a closed-road driving environment, cyclists wore black clothing, a fluorescent vest, a reflective vest, or a reflective vest plus ankle and knee reflectors. Drivers recognised more cyclists wearing the reflective vest plus reflectors (90%) than the reflective vest alone (50%), fluorescent vest (15%) or black clothing (2%). Older drivers recognised the cyclists less often than younger drivers (51% vs 27%). The findings suggest that reflective ankle and knee markings are particularly valuable at night, while fluorescent clothing is not. Cyclists wearing fluorescent clothing may be at particular risk if they incorrectly believe themselves to be conspicuous to drivers at night.”

    For the entire paper, you may go here!

    Thanks to Vik and the original poster, Aushiker Blog.

    Peace :)

    PS. Thanks to Richard Wharton, who gave me a pair of Magnetic Ankle Reflectors during the Traffic Skills 101 class. I still got'em and I still use'em, along with my reflective vest!

    Sensible Goals!

    Sensible Goals!

    With the New Year round the bend, many of us make resolutions. This year my resolution is to get healthier, but not at some super-rapid pace, but at my own speed, even if it be the speed of the Tortoise.

    I received the stuff below forwarded to me. I think there are some cool pointers in the forwarded email. Check it out!

    Peace :)


    When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, you tend to bite off more than you can chew.

    Rather than tell yourself you’re going to increase your gym time by two days a week—two more than you’re currently going—you make the lofty goal of five days. By mid-January, you’ve already thrown in the towel and decided 2011 was meant to be the year you finally watched the entire series of Lost on DVD. What an overachiever … Well, at least Netflix thinks so.

    The same goes with the Earth. Last year, you promised to lick its sweet tears by brewing your own Fair Trade coffee instead of supporting Big Enterprise. But then Starbucks introduced VIA and you were dunzo.

    Snap out of it, honey. You have the will of a klepto in a WalMart Superstore. Instead of making a resolution that you’re going to ride your bike to work every day, tell yourself you’re going to buy a bike and use it for nearby errands. Look at that …

    The key to lessening your impact on the earth is to set your goals lower and make tougher ones throughout the year. In other words, set yourself up for success. Here are five simple things you can do to lower your carbon footprint in the New Year that won’t require as much effort.

    Say it with me now … I think I can, I think I can.

    Quit Buying Bottled Water. We’ve gone over this. It requires about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make plastic water bottles every year. When you wean yourself off, the planet wins and so do you.

    For one, you can save up to $1,400 a year. For two, your health doesn’t suffer. The water in that sleek bottle is likely plain ‘ole tap water. Scratch that … municipal tap water is better regulated than bottled water. In a study conducted by the NRDC, researchers found that 22 percent of bottles tested contained chemical contaminants at levels above strict health limits. Some of them had the ability to cause cancer or other serious ailments, if consumed over a longer period of time. Not to mention, the plastic encapsulating that bottle of water usually contains Bisphenol A (BPA.)

    It’s easy. If you are forgetful, keep a reusable water bottle on hand in your car, and if possible, one in your purse. If you are that thirsty and water bottleless, find a water fountain or stop into the nearest establishment and lay your desperation on the table.

    Healthy Bitch Pick: We love the new mini KOR Delta Hydration Vessels (500 mL) and the water filtration systems by Sovereign Earth (soon to be relaunched as revolve)

    Actually Remember Your Reusable Bag. Let me guess—You left it in your drawer. Ask yourself this: What the hell good does it do in there? Beats me. For the love of our oceans, buy a handful of reusable bags and store them in various useful places. Store one in the house for packing lunches and gym clothes, and keep a stack in the car for grocery shopping. I also keep one rolled up in my purse for occasional unplanned stops at the drugstore or vintage boutiques.

    Stop it With the Paper Towels. Some of us are paper towel happy. Yes, I said “us.” Rather than using a paper towel to wipe the counter, another to wipe the floor, a third to disinfect the dining room table, and a fourth to clean off Dexter’s paws, consolidate. Use one to wipe the counter, floor, and the mutt’s paws, and then a clean one to disinfect the dining room table. Better yet, invest in half a dozen cloths and throw them in the wash when you’re running low. These will help eliminate your contribution to the more than 3,000 tons of paper towels that crowd our landfills every year.

    Healthy Bitch Pick: Twist Euro Sponge Cloth. With a lifespan of approximately a  year, Twist biodegradable cloths replace paper towels and can last for up to 1,000 uses. Visit Twistclean.com

    Say Adios to Phantom Power. Plain and simple, if you’re not using the plug, it shouldn’t be plugged in. When it sits there with nothing to do, it just sucks up energy. If it’s so time-consuming for you to unplug your iPhone charger when you head off to work (one whopping second), then invest in a power strip. Plug all the appliances in the room to one strip—computer, TV, DVD, cable, Wii, and whatever other silly little appliances you feel the need to own. When you leave, just flip the switch off and every gadget cord connected to that lifeline will take a nap. Plus, you can save up to 10 percent on your annual energy bill by doing so. Mission accomplished.

    Sensible Goals!

    With the New Year round the bend, many of us make resolutions. This year my resolution is to get healthier, but not at some super-rapid pace, but at my own speed, even if it be the speed of the Tortoise.

    I received the stuff below forwarded to me. I think there are some cool pointers in the forwarded email. Check it out!

    Peace :)


    When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, you tend to bite off more than you can chew.

    Rather than tell yourself you’re going to increase your gym time by two days a week—two more than you’re currently going—you make the lofty goal of five days. By mid-January, you’ve already thrown in the towel and decided 2011 was meant to be the year you finally watched the entire series of Lost on DVD. What an overachiever … Well, at least Netflix thinks so.

    The same goes with the Earth. Last year, you promised to lick its sweet tears by brewing your own Fair Trade coffee instead of supporting Big Enterprise. But then Starbucks introduced VIA and you were dunzo.

    Snap out of it, honey. You have the will of a klepto in a WalMart Superstore. Instead of making a resolution that you’re going to ride your bike to work every day, tell yourself you’re going to buy a bike and use it for nearby errands. Look at that …

    The key to lessening your impact on the earth is to set your goals lower and make tougher ones throughout the year. In other words, set yourself up for success. Here are five simple things you can do to lower your carbon footprint in the New Year that won’t require as much effort.

    Say it with me now … I think I can, I think I can.

    Quit Buying Bottled Water. We’ve gone over this. It requires about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make plastic water bottles every year. When you wean yourself off, the planet wins and so do you.

    For one, you can save up to $1,400 a year. For two, your health doesn’t suffer. The water in that sleek bottle is likely plain ‘ole tap water. Scratch that … municipal tap water is better regulated than bottled water. In a study conducted by the NRDC, researchers found that 22 percent of bottles tested contained chemical contaminants at levels above strict health limits. Some of them had the ability to cause cancer or other serious ailments, if consumed over a longer period of time. Not to mention, the plastic encapsulating that bottle of water usually contains Bisphenol A (BPA.)

    It’s easy. If you are forgetful, keep a reusable water bottle on hand in your car, and if possible, one in your purse. If you are that thirsty and water bottleless, find a water fountain or stop into the nearest establishment and lay your desperation on the table.

    Healthy Bitch Pick: We love the new mini KOR Delta Hydration Vessels (500 mL) and the water filtration systems by Sovereign Earth (soon to be relaunched as revolve)

    Actually Remember Your Reusable Bag. Let me guess—You left it in your drawer. Ask yourself this: What the hell good does it do in there? Beats me. For the love of our oceans, buy a handful of reusable bags and store them in various useful places. Store one in the house for packing lunches and gym clothes, and keep a stack in the car for grocery shopping. I also keep one rolled up in my purse for occasional unplanned stops at the drugstore or vintage boutiques.

    Stop it With the Paper Towels. Some of us are paper towel happy. Yes, I said “us.” Rather than using a paper towel to wipe the counter, another to wipe the floor, a third to disinfect the dining room table, and a fourth to clean off Dexter’s paws, consolidate. Use one to wipe the counter, floor, and the mutt’s paws, and then a clean one to disinfect the dining room table. Better yet, invest in half a dozen cloths and throw them in the wash when you’re running low. These will help eliminate your contribution to the more than 3,000 tons of paper towels that crowd our landfills every year.

    Healthy Bitch Pick: Twist Euro Sponge Cloth. With a lifespan of approximately a  year, Twist biodegradable cloths replace paper towels and can last for up to 1,000 uses. Visit Twistclean.com

    Say Adios to Phantom Power. Plain and simple, if you’re not using the plug, it shouldn’t be plugged in. When it sits there with nothing to do, it just sucks up energy. If it’s so time-consuming for you to unplug your iPhone charger when you head off to work (one whopping second), then invest in a power strip. Plug all the appliances in the room to one strip—computer, TV, DVD, cable, Wii, and whatever other silly little appliances you feel the need to own. When you leave, just flip the switch off and every gadget cord connected to that lifeline will take a nap. Plus, you can save up to 10 percent on your annual energy bill by doing so. Mission accomplished.

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    Gotta hit the books!

    After having waited a long time, I finally registered for LCI Seminar to be held January 28-30. Steve A of DFWPTP is also planning to attend this training.
    I have always loved teaching. Perhaps, I could use the lessons from the LCI Training to educate folks, especially children, to stay healthy by using the bicycle as a vehicle, for living a healthier life and keeping the planet healthy for all of humankind.

    Peace :)

    Arkel Utility Basket!

    I was commissioned with grocery shopping on Christmas Eve. I had a rather lengthy list of items to purchase. However, instead of driving, I chose to ride my bike to Sprouts. As my list was kinda lengthy, I "wisely" carried both the 2010 Arkel Bug and the Arkel Utility Basket (UB) on the bike.
    I have had the Arkel Utility Basket for about 4 years now and I would definitely say that it has paid for itself. (Well, it is actually true of any Arkel bag, in my opinion!) I absolutely love the UB. I have delivered a ton of our soaps using this bag. It is of considerable dimensions for a grocery pannier and it has a top pocket , perhaps for the purposes of keeping your valuables handy, carrying your grocery list, etc. I used this pocket to carry the bananas this time. It turned out that storing the bananas in that pocket was a great idea, because the bananas were not squished.
    As usual, I ended up buying a few more things than what was on the original list and I ran out of room in my panniers. Luckily, I had kept the tote bag that my Brooks B-135 came in, in the top pocket of the UB. That came in handy. I stuffed the tote bag with as many things as it can possibly hold! Then, I simply used a bungee cord to secure it to my Tubus Logo rear rack. By the way, this was the first time the Brooks Tote Bag ever got used!
    Here is a photo of the Brooks Tote Bag!
    And, here is a close-up of the graphic with the bicycles that's on the Brooks Tote Bag! (Photo taken in natural light, intentionally!)
    And, here is the original UPC from the B-135 purchase! Time for CRM? :)
    Hope your holiday was a fun one!

    Peace :)

    Private Parking!

    On many days, there is nobody else parking in the bike rack at work. So, it is pretty much my Private Parking for my Velo.
    I have been leaving my Kryptonite New York LS Bicycle U-Lock at work and locking my bike using it. Sometimes, I do an overkill by locking using two locks. It is totally unnecessary, but better to be safe than sorry!
    By the way,the Kryptonite New York LS Bicycle U-Lock is on sale at Amazon (as of 12/26/2010).

    How do you secure your bike when you are out and about or at work? Please share your thoughts in your blog or in the comments section. Thanks.

    Peace :)

    Spelt Walnut Bread

    For the Holiday, I made two loaves of Spelt Walnut bread. It is based on a non-yeast recipe. So, it is easy and quick to make. Here is the recipe:

    Ingredients:
    8 cups spelt flour
    1/2 cup sesame seeds
    1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
    1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
    1 cup of chopped walnuts
    2 tsp baking soda
    4 3/4 cups coconut/almond/soy/milk

      Preparation:

      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
      2. Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.I used olive oil to grease. I will try coconut oil next time.
      3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the spelt flour, sesame seeds, walnuts, salt, molasses, baking soda and milk until well blended. 
      4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
      5. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven until golden.
      6. Use a toothpick to test if the loaf is completely baked. Stick a toothpick into the loaf and pull it out immediately. If there is dough stuck on the toothpick, you may need to bake for a bit longer.
      Right out of the oven!  
       
      Try a thick slice with some Raw Almond butter!
      Bon appetit' :)

      PS. I used a little Coconut milk and a bit of Almond milk for making this batch - I ran out of Almond milk :)

      PSA: Lunch at New Start Veggie Garden

      Recently, I went to New Start Veggie Garden (NSVG) in Dallas for lunch. Their buffet is one of the best, Korean style, vegan-friendly, healthy buffets I have had ever. Look at my plate and you will see what I mean.
      NSVG serves cooked food as well as fresh vegetables and salads. I had brief chat with the owner and she explained to me her motto. Her motto is awesome, believe me.

      So, if you in the mood for some healthy food for lunch or dinner, head over to NSVG.

      Bon appetit' :)

      PSA: Coexistence with Monsanto - Article from OCA

      USDA Recommends "Coexistence" with Monsanto: We Say Hell No! by Ronnie Cummins

      "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it." - Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994

      "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job." - Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications, quoted in the New York Times, October 25, 1998


      After 16 years of non-stop biotech bullying and force-feeding Genetically Engineered or Modified (GE or GM) crops to farm animals and "Frankenfoods" to unwitting consumers, Monsanto has a big problem, or rather several big problems. A growing number of published scientific studies indicate that GE foods pose serious human health threats.  The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) recently stated that "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM advises consumers to avoid GM foods. Before the FDA arbitrarily decided to allow Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into food products in 1994, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can set off serious, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored. http://www.responsibletechnology.org

      Federal judges are finally starting to acknowledge what organic farmers and consumers have said all along: uncontrollable and unpredictable GMO crops such as alfalfa and sugar beets spread their mutant genes onto organic farms and into non-GMO varieties and plant relatives, and should be halted.  http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22173.cfm

      An appeals court recently ruled that consumers have the right to know whether the dairy products they are purchasing are derived from cows injected with Monsanto's (now Elanco's) controversial recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), linked to serious animal health problems and increased cancer risk for humans.

      Monsanto's Roundup, the agro-toxic companion herbicide for millions of acres of GM soybeans, corn, cotton, alfalfa, canola, and sugar beets, is losing market share. Its overuse has spawned a new generation of superweeds that can only be killed with super-toxic herbicides such as 2,4, D and paraquat. Moreover, patented "Roundup Ready" crops require massive amounts of climate destabilizing nitrate fertilizer. Compounding Monsanto's damage to the environment and climate, rampant Roundup use is literally killing the soil, destroying essential soil microorganisms, degrading the living soil's ability to capture and sequester CO2, and spreading deadly plant diseases. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_21039.cfm

      In just one year, Monsanto has moved from being Forbes' "Company of the Year" to the Worst Stock of the Year. The Biotech Bully of St. Louis has become one of the most hated corporations on Earth. http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm

      Monsanto and their agro-toxic allies are now turning to Obama's pro-biotech USDA for assistance. They want the organic community to stop suing them and boycotting their products. They want food activists and the OCA to mute our criticisms and stop tarnishing the image of their brands, their seeds, and companies. They want us to resign ourselves to the fact that one-third of U.S. croplands, and one-tenth of global cultivated acreage, are already contaminated with GMOs. That's why Monsanto recently hired the notorious mercenary firm, Blackwater, to spy on us. That's why Monsanto has teamed up with the Gates Foundation to bribe government officials and scientists and spread GMOs throughout Africa and the developing world.  That's why the biotech bullies and the Farm Bureau have joined hands with the Obama Administration to preach their new doctrine of "coexistence."

      "Coexistence" or Cooptation?

      The Agriculture Department is dutifully drafting a comprehensive "coexistence policy" that supposedly will diffuse tensions between conventional (chemical but non-GMO), biotech, and organic farmers. Earlier this week industry and Administration officials met in Washington, D.C. to talk about coexistence. Even though the Organic Consumers Association tried to get into the meeting, we were told we weren't welcome. The powers that be claim that the OCA doesn't meet their criteria of being "stakeholders." The unifying theme in these closed-door meetings is apparently that Monsanto and the other biotech companies will set aside a "compensation" fund to reimburse organic farmers whose crops or fields get contaminated. That way we'll all be happy. Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, and Dupont will continue planting their hazardous crops and force-feeding animals and consumers with GMOs. Organic farmers and companies willing to cooperate will get a little compensation or "hush money." But of course our response to Monsanto and the USDA's plan, as you might have guessed, is hell no!

      There can be no such thing as "coexistence" with a reckless and monopolistic industry that harms human health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world's 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers.  Enough talk of coexistence. We need a new regime that empowers consumers, small farmers, and the organic community. We need a new set of rules, based on "truth-in-labeling" and the "precautionary principle" - consumer and farmer-friendly regulations that are basically already in place in the European Union - so that "we the people" can regain control over Monsanto, indentured politicians, and the presently out-of-control technology of genetic engineering.

      Truth-in-Labeling: Monsanto and the Biotech Industry's Greatest Fear

      In practical terms coexistence between GMOs and organics in the European Union, the largest agricultural market in the world, is a non-issue. Why? Because there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, nor consumer food products on supermarket shelves, in the EU, period. And why is this? There are almost no GMOs in Europe, because under EU law, as demanded by consumers, all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. Consumers have the freedom to choose or not to consume GMOs, while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as they are labeled. Of course consumers, for the most part, do not want to consume GM Frankenfoods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald's and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the axiom expressed by the Monsanto executive at the beginning of this article: "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."

      The biotech industry and Food Inc. are acutely aware of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don't want to be part of an involuntary food safety experiment. You don't want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by profit-at-any-cost chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont-the same people who brought you toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and now global warming. Industry leaders are acutely aware of the fact that every single industry or government poll over the last 16 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on GMO foods. Why? So that we can avoid buying them. GMO foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from getting a public discussion in Congress, much less allowing such legislation to be put up for a vote. Obama (and Hilary Clinton) campaign operatives in 2008 claimed that Obama supported mandatory labels for GMOs, but we haven't heard a word from the White House on this topic since Inauguration Day.

      Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) introduces a bill in every Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs, don't hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling and consumers' right to know what's in their food. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called "Citizens United" case gave big corporations and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent.

      Therefore we need to shift our focus and go local. We've got to concentrate our forces where our leverage and power lie, in the marketplace, at the retail level; pressuring retail food stores to voluntarily label their products; while on the legislative front we must organize a broad coalition to pass mandatory GMO (and CAFO) labeling laws, at the city, county, and state levels.

      Millions Against Monsanto: Launching a Nationwide Truth-in-Labeling Campaign, Starting with Local City Council Ordinances or Ballot Initiatives

      Early in 2011 the Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, plans to launch a nationwide campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans. Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure retailers to implement "truth-in-labeling" practices; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances or ballot initiatives similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens. If local government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we will gather petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. Stay tuned for details, but please send an email to: information@organicconsumers.org if you're interesting in helping organize a truth-in-labeling campaign in your local community. Millions Against Monsanto. Power to the people! ___________________________________________________________________

      Ronnie Cummins is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association

      Friday, December 24, 2010

      Sunday, December 19, 2010

      2010 Sanger Fall Ramble

      On Dec. 18th, I drove over to Sanger, TX, with Steve of DFWPTP, to participate in the 2011 Sanger Fall Ramble. Chris of Pondero was nice enough to organize the event and provide us clear directions to the event. You may remember my post about last year's ramble. This year's ramble was grander. There were close to 28 participants.

      I woke up bright and early at 5 AM to get ready for the event. Shaggy kept me company while I made my breakfast of a grand Green Protein Shake.

      The drive to Sanger took use close to an hour. There was even signage for this year's ramble.

      When we rolled into Chris's yard, there were already a bunch of folks, fixin' to ramble. I saw some familiar faces from Fort Worth and Dallas.
      Not everybody car-pooled, so there were quite a few vehicles!

      Mr. Steve!
      Chris briefed the ramblers on what to expect, what not to expect, etc.
      Out of my own personal curiosity, I made sure to take photos of dudes with considerable beards. Here is Photo # 1 of the beard folks.
      Beard Photo # 2.
      Technically, Chris's photo (pictured earlier, briefing the peeps) should be considered Beard Photo # 1 :)

      I rode my Thorn Nomad MK2 on this ride, unlike last year when I rode my Co-Motion Americano. I wanted a good opportunity to test the bike on gravel and also show it to my friends. I carried my Arkel Bug pannier, in which I carried my lunch, Coconut Juice and snacks (2 small apples, 2 bananas, raw almonds and cashews). One of the bananas got a bit mushed. Oh well...

      There were a bunch of fast riders. As usual, I took my own time and enjoyed the ride. Paul was nice enough to ride at my pace all through the ride.
      The scenery was pretty much like last year. Lots of cows and horses!
      Paul brought his commuter, a Nishiki for this ride. In the background you can see the Thorn Nomad!
      One of the breaks! It gave me an opportunity to say hello to another Co-Motion Americano owner.
      Paul recently added a SON Dynamo hub to his ride. Here is his dynamo and the front light - a Lumotec IQ Senso Fly! I love SON hubs. The Lumotec lights are great for commuting. My personal favorite is the Edelux.
      Riders up ahead in the distance!
      Pretty scenery! I love windmills, especially older ones.
      One of the riders had a spoke failure. He hung his hat from his seat, which somehow got lodged into this spokes and the next thing you know there are 4 broken spokes and he couldn't ride anymore. He and his buddy ended up waiting for SAG from Mrs. Pondero! Paul and I hung tried to remedy the situation, but in vain. The damage was already done and there's no way to fix the wheel without taking it to a shop.
      During the commotion caused by the broken spokes, I accidentally hooked my  Pentax Optio W90 to something other than my belt loop on my shorts. A short while later, I was gonna take a photo, reached for my camera and it wasn't there. But, luckily I remember taking my last photo during the "spokes incident". So, we figured it must have fell off my shorts a short while ago. Paul was kind enough to ride back and fetch it for me. I am thankful to my Higher Powers. The camera worked like a charm, though it took a little beating. I bet it fell at least 4 feet to the ground. It is shock-proof, as claimed by Pentax.


      A combination of Green and Gray!
      Green, Gray and some Blue! For a good close-up of the no-dumping sign in the picture below, please see Steve's post!
      Paul talking to Chris telling him of our whereabouts!
      A short while later, we made it to our lunch stop for the day, the infamous Rosston General Store! Paul and I were 3-4 miles behind the fast group, a bit before lunch. But, the fast group took a wrong turn and we made it to the store before them. Steve had gotten there earlier than us, but that doesn't surprise me one bit. Speedy Steve eh? (pun intended)!


      During this stop, I ate my lunch and adjusted my front brake cable, which had developed some slack during the rather bumpy ride. I also repositioned my handlebar and tightened them. They also had gotten loose during the ride. I took a picture of the beautiful Blue Co-Motion Americano.

      And, there she was, looking as pretty and fit as she did last year!
      Some people chose to use Mrs. Ponder's SAG (due to time restrictions) after lunch. Bryan of Trinity Bicycles was one of them. This should be called Beard Photo # 4.
      On our ride back to Sanger, Steve had a flat. I must have been listening to Hendrix. Perhaps that might explain the bit of purple in the photo? :)
      Mr. Pondero!
      Scenic tree-lined country roads! Ah, the joy of not having to deal with fumes from cars!!
      The country roads made my shoes all dusty. It is all good!
      Tires on the Nomad, pre-Ramble!

      After...

      Overall, it was a great ride, somewhat demanding because of the gravel and the few steep grades. It was a great day to ride and hang with friends. I had a blast!

      Here are the statistics and route! For some reason, I can't get RideWithGPS to give me the same grade info as my GPS. My GPS showed a max. grade of 17%, which I believe is true!


      Hope your weekend was a great one also!

      Peace :)