Thursday, April 28, 2011

Excuse you, Google Maps

I sometimes ride my bike to work, on a route that I got mostly from Google maps bicycle directions back in September.

I might head out to visit my mom after school tomorrow, and I'm planning on biking to work, so it would make the most sense to bike out there as well. It's pretty far, but actually shorter than my commute (thats sad). Anyhow, I looked up the route, and it gave me three routes.

And then it said, "Or take public transit (1 transfer)".

....what exactly are you trying to say Google maps? Is it too far for me? Can I not handle it? What gives?

I looked up my regular routes and I guess the beta version has made a lot of changes. The route it says to take now is different, and I might try parts of it out tomorrow (more angle streets, which are a timesaver). But I still can't get over the part where it keeps telling me to take public transit.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

This week is my spring break, and I took a road trip with a couple friends earlier in the week.

We saw some adorable new designs of Chico sacks. And these nifty collapsible water bottles (I don't remember what they were called). And as we purchased a couple items and pulled our own reusable bags out of our purses, we talked about how pretty much everyone we know carries a bag these days.

The Chico ones are a little expensive (I got one for a Christmas gift many years ago--they fold up in to their own little pouch), but they have them everywhere now. All the grocery stores sell them, and most places give you a little back (like five or ten cents) for using your own bag. But these little pocket ones (Office Depot has them for super cheap) are great, because they fold up so tiny you can put them in anything at all. No more forgetting.

Back in December, we had an assembly, and they talked about if everyone would just Do One Thing, it would make a huge difference. Carrying bags is just one option. You could turn off lights when you leave the room. Turn off the water while you wash/brush/whatever. Try to combine trips so you drive less.

We asked all our students to make one pledge for Earth Day last Friday when we did our energy bike assembly, and I hope you can too...or if nothing else, just think about it! (It's ok to pick something easy, too!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Earth Month: Save Some Energy

Today was parent conference day at school, and seven of my students had a fabulous time forcing pretty much every person to walk in the school to take a "save energy" doortag (four designs! available in English or Spanish!) or other flier. They were nothing if not enthusiastic, and they reached a ton of people.

Their basic message was turn it off or unplug it and save money. They've been prepping for this for awhile, since we were originally supposed to do it on the day of the blizzard. It's funny how much people don't realize how much small moves can let's figure it out!

Through my club, I have a Kill-a-watt
You plug it in to the socket like normal, and then plug your appliance etc into it as you usually would, and it measures how much energy it uses. Fun! (For me at least.) You can see how many watts it has used over time, and can also see other data about various electrical measurements I do not understand.

I've measured various things over the years (my humidifier=really really bad...I now use pans of water under the radiators. Christmas lights are also bad, which was very depressing. On the other hand LED lights are ugly, so I'm not sure what the answer is there). And I thought it would be fun to measure more things now, so...
What do you want me to measure?

If it has a plug (and I have/use one) I can find out how much energy it uses. I'll also do something with phantom load, which is the amount of energy things use when they are plugged in but off. I'm hoping as part of Earth Month to finally get around to installing my Smart Strip as well.

Let me know in the comments what you're curious about, and I'll start collecting some data!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Happy Earth Month!

It's Earth Month! For the past several years, I've run a recycling & conservation club at my school, and I'm also a volunteer environmental speaker for the City of Chicago (so if you're having an event and want someone to come talk about something conservation-y like work composting*, recycling, conservation issues or rain barrels*, you can request one--fun!)

As part of training for both of those things I've learned lots of really interesting stuff, and I hope to do a couple entries each week about different environmental issues.

Get excited for:
  • Recycling
  • Energy Conservation
  • The Kill-a-Watt
  • Water Policy (which I know sounds super boring but is actually pretty interesting)
  • The Energy Bike (assuming I have actually managed to schedule it to visit my school)

Happy Earth Month!

*I don't talk about those, but other people do.