Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Like to Ride My Bike or Why are All of the Lights on?! Take the Poll!

I have decided that I need exercise again. Well, I've always needed exercise as everyone does, it's just that I will now do something about it again--consistently.

The other afternoon I declared to my husband when he biked home from work, that I would go for a long bike ride (in relative terms, for me at my current fitness level...) after the kids would go off to bed. So, while he was transferring bike lights from his bike to mine, I read a chapter of By the Shores of Silver Lake to the kids and by the end of it he was ready to race them up to bed as is our routine around here. "Race!!" they all shouted and then it was a mad dash up the stairs where the kids won easily, as always, tumbling into their beds to read to themselves.

I was now ready to go! Woo, woo, woo! Laura in the house! I was going to tear it up!!

Our neighborhood comprised of The Connecticut house models and other similar boxes is not big enough for the length of ride I wanted to do. I would go across town to the library, and then come back weaving my way through residential streets with nice old, big non cookie-cutter houses. These houses have character and old trees arching over the streets and beautiful landscaping and not too much traffic. It would be a great ride.

I put on my bike helmet, and may I just say here that the extreme aerodynamic nature of the design is simply a ridiculous amount of overkill. I really don't need the lack of wind resistance to that extreme--I'm not going to go that fast. Really. I don't need a bike jersey yet either. Nor do I need bike shorts. I just need to get on a bike in any comfortable clothing and move. That's the point. But, I will wear my helmet even if it looks silly. And, it does.

I remember my childhood of completely helmet-free riding and the idea of a helmet seems more akin to the equipment needed for a motorcycle, not a bicycle. It feels ridiculous to me. On the other hand, they have been proven to reduce serious head injuries and my vanity can be checked a little bit to accept a little safety in place of allowing my silky tresses to blow in the wind. Pity.

I crossed out of my section of town into another even more modest section and then into the nicer neighborhood near the library with the big houses. And I noticed something. It might be that I noticed this because I'm never out at night. Never. No, never. It just doesn't happen. Ever. Or, it might be that I'm now so green and ecologically minded that things jump out at me more. I find things glaring, and maybe I wouldn't have before my consciousness was raised to this level.

What I noticed was this--a few of the houses seemed to have every light on in all of the rooms and the outside landscaping lights too! All of them. It was startling to me because I've really tried to turn lights off every time I leave a room. I thought maybe everyone did that...don't they? Do you?

It seemed decadent to me and wasteful and thoughtless and careless. Harsh, huh? But, really! Do the nuclear power plants here in Illinois need to be running at full capacity so that people can be so wasteful? Do we need to pollute the air from coal combustion to generate the electricity to light up these big houses in every room?

I know people don't think about stuff. They don't do it in any malicious way--they're just trying to peacefully live their lives like anyone else. But, I think people need to start thinking. The light switch on our walls isn't some little magical wizard device that you'd find at Hogwarts. No, this is Muggle technology. When you flip that switch, you're creating pollution that is the side effect of the energy production. Flip. Pollution. Flip. Pollution. Flip. Pollution. Flip, flip, flip, never flip off, lots of pollution.

I've put up a poll that addresses some of this and more. Please go answer it, and I'll report back with the results in about a week.

Here's my big question: *drumroll* Does the ability to spend however you like, preclude any greater sense of obligation to your fellow man? In other words, if you can does that mean you should?

Discuss amongst yourselves...


Anonymous said...

I'm with you! And it's not just houses. Why are so many lights left on in offices and businesses?

Laura said...

I don't know, and that's a good question.

We're just so wasteful without even thinking about it. If we did stop to think about it, maybe we wouldn't be so wasteful. But, to even begin to see "it", you have to already be searching and questioning, or beginning to see and question.


How do you see "it" if you're not already questioning?

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