minneapolis, one step closer to canada

The Nice Ride Minnesota bike-sharing program, based on Montreal's BIXI bike-sharing program, debuted in Minneapolis earlier this week. The system allows users to take a bike from any kiosk with the swipe of a card and return it to any kiosk by simply pushing it into a dock, which locks automatically. A subscription is required to use a bike and the first 30 minutes are free. The bikes are designed to be ridden by people wearing regular clothes and include full fenders, lights, and a cargo rack. They are perfect transportation option for short trips short trips in the city, such as across downtown for an appointment or a quick trip to the store, which in turn reduces pollution and congestion

The BIXI system is a high tech bike-sharing service. According to Nice Ride, "Advanced bike-share systems have been operating in cities like Paris and Barcelona for several years now. The engineers at BIXI learned from the successes in these cities and built a bike share system that is elegant, rugged, and simple to use. Time Magazine recognized BIXI as one of the top inventions of 2008, right behind the Mars Rover."

The bike-sharing system is a perfect fit for Minneapolis which was recently named the most bike-friendly city in the U.S. by Bicycling magazine. Making this honor even better, Minneapolis unseated Portland, Oregon, a city that held the title for many years. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a bicycling advocate, said the program will have multiple benefits, including improving users’ health, helping the environment and increasing drivers’ awareness of bicyclists on the roads.

Solar-powered kiosk

BIXI announces its little "little brothers"


so many things on my mind, so little time to blog

I've been writing this blog for three years and it's a lot more work than I had anticipated. I have great ideas that are churning in my head about things to blog about but very little time to sit in front of a computer and post. Intentionally, much of my free time is spent outside away from a computer. Essentially I've become a slacker blogger. I've mulched over the idea quitting this blog, but still have some good stuff to share and post. 


icy luminaries

In this dark cold time of the year ice luminaries make the outdoors look beautiful. I was inspired to make these luminaries by the New Year's Eve candlelight walk at Fort Snelling State Park.

How to make
1. Get two containers for the ice mold. One should be a smaller size to use for the inside of the mold.
2. Use the bigger container first. Fill up about two inches with water and let it freeze.
3. After the bottom freezes put the smaller mold in. Put stones in the smaller mold to hold it in place. Allow enough space for ice to freeze around it. If the smaller mold doesn't stay in place, put a little water the bottom of it and let it freeze to the base.
4. Add water to the mold. If you want you can put berries in the mold or other things you like.
5. Wait for the mold to freeze.

Containers for the ice mold (left) a frozen ice mold (right)

6. After it's frozen, bring the container inside (or to a warmer place) to thaw. To speed up the process I took out the stones from the smaller mold and used boiling water to thaw the inner mold. After the inner mold is removed the outer side of the outer container will melt.


happy 2010!

I would like to start 2010 with a pledge to the earth. Come on and say it with me. "I pledge allegiance to the earth and all the life which it supports. One planet in our care, irreplaceable, with sustenance and respect for all."

Let's love mother earth and each other in 2010.


the cicadas took over

The cicadas were abundant in the garden this summer, from late July to the middle of September. A few photos of adult "Dog Day" cicadas.

(photos from mid-September 2009)


dog-day cicada emerges

This summer I watched an annual or "Dog-day" cicada transform from a nymph to an adult. The entire process took about an hour and a half.

Folklore says that, "When you hear the first song of the dog-day cicadas, the first frost is just six weeks away."

Emerging from its nymphal skin

Stretching out its wings.

Resting on its nymphal skeleton. Stretching out its wings a little more.

Its wings are almost all the way extended.

Its wings are almost dry and ready to go. Soon after this cicada flew off.

A description of the "Dog-day" cicada from the University of Kentucky.

"Cicada nymphs develop underground, feeding on root sap of various trees and shrubs. The nymphs are generally pale brown, rather hunch-backed, and have stout forelegs they use to dig through soil. The life history of species found in Colorado is poorly understood. Development likely takes between two to five years to complete.

Cicadas go through a simple metamorphosis with egg, nymph, and adult stages. After emerging from the ground during summer months, cicadas quickly mate and the females insert eggs into small twigs on living trees using a knife-like ovipositor (egg laying structure). When nymphs hatch from the eggs, they burrow into the soil where they feed underground on the juices of plant roots. During growth and development, the nymphs shed their skins several times as they get larger. After several years (1-3 years for most annual cicada species and 13 or 17 years for many of the periodical cicada species) the nymphs emerge from the soil, climb onto tree trunks, then shed their skins a final time to become winged adults. Adult cicadas produce hitch-pitched, droning noises. These courtship songs help male and female cicadas find one another, and each species has its own distinct song."