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The domino affect.

I meant to write this earlier, but like a lot of things in my life, they end up getting put off.

As I biked to work in the freezing temperatures, a thought about environmentalism struck me.  There is a lot of emphasis on green jobs or “green collar jobs” and I think that’s good, but I think we are missing the economic big picture, and I’m hoping the current economic crisis will get people thinking about this. We are running out of fossil fuels. I’m not going to spend any time debunking these, but let’s assume for a moment that global warming is either not happening, not man-made, won’t cause any problems or, finally, that even if not man-made, there’s no way our highly technological society could fix it.  Even if these for things are true, we are still running out of fossil fuels.  When the gas tank is empty, what’s going to happen? Chaos.  That is, unless we are prepared.  Let’s think about this.  What will be the first jobs to go?  Well, assuming there isn’t a ridiculous spike in oil prices (which of course there would be), gas station attendants.  Whatever you think about them, how many people do Exxon, BP, etc employ?  The most obvious others are the airline industry, shipping industry, the auto-industry and people that work on roads.  Let’s be serious though.  There’s no way anything will work except those that live in urban settings close to food supplies or that have horses.  In a way, it would be the return to glory for cities like St. Louis and Detroit, since shipping could go through them.  Places like Phoenix and Las Vegas would simply cease to exist (and probably should).

What can we do? We can stop flying and start riding trains.  Delta, AA and co should really get into that industry.

“Respected transportation economists Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl reported that electrified high-speed trains traveling on their own right of way are about 9 times more energy-efficient per passenger mile than private automobiles or domestic jet travel (and hence emit about one-ninth as much pollution as air and auto).” – http://www.midwesthsr.org/fact/index.html

Now, it’s true that given the crappy state of affairs right now trains are not super-efficient.  Passengers are low and we aren’t using high-speed trains.  Look, I’ve been on trains in Denmark and Sweden.  Trains work.

There’s a ton of research that has gone into making jet travel efficient and I’m not saying they haven’t done their homework, but air travel has a fight against gravity that trains only have when going up hill.  One of the things I don’t know is what the most efficient travel speed for a plane is, but they have to maintain pretty high speeds not to go crashing into the ground and with cars there’s an efficiency point and once you  go over that travel is pretty inefficient.  I assume there’s a similar graph for jets, but unlike a car that *can* go 5 mph, jets don’t have that option.

Now, there is something to be said for using the space we have up there.  I’m not opposed to the idea of jet travel, and for things like getting across oceans, it’s pretty much needed, but a train from Madison to Chicago would be much better than the current situation, as would a train from Chicago to Louisville.  I use those examples because I know there are no trains, much less high speed trains.  Depending on how you get there the distance between Stockholm and Malmo is 613 km or 645 km and there’s a high speed train that runs between them.  In comparison, it’s 296 miles (476 km) from Chicago to Louisville and 434 miles (698 km) from Madison to Louisville.  Thus, at least the Swedes think it’s a good distance for the high speed train.  Brenda and I enjoyed taking the train from Malmo to Stockholm.
I’ve wandered a bit from the title of the post, so let’s bring it back.  Here’s a quote from earlier “Let’s be serious though.  There’s no way anything will work except those that live in urban settings close to food supplies or that have horses.” Kids will not be able to get to school, products will not be able to get to market.  People will not be able to heat their homes.  Society as we know it would collapse.

One last point. Skeptics will say there’s still oil out there, and they are certain right.  However, it takes millions of years of pressure to create fossil fuels.  There’s a reason it is called fossil fuel.  Unless we extract at the pace it’s created, it *will* run out.  It’s 2nd grade math (or whenever kids learn to multiply negative numbers).  Sure, we had millions of years bought for us and we could be 100 years out…and that number grows as things get more efficient but once the well runs dry, we won’t be able to build the facilities to create solar panels, much less the solar panels themselves.  Even if we built like we did in the old days, how did we run the computers for precision and where the plans are drawn?  Yeah, some of this stuff could be done pre-industrial revolution style, but we’re talking best-case scenario months to make the switch and by that time society will be in chaos.

Another interesting short thought to leave you with.  While we’re talking about a 19th century mode of transportation, maybe some of our solutions should/could come from steam punk.  Coal is still fossil fuel, but trees are a renewable resource.  If you can get over cutting them down (most of us can, though we need to regrow them, of course), they may be our savior in more ways than just taking carbon out of the air.

Top 10 places I’d like to live (because people love top 10 lists)

One of many blog posts I’ve started and then not finished until much later.

1. Chapel Hill (or, the Triangle)

Ok, this isn’t really a fair fight.  If Chapel Hill is the Southern Part of Heaven, I haven’t found the Northern Part yet…or maybe I did (keep reading).

2. Chicago

Great memories here.  US National Team plays here. Chicago Fire. Potential 2016 Olympics. NHL. They love Jordan (Tar Heel pride!) Public transit.  Sure, the airports suck, but it’d be better driving distance to my family in Kentucky and at least airline prices would be cheaper than out of Madison.

3. Boston

I hate Boston sports.  I mean, I know people love to hate The Yankees and I’m not a Yankees fan per se, but I do love seeing them beat the Red Sox.  I think it’s because somehow Boston sports mean more than in Chicago, LA or NYC.  I hate the Celtics.  I hate The Patriots.  I hate the Bruins.  I don’t really hate the Revolution, but hating a MLS team is like hating a teddy bear (look, I love the MLS, I can say that).  What’s funny though is I loved the time I was in Boston, I love that the FSF is there.  I’d love being on the East Coast again.  I love Boston’s history.  I love that it’s the Athens of America. Great punk/hardcore scene. Public transit.

4. Charlotte

This one probably doesn’t need a lot said. It’s all about the family for this one.  Plus, there’s a new train system and trains from Durham now. I hate NASCAR but whatever, that’s going to be on ESPN anywhere.  At least in Charlotte I can love NASCAR just a little for supporting the local economy.

5. DC

DC was our Chicago in Chapel Hill, though it was a little further.  If big bands came through, you might head up to DC if you were passionate.  Close enough to drive to NYC or Chapel Hill.  I flew out of DC to Copenhagen. I could get used to that.

6. Milwaukee

a year ago, there’s no way this would have been on the list. With Bucketworks, proximity to my new friends, Brewers and Bucks and the train to Chicago it’s definitely on the list.

7. NYC

NYC might be too big.  Might.  At least there’s a good punk scene.  US National Team plays games here.  Plenty of hockey. I thought hard about this one before moving to Wisconsin. Can’t say I didn’t make the best decision coming here but I can’t say it was the right move either.  Only way I’ll ever find out is to give it a shot.

8. Lexington, KY

While Louisville would be closer to family and I’ve spent more time there, I love college towns.  Sure, Louisville has a college…maybe more than one.  It’s not a college town. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I’m a Wildcat fan.  Sure Chapel Hill is at the top of this list but my blood still runs a darker shade of blue. GO BIG BLUE!

9. London, UK

Ok, it’s true, I’ve never been to London.  However, I do know you can take the train from London to Paris and from Paris to the rest of Europe.  I absolutely loved my time in Europe.  Sure, it was great company and no work and maybe I could have gotten that in the US or somewhere else, but I really think I’m a developed-nation kind of guy and I’d really like to be where I speak the language.  Plus, it’s one of the furtherest west points in Europe such that I could get on planes back to the US.  They love football there too.  I’m talking Wayne Rooney not Michael Vick.  I’m not a big baseball fan, but I’ll certainly take that over cricket.  Don’t think I’d miss it though.  Might have to hope over to Sweden for my hockey fix in the winter.  And, actually, since I starting writing this article 3 weeks ago London might be further up the list.  I don’t feel like re-arranging though.  It’s publish or perish time for this entry!

10. Malmö, Sweden

Maybe Malmö is the Northern Part of Heaven.  Why not Stockholm you might ask?  Stockholm is huge.  Yes, I know Chicago is way up on the list and NYC makes an appearance, but I really think I’d like some place smaller.  You heard my arguments for those two cities, so I’m not going to rehash that here.  Malmö had a fun, beach atmosphere without being trashy like Myrtle Beach.  Malmö is where you get on the train to go to continental Europe, whereas with Stockholm I’d either need to fly or go through Malmö.  Plus, maybe I’d get to hang out with Ibrahimović and I’d certainly get to cheer for Malmö FF in their brand new stadium.  Another plus to living in Sweden? You get the ö key for free so it’s not a pain in the arse writing blog posts! (hey, look at that, I’m already practicing for London!)

So, you want a Europe recap?

Well, I don’t think it’s going to happen.  However, you can look at the pictures (which, as of this writing, are not all published, but should be in the next couple of days).

Instead of a recap, you’ll get me looking ahead, as is often the case.  My brother wants to go to the World Cup in South Africa next summer.  I’d like to do this too, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to get tickets and I’m not sure what the future holds as to going back to school.  As a fall back to both of those options, I spend some time tonight looking at another northern Europe trip…this time further north (than Uppsala, which was the furtherest north we got…and for those not familiar, that’s just north of Stockholm).

Right now, I’m looking at something like this:

Oslo to Trondheim

Trondheim to Åre (summer skiing, anyone?)

Åre to Umeå

Umeå to Kiruna

Kiruna to Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi to Åbo (aka Turku)

Turku to Helskinki

Now, there’s no way we can do Oslo, Turku and Helsinki justice in one day, but I did have trouble convincing Brenda there were interesting things to see in Helsinki, so maybe…

Obviously, the trip will be dependent on my travel partner.  I’d be more than happy to go with Brenda again, but we’ll see what happens.  Being more familiar with the country, we could definitely save some money and hassle next time.  I’d like to do some hiking in the northern parts, but I almost feel like that’s a trip in-and-of itself.  Maybe that’s what I should do and not try to cram in some Norway and Finland.  Cutting out more of Norway and just doing Oslo might make more sense.

This is one way to save money http://www.camping.se/templates/start____320.aspx but getting a tent over there could be a hassle…at least the one I’ve got won’t fit nicely in a back pack.  I suppose it could be tied on top.

I might want to invest in a GPS before going to far off the beaten path, but I do definitely need to take a closer look at http://www.visitsweden.com/sweden/Regions–Cities/Northern-Sweden/Outdoor-activities/Hiking-and-trekking/ also.

If I’m planning to go back, obviously I enjoyed myself. 🙂 Suggestions?  Thoughts on World Cup 2010 in South Africa?

Quick Thoughts from Memphis, TN

I think if I traveled more, I’d get a lot more done.  The short time-frames force you to be productive quickly; to be decisive and succinct.  Sure, having more time can help you develop more complex ideas more fully, but often you don’t need that much time to get things done.

In my next post I want to discuss WIRED magazine as well as netbooks (which I promised raster I would do).
Oh yeah, don’t forget OpenCamp: An Open Everything Event on April 18th.

Pyle out, probably, Grainger in, hopefully…and other things I shouldn’t be doing while I should be finishing my passport application

I’m submitting this for longest blog title ever. 🙂

One of the problems I have with blogging consistently is that I feel like I share a lot of my thoughts on Twitter (multiple personal accounts and organization accounts – ask if you want them), identi.ca or through Google Reader.

So, the title track, if you will, is about Open Everything planning.  The Pyle Center seems to book up quickly.  Chris wasn’t sure if it was both conference extensions (Pyle and Lowell) or just Pyle, but for the time being we’re planning on it being in Grainger, where we had the December 6th event.

Also today, I got in touch with one of the MinneBar planners.  They do not have a date yet.  I’ve decided to take a vacation day the Friday beforehand though and visit North Dakota, since it’s one of only three state to which I have not been.  Vermont and Louisiana being the other two (I’ve been to Texas a couple times, Arkansas a couple times and live in Alabama for 8 years, but no Louisiana).  While living in Wisconsin, I am definitely not missing the opportunity to go to North Dakota. New Orleans and skiing in Vermont and  can wait.

Tomorrow is my first meeting as president of the Madison Linux User Group.  I want to discuss not always meeting on Fridays (mixing it up and doing one Tuesday and one Friday a month).  I’m thinking of doing the Tuesday meeting with Web608 group.  I wonder how people will feel about not everyone being Linux users.  I guess I’ll see tomorrow night.  I can’t forget the penguin!  Also, I have a late (11:30pm) futbol match after the meeting, so I can’t stay at the meeting too long!

Anything you guys would like me to talk about in my next post?

Sweden dates finalized (sorta)

To Copenhagen and back are finalized.  However, Sweden plays Serbia in U21 European Championshop in Malmo on the 23rd, so I’m not sure if we want to spend that night in Stockholm. Full schedule of UEFA U21 Championships at http://www.uefa.com/multimediafiles/download/competitions/under21/78/18/09/781809_download.pdf

June 20 night in Copenhagen
June 21 night in Malmo
June 22 night in Gothenburg
June 23 night in Stockholm
June 24 night in Stockholm
June 25 night in Stockholm
June 26 night in Stockholm
June 27 night in Helsinki
June 28 back in Madison

I haven’t checked out ticket prices/availability yet, so that may change whether I want to/can do this.

Open Everything Madison & Sweden news

My posts are often reflective and questioning, but nearly as often informative.  The “Where are we going?” question is much more interesting to me than the “Where have we been?” question.  I am, however, tasked with writing about Open Everything Madison on Saturday (as well as Berlin and Hong Kong), so I’ll try to post something substantial about that.  Of course, I’m already much more interested in the next Open Everything Madison.  You can see the planning for the next OEMad at http://openeverything.us

OEMad 2008

Aside from our poor job with documentation and the functional, but less than ideal, handoff from Berlin, I’d say the day was an overwhelming success.

Some of our documentation can be found at various twitter accounts.  Search for oemad and you should find them.  There’s also the Google search for oemadDebriefing notes are found on the main site as well as Articles and Resources.  Some pictures are at Flickr but as of posting Non-Profit Tech’s photos are not being indexed.

I’m both saddened and elated when I tell interested people about Creative Commons, Free Schools and Really, Really Free Markets.  Of course I’m saddened that these are more ubiquitous terms in our language, but mostly it’s a positive feeling.  I’m always scared that my political leanings (which I think free schools and RRFMs show) will feed the “open source is communism” argument.  As companies like OpenNMS, Red Hat and MindTouch clearly show, that’s a bunch of bunk.  As a technology person first, I fear that the benefits of open source code are lost to the politicized “freedom”.  Clearly I’m a fan of both.  At the moment I’m having trouble finding a succint list of the benefits of FOSS, so if you’re up for a longer read, check out Albion, one of the oldest sites on the Web.

It’s also incredibly disheartening to see people interested in free culture being down on Creative Commons liscensed music.  I listen to plenty of non-CC music, but I think at an event promoting openness, CC music should be played.  Or maybe other bands that promote openness that might not license CC.  I don’t know much about Radiohead, because that’s not the type of music to which I listen, but I think I’d be ok with their music playing.

We pretty much stuck to the schedule.  It wasn’t exact, but close.

We broke up into two groups for the 1:30pm-2:30pm Open Knowledge section and I (along with the other organizers) went with the Education and Libraries group.  Having a professor there was very beneficial.  As I mentioned above, I introduced a lot of people to the idea of free schools.  If you think free schools are weird, just remember that’s the only diploma former USC professor Cory Doctorow has.

The 2:30-3:30 Creativity, Innovation, and Economic Opportunity section was a lot of fun.  We had a small group to discuss Art, Content and Property and we mostly discussed music; Radiohead, Girl Talk, Creative Commons, Nine Inch Nails and Jamendo.

By the time we got to the technology part of the day (a little later than 3:30) everyone was starting to get tired.  But technology and openness are so easy, the discussion was still good.  One of my friends that attended most of the event said that keeping it a cohesive event and him not coming just for the technology portion certainly made it more interesting.

After the event and cleanup, four of us went out to get Sushi on State Street and of course the conversation continued.  After that, I headed to DevMadHouse at Extra Bold Portfolio Studio on Pickney St and 4 of the 6 people there had also been at OEMad, so the conversation continued and being a hack fest, centered more upon technology.  At DevMadHouse there was no schedule to adhere to and we had the venue all night so conversation was even more fluid.  There was some good conversation about FOSS in industry and whether Google is to be trusted with their Microsoft-like “embrace and extend” of OpenIDPhotis always makes sure I don’t live in a FOSS bubble, which I suppose is a good thing.  Also of note that weekend was MadXmasAbe and Jonathan went, leaving the rest of us behind at DevMadHouse and then returned. Photis came to DevMadHouse after MadXmas.

OEMad 2009

As mentioned above, there are complete and changing notes on OEMad09 on the wiki.  As much as I’d like to rehash all my ideas on that site so you have a single source of info, I don’t think that’s a good use of my time.  Please check out the site. However, here are some of my biggest ideas: open gaming (actually either playing games on Linux or FOSS games on other platforms), open food (we could make it!), open hardware (building!) and live music.  Getting a local documentary film maker to do a documentary on the process of making an open event happen would be totally cool too.  Please, please, please share your ideas for the next event either here or especially at http://openeverything.us.

Calling it OEMad first off might be a misnomer as I think there’s a good possibility it will be in Milwaukee.  Nothing is set in stone though.  Potential names would be Open Everything Wisconsin or Open Everything MidWest.  If there is any traction from Minneapolis or Chicago groups, we may not be able to claim OEMidWest.  Time will only tell.

Yesterday at work I asked a non-attendie what we would have to do to get him to come to the next one.  This is really the person in which I’m interested.  Linux needs a critical mass.  I’m ok admitting that part of why I support FOSS are selfish reasons.  I support universal healthcare for much of the same pseudo-altruistic reasons.  It’s not just for me, but also the institutions and people I care about. For instance, I hate to see my alma mater’s (NCSSM and UNC) throw money away at proprietary software.  Still, I’d say that’s a somewhat selfish motive.

Back to the point, he said “Open Strippers” half joking but we did have an interesting conversation then about Creative Commons and the idea of a performance.  A conversation that easily applies to live music performances and theatre.  I also mentioned the Girls and Geeks discussions at BarCampMilwaukee. Of course, there’s also open source sex.  So, I wonder what we could really make happen in this regard.  Not just the sex regard, but bringing people in the door who are lazy, unmotivated or simply uninterested in openness (or just don’t know it yet).  Of course, it’s the “just don’t know it yet” crowd in which I am really interested.


I bought a Flickr Pro account in anticipation of the Sweden trip this summer.  I figure this way I can post Christmas photos too.  I get a new camera for Christmas, so I suspect I’ll be taking a lot of pictures!  The Sweden trip will be 7-9 days.  My travel partner is wanting a shorter trip and I’m wanting a longer one, so I think keeping it at 9 days includes two weekends if you leave on the right days.  It will depend on what sort of deal AAA can help me with.  She is interested in dancing, the outdoors and visiting the cities.  I am interested in fotboll, ishockey and metall (probably any English speakers can make those out…especially if you know me).  So, I’m definitely looking for suggestions, both for her and for me.  We’ll also probably be visiting Helsinki, Finland.  I don’t know if we’ll have time to visit Copenhagen.  It’s so close, but we don’t want to feel rushed.  I’d kinda like to go north of the artic circle just for the experience.  That might make it so Siberia doesn’t interest me as much.

Well, typing all of that with a broken arm wasn’t entirely pleasant, but I’m glad I did it and I hope you enjoy.  If I had the time, I’d re-read for typoes, but whatever, release early, release often.  If you stop by, please leave a comment!