This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Monday, November 15, 2010


9 November 2010

The time has come, snow is here.  What was predicted to be a few inches that melts on the ground turned into about 3 of snow that definitely isn't going anywhere, complete with a Snow Emergency Day.  While it is nice not to be driving around in the craziness of the first snow (there was something like 1000 accidents), I'm not sure biking is a whole lot safer (although definitely faster) in these conditions. 

snow bike!

more bikes in the snow

The City of Minneapolis has a page on their website specifically dedicated to winter biking  What may surprise summer bikers is that 50 of the 60 miles of bike trails throughout the city get plowed just like city streets.  According to some friends that are hardcore winter bikers, the bike trails are usually the first to get plowed.  As it should be :)

The last two winter's I've lived in this ice-box of a city before this project I would bike until the end of October, and have never felt the need to tempt fate on a bicycle when it's icy and freezing outside.  However, the more I meet people who bike almost all year round, the more it seems like a possibility even in Minnesota (if you have the right equipment and clothes). Census data shows 4,800 residents of Minneapolis regularly commute to work on a bicycle. The number for the entire metro is 9,700 bikers. A local group called Transit for Livable Communities estimates one-third of those biking enthusiasts continue commuting to work during the winter.

A couple of bullet points from Shaun Murphy of the Minneapolis Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs: -- Minneapolis has 4,800 residents (2.5% of all workers) who regularly commute to work by bicycle, while the entire metro has 9,700 bike commuters (0.8% of all workers). So 50% of the regular bike commuters live in Minneapolis. [Source: Census data] -- Don Pflaum (City Bicycle Coordinator) estimates that about 15,000 bicyclers are seen each day during the warmer months in Minneapolis. [Source: Minneapolis Public Works estimate]

Here is a funny video of winter bikers: represents bikers all over the country who bike through the winter.  Who are these people? In their own words:

"Most of us are just ordinary folks, who get this addiction to bicycles that simply will not live within the bounds of a summer.  Others just don't want to spend the cash for a car and all the costs that come with motor vehicles.  Some of us have serious personal commitments to being car-free, others have temporary problems of liquidity, and others of us just like cycling way more than any rational person should."

Cheers winter bikers, I'll join you for at least the next week.

I"ll leave you with this warm SF critical mass vid:

*Minneapolis bikers:
Use 311. If you see a bicycle-related problem which involves plowing, shoveling, signing, or another traffic concern, call 311. The City relies on the public to flag problems. If you live outside of Minneapolis, call 612-673-3000   A Minneapolis bikeway maintenance responsibility list is available for more direct call routing.


8 November 2010

I biked 10 miles to get more potting soil the other day (local potting soil mixes sold at Interior Gardens in NE), and it got me thinking about running errands by bicycle (and how strange it was to bike 10 miles to get dirt).

There are a lot of ways to carry stuff on a bike. I see many people using burley trailers (with or without children inside), but without forking out the couple hundred bucks for one of those here is a great list of DIY bike trailers from

Some load carrying alternatives to trailers:

Here are some examples of people carrying ridiculous amounts of stuff on bicycles:

plumber with an xtracycle

people moving using bikes
And finally, lets not forget that bicycles and walking are major forms of transportation all around the world.  Next time you think you need to drive your car to run those errands, consider this, (from

this guy is carrying a washing machine


7 November 2010

Daylight Saving Time means a lot more to me this year than it has before.  Before DST, the sun was barely up when I was hoping on my bike in the morning, and I would spend at least the first 15-20 min riding in the dark.  Although the sun set 'later' before, I am usually coming home late at night anyway.  Starting today, I get daylight in the morning and can ride at least half of my commute in the light! 

The reason behind Daylight Saving Time is all about energy;

"In general, energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting our homes is directly connected to when we go to bed and when we get up.  Bedtime for most of us is late evening through the year. In the average home, 25 percent of all electricity we use is for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs VCRs and stereos.  A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home.  By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day.

Studies done in the 1970's by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that we trim the entire country's electricity usage by about one percent EACH DAY with Daylight Savings Time " (

The time for DST has gone through many changes over the years.   When President Reagan changed DST from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April in 1986 it is estimated to save nationwide about 300,000 barrels of oil each year. 

The time was changed again to start on the second Sunday in March and was extended to end on the first Sunday in November starting in 2007, which it is still at today.

Although the days will continue to have less daylight until the darkest day (Dec 21), my mornings are a little easier, and I use less light in the am.  Biking around in the daylight feels a lot safer, whether or not it actually is.  In general, I feel much more connected to the seasonal changes and when it gets dark now.  Although lights are a small part of my energy budget (especially now that the heat is on), it makes a big difference for biking around, and brings the morning temperature up above freezing :)


6 November 2010

After eighty-four days, I have my first grow-table harvest!  Yeah, its only cilantro, but you can't get that at any grocery store these days so it feels like a big deal :)

Some 'minnesota-in-the-winter-fajitas' were made with it:

_homemade tortillas
_stock of frozen bell peppers
_stored onions (they are starting to rot)
_hot peppers (dried)
_tomatoes (found local ones again at the grocery)
_sour cream

By direct-sowing seed, the plants I have started over the last few weeks have been growing WAY faster than the ones I started as small transplants at the beginning of the project.  After only 1 month I have an 6" high tomato:

and a crazy green bean:

Some of the veggies planted at the beginning of the project (jalapeno and bell peppers) got transplanted into 10" diameter pots which should be big enough to hold them for the rest of their life.  I'm testing two bell peppers to see how they do in different sized pots.  They were both planted at the same time.  Greens and herbs can be grown in the 6" diameter pots, but vegetables should ideally be put in 10-12" ones.  It is still yet to be seen if the plants have enough light to eventually fruit, finger's crossed for that.This jalapeno has buds starting on it:

jalapeno (planted 8/15)

The romaine I started on August 15th is probably ready to harvest as well:

Here is a shot of the whole garden as it is now.  I especially like these shots because you can see the snow in the background. Having never grown a plant in my LIFE before this project, I'm feeling pretty good about being able to grow them in the snow :).