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Posts Tagged ‘energy’

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, D.C.

Before I share this blog entry with you, I want to wish my father a very happy birthday today – he turns 71! I love you dad!

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Bikes parked at the WABA Bike Valet

When I visit a city I try to see it by foot or bike. Not only is it an environmentally friendly form of transportation, it slows you down enough that you see the details that you often miss while zooming by in a car or tour bus. I also do this in my home city of Washington, D.C. where you can discover new elements of our nation’s capital every day if you take the time to absorb your surroundings.

Every two years the U.S. Department of Energy challenges collegiate teams from around the world to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. They call it the Solar Decathlon and hold it on the National Mall – which for those of you not familiar with D.C. is not a shopping mall but a large open green area that is home to many of our national monuments.

IMG_3987.jpgThe event featured a free bike valet – which is simply a secure place where you can drop your bicycle off while you visit the Solar Decathlon. This allows you not to worry about carrying a lock or removing items such as seats, wheels, bags, etc. that could be easily stolen. The whole process is really fast too. You just roll up and give them your bike and they give you a ticket to claim it later.

I spent the morning volunteering at the bike valet. Operated by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), hundreds of visitors took advantage of this free service. You might recall that I helped WABA out earlier this year at Bike D.C.  Volunteering was a blast and I also enjoyed checking out a few of the energy-efficient homes. I didn’t have a lot of free time away from the bike valet so I mostly appreciated the homes from the outside but did get the chance to tour the one built by the University of Tennessee which won 8th place – winners are judged on their abilities to effectively address affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. I later went online and checked the others out and really liked the home built by the New Zealand team.  It came in 3rd place! The overall winner was right from my backyard here: The University of Maryland.

Illustration of the home built by the team from New Zealand. (photo: http://www.solardecathlon.gov)

Click here to see my photos from the event.

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I had two sightings of previous recipients this weekend.  Yesterday I saw Carlos from Day 118 about a block from my house and he let me know that he would donate the $10, along with additional funds, at the end of the year because then his employer will double the contribution. 

Today I saw Ron from Day 24.  He was sitting in the same spot where I originally met him in January.  I was going to get some lunch at Chipotle and asked if he wanted anything.  He took me up on the offer and I got him a garden burrito. 

Last Wednesday night I went to the Velvet Lounge to check out Machines on Vacation, a local DC band that mixes a string quartet, guitar, and vocals with electronic beats and sounds.  It’s hard to describe their genre…it’s unique and totally worth checking out.

The opening band was Deb Felz with a percussionist whose name I believe was Dan.  Dan plays the cajón, an Afro-Peruvian box drum that you sit on and slap to produce a wide range of rhythmic beats.  Deb plays guitar and sings.  They were quite good together…you can check their music out here.

Ethan and Machines on Vacation at the Velvet Lounge (Photo: Reed)

The main event, Machines on Vacation, took the stage around 10pm.  My friend Melanie plays violin for the group.  The other members are Ethan (vocals, guitar, and electronics), Amanda (cello), Kellie (viola), and Theresa (violin/viola).  I love that they have such a unique sound.  It’s really refreshing to hear somebody out there exploring new territory in music.  I particularly like Paralyzed Paradise, Oh No, and Light on My Doorstep.  You can find some of their music on their Facebook page.

While watching the group I decided to give my $10 to one of the band members that I didn’t know.  I approached Ethan after the show and introduced myself and asked if he would accept my $10.  He didn’t hesitate.

I asked Ethan how he would describe Machines on Vacation’s distinctive sound.  “I have no idea,” he said, getting a laugh from me.  Seriously he said that its hard to describe but he offered a couple suggestions: “A melody-focused band that thrives on either embracing or rejecting the tenets of minimalism, sometimes in the same moment of a song”, “The music of the 22nd century – which is oddly just a mix of music from the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st”, and “Pop music for nerds but not geeks.”  Check out this video for some of Ethan’s comments on musical influences and his obsession with asymptotes. 

Leading a group seems to come natural to Ethan.  When he is not being the front-man for Machines on Vacation, he is the CFO/COO for Elysian Energy, a DC/Baltimore energy efficiency firm that helps homeowners and businesses lower their energy bills and carbon footprint.  The company sounds like it provides a valuable service today as individuals and businesses grapple with energy efficiency strategies, sustainability, renewable technologies, and carbon impact reduction.

Ethan is a fellow Washington Capitals fan (Let’s go Caps!) – they play Montreal Monday night in what is hopefully the final game of that series.  He had already checked his phone I think Wednesday right after he finished playing to see if they had won, which they did that night. 

I asked him what he thought he would do with the $10.  “I feel like I should do something ‘good’ with it, instead of just using it to buy lunch tomorrow.” He and his wife have actually been discussing starting to give in a more organized manner.  He said he would think about it and get back to me, but that it would most likely get used to help a person or organization. 

Here is some video that I shot of the band playing Oh No at the Velvet Lounge.

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I am kind of bummed today.  I have been using a large SLR camera to take pictures for my Website.  Sometimes though it is not convenient to carry such a large item around and my back has been having some issues with carrying around all of this gear everywhere I go.  How do parents do it?!  

Anyway, I own a small digital camera, a Canon PowerShot SD400, however, I haven’t been using it because the battery wasn’t staying charged for more than a minute or two.  So, I broke down and bought the $40 battery (a good one so it wouldn’t die in a few months).  It arrived yesterday and I took it with me last evening to try it out.  It worked fine.  Today I took the camera out to use it and the display is all messed up.  It’s as if I dropped it or got water in it, but I didn’t.  It’s really weird.  If anyone knows what might be wrong with it, I would love to hear from you.  I shouldn’t let it get to me, I don’t really need it anyway. 

I think today’s recipient would probably agree with that statement.  He goes by the name Start Loving. 

Those of you who have been to Washington, DC  have probably visited this place right? 

White House

But how many of you have visited this place? 

Start Loving at the Anti-Nuclear Peace Vigil (Photo: Reed)

Well it’s right in front of the White House.  The Anti Nuclear Peace Vigil was started in 1981 by Concepción and Thomas.  Sadly Thomas passed away last year and now Start has taken his place.  It’s hard for me to fully comprehend that when Concepción and Thomas started the vigil I was only seven!  

As I approached Start he greeted me, “Hello friend!”  He was seated in a low chair with a laptop literally on his lap with a WiFi card plugged in giving him Internet access.  I plopped down on the sidewalk next to him and we talked for about an hour.  I asked him why he was doing this and he cleverly responded, “Because I’m too greedy to do anything else.”  I told Start that I did not get too involved with political issues.  Start shared an analogy for why I should be more active that went something like this.  “Imagine you come home to find your house engulfed in flames and your loved ones and your worldly possessions trapped inside.  Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to save your loved ones and put that fire out?  Well our planet is on fire!”  

Check out this video of me talking to Start.  I think you will be shocked to learn about the life Start left behind to follow his heart. 

 

You might disagree with some of his views, but what is unquestionable is his conviction and passion.  

Start Loving (Photo: Reed)

In case you are wondering, yes the tattoos on his face are real.  Did you try to stop the video and enlarge it to read what they said?  Well, I will save you the work.  From left to right on his forehea are: “STOP STARVING” ‘START LOVING” “STOP KILLING.”  Below that it reads “WAGE LOVE OR DIE.” 

You can visit Start’s Facebook Page and the Anti-Nuclear Peace Vigil website to find out some of the specific items that he feels are in desperate need of immediate action. 

Here is something that I took from his page: 

MY RELIGION (same as Jesus, King, Gandhi, Teresa, Romero, Eleanor, Obamas…): Universal Love. 

PEACE:  is the presence of Universal Love. 

WAR: HOSTILITY is the presence of Conditional Love. 

MY FAMILY (same as Jesus, King, Gandhi, Teresa, Romero, Eleanor…): All people born and unborn. 

QUOTE: “The greatest madness of all is to see things as they are, and not as they should be.” Cervantes, Man of La Mancha. 

It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with him.  “Millions of people visit the White House every year, but only a few come over here to visit,” Start tells me.  I encourage everyone to stop by and talk to Start.  If you are near the White House between 6am-10:30am and most evenings from 7pm-10pm (sometimes he is not there in the evening when he delivers bread to local shelters) stop by and talk with Start.  Concepción, who I didn’t meet, is usually at the vigil other times.  Sometimes when neither can be there a friend will man the vigil. 

Start is going to give the $10 to a hero of humanity.  Maybe someone doing a hunger strike.  I asked him if I could help him with anything on the Lend a Hand page.  He said he couldn’t think of anything, not even a new pair of shoes to replace his sandals that are held together with tape.  He later did think of something.  He said that Concepción needs a working laptop to use for email and Internet browsing.  If someone has a computer please reach out to me or Start. 

I asked Start if he would do this for the rest of his life.  “I will, unless I find something that benefits humanity more than this.”  He gave me a big hug and we shook hands and I walked home.

UPDATE: May 17, 2010

Start shared his experience giving my $10 away on his blog today!

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