I may lose followers for this, but I'm going to come out and say it: I absolutely loathe the Tea Party. Well, perhaps loathe is a strong word. I'm not about to go protesting my neighbors' right to join them. However, I will seriously question their mental stability for doing so.
Sarah Palin and Co. descended on Madison's capitol square today. I wasn't there to catch the main action as I had more important things on my mind: beef jerky. This morning was the first farmer's market of the year. Not the best weather for it, but I did manage to get in my jerky and melted cheese fix while my heart made one last attempt to leap out my rip cage to safety. In retrospect, it's probably a good thing I didn't stay for Palin. I would have been the one choking between chortles and gasps of disbelief. The woman actually said,
"[the Democrats] are going to win the future by investing more of your hard-earned money into cockamamie, hair-brained ideas like more solar shingles, more really fast trains...".
GODS NO! NOT SOLAR ENERGY! Quick! Someone go buy a bunch of aerosol cans from Walmart to even out the effects! For this reason alone (but also many others I have no time to add up) Palin scored zero points on my list of things that help the world.
Rather than lose brain cells to the crowd, I spent the rest of my morning at the local green festival where I feel like checking out the bike innovations was a much better use of my time. Hey. A local Wiccan's gotta do her part to support the demonic hoards of solar power backers. :)
The Green Fair is an annual event put on by the local newspaper. It costs $5 admission, but the paper makes a point to provide attendees with easy ways to get in for free. It was freezing, windy, rainy and snowy outside, so I skipped the bike ride into town and instead got my free pass for donating a pair of my boots to the Goodwill.
This was the first bicycle invention I came across - the E-Moto. It's a line of bikes powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries. I have no idea if that combination of minerals is good or not. What I do know is that you can kick the battery into gear when you hit a hill. That way you don't have to grunt as much. You charge the batteries by plugging them into a regular outlet. Kind of cool. The company brags that it's zero emissions, but then again, a regular bike does that even better. I think this might be better marketed to folks living in San Francisco. I gave .5 points to them even so.
Moving on, I came to the next bike invention: the bike-mounted blender. Made by Dream Bikes, an organization that refits old bikes to give to low-income families with kids, the bike blender looks like it's meant to show off engineering prowess more than anything. But you know what? It makes a heck of a good strawberry and blueberry smoothie, it promotes exercise while decreasing electricity use, and it encourages teamwork, as it took three girls to operate it (the pedaler, one to steady the pedaler, and one to guard the smoothie process). I gave it one point - if only because you get a smoothie you feel like you worked for.
Finally, the coolest bike-ovation (Yay! I made up words! That one was kind of on the advertising spectrum of word creation. I feel kind of low now.), the bike water pump. Working Bikes is a national non-profit that runs bike drives all over the U.S. The donated bikes are taken apart, redesigned into more complex machines and given to villages in Africa, Latin American & South America. This set up is a smaller version of their water pump system (pedaling the bike pumps the water out of the barrel and into the tub below). Many of the bikes from WB go to making moving water easier for small villages that may not have easy access to water. Others are refitted into small taxi cabs, grocery haulers, and even electric generators. Here's a very multi-faceted one from an engineer in Guatemala. I definitely scored this one highest on the list with 2 points. Also, I don't know when I would use it, but I want one. I looked around to see if there was a chance for me to win one, and alas, no. So I quickly dashed back to the other side of the exhibition hall to console myself with another bike smoothie. ...Okay, .2 more points for the smoothie crew.