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City of Angels vs the Emerald City (aka Seattle)

Photo Credit: Surrealize via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Surrealize via Compfight cc

I’m back! I enjoyed a lovely few days with my family eating a lot, relaxing, playing with my nieces, and staying indoors due to Seattle’s infamous rainy weather. It’s always sad to leave and say goodbye, but of course I love being able to sleep in my own bed and be at home. Both Los Angeles and Seattle are considered big cities that are doing their best to be green. Seattle is beautiful with all its lush greenery. Thus the nickname Emerald city. The air up there is definitely a lot cleaner and it always smells fresh. They certainly do have a lot more trees up there! I love both cities for different things, but let’s do a quick comparison.

Recycling
The recycling services for both cities are pretty much on par. You can recycle a wide variety of items and it’s pretty easy to do so. Seattle though also has a yard waste and compost service that Los Angeles doesn’t have! Anything organic is allowed in their brown bins and they are trucked off to be composted! Since its an industrial large scale composter even bones and meat are allowed to be put in the brown bin. Traditional small scale composting done in your backward doesn’t generate enough heat to break down hard items like bones. Meat is also a problem because it attracts pests.

Transportation
Everyone drives much slower in Seattle than in Los Angeles! The carpool lanes are only bound by a solid white line and you can merge in or out at any point. Buses are also widely available and very convenient. In downtown all the buses are free to use if you stay in the area. I’ve ridden the commuter buses from the suburbs to downtown and they are very efficient. It would take just as much time to drive and find parking than it would to take a bus downtown. Buses in Los Angeles can be old and dirty a lot of times. People in Seattle get to ride newer buses that are always clean.

Food
Los Angeles definitely has more diversity and options that Seattle in this regard. Seattle has a strong local food and eco friendly seafood movement, but lacks in ethnic diversity. There is still a Ranch 99 but only a few decent Chinese restaurants. The same for other ethnic foods.

Weather
If I had a choice I would be in Seattle for the spring and summer, then Los Angeles for the fall and winter. It does rain a lot in Seattle but mostly in the fall and winter. Spring and summer are absolutely gorgeous with all the greenery and the temperature doesn’t get as hot as LA. Here it’s 72 degrees most of the year, but it can get pretty blistering hot in the summer.

 

I love going to Seattle to visit my sister and her family. I try to go as often as I can but so far it’s only once a year. My nieces are both adorable and growing up so fast! In terms of being green both cities offer a lot of options for their residents to be green, but I think Seattle does better in the actual act of it. People in Seattle have much better access to unspoiled nature and are more connected to it. You can drive 20 minutes away from the suburb and find yourself on an amazing trail that takes you to a lake hidden away. In LA any hiking trails are overrun with people and dogs and you have to drive very far to really see unspoiled nature.

The cost of living is of course much less in Seattle also. Houses are cheaper and even items at Costco can be less than buying it here! If I had my way I would love to live for half the year in Seattle and the other half in LA. That’s not really financially feasible though so I guess I will choose to remain in LA!

Have you ever been to Seattle or lived there? What do you love about the Emerald city?

Chilling out at the Airport

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This definitely isn’t one of my favorite things to do. It’s always crowded, people are always grumpy, and going through security is like drawing the lottery but you don’t win anything. You might “win” because you don’t have to go through the radiation machine, but then you can also get selected for the full pat down. Either way not a fun experience. Flying is the fastest way to get anywhere right now though so I guess we will all have to go through the airport at some point.

Being at the airport is not really fun so why did I end up here 3 hours early? My husband dropped me off being going to work since it’s on his way anyway. It saves us about $25 for the taxi fare if I decided I couldn’t handle the airport for so long. It’s also a lot more pleasant to be dropped off by my husband than some surly taxi guy. I wish that people were allowed to still go to the gate to greet and drop off people. Those were such sweet times when you knew you would see your loved ones right away.

I’ve got lots of time now before boarding my plane. What to do until then? I brought my iPad along so I can write this blog post, and of course I have my phone too.

Get some exercise and window shop
I’m at a small terminal that doesn’t have any stores to look at but I know the larger ones do have a shopping area usually. There’s a Hudson but I don’t particularly feel like looking at touristy goods and books right now. You can always walk around and check out your entire terminal!

Look at all your food options
Since I have plenty of time I can look at every option I have to see what’s best for lunch. Slim pickings here but I have a Starbucks, Burger King, La Brea bakery stand and Gladstone’s. I really should have brought my own sandwich with me but I didn’t think of that so I’ll probably end up with one from La Brea. Gladstone’s doesn’t even show their prices on the outside menu which means they are definitely overcharging.

People watching
Bought myself some tea and parked myself near the line at Starbucks. If you’re a people watcher then the airport is great for this! There are so many different kinds of people here coming through. I think being able to hear people order at Starbucks is interesting too. It always sounds like a different language.

Sometime later this day I’ll finally be in Seattle! I had planned to take public transportation to my sister’s but she’s overruled me and picking me up. She used that tone that meant no discussions allowed. Looking forward to seeing my family! My luggage will be a lot lighter once I empty it of gifts.
What do you do to kill time at the airport?

Gardens on Buses

A Bus with a Rooftop Garden - What a Great Idea
Photo Kinetic via Urban Gardens

Pretty soon taking a bus will be considered even more earth-friendly! Coming soon to a city near you (hopefully) will be buses that boast rooftop gardens! It’s an amazing idea that is just starting out and I’m hoping that it will really take off. I’m sure it’s the type of thing that Los Angeles would surely adopt.

“My mission is to expand the garden area in urban environments, increase the absorption of CO2 and give public transport a new ecological and tourist attraction,”¬†says designer Marc Granen.

Marc Granen is from Spain and has started a company called Phyto Kinetic. There are already a few of these buses zooming ’round in Spain! I wonder when we’ll start seeing them in the United States. It’s making an eco-friendly and inexpensive transportation even more eco-friendly! Well it doesn’t help us save money by riding these buses, but riding public transportation is pretty inexpensive anyway.

Apparently it’s not a new idea entirely. Three years ago in New York, there was a garden bus driving around. Not sure what happened to it, but hopefully this concept can still take off. They’ve made it as lightweight as possible to not add unnecessary weight to the bus. The plants in the garden are of a hardier variety so they don’t die off immediately. The buses in Spain now are even watered by the excess condensation from the a/c unit in the bus. The best part I’ve saved for last! It’ll take out tons of CO2 in the air! Sounds like a great concept to me!

If you want to check it out more here’s the link to the company website:
Phyto Kinetic

 

Would seeing one of these buses coming down the street make you more willing to ride the bus?

What if… we all drove bumper cars instead?

Photo Credit: isayx3 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: isayx3 via Compfight cc

Imagine if the streets were filled with people driving bumper cars instead of the big metal tins! Every semi-truck, SUV, Hummer — every single car as we know it off the road. Would life be more fun and less stressful? Would people have more fun driving and actually enjoy it? Maybe our commute wouldn’t be as bad. We would have a lot fewer car accidents, and drunk-driving wouldn’t really be an issue anymore. It could be really awesome! Ever watch the movie “Babes in Toyland”? They just drove around in bumper cars! Faster versions than the ones we see at the fair, but bumper cars nevertheless.

The roads could be a lot safer for everyone if we all drove bumper cars. They only go a max speed of 10 mph at most. A bit faster than a person walking, but maybe not a person biking. If you drive a smaller car, you wouldn’t have to worry about a bigger car bullying you or trying to run you over. If we could have a system where you could hop onto a track of sorts to get to longer distances, then that would be awesome. Cargo and supplies could just use that speed track too! I think there’s a lot of benefits to ditching our cars and just driving bumper cars. Every day would be like going to a carnival!

Overall more fun!
Who doesn’t have fun driving a bumper car? The whole point of it is to try to bump as many cars as possible in a few minutes. The bigger the bump, the better! I always like driving smaller cars over bigger cars because they are move maneuverable. Can you imagine what the turn radius is on a bumper car? U-turns galore! Instead of dreading a drive to work, it could become the highlight of your day zipping to work and seeing how many people you can bump. It’ll make the most dreaded part of our weekdays fun.

Make the road safer
Hit another car? No big deal because you’ll both just bounce away. I sometimes wish my car had a huge rubber bubble around it. If anyone hits me, then I just bounce off and no damage done to my car! The only thing that could be bad is if you get stuck in the middle of a pack of bumper cars. If this has ever happened to you, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You kind of end up just bouncing back and forth between the cars, haha. You end up looking a bit like a bobble head actually. Car accidents would be a thing of the past! Maybe we wouldn’t even need to worry about car insurance anymore.

Of course, with a top speed of 10mph there’s really not a lot of damage you can do. I’m not even sure how much damage you could cause if you hit a pedestrian. Most likely they would do more damage to you by falling on top of your car. Most likely though, any pedestrians or dogs can quickly (or slowly) get out of your way wen they see you coming.

Make people more courteous
A lot of our driving problems stem from the fact that people seem to change when they get behind the wheel of their car. Things they wouldn’t do to another person face-to-face they do while in their car. Cars create huge barriers around people and it’s like you’re not dealing with other people anymore. Bumper cars don’t give you this barrier and you can see the next person a few feet away. Would people still cut others off if they would only be a few feet away from each other? I can’t help but think it would make people a lot more courteous!

No gas, all electricity
Bye bye oil companies! No longer would we have to get gas every single week and empty our wallets just to fill up. Bumper cars are all electric! I’m sure a system could be devised where you could just plug in your bumper car at home, just like electric cars now. Charging stations could also be built everywhere so you wouldn’t have to worry about running out of battery power. We would all be saving the earth. If all the gas cars were replaced with bumper cars, then carbon emissions would be drastically cut.

Bumper to bumper parallel parking allowed!
A big no-no when driving is bumper-to-bumper parallel parking. It would be entirely fine with bumper cars since you wouldn’t be dinging another poor car! Street parking would probably not be an issue much anymore since bumper cars are so small too. You could probably fit 2-3 of those in the space of one normal car.

I’m all for switching over to driving bumper cars instead! Would you be up for it too?

Bicycling as Recreation and Transport

Bicycle
Photo Credit: isayx3 via Compfight cc

Last night my husband and I discussed the possibility of snowboarding and buying equipment. Our conclusion was that at this moment its not worth it. We’ve been plugging away at our goal of a down payment for a house for so long, that now is not the time to go splurge. Both of us have been sacrificing and going without buying anything but necessities that it doesn’t make sense at this point. If we happen to be doing well we might end up going once or twice, but not spending the money on equipment.

Instead I’ll write a bit about biking! Something we both like to do as it gets us outside and is relaxing but gives us exercise at the same time. I personally think it’s one of the best modes of transportation out there. It’s human powered and its much faster than walking. Sometimes you’re even faster than cars! It’s a great feeling to zoom past cars that are stuck in traffic. Of course not so great a feeling when you’re the one in the car. The initial manufacturing will create some emissions, but if you take care of the bike it will last for years.

Why bike?

Biking is great exercise that’s fun to do. It’s also a great way to be more earth-friendly and save money on gas. Many people on the weekends in Los Angeles go biking with their family and friends. You also see the serious bicyclists with the slick road bikes and spandex outfits. These guys can go nearly as fast as cars!

There are generally a few groups when it comes to biking. First the serious bicyclists who do it as an extreme hobby. Their bikes cost thousands of dollars and they have the most streamlined outfits. They do 30 miles easily and its great exercise and practice for them if they participate in races. They do it for the challenge and the sport itself.

You’ve got the people who have fixies. Generally younger people who like this type of bike. You see them everyone in the city and you can easily tell by their different colored wheels. A lot of these people use bikes as transportation and as a style statement.

Other times you’ll see people on small bikes that look like a kid bike. If you notice some pegs on the back wheels then those are trick bikes! On some of the beaches are areas where a lot of people with trick bikes gather. You won’t see these people riding down the street so much though. It’s really fun watching them do jumps and spins!

Then we have people like me who do it for fun and light exercise. Don’t care too much about going really fast or getting in a lot of miles. It’s more for relaxing and something nice to do on the weekends.

There are tons of different ways you can enjoy riding a bike! It’s pretty cost effective since you don’t need much other than the bike and helmet.

Replacing driving with biking
I used to be able to bike to my work place at least once a week. It was about 4 miles each way so it was just short enough for me to be able to bike and just long enough to count as exercise. If you live close enough to work this is a great way to save money and get some exercise! You can also look at errands as another option to bike to. Of course if you’re going to Costco then I’d say take the car. See what trips you take with a car that you can replace with a bike. It’ll take longer, but you’ll get more enjoyment out of it.

Safety always a must
I know the bike helmet is extremely ugly. I hate wearing it. I don’t know why but when I bought it I thought white would look good. Now when I wear it I think I look like a mushroom. I’m still wearing it though no matter what because it is the only safety item you have when riding a bike. When driving a car you have airbags, the seat belt, and two tons of metal between you and another car. With a bike you have a helmet. Since the bike path sometimes runs on the street it’s extremely important to wear that helmet. Head injuries aren’t a joking matter. Neither is that car that might not see you biking.

For families everyone should wear a helmet too. There are many families that I see biking on the street. More than half the time the kids are wearing helmets while the parents do not. I’m not sure I understand the logic behind that. No matter how old you are if you fall then you could hit your head. Maybe its because kids are smaller and harder to see? The parents aren’t immune to danger just because they are older. In a way they are just letting their kids know that they don’t need to wear a helmet anymore when they get older.

Buying a bicycle
I could have done better in this area to save money and resources. My husband and I were so excited to buy bikes that we jumped into our car and headed to a good bike shop. We ended up paying a little under $400 for each bike after some discount. We did buy a good brand and both are made of aluminum though. An option we could have at least pursued is to look on Craigslist for used bikes first. Bikes are pretty sturdy and you can find a lot of them used and in good shape. Some people make money by getting older beat up bikes and fixing them up.

If you wanted to buy a road bike be careful to just get what you need. They can run up to the thousands! I haven’t done enough research to know what a low cost road bike would be, but these are definitely the real moneymakers at bike stores. Some stores have an inventory of mostly road bikes and only a small selection of normal consumer bikes. They know where the money is.

Are you a bicycle lover? What type of bike person are you?