Kids fighting to protect the climate for their future

Climate change is not something that will impact the old farts in Congress, which perhaps explain their inaction on the issue.  It will, however, greatly affect today’s children.  I’ve been watching an effort to use the American judicial system to force change on this issue, and while its original trial date of February 5th was delayed due to Trump tactics, that case is proceeding.  It’s worth reading more about at ourchildrenstrust.org.  From the website:

Their complaint asserts that, through the government’s affirmative actions that cause climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.

The reason for this blog post though, is to raise awareness of a new initiative, this one targeting the government of Washington state.  Their approach is similar, arguing that the state’s actions,

…severely endangers plaintiffs and their ability to grow to adulthood safely and enjoy the rights, benefits, and privileges of past generations of Washingtonians due to the resulting climate change.

It’s hard to argue with this line of reason.  Well unless you’re a climate change denier of course!   Read more here.

The sound of silence

So I’m curious…has anyone heard of studies looking at the effect of spending all day, every day, in a noisy environment?  Not at a harmful level, but, say, music playing in the background all the time?  I’m really liking my new HomePod and realized that it’s basically playing music for me all day long, all the time.  I’m not growing bored with the stations like I did with Pandora (through the Amazon Echo), so I just leave it on.  I DO still get out to enjoy the silence on my long runs…just kinda a new thing for me, to always have music playing in the house…

Comment below if you have anything to add!

Review: camping mugs

No camping trip is complete without a good cup of coffee in the morning!  This is even more important when backpacking, as your surroundings are so idyllic that enjoying good coffee just caps off an already magical experience.  With that in mind, this review is focusing on my quest to find a really good backpacking mug for coffee and tea.

There are a few basic criteria any cup must meet.  First, it must be at least partially insulated…it gets cold in the mountains of Colorado!  Second, it must have a lid for sipping.  Lastly, it must have a handle that I can use to clip it to my pack if I feel like it (translation – if I’ve packed too much and don’t have space for the mug inside my pack 😉 ).  Shown above are my two current favorites.

GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug
GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug

Let’s start with the orange one, The GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug (starting at around $10 at Amazon, depending on color).  The soft outer shell doesn’t provide a ton insulation, but does prove sufficient.  it holds a cavernous 17oz, and has a sturdy lid – while the lid is just a friction fit, it’s snug doesn’t come loose.  Another nice feature is that the plastic inner cup is removable and you’ll notice it has markings on it for up to two cups.  This is especially useful if you’ve packed dehydrated meals and need to measure out hot water for those!  All in all, a robust, quality mug that I used a ton last summer.

New to the game is the Stanley Adventure Vacuum mug, a story double-walled stainless steel option.  At around $15 at Amazon, it’s more expensive than the GSI, but I have little doubt it’ll last longer.  It’s really tiny, with a measly 8oz capacity, but what drew me to this, apart from the double walled stainless construction, was its clever lid system.  There are two lids…one a sippy lid, the other a solid lid with a handle that a carabiner can easily clip to.  You can use either lid, or – this is the clever part – both lids at the same time.  So when packing, you screw the sippy lid on first, then the solid lid, and you’re good to go, with no concern about anything coming loose and falling off along the trail.

So, which is better?  Well I love the ruggedness and double-wall insulation of the Stanley and for car camping, it’s an obvious choice, even with its minuscule capacity.  But for backpacking, there’s one more important test:

The GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug weighs in at a featherweight 3.7oz.  It really is light, especially for its size.  Plus, it has a second function, to measure liquids to re-hydrate meals.  Bonus!

Ah, but then we get to the Stanley Adventure Vacuum mug, and its rugged construction really shows on the scales.  This mug holds half the amount of the GSI, but weighs more than twice as much!  8.5oz, that’s just over half a pound!

Sorry Stanley.  You’re an awesome mug and I love ya, but you won’t be joining me on any backpacking trips!  We’ll hang out car camping sometime though, I promise. 😉

Review: AeroPress coffee maker

AeroPress Comparison
AeroPress

So, this is really more of a long term review, of my favorite coffee making machine!  It’s called the AeroPress (~$30 at Amazon), and if you think it’s basically a French Press…well you’re right…but looking at it the wrong way.  Meaning…it’s more like an upside down French Press!

Here’s how it works.  Stick a filter in the black cap part, screw that to the sleeve, add coffee, and set it on top of a cup.  Add hot water…wait…then use the plunger to push the water out, into the cup.  Similar to a French press so far, but now it’s time for cleanup…unscrew the black cap…the coffee grounds stay inside, just position over a compost container, push the plunger, and eject the coffee grounds into the compost.  Rinse the parts, and enjoy your coffee!  It’s quick, easy, and produces great tasting coffee.

Now, the filter…in the image here I’m stainless steel filter…this is an optional accessory I bought (<$15 at Amazon); the regular AeroPress comes with a few hundred disposable paper filters.  Disposable is not my thing, so I opted for the reusable one (though I’m stuck with 350 paper filters that came with it…I’ll either use them up, or find some other use, I don’t want to just throw them away!).

Also note my picture has two AeroPresses…well, my original finally wore out (the clear one on the right), after over five years of heavy use.  The plunger seal deteriorated and won’t hold pressure, so it makes it tough to push the coffee out…and since the pressure you apply can affect the flavor, it was time for a new one.  The design hasn’t changed much…you can see they’re now using a tinted plastic (probably to hide coffee stains if you just rinse it instead of washing it), and the plunger doesn’t have the exterior ribs on it anymore so is a bit of a looser fit in the sleeve (with no noticeable impact on performance).  Other than that, it’s the same.

Some people get pretty obsessed with technique…precisely measuring the coffee, or water temp, or even *inverting* the press during brewing.  You can have a lot of fun with these, but they don’t require that level of obsession to produce great coffee!

If you’re looking for an unbreakable, convenient, easy to clean way of making coffee, get an AeroPress!

The health benefits of a plant-based diet

In 2017, I switched to a vegetarian diet…I admit I tried full vegan but found the occasional eggs and real cheese to be hard to give up.  I’ll work my way towards 100% plant-based eventually…especially as I keep reading about the various health benefits of such a diet!  If you’re curious, check out this link at Forks Over Knives, it’s a great, brief summary of the health reasons for choosing a plant-based diet.  It’s really pretty crazy when so many ailments in our lives can be addressed with a simple change in diet…and yes, giving up meat really *is* simple!  Well except for eggs and cheese. 😉  But if those can at least be minimized, your health will still benefit!