Friday, March 14, 2008

Team Vanishing America

Hey everyone. I'm sorry, I've been slack on updating the blog once again. Woe is me. Really, though, I've been busy contacting potential sponsors, giving presentations, submitting articles, and generally trying to find ways to keep Vanishing America moving forward. I gave a presentation to the Peachtree-Atlanta Kiwanis Club on Tuesday, and I just got articles accepted in Land Rover Monthly magazine (a UK mag with huge US distribution), Overland Journal (a high-end expedition magazine), and RV Life. I'll let you know when they go to press.

As some of you are aware, the Vanishing America Team (BABS, Reggie, Missy and I) just got back from a two-week trip to Washington D.C. where I was meeting with scientists and Department heads at the Smithsonian Institution. And, let me tell you, that was an exciting, and educational experience. I've even been invited to join some of them in their field work. Should prove to be a huge boost for the project!

Okay, updates are out of the way. Are you ready for a shocker?

While I was in DC, an accident almost ended my photography career. I almost lost the use of my shooting hand because I was trying to make my tow bar do something that it isn't really designed to do.

I was at a campground unhooking my Land Rover from the RV on what I thought was level ground. Well, apparently it wasn’t level enough. I’d released the parking brake on the Rover in order to give the vehicle enough freedom of movement so that I could release the coupler from the ball hitch. (Often, if there is too much pressure on the ball, the coupler won’t release.) That was my first mistake.

My second mistake was in thinking that I could stop a 6000lb truck from rolling downhill. I was able to release the coupling easily enough, but when I did, the Rover began to creep forward – with my right hand still on the tongue. Instinct told me to push back (silly instinct), but that was just too much weight. The tow bar pressed my right hand (my shooting hand) up against the rear engine panel of my motorhome and stopped, sandwiching my hand between the two.

After several seconds, I was able to wrench my hand free, and as I did so, the Rover continued forward, embedding the tow bar in the engine compartment. Were the compartment’s panels made of anything but fiberglass, the tow bar would have crushed my hand, severed three of my fingers, and rendered that hand all but useless. Fortunately, I walked away with a few lacerations, some bruising, swelling, and intense pain. Ice, pressure, and some ibuprofen reduced the swelling enough to allow me to gain about 80% of my movement back within a few hours, but I’ll never forget the lesson learned: Get a better tow bar!

Really, though, generic tow bars are a bear to use (especially alone). There are some really good ones on the market, but they cost upwards of $1000. Too much money (I thought). But what good is an extra $500 in your pocket when you prematurely end your career by using an inferior product? Bottom line: Buy the best product for the job. It may cost more in the beginning, but it will more than pay for itself over time.

On to other news...
  • San Diego Magazine is doing a story about the Vanishing America project in their May issue (so, those of you in San Diego, keep an eye out for it!)
  • Vanishing America recently added Adams Avenue Bicycles to sponsor list.
  • Since I've been back in Alpharetta, I've gotten my hair cut twice at the lovely Borrelli Salon on Main Street. Christine and, the shop owner, Kelli, both did a fantastic job on my noggin'. If you're in the Alpharetta area, and are in need of a great style or cut, drop in. Tell them I sent you. You'll love the place!
  • Galerie Boutique, also on Main Street, just had their VIP Celebration last night, with exquisite wines from Vino 100 and a great selection of cheeses, imported olives, and hors d'Oeuvres from Slice Cafe.

And, finally, Holt's Green Tip of the Day!

Let there Be Light...

Most of you know that Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) are more energy efficient than standard incandescent bulbs. But, did you know how much more efficient they are?

According to Popular Mechanics Magazine, all CFLs use approximately 70% less energy than incandescents. Based on an average household of 45 light bulbs, if you were to replace all the incandescent bulbs with CFLs, you would save over $180 per year!

That's great, but, arent' CFLs more expensive? Well, they used to be. But, that's changing fast. Now, you can find CFLs running only a few cents more than a standard incandescent. And, many cities have bulb exchange programs where you can bring in your standard bulbs and swap them out for CFLs. So, with the average CFL lasting about 6 times as long as an incandescent bulb, costing about the same, and using less electricity, you're looking at tremendous energy savings and a fatter wallet!

How's THAT for a green tip?


christyhulsey said...

good luck. we just met the Live Lightly Tour (tonight actually) - similar idea. one of your posts mentioned a wrap - did you ever find one?

Sandy & Dick said...

This mom is sending cyber sympathy for that hand! Dad Dick sez to loosely chock the tires before attempting to unhook...costs less than a new $1K tow bar...remembering to use them---priceless!