Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nov 12 (Day 316) - Big wind slowing me down, In defense of myself

SE headwinds severely limited what could be reasonably accomplished today. The wind blew between 10-20 MPH, steadily, all day, and, while this might seem counterintuitive, it was a very cold wind resulting from this first installment of the polar vortex. Looking at this screen shot from my favorite wind site, you can see that there is a big push of cold air and associated wind south through the great plains and into central Texas. You can also see that along the western edge of this flow, the air actually turns to the west (i.e. blows from the E/SE). This is the bit of the polar vortex that got me today. Temperatures today topped out in the high 50's, so it was on the chilly side. It is going to be just above freezing tomorrow morning. Coupled with more significant SE wind, this should make for a un-fun ride. I will push through knowing that warmer day and better winds car in the not distant future.

A blustery 45 miles from Las Cruces, NM, 

Cold air (blue) pushing south across the US.
I am - roughly - at the gray dots.
Wind had a more southerly component earlier in day.

It's quite incredible to think that, baring something completely unforeseen, I will be in Texas for the next 6 weeks! This time will be added to the ~ 4 weeks I spent here from April 15 to May 11; This means that I will have spent more time in Texas than any other state. California will weight in a distant second having occupied 6 full weeks of my time. The shortest time I spent in any state was about 15 seconds - literally. While I was in Wyoming, I spent one night about a mile from the Wyoming-Nebraska border. The following day, I rode into Nebraska just long enough to say that I had been there on my adventure. I have a picture of the Nebraska state sign for my effort!

On a different note, I want to specifically address a comment that was left one the blog yesterday. I understand what the person is trying to say, but his point is difficult to understand as it muddled with his personal attack on me. Therefore, I'll address some of the underlying and implied concerns with a credibility and clarity that I think far outweighs that of the original poster.

"Call me a troll or a hater, but all the help your [Sic] craving for and get by motorized people bringing tents, tubes, food or helping you finding those more difficult species transforms your year from green to something like greenish with a distinct crude oil-black tinge. Otherwise, good job" - David 

Have I had help this year? Sure. Does that in any way alter or detract from the novelty of the project, the associated challenges, or the satisfaction I will derive from it? No. David, if you in fact bike everywhere, grow your own food, compost your feces, have no children, never utilize airplanes, and don't use electricity, then you are in a position to criticize me. Unfortunately, David, your existence as a human being, like my own, isn't fundamentally green. Being a human being has an environmental cost associated with it - petroleum use included. No Big Year can be perfectly green, and with all due respect to the dozen or people who have undertaken green Big Years before this one, no one has ever managed to see more species using less. If, in 2015 or beyond, you decide to undertake a project of this magnitude, then you are free to run it by whatever rules you see fit. Additionally, if you do it in a "greener" way than I have, I'll be the first guy in line to shake your hand. 

In fact, one of the more obvious and actually valid critiques of my year is my generation of trash at the fast food restaurants where I frequently eat. Sonia and I normally cook all our own meals; Each meal generates very little trash. However, this year I am certainly generating more trash per meal than I do when at home. I am the first person to champion my accomplishments. However, I am also able to level criticism at my own project with a credibility that the commenter clearly lacks. David, when you do your Big Year and feed on nothing but roadside grass, again, I will be the first person in line to congratulate you. In fact, I think we should genetically engineer you with plant biosynthetic genes so that you can do the first Photosynthesis Big Year! Now that would be really green!

The other consideration in this whole discussion is the physical aspect. Who cares if I got help from people who brought tents on 5 (five!) out of 365 nights? The fact that they did bring tents meant that I could push myself physically harder than if they had not. I still carried my usual weight, I just stayed in a tent versus a hotel. With this help, I could reach and blog about areas and species that might have otherwise been omitted from the discussion this year. I also met and spent some extended time with some incredibly interesting people. That people have helped me does not change the fact that I have biked 15,400 miles this year. David, if you've biked more, please let me know, I would love to donate on a per-mile basis to whatever good cause you're raising money! *cue the crickets*

Lastly, the whole point of this project is to involve as many other people as possible. It is a project for the birding, biking, and environmental communities. I am so happy that people have felt connected to the project. I am honored and humbled that people have taken time out of their lives to help me in so many different ways. I think that says a lot about the adventure and about me as a person. Again David, if you want to run your future project differently, please feel free. Hopefully you won't get hit by a truck, but if you do, please don't call 911. That gas-burning ambulance would really taint your Photosynthesis Big Year!

The point, distilled from all sarcasm, is that I know my year isn't perfectly green. I never claimed it to be so. I welcome constructive comments from readers, but personal attacks are just a waste of time - and electricity. 


  1. Man, haters really gonna hate, huh? Twice I burned some carbon to bring Dorian a tent (and way too many zucchinis). I guess instead I could have biked to some local hotspots, per usual, or locked myself at home while the rest of the world went on driving their cars to god knows where. But I chose to burn some harmful carbon to help out a man who is doing something so audacious that he has inspired a legion of readers and sparked a year's worth of tough conversations about our way of living in the modern world and interacting with nature. Count me among those most inspired. To me, my emissions were more than offset by the small amount of help I was able to give Dorian.

    That said, I too wish we lived in a society in which a truly green year was possible. We'll keep working toward it....and blowing up haters.

    Chris Rurik

  2. It would be impossible to do a truly green big year unless you ran around naked and ate twigs and berries. Unfortunately you would not last that long doing that and would see like maybe 20 birds. Dorian is pretty much in uncharted territory considering the scale of his enterprise so to criticize how he does it is ridiculous. The only way to truly stop burning carbon and to even give some back would be to die but again that would not be a very entertaining read, so keep going strong D!

    1. Jamie, (Dorian)
      As the guy who spent last year going around birding naked: Note Amazon book by Cable Publishing, Inc "Boobies, Peckers, and Tits" in which I saw 594 species of birds not 20, but that aside, in the end, these are all personal adventures, Dorian's, mine, even Hayward' the end we are doing these for ourselves and in the end we hope that we can bring some entertainment to others, bring attention to a cause, or in my case reconnect to a hobby I (we) love. For Hayward/ Komito's record, the ABA has largely set the rules (in the case of the Aplamato Falcon etc. it isn't set either, only the borders), in Dorian's and my case we largely made the rules. I wasn't naked 24/7....I would have went to prison, but was where I could.....was Dorian 100% no one is, but he didn't fly point to point in a lear jet either and get out in his bike.. It is all about the fun. If someone wants to say, hey. I'll bird with a tent on my little tow behind trailer and bike it all and buy your own food etc, cool. do it and write about and see more birds than him. All I can say is he had a dream and he is doing it, good for him Olaf Danielson, Milbank SD USA

    2. Although you might be the most interesting man in the world, we are talking about green birding and if I am reading your blog correctly you flew to different locations and then got nude and I don't think you were eating twigs and berries. So Kudos to you but that's not exactly what I was referring to when I said that he would not have lasted long if he was truly green. Great way to plug your book though, I'll give you that.

    3. I never claimed to be green, far from it, my carbon foot print was almost as large as Hayward's last year, and considering he slept in his car, and I slept at a lot of clothing optional places, I may have beat him. My point is that Dorian did (doing) well and on the green front is doing did better than we did (and to note a comment about your naked deal). Although the tenants of naturism are to live more integrated in environment, and some places make a good attempt, compost toilets, etc. but it is tough to be off the grid, have a pool, have guests, follow state health codes and be totally green, etc. Even in mountains of Oregon at nudist camp, they burnt wood, maybe sustainable but the absolutist carbon Nazis would say that terrible. Nothing 100%. Cave men had fires but that is Co2 increasing! He made his own rules and that is fine, you have to. Is it okay to take public transportation? Does that include scheduled ferry boats? Trains? I would think so, probably not on second. I could go on in what is right and what is wrong with the green movement, not the point. Like saying you are going to eat only organic and sustainable and local on St Paul Island AK, but cant eat birds or seals...what fruit can I eat local (apples? Or do I just get scurvy?).. crap there is nothing more toxic causing more pollution and destroying more rivers and water than the lithium in your, my, and probably Dorian's computer, lithium makes carbon look like a joke, .Some of the materials in my bike I don't want to think about where they came from.....Dorian is doing better than anyone else on this regard I ever heard of...its cool, and like I said. If you, I or someone wants to do it better, we can, and when we are then we can say, wrongs or rights.....When the wood-rail gets recognized, Hayward can say why he did better than Komito, although like in Dorion's case many "haters" will still say, pfst, he had a bigger list, or ebird, or whatever....Why Kaufmann's year was always cool, he hitchhiked, and had no money no cellphone, but not totally, he didn't hitchhike to Gambell. This is why Dorian's year is cool. Plugging my book wasn't goal, just sort of an answer to being naked, surprisingly you can get more birds than you think Olaf

  3. Well stated Dorian. I saw David's trolling criticism and quite frankly it pissed me off. The fact that you went out of your way to avoid ferries, wouldn't ride in hosts cars, etc. You went above and beyond a typical green year. Way to go! I'm going to donate again just for that. Bird on.

  4. With all that fast food I hate to think of the methane you've released into our atmosphere this year... More like Brown cloud big year... Lolz...

    Keep it up dude your almost to the finish line and I think most of us are envious of what you've done. One troll from the masses shouldn't detract your focus. Enjoy those 6 weeks .

  5. I see a new reality show...Big Green Naked Year...NO CARBON...NO CLOTHES...
    or My Big Olive Green Year...Birding from a TANK in a war zone...
    or My Big Green Green Year...Listing only Green Birds...

    Please select YOUR version of green from below.

    Feral Cyclist

  6. PS. Dorian, you are the Emerald King in my book!


  7. You keep going Dorian. No matter what any more negative commentator says, what you are doing for Green Biording is fabulously incredible.
    When I did my Big Green Year back in 2010 someone criticised me for eating a banana! Now I understand that the Green credentials of a banana aren't the best but local fruit on the Isles of Shetland, where I was at that time, would have been hard to get hold of in October.
    The point really is that you are doing this as Green as possible and your record will be a beacon for all who care for Green birding to hold high and say - you know what, look at what can be achieved.
    All the very best to you Dorian.
    My guess 620. Now who could of ever having dreamt that a Green Birder in The States would achive that.
    Gary Prescott
    aka Biking Birder 2010/5

  8. One could say your big year is tainted by using a bicycle, which was probably made in a factory, contributing to pollutants. Your shorts were made in Taiwan which then had to be shipped over on a boat which may have spilled oil... the list could go on. Anyone who is attempting something great and new will always have those who criticize. Don't worry about the trolls. Eyes on the prize. Make sure you enjoy some amazing BBQ while you're there.

  9. Good grief! Seriously? It just goes to show you there is always someone! This David guy should shut his pie hole, get on a bike and set a new standard if he feels so strongly about it. Frankly, I've been more taken aback by the diligence to keep the year as green as it has been. Kudos to Dorian!

  10. Hey Dorian, Challenge david the troll to get MacDonalds and Burger Kings to recycle all that styrofoam and plastic and cardboard they serve the fast food in. Just think of all that not going in landfills!

  11. Here here. Press on towards the goal D. You're doing great, and be like a duck. Let that criticism roll off your back like water.

    1. A friend once mispoke that saying, instead saying "it should be like ducks rolling off your back." I like to think of it that way now.

  12. Hi Dorian, let me say the following:
    1) you took my comments way to personal, concentrate on "otherwise good job", no need to tell all the good things your travels and blog do, they are obvious, I greatly appreciate that finally someone is doing a full-on cycling big year, something I have been waiting to see for years and that was long overdue.
    2) I downsize my notion to green with some blackish spots, my problem is that accepting help by motorists on a regular basis kind of opens Pandora's box, one step away from a fully fledged support-vehicle January to Decembre, no difference rulewise, do you want that to be the future of cycling big years?
    3) Donate 1$ to the conservation fund for every km I biked in pursuit of birds and/or the Tour de France between roughly Morocco, Norway, Iran and Egypt in the last fifteen years and you will easily double the amount donated till now......
    4) I never had, don`t have and will never have a car, and for a reason
    5) Off course nobody and nothing is perfect, we all use energy by simply being alive, but there is an obvious difference between necessities like wearing clothes, eating or having a bike on the one hand and possibilities that will enhance your species-tally (like help by motorists or, let's say, burning down the reeds to get a rail out) everybody should see. Thus a lot of the comments above seem quite inappropriate, basically serving the purpose of entertaining the majority on cost of the lone individual who everybody loves to hate and missunderstand, creating the warmth of a community. A bit cheap but sadly a major factor in making the internet and social (?) networks what they are nowadays.
    6) What does mean "[sic]" in this context? A reference to my small grammatical error? Those with a flawless German may throw the first stone.....


    1. Hey everybody David wants us all to know he biked in the Tour de France and a lot of miles over the last FIFTEEN years. Let's all congratulate him for being better than everyone else, the hypothetical size of the donation matching his efforts, and his likely low resting heart rate...

      Good job, David. Remember to focus on these words and not the many more up above.

  13. Dorian's effort this year may seem huge, but it actually pales in comparison to the number of miles I've logged in my apartment on my 440-watt pedal-powered bicycle trainer connected to my computer so I can read Dorian's blog every day. Despite my huge efforts, as my wife picked up chinese take-out for me twice back in April, I've decided not to call myself a Green-Big-Year-Blog-Reader.

  14. Sorry for 2nd post, but it just occurred to me: Go to REI, buy a tent, bike with it up the mountian, sleep in it one night, throw it away the next day = Green Big Year. Get someone who wants to join you birding to bring a tent and lend it to you for the night = Oily Big Year. Something wrong here?

  15. Good for you, Dorian! You showed amazing restraint in responding to David's criticisms. You're under no obligation to respond to commentary--positive or negative. I'd be tempted to just shrug off the negative and ignore it.

  16. Wow Dorian: I might suggest that you re-think your idea of entering politics as an agent of change after your bike ride is complete. I know you didn't specifically say that this was a direction you might head in, but it seemed to me the implications were there.
    I certainly don't agree with everything David has said, but I will defend his right to say it, and I thought your reaction to his criticisms were " over the top " Anyone who has followed your blog, as I have, knows that you have made a major commitment to making your ride " green ". However, it should also be obvious that no one in our society can live a completely green lifestyle. You made a set of rules relative to how you were going to do your ride, and you have completely stuck to your principles during this process. Good on ya. You also, however, control this board, and, as such, you should be better prepared to handle the odd critical remark. It's your job to set the tone for the discussion, and, in my opinion, you were not successful in this case. As an alternative, you could also follow Scott's advice and ignore it. I am going to write this hiccup off as your having to deal with an incredibly difficult set of circumstances. I am always telling fellow birders that I don't know how you do what you do. I mean riding 60-70 miles a day sometimes in very adverse conditions,, finding great birds, and still having the wherewithall to write an intelligent and interesting blog at the end of the day. Incredible. Relax, and have fun. Thor

    Thor Manson

  17. Dorian, I've really loved following your blog to share in your successes and struggles this year. But I didn't really appreciate that you devoted a blog post to responding to a single comment, including what basically amounts to a pissing contest in the form of "David, if you've biked more, please let me know, I would love to donate on a per-mile basis to whatever good cause you're raising money! *cue the crickets* "

    I don't care who's biked more. And I certainly want your readers to feel comfortable calling for an intellectual debate about something without being dismissed for not having enough "cred". David might not have had the friendliest tone in his post, but he pointed out something that is always worth thinking about (even though I believe the topic has already popped up now and again on the blog).

    All that being said, keep up the biking, birding, and writing; you're kicking ass!

  18. A-freaking-men Tom. Good hell people. Dorian has earned the right to blow off some steam. Heaven knows what my mental state would be after going through what he's gone through.

  19. Dorian

    Maybe it is a great opportunity for you to try to define a standard for those green big year attempts. I had made a very modest attempt in the past to do a walking green big year. Seems easy enough to define. You walk out of your house, sees some birds and come back to your house. Anything you count during that walk is countable for you year. So is whatever you see in your yard. But even at that modest level, we had discussion about what we should count or not. What if you ride your car to a particular birding spot, find a good bird, drive back home and then ride your bike or run to that place? Would that count? What's about recording Night flight Calls? What's about using reports from other birders (themself using a car?). There is definitely room for discussion even for such a modest effort, let alone at the country level

    Let say another birder next year does a similar effort to yours, but at one point, decides to take a week or a month off, because, you know, maybe he has to take an exam, take a job for a few weeks to sustain himself, get married, or got sick and needs to stay a few days at a hospital. He comes back to the exact location he left and finish his year. I think in my book, the guy did a similar effort to yours, although his whole year was certainly not as "green". And although maybe one day a naturist/hunter/gatherer birder will proclaim himself as the only one to have attempted a "true green" big year, I believe in a reasonable definition of a green big year, in order to be of interest for a reasonable number of birders.

    Maybe it is a great opportunity for you to give us your opinion on what constitutes a green big year. Hopefully, your terrific green big year will inspire other to follow your example (either at the country, state or county level) and it seems to me that the "green birding" community could benefit from your thoughts on the topic.

    Congratulation Dorian for your mind blowing green big year. Good luck and stay safe!!!

    Laurent in Michigan