Promoting quiet recreation in Wisconsin.
Opposing the coming attempts to sell off Wisconsin's natural heritage.
Fighting denial about climate change. When are we hitting the streets?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Boredom is fear

Why do we bring music to the quiet of a Northern Lake? Boredom. What is boredom but fear?

What are we afraid of that we need to crowd out silence?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Motorcycle noise

I have been hearing more and more loud motorcycles the last few years. What is up? I suppose if ATV folks are feeling unfairly targeted, motorcycle noise might be one reason. There is a group out there that feels they have the right to make as much noise as they want. It doesn't matter if it is only "10 percent" if the other 90 are too afraid to stop it.

If you have a motorcycle with louder than factory pipes, you fall into one of three categories.

You are unaware that you are disturbing many people's right to peace and quiet.
You are aware of it, but think you have a good enough reason (i.e. safety)
You really like to annoy people with the sound of your loud pipes.

I suspect that most of the people with really loud pipes fall into the third camp. In that case, we need tighter laws. I like what Chicago and New York are considering.

If you are in category one, then think about it for a bit. Most people don't like to hear your loud pipes. Most can't afford to live so far away from you that they can be free of the sound.

If you are in category two, and you are concerned for your safety and believe "loud pipes save lives", I have four things to say. 1)you must be in the small minority of loud pipe owners who wears a helmet. 2) you must be in the even smaller group that doesn't ever just blast their pipes because they like the sound, or are riding past people you want to impress 3) you must be one of those who only use your bike for transportation, not pleasure, and 4) If you come to the northwoods, take a car and not a bike. It is "safer", and will keep things quieter for you and everyone. 5) By the way, there IS no real research as far as I know that loud pipes save lives. There IS real research that noisy environments impact public health.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Banning fast cars!

Instapundit, the libertarian, doesn't like it. But this British minister is talking about preventing cars from GOING OVER 100 MILES PER HOUR! Public roads are not a totally free space (hence speed limits and driver's licenses)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

The "Glass of Water" impression....

Silent Sports advocates could learn a lot from snowmobilers and snowmobile clubs, and, being generally friendly people, they will give advice. One thing I have heard on several occasions is that the word is out that bikers don't spend money-they bring their own food and equipment, and only stop at local businesses to buy a bottle of water-or worse-ask for a glass of water!

I think this impression is two parts false, and one part true. Let me cover the parts that I think are false.

I think the false impression is created by the fact that silent sports people are kind of invisible. When we go out to eat, maybe we have already finished biking or canoing or birdwatching. We don't always carry anything to show who we are. For that reason, it would be good if we developed a "calling card" to let people know who we are and what we do.

Secondly, I think once a story gets out that a biker did only ask for a glass of water, it gets spread around like wildfire. People hear it from a friend, who heard it from a friend, it becomes a "meme", or something that seems so true it must be true, and happening all the time.

But I think that part of the story IS true, for the following reasons. ( I am going to engage in some stereotyping and amateur sociology here, but it is the kind of lesson that silent sports people need to learn.)

Snowmobilers spend money. They come up here not just to vacation, but to have a good time. Snowmobiles are not cheap, nor is paying for the fuel to get them up here. But that doesn't make snomwobilers cheaper, it makes them more willing to spend money to make sure they have had a good time for their investment. They eat and drink and tip well.

That doesn't mean that snowmobilers are only spending on themselves. They gladly pitch in for charities and for trail maintanance. Their giving is part of their enjoying their sport responsibly. Snowmobiling is a social sport-people come up in clubs and groups, and that encourages social spending.

Again, I am stereotyping, and I am sure there are many counterexamples.

Many bikers and silent sports advocates probably come up as individuals, small groups, and families, to bond together, enjoy activities, and get away from it all. They may go out to eat, but probably not as a main part of their activity. If they are on a family vacation, they possibly have a budget for meals.

If a silent sports enthusist comes to Northern Wisconsin, he or she probably hasn't come with a club, and won't see or recognize others of their kind in bars and restaurants to share a common identity. They will see a donation box here and there on a bike trail, but there are few big sllent sports groups or organizations sponsoring fund raisers or meetings that draw people together (The Callie Rohr Memorial Canoe Race and the Vilas County Lake Association's work being good examples).

I am not saying that silent sports types aren't actively engaged in volunteer activities. I am saying that we could learn from Snomwobile clubs about how to be better organized at it.

And also, I think we need to eat out more, and let people know we are doing it. Bike trips should be planned around restaurant stops. And if people want to shower first, maybe they should still bring their bike helmets to the restaurant.

In fact, what would it be like for silent sports folks to, one day a year, bring their paddles, helmets, binoculars, to restaurants in Northern Wisconsin?

Hurray for Plum Lake!

251 property owners and residents presented a petition to prevent ATV's from operating on town roads! The town board agreed, unanimously!

Of course, nothing in the vote prevents the DNR from continuing with its plan to have an ATV trail go through the area. But this should reinforce what the county referendum said a few years ago-people don't want ATV trails in Vilas County.

Badger State Trail Opens!

Not quite to Madison yet, but this segment should insure that soon you will be able to take a bike from Madison to the Jane Addams trail at the Illinois State line, and hit the 500 Grand Illinois Trail!

How long before a "great circle", from Madison south to Illinois, East to Chicago, north to Milwaukee, and west again, all on bike trails?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fireworks are for the Fourth....

The case against using fireworks in the northwoods is pretty strong. Think about it.

-Fireworks can maim you or your children
-Fireworks disturb wildlife.
-Fireworks can cause forest fires.
-Fireworks disturb the people who live or visit the northwoods for peace and quiet.

I have another reason to dislike fireworks-they are a defense against the quiet. I think we are terrified of whatever quiet is left in the world. We want to fill it up with ourselves, a blanket of noise against....what?

"Don't mess with the Fourth", a relative tells me. So I say, OK-lets have fireworks on the weekend of the fourth. But then let the north go back to being the north.

Silent Sports Exercise-turning off the flashlight...

Around midnight, my wife and I smelled smoke, so I did the manly thing and walked the perimeter of the property with flashlight and old broom handle. Could be someone's campfire along the lake, or the residue from fireworks, or maybe a distant forest fire. (This spring, we smelled a fire that was located in Northern Minnesota). I checked the outbuildings and the firepit. Nothing doing, smoke-wise.

The fireworks people had gone to find other distractions. It was as nature intended: quiet, still. I walked down towards the lake and when I got the nerve, I turned my flashlight off as I walked. Its funny, but you can see a lot more with the flashlight off.

The stars were shining. I saw a meteorite. Bullfrogs were croaking, along with other frog brethren. Coyotes were calling on the other side of the lake. Lots of splashes in the water. I resisted the temptation to look. (sometimes it is fun to privilege the ears rather than the eyes: What difference does it make what the splash "was"? It was a splash...

Lakeland TImes: Vilas County to target Bikers, Birders...