Monday, December 25, 2006

Better Know a Watershed


The old man was out at a supermarket close to our house on Christmas eve morning and saw this animal skitter towards him as he was exiting the car. His first thought was, "Is that a cat?" It was moving fast, ducking under cars and had now veered to a row a bushes to the back of the parking lot. "Man," the old man wondered, "that is some kind of ugly cat!" It was, he discovered after taking a closer look before it jumped into the hedge, actually an otter. We had a good, head-scratching laugh about it when he got home and he surmised the otter was probably young, judging from its size. But where did it come from, I wondered. We talked about various streams and creeks that run through our part of town, and agreed that it must have been the creek that runs behind the supermarket where he was. Later that day, however, he checked the creek and discovered that there was no water in it.

This got me thinking about our water supply and the sources of water for other living things in our area. Above is a map of the Oklawaha watershed which our fair city is a part of. Here is the EPA fact sheet that this image came from. It has all sorts of important information about your water supply. Purdue University also has a cool site called Know Your Watershed which is jam packed with watershed info and a good place to start because they've got a lot of links, like the EPA's Surf Your Watershed and basic information like what the heck a watershed is in the first place (despite what one librarian believes, it is not a place to keep your lawnmower and rake).

Undies I Just Made

Finally finished this pair of underwear for my friend, "P." Her partner is a John Deere fan and I said I would make her a pair of glow-in-the-dark John Deere underwear. Well, that was a year ago. But, with some idle time before Christmas day dinner with the folks and friends, I managed to drag out the half-way finished pair and did em' up with some of the fabulous new elastic I bought at Lace Heaven (they are cheap and have an amazing collection). The John Deere shirt is supposed to be glow-in-the-dark, but I'm wondering if there wasn't a bit of a misunderstanding between actual "glow" or just "day-glo." My apologies for the poor quality of the picture -- one of these days I'll get around to getting a flash unit for the digital camera. I am going to start a gallery of my underwears and you can see the original post about underwear made from t-shirts here.

Bread Wheel of Life

Appropriated this from Nancy Nall. She says in her post, "It doesn’t exactly say 'sleep in heavenly peace,' but it works for me." Me too.

Here is some more background on the ubiquitous bread wheel of Fort Wayne, Indiana. A history of sorts can also be found here.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas eve ponderings

Taking a brief break after dinner with the old man's folks before we go back over to sleep and behold the gift onslaught for DJ in the morning. But, that's not what I wanted to write about. This Christmas has put me in a singularly pensive mood, so it's probably a good thing that we're surrounded by family and friends to lighten me up.
While we sat at the dinner table after enjoying a lovely casserole, Steve Irwin's name came up after a four-month or so gap (maybe because the casserole had surimi?). We all marveled at the life and spectacular death of the Crocadile Hunter. You may remember the old man wrote an observance of sorts about Irwin. With this round of collective head shaking the old man's old man said something to the effect that, "the best thing Irwin could have done to help animals was to stay away from them." I disagree. Say what you will, but he did bring the plight of many species around the world to the attention of the largely somnambulant mainstream and got kids interested in, if not saving many species largely overlooked, at least preserving them to pester at a later date.
At my father-in-law's suggestion I am including a new label for "Requiem for a Hunterweight" -- "pure foolishness," and wish to include a link here to another stingray attack. This was brought to my attention months ago when it happened in October, and I forgot about it until this evening when discussing Irwin. With Irwin it was kind of understandable that he would get stabbed by a stingray after poking it and prodding it endlessly, but with the one that happened to the US dude it seemed a little too random. Or was it? Copy-cat stingray attacks?
I'll probably edit this after the holiday but am posting it now. Thank you, Steve Irwin, for entertaining us and enlightening us. Now to Delicious G's casa for homemade egg nog and other Christmas cheer. Joyeux Noel.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Little Brown Dress

This is kind of a cross between performance art and experiment in accidental environmentalism. Alex Martin made this brown dress (see artist's representation to the left) and then wore it for a whole year as the first of two "Intentional Wardrobe" projects. You can read about them here.
I like this site because Martin freely shares her dress pattern and gives would-be brown dress wearers a little 101 on dressmaking. She makes it seem simple and easy and, by gosh, even I could figure out how to make one from the instructions.
If you take the time (if you have the time, natch) making clothes for yourself and others is a great way to spend it.

Thanks to "B" (once again) for giving me the 4-1-1 on a cool concept.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ideal Bite ME!

Here's a "blog" entry about "green" ski resorts. I commented here, but this is what I said:
"Ski resorts are a bad idea on the whole because they need to clear-cut many acres of trees in order to create ski slopes and majestic mountain-top lodges. They use up too many natural resources to give rich people a place to play."
Did I totally top the "humane" veal comment for crankiest treehugger?

Of course I was too chicken to give them my real name. These guys have been getting rave reviews on many different blogs and other eco-friendly websites, so am I the only one who thinks they're completely annoying? Maybe I'm just jealous. No, they're really annoying. I'm sure they would be fun to hang out with to do yoga while drinking wine or going to the local rodeo bar.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

End of the Year Busyness

Passings and Goings, or Something Like That
After conversing with Delicious G about the blog, she has come to the conclusion that she has greener pastures to sow, or whatever. Something like that. And indeed she does. She has expressed her continued hope that people will not use the grocery store to buy the necessities of life, and I will endeavor to keep that thread of discussion alive in future posts.
Sigh. That's how it is with blogs. "Hey, gang," you say brightly one boring summer day. "Let's all get together and put together a blog!" And everyone goes, "Yay! Let's do it!" and you are all excited for about 2 weeks and then the person who originally came up with the idea and, ultimately, most wanted to put together a blog in the first place, ends up taking it over or abandoning it completely.
Am I bitter? No, actually I'm not. I came up with the idea to do a blog about environmental living and played around with the idea for months. It was actually getting the support from friends to set up the blog and start posting that was the most valuable. DG was a good friend for helping me get AE off to a great start! Edna was a good friend for coming up with the name of the blog and letting me use it!
So, as the year draws to a close I hope that this finds all my friends and family well and safe and in the appropriate spirit for their chosen spiritual holiday.

Changing from Old Blogger to Beta
While complaining about how I didn't have enough time to blog on AE because of health, school, and hearth, I created a new blog. You can visit it here, but it isn't as extensive as AE and probably won't be, for the most part. It just satisfies my other obsession, Saturday morning cartoons, and alleviates some of the guilt of foisting all of this junky TV on my son by making light of it.
Anyway, when I started SMC I chose to do it in Beta, and this has been a good choice and am now planning on switching AE to the same because of the labeling function, blah, blah, blah. This has anxious-making implications, especially if I lose everything! Well, if Buddhism has taught me anything, it's taught me non-attachment thinking. Kind of. So, I'm going to try changing over. This is as good a time as any and if it all disappears, so be it. I'll start again. It's fun and will give me more incentive to start using my web real estate and set up online digs with BellyShout.com (Doug is a great guy for hosting, by the way). Wish me luck!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Here are the somewhat unsettling results of my inquiry about Old Spice deodorants. What's unsettling to me is that all this time I thought we were being safe by not using the antiperspirant kind!
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is the first place you want to go to find out how your particular cosmetic or beauty product is rated. From deodorants to eye shadow, this is an important resource for women and men. The campaign just completed an action which resulted in causing a major nail care products manufacturer to stop putting phthalates in their products.
Follow the link for the Skin Deep Report and if you get the page to sign up for updates, you can press the "no thanks" button and still access their pretty extensive database of product safety information.

Ridealong Saga: The Legend Continues

Q: How many bike mechanics does it take to piss me off?
A: Just two, and they're both in the same bike shop!
Well, I finally took the ridealong into the bike shop to have a new axle put in -- the training wheels were digging into the hub (See this blog entry for more info) and it was the only way to make it safer to ride with the training wheels.
You know, on the one hand, the bike mechanic is your best friend. When you're in a spot and don't have the time to change a tire or put in new spokes, the bike mechanic is there to calm your fears and do it for very little money. But there is a dark side to bicycle mechanics, oh yes. I ran headlong into this phenom when taking the ridealong in for the above-mentioned repair.
When I explained to the mechanic why I wanted to put in a longer axle, she immediately started giving me a hard time about it: "well, isn't that going to make turning difficult for you?" and, "isn't that going to make riding more unstable for you?" Duh, yes. But I'm not doing this for my comfort, I'm doing this so my son will better embrace the love of cycling by actually participating in the activity. At one point she went so far as to say I was being unsafe by keeping the training wheels on. Well, as I know from the first set of training wheels I put on the ridealong they were cheap and, yes, unsafe. So, maybe the mechanic had a point. Nonetheless! I'm the customer and as fool-headed as my request is she should just immediately acquiesce (her and her yes-man, bobble-headed crony) to whatever crazed impulse I come up with! Right? This is a free market economy, no?
Anyway, I went back yesterday and got the ridealong. I was mightily pleased with the results, and the mechanic seems to have gotten off her high-bike about the safety of having training wheels on the ridealong. She still had to have the last word, though, and told me she had adjusted the wheels so they wouldn't touch the ground unless we were leaning into a turn. I decided to let it go at that and just be thankful that they had done such a great job and, once again, for so little money.
As soon as we got home DJ got into his elbow and knee pads and helmet and we took a spin up and down our street. What a difference! It was amazing, and DJ didn't seem to mind the fact that the training wheels were up higher than ground level. He had a great time, and I did, too. Everything works great! How exciting, now we can try riding to campus. This is the perfect time of year with the semester break coming up, and my physical therapist gave me the go-ahead to start cycling again. I'm psyched!

Another entry about stinkiness

Okay, maybe I was a little premature in my assessment that I had beaten old Mr. Stink at his nefarious game. Now, a frequent icebreaker for me is "Hey, do I stink?" Try it sometime, you will certainly make loads of friends. For more information on my trials in weaning myself from under-arm deodorants, follow this link.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The most annoying "Green" website (and blog) ever? Hey, that's my job!

Thanks to Mother Jones selling these people my email address, I was lured into signing up for the "tip" sheet on green living. At first I thought it would be fine because, well, Mother Jones must know what they're doing to sell an unknowing supporter's email address to a business that wants to help you live green. Not bad, right?
Ideal Bite comes to your mailbox every week with a new "tip" on green living, and they just so happen to have a handle on so, so many products for you to buy to help you in that endeavor!
Their slogan is "Are you a biter?" Well, as a matter of fact I can be a biter, when I'm over-stimulated or sleepy.
Oh, oh, there is so much to hate about this site, but let's start with their riotous "blog" entry about "humane" veal, and here is an excerpt from the comments section -- such a hoot:

"God forbid I discover that I have a love for something that is evil"--Heather, co-author of Ideal Bite


Dear Heather,

no offense, but a love for the flesh of what used to be (and would still be, if it weren't for humans) a living being IS "evil".

All I've got to say is, FUN!
Please read more of this page because it just gets more annoying and, so, hilarious!
Oh, and here is another annoying link:
This is the actual ranking of the "survey" on how helpful you found their advertisement for Working Assets Wireless.
They want you to rate the tips they send -- free marketing information, if you answer honestly, which I did, a "1" on a 5-scale. And they're so cute! "Our psychic abilities indicate you want to rate more tips. Visit the Tip Library to cast more votes!" Think again, Heatherrrrr.
But, I did learn that people want their information short and sweet, which basically guarantees people won't read AE.

where does your food come from?

This is something I've been mulling over for awhile and it is now just starting to get some press (not to say that I thought of it first, but dribs and drabs of this information have been filtering through for a long time). Just about every well-infrastructured community has a farmer's market and for me it's like one of those things that I'm glad is there but don't utilize often. After giving this a lot of consideration and doing some research, I think I am going to start using it more.

At the supermarket, we buy grapes and avocados from Chile and oranges from California and don't think anything of it. That is a long-ass way for food to travel. The Seattle Post-Intelligence has a great article from 2005 on the subject, and I'd like to pull out a paragraph from it to demonstrate a very important point:
Local and regional food systems are better equipped to address local hunger concerns, farmland crises, environmental concerns and rising energy costs. Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina acutely demonstrate the importance of a strong and resilient local food system to ensure our short-term food security. We need to support the development of such systems to solve those wicked problems.
It makes so much sense and yet I continue to buy grapes from Chile. No! I will not continue to disrespect my local farmers! Here's a link to find out where the farmers markets are in your area.

Sustainable Seattle has a link to a study they are conducting that demonstrates economic money flows in terms of agricultural crops. By showing that local economies are strengthened by buying locally a change is more likely (and quickly) to happen.

Puget Consumers Co-op has been operating since 1953 so you would think after fifty-plus years they know what they're talking about when it comes to locally-produced food. Here's a good overview written by the executive director of Sustainable Seattle, Chantal Stevens, of the issues involved in buying locally. Check out the PCC website if you have a chance -- there're a lot of great resources and information that you wouldn't find on the Publix website, that's for sure.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stink-o-Rama: Addendum

I think it's working! Not sure if it's the weather getting cooler but I'm not as stinky during the day. Yay!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Stink-o-Rama


I decided to take the plunge and eschew all deodorants in an effort to wean myself from them. Is it possible? I'm not sure and can only go by what D.G. told me about her bro's success. She says it took him about a month but he is now deodorant-free and apparently not stinky. So, last week I made some herbal stick deodorant recipe posted on Care2.com. I didn't have rosemary EO so I used a complimentary FO. This made roughly three .50 oz sticks and I gave 2 away and kept the shorty for myself. It's also a great moisturizer stick, and I regularly use it on my knees and elbows. I was using it double-duty in the car one morning (underarm and on my knees) and challenged my old man with, "Like to see your deodorant do THAT."
And I thought this would be the perfect time to start the weaning process as it is starting to get cooler in our little subtropical part of the world. However, by the afternoon it is about as hot as 80 degrees and I do work up a stink walking all over God's creation on the days I'm on campus. When the herbal deodorant is not really needed it's a pleasant lavender scent but when it is truly called upon to deliver some stank cover-up, the net effect seems to be that I end up smelling like an old hippie. Oh well. I'm too far into it now to wait until it gets cooler. I am really missing the Old Spice Deodorant me and the old man have been using for years and occasionally, when no one is looking, I will sneak into the bathroom to sniff the canister and remember better, fresher-smelling days.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Buy Nothing Christmas

Holy Crap! Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Buddha's Birthday is right around the corner! But wait...why do I feel so calm? I should be doing the freak-aloo and getting into massive fights with my old man. Could it be that I've finally made peace with my holiday of choice? While I'm still making gifts and plan on giving them to a whole bunch of people we know, I'm not as tensed about it as I usually am. I'm really happy that the holiday season is approaching, thankful for all the wonderful things in my life. That's the way it should be.
Still not convinced? Buynothingchristmas.org is a cool site that has a loose relationship with Adbusters and promotes the idea that you do not have to go into deep, dark debt in order to make for a merry etc. It also has lots of links to other places where you can find more inspiration to have a simple holiday. One of my favorites is the New American Dream website with an excerpt from Bill McKibben's book Hundred Dollar Holiday.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Other Business

I'm sitting upright for the first time in almost a week -- I've had ongoing low back pain for over 14 years but really did something weird to it and my doctor thinks it's a herniated disc. So, I've been taking stock of what's going to happen in the next couple of months. I've basically dropped out of my life for an entire week, and now will be spending the rest of the semester catching up and putting out the little fires here and there. As a result, my posting on AE will be more sporadic for the next couple of months. It's tough to gauge if anyone is reading AE on a regular basis, but a sense of duty to whatever readers, real or imagined, provokes me to write an explanation for any prolonged absences that occur. Believe me, folks, I'm obsessed with this blog and it will be hard not to post on it.

Book: dematerializing: Taming the power of possessions

dematerializing: Taming the Power of Possessions, by Jane Hammerslough, is a great book for a real fundamental look at our consumer culture. It's easy to read (to skim, esp., which is mostly what I did), and has a lot of depth. These books are hard for me to read -- I don't want to be told that I'm no longer a person but a consumer, especially in the eyes of the coroporations who plague me with adverts everywhere I look. But Hammerslough takes a very plain-spoken, realistic tack:
"A lot has been said about the evils of advertising and its supposedly subliminal messages that glorify greed and violence and promise everything from fabulous sex to stellar athletic performance...Been there, done that. The bottom line is this: Like it or not, it's still part of the scenery."
In an essential way, dematerializing is trying to help us gain that ground again, to begin the untangling of ourselves from the imagery that we are presented with in advertising and media, and the true reality of our lives. Before I get too Matrix-y on this, let me suggest that it is important to read books like dematerializing to shake us up and make us think. We don't need the mental shock treatments of Adbusters to rouse us from our collective somnolence, but we do need to occasionally poke our heads up and take stock of what we're doing, living, and buying, and why.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Aerogarden

This thing is blowin' my mind and for so, so many reasons. I saw this infomercial this morning -- now, mind you, I hate (let me make that clearer--hate) infomercials with a white-hot passion and think they are the scourge of broadcast television (I don't have cable and don't know what kind of stuff besides QVC is on the cable networks). But, as I was on my way to PBS Kids I ran across this infomercial about the Aerogarden, a totally desk-top hydroponics system, using technology developed at NASA. NASA! Using the Aerogarden, you can grow herbs, lettuce, and tomatoes. I couldn't believe it. It's about $150 bucks but I really have no intention of buying one, anyway. I'm just absolutely enchanted with the possibilities of this thing. Okay, all you 4:20-meisters, I know what you're thinking! And believe me, if I were someone who did any illegal substances I would be eyeing it in that way. This is something that's going to be popular with people who live in apartments and don' t have access to a community garden.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Did you know????

Here is some paper recycling minutae from the inside of a Traditional Medicinals teabox:

Did you know...
  • The United States produces and uses 1/3 of the world's paper supply
  • Forests in the southeastern U.S. now supply a quarter of the total global amount of paper.
  • Producing one ton of paper requires 2-3 times its weight in trees.
  • Making paper from recycled content creates 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

recycling that futon

Now I'll finally know if the cheap-ass futon I bought on 23rd Street 12 yrs+ ago has a foam core like the salesguy said! That poor, flat lump of cotton has been lugged across three (four?) state lines and sentenced to death by a 100 sippies filled with milk. But it is still actually in pretty ok shape -- thank you not-so-cheap-ass futon cover! It is much like the picture to the right -- no, wait, it is exactly like the picture to the right.
So, anyway, I've been thinking about the futon's demise and what form it should take--and I gotta make it quick because we're going to have a cookout soon and people will be tripping over it, in its current unused state in the middle of our living room, hog-tied with twine. We've all seen the proverbial dead futon, lying by the trashcans, getting rained on for a fortnight or two, waiting for the trashman to throw it in the dump. I just can't bring myself to do it -- it's just a big hunk of reusable cotton batting, right?
You will not believe how little there is to Google about recycling futons, except in the sense of donating your flat-ass, old mattress to a homeless shelter. But, I did run across a curious article on Asahi.com (which I'm thinking is a website to help Japanese people with their English) that talks about how, since WWII, Japanese people have been throwing out their futons when, traditionally, they sent them to futon refurbishers. Lately, there have been efforts on the part of futon shop owners to re-introduce the kids to the concept of working to keep the futon through fluffing it up or mending it rather than tossing it in the trash heap where, says the article, "More than half a million are chucked every year in Tokyo alone." In addition to giving workshops on the benefits of refurbishing your futon, there have also been public events to recycle futon stuffing for making things like cushions. Fascinating!
You can be darn sure that, until the economic holocaust, American futon dealers will not be having no workshops on how to refurbish your flat ol' mattress. I think I'll make some throw pillows. Really, really big throw pillows.

And, now, your moment of Haiku.

Update: After fretting about the futon in the middle of our living room and realizing there wasn't a chance in heck that I was going to get around to making anything out of it, the old man carted it off to Goodwill where it was gladly accepted. It really wasn't that stained and still had some life to it, I guess. It's good to know that some thrift stores will take old futons.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Chisan Chishou

I got this tip from my friend "B." about this really cool cultural phenomenon in Japan that deserves closer inspection. No, it's not Dance Dance Revolution. There is a symbiotic relationship between the urban denizens of Japan and their rural neighbors that centers around the concept of getting really, really fresh produce to their tables every day. They even have a phrase for it--"chisan-chishou"--which means "grow locally, consume locally." For years I've heard this mantra from vegetarians, the idea that you should eat the foods that come from the soil in your area, that it's better for your overall health. From the few positive experiences I've had growing my own vegetables they always taste so much better than what you get in the supermarket. I've read about the apocryphal $50 cantaloupe in sites that talk about chisan-chishou, but that's the blue-ribbon loupe that you give to the boss as a gift. Man, those wacky Japanese and their weird concepts of symmetry and aesthetic beauty -- oh, yeah, and damn fine, fresh produce!

Here is a great article from LiveScience.com on the subject.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ridealong Saga: The Final Chapter

It totally worked! Our small part of the world is host to a large state university with an equally large homecoming parade, so we put the ridealong on my bike and the trailer (with our lawn chairs and snacks) on the old man's bike, and went downtown to watch. DJ put on his new helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads, and climbed on the ridealong like it was no big deal. It was slow going -- I have to face the fact that the ridealong was not made for training wheels, and we're going to have file down the locking piece (that fits into the groove where the back wheel goes) because it is rubbing up against the hub and slowing the pedaling down. Other than that, the training wheels stayed in place, they were bouncy and very stable, and DJ had a blast riding along with mom and dad. It has been so worth the effort to continue working towards not having to take the car to campus every day.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ridealong Saga II: Electric Boogaloo

I took those cheap-ass training wheels off and took them back to Target -- oh, yes I did! And my wool-obsessed friend laughed at me the whole way because I confessed that I bought the things in the first place--seeing that they were cheap-looking wheels--because I figured, well, Target's buyer must know what he or she is doing, so... Ugh. I'm such a sheep.

Anyway, then I did my homework and found out that Bell makes a sturdy-looking training wheel (Bell E-Z Training Wheels) that has coils instead of the flat pieces of steel construction that we're used to. Man, I can already tell those things are going to be SOLID. Yay!

The old man had to help me assemble them because the c-ring that holds the wheel in place was a beyotch to put on. I managed to get both wheels on the ridealong before the skeeters got too numerous and we all fled to the inside with Percy, the school rabbit what we are watching for the long weekend.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

More About Compact

I've been lurking on their newsgroup for about a week now -- these are my peeps, man! I don't know how many identify themselves as part of the year-long compact to not buy anything new (See the original post), but they think and talk about the same crap that I do! Amazing! It's exciting to read 5 pages of musings on cloth diapers, really! I kid you not. If you want in on the lurking (okay, I might post something eventually-- when I'm not blogging, of course!) go to their Yahoo group and apply. I had to do it, and I had to give them a brief description of why I wanted to be part of their Yahoo e-group. I told them I wanted to blog about their asses, but there was a day or two (I honestly had a wait a few days) where I thought I wasn't gonna get to play no reindeer games up in that mess. Go check it out, it's worth connecting with some other people who are just trying to do their part for the cause without blowing a lot of bread and mental mush.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Book: Choose to Reuse


Here's a great book (acquired the pic from Amazon.com but you should always see if your local bookstore has it, first) to get a handle on the issues and solutions to the items you use everyday. This struck my fancy while perusing Choose to Reuse: Two-way envelopes. Netflix does something like this out of necessity, but you still have to tear off that annoying flap and throw it away. Sheppard has just such an envelope, called the Boomerang which they say uses 25% less paper than normal mailing options for, say, billing.

Building your own sand castle


I read this article in Mother Earth News awhile back (and I can't find the exact article in their online archives but they have a lot of great green building articles) about sustainable, cheap housing made from sandbags. This notion stuck with me and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Some friends of ours have a beautiful piece of property outside the city where we live, and they've been saving for a few years to build a permanent house on the land. Well, they finally concluded that the price of materials was just going to be too high, and so they've decided to put work into renovating their double-wide and putting in a swimming pool. It was an okay compromise for them, but it makes me frustrated that these people -- good, hardworking people -- cannot afford to build a permanent structure for themselves and their two children.
Then, yesterday I was IM'ing with a friend in NYC who is set to retire, move into the country with her partner, and build a home. I half-jokingly suggested that they build out of sandbags, and she said, "I'm not living in sand!" and that was that. But I got to thinking about it later and so here is what I've come up with on the subject and let you, the reader, decide:

Here is a great first article in Architecture Week about the pheonom, and talks about Nader Khalili, the architect who is "weaning the world off of two-by-fours, steel, and concrete."

Sean Sand's Papercrete House is an entirely different way of looking at recycled building materials. We think of recycling old houses and maybe using a good looking window or door, or old wood floors that are still in good condition, but Sean Sand is using an ancient building technique by combining cement and sand with things like newspapers and magazines: "'Glossy' magazines work fine -- in fact, they are preferred, because the "slick" magazine paper contains clay, which is beneficial to the mix." Yeah, man!

Last but not least is the quintessential website to go to get an overall impression of the craft of Green Homebuilding and all the many mutations and projects done by others, books written about it, and pictures galore (and where the one for this entry comes from).

It's thrilling, and if I were a more goal-oriented person I would buy up what cheap real estate is left in this part of the world and build a whole eco-community! Could you imagine a subdivision made entirely of adobe sandbag houses, each with their own little front yard vegetable garden? A patchouli-fragranced paradise, I say!

All Things Biodiesel

All Things Biodiesel

Just saw this on Blogger and thought this is something to blog quickly about on my way to blog about other things. This is pretty facinating stuff -- Eric Bowen, the creator of All Things Biodiesel, is an investment banker for the biodiesel industry as well as being the president of a SanFrancisco-based biodiesel cooperative (www.sfbiofuels.org). Of note is a letter to the California Air Resources Board that basically outlines the fundamental reasons why biodiesel is a good alternative fuel. While I'm still wary of biodiesel as the silver bullet (or one of many silver bullets) to our current oil woes, I think that people like Mr. Bowen are searching for ways to help the environment, our people, and the economy in honest and honorable ways.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Paper, Plastic, Cloth, Or Nothing?

I've been trying to go to cloth shopping bags at the store which really wows the bag boys and girls who fumble to hold the darn things open and stuff them with my groceries. The manufacturers of plastic grocery bags make it so, so easy to use them at the checkout lane that you can see the look of consternation that crosses their faces when presented with a saggy stack of canvas bags (which the store chain I shop at sells, by the way). Lately, however, I've been forgetting the bags altogether when I enter the grocery store and at first I resigned myself to getting the plastic bags but then I had an epiphany: Why not say "no" to bagging? So, I've been using this strategy when I forget the cloth bags and it's been working. The bag people seem a little thrown when I ask them to just put the items back in the cart as-is, but hey, they should be thanking me for not having to hassle with any bagging of any sort! The trouble comes when I have a hand basket and ask them to just put the items back in after they've been scanned. The cashier is all like, "you want to take the basket out of the store?" I have to reassure them that I will bring the basket back after placing the items in my car. We've been so acculturated to bring only the wheeled carts out of the store.

Compact


Compact

A fellow Blogspot blog and one that Delicious G would cotton to: These are folks who made a compact to not buy anything new. I'm still reading it and am not entirely sure if they've made this compact for a year or if it's a forever thing. It's cool though, so give a read (even if they've been slack since June) and think a little bit about the implications of not buying any new crap for a WHOLE FREAKIN' YEAR! Yow.

Will update on these guys sometime soon when I have a better handle on them.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Ride Along Saga


Hoping to pick up more on the blogging -- not sure how, but am taking a quick stab at it while the old man and Dude Junior are out on GNO (Guys Night Out). We bought a ride-along (this one, from amazon.com, in fact) for my bike since our son has now almost reached the weight limit for the bike carrier. I put it together and hooked it up and me and the boy took a spin on it down our street. This lasted for about 90 yards before I heard horrified whimpering from the back. We walked back to the house and DJ told me that he didn't like the fact that it didn't have training wheels and was too wobbly without them. I had read this same complaint from people who had bought this item, but we're trying to make a go of riding to campus instead of taking the car. So, I dutifully bought a pair of training wheels and put them on last night. It was a busy day today so we didn't have a chance to try out the new set up, but I ended up taking a short ride on it after the boys had gone, just to see how it would work. The training wheels, hard plastic, make a terrible racket on the pavement but I kept going. Riding on the path beside the park I lost one of the wheels, put it back on, and then lost it again a few yards later. Put the wheel in my bag and turned around to go home. The ride along is a lot more stable with the wheels and if I tighten the darn things properly maybe they'll stay the heck on. Next, we'll try a ride with DJ actually on it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Who knew a book about natural dyes would be a fascinating read?


You can tell I have been up to my ears in work lately. One thing I have been doing is getting material together for more posts, but have decided to not do too many news-y type posts because of my trouble with copyrights for articles that I want to link to. Anyway, I've been reading this book loaned by a new friend I made at the library where I work who's really into weaving and knitting, and spinning....gah, it's too tiring to laundry-list all of the things she knows how to do so let's just say she's deeply obsessed with this stuff. Here's the book at left, and you'd think that a book about growing plants to use as dyes and textiles would be pretty mind-numbingly boring, but it isn't! This falls under the "What I would do if I had limitless amounts of time and unlimited resources." So, it's a little bit insane to even consider a garden with flax and yucca at this point when my summer garden totally tanked this year. But I really recommend this for those natural-crafts daydreamers like myself. And for those of you who live in tropical regions, did you know that you can use Spanish moss as a furniture and pillow stuffing? You have to wet it down and let it dry out into a disgusting mat of black fibers, but it's free stuffing if you know how to climb trees to get said Spanish moss.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Requiem for a Hunterweight


Whatever else you can say about the death of world renowned wildlife promoter/protector/pesterer Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin, it was spectacularly weird.

A stingray barb? In the heart? From a 'ray he (suppposedly) WASN'T EVEN BOTHERING?!!

If ever there was a man I expected to meet his maker courtesy of a (an)

Annoyed Anaconda
Bothered Boa
Curmudgeonly Croc
Disturbed Devilfish
Exasperated Electric Eel
Flummoxed Funnel-Web Spider

Well, you get the picture, And I can't think of anything good for the letter "G."

Anyway, he was the guy who deserved to meet his end via a miscalculation or unexpected slip WHILE HE WAS DOING THE CRAZY FATE-TEMPTING CRAP WE ALL EXPECTED TO KILL HIM.

Not a random alarmed stingray deciding to pop its barb up like a damn cigarette lighter held aloft as Bon Jovi starts to play their heart-tugging "on the road" anthem, "Dead or Alive" at their recent Missouri state fair engagement.

And how does that work, anyway? Assuming Irwin wasn't, like, trying to stuff the stingray inside his wetsuit, is it even possible that the sudden barb-activation of a free-swimming stingray involves enough kinetic energy that it would be able to penetrate a man's chest as the ray swims past? Seems like the barb oughta just bounce off. Hmm, makes you wonder if there was a shadowy cabal of mafiosa, Cuban exiles and pissed-off, deadly Australian animals that plotted and planned to take out Irwin via an "angry, lone dasyatid."

And what kind of response do you suppose that ray is getting around the reef right about now? High-fives with slimy appendages of every description, free fish guts for life, and probably lots and lots of what passes for hot booty among the stingray community. Damn. "You go, boy! Or girl!" (Sorry, can't tell stingray gender).

We here at the AE household are keeping news of this tragedy from our four-year-old son, Dude Junior. He liked the Crocodile Hunter. And that's reason enough for me to mourn the passing of Steve Irwin.

I bet he's up there in Heaven right now, hogtying Lassie or something. Because only celebrity animals go to Heaven. The rest of 'em go to a sort of metaphysical state park, where they just go about their business as usual. Except they all have wings. And really bad dead people, like Josef Stalin and Roy Cohn and the guy who invented parking meters, get bussed there from Hell once a week to be mercilessly preyed up by all the animals. Even the bunnies. Especially the bunnies.

Because if you spent your entire existence as, like, a komodo dragon, getting to eat another hapless human isn't a big thrill. But if you were a bunny -- fluffy, helpless and delicious -- all you want from the afterlife is payback. The big payback. Just like James Brown described. HAAAAHNH! GOOD GAWD!!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Extree! Extree! Read All About It! Saving the Environment is Now COOL!


The July 17, 2006 cover story for Newsweek is entitiled, "The Greening of America: From Politics to Lifestyle, Why Saving The Environment Is Suddenly Hot." The issue talks about different ways to "save" the environment since it's now apparently hot. Why does this suddently irk me? Isn't this the goal of this blog? To find out ways to be environmentally-friendly with your environment? Okay, here's what makes me so p-o'd about these types of articles: They always involve people with scads of dough to live "green." It's like the whole drop out and live simply phenomenon; the only people who can actually do this have already made their millions and are now retired at the tender age of 35. What about us schmoes who are eaking out an existance working doubles at McDonald's? Okay, I'm not working at McDonald's but I don't have 2400 smackers to lay down on recycled denim to insulate my renovated town house, as Mr. Adrian Grenier did. Okay, I don't live in a renovated town house, either.

Gee, this iss is almost 2 months old -- do you think saving the environment is still "in?"

Friday, September 01, 2006

Launch of an ariane-rocket from Kourou

The Most Underreported Science Story Ever

Okay, well, maybe not ever, but this peaked my Trek-nerd sensibilities: The European Space Agency (ESA) -- the europeans have their own space agency! Huh??? -- has announced that their first unmanned space module is due to crash-land on the moon this Sunday. The SMART-1 took 14 months to reach its target because they were using an ion thruster as its main propulsion into the orbit of the earth's moon. Little particles of ion atoms sent the tiny ship skittering into its orbit. There's something very peaceful about that image.

Here's another image of the SMART-1 on its launcher, the Ariane, as it awaits the go-ahead at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. For updates on the SMART-1 and the ESA, go here.
What are you going to do after the economic holocaust?

An AP wire story a week or so ago gave a startling fact: Home sales have dropped by 4.3% since a dip over twice that size occurred in February. The once-tropical housing market is not just cooling off, it's coming to a hypothermic end.

A Market Watch story last week goes even further to say that we're really screwed. Nouriel Roubini, an economist and president of Roubini Global Economics, not only says the housing market is in a slump, but it's in "free fall" and again makes the prediction that the US will be in recession in 2007. He states on his blog, "I have also argued before that the effects of housing on US economic growth and the role of housing in tipping the US economy into a recession in early 2007 are more significant than the role that the tech sector bust in 2000 played in tipping the economy into a recession in 2001." This is gripping stuff, and comparing the two major McMansion builders to the "proverbial canary in the mine" does not bode well for the US.

So, after the economic holocaust I will probably sew clothes and repair bicycles.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

No Sweat is never going to make athletic shoes.

Neither will they make underwear, which is the other thing that's difficult to get used (and impossible to get used to the idea of getting used). I wrote No Sweat and asked them to make athletic shoes and underwear and they wrote back to politely decline and to try to convince me that what I really want is yoga pants. That was two, three years ago. I still don't want yoga pants and No Sweat still doesn't make athletic shoes or underwear.

Here's why I no longer care:

Because it occurred to me that even with a conscientious manufacturer, buying a new item is usually worse for the environment than buying a recycled item. Of course there are lots of exceptions to this. Like if we're talking a 40-year-old fridge vs a new ozone-friendly fridge where just plugging the older item in is equivalent to going out and shooting pandas. But shoes? Definitely better to re-use. I started having recourse to the ninety trillion pairs sitting in Goodwills all over the nation because everybody's squeamish about used shoes. I have not bought new shoes since the one pair of No Sweats I bought a few years ago. My feet show no signs of putrefaction, and I have more shoes in more styles than Imelda. All for a tiny fraction of what new-shoe-buyers spend, plus I'm not encouraging manufacturers to add to the apparel glut and I'm keeping my truckloads of reclaimed shoes out of the landfill and the garbage gyres for, well, given my attitude to shoes, probably the rest of my life. Win, win, win!

So if I want underwear, I try to be extra nice to all the talented seamstresses I know who make underwear out of old T-shirts. If I want athletic shoes, I look and look and look until I find them used. I have also revisited the notion that athletic shoes are necessary in the first place. After all, what did basketballers play in back when basketball was invented? Chuck Taylors. What do the winningest Olympic track stars win their medals in? Their bare dang feet. I think it's just possible that Nike's success is related more to hype than to a decline in injury rates caused by their $98 shoes. If there are any peer-reviewed studies in feet science that say that encasing your feet in a wad of foam prevents injury or improves performance, I want to know who funded the studies. I do not buy it. In every sense of the phrase.

Meanwhile here is Jack Nicholson in 1978 showing off the car that, if we lived in a more awesome world, we would all be driving past the grocery story, where we of course never go.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Rant on Bathing and Water Consumption

Okay, I'm not a radical environmentalist or even someone who is aggressively trying to find ways to conserve. I do think, however, that we consume way too much of our resources in daily ablutions. When did we start believing that we have to bathe every day? The average American uses 17-24 gallons per shower or bath as per the Water Education Foundation website for kids (and this is based in California so, you know, it's like the movie Chinatown and everything). That's a freakin' lot of water! Look, if you don't work in a coal mine or on a farm or in a sewer (for added irony) don't bathe every day! I know that's hard in some climates like the tropical ones where you feel like a big ball of spit after 5 minutes outside and in desparate need of cleanliness, but I think we can all stand your stinkiness for the sake of saving little over 20 gallons per day. Twenty gallons! That would give drinking water to an entire village in Africa for, like, a month, for Jiminy Christmas!

Okay, can't give up the shower/day? I do 2 different things depending on the level of stinkiness I am up against (and I have a fairly high tolerance for not bathing):
1. I just wash my hair over the tub or in the kitchen sink with the sprayer (if said sink is clean of dishes, which is almost never), turning off the water in between latherings and rinsings, or
2. I get in the shower, wet down, wash my hair really quick and then apply conditioner, turn off the water, soap up and shave, and then rinse all off to squeaky clean-ness as fast as I can. I've heard this referred to as a Navy shower (well, without the shampoo and conditioner mess).

If you want more tips and info on ways to conserve water, there's a handy tip sheet here from The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating together and everything.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Energy Efficiency PSA - Fridge

Hey, is there a problem with your fridge? You bet! You've got a hog coming out of your icemaker! I don't think this is really an energy conservation problem as much as a fish and wildlife issue.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Whew! I love my child and a one-day Bataan-style death march through an undisclosed theme park in the middle of August was proof positive. The environment seemed way more frenetic and louder than usual -- within 5 minutes of passing into the main hub I screamed at the old man, "Why is it so dang loud???!" to which my old man yelled back, "because loud equals fun!" We purchased so much plastic crap that I feel like I have to buy a TerraPass to compensate for all of the manufacturing pollution that was probably produced to make it, not to mention the plastic utensils we used and threw away.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Okay, here is my really last rant before signing off until we get back. This is a website to get an overview of back to basics type stuff. Go to New American Dream. This is mostly a consumer action website, but their motto is "More Fun, Less Stuff" (that's on a bumper sticker, too).
Here is my last screed before me and the old man do our parental duty and take our progeny to a certain theme park in reward for learning how to poop on the potty. I know, TMI. This is a busy week with kids starting school and bigger kids about to start school, so things are plodding yet hectic. But, here is my tip for a happy, stress-free life:

Bake your own bread!

It is so easy and fun (for those who are private area to the wall with stuff to do I would even venture to suggest a bread machine) and people really like warm, fresh bread thrust at them when they appear at your door to help you reinstall your toilet. But I digress.

For those who have never made bread or are of the above condition of being too busy to even think about it, here is a starter recipe to try and the name says it all: Outrageously Easy BIG Bread. Can you think of a bread better suited to our frantic lives? I've made bread for years and years and I'm here to tell you this is indeed the easiest recipe for bread that I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. When you go on the Vegweb.com website and start poking around in their recipes, you will find this recipe is the most fabulously popular of all the bread recipes (and there are some tasty looking recipes, let me tell you). So that should tell you something about how easy and great this recipe is. Thanks to B. for putting me on this track to outrageously easy big bread. BTW, her suggestion is to use bread flour (white or wheat) when making this recipe and even 100% whole wheat bread will be big and puffy.

If you find the time to make it, there is nothing better than kneading bread to get your stress level under control, and the feeling of accomplishment when it comes out of your oven smelling all good and looking all brown and big will be a real ego boost, I promise.

Okay, haven't sold you yet on baking your own bread. Then, go to your local bakery and buy bread that someone has lovingly fashioned for you and don't forget to bring your own towel or bread bag to wrap your lovely bread-thing in.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

If an up-and-coming first world nation bans Coke and Pepsi, what's next? And it's not a religious thing or anything -- there's bug spray up in that mess! And I'm not talking about spray coming from a bug, I'm talking about the spray that makes the bugs die!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Here's a bag on e-Bay that looks like the one I used to carry around, except that mine was pink and the size of a Volkswagon. It should be possible to use the same technique used to create the "boho" nightmare I used to have to make a permanent shopping bag out of plastic carrier bags. Cut bags into strips, twist the strips together into a long rope, coil the rope and use monofilament to stitch it into a roughly tote-shaped item. Then braid up some shoulder straps out of the same noisome material. A bag like this would be ugly, but not significantly uglier than plastic carrier bags are in their original state, and we none of us feel self conscious dragging those around. More importantly a bag like this has the potential to turn the act of shopping from a guilt-inducing drag to a positive experience, almost a balm for the soul. Not only would the shopper not be adding plastic to the garbage gyres, those Texas-sized masses of plastic out in the ocean that kill a million birds and "about 100,000 seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, other marine mammals and sea turtles" every year; but the shopper would be, at least for a time, removing plastic from uncontrolled sea landfills. Even if in, say, forty or fifty years our shopper shuffles off this mortal coil and her beloved bag made from bags somehow fails to sell at her estate sale and gets thrown away, and even if it escapes the garbage truck and ends up in the street, from whence it washes into a storm drain and thence into a creek that flows into a river that washes it out to sea, even in this worst-case scenario, if a sea turtle were to come across 100 carrier bags bound into the shape of an 80s-era shoulder bag, the turtle would hardly try to eat the item. Such a tote would be far too retroboho hippyfabulous to resemble a jellyfish, and in any case it would be too big to fit into a turtle's mouth. He or she would paddle gently away.

Blipskrieg
What the world is doing with plastic bags:
this
that
the other
not to mention
THIS!
and finally,
This is the cutest thing I ever saw in my entire life OMG what if there was a Hello Kitty one!

PS: Don't forget to stay out of the grocery store.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Crocheted grocery bag shoes!

G. has been looking up some simply scrumptious sites about crocheting things with plastic grocery bags. I tooled around for a moment on Google but found nothing -- except, this lovely crocheted hat. You can get the directions here. Maybe G d G will create a quick post about the ways people from far-off lands are able to use old grocery bags because, man, we're drowning in them here.
In case you were wondering what to do with that old sweater you found in a thrift store but when you took it home discovered it had a stain on it:

Wonder Girl Knits: July 2005

After you're finished unraveling it and dyeing it with kool-aid, then you can teach yourself to knit:

Hello Knitty Learn to Knit Video Instruction

Okay, here's another reason to make your own clothes or clothes for all your friends and fam -- RFID chips--you know, the-no-bigger-than-a-grain-of-rice electronic devices used to control inventory but also a handy way to keep track of people. People were up in arms because Benetton was putting RFID chips in their clothing and three years later they're everywhere! Consumer Reports Online has a pretty basic article on the technology, and as soon as you read that Wal-Wart is telling their vendors to use the microcircuitry then it becomes just plain Orwellian. Two years ago, Wired online reported on a company who has created a tag to block scans of RFID tags -- the company, RSA Security, has an extensive section of its website devoted to RFID technology here and I wonder if they'll follow through with making this technology available to consumers.
The link to this photo and the blog it came from is Spychips RFID Blog.

Friday, August 04, 2006

While I don't want this to become a blog about crap (although, inevitably and without any coaxing, could inexorably become such), there was one last thought before the weekend that I wanted to impart. It comes from a passage I just read in the canonical text of the Zen school I belong to.

And Now, Your Moment of Zen...

Master un Mun: "Dry shit on a stick"
In many old chinese temples, the monks compost human and animal waste together for several weeks before using them as fertilizer in the gardens. The wastes have to compost together for a long time to eliminate toxic poisons. The monks pee and defectate in large buckets placed under wooden benches, and sometime during the day collect the wastes for composting. A long, flat paddle is used to mix the wastes together with ashes and remove them from the buckets. At the end of the day, the stick would be left leaning in the sun near the outhouse to dry. Then one day, the great Zen Master Un Mun had just relieved himself, and was walking out of the privy adjusting his pants. At that moment, a monk approached him and said, "What is Buddha?" While he was being asked this question, the Zen master's eyes simply happened to catch sight of the long shit-stick, leaning against the wall drying in the sun. "Dry shit on a stick!" Un Mun replied, and continued on his way. In that moment, the Zen master's mind was only dry shit on a stick. Dry shit on a stick was his whole mind.
-From The Compass of Zen by Zen Master Seung Sahn

The World's Healthiest Foods

Okay, here's the site that everyone should be going to:

The World's Healthiest Foods

And then when you're done exploring this great site, buy the book which is about the size and weight of the Cleveland Yellow Pages. I saw it today during a playdate at "B's" house and witnessed its hugeiosity and found out that, get this, it is not organized a-z foods but by which foods are most nutritionally dense. Can you dig it? So things like mushrooms and olives come before things like rutabagas and carrots. It also has a groovy section on what "organic" means for fruits and vegetables as well as for meat.
I found another item on Metafilter that has to be related to environmentalism somehow, I just know it! Maybe it's, like, because of global warming or styrofoam or something. Anyway, it shows you why I love Metafilter (aka... the Hive Mind):

Where are the birds? Shouldn't they be having a feast out there?I suspect that quite the reverse has happened; that they overwhelmed the birds, covered the nests and are feasting on the young.Speaking of which... why are all those bikes there? Wouldn't children normally be riding them?...My god.

(Click where it says, "Parts of Sweden are overrun by caterpillars," wait, then scroll down to see... the bikes. You won't forget it!)
Hey, guess what? Edna signed on and is ready to do some serious bloggity blogging! Let's give her a big, warm, AE hug, huh? And, since she is the namer of this blog, it would be appropriate and right for Edna to give us the skinny on what accidental environmentalism is all about. We need structure! A framework from which to build this shining city in the ecoblogosphereosystem.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'll Have the Blue Petri Plate Special, Please
Delicious G is on the right track -- now let's take it over the top! Can you imagine buying a delicious, juicy steak that was raised in a petri dish? Neither can I! Thanks, Doctor Awesome!
I hate that I'm such a blog hog, but I keep running across stuff. Today, appropriately enough, I'm gonna blog about hog.

Somebody e-mailed me the latest hog op/ed from The New York Times Select. I'm not "select," so normally I can't read anything graced with orange logos in The New York Times, but for some reason when I clicked on the link I found out I'm getting a free 14-day trial! So I can read Bob Herbert's column about how Smithfield Foods is a big union buster.

Not that this was much of a shock, since I read Fast Food Nation (that is not an Amazon link, btw, I'm done with those) and since I once lived in Iowa, home of many pigs and many people from Mexico brought there to process pigs. Iowa was good to me, what with all the awesome Mexican restaurants. Iowa is not so good to its meat packing plant workers and its pigs.

Temple Grandin has fascinating things to say about pigs and ominous things to say about how their breeding and confinement affects not only them but the quality of our nation's pork. So does Harper's. (If you don't want to buy the May 2006 Harper's, you can read the article here by signing up for a FREE TRIAL!)

And if you already used up your 14-day NYTselect period and you don't want to buy any books today or sign up for any FREE TRIALS, you can read this short piece about a lady who thinks Smithfield Foods is causing her house to disintegrate.

Want to know how to keep your money out of the pockets of mean ol' union bustin', homewreckin' Smithfield Foods and avoid eating watery, icky pork from discontented pigs, all in one simple step? Okay, then, here it is:

Stay out of the grocery store!

A Porkalicious Blip:
Today's blip is a recipe! Take one (1) strip bacon from a pig who knew how to live right. Cut it into little bacon shavings (cross-wise, not lengthwise so they're like an inch long and half a centimeter wide). Put same in big cast iron pan on lowish heat and cook them to a frazzle. (Don't burn them, but do cook 'em good.) While the bacon sizzles, cut up a whole ton (I don't really worry about the amount, I just cook whatever I happen to have--if there's more squash, it'll be less bacony, if less squash, more bacony) of yellow squash (the crookneck ones, not the ones that look like little flying saucers) from the farmers' market or your backyard or your neighbors' backyard. Cut your yellow squash into very thin rounds. If you have a Benriner you can make short work of this. Put the squash in your salad spinner in layers, salting each layer. Put the salad spinner over a big bowl. You want the water to drain out of the squash into the bowl, so salt liberally. Now cut up onions. Depending on how much you like onions, use anywhere from one part onion, four parts squash all the way up to a 1-1 ratio of onion to squash. The bacon should be about done now, so throw in the onion. While the onion cooks, squeeze the water out of the squash with your hands. Maintaining the salad spinner-over-bowl configuration, spin the rest of the water out of the squash. Don't just throw out the squash water. It's got all kinda squash nutrients in it! Pour it in a cup and put the cup in the fridge. Put the squash in with the rest of the stuff and cook cook cook until it's all sweet and bacony delish. It might need a little more salt--it's supposed to be pretty salty. It will definitely need a ton of black pepper. Serve piping hot.
What To Do About Our Crap:
This is in answer to G's commentary the other day. I think we should all consider the possibility of using composting toilets! I tried to suggest this to my old man last year and he immediately rejected (unfairly, I think) the idea of pooping into a bucket. Hey, you know, I wonder if Wikipedia has an entry about composting toilets...I'm going to check...Oh my gosh! It does! And you can look at it here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Oh, hey, here's another thing that sucks:

Turns out there's "a virulent pox on the world's oceans."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/oceans/la-me-ocean30jul30,0,6670018,full.story

It seems that the weird, ancient wannabes that preceeded all us multicellular cool kids are making a comeback. They're laying seige to the oceans, killing off fish and seals and what not and making life hell for fisherfolk the world over.

The L.A. Times says, Fish, corals and marine mammals are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked. And what can unchecked jellyfish lead to? Try nuclear power plant malfunction!

The L.A. Times says, We're pushing the oceans back to the dawn of evolution.

The L.A. Times says... look, I'm sorry, I know I'm going overboard with the splash quotes no pun intended, but the whole article is a dang splash quote. And I'm not doing that thing where you take the most incendiary paragraph and split it up into nine separate splash quotes. I am telling you there is enough freakish one-celled-organism mayhem out there to provide a solid three or four pages of pure D horror! And the worst part? At the top of the article, in little bitty words, it says... part one!

Look at this:
"It's like acid," Tanner said. "I couldn't believe it. It kept pulling the skin off."

and this:
"We checked this 20 times. It was mind-boggling. It was like 'The Blob.' "

and this:
"It comes up like little boils," said Randolph Van Dyk, a fisherman whose powerful legs are pocked with scars. "At nighttime, you can feel them burning. I tried everything to get rid of them. Nothing worked."

and this:
we are witnessing "the rise of slime."

Well, gol! Say, why's all that stuff happening, anyhow?

Well, continues the ever helpful L.A. Times, 'cause Industrial society is overdosing the oceans with basic nutrients — the nitrogen, carbon, iron and phosphorous compounds that curl out of smokestacks and tailpipes, wash into the sea from fertilized lawns and cropland, seep out of septic tanks and gush from sewer pipes.

So if after all my cut'n'paste slavery you still want to skip the article, basically the story goes like this: we took all the cool stuff out of the ocean and ate it, and then we crapped in the ocean. Now there's no more cool stuff in the ocean and all the creepy stuff in the ocean is getting fat off our crap.

What can we do about our crap? Maybe nothing. If we don't see a reason to do anything about it, nothing for sure. Maybe we'll just go on crapping until we crap ourselves out. But if we do want to do something, it's at least possible we may be able to reduce our output enough to make a slight difference.

How? Well, one way to reduce your load of crap is to stop supporting corporate agriculture. Don't buy food unless you know who grew it and unless you trust that they grew it right. It's a simple and appealing maxim: buy from people you're pretty sure won't throw crap in the sea. More simple and appealing yet,

Stay out of the grocery store.

Today's Blip!
A good book to read is The Ethical Gourmet. Read the fish section so that you'll know what species we're gorging on to the detriment of ourselves and to the benefit of the rising tide of slime.
It's Hard Out Here For A Journo*
I just saw this really disturbing story about a journo/activista, Josh Wolf, who was just sent to FEDERAL prison because he refused to turn over video tape to a judge investigating alleged arson (attempt to burn a police car) that occured during an anarchist demonstration on July 8, 2005. Not just Journo Jail, not even "Double Jail", but FEDERAL PRISON:
And here's a link to the video that he has published online:
What exactly are the limits of what courts can request of journalists? Where are the lines being drawn? The judge, William Alsup, after the hearing (in which Wolf was found in contempt) had this to say:
Every person, from the president of the United States down to you and me, has to give information to the grand jury if the grand jury wants it.
And he's right because the shield laws for jounalists in California do not apply to Federal cases (the police car is federal property because the city police receive federal funds).
Here is a Wikipedia link about Freedom of the Press (in case you were wondering).

What I want to know is, does the tape Wolf took actually show a police car being burned? If it does, should he turn it over or still refuse? Okay, here's my take on this: Videotaping your stupid anarchist pals attempting to shove a burning mattress under a police car is just plain stupid. You start the tape after the mattress is under the car and your friends are safely ensconced in the next county, okay? If you're going to be a g-d d'd anarchist activist journo at least have the sense to not implicate your friends. Also, if you're going to be on the other end of the camera and you are a naive anarchist activist protesting the G8 summit, here is a short list of things you should not do:
1. Throw things at businesses.
2. Throw things belonging to businesses into the street.
3. Break into businesses and steal things.
You see, following just these three things (and I could go on and on about things you shouldn't do at a protest march) will make your experience, and the experience of those around you, less hellish in the long run. Because, even though you are a 20 year old anarchist activist who hates corporations and/or massive government invading every facet of your life (and who doesn't?), doing the above three things will not only possibly land you in jail, but also enrage the businesses large and small and cause them to cement in their minds a very good reason why anarchist activists should be eradicated. Do you see the logic, idiot 20 year old anarchist activist? If you act like an a-hole in public (instead of in the privacy of your own commune, like lots of other rational folks do) people will naturally conclude that YOU ARE AN A-HOLE and deserve to be locked away.
And, if you are a anarchist activist journo who happens to be taping your friends being a-holes in public (are you getting tired of me saying "a-hole" instead of "asshole" yet? My posts are clean, okay?) then you will not only be locked away, but put in FEDERAL PRISON when you try to do your ethical journalistic duty by not revealing your sources -- in effect, living up to the ideal of Freedom of the Press which supposedly the first amendment guarantees for you and me.
The frightening lesson here, kids, is that unless you are just as devious and mean-spirited as the people who wish to jail and suppress your kind because you are essentially right about a lot of things, you will be neutralized.
Boy, I love being able to rant and only provide the least amount of anectdotal evidence I possibly can. Ain't America great?

*With apologies to all those who previously called a moratorium on play-ons related to the Three 6 Mafia fiasco by a similar name.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Delicious G is in the Haus! Hooray! We have a new blogger in the eco-blogosphereosystem! Girlfriend, this blog is your blog. Now, if Edna would get here...
Hi! I'm Blogging! I'm a Blogger! Wheeee, Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog! (http://www.dontknockmysmock.com/) Bloggity Blog Blog!

Welcome one and all to... a Blog! From the desk of... a Blogger!


Today and perhaps forevermore, I, a Blogger, shall be Blogging about:

How You Can Stay out of the Grocery Store (and the Drug Store)


My first Blog that I am Blogging will be Blogged:

The First Day of Your All New Life not Spent in the Grocery Store
First off, why would you not want to spend any time in the grocery store ever? Well, because it sucks at the grocery store.

Secondly, why all the white space, random caps and annoying enthusiasm in my Blog? It's because I'm a new Blogger. New to the Blog lifeway. I may calm down with this stuff presently: we'll just have to see what kind of Blogger of Blogs I turn out to Blog. I know one thing though: Don't dog my Blog or I'll flog your clog. (Please refer to the above hyperlink.)

Thirdly, now that I'm well underway with my new Blog, I'll begin with a tip for how to stay out of the grocery store. But except I don't want to call it a "tip." This is a Blog, so advisory nuggets herein should be called Blips.

Blip One:
Luckily, there are other places to buy food besides the grocery store. These include: farmers' markets. Roadside vegetable stands. Farms. People you know at work who raise backyard flocks and will bring eggs to you at the office. Weird, off-the-grid outlets like the Friday meat sale at the meat lab at the local land grant university. The new bakery that opened up right in the neighborhood thank God finally.

Others? Surely you can think of something. Can't? At a loss? Go here: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa/.

Bye! Blog a little Blog of me!

PS: Okay, technically I didn't "start" this Blog so every time I Blogged "my Blog" or "my new Blog" up there it was "inaccurate," or "totally obnoxious" or whatever the tech-y terminology is. What. Everrr! New to the lifeway! GOOJF!

PPS: The new HABA produits sont wondrous fair. Also, this Blogger would like to take the opportunity right now to give a big shout out for the produits de the sewing machine of a certain talented seamstress. Basically I'm saying that if a certain somebody has made a dark promise to use up all her previously purchased fabric before taking another trip to Joanne's, I know a certain somebody else who happens to be a real fan of fabric and who can always use a thing or two made out of, say for instance... fabric. Quelle coincidence jolie!