Sunday, November 30, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 11.29.08: Dispatch from the farmar's

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

While I was recovering from turning in a thesis draft in the wee hours of Saturday morning, DG shouldered the Need-a-Bag? project responsibilities and provided this dispatch from the 441 Farmer's Market:

Farmar 11.29.08

The market was deeeaaaad today. Farmer John had some greens that looked excellento, and the shrimp guy was there, and the tomatoes people. I got some tomatoes to make sauce with, and some kumquats and some pecans (pecans are excellent at the moment—now is the time to invest in pecans for your family's needs). Other than those few vendors and the standards—the Flour Pot, etc., the place was denuded. And customers? Don't make me laugh: there were no such. We put out 12 new bags and I retired the tired old black vinyl atrocity that has been hanging on the fence since spring. Goodbye, old soldier. And a sorryass little burlap affair that has been there, I think, since day one. Sorry, blueboy: your hour has arrived.

All the new bags have BeDaZzLeD labels. It's like Prince designed them. It's like the Farmar is Xanadu. Everyone should be required to wear oldstyle rollerskates and hotpants to shop there.

There was a laundry bag that I remodled to be even less useful by cutting off its mesh top and fashioning it into some useless handles and bedazzling them to the ripstop body. Useless as it is, it's been bedazzled so hard, I don't see how anyone can resist it. I put it in the far back area so that only the most discerning customers will see it. The T-totes are holding their own. In that they remain stolidly on the fence, unmolested. They are above the fray. T-totes. Above it. What will we find after the nuclear winter? Nothing but T-totes and cockroaches.

Last post on Black Friday (I promise)

Wanted to thank Tim and Lisa Reitz and Me-Me King who commented on the Black Friday posts -- your refusal to participate in this senseless "tradition" is inspiring!

I was talking to DG about this subject last night, and remarking on a comment I had read on the internets.  In referring to the tragic death of the Wal-Mart employee, the poster made the observation, something to the effect of "it's not like they were rushing into the store to get food to feed their families, they were rushing in to buy stuff."  And that's what makes these yearly death tallies on Black Friday so sad; we really only have two basic needs in our lives--food and shelter--and when we find ourselves going ape s**t over marked-down toys and TV sets this is a major problem.  

The old man was even saying that these things should be regulated somehow and, if the old man says something should be regulated, you KNOW it's got to be some bad ju-ju.  

I was just finishing up the next to final paper in one of my religion classes, and this comment by Bill McKibben, from Hope, Human and Wild, really helps in thinking about our motives for craziness like Black Friday:
We may rationally accept that continuing to use the world's resources at our current rate--that living our amazingly high life--is unsustainable.  We may, in our rational brains, believe that our car culture, our air-conditioned life, our mall fantasies, are sapping our planet.  But in our hearts we fear that any real change would plunge us into a world of poverty, disease, ignorance--that it's either our life in all its detail or a grim, short, narrow life (123).
You can tell I'm still in paper mode because I reference my sources, haha.  

I want to believe that 90% of the folks standing in line to rampage through Beast Buy on Black Friday know that the electronics and toys they buy are a wasteful use of energy and resources, but there is the overriding fear of not having them that causes the freak out.  That's what I want to believe, anyway.  

Oh, oh, and one more quote from Hope, Human and Wild while I'm at it--this is a quote from Mayor Lerner of the Brazilian city of Curitiba:
The job, it's a job of balancing needs and potentials.  If you only work on the big issues, you're far from the people.  If you only work on the daily needs, you don't do anything fundamental.  You have to understand you are responsible for the hope of people, their hope for change.
Sounds like someone else we know, huh?

Friday, November 28, 2008

More on Black Friday

After I posted about how humorous I found people who waited in line all night for bargains at the big box stores, the old man told me that a man--a temporary Wal-Mart employee--was trampled to death by crowds trying to get into the Valley Stream, NY store.  People literally knocked the doors down as employees (the dead man included) were attempting to open them for incoming shoppers.  Police couldn't even get to the man to help him for several minutes.  There was also a shooting at a Toys "R" Us store in California.  Here is a link to a CNN article on the two incidents.

This apparently happens every year.  Is it the responsibility of people to not go to these things or, if they do go, to behave well -- or is it the responsibility of the big box stores to just not have these crazy sales right after Thanksgiving?  I don't know.

Happy Black Friday! MOJO Article Comment: O Say Can You Buy?

This is the second anniversary post about Black Friday. Am I going shopping today, instead of adhering to Buy Nothing Day? Pshaw! Just came back from shopping for weekend supplies from my friendly neighborhood Publix. And after the old man and DJ go to the museum they are Christmas shopping. So, our household has not embraced Buy Nothing Day this year. But, we always like to wring as much humor value out of the idea that people would wait in front of Beast Buy at 4:00 am in the morning to get a deal on a new plasma TV. You wait in line all night for Beatles tickets, not a TV.

Here is a snippet from today's NY Times article by Michael M. Grynbaum:
Nikki Nicely, 19, wanted a television — a 40-inch Samsung flat-screen, to be exact, on sale for $798, marked down from $1,000, and available for a limited time in the wee hours of Friday morning at the Wal-Mart store in Columbus, Ohio.
So, at 4:40 a.m., when a fellow shopper tried to pry away the box she had been guarding for an hour, Ms. Nicely did not play nice. She jumped onto the man’s back and began to pound his shoulders, screaming, “That’s my TV! That’s my TV!”
A police officer and security guard intervened but not before Ms. Nicely took an elbow in the face. Still, when the dust settled, she had her hand on the box. “That’s right,” she cried as the man walked away. “This here is my TV!”

ROAR! Nikki wasn't being Nicely, she was being Nastly. And she kicked ass, too. Why do these things always happen at Wal-Mart?

So, anyway, I was reading the online Mother Jones articles -- I posted last week sometime about an article on different sources of carbon emissions and the ways to reduce them.  And there was this new one called "O Say Can You Buy?" about how the writer spent a week trying to buy nothing but American-made products. Talk about futile exercises to prove a point. Yes, yes, we're lame because we don't manufacture and produce as much of our own stuff as we used to.

But you would think that the author would have spent a little time prior to her week of buying only American-made products planning for the thing, instead of launching herself into Nordstrom's looking for a bra manufactured in the US.  Nordstrom's?  Really?  

The comments were pretty illuminating, like the poster who blamed this on unions raising their wages so much that it forces American companies to use other countries for their production.  I wish this noise about how unions are ruining American manufacturing would die down soon -- American unions are about the only thing keeping middle class Americans in the narrow margins of this shrinking tax-bracket.  Yes, you pay more for union-made products, but you are also supporting fellow Americans.  

I liked the comment by Kathleen Pelley who buys food from her local co-op and knits her own clothes.  This stuff takes planning and it also takes time -- not everyone can knit and not everyone has the time to knit, but seeking out those who do and paying them a decent price for a sweater or pair of socks would be a start.  

The author also forgot about the concept of buying used clothing, which is about the next best thing to buying American.  Buying bras this way might be tricky, and buying underwear used is just yucky, but there are other ways around that, such as making your own undies out of used T-shirts, for instance (gratuitous plug).

The article was funny and sad, on the whole, mostly because it could have highlighted alternatives more and she could have taken longer than a week to explore these avenues.  As a gonzo piece it was fine; I guess I'm just saying that buying "American" is a concept that takes lots of planning and not relying on normal modes of consumerism.

Okay, that's it, I'm tapped.  Back to the thesis.

Got the pic from Funkyunk -- Busta is getting his plasma TV, yo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

EarthFirst! Website: A Review

I was tooling around for a photo of Al Gore to do a post on his recent initiative to get us using renewable energy in 10 years, the RepowerAmerica site, and ran across the EarthFirst! website/blog.  I am familiar with this group from a class called Radical Environmentalism that I took for my religion minor.  

Just as a note, this site is not to be mistaken with EarthFirst! the dot org site, which is way less tech but still delivers green power goodness, like hooking up with the tree sits in your neighborhood. 

Anyway, I was trying to get this picture of Gore (which I ended up using in the Need-a-Bag Update for 11.22.08 -- oh yeah, I probably should have referenced that...oh well) and then ended up on the EarthFirst! dot com site and was completely entranced.  And then became enraged.  They've been "Snarking up Green Since 1883" and I've only be snarking it up since 2006!  Dammit!  I'm supposed to be the fun-loving site that makes fun of the greeniverse!  And they are obviously so much better at it, doing it since 1883 and all (and who knew that Al Gore invented the internet in 1883??!).

So, I'm looking at their site, with entries such as (the latest)  "Turtles Alter Nesting Date Due to Rising Temperatures."  A funny picture of Ann Coulter with devil's horns and a goatee -- tee-hee!  AWWWW!  WTF!  A picture of boiling skin from antibiotic resistance...!  It looks like ribbons of brain coming out of someone's arm!!! GAHHH!  

Oh yeah.  They're EarthFirst! after all. This is their domain -- showing you the shocking crap we should all be aware of but are only marginally aware of because we watch Good Morning America.  Don't be lulled by pictures of cute turtles and funny photoshopped pictures of Ann Coulter, I say.  These guys are in it to win it. 

Do I agree with EarthFirst! and their philosophy?  No.  Have I ever thought about taking out a new housing development being built on sensitive lands?  And I challenge anyone with at least an inkling of green awareness to say otherwise.  We've all thought these thoughts, anyone who cares about the world they live in.  The crossroads come when you act on those thoughts in ways that are violent.  This separates EarthFirst! from the collective of humans who don't like what's going on in the world but endeavor to make it better in peaceful ways.  

I like the EarthFirst! dot com site and will continue to read it -- I do not agree, however, with their past or their philosophy and if that makes me a greeny wimp girl, then so be it.  

Got the EarthFirst! fist from EarthFirst! the dot org.

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 11.22.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

Thought I'd get the jump on letting three weeks go by before updating on the project -- so, Nyeh! Nyeh! procrastination sprite!

Today was pretty frikkin' cold at the farmer's market -- the old man told me after I had gotten back from my first foray that the g-ville sun website said it was 27-degrees. There were, of course, not that many farmers and people there, but there was tons of lettuce and other delicious produce there. I got me an eggplant and some green beans. At the Sustainability Fair at the farmer's market a few Saturdays ago -- which I helped out at, and if I had a dang camera that worked I would have some decent photos to show you -- the lady who runs Hogtown Homegrown was grilling up some totally bitchin' stuffed eggplant and THAT I have got to try. When I asked the fam what they wanted their eggplant stuffed with, they resounding cry was for meat -- is the cold that bad that we have to have so much protein? Forget that noise -- I'm making some of that pesto/sundried tomato/mozzarella mess that lady was stuffing the eggplant with. And maybe an almond crust, I dunno.

We have a bunch of new bags to throw into the mix but did we bring them? No! Of course not, because I ran out of the printable fabric and the last three labels I had got thrown into some pile somewhere in the many pile-boluses in the house and I couldn't find them five minutes before leaving the house this morning. Oh well. But we'll have more fabulous baggage next weekend if I can get it together enough to go to Le JoAnn's to buy some more labelage. Until then, market denizens will have to choose from a fine selection of t-totes.

And today I went back to the farmer's market at Need-a-Bag? Project closing time, to help intrepid Need-a-Bag? Project Associate bag-putter-awayer, Stace, get the bags safely stashed in the Farmer's Market shed. We here at the Need-a-Bag? Project like to make sure our fellow associates are taken care of -- so Stace bought me a chai-latte afterwards and made sure I was comfortable in a nice, sunny nook of the coffee house. That's how we roll!

A big shout-out to Stace's mom, by the way, for getting us a bunch of new bags and to Stace, who snagged a couple of sweet bags left "for free" at her workplace!

I cannot thank Stace enough for braving the cold tundra of I-441 each Saturday morning while Need-a-Bag? Project Associate Erika gets the much needed rest she deserves before descending on the farmer's market in December with fine and tasty citrus. You rock, Stace!!!

Also, when putting away bags this morning, two more bags just suddenly showed up! I looked around for Need-a-Bag? Project Associate Jean, but hopefully she was somewhere where did these come from??? Oh joy! Oh rapture! I do so love the sweet surprise of finding new bags that someone has taken the time to donate to the project. These are those cool, European-style string market bags, and one was from the Environmental Defense Fund. Bedazzling labels on these guys is going to be a challenge, but who cares??!

Monday, November 17, 2008

MOJO article: Are Shorter Showers Beside the Point?

Mother Jones' e-magazine just came out with an interesting table and short article, "Are Shorter Showers Beside the Point?" When you look at the table it's about everything you'd expect -- the things individuals do make no impact, while the things industry does makes all the difference. The biggest reduction in CO2? Reducing it 13.2% by using half the amount of energy produced from coal and replacing it with wind turbines.

The article, written by Steve Aquino and Gary Moskowitz, states that "we could trim the nation's ghg footprint by almost 30 percent over the next 25 years by getting business to invest in efficient cars, appliances, and buildings as well as cleaner energy, with incentives including tax credits, subsidies, offsets, and fewer 'regulatory hurdles.'"

But that's the problem. We need to use less of these appliances, build less, and regulate more. tax credits are fine for industries that need to have made these changes to cleaner, more efficient methods of production, but subsidies? I'm tired of mollycoddling industry who have their corporate heads so far up their asses they can't think beyond making a ton of money at the expense of the environment.

The problem with GM is a case and point: they were so worried about shareholder investments and the huge markup they were getting on gas-guzzling SUV's that they forgot that the time to start making more fuel-efficient cars was 10 years ago. Now the U.S. is bailing them out and not because we want to, but because millions of jobs are at stake if the U.S. auto industry goes under.

Okay, going back to my thesis, now...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 10.19.08 and Blog Round-up #2

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

It has been three weeks since I've updated on the Need-a-Bag? Project, and that's because there really hasn't been much to report. Also, I've been running over-time with school projects -- this is the final push, folks, and I have got to graduate this semester. I'm afraid to think what will happen to this blog when I go to graduate school...!

Anyway, all it seems I have time for these days is reading and commenting on other people's blogs (reading and commenting take a lot less time than coming up with original content). So, here's where I've been dwelling when not swirling with papers and projects:

Yecats Gniwe -- the ever intrepid Need-a-Bag? Project Associate bag putter-awayer, Stace, reports on a Saturday in the hinterlands beyond the Gainesville reality limits in "Saturday of Serenity and Strangeness."

Nom, nom, nom! -- you'll see why a woman and her homemade mayonnaise cannot be parted when you read "another mayo triumph." Obama sun symbolism alert!

Gee-ville Deals -- Bren has another fabulous day fattening her family's larder in these depressed economic times in "Olive you, Publix." A shrewd commenter notes that "olive you" sounds like the bark of a dog attempting to say "I love you," as evidenced in the many America's Funniest Home Videos we have as videographic proof. Bren agrees and...well, great minds think alike!

SAME HAT! SAME HAT! -- the blog's proprietor is issuing #1 of Electric Ant zine -- I think it has something to do with manga and the people who are obsessed with it. I have no idea what they're talking about, but I'm getting my copy!

That's it for now -- if you have news of note (eco or the exact opposite) in your blog, drop me a line at

The new ridealong set up with trailer for hauling groceries. There's a new Schwinn in the house...-- hey, get out of the way, son, you're blocking the view!