Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Ridealong (now a trail-a-bike)

I'm coming around to the idea of calling them trail-a-bikes. Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that it's time to upgrade our trail-a-bike, since the Instep one we have wobbles so bad. I mean, it wobbles so bad that, in previous posts about this, I've remarked on this fact and my efforts to counter this with training wheels and my annoying interactions with bike mechanics because of said training wheels. All that's water under the bridge, I say! Got a recommendation from my old REL4936 professor (who, happily, will be my new religion professor this fall) who enthused about the Burley Piccolo. It is apparently quite popular with the eco-moms in town and, since I aspire to one day be one of those, I went to Bike Route to procure one. It was pricey but the Bike Route guy said he would deliver it and install it. Getting it installed at my house is way better than schlepping the Gary Fisher to their shop (which, if you are familiar with the comings and goings of bicycle shops in Hogtown, moved from their campus location out to Harmony Gardens on 441).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bill Nye is a Green Dude

The NYT has a "Green" issue (doesn't everyone, these days?) this Sunday. It was uninspiring for the most part except for the laundry list of greenery written by Bill Nye. He is one of my favorite science guys and have turned DJ onto episodes (when we can find them) of "Bill Nye, The Science Guy," still an excellent show after over ten years from its first appearance.

Friday, April 18, 2008

So Close!

I am so close to being done with school for the summer -- I can almost taste it, and it is yummy.

While I'm preparing for more posts, I wanted to list what's going to be on Science Friday on NPR today. I love this show and I'm especially interested in the bat die-off story -- it is something DG was telling me about recently:

Today's Program: Friday, April 18th, 2008


Bats in the Northeast are under attack by a mysterious illness called White Nose Syndrome. Image by Flora Lichtman.

Hour One- 2pm EDT

New U.S. Climate Change Goals?

This week, President Bush announced a new set of national goals related to climate change and called for a stop to growth in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. We'll talk about the goals proposed by the White House, and why some say they don't go far enough. (more)

Hurricanes and Global Warming

In 2005, climate researchers said that there appeared to be a statistical link between global warming and stronger hurricanes. Now, using new models of the atmosphere, one of those scientists says the link may not be so clear after all. (more)

Water Power Cracks Ice Sheet

Researchers working on the Greenland Ice Sheet describe a flow of water exceeding that of Niagara Falls. (more)

Hour Two-3pm EDT

Jeffrey Sachs: Common Wealth

In this segment, Ira talks with Jeffrey Sachs, author of the new book "Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet." (more)

Bat Die-Off Mystery

Bat experts are struggling to explain what's causing a massive die-off in hibernating bats across parts of the Northeast. (more)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Farm Bill Debate on Bill Moyer's Journal

Lots of information on the Farm Bill debates on the Bill Moyer's Journal website. Also a great piece entitled "Hunger in America." I sure felt the pinch last night when I went shopping for the fam.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Need-a-Bag? project update 03.12.08

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.

So many things to talk about today. Got to the farmer's market late, so DG did her shoppin' while I set up. Coming late did allow us to meet Cindy of Wasteweardaily and her lovely family, however. She was so nice and it's great to keep meeting all the local enviro-bloggers! We discussed poor Virgo who, once again, has not been chosen to carry produce. DG almost claimed Virgo to carry sweet potatoes but I objected -- I have too much of an emotional investment in little Virgo, you know?

Got some oranges from Erika-of-the-sweet-and-tasty-citrus who will soon become Erika-of-the-(fill in the blank)-peaches and we talked about plans. Oh, we've got plans...She's been urging us to follow through on an idea for quite some time, and has been wanting to write about it in her emails (which you can sign up for at -- totally worth it!). Always appropriate, she did not want to spill the beans until we actually got the plan underway. Perhaps she will feel more like it's the real deal if I go ahead and announce that...

Totey the Tote Bag will be coming to the Alachua County Farmer's Market on 441 very, very soon! I'm shouting! Yes, we're finally getting it together to build Totey because, what's an organization without its mascot? Erika has volunteered to take photos of Totey's construction so that should be worth a few guffaws on the blog, not to mention the miles and miles of humor value we'll get out of Totey in action! I don't want to get Erika's hopes up, but there are also plans in the works to create Totey's arch nemesis Randy, the evil plastic grocery bag, and "a host of others" as they say on Rocky & Bullwinkle. I won't divulge more than that, tho'!

The picture is from VegWeb's recipe for Angeled Eggs. I didn't have another, more appropriate picture and they look so tasty!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blog Roundup 04.10.08

Going to start doing some quick-and-dirty summations of what's going on with the blogs I like to read. Some of them are not environmental in nature, so bear with me. I think it'll be fun!

Glom Shelter -- Tracy got some cool Mongolian boots (used, natch) and continues her excavation of locavore cuisine in Hastings, NE.

What We Need is Here -- Kelly ponders the implications of home-baked bread in a post-Atkins world.

Blog Hero! -- Carl, that intrepid surveyor of all things Disney, updates readers on the Mad Teacup assault at the Magic Kingdom.

Jesus' General -- The good General serves up a plate a hot, steaming whoop-ass on Wolfofascists and "the forces of enviroslamunistofascism" trying to take away our right to incandescent lightbulbs.

That's it for now!

The Tragic Kingdom.

Harambe! That’s how they say, “hello” at Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Oh, and also in the language of some other culture that was featured at Animal Kingdom.

Boy, I wish I had never blogged about going camping at Disney. Somehow, my almost pathological optimism trips me up every time. Such is the case now. The old man has renamed the Fort Wilderness campgrounds “Fort Dampness.” One night in a leaky tent during a torrential downpour was enough to make me say, “forget this noise.” We stayed the next night at All-Star Movies. Enough said.

Let me back up. Getting to the campgrounds was fine and we found our campsite with no problem. Never having been to the Fort Wilderness campgrounds I had no idea of what to expect. As we drove into the Spanish Moss loop, the first thing I realized that there was no privacy to be had here. All of the campsites (basically, raised platforms of sand and crushed coquina shell) we’re very close together. I think this is how the tent towns will look once the economy entirely collapses. They also looked suspiciously like the gypsy encampments that spring up on campus during football season in Hogtown.

The second thing I noticed was the landscape within the camping loops is really weird. At first I thought maybe they do prescribed burns at certain times to keep ground cover down between the campsites and within the loops, because it's just a large spanse of brown/blackish tree limbs and vegetation. Then I noticed there were no visible sign of life other than humans; my other hypothesis (other than the prescribed burn theory) is that they have sprayed so much insecticide and herbicide around that nothing in these areas can possibly survive. I think they do send some wildlife over to give the appearance of camping, however; at our campsite, for instance, it was the bard owl that started its shift at approximately 4am.

I wish I could have taken some pictures but by the time we got back to the campsite it had been raining for about two hours straight. We decided to go the park first and set up the tent later – big mistake. At first it was raining on and off – the trick was to find a dry ride or attraction for the times it was raining. Then, it just started raining non-stop. I had, of course, forgotten to bring our rain ponchos and we refused to spend money on more ponchos. By the time we left we were soaked through. I just needed to take my bra off and go to Daytona to sweep the wet t-shirt contests.

When we finally got back to the campsite we crawled into the car and changed clothes while deciding what to do. I was already campaigning heavily to go to a hotel; DJ was adamant that we follow through with camping; the old man was (once again) being Sweden. So, after we got into some dry clothes and found the poncho, raincoat, and umbrella, we went to work setting up the tent. Setting up a tent in the rain sucks, I’m sorry. There is just no delicate way of putting it. But even worse is sleeping in a tent that leaks.

The old man caught the brunt of the wetness during the night – his sleeping bag was soaked by the morning. I just had the occasional drip on my sleeping bag all night. DJ, fortunately, escaped most of the wet and slept peacefully enough.

The nice thing about the campgrounds is that there is a comfort station every few yards, so no matter where you’re camped a bathroom and shower are near at hand. They give you a key card like they would a hotel room, and you use this to get into the bathroom and shower between 12am and 6am. So, having left the key cards in the car, I waited with full bladder for 6am to roll around. The showers are also really nice and clean.

Here is another photo-op that was missed; at every campsite they have a rack with containers for recycling bottles, cans, and newspapers. In my haste to get the heck out of there the next day I didn't have a chance to take a picture, but will add a drawing when I get the chance.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Food prices going up -- time to rape and pillage the land

The New York Times had an unsurprising revelation: As food prices go up, more people are ready to throw away 25 years of land conservation to plant cash crops and use preservation lands for cattle grazing. The article, "As Prices Rise, Farmers Spurn Conservation Program," is a warning that more of this sort of squabbling among growers and environmentalists is coming soon. Here's a pullout from the beginning of the piece:
Thousands of farmers are taking their fields out of the government’s biggest conservation program, which pays them not to cultivate. They are spurning guaranteed annual payments for a chance to cash in on the boom in wheat, soybeans, corn and other crops. Last fall, they took back as many acres as are in Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

Environmental and hunting groups are warning that years of progress could soon be lost, particularly with the native prairie in the Upper Midwest. But a broad coalition of baking, poultry, snack food, ethanol and livestock groups say bigger harvests are a more important priority than habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife. They want the government to ease restrictions on the preserved land, which would encourage many more farmers to think beyond conservation.

Stating that the payments are to preserve land for wildlife conservation is lie, right? The real reason is to keep food prices stable. Everyone knows this, so it's not surprising that when you pay people to not grow on their land, they will naturally want to grow things that will make them more money than what the government is offering.

Complicating the argument that this land should be preserved to continue wildlife conservation efforts is the fact that the people most concerned about the turn of events right now are hunting organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.

I am really not sure how this all will play out or really what to do about it. I am also not sure how this connects with the current push to change the current Farm Bill to allow small producers to grow organic foods. Crunchy Chicken has coverage on this issue; you can also access which has an online petition you can send to congress requesting a more equitable system; finally, you can access the online forum for the USDA's site on the 2007 Farm Bill.

By the way, I got these last two links from Henderson & Daughter Plants and Produce -- they have an email list which is very handy for finding out the goings on at the 441 Farmer's Market, and also the wholesome selections they have on hand for each market Saturday. Drop Erika and her dad an email at to get on their most recent mailing list.

The first link to Crunchy Chicken I got from one of my favorite local bloggers, Kelly, at What We Need is Here. Thanks, Kelly!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Instructables Waterproof Wallet

A librarian friend where I work just sent me this really cool Instructables link to a wallet you can make from a reusable shopping bag. It reminded me of a post I did last year about the messenger bag someone made from an old banner. Thank you, S., for sharing that cool link!

04.05.08 Need-a-Bag? Project Update, and a special surprise

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 resusable 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.

Went to the farmer's market without DG today, who is visiting relatives in Chi-town with her mommy this weekend. Little Virgo was hung carefully right up in front by the donation bin so no one could possibly miss the lovely new rhinestone-age. For some reason, every week there are more plastic grocery bags being deposited in the donation bin -- a protest from a plastic grocery bag loving soul? Someone who doesn't quite get the point of the Need-a-Bag? project? I won't say "a dumbass?" I just won't. Oh, hey, maybe they're going to Farmer John. I'll see if he wants them.

After hanging up the bags and signage I high-tailed it out of there before the opening bell. I can't be buying no delicious, farm-fresh produce that'll rot in my fridge because...we're going to Disney World!

That's right, once again we're taking our lives and our sanity in our hands and partaking of the happiest place on earth -- which, apparently, will also be the rainiest place on earth tomorrow. And, because I'm a super-wimp, city-slicker we're going camping at Fort Wilderness. Yes, my first camping experience will be at Disney World. I am indeed the lamest excuse for an environmentalist that has ever walked God's green earth. We'll really be roughing it if it rains the whole time we're there, though -- we might have to spend a lot of time at the campground arcade or, gasp, we might even have to swim in the themed campground pool while it's raining. Maybe there'll be photos.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I got Blogged!

I have a list of all the spots where The AE is listed. Today, I got an email from Amy Liu of Blogged telling me I got an 8.0 rating -- Grrrreaat! Eight is great! Now don't all get in an uproar -- The AE is #423 on the list in the "Society" category, trumped by #421 Hotel Chelsea Blog. Trumped by a cheap-ass (albeit historically significant) dive in my old neighborhood! But I'm not bitter. So why am I blogging about this? Delirious from antihistamines? Maybe. I'm actually putting a button on the blog where you can rate it. Maybe I can get into the higher reaches of 8.0, inching closer to Paul Krugman's blog or The Huffington Post. Why am I listed in Society? I don't know. Am I dork, yet? I have to go to sleep, now.

Hogtown Homegrown 2008 Eat Local Challenge!

I was prompted by Need-a-Bag? project associate DG to post about Hogtown Homegrown's 2008 Eat Local Challenge. Sign up and support local food producers! Oh, and there are also prizes, apparently. Another good reason to sign up!

April Need-a-Bag? project update

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 resusable 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.

Well, last Saturday, with heavy heart, I brought the Virgo t-tote home and am going to replace some of the rhinestones on it. Then, maybe, I'll put it back up for adoption. Who will take pity on poor little Virgo?

Update: Okay, instead of writing my final paper or at least reading for my class today, I decided to take time out for little Virgo's upkeep. After gluing on the rhinestones, I took some pics: