Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sustainability Festival 2009

Gosh, has it really been two years since the Need-a-Bag? Project first launched at the Sustainability Festival at the 441 farmers market? The first year we had a table (once again I'll link to the awful debacle of DG and I stealing the Slow Food Gainesville table), the next year we didn't,
but this year we had a table again!

This year's festival was on October 24, and I decided to do a little photo gallery of our presence at the festival this year.

The first picture is of DG and her mom setting up the table -- DG had gotten a huge number of bags for the thing. DG made a sign thanking our many, many anonymous donors -- we're still having a thank you brunch, but it will probably happen after the holidays!

DJ (short for "Dude Junior" and not to be mistaken for "DG") came along to help and did a fine job carting bags over to the fence to hang them for the shoppers. He has been a good helper over the past year, and next year he'll probably come more often, as he managed to make some friends with some of the farmer's kids who were there. They ended up on the stage with the nice lady (whose name escapes me at the moment) who was entertaining the festival attendees. There was a fellow who was walking around in a pair of camo overeralls and flip flops and pretty much nothing else -- we guessed he was also going "commando." I don't know why I'm including this photo other than to say that hippie culture in Gainesville is not dead.

It was busy but not as busy if it had been on the weekend when the farmers start bringing in the fall harvests -- it was still pretty lively, and people from Gainesville Regional Utilities and Florida Organic Growers were there (I'll have to post on FOG soon because they are doing awesome work bringing low-cost raised beds gardens to low-income residents).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Need-a-Bag Project Update 11.28.09 -- Happy Thanksgiving Edition!

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 was a great Thanksgiving at the various Need-a-Bag? Project enclaves, but that doesn't mean the project takes a break! No sir, we were there bright and early this morning -- with no bags, but there were still quite a number left-over from the Sustainability Festival oh, so long ago. Dang, that reminds me, I have to post about that festival, even through it's been over a month. I have been so lame about posting, but I want to give a shout-out to Layla, our Slovenia correspondent at the AE, as she comments on sustainability behind the iron curtain -- wait, does Slovenia have an iron curtain? Don't ask me, I read The Gainesville Sun (haha, a little in-joke for the olds reading this)! Anyway, she left some great comments on my latest rant about the Krishna Lunch cards, and I hope she will not be deterred from continued commenting because of my complete lameness on not posting more regularly, especially since she's one of probably five people who read this blog without being strong-armed (you know who you are).

Anyway, a little update on our labeling activities with the Need-a-Bag? project: We have started NOT labeling some of the bags. That's right, these bags have fallen from the wide-sweeping scope of our bag procurements -- left by great, noble, anonymous (probably Jean) donors, that look clean, smell clean, and just deserve to be left hanging. Okay, we're honestly too lazy to collect them and wash them, but from now on, be warned: Bags that do not have the Need-a-Bag? Project label with verbiage and url for this blog are outside of our jurisdiction. So, you will see bags, as in the photo on the right, that have no labels and ones that do. The bags with no labels are not sanctioned by the Need-a-Bag? project, as in, they have not been washed and dried by our hands to ensure the cleanest possible tote for your shopping needs. That does not mean the unlabeled ones are not safe to use, as they have passed a cursory inspection (looking, sniffing, see above), but the Need-a-Bag? project will not be held liable for any lurking dust bunnies or hair balls we did not detect. This ends the legal mumbo-jumbo.

The only thing I've been stocking up on are pecans, which are easy to freeze and use in recipes as needed. I have so many bags right now, however, I might need to make a pecan pie, or try making one of DG's fabulous pecan, no flour, crusts. Take that, carbs!

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Krishna Lunch Card

I've got a vegetarian bone to pick with the Krishnas who serve lunch on the University of Florida Plaza of the Americas. I have recounted my various positive and negative encounters with the Gainesville Krishnas in the past, but this one's got my karma-ridden blood up. Am I ready to throw down with the Krishna clan? Maybe.

I was all excited when I got to grad school because I was sooo close now to having Krishna lunches; at my old job at the law library it was too far away to even consider a leisurely Krishna lunch on the plaza. Now all my daily journeys take me within spitting distance of the Krishna lunch. So, the other day I decided to get a 30-dollar lunch card. As you can see from the above photograph, the top card is my old lunch card, with one precious lunch left. But look at the bottom, new card! They cut out the 10th lunch! Now I only have 9 lunches for my hard-earned 30-dollar donation! Okay, they jacked the price up to 4-dollars for the individual lunches so that makes my savings....lets me get the calculator here....so I'm only saving about 67-cents per meal, so my total savings is...6-dollars? Really? Hmm, maybe it's not so bad, after all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October update on Charlie's Soap

So, I bought this humongous barrel of Charlie's Soap, and I'm about 2/3 of the way through, now. I'll probably use it all up in a year, so I think the 100 and something-odd dollars I paid for it (with free shipping) was well worth it. I started using fragrance oils to add a little scent to the clothes, and have not had any ill effects on the clothes. It also allows me to get rid of fragrance oils I bought for home-made bath products that I ended up not liking, so right now I'm using "Apple Jack and Orange Peel." While I didn't like it in soaps or lotions, it is working just fine as a laundry scent enhancer.

Plastic Bag Reduction Act of 2009

I was at the Super Walmart by my house (yes, I know) getting a ton of play-doh for an activity for the technical communications class I'm teaching this semester, and as I was leaving I stopped by the greeter to show her my receipt, which I've gotten into the habit of doing when I bring reusable shopping bags. I've gotten stopped at the door because the bags are opaque so I guess they feel hinky about letting me leave if they can't see the contents. After looking at my receipt the woman admired my bag -- it was from Ward's Supermarket. Ward's has probably the biggest reusable polyprop bags in town; they cost something like 2.49US but they are HUGE.

After telling her where she could get the bags, she asked, "What do you think about the 5-cent charge for plastic bags?" I was nonplussed, as this was the first I had heard about it. I asked her, "In Gainesville?" and she replied, "Everywhere, starting January 1st, 2010."

I didn't say whether or not I liked the idea (which I did, natch) but I said, "well, in Dublin they've been doing that for a few years, now, and they cost 9-cents there, so 5-cents is a pretty good deal." I walked out, thinking "how come I didn't know about this?"

So, as soon as I got home I started investigating. This is not law, yet. It's something Senator Jim Moran of Virginia proposed in April of this year, called the Plastic Bag Reduction Act of 2009. As of right now, H.R. 2091, as it is affectionately known, is still in committee.

Here's the summary:

Plastic Bag Reduction Act of 2009 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to require retailers to pay an excise tax on single-use carryout bags. Allows refunds of such tax for retailers who have a program for recycling such bags. Establishes in the Treasury the Single-Use Carryout Bag Trust Fund to hold tax revenues generated by this Act. Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to make payments from such Trust Fund into the land and water conservation fund provided for in the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965. Directs the Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on the effectiveness of this Act in reducing the use of single-use carryout bags.

All I can say is, YAY!!!!!1!1

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Need-a-Bag Project Update 09.26.09: So, so alone...

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.

Wish I had taken the camera to the market -- it is so barren of farmers that it isn't even funny. I decided to purchase some eggplants, sweet potatoes, and red potatoes. I'm starting to cook more again, but I'm still a little shy about making huge produce investments.

DG went to the market on her own last week and was ashamed at the paucity of tote bags we had -- that is, in part, because I had taken a bunch of the bags home to be washed. So, we had more bags this week, and Jean had once again lavished us with tote bags, probably for pennies on the dollar. I think because it has been so slow at the market, this will be the time of year we start stockpiling.

Oh, and guess what? The Need-a-Bag? project is coming up on its SECOND anniversary. That's right -- the project will be two years old on October 27th! It seems just like yesterday we were skanking the table for Slow Food Gainesville through a serious misunderstanding with Jared the market manager. Ah, memories.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Goat Cheese at the 441 Farmers Market?!

Okay, remember how I was all about Glades Ridge Dairy and their delicious cheese-of-goats? Well, something terrible has happened! They were told by the head of the Alachua County Farmers Market, Helen Emery, told them last week that they were suspended from the farmers market until the board of directors could reach a decision about whether they could continue to sell their products at the farmers market. I am including the text of Joe Pietrangelo's letter that was sent to their email list, and also was included as a comment in the original post about Glades Ridge.

I would just like to say that I am shocked that they would be treated like this, and have emailed Helen Emery to voice my concerns. You can do the same by emailing Helen Emery, or the 441 market manager, Jared Sweat, and let them know that you think Glades Ridge Dairy should be allowed to sell their products at the 441 farmers market.

Here's the text of Joe's letter:

Joe nubians@gladesridge.com

Dear Friends:

The reason that I’m sending you this email is to let you all know why Glades Ridge Dairy is not at the Alachua County Farmers Market.

Yesterday I received a call from Helen Emery, the president of the Board of the Alachua County Farmers Market. Helen informed me that we were suspended from selling our milk and cheese until the next Board meeting in October, when it will be decided whether or not to suspend us permanently. The reasoning behind this decision was not because anything bad had occurred, and is as follows – we are selling unpasteurized dairy products and the Board fears that, if anyone became ill from eating our products, they would be liable and sued. Helen told me that they had consulted with a number of attorneys and other scientific experts. The conclusion of these experts was that the sale of our dairy products at the Alachua County Farmer’s Market was a liability due to the inherent dangers of raw milk, and because our customers may not be fully aware of or educated about what they were purchasing. [Note that we are in full compliance with all Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulations and possess a fully executed permit to sell raw milk/dairy as long as it is properly labeled.]

We sincerely hope to be back at the Alachua County Farmers Market soon. Until then, our products are available for pick-up from the farm. We are located north on SR 121 to Worthington Springs, and then about five miles west on CR 18. If you’d like to pick up at the farm, call me at 386-266-7041 for directions and to arrange a pick-up time. I’ll be glad to introduce you to the dairy herd too, and you can also see first-hand where the does are milked and cheese is produced. We are committed to producing quality products for you, and want you all to know that we will do everything that we can to be back at space #20 selling milk, cheese and eggs as soon as possible. If you go to the market and are so inclined, let the market manager, Jared Sweat and any of the board that happen to be there, know what you think. Your support is vital to helping us resolve this. You can also contact the market via email: Jared Sweat’s email is marketmanager@441market.com and Helen Emery’s is hme@441market.com

Thanks very much, and we hope to see you soon.

Joe Pietrangelo for Glades Ridge Dairy

Joe Pietrangelo and Greg Yurish, owners/operators

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Need-a-Bag Project Update 09.12.09 -- OKRA!!!1!

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.

Ohmygosh, the okra is everywhere! I cannot eat okra; last year I tried to make soup with okra and it turned int
o this alien gelatinous mess. So, I cannot eat okra.

Lots of fun things to talk about in the world of bags -- Jean has been giving us bags left and right! She is a Need-a-Bag? Project Angel, and the way she procures the bags is absolutely amazing: She bargains for them, and will not take them for more than 50-cents a piece, if she
can't get them for 3/$1.00. When she told me this, I laughed and said, "gee, we always say we won't pay more than a dollar for a bag, heh, heh," and then Jean basically told me I was an idiot. All fair! I AM an idiot if I am not following this woman around and learning all her secrets to garage/estate/yard sale wheeling and dealing.

Another person I would like to highlight in this post is Gayle, of the Waste Watchers, who had a table set up today and was giving out free, reusable bags -- hey, that's our job! Nosing in on our territory, eh? These weren't just any old, free reusable bags, they were fre
e, reusable bags made from recycled plastic bottles! Gayle also is another Need-a-Bag? Project Angel, because she is apparently the kind soul who donated a ton of school-related type tote bags from various meetings and what not for educators. Maybe that was the Need-a-Bag? project miracle I recounted a ways back. I also made a mockery of Compost Kid in a prior post from January but, it turns out, Waste Watchers is a slick operation that other waste management companies wish they could be like. I was very impressed with Gayle and her Waste Watcher activities, and am also very thankful for her continued donations to the project. Thank you, Gayle!!!

I ended up by the Glades Ridge Goat Cheese table and bought some cheese from the nice gents who run the table. When I got home I turned it into the goop I always make it into and then put that into an amazing omelet with farm-fresh eggs I get from my egg connection on campus. I talked about Glades Ridge in a recent post; one thing I want to say is that the picture I supposedly took of the table and gentlemen who run the operation did not make it onto my computer, for some reason. Supernatural? Maybe. I have another supernatural event that happened to me at Rolfs Hall right before I went in to teach my first class of the Technical Communications class I have this semester -- but I'm saving that story for Halloween! Boo!

Here is a picture of some adorable puppies, waiting obediently for their mistress' return.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We're #15! We're #15: Sierra Club Cool Schools

The Sierra Club just released their "Cool Schools" for 2o09 and UF ranked 15th -- Top twenty! Woohoo! Oh, wait, last year we were in the top 10 at #7. What the....?

The Cool Schools list ranks national universities for how eco they are. I can only imagine it is because Bernie Machen sacrificed the environment for being the Harvard of the South.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Push mower update

Just wanted to update on the fact that I really, really love the push mower we bought recently. I have already mowed the yard with it TWICE. In the whole time we had the power mower I think I may have mowed the yard with it once; it was just too loud and scary. The push mower is way quieter, and in many ways has been less of a pain in the butt. The old man and DJ are behind it, as well, which is a relief; DJ, however, does still want a riding mower. But, even if the old man decided that we needed another power mower, I would at least have the push mower for the times when I didn't want to wait for the old man to mow.

Goat Cheeze Pleeze: Glades Ridge Goat Dairy

"For Pet Consumption Only -- Not for Human Consumption" has to be one of the funniest jokes I've read on the buckets of yogurt and various cheeses I've seen circulating locally. Bren was the first to point it out to me, on some yogurt she had purchased from Shepard's Hill Farms. Apparently, if the dairy in question is not pasteurized, it's illegal to sell for humans to eat. But it's okay to give to your pet?

Glades Ridge Goat Dairy has started selling their goat cheese products at the Hwy 441 farmers market on Saturdays, and on their labels they make it clear that these things are not for human consumption. But their goat cheese is so tasty! I love to mix it up with fresh basil, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes, and drizzled with a ton of really high-quality olive oil.

My feeling is, if you want to purchase locally produced items, shouldn't you have a say as to what you want to put in your body? Peoples are always screaming about smaller government, so here you go! Wooo! I'm living la vida loca, baby!

Need-a-Bag Project Update 08.08.09: Dog Days of Summer Edition

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.

I've heard from a reliable source that there is nothing to eat at the farmers market except muscadine grapes and seminole pumpkins, now that summer has made the scene. I don't think that's entirely true, because I did see an eggplant, as well. Once again, however, I shied away from buying any veggies; I am starting to feel my cooking powers return, but more on that in another post.

Only a few short weeks ago and the farmers market was packed to the rafters with shoppers; now it's a ghost town. I think this happened around the same time last year, but I'm too lazy to check the posts from then.

The top photo is DG tenderly placing a Need-a-Bag? project label on a bag; it was supposed to be part of a photo essay on labeling bags, for any folks out there who might want to start their own Need-a-Bag? project franchise. Photo essays are so Nat Geo, though.

Anyway, there's no one at the farmers market now and so we can take something of a breather; DG will be taking this opportunity to high-tail it to Hawaii with her moms for a couple of weeks. I will be taking over for at least one of those weekends, having purchased three new totes at a garage sale. The next weekend, though, I'm dragging the fams to Disneyworld for one last fling before all hell breaks loose with 2nd grade and grad school. So, I don't know WHAT's going to happen with the project. I think this is the third time in the whole history of the Need-a-Bag? project that someone wasn't out there on a Saturday morning to hang bags. Crud.

Limited Edition Gator Tony Danza Underwear

I had some leftover orange t-shirt material from the Limited Edition "One Less Car" Underwear I made last October, but that's the problem with using t-shirts for your undwears; when you get the pair with the image on the butt-part, you get bored with the rest of the fabric.

Then, the other day, I remembered my friend, Bren, was doing freezer-paper stencils with her kids, using fabric paint to make the designs on their t-shirts. Always a follower when it comes to Bren's idears for these crafty projects, I bought some freezer paper but never did anything with it, until last weekend, when I went to Kitty-Buttons stencil site and printed out a Tony Danza stencil. Because who doesn't want Tony Danza on their underwear? And it's in Gator colors, no less! Dadadada! Go Gators!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Super Summer Update

There are going to be sooo many changes soon! One of the biggest is that I am going back to school! The Department of English at the Home of the Florida Gators has seen fit to offer me a teaching fellowship so that I might get a Masters in American Literature. And I accepted! That means, as of July 23rd, I will no longer be a library assistant at the university. I will be something else entirely. I'll have to change the "About Me" on the blog.

The other big news is that I have decided to put my blogging skillz to good use -- yes, even better than this blog! I have "adopted" Senator Bill Nelson of Florida as my senator to track as he comes up with a position on the Climate Bill sloshing through the Senate right now. This is all part of my participation with the DailyKos GreenRoots bloggers. I've been working with the NNSL Communications Committee helping to get the word out on Daily Kos about Netroots Nation in Second Life this August, and fell in with a great group of green bloggers. These people know what's the happity-haps about all this climate change stuff going down; I feel humbled and honored to help with their efforts to bring strong legislation to our nation, our children, and our children's children, to stem the rising tide (bad pun) of global climate change.

You can help by subscribing to my posts on DKos, where I blog as "sewenviro" and then, when you see a post come up, please rec and comment!

Need-a-Bag Project Update 07.11.09 Miracles!

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.

Of course, the one time I don't bring my camera, and we have a Need-a-Bag? project miracle! We were low on bags; I had dug into my stash of polyprop bags to add to the paltry amount we had, but knew it was not going to be enough. And then, to our great surprise, there were about TWENTY bags hanging on the fence when we arrived. I kid you not! I don't know who put them out, but they are a Need-a-Bag? project Angel! Bags were bestowed and multiplied and all shoppers were sated with their tote bag needs, and it was good!

The Kickstand Helping Hogtown!

On one of the few times during the summer when I read The Independent Florida Alligator in its dead-tree edition, I stumbled on an article that I was not only glad to read, but thought I'd swipe for the blog.

The Kickstand (featured in the Hogtown Links section of this blog) is an independent organization that helps people learn how to fix their bikes and does educational gigs around the city's public school system, teaching kids about bicycle safety and the value of wearing a helmet. They were featured in an article in today's Agitator, for their work with UF graduates to repurpose some old bikes they bought from the UF campus surplus, the deep abyss where all abandoned bikes and cars go when they're left on campus for too long. At around $5 a pop, the old bikes were refurbished, to be given to area residents who can't afford their own two-wheeled transportation. This is the kind of stuff that people go to heaven for, I think.

I've railed in the past about bike mechanics, but The Kickstand is one of those selfless, local-yokel organizations that makes up for every snarky mechanic in this god-forsaken bike town. Thanks Kickstand, thanks good-samaritan college students, and thanks to the Agitator for putting this on the front page!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sierra Club Trails

Sierra Club is launching its newest online feature, Sierra Club Trails. I gave it a try, since I'm already a member of the Sierra Club, and added the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail State Park trail as the first local entry. It's a cool feature, and hope it gets more hits from our area. I thought it'd be like Bikely, where you can map your bike routes, but it's more of a straight-forward, here are the specifics of the trail, how to get there, etc. I like how it lists the difficulty level of the trail, the different ways you can experience it (bicycling or hiking), and differentiates different features you're looking for, like bird-watching or wildlife-watching. The site was fairly easy to navigate and I didn't have too much trouble getting the trail listed.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reel Mower 4 Realz!

The LawnBoy that came with our house (yes, the previous owner kindly left his practically brand-new lawn mower), finally gave up the ghost -- actually, the old man thinks it's a clogged fuel line. But, for some reason, he thought it best to get a new lawn mower. Seeing my chance, I offered the opportunity to get a cheap reel-mower. It was about 90-dollars, and took less than a half-hour to put together.

I think the old man would tell you that having a reel mower, when you've let your grass grow to mid-calf height, is a great upper-body workout.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Idea for Citizen's Co-op

Citizen's Co-op now has 232 members, and if you follow them on the Twitter you can keep up with the latest news. They are also on Facebook and they really should post a link so people can follow them there, as well. Oh well, guess I just did!

Anyway, here's my idea: As part of the co-op bulk section (and you know they're going to have one) they should include things like bulk laundry soap (I suggest Charlie's), Dish soap, and plain organic castile soap (which you can get in drums). People could bring their own containers and buy it by the ounce or pound. That's it -- simple, elegant, and saves on packaging.

Need-a-Bag Project Update 06.13.09

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's been awhile since I updated, but lots has happened in the interim. Th
ey reopened both the new main shelter and side shelter today, so farmers didn't have to set up in the parking lot to the south of the market. It was nice having everything so conveniently located, although there were grumblings from some shoppers that they liked the parking lot area because there were less crowds and, thus, quicker access to foodstuffs. Here is also the long-awaited photo of the drop box next to the object that people should be using for their cigarillo butts and discarded Chick tract pamphlets.

We now have a permanent labeling station in glovebox of the Honda Fit, so DG can label bags on the way to the market. We used my labels for the new recruits to the Need-a-Bag? project, and I like my labels better just because they have more verbiage.

Before I continue with events of the day, I wanted to give a shout-out to one particular Friend of the Need-a-Bag? project who has been a selfless giver to the project and, I suspect, responsible for some of our anonymous dontations of late. This is a gentleman who comes religiously to the market every week, and a couple of weeks ago bestowed upon us a considerable largesse of amazing tote bags, which he said came from cleaning out his office before it moved to another location. I have not taken the opportunity until now to thank him profusely for his efforts! Please excuse the lateness of this so-deserved thanks -- Thank you very, very much! Who was that masked man?

Anyway, the market was very busy and it was wonderful to see such a large turnout. I realized today, as I wandered the stalls in my usual, unfocused manner, that I am really rather pedestrian in my shopping needs for our household. There have been many market days when I have eschewed any food items merely because I could not hope to cook any of the said items with any consistent frequency. But, lately, I've realized that there are certain items that I will buy and use frequently, such as potatoes and onions. Also, strawberry season has ended but blueberries, cantaloupes, and watermelons have made their way onto the scene, and so while I can and will buy the first two, I still cannot wrap my brain around buying a watermelon and bringing it into my already cluttered house. I just cannot imagine, first of all, how I would ever get the thing in, let alone find an area clean enough for me to cut it up for our family's consumption.

Here is a lovely tote bag for you to admire, and have decided to include these posts with such wonderful representations of tote bags under a new heading, "Tote Bag Spotlight." This one was unfortunately snatched up almost immediately after the opening of the market!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why reading Topless Robot Blog made me start wearing deodorant again

I am finally wearing deodorant on a (near) daily basis now. This is how it happened: I started reading a new blog, called Topless Robot. It feeds into my nerdishness in a way no other nerd/geek/fanbeing website ever has before. Each week they have a new contest; one weekend the old man and I were reading the comments on the latest, "Most Shameful Con Moment." Most of the comments were pretty hilarious. Here are the results if you are so inclined to follow.

The shorter is this: Apparently, rendering Marina Sirtis unconscious or some kind of pissed-off is a prerequisite for gaining notoriety within the fandom of Sci-Fi conventions. The thing that struck me, however, were the allusions to bad body hygiene that came up again and again. The one that got me, though, was the comment by Mitch:
I was sharing a room at a hotel with a dude from my local gaming shop. In the interest of timing I suggested:

"We should arrange things so that one of us showers in the morning and the other in the evening, so we can get there early."
He responded, "I only shower when I feel like I am dirty."
"All right well understand this: you are always dirty. Especially during this convention during which you will shower daily. Afterwards I suggest you keep up the happen because this recent confession explains your persistent odor."

That was not the first, nor the last time that I would advise a fellow gamer on the habits of good hygiene.
Gah. That did it. I went out the next workday during lunch and got a "natural" deodorant at the local granola shop. My year-long B.O. paranoia had reached fever-pitch and I lost. I surrendered to the fact that if I could smell my stink, certainly other people could, as well. DG assured me time and again that it wasn't a problem, but I just ultimately could not get around it.

I think we, as Americans, are acculturated to the fact that we must always smell "clean," and to most that equates to smelling like you've been smothered in a synthetic flower factory. So, thank you, Topless Robot Blog commenters, for helping me see the error of my ways.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Here is a picture of the Icthy-pinata in its completed state, all ready for fun at Pam's house. And then it was completely destroyed! See, I made it so that there were ribbons to pull and only one ribbon made the bottom fall out and lovely prizes would scatter about (selected from the mountains of crap my son has accumulated -- shh, don't tell him), but pulling ribbons apparently wasn't good enough for the party-goers.

Oh well. Hmm, what pinata should I make next? At the party proper, Shelley was saying she'd like to have a pinata making/spa time seminar and golly, if I get a facial out of it that doesn't involve flour paste, I'm in.

Swiped the photo from Tom's FB page -- thanks Tom!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering Memorial Day

Having a wonderfully calm and enjoyable Memorial Day, making a pinata for DG's birthday next week. Tried to get DJ involved by making it a shark, but after he decided the paper mache goo was too yucky, it began morphing into...a dolphin? A birdfish? Not sure.

Thinking about the soldiers who have fought for our country in many thankless, violent wars. Like my dad, who fought at Guada Canal during WWII and lived like a junkyard dog in the jungles, never really fully recovering mentally or physically from the experience. And also thinking about my friend and mentor, Russell, who died this past December. Russell fought in France during the same war; he went into the army a mathematician and left as an artist.

Update: The old man informs me that the pinata is an Icthyosaurus.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Need-a-Bag Project Update 05.16.09 -- Remote Post

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.

Due to my son's 7th birthday celebration, I was unable to attend the farmer's market today, but DG reports that it was busy, there was one bag left from last week, she put out a ton of bags from the Peaceful Paths Thrift Shoppe (because they are a seemingly bottomless pit of cheap tote bags), and was given some tote bags from our intrepid garage sale guru and Need-a-Bag? Project Associate, Jean. Thank you, Jean!

DG also reports that the drop box (the saga of which I have detailed here and here) is now located next to the citrus and caladium booth (that's right, folks, get your caladiums!) where Erika-of-the-fine-and-tasty-citrus-and-now-caladiums can keep a close eye on it. No empty donut bags going in there, I'll tell you what!

Did you know that some dishliquids go bad?

...At least Seventh Generation's Lemongrass and Clementine Zest dish liquid does. We bought some for the house and I guess we had it for about 3 months or so, and it started to turn brown. I didn't think anything of it, and then started noticing that the sink stank more than it usually does when it's full of dirty dishes. When I used the liquid I noticed that the smell was getting a little sharper...and finally, it was just plain rank. I started to use it this afternoon, realized that the ever-present stench in our sink was indeed coming from the bottle of dish liquid, and when I opened up the top, discovered that a fine patina of mold had coated the ENTIRE inside of the container. Out you go!

So, until I can get a bottle of the Lavender Floral and Mint (which did not seem to go bad), we're using the Dawn Dish detergent I was reserving for oil-based stains on clothing and really, really greasy dishes. I posted about Dawn here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Make Flip Flops from a Yoga Mat - wikiHow

Make Flip Flops from a Yoga Mat - wikiHow

as I will never learn how to use a scroll saw or a hack saw or whatever extremely dangerous power tool you would need in order to cut through radial tires for a pair of home made sandals like they used to wear in post-WWII Germany, I've decided that the only alternative would be to make these awesome flip flops from an old yoga mat. So, when I wear out my old yoga mat from all that yoga I'm doing (so, like, in 50 years), I'll turn them into an awesome pair of flip flops!

Got the pic from the above wikiHow article

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yards of Distinction

I decided to roam my street and actually start talking to my neighbors, instead of just waving as I speed past in the car. One thing I've been wanting to do for awhile is a post about some of the cool yards we have on our street. Then I realized we have two types of cool yards on our street; yards that are different from your normal grass and shrubbery, and ones with front yard gardens. This post will be about the former, and I've dubbed these, "Yards of Distinction."

The first photo is of our friends Jackie and Adam's house. In reducing the amount of lawn they have by using mulch, and landscaping with native plants, they reduce the need to water it every five seconds. The palm in the foreground is one they planted with the placenta from the home birth of their first child.

The next Yard of Distinction is my neighbor Dawn's house -- she inherited this yard from the previous owner who was a landscaper, but here again is a perfect example of reducing the amount of water you use when replacing the lawn with pebbles, and thirsty shrubbery with hearty, tropical plants like bamboo. She also added the cool low stone wall. Note: Dawn wasn't home when I took the photo, but I had mentioned about a year ago that I was going to photograph her yard for my blog, so I think that counts, doesn't it?

The next post will be about the cool neighbors on our street who have front yard gardens. There were a lot of them!

Need-a-Bag Project Update 05.09.09 -- More construction! Missing Drop Box!

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.

As you can see from the photo, they're starting to remove the roof from the main she
lter of the farmer's market. What does this mean? Are they going to replace the roof or are they preparing to demolish the whole structure??? I guess we'll find out, huh?

Remember how last week I was decrying the use of the drop box as a trash receptacle, rather than its appointed purpose (a drop box)? This has been an ongoing problem, but apparently it got so bad last week that Concerned Need-a-Bag? Project Associate Erika-of-the-fine-and-tasty-citrus removed it from its normal spot at the fence, and this week? Nothing. A big, black hole where the drop box used to be. It's somewhere else, now, and a regular trash receptacle has been placed nearby to accept all u
nwanted chicken biscuit wrappers. Here is a picture of my son, looking puzzled at the disappearance of the drop box -- see, the sign says, "Got a Bag? Leave a Bag! (Drop Extras Here)" But there's NOTHING there!

What are we going to dooooooo??!!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Need-a-Bag Project Update 05.02.09 -- with construction pictures!

Here are some photos of the construction progress at the 441 farmer's market -- the first one is from a couple of weeks ago, and you can see it's all leveled. And then this week, there was a beautiful new permanent canopy. How is it different from the old, permanent canopy that was there a couple of weeks ago? Well, I think the old canopy was more like a wooden lean-to affair, and there was enough shade for the farmers and their produce items -- NOW, there's enough room for farmers, their produce items, and the strolling shopper who doesn't want to get sun stroke.

And sunny it is, folks, and hot. And the market was the "get me out of here, it's crowded," kind of crowded that makes we want to flee for the hills. But, I did get a couple of pints of delicious strawberries that are now in season, an acorn squash, some zuccini and yellow squash, a bunch of carrots, some onions, and some red potatoes. I'm waiting on the corn, though, which should be coming soon -- I can't wait!

And some kind citizen donated a huge stack of Winn-Dixie polyprop bags and some polyprop bags that have a plastic, two-piece handle that snaps together -- a "Grab-n-Go" I believe they're called. So great -- thank you, anonymous good citizen!

And, my mom-in-law has become a Friend of the Need-a-Bag? Project. And, I have a confession to make; I never told her about my crazy Saturday morning rompings doing the project for the almost year and a half I've been doing it. I'm a bad daughter-in-law! But, she chose to ignore my slight (wonderful woman that she is) and told a friend she volunteers with at the FOL about the project, and her friend gave us a whole slew of cool polyprop bags for the project! Yay! Thank you friend of my mom-in-law, and thank YOU, mom-in-law, for supporting your crazy DIL's obsessions.

I think we're going to have to make a sign for the drop box that says, "This is not a trashcan" because people continuously throw their used tissues and ice cream sandwich wrappers and what-not into it. It's really disgusting, and is causing more laundry work because we have to re-wash the bags that are in the bottom, next to all the used tissues and gum wrappers. More work = sad Need-a-Baggers. It is not a trashcan! It is a drop-box! Stop it!!!

And here is a lovely kitteh bag someone lovingly hand-crafted and embellished with shiny chocolate fudge syrup. You can click on it to get a close-up -- Yum!

Friday, May 01, 2009

HaHa! License plates are statements, too!

I was sitting behind this huge Nissan Titan pickup on my way to DJ's school and it took me a few seconds before I realized the license plate was speaking to me! It said, "My CO2" and luckily I had the old trusty camera in the glove box. Before I could get a wider shot of the whole back end to show the enormity of this truck, it started pulling away and, darnit, it is hard to try taking a picture while driving, I've discovered.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Candlelight, Elephant Fruit, and Thou: Earth Hour 2009 update

I never did get around to posting about my Earth Hour 2009 experience, did I? We had managed to get DJ to bed before DG showed up to help celebrate Earth Hour in the darkness of our back porch. She's a good sport that way. The old man had already fled the scene by the time Earth Hour began at approximately 8:30 (okay, we were a little late, maybe 5 minutes?) so he could lift weights in the safety of a well-lit campus.

I turned out all the lights and electronics in the house, and then DG and I settled out for a long, long hour of shooting the breeze and stumbling around the darkened house when we needed more ice or a trip to the bathroom (peeing in the dark was fun!).

I admit I was wasn't totally without electronic helpers -- I had to use the camera to take this shot of the candle and lamp-lit table. Also took a cute video which DG will not allow me to post because she doesn't want people seeing our drunken rantings. I deny that we were drunk at the time of the video, however; we had barely touched the bottle of Amarula we had for the occasion!

While waiting for DG to arrive, I had taken a quick walk up my street a few houses to see if I could spot any other Earth Hourers. Such was not the case, my neighbors choosing to spend Earth Hour 2009 swathed in electronic salience around my darkened home. Oh well, maybe next year I'll pound on the neighbors' doors with glad tidings of Earth Hour 2010, and they will laugh heartily before slamming said doors.

Need-a-Bag Project Update 04.18.09

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.

This Saturday tables were turned, and DG was the one with plans that made it impossible for her to get to the market. Luckily, the old man was sitting on line as of 6:30 am that morning to get all the goodies at the bi-annual Friends of the Library book sale, so DJ was pressed into service in his cameo role of Need-a-Bag? Project Good Scout. And a wonderful help he was, lugging the drop box around and putting bags on the fence. The cost? One tote bag! Such a lovely boy!

Friend of the Need-a-Bag? Project and fellow blogger, Kelli, left a lovely comment on the prior update from 04.04.09 that was too nice to leave there:

I keep meaning to tell you that several times when I've been at the market lately, someone will be picking through the bags on the fence with a look of amazement on their faces. Last time a woman asked me, "These are FREE? I just take one? That's great!"

You really are doing a good thing, and so simple - for us picking up the bags anyway.

Thank you!!


Thank YOU, Kelli, for being our eyes and ears on the ground and getting such great feedback! Folks, if you haven't read Kelli's blog, What We Need Is Here, it is a wonderful read and continually reminds me how many great folks are here in town!

We got some new bags in the drop box! Thank you, kind, anonymous (probably Jean) donors!

The market is going through some ch-ch-ch-changes and a whole swath has been bulldozed in preparation for...new stuff? What new stuff, not sure. But it looks like it's going to be a bigger, better farmer's market so hold onto your hats, people! I'll hopefully have pictures to document the construction progress with the next post.

Can't find my photo-downloader-thingy for the camera, so here's a photo from the Citizen's Co-op fundraiser from January. DJ is king of the woodpile!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Need-a-Bag Project Update 04.04.09

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.

I'm back on the case! Got to help set up bags for the first time in ages, and contributed a new drop box to the cause, since our old one apparently blew out onto Hwy 441 last week, never to be seen from again. I don't want say someone stole it, because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but DG did stop someone from taking it once, if that's any indication of the desirability of our cruddy, garage sale drop box. The new one is an old mesh basket (one of the foldable ones) that we used for DJ's stuffed animals. It too was a toy, and had gotten to the point where the wire was sticking out and had become kind of a hazard. Darn, I should have gotten a picture of it, but instead I took a photo of the new, paper Need-a-Bag? Project label with safety pin. Publix got some cool, new polyprop bags with trees and birds on it, so I donated the boring ecru-colored bags, as shown in this photo.

I realized that DG was using quilter's tracing fabric and running it through the printer to make the labels, which is more durable than paper. I think we've got a winner with the paper label/safety pin dealie -- DG was able to pin labels on the bags while we drove out to the farmer's market this morning.

We've started to wonder if we're getting over-saturated with bags and DG asked Erika-of-the-fine-and-tasty-citrus if she has noticed less bags to put away at the end of the market day. So far the results are inconclusive. I really wish someone would come forth and volunteer to branch out at the Wednesday market downtown(as part of our Need-a-Bag? Project Pioneer Program), but that's too much to hope for right now.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Charlie's Soap Update: adding scent

I miss that sharp, flowery smell from detergents. There I said it. Charlie's soap has no fragrance, and I want my clothes to smell something other than merely "fresh." It's like when I was weaning from deodorants, I would sometimes take the top off the Old Spice we use (now the Old Man uses it exclusively) and would just take a quick sniff, just to remember. I can't imagine how people use scent-free detergents, because I need that smell, man!

So, I gave in and have started putting a 1/2 teaspoon of fragrance oil in with the Charlie's Soap. I was worried it would leave oil stains on the clothes, but we put the detergent in through the center well of our washer, so it's easy enough to add the fragrance so that it is dispersed more evenly in the wash water. And the clothes have an ever-so-slight smell of cucumber and melon (the Bath and Body Works "dupe" I have a lot of and need to get rid of). When they come out of the dryer they have a slight trace of scent, just enough to feed the olfactory nerves, so I've been happy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour Once Again! Today! 8:30 p.m. EST

I had some vague notion that Earth Hour was on my heels once again. I posted last year about Earth Hour (here, and here) but chickened out. I'm going to do it this year, though! I'll post photos (or does that go against the theme?).

Also posted in 2007 about the more general idea of prescribed or voluntary blackouts and what shape and forms that would take. In the post I link to a couple of places in the U.S. where they have already tried this on a large scale.

Small gestures like Earth Hour build into consciousness-raising for the society that consumes the most while being miniscule compared to the rest of the world; I hope this continues to gain momentum in the coming years as we become more aware of our environmental fragility in the face of global warming and its impact. I haven't taken it very seriously until now because I believe that we need to do more than the symbolic, and Earth Hour should be every day. I'll participate this year, though, and look forward to seeing the results.

Open For Questions: White House Online Town Hall

So, while I've been bed-ridden for the past week with a bad back, I had the golden opportunity to watch the new administration experiment with some never-tried ideas, like doing a virtual town hall meeting from the White House. It was pretty awesome.

For about two days before the town hall, the administration was soliciting online patriots to submit questions on the economy to the president, and the most popular ones would be chosen by the president to be answered during the town hall meeting. I decided I wanted to get on the bandwagon, and submitted this question:

Okay, the screenshot's kind of fuzzy, so here's the text: "Has there been any consideration [given] to forming a training center like Bunker Roy's Barefoot College in India? It is community organizing at its most basic and has been very successful." I did a post last week about the Barefoot College and thought it was an excellent idea that would be easily portable anywhere in the world, right? Seems my fellow digi-patriots were not behind me on this one: while 5 users voted that they liked the idea, 8 voted not so much on this one. Oh well, I tried.

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 03.28.09

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.

Once again, I have shirked my duties as Need-a-Bag? Project associate and left DG with the burden of hanging up a ton of bags. My back has started acting up for the first time in a long time, and I've been bed-bound and just getting to the point where I can start doing physical therapy-type exercises. But enough about me.

DG came up with a new plan for labeling the bags. She decided to print the labels on paper and safety pin them to the bags. I think, for all intents and purposes, that this is the best plan, yet. It saves money because those iron on fabric sheets (even just the printer fabric without the iron-on stuff) are really expensive, and it was too labor intensive.

Our unstated elegance ideal in this project has been that it should take the least amount of time to do and make the most impact. This has always been a balancing act, and I think the idea of safety pinning the labels on the bags is golden. The only other idea which matches it is just printing up slips with project information and placing them in each bag--another idea from DG.

I'm hoping to be back in the game next weekend, and will take some long over-due photos of newness at the farmer's market. DG said it was packed this week!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 03.21.09

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.

A big "thank you" to Jean for her diligence in finding us tote bags -- she gave us a bunch (I'll have to check and see how many, but there were quite a few), and I believe we got some new ones in the drop box but we can't be sure. We went for a couple of weeks without labeling the bags, so now it's kind of hard to tell which ones are new; also, I was absent during a couple of weeks, so I haven't exactly been keeping on top of the tote bag collection, either.

Swiped the photo of the azalea w/bumble bee from Dan R.'s facebook album -- thanks, Dan!

NPR: When It Comes To Shampoo, Less Is More

I swear, listening to NPR via the WJCT web stream while puttering around at work has been illuminating. NPR is definitely jumping on the green-living/lifestyle stories, and so will try to highlight them here as they pertain to my own projects. Usually, regular media reporting on green living ends up like the vapid NY Times story on "Eco-Moms" that I ranted about a year ago.

Case in point: I've railed for a long time against the notion that people who work in offices and other white-collar positions do not need to bathe everyday. Here's a post I did almost three years ago where I make the point (albeit rather shrilly) that, unless you work in a coal mine, bathing everyday should be the least of your worries.

The same goes with hair washing (and, I often think the two go hand in hand); it seems NPR agrees. In "When it Comes to Shampoo, Less is More" (March 19, 2009), author Allison Aubrey gives a fascinating look at the history of the American obsession with hair-washing. Apparently, over one hundred years ago, washing one's hair once a month was the norm.

Once a month! I'm feeling a little skeevy if I wash my hair once a week (which seems the norm for me these days). Then why don't I wash my hair more often, you ask? Because, laziness is the greatest tool of the accidental environmentalist.

Got the pic from Imp Awards

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Digi-Prizes instead of umbrellas and tote bags for Sierra Club and others

I was thinking about the concept of digi-prizes last month, during the annual Disney Sweepstakes, where you can enter online once a day for the entire month of February. There are four chances to win a vacation for four to Disney, and in the second year I've entered I haven't won yet!

But, that's not really the reason why I enter; rationally, I know that there isn't a snowball's chance in heck that I'll win, but I do like the "digi-prizes" they give you each day you enter. Shown here is the Sleeping Beauty Clock, which you download for either mac or pc as a zip file, and then it opens up on your desktop. It's cute and there's also a Muppets clock and a Pinnochio calculator.

Then, of course, there are also the lame-o prizes out of the 28 possible digi-prizes, like the three different versions of the Ratatouille recipe cards, or the 101 Dalmations photo frame (these are basically just .pdf files), but for the most part, seeing what I'd get when I entered each day was definitely an incentive to keep coming back.

In my adventures in Second Life, I've also collected "freebies" from various organizations and groups. For instance, my avatar has a Science Friday t-shirt you get on Science Friday Island when everyone gathers to listen to the show. I also have WWF virtual briefs and sweatpants.

So, my thought is this: Instead of sending umbrellas, plushies, or tote bags for memberships to Sierra Club or World Wildlife Fund, why not give people cool downloads? I think the generational gap between old school, tote bag-wanting members and new guard, iPhone application-using members has closed up significantly. Why not offer a desktop tool, like a clock, a computer game, or some other application? I really think the possibilities are endless, and it would save on landfill space, because we all know that's where the broken WWF umbrellas and Sierra Club plushies are going once we get bored with them.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Barefoot College: Interview with Bunker Roy

This is an incredible YouTube video by the People's World Peace Project about Barefoot College founded by Bunker Roy in 1972. It is well produced and the subject is very engrossing.

Mr. Roy recruits women from poor rural communities around India and other countries to learn how to be solar engineers and then go back to their communities to set up and maintain a solar grid for their people.

I first heard about this a few months back, meant to blog about it, forgot to blog about it, and then forgot the salient information in order to blog about it. Then, I was listening to last week's podcast of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and they so generously provided all the information. There is a video about Barefoot College on the PBS site for R&E as well as a transcript.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Yorker article, "Made in the U.S.A." by Patricia Marx

I'm posting a link to the "abstract" of the article, "Made in the U.S.A." by Patricia Marx (New Yorker, March 16, 2009) because apparently some things aren't free on the internet. The fine folks at the New Yorker have to make a buck here and there, of course, and with news media in the tank and sinking fast, who am I to quibble about an abstract or full-length article. There is a thing called the library and a lot of them have access to these articles (but make it quick, because the "library" is also in the tank).

Anyway, late last year I posted a rant on a Mother Jones screed, "O Say Can You Buy?" by Nicole McClelland (and I never mentioned the author's name in the original post and my apologies), where she tries for a week to buy nothing but products made in the U.S.A. and finds it unbearably difficult. It was cringingly laughable to read, because on some micro-level, people who are socially conscious try to do this on a daily basis, with similar results. My point was that she left out the fact that buying products doesn't necessarily have to be "made in" the U.S., but can be "of" the U.S. -- for instance, buying used clothing from Goodwill. It is a charitable, non-profit based in the U.S. and sells clothing that may have originated in Pakistan, but has already left the main market stream.

The point of the article was to point out that there are not many products actually produced in the U.S. any longer, but the thrust of the article (I think) was picked up more successfully by Marx in the New Yorker piece. Both are written in a breezy tongue-and-cheek style--the impulse is to think they are implying that no one can take seriously the notion that people in America actually "make" stuff anymore, but rather consume it, but maybe the style is more indicative of their collective exasperation at the task of tackling the underlying issues in dealing with a home country that no longer produces everyday goods but, instead, jet planes and microchips.

The Marx article had a lot of good facts, however, and she had obviously gone out of her way to explore all avenues of "locavore" life (which, she pointed out, was the New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year for 2007), at least within her sphere of New York City. A little disheartening was that a lot of goods produced in the U.S. are quite expensive, like Shaker-inspired furniture. Or chocolates. The locally-produced Brooklyn Buzz mead (using N.Y. state honey) was actually kind of cheap at 13-dollars a bottle, however.

The one fact that jumped out: Marx states that 86-percent of the average American's clothing budget is spent on clothing made outside of the U.S. Not surprisingly, but still startling. And also, coincidentally, the total number of crates Thomas Jefferson hauled back to American after his sojourn as Ambassador to France. This, Marx says, is after making the statement, "I have come to a resolution myself as I hope every god citizen will, never again to purchase any article of foriegn manufacture which can be had of American make, be the difference of price what it may." Hoo boy.

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 03.14.09: Remote Viewing

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.

This was yet another week that I was sick (when will this blasted cold season end?!) and so DG once again shouldered the responsibilities. When I called this afternoon, her report was that things were pretty much the same, but she mentioned that she thought she had gotten a new bag but it looked like an old bag. She described it as a tote bag that had been "hand embellished" with sea urchins and I remembered that that was an old bag that we had put out months ago! I'll have to see said sea urchin bag to confirm, but I do believe this is the first case of getting a bag recycled back into the Need-a-Bag? project stream! Yes, you heard it here first, folks, the dream is still alive!

The goal was to put out new bags as they were taken down from the fence, and then collect the bags that come back to us in the drop box, wash them, and put them back out on the fence. This is a strong indicator that the third, most important, sequence in the Need-a-Bag? project is becoming a reality. People are starting to return the bags they've had piling up in a corner of their closet!

The next step is replacing the signs. After a year, they are pretty sorry-looking, and it is time to get some more professional-looking signs--I think the phrase DG used was something like "trailer trash signs" or something like that. DG is gung-ho to take this project on and cost is no object, apparently. I'm with her on that -- it's time we stepped up! Branding! Marketing! Totey!!!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 03.08.09 Happy Daylight Savings Time!

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 was a beautiful day at the market yesterday and it seems like the crowds have picked up a bit. We changed our labels again -- DG pointed out that the last one was a sentence fragment! Ouch. Anyway, so we've got new labels, and you'll notice the old one next to the new one in one of the photos. The bedazzled label held up pretty well in the wash, but it's a little frayed, and the backing came off and got all gunked up in the dryer, so I had cut it out with scissors so it would lay flat. The bag next to it is a cool Lancome bag DG picked up and got snatched up almost immediately.

So, anyway, we're using iron-on labels instead of bedazzled labels. It was fun and silly and looked very dorky but it is hard to sit around and bedazzle labels all night. I got a craft iron for projects with DJ ("Dude Junior") and ended up using that to iron the cloth labels. It works a lot better than the big iron, and I can even iron on labels on the non-woven polypropylene Publix bags--bonus!

After tussling with a fellow over sharing the last two cartons of strawberries (DG stepped in to keep the peace and gave me one of her containers), I got some yummy salad greens. I've got some sweet potatoes that I bought weeks ago, and I think I'm going to throw those into a potroast today (the roast coming from good old IFAS). Also got some tasty citrus -- I've been trying to buy one bag a week to put in the staff break room at my place of employment, the idea being that we should work harder to prevent scurvy in our co-workers and show them we care about their health and well being.