Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Years Resolutions, Take 1

I asked my mom-in-law the other day if she had any New Years Resolutions (NYR[s]), and she said she doesn't make them.  I asked, "is it because you break them soon after making them?" and she replied, "no, it's because it's always the same thing every year: Get better organized."

This woman is the most organized individual I've ever met, besides my mom, so it was funny and ironic at the same time. 

Anyway, so I've started to think about my NYR(s) for this year; like my m-i-l, I have the usual ones, like, "lose more weight," but I'm also thinking about long-term life goals (not that permanent weight loss is not a long-term life goal).  I'm thinking about things that I need to resolve to do regarding the environment, especially, but also social engagement - I want to be more involved in helping people.

I really do enjoy helping people.  My job as a student assistant at the university library was a good example of that; I never got tired of helping patrons find things in the stacks, troubleshoot their computer/technology issues, and helping them navigate the library databases and catalog.  So I find myself on the threshold of graduating with my masters in English and deciding that library work is what I'm most happy doing and have decided to continue working towards a masters in Library and Information Science. 

It's taken quite a few years to come up with something that I would be happy doing for the rest of my life and making that decision has opened up some possibilities to how else I can help others.  I have a few ideas that I'd like to share here and will take some time over the next couple of days to list them.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crappiest Week Ever

My SB spill-proof mug, waiting to be washed.
Okay, I'm about at the end of my rope, here - I'm way late on a final paper, I haven't graded any of my students' papers yet, I lost my glasses (and it is not funny that I am walking around like Velma going, "where are my glasses?"), and now I'm sick - I blogged on SMC about how I got DJ the complete first season of Total Drama Island so I could lie on the couch and be sick (and watch episodes of TDI).  That was about all I could manage for two days; today I'm feeling much better, however, so I'm catching up on my procrastinating from doing honest work by blogging and also to tell you a funny story that happened the other day.

I hate Starbucks.  I don't think I've ranted enough about how much I hate Starbucks and there are many reasons to hate this chain store.  But, regardless of my hatred, I still patronize said company even though I hate their coffee, hate their politics, and hate their attitude towards workers.  Having said that, I really, really love their stainless-steel, spill-proof mugs.  And Friday morning, before I got really sick and everything went all to Hell, I was standing in line to get SB gift cards for the counselors at DJ's afterschool program and a lady in front of me was looking at the new mugs they've made so you can stir your Via instant coffee more efficiently (?! [god I hate this company]).  Somehow I got into a conversation with her about the fact that the SB mugs are spill-proof and pointed to the shelf that contained the model I own.  I started ranting about how great my cup is, I ride bikes all over Gainesville and throw this in my messenger bag/pannier/purse and have never had a spillage problem and on and on.  I'm really selling this damn thing, and the lady says okay, I'm sold and she takes the one I pointed to off the shelf; meanwhile, this gentleman has been listening to my spiel and says he wants to get one too and the lady says, "sorry, sucker, I got the last one (she didn't really say that)," and then the guy goes to the SB barista and asks if they have anymore and is led to the back of the store where they manage to find one more cup.  I was in full self-loathing mode by the time I got to the counter and demanded commission for selling two of those damn cups for SB.

Haha, wasn't that funny/sad?  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

World Cup of Composting

I'm on the twitterfeed for WastedFood (author Jonathan Bloom's blog) and he just tweeted this interesting link to an Inside Waste Weekly article about Australia hosting the International Symposium on Organic Matter Management and Compost Use in Horticulture - whew, that's a mouthful.  No wonder they call it the compost World Cup for short. 

An interesting point they make in the news release:

“The vast majority of papers deal with the use of composts (made from a wide variety of raw materials), vermi-composts, and mulches, and we received relatively few papers that researched the use of uncomposted animal manures or green manures for managing organic matter in horticultural production systems.”

That's a travesty - we need more conversation about "uncomposted animal manures or green manures," if only to be able to say/write "uncomposted animal manures or green manures."  Because it is 5:30 in the morning and I want to go back to sleep.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Update on Black Work Socks

I just posted about the purchase I made recently from All American Clothing Co., and on a lark decided to try on a pair of the black work socks made by Wigwam that I got for my husband.  They are sooo comfortable and warm, I am reluctant to take them off - even to wash them.

All American Clothing Co. vs. Land's End

So, I wanted to be a big ol' suck-up to one of my profs and make him an iron-on t-shirt and, like all liberal arts professors, he is a hippie so I also wanted to use socially-conscious materials.  I found an online store called All American Clothing Co. that sells only union-made clothes manufactured in the USA.  I ended up buying more than the t-shirt because they had a deal where if you bought 75-dollars worth of stuff you got free shipping.  All in all, I ended up getting one t-shirt, a 3-pack of black work socks and pair of black twill work pants for the Old Man, and two pairs of argyle socks for myself. The socks I was especially pleased with because they are Wigwam-brand socks, probably one of the few remaining sock manufacturers in the US.

I was fretting momentarily about the cost and then realized if I had bought the same items from Land's End (our usual default online store for work clothes and what-not) I would probably have paid the same or similar.
I ended up obsessing on this question for the 5-7 working days it took for the package of clothing to arrive and decided to blog about the comparison of the two companies and their offerings.
So, I already know that my purchases from All American Clothing Co. was $82.91 for the items I described above.  I tried to arrange the screencaps of the two different businesses so that the Land's End items would be on the left and the All American Clothing Co. stuff was on the right.  From first glance you can see that the prices are fairly similar for clothing with similar features. Looking at the prices in black on the LE side, since the red indicates a sale-price, the cost of the LE items next to their comparable AAC counterparts is way more for the t-shirt and crew socks; it's a little more for the LE pants than the AAC pants, and the AAC argyles were actually more than the comparable patterned women's socks offered by LE.  Below is a somewhat coherent chart describing the cost breakdown and the totals.  So, if you include the extra pair of socks I would have gotten from LE in their 3-pack, it comes to about the same price.

Now, you may be asking, "Michele, when have you ever paid for anything full-price at Land's End?" and I would have to say, not too often.  The only things I pay full-price for are work pants and shirts for my husband.  Land's End, I have to admit, makes a fine work shirt that lasts a long, long time through numerous washings (I'm sorry if it sounds like a plug, but it's true).  But, the black twill work pants we got from AAC are pretty sweet, too, with welt pocket construction, a gusset for "extra comfort" (they even have a link to explain what a gusset is), and a special welt pocket on the right leg for your cell phone because, when you're on the construction site, you need quick access to your communication device.  That's what I think.

Land’s End
Cost per item
All American CC
Cost per item
Crew socks
19.50 (3 pack)
Crew Socks
10.99 (3 pack)
Ladies socks
16.50 (3 pack)
Ladies socks
23.98 (for 2 pairs)



I'm pretty convinced that buying from AAC is the better option, mostly because when you buy from them you know you are buying stuff that's been what they call "grown and sewn" in the USA.  It gives Americans jobs and anything that helps our national economy, especially now, is a good choice.  My only big question is whether or not the clothes are union-made.  I find it interesting that the site doesn't state anywhere if this is the case; I was linked to the AAC site from the Union Plus website, which lists union-made clothing manufacturers.  As a caveat, the t-shirt I bought did state on the label that it was union-made, so at least my prof is going to get the ultimate in socially-conscious apparel.

I've decided that one of my new projects is going to be how far I can get with buying union-made clothing for our family.  My next stop: Bras.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kombucha update: Doing too well

I never thought I'd be writing a post about how well the kombucha is doing and complaining about it.  But, here we are.  Goodness knows I've done my usual, half-assed caretaking of it, but yet it is thriving on top of the refrigerator.  Actually, "it" means the original kombucha scobie and all the scobies it has generated since I started about a month ago.  I am being overrun with scobies at this point.  I don't know if the top of my refrigerator will support a kombucha farm.  If you need a kombucha scobie and some general instructions on how to get started email me at  Please.

Friday, December 03, 2010

'Accidental Environmentalism' now on Urban Dictionary

Was looking something up on Urban Dictionary the other day (probably something like 'crunk' or 'foshizzle') and decided, why not add 'accidental environmentalism' to their list?  The editors at Urban Dictionary reviewed it and here is the link to my definition of 'accidental environmentalism.'  I am such a nerd...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Newsweek: Divided We Eat: What food says about class in America

The Old Man (I really should just use that ubiquitous "DH" but I'm in a rut, whatever) told me about this article he stumbled across, in his capacity as science news writer for a university in the southern United States, and thought I'd share.  It's called What Food Says About Class in America (it's also called "Divided We Eat," so I'm not sure which goes before which); to be honest, I haven't read the whole thing but OM/DH says that it's interesting because the topic of foodyism/locavore-ism in the context of class hasn't really been discussed in the media.  The comments, apparently, excoriate one of the people interviewed for the article - so, come for the depressing article about class war on the food front, stay for the flame war?  Fun!

It's interesting to me because I've had a couple of students in two different classes discuss proposals for stemming childhood obesity, and they've both observed that socioeconomic status has a lot to do with the problem.  I should also post sometime on FLOTUS Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign.  Oh, wait, I guess I just did.

I'll have to read the article and update - that's the problem with grad school; it really cuts into my writing time because everything I write is not for this blog!