Monday, May 30, 2011

Swamp Head Brewery

Gah, I can't help myself - I have to blog about Swamp Head Brewery before it gets into the Gainesville Sun.  There's a scoop to be had!

There have been microbreweries in Gainesville; recently, Land Shark Lager (based in Jacksonville) became a state-wide available beer.  But, this is the first locally-brewed beer to be distributed in Gainesville, and that's a big deal. 

Haven't tried it, yet, but I know you can get it at Tasty Buddha at Millhopper (this links to the original one on 16th ave.), and I will be sure to look for it at Ward's.

Okay, before anyone corrects me on this, this is great because it is locally brewed, not because it is locally produced - the ingredients still come from a far away (probably Nebraska) state, so for it to be truly locally produced it would have the ingredients grown here, as well.  I'm just sayin this for the record; I could almost not completely care about that fact, but it is something to consider when we consider locally produced foods.

Picture swiped from the Swamp Head Brewery website.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

National Bike Month Media Ops in Gainesville, May 31st 2011 at noon

Hey all you local citizens and/or bloggers of Hoggetowne!  Mr. Batey, coordinator of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board (BPAP) for the City of Gainesville, sent me a comment on the original post about National Bike Month, so I thought I'd break out of my hermitage to spread the link love:

The City of Gainesville Bicycle/Pedestrian Program announces a media conference to closeout National Bike Month for Gainesville, Florida on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at noon. The event will be held in front of the Alachua County Library Headquarters downtown location.

Also featured will be a ribbon cutting for the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board (BPAB) “Bicycle Repair Station” pilot project structure and the results of a bicycle vs. car “Commuter Challenge” race involving Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe as the cyclist and University of Florida Police Officer James Thomas, former bicycle officer, cyclist and recent Alachua County Commission Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board (BPAB) appointee. Local and state groups will be on hand to provide bicycle related information and updates.

Link to event flyer:
Web Page link
Or visit directly: + I WANT TO + Learn About + Bicycle/Pedestrian Program

For more information on "Bike Month" and bicycling information, please visit:, or contact Dekova Batey, Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Coordinator, at 352-393-8493 /

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two Week Hiatus From Blogging and Other Internets

In order to complete my thesis for the final time (this is my second go-around) I am taking the advice of my ADD coach (yes, I have one of those, now, to help me through this wall I've seemingly hit at 40+ years of age) and taking myself off the information autobahn for two weeks.

Eschewing all online activities for two weeks is going to be one of the hardest things I've ever done (and that includes writing a thesis) and of course that means no blogging instead of thesis writing; I've done this in the past with the rationalization that at least I'm writing, even though what I'm doing is feeding my ADD scattered-ness. 

Will be back in two weeks or so and am already planning a new feature, "Because You Googled It," where I look at the search terms folks use and research them - it's like having a living, breathing Google to answer your environmental questions!

Speaking of which, please check out the many fabulous links on this blog to access lots of great information about environmental issues and other stuff - What We Need Is Here: Our Local Life is my favorite local blog on the Hoggetowne Links, but they are all wonderful.  Another great resource is Ask Umbra on Grist (Grist is also pretty great all-around, btw).  At the top of the front page there is a feed to DK GreenRoots posts on Daily Kos - all well-worth your time and effort for in-depth commentary on environmental issues.

Well, that's it.  Thanks for your patience and continued readership and look forward to blogging at AE again in about two weeks!

Got this hermity pic from Puerto Vallarta Journal

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bike/Bus Combo in Gainesville, Part 2

Hello again, I just got back from my bus trip and it was very successful.  I really enjoyed riding my bike downtown and catching only one bus to my appointment, so I think that is going to be my technique from now on.  I thought about taking my bike on the bus, as I mentioned earlier, but am glad I didn't because there are only two spots for bikes and they were mighty crowded on the way back.  I also wanted to show you what the rack looks like but felt uncomfortable taking pictures of I swiped this from the RTS website instead!

Bicycle Procedure

You can take your bicycle with you anywhere RTS goes! Most RTS buses have bike racks on the front that hold up to two bicycles. If you wish to use the bike rack, signal the driver that you are going to the front of the bus. You will be responsible for loading and unloading your bicycle.
step by step insructions of how to load your bike. 1. Pull up on the release and lower rack.

step by step insructions of how to load your bike. 2. Place bike wheels into the slots labeled "front" and "rear." Pull out bike support and lift it over the front wheel. The spring in the arm will keep your bike secure while the bus is moving.

step by step insructions of how to load your bike. 3. To unload, release support arm and lift bike from the rack. Return rack to the upright position.

I ended up somehow getting an earlier bus downtown so I was able to stop at Fresh Market for some by-the-pound salad before hopping back on the next bus and getting to my destination.  This bus, because it carries a lot of students, is probably one of the more frequent buses on the whole schedule so it was definitely nice; I missed my bus coming back but only waited 30 minutes for the next on, versus the hour, hour and a half with other buses on my route. 

On the way home I stopped at Publix and got a couple of things (bogo Ben and Jerry's for one thing) and now I'm home.

Bike/Bus Combo in Gainesville

Pick up this bike?  hahaha...
So, I've been taking the bus more often - our family has one car and we've done pretty well for over 5 years this way, but it's getting a little tricky when I have appointments that take me outside the 2-mile Rule zone.  We've been doing a combination of things:
  • I bike, the Old Man drives
  • I drive and drop everyone off and then pick up
  • I ride the bus, the Old Man drives
Yes, the onus of finding alternative transpo falls on my shoulders but that's fine; I get the feeling the Old Man is not comfortable biking near traffic in an urban setting; besides it's better for me to not be tied to leaving the house at a certain time to pick everyone up. 

Today, I'm trying something different.  Gainesville Regional Transit System (RTS) is our public transportation system, and their website is pretty spiffy - it has a route finder that interfaces (does anyone actually use that word anymore?) with Google Maps, so you can get a pre-planned route with schedule and transit times.  I won't diss the route finder even though I've never actually found an agreeable route this way.

For instance, I need to go to the NW part of town so I input my address and the termination address and it gave me this cocamamy route that requires me to go in a completely different direction for an hour and then I have to walk for 22 minutes.  The walking is fine, I love to walk and have the gait of a metropolitan dweller, but the section of road they're talking about can be walked in 22 minutes if you are an Olympic athlete.  Srsly.  So I said "forget that noise," and I'm doing something a little bit different today; I'm riding my bike to the main downtown depot, locking it up and then taking the one bus I need that will drop me practically in front of my destination.  Because our buses are equipped with bike racks I could alternatively take my bike with me, but this thing is no lightweight, so meh. 

I'll try to get a pic of the bus bike racks to show you what I mean.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother Earth Mags for Mother's Day

The Old Man and DJ got me three Mother Earth News magazines for Mother's Day, which is really nice.  So far, however, DJ seems to be the only one reading them, but at least one of us will be well-read on organic gardening.  The one he was looking at last night was MEN Guide to Growing Your Own Food, and every so often he'd chime in with, "oh, look, it says that you should have a mini pond in your garden area to encourage frogs and lizards..." - he's been bugging us for a garden pond since forever.  Then, he showed me this hilarious looking gadget called Nite Guard, saying it would scare the crap out of coyotes and wolves (DJ was polite enough to not actually say the word "crap" but trace his finger over it while reading the advertisement to me).  He thought it would be good for scaring racoons and possums, since we don't have wolves and coyotes in our neighborhood, and he's convinced the racoons are to blame for messing with our green pepper plants (why do racoons always get blamed immediately for this stuff?  Is it the mask?).  So, our conversations of late have been mostly about gardening and that's perfectly fine with me.

KFC killing forests in North Carolina

Gah, I want this on a t-shirt.
Just finished reading Jess Zimmerman's "Even an adorable child can't make KFC eco-friendly" on Grist, and watched the accompanying video, first posted at ("Fourth Grader Takes on Fast Food to save Forests" by Margaret Swink).  The upshot of it is that Cole and his friends and family drove all the way from North Carolina to Kentucky to give them 6k in letters pleading with the fried chicken magnate to stop using wetland forests along North Carolina's coastline for their snack wrap wrappers, just to be given a couple of 5-dollar KFC gift certificates and a pat on the head (ostensibly they were given the last, since they wouldn't let the folks from Dogwood Alliance come in with their cameras as they filmed the trip for a short documentary).  I loved Zimmerman's response from the Grist article when talking about the vouchers which are "probably printed on paper made from North Carolina trees. Thanks, Colonel, you dick."  HAHA, the colonel is a dick!  But really, the colonel has been dead for a long time (since the 80's; just ask the Old Man, who dormed with a scion of the KFC dynasty). 

I'm disposable!
Here's a photo I took at the KFC drivethru when I went with the fams to get some chicken one day in January of this year.  They're apparently trying to do some environmental things, like creating reusable plastic containers for their side dishes.  We had two of them and immediately lost everything except one of the lids.  But, you can also frame this as why the hell are they using plastic that a lot of people will probably just throw away rather than take the trouble to reuse?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Picture of my bike and me in a helmet

So I was posting on Friday about Angry Black Lady's helpful reminder to "put your damn helmet on" and I made the promise to wear one all the time from now on, not only on her blog but right here at the AE.  So here's a picture of what my bike looks like right now - it used to be a fairly nice looking Gary Fisher until I stuck a bunch of stickers on it and added the most voluminous panniers I could find for 5-dollars at a garage sale.  But I get about 2 full Publix bags of groceries on my bike with them so for short trips to the market it's a great ride.

I asked the Old Man yesterday to take a picture of me with my helmet on, to prove that I am wearing my helmet and to demonstrate just how dorky it looks.  I was on my way to the HQ library to pick up an AR (Accelerated Reader) book for DJ - he's reading constantly on his own, now, just not the stuff he should be reading for school. Oh well.

Publix Bag gift package

I was at Publix the other day after coming back from campus and just happened to see this neat thing Publix is doing right now, on the first endcap I saw: it was a package that contained a refridge magnet in the shape of a Publix bag, a knob hanger to remind you to Bring Your Bags (I previously reported on that campaign here) and a coupon good for one free Publix bag.  All of this was for 99-cents, which is the current cost of a Publix reusable bag, so it is a pretty sweet deal.  I think they are excellent as gifts, and got one for my mom-in-law for mother's day and one for a friend and neighbor on the street who was having an open house this past weekend.  I of course gifted my own self with one and here are a couple of shots I took at the time. 

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Amsterdam bike consciousness in San Francisco

Huh?  What's Hulk Hogan doing in SF?
If you don't follow citisven's blog posts on DailyKos, you should, especially if you are environmentally-minded.  He is one of the great bloggers behind DK GreenRoots, an effort by the kossack community to promote environmental posts on DailyKos.  This post talks about a really groovy-sounding event he attended in SF that included a bike tour with some Dutch folks on Queen's Day.  Please look at the post because there are a bunch of really great photos (one of which I swiped for this post).

Hope the weather is nice in your part of the world to go on a bike ride :)

Accidentally Environmental Experiment: Clean Scrubbies w/o Radiation

Pot filled 1/4 to 1/3 full
 Okay, so I posted the other day about why I miss my microwave: It was very handy for killing bacteria on scrubbies if you throw them in for a minute.  Now we have smelly scrubbies.  Then TheGoodLuckDuck  from The Good Luck Duck blog commented and wondered if you could boil the scrubbies to do the same thing.  So, this morning, I decided to try it.  The first couple of pictures shows one of the Revere copper pots I inherited from my mom - yes, I am using our own cookware for this experiment, just don't tell the Old Man.  C'mon!  It's stainless steel, nothing can destroy these things.

I don't think this photo truly captures the nasty of these
Anyway, so you in the first two pictures you can see parts of my breakfast in the corner (bagel with salmon spread and coffee) and for this experiment I chose two old scrubbies that we actually use for cleaning surfaces because they've gotten so ratty.  I don't think the lighting and the camera flash allows the viewer to truly appreciate the nastiness of these scrubbies, or the nastiness of the water after they were done boiling.

When the pot of water (as you can see in the top picture I filled the pot about a 1/4 to 1/3 with water) got to a roiling boil I put the scrubbies in and let them boil at full-tilt, high heat for 5 minutes.  I chose five minutes for the amount of time to thoroughly sanitize them because that is, I believe, the rule of thumb for sanitizing contaminated water.

Roiling boilin pot of water
After the five minutes were up I turned off the heat and fished out the scrubbies with a fork (okay, give me a break, already!  Again, it's stainless steel and it does clean well with soap and [clean] water), and set them on the counter to cool; this is reminiscent of when I sterilized them in the microwave because they would come out super hot.

The water was super disgusting after it had stopped foaming; again, I don't think the picture I took in the kitchen does justice to just how disgusting this water was.  So, I took the pot out on the back porch to get another picture in natural light without the flash; eh, still pretty disgusting looking but not as obviously gross as IRL.

Five minutes is supposed rule of thumb for sterilization
As I write this the scrubbies have cooled and I did the sniff test after wringing them out under fresh running water for a second.  They still smell a little sharp, so I made the Old Man smell them, as well.  I said, "Smell these," so he dutifully smelled each of them.  Then I asked, "What do you think?" and he replied, "Well, I think they're old and nasty and should be thrown away."  "But," I replied, "I just boiled them!" "Oh," said the Old Man, "Well then, they're fine."  Such a good man.

Lots of soap left in the old scrubbies, huh?
So, I'm sure they're pretty clean - maybe boiling them for 10 minutes may have made more of a difference?  As JerkFace MikeJ who trolled me yesterday from Balloon Juice (and remind me to not post my blog address on BJ in the future during their Reader Blogs feature) observed, microwaves are more efficient because they use less energy and I have to agree (which I do, grudgingly, because of aforementioned jerkishness) but what's a better end for your appliances - having some fellow in a pick-up throw it in the back before trash day to recycle it for its metal, or take to the toxic waste center where its radioactive element will be (ostensibly) disposed of properly?  So these are the choices you make when you are relatively conscious of these things and aren't just looking at the bottom line economically.
Nasty water, Take 1

Result:  I feel a little bit better using these scrubbies for dishes after boiling them, but not as certain of bacterial death as I was with nuking them in the microwave.

Nasty water in natural light still not as nasty IRL

Friday, May 06, 2011

A reminder from Angry Black Lady: Put your damn helmet on.

I like to read ABL's blog and there must be some zeitgeist in the air with all the talk about National Bike Month because she just posted about helmet safety:

If my car and your bike meet — even if it’s your fault, even if it’s no one’s fault — I will never sleep again. I will see your blood, your broken face, your weeping children, your shattered parents every day and every night for the rest of my life. Because I was behind the wheel, because my car happened to get all messed up in your search for some kind of freedom in which the needs of no one else (least of all your parents or children) were a factor.

She raises a good if brutal point: people who do not wear helmets are complicit in their own demise.  I used to be one of those people.  But not anymore!  I promised on her blog that I would wear a helmet from now on:

yep, yep, I hear you. And I am one of those helmetless riders of which you speak. It’s pretty dumb and I have actually wiped out all on my own without any help and gotten a concussion once. I would like to take this opportunity to promise right here and now that I will wear my helmet from now on.

It's true!  I was coming home late after getting off from work and my foot missed the pedal and before I knew it I was flat on my back under my bicycle and my head had bounced at least once off the pavement.  That whole night trying to sleep was like being washed around by ocean tides everytime I rolled over - my brains were scrambled and I am lucky that I woke up the next day. I have another horror story but I'll save that for another rant.

So, I promised on ABL's blog and I am promising on my own: from here on out I will wear my helmet when riding. 'nuf said.

Crap! Everyone knows about Bike Month but me

As I reported earlier, I was blindsided with the news that May is National Bike Month, which I found out by just happening to see an ad for it on the back of a Winn-Dixie receipt that I was about to throw away.  So, of course I was furious at everyone for not telling me that it was National Bike Month even though I should have known this being both a Gainesville hippie and a devout commuter cyclist.  So I started roaming around the local internets to see who I could blame for this; The University of Florida Office of Sustainability had a brief mention in their Events Page, but when you click "Read More" it goes to a Google Calendar marker page - so, put this on your Google Calendars, everyone!  Helpful but not very prominent!  Then, the blog for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board (BPAB), Run Bike Walk (dot) com, had absolutely nothing about this (and someone needs to take this blog over, man, because it's starting to look like it was abandoned, or something).  I should note, however, that the main city page for BPAB did have information and links about Bike Month.  Then I went to the League of American Bicyclists who, thankfully, have a whole page devoted to Bike Month.  Almost every site I went to locally links to the League's site; they have been celebrating this since 1956!  Finally, I went to the Gainesville Sun website but they had really nothing about Bike Month, except a brief mention on Ron Cunningham's Under the Sun blog; I had forgotten that he is a big advocate of commuter cycling so I am adding his blog on AE's "Hogtown Links."  I suspect the Sun will have their annual piece about the Commuter Challenge the City of Gainesville does each year.  Wait, I'm not sure if this is what it's called.  I sent the main person at BPAB an email for more info so I'll update if I hear back.

Got the poster for National Bike Month from the Clif Bar Flickr feed

I still miss my microwave

I just got through saying that I only miss my microwave oven for killing germs on scrubbies, and here I am, suddenly and ferociously hungry, making a mess of oven-baked root crop in the toaster oven and it is taking soooo long.  I'm hungry!  Planning, see?

Edit 7 May to include link to prior post.

May is National Bike Month, Did You Know?

Well, don't feel bad because I did not know this, either.  Oh, you did know?  Don't be a showoff.

You know how I found out?  On the back of a Winn-Dixie receipt.  How is this the only way word about National Bike Month is being advertised?  I do not know.  And where is UF's Office of Sustainability on this?  I'm going to do some more searching around and get back on this.  Geez, and the month is already half-over...

Build It, Grow it, and Assemble It in America

This is the title of a post I did on Daily Kos at the end of December, about former Congressman John Boccieri's battle cry to Americans in the wake of the revelations at that time about the Chamber of Commerce's complicity in shipping American jobs overseas.  The link to his Congressional webpage no longer works, but here's the video I posted along with the piece from the former Countdown with Keith Olbermann show:

While I've been ranting lately about American-made clothing we're slowly losing the manufacturing resources to buy American.  The comments on the DK post are especially poignant because others really, really jump on this when the idea of buying American-made clothing and products comes up in conversation.

There is only one thing I miss about not having a microwave

We got rid of our microwave over 6 months ago - it was an old Goldstar that we had gotten when we were young and still living in sin, from Pic-n-Save when they were still in business.  So, I think it was about...18 years old when the plastic door finally disintegrated and we hauled it to the toxic roundup site.  In its place I decided to get a cheap toaster oven from Big Lots.  It takes a little planning and if you're suddenly really, really hungry and want warm food, it's not great for that; I also have to forgo warmed-up coffee if I let my cup sit for too long.

But the thing I really miss about not having a microwave is not being able to throw scrubbies in for a minute to kill off smelly bacteria; our scrubbies are smelly, now.

Not having a microwave has had a positive effect, however, on our eating habits - we don't buy as much convenience food that has to be microwaved from the freezer. 

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Natural-dye Easter Eggs

Natural dye Easter eggs
Something Charlotte brought with her to the farmhouse on Saturday and I thought was totally cool: she and a friend made Easter eggs using natural dyes.  The blue one was using red cabbage leaves, the dark purple one was using wine, and the red one was using yellow onion skins.  Here's a link to an article on how to do your own!

A post about Farm and Forest Festival 2011

Blurry spinner and blurry, cute, pioneer girls
Finally getting around to updating on the Farm and Forest Festival at Morningside.  Here are some of the photos - auto flash is a pain in the butt because if it doesn't go off you get the beautiful natural lighting the cabin provides but everything is so dang blurry.  Anyway, Gus was supposed to be whitewashing a fence for the duration (I think they were charging kids a nickle to paint the fence, get it?) but then he just starting running around and fighting other kids with sticks so I think the people running the booth were probably ready for him to skedaddle as we say in the 1870s.  The Old Man, bless his heart, got stuck at the corn booth, where they were boiling corn in the wood stove vat they usually use for the Cane Boil in November.  He said afterwards, "if they had just let me chop some wood, it would have been great..." always wanting to keep working on his strength building, you know.  He stuck it out and the corn was very, very popular.  The secret?  You boil the corn in the husk and it comes out super, super sweet!
Merald at the schoolhouse

Charlotte and Junior Naturalists taking a break

Cute Hello Kitty girl using butter paddles
Biscuits!  Butter churn!  Potatoes!
I was on kitchen duty, mostly washing dishes, but got to eat a lot of the great biscuits they make at the farm, and got to churn butter in an actual churn - some of the little girls who wandered in with their folks got to help churn it so that was fun and then one little girl was brave enough to use the butter paddles to smoosh out the excess buttermilk before putting it in the crock (see the picture).

Maidenform Bras

Of the things that I feel most powerless about, it's the thought that never, ever, in my life will I consider making my own bras. The technology just seems too unfathomable and I don't really know why. Anyway, so I buy bras as infrequently as humanly possible. I reported a couple of months ago about buying US-made clothing from All American Clothing Co. and how they are comparable to mail order standards like Lands End, and I said at that time my next purchase in this vein would be bras from Justice Clothing.  However, they have been in a transition phase for a few months so I sent them an email asking what their retail status is.  I'll update when I find out more.

Lately, I've been buying bras online from Maidenform and I was reading their history, I realize that Maidenform has been around for a long time and I guess they revolutionized the modern undergarment industry (although I don't know that for sure).  But, the thing that sticks in my craw is that they don't make any of their bras or undergarments domestically, anymore.  Here's an article by Will Stape that talks about Maidenform closing up it's Bayonne, NJ offices and moving to Woodbridge, NJ in 2007.  It doesn't talk about when the factory production moved overseas, but it does have a little bit of history about the I dreamed... campaign (see the image for this post).  As I write this I can see I'm going to have to do some more research that will take longer than I want to wait to post this - maybe an update at some point?

Anyway, before I get to my philosophical viewpoint on all of this mess, I want to say that I like Maidenform bras (in fact, just made another online purchase).  I figured out with a measuring tape basically where I am size-wise (and I am ample, it must be stated) and got a couple of different styles and ended up only having to send one back out of the three initial purchases.  They were prompt with the refund and it cost very little to return it by USPS.  If it was possible to get them to make a line of bras just in the US I would be a happy, happy customer of Maidenform bras.  Right now, I am a grudgingly-pleased shopper of Maidenform bras.

The bigger issue for me, however, is framing US-made clothing as being not only domestically profitable for workers by giving them good jobs in manufacturing, but by elevating the conversation to economics and transportation for the company's bottom line; is it more feasible to charge more for domestically made bras when the profits made can factor in less transportation costs, for instance, from third world countries or emerging first world economies (like China)?  This is where environmentalists and consumers concerned about maintaining jobs in the US should focus in shifting the paradigm.

Got this weird-ass advertisement from the 50's from Found in Mom's Basement.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

More updates soon

Almost finished with grading and then I'll update on the Farm and Forest Festival where our family volunteered yesterday. The usually tranquil 1870's farmstead takes on a carnival atmosphere and there are lots of activities for the kids and stuff to see and buy - and bisquits, lots and lots of bisquits...