Sunday, February 20, 2011

8th Avenue Bike & Coffee House and Homemade Wallets

Coffee Bag Wallet Selection
It's getting to the point where I won't have too much quality time with my son for a month or so as I finish my thesis work, so when he asked to go on a bikeride with me this morning I eagerly accepted the invitation.  We ended up taking a route around NE park and then on to the new bike trail that runs from 16th avenue to 10th avenue; then we followed an unofficial bike path behind Bread of the Mighty Foodbank that took us to 8th Avenue, and then to the 8th Avenue Bike & Coffee House which is a really neat shop; lots of bike parking, outside/inside seating, cool bikes to look at (or get your own cool bike fixed) and a full-service coffee and baked goods selection with fair trade coffees.  Oh, and they also have free Wi-Fi, so what more could you ask for?

Artisan Mary and DJ
While we were getting our order at the counter, DJ noticed a selection of shiny, cool-looking wallets for sale.  There was a big selection, and he picked one that had a blue toile-like material covering the shiny metal outside.  Inside the wallet it had a place for credit cards, a coin pouch, and a good-sized bill compartment.  It was 15-dollars and I quietly went "yikes" while I paid for it, but then said something to the counter person about it "supporting local artisans," and she said, "the artist is right over there," and pointed to a couple sitting by the window facing 8th Avenue.  That's Gainesville - you can buy locally-made goods and meet the artist at the same time!

DJ and I ended up having a nice conversation with Mary, the designer/maker of the wallets, which are produced from various repurposed food and coffee bags and other recycled materials.  The wallet DJ had had been covered with material from a former Dance Alive costume which made it extra special!  Mary said the wallets were very labor-intensive which is why she only makes about 2 or 3 a week, but they were all really cool and really unique.  She said that she sold four the day before Valentine's Day, so they obviously make great gifts and I'm already scheming on who I'm going to give them to.  She even said she would set up a gift certificate system with the bike shop so I could just buy the gift certificates and let folks come to the shop and pick out their own.

After DJ started getting restless (mostly because Mary and I started chatting about sewing and construction) we finished up and headed back home.  I was abandoned midway down our street so DJ could help his buddy haul some paving stones down to where they're building their fort (his buddy's grandmothers home site down the street).  At least we got to spend a little time together on a beautiful, spring-like Gainesville morning.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

All American Clothing: Jeans

Swear to all that is holy that I will stop posting after this and get to work.  Last night my jeans arrived from All American Clothing.  I posted a piece in December about All American Clothing Co. vs. Lands End and decided that AAC was comparable in price, and they guarantee that all of the clothing is made in the USA.

So, prior to my latest purchase from AAC, I had one pair of jeans that I bought at WalMart 10 years ago - I wear these every winter without fail and realize you have to have at least one pair of jeans in your wardrobe, no matter what.  Anyway, so I was wearing my jeans one morning when I discovered that they had a huge rip in the seat, to the point where you could definitely tell what color underwear I was wearing that day.  This is 10 minutes before I have to teach class, so I wrap my sweater around my waist and hope none of my students notice.  This was not the case, and there was a bit of sniggering that day whenever I wrote on the board (they're really nice kids so I can't fault them for something that I found comical, as well).

I decided I needed a new pair of jeans and decided to give AAC a try.  They fit really well and will probably shrink a little bit when I wash them so they'll be perfect length-wise.  The other thing I thought was kind of cool was the Traceability tag they put on their jeans.  It has a number that you can enter on their website, and it will show you the area where the cotton is grown, where the denim is woven, where it is constructed, and where it is finished.  All in the US, which I think is pretty neat.  The only thing I don't like about the jeans is that they're boot-cut, which gives them a bit of a flair at the bottom; I'm used to straight-leg and think it looks better.

At the same time, I also bought a pair of jeans from Pointer Brand, which is based in Tennessee.  This pair is straight-leg so I'm waiting for my order to arrive so I can compare the two brands.  I only need one pair of jeans, so I'm going to see which I keep.  Of course, I'll also publicly fret about my choice on this blog in terms of which is the MOST AMERICAN of the two pairs.

Okay, back to work!

Thesis woes and Citizens Co-op

Having your own environmental blog means getting to complain about stuff that has nothing to do with the environment, like thesis-writing.  I have to meet with my director today, where she will tell me how disorganized and hard-to-follow my thesis is, and ask why I don't actually have a thesis to tie this blighted subject together.  And I will reply, "uh..." because my life is disorganized and hard-to-follow.  One sad part to all of this is that I'm writing the thesis because I would like to eventually get it published, but the shape it is in now makes it seem like a fool's errand.  The other sad part to this is that I will most likely be continuing my education with a masters in Library Science if or as soon as I graduate with my masters in English (the "if" part is still looming at this point).

Okay, I've gotten that mostly out of my system.  The other thing I want to talk about is Citizen's Co-op, this grocery co-op that has been trying to get off the ground for, what, three years now?  I go through periods of thinking it will never open, not that I'm actually doing anything to make this happen.  I've reported on Citizen's Co-op in the past here and here and, yes, I still want them to get bulk castile, laundry, and dish soap so I can use my own containers.

The reason why I'm thinking about Citizen's Co-op is that I answered a survey they sent out this morning regarding what foods and products we'd like to see at the co-op.  I realized that I'm not the picky about food or other groceries (except the aforementioned bulk items).  I'd like to get mostly local produce, but I don't seem to mind buying whatever at Publix.  Also, the Citizen's Co-op is downtown and Publix and Ward's Supermarket are much closer.  I'm beginning to wonder if the co-op might not be somewhat redundant.  I actually mapped out the bike route I would have to take and it is just a hair outside of the Two-Mile Rule (the link goes to a piece I did in 2007 talking about the Two-Mile Rule of cycling in your community).  But, then again, I used Google Maps for directions and they aren't the most accurate.

This brings up another topic that I've been wanting to write about but haven't organized my thoughts on, yet.  It's tied into the whole concept of Accidental Environmentalism (and I cannot believe my entry into the Urban Dictionary got three thumbs down!).  It's the idea of doing something environmental only because it is also the least expensive; examples such as driving a Prius not because you want to conserve natural resources and make less of a carbon footprint but because it costs less money overall (I actually don't know how true that is), or buying your clothes second-hand not because it reduces the amount of new clothing that goes into the use stream and also takes the edge off buying from companies with suspect worker policies, but because it's cheaper (my mom is a prime example of that philosophy; I don't think she ever bought anything that wasn't from a Salvation Army or flea market).

I'm thinking about this in relation to using the Citizen's Co-op versus going Publix or Ward's because it's one of those choices that you make based on things like time, money, and circumstances.  For me, it's going to take a lot of extra effort to lug myself to the Citizen's Co-op versus going elsewhere, and even my car and here's why: The Citizen's Co-op is kind of out of the way from other places I visit, like the CVS pharmacy and when I'm in my car I usually group two or more errands together to make the trip less of an impact.

Sometimes you have to make choices based on the environment even if you have a choice to do otherwise, and this is where dedication comes in.  I wonder how dedicated I will be when the co-op does actually open for business.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Update: Plastic-Coated Paper and Recycling

I was just talking about how to tell if paper is plastic coated or not, and I think I may have come up with a way to tell, using oil.  My theory is that paper that is not coated with plastic will form an oil spot and oil on plastic-coated paper will just sit there and not stain.

I took a piece of plastic coated thin white paper box (I know pretty definitely that this stuff is plastic coated) and a piece of cracker box cardboard, and put a drop of vegetable oil on each.  The cracker box cardboard immediately formed a spot, and the other paper did not.  Wish I had taken a photo before the Old Man dumped the pieces of cardboard in the garbage by accident.  Oh well. 

So, anyway, that's one way of testing cardboard to see if it is plastic-coated or not!

Update:  Okay, I realize that I'm not being completely scientific about this, mostly because I didn't try other types of known plastic-coated cereal boxes to see if my theory holds true with that type of cardboard.  I'll have to keep thinking on this.

Plastic-Coated Paper and Recycling

placemat project for boxes
Here is a WiseGeek page on what types of paper can be recycled - you will notice it says:
Other types of paper can be recycled with a little work. For instance, if you have envelopes with plastic windows, you can cut the windows out, and then recycle the envelopes. Be wary of junk mail, especially if you shred it. Much of its paper can be recycled, but you may need to pull out things like blank plastic credit cards or plastic coated paper.
Plastic coated paper, believe it or not, has been a concern of mine for awhile for this very reason.  (Yes, why would you believe I didn't have this strange, neurotic tendency to obsess about plastic coating on boxes?).  I became aware of it when one of the librarians I worked with at the Law School Library told me not to throw a carton into the recycling bin because it was coated with plastic. 

I tend to believe that plastic coating on boxes is more often on thin, white-paper boxes than on the grey cardboard but I was looking at the boxes of cereal and crackers we keep on the top of our fridge and really couldn't tell the difference between painted cardboard and plastic coated cardboard.  I even dragged out DJ's microscope and tried to look at a couple of pieces up real close, but could not see any difference. 

The horrifying thing is that if they're all plastic-coated then none of the cereal and cracker boxes can be recycled and then what do you do with them?  Make cereal box placemats?

Screenshot links to ReplayGround page about box placemats

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oh yeah, about the Accidental Experiment...

Haha, remember when I said I was going to take the bus to my doctor's this morning?  Well, I canceled my appointment because I'm in a crunch, work-wise - my thesis director wanted a draft two days ago and I thought it was due next week...hahahahah!  So funny.  But now I have to crack down and not do fun things like blog - I'll do fun things like read about utopianism in late 19th century American Literature!  Yeah!

Anyway, I wanted to update that I did not take the bus to my doctor's appt. because of work, but also because it is pretty nasty outside - the old man was saying this morning we really shouldn't complain about rain when our friends to the north are getting pummeled with snow and ice.

I did, however, take the bus to get to campus for my seminar on Tuesday; I couldn't for the life of me find my keys, so couldn't double-lock the house and couldn't unlock my bike.  What is usually an hour and a half ride home from campus after 7pm, was only about an hour before 6pm.  Sorry, I don't have pictures but will get some soon.  I enjoy riding the bus, but it takes too dang long because you have to take these cockamamie routes to get anywhere.  At least my prof gave me a ride home so that was nice.

Graphic swiped from

Monday, February 07, 2011

Accidental Experiment: Gainesville's Public Transit System

Decided I would make a trip to the doctor's an experiment in using my city's public transportation system.  I've reported on using public transpo when I was still working at Library West (you can find the post here), and I'm very sour on the state of our city's bus system - the buses are scheduled a lot slower in the parts of town where there aren't an insane numbers of students crammed into tinder-box apartment complexes, and the routes are not that convenient.  In other words, they need at least double the number of buses and routes to make it a truly efficient public transportation system. But, this is Gainesville where SUV's are still de rigueur.

Anyway, this takes place on Thursday and will update.  My prediction: It will take me an hour and a half each way, from my home to the office and back.  Better remember my book.

Got the funky bus picture from Hemmings blog