Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Simplicity and the Holidays pt 2

So my usual holiday stance of buying as little for people as possible or making gifts has worked out well for many years now, but in the hectic hustle and bustle of traveling cross country and working like a crazy person for 8 months, I have neglected the wee ones in my life. I have a 3 year-old and a 1 year-old that I'm visiting shortly with nothing in hand. But I figure I shall spend the morning (er...early afternoon, sorry, slow start today) here in NYC scouring the city for an eco-friendly toy store. Don't fail me now Google!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Simplicity and the Holidays

So Ma & Pa didn't seem very much in the festive mood when I rolled into town in the eco-mobile a few days ago. It was thrust upon me to hunt the back 40 to find the tree to cut down this year. After some searching, I realized there was nothing close to being an option. We're talking weaker than a Charlie Brown tree-slim pickens. Plus sawing into a 2 year old spruce would cause a puddle of sap on my mother's den floor that would get me no praise. So I headed off to the local farm (I had every intention of finding a charity lot somewhere but figured supporting a local farm was a fair trade off.) Arriving at the farm tree man hooked me the minute I got out of the car, pointing out the live trees. I'm a sucker for a tree. After peeking at the cut trees, I couldn't justify buying something that was killed just for sake of tradition. So I slapped down the platinum card for the live tree and now it resides at the manor. Parental units not too keen on the prospect of transplanting come spring, being that it took 3 of us to get it out of the borrowed truck and into the house—and not very gracefully at that. (it and it's pot of dirt weigh over 120 lbs. and the diameter of the root ball is about 5 feet wide, and 2 feet deep.) Here it is, all decorated and festive, our little Fraser Fir (I have named him Bruce, every tree needs a good name) I like how the Fraser Fir looks two-toned, green on the top of the needles and white on the bottom. Two trees in one!

Monday, December 11, 2006

On the hunt for the O+ kidney donor

It's been a hard few months for a very good friend of mine—she was diagnosed with anemia and almost out of nowhere, she learned that her kidneys were shutting down, operating only at 12%. A kidney transplant would need to happen...eventually. But as we move along, dialysis is looming and the transplant center suggests that you have your donor lined up before you get started with the delightful process of dialysis. It has really got me thinking, as I would cut my own kidney out for her in a heartbeat (and I don't really believe that I say that only because I am the wrong blood type) but that I would be willing to trade my kidney to a stranger for her. The average waiting time for a kidney is seven years and most on the waiting list die before their name comes up. As we all know, I'm the consummate recycler...is it really so shocking to consider organ donation the most important form of recycling? I'm going to look into various ways to become a Living Donor.
For more information on Living Organ Donation
To find out ways you can help my friend specifically with her medical bills visit Candy Mountain.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Who wants Electric Vehicles? We do!

Maybe it was the death of David Hermance, known as the "American Father of the Prius" today. Or maybe it was the fact that I finally used one of those "How's My Driving" phone numbers to comment on a driver. Or maybe I'm still pissed off after watching Who Killed the Electric Car? last week. . . but this morning I finally decided to put my mouse where my mouth is. Using the delightful site "The Petition Site" I set up a petition for those who are interested in bringing back the electric car. I set the bar high, thinking 20,000 signatures wouldn't be overly optimistic... but would send the message that interest in Check it out, send the link to your friends, help get the ball rolling!

Click here to sign!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Doc Review: "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

I had heard about "Who Killed the Electric Car?" back when it first came out but didn't think too much about it beyond remembering to put it on my Netflix queue. What makes this such an amazing story for me is that it was simply not talked about publicly until now. Despite the extensive research I have done concerning alternative vehicles, the fact that I was so quick to jump on the Gas/Electric hybrid bandwagon, and the fact that I lived less than a half mile from the GM Training Center that is heavily featured in the film and passed the EV-1 protestors dozens of times as they sat on the sidewalk, even I was unaware of the magnitude of what their protest represented. The documentary is the story of the brief existence of a few models of cars that operated solely by plug in electric power, most notably, the American designed and manufactured EV-1. GM’s EV-1 was literally not for sale in its brief existence, the only cars produced were offered for lease and were then all recovered by the manufacturer at the end of lease terms. Many of the lesees were celebrities—Ed Begley Jr., Tom Hanks, and Peter Horton, who was shown as the last person to have his EV-1 taken away. (The appearance of EV-1 supporter Mel Gibson pre-drunken arrest but in full wild man of Apocalypto beard is odd in itself, but maybe he wouldnÂ’t have been stopped on the PCH had he been driving his old EV-1 instead…) What the documentary shows is that while car companies claim that they did “massive” campaigns to advertise their models of electric vehicles, they repeatedly claim that consumer demand was almost non-existent. Though ask almost anyone, and none of them could tell you what the EV-1 was or who made it. Car companies could easily cite that no one wanted their electric cars but left out the reason being no one had heard of them. And even in this fascinating look at alternative vehicles, the most interesting interviewee was Stanford Ovshinsky (and his cute little wife Iris), who essentially invented the battery that made the EV-1 go and now is found in every hybrid car on the road. (Even more interesting was the glimpse he provided of solar roofing shingles that if implemented would probably change the world as we know it.)

On March 15, 2005, when the final 78 EV-1s that were being stored at the GM Training Center lot were loaded on trucks to be taken away to be destroyed, I was sitting in my apartment down the street unaware that this was the death of the electric car and thus the end of a viable solution to the oil crisis, to the pollution problem and to move the United States into the automotive future.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More daylight? Ingeniuous!

Okay I must have been out of the loop when this was passed but I figure now's as good a time as any to praise it's merits. Apparantly Congress passed a law last year that starting in 2007, Daylight Savings Time will be extended by two months each year. Beginning in 2007, DST will start the second Sunday of March and end on the first Sunday of November. The theory behind this is that we will use less energy because sunlight will "last longer" and the need for electric lighting will be reduced. I'm all for saving energy, but I'm pretty sure this doesn't mean we're off the hook for saving energy in other ways.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Simplicity & Recycling: Ink & Toner

I'm not usually one to subscribe to the "Planned Obsolescence" theory that many have about consumer products built to fall apart sooner than they should so that consumers will buy more and more. But ya see, I've got this printer... and let's not go naming any names...(Epson Stylus C86) but it has this automatic refusal to print ANYTHING if you run out of any of the four different ink cartridges. Now I'm not usually one to print in color, but I need to keep 3 full color cartridges in the printer in order for it to work at all. You can't just take them out. You can't try to trick the printer and put a black cartridge in the Cyan slot. All you can do is head out and purchase a new full one for $20-$30 a pop. Worse yet, even if you don't use the color at all, they dry up on their own. So I'm mad as hell and I can't take it anymore and I head down to ye olde office supply store to get one of those syringe refillable ink set ups. But of course, my printer is one of the few that is not even allowed to be refilled this way.

But here is an idea I think whose time has come. Check out Cartridge World, a retail outlet that will do the dirty work of refilling your toner and ink for you.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Forgive me readers, for I have strayed...

Life has been somewhat overwhelming this month, what with an apartment move, an ungodly heatwave, and taping 2 shows a week for the craptacular number one show in America. Which leaves me a day and a half off a week, which I can barely muster the energy and brain capacity to get out of bed, much less work on completing my book. Worse yet I've been on a spending spree that my old simplist self shakes her head at in disgust. A dustbuster when I could have just bought a broom? Nickel-plated house numbers when I could have made a creative sign myself? Direct TV (but only because the antenna received no broadcast signal and cable wasn't available in my neighborhood). And my gardening addiction has reach a fever pitch, a hose when I could have just continued to carry buckets of water outside? And with the supplies dwindling at my favorite nursery (which closes its doors end of August) I am increasingly more reliant on Lowe's and Target. Sigh. I shall dear reader, attempt to redeem myself in your eyes. I have tried to recycle as much of my stuff as possible—creating one set of curtains from two to help block out some of the 111º heat, fixing the drawer of a 30 year old dresser to make it last just a few more years and returning items that I thought twice about after the fact. Stay cool readers, summer ain't over yet.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

(big heavy sigh)
As part of my recent move, I have become excited about the prospect of having my own patch of ground to tend and love. After some research and a call to the Burbank Shade Tree Program (free trees!) I decided to head on over to my favorite plant place:Steven's Nursery in Valley Village when much to my dismay, a huge banner proclaiming "Going Out of Business Sale" festooned the chain link fence. Upon conversation with a staffer, I learned that the land had been sold to build condos and the business was dissolving because the oldest Steven brother had recently passed away and there wasn't anyone who wanted to try and continue the business. So come August 31st, Steven's is shutting it's doors forevere. Why were they the best in town? Sure they knew their plants, and they loved what they did. For 65 years, they kept the San Fernando Valley in bloom. And even in 2006, they did all their receipts by hand (no registers!), even calculating tax with a calculator. They were personable, knowledgable and treated their customers like friends. If you're in the neighborhood stop by, they're having a terrific going out of business sale, (I got a bougainvillea tree, a hanging ivy plant, a shovel, a dwarf lime tree, grass seed and two huge bags of soil for just over $100) and say thank you for the hands on service they've given to the community for so many years.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Link of the Day: One Red Paper Clip

Hello fellow simplists, sorry I have been MIA lately, it has been a quick turnaround what with deciding to move and moving all in less than 2 weeks. Phew. New apt is divine, QUIET, no drama (though I need to still exorcise some of the bad juju from prior tenants: let's just say there was some abuse, not cool.), and most importantly peace and quiet. Commute is even better too, all zip zip highway driving so that the gas mileage on the 'brid is up around 50 mpg instead of 45.

Today's neat little web link is One Red Paper Clip. Here's the gist of the story. A twenty-something Canadian decided one day to see what he could get just by trading something small for something of slightly more value. He started with one red paper clip, and now he has a 3 bedroom house in only a year. A great creative idea with the added bonus of supporting the barter system. Love it!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I Guess You Can't Take it With You.

To paraphrase the wit and wisdom of Lloyd Dobler, (and I guess we have to thank Cameron Crowe as well): "I gave him $31 billion dollars, and he gave me a book." But I guess it is the thought that counts. (Especially because I'm pretty sure Warren Buffet has at least glanced at "The Wealth of Nations" in his illustrious career.) But THIRTY-ONE BILLION DOLLARS is just an inconceivable number—how exactly do you thank someone for that? And while I know little about Gates' ability to run his charitable foundations, it seems like it might be a good place to park some cash you've got lying around. He's got grand goals (wanting to see the end of AIDS in his lifetime is one of the more noble ones), but importantly, he seems utterly commited to them (stepping down from MicroSoft to focus more time on charity is a start) . I think if anyone can do it, he might be the one. Gates Foundation.org

Monday, June 26, 2006

Link of the Day

Okay I'm secretly very jealous of this new site a friend turned me on to, mostly because it's everything I want my own work to be. For a fun sassy daily dose of eco-wisdom check out Ideal Bite. I highly recommend the daily emails that provide bite-sized, easily digestible info delivered right to your inbox.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Simplicity & "What's that Smell?"

I had begun to take for granted the LA smoking ban, until of course 2 days ago when a new neighbor moved in below me. During that 48 hours, I thinking he's consumed a carton of cigarettes and each one of them has wafted up to my apartment and now resides in all of my belongings. Interesting that in that short time, the clean and fresh smell of my apartment (that I also took for granted) has been obliterated. I went from loving my apartment and tolerating my other crazy neighbors to hating my apartment and looking for boxes to pack and move out this weekend. Just a learning experience of how important clean air is and how easily and quickly it moves from one space to another. Also one of my favorite scary stats: if you can smell it, you're ingesting particles of it. Grab your painter's masks kids, it's gonna be a long weekend.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A little Monday morning smog

Who can find the Hollywood Sign in this picture? It's there, I swear.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wish List: Create Your Own Energy with a Bike Trainer

Imagine what it would be like if you had to expend personal energy in order to watch TV or use your microwave or light your bathroom. I imagine a world where health problems and waistlines have decreased. Where seratonin levels and sales for bicycles have increased. And where the skies are cleaner and fresher. According to RealGoods.com (the alternative energy superstore) "Most adults can generate a steady 75 to 150 watts with spurts of double that power." A laptop computer uses about 15 watts of power, (another reason to switch from the desktop models). Who's going to start mass marketing these devices? When can we finally say "get on the bike, y'all"? Until then, I'm trolling the internet looking for plans.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I love Al Gore (& I don't care who knows it.)

Finally got out to see An Inconvenient Truth last night with the peeps, and it was every bit as shocking as it was watching Gore's presentation live and in person. Though I do have to admit, my love for the man has grown. Now everyone should realize this film isn't Democratic propoganda; global warming is not a political issue. Global warming is a human rights issue and Gore is one of the few people to stake his professional reputation to try and scare the public into action. The facts are indisputable. For us to ignore the information now would be irresponsible. We are all contributors to the problem, but we can all work together to fix it.

I am fortunate, living in California, one of the few states that understands the need for regulation (we're still far behind where we should be, but at least the ball is rolling.) The thing that saddened me most is that people in California and Oregon and Massachusetts and Vermont will see this movie and say, 'okay, I'm ready to make a change...' but will the documentary be received in say Boise? or Des Moines? or Little Rock? or one of the thousands of small cities and towns across the country where going to Wal*Mart is a pilgrimage, where fast food is daily meal, and if it's disposible it surely makes life easier?

This film clearly has the makings of changing society as "The Jungle" did for the meat packing industry in the early 20th century and "Unsafe at Any Speed" did for the auto industry in the 1960s. Will the world take the challenge?

To learn more about what you can do to stop global warming, check out www.climatecrisis.net.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Daily Pop Quiz

The best adjective to describe American culture is:
a) Disposable
b) Instant
c) Plastic
d) Throwaway
e) New
f) Easy
g) Convenient
h) All of the above

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Simplicity & the Economy of Action

I'm beginning to really associate with the character of "Dwight" on the NBC series "The Office"—efficiency is his middle name and "direct" may be the best adjective to describe him. Where is this all going? Just a rumination on the economy of action and its relation to simplicity. When you organize and simplify your life, you learn to maximize your time. I think now I find myself weighing options more for their overall benefits. If I ride my bike to work, I kill 2 birds with the one stone, I get to my destination and I accomplish my exercise goal for the day. If I leave my computer at work, I don't have to shuttle it in and out of the car. Granted the trunk of my car is beginning to look like a satellite apartment with all the stuff I've got in there now, but I know that I am prepared for the unexpected trip from work to the gym to the beach to the mountains. And though I have a vacuum, I'm justifying my purchase today of the Roomba knowing that now vacuuming will actually get done now...more than once a month. Work smarter, not harder is Dwight's motto, and I think it may be mine too.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Recycling: The BIOTA Bottle

Water is crucial to our health and most people don't drink enough, but if you're like me, you drink water like it's ... well, water but loathe the fact that over the past few years it's become a tremendous waste of resources and expense. Working in production, we go through palettes of water a day. (On the most recent shoot day, the craft services gal bought cases of 8 oz bottles which we nicknamed "Baby Waters" because they are so ridiculously small that one bottle doesn't even quench your thirst.) I often suggest that they set up the water cooler style jugs on set, but the cases of single bottles usually win out for convenience. On set recycling is always non-existent. Very frustrating.

But today I came across the BIOTA bottle, a Colorado spring water company who's bottle is made entirely from corn plastic and biodegrades within 80 days when placed in a composting facility. As of now, BIOTA has a very small toe-hold on the ladder of bottled waters, but could you imagine what would happen if Coke (Dasani) or Pepsi (Aquafina) switched their waters to corn plastic bottles? Just thinkin' on a Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Am I Doing Enough?

Having a hum drum day (as usually happens when I have too much time on my hands) and I start to wonder ... am I doing enough? I always take the stairs instead of the elevator. I bring apple cores home for the composting worms. I drive a hybrid and use my bike on short errands whenever I can. I haven't used a clothes dryer in 8 years. I reduce, I reuse, I recycle.

But is it enough? Am I compensating for that mother of 6 in middle America who shops at Wal*Mart, feeds her kids McDonalds 3 times a week, as she shuttles them long distances in her under 20 mpg SUV? Am I compensating for 10 people? 100? or not even my own lapses in judgment?

This too shall pass I'm sure. But today I'm in a funk

Monday, May 22, 2006

Simplicity & Sleep Deprivation

So I have one of those freelance jobs where I spend the first 3 weeks doing nothing but personal business with the intention of making myself look busy, but being on call for any actual work that comes up. The 4th week is when everything kicks into gear, one of those weeks when it feels like it should be Friday and it's Tuesday at 10 am. Last week had the distinction of being the first time in my illustrious career that I worked a 40 hour shift. Wasn't expecting that, so I would have probably prepared better. Water is key hydration to the double shift, and only water. I'm still working out some of the dehydration from that, 4 days later. Second recommendation is to get your affairs in order. Look ahead on your calendar, cross everything you can off your to do list and settle in so that you can focus only on the job in front of you. And vacuum before the week starts, cuz nobody wants you running the vac at midnight.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bike to Work Week! pt. 2

Work biked to? Check. Fortunately it's not called "Bike Home From Work Week" because there's probably not a chance in hell I'm getting out before midnight tonight. Thank heavens for co-workers that are also neighbors. The ride was slightly dicey, but I'm glad I took the longer way around the mountain (instead of trying to find where the squiggly lines that went up and over the mtn were). Turned out to be under a 10 mile ride, took me probably less than an hour door to door. Definitely going to schedule another ride next week when the hours are less chaotic.

To answer the comment, where can you ride in LA without endangering your life with traffic? There are actually hundreds of miles of bike lanes and paths that I have never felt uncomfortable riding on. But, Los Feliz Blvd at 8 am on a work day... that's another story. The condition of the roads in Hollywood? I'm lucky I didn't lose a tire. The air quality riding up a hill that comes off a freeway off ramp? I'll be sneezing particulates for the rest of the day. Now that I know a quick way, I can tweak the route so that it's less stressful.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bike to Work Week!

It is that time of year again, y'all, when ordinary citizens throw open their dusty garages and roll their creaky old ten speeds out into the streets. The highways are deserted and the skies are clean. Everyone seems slightly more jovial even as they complain about superficial aches from using muscles they forgot they had. Ah. Sigh. One can dream, can't they? But it 'tis the League of American Bicyclist's "National Bike Month," and this week is specifically Bike-to-Work Week, with Bike-to-Work Day falling specifically on Friday, May 20th. I myself try to maintain the tradition, even though my job requires me to shuttle my laptop between home and work each morning and evening, and this week we begin production on a new series meaning longer and more exhausting hours. Still... I would like to give it a try—got out the old Thomas Guide last night and I'm up for the adventure of trying to navigate the hills of Griffith Park to get "over the hill" dodging as little high speed traffic as possible. I'm also going to force myself to participate in Sunday's 70 mile LA River Ride to Long Beach and back ride to support the LA County Bicycle Coalition. Saddle up kids, we're going for a ride.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Doc Review: An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Okay, let's start this review with the admission that I am entirely biased in favor of Al Gore and I fully realize that the those who see it will be members of the "preaching to the converted" crowd. I haven't seen the documentary yet, but I sat in the audience for the taping last fall in Los Angeles and listened with shock and awe as Al talked for 2 hours about climate change and global warming. (we'll overlook the fact that we were in a Hollywood studio airconditioned to the point of approximately 55º, that's me in the corner, teeth chattering.)

I have done extensive research on climate change and the photographs and information he presented absolutely floored me. Glaciers that have disappeared. Lakes that have dried up. Species that are now extinct. Picture after picture after picture of what global warming has done to the precious balance of our ecology.

One thing I will be looking for when I do see it is that he has added some more solutions to help you and me get back on the path to controlling the amount of carbon dioxide we produce. During the taping he was about 1:50 "what's wrong with the world"/10 minutes "here's what we can do to make it better". The filmmakers have already pledged $100,000 to climate neutral charities and have promised more if the film makes more money than expected.

I hope that schools will show this to children and foster a dialogue. I hope at least a few people who would never have considered seeing this documentary will go and think twice about some of their destructive actions. I hope the converted will be motivated to take their conserving actions even just one step further.

For the lighter side of Al, check out Al's appearance on SNLthis weekend.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

M is for the Many Things...

In case you haven't watched television advertising for the past month, today is Mother's Day. It seems this year more than others every product or service is adapting themselves to hit that "Buy or you don't love your Momma" nerve. Cell Phones? Check. Outback Steakhouse? Check. So in the spirit of anti-consumerism, I take this space today to relay the things that my mothers gave to me without using their pockies, but the goodness of their hearts.

To my mother, first and foremost for my creativity. Maybe it was the fabric cabinet that my mother kept in the laundry room, with scraps from every dress or curtain she made that sparked a desire to sew and craft and save even the smallest scrap because you never knew what you will need it for. Or maybe it was the never-ending home renovation projects to never stop dreaming. Or maybe it was because she was a stay at home mom (Just kidding!) But let's not forget the drive to never quit and to finish (eventually!) everything you start.

To my Worcester Grammy for keeping the "Use it Up, Wear it Out, or Do with Out" mentality alive. From the magic button tin, to the appliances kept working from the late '50s, to realizing that every life needs a touchstone to come home to especially when life gets hectic.

To my Florida Grammy, for my love of nature and taking care of things that grow for the sheer beauty of it. I still remember your snapdragons, your pansies and your tiger lilies.

Thank you all for these invaluable lessons you have taught me have made me who I am today.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Daily 'Strange but True'

On NPR this morning I heard this disturbing fact: hard to believe that a 20 lb wind blower can create as much air pollution as a 1.5 ton car, but that's because it doesn't. Leaf blowers actually create as much pollution as EIGHTY cars. (and even that is a conservative estimate). Does this disturb anyone else? Or is it just me who lives in a world where everyone's yard is manicured by a Latino with a gas powered jet pack? Buy a freakin' rake, people.

In other news, POTUS approval rating: 29%. We're getting down to Truman in the Korean War, or even better, Watergate levels here. How low can he go?

Save the bees!

Those of you who know me, know that I'm a big fan of the bugs. (I'm just gonna call all critters that wriggle and crawl and fly and buzz 'bugs' even though I know that they're all really something different; I was smitten by boys in biology, what do you want?) I love worms, catepillars, I saw this red velvet ant while hiking last weekend that was one of the most amazing creatures I'd ever seen, I even have a sense of awe and respect for the cockroach (after finding one once I didn't have the stomach to squash it, instead I put it in a plastic container with the thought it would suffocate—4 days later, it was STILL ALIVE.) I also started a strange but true campaign in 6th grade that divided the girls and boys called "Save the Flies!" Girls: pro-fly, boys: anti-fly. (I think it was something I saw on You Can't Do That on Television; man I loved that show.) But of all the critters in the insect kingdom, I have to say bees are my all-time favorite—one of the most beneficial creatures on earth, responsible for pollinating, creating wax and who doesn't love honey? So when I arrived home last night imagine my dismay at seeing some sort of trap hanging from my outdoor light. Apparantly wife of Bldg Owner (who lives on the premises) had finally discovered the bees that were living in the outside wall of the building next to my front door. Now these bees have been living peacefully (and entertaining Adventure Kitty who sits at the window all day watching them come and go) for at least 2 months. I respect their business (read The Voice of the Infinite in the Small: Revisioning the Insect-Human Connection by Joanne Elizabeth Lauck for more on how you too can communicate with bugs!) and they in turn didn't try to sting me when I came home from work. But now, the trap. It's a hanging bag of water with some sort of sandy substance at the bottom, presumably so that the bees will dip into the water, whatever the toxin is will be carried back to their nest. Since I like bees considerably more than I like my neighbors, I decided there needed to be a pin hole in the bag. Water is dripping out as we speak.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Doc Review: Go Further (2004)

With almost 300 movies in my Netflix queue, it takes awhile to get to some of them...with that said...Go Further is the documentary of actor/activist Woody Harrelson's journey by bike and biodiesel-fueled bus from Seattle to Santa Barbara, CA following the Pacific Coast Highway (and the path of the 1960's Merry Pranksters), stopping along the way to educate college students and ordinary citizens about the state of a planet in crises. The doc was a little light on actual information, (other than the repeated fact that milk contains blood and pus, yum!) but it was interesting to watch Steve, a young production assistant that Woody plucked from his stint on Will & Grace along for the ride, but who still sneaks candy bars. But he's trying and seems smitten by Woody's lifestyle of raw food, yoga and natural fibers. Also interesting was Linda (the college student that Steve "kidnaps") as a wide-eyed easily influenced, but willing participant. Overall, it was a little flimsy—no one topic was covered comprehensibly (and how did they get those three teens on crystal meth to sign releases?) but Woody is true to his convictions and it's nice to see an actor walking the walk. "Make small transformations within all of us, then ... go further."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Simplicity & the End?

In loving memory of Gregg Gour
I composed this post last night as I was out for a walk, when I had the overwhelming feeling that he was gone. (It's possible I was actually walking past the hotel where he chose to end his life) But as Gregg told us all many times before he left us, he didn't want our pity and he didn't want our sadness. Now as I actually sit down to type knowing officially that he is gone, realizing that an email sent yesterday was actually his way of saying he was really gone, I can't think of what I meant to write. I have been very fortunate in my life to have so very few experiences with death. When Gregg told me he was going off his meds, I thought immediately what a empowering way to take control of your life/death. None of us can truly know what it felt like to be in his skin living with AIDS for almost 25 years. Was he depressed? To an extent, yes, but he was also in his right mind and had seen too many friends go through the ravages of the disease at the end. And what I take away from this experience is the right to be able to control your own life. How beautiful could it be to have the opportunity to say good-bye to your friends and family? To be in charge of how much pain you have to withstand? To know when it's time?

Who was Gregg to me? He was a boss when we first met, but as the company we both loved and fought for went bankrupt, he continued to be a dear dear friend. He was passionate and compassionate, always giving 110%. When he loved something, you knew it... of course when he hated something you knew that too! He loved working at Warner Brothers (until it began affecting his health so much), in the few times I visited him there, he delighted in showing me where he had seen celebrities and gave me his own studio tour of the sets he was able to sneak on. I looked forward to his emails about the current crop of TV shows that he was watching (His new fall season spreadsheets always made me laugh) and his Oscar and reality show predictions were usually pretty accurate.

He was not ashamed of his condition, and in his final trip across the country over the last few months, he took the time to explain to people about Compassionate Choices (aka the right to die act) and why he was doing it. I like to know that he did make a difference, even in his final days. This article that ran in the Sacramento Bee today sums up what I can't seem to say eloquently enough. I'll miss you Gregg.

Assisted-suicide advocate ends AIDS fight his way
By Laura Mecoy -- Bee Los Angeles Bureau
Published 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Story appeared on Page A1 of The Bee

BURBANK - Dying from AIDS, Gregg Gour spent his last three months traveling cross-country and overseas to deliver a final farewell to family and friends and to advocate for assisted-suicide legislation.
Then, with the meticulous planning that was a hallmark of his life, the 48-year-old former accounting supervisor from Los Angeles took his life Sunday night in a Burbank motel room. "Don't cry for me," he said in a final e-mail to family and friends. "At last I'm free."
In a final interview with The Bee, Gour said if the bill had become law, he could have taken an overdose of a sleeping pill prescribed by a doctor and had his family with him when he died.

Instead, Gour had just one friend at his side as he suffocated himself using a method he learned from an organization that advocates assisted suicide.

"I wanted to be there to hold his hand," said Gour's oldest sister, Debra Dannemann. "We all did. We felt we couldn't, and he didn't want us to be there because he was afraid it would implicate us."

Michelle Boyaner, a documentary filmmaker who was with him until minutes before his death, said Gour was happy and calm that the "day was here."

"He was so at peace," she said. "I've never seen anything like it."

A gay man who contracted the AIDS virus through unprotected sex, Gour had lived with the disease for at least 24 of his 48 years.

He decided nearly two years ago that he was tired of fighting the virus and quit his medications.

He said he knew, after nursing others through the final stages of AIDS, that he would take his own life rather than subject himself and his family to a long and agonizing death.

Gour became a spokesman for Assembly Bill 651, a controversial measure that would make it legal for doctors to prescribe drugs for terminally ill patients to hasten their deaths.

A similar bill was shelved for lack of votes last year, but supporters say they are encouraged by a U.S. Supreme Court decision this year that rejected the federal government's bid to block Oregon's assisted-suicide law. The California measure is pending in the state Senate.

Gour lobbied for the Assembly bill in Sacramento in January, just before departing in a recreational vehicle with his dog, Cody, for a cross-country trip he called his "Goodbye and No Regrets Tour."

Despite his frustration with the opposition he encountered in the Legislature, Gour continued to make the case for "compassionate choices" in e-mails, interviews and a documentary in the works about his travels from Los Angeles to his mother's home in East Stroudsburg, Pa.

Opponents of the measure on Monday disputed the idea that Gour's situation made a case for the bill.

Marilyn Golden, policy analyst for the Disability Rights and Defense Fund, said the legislation "sounds like a great idea" in a case like Gour's, where the patient is deciding without any coercion.

But she said the high cost of health care could prompt doctors and families to urge someone to end his or her life before that person is ready.

Or, she said, a terminally ill or disabled person might choose suicide in a moment of depression, rather than waiting for the sadness to lift.

Gour, a man with a big smile and an engaging sense of humor, insisted he was experiencing no depression. Instead, his sister said, he used his final days for others.

He'd long been a volunteer, raising money to fight breast cancer and AIDS and helping other groups.

He said many of those he visited had subsequent discussions with their relatives about how they wished to end their lives and what measures should be used to keep them alive.

"If nothing else comes of this, I want people to have talked about it openly ... because it's going to happen to all of us," he told The Bee nine days before his death.

The trip also gave his family and friends a final chance to say whatever they wished to him in person. He wanted no memorial service.

"It helped them accept my decision to stop taking the meds because they could see I was content, and that I was at peace," he said. "I got to say I loved them, and they got to say they loved me."

He had a family reunion in Detroit with 40 relatives, attended a sister's wedding in Denver and estimated he saw at least 100 people en route to Pennsylvania.

He arrived in Pennsylvania in March, parked his RV and traveled by train and plane to New York City, London and Ireland in a "trip of a lifetime."

"Altogether, I saw 10 shows in New York and 12 shows in London," he said. "I drove around most of Ireland - just not Northern Ireland."

Along the way, he kept a long list of people updated via e-mail detailing, often with a great deal of humor, his travels.

Several urged him to abandon his plans to end his life, and he patiently explained that suicide was preferable to the lingering deaths he'd witnessed while nursing two roommates and a lover through the final stages of AIDS.

As early as 1996, when his therapist persuaded him to write a letter to his disease, he had decided he would choose his death.

"You were winning the battle with my immune system," he wrote to the virus in his body. "But I was going to win in the end, because I would end my life, not you."

He fought the disease for eight more years, benefiting from the strides in AIDS research. But he had to keep changing his medications as the virus developed resistance to each one.

Last year, when his doctor told him his new medication would require twice daily injections, Gour decided he didn't want to fight any more.

With his physician estimating he had just six months to live, Gour set out on his tour in February. He traveled farther than he had originally dared plan.

But on April 11, his legs hurt so much during a four-hour trip that he abandoned his new plans to drive his RV back to Los Angeles. He decided to stay in Pennsylvania with his family.

His breathing became more labored as the days passed. He could barely speak without coughing. Walking became a struggle, and he was in pain.

Dannemann, his oldest sister, said her brother spent his final days doing what he loved: watching movies and tapes of his favorite television shows, and being with his family.

At one point, she said he curled up on the sofa next to his 72-year-old mother, placing his head in her lap and letting her stroke his hair as she had when he was a child.

Gour left his family behind in Pennsylvania and flew to Los Angeles on Sunday to end his life.

On Monday, Dannemann said their mother was struggling with her son's death, even though she'd spent months preparing.

"We were up all night, and she said, 'I'm not supposed to outlive my son,' " Dannemann said.

But Dannemann said she was at peace because she shared her brother's faith in an afterlife.

"The last thing I said to him was I will see him in heaven," she said. "I have God's promise that that is where he's going to be."

As he entered his final days, Gour said he felt God was guiding him throughout his final journey.

"I feel God has completely directed this all along the way," he said. "I have even less doubt, less fear and even less anxiety than I did because I feel this has been coordinated and approved by God."

Monday, May 08, 2006

Required Reading of the Day

Okay kids, here's your reading assignment... don't worry there's lots of pretty pictures to distract you—365 of them to be exact. The photography in 365 Ways to Save the Earth by Philippe Bourseiller is absolutely gorgeous and it's coupled with bite-sized tips on how to be true to the title. One note, it make look small, but it weighs about 15 pounds.

Simplicity & the Weekend

Well this weekend was the first time in a long long time that I was able to get out on my bike to get some errands done. It had to have been almost a year, since I dropped my "Goin' to Market" bike off at my sister's (since hers was stolen; then she promptly popped the tire and it's been sitting idle ever since). It was a great cheap bike, one that I could leave chained up outside and just grab and go whenever I had a quick errand to do. Granted it was often like pedalling uphill through mud with a dead squirrel in the chain, but that was just part of the charm (and exercise). And I've been skittish after the accident about clipping myself in and riding for distance. But it is actually as they say, "just like riding a bike". Back with the Goin' to Market bike, I never thought twice about riding 5 miles with 10 pounds of library books on my back, with the road bike it requires a little more balance. So a good 10 miles on the road bike on Saturday, to the library, the yarn store, the bank and the sporting good store. I feel better already.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Stump the Simplist

So BHodges called at 8:15am today to try and "Stump the Simplist". "What can I do with all these old medical texts that even the bookstore doesn't want?" Hmmm, that is a stumper for sure. I suggested eBay, but even that seems a dubious effort at best. I headed to Google for a little research, and the ideas there were equally as lame. "Make bath toys by cutting pictures out of a magazine and covering them with contact paper, leaving a one-half inch lip around each piece to allow it to seal. When these pieces get wet, they will stick to the bathroom tile." (That's probably not a good idea with medical texts...but with some of the less graphic pictures I'm guessing a flashcard type of game for his young daughter might not be too difficult to make. Nose, Ear, Eye... never too young to start Pre-Med School. But when all else fails, I find the "drop and run" at the library gets the book out of my hands and into the hands of a trained professional. (I'm guessing librarians hate this.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Simplicity & the Finger

So it's been 8 months since the tree fell and broke my finger and I still feel like I'm no where near being done with therapy. (For those of you who missed the tree saga, I've finally uploaded the full story here:The History of the Tree) Had a visit to Doc Cranky Pants yesterday and he was equally unimpressed as to my progress as well. His suggestion, more surgery that may or may not work, will hurt more than the first one, and will probably blow through the remainder of the amount the YMCA's insurance company is giving me. Not to mention that now that this summer show is starting up, I wouldn't have time to do it anyway. So I made a pact with myself, kick my therapy into high gear. I admit I've been babying the finger for a few months now, but now I know that I can't get away with that anymore. I've spent the last 8 months working around the fact that I can't (or probably will never) be able to make a fist again and I believe it is only because of my adaptable and simplified nature that I have been able to do so. So now I'm on the campaign to wear my splint 5 or 6 hours a day instead of just 1.

Drinking with the Brits always makes my finger feel better.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Simplicity & the Weekend

A nice little weekend just concluded: for the first time in a long time I found myself saying, Hmm there's nothing to do. It felt really good, like I had achieved some magical goal of ultimate simplicity. Even better, I was able to steer myself away from boredom just by using what I had in my car while I was out and about. A swim at the gym on Saturday, a nice hike in the nearby hills on Sunday. Kept me out of the malls and stopped me from spending money.

I wish I could say I'm back, hard at work, producing more quality television now... but our office decided to close this morning before I could get in due to its situation amid the parade route for the immigrant protest. So instead I'm at home eating a burrito and drinking a beer in the midafternoon. That's not wrong is it?

Friday, April 28, 2006

I am Loving... /I am Hating ...

A cop-out no less, but it's Friday and my mental state is fair to middling. Too much refined sugar, too much aspartame. Not enough

I am loving...having nothing to do at work this week. I should be working on the book, but instead I play blog roulette and watch clips from the Daily Show.

I am hating...saying good-bye to friends from far away. Usually I'm okay with the short visits, but today I'm sad to see people go unexpectedly.

Addendum: I am also loving this pic I caught on Bourbon Street last weekend. As if you needed a reminder in N.O. to drink more.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Inaugural: "I am Loving..." / "I am Hating..." of the Day

An easy way to post for the day: what I'm currently loving and hating at this hour. (and their tentative link to my simplicity practice).

I am loving... comment cards and customer service numbers. It's a cathartic outlet (and possibly a fool's errand) but there's just something about expressing my opinion that gets me going. Over the past week I've called the smoking ban hotline for a violation (Union Cattle Ranch in Hermosa Beach, bad! bad!), written my two cents on a card at the Getty Center, and getting together my thoughts to rate the 4 Motel 6 chains I stayed in over the long weekend. I think of it as a training exercise to build up to larger issues and my eventual crazy old lady letter writing campaign about whatever sticks in my craw.

I am hating...In and Out Burgers from sub-par branches. Why you gotta sully the reputation of the greatest hamburger chain in the land?!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Traveling: Spontaneity is actually the spice of life

So one of my favorite joys of simplicity is the ability to be spontaneous. After getting too sick to fly to a friend's wedding in New Orleans last week, spontaneity kicked in. Boarding pass in hand, announcement to board, and I'm throwing up in the restroom. Less than 3 minutes later, I've gotten my bag off the plane, I've driven out of the parking garage and realizing that I really did not want to miss the wedding of two of my best friends. So my highly trained driving skills kicked into high gear. That's right, I literally drove out of the airport parking garage to New Orleans. Well, I stopped, but not as often and others might think necessary. 2 days later (and 1,900 miles) I was in Louisiana. Now many would stop and say, "that doesn't seem like a very simple way to get across the country!" But I beg to differ. Stick to the interstate (I-10 will get you the whole way there), drink only water (caffeine will actually make you more tired eventually and play tricks with your mind), stop at grocery stores instead of fast food places, and Motel 6 will always leave the light on for you. Believe it or not, the wedding truly proved to be worth the 4,000 mile round trip. Good friends, good times. Even got to meet a new baby cousin on my way back through Tucson.

There's always room for improvement of course, and next time I'd like to research locations of BP gas stations in Texas (due to their alternative energy commitment, they're my gas of choice...I saw a few, but none ended up being readily convienent like they are in LA), I would also research Amtrak's Super Liner service which was partially suspended by Katrina but still runs on a limited basis (driving to Tucson then trainining it would have been a nice combination), and it probably would have been a good idea to have a check up on my car before embarking on a road trip of this caliber. But the 'brid performed wonderfully, (even against Texas drivers who are among the country's rudest.)

Hopefully this excursion will quash any long distance driving tendencies for the immediate future!

View from the road: Wind power in the southland!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Traveling: Sin City Day 2

Day 2, my room at the Nugget isn't too shabby. My original plan was to at least try to take the stairs from my 15th floor room to get at least SOME exercise during my stay here. After noticing the Emergency Exit sign on the door, I thought it best to call before setting off an alarm that would empty the building. Alas, the operator informed me that the door was in fact alarmed (despite nothing saying so on the sign nor the notation Emergency Exit ONLY which usually deter me from opening such doors). Staying simple in sin city is not simple at all.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Traveling: Sin City Day 1

I have arrived in Vegas, and only a few hours in I can feel the effect of cigarette smoke on my body: headache, dry mouth, watery eyes. But I'm committed to this experience and I have resolved not to complain too much about it. With that said, before I left LA I loaded the car up with my favorite snacks: apples, trail mix, clif bars, which will see me through a few meals a day and keep me out of the buffet and fast food options. I also packed a bunch of my own water since from the experiences of 17 trips cross country, I have learned that if I don't my mouth will get all chewed up from the change in mineral content of local waters. Plus it saves a few bucks at the C-store. Meant to bring my own sheets since I've also noticed that hotel sheets have always made me super itchy (can't decide if it's bed bugs or super bleach and detergent combo either way, I rarely sleep well in hotels). Trying to stay hydrated and have snarfed a few Emergen-C's to keep my white blood cells perky.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Traveling: Simple in Sin City v.1

So I'm off to Vegas this weekend for a week long job ... and beginning a private experiment on how to keep simple while on the road. It's an ambitious destination to start the project but they're sending me there, so I go. My tolerance of Vegas is usually 48 hours max before I start begging to get the hell out: I never gamble, my body hates cigarette smoke, and the blatant excess and waste of resources just makes my skin crawl. Can a simplist survive in Sin City for a full week? Stay tuned...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Recycling: Old Papasan, New Tuffet!

Here's one of my recent postings to Craftster.org:
I finally got up the nerve to dispense with the beast known as the papasan chair (cool when you're 20, not so much when you're 30...and even the Salvation Army won't accept them as a donation) but Mojo kitty seemed to like the coziness of the stand,
Adventure Kitty takes a time out
so I decided to see what I could come up with in terms of recycling it into something I could use. (I swear I am reincarnated from someone who lived during the Great Depression, normal people do not think like this, sadly!) I finally figured that the stand is just the right height to act as a foot stool (something I was lacking to begin with and not ready to part with $70 at Ikea to buy one). I used some of this crappy cheap ribbon that I had to buy 75 yards of for a halloween costume to create the cradle to hold the pillow.
Step 1

I then unstuffed the big papasan pillow (I now have batting to last a long, long time) and traced a circle onto the fabric to fit the stand. I sewed it up, restuffed with fill and dried lavender, put my feet up and aaaaah time to relax with my brand new tuffet.

Thinking of adding a small zipper so that it can be opened easily and washed... and maybe adding buttons to give it better shaping.
Ta Da!

Feet up, Mojo checks out original papasan frame for potential "Beyond Thunder-cat Dome"?

I was trying to think of something creative to do with that frame, but kicking the crap out of it to get it dismantled (GREAT stress relief) destroyed the coil of bamboo (or whatever the heck this indestructible material is). Finally got it down to a giant circle with 4 bracing arms and just couldn't get it dismantled any further without a saw or stronger thighs. It's currently in the area above my shower and threatening to inspire me to create some funky hanging mobile thing... stay tuned...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Link of the Day

Today's link is a musical tribute, just chilling on a Friday, trying to get thru the end of the week, listening to a little Simply Red. AAAAAAHHHHH.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Link of the Day

Well them folks over at Union of Concerned Scientists finally uploaded my Hybrid pic to their "Who's Got Hybrids" page.
(Though clicking it doesn't always cause my page to pop up first.) For those of you who haven't switched to hybrid yet, there's many a testimonial from satisfied customers.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Day One on the Blogging Frontier

Well here goes nothing, the first day on the blog highway. It's going to be a learning experience for both of us, dear reader. And while Blogger makes blogging simple, even my knowledge of html code is 10 years out of date and I'm starting to feel like my grandmother here, with little or no clue of how I'm supposed to get this program to do what I want it to do. (No peaking at my homepage just yet, it's way messy.) So here goes nothing, hope you enjoy the ride. Here's me. Get to know me.

Blogging, Day 1...

Well here we go, I have finally decided to dip my toe into Lake Blog. The water is warm, the climate is hospitable. Let's see if I can manage not to screw this up.