Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!: 12 Resolutions

Happy New Year! I had the thought that I would make a new resolution each month. Since we all seem to forget our resolutions after 2 to 3 weeks anyway, I figure a month with each resolution should suffice. (The true trick will be can I remember to instate a new resolution each month? Good news is, just thinking about a list of challenges, I’ve already come up with 9.) January I’m going to start with a goal to decrease spending by 25%. (I’ll base it on October’s budget, mainly because I’m 2 months behind in reconciling my receipts!) A lofty goal but after hearing so much of other people’s money troubles and the fact that I have a week of unemployment coming up and the writer’s strike starting to hit me where I live (well, where I work) I thought I would do a little preemptive scrimping and see if I could manage to get back down to a streamlined spending plan. NPR keeps dancing around the word “recession” and I know this strike will have a ripple effect through the industry even if it ends tomorrow. So far so good, 1:35p and I haven't spent any money yet!

'Tis the season...For a good book.

Holy mackerel, it’s the end of the year again… and what better way to celebrate for a big old dork like me, than to countdown the top 5 eco books (in my humble opinion) of the year.
#5: The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time, Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen. Lots of celebrity testimonials such as Will Ferrell and Cameron Diaz. A quick read with lots of simple “going green” tips for everyone.

#4: Get Satisfied! How 20 People Just Like You Found the Satisfaction of Enough, ed. Carol Holst. Okay, of course my pals at Simple Living America are getting a shout out, but the book is truly a great example of how simplifying your life can lead to happiness. I’m so proud of SLA for taking the book from concept to reality, in just a year! Yay team!

#3:
Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet
by Alisa Smith, J.B. Mackinnon. Couple Smith and Mackinnon decided to try eating only ingredients that were produced within a 100 mile radius of wherever they were for an entire year. While it was never an easy task for them, their journey was very intriguing to follow.

#2: This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future, John and Teresa Heinz Kerry. My favorite political ecology book of the year (Sorry Al…) The Kerry’s style was very accessible and gives more productive examples of ordinary citizens doing good in the face of climate catastrophes.

#1:
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
, Bill McKibben. I’m not shy to admit that McKibben is one of my all time favorite authors and heroes, so when he releases a new book, I’m a little biased. But bias notwithstanding, he gave us all something to think about this year with his thoughts on how to reevaluate how we spend money as a society and return to localized economies.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post-ho ho round up

Just back from good times with the east coast peeps, and another fine festivus for all involved. Got some good eco and simplistic gifts this year:
• a bunch of shopping bags so I really never need to worry about choosing between paper or plastic again.
• Gift cards to my favorite place in the world Trader Joe's (my peeps know how much I love the practicality of groceries!)
• Some great comfy yoga pants by Green Apple Active made from bamboo fabric.
• A pair of L.L. Bean Wicked Good shearling clogs that will last forever because of the Bean's great life-time guarantee policy.

I don't need much but even the simplest simplist enjoys some presents once in a while, especially when they show how much you know and care about the person.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

'Tis the season...to be frazzled.

Phew! Finally coming up for air after a hectic couple of weeks—working 25 of the last 27 days and feeling overwhelmed—"how on earth am I going to get everything I need to get done?!?!" After making list after list, day after day and not seeming like I was accomplishing much of anything I finally took a step back and put my simplicity skills to work. I went down my list and asked "Does this absolutely need to be done? And if it doesn't get done, what will the ramifications be?" And believe it or not, a type of peace descended. When you realize that very little truly needs to be done. Remarkably I was able to accomplish more when I stepped back like this. Feel almost like the I can enjoy the season more now that I'm not so crazed. So a happy and peaceful holiday to all!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tis the Season


I refuse to admit that Christmas is coming until at least December 1st. Those retailers who start airing holiday commercials November 1st will never get my business (this year Wal*Mart got a special e-mail message expressing my disgust). And I force my coworker who insists on starting the carols in mid-September to keep the headphones on at all times. I think 25 days of holiday cheer is plenty of good tidings for anyone to handle. I will admit I was not as strong on Black Friday aka “Buy Nothing Day” to those in the know and went out and had my oil changed, bought a couple subway tickets and some fabric to make new kitchen curtains. I’ll try harder next year I promise. But back to the holiday at hand, I’ve fully decorated here, lights strung and card clothesline ready for cards to come filtering in through the season. My favorite decoration is a very simple one, created long before I was the hardened super-simplist that I am today. Constructed back in the go-go 90’s from a page-a-day Earth Day calendar, I cut small Christmas tree shapes out of the pictures and strung them together with string. A very simple idea but each year it brings a smile to my face when I pull it out of the box to hang up. I like to remember the ‘seeds of my simplicity’ and know that anything I could buy in a store wouldn’t make me feel as warm as this simple holiday reminder.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fresh as a Daisy, even in November

Cleaning can be a real pain in the backside, and I am one who puts it off until there are spider webs criss crossing my ceiling, dust kitties rivaling the size of my actual cat, and dishes forming a passable replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Finally, I decided to birthday treat myself with a full house cleaning and came across Cool Earth Cleaning, a local company that uses non-toxic cleaners to provide their services. In just 2 hours, Charlie cleaned my 1 bedroom apartment from top to bottom—it felt fresher the moment I walked in. As someone who is is especially sensitive to fragrances and chemicals, it felt great to have the feeling of freshness without the overwhelming smells of toxic cleaners.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A few extra curves can be good for the environment.


Invariably, when I leave town for a few weeks, I come back and little things have changed in ways that I never expected. (One time I returned to find my beloved Classic Rock radio station replaced with one of those iPod shuffle formats; I'm still mourning the loss.) This year when I got back I discovered the new "curvy" plastic bottles for bottled water and soda which reportedly use 30% less plastic than the usual 20 oz bottle. A great way to use fewer materials but it won't do much to curb the billions of bottles that people go through already. Also not sure that Arrowhead's arrow pointing to the cap and noting that is is "100% recyclable" is accurate. As far as I know, caps are still not able to be recycled at this time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Halloween's one of my favorite holidays, especially because it gives everyone a chance to be creative—the party I go to every year is always a great place to see who can come up with the most original idea. Jason Smith usually takes the cake every year (seen here in this year's amazing handmade from foam core Iron Giant costume). This year I came across this super cool (and super recycled) costume from Evil Mad Scientist using an old umbrella to make a bat costume. It made me think, why hasn't someone thought of this before! My only problem now is I hacked up both of my umbrellas to create it, and now I have none! But totally worth it for the rave reviews I received. Pictures don't do bat girl justice...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Things that should scare the crap out of you: Tuesday Edition

I had no idea that the Southeastern US was in the midst of one the worst droughts in 100 years—apparently the situation is so dire that several communities are in danger of completely depleting their water supply reservoirs within the next few months. One of those locations would be the charming hamlet of Atlanta, a city of merely 4 million people. Imagine, turning on the tap and nothing coming out. Many believe that future wars will be fought over potable water (you know, if other stuff doesn't wipe us out first) and this event hopefully will be the canary in the coal mine that wakes people up to serious water conservation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Zen and the Art of Amtrak: Part 3

When Amtrak is doing what it should, it’s a wonderful experience. I mean it! Turns out the westward trip from Chicago to Los Angeles wasn’t just on time, but we ended up being 45 minutes early arriving into Union Station. Perfect way to end my trip.

I find myself just staring out at the landscape most of the time on the trip. After about an hour, I catch myself and think, shouldn’t I be doing something productive? But there is definitely something peaceful about watching the country roll by at a leisurely pace. Even the…let’s call them, ‘less fortunate areas’ (only because, who wants train tracks 6 feet from their back porch?)…were peaceful to watch. It was also interesting to watch the progression of each environment come and go. The wide open deserts of south eastern California, the painted desert of Arizona, the red clays of Albuquerque, the greens and yellows of the low lands of Colorado, the farms and prairies of Kansas, Iowa and Illinois, the steel paradise of Chicago, the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. Each is so unique that now I could probably tell you where I was just by looking at a picture. How am I supposed to get any work done with that rolling by right outside my window?

Zen and the Art of Amtrak: Part 2

When taking the rails, the first rule of Zen and the Art of Amtrak is foremost: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” If you’re brave enough to attempt the cross country rail trek, you must be willing to throw your schedule out the window. Do not schedule anything for 24 hours after your arrival in either direction. Trust me. If you give yourself that 24 hour buffer zone, your trip will be that much more relaxed, so that the odd derailment, mechanical failure, 2 hours waiting for goddamn freight trains to pass you in the middle of the night (more on those later) will seem like nothing but small trifle on the great adventure that is your Amtrak journey. Okay, so that’s overstating it just a tad. Even the Dalai Lama would probably be swearing like a longshoreman some of these bumps in the road. It’s just important to know that no one should ever take the train to rely on the schedule that Amtrak has set. They are so notorious off time that I can’t believe they haven’t built in at least one secret hour onto all scheduled routes. So far all of my trips this “adventure” have been at least a half hour late, and the lateness goes up exponentially, the longer the trip. Just for laughs, I thought I would play the home game with the handy time schedule provided in my Superliner Roomlette (quite nice for myself, I think that if I had to share this with another person, even one of my nearest and dearest, it might not be so Zen). The time schedule is nice because not only does it give you the time you’re supposed to arrive at the next station, but it gives you the miles between stations so when the train is moving at a speed that you could walk faster than, you can weep extra hard at thinking how much further you have to go.
Our kickass conductor Bree (I can call her that now, since boarding she’s already threatened to throw 2 people off the train, one for smoking the other for opening a door while we were stopped) is determined to get this bucket of bolts back on schedule which makes playing the home game that much more entertaining.Here's a view from the front, bug guts and all. And an early morning glimpse of La Junta, CO site of the train clearing detour from the west to east version of my trip back in September.

Zen and the Art of Amtrak: Part 1

(Here's a series of dispatches written while criss-crossing the country via rail but unfortunately not posted until now, because well, Amtrak is still working on that wifi situation.)

Zen and the Art of Amtrak: Part 1

I’m a little like a battered wife with my relationship with Amtrak: I tend to forget all the bad things they’ve put me through and come running back for more of the same. At least I’m not surprised anymore by it. But I’m still prone to defend them to anyone who questions my sanity for being a repeat train cross country traveler. Case in point: after a derailment (or “putting the train on the ground” in railroad lingo) interrupted my trip from west to east, causing a 4 hour wait for a bus to show up and drive us around it, resulting in a nine hour late arrival to Chicago, which caused everyone to miss their connecting trains and thus forced us all to spend an extra 22 hours in the Windy City…even after all that, did I say, “Hmm maybe we should switch back to planes?” Nope. And this morning, after arriving in Chicago another hour and 45 minutes late did I say, “hmmm, really is it just my train travel that’s cursed, that would be pretty odd…” Nope. Back on the train for another dose of sado-masochism. This evening’s adventure came in the form of some sort of “mechanical difficulty” less than 150 miles out of Chicago (that’s 2050 miles AWAY from our final destination for those keeping score at home) where apparently something started sparking (I could hear it from where I sit, sounded just like when someone doesn’t close the between train car doors and it bang bang bangs until someone gets fed up enough to close it tight) and then apparently flames shot out to the side of the train. Damn, I miss all the good stuff. God love this crew (at least so far… at 150 miles, even the fact that they’re just giving us information about what’s going on is still leaps and bounds ahead of any other crew I’ve dealt with so far on this “adventure”) So we sat, on the tracks, in the middle of an Illinois corn field while the crew stood outside and assessed the sitch. My vantage point is approximately 3-4 cars back from the engine so I could hear them talking about the problem but didn’t want to listen too closely because I didn’t want to hear those dreaded words about turning back to Chicago. Or riding to Kansas City without power. But once again, god love this crew, they had us up and running in probably just a half hour. I may have to hold my breath the rest of the trip so I don’t jinx it.
I think this is the offending cable that caused the stoppage. It will furthermore be housed in an unused roomette near the bathrooms.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Get on the Train, Y'all

So I've been getting a lot of crap lately about my upcoming cross country trek via the hobo method of choice: Amtrak. I'm not sure what the problem is for most of my critics, my travel plans don't affect them one way or the other, I'm arriving everywhere I need to be when I need to be there, so what's the big deal? I'm personally excited about the adventure, and I think the fact the people think I'm a little bit crazy for doing it just makes me want to do it more. I haven't checked out the ecological impact as compared with flying, but I believe pollution at ground level is slightly less damaging than burning kerosene right next to the ozone layer. I'm excited about being on my own for a while with nothing to do but focus my attention on writing. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Time Out for an Art Break


Wandering through mental_floss again, I came across this post for a gallery showing which remarkably is less than a block away from my current working situation. I'm kicking myself now that I let time expire while being so close to the exhibition, especially after catching an article about the installation in Utne this month. The Paul Kopeikin Gallery sponsored a showing of artist Chris Jordan's new installment "Running the Numbers". Awesome... I mean, to borrow the classic adage, I don't know art, but I know what I like, and these works are amazing. Each piece from a distance is it's own work of art, but lean closer to see the intricate details- row upon row of children's building blocks which are actually there to represent the 9 million children without health insurance. Or line after line equaling 65,000 cigarettes, the number of American teenagers under age eighteen who become addicted to cigarettes every month. Or 426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US every day. Each piece he has constructed from close up photographs and digitally replicated to create a visual puzzle that makes you look closer and think deeper. (The photo here is a partial zoom for the work "Cell Phones", click the photo for sharper detail)

I ♥ The Metro!

Well it's time for the big tally: My goal for Memorial Day to Labor Day was to ride 1,000 miles on my bike—I gave myself a few extra days on the back end since this weekend was hotter than Hades (108ยบ in my neck of the woods). Though I knew I was going to fall short of my goal, the grand total of 668.46 miles was still pretty impressive, oui? Best of all this goal has opened my eyes to all the possibilities for getting myself from point A to point B here in Los Angeles. I'm a public transit addict now!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Garden Burgers for everyone!

A good pal sent me this link (more so because he's of the "South Park" mentality but knows I'm a treehuggin' hippie, so this is where our world's collide) and while even I was squeamish after 10 seconds, the message is pretty powerful. This video was created for Live Earth, and while the images might be difficult to look at, the message is crucial. For the daring, (warning the video is pretty graphic) the full video is here. For the rest, here's the summary: FARMED ANIMALS PRODUCE MORE GREENHOUSE GASES THAN ALL THE CARS AND TRUCKS IN THE WORLD COMBINED. Wow. That's a big one. And if everyone ate one less meat meal a week, there would be a drastic reduction in gas output.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Book Review: "This Moment on Earth"

Just finished John & Tereza Kerry's latest book "This Moment on Earth" and was pleasantly surprised. When researching global warming and other environmental crises, it gets kind of depressing after reading the umpteenth statistic on melting glaciers or rising sea levels or dying polar bears. It's enough to just throw your hands up and say, "what's the point?" The Kerry's book instead is very accessible, filled with productive examples of people who are making a change in their communities. The gloomy statistics are there, but they don't beat the reader over the head with them. I'm also thankful for them introducing me to this great quote based on an African adage: "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today." That one sentiment sums up the tone of the book perfectly. :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back on the Bus Y'all

So Labor Day is fast approaching, and truth be told, I will fall short of my 1,000 miles by bike between Memorial Day & Labor Day... final numbers are still out—I do have 6 days left to try and catch up. I knew it was an ambitious goal to set, and though there were a few weeks I could have ridden more, I am most excited about the fact that I've mapped out a bike/subway/bus route to my latest day job. I am most excited about how easy it is, and the fact that at peak hours, it really is fast than driving!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Power Flexing

Had to comment on these new provocative billboards we've got up here in Los Angeles, courtesy of Flex Your Power, the California statewide marketing campaign for energy conservation. The tagline says it all: "Global Warming isn't just a fact. It is a choice." I couldn't have said it better myself. The ads play at parents: what kind of legacy will you be leaving your children in terms of the environment? Drought? Floods? Extreme heat or cold? Commercials can be watched here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Staying Simple in Times of Banana-Sandwich-Craziness

Ah yes, I am back finally...been a busy couple weeks with the cat accident and finishing up the big show. Now I'm back and ready to rumble. These are one the most difficult times to remain true to one's beliefs of simplicity. When there's no time to think about getting your plastic dishes to eat your lunch on, when it's just easier to throw the aluminum can in the trash, when it's just easier to print on white paper just to get the job done quickly, when sleep has to take precedence over eating healthy and getting enough exercise. It is most important to remain mindful in these times but also to not beat ones' self up too much. If you're simple year-round, a few days of slipping here and there, won't undo all the good we've done all along.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

It's been a pretty random and traumatic week here both personally and nationally—adventure kitty got attacked by a big dog on Monday, necessitating many stitches and the entire country is dealing with watching the recovery of the freeway bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Both incidents in their own way probably could have been prevented, but in the grand scheme, pointing the finger of blame after the fact probably won't help with coping with the trauma. It's always a struggle for me to face up to reality, I'm much more content to stick my head in the sand and ignore it until it stabilizes. I think a simple lifestyle requires finding that balance between being informed (NPR) and not being a blatant voyeur (Fox News). So that's this week's simple challenge.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Couch Cushion Debate


Still on the fence about this couch cushion thing. On the one hand it was wonderful of my mother to offer to make me a full new set of cushions because I can’t seem to let my 10-year-old $200 wood frame Ikea couch die. But here’s the issue, the new fabric (that would be the cushion on the right side of the photo) matches little to nothing in my current living room. So do I a) politely ask my mother to reconsider the fabric selection or b) accept the fabric choice and then ask for 3 new sets of curtains, new pillow covers and start shopping for wall paint and drawer pulls. I mean change is good and all, and it has been 10 years with the couch and almost 15 years with the curtains. I enjoy the pattern still myself, they’re starting to get almost an antique feel to them, something that fits nicely with the tone of my apartment (I have always felt a vibe of the 1930’s or 40’s in there) but maybe a new modern style will give me a new outlook on life. I’m going to at least check out paint to see if that’s a valid option, a pale green would be a good choice. But I don’t know what the curtains would be. As a simplist, I feel like I should keep my furnishings and linens the way they are, but as a hip young(-ish) go getter, a little updated style never hurt anyone. That’s one of the things people fear most about the simple life, is that fact that they’ll have to compromise their sense of style in the name of saving money, staying green and reducing scale. In reality, it just takes a little more creativity.

And a little self-congratulations, today is my 100th blog post! Woot!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dreamhost: Green Host!


Was happy to learn that my web hosting site Dreamhost has purchased carbon neutral offsets to compensate for amount of carbon emissions the company creates (as much as 545 average sized homes!) It's not going to single-handedly reverse global warming, but if only every company was this eco-conscious. To learn more about Dreamhost's carbon neutral project click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


A simple post for this weekend's upcoming Simpsons Movie release courtesy of my good pal Hodges and the "Create Your Simpsons Avatar" link from the movie site . :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Gasoline Guilt Week: Day 4, TERRAPASS

Just learned that the Environmental Defense's Tailpipe Tally site has been "retired" (no explanation given, but seems weird because it would seem now more than ever people would want to be able to calculate their car's total emissions). Bummer because I'm adverse to doing any math myself. Terrapass.com has a quick calculator on their site and gives you the direct link to purchase carbon offsets based on how much you drive. (I know what everyone's getting for Christmas this year!) So it basically comes down to this: in my happy little hybrid, I exude approximately .4 lbs of carbon per mile. Not horrible, but not great either (in contrast, a 2007 Hummer puts out 1.1 lbs per mile) Terrapass is my new favorite site because not only can you offset your auto carbon emissions, but airline travel, as well "dorm living". And best of all, it's not even that expensive. For about $40, I can offset all the carbon my car puts into the air in a year. They take the money invested and in turn reinvest it into clean energy projects such as wind farms, biomass energy and selected carbon reduction projects. Genius.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gasoline Guilt Week: Day 3, Book Review "How To Live Well Without Owning A Car"

A quick review of this great little guide to how to get around in our crazy overbooked lives without owning an automobile. This one's not just for those who want to go cold turkey without wheels, but for anyone who wants to drive less. It doesn't hurt that author Chris Balish is a cutie-pie news reporter from St. Louis who shares his own stories about giving up his own gas-guzzling SUV in favor of taking mass transit and riding a bike. If only everyone on the LA metro system looked like that. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gasoline Guilt Week: Day 2

So if you go on the LA MTA website and plan your bus route for your trip, you'll notice at the bottom:

I had to wonder, how logical is the 56.2(!) cents per mile average from the AAA, especially when one drives a hybrid? I used this link to figure out that it supposedly only costs me 20 cents per mile. But then again I didn't factor in the $370 I just spent on tires today, so maybe that adds a penny or two. But it is pretty impressive that there's a AAA link on a public transportation site, as they are notoriously pro-car. Hmmm. I'm not sure I'm ready to give up the 'brid even if it saved me $12 a 20 mile trip.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Gasoline Guilt Week: Day 1, Get on the bus, y'all!

So I've been experiencing some major Gasoline Guilt lately to the extent that I grew fed up with my own inability to avoid "walking the talk". This weekend in an attempt to assuage some of that guilt and get myself back on the bus. No one can deny that LA is a car-centric culture but thousands of people do use the mass transit system here, successfully and as a necessity. I figured I could at least give it a try. Now I've read all the books about how taking the bus is great cuz you can use that time for more productive things like reading or being social, but the bad part about the LA bus system is the inconvenience of the schedules: case in point, the 23 mile trip by car should take 27 minutes (per Mapquest), by bus 28 miles and 1 HOUR 43 minutes. Oy. But I did it, I sat at the bus stop, I put my coins in the slot and rode 2 buses all the way down to Culver City to see a movie with a friend (Knocked Up: meh, don't believe the hype.) And while, don't tell my mother I stood on a slightly sketchy street corner downtown for 45 minutes waiting for my connection (only safety factor was that only about 4 vehicles passed in my entire wait). So the overall verdict? While an hour round trip by car ended up taking 4 hours and 45 minutes, I'm still not dissuaded by the bus. I surprised myself by being able to read and relax during the whole trip and while it won't be every day when I can devote that much time to transit, every once in a while, it can't hurt to be a little more conscious of how we travel. Coming tomorrow: AAA's cost per mile: how accurate? And is taking the bus cost effective when you have a hybrid?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The little things in life...

A while back I got asked the all-important question, 'What does simplicity mean to you?' and I'm not sure I had an easy time answering. At any rate, my answer was probably something off the top of my head and probably about 43% nonsense. Today though, I had a little epiphany...I'd been noticing for months that my lo-flo showerhead was delivering only shooting water out on one side. Now this part can't be much more than $5 at ye olde big box hardware store, and while normally I'm reluctant to call my landlord for anything short of total drain blockage, (but it turns out, I had total drain blockage in the sink so, it would be 2 birds with one plumber if it needed to be)...but I thought maybe I'll just check this out and see what I can see. And what do you know? A twist of the wrench and out fall metal flakes (crappy old pipes, another story, another time) and the old showerhead is as good as new. And with that one little accomplishment, my whole weekend was made. Seriously. It's just that simple.

It's stopping. It's taking a moment. It's looking at the situation from a different angle. It's thinking how could I fix/improve/edit this without resorting to the initial knee-jerk reaction? And that my dear friends is what simplicity means to me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just a shout out to the Lady Bird...


Okay, I'll admit, I know very little about our former first lady. But hearing of her passing yesterday led me to dig out a nugget I have written in my book about her.

"Largely due to Lady Bird Johnson’s Highway Beautification Act of 1965, four states have banned offsite outdoor billboards: Maine, Vermont, Alaska, and Hawai’i."

Then I just read this quote about her: "Lady Bird Johnson believed that beauty affects us all -- that when we are surrounded by natural beauty, we are changed."

I'll raise a Texas toast to that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Whoops...

Okay, so my goal of last week to try and make it to the end of August without buying gas backfired miserably when I only made it 75 miles in 6 days before the empty light stayed on for 48 hours and I was running on fumes. It's always disheartening when I fail at a goal like this. So I headed over to the nearby Arco (my gas station of choice, if I have to buy, I go BP for their commitment to alternative energy solutions) and fed in a $20 bill. This got me about 6.5 gallons of gas, a pretty good rate lately in LA, remarkably lower than the $3.79 a gallon we were paying back in the spring. So how far will this 6.5 gallons of gas take me? Or better yet, how long will it last me? Back on the bike today, so that's a start, but I'm trying to be a little more conservative with my estimates on how much I can realistically ride my bike to work. I would like to be better about using the transit system here. Afternoon project: get to know your bus routes!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Keep rollin', rollin', rollin'...

Thought I'd do a mid-summer holiday check in on my biking goal of riding 1,000 miles between Memorial Day and Labor Day... and a big drum roll please...

Okay, granted I kinda hoped that I was further along than that, but I can't complain too much because I have been pretty good about riding to work a few days a week. And I'm aware that I can't really get away with riding to work every day of the week (well I can, but I would rather not have to ride home at midnight after a 14 hour day). The better goal is that I haven't bought gas in over a month (and it would have been longer had I not taken a trip to Tucson). If I can get to August without buying gas, that'll be the real ticket. Got about 100 miles left in the tank. Can she do it folks? Can she go 25 days with only 100 miles of gas?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Live Earth Week

Thought I'd drop a line on this weekend's Live Earth: 3 days and counting. I mean in case you haven't heard that it was going on this weekend. Cuz it is. I'm chained to the old studio this weekend so if I get to watch it'll be from the cool confines of an energy-sucking television production stage. But I've got peeps on the show, and I would be remiss if I didn't throw a shout out to MDR, producer for her transformation into making the Bain-Sills production offices go green. Among her subtle changes were getting rid of bottled water and plastic utensils. Simple steps, but ones that if every office undertook could make a huge difference. (Californians alone throw away 1.5 BILLION plastic water bottles each year)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Pull up to my Bumper pt.2

In a flash of inspiration this weekend, I came up with what may be the sticker that will be actually peeled and stuck to my car's bumper. (at least now I'll have something to cover the parallel parking dings) A bit of overview: I wanted something that if you get it, then it makes you think, 'yeah, that's pretty sweet'." So if you get this guy: Then you'll probably get the full gist. If Wooderson is just Matthew McConaughey with bad hair, I think it still has an impact. With any luck, Richard Linklater won't shut me down for a few weeks and we can get the hybrid revolution started.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wish List


Saw this post on Weird Asia News where this Chinese guy fitted his roof with empty beer bottles and hoses to make a solar heated shower for his family. I wonder how much my landlord would object to me hooking this up at my place. Guess it also has the added bonus of beer being a good hair conditioner.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Patriot Bucks for All!


An interesting idea presented on NPR this morning as a way to help contain campaign financing: an ATM card for every voter with $25 dollars on it to spend on whichever candidate you wanted to. The total cost to the American public $3 billion dollars, but a fairer way to support presidential candidates and spread out how contributions are made. I think it would go a ways in relieving voter fatigue and get Americans back into caring about how the election process is run. I know personally I feel disinfranchised how the big candidates seem to cater only to those who can give the most money to their campaign. Read more about Yale professor Bruce Ackerman's program at Slate.com.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I-I-I-kea

A shameful thing for a hard core simplist to admit: I am a huge fan of Ikea. Been so for years. While most might think of it as disposible furniture, (and a cruel joke of engineering as most pieces are designed for self-assembly) I am happy to say my selected Ikea pieces are still in use, some after 10 years. I bought a wood frame couch 10 years ago, and I keep holding on to it like it's a family heirloom. The cushions have had to be dyed after a number of years (off white upholstery lost it round the turn of the century) but no one seemed to comment on the change, at least not to my face. And while the foam cushions may be a little worse for wear, I've worked hard for that ass groove and I'm not ready to give it up quite yet. So needless to say when mother arrived last week and offered to recreated the cushion covers I gladly ripped them off and sent her home with them in hopes of keeping this $200 couch alive for another 10 years.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Doc Review: "An Unreasonable Man" (2006)


While it may be overstating a bit to say that without Ralph Nader, seatbelts, airbags, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and NIOSH would cease to exist, the truth is that without him, none of these campaigns (or the dozens of other consumer advocate campaigns he was actively involved in jumpstarting) would have left the starting gate. Unreasonable Man is an inside look at the man once revered for his "fighting for the little guy" but now known only as a pariah. The first half of the doc shows the viewer how Nader came to become disenfranchised with the two-party system—from campaigning vigorously for clean air and water to safety on the job, in the market and at home. The second half of the doc takes the turn onto the 2000 election Blvd. where in just days following the election Nader became the whipping boy for a campaign that really had no one to blame but itself. If only Nader had pulled out of the race before the election and told his followers to vote for Gore! There would be no Iraq War! There would be no global warming! 9-11 probably wouldn't have happened! Each a huge burden for any one man to carry on his shoulders or to follow him around for the rest of his life. (In reality, the 537 vote difference between Gore and Bush in Florida could have been made up by any one of the 3rd party candidates dropping their race and asking supporters to vote Gore). But the most notable point that the doc makes is that Nader could never drop out of the race, it would have gone against the very core of his being: he ran as an alternative to the 2 party system, he is not influenced by special interests, he is one of the few people to stand behind the convictions of his soul. What makes it an interesting documentary is that we do see an inside look at the person (much more so than with Gore in An Inconvenient Truth): we see former allies struggle with their personal relationships yet continue to distance themselves from him (or in the case of Michael Moore: completely flip flop on their convictions. That footage will stain my opinion of him indelibly.) Or in the case of The Nation reporter who practically compares Nader to Hitler for his 2000 Presidential run, come off as completely illogical. It's just odd how when you look at a list of Nader's beliefs (and thus his campaign promises) how much sense they make and when you look at his track record, you see a man who will not back down—isn't this what we all wish our politicians could truly be like?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Think the CIA could use a few hamsters?


Came across this idea by way of mental_floss and boing boing today: a hamster wheel-powered shredder that allows the shredded pieces to fall into the cage and be used for hamster bedding. Ingenius! Just a prototype right now by designer Tom Ballhatchet (more views of the shredder are on the site). Petco are you listening?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Reading List: "Field Notes From a Catastrophe"


Off on a mini-road trip to Tucson and back last weekend, and stocked up on some aural stimulation for the drive. Thanks to the good folks at the Burbank Public Library I was able to procure Elizabeth Kolbert's "Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change" read by the delightfully dulcet-toned Hope Davis. First off, it's not the book you want to be listening to in the dark hours alone on the open highway in the Arizona desert, lest you abandon all hope and decide to swerve into a ditch for fear that there is no hope for the planet. But it is a remarkable work otherwise. Similar in shock value (though the science is "sound" despite the U.S. government's reluctance to admit it) to An Inconvenient Truth, it contains information that must be heeded. We cannot look away from the truth of global warming any longer. The most difficult fact to swallow is that even if tomorrow we began to curb emissions, change fuel efficiency standards, and reduce consumption, the damage is done. Short on actual solutions for the casual reader, I'm hoping Al Gore has a big fat checklist to give us when "Live Earth" rolls around on 7/07/07.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I May Need Help...

Okay, so is fixing a 10 year-old pair socks frugality or just plain crazy? Not the greatest socks to begin with, but thought about it and remembered I had bought some thin elastic many years ago when I was thinking of making some bracelets ($7.95 is the price tag on it, for 25 meters it appears, of which I probably had used maybe 1m) and lo and behold, it appears that it makes a pretty good elastic cuff on a pair of old socks. If anyone had any doubt that I lived through the depression before, I think they've all been converted.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Magic of Nature

So each year I plant some tomato seeds and get a little crop of scraggly plants that provide my meager existence with some produce. This year I didn't do any planting on my own, but let nature do its thing by just letting what ever came up out of the ground take root; survival of the fittest, the heartiest (or is it hardiest? can never remember) plant wins. So imagine my surprise when a few weeks back I notice, these are not cherry tomatoes which I've planted for the last 2-3 years but Roma tomatoes which I planted back in another apartment, in another part of town, at least 3 years ago. (and very unsuccessfully at that, I got maybe 2 or 3 tomatoes off the plant and they weren't very good at that) Where did they come from? These seem very hearty (or hardy again); there's about 20 or 30 of them on the vine right now. Seem to be taking their time ripening though!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Ink-Free Office of the Future


Trolling around on mental_floss yesterday and came across this interesting idea: Apparantly Xerox is developing a printer (and subsequently a paper) that requires no ink or toner. Wha!? Kind of a crazy concept to wrap one's head around, but it goes a little something like this: the "printer" uses a "coating" several microns thick to put your printed information on to the paper. Within 24 hours, the image has magically erased itself and the paper can be reused again for up to 50 times. Granted the test images they're showing look a lot like the old mimeograph copies of my childhood math tests, but I'm a sucker for any creative new technology that changes the way we think about using so much paper. Click here for an interview direct from a Xerox innovator (by way of The Future of Things) Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pretty Pinkies

I've got a little toxic secret: I love me a good coat of nailpolish. Back in the day, it was the wilder, the better. Greens, blues, white, silver sparkles, alternating my school team's colors, I did it all. Unfortunately commercial nail solutions are among the most toxic products that you can put on your body. Worse yet, each application can remain in contact with our precious fingers (or toes) for up to a week. Fingernails are not inpenetrable, which means painting them up causes the solvents and chemicals to be absorbed into the body. For the past few years however, I've stripped off the polish and let my nails breathe to make up for the years of suffocating I'd put them through. Chemicals aside, these solvents do strengthen and smooth nails which is why after 3 years I thought it time to get myself a new bottle of nail polish. I had heard rumors of non-toxic alternatives and my search led me to Honeybee Gardens. While not "safe-enough-to-eat", the polishes are odor-free and have no formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalates or FD& C colors. Best yet, is the fact that these polishes require only rubbing alcohol to be removed—no more nailpolish remover! I went for a simple pink but there are 15 other colors to try too.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Air Quality pt. 47

Trying to muddle through Paper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World by Daniel Imhoff (c. 2005, Watershed Media) but having trouble concentrating on all the tiny words when it's just too nice outside. One passage stopped me cold though (and I must quote directly in order to give the same impact) p. 22 "A physicist at Boeing once described the pollution from the takeoff of a SINGLE 747 like 'setting the local gas station on fire and flying it over your neighborhood.'" Woah. Seriously? As someone who lives within a half mile of a major airport, this claim is especially troubling. Why does everyone seem to ignore the airplane pollution? Why is it such a dirty little secret? SUV's bad, but DC-10 okay?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bee gone?


Okay folks, I’ll admit it, I’m kinda nervous about this whole bee thing. In Europe, Canada and about 25 states in the U.S. have reported a 40% loss of bees. (Even the name is extra daunting: “Colony Collapse Syndrome”) Most people will say “Less bees, that’s not too bad. Bees bug me.” Au contraire, mon frere. Bees are the backbone of the agriculture industry. The US produces $15 BILLION worth of crops each year that rely solely on bees to pollinate. Even worse is the fact that scientists don’t know what is causing the bees to disappear. (It seems like it’s bees not being created since there aren’t great quantities of dead bees lying around). The killer remains a mystery and at large.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


After yesterday’s news that Los Angeles was at the top of the nation’s air pollution list, I was feeling kind of bummed since I fall into the category of those especially vulnerable (those who exercise heavily outside). But today a resource for those wanting to check the air quality before heading out to exercise. Air Now allows users to search by location to check the air quality index in your area. (Only detriment for me is that “Los Angeles is lumped into only one area, while anyone who lives there knows that the air quality can differ greatly between the San Gabriel Valley and the beaches). Know that if the AQI is higher than 151 that it’s probably a better idea to hit the treadmill or indoor pool that day instead.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

L.A. #1! L.A. #1!

Congratulations Los Angeles! You were named the U.S. city with the worst air pollution! Actually it topped all three pollution category lists: short-term particle pollution, year-round particle pollution and ozone pollution.
Tell the good folks of LA what they’ve won Bob! These types of pollution can contribute to heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks, especially for the most vulnerable: children, senior citizens, people who work or exercise outdoors and people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Rounding out the top ten are:
2. Pittsburgh, PA
3. Bakersfield, CA
4. Birmingham, AL
5. Detroit, MI
6. Cleveland, OH.
7. Visalia, CA
8. Cincinnati, OH
9. Indianapolis, IN
10. St. Louis, MO
And bravo to Houston, often on the list in the past didn’t qualify this year… that could be a good thing or a bad thing...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Power from Old Energy

I recently blogged about the energy that we all produce just moving around and the possibility that one day sneakers might be equipped to harness that energy and store it in battery packs, but then I came across this posting on my new favorite website: Mental Floss about a flexible ramp that Hughes Research has created that can be placed in roadways to harness energy to power traffic signals. Called the "RP190 Power Ramp" (the video can be seen here, enjoy it's wonderful cheesy industrial video-ness and rocking soundtrack). I think it sounds like a great idea, considering it seems like a win-win situation: it calms traffic down while providing free energy. Dissenters however think that maybe wind turbines that are built into freeway jersey barriers (like the photo) might be a better use of funding. I'm kinda jazzed about these new ideas and wondering why they aren't in place already...what's the hold up people!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day, the Day After

I've been a bad bad girl this year, I allowed both Climate Control Day (or whatever they were calling it) and Earth Day to pass without much fanfare on my part. I had grand ambitions of standing on an overpass with a banner with a slogan that said something to the effect of "Hey you, dumbass, your car is killing the planet." (or something much sweeter and more diplomatic, but I have little energy for either emotion lately). Sigh, I shall try to be more earth-conscious in the coming weeks. I did manage to ride my bike to and from work yesterday (remarkably 28.7 miles, according to the cyclometer... I think it might be a weeee bit off there) so that at least, was something. I have a couple plans to get back on track... most notably bringing my own food containers/plates and silverware to work. I need to be more conscious of how much paper products I use and throw away. When going through the catering line, I hardly ever think twice about taking the styrofoam clam shell container and chucking it 10 minutes later after scarfing about 15 lbs of catered meal. Earth Day, everyday is the mantra... let's see if I can make it happen.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Goals and Aspirations

So I'm not sure how this slightly over-ambitious goal popped into my head the other day, but I have decided that I am going to attempt to ride my bicyclettes 1,000 miles this summer. I'm currently at about 31 miles. Rules of this contest are few, but it's always good to have something to strive for. Looks like the distance between home and new job will be about 9 miles, so if I just ride my bike to work 55 days, I should be all set. Okay, unfeasible, but there are 147 days between now and Labor Day, so chances are I can get a good 20 or 30 trips to work in that timeframe. The financial savings will be fairly minor, since it only costs about .08 cents for me to drive a mile (in terms of gasoline bills) $80 isn't a huge monetary savings. The ecological savings will also be fairly minor, since I only give off minimal emissions as well. Where I'm looking for the most gain is physical- hopefully this will gain me some new strength... somewhere. So stay tuned for the Summer Biking Challenge...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Oh the air outside is frightful...

Here in my little nook of the world, (next to the 5 Freeway, the train tracks and within spitting distance of the Burbank airport, at the base of the Burbank hills) the air quality today is somewhere between 1967 diesel school bus exhaust and Pennsylvania coal mine. Made even more noticeable by how clear and beautiful it was outside yesterday. Alas, I shall have to dig the gas mask out of storage.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wish List: Power on the Go


I have my next item on my wish list... a
travel solar panel to power my laptop! Considering the quantity of time I spend on my laptop... this could be cut my production budget in half!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Holistic Vet, the sequel

So Adventure Kitty's follow up at the holistic vet was tinged with a bit of ... how shall we say, "sassiness". Alright, he attacked me in front of the vet. We left many dollars poorer and with the phone number of a "pet behaviorist" in lieu of being asked to return to their services. But interestingly enough, in the week since the vet visit, he has calmed down considerably and doesn't engage in his usual aggressive tendencies as much. Could the power of my positive thinking have altered his emotional state? Was it really that easy?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

We've got the power!

So in anticipation of this weekend's "Springing Ahead" (3 weeks earlier than usual) and the potential the switch has to save billions of dollars in energy costs... I came across this little tidbit in last month's Utne:

The gist of it is that every footstep creates 6 to 8 watts of energy, "energy that simply scatters into the ether." A British company is working on creating vibration-harnessing sensors that charge batteries and could be placed in train stations, bridges, any building that vibrates energy. Other companies are working on ideas such as cell phone-charging shoes. Harvesting this free, available, and green energy could quite possibly an energy revolution.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kitty Ch'i

So Adventure Kitty has been feeling a bit cranky and under the weather for about 6 months now. After repeated attempts by the regular vet to cure him of a bladder infection using various antibiotics failed, I thought it time to give alternative medicine a try, especially because I'm so concerned about how antibiotics affect my own body, why would I subject a poor animal to them? And so we headed to Limehouse in Studio City for a consultation. Within moments, I felt at ease there, the staff didn't have the disorganized feel that our regular vet has (not mentioning any names...) they weren't tripping over each other to get the phone, there seemed to be only 2 gals working the front desk (not the crew of 17 that the regular vet has, so disorganized and slipshod, I often wondered how any work was accomplished), and the plus was I was allowed to take him out of the cage so that he could wander around and get his bearings. After meeting with the doctor, he deduced kitty's ailment and resulting inability to get better was caused by stress. Not too much of a shocker, we had moved a month or so before he was first diagnosed, to an apartment close to the airport. The apartment previously held two cats that have since moved next door so not only can he smell where they've been, they come lurking around outside while he is forced to watch them through the security door. And last but not least, I'm not the most calm and relaxed choice he could have for a caretaker. So we left after some kitty acupunture and laser therapy with some herbal tinctures, some homeopathic remedies, and a feline pheremone diffuser—and NO antibiotics. Too early to tell the effect the treatments have had, but he does seem to have a better aura about him. And no, I'm not just saying that. If any of it calms his sassiness down, I'll take it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pull up to my bumper baby...

I'm on the hunt for the perfect bumper sticker to express my thoughts on global warming...something not too belligerent, not too ambiguous, and not too wishy washy. After some search of Cafe Press, I think I came across this one.


Not quite sure who designed it or if it's an original quote, but you can order them here on Cafe Press.
Be warned, you're all getting one for your birthday this year.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In a global warming funk, just a short note today, inspired by the catch phrase of the NBC series "Heroes":

SAVE THE EARTH... SAVE THE WORLD.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Car Bonks & Fraud

So Thursday I had a little fender bender on my way to work—a woman cut in front of me and I didn’t have enough time to stop and ended up bonking her front bumper. Her 2007 Mercedes Benz received a cracked reflector, my car had some scrapes on the bumper. But after all was said and done with the day, I had to spread far and wide what I had learned from the experience. After the bonk, we both pulled over to the side of the road to exchange information. Lo and behold, a tow truck operator who had witnessed the whole thing was already investigating the injuries to our cars. Thinking I was the easier target to take advantage of, he looked at my car and promptly deemed it undriveable due to the fact that my air bag was ready to blow at any time. Pointing to a non-existent crack under the hood “You see that there? That means your air bag sensor needs to be reset.” I saw nothing. He persisted and said I couldn’t drive the car. Next thing I knew, my car was attached to the tow truck and we were headed to a “Honda approved” garage of his employ. After unhooking my car, I called the insurance company and they suggested I move my car to one of their approved garages where they would guarantee the work done on my car. Sounded like a good idea to me. After an overnight stay at the 2nd garage, they deemed my car completely fine (not including a $300 bill to repaint the scratches on my bumper, not even worth the effort) and the ‘brid was back in my care. Lesson learned from this situation: NEVER let anyone take your car away on a tow truck, unless it is blocking traffic. Even in that case, have them move it to a location where someone you trust (your mechanic, your roadside assistance company, your insurance company) can look at it for you. You have the power to say NO. You have the RIGHT to get honest service. And if you get taken advantage of such as I had, the Better Business Bureau and your state’s Auto Repair Department of Consumer Repairs (here's the link to California's page). If everyone reports fraud we can all lower insurance rates and stop others from being taken advantage of.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Yippee! Report Card Day!

At long last the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on global warming has been released. Among the highlights are phrases like "very-likely man made" for the causes of global warming and the admission that in fact, stronger hurricanes (such as our evil friend Katrina) are a direct result of global warming. So huzzah IPCC, let's hope your warnings are heeded with the severity they deserve. And just for kicks, let's all stop by Stop Global Warming.org and see if there's anything we all can do to get our grades up.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

To Buy or Not to Buy

So my cute little refrigerator bit the dust the other night, in hindsight, I'm well aware that it was entirely my fault (I tried to chip away at the glacier in the freezer and apparantly chipped away at the evaporator instead). So the freon has been released (the National Inst. of Health assures me that liver damage is not imminent) and the whole system is inoperable now. The question is, do I cough up the $65 for part then the $75 for a half hour of labor ($90 if it goes longer) when the whole rig only cost me $300 in the first place? (And yes I've realized that I cannot attempt to fix this myself, sadly).

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tick, Tick, Boom

A lovely cheery announcement this morning at the top of Google news page: Doomsday Clock Closer To Civilization's End. I mean I'm pretty sure Dr. Stephen Hawking wouldn't lie to me, he seems like a trustworthy guy. But the committee that created the clock isn't just concerned about nuclear weapons, but has also added their concern over global warming to the equation. "Nuclear weapons still pose the most catastrophic and immediate threat to humanity," said Martin Rees, president of The Royal Society. "But climate change and emerging technologies in the life sciences also have the potential to end civilization as we know it." The time table for this literal "End of the World (As We Know It)"? Thirty to forty years.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Monopoly? I love that game.

Out on a walk today I noticed a billboard… “Every 11 seconds another person switches back to the new AT&T.” A blatantly misleading billboard to say the least, as no one has a choice in this matter. (my own local phone carrier has changed 3 times in 10 years: PacBell to SBC and now AT&T).
It seems the country has forgotten all about the mandatory breaking up of AT&T for monopolistic practices starting January 1st, 1984 into 7 separate “Baby Bells”.

I read this quote on DIYMEDIA.NET today: “Right before the new year, without the benefit of a public meeting or vote, the FCC approved the corporate marriage of AT&T and BellSouth. With this $85 billion deal, Ma Bell is basically just two mergers away from being fully-reconstructed.” Why is Bill Gates being prosecuted for monopoly practices but AT&T isn’t? No one else is noticing this giant whale eating all the fish in the sea??

Monday, January 15, 2007

Baby it's cold outside...

I am bummed today, as I sit shivering in my apartment—I moved my long-time companion ficus tree inside to the kitchen after freezing temps hit over the weekend. It's not looking too good, 90 percent of the leaves have frost damage and it has a strange odor of pumpkin to it. Also frozen over the weekend were basil plants and tomatoes, but I am less attached to those as they seem to bounce back from all my brown thumb attempts at gardening. Ficus, however, was one of my first purchases when I moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago. As I moved from apartment to apartment, it came with me and lent an ecological air to my many, many residences. No doubt it also cleaned many an airborne chemical out of the air too. And my silly whining about my silly tree is nothing close to what local growers are dealing with— many are reporting almost total loss of crop, and they are predicting the damages and loss to reach almost a billion (that's billion with a B) dollars. Global warming for everyone!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Doc Review: Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke"


Checked out part I & II of Spike Lee's latest the other night, a documentary that's often described as the "Hurricane Katrina story" but watching it makes you realize that the title is more apt—the situation was influenced by Katrina, but it was really the breaching of the levees that caused the flooding and the chain of events that the government failed to react to. The story was new to me, since I was unaware of the full magnitude of the situation because I was recovering from my "tree incident" which occured on the same weekend. I was shocked to see what was happening and how long it took our country to get in gear and begin the clean up. 40,000 people sleeping in filth inside the Superdome for 4 days. Dead bodies on the freeway. People trapped in their homes with water up to the roofs. No organization, no leader, no plan of escape for 4 days. What is even more frightening watching this at a distance of a year and a half later, is the fact that as global warming continues out of control, polar ice caps melt, sea levels will rise. When this happens, the world's coastal cities will face the same situation as New Orleans. We're talking cities such as Manhattan, Beijing, Boston, all of Florida, the lowland European countries, underwater. In today's Washington Post, Marc Kaufman writes: "Last year was the warmest in the continental United States in the past 112 years -- capping a nine-year warming streak "unprecedented in the historical record" that was driven in part by the burning of fossil fuels, the government reported yesterday. According to the government's National Climatic Data Center, the record-breaking warmth -- which caused daffodils and cherry trees to bloom throughout the East on New Year's Day -- was the result of both unusual regional weather patterns and the long-term effects of the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." Is anyone else freaking out about this?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Smart Cars, NA Auto Show and the Return of the Electric Car

I didn't consider myself a car geek but I think I may be inching toward that label real soon. Lots of quiet excitement in the auto industry this week with the North American Auto Show taking place in Detroit later this week. An article in the LA Times yesterday (Return Trip for Electric Vehicles LA Times 7 January, 2007) also talked about how auto makers are actively pursuing the battery/plug-in electric version of hybrid cars as the next big revolution in eco-auto fashion. 2010 is still a long ways off, but with any luck it'll get to California ahead of schedule.

Also got my first glimpse of a Smart Car on the road this morning (that's it to the right). It's almost literally a two-seater... While ZAP stands for Zero Air Pollution, mpg is about 40 (ho-hum) and U.S. limited release price is around $25,000. Personally, I think what's the point when I paid less than that for my hybrid, my gas mileage is better and I've got the trunk space to spare?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Simplicity and the Holidays

Just got back from a whirlwind tour of the country, 1 month, 7,665 miles in the 'brid and good times had by all. Trying to start my New Year's Resolution (a few days late) and try to remember to blog every day. Thought I'd catch up first with some of the highlights from the trip.

Got everyone gift certificates for Christmas, and didn't want to do the boring old envelope thing, so I tried to think of entertaining ways to wrap them so that the gift giving process would last a bit longer than 15 seconds. Aunt P got a series of gift bags placed within each other, sort of a Russian Nesting doll of gift bags. Think I was able to get about 15 or so bags within each other. Dad (below) got his wrapped in scraps of holiday paper (recycled from my stint of wrapping presents for Haddassah at the Columbus Circle Borders Books), that ended up like the magician's scarf of paper. But the piece de resistance, had to be mom's which was the GC envelope placed in a box, place in another box, placed in a 3rd box, placed in a 4th box, placed in a 5th box, placed in a 6th box, placed in a 7th box...and each box was entirely covered with those charity address labels that they send my grandmother for making a donation. In progress: and the finished product: Crafty and recycled!