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!