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. 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


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.