Published September 28, 2007
biking , food , goals
This month’s goal is progressing pretty well. I’ve been packing my lunch in this convenient and attractive rocket ship lunchbox, and keeping track of the things I still throw away in order to make/eat it. I’m wrapping my sandwiches in aluminum foil, since it’s easier to recycle (toss it in with the cans) as long as it’s clean- plus if you fold it gently, you can reuse it once or twice, so that’s cut down on plastic bags. The oatmeal creme pies are a constant source of package waste, as well as the granola bars, so either I need to find unwrapped snack foods, or snack foods with recyclable packaging. Apple cores I generally toss also, but as soon as I start composting I can start bringing those home, too.
Once I got used to the idea of thinking about lunch before 11:30am the day of, and procured a lunchbox, packing lunches was a lot simpler than I thought it would be. The food tastes a lot better than the frozen dinners I used to bring. I have spent more time cooking, but that’s not altogether a bad thing, though it takes a lot more thought at the grocery store. The nice thing is I can make a few things on Sunday (some chicken, some pasta, some other type of pasta) and have enough to combine in various containers throughout the week, so by “more time cooking” I mean “I have to cook one night.” This is a very large change for me. I feel like it might be building character, and now I finally have something to do with my cookbooks besides display them in an attractive manner.
I’ll have the final update (will she continue to purchase oatmeal creme pies?) in a couple weeks, but in the meantime, (goal for the month) I’ll be gathering the necessary equipment (bike, helmet, other things are also involved, I am led to understand) and starting to bike to work. This is more of a challenge than last month, since I like food, but I don’t very much like biking. The thing is I probably like jogging less than biking, so by biking to work I will feel compelled to jog less often. Expect photos of the ford I will have to cross on my way (yes, I will ford a stream on my ride to work) and my bicycle basket/rocket ship lunch box launch pad.
Published September 26, 2007
environment , moral choice , wisdom
Everybody’s favorite playwrite/dissident/statesman is being a wise moral force again. Vaclav Havel has weighed in on the whole environmental thing. He doesn’t offer any specific policy solutions- instead he fairly and succinctly restates the problem in terms that not many others are using.
The planet (systems, cycles, and all) is in a constant state of flux- many not convinced of global warming use this fact as “proof” that since the weather/topography/nature always changes, its changing now isn’t a big deal. Pass the coal-burning plants, we’re good. Havel makes the eloquent point that just because the planet loves to change, doesn’t mean that those changes we’re seeing now won’t kill us. It is an eloquent point because Havel is not preaching doomsday- he is pointing out an opportunity, a moral choice that we must make.
We will either achieve an awareness of our place in the living and life-giving organism of our planet, or we will face the threat that our evolutionary journey may be set back thousands or even millions of years. That is why we must take this issue very seriously and see it as a challenge to behave responsibly and not as a harbinger of the end of the world.
Read this article in small chunks to catch all the meaning behind his few words- he’s assuming that we’re going to flesh his reasoning out with a lot of details that are already known and unnecessary to rehash. He’s saying volumes beyond the “take personal responsibility”. The bit in the middle, about moral considerations- that’s absolutely crucial. This struggle is about moral and ethical decisions, not government policies or economic factors- despite what the bulk of coverage on “the environmental problem” is. It’s not an environmental problem- the death of species aside- it’s our problem.
Less conceptually, I’ll be posting a photo of my lunchbox next time. Until then, Havel nice day.
Published September 21, 2007
biofuels , energy , food , sustainability , tech
This article from the International Herald Tribune says it all, quite succinctly. Relying on corn as the main source of biofuel is going to cause a lot more problems than it solves, and the sick twist of tariffs, subsidies, and tax breaks is distorting the real impact of political decisions to push corn-based ethanol production as The New Way to drive cars. I’m excited about biofuels, and one day soon they will make economic sense: especially the really efficient ones that we don’t also need to eat, export, and feed to our livestock. Check out the first picture (then the rest, it’s neat stuff) in this slideshow from Wired magazine. Green slime+water+sun+CO2=ethanol. Sounds so simple- maybe it can get off the ground and to consumers without all that government price fixing.
Marketplace (of NPR) is preparing for a series on sustainable consumerism (oxymoron) by having one of the hosts haul her family’s trash around with her all week. All. Of. It. The project blog is here and contains a link to some other sites for the series “Consumed”. (Hint: The game is just a quiz, and all you win is guilt. And my score was 4 earths. Beat that! No, seriously, please beat that.) I’ll be listening to the series when it airs, and hoping it, being an economy-centerd show, ponders how in the world our consumer driven economy is going to work when people stop buying so much stuff. Now I will ask vaguely theoretical questions, so stay with me. I’m betting there are better questions to ask- I’ll let you know if I come up with any, let me know if you do too- but here’s a start.
Is sustainable consumerism an oxymoron? Is it our social responsibility to support our local/national/global economy by getting stuff? What would the economy look like if people didn’t buy things they didn’t need or at least seriously desire for more than an hour, or even repaired stuff they already had instead of scrapping it for new stuff? We’re mostly a service/consumer economy, so if we don’t buy enough things, who will employ salesmen/cashiers/other retail types? New market sectors will grow of course (maybe we could pay displaced workers to ride bikes to generate power or something, and also solve the obesity problem (I am kidding but just a little) ) but it’ll take time and people could get laid off, and businesses will either evolve or whine, and it is always cheaper to whine. Probably any answer lies in some balance of sensible consumption, or consuming only sustainable things, or a return to a barter system. Or not. This is all speculation until people actually do start changing their purchasing patterns, but it’s nice to have some concept of where we might want to change to.
Meanwhile, back in doing-stuff-about-it-world, (goal for the month) I’ll be reducing the amount of stuff I throw away and the amount of stuff I buy by packing my lunch (in reusable containers) instead of taking frozen boxes. I suspect this will mean a lot of PB&J, but I know that’s made with love and raspberry jelly, whereas I really have no idea what’s in that block of icy “lasagna”, so it should be cool.
Published September 17, 2007
computers , how to , misc
So as to not bore you with frequent, fruitless checks for new material, I should let you know how to get an RSS feed of these posts (in case you don’t already know). Basically, 1) get an RSS reader, and 2) insert https://virescent.wordpress.com/feed into it. If you don’t have a feed ticker you like, I can’t recommend one right now (I don’t know of any “good ones” myself). However, if you use gmail, you can insert my feed into the RSS ticker at the blue header bar. In gmail, go to Settings (probably in the upper right corner of your screen), then select the Web Clips menu tab, and search for “virescent” or “virescent.wordpress.com”. Stuff will pop up, find and add my /feed site, and then my posts will pop up on your gmail with some frequency, depending on how many other news feeds you also have.
From now, I’ll be more frequently updating, and I’ll try to warn you of any long delays between them. If there is any interest, I’ll add an email function that will email you my latest posts, and I’ll be on the lookout for RSS tickers to recommend for those who want a separate one or who don’t use gmail (if you know of any useful ones, do tell).