Archive for July, 2008

McCain Not Serious About Capping Emissions? Whatevs.

During an interview on CNN last week (with Glenn Beck, a conservative commentator who “disbelieves” in global warming), one of McCain’s economic advisors said he doubts McCain will follow through on his promise to implement a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.  Because limiting greenhouse gases is silly and pointless, and of course McCain knows better, no matter what he says to fool those crunchy independents.  There’s a video and transcript, along with reference to another incident this month when McCain’s campaign undermined itself on the topic.  Well, undermine might be too strong, as it would indicate an actual foundation to upset.  His campaign has been having plenty of problems with advisors (and McCain himself) talking against and around his alleged platform, so this kind of contradiction is neither new nor surprising- nor that disruptive to his “message”.

I disagree with the guy on plenty of issues, but I tried to give him credit for at least talking up the environment.   ‘Course, Bush said the same stuff (including praise for cap-and-trade) in 2000, and every SOTU since, and look where that got us.  I should probably cut out the benefit-of-the-doubt stuff, it’s wasting my time.

Looks like after Nov. 4th, we won’t need to worry about what his plan might have been anyway.

Update: Save The Drips

I’m not paying as much attention to changing my water habits as I should.  Id plead vacation, work, moving, and life issues, but really I just didn’t plan this one out well.  I’d just been thinking for a few months that I take pretty long showers for a hippie wannabe, so that’s where my improvement ideas stopped.  By the way, showering at the gym in the mornings is guaranteed to save water.  There’s no such thing as a comfortable, warm, inviting locker room shower, and you will not be tempted to linger there daydreaming.  Nice to use my eco-guilt to get me up to work out, too.

Also, it has occurred to me that I’d save a lot of water if I didn’t shave in the shower, but that might be more of an excuse to put off shaving.

I looked up some lists of water conservation tips to help me get a bit further this month, though.  Some of the ones that hit home were catching pre-warm shower water in buckets until the water is hot enough for you, then using the saved water for plants.  Also, keep water in the fridge, so you don’t run it to get a cold glass for yourself.  One of the most helpful and comprehensive tip lists I found is here.

Any other tips you all have?

What I Haven’t Been Writing About

It’s more than all this of course, but here’s the backlog of links I didn’t get you this week.

NPR did a story on how the Post Office research center is looking at alternative fuel, efficient routes, green buildings, and new packaging to reduce their costs and environmental impact. You can read the report or listen to the segment at that link.

Nancy Pelosi is putting climate change legislation on hold until we have a new President- specifically, Obama. She answers questions on the decision and talks about climate change policy with the Huffington Post in a video here.

A club in the UK has a dance floor that generates power.  Rock on.

Remember the mean speculators, behaving rationally and legally inside the market system and driving up our oil prices and making us all sad?  They don’t exist.  Oil’s expensive for “real” market reasons and speculators are having little to no impact on it’s soaring prices, according to a task force combining data from a bunch of US financial agencies.  Well, shoot, now we have to place the blame for gas prices where it really lies- with ourselves, our oil subsidies, our poorly planned neighborhoods, our eggs in one basket…whoops.

US Olympians are prepared for the smog conditions in Beijing during the Olympics, but they’re not too worried about it- everyone has to breathe the same foul air, after all.  Meanwhile, China has begun restricting activities in the city to bring air pollution down to non-embarrassing levels for the Games.

What was I up to in the meanwhile?  Well, the liquor store people are getting to know me pretty well, since I’m there asking for boxes all the time.  Also, I saw Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog like 4 times, and you’d love it.  Odd and illuminating watching that superhero tale the same week as The Dark Knight, which was fantastically crafted (yeah yeah, Heath Ledger incredible wow, but Aaron Eckhart gave the performance of his career, too) and somehow not as scary as this.

Mostly Rotten Monday

Today was a pretty lame day, especially after I found this article in my newsfeed:

More than 400 penguins, most of them young, have been found dead on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro state over the past two months, according to Eduardo Pimenta, superintendent for the state coastal protection and environment agency in the resort city of Cabo Frio.

While it is common here to find some penguins – both dead and alive – swept by strong ocean currents from the Strait of Magellan, Pimenta said there have been more this year than at any time in recent memory.

Poor little guys, as if sea lions and being really cold and having to eat regurgitated raw fish weren’t enough.  I wish that on bad days I could set a “good news” filter on the RSS feed.  Spend the morning reading about neat scientific experiments and maybe a few stories on underprivileged kids getting college scholarships, then switch back to “full reality” after lunch.

On the upside, I have discovered how to take shorter showers, and I’m down to under five minutes in the morning.  This is big for me, since I used to average 10-12 minutes in there.  I’m a lingerer- plus, I had long hair, and that required at least five minutes of proper attention by itself.  Getting it all wet, shampoo, conditioner, leaving in the conditioner so it will really condition, getting it all out afterwards…

Had long hair, though.  I got a fairly drastic cut, like long-enoughto-donate drastic.  I’d been growing it out for a couple years to see what happened (it got longer and I just wore it in a bun all the time).  So yes, I’ll be mailing someone my disembodied ponytail, which feels like a bad practical joke, but it does some good, so there we go.  And I realized that I need a small fraction of the shampoo and conditioner I used to, and that it takes me about a minute and a half to wash it all nicely.  Progress!  Plus, now I look adorable in hats.

This Is Getting Sick

At St. Ann’s Parish in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the Rev. Edward McDonagh has decided to institute a drawing for a $50 gasoline card at weekly mass.

The drawings are symbolic gestures and not intended to boost attendance, he said.

“When Jesus was at the wedding feast of Cana, the groom ran out of wine, he produced the wine for them,” he said. “In that spirit, we feel that this might be comparable.”

From a Reuter’s article on what people are doing for free gas.  Not that this quote is the most morally awkward part of the article, but in terms of WWJD, that’s a bleak answer.


For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be posting more sporadically than usual.  I’m in the middle of another move, but it should be finished and I should be settled by the first weekend in August.  It’s a bummer that my current place didn’t work out, but I found a new spot in Del Ray with a bit more space, a courtyard for my container garden, and even a 20 ft sq. patch of grass, so I might try growing something in the actual ground.  I’ll be much further from work, but at least my bike will get used again.  As a bonus, my new housemates said they’d been thinking about starting a compost pile anyway, so my unit is welcome.

I’m excited to be there, but for now I’m still looking for boxes and trying to remember where I put my hairbrush, post-Wisconsin and mid-packing.

All of this hasn’t stopped me from the urge to visit second-hand stores, unfortunately.  I’ll spare every detail, but I found some awesome stuff at a flea market in Wisconsin, some basic clothes at the Goodwill at Arlington and Glebe (they also accepted my computer monitor at that location, which I can count as a moving/downsizing activity) and Spanish and Russian books at the Colombia Pike Goodwill.  I hadn’t been to any of the Goodwills around here until yesterday.  The Duke St. Salvation Army has a much larger selection, and I typically find a few things I like- the Goodwills were not so productive.  Of course, I went on a Saturday evening, and it appears they had been very well picked over.  Among the clothes was a nice orange wool sweater that someone had washed, to pre-felt for me.  So now I can cut it up and make something out of it (now it’s too small for anyone but a baby).  Oh, then today I might have spent a few minutes in the “Not Too Shabby” consignment and antique store on Mount Vernon.  Most of their stuff is pricey and highly-breakable, but I found two Horatio Alger books and my birthday present to me.

So enough with the rambling, here’s the highlights:

I found the flowered tray for a dollar- a dollar!- and the blue sparkly clip earrings (3$, bargained down from five, and goodness I love bargaining, even when one calls it “haggling”) at the flea market in Wisconsin.  It’s a great flea market- I also got a scarf and embroidered apron, and a few old books.  My birthday present, the penguin cocktail shaker, was $16 at “Not Too Shabby.”  I was just going to get myself a credit check for my birthday, but then I realized I liked me better than that.

Anyway, once I find boxes and get back to the office tomorrow, I won’t have so much time to spend looking through other people’s old stuff.

Al Gore’s Speech: Why?

Here’s the video of Al Gore’s Speech yesterday on renewable energy targets. He wants us to hit 100% renewable and clean energy sources- anything but oil and coal, almost- in ten years.

So, given that he’s a civilian now, how is his speech supposed to make a difference? He’s got the We campaign going, and is a member of some big renewable energy business initiatives, but he’s not even looking to be VP. While you don’t have to be in government to change the way Americans think and act about the energy and climate crisis- actually, for the past 7 years, the government’s avoided any impact on that at all- but to get what he wants done, as quickly as he wants, would be possible only with some sort of government intervention.  Total energy transformation doesn’t happen in 10 years without mandates.

Andy Revkin, in his NYT Dot Earth blog, says that Gore meant the challenge to enlarge the kinds of goals our presumptive nominees might discuss.  Given that one nominee isn’t talking much about energy transformation, and the other loses a little more of his conservative base whenever he does, this seems misplaced.  But, the idea’s out there, and all candidate prodding on climate issues is good prodding.  Check out the speech transcript with some illuminating side notes by Revkin.

I think Gore’s real impact on climate change is going to be with his public information and organizing campaigns, and more quietly in his renewable energy investments.  But I’m glad he’s working on getting the government involved, too.

PS:  The man’s been working out!  He looks pretty healthy now in the video.  Good for him.

Fateful Journey of the First Tomato

The first tomato of the year was almost ripe when we left- so thanks to Heather’s advice, we picked it and took it along with us until it peaked.  I have posted an album of his adventures.  Preview:

SPOILER:  he tasted fantastic.

It’s My Birthday Today

And it’s been pretty sweet. So sweet, in fact, that it has bumped photographs of my tomatoes to tomorrow.

Head in the Water

Beaver Lake

It was a very nice vacation, and yes, we windsurfed.  Well, not me, I had some sitting around to do, but I watched, and volunteered to join the canoe rescue/towing operation when it was necessary.

It was a great trip, and I got to go to the flea market, and knit for hours, and read a few books, and I’ll tell you about that later.  I’d like to update you on the water situation, first.

As you have gathered, I visited a lake in WI.  (See above.)  While at this lake, I stay in a tent, and I gather with my family in a one-room cabin, having a fireplace, a few electric lights, a food fridge and a drink fridge, and 3700 decks of cards.  We sunk a well ourselves in the 90s, but that’s as close to running water as we get.  Bathing, when it is done, is done in lake water, and generally directly in the lake.  We did build a shower, just a wooden frame wrapped in privacy tarps with a trash can o’ water and a little tube and pump inside.

Given that we’ve been vacationing as a family on this lake since 1940, we have a vested interest in keeping it nice.  We’ve raised squads of cousins to pull out encroaching lily pads, and just this summer an Uncle engineered a muck-sucker to clean up our swimming area.  The Auntie police have been making sure we cousins were using biodegradable soap and shampoo for generations.  Fortunately, given all this hippie stuff I’m into now, the shampoo I’m using at home is biodegradable already.

New rule:  If I wouldn’t put it in my lake, I won’t put it in my shower drain.

It all gets into the water supply again sometime, and while those chemicals might be great for the bounce and lustre and whatever of my hair, fish don’t have hair.  Neither do helpful aquatic plants.  Biodegradable materials are ones that are made to break down completely into relatively harmless parts when it gets exposed to organic matter for a while.  They’re usually made of more natural ingredients- if it’s harmless to begin with, it’s easier to break it up harmlessly- and lots of them don’t do so well at actually cleaning your head nicely. Finding the biodegradable ones that do clean you to your desired degree is the trick.  Herbal Essences used to be biodegradable, at least- haven’t used them in years, so I don’t know now- and camping stores usually carrying mysteriously opaque bottles of some safe all-purpose soaps.

Kiss my face products

I’m using Kiss My Face Green Tea and Lime Shampoo and Conditioner, and it smells nice and leaves my hair clean and nice-feeling after (add shampoo ad adjectives as you wish- silky?  full of body?  some other ridiculousness?  Whatever.  It looks nice, which is no mean feat after a couple days in a tent).  It’s got a little 100% biodegradable label on the back, which is reassuring, and about 90% of the ingredients were at some point plants.  It feels a bit different than other shampoos- it won’t get as sudsy as they will, but that doesn’t seem to hinder the magic.  Plus, suds are an indication of soapy chemicals- not what you want in a cherished family water body, or a local stream, or the ocean…

So check for the biodegradable label next time you find a new shampoo.  The switch to one with fewer chemicals might be startling at first- and indeed, many of these earth-friendlier hair things aren’t so much hair-friendlier- but if you don’t, the Aunties won’t let you in the lake.

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