Archive for February, 2009



Let’s Pretend This Was A Learning Experience

Today I took my first good look at my former garden in months.  I covered it with some leaves last summer, to keep the soil um…clean?  warm?  I don’t know, I have no idea what I’m doing.

A bunch of my pots exploded after water caught inside them iced, there are leaves everywhere, and everything’s dead but the rosemary.

broken swan pot

Sigh, so sad.

I suspect also the hydrangeas are just hibernating, because I will miss them if I don’t think so.  I have a lot of cleaning up and gluing together and planning to do to try this gardening thing again.  I better start with some introspection, though, since I don’t think I was very successful at continuity last year.  By that, I mean I got distracted a lot and my food died.  But, let’s pretend I drew a few useful lessons beyond “pay attention”.

1) Pay attention.  Gardens are everyday things, both to keep track of what’s growing, what needs to be planted, what’s ready to be harvested, and who needs water or more sun or whatever.  As a corollary, 1A) Plants mature at their own pace, not yours.  Especially if you have no idea what you’re doing, and haven’t tracked the growing season and conditions and such- your salad greens could be ready ANY DAY and if you forget about them, or don’t want a salad that day, too bad.  In conclusion, I should probably ask someone who knows better what things look like when they’re ready to eat.  I guess I expect my tomatoes and spinach to keep growing bigger until they send me an email or something.  (“Re: Harvest me!”)

2) Make sure the pots drain.  Otherwise rain will drown your food and/or flowers.

3) I would like more flowers.  I very much enjoy flowers.  I should grow more of them.

4) Protect your plants from animals, because opossums are horrible garden thieves, and they are all over the suburbs here.  Netting is a good start?  I don’t know.  Opossums are crafty, they could probably get through nets.

5) If you have compost, use it.

Pretty sure that’s it from last year.  After I clean up, and it’s reliably above 40 degrees at night, I look forward to a successful and salad-green filled spring.

Day Off

Good thing I goofed off this morning, because the boss gave us the day off on the basis of sunshine.  I took my bike ride anyway (the gears and brakes survived the snow and cold, though remind me to check brakes before I get on that hill down Mt. Ida to Commonwealth next time).  My tires could use some air, it would appear.

Now, on to the Salvation Army, to obtain pants, and perhaps a small table.  I had another only-pair-of-jeans-rip debacle this winter (will she finally learn this year, and obtain more than one pair of nicely-fitting pants?  stay tuned to find out!), and substituted three pairs of poorly fitting, ludicrous pants from a rushed weekend visit to a Unique.  I’ve been gritting my teeth and wearing them since, but today, that changes.

The weather is tempting me to pay attention to my garden, also.  Hm.

Oh, and my passport came today!  Way to be early, State Department.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Progress: Traveling, Cleaning Out

I got a passport in January.  Really, personal friends, I did, remember how I’ve been planning to do that for two years, and how I promise to do it every three months ‘for real this time’?  I did it, and I have the paperwork to show for it, and in three weeks I can hop on a plane going anywhere in the world and SPEW CARBON ALL OVER YOU MUAHAHAHAHA.

I am conflicted about that.  I am certain that I want to get out and see the world, and I’m certain that, for my time and resources, airplanes are the most practical methods of transport to a bunch of places, but I’m also certain that airplane rides spew a bunch more greenhouse gases than I’d otherwise be comfy using.

Now, I don’t travel for business (not for lack of wanting, I’m just in the wrong business right now).  And I’m not wealthy, just very ok, so I can’t afford to jet about more than once or twice a year.  I certainly have other spending priorities that will limit my self-financed travels.  I’m not going to be spending all my weekends in Puerto Rico or anything like that.  But V and I want to go visit his family in Norway, and I’d like to go to a friend’s wedding in Oregon, and I didn’t spend 7 years studying Russia with the intention of never visiting there again.  Plus how else will I explore Byzantium, and meet Czech poets, and I want to smell India, and after we visit the Norwegian family we’ll have to visit the Colombian family, and Brazil always sounded nice, and so on.  Oh, then I want to learn to fly myself, because I want to be a pilot even more than I want to ride a motorcycle, and I think if I promise to give up the latter my loved ones will be so grateful I’m not going to kill myself that they’ll support the pilot’s license whole-heartedly.  See, I’ve got dreams.

I should feel guilty about this.  No Impact Man and his commenters certainly have a lot to say about limiting plane trips, and I respect their opinions.  One plane ride is a year of driving, carbon emissions are more harmful higher up in the atmosphere, if everybody in the world flew places we’d be living in The Day After Tomorrow, considering doing that much planet damage just to make yourself happy means you’re a bad environmentalist, etc.  And carbon offsets don’t count.

I dig that.  That’s fine.  But it doesn’t make me think only ever going as far as my hybrid can take me ever is a viable solution.   Flying is occasionally the only way for me to get places I want to go, and until there’s a better way, that’s the one I’ll use.  All that remains is trying to compensate somewhere else for those carbon emissions, and in the interests of that, I’m gonna look into offset or carbon reduction products later, and bike to work now.

As for the cleaning out, both my closet and V’s closet look totally awesome now, and the Salvation Army and Goodwill have many new wares to sell.  I’ll think of a new monthly thing in the next few days.

Have a good Monday!

A New Addition

Last night, the Gentleman Friend and I began a taste-test of organic wines and chocolates.  Difficult work, true, but next week I’ll post our impressions and recommendations, to make your Valentine’s Day picks easier.  

As if that weren’t exciting enough enough, the Gentleman Friend was convinced to sign up as a contributor here after a bottle of Red Truck.  Now we can switch his clunky euphemistic title to his handle Vaialos, and he can tell you for himself how he really feels about my composter.  Welcome, V!

OH Also I Took Pictures at the DC Auto Show

A preview:

tesla roadster

The Tesla Roadster was there, in clothed and naked editions.  Enjoy!

PS. Nice enough to bike to work Friday, eh?  24 degrees, so never mind.  Monday, perhaps.  Weather.com gives me a good feeling about that.

Suits and Cars

Last week, I received an invitation to have dinner with some nice people from General Motors, and to attend the Media opening of the Washington DC Auto Show.  I am not one to pass up an opportunity of this nature, especially involving a free dinner.  And yes, I think GM just got bailed out once or twice, so thanks, taxpayers, and let me know when I can get you back for your 1/300millionth share of my fish and chips.

It is encouraging to see the auto industry try their darnedest to understand why Americans are upset at them, why we generally consider them incompetent and obstructionist, especially when it comes to green innovations.  Somehow, lobbying against CAFE standards during $4 gas and an environmental crisis then blackmailing the country with the loss of millions of jobs if we don’t give them cash does not breed respect.  By highlighting their environmental progress at the Auto Show this week, especially to interested politicians, they hope to fix that.  I saw a congressperson!  Not sure which one.  Also Colin Powell totally walked right past me.  Closest I’ve ever been to famous, unless you count the time I chatted with Freeman Dyson by a buffet for a half-hour, but that only makes me cool in certain circles.

An entire exhibition floor at the auto show is dedicated to more or less green car models.  Lots of things plug in these days, and if you drive a Prius, you can bump that baby to 120 mpg with a plug-in battery for a $10,000 investment at Fitzgerald Toyota in Gaithersburg, MD.  A few cars weren’t even totally car-like- they had a smart car and a glorified bike-thing, too.  But really, it was mostly just cars running on not-gas, or not-as-much gas.  The larger exhibition hall in the lower level had a Tesla display and a few hybrid models- but mostly conventional gas-powered cars.

By meeting with bloggers, too, these guys are really trying to figure out how their message is going wrong.  The execs described to us their efforts to reach out to consumers, their frustration with the misinformation about the industry out there, and we explained to them how blogs work, and how they might use new media to help themselves out.  There was also an amusing interlude wherein the concept of trolling was explained.  Our generational divides were showing.  But really, there are bigger issues than just their ability to communicate.

It was evident at the car show that the American auto industry is trying it’s best to get alternative fuels out there.  It’s sponsoring competitions, it’s looking into hydrogen and battery technologies and all sorts of new ideas.  I worry, however, that their best attempts at green cars are still too much just cars.  Big hunks of stuff that we’ll sit through traffic jams in, no matter what they burn to go when they can.  We’re at a crossroads here.  We get to redefine transportation now- infrastructure needs and environment and quality of life concerns all indicate that we’re not doing well with a car-based country.  There are better uses for our space than parking lots. I don’t think the auto industry is looking beyond their cars to see how we can link up to the trains or bikes or buses or subways or jetpacks we’ll use to get around more efficiently- for them it’s about autos, it’s not about transportation.

I want to see more imagination in their plans.  I want them to think beyond cars.  I think that will save their industry, and it could literally get us where we need to be in 50 years.

The DC Auto Show is a laudable effort on the industry’s part, but it doesn’t begin to address the deeper issues of what moves us.

I got some cards, and I’ll be sending a few thank-you emails for the chance to chat.  I’m hoping I can get some of the participants here for a little to talk with you all, so tell me what you think of my observations, the car companies, hydrogen, whatever, and we’ll get up a little dialog at least amongst ourselves.

Meanwhile, look like it might be nice enough Friday to bike to work…

Various Links

Pollution is credited with causing a 40% increase in birth defects in China from 2001 to 2005.  And that’s from a government official, too, not just concerned citizens.

Energy utilities in CA find that ranking their customers against each other encourages them to use less energy.

The good folks at Real Climate explain why that report on how global warming is irreversible doesn’t mean we should just give up composting and buying fair trade and such.

That’s all for tonight, but boy do I have interesting news for you Tuesday night!  That is called a “teaser”.


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virescent.blog (at ) gmail.com

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