Archive for April, 2009

Remember the Animal Noises?

So there’s a squirrel that likes to hang out in my mechanical closet, and he bangs around near the vent.  According to the very nice maintenance guys, this happens regularly in winter, so they have a system:  they bait a box trap with peanut butter, check it until they get the furry sucker, and then release him in a local park a couple miles away.  Pretty humane and thoughtful of them, really.

They’ve been leaving notes they were there when they come to check the trap, and this is the one I got yesterday:

“Service:  Checked squirrel trap

Comments: Squirrel is too smart”

Hehe, uh-oh.

Phoenix Bikes Show Thursday

I posted about this, but I buried it, and it deserves a headline.  Getcher tickets for $30 online or at the door, and be at the Dome Theatre on Wilson Blvd. in Arlington from 7-9 this Thursday.  There’s food, drinks, bike-power smoothies, helmet tattoos, and a presentation honoring impressive cyclists in the area.  In my head this is based on thigh girth and BMI indexes, but online it sounds more like people who support local cycling, so take it as you will.

Proceeds benefit the Phoenix Bikes education and repair programs, worthy causes indeed.

Plane Tickets: Putting the Guilt to Use

While sick and babbling at you the other day, I mentioned my tickets to New Zealand.  Not just the ravings of a madwoman:  I have plane tickets to New Zealand.

I’ve always wanted to get out and see the world, but I wanted to pay my own way, and go in as untouristy a manner as possible.  So I waited, saved, and assumed a better time would come along.  It didn’t, but now I have a passport and a twenty-fifth birthday approaching, and it’s now or never.  Well, probably not ‘never’, but definitely later.  I emailed an old friend in NZ for some advice a couple weeks ago, and, having been promised hiking and penguins, bought the tickets Sunday.

Let me digress for a moment to direct you to the new link, Cr!key Creek.  It’s my kiwi friend’s blog on water issues- focus on NZ, but he gets around.  Along with all the other parts of this trip I am completely excited about, hanging out with a  dude who’s done so much work on sustainability ranks pretty high.

But see, now I have a dilemma.  I’m flying halfway across the world twice.  This is a big ol’ suckerpunch to my environmental changes.  According to Terrapass, by flying roundtrip from Washington to Auckland, I’m responsible for 7,120 lbs of carbon emissions.  That’s like driving my car (Civic Hybrid) around for a year (also according to Terrapass).  Actually, hey, I thought it was going to be more like driving a Hummer to the moon.  Not feeling quite so guilty now.

Well, either way, that’s a pretty big negative impact on the environment, which I need to do something about (blog being all about channeling the guilt to environmental use, yup yup).  But what!?

Rhetorical, I’ve already decided what I’m going to do.  But first let’s talk about the “not going” option.

The simplest way to not rack up this carbon guilt is to not go to New Zealand.  Stay home, find some pictures of it online, and email the kiwi when I want to chat.  Going to New Zealand to bum around and walk on mountains is purely a privileged, selfish act.  Money would be better spent donating to local food shelters while I spend the two weeks volunteering to muck out the Anacostia.  This is all true.  But I don’t feel guilty about that at all:  I’m stoked about every part of this trip.

Mine is not an abstemious sustainability.  Perhaps you guessed from the frequent Salvation Army trips.  I want to do as much and live as well (according to my idea of well) as I can with as little as I can manage it on.   I get that lots of environmentalists aren’t comfortable with that balance, and why, but I am. So let’s recap the guilt nuances:  trip to NZ, sweet, impact of ghg emissions, lame sauce.

Here’s how I’m going to use this:  first, I’m going to offset my carbon.  Yup, can’t buy a green conscience, but if I can afford the tickets, I can afford to support serious emissions-reduction programs.  I will look for programs that actively remove emissions and donate enough to cover my flight.  I’ll report back, of course.

Second, my time in NZ will be spent environmentally.  Start with supporting the local economy- no chain hotels or restaurants, no ‘Made in China’ junk for the folks back home.  I’m researching B&B’s to stop in along the way.  I’ll tread lightly on the mountains- pack in, pack out, pat the trees soothingly, etc.  I’ll use public transport as much as possible (apparently they have a great national bus system, so no need to rent a car).

And third, I’m using the promise of this trip as a carrot for my efforts.  Literally.  I’m going vegetarian, starting as soon as I’m done with the Sha Cha chicken delivery leftovers, until I get on the plane.  Doesn’t seem so daunting now- though I will draw a line at pizza (I’ll try for all-veg but if it’s plain cheese or pepperoni only, like I’m locked in a room for 12 hours with nothing but a cheese pizza and a pepperoni pizza, I’m eating the pepperoni, but it’s not going to come to that), and food other people make for me in good faith.  If I go home and Dad cooks me shrimp, I’m having some shrimp.  (Dad cook me veggies.  Mom will help.)  But I promise 98.9% vegetarian intake, at least.  It’ll be easier with a reward at the end.

So that’s how I’m going to deal with that.  For the interactive part of this feature:  whatcha think?

This Is Mint, Right?

It looks like two different things based on the baby ones, but I swear the tiny ones came from a mint packet (they’re at least sprouting where I put the mint packet seeds, I will not say correlation is causation) and the big stuff smells like mint.  Point is, is this going to end badly?

Here’s what has been growing in the pot, along with some new shoots:

mint

And here are the new shoots on the other side of the pot that might be from the mint seeds I planted a couple weeks ago:

maybe mint

I don’t know what to think.

The basil is doing well, so I’ll hold on to that.

new basil

Events All Over

In order of occurrence:

Alexandria Earth Day Celebration, Ben Brenman Park.  It’s this Saturday from 10-2- the park is right across from Beatley Library (the one with the five triangle peaks that bug me).  The theme is green transport, so bike (they have a bike valet, and the Holmes Run Trail is very convenient), take the free shuttle from King Street Metro, or take the AT8 bus.  I’ll be in class, so we can’t hang out, but there’s a tree sale and lots of booths!  Plus the Eco City people will be announcing their Phase II draft of our Environmental Plan.  More on that later.

Phoenix Bikes 2009 Bike Show.  April 30th, 7-9 at the Dome Theatre in Arlington- 1101 Wilson Blvd.  Tickets are $20 online, and $30 at the door.  Proceeds benefit the same bike repair/recycling and teaching shop that I got my little white Peugeot from a couple years ago- it’s a great program.  Plus, raffle.  And drinks, food, and smoothies, bicycle blended.  Also helmet tattoos.  Should be a thing!  See you there?

Eco City Open House- May 11, comment on the Action Plan Phase II draft.  Houston Rec Center, 901 Wythe, 6:30 to 9 again.  You know the drill!  Except a call to action, and citizen commitments.

Quick Updates

I’m home sick today, so with the woozy and the drugs, I’ve only got a little focus left.

Gardening:  I might have planted mint with my oregano, or I might not have.  The things coming up don’t quite look like what’s there.  My basil is definitely basil though and it’s pretty happy.  It’s rained so steadily this month that I’d thought everything I planted a couple weeks ago drowned, but something’s coming up out on the balcony.  It’ll take a few days to figure out what it is.   The hydrangeas from last year survived!  I need to plant more things.

Recycling:  No word from the management on my letter yet.  I’m visiting tomorrow to bring it up.

Biking:  Rain.

There’s probably more but unnnnnnnnggggghh.

Oh yeah this is pretty awesome, perhaps you read about how the EPA does its job now.   Also I signed up for paperless bills and 100% renewable energy from Dominion, it’s official.  Oh, and I bought plane tickets to New Zealand for this summer.  See I bet there’s a lot of stuff like that, but right now I need to go be pitiful closer to the OJ.

Hey yeah it’s Earth Day tomorrow.  If I shake this cold, I’ll be watching The Day After Tomorrow in celebration.  Actually probably will if I still am sick, too.  Woot.  Have a good one.

Apartment Agitation: Recycling and Bike Racks

I sent this email to the property manager and one of the associates this morning.

Hello,

I am a resident in the #### building.  I lived here about a year ago, also, in the #### building.

When I lived here last, we had just gotten the recycling bins at the end of the complex, and I asked about getting more convenient bins for each apartment building, so that we could recycle more items.  Are there any plans in place to widen the recycling program here at -the complex-?  If not, why not?  Is there anything I can do to help enlarge the program?  Additionally, I have noticed that the bins have contradictory labels- they’re labeled with the single-stream recycling stickers for Alexandria, but they also have separate “Newspapers Only” and “Cans Only” labels that make recycling here a guessing-game.  What exactly is the recycling policy here at -the complex-?  Has it been clearly stated to each resident?  I received no instructions for it when I moved back in, and wouldn’t have even known we had a recycling option if I hadn’t lived here before and specifically asked about it.

Also, I bike to work, and I’d like to know if there are any areas that I could store my bike in the complex.  I live on the third floor, and carrying my bike up and down the two flights twice a day probably builds character, but it would be very convenient if there were a bike rack somewhere on the ground floor.  There is an area under the stairs in this building that’s unused, and the bikes in a rack there wouldn’t be in anyone’s way.  Bike storage on the ground floor would also prevent cyclists from carrying the dirt and mud of the local trails higher into the buildings.

Let me know if there’s anything I can do to get either of these initiatives started.

Best,
Me
Address
Phone Number

I actually included where I live, though.  I’ll let you know what I hear back- now I’m off to report a leak and animal noises behind the vent, and casually mention that I sent an email with demands.

Power Bill Fun

First day with internet since Saturday, so I’ve got a lot of good stuff saved up for you!  Tonight we will discuss my power bill.  I got one already.  Already?  I’ve been here three and a half weeks.  Oh, it’s only for 18 days, ok.

So, with a $15 Service Initiation charge, and $1.91 of taxes, the bill comes to $27.24.  And another $5.52 is for “distribution service”.  For energy supply- fuel and nonfuel- I paid less than $5 over 18 days.  I used 59kWh, specifically.  I have to assume that’s good, because I’ve never had my own bill before, and I really would like to feel good about myself lately.

My utility provider is Dominion Power, which has an energy choice option.  Now, that energy choice page seems helpful at first, but mostly it tells you you have the right to purchase renewable energy from suppliers that sell it.  So I figure my supplier is Dominion Virginia Power (an unsubtle subsidiary of Dominion Power) and I head back to http://www.dom.com, and there it is- a “Buy Green Power” link to click!  Basically, you can set it up at your online account, or call and ask for renewable power.  You have two choices- 100% renewable energy (+1.5 cents a kWh), or $2 blocks of renewable energy.

So, I’m setting that up- along with paperless billing.  Thanks for the inspiration, EcoCheap!

Tomorrow, maybe recent thrifting?  Craiglist laments?  Book review?  Garden pictures?  Letter on bike racks and recycling to my landlords? Oh, the possibilities!

Apartment Recycling Problem

This is the inadequate recycling facility of which I speak:

recycling bins

These four containers are all we have for about a dozen buildings. And as I mentioned before, these are at the back of the complex, out of sight and out of the way for 90% of the residents.  There are no posted reminders about recycling anywhere.  Oh, also, these containers are poorly labelled.  Alexandria has single stream recycling- stick anything the city picks up in one container- but the bins are labelled for separate items as well as single stream.

confusing recycling instructions

So who knows what to believe?  I dropped in my single stream bags, and I hope that works.  Here’s the goal- get the city ins distributed to every apartment.  How will I accomplish this?  Well, first I should read up on the city’s resident recycling policy, and figure out what laws might apply to large buldings.

I lived in this complex about a year ago, when the bins were first installed.  I had talked to the property manager about it, and she said we had to have a certain percent of waste recycled before we got bins, which seems weird and counter intuitive to me.  Like, if that is the case, it clearly shouldn’t be, and I have no idea why the laws are the way they are in the first place.  And either way with 5 or 6 huge dumpsters on the property, emptied every few days, and 4 lame hidden recycling bins, there is no way we could ever reach a minimum amount of recycling in the first place.  So, I’ll read up, pay the property manager another visit for some helpful suggestions and see where management is with the city and the program itself.  At the very least. I will exhort them to post more clearly and widely the recycling rules, the location of the bins, and reminders to use them.  It’s a start.

Green Makes My Life Complicated: Disinfecting Dishes

I run into a bunch of situations where wanting to do the environmental thing makes my life ridiculous for a while.  This week is a good example:  while at home celebrating my brother’s wedding, I found my set of family china and repacked it to bring it back with me, since I mysteriously lost 80% of my dinnerware in two shared kitchens over the last year.  So far so good.

But these dishes have been in my folk’s basement in the wilderness for decades, give or take.  Mice have lived amoung them, and used the wrappings as latrines.  Yes, ew.  So,  I have 150 pieces of pretty china that I must assume has the black death all over it.  And the Seventh Generation dish soap isn’t the “DEATH TO GERMS” kind, it’s a lavender scented regular degreasing kind.  It’s great, I love it.  But I want the stuff on those plates dead, and then I need to scrub the countertops they’ve been sitting on with something similarly deadly.

But I haven’t found an environmentally friendly cleaner that also promises to rid me of this plauge.  All the no-phosphate, biodegradable green stuff is gentle on living beings of all sizes, it seems. And today at Whole Foods a helpful clerk told me an all-purpose natural cleaner would kill germs (it didn’t say that anywhere on the bottle) and then I could wash them regularly.  I don’t believe it.

So, I have a couple options.  I could a) boil the dishes (I’d need gloves and tongs and a big pot), which is the most environmentally sound way I think this could happen, but isn’t really hot water bad for china?  Also I have to do this to about 100 pieces, and drying space gets complicated, b) get some antibacterial soap and suds away, lakes and streams be damned, or c) scrub them with the soap I have and hope my fears of bacteria are unfounded.  They have a gold rim and I have no idea how old/classy they are, so dishwashing for the heated water and strong jets isn’t a good idea (though I’m testing a tea cup now to see- grandma had a ridiculous number of teacups).

Votes or suggestions?


Email Me @

virescent.blog (at ) gmail.com

RSS Photo Albums

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Blog Stats

  • 47,811 hits

Unless otherwise indicated, all content and photos posted on this site are generated by me. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.