Posts Tagged 'life'

Items of Note: Life, Choices, Life Choices

Remember how Planet Earth was/still is completely amazing?  Discovery/BBC (the same people who did Planet Earth) is doing another series in the same vein, with incredible nature footage, impressive feats of film-making, ants catching a fungus that explodes their heads (or at least I hope- That’s my favorite episode, hands-down.  That and the shark that eats the seal in mid-air).  It’s Life, and you can watch clips and an explanation here (after a commercial). Oprah is narrating, and it’s a pleasure to hear her calm voiceover as this Komodo dragon tries to eat a water buffalo.

If that clip didn’t make you hungry enough to stop reading and go get a snack, check out this article from the NYT’s Green Inc column.  It summarizes a study of the behavior of consumers who are given green shopping choices, and who buy environmentally-friendly things.  The gist is, viewing ecofriendly shopping options makes us more altruistic.  But actually buying green stuff makes us smug, thieving jerks:

“People do not make decisions in a vacuum,” the researchers concluded, adding that “while mere exposure to green products can have a positive societal effect by inducing pro-social and ethical acts, purchasing green products may license indulgence in self-interested and unethical behaviors.”

The experimenters attribute this to a “single-action bias”, which leads people facing big problems to rationalize making one small responsive action as ‘enough’ to then consider those problems solved.  I’m not sure how that progresses to petty theft (read the article) but perhaps green consumers feel they deserve a little extra for their troubles?  I recognize myself in the single action bias description, for sure. I’ll check for the other part later this week (I need to stock up on recycled TP- will it cause me to cut off an old lady in the parking lot?  Stay tuned!)

Third noted item is also scholarly. I’ve got all the responses I want from graduate programs, and I’m deciding between the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I welcome opinions to flavor my other research.

Bike Tires Need Love Too

Remember how I’m really bad at biking, and I feel like I’m working twice as hard as anyone else who ever clambered onto a bike,and I feel like I have the physical conditioning of a throw pillow?

Remember that time Barack Obama said that properly inflated tires will save you fuel?

Well, it’s true, and I learned that in a very humbling way, for a “grown-up” and a Mechanical Engineer.

Wednesday after work, Biking Person/Ecocheap taught me to take care of and change my tires.  I learned how to disassemble my bike, and got to play with all sorts of fun new tools.  We inflated the new* tires to 80psi once they were back on.  The ride home was fantastic!  Pedaling was almost effortless after all that plodding around on nearly-flat tires.  Talk about energy saved- it was way more than 3%.  So, political point made, as I zoom along, feeling much more like a clock radio than a throw pillow.  Not quite a light switch, though.  Are these metaphors making any sense yet?

I never really rode bikes as a kid (grew up on a fairly dangerous country logging road), so I had no idea what a flat tire felt like- or that my tires were under inflated. Did you know bikes have a tire on the outside and a tube on the inside, and it’s the tube you inflate?  How did I get this old without knowing that?  More importantly, why didn’t they teach us that instead of Fluid Dynamics in school?

Now, I have no excuse for such quad-busting ignorance.  I’ll have to find a gage and pump this weekend, and keep my tires (all six of them!) at the proper levels.

*They were new to me.  BP/EC found them in the “please reuse” piles behind Big Wheel Bikes on Prince St.  I’ll check it out this weekend for my pump.  And maybe a bell, though I bet they don’t discard much of that stuff for the first taker.

Wisconsin Has My Place

beaver lake

That’s Wisconsin.  Specifically, Beaver Lake, just southeast of Hayward– also home to the Lumberjack World Championships and the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame/60’s time warp/2-story tall fiberglass Muskellunge.  My father’s grandfather built a cabin on this lake in 1940, and every summer when I was a kid, we’d go up for a couple of weeks to live out of a tent, get introduced to relatives, swim, run around, read, nap, eat…

It’s the most wonderful spot on Earth.

I’m headed up for the big three-year reunion this weekend (complete with a who’s-this-relative? quiz), with the Gentleman Friend, a tent, and a box of books in my car.  Even with gas at $4.-, it’s cheaper to drive 1120 miles than fly, or take a bus or a train.  Go go Honda Civic Hybrid!

So here’s the way I see the themes:  We’ve got use of gas/travel to discuss, some major water/lake quality issues, the Magic of the Great Outdoors (this qualifies, since it hasn’t got a bathroom) (just a nicely-decorated hut with a board with a hole) to wax eloquent about, the issues of connectivity/computer hiatii to praise, and probably more.  See, Wisconsin has everything!  Especially cheese!  Which reminds me.

I’m pretty stoked that the month of being a very good occasional vegetarian is up, since the family culinary traditions involve a) fantastic cooks and b) meat.  I’ll do my very best to eat animal sparingly and vegetables like whoa, but let it be known that falling off the meat wagon is a distinct possibility at this camp.  Though, what with a few loved ones favoring bizarre diets, alternatives won’t be impossible to find.  I am not eating their fake cheese, though.  It is not just as good as real.

So, I’ll spend the next few days exploring those ideas- it’s getting me more and more excited for this trip as I think it through- starting with a monthly goal wrap-up and new goal next time.

olson cabin at night

There’s the cabin itself- one room and a porch, and can’t you just hear the crickets and feel the peace?

Schwing!

First

See it? I checked before work this morning, and voila! One tiny sprout. They’re growing! They’re fine! Or at least the morning glories. The lavender and chives aren’t coming up yet, no matter how long or hard I stare at their dirt. Fortunately, a few friends came over this evening, so I didn’t have a chance to hassle the little guys out of existence yet. Tomorrow and this weekend, I’ll need to fill transplanting pots for them, and figure out what I can get my glories to climb.

Tonight there are five sprouts. Yes, it’s possible I’ll post pictures every time I find new ones. Because it’ll still be cool that seeds can do that. But success will hopefully lend me some perspective, and I’ll be wise enough to spare you.

(Can you find them all!?)

Sprouts

Motion, Sickness

The bulk of my move is finished. It was a bit of a nightmare, since I caught some sort of plague last Wednesday, only it wasn’t the quick violent death plague, it was the lingering hacking plague of delirious pain. As I recall, several of my excellent friends actually moved all my stuff- I remember is waving my arms in an attempt to help, and coughing. Then buying them pizza, and trying not to cough on it. But now I’m here, and my Black Death has subsided to a dull headache and scratchy throat, and I can begin my new practically carfree city life of small footprint living!

Except Alexandria won’t let me park my car for good until I get a parking pass, so I had to drive to work today, and I have to drive out to McLean tomorrow and prove I am being paid to work so I can sign my lease so I can prove I live in Alexandria (still) so I can park my car on the street. Then! Then I can live the carfree life!

I haven’t done the green “coming out” to my roommates yet. I think they suspect something- they’ve been warned I am bringing over my composter, so they have to have some idea. But I waited until I was alone to fish a bottle out of the trash to recycle today, and I assume it’s only a matter of time before I get all uppity about running a half load of dishes/laundry and not using drying racks or something.

I like my housemates very much, and I think this is an interesting fact about their living situation prior to my arrival: Between the three of them, they own 1 spoon, and 1 copy of Rock Band. Or at least, I’ve only found 1 spoon in two days of hunting. They’re all well-adjusted young professionals otherwise. I suppose if I bring my composter and silverware over at the same time, I could just sneak in the former and bide my time about it, since they’ll be so happy about being able to eat soup all at the same time finally?


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