Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Neon green straps

This makes me depressed:
If you think about people in great need of free medical clinics, the tribes in Guyana may seem reasonable. That is where this man started his charity work. "But now Stan spends most of his time bringing relief to the richest country in the world." (The United States)

On a brighter note, I had a superbly productive weekend. I geared my bike with a basket (from Salvation Army, attached with the velcro that comes on my lettuce, neon green of course) and otherwise prepped for the pedaling season (post-pollen). Vegetables moved outside to the balcony, some other plants got repotted. I started teaching myself to play the guitar (after finally finding a good book at my parent's house). Tons of grading got done (beyond what I had even hoped to accomplish) and I planned out the end of the school year, which is rapidly approaching! I cleaned, organized and sorted, resulting in a large pile of items to give away. Completed the book I was reading, did pilates and still had plenty of time to catch up on sleep. Three day weekends full of sunshine are amazing!

One other thing, I went grocery shopping. Normally this is not a momentous event. But, since I have a friend living with me for the week, I could buy all the produce I wanted without worrying it would spoil before I ate it! Okay, no, I couldn't buy everything, but I did get grapes, raspberries, red and orange peppers, portabello mushrooms, an avocado, an onion, tomatoes, a couple varieties of lettuce and fresh mozzarella. Usually I buy 1-2 peppers and lettuce for the degus. Sometimes I'll replace a pepper with another veggie, that I have to scramble to finish. Shopping for two is so much cooler than trying to find variety in eating asparagus 4 nights in a row. Plus, I had someone who wanted to go get gelato at 9 pm this evening when I mentioned craving ice cream. Living alone has some perks, but I'm seeing a lot of benefits to sharing space. Now if I could only find someone who could live with me without requiring the sleeper sofa to be unfolded all the time...

Friday, May 23, 2008


I found the new side bar icon on Arduous' website along with this link which informed me that I'm in the top 4.62% of the world. Plus I get a decent raise next year for sticking around, plus I have savings that don't get factored into that at all. I thought I was aware of the conditions other countries were in, but its really hard to wrap my mind around the prevalence of poverty when we stack people up based purely on income. And we think public school teachers have it rough...

Doing what for the grasshoppers?

Between reading the archives of a new (to me) blog and posting yesterday that I am doing it for the grasshoppers, I've been trying to think of what exactly it is that I'm doing. I'm stealing Arduous' list and editing it to fit my own habits.

participated in buy nothing (except food and gas) month and didn't notice any differences from a normal month
bring my own bags on the rare occasion I do buy something (usually groceries)
take public transportation if its convenient, try to drive like a hyper-miler when its not
hardly used any heat. (thermostat set at Degu survival temp, 65* and taking advantage of neighbors and sun heat)
have the AC set at 80* (slightly higher than Degu survival temp but the thermostat is in a different room and I won't open the shade in their space)
use cloth instead of toilet paper, paper towels, sponges and tissues
let it mellow.
love my diva cup
take navy showers (surprisingly easy, especially with Dr. Bonner's tingly and warm peppermint soap, which as a bonus is totally natural)
save bread bags to use as lunch bags, re-use Ziploc bags, save plastic containers as Tupperware.
use every possible side/corner of paper for printing, list making, writing hall passes...
buy 100% recycled paper for the limited printing and photocopying needs at school.
do not clean excessively and with very limited chemicals (microfiber cloth, pants get worn until they are noticeably stained, my laundry soap is basically baking soda in a pretty green bottle)
only use my dryer as a shelf for my drying rack, which sits under my indoor clothes line.
have a maximum of one light on in the apartment at any one time
use power strips for all appliances whose plug I can reach
buy organic/local food whenever possible, my kitchen is a vegetarian space
will have really local herbs and vegetables, a la personal balcony garden.
do all sorts of crazy little things I couldn't possible mention like using a hair dryer diffuser to spread the water over my plants, concoct a clip for my mp3 player from a rubber band and old cell phone clip, etc.

I've always:
Not drank single serving bottled drinks
Rarely eaten out/gotten take out, not eaten frozen or one-serving convenience meals.
(Otherwise known as eating homemade meals daily)
Shut down the computer when its not in use
recycled everything possible (which reminds me, I need to complain again that we can't recycle cans. As in metal! The most recyclable of all materials!)

I want to:
bike places rather than driving (like the grocery store, farm store and train station since I have to commute to Boston this summer)

So, if you're still reading I'm impressed, this has turned into an exercise for myself, not that this blog has ever been anything else. I'm also not ashamed to admit that when I get my bills I plug in my water, gas and electric here to see how I'm doing. Always makes me feel cool.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Save the grasshoppers!

In case you don't believe that species diversity really exists and that the everglades are worth protecting (and not mis-managing, stupid fires), check out this totally awesome photo:

Yup, that is my hand, and that thing is real, it was hanging around just a couple weeks ago. When I saw it I couldn't decide if it was a prehistoric being magically joining us today, or just a toy that I had seen in the science museum. It was quite friendly. I put my hand down on the railing for perspective and it climbed right up! Even hung on for the ride to visit the rest of my friends down the path. A little tickly with those weird sticky feet, but generally totally awesome.
I hope it made it through the blaze.

Polar bears may be cute and cuddly, but I'm doing it for the grasshopper.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Welcome to Miami

This weekend was a mini-vacation. A couple friends and I went down to Miami on Saturday and returned on Monday. The travel was complicated (as always) but I fully enjoyed my time there. We spent Sunday alternately kayaking and snorkeling in the keys (I never realized how many definitions there are for the word key, this is referencing low islands and reefs). The weather was perfect, the water totally clear and nature surrounded us. In some cases it surrounded us quite closely- we kayaked through a mangrove forest where the roots and branches grow together in amazing patterns. There were small channels, little throughways and suddenly an opening into the bay. Even right by the coast there were fascinating fish, coral and sea life. One being looked like silly string sprayed across the rocks and reef, but apparently if you reach toward it the tendrils get sucked up inside! We also spent some time at the everglades and saw a great number of alligators, plus some turtles and fish. The most exciting was definitely a grasshopper which looked like this (this is a similar one at a distance, it was actually that first bright color though). It walked around on my hand allowing us to take pictures and marvel at the fact that it was real. I had seen models of them in science museums, but I thought they were toys, not so realistic! I wasn't cool enough to actually carry my own camera, but I'm hoping to nab some other people's photos soon.

Between feeling guilty for the excess of pollution this weekend caused and hating the chaos that is air travel I'm swearing off flying. My bag got lost twice, flights were delayed and missed, I didn't get any meals after breakfast Monday, etc. We really need to master teleporting, it will instantly solve so many problems! Planes are generally awful, but I like seeing my friends and escaping the pollen.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

sprinting, my new hobby

When I told one of my classes yesterday that I was "allergic to the outside" they were shocked and confused. They wondered how I could get home. I told them (exaggerating a bit) that I run from school to my car, then again run from the car to my apartment. One student was concerned that I wouldn't be able to go shopping, I assured her I could still run out to my car, and then run into the store. I explained that if I don't do that, my eyes get red and my face puffs up. Another student said I would look like a smoker, which wouldn't be good.

This morning I woke up with a puffy red eye, and no amount of eye drops was going to fix the problem completely. First thing someone says to me when they arrive to class: "You didn't run fast enough to your car this morning!"

Happy May Day!