Saturday, January 24, 2009

bagged lettuce?

If anyone needs an interesting research project- studying the bagged lettuce phenomenon might be worthwhile. I say this because I've been checking out my Google Analytics. My blog's second most visited page (first is the front page) is my entry about "Lettuce in a Bag". Of 17 google searches that led people to my site in the past month, 11 of them had to do with lettuce. I wrote this post in August, about my evolving relationship with bagged lettuce. Since then 45 people have stopped in because they wanted to know about lettuce (out of 69 searches total). First of all, I had no idea there were so many people curious enough about bagged lettuce to make it to #15 on their google search. Second of all, how am I still #15 after 6 months?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

a little too easy

This evening I got an email from this cellist I really like (Zoe Keating) and she mentioned that she was recording a new album. This made me realize that she must already have an album and I don't just have to wait for her to show up on my Pandora radio station! So, I headed on over to, searched and was immediately given the choice between singles, an ep and the album. I chose the album, and before I even previewed the songs I saw this button which called out to me saying "Buy MP3 album with 1-click". Since it was there, and beckoning, I clicked. Immediately the songs began downloading and in moments I had a full CD on my computer. As I started listening, I wondered who those other artists were that other people had bought, and I found another cellist I liked, and there was the 1-click button again, and I had another CD! It's so easy! Click and listen to whatever you want! Now!

In my case, things worked out fine. I bought 2 full CD's for under $15, they were artists I like and listen to regularly (I already had podcasts they did on the radio show Radio Lab from WNYC) and I didn't have to bother with anything plastic. However, I'm sure you can see how dangerous this is for impulse shoppers. Save your credit card with amazon once and forever more you can buy things with one click. Not much thinking gets done with one click. I liked having to get up, find my wallet and really know I was buying something. There are so many times when I wonder at peoples' lack of self control - I mean really, how could they build up so much credit card debt and yet keep buying non-essentials? But then, you see how far removed shopping can be from reality. I give a website a number, and they give me some stuff. The connection to my money that I worked hard to earn is getting stretched further and further away. No one reminds you how much you have or owe when you get to the checkout. Personal responsibility is essential, but the market is full of people trying to figure out how to make you forget responsibilities, and this worries me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

making choices

APLS Carnival This Month: "What mental tricks do you use on yourself to help you make the right choices, even when they make life a little harder? Or, conversely, does your mind play games that trick you into making the wrong decisions?"

In some cases, the biggest trigger in my brain when I'm making a choice is what will people think. Now, many people would be surprised to hear this coming from me, I'm not a 'go with the crowd' type of person. However, I'm thinking of very specific people's opinions when I consider this. My friend who had to give up her worms when she moved and convinced me to get some so she could live vicariously- she would be very disappointed if I gave up composting because of one little ant infestation. Or, would I be willing to admit that I turned the heat up a few degrees to my friend who I am constantly badgering to lower her thermostat?

Other times, it's intrigue with the science behind things. Flushing my toilet with grey water is still fascinating to me, the brilliant pressure system, how much water is necessary, actually noticing the effects when someone else uses the pipes I share with my neighbors. Or, the mathematics- every month is a push to see if I can get closer to the 90% reduction. What exactly contributed to that increase or decrease in gas/electricity/water. Recently my electricity usage skyrocketed, and I felt a distinct loss of control. I truly enjoying knowing where each number comes from and that I chose to use that much.

Most of all, I don't offer my mind the option to want something I don't need. I can't remember the last time I went to the mall. I check out prices online before shopping, and then I only need to go to one store and can head directly to the aisle I know my item is in. I don't watch tv and therefore don't see the ads there. When I am out, I'm often out with other vegetarians, people who know me as an eco-nut and friends who would be more surprised if I didn't chose the sustainable option.

However, there are plenty of things that I don't do. I wanted to bike more this summer, but it really didn't happen. I rationalized that I was in grad school and away 12 hours a day so it was okay. That wasn't a perfect reason, but I can live with my imperfections and the occasional drive down the road to get groceries in my semi-gas-guzzling vehicle.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


There are a number of websites available to inform our upcoming president what we think the most urgent issues are. Check out to make sure the top 10 ideas represent your interests. You can also vote on questions others have asked Obama to address at

Even though the presidential election is over, there is still a lot of voting to do!

P.S. After a lot of efforts and checking, the only thing that might be causing the electricity increase is my water heater. Apparently the closet it is contained in had the heat set very low, nearly off, and since it's a room off of the balcony the water heater must have been working very hard to keep hot. When my next bill arrives (in 17 days) I'm supposed to report back if this actually helped. Or maybe I'll just go check my meter in a few days and see how we're doing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Help! Electric usage skyrocketing for no (known) reason!

Okay, I am majorly concerned, and no longer just from the environmentalist perspective. I've been consistently under 100 kWh per month for nine months, last January offered a brief spike to 112 kWh and then back down. And before those is getting back into the months when I was using my dryer and all those other things. Highest ever was the first month I moved in, 157 kWh. So now we have some background. Mid-October to Mid-November showed a doubling from previous months up to 137 kWh. This threw me for a loop and had me quite concerned since I could not think of any change in habits that would produce such numbers. Then, Mid-November to Mid-December resulted in 301 kWh. The doubled number was more than doubled. Exponential growth. Totally unexplained. Big Problem!

I immediately contacted the electric company, and while they see good reason for my concern, they don't think anything is wrong on their end. They are taking actual readings and think the meter is working fine. The representative suggested it may be due to a dehumidifier or space heater (neither of which I have) or faulty equipment (which has me worried). I contacted the management of my apartment complex to come check out the fridge, heating system and anything else they can think of (this makes me appreciate being a renter). I still think I would know if my fridge was running overtime, and I know the heat doesn't turn on very often. My brain cannot comprehend these numbers. I seriously hope that someone offers me an answer soon! (Can you, dear reader?)

On a happier note I shrink wrapped my windows (supposed to work as insulation like double paned glass would). I'm not yet sure how much it's helping (hard to tell when the temperatures fluctuate so much) but I was impressed that when I had a few friends over the other night the temperature rose to 76 without us cooking anything. The heat is set at 65 (pet survival temp).

I'm also looking forward to taking yoga classes. After some searching I decided to go to a small local studio so that I'm not driving far, my money is going to a local organization and they're small enough to actually do things like respond to my email with a personalized recommendation within 24 hours! Plus, they have a recycling program, how cool is that?

I'm trying to focus on these things. But I'm worried that whatever crazy thing is using 200 kWh of electricity in a month is going to catch on fire! Anyone had anything like this happen? Ideas/solutions?