Friday, May 29, 2009

allergy season

Right now I'm in the worst part of allergy season. I'm on so much medication to remain semi-functional that I can no longer tell which symptoms are side-effects and which are regular old symptoms. Being environmentally friendly isn't exactly my number 1 priority at the moment. To give you some perspective, getting the clean dishes out of the dishwasher and the pile of dirty dishes into the newly emptied machine was a huge accomplishment, over due by several days. I decided to tackle the task simply because I was stuck in the kitchen for the 1 minute it took my dinner to heat in the microwave. Yes, I did buy macaroni and cheese that I could heat up in 1 minute so that I wouldn't have to actually cook. But, I bought the kind that is made locally, by the people who run the farm store down the street. Not only is it far, far superior in taste (I can't stomach the stuff from a box, even if it is organic, just, ew) it's also supporting my local economy, and it only traveled a mile from where it was made to where it was consumed. Plus, they try to source ingredients locally as well. It's not organic or homemade by me, but it is far better than trying to get away with a few bites of hummus and chips for dinner, since that's the only thing that can go directly from fridge to plate.

It's also great when other things are such ingrained habits that I can complete them even as I stumble off to bed, my brain already shifted into the lowest gear that still allows me to walk. I turn off lights, unplug cords and flush with grey water with as much thought as it takes to put one foot in front of the other. Often I climb into bed and try to remember if I'd done something, simply because it had become so automatic that my brain didn't find the memory worth recording.

There are plenty of things that aren't so eco-friendly about allergy season- medications are bad in many ways, lots of tissues, lots more time spent in front of a screen rather than out enjoying the world and short cuts taken when I might have taken the time and energy to do something 'right' on another day. But, we do the best we can, and I rest easier knowing that my dinner was delicious and came in a reusable container, and that many of my habits remain intact simply because they have become habit.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Compost Conundrum

So, like any good eco-nut, I can't bear to think of throwing away food scraps that could return to the Earth and feed my vegetables rather than being trapped in a land fill. I did some research, decided that a worm bin would be great, and set everything up. First I collected food for a while, then I got the worms and continued to add what I hope were the proper proportions of carbon and nitrogen and water. As time passed, my worm population dwindled, until I couldn't find any worms left. See, the problem is, I don't have much food waste. This is great for me and my budget, but it didn't work out so well for the worms.

That system failed, I moved my compost bin out to the balcony and continued to add whatever food waste I had. Since it was winter, and the bin was totally dried out, nothing broke down. It is now spring and I have an overflowing bin of food scraps (predominantly egg shells actually) which is all in nearly the same state as when I put it in, with the occasional addition of mold/fungus.

Clearly the system needs some help to break down any time soon. Enter the possibility of miraculous 4 week decomposition with the help of Bokashi! Maybe. This stuff is filled with micro-organisms that pickle your food waste in a couple weeks, then if you mix it in with some soil you get rapidly decomposed organic matter. It seems too good to be true, and I can't decide if its worthwhile.

I also found a local farm that might take my materials and convert them into compost for me. There is a certain satisfaction in creating my own, but if its going to be more effective to have someone else do it, I'm willing to make that sacrifice.

So, what do I do? Make my own pickled stuff or have someone else make regular compost?

Thursday, May 07, 2009


I went to clear off my camera today before we start a photo project at school, and discovered the only photos I've taken are of plants. Not that surprising since it's both planting season and plants dominate my apartment, but still makes me feel like maybe I should bring my camera out with me more. As long as I have the photos, I may as well share.

My african violet is really happy:

I bought a kit for hanging strawberries. Look at the growth in just 3 days of semi-cloudy weather. Nice work Yankee Candle Company!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Internet Dependency

When I got home from work last Friday afternoon I turned on the computer and plugged in my modem - standard procedure whenever I get home. However, something not so standard occurred - my computer didn't connect to the internet. My first reaction was mild panic, but I figured it must be a minor glitch and so I fiddled with a few settings, turned things off and back on, and waited a while. When it was clear something was wrong, I decided to contact my internet provider; here arrived stumbling block number one: everything I do, I do online. Normal procedure would be to check a website for tips, then to email or talk to someone online, and only as a last resort actually pick up the phone. But only that last resort was available, so I was forced to dig out an old bill (from before they went paperless) to find a phone number and call.

The representative (once I finally got through to him) informed me that my modem looked fine from his end, but it was really old- so old they stopped making the model in 2005 (which is eons ago for electronics). The solution was to go trade in my modem the next day. This, however, did nothing to solve the problem, and another call left me with the information that they didn't know what was wrong and couldn't help me since I use Linux. Many hours of troubleshooting and a lot of phone calls later, it's Tuesday and I'm dying without an internet connection. I'm worried that my computer is truly broken and decide to wipe the operating system and reinstall. Thankfully this solves my problem, and in the mean time I've learned a lot.

-Just because electronics are really old, that doesn't mean they're useless
My old modem turned on faster than the new one
My computer is 6 years old and still going strong

-Most people aren't willing to put in the effort to fix things
The first reaction was to go replace the old thing- it must be broken
I was kind of tempted to use this as an excuse to buy a shiny new computer
Reinstalling was actually really easy, and it only took 1 evening to get back up and running just like I was previously

-I'm totally and completely dependent on technology
I had to call friends many times this weekend to look up phone numbers
I didn't know what to wear on Saturday without
I rushed needlessly to the train since I had no idea how long it would take to get somewhere without
My computer is the essence of my entertainment- music, games, blogs...
I had limited to no contact with most people I know while I was offline

While I appreciated the reminder that I should be less dependent on technology, mostly I am just very thankful to have my internet back and that I didn't have to buy anything new (hopefully they'll recycle the modem I traded in).