29 April 2008


Have you read the EcoJustice08 blog yet? If not, go to this site setup by Emily of Telecommuter Talk. Read about her challenge to you to challenge yourself to change in ways to benefit the planet.
Emily writes that this is about justice, not simply environmentalism:
The term “ecojustice” encompasses justice for all of creation (plant, other animal, and human alike). It does not assume any one species (i.e. human) is better than any other species. It assumes that within the human race, those who are most negatively affected by the rape of the earth are the poor ... and that by making this planet a safer and better place to live, all will benefit. It assumes that every living being on this planet deserves its rightful, ecological place (whether certain species want others here or not). It also assumes that we humans are the ones doing the most damage with the most means to stop what we are doing.
Mostly, I agree with this philosophy, although I have to consider the comment about no species being better than another. I'm not sure that I can agree with that, but I do agree that even if other species are not our equal, humans have a responsibility to be good stewards of this planet and life on it.

Participants in this challenge will commit to trying at least one change each quarter that can have a positive impact and bring about ecojustice. Then, if you wish, blog about your experiences incorporating that change into your life.

I've already taken on one change so far this year: using canvas tote bags instead of grocery sacks. It is a simple change, one that causes little disruption in one's life. But, it's damn difficult to remember to bring those bags with you to the market!

This weekend, my local Farmer's Market opens. Usually I skip the local markets during May as there is little offered that I usually eat until the local summer vegetables are in season. But, I'm going to stop by to see if that is the case again this year. I don't know much about the 'eat local' movement, but from what I do know, it makes sense to buy locally grown foods.

My new commitment for this month is to make use of the Energy Efficiency Kit provided by the local power company. This kit was available in limited quantities to those who asked for one. When I heard about this, I dug out my bill to get my account number and registered. The kit contains:
- two CFLs (a 14-watt, the equivalent of a 60 watt incandescent, and a 20-watt, equal to a 75-watt incandescent.
- a water-saving showerhead
- a hot water gauge
- a refrigerator thermometer
- a luminescent night light
- switch & outlet draft-stoppers
- water flow meter bag.

I replaced many of the incandescent bulbs in my house a few months ago. But, these 2 bulbs will force me to do a recheck. I bet there are still a few incandescents in fixtures in my son's room. Since he'll be home from school in a week, I need to check it out.

I used the water flow meter bag on my kitchen sink. It passed the efficiency test, but I'm sure that there are some bathroom faucets that won't fare as well. Once we know which aren't efficient, it will be off to the hardware store to buy plumbing parts (aerators, etc).

The Hot Water Gauge was put to use immediately. Results: kitchen sink temperature was below scalding and in the 'OK' zone, but it was above the recommended 120-130 degree zone.

I'll try the others. If I can't use the showerhead, I will give it to someone who can (and will). Since the Water Flow Meter Bag is a plastic bag, similar to a bread bag or a newspaper bag, once I'm done, I'll pass it along to someone else who will use it. I'll have to assess the fridge temperature. I'd guess that there is a wider gap that there should be between bottom shelf and top shelf. It's an old unit and I doubt that it is EnergyStar compliant. The Night Light isn't something that I'll use, but I will install the draft-stoppers.

I have other ideas of how I will take on this challenge, such as a few books I want to read (thanks to Emily for an interesting title that will soon find its way to my front door), a commitment to learn more about issues related to ecojustice, possibly riding my bike to work (we'll have to see how that goes! I'm sure there will be a story in that effort -- or two!), and some discussions here about topics related to poverty and environmental sustainability, along with, I hope, the occasional photograph of the natural world.

If this sounds like something you are interested in, visit the EcoJustice blog and consider joining us. Even if you don't want to be an active participant and blog about your efforts on your site, you can read along for suggestions that you can incorporate in your home or office.

28 April 2008

Glad they found it before it threatened me!

Posting a bit of satire as I'm just not yet ready for work on a Monday morning. Researchers Discover Massive @$$h013 in the Blogosphere

DEFINITELY NSFW! You've been warned.

For something just as funny, but safer (depending on political winds), you can listen to this: Congress Overrun by Wolves. Great soundtrack in the background.

Much better than listening to BillO on Fixed News.

26 April 2008

Question: What is 10 Years?

Answer: The number of years I've lived in the woods on Old Oak Hill without seeing a Pileated Woodpecker while looking out my kitchen window.

The memory card wasn't in the camera. The door was locked and the screen door squeaked as I opened it. By the time I made my way through the scrub to get near Old Oak, the camera battery was dead. But, the pair was re-united and the worried half of the pair had stopped its kuk-kuk-kuk song that, roughly translated, was a pleading where are you?

So, here is another picture from the woods, just as wonderful, but not as surprising: Virginia Bluebells, a flower with delicate blooms and a leaf that says Don't mess with me! I'm a hardy perennial.

Hate Mail

That is how I categorize the multiple pieces of anti-Obama mail I have received in the last week. One needs to look closely to see whether it is from the Republicans or not. Why does Obama's opponent think that she can blast him for not being truthful about lobbyists when she has received so much funding from them? Talk about being elitist: does she think that the Democrats in this state that hasn't been considered in campaigns for over 40 years are too stupid to see through such political tricks?


I used to be a Clinton supporter. I'm glad that I am not registered in a state that voted early.

25 April 2008

NYC Foodies: Need restaurant recommendation

Any suggestions for dinner in vicinity of 92nd St Y? Not looking for high-end dining (saving that for another time). Just a place to have good food in short period of time (not fast food, though) before going to an event at 92nd St Y. Thanks for your recommendations!

18 April 2008

Rumblings and Rambling Thoughts

My mother is an octogenarian, though she would despise being called that. She is very active and lives independently. She and her older sister talk by phone almost every day. Whenever Aunt M can't get Mom on the phone, she leaves a voice mail asking if she's out gallivanting with a handsome gentleman. "Where do you hide him when people visit?" she asks, under the bed?" I'm not sure why she would think he was under the bed rather than under the bedcovers; if I suggested that to my mother, she would feign embarrassment for a second, and then laugh heartily.

So this morning, what panicking thought did she wake to? I know I locked the door. I should check if a man is under the bed. No, it can't be a man. It must be an animal burrowing. I hope he stops before he claws through my bed.

My sister's first thought was this: There's an elephant shaking the house. I must get my niece and the dog outside.

A coworker woke from a deep sleep to scream at her cats for running and jumping on her bed. (Those must be huge cats. Maybe tiger cubs?) Another thought that a car had plowed through her garage at high speed.

My thoughts? Hmmm. That thunder is an earthquake. Go check.

Go check??? Go check what: the trees? the fish? the flowers? the roof?

I think it is interesting how the brain works when it is jolted awake by something unusual and unexpected. What odd thoughts we each processed trying to put the sensory input into some sort of sensible, meaningful pattern.

Of course, nothing like this was said by the people buying donuts who were interviewed by the local network affiliate an hour later: We was sleeping and was awokened up by it shakin'. How do they always manage to find the stereotypical, nearly illiterate, hayseed to interview? Not everybody in Indiana is like that - I swear they are not! -- although apparently there were many people who felt the urge to sooth their rattled nerves and share their quake stories by buying high caloric baked goods at 6:15am. Now that is so Indiana.

The daffodils, by the way, seemed unfazed by mother earth's gentle rumble this morning.

03 April 2008

Spring Find

I took my camera out to the woods last night to snap some shots of the daffodils. I love it when I find something like this volunteer, which appears to be some sort of dwarf iris. If you know what it is, please let me know in the comments.

02 April 2008

Top Contender for Worst Book I've Read This Year

I tried -- really tried -- to finish Holding Her Head High: 12 single mothers who championed their children and changed history, by Janine Turner (a book I received as a review copy through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program) but I can't do it. When you find you are reading with the purpose of counting the number of cliches per chapter, there is no point in wasting any more of your time. I had begun to feel like a roadside gawker at horrible highway accident.

For the record, in the chapters I read, the phrase -- as if you might not remember the title of the book -- holding her head high was used an average of 4 times per chapter. Maximum chapter High Head Count: 8. If that doesn't give you a sense of the tediousness of this book, I might discourage you with the following: improper use of quotations, misspelled words, poor (or wrong!) word choice, dull sentence structure, sloppy research, an inappropriately casual narrative voice, repetitive paragraphs, and poor organization. In general, it reads like a 8th grade term paper -- one that would get an 'C' from a burned-out easy grader.

How anyone could make the lives of some of the women profiled (Helena Augusta, Christine De Pizan, Abigal Adams*) boring is surprising. More surprising still is that this book was published (although I'd guess that Turner being a Hollywood actress may have had some influence on the book deal). Some LT reviewers commented that this book should have been marketed differently (as a devotional rather than a sociological or history work), suggesting that for a different audience it would fare better. I don't think so; poor writing is poor writing. A sad comment to make about a book with a topic that suggests that it could be so much more.

(*Note: Please don't bother to correct me about A. Adams. I know that Abigal Adams wasn't a single mother; John Adams outlived his wife. But, because she raised her children by herself during the Revolutionary War and Adams' ambassadorial trips to Europe, Turner chose to include her in this work. There are other profiles in this book that are, arguably, not about single mothers.)

01 April 2008


Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

The jonquils scattered throughout my yard started to bloom today. Unfortunately it was too dark to take photos, so here is what's in the vase on the dining room table, purchased and placed there just because it's Spring.

April is National Poetry Month, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. They offer 30 suggestions for how you can participate on their web site. You can receive a Poem-a-day email; today's poem is Secret History, by Charles Simic.

Another way to celebrate is to take up Kate's "modest" poetry challenge: post a commentary about a poem sometime during April. Though some would find Chaucer a worthy poet (as I do), the above poem & this post would not meet the requirements for Kate's challenge; read Kate's post for more details. I intend to participate in this at some other time this month.