Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last weekend I saw WALL-E. (Cute.) Later that night I was at a bookstore without periodicals so I was forced to browse books instead of fashion magazines. The horror! And the movie had me in an apocalyptic mood, so I thumbed through The World Without Us for a bit. I learned two things in my short reading:

1. I have no desire to actually read that whole book.
2. My exfoliating bath products contain tiny tiny bits of plastic that are killing precious sea animals. (See here for more info.)

God, just imagine what I could have learned had I decided to read the whole thing? Probably all sorts of truly horribly stuff.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about this entry I had seen on Nylon about how to make your beauty type items more enviro-friendly. So I started looking at ingredient labels of cleansers and stuff...and yeah, it's bad. It's all really bad and full of oil and plastic and junk.

This should be bad news, right? Well, sort of. But the good news is I now have all the more reason to shop at LUSH! Right now I'm most interested in the shampoo bars, since I've gotten into the glorious habit of seeing how long I can go with washing my hair. (Right now I'm averaging 3-4 days). I don't believe in throwing out items upon the realization that they're not super earth friendly (hello, wasteful), but once these products run out I totally intend to spend tons of money on yummy smelling lush stuff. Mmmm.

Ah hell, here's one more link: Treehugger's Guide to Greening Your Health Care Items

Sunday, September 14, 2008

this is the way we bike to work. (and then stop)

And now! The long story of how I started bike commuting but will not be doing so until further notice.

First, a long while ago, I switched out wheels on my Raleigh because they were super bent and crappy. This led to better wheels and less choppy braking, but horribly squeaky braking. As a result, I wasn't as inclined to bike because it was super embarrassing at times.

But I still stuck it out from time to time, avoiding stopping as much as possible, or at stopping very slowly when necessary. (How incredibly safe, I know!) I even made a long trek to Minneapolis! And not just west of the river but all the way past Bryn Mawr and back. I finally got to try out the Midtown Greenway and a few other trails, and it was a nice ride overall - but let's face it, squeaky brakes are NOT HIP. So on the way home, I stopped by the Freecycle shop on the Greenway and they switched the brake pads. For a while I was all, oh glorious brakes! I can stop without squeaking! But within a few miles they were still a bit squeaky (only when coming to a complete stop very quickly, though).

I also started biking to work. This was working pretty well, in part because I have my own bathroom in my room (!) and could bring outfits to change into on days that I drive. The route is mostly flat, with either bike lanes or bike paths for most of the way (except for the scary Pennsylvania/35E intersection).

What happened, you say? Well, on Wednesday night I biked downtown quick and was trying to race through a light but had to stop, and fast. And I'm pretty sure this is when the brakes tore through the tire. But since I was only a few blocks away from my destination, I didn't really notice anything. And even when I went home, in the dark, I knew something was wrong but decided I'd rather get home first (since it was less than a mile anyway) than stop on an abandoned street to figure out the problem. Sure enough, flat tire - thus ruining my goal to bike to work the next day.

And since then, I haven't found the time to fix the tire. Sure, I want to fix it, but will that help the squeaky brakes? Is this cold weather going to bring snow soon, rendering any repairs moot? Will this craigslist bike haunt me forever with problems? Should I just get a new bike already? (Probably). Sigh. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 08, 2008


The truth is, I am far too tired to really write anything of substance but this box is egging me on. I am going to bike to work tomorrow, and I am typing this because you, the internet, will hold me accountable when I am even more tired at 6am tomorrow. Every day at around 3PM I start to wish my work had vending machines with salty snacks, and every day around 4PM I wish that I only had maybe three different classes to prep for instead of five. Fall is sort of here and I kind of like the cool breeze, but it feels too early to wear tights which means I have had to resort to pants. The RNC elephant stampede didn't cause nearly as much trouble as I thought it might, but I think I was also too busy to notice.

As usual, I will figure things out in the morning, when my brain is as sharp as a tack. Right.

Monday, September 01, 2008

rnc: the protest

I'm not a huge fan of participating in protests for a lot of reasons, the main one being that yelling and chanting gets tiring and also doesn't seem to get a lot done. (And that just makes me more depressed about government - how do ordinary people start actual change? But holy cow, that is not a topic I intend to broach right now.) Having said that, if there is a huge protest nearly in my front yard, I should probably at least stop by to gawk.

I headed out yesterday a little after noon to the capitol, where there were many people milling about. I soon realized I was way overdressed compared to all the punks and hippies. (Hello, it was Labor Day! Last Day to wear my pearly white skirt!) I wandered a bit, but I was by myself and so I just headed over to my friend's condo and waited outside.

I soon realized we would be very close to the parade route, so my friend and I hung around to take pictures. This one is my favorite.

oil bots

There's more pictures, but that's pretty much how it was...lots of people walking, carrying signs, sometimes chanting things. After a while, when we realized there was no end in sight to the protesters, we thought we would head towards the actual convention center. (Okay, my real ulterior motive? I was super determined to return my library book.) But every street we went down, we ran into these guys!


Somehow we managed to snake our way around the riot police to get to Rice Park - I was able to return my library book while my friend got a coffee. The delegates were lined up for over a block to get into River Center (surrounded by cages). I happened to be holding an anti-war sign (given to me by a protester), which invited a young Texan delegate to start talking to us. (Whose name I recognized later in this column - man, that dude gets around!) We (my friend, the Texan, and myself) got into some circular arguments: we agreed that war is bad and that maybe we don't have a true democracy, but what to do with all those trillions of dollars going to war? Surely not put the money towards health care, says the Texan! We didn't really get anywhere in changing anyone's minds, but I must say I was somewhat pleased to even have that conversation in the middle of the street.

[During this time, a friend was also calling me with reports on CNN about people breaking windows and other bad stuff. Honestly? If she hadn't called, I wouldn't have had a clue. That's why news reports are funny - you can be really damn close to the action and still miss everything.]

We started heading back home, but of course ran into barricades of riot police every direction we went. (Which is why I found this tale of a stroll through St. Paul so funny.) Make it home we did, after a while.

So yeah, there's my story. In conclusion, I can't help but think about how silly and cyclical this whole convention-protest-arrest thing is. Republicans (or democrats) convene, police get fired up and ready (almost in a way that says "I dare you to start something"), people show up and cause trouble, people get arrested, some people that shouldn't also get arrested, people get outraged, and the people who cause trouble will continue with their goal, which is to stop the republicans (or democrats) from convening.

In other news, helicopters. Lots and lots of helicopters. But life goes on for the rest of us.