Monday, May 24, 2010

Green Thoughts

I certainly consider myself environmentally conscious and would even go as far as saying that I am an environmentalist (as defined by Webster: : "an advocate of the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the natural environment").  I believe that we are experiencing global warming as the fate of our own choices and actions.  However, I'm not sure about the concept that this planet, which humans have inhabited for over two million years, is so rapidly approaching a level of destruction that will make it uninhabitable for relatively near-future generations. Some things about this theory don't sit completely right with me.  Regardless, I still try and do my part.  So below is a partial listing of things I am doing in favor of a greener planet and some things where I happen to draw the line at (though I remain open to rational discussion about change).  I encourage you to think about your own green efforts...where is your line?

For a greener planet, I ...
  1. Drink tap water over bottled water whenever its an option
  2. Reduce my trips in the car (combining shopping with work trips, etc)
  3. Replace my light bulbs with CFLs and LEDs
  4. Don't use paper plates or paper towels in my home
  5. Reduce the use of phantom power by unplugging unused appliances and not leaving things like TVs and chargers in standby mode
  6. Recycle as much as possible in the home and at work, including electronics, clothing, glass, paper, cardboard, etc.
  7. Am in current negotiations with myself about building a patio composting system
  8. Don't ever run heat in my house (lucky I live in a temperate climate for this one)
  9. Plant CO2 absorbing plants on my patio
  10. Eat lower on the food chain as much as possible
I don't, won't, etc ...
  1. Take shorter showers.  5 minutes?  Really?  No thanks!
  2. Stop eating meat. Uh, no!  While I agree that food production animals need to be raised under higher ethical standards, I don't really buy into the whole "highest producers of methane and nitrous oxide" theories.  Perhaps its from being raised in rural Nebraska where our livelihood was dependent on the meat eating of others.  And quite frankly I enjoy a good steak, hamburger, bacon, roast, etc.  Also, I don't drive an I'll keep my 1lb of meat for each of your 40 SUV miles.
  3. Use naturally biodegrading cat litter. I mean really. Do you understand what happens to corn fibers when they get wet?  And even knowing this (again from my rural Nebraska upbringing) I actually still tried this solution.  So, until there are other solutions to healthfully co-existing with my two cats in this area, I'll be sticking to the clay--sodium bentonite.  Yes, I understand that its strip-mined. However, I also understand that the biodegrading version doesn't actually biodegrade in our landfills when its inside of plastic bags or buried by tons of other garbage.  So what's to be done about it?

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    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    A Landlord Named Karma

    I've lived and worked in enough college dorms to learn two things:  1) when lots of people are living together in close quarters with poorly insulated walls, there is going to be noise, and 2) some people just can't be reasoned with.  Both of which bring me to the neighbor upstairs. 
    I live on the ground floor of a three story building, thus the woman who lives above me is sandwiched between my apartment and her own neighbor upstairs (who happens to play the drums).  We all share our bedroom wall with the kitchen wall of the connecting apartment, which as you can imagine can create some situations in which sleep will be disrupted by say running dishwashers, families that cater events on weekends and are up cooking at 2am, etc.  All things that in the five years I've lived here, I've dealt with patiently and with understanding that life consists of a certain amount of noise we have no control over.  My neighbor upstairs however has not. 
    Over the past five years, I have made a myriad of compromises to the way I live my life to accommodate what appears to be her super-human sensitivity to noise. Side note: She once complained to the landlord about a high-pitched noise coming from the refrigeration unit at the 7Eleven across the street.  She said she could hear it in her apartment.  I could barely hear it when I was actually at the 7Eleven.  In the first year she complained about things that I could fairly easily change: vacuuming in the a.m. on weekends, rolling my laundry cart out at 6am on Sundays, etc.  So when I found that I could turn the volume off of my TV and still hear/understand what was being said clearly when we were watching the same channel, I knocked on her door and shared my concern with her.  She did not welcome this and I quickly learned that she was the type to retaliate.  She never knocked on my door to complain about noise, opting instead to ambush me out on the side walk when I was coming home from work or out walking the dog.  Often, she'd raise her voice while I attempted to reason with her--drawing attention from neighbors.  And then she would follow that up with a complaint to the landlord about my unreasonable noise making.  Then she began to retaliate with noise.  I once mentioned to her that it would be nice if she wouldn't vacuum on Friday night at 9pm when I was typically settling in to watch a movie.  Not only did she not stop, but for two weeks straight, she vacuumed EVERY night at 9pm.  And has since continued to vacuum on Friday/Saturday evenings.  She also took to gossiping about me (and others) with another neighbor right outside of my windows/patio.  Under the guise of walking their dogs, they happily greet each other and spend 20+ minutes every evening talking and cackling in raised voices.  They cleverly mask their gossip by speaking in French; a language which I understand perfectly well.  Lets just say that she is a mean spirited, prejudiced, vindictive individual.  Even the nicest neighbor I've ever met, an older gentlemen, shakes his head when he sees the two of them and has referred to them as "the gossip hags." 
    Two weeks ago, the neighbor upstairs interrupted my perfectly calm zen-patio afternoon when she stopped by to announce that I would have a new neighbor upstairs in a few weeks.  Apparently she bought a new condo and will be moving.  I could barely hold back my expression of complete joy at this announcement.  That move can't happen soon enough for me as her insanity about noise has increased tri-fold over the past five years, culminating last night in her stomping on the bedroom floor (my ceiling) at 2am for nearly 45 minutes straight, a practice she has taken-up to alert me to the fact that some noise has woken HER up.  It doesn't matter what that noise was or where it actually came from, if something has woken her up it obviously had to be me. 
    And so Karma, I'm putting you on notice. I fully expect that in her newly-purchased condo, the neighbor upstairs will experience the same kind of neighbor that she has recently been to others.  And I have complete faith that the universe will deliver me a new neighbor upstairs;a ruggedly handsome, single heterosexual male in his mid to late 30s who understands that living life comes with a certain amount of reasonable noise.  Maybe he'll even have a Harley. *wink* 

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    A Harley Moment

    Hoping to shave a couple of minutes off my ten minute commute home tonight, I took a turn onto a road I'd never been on before.  It took me through a rough looking industrial area that dumped right back out on the road I usually take home.  Though I didn't cut any time, I did have a thought provoking chance encounter.  At the stop light, my car came to rest next to a guy sitting on a classic Harley Davidson in the turning lane.  An average height, sun-roughed man; his greying goatee and long hair trademarks of my image of a "Harley Man."  And exactly the kind of guy that twenty years ago I was likely to have ended up marrying, or at the very least ....  The bike--a thing of beauty, was definitely a fxb sturgis from the early 80's with studded leather saddle and saddle bags. It looked carefully restored with shiny black paint and red trim.  Dressed head to toe in leather, the rider wore a vintage-style classic leather helmet, sun glasses and smile.  As I sat there admiring the bike and its rider, all the tension from what has felt like the longest week in recent history escaped.  And I just knew that if at that moment he had turned to me with a nod towards the bitch seat and said "hop on," I would have.  But its only Wednesday after all and as the lights turned green, we both drove off in our separate ways.  Oh well, there's always tomorrow.