Friday, April 23, 2010

Paper Towel vs. Shamwow

Turns out I'm not the only one who thinks that you don't save energy by using a cleanable cloth rather than a small, disposable paper towel.

Granted, I use new-fiber Bounty half (1/3?) sheet paper towels rather than recycled ones because they are the best - absorbent, durable, and soft enough to sneeze into.  Plus they're made 14 miles from my house (I toured the factory), and have a neutral smell, unlike Viva which I had to remove from my kitchen for being too stinky near the food; Brawny rips holes in it, and Seventh Heaven is ok, but still not as durable so I use more of them.   So there. :P

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ebony and Irony

Celebrate Earth Day with our updated, modern, safer, cleaner oil recovery techniques!

Here's the thing.  I get that we need to drill for oil because it comes from under the ground and we have need for it.  But I also get that there are risks inherent in the removal of oil.  Sometimes those risks are worth it; sometimes they aren't.  If an oil rig is far enough away from shore, maybe they can get some absorptive material out there to ring the rig in emergencies.  But when they're right offshore?  The commute is easier but the risks are more immediate and widespread because the oil will hit the coastline, and there's high concentration of life at coastlines, which is what inspired the first Earth Day that occurred exactly 40 years ago today.

One of the big memes in the last couple of years was "oil production is sooooo safe now that we won't have those nasty problems of the past".  I, and the Earth, beg to differ.  I don't oppose drilling outright - we still need gas and oil.  But I think we do need to be honest about the risks and rewards and factor location into those decisions.  "That'll never happen here," is inherently dishonest.  "We can reduce the risk to 0.0x% by doing Y" is honest but doesn't seem to drum up popular support, although it's what I prefer.  I do think there are areas that we shouldn't touch unless we're so close to destitute, it really doesn't matter anymore - but we should plan never to get ourselves into that state.

I saw glimpes of a PBS show last night on fishing (the one narrated by Edward Norton), whose premise seemed to be that the Lions are leaving Ghana because.... of overfishing.   It was more complicated than that, but overfishing played a big, unexpected role.  Now, imagine what happens if we have a giant oil spill in Santa Barbara - where 1/3 of all recorded marine life comes during the year.  Do we really, really, really need to risk 1/3 of all recorded marine life for a few barrels of oil?  I don't know.  There are also natural asphalt seeps here, so the water and shore do get some seepage naturally - I can't remember if drilling is supposed to increase or diminish the level of natural seepage, and if natural seepage occurs in sufficient quantity to cause massive loss of life and habitat.

There have been efforts in places to conserve marine life.  In one island chain I heard about, they set aside 10% of the coast area and allowed no fishing.  In 2-3 years, they had almost total recovery of the species that were nearly extinct.  Just by keeping one relatively small area unfished.  We call the problem the "tragedy of the commons" and I keep wondering why it's so hard for us, when we supposedly know better, to just tithe 10% or so of the land or certain resources to the earth.  Just leave it alone.  Plan not to use it for resources or industry beyond creating oxygen and filtering water and letting animals roam.  Our national parks are a start, but they keep getting the funding cut.  We have to agree that this tithe is both important and selfish.  We want our fish, we want our clean air, but to have them, we need to establish rules, boundaries, and limitations for ourselves and hold both ourselves and our neighbors to them.  Earth Day is a great day to think about this, I think. 

Make a wish.  It'll come true if you can blow out the flaming drill.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I've knocked out my new/old baking resolution for April in one feel swoop.  I was staring at my empty fridge, kinda full freezer, and scant pantry.  I found no quick foods to eat and kept staring at the giant container of oats.  Giving into temptation, I baked oatmeal cookies last night - I still have plenty of butter from the sale, and lord knows I don't need to save the oats for anything.

Testing has shown that butterscotch oatmeal cookies are the best, so that's what I make, with pecans added.  (They were tested against oatmeal raisin, cranberry, and chocolate chip, all of which taste inferior to the butterscotch.)  But my pantry only had half a bag of the proper chips and I'd made a whole batch of cookie dough.  Then, I noticed a bag of carmels I'd purchaced under the delusion that I'd use them to coat apples.  I unwrapped a dozen of them, cut each into 8 little hunks, and tossed them in the 2nd half of the cookie dough.   I hadn't tried this before, and it turned out that I had to turn the oven temp down from 350 to 330 or so to prevent the carmel from scortching on the cookies where it leaked out the sides.   But all in all, they were pretty tasty.  So if I want to go through the annoyance of cutting up hunks of carmels, they're a fine option too.

It's just been a butterscotchy time of the year, though.  Mom had me try to make cinnamon rolls the other day.  The ingredients are frozen dough balls  from the freezer section, a stick of butter, a cup of brown sugar, and a box of (wait for it....) butterscotch pudding (not instant).  Well... the store I was at didn't have that flavor.  I subbed in vanilla and aside from boiling over in my oven, everything was fine.  Mom, however, sent me butterscotch pudding in my easter mix.  Just in case the other stores don't have it either.  So I'll probably be trying the rolls again, to see if butterscotch works the same magic on them as it does oatmeal cookies.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Who are the People

I stopped at the local bar on the way home from work, and apparently looked friendly as I got an offer of a free BBQ sandwich if I stop by a grill tomorrow, and a "you're my new friend, I like your energy" from the other side.  Uh Ok. I was just happy because I got a raise.  Yes, in this economy.  Of course now I can't use the "woe is me there have been no raises in 2 years" sob story to refinance my mortgage, but I'm not complaining!  I did get some of my MSRA refund and the NYC trip is paid for from money I (gasp! shock!) saved up beforehand.

Now I just need to get back in the swing of things and really rock out the next couple of months at work.  Right now I have a lot of freedom, but if I use that freedom to get ahead, things will be muuuuuuch better than if I don't.  In about a week, week and a half, I'll be in charge of the highest profile project in the fab (not the hardest, just the highest profile), so I need to be prepped for that and not farting around with stuff I just didn't finish when I had plenty of time.  So I *might* work a little this weekend while I'm 8 kinds of motivated. Or I might decide to drive down to SD and watch the Superfrog Tri.  Haven't quite decided.

Plus, I'm reading Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, and picked up some Pamela Clare to check out.

And wow, I totally have goldfish brain (enabled by the 4 rum Tropical Storm) because MY NEW TOASTER CAME TODAY!!!  Dude!  I have a toaster!  It has the elusive long slot, it didn't cost the earth, it's white like my kitchen, it toasts, AND it's funky! Thank you eBay. The toast ejects out the bottom of the super thin design. Oddly, the thing came in a box that was 2'x2'by 6".  Most toasters wouldn't fit in the thing, but this does, with room for packing.  I dig it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

All the Frills Upon It

Easter in NYC is the time of year that makes one want to move there.  Somewhat like October tricks people into thinking that New England is the best place ever, April in NYC was just wonderful.  Maybe it was meeting up with friends from MA, DC, TX, MD, and NY.  Maybe it was the new green of the leaves, not yet darkened with heavy chlorophyll.  Maybe it's the flowering trees or the warmth that's enough to ditch the jacket but not vaporize the scent of garbage.  Maybe it was waffles and bagels and strawberries cheaper than I can get them here. ("Here" is where strawberries come from, btw.) Maybe it's the Easter Parade down 5th Avenue with a Magnolia cupcake looking at men in morning jackets with tails and girls with flower petal dresses or butterfly hats.  Maybe it's my senses being taken in with professional shows on and off Broadway.  Maybe it's finding everything I need in a walk around the neighborhood.  Despite some blight from weirdness at the hotel (hot water would be nice...), the whole weekend was wonderful and made me want to move to NY.  Of course, my friends from DC, MA, TX, and MD would not be there, and neither would my job or my newly paid off car, and it would snow then get dirty.  But April.  Awesome.