Sunday, November 30, 2008

Searching for Green Info - Update

In my original post on this subject (here) I said I was going to send a letter to the editor of the Bellingham Herald. Well, apparently he or she didn't like it much because it hasn't been published yet. I did, however, start a lively discussion in the Herald's new reader forums. You can check it out here. The synopsis is that it's always better to buy used, as Eric commented on my original post.

The more I thought about this issue, the more I considered starting a second blog devoted to documenting the environmental and social justice records of various companies. I even checked into - which is occupied by another individual who had the same idea, only a year or more ago.

Just a few days ago Eric dropped me another line, which included a link to the Responsible Shopper website. These guys are doing exactly what I envisioned, and more. They include links to sites where you can actually take action on issues, which is awesome. For getting informed and taking action on social justice and environmental issues, Responsible Shopper is the best site I have seen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cheesiest Country Songs Ever

Michelle and I both speak a little Spanish. She more than I. The difference is she knows past and future tenses. I'm an in-the-now type of guy. Anyhow, we both know well enough what a real Mexican Spanish accent sounds like. And we are in the habit of poking fun at English pronunciations of Spanish words, especially in a southern drawl. If you've done it, you know what I mean. If not, ask me and I'll show you sometime. That's the backdrop for the first contestant in my "Cheesiest Country Songs" contest. It's from Garth Brooks.
She used to be my rosa amarilla
My little Mexicali tomatilla
But then one night I drank too much sangria
Woke up and found a note that said I'll see you

Oh, my baby no esta aqui no more
My baby no esta aqui no more
She left me here with nada
Broke my heart like a pinata
My baby no esta aqui no more

Whoa, whoa, whoa, if you see her
Please, please tell her that I need her

I used to be her number one vaquero
Her numero uno caballero
But I've had to hock my spurs and my sombrero
'Cause when she left she took all my dinero

Oh, my baby no esta aqui no more
My baby no esta aqui no more
She left me here with nada
Broke my heart like a pinata
My baby no esta aqui no more

Whoa, whoa, whoa, if you see her
Well please, please tell her that I need her

Oh, my baby no esta aqui no more
My baby no esta aqui no more
She left me with nada
Broke my heart like a pinata
My baby no esta aqui
My baby no esta aqui
My baby no esta aqui no more
And all the High School Spanish teachers let out a collective sigh of despair.

Our next contestant is Alan Jackson. Now, I really like Alan; he has a lot of really good songs, and he is the quintessential country voice. But no one is accusing him of being technologically savvy. Computer geek he ain't. Picture the writing process for this song, circa 1996:

Alan: What about that internet thing? Heard a lotta talk about that lately.

Bubba the Cohort: Yep, I reckon them there computadoras is here to stay.

Alan: You sound like Garth Brooks. Now let's see here... computers. Internet. Keyboards, mouses, electricity, printers. Yeah, I can work with that. Now ain't all them spots on the internet started out with dubyas? What say we call it www.memory?

And a hit was born...
I know you're leaving, I see the signs
You're gonna walk out on this heart of mine
You'll never call me, you'll never write
You made your mind up, you're gone tonight
If some rainy day you're all alone
You feel like talkin' you can log me on

At www.memory
I'll be waitin' for you patiently
If you feel the need, just click on me
At www.memory

You won't even have to hold me or
Look into my eyes
You can tell me you love me
Through your keyboard and wires
No, you won't have to touch me or
Even take my hand
Just slide your little mouse around
Until you see it land

At www.memory
I'll be waitin' for you patiently
If you feel the need, just click on me
At www.memory

If you feel like love, just click on me
At www.memory
For the record, I checked www.memory and it's an e-tailer of computer memory and other accessories. You gotta remember to register your domain name, Alan. Geez.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I came across two typos in the last week that had me in stitches, as they say. In talking about them Michelle suggested I come up with a section on my blog for writing down the best typos we come across. Since I'm running out of room on the sidebar, I decided to start using Labels. Will I go back and label all my previous posts? Maybe. Only the ones that fit into nice categories.

Anyway, here are the typos. First off, Michelle and I tried to sign up for a Childbirth and Parenting class at the local technical college. Some miscues happened, and we got a letter indicating we would need to re-register. It concluded with the following statement:
"I'm sorry for any incontinence this may cause you."
Luckily, the mix up hasn't caused any incontinence thus far.

I came across the second typo at a conference I went to recently. The subject matter, Labor Relations, is relatively dry. In the middle of a particularly dry paragraph, the material took a citrus-y twist:
"In the same lime of discussion, it is important to consider..."

This one hinges more on context, so at a later date I may add the particular sentences before and after. Anyhow, feel free to chime in with your favorite typos. And remember, spell checking is no replacement for good old fashioned proof reading.

"Once" and the Arts

Michelle and I watched "Once" last night, and it's the first movie I've seen in quite awhile that I really liked a lot. Two things stood out - first the music. Watching Glen Hansard perform was really cool. He has an intensity that goes really well with the music itself, or maybe it was the natural connection between a musician and music he's created. Either way, watching him perform was... riveting? I can't come up with exactly the right word.

As a side note, he reminded me a little bit of my friend Zach. I think it was just the facial hair/guitar combination. And the intensity.

Secondly, the relationship between guy and girl was excellent. The movie managed to depict a relationship that doesn't fit quaintly into the three or four categories of romantic relationship we've been conditioned to expect from movies. In fact, it manages to be unique among all the relationships I've seen in movies. It left me sad, but not unhappy. My expectations were unfulfilled, and yet I was very satisfied. You should watch this movie (unless you think music is boring). Also be aware that the Irish accent makes the characters difficult to understand at times. And there's a few f-bombs.

Today I was listening to CBC Radio 1, and I'm convinced that the Canadian arts and culture scene is unique in the world. I'm no expert on the arts, but I really think there is no artistic environment like Canada's. I heard this week's episode of "DNTO", a radio program produced in Winnipeg. I just think it's really cool that a place like Winnipeg hosts such a vibrant arts community. Anyway, my musical weekend has inspired me to add learning to play the piano to my life goals list.

While we're on the subject of Canadian radio, I also really like Wiretap (quite funny, if inappropriate and off-the-wall at times) and As it Happens (could any theme music be more iconic? I think not).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Searching for Green Info

Here is my situation: I want to buy a new car, or a bicycle helmet, or a new spatula.

And, I am willing to pay more money if I know that extra money is going to support cleaner industry, safer working conditions in developing countries, and environmental responsibility.

Furthermore, I want to avoid inadvertently supporting businesses, brands, and products that exhibit destructive behavior, especially wealth transferring (making their goods inexpensive by refusing to pay decent wages, harvesting raw materials unethically and refusing to clean up the mess their production processes create).

Here is my problem: I am in the house wares department looking at spatulas, and I can't tell Evil Corp from Good Guy Inc. Do I buy XYZ's spatula or ABC's spatula?

Where can I find a resource which rates companies and brands on their environmental and societal impact?

I have been looking, lest I receive an angry "STFI" in the comments section, for this type of information on the web. Here is what I have found: - Nifty recycler of electronics - More or less what I wanted, except it's limited to computers - Green news media outlet - Another green news media outlet - An environmental wikipedia of sorts

My next step is going to be writing a letter to the editor of the Bellingham Herald, very similar to the above. Maybe I can tap into all the earthy people around here. If it's out there, someone in Bellingham knows where to find it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Some Green Thoughts

Awhile ago I got on a green kick and started keeping track of what I bought, where it was made, etc. I haven't been very good about keeping that up, which I regret. But the main goal was never to keep a log; it was to develop a habit, or maybe to change my way of thinking. Lots of times I feel like I'm trying to swim upstream. Our culture is very powerful.

I had a small but satisfying success today. As I've whined about on this blog before, my laptop is coming unhinged. Well, the power cord finally gave out a few days ago. The battery has been toast for some time, so no power cord, no laptop. No laptop, no internet. Life grinds to a halt. I jest, but there's more truth there than I'd like to admit.

Anyhow, I checked online (ironically enough) and the replacement part was going to be $65; and, not only that, but it would be a whole new part when only one little section of the cord was broken. [Incidentally, that was my goal for tracking my purchases: to have my buying decisions include questions like "how much waste am I creating?" and "who made this and under what conditions?" in addition to "how can I spend as little as possible?". Ultimately, I would like to be asking "how can I get the greatest use while causing the least human and environmental damage?". But I digress.]

After checking on a new part online, I remembered Craigslist. Surely someone has a perfectly good power cord just laying around in there basement. Good idea, but it was more frustrating than fruitful. And I'm up one useless power cord in the process. Finally I checked with Data Doctors, who were really helpful when Michelle was trying to get our "m" key fixed awhile back. They didn't have a used one either, but the owner explained how I could just replace the plug on the power cord. Which I did. And it works, so far. And it cost $3.22.

Wow. I think I might be the most boring guy in the world. I was eventually going to point you toward the RElectronics website, which I learned quite a bit from. To put this all in the context of my blog, for the last few years I've been wrestling with our culture's 'use it up, throw it out' mentality. The Story of Stuff really impacted my thinking on the subject. If you haven't already, you should check it out. And, if you know of other people or books or websites that are responding to this issue in new a different ways, I'd love to hear about them.