D206: Design for Resilience - with Drama & Style, con’t.

I can also count on Grist and Treehugger for Design solutions I’d never find in mainstream sources. Grist led me to this Cargo Cycling site for some really impressive innovations. This one deals with both water filtration and with transportation and hauling. The design is intended for the developing world. I believe we who think in terms of sustainability and resiliency can appreciate the applicability right now.

Anyone who has visited make-a-(green) plan knows, I am a huge fan of well designed small spaces. This one in Hong Kong is a home on a bike, 3’ x 4’!

D205: Decadence

I so wanted to stumble upon Daikon radishes Sunday at the Farmer’s Market. No such luck. After I got home I realized I’d forgotten to see if the Russian woman or the Vietnamese man had dill. These were two foods I wanted to explore. But, I really wasn’t with it at all and I was completely and utterly uninspired. Okay, I was a tiny bit inspired with the seedless grapes for $2.50/lb and the figs looked voluptuous for a second week in a row. Otherwise, zip . . .

See, every once in a while I get a hankering for things that I grew up eating – the comfort foods. Real food just looks boring and unappealing to me. Happily it doesn’t happen too frequently. And mostly I just take myself in hand and say No. So, after thinking about it on Sunday I decided I would instead follow this inclination and celebrate it – rather than succumb to perfectionism, food shame and fat phobia – all of which has plagued me in my life. In keeping with this format, I decided to stick with a couple of *d* foods, donuts and dogs (hot dogs) and make it a series of events, a positive adventure. Oh yes, I worked last week for a surf shop and earned a few extra bucks, so I can afford my donuts and coffee.

Monday morning would mean going to the two historic Donut Shop(s) on highway 101 that I’d wanted to check out. And since each donut shop is next to a post office, I can pick one and finally buy some one cent stamps plus mail off my used Brita water filters thanks to the campaign by Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish. Yea!

My method of doing errands is like I used to shop. Go, do and return home. I don’t saunter, meander, kick back, explore or wander around as much as I might. In this decadence mode I want to waste some time and watch the world around me. I may also try and read the novel I picked up last week, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

The hot dog is trickier. I really don’t want to eat one away from home. I remember meat on the street when I lived in Manhattan. When I was racing around meeting clients, I would frequently grab a hot dog with mustard, sauerkraut and dill pickles from a Sabrett cart. We used to kid about the burning question, where do the Sabrett vendors go to the bathroom? My daughter became a vegetarian. Despite my bad habit of getting mustard on my suits, blouses . . . hot dogs are a fond memory of NYC.

More and more I can gross myself out when I think of meat, the reality of meat and how these animal parts are questionable. Hot dogs and canned meat are more suspect than the rest. Ya know? The living conditions before slaughter are also a reality that I find harder and harder to feel indifference.

Oh yeah, I should report that I wrote this prior to my adventure and it lived up to my expectations. I felt like crap after all that sugar, but I recovered with something sated. I even picked up some hot dogs. I was shocked that the grocery store wanted $3.50 for the plain white buns. I skipped these. At home I no longer have my toaster oven so I had to heat the hot dog in a fry pan. I put it on my cold tangy tasting rye bread with a brown mustard. It tasted just fine - but Sabrett's it was not.

Dill image
Sabrett image

D204: Design for Resilience - with Drama & Style

I can count on Inhabitat to bring me design concepts that apply to sustainable living. This one by designer Mattieu Lehanner was an art exhibition and hasn’t been priced for production. Mr. Lehanneur also created home air purification designs using plants. But, I derive my pleasure from exploring my own imagination, my own notions of how it would fit or not in my own life and thinking about this as a design solution for some population. I hack, if only in my imagination.

For me the real appeal is that I relate it to my own daydreams of retrofitting the acres and acres of grocery stores into local hydroponic food growing centers.

Yes, it is a big stretch if you are a literal thinker. I suspect I have lost most literal minded blog readers with my many design offerings. See, it never occurs to me to think of most of these products as something to buy. Sorry, designers . . . I don’t have income or inclination to get more stuff, unless it can really transform my life. But, I am always interested in problem solving.

And the heart and soul of design for me is problem solving. There is no reason that a good idea in sustainable living has to be executed without consideration to scale, connections, proportion, maintenance, balance, relationship to surroundings, cohesion, texture, finish, color, etc.

Look at these gorgeous pieces and forget about the eels. Sheesh.

Watch a video here at Gear Crave.

But imagine the future. Here is the simple concept of living in a small urban space without any yard, balcony or place to grow food. With a room where there is only space for the couch and coffee table, voilà! A garden and a fish supply. Okay, grow lights may be required if this poor person also has no sunlight. With a bit more design and development the concepts can all lead to at-home water purification, food growing, oxygen producing, carbon dioxide reduction and fish for supper. And, it needn’t look like a set for Blade Runner.

D203: Disk Purge

DVD’s, CD’s, Zip Disks, Floppy Disks and Cassette Tapes

Seven years ago I copied all of my valuable drawing files and personal files onto zip drives, five years ago I got rid of all my videos, five years before that I found a great metal box to store all of my cassette tapes from 20 years in the past. I recently gave my only DVD movie to my son. This pile is all there is left.

Now don't laugh at me, but I need to make a confession. I have only purchased 1 music CD in my life. I bought Deep Forest in the early '90's to give to someone. I never bought a CD player and have never been interested. Okay, I'm done with the confession. The happy part is I don't have a pile of those to purge too (or the CD player, Equipment Purge coming next week).

Okay I lied. Some of the CD’s are computer software I need to keep as back up along with my CD backup of files. I have 2 DVD’s, one for yoga and one for belly dancing. Don’t ask me why I keep them. Maybe I will gift them to someone – or figure out what is needed on my computer to play DVD’s – without spending any money. Otherwise it is all techno trash I think. I haven’t seen any reuse projects that appeal to me, so it is trash. Or do people take these to thrift stores? Feel free to educate me in the comments.

Did I leave out a step? I think so. I believe I should look through this pile. There may be some important files on the zip drive disks. And, I think I need to play the cassette tapes and decide if they should be tossed. I do have this handy metal box after all. It is from a past era when a kid would mail his laundry to his mother from prep school for $.59 and she would mail it back. Well, that is what I surmise from the postage and the addresses on the label.

This might take some time, and possibly some tears. *Sigh* Music does that to me.

Update: Just read about the demise of the cassette tape in the publishing business in an article, Say So Long to an Old Companion: Cassette Tapes. This is where I got this apt quote.
“I bet you would be hard pressed to find a household in the U.S. that doesn’t have at least a couple cassette tapes hanging around,” said Shawn DuBravac, an economist with the Consumer Electronics Association. Even if publishers of music and audio books stopped using cassettes entirely, people would still shop for tape players because of “the huge libraries of legacy content consumers have kept,” he said.

As long as people keep mix tapes from a high-school sweetheart up in the attic, Mr. DuBravac said, there will still be the urge to hear them. “People have a tremendous amount of installed content and an innate curiosity when coming across a box of tapes to say, ‘Hey, what’s on these?’ ” he said.

C202: California Courage Campaign

Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a moderate, but rather an arch-right Neocon with a good press agent. -Spittle and Ink Truegasm

It is tough to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger praised as a friend to the environment or any other progressive cause.

Californians have been blindsided with a desperate measure that the Governor is trying to foist on the most vulnerable California citizens.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger just announced that he will sign an Executive Order on Monday slashing the wages of over 200,000 state employees to the bare minimum.

Not California's minimum wage of $8 per hour. The federal minimum wage of $6.55. Six dollars and fifty-five cents an hour.

What I don’t understand is why this Austrian tool would want to piss off millions of workers in an election year. Even though it would directly affect only 200,000 state workers, there would be thousands and thousand more who feel vulnerable and or empathetic. Why?

Here are some Rethuglican party stats:
According to figures compiled by the California secretary of state’s office, the number of registered Republicans there has dropped by roughly 207,000 since October 2006. At the end of January, California’s Republican party was in the red, with $3.2 million cash on hand but more than $3.4 million in debts. California Democrats, by contrast, had $5.5 million in the bank and just $83,000 in debts.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has clashed with conservatives in his party, used Hollywood terminology to paint a dire picture last fall at a state party convention.

“We are dying at the box office,” Schwarzenegger said. “We are not filling the seats.”

This quote is old, but I suspect more true today. But to return to the issue of the hour. I received the newest Courage Campaign action in my email. Please sign.

Stop Arnold: Sign the petition to protect 200,000 state workers.

C201: Coping, Cruelty, Comatose, Comsumerism

No – not Alien Nation, alienation. I think we are alienated by our attitudes or awareness in an atmosphere of us versus them. We are alienated by increasingly segregated interests in a highly complex world. We are alienated by the lack exposure to what is going on around us despite 24/7 news, because news has been hijacked to serve its owners. We are alienated by our work, our pastimes and our living patterns.

In a time when people’s worst qualities of lazy, frightened, self-obsessed greed and apathy are manipulated to near comatose levels of indifference, it is easy to feel alienated. I was struck by this piece so beautifully titled, Sometimes It's Exhausting Being a Humorless Fat Feminist.
Once you've had your feminist awakening, you notice there's a lot of misogynist shit out there that just ain't funny. Things your less-awakened friends might still find hilarious, you just find ... depressing. Or angering. Or nauseating. Same goes for when you get hip to GLBT rights, or civil rights for people of color, or class issues, etc., etc., etc. Often, after that first initial shock, you get inured again and can once more watch mainstream media without wanting to kill someone or hurl, but when you're really intensely immersed in race issues, class issues, gender issues - well, let's just say I can remember a semester in grad school where I could only watch carefully selected VHS movies, because I was so hyper-attuned to sexism that any other media exposure just squicked me right the hell out.

I must add consumerism, a culture of waste and the throw-away economy to the list. There is no leadership that scorns the hate and disrespect of modern discourse. We no longer can rely on a public educated in human rights.

Recently my son was sent an email titled Motivational Posters and he forwarded to me. It was filled with misogynist, homophobic, fat hating, disability intolerant, racist clichés of current culture. Okay, here was one that sort of passed the smell test. (My fear is that I am unwittingly posting the visual equivalent of a dog whistle, one of those symbolic phrases / images that signals to the haters.) But, notice that even this one was done without any ironic humor. The motivational message on the bottom is not a classic motivational phrase like teamwork, integrity, etc. Its only relationship to a motivational poster is the poster format (photo on black background) and the white typeface. WTF indeed.

I had the fierce battle within myself of whether to ignore it or confront it. Teaspoon in hand (the metaphor from Shakesville of the fight against sexism - all I can do is keep trying to empty the sea with this teaspoon) I wrote out a brief sentence or two per poster, assembled them all into a mini-memo and sent it back to my son. After some fragmented interactions I felt some satisfaction from broaching tough subjects.

Humor is dumber and meaner than it should be or could be. Songs, art, music, theatre, television, books, and much more have been reduced to the lowest common denominators for the deadened the minds and sensibilities. Keep us stupid, fighting each other and malleable? Perfect example is Step Brothers, which thankfully gets a scathing review today. (h/t Zuzu)

Here is another insight I borrow from the G-Spot blog. It describes my own feelings of alienation.

From as far back as I remember, I've felt like an outsider with an oppositional relationship to the universe. At some deep level, it has something to do with being born a female with a brain and a strong will in a world that is run by and for men.

Check. I would add that my own family of two sisters, a mom and a grandmother who were born without the brain and strong will combo reinforced my alien status by comparison.

A note about the links. I will freely admit that it is a bit ironic that for my post on alienation I am citing sources linked to Shakesville, where I obviously am feeling shared values and community. In fact, one of the reasons I have wanted to write something about alienation is that I do feel community where I live and at the virtual fellowship of Shakesville. I feel bonding and a loving connection with my son, my mom and best friend. And though I am grateful for the bloggers in the sustainability movement, there is a disconnect for all of these. You see, I feel all of these groups are so clearly connected, but they aren’t. None seem to have any more than a vague awareness of the others.

I blame the media for a decades long obfuscation. Corporate media keeps us alienated from facts, connections. This long process of de-education is effectively stupefying us all. Despite the lie of Chimpy McStagger claiming to be a uniter, we have learned that dividing us all is an effective device of suppression. Even our pastimes are alienating us.

  • Driving
  • Television
  • Gaming
  • Shopping
  • Spectator Sports

Each of these things encourages us to live within our own narrow world. These are not activities that engage us with others, even though we might be surrounded by others. These are not activities which enrich our minds, our interactions with others. Even movies and music have become solitary via technology.

The internet is a prime example of my feeling connected. But am I? I think of this line.

We're all in this together — by ourselves. —Lily Tomlin

I muse – because I don’t have a clear idea of how a better way of being might look or feel. I used to feel such a strong righteousness in my anonymity. Togetherness and community were not positive words for me. After the peer pressure, judgment and other authoritarian small town experiences of my youth, I thought becoming an adult and getting married would be my chance for my life, my way. Naïve that. I hadn’t a clue about patriarchy even though I’d married a second generation Middle Easterner. I had to read Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique. In the book, Friedan defines women's unhappiness as "the problem that has no name.”

Following Mid-West small town living, large Middle Eastern family life and post-marriage poverty and health problems, something essential broke down. In putting myself back together I chose to live a more solitary life. Yet, I now see that millions and millions of us thought we chose an ‘independent’ life for our own reasons. I am no longer sure that is true. My pattern of traveling far from where I was raised and where I was lived when I married isn’t unique. "It's a classic trick to manipulate people by making them believe that they are being more independent in doing so." This was a comment recently in one of the Shakesville threads. I spotted it after writing this. I agree whole heartedly.

Thanks to the last century and a half of cheap oil, we are scattered far and wide from our origins our ancestor’s homes. Industrialization moved whole populations off the land and into urban areas. Part of industrialization was the switch from buying from need to buying from want or desire. This process created the false sensibility I feel I grapple with now, today. I am alienated from genuine life awareness. I live my life an arm’s length from the essential.

The personal is political.

Image is Yinka Shonibare MBE, Dysfunctional Family 1999

C200: Climate Change Cartoons

Can you laugh at global warming? Indeed, should you? The Ken Sprague Fund has organised a competition that set out to answer those awkward questions - so if you think that cartoons about climate change could be in poor taste, look away now.
Around 150 artists from more than 50 countries submitted entries. The results, says John Green, secretary of the fund that was set up in memory of cartoonist Ken Sprague, were "bitingly satirical, outrageously funny or exceedingly bitter, and even fatalistic". None were neutral or indifferent, he says, while few took the subject lightly.

Earth family alpha directed me to this post on the winners of this competition with the winning cartoon above.

Green says: "Cartoons can reach parts that other arguments can't. We have been inundated with doom-laden predictions and scientific facts on the inevitability of global warming, but here we can exorcise our fears.

Powerful, uncompromising and uncomfortable images bring home to us what it will really mean - not a Costa del Sol on the Welsh coast and palm trees in the garden, but desertification, hunger and poverty."

First prize was awarded to Coat Star, by Mikhail Zlatkovsky, from Russia. Green says that the judges - chaired by regular Guardian political cartoonist Martin Rowson - felt that the winner "captured the shabbiness and sleazy way our planet is being devastated".

I include some of my favorites. This first could have been used with my post on T. Boone Pickens.

C199: Classroom Repression and Expression

A teacher in Perry Township, Marion County, Indiana was suspended without pay for 18 months because she refused to abide by the School Board’s ruling that she stop teaching from the book, The Freedom Writers Diary.

I sent Melissa McEwan a link to this story because she lives in Indiana. She asked if I would write a post. Panic. Frankly, I don’t have school age kids any longer, don’t know fuckall about Indiana, but, but , but . . . But this story infuriated me. I do indeed have opinions about this, despite knowing nothing of Indiana School systems or teaching English courses. Besides, Melissa is hurting so I will make a go of it. To be fair, I hadn’t read the book or seen the movie.
The Freedom Writers Diary, a series of true stories written by inner-city teenagers, was put together by a teacher, Erin Gruwell, and has been celebrated as a model for transforming young lives. It was made into a film with Hilary Swank last year.

Connie Heermann, a teacher for 27 years, sought permission to introduce the book to her students last autumn after attending a training workshop held by the Freedom Writers Foundation.

Boy howdy does this teacher in the movie, Erin Gruwell, give her absolute all to these students. Yes, I watched the movie so I could judge for myself. She lost her husband from his inability to rise to her level of conscious living; she endures her dad, the activist she admires, insulting her judgment and takes two additional jobs to pay for books, field trips for her students.

I am always critical of the bathos in movies, television, commercials to manipulate us all. It is so tacky. The movie was pretty heavy handed and predictable. But, the story is vitally important to the values this progressive hold dear. Besides, the sheeple seem to love it when our moving pictures are slathered in sentimentality. At least that appears to be true given the glut of mawkishness, so it could boost viewing. Right? My snarkiness is another reason I hesitated to write this.

According to the Guardian, UK article, in the case of Ms. Heermann there was, according to the teacher’s union, one school board member who was opposed to swearing in the book and this member persuaded the six other members to take this action.

Heermann and the union say there was no explicit ban on the book when she handed it out to pupils on November 15. But later that day she received an email from the board advising her not to teach the book. “That was the pivotal moment of my life, when I saw how my students were taken with the book, how they loved it, and then I am told not to let them read it? I said no,” she said.

The school board denies book banning and accuses Heermann of insubordination. Barbara Thompson, the school board president, wrote in an email yesterday: “She knew she had defied her supervisors’ direction in her work and that her defiance was ‘insubordination’ and ‘neglect of duty’.”

Neglect of duty? What duty would that be? I am positive that was recorded in Perry Township without irony.

The name Freedom Writers was taken from the 60’s Civil Rights Freedom Riders and the Diary of Anne Frank, two inspiring historic events Erin Gruwell used to teach her students. As Ms. Heermann describes this teaching she thought her students could relate to “young people who want to do something good in their lives despite the environment in which they were raised.”

At the opposite end of the classroom spectrum is a story of an inspired principal in Whitwell, Tennessee who saw that her school was without diversity. She thought this was a problem if students were to be taught about tolerance and diversity. She sent her assistant principal to a State workshop and ultimately the school administration decided they would teach the students about the holocaust. So again Diary of Anne Frank was used to touch the hearts and imagination of these children. My own mother, an elementary school teacher before she married, told me that she was completely captivated by the Diary of Anne Frank. She read it after the war when I was little.

Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee is the setting for this documentary about an extraordinary experiment in Holocaust education. Struggling to grasp the concept of six-million Holocaust victims, the students decide to collect six-million paper clips to better understand the extent of this crime against humanity. The film details how the students met Holocaust survivors from around the world and how the experience transformed them and their community.
This I learned from a movie I watched last night called Paper Clips. This is a documentary, not a Hollywood film like The Freedom Writers Diary. It had a great deal of sentimentality and music crescendos, but I was moved. My heart felt open and pummeled. These are some good people and endearing rural kids from a town of 1,600 situated in Appalachia, just 100 miles from where the KKK originated.

I cried as I’d cried viewing the Freedom Writers. This was classroom expression at its finest and the entire town of Whitwell was supportive. The fact that I viewed this film was a happy accident. I learned about SnagFilms just yesterday and decided to check it out. I think I will watch it again.

PS - The price of this free film is annoying commercial breaks (thankfully brief) at the dumbest intervals.

C198: Chickpeas and Cucumbers

I am inspired to attempt a recipe for a burger I found a couple of days ago from an Australian blogger. It was like she was reading my mind, my cravings. The photos and the recipes are lifted from her blog, Down to Earth. Pay her a visit if you haven't before, as it a pleasure to read a happy blogger proud of her life.

Let me point out that I have never been that interested in mock-meat vegetarian cooking or food products. But I saw this chickpea recipe and what appealed to me is the different texture, the solidness of a burger over the vegetable meals that are my norm. I think this really qualifies as a new experience for me, despite chickpeas being a ubiquitous menu item and despite my having fried thousands of burgers in a lifetime of meal preparation.

I’m reducing portions in the recipe as I want to eat all that I fix in a day, even if it is over several meals. Without a refrigerator I just don’t want prepared food sitting around. I only have some Ciabatta bread, no cunning little bun like she shows in her photo. And, the recipe has been modified, go to the source for the original.

I soaked the chickpeas all night per instructions and intend to mix the ingredients in the food processor. They are to look like this photo.

Bit over 1 cup of pre-soaked chickpeas
½ medium onion
baby carrot
½ cup zucchini
2 eggs
two potatoes
salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon cumin

Here’s the thing. I wont’ be trying this until late this afternoon, so I will update this post. This is merely chapter 1, the plan.

Continuing this *C* theme for this week's food blog, I chose to buy some small cucumbers at the farmer’s market on Sunday. Cucumbers just don’t thrive in our gardens. I guess this on more item that requires some research.

These little cukes I bought made my salads sing. I wish I'd picked up more. I honestly took some from my mouth to be sure it was the cucumber that tasted so great. It was. The difference with the store bought was astounding. It was like another vegetable entirely. The crunchiness was the number one feature that made the cucumber the salad star the last 2 days.

My intent was to put some cucumbers in vinegar, but I just don’t want to waste one. In my mind the vinegar is where you send inferior cucumbers to die. I’m not sure I have the right outlook towards preserving.

Preserving and persevering . . . This is on my mind a lot. The pace is moving too quickly for my wretched skill level, my attitude and energy level. It reminds me so much of growing up feeling too fat, too tall, too ‘fill in the blank’. I wasted years of my life fixating on what I wasn’t rather than what I was. I don’t want to do this when it comes to sustainability and the many skills required of the coming times of change. My gardens suck and I have so many projects to do and skills to learn.

But on Sunday evening I had an invigorating interaction with two young women. I looked out my window and saw two beautiful young women admiring my latest art project – pencil posts. They asked if they could take pictures and also asked me to get the two of them in a shot.

They were awed by the plants in the raised bed garden and raved about my black and white dance floor driveway and mirrored back fence. Since they were interested I gave them a tour of the features dear to my heart in the quest for a lighter footprint; the wormery, trash dummy, solar oven and oil barrels as plant containers.

One woman said my life was exactly what she wanted. I came right back with, “I’m sixty and I got here over a very long time. You will get where you want to be.” Another said, I could never think to do this and I told her she didn’t have to because she could just collect the ideas that appealed to her. She said that is why she takes so many pictures with her phone. They thought my place would make a great movie set. I told them with a smile I would welcome that if there was $3000 in it. (This is what I need to get through to the end of the year). I waved them good-bye saying they could send the scouts to negotiate if they came across any movie directors.

Update: Ok. I couldn't wait. I switched my lunch plan and made the chickpea burger mix and fried 2 patties. I am seriously underwhelmed. The crunchy part, the heavier quality - both were there. It was just too bland and veggy to my burger consciousness. The mixture was way too runny so I added oatmeal. I am letting the rest of the mix sit in a strainer with a weighted bowl on top to get the excess liquid drained. I will try the other two later - and put one in the ciabatta bread. Maybe that will help.

C197: Corporate States of America

Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil. And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies." Al Gore, Netroots Nation speech on July 17, 2008.

The call by Gore for 100% renewable energy by 2018 is stirring. I join millions in finding the US status quo totally unacceptable. In the time it takes me to type this sentence, how many thousands are dying around the world for this American empire to hold the world hostage for its oil and other precious resources?

First I am excited about Al Gore challenging the netroots to a 10 year goal and delighted that billions are being spent on wind energy by billionaire T. Boone Pickens. The few internet sites I read and generally respect have scrambled to support Gore and Pickens. Treehugger, Grist and Earthfamilyalpha are just three.

But, I have a nagging sense of dread that comes whenever old white men with money and a platform are central to problem’s solution. It just can’t be that good for the rest of us. Okay, maybe I overstate to make a point. My point is first and foremost about the goals. Pickens states outright that this is a business venture for him to make money.

"Don't get the idea that I've turned green," Pickens tells the Guardian in the Dallas offices of his new venture Mesa Power. "My business is making money, and I think this is going to make a lot of money."
Gore keeps with the political phrasing for justifications (like using the moon challenge as the hook). His WE website lists Pickens’ privately owned wind farm as a success within his organization. Al is a player to be sure.

My gut is saying these boys and their boys and grandboys will be set for a century or two in the new power and wealth structure brought to you by the newest versions of patriarchal entitlement to empire.

A Guardian article gives this about Pickens, who bankrolled 3M for the Swift Boat Veterans attack on Kerry in ‘04,
There is also a political edge to his obsession. Politics and Pickens go together, as is obvious from the walls of his offices, lined with photographs of him with world leaders. One shows him with the Queen, Prince Philip and George HW Bush; another is with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan; a third shows him on board Air Force One with the current President Bush. There is a signed calendar from Arnold Schwarzenegger on the table.

My instincts are sound. This post in Agora financial publications reports as T. Boone Pickens, the oil man turned wind tycoon sought the water rights to the Ogallala Aquifer.

Pickens wants to take the water from the Ogallala Aquifer and pump about 200,000 acre feet of groundwater annually to El Paso, Lubbock, San Antonio or Dallas-Fort Worth - for a price, of course.
This price would depend on how far the water needs to go. El Paso would pay around $1,400 per acre foot, while Dallas would pay $800 and San Antonio more than $1,000.

An Acre foot, by the way, is a common industry metric. Basically, an acre foot of water is the amount of water required to flood a plain of 1 acre to a depth of 1 foot. Generally speaking, 1 acre foot of water can support two families of four for one year.

Pickens has no qualms about charging people for water and has a ready quip for those who think it wrong to do so. "I know what people say - water's a lot like air. Do you charge for air? 'Course not; you shouldn't charge for water," says he. "Well, OK, watch what happens. You won't have any water."
Notice how his response completely ignores the role a responsive government as advocate for the public good might act in this scenario of water (or wind, or solar, etc.) For Pickens it is either private ownership (read: profit motive) or loss. Up, down - no blending, no grey, no mix.

With Gore’s plans or Pickens plans are there any public conversations about any transformative economic underpinnings like public good, nationalization of energy, free energy, decentralized, government monitoring? *Crickets*

As I googled to read if others speak to my visceral response to the Gore and Pickens bandwagons. I stumbled upon a brand new IPO (initial public offering) being created. I swear I am not making this up, Brand Energy. Jeebus.

The company is a provider of multi-craft services for the downstream infrastructure space. Some of the offerings include: insulation, corrosion protection, weatherproofing, specialty coatings and so on. What's more, there are four major focuses: refining, Canadian Sands, petrochemical and power generations.

Brand Energy certainly has a sterling customer list, which includes biggies like BP (NYSE: BP), ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX).

Goosebumps here, for me anyway. What kind of a 'fuck you is' that name? Not even a pretense of purpose, only commerce. And in case there are any doubts about this incestuous clusterfuck by-product:

The lead underwriters on the IPO include Goldman, Sachs & Co. (NYSE: GS), UBS Investment Bank (NYSE: UBS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS). You can also locate the prospectus at the SEC's website.

On the other hand, there is the beginning of talk about a different approach. This would be a baby step between the corporate landscape we have now and true democratic restructuring. This baby step is the b corporation.

As small, socially responsible businesses gain attention, some large corporations start to take notice, and in some cases take over (See, for example, Ben & Jerry’s, Tom’s of Maine and Burt’s Bees.)

To help companies maintain their morals in the face of corporate takeovers, and to attract socially responsible investors and consumers, a nonprofit called B Lab has created B Corporation, where the 'B' stands for beneficial (to the business, public and environment).

B Corporation is a certification for business that are “purpose-driven” and that want to create benefits for all stakeholders (employees, the community, the environment, etc.), not just shareholders. And in a time when every business wants to at least look like they’re going green, this certification could be essential for socially responsible investors and consumers who are trying to differentiate “good companies” from “good marketing.”

The certification was created to help companies interested in the triple bottom line have the best of both –profit worlds. As a “for-purpose” business, B Corporations can reach beyond the capital limitations of the nonprofit world, and also the constraints of having to appease shareholders or investors as a for-profit.

This is a start. At least bring this to the table when discussing new energy and sustainable plans like the Pickens’s wind farms or Gore’s 100% zero-carbon electrical in 10 years.

C196: Cleaning Product Purge

This is really just a placeholder for my series on purging. I named the category long before I'd eliminated most all my cleaning products that were filled with chemicals I didn't want in my home or the environment any longer.

Last week I did go to the local healthy store and bought some environmentally gentle dish soap. I haven't been feeling my dishes were getting clean. This new soap isn't sudsy and I admit I miss the suds, but the dishes feel clean. I think it is cutting grease better too.

I also have some environmentally gentle detergent I picked up when I'd forgotten the soap nuts. I decided to buy a green version of my favorite brand of toothpaste for sensitive teeth. I occasionally use baking soda just to make it last longer.

This is as good a spot as any to acknowledge that I am just not as interested in cleaning as I was before the challenge. I believe it is partly due to my hyper-consciousness of the water use in cleaning and the hyper-consumerist anxiety over dirt and germs. This last is something that goes way beyond health and hygine in this culture. This is blatant manipulation over decades and decades to create consumers a bit obsessive about cleanliness in order to sell products we don't really need.

For me a perfect example was my elimination of shampoo and conditioner. I clean my head and hair with water and the occasional bit of baking soda. After the first month or two I never looked back. What a waste of money and resources.

Funny I now think of cleaning products for the house and my body in the same category. Again, I think the distinction is a marketing one rather than a rational distinction.

C195: Corporate Cannibal

Grace Jones from her new album. Love the lyrics of this yummy, scary Grace Jones.

Consume my consumers with no sense of humor.

I know it is odd to post on a Monday evening . . .

B194: Bill Moyers Hero

My general feeling about old white men aside, I have yet another old white man I want to honor as a remarkable individual. Bill Moyers is a hero in today’s corporate media. He came back out of retirement to host the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. I watch this program at my computer every week. This last week his program focused on banking.

THE JOURNAL travels to ground zero of the mortgage meltdown — Cleveland, Ohio. Correspondent Rick Karr takes viewers to Slavic Village, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the nation when it comes to the spate of foreclosures caused by the subprime mortgage crisis.

Veteran journalist William Greider on the current financial crisis and what he calls "the great deflation of Wall Street."

Besides the resources I cited earlier this week, I want to shout out to the world, WATCH THIS NOW! It is both frightening and encouraging to hear real information with a committed and sincere and rational journalist interviewing an intelligent guest.

This is one video link I offer up that is no doubt work safe. Keep it on in the background, whatever. Just so you hear some of this basic information about usury in America.

So, watch this now.

Portrait by Americans Who Tell the Truth project creator Robert Shetterly.

B193: Banking in the Toilet

"President Bush said Tuesday the nation's troubled financial system is "basically sound" and urged lawmakers to quickly enact legislation to prop up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

Why would a "basically sound" system ever need to "prop up...giants"? Bitty@ Shakesville

From Paul Krugman at AlterNet:
The case against Fannie and Freddie begins with their peculiar status: although they're private companies with stockholders and profits, they're "government-sponsored enterprises" established by federal law, which means that they receive special privileges.
The most important of these privileges is implicit: it's the belief of investors that if Fannie and Freddie are threatened with failure, the federal government will come to their rescue.
This implicit guarantee means that profits are privatized but losses are socialized. If Fannie and Freddie do well, their stockholders reap the benefits, but if things go badly, Washington picks up the tab. Heads they win, tails we lose.

From Guy R. McPherson Professor of Natural Resources and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology At Arizona State University.

The administration of George W. Bush is characterized by powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, identification of enemies as a unifying cause, obsession with militaristic national security and military supremacy, interlinking of religion and the ruling elite, obsession with crime and punishment, disdain for the importance of human rights and intellectuals who support them, cronyism, corruption, sexism, protection of corporate power, suppression of labor, control over mass media, and fraudulent elections. These are the defining elements of fascism.

I listened to Naomi Klein last week on Democracy Now. She spoke about her book Shock Doctrine and how this latest banking news fits right in to the disaster capitalism theme of the book.

And Naomi Klein you might remember took on the architect of this crapilicious banking debacle, Alan Greenspan in another Democracy Now program this year. This segment has some real teeth with both Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein holding the Ayn Rand devotee Greenspan’s feet to the fire. His responses are self serving and factually incorrect and/or disingenuous. Here is a sample.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, they are talking about, in one day, for example, the East Rutherford operation center of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 100 Orchard Street in East Rutherford, a tractor-trailer truck pulling up, and though accustomed to receiving and shipping large quantities of cash, the vault had never before processed a single order of this magnitude: $2.4 billion in $100 bills. But ultimately, again, $9 billion of $12 billion has gone missing in Iraq.
ALAN GREENSPAN: I am not familiar with any such evidence. And it was certainly not brought to my attention. I, frankly, find it very unlikely that those orders of magnitude were involved in any of the numbers that we were dealing with. You have to make certain that—there’s been a lot of confusion about losses, and people have used the dinar, the basic currency unit of Iraq, and assumed they were American dollars. And, of course, that gives you a highly distorted view. There’s been, I’ve seen, several reports fairly recently in which that sort of mistake was being made. But what I can tell you is that no such numbers of any order of magnitude of the type you are discussing came to the attention of the Federal Reserve.

And from this . . .

NAOMI KLEIN: Mr. Greenspan, I’m wondering whether you feel that you share any responsibility in the rise of this economic populism, because, of course, you took over the Federal Reserve during the Reagan administration, and when Reagan took office, CEOs earned forty-three times more than their workers, and when you left the Federal Reserve, they made more than 400 times more than their workers. So the policies that you pursued—deregulation, privatization, free trade—have contributed to this extraordinary division of income that is really the fuel for this economic populism that you’re now denouncing. So aren’t you the one that has caused this crisis of faith in capitalism? Or, at least, don’t you share some of that responsibility?
ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, look, the whole issue of what has happened in this country with respect to the increasing inequality of income is an issue I address and abhor in the book, and I point out that what is causing it to a very significant extent is the fact that skilled labor is under extraordinary demand as the technologies increase, and we’ve had a dysfunctional education system in this country, both in primary and secondary schools, which is showing up in all of the studies, which indicate that while our children in the fourth grade are doing fairly well relative to international comparisons, by the end of high school, they are in terrible shape. And as a consequence of that, we are not putting the proper number of people into the education cycle to get them up to skill levels, which creates much less, or would create a good deal less, in the way of income inequality.

Blaming the low income workers for not being educated enough? What a tool. A tool with the anguish and even death of millions on his head for directing an economic system that kills rather than develops.

In this consortium of reactions regarding the banking outrages of the past week, I am bringing back this link to an incredibly informative video about Money. It is worth 45 minutes to hear this again. We don’t get any instruction in education about money and what it is. It is basic to all life in this 21st century and I venture to say only a tiny minority of people understand. I am now part of that tiny minority. Here is the link to Money is Debt.

For a second economic video, I returned to something posted earlier this year. This one is really short but full of concepts about economic growth being a negative thing. Depletion and pollution.

B192: Bike

I have been saying for some time that I need to bike and walk rather than drive my truck. I did give the truck to my son. This week he learned from a neighbor how to repair the water pump. It is not the radiator as the mechanics said, it was the water pump. For $52 and a morning with a knowledgeable guy willing to share his tools and skill, my son fixed the truck. Yea.

Taking inspiration from Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish, I added a bike to my wish list. I looked up the bike she blogged about on July 2 and found an electric version I now want. I even went so far as to find a local dealer just 1.41 miles away.

The comfort and ease of riding combined with the convenience, utility and environmental friendliness of electric assist. Featuring Pedal Activated Power assist when pedaling or no-pedaling-required throttle control.
Average Retail Price $1,070

Well, I wrote that and then went to the shop. They didn't have the bike in stock and when the man in charge checked he found that it is no longer available. Apparently there is a new model, The Twist, that will be replacing this model. It has to do with this technology changing so rapidly. I was told this model was the best buy for the money and that there are a lot of awful products out there.

Riot for Austerity challenge numbers aside, it is all moot for now. First of all I am in such miserable shape I am a winded, sweating and heart pounding wreck just walking a couple of blocks. I need to build up to a bike. Second, I'd hoped to get a bike paid for by my son when he sold his car. Alas, his car brought in only enough to pay off the loan so neither of us have the money for my bike. That's okay I can wait. It will happen.

Pop Quiz
How far can the average person bicycle on the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline?
a) around 50 miles
b) around 240 miles
c) around 630 miles

While you are thinking, here are some great photos I have been collecting of bicycles around the world used to do real work. (Excuse random photo placement, I am all thumbs today). We have it so easy compared to these people who are grappling with some serious loads.

Answer: C. A gallon of gasoline contains about 31,000 calories, and "Bicycles can travel at least 10 times farther on a given amount of energy than the most efficient car," according to Nicholas Goddard, a graduate of Duke University who decided to see just how far he could bike on 31,000 calories. He rode the 633 miles over eight days, eating a wide range of foods, including "two Gatorades, five ham-and-cheese sandwiches, a steak burrito from Cosmic Cantina, a glass of sangria, a quesadilla, chips and salsa, and a pint of beer."

check out the World's Most Efficient Vehicle?

B191: Branding

Thanks to Kenny Blogginz at Shakesville

B190: Beans

I have a wealth of beans. There are thousands and thousands of beans behind eye level glass at my home. Beans, or more correctly called legumes and grains are stored in the open. Every day I can have the food security a glance can bring me. Cooking is looking comes to mind today.

A couple of months ago Rosa made a comment about her half thought-out theory of creating. Rather than inspiration first then finding the materials, the post-oil shift will be acknowledging materials at hand and finding inspiration. Her theory stayed with me and I believe it is profoundly true. From my post on Trashion Rosa said:
I have this half-thought-out theory that about 50 years of modern art and craft-as-art (say starting with Pop Art) have been about dealing with the overwhelming plenty of industrial consumerism, and we are starting to see the beginning of post-plenty art.

Just like cooking by looking at what is available and making something delicious out of it, this art of looking at what is there and transforming it through skill, instead of thinking of something and finding the resources to make it, isn't so much a technique as a world view.

But it's a really important shift.

Cooking by looking is more profoundly real to me now that I have stopped using refrigeration. I had my first food go furry and blue on me yesterday. It was the hummus. I will need to make less or give away half. Hummus holds for several days – that’s all.

Visually checking all of my fresh food for rot and changing the water several times a day on my lettuce bouquet and kale bouquet is far more attentive than I was accustomed to prior to unplugging the refrigerator. It has made me conscious of buying only what I can eat before the food decays. And, I need to cook more often.

I am grateful for this experiment in living to point out some post-cheap oil realities in a visceral way. Living off-grid and without refrigeration as all humanity lived prior to mass produced electrical refrigeration, means first of all paying attention. Over buying fresh food is stupid if is only going to rot. Living without refrigeration means I should learn more methods of food preservation.

With so little food to harvest in my raised bed garden and the community gardens, I have been putting off canning versus drying versus fermentation decisions. Sharon and Chile both have all the links and information I would ever need to take this on for a decision. Stay tuned . . .

But what about the beans?! This post is titled beans because I have beans on the brain. Because of all I have said about keeping fresh food around, I am relying on my dried beans and legumes if I don’t harvest enough fresh vegetables or buy enough from the Farmer’s market. So this relieves me of the money and supply anxieties.

I have beans on the brain because I have been soaking 3 kinds of beans for a week to get them to sprout. I want to plant the community gardens in a cover crop of beans to fix nitrogen in the soil. The community gardens are just pathetic and I have started thinking in terms of growing soil rather than growing crops this year. This is what I am picturing – only multiplied by hundreds and matured. I envision a field of green compost growing to enrich this sad, sorry soil.

Although Cool Beans was an expression in the 70’s and 80’s, beans is also a fitting metaphor for polite swearing. I remember that the expletive, “Oh BEANS!” was the stand in for real swearing when I was growing up. I have been exasperated with myself for not living up to my own expectations with gardening and I have no excuses that make any sense. I am pissed off (though it shames me to admit this) with the complete and utter lack of community spirit for the gardens from 35 different homes. One neighbor did plant something he had no room for in his yard and another chooses to water only the banana and avacado plants. Besides these two only the manager couple and I have done anything in the gardens. Hey, I said from the onset I didn’t want to go all self-righteous, so I need to just get over my bad self on this one. I need to plant the damn beans on my own and just STFU.

And, BEANS and franks, franks and beans the country is run by craven buttheads. Daily it is apparent we are on our own.

I think I may have to write more about beans as the year goes on. Right now I have black-eyed peas, garbanzo and adzuki beans. Frankly, I simply ran out of containers for more varieties. I like the humble theme – the bean. It is a miracle in design. It helps that I find food beautiful.

This last image from Cid* at Flickr.

B189: Blogging Mastery?

I followed a blogaround™ link from Shakesville
to Blue Gal. I thank her for embedding this Ira Glass video. She says it best, “This is why I blog every. single. day.”

I would love to get better at writing. Devoting enough time and care is critical to improvement. Like fitness and other good habits I want to incorporate into my life, I need to write as consistently as I can to develop.

I am a very big fan of Ira Glass and have been for years. It is the only aspect of my decades long NPR habit I actually suffered from ending. So, I found This American Life on the internet. I often listen via my computer to Chicago Public Radio’s streaming of This American Life archives when I want to stop my mind from racing around in circles as I am going to sleep. Ira Glass and his colleagues all have such inimitable voices, I am mesmerized.

B188: Bedding Purge

This sounds like a project, but it is frightfully simple. Here is a fuzzy photograph taken a couple years ago of my neighbor, Sunshine. She loved to sit on my daybed and make a nest of the pillows. There are several heavier fabric pillow covers I use to stuff my bed pillows and quilt in each morning. I also am able to store oversized towels in one too. This way by daybreak my bed doubles as a couch with these pillows acting as bolsters and cushions. I also have one set of spare sheets that lays flat under the mattress, ready to use when I wash the current set of sheets.

When I decided bed linens should be a category to purge my pile was larger. I had a big comforter I’d made out of a sleeping bag and fabric I’d bought and sewed into a duvet, a set of ripped black flannel sheets and a blue neck pillow from a past Christmas exchange. Now, those things have been given away, repurposed or tossed.

The comforter went to my son’s place for when he has company. This week I have it back to re-sew the hem. My ex-MIL who was Lebanese used to use a running stitch to sew sheets to quilts or comforters and she called it a mul-haff-ee. With these sheet covers there was no need for a top sheet. Some years ago this was the inspiration, along with the European duvet concept that I was able to use an ugly but warm and inexpensive comforter and beautify it with the fabric I also found on sale. I put a panel down the center that matched the curtains I’d sewed for the room. The room had been my son's back then in Arizona, so it was fitting I give it to him with my purge.

The black flannel sheets with holes were used to create my cloth wipes. I cut these into 8” squares and hemmed the edges using a zigzag stitch. The limp, synthetic neck pillow just needed to be tossed. It lived for 4 years and that is long enough.

I used to think of curtains and drapery as part of this category, but I no longer have extra curtains, drapery or blinds. This might be a category for some, but it isn't one for me right now. I might add window coverings next winter as a sort of batten or insulation, but I don't have anything like that now.

Today’s project was to take two of my goose down pillows and combine them into one case. My method was to use a big plastic barrel for my transfer place. Not bad as I’d expected a bigger mess.

I then put the pillow out in the sun to let solar power zap dust mites and other microscopic life. I put these into a zippered case and I will stitch this shut to avoid an potential feather storm from accidentally unzipping the case. I may wait a night or so as I have a third limp feather pillow that might fit in this case. I need to give it the sleep test.

Don't let any retail marketer tell you need a whole closet just for linens or that you need more than one change of sheets per bed. It isn't true. This is ever the struggle of needs versus desires (especially the corporate induced desires).

A187: Activity, Activism and Anger

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

Mark Twain
I am angry in many different ways. From the last couple of days’ posts it is clear I am angry with those criminals, the pResident and vice-generating pResident, in the white house.

I am angry with all the developed nations’ leaders for the useless G8 summit in a long line of useless G8 summits. This is a craven lot.

I am angry with the Congress of the United States for rubber stamping the white house criminals’ directives and failure to act on clearly impeachable offenses. And I am specifically appalled at Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Bilbray, my supposed advocates in congress who clearly don’t represent me.

I am angry with the Supreme Court for failing to protect citizens from corporate corruption, governmental malfeasance and executive excess.

I am angry with the Democratic Party for failing to represent the democratic, progressive values the party historically stands for and that representatives and senators campaigned on for in the 2006 election.

I am angry that the Obama has failed the women who have supported him.

I am angry that US media is no more than public relations for the highest bidder.

I am angry that the misogyny on a worldwide scale is growing more and more destructive and women have been taking it for centuries.

I am angry that worldwide the grass roots movements are being ignored.

I am angry at my City Council and the political sentiments that value developers and economic arguments over people and sustainability.

I am angry that my own spheres seem so out of sync with inner and outer realities.

I am angry that I feel I take one step forward and 2 steps back every day.

I am angry that people so happily offer up insipid homilies to all of the above as though I am so stupid or craven I can’t consider their vapid fixes . . .

Suffice it to say (from that last one especially), I cannot be consoled. It isn’t even a rant. It is stating the state of things in the world and these things are unacceptable.

And, those are just the high points. There are whole chapters on the layers within each – like misogyny, Obama.

It has sapped me. And I have a whole other localized version related to my own lack of activity and activism. (The community garden is a wreck and vegetables aren't even coming up. WTF?)

My year long challenge has helped me focus on things I can do to be the change I want to see. I am finding myself able to be and do things I had not felt any confidence about before trying.

The wonder of anger is that it can generate enough acid, enough pressure to overcome inertia, to take risks, to strike out in a new direction or to rally the forces within oneself or without. That is how I choose to see this week. I am gathering a head of steam to take to the next level of activism and activity.

Post Script. It may just be that the murder of crows outside has been at it all day yesterday and starting again today. They have been cawing and scolding and screeching for hours upon hours.

Crow image from Frogs and Ravens

A186: America Asleep

"The perfect illustration of a man elected purely on name recognition, dirty money, and no discernible talent."

This is the title of Bill's piece at Shakeville with the video I well remember. My son and I accidentally saw this on television 4 years ago. We hooted and hollared for joy that this Irish journalist, Carol Coleman, was asking real questions. Mondo Fucko was a complete shit in his swaggering, rude style - spewing Myths America. Such swill . . .

The article Bill cites by Ben Cohen says,

The interview took place almost four years ago, but is the perfect illustration of a man elected purely on name recognition, dirty money, and no discernible talent. Four years ago, there were still enough Americans who believed Bush's infantile bluster was charming and direct. Now, even Republicans do not waste their time with him, quietly wishing he would disappear and stop embarrassing their party.

The interview with Coleman should go down on record as definitive proof of Bush's utter incompetence, a priceless picture of a madman who had no business occupying the highest office of the land.

American Corporate media needs to be shut down, disassembled and go away. Better to have no news than the propaganda we Americans endure. I know that every day millions of Americans have been systematically brainwashed and made dumber and dumber thanks to Fox, and all the others. It is amazing to me that in 8 years, this is the only interview I can recall that ever put this murderous sociopath on the spot.

A185: Arrogant Asswipe

The G8 summit ends without any significant change. This is not a surprise. Sadly, this WTF incident also doesn't really surprise us. From the British press we can learn . . .
The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

To clarify what I meant 'without significant change' I quote the same article.

Concluding the three-day event, leaders from the G8 and developing countries proclaimed a "shared vision" on climate change. However, they failed to bridge differences between rich and emerging nations on curbing emissions.

Hat tip to Dependable Renegade

Arrogant Asswipe - Vice version
While this was going on, news of Vice President Cheney directing the CDC to edit findings. From Earthfamilyalpha:

He also noted that in the fall of 2007, the Council on Environmental Quality and the Cheney's office asked him to work with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to remove portions of a report detailing the threats that climate change poses to human health. The document in question was the testimony that Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC, had prepared to give before the Senate environment and public works committee about the human impacts of global warming.

After her testimony in October 2007, it came to light that the White House had edited it down from 14 pages to a mere four, cutting the six pages detailing the diseases and other health problems that would be exacerbated by a warming planet.

Burnett's letter this week was the first evidence, however, that the call for edits came directly from Cheney's office, which he says asked him to "remove from the testimony any discussion of the human health consequences of climate change".

Update: The more I look at that photograph the more it looks photoshopped . . . What is the black panel behind Angela M.? Just sayin' . . .
It doesn't refute the dumbassery of mondo fucko (as Melissa McEwan often calls him).

A184: Apricots and other Stone Fruit

In my weekly Farmer’s Market buying, blogging framework I try to pick something new. This week of *A* - the redux – I didn’t spot some new thing to try. I had hoped I would be seeing towering amaranth plants in our community garden. Not. I have not had any success with any of the amaranth seeds I planted in May.

What I did see that made me really happy were piles and piles of stone fruit. Besides the ubiquitous lemon, a citrus I would like to grow myself because I use lemon more than any other fruit in my cooking, stone fruits are my definition of the best fruits of summer.

For the last two weeks, I have added tiny apricots not only to my oatmeal, but to other things. I have added them to a dish of heated kale, potatoes and onions and to a salad. This little taste of sweet with the soft texture gave these last two dishes a really distinctive difference.

As a kid in the late 50’s and early 60’s I remember our getting a ‘lug’ of peaches each summer. A lug was a wooden crate of individually wrapped peaches. Each peach was wrapped in tissue. What a treasure.

But, more than my current recipes or my childhood memories I want to share my newfound excitement for a totally new use for peach pits. Flooring! This is a concept I discovered recently and I find it intriguing. This flooring has a history in South Africa. It is now being manufactured at Stone Fruit Floors.
The floor consists of peach pips that are packed by hand onto a glued surface and filled with a silica sand and resin mixture, then sealed with a twin pack urethane. The sharp edges of the pips are grinded off, firstly to expose the nice red colour hue of the pips and secondly to make it very comfortable to walk on them with bare feet.

The first reaction is that this must be a really green alternative. But, as you can see the silica sand / resin mixture, the ocean of urethane negates the natural peach pit part. Right? Well, I am not ready to dismiss this out of turn. Just for the use a peach pits alone I want to keep this in my mind.

Stones. Stones are a basic of our building tradition. For me, nothing says trite or boring like a granite countertop. I want to scream when I see a televised design reveal showing a granite counter and every other human yelling, “Awesome!” I want to hurl at the robotic utterances, vapid designs and monstrous waste of natural resources. Stones are being blasted, gouged from the earth.

Leave the damn stones in the earth. Quit digging pits and start collecting pits from peaches, olives, cherries and apricots. Capture a vast diversity of plant stones now being tossed into landfills.

Figure out how to make the resin finishes from recycled plastic waste. And, as usual, I love to take the commercial product and try to figure out how to hack it. How can we in the do it yourself category carry this off?

Update: The pits, this is the accurate description for our Senate. It is well and truly in the pits as these miserable people caved in and voted away our forth amendment rights via the FISA legislation. Bush power to spy on us with the assistance of the telecoms is now official - with absolute immunity from prosecution. Obama could have shown himself a leader. He didn't and I am not surprised.