Wednesday, April 30, 2008

“Alphaville” by Scott Teplin

Scott Teplin's cool art is going to be on display in NYC from May 1st through 7th. The exhibition features meticulously rendered pen and ink and watercolor drawings of fantastical rooms in which odd scale shifts, implausible situations, and strange juxtapositions of furnishings are the norm, as well as a series of artist’s drawn books. For some reason these images remind me of polly pocket combined with a twist of M.C. Esher plus a tad of magic eye books. Apparently this specific body of work is meant to embody the spirit of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film, ALPHAVILLE- Teplin has filtered the city of Alphaville through his own imagination and drawn a world devoid of people - only evidence of their domestic and work environments remain for exploration. Check out some samples here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another reason to stay up past 10

Season 20 of MTV's “The Real World” will be coming out soon (10pm probably Wednesday nights on MTV). Turns out the network is doing a huge environmental push with it. Trying to shows viewers that a green lifestyle is easy, and fashionable. The clad out pad the 7 stay in will include everything from solar energy solutions to bamboo flooring, recycled glass counters, some sustainable furniture and recycled vintage decor, energy star appliances, a solar heated swimming pool and energy efficient lighting. The MTV houses have been pretty sweet in the past (I liked the huge fish tank the best), so I can't wait to see the cool stuff in this one.

Another fun change is that viewers got to vote on who would be the 7th roommate this time around. For the past three months, about 20,000 wanna-be-roommates submitted 90-second “confessional” videos to 2.9 million total votes were cast throughout the contest and “Pretyboy” from Daytona Beach, Florida won. MTV's really mixing it up and keeping it fresh 20 seasons later, no wonder “The Real World” launched the modern reality television genre and is the longest- running reality series in history. Will you be watching?

The game

So Saturday was a sad night, if you live in NC. Because if you live in NC and you have half a brain, you HAVE to be a Tarheel fan (not a Duke and/or State fan- gross). Anyhow our men's team took on Kansas in the final four. The majority of my friends either couldn't watch the game or were screaming at the tv the whole time, because they were so horrified at what was happening. From the start we were down- by a lot. Kansas went on something like an 18-0 run. Finally we almost caught up and were only 5 points away; it was a huge comeback. But it slipped away again just as fast. Everyone was saying Roy needed to take a time out, to at least try to change the momentum- but he didn't. He, like coach Dean Smith, is extremely stingy with timeouts and likes to try to let the boys "figure it out." It almost worked I guess, but in the end Kansas came out on top.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Say what?

Where I live it costs money to recycle. Seriously. First the state doesn't pay for your trash to be picked up. If that's not bad enough, the two companies that will pick up trash for my neighborhood (waste management industries is one, I forget the other) charge extra if you want to recycle. $20 a month gets you a huge black trash can, and trash pick up twice a month. If you want a recycling bin and your recycling hauled away with your trash it's another $15 a month. $35 to get rid of things you already don't want! R.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s. The nearest drop off for recycling is over 15 minutes away and they also charge you an entry fee (something like $10). My roommate and I are thinking about writing a letter; if anything people should be paid to recycle, not paying to do it. Don't know who to send the letter to- our local county's congressman? Why is North Carolina operated like this!?

Lake Wheeler

This past weekend was rowing alumni weekend, and the current team raced at Lake Wheeler too. On Friday the alum had a dinner at Top O. It was a little bit awkward because I didn't know a ton of people, but my novice coach said I HAD to come, so I did. We had to wear name tags too haha. She sat next to me and we talked the whole time- we only see each other about once a year now so it was a good chance to catch up. And for the first time she could tell me lots of insider info, as she is no longer a coach and I am no longer a rower, wahoo. She lives in Asheville which is about 3 hours away from here. She has a beautiful daughter now too, Bella. Anyhow that was fun, lost of good food- crab dip, sweet potato fries etc. And then on Saturday morning Cali and I drove out to Lake Wheeler to watch the girls race. We got there a little late, around 9, as I walked her at home for an hour first. The girls took on GW, GM, and Duke- and the results were pretty stellar. They raced 8s, and 4s. It was fun because a ton of my friends are on the team, and a few old teammates came too. Unfortunately it started raining and got rather cold later on, so it could have been better. The races went from 8 to around 1. Then we had a barbecue lunch under the pavilion.

Friday, March 28, 2008


It's hot out! 82 and sunny sunny sunny today! It was even warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt and shorts already this morning.

Cali and I spent some time in the backyard. Her munching on her huge log of wood that she found on one of our walks and dragged home as her treasure, and me weed-wacking (my way of mowing the lawn). Weed wacking the lawn now takes about 40 minutes, if I had a mower it would be far more effective- but I don't. And I never have room in my car to bring my dad's spare one back. But it's definitely better than cutting the grass with scissors...which I actually sadly had to do twice. I was afraid the neighbors were going to complain because it had gotten so long, and I didn't have the free weed wacker yet. Cali tries to attack the weed wacker, thinking its a game, so it gets a little bit obnoxious, because it could really hurt her. So I have to keep my eye on her as she tries to sneak up.

I planted a whole bunch of grass seed back in August because the yard was pretty barren when I moved in. It has now filled in pretty well, although certain parts could use work; there are a few spots with no grass where Cali has dug in some 6 inch holes. Apparently its a husky thing, they love digging. The one time she has been to the beach she dug in the sand almost non-stop. She was also afraid of the waves ha. Anyhow here are some pictures of the little stinker frolicking in the backyard. Her hair has almost grown back in completely after her surgery, hoooray!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dolla dolla bills ya'll

It's a good day, when you find money, any amount, just laying around somewhere. Today I found one single shiny penny on the path across the bridge, going up the hill towards the train tracks. It was heads up, so of course I pocketed it. But really, even if it hadn't been I would have picked it up anyhow. There is just no way to lose when you find free money. It's one thing that always keeps my walks entertaining, I never know what I'll find.

At brunch last Sunday, I was in a bad mood and one of my friends asked, if she threw 5 cents on the ground, and I "found" it, would I be in a better mood- ha.

My most recent successful find was this past summer. I found a one dollar bill laying in the grass right along the curb on the main road that runs through Carrboro. Now that's definitely not a lot of money (I've heard of others finding $20s in the past, etc) but it was all it took to brighten up my entire day. I could have bought 50 tootsie rolls, not even, because of tax, but it was still a bit deal!

What's your best money find?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Last night when I pulled into a spot at the grocery store, and got out of my car, I jumped a few feet in the air. Not out of joy, but because there was a huge life-like mannequin of a child in a car seat in the backseat of the car next to me. It was really creepy looking- a bit like Chucky. About three feet tall, red hair, a big round face; it looked so real. My next thought was, why would you have something like this is your car? And the stories about people driving in DC, putting fake people blow-ups, or dolls in their cars (sometimes with tinted windows) so they could drive in the HOV lanes on the way to work, to get there faster, came to mind. Here is an example (not from DC, but clearly that means it's happening all across the country!) Cops caught some of them, and of course they were fined. I am shocked that people would go to measures like that, especially abusing something such as "carpooling" that was being encouraged. Anyhow if some day soon you see a creepy child in the back of a car in your grocery store, maybe we live close to each other.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter faves

1.) When mom told Cali (the husky stinker) to "put it here girlfriend" and Cali gave her a high 5.
2.) The coconut cream eggs covered in dark chocolate.
3.) When Rachel went to Goodwill 2 days in a row and found even more things the second day.
4.) Buying huge stuffed animals for Cali at Goodwill for awesome prices.
5.) The "forced" hike in the woods, during which mom spent the entire time searching for round rocks that Oma could paint.
6.) Finding easter baskets 30 feet in the air, rigged up by a pulley in trees (the easter bunny must have taken flying lessons this year).
7.) Going to Rita's (hopefully a new tradition) and eating GM crab cakes!
8.) The smell of the purple hyacinths my aunt brought for Oma.
9.) Finally getting my hair cut, and for free at that!
It's been a good weekend- now back to reality.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mom is a star

MercyCare Extraordinary Nurses page 15:
Roving Reporter asks What is your favorite winter time activity?
"My winter hobby is hiking in the Patapsco State Park. I wear multiple layers including cotton and wool socks, a neck warmer and wool sweater and a warm parka. I have reusable heat packs in my pockets that can be reactivated once more during a hike for another burst of warmth. I've seen a barred owl, foxes, a newly dug fox den and baby foxes, and deer. I love the blue heron that I see on the Patapsco River. Its wing span is amazing. I love winter hiking!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pet Parade

Michael Jackson's "pets" have been adopted by Voices of the Wild Foundation, a non-profit animal sanctuary in Page, Arizona. Lucky for them! No more sleepovers with Michael. The bundle includes enough animals for an entertaining parade: four giraffes, nine parrots and three giant pythons. Jackson’s two caymans and two anacondas will be joining the crew in coming months. What ever happened to just having a dog, you know, man's best friend?

VWG has been keeping the animals in a temporary set up but has announced plans to build a huge multimillion-dollar, 186-acre wildlife preserve.

The animals arrived “in good condition, with no signs of mistreatment” and VWG is letting Jackson visit his ex-pets whenever he’d like.

Monday, March 17, 2008

In bloom

I love this time of year. All the flowers and trees are blossoming. The bradford pears are covered with white little flowers (but they smell funny). The hyacinths are bright purple and pink. And the forsythia is florescent yellow and overtaking the arbor. We had a ton of rain the week before, so the grass is long and lively.

I'm very excited for Easter, it's coming up so fast. At my house, the bunny always leaves "poop" (little jelly beans) all around the house inside and out the day before easter- that way we know he is around and can expect him to be there the next day!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Few more pics from Budapest

The view from the top of Liberty Mountain on the Buda side, overlooking the Danube. It was pretty chilly and overcast on the day we hiked up there. But it was a fun walk, and not too many touristy crowds. A bus pulled up just as we were leaving though.

Snapped one of Parliament on the way to Margarite Island.

Also took a few of the castle at night- these are of the backside.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Back in the US

And oh it feels so good. But, let me re-cap the parts of the Budapest trip I haven't yet recorded. After our outing to the castle, the next traditional Hungarian activity we participated in were the baths. We went to baths that were all outdoors. And although it was extremely cold outside, you did not feel it, because the water was so warm. The clashing temperatures made a thick steam stream above the water. There were a ton of people, lots of old men playing chess on floating boards, others standing on water vents, or under bubbling fountains. I tried out the sauna, actually 2 of them- for about 5 minutes each. It reminded me a bit of the erg room from my college days ha, I wasn't the biggest fan- but it was something new. And after I dashed out of the sauna I had to stand under the cold shower.

The next days were full of trips to the traditional market, to the top of the largest hill (with the freedom statue), to the outlet shopping mall, ice skating, to the movies, to Menza, to bars like Krazy Cafe and Beckette's, to the grocery store to get more fresh croissants, rolls, pasteries and pretzels. While ice skating we encountered a ton of Hungarian teens- many attempting to be "cool" and impress the girls. They were pretty good at skating though, they even put down coke cans and skated in between them all sorts of ways. They also formed a line, a sort of copy the leader line and did a whole bunch of backwards skating, jumping, etc. I was grappling with backwards skating, and ended up being quite successful.

My favorite food was the sport XL bars. I brought back a ton. They are rich chocolate bars with a tint of rum. They also had ice cream versions of the sport XL bar.

The place I stayed was comfy, clean and had the highest ceilings I've ever seen in an apartment. It also about as much security as the White House. Check out the picture of the front doors. I enjoyed the office there too, check out the view. It was nice to be able to handle all the work that came in over the night, before getting bombarded with new stuff (as I was 6 hours ahead of US time). Cool picture of the basilica right down the street from the office too.

Glad to be back to my normal routine, bed n dog. More pictures to come once I get around to uploading them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Clooney for the cause

Turns out after all his time, money and effort have been invested, George Clooney is not sure he is helping, or changing anything for Darfur. I love to see celebrities fighting for a cause; when you can do good things with your fame, I believe in it. Otherwise, I think the way American culture idolizes these people is absurd. They are just people, doing something they are good at (sometimes they're not even good at it, they just enjoy it)- just like you. According to the Time Magazine article, Clooney became interested in Darfur in 2005. His dad and him had been reading about the lack of attention being given to Darfur, so the two went on a trip to Africa to shoot footage. Turns out Clooney wasn't able to get into Darfur until late January, when the U.N. said it would give him an official title. "I have a U.N. passport. It says 'Messenger of Peace' on it. It's very cool," he says.

Later he helped found, Not on Our Watch, which has given away more than $9 million. But now he is wondering if his critics are right, if his scheme to use celebrity to bring attention to the world's plights isn't, if not vanity, at least striving after wind. "I've been very depressed since I got back. I'm terrified that it isn't in any way helping. That bringing attention can cause more damage. You dig a well or build a health-care facility and they're a target for somebody," he says. "A lot more people know about Darfur, but absolutely nothing is different. Absolutely nothing."


Get your give on. If you have extra boxes, unused plastic bags, tons of bubble wrap, old shoes etc think about donating them on Freecycle. Turns out someone's trash really is another's treasure!

So what is freecycle? "The Freecycle Network is made up of 4,260 groups with 4,565,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills." Just go to their site, type in your location, and they'll hook you up with a bunch of local people interested in getting or giving.

It works- I listed some boxes and someone came to pick them up! That helped de-clutter my closet, and it was easy and fast.


As for me, this week my work has taken me to Budapest, Hungary. I got in early yesterday morning, after an all night flight, during which I unfortunately was unable to sleep even a wink. RDU to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Paris, then Paris to Hungary. The Paris airport was cRaZZZy! Built in the 60s, the colors and layout scream that it has not been updated at all since then. I was bused 3 different times, to 3 totally opposite locations, and once you are in the waiting room to board the plane there is no way to get to a bathroom. You go through a one way security tunnel to get in!

Now that I'm in Budapest I'm having a great time. There is so much fancy architecture to observe; I am enjoying walking everywhere. Here is a picture of a chain bridge at night. And another of vorosmarthy ter, which I walk through to get to the apartment I am staying in. The apartment has a high vaulted ceiling, and is right in the center of the city- above some of the coolest shops. Yesterday I tried out the famed cottage cheese stick (image to the right) it's covered with chocolate. Not bad, actually pretty good. For dinner I scrambled around to find anything, as all I really wanted to do was crash into bed. I ended up with what was described to me by a co-worker as "chicken in pancakes"- I was skeptical to say the least. Turns out it was some sort of ground meat with cheese in a sort of fried shell. I also added some orange and chocolate covered cookies, peach juice and sour cream and onion chips to top the meal off. Today I got some local currency and am off to work.

Update from Cali

This morning, walking around the lake, my mom saw an iguana about 4 ft long. It was green with a green and black striped tail. Funny that with the choice of the lake or the vegitation with bamboo, it choose the lake! Tonight, she is leaving the hospital, where they are doing the medical mission trip, by 6pm and go to a Columbian restaurant with the mayor. She is planning on trying the lula juice- composed of a green fruit that is supposed to be so good.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Love Mom

Note via Cali, Columbia,

On the flight to Cali, I sat next to a man from Cali. We talked the whole time and I saw his computer work pictures. Upon arrival, I walked around the lake I remembered from my last trip, and the ducks and water birds are in the same places! I have not seen the shy white one yet. I have seen little red ones, blue, little yellow, green and heard lots of different bird sounds. One tree smells like jasmine, and I can not tell which one. Cali is full of lush growth with palm leaves and flowers of orange, yellow and magenta, bugs everywhere. The bugs don't bother some but they are in the room all around if you look closely...I am going to try not to look! I've had fresh fruit- pineapple, watermelon, star fruit, kiwi, avocado etc...and corn kernels everywhere- like in salad and eggs. I had empanado, ground meat in a fried dough pocket, last night for dinner. I swam in the long pool later that night. It's cool because I can do back stroke at night and seeing palm trees when looking up. This morning I went up on the mountain edge which is in the resort; it is a new bird trail. I heard so many different bird sounds. Suddenly I heard huge loud ugly sounds from what? big black birds!!! Even thin green "moss" on the paths in the mountain, such a moist climate. (Photo courtesy of Dan Brooke)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Deliciously snacky

I recently stumbled across a new find in my local grocery store- edaname. Edamame, or vegetable soybeans, are fresh soybeans that have been lightly cooked within their pods. For those who choose to lead healthy lifestyles here's a fun fact about this wonderful food: soybeans are the highest in protein (35 percent) of any plant, and contain the most complete complement of amino acids. Anyhow, basically it takes no effort to make these suckers (I buy them from the frozen foods aisle at Target, or the veggies/sushi section of my local mart): Bring a pan of water to boil. Add the edamame and return the water to the boil. Remove from the heat, drain and rinse with cold water. The bag itself says to add salt or soy sauce- but I don't do anything to them and they still taste wonderful. I found this recipe, if you prefer to be fancy. Not only do they taste great, and are healthy for you, but they are so fun to eat. Seriously. I could spend hours popping the little beans out of the pods. Try them, in place of chips, or any sort of snack. I usually don't like veggies, but they have won my heart over.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To the finish

With all the hub-bub about NASCAR in the south, every once in a while I do take note of a few things happening in the car racing world. Rather recently, the world’s leading seller of hybrid cars, Toyota, has announced they will be racing to win the world’s most challenging car race- Le Mans 24-hour race in 2010. The catch is, this time they are aiming to do this using a hybrid car. The car will be fitted with special capacitors and batteries to facilitate an extremely fast power supply and charging function. But this isn't really something new for Toyota; they have had success in the past. Toyota entered hybrids in the last two Tokachi 24-hour enduros in Japan- with a win last year. Toyota is hoping to promote its hybrid technology in Europe since its market presence is currently usurped there by diesel. Here's hoping this hybrid car can change the world of car racing. The last sport that I thought would "go green" is a sport entailing burning fuel for hours chasing others around in circles. I will be the first fan drive out to Charlotte for an all day event, to view a NASCAR event when all the entrants are hybrids. Did I ever mention one of my favorite movies is Talledega Nights? "Greatest Generation my ass. Tom Brokaw's a punk! Chip, I'm all jacked up on Mountain Dew!"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cali's birthday

When we're not outside exploring the woods, Cali likes when the window blinds are open, and the window is cracked a bit. This way she can sit on my bed and watch and hear the other dogs, cats, and birds going by outside.

Anyhow, this weekend was her birthday. She turned 2 on Friday. Last year I made her an elaborate k9 friendly cake, but she didn't really like it. So this year we just had a bunch of people over again, and focused on good human food. I made a pasta dish, with homemade pasta, swiss cheese and caramelized onions. Others brought, a salad (with greens, walnuts, pears), chips n dip, pasta with pesto and veggies, fruit salad, and home baked oatmeal butterscotch cookies. Cali enjoyed the cookies the best- and did some counter surfing to get one. She was happy that people played tug of war with her huge stuffed animal elephant with her. We'll see how the terrible twos continue to unfold...

Friday, February 15, 2008

What a shoxer

Steve Nash is the All-Star guard for the Phoenix Suns whose passion for environmental awareness forged a partnership with Nike to create the Nike Trash Talk, the first performance basketball shoe made from manufacturing waste. Among many other good attributes, the outsole uses environmentally-preferred rubber and incorporates Nike Grind material from footwear outsole manufacturing waste.

“Any opportunity to promote the environment and preserve our planet is a step in the right direction,” Nash said. “I’m very excited to be one of the first athletes to wear the Nike Trash Talk. I think people will love the shoe, and hopefully by wearing it I can inspire others to try it out as well.”

I'd have preferred Dwayne Wade- but I guess he's already committed w/ Nike through Converse. The best news is, the shoe doesn't look half bad.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Splish Splash

I find this pretty funny. I am shocked that anyone besides my mother actually spends time doing something so tedious- although I'm not against it. My whole life my mom would always try to take the little bits of soap left over and make a new bar of soap with them. She would get so angry when we tried to throw them away, or let them slip down the sink. Her method was to save all the little pieces and then use warm water and a bit of real liquid soap, to somehow melt them and meld them together. After all her hard work, my dad would get angry if she put the combination soap out when guests were over- because it embarrassed him. So we were the only people left with sore hands from scrubbing with the roughly combined soap. Lets hope this new product will help smooth the edges- and speed up the creation process.

A nook of our own

There are a few places in the woods that we have made our own, after seeing the original rock art. It's fun because other people see it, and don't know who does it. There is one huge fallen tree trunk, down by the stream that has a hole in it. We like to line the bottom of the opening with green moss and place little trinkets on it- sometimes flowers, sometimes marbles, or a little gnome we bring from the garden. Each time we visit we see if it is still the same. For a while we would find pennies left there- pretty neat. Other times people stole or broke the gnome figurines (so we stopped putting things like that in there). Another place we have left our mark is on the opposite side of the hill- after you cross the stream and head up. There was originally a path that was eroding too much, so now a new path snakes around the old one. On the old path there was a part loaded with interesting roots on the ground. My grandma has made that her own "collage." She has taken whatever "sea glass" she can find (glass bottles often get thrown into the river, the glass shatters, gets broken down and becomes a bit misty) and arranged it into a bit of a mosaic. Things have just expanded from there- there are now all sorts of little rocks around the perimeter. This is a picture we took of it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

All the big polluters, holding hands

Errr not yet. "But the US is still resisting a global agreement on specific emissions reductions from all developed nations."

And that about sums up the Bush administration's stance at the Major Economies Meeting being held in Hawaii right now. But the good news is the US did recently pass the Energy Bill that mandates big increases in efficiency from cars and from appliances.


Gooseberries often times woke me up early on childhood mornings. Well, not the gooseberries themselves- more so my mother's demand that I pick them. First of all- let me just say...what a ridiculous name for a fruit. Nothing sounds less appetizing. There must not have been a brilliant marketing strategy behind that. It can go on the books right next to prunes, and all their advertising struggles. Anyhow, I remember one Saturday morning, my brother and I had an hour to pick all the remaining gooseberries off the bushes by the driveway. Meanwhile my mother was off "yardsale-ing" trying to find who knows what, for a good price. Now this picking was a daunting task not only because gooseberries are tiny and come in bunches of multiple beastly balls, but also because- there was no reward. They were not good to eat- like say strawberries (no wonder they are prohibited from being grown in certain places). At least you can make jam or yummy pies with strawberries. What's your favorite gooseberry recipe?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Comfy and crafty t-shirt

I absolutely adore this t-shirt designed by an Inhabitat reader for their yearly t-shirt contest. This is the "root / lungs design" submitted by Jonathan Sabutis, which inspired readers with its symbolic design portraying trees as the lungs of the earth, and a catchy tagline "I am the root of the solution." The shirts are now being offered for sale here, for $35 (pretty hefty price if you ask me). I think the shirt not only makes a great statement, but it's pretty! No mention as to where the money for the shirts goes- I hope the original artist receives a percentage. I suppose the shop hand-printing in Brooklyn demands some of the high fee.

Monday, January 28, 2008


It is prime time for Quiksilver to introduce their new environmentally sensitive threads, with this years boarding n skiing season in full swing.

Quiksilver, is unveiling their eco-friendly outerwear line next week at SIA 08 as well as the inaugural Quiksilver Natural Selection (An All-Mountain Freestyle Invitational held on all natural terrain. The snowboarding event will take place from January 30 to February 5, 2008 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming). Champion rider Travis Rice designed a signature jacket and pant which are 55% hemp and 45% recycled PET (type of plastic), which will be part of Quiksilver's new line. (Tipped by loop.)

Quiksilver speaks: "As a company of boardriders, we've always challenged the power and grace of mother nature in a way that is perfectly in tune with the environment, said Dave Rosenberger, VP Sales Quiksilver Wintersports. This new outerwear line reflects this ideal, because it meets the essential performance requirements of riders, while introducing a new, earth-friendly approach to winter apparel."

I'll be the first in line. As a boarding fanatic and a dedicated Quiksilver junkie my closet will soon be expanding. When is the surf line coming?

Monday morning

With an overcast sky and a late start this morning- it's shaping up to be a doldrum day. I've been trying to get a good picture of the blue heron that frequents my neighborhood lake but have not had any luck yet. He lets people, screaming children and barking dogs get surprisingly close, but his visits are unpredictable. It seems that he is able to sense which days I bring my camera along on my walks, and which I don't- electing only to appear on days I don't. The lake is still bristling with activity in his absence, as two separate flocks of geese/ducks have settled in- flying in each morning, and leaving noisily every night. As if to say, that's right, you heard us, we'll be back tomorrow- seat saved. I snapped a picture of them hanging out by the waters' edge this morning. They usually wait until I am about 15 feet away and then start flapping their wings to propel them further into the water, to safety, away from my dog.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

When brilliancy strikes

be creative! If you're bored this weekend, or anytime through February 25th (perhaps on Valentine's Day if you don't have a sig nig other)- put on your thinking cap and enter this fun contest, hosted by Origins.

A brief description of the contest: "If you think you’re the green of the crop—tell us about it, get creative and let us know "What Makes You Eco-Fabulous." Show off your natural talent for environmental consciousness by sharing the everyday steps you take to lighten your carbon count in a photo, video
or blog and you could win a luxurious trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming!" Check out the current entries here.

My thoughts: Not sure what's so cool about Jackson Hole- can anyone provide any insight as to why someone would want to win a trip there (other than that a paid trip anywhere is cool)? One of the other prizes includes
6 Grenada chocolate bars and that sounds pretty tasty- so I'm in. A 1000 word blog is pretty short- I have read a few entries (it mostly just gives you room to type a list of perfect things about your personality). An interesting feature is that for each entry, a viral map is created- and you can see who has viewed the entry from different sites like on Facebook or Myspace. Overall it's great that the brand is helping to create a community of do-good-ers though. And it gives everyone an easy way to share their own story and pass along useful tips to others.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Who is hungry?

Packing your lunch for work or for school (as opposed to buying it) ends up saving you money. When you buy things in bulk, and do the labor yourself it always works that way. I have a handy green tip or two, learned from years of observing my grandmother pack mine. I would suggest using a steady lunch bag, perhaps of cloth- so that you are not wasting things by throwing away a different bag everyday. It doesn't have to be Barbie or Ninja Turtles themed- don't get embarrassed yet, I have seen plenty of floral patterns or plain colored ones with plenty of sophistication embedded. Or if you like to throw your bags away, pack your lunch in a brown bag that can be recycled. Another idea is to use the bags that cereal comes in, to wrap your sandwich. Each box of Fruity Pebbles (etc) includes a bag holding the cereal in it. Once you have finished the cereal, you can rinse that bag and cut it- making it the perfect saran-wrap-ish material to contain your sandwich with.

Slow stroll

It is always nice to be able to bring down the pace from the fast and furious week, and take a relaxed, un-stressful exploration walk. I could let my dog stop to sniff every crevice and chase the squirrels without worrying that it was taking up too much time. It was fun to hear the old snow crush under our feet. We listened to the woodpecker tapping and saw seven deer. This afternoon we'll probably stake out on the front porch, watching the foot traffic go by and reading a good book. (Well she can't read- yet. Just me.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Coming up in March

"Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming."

If you would like to participate in Earth Hour, on the 29th of March at 8pm turn off the lights in your house. Last year the event only took place in Sydney but the originators are hoping people around the world will participate together this year. Last time I checked in 12,301 people had committed to doing it. Check out the fun site here.

I saw a sign yesterday that said

"Free Air Guitars"

I thought that was funny. And suitable for the green lifestyle.

Olive the Owl

I did a report on snow owls in the 2nd grade, tri-fold poster included, but I have never seen a real live owl before I met Olive. Nothing you can see on Animal Planet mildly compares to this.

One of my neighbors was the first to spot Olive and luckily he shared the secret with my grandma and I. But she is a secret and shall remain one- so that no one scares her away from us.

Anyhow, we had to see her for ourselves; so we headed down to the woods. First weaving our way through the tall grasses and then crossing into the dense wooded area, we began looking out for the owl. I spotted "her" (we actually don't even know if it's a girl) in her tall tree post after much scrutiny. Even though I knew where she was supposed to be it was difficult to see her, as she blended in so unbelievably well with her home. Using binoculars I could see all of her features. She was not frightened by us, or by my dog. She just sat there, maybe 30 feet in the air, majestically- staring right back at us. My grandma described the experience as "really cool" and I would have to second that. She gave Olive her name. Every time we go by we look for her. One of the neighbors managed to snap this great shot of her.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Can it

NEW YORK - In a bid to curb the environmental impact of nearly 1 billion plastic bags used by New York City consumers annually, the city's council passed a bill on Wednesday requiring large stores to set up recycling programs. Read the complete story here.

This is a huge step in the right direction for one of the most packed in, grit-n-grimy cities in the country, following none too soon in the footsteps of concerned and earth-conscious San Fran. I guess on the concrete packed streets, amidst all the hustle and bustle it's easier to forget about being "green" (probably not able to even recall what grass looks like) all though it should be an everyday fixture in our minds if we want to be able to breath while chatting on our important iPhones, drinking our Starbucks, and taxiing to our all important meetings.

Rock Art

While hiking in the woods by my house, we often stumble upon rare finds. One day as we strolled across the bridge and down the peak of the hill I spotted a strange formation of rocks. Apparently someone, or multiple someones had taken the time to pile nearby rocks into a sort of art piece. Since that day I have encountered numerous rock arts- always a fun surprise to see as your eyes scour the landscape. They immediately stick out, because of their height or oddity- but they incorporate the nature so well that they don't destroy the setting at all. This is a picture of one of the earliest rock arts on a large rock by the waterfalls where we cross the stream. It's also cool because it's a bit mysterious- as I have never witnessed anyone putting these together. I like to think it about who it could be: a champion weight lifting beaver? or a bored grandpa? Maybe some day I will make my own. Will keep you posted on future finds...or masterpieces I create myself.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

They can make good music

and save the world. It's all in a days' work.

Check out the latest issues, join the green squad or be inspired to revive our oceans here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brown is the new green

My mom lives for zuchinni. Not just any zuchinni, but her zuchinni. You might even say she dotes on her zuchinni like it was a child.

For many years she has gone out of her way to obtain only the best fertilizer for her precious zuchinni. She takes weekend trips, clad out in her worst jeans, boots and gloves, to the local horse farm. She shovels up as much manure as possible into four large white buckets, and hauls it all home to spread throughout her 10x15 garden plot.

Her devotion doesn't just stop at horse manure. If you've ever eaten a banana in my house, thrown the peel away in the trash, and heard from my outraged mother- you know where I am going with this. A banana peel's correct home is in the compost bin, not the trash can. When the compost bin fills, the contents get dumped in to a huge pile at the bottom of the hill in our backyard- our very own compost heap.

At any given point this pile might contain fruit cores, seeds and peels, melon rinds, outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage, carrot tops, broccoli stems, corn cobs, egg shells, and leaves. And yes, sometimes rotten zuchinni. Other people include rarer items like dead deer but my mom's never gone that far. The contents are decomposed by earthworms, bacteria and time, leaving heaping piles of the best soil at the bottom of the pile. My mother uses this rich brown soil to grow her zuchinni- no artificial or chemical fertilizers.

Maybe my mom's heaping buckets of horse manure frightens you, but if you would like to be “greener” or love zuchinni, a giant brown compost pile is a totally do-able must. Not only will your vegetables be robust, but the process will get you outdoors and shrink the volume of your trash. Get Started.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The smaller the better

I found an interesting tid bit on Seth's blog, "We just measured a Poland Spring bottle (the new design) and discovered it weighs precisely half of an empty Gatorade bottle."

I actually hadn't even considered factoring something like the amount of material used on the wrappers and containers for products I'm buying into my purchase decision at all. But after learning something like that, I've realized that in order to reduce my environmental footprint I had better scrutinize my purchases with a more wary eye.

I think we will see a greater trend towards "smaller" in our culture. Mini coopers are the first things that come to mind for some reason. We're trying to use less gas, weigh less pounds, have less stress, develop less trash- we should use a bottle that weighs less. Demand it- from Gatorade, from everyone.

Things change

Saturn "Rethink American" vid

Beyond Madison Avenue
states, "with Saturn’s 5 new models, commitment to affordable hybrids, and a 100,000 mile (5 year powertrain) warranty, it may be worth giving this brand another look." And I would have to agree- especially if American cars are your jam. There is such a noticeable difference between this commercial and the kind that Chevy and Jeep are still airing. Saturn is so much more earth conscience, sophisticated, pushing for a change in the right direction, etc. Jeep is still using big trucks depicted off-roading, squashing all the wildlife in it's path. And we all know the gas guzzling that follows cars that are heavy "like a rock."

Monday, January 7, 2008

A new bag- a new way of life?

This year on Christmas morning all of my presents were waiting for me in the living room in a huge (we're talking 3 foot by 3 foot) white canvas bag, with bright green straps. The kind from LL Bean that every soccer mom and librarian across the country proudly carry (well before Vera Bradley existed- or maybe that's for the hipper crowd). Near the top of the bag, in the spot where initials would typically be monogrammed, was "LIVE GREEN."

And I figured, if even Santa had jumped on the live green train, maybe I should really dedicate myself as well. Who could possibly object to making the world a better place for themselves, their kids, and Rudolph?

While the presents within my canvas bag were wrapped with beautiful paper- it did get recycled. The real kicker is that my stuffed bag was sitting under a tree; a six foot gorgeous pine that had been chopped down to celebrate the occasion. I love the smell of pine, and it screams of merry Christmas' spent around the fire laughing and sharing with the ones I love- so I'm not complaining. I just thought it was mildly amusing.