Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Keepin' it cool

Keep Yer Cool ChallengeWell, this weekend really tested my techniques for staying cool without air-conditioning. We had highs of 91 both Saturday and Sunday and just about broke some records here in Seattle.

I realize this is pretty tame stuff as far as temperatures go, but we generally don't see these sorts of temps until August. Through June and most of July it's normally just gray and 60s. It will hit mid-70s if you're lucky.*

So, not only am I truly testing my new-found magic deodorant (I'm still fresh as a daisy by the way!), but I'm testing all my non-air-conditioning techniques as well.

Here are my hints and tips for keeping cool this summer while either forgoing air-conditioning or pushing up the thermostat a little at a time.

Home Cooling Tips
  • Open windows at night and/or in the early morning and shut them once the outside temperature rises above the inside temps
  • Close the drapes or blinds on the side of the house where the sun in shining in. So that means the East side of the house in the morning and the West side in the afternoon and evening. Consider purchasing insulated window curtains (these will also help hold heat in during the winter) or install inexpensive heat-reflecting film on windows that face the sun
  • Turn off lights, electronics or appliances that you aren't using and generate heat
  • Fans, fans, fans
  • Put in a window fan and blow the air out of the room while keeping the doors to the room open
  • Recreate your own air-conditioner by blowing a fan across a bowl of ice. This will simulate the same sort of cool air but without the energy involved
  • Longer term home solutions include better attic/roof venting, getting a lighter colored roof or planting shade trees

    Keeping Cool
    The old ice block chair
  • Drink ice water (or sit on a huge block of ice)
  • Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy, high-fat meals. All of these will increase your internal body temperature
  • Stay in the shade and out of direct sunlight
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-colored and lightweight clothes
  • Do like they do in the tropics and eat spicy food. This stimulates sweat and, therefore, will cool you off
  • Soak your feet in cool water or even throw in a few ice cubes
  • Soak a rag or tea towel in ice water and wrap around your neck
  • Sit outside in the evening to enjoy the cooling temperatures

    Sleeping in Comfort
  • Take a cool (not cold) shower before bed. Why cool and not cold? Well, if you lower your body temperature too much you'll exert extra energy (aka heat) trying to warm up
  • Soak a t-shirt in ice water and wear to bed or wet your hair before bed
  • Dig out that rice bag you made last winter and put it in the freezer for a couple of hours before bed
  • Use linen sheets as they stay cooler than other fabrics
  • Put your pillowcase (or sheets!) in the freezer a few hours before bed
  • Sleep downstairs or outside if you can

    For more ideas, check out this little how-to video on How To Survive Without Air-Conditioning.

    If you really must use air-conditioning, or something like an evaporative cooler won't work for you, try to avoid central air-conditioning as you're spending a ton of money to heat up the whole house when in fact you probably only need to cool down a few rooms at best. Window air-conditioners are one way of getting around this problem as you can set them up in the most heavily used portions of the house and assist with fans if need be.

    What are your favorite methods of keeping cool when the temperature rises? Which ones did I miss?

    Note: I'm fully aware that I'm probably the worst person to give advice on keeping cool since I don't exactly live in an area that experiences heat like others. But I did spend many summers in Brooklyn with no air-conditioning and that certainly left a resounding impression on me. So, I commiserate with your pain.
  • Friday, June 27, 2008

    Edible eco-lawnscaping

    The lawn meadowWho knew that by neglecting my lawn, all sorts of really pretty things would start to take over? And, who knew they were all edible? Now, I'm not saying that it looks like a complete weedfest out there, but I refuse to water my lawn and am really bad at dethatching and fertilizing and all that.

    So, it got a little patchy and other things decided to take root. But I keep the dandelions under control otherwise they'll completely take over. I call it my "eco-lawn" but it looks more like a very trim meadow.

    Mixed in with the grass are lots of interesting little flowering plants that I keep trim with a weekly mow job. As the kids and I were sitting out on the "lawn" last Sunday, we watched the huge amount of bug and critter activity going on. You see, since my lawn hasn't been sprayed and isn't just a vast expanse of grass, I've created quite a little habitat out there for spiders, ladybugs, bumblebees and all sorts of other things I'm sure I can't see.

    The most exciting is watching all the bees. I figure I get some sort of karmic bee pollination action for giving them all those flowers. In fact, the local nurseries around here sell a mix of lawn seed that includes much of what I already have growing. So, I didn't really need to bother with reseeding the lawn this year with a purchased mix.*

    What do I have growing, you ask? And how are they edible?

    Well, after doing a bit of research online, the lawn is sporting the following:

    SourgrassOxalis, aka sourgrass - All parts of this plants are edible and are sour due to high levels of oxalic acid (hence, the name, sourgrass). The leaves and flowers can be used in a salad or can be used as a garnish for any dish such as fish or fruit salads.

    The leaves can be eaten year round and stay tender and tart when cooked. Just don't eat too much of this plant as it will give some people a stomach ache if eaten in large quantities.

    White cloverWhite clover - Besides making an excellent forage crop for livestock, clovers are a valuable survival food since they are high in protein, widespread, and abundant. White clover is not easy to digest raw, but this can be easily fixed by boiling them for 5 - 10 minutes. Dried flowerheads and seedpods can also be ground up into a nutritious flour and mixed with other foods, or can be steeped in hot water for a healthy, tasty tea-like infusion.

    Purple cloverPurple clover - Purple (or red) clover can be used in salads, soups, as a cooked green, ground to flour, or made into tea. This clover is also high in protein. The most common things to eat on the clover are the flowerheads and the leaves, but are easier to eat if soaked for about an hour or boiled. The sprouted seeds are edible in salads and have a crisp texture and robust flavor.

    Common vetchCommon Vetch - This legume has pretty purple flowers and little pea-like pods that grow from its far reaching stems. The seeds from this plants are not very palatable nor very digestible but they are very nutritious. The seeds can be dried, ground into a powder and mixed with cereal flour to make bread, biscuits, and cakes. The beans compliment the protein in the cereal making it more complete.

    The leaves, young shoots and young pods can be cooked and the leaves can be in used tea. There is some evidence that the seed may be toxic but this has only been shown under laboratory conditions, there are no recorded cases of poisoning by this plant.

    Common Vetch has been part of the human diet, as attested by carbonised remains found at early Neolithic sites in Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia. It has also been reported from predynastic sites of ancient Egypt, and several Bronze age sites in Turkmenia and Slovakia

    DandelionsDandelion - Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably already know by now that dandelions, in all their prolific glory, are edible. In fact, all parts of this plant are edible. Dandelions are high in vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.

    You can eat the leaves raw or cooked. You can boil the roots as you would a vegetable or roast and grind them for use as a coffee substitute. The flowers can be used to make jam and if you want to go real crazy you can use the flowers to make dandelion wine!

    As with all food plants make sure if you decide to go grazing, that your greens haven't been sprayed or sprinkled with something you would want to ingest.



    Since I was doing all this reading on edible weeds I have a list of quite a few other ones that are found in my yard that I'll cover in another post.

    Anyway, what do you all do with your lawns, if you have one? Do you maintain it with water during the summer and weed n' feed, or do you let it go a little more natural? If you keep it natural, would you or have you eaten the "weeds" that grow there?

    *For those of you interested in a no-mow lawn or an eco-turf mix you can check into these different products: Nichols' Ecology Lawn Mix or Hobbs & Hopkins' Fleur de Lawn. Or you can just let nature take its course and come up with its own mix.

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    Keep Yer Cool Challenge

    Keep Yer Cool ChallengeI know the rest of you are probably already sweating it out, but I'm a little slow to respond given the Arctic temperatures that Seattle tends to sport up until the end of June. But that's no excuse for failing to launch the summertime equivalent of the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge!

    Last fall and winter there was a tremendous turn out of people, well, turning down their thermostats to save money and energy. So, for those of you with or without air conditioning, I'd like to offer the same sort of challenge for summertime.

    I'll do check-ins called The Sweat Lodge (look for it every other Sunday) to see how you are surviving the heat and give everyone the opportunity to share hints and tips on how to keep cool. I'll also share information that I've found to work in keeping cool. Clothing is optional.

    If you have air conditioning in your car, it is up to you to decide whether or not to use it this summer as well. I'll discuss the environmental impact of using auto air conditioning in a future post.

    As global climate change affects us all, producing a hotter experience than we are used to, it will take creativity and learning from other cultures to figure out a better way to cope than just slamming on the aircon. So, I'll explore what our brothers and sisters in tropical climes do to help beat the heat.

    You can sign up by stating how high you'll keep your thermostat before the air conditioning kicks in. 80 degrees? 85? 90? No air conditioning? The choice is yours. If you are already feeling weak at the knees just thinking about this challenge, you can choose to do one "keepin' cool" day a week or hour a day. For those anal retentive types (unlike moi), you can compare your energy consumption to last year and see if it makes a difference.

    If you don't have air conditioning (like moi), you can still participate because you'll be needing the support more than anyone! Just sign up with "No aircon" as your pledge. Does that sound like cheating? Hell, no! Because you can just as easily go out and install some air conditioning and you aren't, are you?

    To sign up for the challenge, add your pledge to the comments of this post.

    As usual, you can grab the badge to help spread the love. Just copy and paste the following code:

    <a href="http://crunchychicken.blogspot.com/2008/06/keep-yer-cool-challenge.html"> <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_8ndgSYbdkZ0/SGMIkkXlEXI/AAAAAAAABbE/D6dn-3IUJUk/S1600-R/CoolBanner.jpg" alt="Keep Yer Cool Challenge"/></a>

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    Wherein I air my dirty laundry

    It's been a while since I've covered any of the personal changes I've made whilst trying to live a little lighter on the Earth. Well, if you don't count my fixation of peeing all over my plants. For the most part, we've been discussing general topics and I'd like to share with you a recent change I've made.

    Let me tell you, I'm most excited about this one. Let me also forewarn you that this is probably more information than you want to hear but, as usual, I'll spare no expense as there are always others out there wondering about the what ifs.

    Get a piece of The RockI've been hearing a lot lately about people switching over to non-aluminum based deodorants rather than the standard antiperspirant products. One of the alternatives that people are trying is the crystal deodorant rock.

    Now, while I wouldn't mind rubbing The Rock on my armpits or other sweaty areas, I've been doubtful that it will help much with perspiration. And, I don't think he'll fit in my bathroom cabinet.

    Anyway, many switch products to reduce the amount of packaging and plastic and many do it for health reasons, believing that the ingredients in standard antiperspirants are harmful. Some people believe that these ingredients may lead to breast cancer or may contribute to Alzheimer's. While none of these claims, as yet, have been backed up by any existing scientific or medical evidence, people are avoiding these products just in case.

    I've been intrigued by other's experiences with the crystal, but haven't had the courage to try it. Until now. You see, the chemo my husband is on (or, rather, the four drug combo) has been causing him to have a severe reaction to the Ban roll-on that he's been using forever.

    So, he went out and bought a Crystal Body Deodorant, mostly because it claims that it is recommended by Cancer Treatment Centers. I'll let you go through the trouble of reading how it works, but just know that there are a number of different manufacturers that make them and they come in a rock format as well as roll-on. Obviously, The Rock is going to have less plastic involved with it.

    I was eyeballing this little gem in the bathroom for about a week before I got the nerve to give it a try. Under controlled circumstances. In other words, on a day when I knew I would be home. With backup nearby. And perhaps a blowtorch.

    Now, let me back up and share a little too much about my lifelong challenge with antiperspirants. I come from a long line of highly sweaty individuals. Ever since, well puberty, perspiration has been an enormous problem for me. I've tried a bajillion different antiperspirant combinations over the years and finally settled on using Mitchum as it was pretty much the only stuff that would keep things under control. Barely.

    I am not the type of person that can wear a shirt more than once. Something combines with my sweat and the ingredients in these products and creates a hazardous substance that is impossible to remove. In other words, I destroy clothes. If I wanted to get the stains out of my shirts I need to use a bike chain degreaser. Or a pair of scissors. There. Now you know. I've aired what little dirty laundry I have.

    So, while I've been reading about other people trying out these alternative methods, I'm thinking, yeah, right. There's no way. It probably works for those non-sweating, hairless people who can wear a shirt for a week straight and no one will notice. I can barely wear a shirt for more than a few hours and I'm ready to change it. Why, God, why?

    But, I digress. Let me just tell you that underarm sweating has been the bane of my existence. I cannot wear white. Are you getting the extent of the picture yet, because I really don't want to draw it anymore.

    Well, last week I tried it out and holy shit, I can't stop sniffing my pits. No, seriously! Usually a couple hours after taking a shower and applying antiperspirant I start smelling a little. Usually just a mix of whatever fragrance is in the stuff I'm using and a little sweat. Nothing bad, mind you, but there's a smell there.

    With this stuff there is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Not a whiff of fragrance, pit or anything. It's a fucking miracle. Even after weeding in the garden in the sun for the afternoon, it's a regular sniff-fest around here.

    My armpits are so delightful, you can eat off of them and lick them clean!

    If you've been thinking of giving the crystal a try, but have been afraid that it wouldn't meet your stink standards, I am hereby endorsing this elixir of the gods. Your pits will thank you. And so will the person sitting next to you on the bus this summer.

    What do you use? Does it work and do you like it?

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Raw milk gets a raw deal

    Raw milk for saleSometimes local media, well, grinds my crackers.

    Back in 2005, in the Pacific NW, there was an E. coli outbreak in people who had drank (drunk?) raw milk from a local producer. The health impact for these people was serious and a number of people were hospitalized. Last week, the owners of the dairy that sold the tainted milk pleaded guilty in federal court in Seattle to the charge of distributing adulterated food.

    Yesterday's front page news in a major Seattle paper went on to discuss whether or not the legalization of raw milk in the state of Washington should continue.

    Now, let's back up for a moment and look at some of the facts. First of all, the milk sold was from a dairy that was not licensed to sell raw milk. In their plea agreements, the owners acknowledged that "the milk was prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health."

    Can you cannibalize a whole "industry" based on an incidence by an unlicensed producer? That's like making dental surgery illegal in the state because a number of people sought dental care from an unlicensed dentist and were harmed because of it.

    I, for one, have never had raw milk so I cannot speak to its deliciousness or otherwise friendly virtues. The argument for it is that high heat processing (aka pasteurization) kills off a bunch of nutrients so drinking milk in its more natural state is better. There is also the claim that those people who are lactose intolerant can drink raw milk because it still has the lactose-digesting Lactobacilli bacteria intact.

    Drink my moolkThe CDC reports that in the last ten years, there were only 39 outbreaks nationwide in which raw milk or cheese made from it were implicated. Of those outbreaks, about 830 people fell ill, 66 were hospitalized and one died. Doug Powell, the scientific director for the International Food Safety Network, states that "the numbers of illnesses from outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk are not that high."

    Also, I do believe that banning something does not remove the demand for it. Driving a product underground does no one any favors. Allowing it, with licensing, regulations and testing, provides that at least some semblance of quality control is adhered.

    Washington state law requires that all raw milk carry the following warning: "This product has not been pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria. Pregnant women, children, the elderly and persons with lowered resistance have the highest risk of harm from use of this product."

    One of the issues for many people is the idea that parents will purchase this product and give it to their children, thereby endangering them. But, is this reason enough to ban it?

    What's your opinion on raw milk?

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Floating fecal funship

    Oasis of the SeasLet me tell you, I can't begin to describe how excited I am regarding the news that the biggest, or rather, most big-ass, cruise ship ever created is being launched on the public.

    Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas, which will set sail in the Caribbean starting December 2009, has the carrying capacity of 5,400 passengers, has 16 decks and will sport a Central Park style open-air space the size of a football field, an attraction that will give guests the option of a sea or tree view from their cabin balconies.

    Most excitingly, this boat will introduce the cruise line's new neighborhood concept, which will provide vacationers with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences in seven themed areas based on their personal styles, preferences or moods. So, if you are looking for singles, drug dealers, hookers, swingers, pedophiles, scrapbooking or even the family friendly "neighborhood" you're in luck.

    Oasis of the Seas will debut a new portfolio of 37 categories of accommodation options, so for those of you who can't exactly afford the penthouse or the 545 square foot loft suite, then perhaps the "trailer park" or "slave" berths are within your price range.

    This 220,000 gross tonne floating poopmobile will also boast some exciting features:

  • The ship will be so enormous that it will have its own micro-climate
  • Even whilst faced with never-ending buffets you can still stick to your diet as the Norwalk virus will be able to run extraordinarily quickly through the large number of passengers
  • The opportunities for being mugged in Central Park are endless
  • The ship can alternate between being a floating prison, detention camp or a plague ship, depending on the government's needs
  • It's every man for himself to the rescue boats
  • Thousands of gallons of shit being dumped into the waters of the ports of call

    Cruise ship trail of shitNo, seriously, some of the waste streams generated by cruise ships include bilge water (water that collects in the lowest part of the ship’s hull and may contain oil, grease, and other contaminants), sewage, graywater (waste water from showers, sinks, laundries and kitchens), ballast water (water taken onboard or discharged from a vessel to maintain its stability), and solid waste (food waste and garbage). There is significant concern about the potential environmental impacts of these waste streams.

    A typical cruise ship (and we're not even talking about the big-ass Oasis) on a one-week voyage generates more than 50 tons of garbage, one million gallons of graywater (waste water from sinks, showers, galleys, and laundry facilities), 210,000 gallons of sewage, and 35,000 gallons of oil-contaminated water.

    Most of this waste is dumped directly into the ocean, some treated, some not. In addition, luxury liners spew a range of pollutants into the air that can lead to acid rain and contribute to global warming. They can also spread invasive species by dumping untreated ballast water in coastal zones.

    The rapidly expanding size and number of cruise ships in US waters has triggered a national cruise ship pollution crisis. Environmental laws have not kept pace with growth of the industry. Cruise lines travel the most pristine waters of America, dumping all the way.

    I don't know about you, but if this ship visits my area I'll be pretty excited to see the thousands of gallons of waste water pouring out the side like a fire boat.

    ...
    Poop, life's sweetest reward.
    Let it flow, it floats back to you.

    The Poop Boat soon will be giving you the runs
    The Poop Boat promises cramping for everyone
    Set a course for Lomodil,
    Your mind on a new poop dance
    ...
  • Sunday, June 22, 2008

    Vacation from oil

    All aboard!How has the increased gas prices affected your summer vacation plans? Since petroleum prices are up, the airline industry is hurting and people are rethinking those long drives.

    What used to be an inexpensive road trip is now costing an arm and a leg. I keep seeing tons of articles about vacationing close to home to help save on costs. The Onion had some great alternatives for your vacation:

  • Maybe trying that Mexican-looking place over on Butterfield Road
  • Rediscovering the attic
  • Foregoing tour of Ireland in favor of an afternoon at O'Shaughnessy's
  • Packing the station wagon, piling into the station wagon, sitting in the station wagon, getting out of the station wagon
  • Family bath
  • Staring uncomfortably at one another closer to home

  • Saturday, June 21, 2008

    Celebrate Summer!

    Golden Showers Garden PartyWhat better way to celebrate the first day of summer than to feel more at one with the rest of the animal kingdom? And what better way to do that than to mark your territory and spread some liquid gold?

    That's right, people, today is the day (if you haven't started already) to help fertilize your plants with some all natural nitrogen and phosphorus rich urine! Stop buying that expensive Miracle Gro when you have your very own Miracle Flo! No petroleum or packaging needed.

    It's not too late to sign up and be one with Mother Nature.

    P.S. On behalf of myself and those who have already tried this, I must warn you that, once you enter the Liquid Gold Lovers Club, you will find that it is totally addicting. No hangover, shakes or brain damage required.

    Friday, June 20, 2008

    Stop drilling the American public

    Stop Drilling AmericansAs I'm sure you've heard this week, President Bush has asked Congress to end the federal ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along much of America’s continental shelf and open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration, asserting that those steps and others would lower gasoline prices and "strengthen our national security."

    I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly queasy making this whole business is. My crackers are beyond ground. They have been reduced to such a fine powder, it's as if they didn't exist in the first place. Let me tell you, I will be wearing my nightguard tonight because there's gonna be plenty of teeth gnashing going on.

    Let's start with the positive spin arguments about why drilling now is better than when Bush's own father signed a presidential executive order in 1990 banning coastal oil exploration. In addition to the executive order there is a Congressional moratorium that was first enacted in 1982, and has been renewed every year since. It prohibits oil and gas leasing on most of the outer continental shelf (3 miles to 200 miles offshore).

    Here are some popular arguments for opening up previously protected land:

    1. $4 a gallon for gas is reason enough to start drilling. Since we won't actually be seeing the oil until about a decade from now, how does that affect today's prices? The Energy Information Administration says that even if both coasts were opened, prices would not begin to drop until 2030. The only real beneficiaries will be the oil companies.

    Senator Reid (D-NV) responded to this by saying, "There is not enough oil in America to make that the salvation to our problems. Even if we open the coasts to oil drilling that won’t have a significant impact on prices. The facts are clear."

    2. Bush stated that Democratic leader's past opposition to drilling for oil has helped drive gas prices to record levels. This is complete malarkey. The idea that huge deposits of oil and gas on federal land have been closed off by environmentalists and Democrats is untrue.

    Senator Reid stated:

    Oil companies have already had ample opportunity to increase supply, but they have sat on their hands. They aren't even using more than half of the public lands they already have leased for drilling. And despite the huge tax breaks President Bush and Republican Congresses have given oil and gas companies to invest in refineries, domestic production has actually dropped.

    Of the estimated 36 billion barrels of oil on federal lands, mainly in the Rocky Mountain West and Alaska, almost two-thirds are accessible or will be after various land-use and environmental reviews. And of the 89 billion barrels of recoverable oil believed to lie offshore, the federal Mineral Management Service says fourth-fifths is open to industry, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan waters.

    So, why is Bush asking for more drilling in protected areas and why is he asking for more land when the oil companies aren't using what's already available and not protected? Because it's a completely empty gesture to make it appear as though he's doing something to help with the energy crisis when, in fact, it won't do much of anything besides line the pockets of his industry supporters.

    3. Domestic drilling is the way to end American dependence on foreign oil. This is a national security issue. The pittance of oil that will be drilled out of these areas will barely make a dent in the total amount consumed by Americans. No one knows for certain how much oil is in the moratorium area but the federal Energy Information Administration estimates that roughly 16 billion barrels of oil is covered by the offshore moratorium. Right now there's roughly 95 billion barrels of oil in unprotected areas that aren't being pursued by the oil industry. These additional 16 billion barrels are a drop in the bucket towards our consumption.

    To put it another way, America contains less than 3% of the world's oil resources yet we consume almost 25% of the world's oil production. Clearly, we can't drill our way to energy independence.

    4. Techniques for drilling offshore are much more safe and environmentally friendly than they were in the past. Well, let's assume that this is true. So what? That doesn't mean we need to drill everything in sight for a few billions barrels of oil given the amount of effort it will take. And, just for fun, let's assume that this is not true. Is it worth the risk to drill out sensitive areas with the potential for huge loss when the gain is so low?

    How are you responding to this latest push to open up drilling? If you want to make an impact, urge Congress for conservation, better fuel standards and increased energy efficiency rather than more oil.

    Let Congress know how you feel
    Similar to what I did with the Farm Bill, I'm starting a campaign to get the message across to Congress. Please let them know how you feel about this issue. Please post the "Stop Drilling Americans" banner* on your blog, linking back to the following letter for readers to copy and paste and send to their local members of congress. Feel free to write your own letter if you like, this is just a starter to get you going.

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    President Bush's latest move to lift the federal ban on offshore oil drilling is deeply disturbing and comes at a time where little benefit can come of it. The arguments regarding energy independence are deeply flawed and there is little impact that opening up these protected areas will have on current gas prices. It is an empty gesture towards helping alleviate the strain on Americans grappling with increased oil costs.

    Given the huge resources currently available to the energy industry, there is no reason to undo the environmental protections that are in place. The risk to these sensitive areas is too great and the gain is too little to warrant drilling in the areas under protection.

    Conservation and increased energy efficiency is a far more powerful tool than drilling for easing the demand for oil. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently projected that new technologies and conservation alone will decrease American demand for oil by 100 billion barrels through 2050.

    As my local representative, I urge you to protect our natural resources by upholding the federal laws to ban drilling in these sensitive areas and push towards adopting better policies on conservation and supporting the development of new technologies.

    Sincerely,

    John Q. Public
    Your address here
    City, State Zip
    Email address


    *Here is the code for the banner to add to your blog:

    Update: If you tried using the code earlier and it wasn't working, I fixed it, so it should work for you now.

    <a href="http://crunchychicken.blogspot.com/2008/06/stop-drilling-american-public.html"> <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_8ndgSYbdkZ0/SFtDpt6ln1I/AAAAAAAABZM/j-VqSR7j_yw/s320/banner.jpg" alt="Stop Drilling Americans"/></a>

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    A piddling post

    Golden Showers Garden PartyFor those of you who have already signed up to participate in the Golden Showers Garden Party, have you been able to, um, hold it until Saturday or have you gotten too excited and piddled in the garden already?

    I, for one, was too excited to wait and already spread some liquid love. I must admit, once you get started it's addicting. Here's some more nifty information that may kick you in the rear and convince you to give it a whirl:

    If you are using commercial nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers, you are helping drive food prices up. Since oil prices are hitting all-time highs, the cost to transport food and make nitrogen-based fertilizers has also risen. Couple that with the fact that sources of phosphate fertilizers are running out.

    So, by adding your own demand to that of farmers, instead of using your own liquid gold, you are not helping the food crisis. Think that's a bit of a stretch? Well, perhaps, but it certainly doesn't help. How soon will it be before the deposits of phosphates are exhausted? Well, when that happens, if you are already a card carrying club member you'll be ready with your own homegrown fertilizer.

    As Chile so eloquently called it: "Miracle-Flo - it's better than the corporate fertilizers and the packaging is all natural."

    For those of you who have not yet signed up, it's not too late! Just add your name to the comments and I'll link you up in the sidebar. And, for those of you about to type in "Yuck!" into the comments, you might want to spend a few minutes looking into how your food is fertilized. It's not all petroleum based... I suspect there's a hearty amount of tasty dry aged, grass-finished manure mixed in there as well.

    Fool sell

    The FCX CostlyHonda announced this week that they are ready for mass production of their hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the FCX Clarity. Hooray! Sort of. Not really.

    Well, it turns out that "mass production" means that they will be producing a whopping 200 vehicles over the next three years. These cars will mostly only be available in Southern CA as that is where the fuel cell station infrastructure is being built.

    Here's another point that makes this wholly ridiculous as a transportation alternative. Currently these vehicles cost several hundred thousand dollars to make. So, "special" people such as film producers and Jamie Lee Curtis have been chosen to receive one of the first 5 off the production line. You see, Honda is essentially underwriting the cost of the car to be able to lease it for $600 a month. And they certainly aren't going to waste that on us regular people.

    Honda predicts that the price will eventually drop to under $100,000 so that it's, you know, more affordable. Within a decade. A decade? Frankly, if Honda can't produce an affordable fuel cell vehicle in less than ten years (and these guys have been working on this technology longer than any other car manufacturer - 16 years) then the whole fuel cell industry sounds doomed as a viable option. And how is $100K affordable? It's not. How about $10K?

    Honda UnClarityHonda argues that electric vehicles (EV) take too long to charge and that the energy being used is usually generated from coal burning power plants, so their fuel cell vehicle is a better option. In spite of the website declaring that "it runs on clean, domestically produced hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe", it's not mentioned exactly where the energy for distilling the hydrogen is coming from, but I suspect that the energy input is still more than the energy output. And more likely than not it will be from fossil fuel driven power plants.

    So, what does get burned or used to generate the hydrogen sold at the hydrogen refueling stations? Even the CA Air Resources Board is a little sketchy on that point (for those of you who have watched Who Killed the Electric Car, you'll remember the CA Air Resources Board as being the dimwits that helped to kill it): "When operating directly with hydrogen, there are no polluting emissions and no greenhouse gases from a fuel cell, only water and heat. If the hydrogen is generated by reforming fossil fuels, some greenhouse gases are released..."

    Honda also observed that a big remaining hurdle to true mass production is the lack of filling stations that sell hydrogen. Even in California, where the state government has led a push to build hydrogen stations, there are still very few public stations. That will make it hard to drive the car far from home, limiting its appeal. You think? And they complain that EVs don't go far enough.

    So, why are we chasing fuel cell vehicles down the rabbit hole when there exists a technologically feasible alternative today with an EV? Well, because there is this misperception that people want and need a car that will go more than 100 miles per charge. Most people looking for a car are not travelling huge distances and have the ability to recharge their cars overnight. More recent EVs have a simple plug-in technology that allows users to plug their car into a standard outlet.

    I don't know about you, but I'm banking on fusion over fuel cells as my energy panacea. In the meantime, I'll be awaiting the documentary, "Who Pulled the Plug on the Plug-in Hybrid?"

    If you're depressed over today's post, here's something to cheer you up: the Th!nk Ox electric car. Coming soon to a road near you. For somewhere around $25,000.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    The feminization of the American male

    Where's Pussy Galore?At what point did the standard for male sexuality switch from muscular, hairy men to androgynous, hairless ones? What am I talking about and what does this have to do with the environment? Well, bear with me and I'll 'splain.

    Think back to the 1970s and before (I know, that far?) and, using the all important media as our meter of society, take a gander at the men who were considered sex symbols. The standard was tall, dark and hairy. Facial hair, hairy chests, the whole shebang.

    Think of Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Dean Martin, Sean Connery, Tom Selleck or even (yikes!) Burt Reynolds. Sure there was the occasional boyish heartthrob thrown in to titillate the younger crowds, but for the most part the male sex symbols were men. Manly men.

    The Dude abidesStarting in the 1980s, the male sex symbol started being neuterified. Yes, I made that word up. Can we blame Miami Vice and Don Johnson's hairless chest and preoccupation with looking good? That perpetual 5 o'clock shadow that screams "Yes! I'm a man, but not enough to have real facial hair"?

    Fast forward to today and the list of sex symbols is more of a mix. Now, I'm not discounting the likes of Gerard Butler, Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman and the rest, but there's been a serious trend towards celebrities with elfin magic such as Jude Law, Justin Timberlake, Orlando Bloom and Leonardo DiCaprio (the early years).

    Wait a minute, can we go back and think about Gerard Butler, Clive Owen and Hugh Jackman again. Ok. Anyway, I've been masturbating, I mean masticating over this for a few weeks now. Good lord, where was I going with this?

    Damn, the research on this is excruciating!

    Elfin magicNow, before you think I'm some Bonobo getting all hot and bothered over the hairy Pan paniscus in the crowd, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a big fan of body hair. But, I do like my men to look like men and not little boys.

    So, what's the deal with the recent pressure on adult men to be metrosexual? There's nothing wrong with a little manscaping here and there, but men are being subjected to the same beauty pressures that women have had to endure for the last several hundred years and longer.

    Aside from the personal pressure to live up to some standard of beauty and the self-doubt and criticism that follows, the impact of trying to achieve an unnatural state is no light matter. It's bad enough that half the population is condemned to rely on beauty products, haircare (coloring and hair products), body hair maintenance and the rest. Now men are feeling like they have to do the same. That means more waste in a number of ways.

    Lock, Stock and Two Smoking BarrelsI'm not suggesting that men don't take care of their appearances. Keeping the eyebrows, nose and ear hair under control is one thing. Plucking, waxing and altogether altering one's appearance to maintain a boyish look is another.

    Not too surprising, even Brad Paisley is commenting on the trend in one of his latest songs, I'm Still a Guy:

    These days there’s dudes gettin' facials
    Manicured, waxed, and botoxed
    But with deep spray on tans and creamy lotioney hands
    You cain’t grip a tackle box
    Yeah, with all of these men linin' up to get neutered
    It’s hip now to be feminized
    But, I don’t highlight my hair
    I’ve still got a pair
    Yeah, honey I’m still a guy

    Oh, my eyebrows ain’t plucked
    Theres a gun in my truck
    Oh Thank God, I’m still a guy

    What is the real opinion on the metrosexual trend. I want to hear from both men and women on how they feel about the pressure for men to focus so much on their appearance.

    Men: Do you feel a pressure to get all "prettified" to meet a new standard?

    Women: Do you prefer a more natural looking guy or one that's well manicured?

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    Blogs of Note

    Hey look! I'm today's Blog of Note on Blogger. Welcome everyone!

    No child left behind

    No one to fill these shoesIn yesterday's post, someone commented on how not having children was one of the most environmentally friendly things a person could do and that those who didn't have kids really didn't need to do anything else for the environment.

    One woman, Toni Vernelli, 35, who was sterilized when she was 28 states:


    Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet. Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population.

    Another couple that has chosen not to procreate believes:


    [We] live as green a life a possible. We don't have a car, cycle everywhere instead, and we never fly. We recycle, use low-energy light bulbs and eat only organic, locally produced food. In short, we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child. That's why [the husband] had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong for us to add to climate change and the destruction of Earth.

    What think ye? Is it morally wrong to have children?

    Some have argued that if humans were to follow this line of thinking, then suicide, natural disasters and other catastrophes man-made or otherwise, no matter how devastating to the population, would be of benefit to the environment. Does thinking of man as a plague on the Earth send us down a slippery slope of treating people as pests?

    At what point is it considered acceptable to reduce human population? Attrition only? Government restrictions a la China? What of wars over food and water? Who gets to decide the survivors? A panel of experts or survival of the fittest (and richest)?

    Monday, June 16, 2008

    I drink your milkshake!

    Peak oil - coming to a theater near youI hate to steal a line from the movie, There Will Be Blood, but this post is about oil. And since the quote explains how one character has been sucking up the oil from another's land, it seems fitting. The question I want to pose in today's post is this: have the last few generations essentially stolen the oil resources from future generations?

    I've started reading James Howard Kunstler's, The Long Emergency, and, although I haven't gotten very far yet, I've been struck by the thought that over the last 150 years or so our generation and the few ones preceding it have taken one of the Earth's greatest resources and completely squandered it. On the most inane crap.

    Granted, the industrial revolution and the industry, discoveries and innovation that were fueled by petroleum have been phenomenal in a number of ways. And, it certainly can be argued that during most of this time it was unknown how much oil existed underground, so I suppose we should give ourselves just a tiny bit of a break. But, on the other hand, we have taken what took millions of years to create and used it for suchly highly laudable activities such as driving around in behemoth vehicles to purchase cheap plastic crap and generally indulge ourselves in whatever flights of fancy it afforded.

    Well, party people, methinks the fantasy is coming to a close. The age of petroleum is on the down slope. Now, being Ms. Positively, I'm fairly certain that there will be some sort of energy replacement. We most definitely won't be living as high on the energy hog anymore, but I don't believe that destitution and civil unrest is a guarantee as a result. But, either way, it distresses me that the billions of barrels of oil that we had at our disposal was used (outside a few innovations) for such stupid means.

    Why didn't anyone have the forethought to conserve this amazing resource? Of those who did, why didn't anyone listen to them? Why do we still not listen to them and blithely piss away what we have left on "gas efficient" personal SUVs and trucks (now getting an amazing 20 MPG!), pleasure travel, extra trips to the store, etc. etc. ad naseum.

    It's as if humanity had been handed this most valuable and precious item and all we did with it was ruin our atmosphere, water and wildlife and got fat in the process. I suppose it just shows how ridiculously self-serving and short-sighted we are. It makes me angry that we've taken something that could have potentially lasted thousands of years and just drank it up with the same amount of greed and ambition and paranoia as the character in the movie I quoted from above.

    Have any of you thought of peak oil in this context or am I just lagging behind?

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Food Not Lawns Book Club

    Food Not LawnsAfraid of joining Sharon's Doom 'n Gloom book club, aka The Post Apocalyptic Book Club? Well, never fear, I'm starting a new book club based on your last votes. And there will be no death and dismemberment. Okay, maybe a few grubs will be injured, but that's about it.

    Out of the almost 500 votes, the top book (at about 30%) was Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community.

    From the publisher:

    Food Not Lawns combines practical wisdom on ecological design and community-building with a fresh, green perspective on an age-old subject. Activist and urban gardener Heather Flores shares her nine-step permaculture design to help farmsteaders and city dwellers alike build fertile soil, promote biodiversity, and increase natural habitat in their own "paradise gardens."

    But Food Not Lawns doesn't begin and end in the seed bed. This joyful permaculture lifestyle manual inspires readers to apply the principles of the paradise garden—simplicity, resourcefulness, creativity, mindfulness, and community—to all aspects of life.

    So, starting in July we'll start up the reading. I'll be putting up discussion posts probably towards the middle or end of July, so if it takes you a while to get a copy from you library, used bookseller or Amazon, do not fret. The world will not end between now and then. Although I haven't checked Sharon's blog yet today to see if that statement is correct.

    Just so I can get a head count...



    As usual, if you want to throw in your book club 2 pence, add a comment.

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Food waste at work

    Random food wasteA while back I wrote about what I did with my food waste that I generated at work. For those that don't know, I have been diligently packing it up in my reusable containers and taking it home with me to compost at home.

    We do have a bin for a worm composting system, but you have to cut things up in such tiny pieces before putting it in there, that I usually don't have time to stand in the lunchroom chopping up my apple cores and banana peels with the incredibly dull knives we have in there. I figured I'd get some on-the-job injury after slicing off a few fingers and then how would I be able to blog? I mean, really.

    Well, hoot-de-hoo! Starting Monday we's a' gonna have food waste compost pick-up at work. Are you jealous! Huh, are you? Well, you should be.

    Our property management is working with Tully's and Cedar Grove Organics Recycling to get the program under way. A compost container will be placed in each kitchen along with information outlining which items are acceptable for composting.

    Some compostable items are:

  • Coffee grounds, filters and tea bags
  • Kitchen paper towels
  • Paper napkins
  • Table scraps and plate scrapings
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Tully’s coffee cups (no lids)

    Why compost?
    Materials collected for composting will be composted in King County instead of being sent by rail to a landfill in Oregon. The finished compost holds water and air in the soil which improves soil health and reduces the need for watering. Composting reduces the amount of material sent to a landfill and the finished compost filters rainwater and controls erosion which results in healthier salmon streams.

    Apparently, "composting 16.8 tons of food waste and soiled kitchen paper rather than sending it to a landfill avoids 7 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year." Well, I can't complain about that! This is going to be soooo much more convenient than dragging my food scraps home with me.

    One last thing. The picture I have on this post that I found online under "food waste" shows a heap of food that is still edible. Or, at the very least, can be used to make vegetable stock or something else. Yeesh.



    If you throw out your food waste, would you consider taking it home to compost or otherwise "recycle"?
  • Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Pee-cycling: join the party!

    Golden Showers Garden PartyStill not convinced about the Golden Showers Party? Think I'm just a kook? Well, you may be right about that last part.

    But, either way, here's an article on Pee-cycling from the New Scientist that might help convince you to join the party.

    Excerpt:

    You recycle your household waste. You buy locally grown food, fit low-energy light bulbs and try not to use the car unnecessarily. Maybe you even irrigate the garden with your bath water. But you've still got an environmental monster in your house. Your toilet is wrecking the planet.

    Before you point to the brick you've put in the cistern, it's not about the water - well, not entirely. The big problem is pee. Your pee. Do you flush it away without a second thought? Tsk, tsk. Lose the green halo.

    ...

    One day we may look back at our habit of flushing pee away with drinking water as staggeringly wasteful. "Water and waste are two of the greatest challenges the world faces at the moment," says Jacob Tompkins, director of Waterwise, a London-based water efficiency campaigning group. "Anything that looks at our low-efficiency way of dealing with the waste stream is extremely important."

    Keeping urine out of the waste stream any way you can pays dividends. So what are you waiting for? Next time you need to take a leak, give the bathroom a miss and head straight for the flower beds. Then you can replace your green halo.

    From the New Scientist articleIn Carol Steinfeld's book, Liquid Gold, she suggests to simply separate your urine yourself using either low-tech (bottle) or high-tech (urine separating toilet) and then use it around your property as a fertilizer. In healthy individuals urine is essentially sterile.

    On her website, I found out that last year's Pee on Earth Day was on June 21st. How about that? The same day as Crunchy Chicken's hosted Golden Showers Garden Party. Now, that, is weird.

    Anyway, sign up already. Your green halo is waiting for you.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Down the rabbit hole

    BunnyI've been playing with an idea in my head for a few months now and wanted to throw it out to the rest of the blogging universe to see what you thought.

    With food costs on the rise and potential disruptions in our food supply due to increasing fuel costs, among other things, I know a lot of us have started gardening to supplement our dining needs with homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs.

    Add to that the fact that many of you raise chickens for eggs, some of you even go so far as for meat. This totally makes sense to me, even as a former vegan, although logistics of dispatching animals in the suburbs or even urban areas, makes it a little more difficult to do.

    I spent a bit of time looking around online for an abattoir or some other processing place in the Seattle area. Not that I have anything to dispatch (save for the neighbor's Siamese cats who are turning my raised beds into cat boxes), but mostly to satisfy my curiosity. If I wanted to raise chickens, goats or other critters for meat, how could I go about getting them "dressed"?

    Sure, you may argue that I don't want to get my hands dirty in the whole process, but where am I going to do it? On the front lawn? I think I could get over doing it myself, but what are the laws?

    So, then my mind started to wander, which it does occassionally. Okay, all the time, but this time it wandered down the rabbit hole. No, really. Here's the deal. I like to meander around on the Seattle Animal Control website looking to see what's up for adoption. I scooted on over to the small and fuzzy section and noticed the large supply of rabbits available. Not Netherland Dwarfs, Lops or American Dutches. You know, the classic bunnies.

    No, I'm talking tons of rabbits that oftentimes are grown for meat. Californians, New Zealand Whites... Big bunnies. Tasty bunnies. So, it got me thinking. What's to stop a person from "adopting" free meat?

    What are the ethics of perpetrating oneself as a pet owner when, ultimately, your intentions are otherwise? If the food supply were in more dire straights, would that be acceptable? Why then and not now? What do you think?

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Golden Showers Garden Party

    Golden Showers Garden PartyI know you all are getting sick of doing challenges, but I'm not going to let you off easy this summer. I'll be starting up a new book club here soon and I wanted to get you off to a good start to this summer's gardening season with a little party.

    Now, you may certainly charge me with having fallen off my rocker with this latest idea, but you have to admit... you are intrigued. Golden showers? Hmmm.

    Here's the story. Many of us are gardening - growing food to help reduce our grocery bills as well as limit the amount of CO2 used in growing and shipping food to us. In addition, there is the added value of food security and food safety. But, for many of us, it's just plain ol' fun!

    What you may or may not know is that studies indicate that each person’s waste fluids (aka: urine) can provide enough nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to grow a year’s supply of wheat and maize for that person. Other scientific studies in Finland showed that using human urine as fertilizer on food crops is perfectly safe, acceptable and desirable because of the nutrition benefits. If you are a fan of Sharon's Casaubon's Book, you probably already know the value of free nitrogen:

    The thing is, one of the scariest elements of the forthcoming energy peak is that we are terrifically dependent on anhydrous ammonia and other artificial nitrogen sources, mostly derived from natural gas, to feed ourselves. If we are to keep eating, we need to find another source of nitrogen. Conveniently, the artificial nitrogens that have been supporting the human populace (in our food) gets recycled through our bodies and comes back out in highly usable form. You just have to dilute it 1-10 to keep it from burning your plants.

    Of course, knowing and doing are two different things. That's why I'm here to give you a reason and explanation for why you are going to finally try this on your own. At home. So, when the spouse/kids/neighbor/friends ask you about it, just point your finger (again) at me. I don't mind.

    I can hear the "Damn you, Crunchy!"s already. Yes, I love you, too.

    Party Planning
    You're invited!Here's how it works. On June 21st, collect your urine in a handy dandy container of your choosing. Depending on how big your garden is you may want to enlist the help of family and friends. That's the party part. But it is optional for those with a shy bladder.

    Dilute it with water as per Sharon's instructions above (preferably some sort of grey water - perhaps using your saved shower warmup water) and apply to your garden. VoilĂ ! Then check back here on June 22nd for a full report.

    You can turn this into as big of an event as you want. Since it's also the Summer Solstice that weekend, turn your Golden Showers Garden Party into a BBQ. Now's your chance to inform your friends about the value of their own effluents. And, who doesn't like peeing? Really.

    As per usual, sign up in the comments and I'll add you to the sidebar under something innocuous like "Liquid Gold Lovers" so's as not to embarrass you. For those of you who want to share the love, go ahead and grab the banner for display.

    If you want to put the graphic up on your blog, just paste the following code:

    <a href="http://crunchychicken.blogspot.com/2008/06/golden-showers-garden-party.html"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8ndgSYbdkZ0/SE4GBYnW_eI/AAAAAAAABXI/nD67Bfr9Yas/s200/GoldenBannerNew.jpg" border="0" alt="Golden Showers Garden Party - 6/21/08" /></a>

    So, go forth, plan some partying and spread some liquid sunshine. Pretty soon, your plants will be smiling, too :)

    Monday, June 9, 2008

    Hooray! The polar ice caps are melting!

    On a three hour tour...I suppose it's a good thing to have read the article I'm about to discuss, although it made me sick to my stomach and altogether a little too willing to eat one too many cookies.

    In the article, The Race to Own the Arctic, by Bob Reiss, I learned that there are some seriously sweet benefits to the melting of the Arctic polar ice. Now, first let me back up and state the obvious. Overall global temperature rises have increased the melting of the polar ice. This shouldn't be a surprise to any of you. The melting ice is shrinking the habitat for polar bears, rising sea levels will be disastrous for Native hunting grounds and, as the tundra in northern areas thaws, thousands of acres of land will literally melt below people's feet.

    But, there's good news! There's always good news when it comes to American consumerism! There are oil and natural gas deposits in an Arctic undersea territory that is 20 times larger than Kuwait. Since we don't have to worry about that pesky ice getting in the way anymore, drilling options are opening up, ensuring that we'll have another 25% of the Earth's oil and gas reserves at our fingertips.

    "Economic, scientific, and conservation opportunities in the Arctic are fabulous," claims James Connaughton, President Bush's top energy adviser. And, who better to lead us down the path to oil righteousness than him?

    But, that's not all! Having no ice up topside means we have a whole new shipping lane available to ship those cheap Chinese goods to Europe without having to chug those extra 4,000 miles. Plus, with oil being extra cheap, it's a win-win situation.

    "What's more, the Northwest Passage - the legendary sea route that threads through Canada's northern islands and links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans - was open last summer."

    Think of all those extra luxury cruise routes that will be available, too! Scientists believe that the passage will be permanently ice-free in the summers starting between 2013 and 2040. Lucky Dutch Harbor, AK (if they aren't waist deep in pudding), will benefit from a significant tonnage of world shipping sailing past their port. Such an opportunity for profits!

    Phew! Thank goodness that last year's summer Arctic ice cap was half the size it was 50 years ago, otherwise we may actually need to slow down our spending and usage of gas guzzling behemoth vehicles!

    I'm so excited I'm gonna go start drinking shots of straight crude oil in celebration. No more freezing my buns off, I'm cranking up the heat right now!

    Sunday, June 8, 2008

    My cup runneth over

    DivaCup Challenge 2008Menfolk: be forewarned. I'm about to discuss women's hockey here.

    I think it's a little distressing that I remember to post about the DivaCup Challenge only when I'm using it. I know, TMI, but it's not like I even notice the darn thing when I am and mostly I just don't even think about my period anymore.

    This is because I know that when it does arrive, it's such a non-event since I started using it, that I don't give more than a second's thought about it. In fact, I can't even remember from one month to the next when my last period was. It could have been two weeks ago or four weeks for all I know. Perhaps that's the senility kicking in.

    Anyway, the point I'm getting at, is that for those of you out there who haven't tried it, it really is a life changing product. I wanted to get some feedback from those of you who are doing the challenge - what's been your impression so far? A couple of you have written to say that you were having problems with it either leaking (most likely it's sitting too high or is the wrong size) or being uncomfy (try trimming the tip).

    So, now's your chance to air out your cup. Add to the comments your kudos or pleas for help. I guarantee one of us has a solution for you. For those of you still on the fence or who haven't heard about it, Lunapads is offering a special Crunchy Chicken reader discount. The promo code for $5 off orders over $25 is Crunchy08 and is valid until the end of the year.

    DivaCup insideSome of you were complaining about the prices on sites like Lunapads and arguing that they really weren't offering a deal. I learned a little bit about the pricing from one of the owners of Lunapads:

    DivaCup, the company, has for some time been trying to stop the "web bucket shops" (like South Coast Vitamin et al.) from underselling other retailers. The reason that these shops are able to buy at these prices is that they buy huge volumes when they’re on sale from distributors, and possibly even take a loss just to get the sale in hopes that the customer will then purchase other goods while on their site.

    The gals at DivaCup have been working for years, literally, to make it stop, but since they are not making the sale directly, they don’t have much control. The price that the bucket shops sell the DivaCup at is less than Lunapads pays to get it from DivaCup, and they are contractually obligated not to put it on sale, so they can’t offer a discount that way.

    Just some food for thought on buying from discount distributors. If the cost is really what's preventing you from trying a DivaCup, think of how much money you'll be saving on buying disposables over the lifetime of the cup. It ends up being cheaper!

    Friday, June 6, 2008

    Hot new accessory!

    Hairwax NecklaceI've been getting a lot of press releases in my email lately and, even though I generally don't like to endorse products, I wanted to share the latest with you. I'm really sick of the green washing going on with most products but this one is different. It's a great example of the three Rs: remove, reuse and recycle.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    New York, NY (5 June 2008) -- Greenalicious.com expands their faux!Green line of eco-chic accessories with the addition of the highly anticipated new summer style -- The Hairwax Necklace.

    The Hairwax Necklace is made from naturally derived, eco-friendly materials that are a byproduct of the hair waxing industry. Choosing only the finest in natural waxes is the first step in ensuring a quality product. Given the increase in demand for bikini and Brazilian waxes, salons across the country have been faced with the issue of how to dispose of the used wax.

    Tabitha JonesTabitha Jones, owner of the WaxOn WaxOff salon in Houston, Texas is extremely supportive of the new line of jewelry.

    We have seemingly tons of waste wax product to dispose of each month. But we can't reuse the wax on our other customers, so it goes in the garbage. We are proud to be able to help contribute to this great product and are ecstatic that a portion of the proceeds goes to help kids with alopecia.

    Each necklace has nuanced color, with an amber glow. Depending on the hair color of the wax donor there are speckles of blonde, black and red that are highlighted in the sun. It really is a breathtaking work of art.

    HairWax ExtralongAfter an enthusiastic consumer response to the faux!Green Bracelet, Greenalicious.com is now poised to introduce the new style to their fans and supporters. The new style is fashion driven, and made with the highest grade of environmental consciousness. "We trust that our faux!Green collection will demonstrate to consumers that it is fun and fashionable to choose green."

    About Greenalicious.com:
    Greenalicious.com is a dedicated leader in developing cost-efficient green solutions for businesses as well as individuals of all ages. Founded on the commitment to ending further damage to our environment, Greenalicious.com serves as an informative destination website providing up-to-date news, green methods, products, and more with the mission to encourage people to take part in preserving the beautiful world we've inherited so that generations to come can live happier, healthier lives on a cleaner, greener planet.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Wow, I best go get my ass waxed!

    Hold on a minute. This sounds like a great home project. I have an awesome sugaring recipe that I could use. I bet that adding in some quick-harden polymer powder into the used wax will achieve the same results.

    And then I could sell my hairball jewelry on Etsy. I know of at least a few individuals who read this blog that would buy one.

    Crunchy Chicken's Nuggets. Yeah.

    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    Green gone wild!

    Hemp swimsuit on HuffPost GreenThere have been a number of new green media announcements and launches this week. Discovery's new TV channel Planet Green launched yesterday and the Huffington Post announced that it will be working in concert with Treehugger and Planet Green on HuffPost Green.

    The article in the New York Times earlier this week announcing Planet Green's channel launch gave me a hearty chuckle. No, actually, it pissed me off a bit. I even ground some crackers.

    I appreciate that there is a channel completely dedicated to green issues and I have up until now been a reader of the Planet Green website, but I'm afeared that the content will be pandering to advertisers and to consumers who still want to buy, buy, buy! But, now they have a reason to - it's for the environment.

    Some shows sound moderately promising. According to the article, Planet Green's new programs will show every shade of green, from "G Word", a daily series hosted by two news correspondents, to "Wrecklamation", billed as "recycling on steroids". But the rest of it sounds somewhat disturbing.

    Tommy Lee the Egomaniac on Planet GreenFeaturing such greeny celebrities as Tommy Lee (huh?) and environmental advertisers like GM (what?), Planet Green is really stepping it up.

    Another case in point: Planet Green was at the Indy 500 last month handing out T-shirts and beach balls to consumers who exemplified green living. Were those t-shirts organic or hemp? How 'bout those cheapo promotional beach balls? Hecho en China?

    What? You didn't know that the Indy 500 was going green this year? I'm sorry, but there is absolutely nothing green about burning gallons of petroleum racing around in a circle. I'll even go so far as to throw in the fact that those who support these races aren't exactly "exemplifying green living".

    Oh, by the way, GM (maker of the environmentally-friendly Hummer) is the "exclusive automobile sponsor" of the channel. As part of the deal, GM vehicles will be integrated into some programs, and Discovery will produce short-form videos about the company.

    Now, I hope I am wrong. Really, selling green to the masses takes a certain touch. But, at the very least, I'll have something new to make fun of. After all, anything that's a "lifestyle and entertainment channel that's designed to activate people in the green space" has got to be great.

    What's next? A green porn channel? The Ploughboy Channel, "designed to lubricate penises in the urban homesteading space" could be a real winner. I bet that their new show, the "G Spot" will be my favorite. Just, please, no Tommy Lee.

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    Lights out!

    Earth at night - is there any intelligent life?I've been debating writing this post for a while now as I think it can be misconstrued as being too negative and that is not the effect I'm trying to achieve here. I just want people to think about the actions they take when doing something that seems environmentally sound.

    It all started when the National Lights Out day (aka Earth Hour) came about and I saw that many were participating in it as well as promoting it. I think it's a great event to get people together and make them feel like they are participating in something large that makes a statement. It can be argued that the event was more symbolic than anything, but there was one thing that was grinding my crackers.

    The problem I had with it was how people were making up for the lack of lights/electricity/etc. Instead of going to bed early, many chose to light candles as an alternative. And, while I certainly get besotted by the mood of candlelight and the warm, cozy feeling it invokes, it doesn't come without environmental consequence.

    Here's the trade-off: if you get your electricity from green sources* (wind, hydro, solar, etc.), switching over to a seemingly innocuous candle is a bit of mental legerdemain. Were the candles 100% beeswax or soy with a 100% cotton wick? Or were they the cheaper paraffin (fossil fuel) kind? Did they burn cleanly or did they actually contribute to increased carbon dioxide emissions?

    For those of you not intimately knowledgeable about standard paraffin candles, paraffin** is essentially hydrocarbon, or a heavy alkane fraction distilled straight from crude oil. Even if 80% of your electricity comes from coal and fossil fuel fired power stations, burning candles is very polluting and certainly very greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions intensive, even more so than electric lighting. In other words, for every paraffin candle that is burned to replace electric lighting during Earth Hour, greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the one hour are increased by 9.8 g of carbon dioxide.

    And, for the record, beeswax candles can be considered "carbon neutral" in the sense that, even though it produces carbon dioxide when burned, it’s carbon that is naturally cycled through the ecospheric carbon cycle - not from fossil fuel. But throw in transportation and production energy costs and it gets a bit murky.

    So, what was more of an impact? Clearly the total impact is dependent on what the originating source of electricity was as well as the candle choice, but why wasn't this addressed by any of the organizers? At the very least, I didn't see anything about it nor did I notice it mentioned on the blogs of those who participated. If you really want to make a statement about electricity usage, then it should have been all lights out!

    Poll time!



    Finally, did you put much thought into the alternative you were choosing? If you didn't, would you do things differently after reading this? If you didn't participate, would you consider this in the future when making a candle choice?

    *Yes, I realize that there are some environmental consequences to the wind and hydro, but they are considerably smaller than that from nuclear, coal or other fossil fuel driven lighting.

    **For all the nitty gritty explanations, science and physics that I've included here, please refer to the originating sources.

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    Eco Throwdown post mortem

    Now that the Extreme Eco Throwdown is over, I thought I'd check in with you all and find out how you fared.

    I certainly hope you did better than I. At the very least, I hope you fared well enough to make up for the enormous transgressions that occurred around the Crunchy household during the month of May.

    I knew that I wouldn't be able to achieve much of anything with this challenge so I don't really consider myself as participating (which is why I wasn't posting about it much).

    Here are the gory details:

    1. No plastic: Let's just say that rubber gloves, Tegaderm, saline and Heparin filled syringes and Parafilm were making a strong presence around here.

    2. No paper products: Does a four-fold increase in paper towels for sterilizing countertops count? On the other hand, we are strictly using cloth wipes for Number 1 (adults only - I have enough plumbing challenges with the kids).

    3. No driving: Ha ha ha. We drove probably two to three times more than we normally do with all the trips down to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, work, etc. I'm really enjoying the increased gas prices.

    4. Local food only: Can you say asparagus? How about asparagus? Oh yeah, what about asparagus? Add to that the kale, broccoli leaves, onions (from last year), locally sourced pasta, meat and eggs and we ate more locally than the last several months. This will only get better.

    5. No garbage output: About the same as normal, which is to say that our output is small. My brother came to visit recently and he was astounded at how small our garbage can is. Since we can pretty much recycle or compost everything (food waste and yard waste), there isn't much that goes out.

    6. No excessive water use: We were about the same on our water usage, maybe down a little bit.

    7. No electricity: Well, we certainly used less electricity and oil heat because of warmer temperatures as well as the fact that it's light out from 5:00am to about 9:00pm. I'll be posting a diatribe about alternative lighing this week. Look out!

    So, how did you do? Were you able to throw it down?

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