Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Agriculture, property, sex and women's inequality

I was listening to another interview the other day, this time with the author of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, and they were discussing something I thought was very interesting regarding human cultures and women's place in them.

In foraging and traditional hunter-gatherer societies, the community is very egalitarian. Since these groups are constantly on the move, there is no true property as everything is shared, and that includes sexual partners. The reason this came up in discussion of the book is that in these groups, women have as much say in decision making and defending themselves as the men. In other words, they can accept or refuse the sexual advances of others as they like without retribution.

It wasn't until the dawn of agriculture that the concept of ownership came into play and where the "agricultural revolution triggered radical social reconfigurations from which we're still reeling." Males became possessive of not just the land they worked, but everything else they came to acquire in order to supply that lifestyle. People no longer worked in groups for the greater good of all. At that time, women were thrown into the pot of what was possessed, right along with land, housing, slaves and other types of property. So, the author argues that women's status has changed considerably due to the advent of agriculture and are viewed not as equals, but as property and something to control.

In societies that are matrilineal - that is, the property is passed down from mother to daughter - men and women are more sexually free in that they have multiple partners. In patrilineal societies, in order for the males to ensure that their property actually goes to their children (and not someone else's) they tightly control the sexual relations of the women. However, in matrilineal societies, this doesn't matter and it's irrelevant how many sexual partners the female has. She will always know which offspring are hers.

One other thing the author pointed out that I thought was interesting, was that most animals only mate when the female is in heat. There are exceptions and those are humans, chimps, bonobos and dolphins. He speculates that those with higher intelligence are more apt to have sex not just for reproduction, but for social reasons as well. Very few other animals in the animal kingdom bother with non-reproductive sexual acts such as oral sex and the like.

This last bit is somewhat off topic, but something to think about over the weekend :)

Here's a fun quote from the author's website:
When it comes to sex, men may be trash-talking sprinters, but it’s the women who win all the marathons. Any marriage counselor will tell you the most common sex-related complaint women make about men is that they are too quick and too direct. Meanwhile, men’s most frequent sex-related gripe about women is that they take too damned long to get warmed up. After an orgasm, a woman may be anticipating a dozen more. A female body in motion tends to stay in motion. But men come and go. For them, the curtain falls quickly and the mind turns to unrelated matters.

This symmetry of dual disappointment illustrates the almost comical incompatibility between men’s and women’s sexual response in the context of monogamous mating. You have to wonder: if men and women evolved together in sexually monogamous couples for millions of years, how did we end up being so incompatible? It’s as if we’ve been sitting down to dinner together, millennium after millennium, but half of us can’t help wolfing everything down in a few frantic, sloppy minutes, while the other half are still setting the table and lighting candles.

When a female chimp or bonobo is in the mood, she’s likely to be the center of plenty of eager male attention. And the more attention she gets, the more she attracts, because as it turns out, our male primate cousins get turned on by the sight and sound of others of their species having sex. Imagine that.

So, after all that, do you think that human females are adapted to having multiple partners at the same time and, by that, I mean at literally the same time?

Furthermore, are humans meant to be monogamous or are we fighting a losing battle?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday P-Patch pic o' the day

Following up to this week's P-Patch pictures is one with some fun garden decorations (look for the little metal kokopelli on the right). I think they really add some flair to the little square of land these plants are growing in.

Can you spot what's growing in this picture (click to make it larger)?

Good luck!

Pioneer Week Poll

I was listening to an interview on our local NPR radio station yesterday morning about the history of the fur trade and how it helped shape America and it got me to thinking that we haven't had a Pioneer Week this summer as promised, mostly because I was out of town the time period we previously discussed.

So, what think ye? Anyone interested in participating in another Pioneer Week in mid-August (say, the 21st through the 27th)? The basic premise is to try to live as close to the pioneer ways as possible by using minimal electricity, water, making homemade meals from scratch, keeping off of electronic entertainment, buying nothing non-essential, etc.

You can read the original "rules" from the last Pioneer Week and all the posts for it here.

1. Answer with one of the following (or your own version):
a. I'm interested!
b. I'd just like to read along and see how others fare
c. No, thanks

2. If you are interested in participating, tell me which week in August works best for you.

For inspiration, make sure you check out Frontier House from PBS.

Photo by Debbie Henderson

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday P-Patch pic o' the day

Following up to yesterday's picture is another cute one with a sign. But don't let it fool you, the sign is wrong.

Can you spot what's growing in this picture (click to make it larger)?

Good luck!

Fall vegetable garden

I got seriously motivated over the weekend and did a bunch of fall vegetable plantings. Since I pulled all the radishes and garlic (see my pickled radish post), in addition to some tomato plants that didn't make it, I had some space to work with.

I have it in my mind that it's still not too late to plant winter squash since our first frost date isn't until mid-November so I planted some Acorn squash, Butternut and Delicatas. We'll see how that works out. I also interplanted some radishes among th basil in that box.

In the kid's box I planted all carrots. Carrots, carrots and more carrots. The kids are losing patience that the carrots take 2 months to reach edibility and I'll be surprised if they don't pull the ones we planted back in June before they are mature. Anyway, they still have romaine lettuce and green onions growing in there as well.

I already have some beets growing, although I lost quite a bit to the damn neighbor cats digging in the bed. So, I planted some more. And then I went a bit crazy with the mesclun. Your basic mesclun mix grows really well here and I got enough starts for 18 plugs. Unfortunately, the heat just about did them in on Monday, but they seem to have revived.

We should be eating salads well into November and switching over to beets and potatoes with our winter squash. In spite of missing out three weeks this summer, I've been having a fantastic time gardening this year. This year I expanded out from just edibles and planted a lot of flowering plants, both annuals and perennials to give the yard some color. So, lately, my favorite place to hang out is in the backyard.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pea patch pic o' the day

My daughter and I walked over to the Ballard Pea Patch last week after dinner and took a bunch of photos of what we found. There was a lot of really cool stuff growing there, so I thought I'd post some of the shots.

Several of them had fun signs, so I'll start with this one. Can you spot what's growing in this picture (click to make it larger)?

First one who answers correctly wins nothing but the pride of being an excellent gardener!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eco-sex winner!

Well, there's one lucky lady who won the Eco-Sex Gift Basket and it's:

Surviving and Thriving from the blog, Surviving and Thriving on Pennies, which I encourage you all to check out.

I'll save all the gratuitous comments and let you think of your own.

Congrats to the winner and please send your contact information to

Friday, July 23, 2010

Evolution, intelligent design and creationism

I was at a huge family gathering last night and don't have a ton of time to come up with a post for today, so I thought I'd ask y'all a question. Especially since I watched the movie, Creation, last night.

In spite of oil spills, nuclear catastrophes and whatever else humans throw at it, I still feel that the Earth and animal life on it (not any specific animal life, mind you) would survive whatever we end up doing to it. Since one of my degrees is in human biological evolution, I am always curious about people's opinions on evolution.

Generally, I usually am surprised at the number of folks who still think that the tenets of creation or intelligent design are true, so I thought I'd devote today's post to getting an idea of what you all thought. It still is, 84 years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, a controversial subject and a taboo topic of conversation.

Ultimately, I'm curious whether or not people who are interested in environmental issues tend to agree with the principles of evolution, ID or the belief of creationism? Or does it really matter?

So, what do you think? Does your understanding of how life is formed and evolved affect your environmentalism? Finally, do you think that America's wishy-washy approach to teaching evolutionary science in schools has made us lose our edge in the biological sciences?

As for the graphic, well, it was just too cute to pass up.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eco-sex Gift Basket Giveaway

It's hot out. And steamy. And you're wearing less clothes and probably feel a little more frisky. So, what better time is there to do an Eco-sex Gift Basket Giveaway?

Since I did my eco-friendly sex talk back in January, I have some, um, props that should probably go to better use than hanging out in the closet. And I'm reluctant to use them since I always think that I'll need them for future talks. But, that won't prevent you, I'm sure! So, the following gift basket has a mix of stuff from my talk as well as some new items (all unused, for you perverts out there):
  • Glass Dildo (in a beautiful purple glass with ribbing)
  • Sliquid Organics Botanically Infused Lubricant
  • Sweet Beauty Chocolate Body Cream (with organic fair trade Theo Chocolate)
  • Big Dipper Waxworks Harmony Lavender & Geranium Candle
For those of you who are interested, the pyrex glass dildo is boilable for disinfection and you can warm or cool it in a bowl of water for varying sensations. The rest are all organic (but not edible). I especially don't recommend eating the candle. But do what you want with the dildo.

It's over $120 worth or organic orgasmic goodness! If you would like to enter this randomly drawn giveaway, submit the following: if you could sleep with anyone (besides your spouse or partner), who it would be. You should also add your name, if not obvious, to the comments of this post by midnight, Friday, July 23rd PST. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Story of Cosmetics

If you liked The Story of Stuff, the creators of that video have just released The Story of Cosmetics, a short video (8 minutes) explaining all the nasties you will find in your personal care products.

Make sure you check it out and, more importantly, make sure you start checking your product labels!

Laundry poll

I got a new clothes drying rack the other week and it made me wonder about how many of you line dry your laundry. Which led me to wonder about your laundry habits in general.

We always wash in cold water, have a high efficiency washing machine, use an eco-friendly detergent that comes in a cardboard box and use a bleach alternative. Where we fall behind is in the drying arena (except for all my pants which gets line dried since I am not a fan of high waters).

We try to dry some outside during the summer, but it's so humid the rest of the year that we end up getting musty smelling clothes if we dry too many of them inside. Since it takes so many days for them to dry, we run out of space fairly quickly.

But, enough of my excuses. As you can see, I, for one, need some encouragement on getting motivated to hang laundry outside.

What about you? What are your laundry habits?

1. What kind of laundry detergent do you use? Is it an eco-friendly brand or traditional?
2. Do you worry about the plastic packaging and choose cardboard packaging and powders instead?
3. Do you have a high efficiency washer (HE)?
4. Do you wash your clothes in cold water?
5. Do you ever line dry your clothes?
6. Do you live in an area with a clothesline ban?
7. Are you happy with your laundry routine or do you wish you could do more to lower your impact in that area?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Letter to my pumpkin plants

Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkin Plants
Ye Olde Backyard Pumpkin Patch
Seattle, WA 98117

July 20, 2010

Dear pumpkin plants,

I went out this morning hoping to assist you in your annual mating ritual. Well, let's be frank - I had every intention of fingering you in order to maximize pumpkin production. But, alas, you are only producing male flowers. Now, I am just as much a fan of penises as the next person, but why? This is no way to procreate. You know, go forth and spread seed and such.

Please, step it up and produce some lady bits for me to rub your buttery orange powdery goodness on.

Head Gardener

Getting rid of soap scum

We've got a real problem with soap scum build up in the shower and the tub, mostly because we use actual soap instead of body wash or some other liquid petroleum based product that doesn't leave a film.

I know this is one reason why people are using body washes over soap because they don't like the film left behind from bar soap. But, the cost is one of plastic packaging and expense for buying a product that is mostly water. Not to mention the petroleum-based product you are using on your skin.

So, what's a conscientious consumer to do? Let it build up for a couple of years like we do? No, that's really not a good answer, but I hate scrubbing the walls and tub mostly because it doesn't seem to do anything particularly if you are using a non-toxic cleanser. I don't care what people claim about baking soda or borax, but it doesn't do anything to budge the build up. And we have the softest water in the country. I'd hate to see what it would look like if we had hard water.

Anyway, a few weeks back before our vacation I ran across a product in our grocery store that claimed that it was a heavy duty cleaner for scrubbing away soap scum and mildew on porcelain tile and grout. I finally got around to test driving it out over the weekend.

It is called the Earthstone BathroomStone which claims that it is 100% eco-friendly and 100% non-toxic. It's basically like a soft pumice stone on one side and a thin spongy thing on the other for wiping down.

Well, let me tell you, with some (serious) elbow grease it really does work. I found it easier to remove build up on the porcelain tiles than on the glass door, but that's mainly because our glass shower door is kind of bumpy. One problem I did notice is that the soap build up transfers from the shower (or tub) to the stone and it's hard to remove.

I ended up using a pumice stone to scrub it off the BathroomStone. If you don't do this you are basically scrubbing a thick layer of soap crud on the shower wall which, not too surprisingly, doesn't work well in removing any more goop. In spite of their claims about removing mildew, particularly in the grout, I found it to be totally worthless in that regard.

Another thing to keep in mind with this product, since it is so abrasive, is that you'll want to wear gloves while using this unless you want to remove some skin in the process.

Do you have a favorite, non-toxic method for removing soap scum build up?

Photos courtesy of Earthstone. No compensation was received for the review of this product.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fruit stickers

Really? This little organic plum needed three stickers on it? Plus one on the back claiming that it was organic? I spent more time picking off the offending stickers than eating the darn thing. At least it was delicious.

The state of the garden

Ah, it's good to be back home. Our last week of travelling, everyone was getting a little cranky between the heat and all the walking. But we had a great time. And, I really don't mind the thirty degree temperature drop. Gotta love Seattle in July.

I was concerned about how my garden managed to survive during our absence, mostly because we have notoriously dry summers and we did have some 90 degree plus days while we were gone. My mom dutifully came over and watered everything, so nothing died this year (unlike last year when we were gone on vacation).

We missed our cherry season altogether. My mom said the birds picked our tree clean. She didn't know that we had bird netting mostly because the birds have never been interested in the past. She was saving the cherries until they were ripe and then the next day, Bam!, they were all gone. Oh well. I always assume a certain percentage for the local fauna anyway.

Our blueberry bushes produced absolutely nothing this year. Zilch. Zip. Do they have some rotation I don't know about? Because there was never anything for the birds to even think about picking off. The last two years they produced, but this year, nothing.

The apple trees aren't dead (still), but they aren't looking all that fantastic either. They are still confused from almost dying during our last summer break and then having the kids pick them clean in August. I'll be more than surprised if anything happens this year, especially since it was flowering and fruiting last October.

The potatoes are going gangbusters, but I didn't get a chance to do the final hilling, so maybe I'll try to throw some more dirt on them this week and see if anything else grows. I knew this would happen, but the stems were too short when we left to add any more dirt on top three weeks ago. And now they are huge and looking a tad weary.

My tea plant hasn't grown an inch since I bought it. At least it's not dead. Same deal with my fig tree. I've had the thing for, what, three years now? And, it's still only 12 inches tall. Asshole.

My olive tree is going crazy. I'm hoping for a bumper crop this year so I can cure some tasty arbequina olives. My banana plant didn't die either, although it looked like it had one leg in the grave when we left. My mom said she watered it like mad while we were gone, but I think it had more to do with a little heat that helped it out.

The kids' garden (which I haven't told you about yet) is doing extremely well, except for the spots where the damn neighbor cats rustled around and nothing germinated. We planted it before we left and were greeted with several rows of fully ready-to-eat french breakfast radishes and lettuce with some carrots and green onions bringing up the rear.

My asparagus plants are looking sickly, but they are still alive! The tomatoes have a few things growing, although the ones I planted from seed probably won't do anything this year. The sugar snap peas I planted last minute, and are doing well, should make up for it. And the blackberry bush pretty much doubled in size and has little berries on it.

And, finally, my pumpkin patch is getting huge! I'll have pictures once I finish settling in. I spent the weekend getting the house and kids ready for our summer sitter as I go back to work today. Yikes!

How is your summer garden growing? Any major successes or massive failures? Are you planting now for a fall/winter garden crop?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The sweeter side

Sorry for the dearth of posts lately, I've just been so busy vacationing that I haven't had time to write up much in the way of posts. However, I did want to share one thing with you. The best, most amazing, freaking delicious bread and pastry shop I've ever encountered. Which just so happens to be a half block away from where we are staying in Greenwich Village.

If I come back weighing 10 pounds heavier it will be mostly due to Amy's. Well, that, and John's Pizza and all the gelato.

But, I am delighted to know that she has two cookbooks out, the Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread has been added to not only my hips, but my Amazon Wish list.

Also, if you want to follow our vacation on Facebook, just friend me here.