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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Rambles

So, I was talking to the lady who owns the used bookstore “next door” on Wednesday.  Amazingly intelligent, well-read woman, she is. We talked about a lot of subjects.

The economy, and how the Alberta Premier is … well, trying to prevent a panic by … ignoring the fact that the economy is in shambles. And even if the Alberta economy was perfectly okay (it’s not, the oilsands are not economically sound as long as oil is less than $75/barrel, or something stupid like that) it couldn’t support all of Canada indefinitely. And how Canada has been rather  sheltered from the economic falling-apartness that is occurring everywhere else, but now we’re starting to feel it. (On a side note, I asked the lady at London Drugs if they were hiring and she said no, with the funniest look on her face, and then continued her thought with a “wow, it’s been years since I’ve said that… ” and a sad shake of her head.)

We touched on how the budget is going to infrastructure (okay), unemployment insurance and similar help (… why? If the Premier is so sure our economy is still booming, would unemployment help be so important?), and home renovations/purchasing a new home.

Now, if people were smart, wise, thoughtful or had an ounce of common sense, they’d use that home renovations money/bonus to refurbish the house to use less energy. Re-insulate, put in some beneficial landscaping (trees! block the hot sun or the cold wind depending on the season), that sort of thing. We came to a bitter, resigned conclusion that many of the people who qualify will spend the money on a hot tub, or something equally frivolous.

We wander off onto the cruise she’d just been on and how horrible the waste in the dinning room was. We talked about how people in Haiti are eating DIRT while people in the dinning room are ordering 4-5 dishes, a night, to eat a bite or two of each. Wow, that seems fair. Not only can these individuals afford to take a week or two off of work, but they”re throwing out enough food to feed 4 people (we’ll be generous and assume they ate enough to feed yourself, rather than simply sampling), each night. Oh well, go out with a bang, I suppose. Since cruises may become a thing of the past as first people can’t afford either the time off (in terms of lost wages, and risking losing the job) nor have the money to pay for the cruise itself. And then the cruises will have issues with fuel shortages too. Unless they start rowing around the Caribbean or to Alaska. That’d be something.

She likes the quote about living simply so others may simply live. How the developed countries have taken so much and, essentially put it on credit (and no, I’m not talking about money), that generation upon generation will be paying for it. How the USA has taken so many resources and lived so sustainably that the next hundred generations will be trying to make amends. That’s like passing on your credit card debt to all of your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandkids, and each generation having to pass it on the entire next generation after having lived their whole life in poverty paying. For what? Some new clothes, nights out, furniture that matches, bought new, every time the style changes? Can you imagine making your grandkids pay for your latest wardrobe? Well, guess what, they will be. Chew on that for a while the next time you can’t possibly wear those jeans another 6 months.

I’m sure there was more, but this was all food for thought and what stood out to me. Made me think, anyway.

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Habits

So, I was wandering around my house today (I do that sometimes, it helps with the ADD). Room to kitchen to sitting down at the computer to room to bathroom to computer to room to kitchen; All the while wondering what’s wrong with me (usually when I wander something’s on my mind).

Then it hit me, I was cold. My heat’s never on (it’s supposed to keep the pipes from freezing and that’s all as far as I’m concerned!) and the upstairs neighbours’, plagued with a job loss and a recent high utilities bill, must not have theirs on because oooh it’s chilly in here!

So I scampered towards the room (ie. did a u-turn in the bedroom door) and got out some socks, followed by a trip to the closet for my hat and one to the kitchen to heat up a bit of tea.

My thoughts never strayed towards the thermostat until after I sat back down with a wool blanket over my lap. And I’ll admit, those thoughts were more along the lines of, “aren’t I a good little environmentalist for not turning up the heat?”

I did this all without thinking. Habit. Impulsively, mayhap? So now I’m wondering, how much do I do without thinking that harms the environment.

For tasks that are simple and routine, most people don’t stop to think about them. They just do them the way they did them the last time it was done. Change is hard. And not soley because of the uncomfortableness that occurs when things are shaken – Change requires thought. Change requires remembering that you’re supposed to have changed. That the laundry gets hung up now, not put in the dryer. That getting the groceries means a stop at the farmer’s market first. That the brand you bought last week is not the same one you’re going to reach for this week. To make it from scratch. How many times have I made a loaf of bread, and still bought one from the store? (Hint: Too many!)

Last year I was going to garden.  I didn’t think to plant one (or even finish digging out the bed!) because it wasn’t something habitual. The same-old get home from work and turn on the computer was what happened. No matter how much I wanted the garden! Half the time it was late at night before I remembered I was supposed to have changed. And before I knew it it was too late in the season.

I’m sure there’s many, many things that I do without a thought that I really shouldn’t be doing. It’s hard to come up with these things without noticing yourself doing them. Which is also hard.

So I guess a green change I need to make is to be in the moment. Which will require lots of thought. Fortunately, once you make the change a habit, things no longer require any thought. They’re just what you do.

What’s the first thing you think of? Is the first thing you think to do in a particular situation harming or helping? What good habit will you form this month?

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2. Water usage

Showers: I had two real showers while I was out in B.C. I did also have two bag-showers (where you fill up a bag and then warm it in the sun) and bathed in the creek twice. That works out to just more than one cleaning per week (counting everything) or one every two weeks (counting just “real showers”). Both are rather traveler-esque and I wouldn’t expect people in my society to do so on a regular basis.

Obviously some changes need to be made. Showers need to be shorter, less frequent, with the low-flow heads and everything else that’s been discussed to death. And what about bag-showers? Seriously, the water pressure in the one I had was amazing and when you’re already taking short showers there’s more than enough water in the bag (my two biggest concerns). The water, if left long enough, also gets quite warm on a sunny day. Too hot, even. Obviously one won’t want to be outside in a Canadian winter, trying to shower off (or even warm the water in the sun!)… fortunately the summer is a different matter entirely! There has to be some way to make it work! Get creative and determine a way to move it indoors, if not the warming part, at least the showering itself. My best idea is to install a hook for it on the roof of your regular shower. Totally wouldn’t work for mine (the roofs really low + I’m renting) but it’d work for some people.

Toilets: The commune had composting toilets. And they’re really, really are not just a nice way of saying “outhouses.” Composting toilets aren’t stinky (I was amazed too)! I did my business and then covered it with a little bit of saw dust. No stink, no mess, no water waste. Now, I’ve heard books-to-read recommendations on the subject, but I can assure you that I did not get food poisoning, or even sick while I was there and most of the food I ate was out of their garden which I’m assuming uses the compost from the potties. More research may be needed for me to really talk about them. I still found them better than the port-a-potties at Shambhala and on the orchards, in terms of smell and comfort using. And the ones I was using were just tarps strung around trees, toilet paper, a bucket of sawdust, and a bucket with a toilet seat balanced on top of it. There are much fancier/civilized versions.

Hand Washing: I still view this as supper important, though I’m pretty sure I use less water when doing so now. And I’m not so obsessive about it anymore either (which is good for me, not something I’m telling readers to do).

3. Waste

There’s really something that needs to be done about how much waste goes into the food cycle. I mean, not everyone eats the greens of their veggies;  there is stuff that goes bad on the shelves, is dropped, squished, or otherwise damaged; and then there’s the waste after it goes home in the form of unsightly parts being cut off, spoilage, forgetting it in the back of the fridge, etc.

Never did I realize how prevalent food wastage was until I worked on an orchard. There were, literally, pear trees which I had to throw out half the fruit. Some of it was reasonable (the pear was goopy, or had been infected by earwigs) and some of it was ridiculous. For example we had to pick every pear and throw out all that were too small. Now, I could be wrong but I don’t think the SIZE of a pear affects its flavour/value. Or, y’know, you could just wait until the pear grew a little bit. Pears don’t ripen on the tree anyway.

I also had to chuck all of the pears that had marks (usually just from resting on a branch) larger than a dime. I can only imagine how many of the pears I kept got thrown out in the processing plant. And then we lose more in transit and at the supermarket. And then a pear is thrown out because it went bad on the kitchen counter. That’s a whole lot of waste in a world that is precariously close to (and in some places over the edge) wide spread famines.

I’m not saying eat the rotting fruit; I’m saying eat it before it starts to rot.

I’m not saying sell the squished fruit; I’m saying transport the fruit shorter distances so less are damaged.

I’m not saying eat the fruit that had pests inside of it; I’m saying create a market for second grade fruits where it’s not unhealthy, just cosmetic.

I’m saying grow your own, so it can grow until it’s the proper size.

4. Just a short rant: Calgary’s green practices…

are non-existent. Seriously, I know that Alberta is a conservative province and B.C. is quite a bit more hippie-ish, but we need to get with the program! (I also realize that Calgary is big and Keremeos/Grand Forks are small.)

I’m tired of giving out free plastic bags, I’m sick of living in a city with a terrible transit system (maybe that one wasn’t really comparative, just a general rant), I want to be able to walk to everything I need on a regular basis, I think the hours businesses are open in big cities are ridiculous, I loved not seeing any big names/how everything was local, I hate waiting forever for medical attention, and we need more windmills!

Calgary is far enough behind in the “be sustainable” (btw, my marketing textbook defines, paraphrased, sustainable as something that does not compromise future generations’ ability to meet their basic needs — which merits its own post) race that I don’t know if we’ll ever catch up and I’m embarrassed to live here.

TBC

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Let’s see then

As a majority Conservative government races anything else to the 155 seat mark, I have a few things to say to Calgary West.

The following only applies to those of you who either voted Anders or did not vote.

First of all, those of you who are not at least 3rd generation Canadian? Get out. Anders doesn’t think you’re Canadian and since you voted for him, or carelessly let him in, you obviously agree and do not wish to be. So:Get. Out.

Secondly, those of you who are not a middle aged, white, middle or higher income, Christian males? Anders will be shooting you, personally or in spirit, tomorrow morning at 9am sharp at your voting station. Please return there for your due. After all, this is either who you voted in, or the punishment for your apathy.

And to those of you who are left and who are just voting PC because you’re “supposed to vote Conservative?” I hope that the above touches you, and hurts you, so you think at least a little before you X next time (or X at all next time).

And to the rest? I’d like to curse and cuss and everything else. I just don’t see any point. The rest of you really were voting for the person that you think was best, and that’s ok even if I disagree with your choice.

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Poly-tics

Many, bloodsucking parasites. *Rant Alert*

Okay, so I got distracted from writing part two of my New Perspectives posts.

Tuesday is voting day here. I’ve been peering at the “Vote swapping” groups on facebook (I have no idea if it really is legal so if you’re planning on it be sure to do your research first), debating them and wondering.

The only party I could possibly exchange a vote for, in this most conservative running, in the most conservative city in the most conservative province is… you guessed it! The Conservatives.

Not. A. Chance. Maybe not even if there was a gun pointing at my head while I was looking at the polls.

Now, I don’t have much against the Conservatives themselves. But Anders. Oh sweet cookies. Anders.

Let’s consider him for a moment, shall we?

~ Immigrants: (and this includes children to immigrants) should not be allowed to vote, no matter if they’re citizens, been here their whole life (after all, if their parents immigrated they’re not really Canadian citizens), or snuck in yesterday. No voting if you’re not an Aboriginal! Except they’re not white, so I don’t know if he’d want them voting either.

~He ignores the budget set for his campaign (and, c’mon, does he really need a campaign at all?! We all know “everyone” is going to vote for him!)

~He wants students to pay for their own education, but refuses funding to provide them with summer jobs

~”Rob Anders, however, was the only MP to vote against [Nelson Mandela be given honorary Canadian citizenship”, justifying his actions by claiming that Mandela is a “communist and a terrorist”.

~Anders is constantly being mocked by the Conservative newspaper. I can only imagine what the liberal ones say about him…

~He thinks that the PCs are not Conservative enough

~He’s been, for lack of a better way of putting it, told to shut the *@&$# up and stay out of sight, by his own party. No wonder they stuck him here, where a lamppost with a “Conservative” sign hung on it would be voted in. With 90% of the votes, no doubt

So, personally I’m going to vote for something that works better with my personal beliefs (NDP). For the next election, though, can we PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE have some other conservative running? If it has to be Conservative, can we at least have a Conservative representative that the rest of the party isn’t ashamed of?

Someone, please, run for the Conservatives as an independent or something. (Just don’t come anywhere near to being similar to their colours, or you’ll be in HUGE trouble! Because apparently Conservative votes can’t read the ballot where it states which party you’re running for. Just X by the one that starts with a “C” you’ll be alright. *Rolls eyes*)

Seriously, Anders needs to go. Actually, I need to move somewhere less Conservative. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure Anders is one more stupid statement away from being booted from the party (I can hope, can’t I?)

Sources:

http://www.voteoutanders.com/

http://everything2.com/e2node/Rob%2520Anders

Various Calgary Herald articles and editorials over the years

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Hello, I’m back!

I promised you that I would have many new paradigms to explore once I got back from traveling.

Hoo boy do I ever. And please believe me when I say these only scratch the surface.

Anyway, enough of my bragging. Onto my writing! Mwahah!

1. Realizing just how little is a “need” and that the rest is, really, all “wants”

Now I’ve always considered myself a frugal person; My dad borders on cheap and I take after him more than I’d like to admit. I do the whole “ask yourself if you really want it” when I buy something, I purge clutter, I make meals from scratch, I don’t buy new clothes, etc.

I’m not nearly as frugal as I thought I was. That is, I indulged in a lot of “wants” without realizing they were wants.

Some examples:

Shelter. While I totally wouldn’t want to spend a winter in a tent, houses are at least slightly overrated during the summer. Okay, so a house is still nice when it rains, and living in a tent can be hard and stressful and challenging… It is still amazing how easy it was compared to what I was mentally preparing myself for. The tent became a sanctuary for me. Somewhere safe to hide from the world, be me, be safe. And it actually did keep the rain off alright. The amount of space within the tent didn’t really bother me either. Spending the month in the tent gave me confidence that I’ll be alright living in a small house.

I think the only reason society really needs so much room, is because of all the crap we are convinced we need. Commercials, social pressure, cliques, fashion, even depression-era thinking (“I might need it someday”); It all presses us to save stuff, horde it. And the more stuff we “need” the more space we need to keep it in. Really, when all your stuff needs to fit in a backpack anyway, a tent has plenty of space.

Stuff. Ah, yes. It all fit in my backpack (just a regular old school backpack) and a duffle bag (since I was lacking in the hiking type backpack). Scratch that. It all had to fit into that space. I was worried, taking so little. Turns out I took way too much. I didn’t use the oven mitt. I didn’t need the dish towel. Or both washcloths. And (kinda ick, but whatever) I don’t think I ever did dig out all of the underwear/socks I brought. The flashlight was a flop. Etc. etc. etc. I am glad I brought the one outfit that I only wore twice: when I was doing laundry and on the greyhound home (I’d feel sorry for the people on the greyhound with me if I’d had to wear some of my dirty clothes on the trip home).

I came home and promptly got rid of tons of stuff. I used a “if you needed to carry it on your back, would you?” prompt. It worked wonders. There are some things I’m just not going to get rid of, even if the answer to the question was “no” (my keyboard, computer, school supplies, kitchen supplies; stuff like that). Asking that did put much of my junk into perspective. I feel very light and free now. And, honestly, I usually go through and purge my stuff a couple times a year (I’d already done it twice this year). I can only imagine what something like that would do to a person who doesn’t purge. Really. Clutter takes up a TON of your energy. Even if it’s out of sight and you think it’s out of mind.

Transportation. Do you realize I went to BC, spent a month in 3 different locations and didn’t “waste” any gas? That I took a ride that would have gone out to Shambhala anyway, got a ride from there to Grand Forks (that was following that path). Then from the Sanctuary to Keremeos, again I got a ride that was going the same way. Then came home on the Greyhound. I do need to work on being able to take the city bus (I get panic attacks on them). There were still several points in the trip where I stopped, looked around and went, “Wow, I got here without using any gas, spending much money or owning a car.” I meant it. It was an amazing feeling. I didn’t have a car to start with, and this has reaffirmed that I don’t need one.

Food. Trail mix, day in and day out, sucks. I can eat “my casserole” (veggies + white sauce) almost nonstop, but trail mix just doesn’t cut it for me. I really, really, really enjoy hot food (I’m not cut out to be a mother, remember?). There was several points in the trip where I stopped and thought (yes, there was lots of epiphanies and sudden moments of introspection), “We have food and water, and the tent. Nothing else matters.” I’m horrendous at dealing with the unexpected and that was a HUGE step for me.

Clothes. Okay, so this one probably only applies to 99% of the first world’s population when they are traveling; I have gained respect for those who do not wash their clothes until the water in the washing machine will have enough dirt to plant potatoes (totally stolen from Terry Goodkind). Seriously, why do we need to wash our jeans everytime we wear them? Yes, I really, really enjoyed washing my jeans after I dropped a rotten tomato on my knee (My jeans smell like rotten tomatoes/ ’cause I dropped on on my knee/ My pants smell like rotten tomatoes/ while working with Timothy). I didn’t really feel the need for pristine clothes the rest of the journey though. Yes, there are certain limits imposed by society. Yes, most of those limits are a tad on the over zealous side. Guess what: Society is made up of individuals. You’re an individual. I’m an individual. Let’s change society. Chose one thing that you think is kept “too clean” (and this doesn’t need to be clothing) and slowly let it drop. Want to use your towel more than once? Do it! Want to wear a pair of underwear for a week? I’ll be here making a face behind your back — while admitting to myself I did the same thing while I was out of the city. Be brave. We can do it! Or something.

More to come really soon. And I promise “really soon” doesn’t equal six months this time!

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Police Tanks

Today, I break from my introduction to peak oil series to talk about the armoured police SUV that was recently introduced to Calgary (Alberta, Canada). More can be read here. This, and anything like it, will now be referred to, irreverently, as (the) “police tanks.”

 

So, remember how I said I had dreadlocks? You may want to shed any stereotypes you derived from that to reduce the shock from this post. Okay, ready? Here we go.

 

 

I’m not all for laws, in a “no matter what way”… but neither do I feel compelled to rebel against “the system.” I would view someone stealing a loaf of bread for fun as worse than someone stealing it to feed a starving family. While both cases break the same law and are equally illegal, I believe that the second scenario is “less bad” but I maintain that all stealing is wrong. Yes, even from the “evil corporations!” (Some hippie I make, eh?) And while I don’t agree with every law I’ve ever come across ( though I would get arrested just for the free horse if that still applied 😉 ) I respect society’s need for some norms and expectations of conduct and act accordingly. Of course, if these norms, laws, rules, regulations, and general public safety-ness are to be kept up we need someone to enforce them.

That being said, I would like to say that I, more or less, agree with the introduction of the police tanks.

 

In theory.

 

I went to high school with a girl who’s father was a police officer, and I’m sure her and her family will be ecstatic about this additional safety measure. The same can be assumed about anyone else who cares about a cop. The city police need to be kept safe, especially with Calgary’s exploding population and increase in organized crime. And a great way to do that is to give them a nice, periwinkle police tank!

 

So, why am I writing about this? So far it doesn’t sound like much of a rant, does it… hmm… how to fix that. How to fix that.

 

Oh. I can’t help feeling, seeing that lovely, bright blue tank and hearing about the pact Harper signed with the US (in a state of emergency both countries can now send troops into each other) that they are trying to get us used to seeing tanks on our streets. Slowly, slowly chipping away at us to make a police state seem less… out there. Less something to rebel against. Less something to worry about. See as wrong. Oppose. I wonder if they’re desensitizing us to tanks being used to police even those who don’t deserve it.

 

I’m probably wrong. I hope I am. But who knows? Today they start with a, perfectly legit, armoured SUV to protect the normal, everyday, wonderful police. Tomorrow maybe they’ll add a few more. No reason to worry yet. And maybe next week they will open up somewhere for an army-style tank to be trained within the city limits. Oh, that’s perfectly fine. Now we’ll give the city police a couple of the army-style tanks. Still, no reason to worry. The police tanks must not have been sufficient. …Right? And then, one day, we’ll have an entire army wandering our streets. Where’d that come from?

 

I, for one, will stop and gape every time I see the police tank (barring obvious reasons to not to, like I’m driving a car). And will decide today where my threshold of comfort lies and vow to stick to it, so that “they” cannot push it backwards without me noticing.

 

Perhaps you should do the same.

 

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