Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Baseball and Baby Showers

I have an excuse for my four day blogging absence: I went to Phoenix!

Spring training with my girls (and Glenn!):

Karen's baby shower:

A little hiking:

And more spring training:

All followed by four hours in Sky Harbor International Airport and two hours on a plane. Fun!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oakland in the Springtime

I think most people know that Oakland has its share of problems - like the four police offers who were killed in a single day. But come on, I lived in Albuquerque.

And today, Oakland looked lovely, and tons of people were out and about by Lake Merritt:

I recently declared Spring in San Francisco, but I was informed that such a declaration could lead to three days of blizzard. I have subsequently withdrawn my proclamation, but am still enjoying the weather.

Monday, March 23, 2009

City Walks SF #26: Haight Street

I don't have much to say about Haight Street. It might not really be full of hippies anymore, but it's still full of people trying to sell you weed, lots of funky smells, hipsters who think they are just too cool, and other annoying things. I guess if you've never been here before it's worth a short walk from the Park to see the famous Haight Ashbury intersection, but I just can't handle "hanging out" here. Maybe I'm old.

Also, when we got on the bus in the Haight, a lady with a dog got on in front of us, took the last double seat left, even though there were singles on the other side, and promptly let her tiny dog take up its own seat. By the next stop the bus was standing room only, but still there was her dog. Seriously?

City Walks SF #2: Golden Gate Park II and Inner Sunset

The only other City Walk in Golden Gate Park - that's too bad for all the people who haven't walked through the entire miles-long park multiple times.

This walk included the Strybing Arboretum, of which we apparently took no pictures. Anyway, it's a pretty place and might soon cost money, so must go there now!

Stow Lake with lots of turtles, much to our delight.

And Inner Sunset, where we did find a cool new shop. Can't say what I bought there. Also took no pictures here. Apparently Matt gave up when there weren't any more turtles. Alas.

City Walks SF #24: Golden Gate Park I

One, two, skip a few, 99, 100.

Sunday featured high winds and chilly temps, so we chose not to walk across the bridge or along the coastal trail. Instead we hit up the interior of the city, with the northeast corner of Golden Gate Park.

This featured the Conservatory of Flowers, which we have never gone in, but the flowers out front are pretty too.

The DeYoung Museum we skipped as well. Museums are for days when it's not sunny.

We did go in CalAcademy because we are members so it was free, and we wanted some organic lunch. Unfortunately the place was chaotic.

And finally, the Japanese Tea Garden. We hadn't been here since our honeymoon, so we decided to reprise the visit. So many flowers and trees were in bloom!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just Watched: Garden State

Yup, behind the times as always.

I did not expect to like this movie, as I'm not too keen on either Zach Braff or Natalie Portman. However, I actually really liked it!

I think I just like hearing about people who are more f**cked up than I am. I also must be a hopeless romantic at heart, because I am fascinated by couples who meet and fall in love after just a few days. I know some real life examples, and I have always been a bit flabbergasted by how such a deep connection can be made so quickly. I guess it just depends on the circumstances, and probably a bit of luck. And in the end I guess it just gains you a few months or years on the rest of us normal couples who take awhile to figure it all out.

I also imagine this movie to be kind of how I would perceive life in the town from which I graduated high school, if I ever really tried to go back. Everybody working at odd jobs around town, still partying together at night.

And my favorite quote:

"Don't make fun of my hobbies; I don't make fun of you for being an asshole."

I told Matt that he could use that quote against me. It is so perfect for us!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pope Says Condoms Contribute to HIV

Have you noticed that when nothing exciting is going on in my life, I report on the news?

Alas, the head of the religion in which I was raised has made another egregious error, declaring that condoms cannot help the HIV problem, and may even aggravate it.

Really? Last I heard, having protected sex was a well known method to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases included HIV.

Let's use our well-respected soap box to tell millions of people to just not bother wearing the things. I'm sure they just won't have sex instead.

Way to go, Pope.

Shell Says Bye-Bye to Wind, Solar, and Hydrogen UPDATED

Shell, one of those companies often accused of greenwashing for promoting renewable energy in their advertisements while spending only 1% of their investments on it, just announced it's getting out of the game altogether.

What does this mean?

Renewable energy still costs too much for businesses to make money.

Even in this era of oil uncertainty, Shell finds the future of renewable energy even less secure.


I don't know much about finance and investments and that type of thing, but to me it sounds like a lot of government R&D money is needed to help make renewable energy competitive. We can't hedge our future on oil sands and a continued oil economy, for the sake of our health, quality of life, and the environment.


Note that the second link is from the Breakthrough Institute blog, from the authors of the same-titled book. Check it out.


I forgot to mention one of the reasons I originally decided to write this post. In my sustainability class yesterday we talked about the various definitions of greenwashing as well as all the backlash against companies like Clorox and Walmart who have ventured into environmentally friendly products. Many of us discussed how we did not necessarily trust Clorox's Green Works to be as ecofriendly as 7th Generation or Ecover, no matter what they claim. However, apparently the Green Works line is taking market share from other Clorox products, so those people who trust Clorox as a valued name in cleaning have used the Green Works line to venture into more earth-friendly products. I'm sure many of these people would never try an "unknown" brand like 7th Gen. Likewise, thousands of Walmart shoppers would probably never buy organic produce or products had Walmart not introduced them.

The teacher's point of that discussion is that maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge those companies that are incrementally pursuing green products. Maybe we should applaud them for what they are doing and continually demand more.

That said, what about Shell? I certainly liked to make fun of them for their commercials touting green energy when we all know it's Shell Oil. But based on well-reasoned logic like that of my teacher, I should have applauded their 1% investment. And now they've pulled the rug out, making one wonder if they were ever really serious in the first place. This will probably just make environmentalists' more mad at corporations and less willing to work with them. The news these days is depressing.

Eat the View: Achieved

It seems I'm a little late on my lobbying efforts.

Today, Michelle Obama will begin digging up the South Lawn for an extensive vegetable garden. And some lucky grade school kids will get to help out.

Hooray for local, healthy food!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gross National Trash

This post by Joel Makower fits in so nicely with all the books I've been reading lately; particularly Cradle to Cradle and also Biomimicry.

Apparently our trash that goes to landfills, or municipal solid waste, is somewhere between 1 and 10% of the total waste produced in our country - mostly industrial debris. So while we're busy worrying about how to recycle more at home or buy products with less packaging (or reinventing a Mickey D's take out bag), we may be overlooking the ridiculous amounts of damage being inflicted much earlier in the supply chain.

In fact, according to Makower, the EPA barely even keeps track of all this industrial waste.

What this demonstrates is a need to shift our focus to the production, storage, and shipping of goods. Not only is that much waste bad for our health and our environment, but it certainly isn't an efficient business model.

As a hydrologist, I know that the vast majority of people know that water comes out of their tap but have no idea where it came from before that. I bet even fewer people really know something about the industrial process that created the products they consume.

What to do? I hedge my bets here that a change in consumption practice may not be as powerful a tool as some really smart people getting in on the design end of things. Anyone want to volunteer?


Also, this one's for Ms. S.: "West Antarctic Melt a Slow Affair" (In other words, 'collapse' may be a bit of an exaggeration.)

I'd Like to Invite You to a C-Section

This one is for you pregnant ladies (and those considering pregnancy).

I was at the lady doctor today, reading a magazine and minding my own business in a little room, when I hear a male doctor invite someone (a medical student?) to come to a c-section next Tuesday, just as if he is inviting him to a tea party.

Now I know that people have to learn how to become doctors somehow, but hearing an invitation to a (somewhat) private and personal moment just seemed really odd.

So get ready for the guests at your tea party - oh I mean c-section!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


For those of you who care (ahem, Karen), Picasa is updated with City Walks and Tahoe pictures.

City Walks SF #19: The Presidio

Today we took a lovely stroll through The Presidio. I love how in this view, it seems like the open space goes on forever. Aside from the eucalyptus and cypress trees (and pretty much everything else), the rolling forested hills, brick buildings with green lawns (of which we seem to not have taken a picture), and warm humidity totally reminded me of Ohio.

Lover's Lane is a trail dating back to 1776, next to this eucalyptus grove, on which Spanish soldiers walked to visit their families in Mission Dolores.

Southern-style buildings.

The San Francisco National Military Cemetery, the only burial ground of size within city limits. We spent much time here doing a favor for Matt's mom - finding graves of soldiers who were moved from Camp Lowell in AZ. Apparently they left some body parts behind and the DAR would like to reunite them.

And a cute little pet cemetery with hand-made, child-written signs about cats, dogs, goldfish, hamsters, and more.

I definitely want to go spend some more time in the Presidio. I love how San Francisco can be so cosmopolitan but also harbors great little (and big) open spaces throughout.

Recommended: The Little Chihuahua

We just visited a cute little "Mexican"/burrito restaurant, The Little Chihuahua, based on a coupon in Green Zebra and the fact that they offer a fried plantain and black bean burrito.

Said burrito may have been the best burrito ever. Why don't more people think to put plantains in burritos?

Way better than the taquerias we have been to in the Castro. If you come visit, you should ask us to take you to the Little Chihuahua.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Just Watched: The Squid and the Whale


Have you seen this movie? I do not recommend it. I thought that it would be an interesting take on the difficulties of marriage, but instead it just featured an asshole of a husband and a very young child masturbating at school. At only 1 hour 20 minutes, it still seemed long. If anyone out there liked it, I am very interested in hearing what you might see as its redeeming qualities. Surely there are some?

Softball Season: The End of Alison's Weekend Trips

Today Matt had his first softball practice with the San Francisco Gay Softball League (it's in our neighborhood and all). Turns out there is a game nearly every Sunday for the next 500 months. Followed by excessive drinking. Plus trips to tournaments out of town, Easter weekend fundraising with drag queens, and endless other celebrations and parties.

So we may have acquired a social life, but we have apparently lost all free weekends. Expect fewer posts of fun new adventures...

On the plus side, I went down to meet Matt after his practice and discovered an awesome new park close to our house. Perfect for picnics and a bit of hiking.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Just Read: Cradle to Cradle


I've been reading another "eco-classic," this one published way back in 2002. And boy I should have read it then. If so, I might not have purchased my lovely rug made of recycled soda bottles that is apparently releasing terrible toxins into the air as it abrades. The authors point out many cases in which recycling isn't always better. In which doing less harm is just prolonging the fate of the planet. In which environmentalists should be depressed and guilt-ridden.

The upshot of this book is that we can redesign the man-made world and our products and buildings and everything else in way that not only "does no harm" but also does good. Their point is that we shouldn't just try to improve the current processes and focus on efficiency, but we should start back at the beginning and re-imagine a whole new product or existence.

Well, that is hopeful, and definitely something more people and companies should be pursuing. But I can't help but think that it is a bad idea to dissuade people from recycling. To me, these efficiency and recycling initiatives are just a stop on the way towards greater design and a healthier planet. Or maybe I just don't want to feel bad about myself for being suckered into buying recycled products that may be terrible for both my health and the environment. Ah well...

Easy, fast read, so why not judge for yourself.

Gay Marriage in South Africa

Turns out South Africa allows gay marriage. Great! Turns out also that men like to rape lesbians to "cure" them.

Because any woman that has been raped wants to have sex with more men right away.

What is wrong with people?

Supreme Court Opening: Gossip or Truth?

Who knows at this point, but Ginsburg is teasing. Will Obama have a chance to add a liberal judge?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Eat the View

Join the movement to grow a vegetable garden on the White House lawn, as an example for the country.

The Garden of Eatin': A Short History of America's Garden from roger doiron on Vimeo.

Visit Eat the View or The Who Farm.

Catching up on Inhabitat

I've been trying to be less obsessed with blogs lately, so today I just caught up on months of posts from one of my favorite blogs, Inhabitat. Some highlights:

New green ferry to Alcatraz.

A cool website for you mothers and mothers-to-be (and people who need to buy presents for such people.)

New green library in Scottsdale

Eco-resort being built in Monterey.

Is IKEA green? (Other than a thrift shop, where else can you get fairly green products at an affordable price?)

Climate Change: It Just Gets Worse

If you live near the coast (and not on top of a peak like we do), you better think about getting some SLR insurance. I wonder if that exists? Do you think it's included in flood insurance.

Read this.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just Read: The End of Poverty


Finally, a book that makes economics interesting! Mostly because Jeffrey Sachs discusses all the factors that contribute to extreme poverty, from environment to politics to technology to geography. I have to admit the book was a bit long, at 368 pages, with some points belabored multiple times. However, if you want to feel bad about yourself for living in comparative richness when billions of people live in extreme poverty, this is the book for you... It's actually not all that depressing and guilt-instigating. The redeeming quality of the book is hope, information, and a plan for action. A very slight increase in our taxes, and a heavier burden on the richest of the rich, could easily provide enough money to release millions of people around the globe from the poverty trap. And apparently most Americans are all for foreign aid and actually think the US government contributes more than it actually does.

I do have a couple concerns from this book, although I must admit that I accept most of it at face value because I know so little about economics and because Sachs is so famous.

1) Sachs praises the Green Revolution over and over again for dramatically increasing crop yields the world over. However, I have learned and read many times that the Green Revolution also had disastrous side effects, as the crops must be grown from seed every year, requiring seeds to be bought instead of saved. In addition many of the crop varieties were not designed for specific climates and locations. They may demand excessive insecticide and require monoculture crops. Does anyone know if the benefits outweigh the negatives?

2) This book basically centers on the premise of globalization. Historically countries that have been sealed off have not improved their economic well-being, leaving millions in extreme poverty. Countries that open their doors to trade experience a much higher growth rate and enable more citizens to climb out of poverty. That all sounds great. So how do I reconcile this with the movement toward local sustainability here in the US. If I am supposed to follow a 100 mile diet and buy all local, and if everybody in our country eventually jumps on this bandwagon, are we relegating the rest of the world to poor quality of life?

If any poli sci majors in the proverbial room have insights into these topics, I would be eager to learn.

I recommend picking up this book and reading at least part of it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

ASU Challenges

This one's for you, Sun Devil alums. (Although I cordially invite Wildcats to participate as well.)

ASU is developing something really cool, and I'll just let them speak for themselves:

ASU is unveiling the Challenges Project, an ambitious initiative that aims to identify the most pressing local and global issues we face as world citizens, determine the crucial work being done at the university on each one, and invite everyone—alumni, students, faculty, staff, the public—to help the university tackle them head-on. It’s a way of magnifying the impact of the university, by asking people to pitch in and work on issues that concern them the most....ASU hopes alumni and others will go to the site between now and May to identify the issues they’re passionate about. Later this year, they will be able to return to the site to volunteer to provide expertise, serve on a panel, work on a team, donate resources, or serve as an advocate for problems identified and selected to be part of the initiative with the public.
Read the rest of the article in ASU Magazine and visit the website to suggest an issue. I, of course, plan to be involved in something water-related. Although many people like to make fun of public universities, and especially Arizona State, for the quality of the students and the education, I have excellent things to say about my education there, especially after I left engineering. In addition, I think the university is working to tackle some awesome projects, especially in the environmental realm, from the school of sustainability to a master's in alternative energy. I believe the university is truly working on many issues that matter. Let's join them!

Everyone Should Go To Tahoe in the Winter

A change of pace from the last deep, thoughtful post:

Lake Tahoe is beautiful in the winter.

More pictures to come on Picasa eventually.

Friday, March 6, 2009

In Response: My Thoughts on Marriage

Warning: this post ended up very long, so just stop reading when you get bored! Or don't even start.

CNA asked in response to my divorce post what sort of discussion Matt and I had about equality of marriage issues before we took the plunge. Although neither of us really remembers what the discussion was, I started to think about my beliefs and decisions about marriage and how they have changed over time. After re-reading this post, I realized I have strayed far from the equality issue into all sorts of other interconnected marriage-related arenas. I am obviously "not into the whole brevity thing." Here goes...

Matt and I have been married for over two years now, and got engaged over three years ago. Over this time, my perceptions of marriage have evolved continuously. In the beginning, I was really sucked into the whole wanting to be engaged thing, I think, even more so than wanting to be married or thinking about what it meant. I wanted to have a ring on my finger and talk about my fiance. My friends in grad school were planning their weddings too, so discussing our plans together was a fun little event. Matt and I were moving to New Mexico together, and for some silly reason I felt weird telling people that I was moving with my boyfriend.

Plus we were moving to New Mexico, a place that would seriously limit my options for the next several years, and I think I wanted some promise that I would get something out of my sacrifice, i.e. a boyfriend for life. (Incidentally, when Matt had been planning to move to Canada earlier, he didn't want me to come because we hadn't been together very long and he didn't want such a commitment. But since Canada sounded fantastic and exciting to me, I kept pestering him that I would love to go, and if it didn't work out, it didn't, no hard feelings, I would just have fun in Canada. And I meant it. So apparently it is New Mexico's fault that we got married...)

I don't think it was until sometime during our engagement that I actually began to consider what getting married and the institution of marriage meant. First of all, 50% of marriages end in divorce, so it's not like getting married is a guarantee of a boyfriend for life. Second, to me, getting married was somewhat of a chance to throw a fun party while we signed our names to a piece of paper that would allow me to cheaply obtain health and dental insurance for my poor student boyfriend. Third, I really didn't envision getting divorced to be any different from or more difficult than breaking up with a live-in boyfriend. Sure there are legal hassles with divorce, but to me the emotional and material difficulties of breaking up were sure to be equally bad either way.

In sum, I don't think Matt and I ever took marriage as seriously as many people do. (Maybe I shouldn't speak for him...) Yes, we were professing our love for each other, and that was awesome, but nothing was going to change in our lives, realistically, other than being granted the rights that come with marriage including employee benefits, visitation rights, and life and death decisions. Things that are very useful in a household when two people want to share their lives with each other. And all we had to do to get those rights was to sign a little piece of paper.

I really can't remember how much of a discussion we had about how it was unfair for us to get married when others can't, particularly same-sex couples. I know we thought about it, and decided that the benefits outweighed the negatives. And we had a gay man marry us through the miraculous power invested in him by an internet certificate. Two days after the ceremony, I wrote this in a blog post:
Well, this past weekend was the big event! Matt and I made our commitment legal and are now able to obtain certain benefits that are unavailable to many others. Part of me felt like participating in this institution was morally wrong until it is open to everybody, no matter who they want to marry. However, I also wanted to marry Matt! So since I went ahead and did it, I pledge to advocate for equal rights and vote for politicians who do as well.
I also had many other concerns about the institution of marriage, based on their patriarchal and anti-feminist origins, as I also discussed in my old blog. I actually think those issues are less of a big deal to me, because you can change things to make the ceremony have meaning for yourself. In fact, I judiciously avoid referring to our "wedding" because I can't stand that term. I was not wedded to someone else. However, no matter what you do, the concept of marriage itself cannot be extricated from its origins, and for this reason I totally understand and sympathize with those who decide not to marry themselves.

In fact, I must confess that when CNA informed me that she and her boyfriend were having a baby together without being married, I felt rather terrible about myself for awhile. I started wondering why I hadn't been strong enough and liberal enough to shun the institution; that I had been too desperate for some sort of commitment. Then I remembered she was having a baby, and actually, I think, has made a much bigger commitment than I have (no pressure :) !) Anyway, I digress. I think there are all sorts of ways that people can make commitments together and share their lives together without being married (or without having a baby). You could even throw a big party without actually getting married! However, marriage does confer some rights and provide some conveniences often not otherwise available.

I also think that Matt and I see our marriage very differently than other people might see their own. My mom used to chide me for leaving Matt all the time, on vacations to various places and a summer in LA. To her, our marriage apparently meant that I should be by Matt's side at all times, no matter what other things I want to do with my life. And I don't think she would have thought that if we were still just living together. But that is not what we think. Matt completely understands my needs for freedom (although sometimes he follows me across the country).

And I can imagine that many women, if their husbands suggested getting a divorce, whether or not in jest, would not have taken it in stride as I did. Some people think marriage is nothing to joke about. I think Matt has a good point. Although we previously decided to get married even though same-sex couples can't, we have now been living in San Francisco, hanging out in the Castro, and watching Proposition 8 pass. Marriage equality seemed to be so close, but it slipped away by a few percentage points.

In California, we have something called a domestic partnership (different from when your employer gives you benefits for your domestic partner based on tax returns showing you live together, etc.), where couples are granted, as far as I understand it, the same rights granted to married couples. However, as argued this morning, this difference in nomenclature basically relegates same-sex couples to second class status. I actually looked into domestic partnerships today, thinking that maybe I would actually consider getting divorced if we could retain our rights through another measure, but it turns out the domestic partnerships are only for same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples in which one member is over the age of 62. Or some crap like that. So heterosexual couples are actually prevented from showing solidarity by choosing a domestic partnership instead of marriage. (I recently read an article about how a new institution for same-sex marriage in France is actually being used by record numbers of heterosexual couples who are choosing it over traditional marriage. I will look for the link.)

So, I think at this point, unless Matt convinces me somehow, that getting divorced in solidarity is not really a good choice. What difference would it really make? Sure, we'd be making a statement, but who would really know about it? Our friends, most of whom are liberal? Our conservative family members who would just write us off as cuckoos? Instead, I can, and do, support the fight to overturn Prop 8.

I also read a book, called The Offbeat Bride, in which the author discusses in length her and her husband's decision to get married despite the lack of equality. They made this decision despite the fact that some of their gay friends questioned or resented them for doing so. And I'm sure many people choose not to be married for these very reasons. All valid points.

In the end, I am not trying to judge anyone here, either for thinking more highly of marriage than I do, or more poorly of it. Although when I got married my motivations were different and more immature, now I view marriage mostly as a granting of rights that are important to me and will become even more so the older we get. I think maybe in some states there are other ways to obtain these rights, but it is so much more complicated than signing a piece of paper. (Convenience is such a good excuse, isn't it?) We have made decisions to partake of the institution while trying to minimize the negatives. Had I been more mature at the time, maybe we would not have made that decision. I love my husband, and he loves me, but as I was sitting on the couch while he suggested getting divorced, I imagined our lives being absolutely no different than they are now. Although I did ask him if I would still have health insurance.

I think getting married or not is a complicated decision in this day and age, and everybody should make their choice meaningful for them. I think that ultimately marriage should be relegated to the religious arena from whence it came, and the government should go about providing equal rights to everyone in some other manner. I'm not sure how. Maybe consenting adults just sign a piece of paper that grants them the rights currently granted in marriage.

(In fact, Matt thinks that marriage should not even necessarily be limited to two people, although that opens a whole other can of worms in terms of rights and decision-making ability - your multiple spouses could fight over whether to pull your life support tube. I also think in this day and age there is still a huge risk for involuntary servitude and physical and sexual abuse of women within what amounts to polygamy. Maybe it works for some people, but proper caution must be exercised.)

So that's the end of my long-winded marriage blog. And again, that is just what I have come to terms with myself, and I completely value everybody else's opinions on the subject. In fact, I'd love to hear them! Let's have a discussion. And I'll let ya'll know if we get divorced.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Star-studded Prop 8 Video. Check it out!

Arrested Development on Hulu

Do you know about Hulu? Free TV on line. No strings attached. Very short commercials. Because just what we all need is more TV in our lives...

We've been watching season 1 of Arrested Development. Fantastic, hilarious show. Why have I never watched it before?

Green Hair Cuts

Some many years ago, CNA convinced me that I should try getting a fancy hair cut at Toni & Guy instead of the usual super cuts I'd been getting. I fell in love. The layers, the personalization. How had I ever lived with hair cuts that cost less than $50?

More recently, I moved on from just fancy hair cuts to fancy, eco-friendlier hair cuts at an Aveda salon in Albuquerque. Fantastic products, fantastic cuts, and a stylist who was not afraid to thin out my super thick hair. Loved it! One of the best things about the ABQ.

Then I came to San Francisco. It appeared that a hair cut at an Aveda salon might run up to close to around $100 including tips. (Have you ever been to a fancy salon? You have to either take who you can get and just pay however much they cost, or you have to feel cheap and ask for a stylist on the low end of the payscale. The low end was $65.)

So I went to a salon in my neighborhood that an independent website claimed was about 45% green. They at least hawk some type of organic hair products. Although they did have organic products on the shelves, I never did check them for the presence of parabens and SLSs. It didn't matter. My stylist used his own products, not the organic ones. The payscale went from $35 to $60. With my medium length hair, I was charged $60, the top end. The stylist never even got the personalization shears out. And convinced me he needed to keep my hair longer for his little style to work right, but it didn't help. So now I still have longish, super-thick hair, and it cost $72 and featured nasty products.

Next time I will probably toss out the cash and go to Aveda. Or at least not a salon in the Castro, where the stylists might be focusing on men's hair rather than women's.

Does anybody have a stylist who is not afraid to thin? Or a green salon? I may be willing to travel for these services.

Also check out the new info on these super green salons. Maybe there is one near you.

(My justification for spending this much money is that a good cut will last me 6 to 8 months or more. No need for the every six weeks payment.)

NYC Addresses Idling

This is interesting. The original article I saw, from an environmental news source, notes that idling a vehicle for more than 60 seconds will result in a stiff fine. They neglected to mention, per MSNBC, that this only applies in school zones. Big difference. Be careful where you get your news.

Today Matt Told Me That Maybe We Should Get Divorced

So much to blog about this morning! So little time!

Today, the California Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in the same-sex marriage cases. As far as I understand it, the central issue is whether voters actually had the authority to take this right away from people (ban same-sex marriage). Generally, the courts are the ones that make decisions on constitutional issues (equal civil rights, etc.). And I think if we put a number of constitutional rights to a vote, many of them would be taken away, not just gay marriage. This case will also determine what happens to the marriages of 18,000 couples that took place in the few month span that it was legal in 2008.

People were marching last night, camping in front of the civic center, holding rallies in front of the court house. They even set up a jumbotron outside of the court house for large groups to watch.

A local news station will be livestreaming the oral arguments from 9 am to noon Pacific time, if anyone is interested. I will obviously not get anything done today again.

Oh yeah, Matt said that if the supreme court supports the voter-approved ban on gay marriage, maybe we should get divorced in support. I reminded him that we had considered that issue before we actually did get married, but he appeared not to remember. So maybe tonight he'll be serving me with papers. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More Thoughts on the Death of Environmentalism

Some time ago (okay in college), I thought that when I grew up, I wanted to be an environmentalist. I wanted to work for an environmental organization. I wanted to advocate for environmental protections. I wanted to protect nature from humans.

My departure from this belief has been slow and steady, starting with the first and only environmental non-profit for which I worked. It was not terribly well run, nepotistic, feuding with the national organizations, preaching against grazing without addressing ranchers' needs, and saw government as the enemy. And yet the people were fantastic and had the best of intentions.

Prior to working for this non-profit, I had already interned with two national and one state resource management agencies, where I had also encountered fantastic people with the best of intentions.

While in New Mexico, I associated with people intimately-connected to a nonprofit similar to the one for which I had worked, and I volunteered for them. I found deceivingly similar nepotism and questionable business practices.

I then went to work for the state and encountered environmental organizations that told flat out lies about the state government (although the state did not help itself) and once again ignored the needs of their ranching and farming community members. Even after I stood up for my agency (possibly against my own better judgment), called on my card-carrying environmentalist values, and tried to make friends with the enviros, I found more incorrect propaganda on the internet from a prominent and trusted national organization being spoon fed by the local one. I can handle persuasiveness; I can't handle outright lying. My last straw.

I have always thought that environmental organizations could improve their usefulness and success by adopting for-profit business models. Pay your employees a decent wage ($25,000 does not cut it, now matter how virtuous the cause!), hire people who will do a good job (not just your buddies), and make meaningful alliances with others including corporations (and some organizations, like the Environmental Defense Fund, do this successfully).

"Break Through" has just confirmed and expanded many of my thoughts about environmentalism. By regarding humans as separate from nature, and all human development an intrusion, environmentalists isolate and push away a large portion of society. All the farmers and ranchers I have met during many jobs were upstanding, smart, thoughtful, and inspiring citizens. Meeting with them and hearing their stories was one of my very favorite parts of my job, even when I had to drive hours to do so. They were true red and I true blue, and they knew it because I can't keep my mouth shut, but that did not affect their opinions of me. I believe they were truly interested in compromising on issues to protect the environment and their livelihoods. The environmentalists working with them were not interested in compromising, and will possibly drive them from their farms, inviting whole new realms of exurban development. I believe that more environmentalists need to see the environment as inclusive of human society, and figure out how to work cooperatively with all types of people in all types of places and careers to achieve mutual benefits. Let's call it win-win-win.

Environmentalists have also been loath to embrace the use of economics as a way to achieve their goals. As my disenchantment with the enviros was hardening, I read a book by the Stonyfield Farms CEO and became convinced that working for a corporation could be one of the very best ways to intigate environmental and social sustainability. Corporations must play a leading role in mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change. We can't just stand back and tell them they are bad. We must work with them to innovate. Economics is a powerful driving force, and the environment is not separate from it.

Well, this has turned into a missive. (Have I posted about my disillusion with environmentalism previously?) I am tired of the subcategorization and segregation of issues and people that should go hand in hand. I am tired of environmental organizations that won't hire me because I have worked for the government and vice versa. We all have learned by now, I am sure, that I am jaded. But "Break Though" gives me hope for the future. Although I will still support environmental causes, I need to make sure that comprehensive and holistic approaches are being taken to solving problems, even if those approaches are "non-environmental."

But I still don't know what to be when I grow up.

Just Read: Break Through


I loved this book! And I would say that it's a must-read not just for environmentalists, but also for those interested in politics, particularly of the left.

From the blurbs on the back of the book:

Nordhaus and Shellenberger are right. The Industrial Age gave us an environmentalism of limits and a politics of 'no.' The Creative Age requires a politics and culture of 'yes' - one that rekindles human aspirations for a better future and unleashes the vast human potential all around us to accomplish it.
~Richard Florida, author of Rise of the Creative Class

Environmentalists, along with many other causes of the left, often focus on very specific issues, declining to address a multitude of situations that may be involved in any one problem. How can we protect the Amazon, the authors argue, when many people who live in Brazil have not had their basic needs met? How can we address high asthma rates in cities by trying to reduce pollution when secondhand smoke or mold in inadequate housing may be a bigger trigger? How can we combat or prepare for global climate change when we embed the message in sacrifice rather than economic possibilities? How can we garner support for universal health care when many people are worried that adding additional burdens on the system would make their own coverage even more insecure?

This book is a fascinating compilation of social science theory, history, and so much more. The authors suggest how environmentalism and politics can be redefined in a way that will work better. In ways that might finally achieve more fuel efficient cars, more access to health care and insurance, and more possibilities for the economic and ecologic future.

Addressing global climate change starts with economic investment and development. No matter how you feel about it, money is more motivating to people than guilt and sacrifice. In fact, the authors discuss how guilt immobilizes people and how couching things in economic opportunity and potential addresses people's insecurity.

"Whereas guilt drives us to deny our wealth, gratitude inspires us to share it. It is gratitude, not guilt, that will motivate Americans to embrace the aspirations of others to become as wealthy, free, and fortunate as we are."

Check this book out from your local library!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just Read: Biomimicry - Innovation Inspired by Nature


I may be behind the times, as always, since I am reviewing a book published in 1998. None-the-less, this book features some really cool stuff! From trying to create super-strong yet somewhat flexible materials based on spider silk to trying to grow replica rhinoceros horn to help preserve the animals from extinction caused by people killing them for their desirable bodily feature, this book takes on many aspects of using nature as inspiration for innovation. Super-fast computers built out of tiny biological parts - maybe coming down a pipeline to you. Watching animal behavior to learn more about natural medicinal cures - happening as we speak. Figuring out how the "mind" is attached to the physical body and using those properties to create cool new functions - an anesthesiologist's dream.

I think in the ten years since this book was published, a lot of people have picked up the mantle of biomimicry. But I don't think it has really started to reshape the world in the meaningful and comprehensive ways the author imagines. Something to think about!