Monday, June 30, 2008

Compost This

I subscribe to Daily Candy and they had featured this a while back:
And indoor composting machine. Now when I first showed this to Greg, I don't think he realized I was serious. He advocated us purchasing the one that handles dog poop. I really wanted to try this indoor composting, but am not ready for the dog-doo part. I cook enough that we might need a 2nd unit. If it comes to that, I'll get pet friendly unit. Despite his taunting, I went ahead and got it.
Getting it was a 2.5 week ordeal, as they had the wrong address, so my credit card wouldn't work. Then it was shipped ground from Chicago. Thankfully it wasn't waterlogged with the flooding out there. It got to my office, but I was in Washington DC on a business trip. Finally, it came home with me Friday.
I had been saving compostable bits from my cooking from Wednesday on in preparation for its arrival and use. Only after I eagerly opened it up, I learned that I was going to need 2 cups of topsoil from a garden where plants were happily growing to provide the microbes for natural composting.
Where am I, the downtown, city dweller going to find that? I could just imagine getting caught dirt-robbing the neighborhood gardens. Or worse, I could get dirt that was overly chemical & pesticide laden.
I did what any woman does when in need of help, I called my dad. Greg and I were going to be up in Sausalito looking at possible apartments Sunday afternoon and I figured I could stop by and get some dirt from his garden.
It was an odd phone conversation, "You want what?""What are you going to do with the dirt?"
Once they understood, they happily agreed to provide me with the needed dirt. When we stopped by, they did express concern that their dirt was inadequate. Of all things, they were unsure if their dirt was dirty enough. I didn't know one could be self conscious of garden dirt and, to their credit, they did reflect upon where I should dig for dirt in their garden. There were offers to supply additional dirt if we found that the initial batch was lacking.
But we got it home, I put the dirt in, added the suggested 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 4 days worth of scraps - it only said to fill it 1/2 way, but I had so much! I may have over-filled it. Everything went in, the plug was plugged in and then it didn't do anything. I just sat there. Then, at about 10 pm, after we were rosy on our wine we hear what we think is a distant siren. We get our lazy tushes off the couch to go close the front door - thinking that it was coming from the outside - as we pass through the kitchen, I realize it is on our new nifty composter. Inside it was churning.
Against the instructions, we openned the lid to see all the goodies getting turned about. It looked very soil like - I think that is due to both the soil and the coffee grounds. I was proud.
This morning I'm trying to resist opening it up again. There is a little engine in there keeping teh compost warm and turning at specified intervals. My mom has signed up for compost and I think my father & Cathy will take some. I should be able to deliver a wonder bread loaf sized output of fertilizer every 2 weeks.
The funniest part of all this, in my mind, is how I cannot utilize my product. It will need to dry & cure before getting used inside. Since I have no drying area, I'm just stuck producing this quality, organic compost and giving it away. It is good for the planet.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Big News

This morning I remembered that they found white stuff on Mars, but hadn't yet heard what it is. And, happy to say, it is ice.
Nasa's Phoenix lander has unearthed "perfect" evidence of ice on Mars.

Which I think is super cool. And contradicts the recent headline that made me sad:
Bush wants to drill for oil in our coastal waters

Why would we risk our already in dangered coasts to drill for a substance that pollutes and damages our planet. And how is this the Democrat's fault, as he claims. Why didn't he raise the MPG on cars or subsidize the development of domestic and clean energy sources? His connections to the oil companies are so deep and, with this, so apparent. He is mindbogglingly terrible, that man.

I'm happy that we're heading in a new direction. Mark Morford writes about it beautifully.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Historic Marriage?

One of the main arguments against Gay Marriage is this line about marriage being historically between one man and one woman. Here's an example:

I was thinking that, historically, it wasn't really one man & one woman; it was one man and one chattle. We were property, not women, with no right to vote, no right to own or inherit property; it isn't possible for 1 piece of property to own another, is it? Maybe we should say, 1 man & 1 piece of property.

Then again, if we want to get historical and look to the bible or other religious text, marriage isn't between 1 man & 1 woman -but 1 man and several women. I'm sure the group in Texas would be happy if we went back to that, historic, version of marriage. Don't forget, in the past different races weren't allow to marry. So this one man & one woman is becoming one man and several woman, as long as they were of the same race.

It is silly. Our culture has been evolving into a more equitable and just society - with a small 8 year slide - but, generally speaking, we've been on a progressive track. It was 89 years ago today we decided to allow 50% of the population to vote here in the US. And around 140 years before that we started letting non-white men vote too. Slow progress, sure.

I'm not buying it. I would prefer it to be marriage is between 2 people who love each other and want to spend the rest of their days together.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Today's lesson

As many know, I'm on perpetual, Bridget Jones like mission of self improvement. Now, maybe I shouldn't say Bridget Jones, as I only read the first 100 pages of that book before I got distracted with higher quality literature, but still, she and I share the goal of being better.

As part of this ambition, I'm reading "Benjamin Franklin's The Art of Virtue: His Formula for Successful Living" edited by George L. Rogers. Today's lesson was part of guiding principle 10, "Life is immeasurably more satisfying to those who get along well with other than to those who do not." I had a very, "that's so true!" moment. The initial bit is simple - don't take offense and try to not offend. Simple. Avoid extremes, always, ever; be moderate in one's words. Next ignore the trifles - be not disturbed by accidents common or unavoidable. Very sensible. Then practice forgiveness, sincerity and justice. So easily said, and a lifetime to implement.

But, what really struck me was his advice to avoid confrontation. He notes, "I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbid myself, agreeably to the old laws of our junto, the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fixed opinion, such as certainly, undoubtedly, etc,. and I adopted, instead of them, I conceive, I apprehend, or I imagine a thing to be so or so; or it so appears to me at present. When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appeared or seemed to me some difference."

I was meditating on how much of a relief it would be to not feel compelled to correct every wrong I see or hear and as a corollary, how nice it would be to live in a world where I wouldn't be frequently corrected or have my notions aggressively contradicted. And then Greg and I were at Trader Joe's and I saw a lovely flower that reminded me of coral. I noted, "Wow, I've never seen flowers like that before." To which Greg commented, "Yes you have. I've given you one of those flowers before and you said the same thing."

My bliss hissed out of me with the FFFFTTT of a child letting air out of a regular balloon. How much more pleasant it would have been for me to have remembered or to have merely stated on the beauty of the flower. How much more pleasant it would have been to not have been reminded that I had seen them before.

Even with that, I'm going to take this next week to do my best to follow Ben's advice. As he noted in a letter to a friend, who had decided to drop an argument,
"So you see I think you had the best of the argument; and as you notwithstanding gave it up in complaisance to the company, I think you had also the best of the dispute. There are few, though convinced, that know how to give up, even an error, they have been once engaged in maintaining. There is therefore more merit in dropping a contest where one things one's self is right; it is at least respectful to those we converse with. And indeed all our knowledge is so imperfect, and we are from a thousand causes so perpetually subject to mistake and error, that positiveness can scarce ever become even the most knowing; and modesty in advancing any opinion, however plain and true we may suppose it, is always decent, and generally more like to procure assent."

I hope I can find that such behavior is intrinsic in my personality. As Michelle and I were noting, the wise man is most similar to him self. I want to be the best me I can be and I want that Jennifer to be good and to bring joy into the world.

I feel a little goody-good after writing this and I'm OK with that.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sunshine and the City

Yesterday Tsunami and I decided that it was a glorious day and we were going to go out and enjoy it. I woke up early with the sun shining through the window and directly onto my face. So I was up and about at 7 am. She and I took a stroll down to the ball park and back, enjoying the weather. It was too nice to stay indoors.

So after Greg got up and we enjoyed our waffle breakfast, Tsunami and I hit the road. We had planned a route from the Bay Bridge over to the Golden Gate. It was about 6 miles and we were going to make a brief detour to visit the little brother.

The walk was just suburb. Up the water front, past the ferry building and around the next pier. I didn't realize that there is a clan of ethnic people who take over the end of the pier for a day of fishing, as I often walk there on weeknights around 5 pm and have it all to myself.

The wind cooled down the sun and the water was topped with white caps. As we went further north, we reached the Alcatraz ferry pier and the tourists started in earnest. I put Tsunami in her sling as we passed Pier 39 and Fishermans' Wharf. I wonder what type of impression people have of San Francisco when all they see is that little corner. The street musicians, the faux facades and the abundance of stores hawking snow globes and sweatshirt branded with San Francisco are utterly non-representational of San Francisco and devoid of locals, except for the random jogger trying to get from the embarcadero waterfront to Aquatic Park & Fort Mason.

Once at Aquatic Park my blood pressure dropped, Tsunami was back trekking along beside me and we did a short stint on the beach. I'm trying to teach her to dig - much against all boyfriend & parental advice. She's a dog and she is supposed to dig, but my examples in the sand didn't hold much interest for her. Nor did my attempts while in the back yard of Dad & Cathy's house.

Oh well, we made it to Fort Mason, basked in the sun and the view and then turned in to drop by little brother and his wife. Tsunami wasn't sure about her cousins - Maggie & Zach. They are big. I wrestled a hello with Maggie - I guess big dogs can be fun. However, she get excited and my flipping her over while in a partial headlock did seem to release a bit of flow from the girl. Kate was lovely in not minding me causing a yellow puddle on the floor. We had a good visit. Tsunami got refuled by some of Kate's power bar and we were off again.

Once on the Marina Green, we placed a call to our car service, aka Greg and told him we'd be needing a pick-up at the sports store at Crissy Field in a half hour. He was happy to oblige. Tsunami and i picked up the pace, as we had 1.75 miles to go in that half hour. I was set on getting my little puppy to the beach so she could frolic. So we fast walked & trotted, Tsunami did the trotting, down the Marina Green, passed the docks and onto Crissy Field. I was joyous... but Tsunami was losing steam. I kept peeping at my GPS watch and saw that we had .35 miles to go (we were doing 6 miles total) So I scooped her into my arms. She seemed OK with that... but we did get odd looks from those we passed by. Here we are in dog central and I'm carrying my four legged friend.

Oh well, I know what I'm up to - I want to get past the bridge an over to where dogs can run free on the sand. Which is well and good, when there aren't sand storms that rage about 8 inches off the ground and blind my mini doxie. So, she was down, then she was back up in my arms again... more strange looks.

We finished the last 300 feet and paused to reflect on our long journey together. Tsunami gave me a little lick and tucker her head back against my chest with some air of exhaustion. I looked out over the water towards Angel Island. A flock of kite surfers was passing a pack of sail boats. The sun highlighted the foam on the water and the breeze was making my left eye tear-up. I felt the glow of it all and was so glad to have the day, the dog and the doggie death march. I hope I get another chance next weekend to do it all again.