Saturday, April 23, 2011

Life changes

A few days ago, I pulled my summer wardrobe out of storage. (And watched as the temperature plummetted to highs of 51 Fahrenheit, compounded by rain.) One of the dresses in the collection had some hairs left on it from the last time I'd worn it. Long hairs. Like 2 feet long. Bent up and mutilated. And I couldn't help but grimace in disgust as I handled them. Seriously? Two feet long? It was just gross. Even though I've been saying I'm going to grow my hair back out as I always do, I don't think I ever want it that long again. Of course, short hair means you have to use different tactics to achieve that dramatic look. I've tried the hat thing, but it's not enough. I'm thinking about experimenting with semi-permanent dyes. Of the pink variety. Anyway, I just thought I'd share that little tidbit, because I might be a short-hair kind of girl for the rest of my life! Wouldn't that be weird?

The other big change is that, after 2 and a half years of miserable singledom—preceded by nearly 1 year of miserable coupledom, preceded by ugh, I don't even want to think about it—I've finally got a boyfriend! I know I've shared this with some of you already. And I know that there's nothing more annoying than listening to happily relationshipped people gush about the object of their affection, so that's all I'm going to say right now. Except I thought you might be interested to know that I will probably be taking a break from cynical posts about love and the lack thereof, at least for a little while.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More carrots, less sticks

Today is Earth Day. In honor of the occasion, I'm going to throw out (er, compost?) an environmental topic that I've been hoarding for later use.

Everyone's hopping on the ban wagon these days. They seem to be obsessed with "banning" environmentally unfriendly products like single-use plastic bags, bottled water, and incandescent light bulbs.

Energy efficiency seems good, but banning energy inefficiency is the wrong approach!

People don't like to be oppressed. Wouldn't it be a lot more sensible to hype the incentives of using eco-friendly stuff, but still make the ucky stuff available for those who really want them? Energy efficient lighting should be something that everyone should want! If they don't want it, it's probably because they aren't fully aware of the benefits.

Or they actually have a legitimate use for the old inefficient technology. What about heat lamps, whose sole function is to waste energy through heat loss? What about sunrise alarm clocks, which rely on the dimmability of incandescent bulbs to wake their users up in the morning? (I've heard they make dimmable CFL's but they work like crap.) Although the US didn't outright ban incandescent lights as some countries have done, they have instituted stringent energy requirements that today's bulbs can't meet.

In my opinion, governments should spend less effort banning things that are supposedly "bad" and spend more effort educating people about why "good" things are good.

Until our lawmakers come to their senses, though (or until light bulb manufacturers make an energy efficient bulb with light output proportional to power input), I'm just going to have to build up a stockpile of incandescent bulbs before 2012 rolls around.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Confessions of a vegetarian

Since I do not eat meat, many people make erroneous assumptions about my eating habits.

The first is that I am some kind of health nut. Part of me would like to say this is true. But the part of me that has made Doritos a staple of my diet knows that it is not. Choosing not to kill animals for my food does not mean I also choose not to kill myself with my food. Sure, I eat vegetables with every meal, but I love my fried mozzarella sticks just as much as (OK, 10 times more than) any other girl. Sure, I drink a glass of  water mixed with wheat bran every day, but that's only so that later, I can eat nothing but a slice of cheesecake for dinner and rest assured that I'll still have some fiber in my digestive tract.

People also like to jump to conclusions about my favorite foods. Upon learning that I am a vegetarian, they almost always ask, "So, do you eat a lot of tofu?" The answer is no. In fact, I never eat tofu. There was a time when I thought the stuff was Japan's gift to my stomach, but since then, I have come to the conclusion that the taste is boring, and the texture, much like institutional scrambled eggs and pureed squash, makes my teeth cringe just thinking about it. Tofu is an archaic meat substitute suitable only for those who have not yet discovered the much more appealing textured soy protein and mycoprotein. And I rarely eat those either. I'm not a health nut, after all. Why should I bother trying to get protein?

The last assumption people make is that, as a vegetarian, I love salads. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, when I'm cornered into eating a salad for an entree, I feel right disappointed. I eat vegetables all the time. I eat carrots with breakfast, cucumbers with lunch, celery with dinner. Yesterday, in an effort to eat more leafy greens and fewer starchy carrots, I tried something new and bought myself a bunch of kale (it was just as untasty as I imagined). I always eat my veggies raw and unadorned (with the exception of broccoli, which is so dry when raw and so much more palatable when blanched, that I usually cook it first), because they're just not worthy of special preparation. They're like cough syrup. They're good for you, so you choke 'em down as quickly as possible. I don't eat them because they're delicious; I eat them because they're healthful. (Even non-health nuts must make some concessions.) In addition to my boring veggies, I usually rely on something baked and fat-filled to make my meal enjoyable. A meal without this element is like a day without sunshine. Are you getting the picture? Entree salads = rainy day in my heart. Once in a great while, I feel like all I want to eat is a salad. That's usually because I'm dehydrated.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Elegy for a water bottle

I'll tell you a secret: What I do now because it's environmentally friendly, I did originally just because it was cheap.

I remember the bottled water craze, when everybody was just fine with paying a dollar for what you could get for free out of a drinking fountain or a faucet. Everyone, it seemed, but me. I thought buying bottled water was the dumbest thing you could do.

I got on this hydration kick just about when I graduated high school. I made sure I had water with me everywhere I went. I never once bought a bottle of water, but when I acquired one for free, I would keep it. I would fill and refill it from the sink over and over again until it either melted in the dishwasher or got lost.

In college, I rarely lost my water bottles, because I always carried them in my backpack. Once I graduated and began taking them to work with me, I was continually losing them. No one seemed to understand that though they were designed for disposal, mine were supposed to be kept. Despite my name all over them in big letters, whenever I forgot one in the break room overnight, it would be gone by morning. This frequent loss of my water bottles caused me no end of distress, especially since I had long ago realized the environmental benefits of reuse, and was acutely aware of how much ecological damage I was doing every time I threw a bottle away.

Soon, I discovered the aesthetic appeal of Metro Mint bottles. These little pieces of work were so gorgeous, I would pick them out of the recycling bin and claim them as my own. Once, I even actually bought a brand-new bottle of the stuff, just so I could reuse it.

Around the same time as my Metro Mint Water kick, the bottled water backlash began in earnest. It had been brewing for a couple of years (as an employee of an organization focused on beverage container waste, I may have been more aware of it than the general public), but it really fired up after 2006. Suddenly, bottled water became the enemy, and reusable bottles were selling like hotcakes. (As an employee of a natural foods store, I may have seen a higher spike in bottle consumption than the population as a whole.)

But in spite of all the trends pointing towards fancy-pants bottles, I still carried around my cheap disposables. I didn't start using a reusable bottle until early 2010, and then it was only because my last Metro Mint bottle disappeared and I didn't want to have to buy a new one. Instead, I turned to a bike bottle that I'd been given at a volunteer event the previous spring.

KOR One Special Edition
Hydration Vessel (Say that
one time fast!)
It was ugly. But it was free. I used it faithfully until this year, when suddenly, new water bottles began to rain down on me! Early in the summer, my bottled-water decrying employer #1 held a meeting at which every attendee was given a brand new glass bottle (and a nifty scarf). Then my water-bottle selling employer #2 held an event at which all attendees were given a brand-new, even fancier, reusable glass bottle of their very own! I chose that fancy bottle to be my new sidekick, even after my bottled-water decrying employer #1 sent me an even fancier KOR One Special Edition Hydration Vessel as a reward for helping organize and facilitate a particularly stressful conference.

And I loved my glass bottle. It was my pride and joy. I carried it everywhere with me (except for those occasions when I didn't want to carry around a bottle that weighed a whole pound empty, or I needed one that would withstand a little rough treatment) until a Sunday ago. I took it to my choir concert, and it didn't come back with me. I don't know where it went. I called the church, and the very nice person I talked to said it hadn't been found there.

I sadly gave up all hope of ever seeing it again, and I write this post in its memory. Strangely, its death has catapulted me to new heights! Now I'm using my KOR One. People think it's pretty awesome, and they comment on it all the time. And so, by miraculous twists of fate spanning nearly a decade, I have grown from a weird cheapskate with a bedgraggled Poland Springs bottle at my side, to a trendy, green role model with a bottle the envy of the world!