The “Our Green Year” Twits*

It has been a while since I have felt compelled to blog about Craig and Layla Baird, the authors of the “Our Green Year” blog. They finished their ‘green year’ back in April and since then most of their posts centre around them receiving media attention or blogging about green solutions that require a great deal of resources.

My main beef with this blog has always been the assumption of privilege. In the beginning almost all of their green ‘tips’ were only possible because they worked from home. You can read about these ‘tips’ in other entries (see below). When I challenged Craig on this observation (and others as well, he took offence). When you work from home, in a rural area and you don’t have to commute you have a lot more time to do ‘green’ things. Many of the things they suggested also took a very ableist tone.  Early on there was a post about how healthy it was (not to mention good exercise) to mow one’s law with a push mower. I got seriously annoyed when Craig pontificated about the benefits of manually breaking up ice and snow. Much of the blog took an elitist, ableist and privileged point of view.

Another major issue I had with this blog was the lack of critical thinking. At one point, Craig and Layla decided to ban all things “Albertan” (see some of the entries below for more on this). They did this because of the Tar Sands. They were not quite sure how this would work as they had family in Alberta. Later on they made a big announcement about how they were now moving to Alberta and they commented (on the original entry, in red no less) that they were moving to Alberta and they thought it was a good thing because Alberta really needed to hear their message. I am sure that many ‘green’ Albertans must have taken offense to this self-aggrandizing statement. Now arrogance has been added to the mix.

At the end of their ‘green year’ they committed to posting once a week on their green activities. They have not really managed to meet their goal of posting weekly. One of their favourite things to blog about now is when they are ‘featured’ somewhere whether it be at a childrens’ event, being featured as part of the ’50 most influential people in Alberta, and a couple of weeks later announcing to us that they had been featured on Alberta Primetime on Access as being two of the most influential people in Alberta. Now it seems that most of their posts centre around other people realizing the wonder that is Craig and Layla Baird.

The only reason I can think of for them getting this kind of attention is that people are not really reading what they put together in their blog. Seriously folks, these people use coffee grounds to wash with, think nothing of peeing on ‘the ranch’, and banning places of which they are now considered ‘influential’ people.

Let’s not forget the whole reason for this enterprise – they plan to write a book. They also state loud and clear on their blog that they are happy to do speaking engagements. I guess when you are chasing the bucks, accountability can be sacrificed.

The last couple of posts have really annoyed me. I will be the first to admit that at times I can be petty. But as far as I am concerned if you are going to hold yourselves up as knowledgeable about everything ‘green’ one might expect that you actually have some knowledge. Craig recently posted an entry which was a video tour of his garden (boring) or at least it was until he referenced his many ‘species’ of pumpkins. I almost fell off my chair in fits of laughter.

On July 7, 2009 Craig posted, perhaps, his most privileged post to date. Entitled “A very Green Way to Mow the Lawn” it sports a picture of a beautiful horse eating the grass. I am not even sure where to start on this one. This post has very little relevance to your average person. How many of us could afford to have the land required and the horse to put on it to mow the lawn in this manner? Is it even green to keep livestock like cows and horses? They consume a great deal of food and produce a lot of manure and methane gas. They can only forage (mow the grass) for a short time every year. The rest of the year they must be kept in barns (no doubt heated barns as the Bairds live in Central Alberta) and they must be fed. How much energy and fossil fuels goes in to growing and transporting the feed for the Barid’s livestock?

This again raises my point about critical thinking. These two are incapable of analyzing what they are doing and seeing the consequences (sometimes the unintended consequences). If you are new to my blog, you may ask why I don’t ask them my questions directly. I used to post comments to their blog and ask questions, make remarks about ableism, pointed out how they were privileged and how they were also hypocritical. They eventually decided I was too ‘combative’ and they banned me from making comments.

One of their favourite arguments to throw at me was to say that at least they were doing green things and to question what I was doing. Quite the pathetic thing to say when you have nothing else to come back with. I am all for doing what we can to mitigate our damage to the planet while we are here. I have no need to list the things that I do or do not do. Suffice it to say, I work at it.

In my opinion, the Bairds are jumping on the green bandwagon (I hope it is being pulled by a green energy source). They accept everything they perceive to be a ‘green act’ at face value and they rarely (if ever) delve any deeper. I find this quite sad as they are squandering an opportunity to do something really good.

Other entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,

*H/T to Wandering Coyote for the inspiration for the title.

Driving Rant

It seems that the heat is doing more than causing people to sweat. Driving behaviour appears to be deteriorating in inverse proportion to the rising heat. This morning I stopped at one of the myriad of 4-way stops on my way to the bridge. I came to a complete stop and just as I was going to go a truck just blows the stop sign and goes. I honk my horn and he gives me the finger. AC Tree Care – you suck!

Then I had to do the merge on to highway 1. There is a very civilized system with alternating green and red lights for the 2 lanes merging into one. Most of the time it works well. Except for today when a truck just blew right through the red light. Where are the police when you need them?

Then there is all the dangerous passing. I had a truck behind me (who was tailgating) and a truck in front of me going rather slow and a bunch of traffic in front of it. I saw no point in trying to pass as both sides were busy and almost equally slow. Apparently the guy driving the Dick’s Lumber truck didn’t see it the same way. He had to get really close to me (and scare the shit out of me) in order to pass and pull in front of the other truck. He didn’t get much further and I passed him on the highway. Dick’s lumber truck guy – you suck too!!!!

We all need to keep in mind that the heat affects us all. Allowing driving habits to deteriorate to a new low is not going to help anyone, it is going to cause accidents and then you will be standing out in the 30 degree heat instead of in your air conditioned vehicle. And if you cause an accident and hit me and I have to stand in 30 degree hit your life will not be worth living. Consider yourselves warned all of you asshole drivers!

Pet Peeve

One of my biggest pet peeves are people who forget to turn off their signal lights as they drive down the highway. I got stuck behind a car all the way from United Blvd to Grandview with some yahoo with their left signal light flashing. It makes me mental. Finally, they turned it off and made a lane change, and, you guessed it, to the left.

Another meme that I just wrote in FB

1. Top 5 worst songs you could imagine playing in succession:
I don’t dislike songs so much as artists and genres so that is how I will answer it:
Anything by:
Bonnie Raitt
Celine Dion
Any heavy metal
Any Jazz – makes my ears bleed
Most country music

2. Worst snack food anyone could buy for you and why:
Corn nuts – I can’t stand the smell of them.

3. Most uncomfortable sensation you’ve experienced:
I hate touching cotton balls. I have to get other people to open the bottles for me. I also hate touching velvet. When I was a kid my mother dressed me and my sister in matching blue velvet dresses. I walked around with my hands clenched for hours.

4. Top three guiltiest (or at the least, slightly embarrassing) pleasures:
Froot loops, liking an Eminem and Kanye West song, enjoying being in my car with the windows down, the sunroof wide open (but it can’t be sunny) listening to very loud music.

5. A country(ies) that you’ve never had the urge to travel to:
I don’t like to travel at all.

6. Current cultural trend that annoys you the most:
The sexualization and subjugation of women and the rape culture we live in.

7. Something that has surprised you recently:
How little I know about the natural world. I am reading about ants as I knew very little about them and they are fascinating insects.

8. You in Bizarro World would be:
Married to a man with no dogs and no computer.

9. Something you think you should like, or want to like (for whatever reason), but really don’t: I think I should like alternative/independent music but I just don’t…

10. One childhood oddity:
Being responsible for looking after my 5 year old sister and cooking dinner all at age 7.

11. If you found a genie, and he granted you three things (besides world peace) they would be: there would be no refugees, no torture and no racism/discrimination of any kind.

12. You would switch to the other gender for:
You could not pay me to switch genders. I love being a woman.

13. If you could travel back in time to one historical moment it would be:
to the 1960s to protest about Vietnam.

14. Piece of art (any kind of art) that you wish you would have created, as opposed to the actual creator:
I am not really into art in the traditional sense.

15. Something you’ve always wanted to be good at:
playing an instrument and singing.

16. Your Utopia must have these three things:
dogs, unlimited resources so everyone has enough, kindness

17. Something you are quietly proud of:
my ability to lead and mentor

18. Something you are blatantly proud of:
being smart

19. Favorite word:
hmmm, I have many favourite words. Lately it has been cogent.

20. Least favorite word:

21. Favorite little thing that makes your day:
So many – in the morning when the dogs scamper outside and they are so happy just to be alive.

22. You get on your soap box for:
selectively but I don’t give up

23. Things that would be better if you were in charge of them:
I think I should just be able to run the world and everything would be great!

24. Things that would be worse if you were in charge of them:
criminals, pedophiles and religious people.

25. If you had the power to change one thing in the history of the world, it would be: colonization and the imposition of the nation state in Africa.

The ABCs of Me

This is a facebook meme but I thought it would be fun to do it on my blog

A – Age: 44

B – Bed size: king size

C – Chore you hate: unloading the dishwasher

D – Dog’s name: Piper, Clio, Molly, Gemma Joy, Kirby, MacKenzie, Kiefer, Madison, Tucker

E – Essential start your day item: I have to have a shower – it sets my brain.

F – Favorite color(s): purple. Although I have a red car.

G – Gold or Silver: white gold

H – Height: 5’5

I – Instruments you play: I played accordian as a kid and piano, a bit, as an adult

J – Job title: Executive Director

K – Kids: 0

L – Living arrangements: marriedwith 9 dogs

M – Mom’s name: Cecile

N – Nicknames: nothing flattering

O – Overnight hospital stay other than your birth: 2 weeks for ulcerative colitis in 2008

P – Pet Peeve: People who do not do right by their dogs.

Q – Quote from a movie: “Who’s Morte?” From Boys on the Side

R – Right or left handed: right

S – Secret crush: Don’t have one.

T – Time you wake up: 9 am or so

U – Underwear: Never gone a day without them.

V – Vegetable you dislike: Only one? Brussel Sprouts

W – Workout style: 5 minutes at a time.

X – X-rays you’ve had: lungs, bowel,

Y – massage

Z – Zoo favorite: I abhor zoos.

Five Minutes

Five minutes is a recurring theme when I try to make changes in my life. I know myself well  and I know that if I try to make wholesale, black and white changes it does not work for me. When I decided to quit smoking my intention was to ‘try’ and not really commit to never smoking again. In fact, I carried cigarettes around with me for 2 weeks and told myself if the craving was still this bad in five minutes I could have one. Well, the craving was never that bad in five minutes and to this day I have never had a drag of a cigarette. The day that I had my last cigarette was April 21, 1991. It has been a very long stretch of ‘five minutes.’ I don’t have urges to smoke anymore. I am no longer addicted to nicotine and I can’t stand the smell of it as it gives me a headache now. The weird thing is that I smoke in my dreams. At least once a week I have a dream where I am smoking. It is hard to fathom how powerful an addiction smoking is for some people.

I am going to meander a bit but I need to do that in order to get to the place I want to go. When we were children my mother married a man who liked to hike and cross-country ski. We had never been active as kids except that it was the seventies and everyone played outside all day and all evening. We rode bikes, I had a pogo stick and we played a lot of hide and seek. Enter my step-father. At first he would just take my mother backpacking. They would be gone for long stretches of time and we kids had to stay with my grandmother (I will leave this hell for another post…). Then they decided that we should come backpacking with them. I was horrified. We had always camped and gone fishing but we were in a trailer. I knew that I hated the sun, got sick in it and I was paranoid about stinging insects.

Our first trip was to a place called ‘Egypt Lakes.’ It is in behind the Sunshine mountain ski resort. So, the first thing we had to do was climb the ski hill. It was raining and at 8 years old I was carrying 35 pounds. My step-father decided how much each of us would carry based on our weight and I was heavy. My sister only carried 15 pounds. I was not a happy camper to say the least. I was also pigeon-toed as a kid and the hiking boots I was in did not have the corrective soles on the bottom. This trip was 8 miles of up and down hills and over mountain passes – 2 of them to be exact. The rain was torrential and I hated every fucking minute of it. To me it was hell. As I got progressively tired my feet got in my way and I spent most of the last 2 miles going 1, 2, 3 splat as I tripped myself. Instead of getting encouragement I got told to get up. After a while I was told that if I fell one more time I would be spanked. I knew he meant it. So I cried. What other coping skills does an 8 year old have?

These backpacking trips carried on for years. We walked about 200 miles a summer. Part of the goal was that they would put me on a diet and force me to walk all summer with increasing amounts of weight on my back. In the heat. While everybody else got M&Ms and cashews for energy, I got water because, according to my stepdad, I was packing around enough energy already. He would say these things in front of other adults. Sometimes the people with us would give me a look that let me know they were horrified by his treatment of me. Then there were the times I fell behind. I could not keep up with everyone and there were times I was scared out of my wits because there would be a fork in the path and no one would wait to tell me where to go. These trips were all done in the backcountry where there were wild animals and I was afraid I had been abandoned. Invariably, he would come back for me with a willow switch in his hand and hit the backs of my legs all the way up the trail. I did the only thing I knew how to do – which was to cry. I would have heat stroke, I would be exhausted and I would be hypervigilant for stinging insects. Oh and I hated to get dirty.

One particular trip stands out for being especially horrible. We were doing the Contintental Divide that started in Jaspar. We spent a lot of time in the open under the beating sun at quite high altitudes. We were going along and I stepped into what I thought was a mud puddle. It wasn’t a puddle it was a sinkhole and I had to be pulled out. I was wearing heavy duty canvas pants and they were caked with mud. He made me rinse them out (I was in my underwear) and he strapped them to the back of my pack so they would dry. We didn’t stop though – I had to walk in my underwear. I was completely humiliated.

So where is this all going you ask? Well I have given all of this background information as a way to explain why I hate to walk. I hate to hike. I hate the heat. I have not been able to get past this in over 30 years. I think these experiences were truly traumatizing. I always suffer in the summer because I am hot and I think it takes me back to those days. My anxiety is way out of whack again and I need to find a solution.

I have known for a long time that I needed to do something about getting some exercise. I have chronic pain and anxiety and physical activity or at least improving my level of physical fitness is imperative. I am not prepared to restrict food as I already have so many restrictions on what I can eat due to the gastroplasty I had in 1997 and now my colitis. Some foods don’t go down and others make me very sick.  After thinking about my options I decided to get a treadmill. It is something I can use indoors and not have to worry about getting overheated because I can put the air conditioner on.

Here is where five minutes comes into play. I know that I can do just about anything for 5 minutes. My commitment to myself is to try and do 5 minutes everyday. I know that there are going to be days where I just can’t bear to do it. Yesterday was one of those days. I was exhausted and over-heated and probably I would have been sick today if I had forced it. But I managed to do it every day for 7 days and I have done it for today. I have already noticed some benefits in my daily life.

After writing this I can see now where a lot of the issues I have with anxiety, abandonment and control have come from. Being forced to do something I detested as a child has made me very stubborn and a need to have control in my life. My fear of abandonment knows no bounds – it is constantly there. Summer and the heat brings up a lot of this for me and I don’t think I have ever realized before how much those summer backpacking and hiking trips had affected me. Oh and then there are the cross-country skiing trips…another day.

I ask questions…

I always have lots of questions as there are many things in this world that defy explanation. So here are the highlights for today.

1. Why, oh why, does a car change into the left-hand lane when they are going a good 20 km slower than you. Then the truck that was behind them starts trying to pass, ON THE RIGHT, and I am trapped until the truck goes by. It makes no sense. Finally I get passed this car and I look over, because I always have to see what kind of idiot would do that and she was talking on her phone. Grrr!

2. Yield vs Merge – most highway entrances onto Highway 1 are merges except for the yield at the 1st avenue on-ramp. Normally, if you drive in the right hand lane past this on-ramp you had better be prepared for the hordes who interpret ‘yield’ as ‘just keep going because they will make room for you.’ Personally, I find this very annoying. Today, I actually saw someone yield. I almost had a party in my car!

3.Why do some people with pick up trucks feel that it is ok to transport their dogs in the backs of their trucks? Do they not realize that in a sudden stop or an accident that their dogs could die? These people should not be allowed to have dogs.

4. Why do cyclists feel it is ok to almost take you out in a cross walk as they ride across and then go up the sidewalk. All without a helmet I might add.

5. Continuing on with cyclists – do they not understand what a 4-way stop is? Yesterday, at one of the many 4-ways on my way home. I came to the intersection, stopped and proceeded to turn. Two cyclists came to the stop sign after me (so I had the right of way) and I almost shmucked them. Then they ‘decided’ to yield the right of way to me. Assholes.

6. Who do farmers, driving big, heavy and slow moving vehicles pull out in front of you so you have to slam on the brakes? Idiots.

7. OH and the buses. Why is it that they think they have the right to merge in front of you when you are 3/4s of the way up the bus before they decide to go?

That’s it for today…

The CBC cuts suck…

One of the things I really enjoy about CBC Radio One is that it is current. You used to be able to hear relevant programming about issues today. “The Point,” one of the shows which was cut in the latest round was a great show. Aamer Haleem had guests on who would debate the issues of the day. While I did not agree with some of his guests generally the other one took up my side in a debate. The show was witty and timely. Plus they also reduced BC Almanac to one hour. The second hour of this show was always very informative. I hate gardening but I loved listening to Brian Minter. So instead of having a call in show that would have provided information we were treated to a repeat of Wachtel and the arts where the person she was interviewing made a reference to George Bush making him want to leave his country. I have nothing against Wachtel and the Arts I just want current programming in my day. On Thursday afternoons we will be treated to re-runs of Dispatches – which at the best of times puts me to sleep. To make it worse after Dispatches they are really going to mine the archives and bring us Rewind where we can listen to Peter Gzwoski. I am too young to remember much of him on the CBC. I am sure he was brilliant but I think he has been dead for 20 years, really what relevance does it have for today? On Tuesdays at 1 pm we are going to be treated to a show called “In the Field.” It would be useful if we knew what it was going to be about. The CBC.CA website has no information for that show.

This is really frustrating for a dedicated CBC addict. Fully 1/3 of my day will consist of crap programming with little or no relevance to me or the world I live in. The CBC had been working hard to attract a younger demographic to Radio one and in one fell swoop they have lost much of them now. Most plugged in techie people are not interested in hearing a discussion about Mozart and Shakespeare in the middle of the afternoon. They want information and news that is relevant to them.

We can only hope that the CBC will recognize the error and restore programming like The Point – which in my opinion was brilliant. Podcasts here I come.