My Day

Today was my last day before I go back to work. I had some errands to do and needed to get some stuff ready to go to work tomorrow. I finally managed to get myself to the lab to do blood work. I have been horribly negligent about doing my blood work. I think after a year of going every week I rebelled. I have been feeling fine so I don’t think it will be a problem. However, if anything is out of whack my GP may yell at me. Honestly, I felt like I didn’t really have the energy in August. Plus it was hotter than the hubs of hell out there. Still, I should have gone.

I went to the hardware, which was uneventful. Then I had to go to Save-On to get crack, lettuce for the guinea pigs. They scream so loudly I could hear them from the kitchen. The brain trust at Save-On has decided to rearrange and renovate the store. I don’t understand why. It took me a long time to learn the layout of that store after Extra Foods was shut down due to a strike. Apparently the changes all come down to peanut butter. Yes, you read that correctly, peanut butter. Did you know that peanut butter resides in 3 places in most Save-Ons. Yes, you can find large containers in the bulk food section, regular peanut butter with the jam and natural peanut butter in the natural food sections. They seem to think this is a bad thing. Personally, it is a bad thing for me when I can’t find anything! Perhaps they hope if their customers walk around in confusion long enough they will buy more food.

Wait, there’s more to the Save-On story. As I was leaving, I entered a cross walk and some old man in an old sedan tried to take me out. I am not sure if he saw me but he seemed to speed up as he came towards me. I had to run. When I called 9-1-1, she asked me if there was a chance he didn’t see me. I laughed and said no. The RCMP was going to go and make sure he is ok and maybe have him retested by ICBC. It was a little scary!

The ‘Greenwash’

Back in December, I think, I was basically told that I was no longer welcome to comment on the “Our Green Year” blog. It seems that they did not like my comments and questioning of what they determined to be ‘green’ acts. They felt I was negative. My goal was to engage in some critical thinking around some of their supposed ‘green’ acts, ask questions and seek clarification. Apparently this was too much for them. In my opinion, I think this is lazy blogging. Part of the reason people allow comments on their blogs is so that readers can engage in a discussion about an issue. Comments give the blogger the chance to think about their points from a different perspective and to clarify their beliefs. Getting rid of the ‘challenging’ readers only demonstrates, to me anyway, that the blogger is lazy and is not interested in engaging in further discussion. If you only put comments up that show everyone agreeing with you or if you ban difficult commenters your blog lacks validity. I still read the blog but I have not been able to comment so I feel I must do so now before my head explodes.

I do not have a vendetta against Craig and Layla Baird. I believe that they believe they are trying to do something good. The green movement is like any other bandwagon issue that has come along. Everyone jumps on, proclaims they are good for doing it and everyone who asks questions or criticizes the movement is the enemy. The bandwagon effect turns people, who can normally think critically, into the slavish masses for the issue. In fact several times the only arguement they could come up with was to tell me that what they were doing was really hard and that I should do it too, which completely misses the point.

So, let’s begin:

Here is the latest post on being green while staying in a hotel:

Sometimes we all need to travel, and when we travel we usually stay in hotels, motels, or inns. In hotels, we use towels and they are washed after one use (although not in all hotels), we sleep once in beds and the linens are cleaned, and generally the overall process is quite wasteful. That is not even considering those little shampoos, soaps and more that are individually wrapped. As well, glasses are wrapped individually in plastic.

This is a big waste.

As a result, when Layla and I have to travel and stay in a hotel, we will not only bring our own towels, but we will bring our own toiletries. This way, we do not use what the hotel provides, we do not waste plastic, and we use what we already have and which is environmentally friendly because we try and buy only green toiletries.

First off, they ignore (or are ignorant) of the fact that many hotels have implemented ‘greener’ practices when it comes to doing laundry. Every hotel I have stayed at for many years gives you the opportunity to not have fresh towels every day. Then there is the fact that they are now going to lug their towels and toiletries to the hotel. Now, if they are flying or driving they are going to be increasing the weight of their luggage – thereby increasing the amount of jet fuel required to get them to their destination. Then they are going to take home the wet towels. To what purpose? Again there will be increases in fuel required to get their baggage home with wet towels. Why not just pick a green hotel, recycle the little plastic bottles and use your towels more than once if you are staying longer than a night?

Another major issue I have with this blog is their engagement in slacktivism as a way of going green. This entry sums it up nicely:

Over the course of Our Green Year, we have signed several petitions. We have signed petitions to stop the seal hunt, save animals and today, to save tiger habitats.

Tigers are one of the most endangered species on the planet, but they are also one of the most recognizable. It is feasible that within the next few decades, we could see the complete loss of this amazing animal due to habitat destruction. This would be a huge loss for our planet.

In Sumatra, only 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild. Once they are gone, that is it. This is due to illegal logging that is destroying their habitat, and the practice of clearing forest for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. In the past 22 years alone, 50 percent of the forests in Sumatra have been lost.

So, to help stop the logging of tiger habitats, we are signing the petition to do something about it (we hope).

You can do the same at:

They have signed many petitions on the internet to save everything. What good does this do? Petitions in general are not all that effective. But at least petitions that are signed, by someone going door to door, at least have some validity and can be used in the political process. Seriously, what good do they honestly think they can do by signing a petition in Canada to save Tiger habitat in Sumatra? I am sure there are many things contributing to the loss of habitat for all sorts of species all over the world. It is not simply a matter of the people living their not knowing what they are doing. Likely, they are trying to eke out a living. This one in particular interests me. My favourite coffee at the moment is Starbucks Sumatra. If some information had been presented about habitat destruction being linked to coffee consumption, ‘my coffee consumption’ in particular, I would feel compelled to research it and if the evidence was compelling change my consumer habits. They missed a big opportunity here.

All of their homemade ‘green’ toiletries’ have truly made me laugh! Here is a recent one:

Way way way way back near the beginning of Our Green Year, man it seems so long ago, we made a sugar scrub as a way of making our own type of body wash that can be used in the shower.
Today, we are going green with another body scrub, and this one is one I like. For me, nothing beats the smell of coffee in the morning, I love to drink it but I have never thought of using it in a body scrub. Turns out, you can and it is good for the environment because you are recycling the grounds.

Typically, we compost coffee grounds, but on occasion we are going to try making a coffee grounds body scrub. It is quite easy to do.

All you need is five teaspoons of ground coffee that has been used (recycling!), one teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of essential oil. Mix it all together and when you are in the shower, put it on with a circular motion. Leave it on for five minutes and then rinse it off. By putting a catch int he drain, you can then get the coffee grounds and compost them afterwards!

Not much more to say!

I loved this post because it is clear that it has not been investigated very well:

At the ranch, we have a fire pit in the front yard where we can sit and relax during the summer evenings. Well, this summer that fire pit is going to serve another purpose beyond just providing us heat. We will be cooking on it.

Layla and I love to go backpacking, and when you backpack, you have to cook your meals on a fire. There is nothing like it and we decided that this year, we will cook more food on the fire and less in the kitchen.

There are a lot of trees in the area, and some have fallen down. As a result, we will be using that wood (as long as it is not serving as a habitat for something) for our firewood. We are also getting our firewood from a sustainable source. Then we can cook our food over the fire, rather than in the kitchen on the stove.

It is not perfect, but it is just another solution that we can use to go green in our cooking, no different than how we use the fireplace inside to heat the house up so we don’t use the furnace as much.

Burning wood spews pollution into the air. I have recently read about some small towns in the north where they have pollution and smog days due to wood burning stoves. How can think it is more environmentally friendly to light a fire outside and cook over it? It is fun and enjoyable but not green. It is far more green to use electricity produced by hydro-electric damns than to burn wood and add particulate matter to the atmosphere.

This next post is hysterical and obviously written by a man:

Well, the next one is about going to the bathroom, but it is going to the bathroom outside. Now, this is only for ‘number one’ and not all the time (it gets to -40 here…..). However, by going outside to pee on occasion, there is less in the toilet and that means less flushes.

We are on a ranch, with no neighbors around, plus lots of trees so there are no chances of someone coming across me in the middle of my business.

Sure this is an odd one to do, and an unconventional green tip, but going green involves a lot of things, some of which we don’t always think about.

So, for me at least, when I am outside I will use nature as my bathroom to help conserve water in the indoor washroom

How the hell is it green to have untreated human waste going into the ground? They live on a ranch where animals graze. This makes no sense to me. Many countries in the developing world suffer greatly from being surrounded by untreated sewage. Why on earth would they want to turn their ranch into their bathroom. I am also pretty sure it is only the guys who would be doing this as it is so much more difficult for women.

Here is another rather lame post about visiting National Parks. I love how Craig spins it to make it seem green but he forgets a few things:

If there is one thing Layla and I enjoy doing, it is hiking and snowshoeing. There is something about being out in the wild, being a part of nature and listening to the sound of silence wafting through the trees. We love nature, hence the reason why we are trying to do our part to save it with Our Green Year.

Today, we are asking that if you want to do something to help nature, you can visit a national park. Here in Alberta, there are plenty of national parks and we are going to be visiting several of them this year (including on our proposed two week hike from Jasper to Banff this year!). The reason visiting a national park is green is that not only does it help you learn more about the nature that we all seem to be somewhat removed from, it is also because you pay money to be in the national park. That money then goes to help keep the national park going, helping it expand and helping to keep the animals (some of them endangered) safe in their national park home.

Recently, Layla and I, plus two of our friends went snowshoeing on a trail in Elk Island National Park. The money we pay helps that park, and by extension helps nature.

Visiting a National Park may be good for the soul but it does not do much for the park. Craig points out that you pay money to visit the park. Why do you pay money? Well, to clean up after all those visitors. People leave their garbage, they damage sensitive ecosystems and disturb animal habitat and migration patterns. Plus there is all that gas burned to get all those people to all those National Parks to pay money so it can all be cleaned up. Not so green after all when you think about it. If you are backpacking it is usually prohibited to build a fire. I know this from experience. We used to backpack 200 miles a summer when we were kids. My Dad always had his naptha stove and pointed out to us how to preserve the environment we were in, why we could not build fires and why we had to stay to the path.

I could keep going. So, stay tuned as I will focus the critical thinking lens on the ‘Our Green Year’ blog again. Plus I am sure you will all be able to buy the book they intend to publish. I have also wondered what happened to the “Our Green Year Journal” which has not been updated for a long time. I felt this was an integral companion to the blog as it discussed how they were implementing their new found green ways.

In the meantime if you would like a great green blog to read I recommend “A little Greener Every Day.” Robin Shreeves gives practical tips, with solid reasoning behind them. She is also honest about how difficult it can be to choose to go green.

Truck Balls

Yes, you have read correctly: truck balls. Yesterday when we were out doing some errands Deb pointed out some ‘balls’ hanging from a truck across the parking lot. They looked something like this:

Truck Balls

They were handing on the rear axle of this monster truck. I was immediately disgusted and horrified. My first thought was that the size of the ‘balls’ was inversely proportionate to the male driver’s parts. Then I began to wonder what kind of person would put balls on their truck. Is the truck not big enough to let us know that he is trying to over compensate for inadequacies in other departments? Disturbing, very, very, very disturbing. Oh and apparently “all sets made to swing.”

I am fuming…

I have not found a link for this story I heard on the CBC News yet. Hopefully it will be posted tomorrow. Anyway it was about a Native man who stole 3 bottles of mouthwash when he was drunk. He was, of course, convicted. His lawyer thought that the judge in the case would take into account his background. He was marginalized and disenfranchised and had been an alcoholic since he was sixteen. He had been convicted seventy times for petty crimes over the years. His lawyer argued that he receive a 3-month sentence. The judge sentenced him to a year. A year for the theft of items that did not amount to $20. An appeal court upheld the conviction saying that the trial judge had not erred and that, in fact, she had served the public interest. Great, it is so important to protect us all from mouthwash thieves.

I think the public interest could be better served with a much different plan. What about treatment? Clearly this man needs some help. He needs rehab and a program not a cell and guards. How about some education? He never finished high school because he was kicked out in grade 6. What about some higher education? Maybe some cultural expression could help him connect with his roots. We all know that without culture people do not have roots and stability.

Instead, he will spend a year in jail which will only confirm for him that the world is an unfair place where he does not fit in. We will house him, pay the salaries of the guards who protect us from this dangerous mouthwash thief. Paying for treatment and an education for him would be much less expensive and, in fact, might even prove to be an investment in the future. With treatment, an education and hope this man may be able to become a productive member of society. But sadly we are far more interested in punishing people. I am ashamed to be Canadian today.

I ask Questions

Apparently there was a water main burst in Montreal yesterday. Not really newsworthy except that a huge lake of water formed at a busy intersection and according to CBC radio reports a woman tried to cross the intersection. No big surprise, she fell in the metre deep water. The other salient point was that the pipe in question was 118 years old!!! What municipality does not systematically replace its pipes? I mean, seriously, these pipes were installed in the 19th century! Does anyone know if it is common for pipes this old to be in service?

This and that….

Well it has been a busy time. I am off work until January 5 and I am so grateful. I needed a break. I was stupid and ate nuts over the holidays and I am now paying…colitis and nuts are a bad combination.

In other news – all of the dogs are doing ok. We think Tucker may have a bladder infection so he is off to the vet tomorrow. They all enjoyed their turkey very much. We got a hormone and antibiotic free turkey from Hopcott’s and it was fabulous! The rest of the dinner was to die for as well. We had cauliflower and cheese sauce, potatoes, and all sorts of other veggies that I ignored.

I am getting a little sick of the pope. Who is he to judge trans and homosexual people when he wears a dress and has other men kiss his hand? He is so completely outdated and the catholic church will lose support because of this kind of bigotry. We need to move towards a society that celebrates diversity rather than one that puts of with condemnations of minority groups.

The weather has also been a little frightful. I cannot remember ever seeing this much snow on the wet coast. We went out on Saturday and there were mountains of snow piled up in the parking lots. I know that for other areas of Canada this is normal but for here it is freaky!

Oh and the freaking neighbour’s dog is making me mental. They leave him outside for 12-14 hours at a time and he barks non-stop at our dogs when they go out. Ours are pretty good they don’t bark back as they know they just get brought in. I do not understand how the hell they can stand to listen to their dog barking his foolish head off for a whole day? What is wrong with people? It is so unfair to our dogs as they can’t be outside for any length of time because he won’t stop barking. The last thing we need is for other neighbours to think it is one of our dogs doing all the barking.

I ask Questions

Today’s question comes as a result of my interaction with the clerk at the restaurant where I ordered pizza from today. She said: “Your order comes to $48.50 minus 10% for picking it up but I won’t know how much to take off until I put it into the computer.” I said: “Ummmm, $4.85?” I then resisted the urge to give her a math lesson. So here is the question: Are they no longer teaching basic arithmetic in school? How does one go through life and not know how to figure out 10% of a number? Ok, I know that is 2 questions but the are related!

Our Justice System – Redux

I have a lengthy comment from Mike which you can go and read in the original post. I was going to answer him in the comments section but I think it would be better served as a post of its own. So here goes.

Mike says:
“I don’t think justice was served here, but I disagree with feminists who use such allegorical “evidence” as proof that western political legal system treats women like chattel. Thats quite a stretch. By in large western legal systems take domestic violence seriously.”

It is in no way allegorical. Our laws our based on English commonlaw which viewed women and children as chattel.There is nothing allegorical about that. Altough laws may be updated, here and there, they are still largely written by men for men. The old boys network is alive and well and protects men like Scott Young.

Mike Says:
“People, especially people in power, get away with doing bad and illegal things all the time. Maybe Scott Young knew the right people, had a good lawyer, or just was lucky. By your line of reasoning I could look to OJ Simpson and argue that black people in the US can get away with murdering white people. I strongly disagree with feminists who use incidences like this to push their narrow self-serving agenda.”

Perhaps rich black men do. But this is not about race – this is about domestic violence. There is no ‘narrow self-serving agenda’ here. Unfortunately, the problem of violence against women, in all its forms, is so pervasive that dismantling it would shake our society to its very core. It is seen in the discourse of advertising, our jokes, our culture, our religions, the way we raise male and female children differently. We are not even aware at times when violence is being perpetuated against women. Open your eyes and look around. It is on tv, on the radio, in the locker room and in our homes.

Mike says:
“No society has ever tolerated violence against women. This is feminist historical revisionism. Rapists in medieval Europe were flayed alive (had their skin removed). The ‘rule of thumb’ myth was taken from a misquotation of statement made by a US judge in the 19th century who actually sentenced the male abuser to jail.”

This society sure as hell does!!! It goes on all the time. Many women don’t report rape as they will just be assaulted again when they come up against the male dominated justice system. Forget history, look at the situation today. Look at the murder suicides where men kill their entire families and then themselves. And before you trot Andrea Yates – she was mentally ill and had had so many children and sufferred such horrific untreated post partum depression that she went crazy. What is the excuse of the men?? Look at the honour killings in the South Asian community in BC. I could go on and on. These are not feminist revisionist events. These are real women dying every single day.

Mike says:
“Women are abusers in relationships as well as men. Domestic abuse has less to do with ‘Patriarchy’ and more to do with disfunctional partners and drug and alchohol abuse. Women stalk, kill their husbands and kill their children too. There are bad people of both sexes the same way there are bad people of all races. Just because in general men are capable of inflicting greater injury on women does not mean that men are the only sex capable of commiting evil, or even that society is run by men.”

Yes, some women might hit some men sometimes. Boo fucking hoo. Look at the stats – men kill and beat women at much higher rates then the reverse. Really, this is just a straw man argument to take us off course. Many men are conditioned to believe that they can treat women anyway they want. Furthermore, they have seen that the consequences are a slap on the wrist – conditional sentence with an 8 pm curfew? What the hell is that about? If this is what our justice system is doing to women when we are watching what is it doing when we are not?

Mike says:
“Society does not treat women worse than men. Men have always been the greatest victims of violence in war, genocide, and crime. The vast majority of victims of violent crime (murder and assault) are men.”

Sorry Mike another straw man argument. Who starts the wars? Who keeps them going? Certainly not women. Yes men die in war. But so do women, civilian women. Rape is an instrument of war and I am pretty damn sure that most of the people being raped are not men. Civilian women and children suffer the most in war. The soldiers have a choice. At least in the case of the US – they signed up for it this time. (This of course would be different if concription were in place as it was in other wars). However, the men are still paid to go to war. Even the women working for the international companies in Iraq are not safe from rape. So, tell me again how it is that men suffer? Oh ya, they get to carry big guns, shoot people, and get paid. Sounds like the wet dream of many a teenage boy.

Oh the Government

So I used to work for the province of BC. I quit in Feb of 2007 to take another job. A couple of months later I received a letter in the mail advising me that I had been overpaid by $212 and they wanted me to repay this money. Now, the province has a very elaborate computerized payroll system. Everything is entered, in real time, by the employee and signed off by a supervisor every pay period. They withhold one week of pay so there is always time to play catch up if they needed. Anyway, I argued with them and demanded proof. They sent me a bunch of stuff but they still did not convince that I owed them any money so I ignored it.

Fast forward to March of 2008. I received a new letter from someone else demanding that I pay this $212 or they would report it to the credit bureau. I tried to email this woman but it never went through. So, finally, I phoned. The first person I talked to had no idea how to collect a debt from a former employee. Finally, they transferred me to someone who did. I paid the $212 on my credit card. I told her I was doing this under duress as I did not believe I owed them any money. She took the payment anyway.

Yesterday I get a message on facebook from one of my former co-workers. She tells me that they have a cheque there for me from the Ministry of Finance. She said they had accidentally opened it and what did I want them to do with it. I gave her my address and asked how much it was for. And, you guessed it, it was for $212 minus some deductions!!!

Now, here is what I do not understand. First of all they make me pay money I don’t owe. When they are trying to find me to tell me I owe this money they have no problem locating my address and mailing me a letter. Then when they then decide I don’t owe them any money they send it to an office I have not worked at since at least 2005! I had been at different offices before I quit. I am stymied. I will update once I see the deductions.