Monthly Archives: October 2006

carbon diet

I was pretty interested when I read about the slate/treehugger green challenge (slate here and treehugger here), wherein one attempts to shave 20% off of ones carbon emissions. I mean, I know I have pretty low carbon emissions. I was so excited after seeing an inconvenient truth that I set about off-setting my driving emisisons with a 12,000 lb CO2 terrapass. I bought green electricity – now 100% of my electricity is coming from NJ wind and solar. and I drive a hybrid! that gets roughly 65 mpg! I’m not even getting into how I’ve alreday changed all my lightbulbs into efficient compact flouresent bulbs, and how I have to wait for my living room to “warm up” after I flip the light switch before I can really see things clearly.The slate/treehugger quizzes seem to assume that you’re not doing so great. I took the first quiz and had to pretend like I had a dishwasher. there wasn’t anywhere to say I was using a hybrid. so I came out with annual emissions of 15,706 lbs, which is not so bad when compared to the US average of 44,312 (and not so good when compared to india at 2,645).

but the difficult part came next, where I took the transportation quiz and was asked to pledge to check my tire pressure monthly (it’s easy when you have tire minders), buy a terra pass (check!) for my car, buy one for my flights (was planning on it anyway – am not sure if I should go international at 7,500 lbs CO2 or frequent flyer at 15,000 lbs – it all depends on if I go to england in addition to heading to japan), and then comes the hard question: do you promise to trade in your car for a hybrid in the next 6 months? well. they don’t know if I have a hybrid, they just know I get 65 mpg. the estimates they use say that “driving a hybrid reduces CO2 emissions by more than 10K lbs a year, assuming you currently drive a car that gets average mileage”. which. well. I don’t. I had better not tell them I’ll trade in my *cough*hybrid*cough* because then the calc works out to me reducing another 17K lbs, and that is more than I am supposedly currently using.

sadly, my busy engineering lifestyle precludes me carpooling or taking the train to work. sigh.

so far, then, I’ve reduced another 1,050 lbs CO2 by telling slate what I have already done. which isn’t so shabby, I guess: if the goal is 20% of total I’m already 1/3 there with 6.6%.

the topics for reduction they’ll look at are transportation, heating, food, clothing, electricity, holidays, water, and home/office. y’all should sign up! it’s interesting!


I updated the insight page with new mpg information. the exciting news is that I’ve broken the lifetime 60 mpg line this week! yay! now that 60+ mpg sticker is ENTIRELY accurate, instead of just mostly accurate. I hope I can maintain high mpgs with the colder weather that is blowing in – I didn’t start regularly clocking over 60 mpg on the trip calculator until last may. of course, I was still driving kind of really fast then, but I know the cold weather had lots to do with it too.

clothes etc.

since the last buy vs. make inventory,

I’ve made a bunch of skirts:

* I redid my pink upholstry skirt so it isn’t falling apart.
* I made two pleated skirts: one short for my bday, one long for every day.
* I made a purple skirt as practice for my silk skirt which I will now wear to almost every holiday occasion I have this winter.

on the buying: I purchased 10 pairs of socks. exciting! but I will wear them all winter long: I bought

* 2 pairs of long chevrons (which I absolutely LOVE)
* 1 pair of ankle chevrons
* 3 pairs of the N40 (the only bad thing about these is that they are nylon)
* 2 pairs of the M40
* 1 pair of M43s
* 2 pairs of plain flat knit over the knee socks
* and some dorky socks: thigh high crochet net and little booties.

I also went to the outlets in maryland and bought

* a jean jacket
* a cotton jacket
* a red short sleeved sweater
* a pair of jeans
* a pair of trousers

I hadn’t bought pants in at least 4 years! So I was probably due some. and jackets, now, they are hard to make.

I’ve accumulated/purchased 6 or 7 tshirts over the summer, primarily from threadless, though a couple were from a craft fair or the 5K I ran.

Of course, on the other hand, I thought about going to target last night to get more long sleeved shirts and underpants (which I do need, badly), but the act of going to target seemed so horrifying that I just went home.

so, net buy vs. make over the last 7 months? heavier on the buy than the make, but at least I didn’t have any duplication. I’d rather buy trousers and jackets and I really didn’t have any fun graphics tees – so I think it’s a wash in all directions. and shoot! I just counted: I made 5 skirts in 7 months, and they all came out really really well. I should NOT lose track of that.

anyway: speaking of tshirts, I’m planning to get out all my old tshirts and start cutting them up for makeup removal pads. I saw these, but they are in the UK and also terrycloth (which is kind of rough). I asked my internet friends about it, and they pointed me to someone who makes them from flannel and then someone suggested using old sweatshirts, and then I thought hey! old tshirts! they are soft, kind of absorbant, and I can cut them into squares and zigzag stitch several layers together to get a small structured square for wiping my eye make up off of my face. and it reuses things that I don’t need or want, and that might otherwise be sold in africa with a net effect of undermining local textiles producers.


I was on-base for work training today, and was sitting in my car during the lunch break checking my messages when there was a big BOOM of an explosion. Well. I listened for a few minutes to see if there were any sirens, and when there wasn’t I assumed they did it on purpose.

it IS an army base, and they ARE actively testing munitions, but still. BOOM.

weekend in review

I had a really super weekend. very busy. am very sleepy, but am having a hard time making myself totter off to bed.

* friday I drove into brooklyn for my friend jenn’s birthday party. it was wonderful – one of those adult parties that is super fun, and where all different areas of her life showed up and made lots of good conversation. I got there around 8 and was shocked (shocked!) when suddenly it was 11 and I had to dash. I was picking up ranger (rachel) at the train in prep for our:

* sat. at the sheep and wool festival. it was so nuts! rachel and I had secretly thought that sarah, being, you know, pregnant, would not be up for a long day. we were so wrong. we met at 10 and didn’t get out of there until 3:30. and then there was fierce traffic. but I had a good time, super good! and bought some fibery stuff. yay.

* sat. night was the alumni art auction and casino night. it’s always a stellar good time. my skirt went over very well, and all the dealers at the craps table were totally flirting with me (hee!) and therefore I didn’t bust out of my fake chips at the very beginning when there was an unprecidented run of bad shooters.  I bid on art but didn’t win anything. it was great! also, paula came, and then I suggested we hit kareoke afterwards.

* kareoke afterwards! I sang private dancer and jolene, two of the saddest songs ever. it was so fun. I caught the 4:30 bus home. am very tired today.

* I did manage to get moving in time to meet rachel for marie antionette this afternoon. we brought cupcakes from the cupcake cafe in with us and the movie was pretty great. not as punk rock fun as I thought it would be, but still very good. and GOSH but versailles is a ridiculous place!

* tonight I made me some dinner and read a book. and goofed off. am going to sleep right now.

week in advance #2

  • Monday: on-site training at big army job site. Laundry and grocery shopping. Gym? dare I dream?
  • Tuesday: mtg with old coworkers and dream future co-business owners after work
  • Wednesday: black tie dinner and reception for the nyc transit museum with work (they bought a table!)
  • Thursday: yoga? dare I dream?
  • Friday: kick off field work activities at a job site near office at 7AM. leave work early to drive to philly to catch my flight to TN.

Yep, I’m flying to TN for 5 days. Gramma is moving to an apartment in Georgia to be closer to people now that everyone has moved away from knoxville. dad and aunt elayne and uncle rick will be helping her pack her things, and I decided to go to make her laugh. I’m pretty good at keeping things light-hearted with her. one of my secret skills.

Actually, friday kicks off a Very Big Week and a Half of travel. I’ll come home next wednesday evening and then work for 2 days before driving to Pittsburgh for Mr. Mariss’ bday celebration. it’s nice of he and Kelly to throw a party that weekend, because if they didn’t I’d feel like I was inviting myself out for a visit. It will be the first Insight trip to PGH! I can’t wait to see my mpg on the trip, esp. through those mountains.

silk skirt: check!

got my skirt done! YAY.


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new purple skirt

last night, as per my “week in advance” plan, I went home and got ready to make a new skirt. and by got ready to make a new skirt, I mean read a book while enjoying a nice cup of soup and cheese and crackers for dinner. When kathleen called at 9:30 I was so embarassed! I saw it was her and thought “oh no! I’m in for it!” she gave me a hard time, but while we were on the phone I laid out my pattern and cut the pieces and marked them. it took me about 2 1/2 hours (and that’s finishing every seam neatly) but I finished!

here’s my messy messy work area:
look! I even basted in the zipper! don’t I look THRILLED to be following the pattern to a T? the zipper did come out awfully nice, I must admit. I don’t know if it’s nicer than it WOULD have been, but that’s ok.

and the skirt:
purpleskirtside purpleskirtfront

this was a dry run for my anticipated silk and tulle skirt I want to wear to the casino night I’m attending on sat. it’s the same pattern, but I wanted to do it first on some sturdy materials so I wouldn’t mess up any flimsy silk. tonight I’m going to stop by the rag shop for thread and a zipper and black muslin if they have it, and then home again to whip up a slip with tulle edging. then I’ll see how it looks with skirt #1 (currently wearing), and then proceed with skirt #2 in the silk.

chihuly in in the bronx

Michelle and Gabbi and I went to see chihuly in the bronx botanical gardens. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been trying to see chihuly for a while. The biggest challenge (besides the bus being ultra slow, us missing our planned train, and worrying that the timed entry tickets wouldn’t be valid) was saying ChiHULY and not ChiLULY. I know, it’s the little things that are the most difficult.

it was a seriously beautiful day.

beautiful fall colors

there were a lot of different things to look at…

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week in advance

  • Monday: gym and therapy
  • Tuesday and/or Wednesday: gym, cut and sew purple skirt, start on pretty silk/tulle skirt. Issue: need to finish skirt before friday b/c I want to wear it on Sat., and Friday and Sat. are booked up so no last minute finishing of garments (Kathleen will be so pleased to see the amount of future-planning involved here!). Also, Tuesday and/or Wednesday: potentially dining with friends Paula and Sara? TBD.
  • Thursday: Guest lecture in Cooper Union transportation class (leave work early, class is at 2-5) on the subject of “alternative transportation planning processes.” yoga in PM if I’m back home by 8:30.
  • Friday: Morning meeting in the field, staff meeting at lunch, evening birthday party in Crown Heights, meet Rachel at Port Authority afterwards to come home to NJ.
  • Saturday: sheep and wool festival with Rachel and Sarah (it’s her birthday next week, so we’re having girls day!). Then Cooper Union Art Auction and Casino Night, wherein I will wear my new pretty silk/tulle skirt.
  • Sunday: brunch? sleep? gym? Knit corn baby!!

me at the gardens

digicam 220

I really love this self-photo – I’m not sure that it looks like me, really, but wow!

bike whee!

I got an email from kevin, an old coworker, asking if anyone would like to go to the jets/dolphins game today ’cause he had two extra tickets. Well, I wasn’t sure about the game but I did call him up this morning and made sure he’d be there, and then I hopped on my bike and rode over to the stadium for tailgating! it was SO Much Fun. I was all smiles the whole way there! I had forgotten how awesome it is to ride a bike somewhere – how satisfying it is to power yourself to a destination, and how fun the trip is. I might be crazy, but I also love the interaction on the roads with cars. maybe it’s the punk-rock speaking but it’s exciting and dyanamic and nothing makes you feel tougher or more awesome than passing cars as they wait in traffic to get into a football stadium.

I DID get a lot of comments about “auntie em” (I understand the reference, but not quite correct), mary poppins, nice socks (pink and fushia stripes – a piece of safety clothing!), and some whistles of the wicked witch of the west theme song. but I got a lot of smiles, a few “smart idea!”s, and some thumbs up too. and I made the 3 1/2 mile ride there in 20 minutes or so, and probably 30 minutes on the way home (it’s mostly downhill there, and I had a stiff headwind on my way back). it is a beautiful day here in NJ today – cool and sunny, and I brought my headwarmer and wore my mittens on the way back.

So very excellent. really awesome. I’ve been telling Kevin I’d meet him there for the last 1 1/2 years, so I’m super glad to have done it.

dork dork dork

I am such a sucker for solar chargers. I’m trying to decide if the solio charger is what I need, or if I should go for something more robust. Probably more robust b/c my rechargable batteries require a wall-socket to charge, and I don’t want to go buying all kinds of specific accessories. but the solio is SO MUCH CUTER than one of the larger, film based chargers! and it’s “only” $100! and then I wouldn’t have to get a car charger for my cell phone!


Last weekend was the philly office party, and michelle and I decided to make a weekend of it. Actually, it ended up being less than 24 hours, but it was still pretty fun. we drove down on sat. after I fixed my skirt and we packed and slept in and were sleepy, and got to town around 4:30. the hotel we were staying at was charitably called “european” on various on-line rating boards, but it was the only one with availability that didn’t cost $334 (pre tax). But despite the nonworking elevator (since june at least! can you imagine?) and the space where there should have been a headboard (ripped from the wall! yikes!) and the part where our room hadn’t been cleaned before we got there and smelled like skunky weed, we safely stayed and didn’t pick up any bugs or other vermin. phew.

The sunday after the office party (where, as I’ve mentioned before, there was arm wrestling – but also kareoke! but just me! ha!) we only had a little bit of time to spend in town. We managed to find a nice diner to eat in. I snapped a few photos from our walk around town.

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Worlds! Largest! Garage Sale!

a couple of weeks ago I went up to the Worlds! Largest! Garage Sale! in Warrensburg with some girlfriends. it was superfun!

We all drove up the night before and met at daddy-o’s house, where we were kindly housed in the 5th wheel camper. it was a cold night, but the sleeping bags were quite toasty. it was the first time camping for one of our girls! how exciting! it also changed my mind about mummy sleeping bags. I’ve been using a threadbare worn out sleeping bag from (potentially at least) 15 years ago, and I have been reluctant to upgrade to a mummy bag. now that I see how wonderfuly cozy a big new warm sleeping bag is in the fall (favorite time to camp! less bugs! hats around campfires!) I think I’ll make the plunge.

we got up at 5:15 AM (it seemed more reasonable than 5AM) and had some lovely continental breakfast courtesy the folks and drove up in my stepsisters borrowed minivan, arriving around 7:45 or so. And traffic was already backed up until the highway! we found the last free parking spot on the side of the road and walked off into the fray.

there were a lot of things that I DIDN’T buy, including v.c. andrews books and these awesome tree faces.

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office party

sat. michelle and I drove down to philly for their office party. it was on a boat, and I’ll do just about anything that is on a boat. we got a hotel room and planned to make a weekend of it but got a late start on sat. and didn’t sleep much on sunday. anyway, I’m not sure what the highlight of the evening was but it might have been me arm-wrestling with a colleague. it was a tie. and MAN does my arm hurt today! I’ve been talking about arm-wrestling for a long time at work, you know, as a method of conflict resolution, but I’m not so sure anymore. my muscles! they are aching!

soap box sandwich.

so, because I accidentally went to the sock dreams webpage to link to my star socks for the pirate band post, I accidentally became induced to purchase a whole lot of socks. like, 113 bucks worth of socks. um. At least it’s 12 pairs of socks, and I’d say I can wear at least 10 of them to work regularly.

Last week when I was pulling on a pair of knee highs I did stop and ask myself “should a project engineer wear knee highs to work?” and then I put them all the way on, because it was kind of cool outside and heck if I’m going to start wearing nylons to work Every Day. those things are bad for you! and I only own 1 pair of pants! In light of the momentary sock insecurity, I made sure to stock up on a lot of Really Long socks – that will be thigh high length, ergo not knee sock length. That should keep things professional.

[[um. this post is a soap box sandwich b/c it smooshes the soap box post about ecofoods between two fluffy pieces of white bread that are studded with currants, pirates, and socks. see, there’s always a method here, folks. always.]]

(un)sustainable agriculture, e.coli, western water rights, and local food.

there is a whole lot that could be said about the e.coli thing. now that the spinach thing has gone from spinach to also lettuce, I was thinking about maybe saying something. Anyway, this whole situation falls neatly under several of the topics on the “things I feel strongly about” list, so I will try to restrain myself. Jesse over at Corduroy Orange has touched on some of the issues in a couple of posts, as well.

maybe bullets will keep me on-track, ordered, and without too much fist raising prosteltizing.

  • I found out that the strain of e.coli that is responsible for the spinach sickness and deaths is a strain that can withstand high-acid conditions. incidentally, when you factory farm cows you create high acid conditions in their stomachs. cows don’t really eat grain alone very happily – it creates something called “feedlot bloat” which creates excess gas that inflates in the cows rumen and which can press on the cows lungs and suffocate them. this is one of the reasons why it’s GOOD that feedlot cows are slaughtered within a year. The grain also makes a high acid condition in the stomachs, which makes for some happy special evil strain of e.coli.
  • the map that jesse posted says this very clearly, but it’s amazing that we are relying on the salinas valley in california for the majority of our produce. not only is this ridiculous, it’s unsustainable for a number of reasons: 1. we shouldn’t have all of our food eggs in one basket, so to speak. 2. fuel costs have been, until recently, going up superfast. these costs weren’t embedded in the cost of our cheap california produce, but they will be sometime! 3. I hear that the northern groundwater wells (primary source of irrigation for the salinas valley) are experiencing saline intrusion. which means, you know, that we’ve got all these eggs in a basket but it turns out the basket is really just a really big hourglass full of sand, and the sand is dropping out of the bottom of the glass, and the some day the eggs will come shooting out as well.
  • if you haven’t read cadillac desert, you really should. the water rights issues in the west will only become more important as time goes by. and now that farmers are learning that they have to pay attention to the run-off from factory farms I can only see some complicated negotiations in the future.
  • I think there should be a serious dialog about the cost of food in america.
  • and while we’re talking, we might want to look into the ENVIRONMENTAL cost of food in america. I’m not just talking about food miles here, but also the unsustainability of an economy that always comes down to a dependance on oil – usually in the form of petrochemical fertilizers.
  • I also think there should be a serious dialog about homeland security. The spinach situation reminds me a lot of the green onion hepatitis A outbreak when I lived in pittsburgh. we can’t just keep getting all this cheap food from around the world without dealing with the social and environmental consequences. who’s picking your food? are they being paid enough to live well? to be hygenic? to treat their own illnesses or to take time off of work when they’re contagious? if these aren’t issues of homeland security, I don’t know what is.

Anyway! not too bad, no? just a quick hop onto the ol’ soap box! so as not to just wave my hands around without offering any real solutions, how about CSAs? they say the personal is the political, and I see food as an extremely political issue. and with any issue, you have to decide where to start and start slowly. you can’t let the scope of the issue overwhelm you into non-action. I’ve decided to start by eating meat infrequently, trying to eat organic and grass-fed where I can, and by purchasing as much local and/or organic food as I can find and afford.

pirate band

last night I met rob in hoboken to see captain bogg & salty, a pirate rock band. it was awesome fun. they were so rock’n’roll – after the show a feller said to his friend (in a humorously loud voice) “this was the best thing that has ever happened to me!” I bought a CD to share with my nephews and requested a photo with some of the band.

I also told them that my uncle was a pirate in seattle. They said “oh, is he with the so-and-so pirates?” and I said “no, but he took a lot of acid when he was a kid!” and then I relayed the disputed cabbage story. I have been told by one parent that we ate so much cabbage when we were children b/c the other parent was concerned we would get scurvy. the other parent disputes this story and says it was because the initial parent wouldn’t eat any vegetables EXCEPT for cabbage. Based on pure ridiculousness, I prefer to think we ate 1/8 of a head of cabbage every night with dinner as scurvy prevention. It worked, I mean, I grew up to be 5’11” and as strong as an ox.

also, not only was the pirate band super fun, but it afforded an opportunity to wear my star socks. it’s impossible to wear these subtly, so I’m just going with it.



I have been so busy at work that I don’t get much of a chance to post lots of stuff. But I keep thinking: hey, that would be a great blog post. So I’ve started to make a list of posts in my wordpress admin window, and that’s a good start. I just worry that I’ll put up, oh, 10,000 posts on one day and then go for 3 weeks without posting, and that’s no good!

Speaking of work, it’s been going very well. I’ve been working extra hard and have been getting good results. my biggest problem is, I think, my tendency to take things personally. Like having to tell a client about newly discovered contamination at a site – I take that kind of personally. it’s not like I’m carrying around a sack of PCBs and sprinkling it around, but I am overly invested in the issues, maybe, or I just want to make everyone happy.  I’m trying to let go of things like this and it is sort of working… I am not woken in the middle of the night anymore, anyway! but it’s a long struggle to revise the way you approach a problem.