Environmental


My lips, this cricket

This is a post designed exactly so that people can weigh in on the most exotic foodstuff they’ve consumed.  It’s going to fall heavily on the side of carnivores, for which I apologize in advance, but if you have tasted fresh rowan from the Himalayas, by all means, speak up.

I’ve dined twice at this restaurant in London, Archipelago, which specializes in exotic cuisine.  The first time I went, I was too embarrassed to take photographs of our meal, because this is desperately uncool.  The second time I had no such compunction and snapped away, as I was truly regretful I had not documented the first time I ate crickets.

While by no means cheap, it is reasonably priced for the quality and rarity on offer, and a great place to bring out-of-towners looking for a bit of a treat.  My first visit, I had the ostrich starter (ostrich is always amazing – thready and flavorful) and the zebra steak.  (more…)

Dear Blog Diary,

Today was a pretty good day.  We had friends stay over last night and got up this morning to make a Sunday breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, and hash browns, served with milk or orange juice.  I put roasted red peppers and goat cheese in with the eggs, and it was all really tasty, if I do say so myself!  Everyone remarked how fancy the gold napkins are that I used to set the table, and I think they offset the pale green placemats very nicely.  We put the BBC news on the television in the background, so that we could all learn about the Basque Separatists and watch video evidence of that cop in Wiltshire who assaulted some lady in custody, and I guess forgot that CCTV would capture him flinging her across a jail cell and busting her face open.  And now we all get to watch it, over and over again!  How silly!  There was also some tech piece about new trends in shopping, but it seemed pretty dumb so I didn’t pay much attention.

After breakfast, our friends went home, and I settled in to watch Gladiators in my nightgown and eat some ice cream.  Boy, that “Spartan” Gladiator is really sexy, but I wish they wouldn’t let him talk!  I like watching him perform muscle-bound feats, though, especially when he was wrestling with that cute teacher on the Pyramid.  Their shorts are so tight, I had to cross my legs and eat more ice cream to cool down!

Anyway, I was sort of annoyed because Boyfriend was using my computer to play his chess games, while I got stuck washing all the dishes.  That was so dumb!  I was scrubbing out a pan and not really listening to the TV, when the opening credits of this cool show came on, and we both stopped everything we were doing to watch!

(more…)

David J. Phillip / AP

In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, Texas with a Category 5 equivalent storm surge and winds up to 120 mph at its center.  Originating off the coast of Africa, Ike was responsible for at least 195 deaths:

Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year…  In the United States, 112 people were killed, and 23 are still missing. Due to its immense size, Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kenedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi, Texas. In addition, Ike caused flooding and significant damage along the Mississippi coastline and the Florida Panhandle. Damages from Ike in U.S. coastal and inland areas are estimated at $29.6 billion (2008 USD), with additional damage of $7.3 billion in Cuba (the costliest storm ever in that country), $200 million in the Bahamas, and $500 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of at least $37.6 billion in damage…  The hurricane also resulted in the largest evacuation of Texans in that state’s history. It also became the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history.

Besides the devastation to homes and infrastructure, loss of life, billions of dollars needed for repairs and damage to Galveston’s tourism, it was also an ecological disaster.  As Swamplot noted in November 2008 (bold casing from original article): (more…)

Electron microscope pictures of grains of pollen, aka the reason your sinuses are kicking the shit out of your face this month.  Click the pic for a gallery.

This video has been getting a lot of attention recently, and for good reason.  (Although not because it’s narrated by Annie Lennox, as I mistakenly thought when I first saw it).  Annie Leonard breaks it down for you in 8 minutes – all the ways we are duped into buying what we think is cleaner, more exotic water.  I admit, I bought bottled water for a few years when pop culture told me to, but it really didn’t take long to see a whole lot of money was being spent for……..WATER.  I’m a bit of clean freak, so it never made sense to me that my tap water was good enough for cleaning but not for drinking?  When I lived in Milwaukee, the tap water was good – it actually tasted better than bottled and we drank it happily for the last 4 years and saved a bundle of money.  Sure, there were little floaty bits in the glass when the ice melted, but they didn’t hurt me none.  The tap water here in Vegas is fine as well, and since there is a filter on the fridge, there are no floaty bits in the ice.  I travel quite a bit so I make a habit of trying the tap water in different cities, and really the only two places in recent memory where I can say I didn’t like the smell/taste of the water would be Boston and Houston.  Boston water is soft as hell AND it added an extra 30 minutes to my hair time every morning.  Houston water (which I grew up with) is a little hard and smells like chlorine, I was stocking those 3 gallon Sparklettes bottles in my kitchen for years.  But if I was moving back there today I would definitely stick a water filter on the tap and call it a day.

Catastrophic weather events and tax-payer hell are admittedly superior nuisances to one of my latest first-world problems, but I’m not going to let that prevent me from sharing a little recent frustration.  Actually, “recent” isn’t strictly accurate, as this is an annoyance that’s been plaguing me for the last year, and my irritation is down to my fellow citizens rather than the faceless powers that be (as far as I know…).

When I moved into this flat, one of the first things I did after sorting out the bills was to contact the council and ask for a recycling bag.   This was straightforward.  My liberal guilt is not assuaged by the fact that I use only public transport (my black soul yearns for my old Subaru, and if I were richer, I would have it), but it is somewhat appeased by my rabid recycling habit.  Glass, plastic, and aluminum are all lovingly washed out and dried next to the sink, to be placed with smug reverence in my Recycling Bag.  I rip the plastic windows out of my junkmail to recycle the envelopes, and take anything with my name on to work to shred and return to the holy green bag.  I take pride (yes, pride!) in the fact that my two-person household produces half a 13 gallon bag a week of trash.  If I had a garden, I would have a compost heap and grow my own herbs, and your eyes would water in the face of my fuckin’ halo.

Basically, recycling not only makes me feel righteous, it just feels right.  As a person who actually has apocalyptic nightmares about the world drowning in mountains of trash, this is my last and weakest defense against the coming garbage tsunami, and as a drinker, it is solace.  We may consume the contents of the beer and wine, but by god, the packaging is to be used again.  Ditto for the oven-ready meals.

As a liberal consumer with liberal culpability, I have to recycle.  Just as Hitler was a vegetarian, whatever else I am responsible for inflicting on the environment, I can comfort myself with the fact that at least I am a Dedicated Recycler.

So, I ordered my recycling bag and saved up my recycling for two weeks.  When the bag came, I was pleased to hoist up my contributions on the wrought-iron fence outside my flat, representing my own milk and canned-soup habit in the face of my thoughtful neighbors.  Despite the fact that I didn’t know any of them, I felt like a part of the conscientious community.  It barely registered that I appeared to be the only recycler in my corner-block of four apartments.  I was part of the whole solution, after all, and felt a soft glow of togetherness throughout the day, until I returned home that evening after work and my bag was gone. (more…)

Ahoy, fellow Bargain Shoppers!  If you’re anything like me, you take great pleasure in picking up a cute, functional purse from Target or H&M or Forever 21.  What’s not to love?  It’s thrifty, fashionable, and you can wear the hell out of it for six months and then toss it, satisfied you’ve gotten your twenty bucks worth out of a bag you’ve enjoyed.  You’re not worried about leaky pens or loose tobacco or half-melted breath mints or snotty kleenex in your purse, because it was cheap to acquire and fun to carry.  Am I right?  I am so very right.

So here’s the bad news.  Apparently, those cheapo purses from which we derive great pleasure and utility are chock-full of THE CANCER.

Only four of the purses from my Target collection, actively trying to kill me

Only four of the purses from my Target collection, actively trying to kill me

 Here’s part of the total lady-bonerkiller from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Center for Environmental Health filed the complaint in Alameda County Superior Court and sent separate notices to manufacturers of at least 26 brands notifying them that testing showed their products contain lead at levels high enough to pose a health threat. Most are vinyl and faux leather items. (more…)

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