29 February 2008

Green Medicine?

I've gotten slammed with asthma this winter, and have been to the doc a number of times, spent a night in the ER getting treated, and am now taking an enormous boatload of prescription drugs and OTCs, as well as various vitamins, herbs and teas recommended by the Chinese acupuncturist, the nice woman at Stephen Drug in Long Branch, and my mother.

Google searches on "green health care," "ecological medicine," and the like yield some information about hospitals looking toward healthier construction practices and better food for the patients, as well, unsurprisingly, as a slew of sites on alternative medicine.

I don't even know where to start. I don't trust Big Pharma one iota, but here I am depending on their products to keep me breathing -- i.e., alive.

27 February 2008

Carbon Footprint

As reported in the Guardian, you can calculate your carbon footprint at the UK’s government web site, DirectGov. According to this site, my carbon footprint stinks and it’s all about my commute.

But I knew that.

Living in a New York City apartment, I have smaller appliances, lower heating costs, fewer light bulbs, and the like than people who live in houses. But I leave computer and phone chargers in the wall outlets all the time. I use a laser printer, which turns out to be an energy hog compared to inkjet or dot matrix.

In addition to that, I commute 65 miles each way to work, traveling three or four days a week for 30-odd weeks of the year and logging somewhere over 15,000 miles, and that’s before all the trips north to visit family.

The site recommends that I get a lower CO2 car when I replace my car. Nice idea, but it seems I already have one of the best cars money to buy in the US: according to Treehugger, the Honda Fit is among the twelve greenest cars for 2008.

Worst of all, I estimate that I take one long-haul flight per year. The calculator tells me: "Just one long haul return flight can give you the same (or larger) footprint as driving a car for an entire year." Actually, I go long haul every second or third year, but the calculator doesn't allow that as an option.

The bottom line (with a grain of salt--how accurate are the data I entered?): my carbon footprint, at 10.58 tons per year, compares terribly with the UK national average of 4.48 tons per year. I can rationalize: in the UK they actually have a useable public transit system, which I used along with a bicycle for all of my transportation needs while living there last year. Or I can figure out a way to ride the bus here in the US.

26 February 2008

In lieu of a sustained critique

If Jeb runs for president in the next election, will we have to elect him on the basis of No Bush Left Behind?

25 February 2008

Oxymorons? Oxymora?

Ultra-thin maxi pads.

Are those more like jumbo shrimp or hybrid SUVs?

I know, I know, I should just get a moon cup already and be done with it. But The Change, she is in the air, and it seems a little late for a change in procedures.

10 February 2008

What Boys Play With

Peggy Orenstein in "Girls Will Be Girls" in the New York Times today:

"In another study of younger children, Cherney and London found that if ushered alone into a room and told they could play with anything, nearly half the boys chose “feminine” toys as often as “masculine” ones, provided they believed nobody, especially their fathers, would find out."

Orenstein adds, "That made me question whether any more expansive vision of girlhood can survive without a similar overhaul of boyhood, which, apparently, is not in the offing."

In my household, the attempt is in the offing. It's an attempt that is thwarted every time we walk out the door. There must be other parents out there who are revisiting "Free To Be You And Me" but this time, trying to expand opportunities for the emotional and imaginative life of boys. It sounds terribly retro, I know. There's still work to be done in changing the limits on girls' lives. But it's a closely related challenge, to raise boys who will respect and honor the new generation of girls.

04 February 2008

Nobody needs a car that does 10-15mpg

That's what the former chairman of Shell Oil, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, says, in urging the European Union to ban the sale of cars that get less than 35 mpg. Meanwhile, late last year the US passed a law requiring that the average fuel economy of all cars sold by any automaker average 35 mpg. By 2020.

According to the EPA, there are only two cars -- the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid -- that can be expected to get more than 35 mpg.

The remaining cars on the top-ten list:
Nissan Altima Hybrid
Ford Escape Hybrid FWD/Mazda Tribute Hybrid 2WD/Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Toyota Yaris (manual)
Toyota Yaris (automatic)
Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD / Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4WD / Mazda Tribute Hybrid 4WD
Toyota Corolla (manual)
Honda Fit (manual)

(The EPA estimates 28 mpg city, 34 highway for the Fit, but I've been getting 38 overall in my 2007 model, in mostly highway driving. I do try to be gentle on the accelerator and the brake.)

Compare the UK, where you can buy three different cars that get nearly 60 mpg (70 mpg in imperial gallons), and dozens -- including several made by FORD -- that average better than 35 miles per gallon. (The comparable figure for imperial gallons is 42 mpg.) You can search cars sold in the UK by fuel economy here and in the US here.