30 November 2011

Ecology And Time

It's that time in the semester when I have no idea how all the work is going to get done.  I have a half-day meeting to organize for next week, classes to teach, papers to grade, an article to revise for publication, exams to write and eventually to grade. 

I'm going to be seeing a lot of the very wee hours between now and December 27, when final grades are due (at 6 a.m. -- are you kidding me?!?), and there's a good chance I'll end up pulling at least one all-nighter.  And let me tell you, it takes a lot longer to recover from staying up all night working when you're pushing fifty than when you're barely out of your teens.

Unfortunately, the time crunch means my environmental commitments slip.

Yesterday, breakfast home fries came in a styrofoam container; the coffee to go with it was definitely not fair trade.  My lunch? beans and rice on a paper plate, but salad in a plastic bowl; both got thrown away as soon as I was finished eating.

In the afternoon, I was flagging after getting only four hours of sleep.  I bought a Hershey bar at the student commissary for some extra energy, despite the fact that Hershey refuses to stop using child labor to pick cocoa beans.

When I got home last night, I made a commitment to try harder.  This morning, I fixed myself coffee and breakfast.  Still ate both lunch and dinner out of plastic take-out containers, but since it was a 12-hour work day, I'll cut myself a break for now, and try again to do better tomorrow.

I'm also going to do some better planning and shopping this weekend to give myself better options for packing meals to take to work.

Anyone have any good ideas for me?

28 November 2011

Can You Avoid Holiday Shopping?

Patagonia's message on Cyber Monday: "Don't buy this jacket."

The email message I got earlier today enumerated the liters of water and pounds of carbon dioxide produced in the production of the jacket -- even though it's made out of 60 percent recycled material. Only when you really need a jacket, the message said, should you buy one.

So what about all those people you exchange holiday gifts with? Herewith, some ideas:
  • Socks.  Everyone needs socks, we all wear them out. Buy your loved ones a couple of pairs of really nice socks.
  • Food.  Ditto; we all eat.  Fancy mustard?  Stinky cheese? Smoked fish?  A basket full of stuff beyond the usual budget that will get eaten and won't clutter closets or go to the landfill unused can make an ecologically sound gift.
  • Soap, bath salts, oils and emollients.  You know what your potential recipients will actually use; not much ecological sense in buying stuff that will sit around unused for a couple of years and then go to the landfill.
  • A gift to charity.  Preferably one both you and the recipient think is a worthwhile cause.
  • Something home made.  Jam, chocolate confections, miniature carrot cakes or banana breads if you're a cook; a scarf or hat if you can crochet or knit; a framed photo or piece of art.
Or reduce gift-giving with a family round-robin, or agree to give up the gift-giving altogether, and go volunteer in a soup kitchen or other charity in your community.

Other ideas for home-made gifts? Other ideas for reducing gift-giving? What do you do with kids? Let me know.

13 November 2011

Oh, Right: Cain's Supporters Don't Like Women

I keep looking slack-jawed at the poll numbers for Herman Cain, because it appears he's gaining support in the wake of allegations of sexual assault, followed by jokes about Anita Hill and calling Pelosi "Princess Nancy."

I finally realized: I shouldn't be surprised. Cain's support is increasing not in spite of his demonstrated antipathy toward women, but because of it. 

Those who would vote for Cain are the same people who write and vote for legislation that would deny a hospital the ability to save the life of a dying woman, that would limit women's access to birth control, that would allow health insurers to pay for Viagra but not for contraception, that deny a woman access to abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

These people have been assaulting women legislatively.  It should be no surprise that they would support the presidential candidacy of a man who has so thoroughly demonstrated his disrespect for women.

08 November 2011

Getting Away With It

If I said I was sexually assaulted last week, would Herman Cain call me a liar?

If I said I was sexually harassed 25 years ago, would he say it was because I was living in sin with The Mate? Financially unstable, racking up debt while finishing graduate school?  Would any of that have anything on earth to do with it?

If I said I was sexually assaulted 30 years ago, would he say I was making it up?  Trying to get attention?  Making a big deal out of some little thing?


This situation is making me more and more furious.  It's hard for me to type those words up there, hard for me to talk about the assaults, the words, the threats behind them.  It makes me feel sick to remember. 

It makes me feel sick to see the attacks on the women who have come forward to say Cain assaulted them.  It makes me feel sick to see Gloria Allred, a courageous and smart attorney, attacked for helping one of the women Cain assaulted.

All week, I've been silently cheering on the Shayne Dejesus, who kicked and slapped the guy who groped her, and then took his picture.  He's been arrested.  I've been wishing I had the presence of mind to snap a photo of the guy who grabbed me ... because he could ... and got away with it.


Police?  Sure, I talked to police.  Didn't see the guy's face; wouldn't have been able to identify him beyond white, middle-aged and balding.  Not a damn thing they could do.

02 November 2011

Some of My Favorite New York Place Names

Sheepshead Bay
Utopia Parkway
Hell's Kitchen
Neptune Avenue
Dead Horse Bay
Spuyten Duyvil

Also: Did you know that the Belt Parkway, also known as the Shore Parkway, is also also known as Leif Ericson Drive?