geekinthegreen: (death by gasoline)
Once Spring hit, it was iced coffee time. I've been using a plastic Starbucks tumbler for lack of a better option (though I did switch out the straw for a stainless one), because stainless steel tumblers cold tumblers are impossible to find. Starbucks actually came out with one this year, but I haven't seen it in my local stores, only the plastic varieties, and also there have been some bad reviews for it, with liquid getting stuck in the plastic lid.

BUT THEN!

I was doing my regular check of Amazon, and this came up. When I purchased it, it said 16 in stock, and by the time I mentioned it to my coworker the next day, she ordered the only one left (though there's a second listing here, with different pictures and doesn't include a stainless steel straw). Unfortunately, since it's a random 3rd party Amazon seller, I have no idea who produces it. It has no markings on it save for a "Made in China" sticker which is always questionable, but I figured I'd give it a try nonetheless.

That said, I have yet to use it. So we'll see how it holds up. The welds on the inside of the cup don't look as finished as Klean Kanteen products, and even though the Amazon listing says that it's dishwasher safe, I wouldn't personally put anything that's double-walled in the dishwasher.

I also think I'm going to write to Klean Kanteen and ask what the hold-up is in putting out a cold cup; with the market for reusables lately, it's really strange that they haven't come up with one yet, so there must be some sort of manufacturing reason that there isn't one. Of course that also makes me wonder how this no-name variety was produced (is the grade of steel questionable? We'll see.)
geekinthegreen: (death by gasoline)
I've started at least a half-dozen post drafts over the past week and a half, all of which have disappeared into the electronic ether (that's the rub about constantly switching computers, and Dreamwidth lacking the ability to save drafts. Oh well.)

New Year Resolutions! I didn't make any proper ones, other than to try and make more time for myself, which has been an unofficial resolution for the past few years. All in all, I'm fairly satisfied with my decluttering and de-plastic-ifying my life during 2012, though I've still got a long ways to go.

1) While I've switched to electronic delivery for most of my statements, I've still got piles of backlog that need filing and several filing cabinet drawers that need to be weeded, because honestly I stuffed everything in there without much organization. For being a librarian, you'd think I'd have some sort of system. Ha, no.

2) I bought very little new clothing, and started going to thrift stores. So far I haven't found much (pretty sure the size 10s get picked over first), though I did find a decent quality blazer at Goodwill a few weeks ago. I also have *very good intentions* to start tailoring my own clothes so I'll actually wear some of the stuff that doesn't fit properly. Key word: *intentions*

3) Cooking & food storage without plastic going well. Still issues with purchasing though, other than getting beans from the bulk bins. I think I've finally mastered cooking with dried beans though, so that's a plus. I need to start making more staples from scratch (bread, almond milk, yogurt, etc.) So that'll be my goal for 2013.

4) General decluttering is going ok. I'm making slow progress in getting rid of books (getting stuff to the used bookstore for credit is super inconvenient, but everything is in very good condition I really need to get something for it instead of donating it to the library), better progress in getting rid of clothes (changing jobs and realizing that I no longer wear polo shirts/khahkis every day was a big motivator on that), but not so much on other things. It's a bit hard to figure out what exactly I do have when half of what I own is packed in boxes in various closets throughout my parents house.

5) On the Tech front, I so far have resisted buying an iPad. I really want one, and it makes total sense for work. (Not to mention having access to an iPad 3G was a lifesaver during the 2 week power outage after Sandy.) But I have a perfectly good Acer netbook (though it has a shitty battery life). So I tell myself that: electronics production is terrible for the environment, that electronics recycling is terrible for the people doing it, and both child labor and planned obsolescence suck. So far this has kept me from buying an iPad. (Though once the minis are available as refurbished, I'll reconsider.) I really wish my 6 1/2 year old HP desktop would kick the bucket though, since it's too old to donate I have no idea what to do with it except to keep using it.

I'll post this before I get distracted again, and lose another post to the ether. Speaking of being busy, I finally took a look at the beach near my family last weekend (I'd been to the shore several times since the hurricane, but hadn't gotten closer than a few blocks away -- the destruction was making me ill. I didn't mention it here, but I have several family members who had homes destroyed in the flooding.) Holy Erosion, Batman. Pics forthcoming if I ever get around to downloading them.
geekinthegreen: (Default)
For 12 people. Things I made:

- 2 meat pies (cheated: storebought crusts)
- cornbread and andouille dressing
- 10 pound turkey (oven!fail: took over 4 hours to cook)
- stuffing (oven!fail: overbaked, due to compensating for turkey)

If I was only making the pies, I could've made the crust from scratch, but I've been having some epic headaches this past week and it just wasn't going to happen (also, had I been making the crust myself I would've made a single pie -- why are store-bought "deep dish" pie crusts so damn small?) Would've also made the bread for the stuffing from scratch, since the taste/texture wouldn't have mattered so much if I screwed it up. Also, I thought of that rule about not testing out new recipes on large groups of people... but decided to make cornbread dressing that I've never tried before anyway. Doubled. It came out okay, minus being too dry.

Next time! Bread from scratch. I can definitely tell you though that my biggest pet peeve about recipe sites are those which tell you to use a boxed mix as ingredients. (1 box cornbread mix! How about... some cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and an egg...?)
geekinthegreen: (Default)

More aptly titled, “Lessons learned from an 11 day power outage.” And it goes to show how busy I’ve been since this all happened that I’m only just now getting around to writing this.

1. An efficiently managed freezer has the potential to keep ice through an 11 day power outage.

I spent the weekend before the storm filling every plastic tupperware container in the house with water to freeze into ice blocks in both the kitchen and basement freezers. When I unpacked the freezer when the power finally came back on, there was still one tupperware which was half-filled with ice. I think we only had to buy about two bags of ice the whole time, and we threw out very little food. I just kept re-arranging the coolers as the fridge or spare freezer defrosted, and kept the coolers on the front porch. I just kept re-packing the stuff, and by Day 9 we had used up enough of the fresh food that everything fit into the regular drawer-freezer which acted like a cooler for the last 2 1/2 days.

That said, we would have lost a lot more food if we hadn’t been able to cook on a gas stove. Also, it pays to learn which foods (i.e. condiments, eggs) can go without refrigeration for short periods, and not waste precious cooler space on them.

2. An emergency radio is your best friend.

On Friday afternoon I paid the extra $4 for 1-day (i.e. Monday) Amazon Prime delivery of an emergency radio with a flashlight and micro-USB/iPod attachments, and FedEx delivered it on Monday morning so I was able to fully charge it off of my laptop before the power went out that afternoon. Best. Purchase. Ever. I actually never wound up using the attachments since we had enough neighbors with generators that charging phones never became a problem, but it was a good thing to have anyway. I’ve bought 3 more as gifts to give away for Christmas.

I left it on the windowsill to charge via the solar panel during the day, though on the cloudier days I had to use the crank a few times.

3. Walking isn’t so bad.

Two words: Gas shortage.

Luckily I had filled up my gas tank ahead of time, and with my workplace being out of power and closed for a week, I didn’t have to drive very far. If necessary, I could’ve walked to my second job but by the time they had re-opened, the gas lines had reduced quite a bit from the first few days due to rationing. In the mean time, I had walked to both a grocery store and the public library (both of which had power, and were ridiculously crowded.)

That said, it was incredibly surreal to see what it was like in the 70s. Or could be like in the future. (Though after this experience, I will never buy a non-hybrid electric car.)

4. Decluttering is good.

Had the basement flooded, and the power gone out and prevented us from being able to pump water out, we could’ve been in a very bad situation due to the sheer amount of stuff being stored down there (not to mention mold, etc. although it wouldn’t have flooded more than a few inches, since we’re on a hill.) Thankfully, while the power did go out, the basement did not flood since there wasn’t too much rain. (Unfortunately, my parents’ property at the Jersey Shore wasn’t so lucky, but that’s another–and much more expensive–story.)

Cleaning out the basement will be #1 project for the spring. Luckily, a lot of the furniture down there is waiting for me to find a new apartment, or waiting for my sister to move back from graduate school into hers, so that may resolve itself much on its own as both of those things should happen by the summer.

5. Low temperatures make you hardy.

We rarely turn the heat above 65 degrees in my house during the winter, and had the insulation re-done a year ago. 11 days without heat in November isn’t so bad if you’re used to layering clothes, and having extra blankets on the bed. The lowest the inside temperature got was 48 degrees, but that was after over a week and having been through a snowstorm. (One of my coworkers who lives at a higher elevation had hers go down to 27 degrees — yikes.)

6. It’s not always necessary to run out and buy bottled water.

Caveat: We have municipal water that runs off of pressure, and do not rely on an electric pump to get our water. That said, I know many people who also have municpal water and ran out and bought a ton of plastic bottled water. All I did was fill 3 large-ish pots on the stove and a few large glass bottles, which would’ve been enough for 3 people for a few days of drinking water in case of a boil water advisory, which is about all we’d get here. Which only would’ve been necessary if the water pressure dropped for some reason, since we would have been able to boil it on the gas stove anyway. (Plus, in an emergency situation, I would’ve been happy to drink water out of the plastic containers I’d frozen to keep food cold, which is another several gallons right there.)

Originally published at Geek in the Green. You can comment here or there.

Confession

Oct. 26th, 2012 10:35 pm
geekinthegreen: (Default)
I did something I didn't originally want to do a few weeks ago.

I signed up for Amazon Prime.

Yes, I know I should buy locally. Yes, I know Amazon doesn't treat it's employees well. It's basically the Walmart of the Internet, and we all know that Walmart is Evil. And shipping items across the country is a waste of packaging materials and gasoline.

The last reason is actually why I signed up though. The problem I'm having is between my two jobs and the route of my commute, any time I need to go out and get something it's requires a separate trip, usually to multiple places (especially considering some of the items I buy aren't generally available locally, or are just hard to find.) I also live in a densely populated area where the FedEx and UPS trucks are a daily sight on my block. Solo trip in my car on local and highway driving vs. the couriers/postal service already delivering to my neighbors?

I know it probably doesn't add up, and convenience is playing a huge factor here. Especially when we're due for a Frankenstorm, and emergency crank radios aren't really kept in stock in a location where we really don't have many natural disasters :/ (Ordered it 1-day shipping, hopefully the storm won't get too bad until Monday night...)
geekinthegreen: Screenshot from "TimeScapes" (desert)
Whenever people say that you can't be environmentally conscious if you don't have loads of spare time, it isn't totally true but it sure as hell does make things easier. I've been running ragged the past few weeks adjusting to my fall semester work schedule and haven't had the time to accomplish all that I'd like, and October Unprocessed sneaked up on me. Luckily the processed food habit was one that I broke early on so I haven't had too many missteps. If single-serving yogurts and purchased granola count, I'm totally falling off but those are seriously ingrained into my work diet :P And instant coffee.

I think that I need to go back to daily journaling of my trash and diet. My plastic trash also seems like it's gone up lately but it's hard to tell what's mine and what's from other people in the house.

So hey.

Sep. 15th, 2012 06:37 pm
geekinthegreen: (Default)
You know what happens when you prepare, then attend, your yearly epic Con experience, and then immediately go back to working 50 hours a week instead of your 19 hours from the summer?

You ignore your blogs & reading lists for a few weeks.

Suffice to say that con pretty much ruined any hope of being "green" for that first week -- it's nearly impossible to do that when you're eating out of a mall food court for multiple meals a day (that said, I always consciously chose the smallest polystyrene containers at the buffet places). There are other things I could've done differently had I prepared a bit better, but I already have had a post drafted for a month or two about that (not that I followed much of my own advice, there!)

Anyway, I've finally managed to catch up on most of the important things (lol laundry), so it's back to the grind...
geekinthegreen: (Default)
Went to the beach today (which I don't do a lot, despite living right here...), and saw some kid's legos spread out over about a 3-4 sq foot area (and the kid wasn't anywhere near it.) What a mess. Seriously, what parent lets their kids bring legos to the beach? Half of them were buried in sand and since there was no kid playing with them, as far as anyone knows they could've been there for days.

I also swam out and picked up a half-full Gatorade bottle which was floating by. My sister and her friends applauded sarcastically (I left it by the lifeguard stand -- there aren't any trash cans physically on the beach since you're technically forbidden from bringing food onto the beach, and I was wet and cold and not going to walk all the way back to the street to toss it). Another older gentlemen nearby also found what looked like a piece of siding, and swam that in to the beach. Saw several bits of microplastics floating by as well, though it's definitely not as bad on our beach as it is at the public one the next town over (which can be gross.)

Now I'm just hoping I didn't get sunburned. Ha.
geekinthegreen: Screenshot from "TimeScapes" (desert)
So I finally got around to using up a package of empanada wrappers that were sitting in my freezer for a disturbingly long time. They were edible! Though I think I could've chosen a better filling. I'd originally bought them because I had seen it suggested somewhere to use them to make samosas, but hadn't gotten around to it until the freezer cleanout. I mashed potato and onion with peas with curry or garam masala (4 of each -- the latter of which I never use, so really need to use up the spice jar) and baked them. Not great but not terrible; I definitely mashed the potato way too much. And it's a bit off-putting to bite into something that looks like a Cornish pasty and not taste beef and turnip. Which is what I'm going to fill them with if I ever make them again, though I'm not sure that I will because the empanada wrappers came with a lot of plastic (a sheet of it between each wrapper), and I'm not much of a dough maker.

Now I need to find a new Indian place that will deliver to my house :/ There used to be a place in town that delivered, but they moved a few years back.

Whoops.

Aug. 4th, 2012 06:42 pm
geekinthegreen: (Default)
So the thing about setting up a wordpress account so I could save drafts and ultimately schedule posts is that now I have a dozen and a half drafts sitting in the queue, and they're all waiting for me to download/edit pictures from my camera. Whoops.

This weekend has been occupied by sewing for D*C and redesigning the website for my town's environmental commission (which is supposedly done in Drupal, but looks like late 90s HTML?) Whatever, I'm re-doing it in Wordpress. Right now it's not being updated at all, so that's the priority, and my Drupal skills aren't exactly stellar. Shifting the minimal content over to Wordpress is easier, I can work on my Drupal skills later.

I also finished Overdressed: The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion this week, which I haven't posted a review for yet but I'd highly recommend (though it didn't go in depth as much as I'd prefer). I hit up the thrift store the next morning for shirts to practice tailoring on before I mess up any of my own, slightly-ill-fitting-but-wearable-to-work clothing.

In other news, I need to vent about my coworker who leaves his lights on all the damn time. I have switched off his office overhead lights more than half of the days that I've worked at this place, because I leave after him. What a lazy ass, seriously. It's a fucking light switch.
geekinthegreen: (Default)

Of theĀ  crossposting plugin for WordPress, as my webhosting account has some extra space, and scheduled posts for Dreamwidth are a long ways off.

Originally published at Geek in the Green. You can comment here or there.

geekinthegreen: (Default)
I finally donated to a Kickstarter for the first time. I'd seen stuff I was interested in before, but the idea of setting up an account was daunting (seriously, I never want to do that anymore these days, too much of a pain in the ass), but I didn't realize they'd take Amazon payments and there wasn't really any account setup. I guess I'm lame?

Anyway, the project I backed was The Midway Film Project. Because sad baby albatrosses are sad:



ETA: Which is now totally backed! Yay!

Anyway, I've been busy. And by busy, I mean salivating over ComicCon footage on my computer. While working on my Dragon*Con costume. Seriously, if they can hold professional virtual conferences with webinars and streaming video and charge upwards of $300, SDCC could totally charge for a virtual pass and uStream All The Things.

That said I was totally watching the Nerd Machine uStream yesterday when this happened:



At which point I died laughing.
geekinthegreen: (Default)
I'm not at home this weekend, where there is a treadmill in the air-conditioned basement, so I went walking/jogging (shock and awe) outside yesterday. Which, considering it's really the first time I've done so, was not the smartest thing to do on the second-hottest day of the year in the midst of a heat wave (it was probably between 90-95*F out, at 6 in the afternoon), but I digress. Despite being fairly certain I was about to collapse, I picked up a 24oz takeaway cup, lid, and straw that was laying on the ground and walked back half a block to toss it in a bin. So, uh, reminder: do that in the future.

In a related story, it is still ridiculously hot. I think it went up to 102* today? Don't know what the humidity was, but we're near water, so I'm pretty sure it was insane.
geekinthegreen: Screenshot from "TimeScapes" (desert)
Found some beautiful (and sad, of course) photos of the Western U.S. wildfires on Twitter yesterday via the 350.org Twitter account. Though I don't live in an area with very many natural disasters (we might get a hurricane or a blizzard every few years, but that's about it), it's a reminder -- what would you grab if you had to evacuate quickly? I for one, am highly aware that I have way too much crap in order to make a quick decision. Heck, the only thing I protected when Hurricane Irene came through last year was my backup hard drive (we didn't need to evacuate, but there was a very real danger of trees falling onto the house and making a huge mess.)

It's also a reminder that minimalism and being green do go together. If you have less stuff, you're more aware of what you have and can make more use of what you have, instead of getting more stuff.

Although maybe I'll think about making a bug-out bag, just in case of zombies.

It's late

Jun. 29th, 2012 11:05 pm
geekinthegreen: (Default)
I've been short on time this week, but Wasteless Wednesday happened with two infractions:

- 1 Toms of Maine toothpaste tube (which I'd held onto all week, thinking that you could send them back to the company -- but apparently that only applies to their #5 deodorant tubes.)
- 1 tea bag wrapper (TWININGS! *fistshake*)

One could also consider a vinyl shower curtain wasted, but technically it hasn't been thrown out. We've actually always just thrown then in the washing machine in my house, and re-used them until the loops get torn. But this time I actually replaced it with a polyester one (of unknown origin!) that was lurking in the linen closet (there's a lot of hodge-podge housewares in my house.) If it doesn't get reused in the shower, it'll be put with the drop clothes and other maintenance stuff in the garage. Since it's been reused quite a bit, it doesn't seem to be off-gassing much anymore, which is somewhat comforting but not really.

I'm also getting closer to sorting out my lemon ginger tea addiction problem. Unfortunately my local tea store seems to only carry black teas and very few herbal teas, but it looks like a few places online have it. I guess I'll start ordering for a taste test?

Pinterest

Jun. 20th, 2012 12:14 pm
geekinthegreen: (Default)
I held off signing up for a long time because a Facebook or Twitter account was required to do so (though I have both, it's the principle of the thing), but I've finally given in. Half because it was kind of annoying that it's hard to even browse the site without having a login, and the other half because I realized there's more than just crafts and recipes on there.



In other news, it's Wasteless Wednesday! There will be no granola bars or yogurt cups in today's lunch, though I have used a paper coffee filter, I'm not counting anything that can be composted. I might end up throwing away a tea bag wrapper though, since I don't have any decaf loose tea and I'm on evening shift today. Also it was bad timing to finish off the almond milk container, which goes into paper recycling, the bottlecap into #5 recycling, the plastic spout into the trash.
geekinthegreen: (death by gasoline)
Today's* Trash Tally brought to you by the 2nd office party within a week. Keeping your local Costco bakery department in business!

* I plan on only posting weekly tallies after this week, it's just that I don't have very many ideas for posts yet.

The Reckoning )

Admittedly, it was a bad day. I rarely go for the instant oatmeal anymore (though my supermarket's generic organic brand is really good), and I should've used reusables at the party for the sheet cake. But although I think my coworkers are cool with the idea that I might be a bit weird, I didn't want the new boss thinking so. Didn't use anything that could be recycled, and I was glad to get rid of the camera, as it had no trade-in or resale value.

Also, I really need to do something about my coffee yogurt addiction.
geekinthegreen: Screenshot from "TimeScapes" (desert)
Yesterday I went with a few friends to a state park we frequent. Having spent part of my professional career (as a shovel monkey) tromping through woods that aren't really hiking-friendly with a ton of heavy gear (and occasionally breaking for lunch too close to nests of ground bees), marked trails and picnic tables amuse me.



Unfortunately I hadn't been up there in a while, and not since reading too many books on the subject and becoming hyper-aware of the garbage and plastic problem. Which you get a lot of in a busy hiking area on a nice day in June.

Note to self: Bring garbage bags next time to pick stuff up with. Or at least take pictures of the Coors can that was at the bottom of this particular waterfall.
geekinthegreen: (Default)
One of my 2012 New Years Resolutions was to make an effort to be Zero Waste, and eliminate disposable products from my life.

As most resolutions go, that lasted about a week. Maybe two. But what I did do was start writing down everything that was disposable that I threw away or recycled (while I know most green bloggers go ahead and just save it all to take pics of later, I didn't think the people I lived with would be appreciative of that). Thanks to the word cloud in the program I used, it became evident super quickly that my main problems were yogurt cups and granola bar wrappers from my work snacks and lunches. Also plastic tea bag wrappers. But I digress.

Anyway, that's why I'm here. Let's talk about this shit, shall we?

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