Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Miss Andy

Yet another Sunday has come and gone, and Andy Rooney is MIA from 60 Minutes.  The little research I bothered to do indicated that at 92, he's just starting to slow down a little.

To prevent the symptoms of Andy Rooney fatigue, may I present the classic Andy Goes to the Fruit Market sketch, where we learn many important lessons:

Apples should not be green.  Green is for vegetables.
Mangoes require a 30 minute time commitment
Andy used to climb mountains with Abe Simpson in search of huckleberries, and thinks that produce could be grown in New Jersey that is fit for human consumption.
Tomatoes are vegetables, dagnabit!
Melons are just a waste.  They shame the entire Fruit Nation with their uselessness.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wolves are obviously at fault

I don't think it's any surprise that many bills that are passed in Congress have riders attached to them that have little to do with the subject of the actual bill.  What I find surprising, at a point in which government is under intense scrutiny by a number of parties... especially the budget... and some one says, "Hey - NOW's my chance to get wolves off the endangered species act so I can hunt them this fall."

Generally, these types of riders are included to try to attract support from the opposing party.  I'm sure this is why a Republican budget bill would add a rider from Senator Jon Tester (D-MT).  But why?  Adding one Democrat to the support for the bill does nothing but allow Congress to call it a bi-partisan bill.  What it does not do is appeal to the broad base of Democrats.  Rather, adding this rider would force Democrats who may have been inclined to support the budget agreement to bow to pressure from environmentalists who will make-up a portion of their constituency.  Moreover, efforts to increase hunting opportunities, decrease government oversight, and limit activist judges (a portion of the rider says that this is not subject to judicial review - which will probably nullify the law because I'm pretty sure that makes this unconstitutional.  Nice try, though.) tend to be planks on the conservative / libertarian platform that appeals to the Tea Party.

To me, what this indicates is that the proposed budget has no interest in addressing the problems that created the  current budget deficit.  Wolves and wolf management is not problem.  Even the entire appropriation for the US Fish and Wildlife Service is not a meaningful percentage of the budget shortfall.  Nor is this going to cause the US not to increase the debt ceiling.  I'm not sure exactly what needs to be done to solve the national debt problem (BIG HINT: increase revenue), nor am I sure what caused it (BIG HINT: decreased revenue and increased military spending).  I'm just certain that wolves are not the reason, and even remotely associating these two items may mean that Congress is really not serious about the business of governing, rather than playing tit-for-tat political games.

Simple Steps

CNN details seven simples steps to live a greener life:

Jeez, if it's THAT easy, it's amazing everyone isn't doing it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Ideal Day vs. Reality

I'm kind of intrigued by the concept behind Lifehacker: there is an efficient, optimal way for every human being to conduct each and every task, and the sum of which is a life lead efficiently and optimally, and therefore, the best possible way.  I kind of envision a bunch of GE engineering Six-Sigma buzzword-spouting wonks were sitting around, having beers, discussing their Black Belt status, and said, "Fuck!  We could do this in life!"  (For those who have no idea what I just said, google it, or sit next to three first-year MBA students for five minutes, and you'll get the idea... inefficiency is bad, so we should minimize it.  Crazy concept, right?  Yeah... that's kind of what business education is: take something from the social sciences - econ, poli sci, english - and package these elementary concepts in new terms and acronyms known only to business majors, and call it finance, management, and marketing.)

However, in between looking at how to turn my desk chair into a computer stand and food storage basics for the kitchen, I started to think about what my ideal day would look like.  A day where everything gets done on time, I'm well rested, and I even eat well and exercise.  This is what I came up with:

6:00 - Wake up
6:05 - Yoga
6:25 - Shower
6:35 - Breakfast of homemade granola, organic local yogurt, and pesticide-free berries picked from a wild patch of berries known only to myself and the angels who bathed the berries with light and sunshine.  Also, fair-trade, organic, strong black coffee hand-picked by a woman's cooperative in Ethiopia that benefits a community foundation that provides drinking water and schools to the village, and roasted in Ohio by a social services organization that aids in the transition of former prisoners to full-time employment with a proven track record of lowered recidivism rates.
6:45 - Dress
6:50 - Pack lunch, bag, etc.
7:00 - Hop on bicycle for 3.5 mile ride to work.
7:30 - Arrive at work, on time, cool, collected, somehow unsweaty
12:00 - Lunch of fruits and vegetables and locally made artisenal cheeses, along with a sandwich of peanut butter and jelly, both of which were made by hand in my kitchen.
12:30 - Return to work
4:00 - Finished with work, I head to the gym for an hour of cardio, or 30/30 cardio and strength training
5:30 - Do something educational or mentally stimulating to engage my brain in lifelong learning
7:00 - Attend an event for a community organization that is actively working towards making a more just, verdent, and/or peaceful world.
8:00 - Dinner.  Something vegan, cause I'm now committed to sustainable agriculture now.  Or I just read a Michael Pollan book.
8:30 - Write meaningful correspondence with a beloved friend who I don't nearly see often enough.
8:45 - Continue to further my mental growth by watching some quality PBS show or read a great novel.
10:00 - Bed

What Really Happens:
6:30 - Alarm goes off - followed by snooze
7:10 - Realize I hit the off button instead of the snooze, Try to run to the shower before fully awake, and fall on the ground
7:12 - Finally get to the bathroom
7:20 - Get dressed, hastily dry hair
7:30 - Get ready to leave, realize I forgot something.
7:35 - Finally grab car keys, purse, phone, etc, and run out the door
7:45 - Get to work, have to park in the far lot
7:55 - Get to work 25 minutes late.
12:30 - Realize that I forgot to pack a lunch or eat breakfast.  Try to decide between having can of soup or running to food court for a salad.
12:35 - Get to food court - buy mini pizza
12:40 - Eat at desk
4:15 - Still making up time for being late this morning...
4:30 - Too late to go to gym, I start raiding desk for that granola bar I know was around somewhere....
5:30 - Head to class to learn something, but no one (including instructor) wants to be there.  Minimal learning happens.
7:00 - Ditch community meeting.  Screw the whales and the owls: I'm burning gas today!
7:15 - Starving, It's McDonald's Drive-Thru time!
7:30 - Regret.
7:35 - FarmVille
7:45 - Watch things off the DVR.
9:00 - Stalk a couple college friends on Facebook.
9:30 - Change into sweats
10:00 - Start writing a blog post.  Or, buy some stuff off woot.
10:30 - Ice Cream
11:00 - Daily Show
11:30 - Colbert Show
11:45 - Holy crap!  What am I doing up so late?  Go to bed, vowing to get to bed at 10 the next day to get up on time.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Trying to use Coupons

I'm a little scared to return to the grocery store.  The last time I did a major grocery run for staples, the check-out clerk asked whether I had heard of food hoarding, and then started a discussion of some show he had seen on TV where people could not open doors or use their kitchens because there was so much stuff in there.  I'm pretty sure he just meant "Hoarders", but besides 10 boxes of whole wheat pasta, I'm not sure what was so strange about my grocery purchase that would merit comment.

Okay, I do know - I bought over a hundred dollars worth of food for $30.  That's right, I'm a couponer.

Sadly, since mid-March (when this happened) and now, a little show has begun called "Extreme Couponing".  And, yes, I have had a grocery run where $50 of food cost me 99c, plus I had a $10 mail-in rebate (getting paid to shop!).  However, I don't really agree with what these people are doing in the stockpiling sense, but I also do not agree with a lot of the criticism that coupons are only for foods comprised of empty calories.

It happened that the episode I watched took place at Kroger, during one of their Buy 10 Items, Get $X Off.  It this case, it was $5.  So, while the show was making it sound like this woman was buying 62 bottles of mustard at 39c each, in reality, with the extra discount, Kroger was paying her 11c each to take the jar off the shelf.  Or, was giving her $6.82 to use on other groceries, depending on how you look at it.  I know - I bought a bottle myself with that sale.  My major coup was the 10 boxes of whole wheat pasta... each on sale for 99c, with a 50c coupon that doubled, and an extra $5 off all 10.  A grand total of  negative $5.10 for 3 months of whole wheat, whole grain pasta for all of my Meatless Mondays and homemade chicken noodle soup etc.  Sure, every coupon isn't going to be for something useful, but don't pooh-pooh the whole system because the majority of coupons are for Hamburger Helper and Kraft Singles.  If you hunt around the brands, there's usually ONE or TWO of the 30 varieties which doesn't suck (ex: Mott's makes an all-natural apple juice where the ingredients are seriously: Water, Apples.)  Living in the Midwest, fresh produce doesn't really happen around here until June, so unless I want a tomato that's been trucked half way around the world, a can of tomatoes processed an hour down the road is a pretty acceptable substitute.  If I can get that can for 29c, all the better.

So, at some point, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have an in depth discussion about this show at the check-out counter.  *sigh*  At least I don't need pasta any time soon.