Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

On Poppies

November 10, 2007

I spotted a poppy pin lying on the ground today.  Serendipitous!  Poppies are a Canadian tradition — nobody wears them here — and the pin was probably accidentally dropped by a Canadian shopper taking advantage of the exchange rate.  I’m excited to be able to celebrate Remembrance Day properly.

In the US it’s Veteran’s Day; in Canada it’s Remembrance Day.  They’re both on the same day and nominally celebrate the same thing (the end of WWI), but they have slightly different flavors.  I can’t comment too much about the US since, not having grown up here, I don’t really know what happens at school assemblies and various memorials.  I do get a sense that there’s a mix of honoring veterans and general patriotism.
At home in Canada it’s about honoring veterans, but also tinged with regret and shame.  Not shame for the people or the country, but shame for all of us, all of humanity, that such a horrible thing as war should ever exist.  It’s called Remembrance Day because we should never forget the horror of war, and we should never forget that war is, fundamentally, a failure of that which makes us human.



November 10, 2007

I’m a decent procrastinator.  In fact, I’m procrastinating right now by writing this blog entry.

I’m trying to develop a different mindset about some of the things I procrastinate about.   For most of those things, there’s a lot of pleasure to be had after (but not necessarily during) the activity.  For example: I went for a run today, and it was kind of cold and drizzly while I was running, and I’m out of shape so it was slow and generally sucky.  But, now I’ve got that pleasant, warm, glow inside my body that I get after a run.  It lasts all day.  It feels good after, but not before or during.

The same thing goes for organizing your physical space.  It sucks to do the filing or clean the house, but when those things are done the sense of satisfaction afterwards far outweighs the grief of the actual task.

Unloading the dishwasher is another one.  Is there anything more awesome than putting dishes into a completely empty dishwasher?

The alternate (procrastinating) choices I make generally don’t have anywhere near the level of satisfaction when they’re complete.  Who feels pumped after watching an hour of television?  (Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, a truly inspirational program, notwithstanding).  It just doesn’t compare to an hour spent working in the garden, or fixing that squeaky cupboard door that’s been nagging at me for months.
I’m trying to keep that feeling of satisfaction in mind when considering what to do with myself.  I’m hoping to use it as a motivator to get more exercise and be more organized.  It’s tricky, though, especially after spending all day at work, then coming home to cook dinner and spend some quality time with Ruby.  After she’s in bed, the most appealing thing I can think of is to stretch out on the couch, remote control in hand.

10 out of 10

November 10, 2007

An article in today’s paper discussed your carbon footprint. They talk about some cars, and how each one gets an EPA “greenhouse gas score” out of 10 (higher is better). A GMC Yukon gets a 3 out of 10; a Prius gets 10 out of 10.

A perfect score? For a car which only reduces greenhouse gas emissions by a 1/3 compared to a behemoth SUV?

A bicycle should be 10/10. Walking should be 10/10. A fuel-cell car with hydrogen generated from a solar source should be 10/10. But the Prius is far from perfect, and it’s doing us all a disservice to pretend that’s the best we can do.

Landfill vs Clean Water

June 5, 2006

Today our first deployment of cotton diapers arrived.  We’ve signed up with a diaper service that will drop off fresh diapers twice each week and take away the soiled ones, never to be seen again.  Or so I like to think.

I’ve actually been fairly happy with disposal diapers, but being the conscientious earth lovers that we are, we went with what is purportedly the more environmentally-friendly choice.  Frankly, I’m not sure if all the hot water and bleach that is needed to get the cotton diapers white every week is less than the landfill costs of a disposable diaper.

Here is one perspective.  Her point about the relative amount of water used (about 6% of household usage, by her estimates) is a good one.  Dirty disposables currently make up about 30% of our trash by volume, and more than 50% by weight.  Living in a region that, in general, has a decent water supply and fairly eco-friendly power (hydroelectricity), I think it’s safe to aim towards washing cotton diapers as the better choice for the environment.

The cotton diapers are certainly more esthetically pleasing, and I’m happy to be rid of the cartoon branding on the disposables we use.  The biggest downside, though, is that the cotton diapers soak through really quickly — meaning Ruby needs to be changed more often.  The disposables would absorb a ton of liquid without ever feeling wet.  I’ll be doing more frequent diaper duty, it seems.  Also, because the cotton diapers soak all the way through, one needs to use a waterproof cover to keep the baby’s clothes dry.

We’re not sure if we’re going to use the cotton diapers overnight.  Kate and I are extremely lucky that Ruby has been sleeping through the night consistently since she was about six weeks old.  I’d hate to mess that up with a diaper that irritates her when it gets wet.  We’ll probably try one for a few nights and see what happens.

Finally, on to costs. The diaper service costs about $75 month, and that includes everything we need except wipes, which would cost another $5.  Disposables are actually much cheaper — around $50/month, I’d estimate.  But if you add in the extra $12/month we pay for a bigger garbage can (to handle the disposables), the costs come out close enough to make me satisfied with our choice.  For now.