05 March 2009

Spring Break

Greetings everyone. It's time for a break. Posting will resume the week of March 16. Thanks for reading!

By the way, what are your plans for spring break? Comment below.

01 March 2009

Six Ways To Be "Green" At The Grocers

While the saying it's not easy being "green" still holds true in some areas. In many locales throughout the United States, being green is easier than ever before.

Whether you live in one of America's greenest cities such as Eugene Oregon, or in a place where the infrastructure isn't so environmentally friendly, there is still a place where you can have a positive impact on the environment- at the grocery store. Let's examine a few ways that you can make your food choices better for the environment.

Bring Your Own Grocery Bags

One of the worst things for the environment is plastic. Most plastics take hundreds, if not thousands of years to decompose. An easy way to limit the amount of plastic bags that you use, and ultimately throw away, is to purchase reusable grocery bags.

Purchase Less Packaging

Buy products with as little packaging as possible. Instead of multi-packs, purchase large jugs of juice and use your own containers. Look for a block of cheese instead of individually wrapped slices.

Buy Organic

Organic foods are grown without the use of chemicals or other pesticidal agents that harm the environment. If you are purchasing organic meats, in theory, these have been raised apart from the ecologically destructive factory farming system.

Buy Local

Supporting your local farmers market can save a significant amount of carbon emissions. Instead of foods being shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles, most farmers market offer fruits, vegetables, and other goods produced by members of your own community.

Veg Out

Eating a vegetarian meal is a great way to help the environment. Commercial animal agriculture is the largest producer of greenhouse gases.

In addition to being responsible for some eighteen to twenty percent of total greenhouse emissions, animal farms are the number one producer of methane gas. Methane has twenty one times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. Additionally, meat production uses up to twenty times more energy and ten times more water than producing a similar quantity of grain.

Plan Ahead

Don't fall into the trap of making random trips to the grocery store. Make a list and plan your meals accordingly. By planning ahead for grocery shopping and making less frequent trips you will save on both fuel and the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Planning also helps to eliminate waste. By sticking to your planned grocery list you are less likely to make sporadic purchases that will possibly go uneaten and have to be discarded.

Get Fit

A great benefit of "green" grocery shopping is that most ecologically friendly food items are quite healthy. You will often find yourself eating foods that are both nutritious and tasty, while also being low in harmful additives, artificial flavors, and fat. Combine your newfound healthy eating habits with thirty minutes of daily exercise and chances are, you'll be around long enough to see the positive effects that both you and others like you are having on the environment.

Copyright 2009 thinkword.blogspot.com All rights reserved

23 February 2009

Do You Really Want A Digital World?

So I just bought a new camera. A really nice SLR. That's right, the "d" is conspicuously missing because it's a film camera. And, not just any film camera. It's a Canon AE-1P circa 1984. The official camera of the olympics for that year.

I know what you're thinking. What does that have to do with anything? More importantly, why should I keep reading? Simple, because the logic for my decision to purchase an "outdated" film camera carries over into every aspect of our lives.

Think about it. Why has digital replaced film? Because it takes better pictures? Absolutely not. A $200 used 35mm film body and lens kit will shoot the digital equivalent of around 110 Megapixels. And it will do so with much greater image quality, specifically dynamic range, than any digital camera. Period.

Digital is all about convenience. The ability to recklessly shoot 500 mediocre photos in two hours knowing that somewhere in the mess are ten decent ones worth keeping, after they have been through Photoshop. Also, digital gives the ability to email pictures for production within five minutes of having snapped the shutter. In theory, with digital the photographer can capture, process, and send to press, all while still in the field. But, this convenience comes with a hefty sacrifice. Less realism. In a sense, digital photographs are less true.

Unlike a computer, our world is not simply zeroes and ones. As humans our existence cannot be fully expressed, captured or quantified by the numbers 0 thru 255. Human life is a wave. A continuos ever changing series of ups and downs, highs and lows, blinding light and gloomy darkness. That is our world, in all it's analog beauty. How can an algorithm understand that? How can a microchip that cannot feel even the simplest of human emotions be trusted to convey something with a power and conviction that will evoke it in others?

As humans, we are freely giving up the very things that have made us into something more than just machines, all for the sake of convenience. Microwaved "instant" meals, "fast" food, "near" CD quality sound, fruit "flavored" drinks, tastes "like" homemade and so on. Instead of embracing the nuances, subtleties, and textures of our world, all things which make us feel alive- but take time. We are increasingly choosing to cast them aside in the name of convenience.

Just like the lossy compression that is required to convert a living image into a tiny JPEG file, throwing away bits and pieces of realism in the name of convenience- we too must be careful that we do not cast away the beauty of our world in our rush to save a few fleeting moments of time. So, slow down. Prepare a meal with real ingredients. Sit down, get comfortable, and take in a great full quality compact disk recording, or better yet- an analog record. Take the time to do it right. Shoot with film. Think about each shot. Feel the moment. Capture the realism. And I promise, waiting for film processing won't kill you. Don't compress life. Expand it. Live on.

Copyright 2009 thinkword.blogspot.com All rights reserved.

18 February 2009

E.Coli And The Beef Industry

I was reading the label on a package of ground animal carcass (aka hamburger) that someone was purchasing at the store yesterday and something stood out to me that I had always seen; but, never given more than a cursory amount of attention. The label which reads cook to a minimum of 165 degrees.

It seems that 165 degrees is the magical temperature at which all of the bad bacteria kick the bucket, and meat which before then was to be treated as a hazardous substance- ding! suddenly transforms itself into a yummy dinner.

Most of this sustained high heat cooking is targeted at public enemy number one. That pesky little bug known as Escherichia Coliform bacteria, or E.Coli for short. So where does this little monster come from? E.Coli likes to hang out inside the intestinal tract of living things, like you and I, for example. Where it gets dicey is that none of this bacteria is found in muscle tissue. So somehow, the coliform bacteria has to make its way from the intestinal tract and into the muscle or meat.

This all to easily happens when to satisfy the ever increasing demand, a top commercial slaughterhouse will process over fifteen thousand head of cattle a day. That's a lot of work, and it has to be done quickly! Usually, too quickly. And due to the sloppy evisceration techniques, the intestines of the animal being processed will often get sliced, exploding their contents, namely feces and billions of E.Coli bacteria all over your future meal.

But, not to worry though. The plant inspectors will catch this little poo poo right? Wrong! That package of hamburger you're eyeing in the fridge is not just the product of one unlucky steer. Oh no, in fact, it contains ground muscle tissue from up to 100 different head of cattle. The meat is first ground, then collected into large containers, some holding up to nearly a ton of beef. The testing occurs when a small amount of meat, sometimes just skimmed off the top, is examined for traces of bacteria. If there are no bacteria in that one small sample, then away the entire container goes, green-lighted for the dinner table.

According to some estimates less than one percent of all hamburger consumed annually is physically tested for E.Coli contamination. That leaves room for a lot of bacteria, along with the tiny amounts of feces that transmit it, to sneak through the system. More than that, even though heat kills the bacteria, no amount of heating will rid your juicy burger of the tiny bits of feces tucked away inside. Although, judging from the sales numbers, it's a proposition that many are willing to accept.

I say to them, eat up. Just know that the next time you bite into that hamburger, you could very well end up with a mouthful of sh... Bon Apetit!

Copyright 2009 thinkword.blogspot.com All rights reserved.

16 February 2009

Smack My B-tch Up?

Okay, no need to rehash the story; or, more of the lyrics to the song by Prodigy. But, here's my advice to the two love birds (and love birds everywhere):

Ladies, first off, don't date a guy who grew up in a violent household. Because chances are, at some point that stuff is going to come back and bite you in the...hit you in the face. And, if you do date this guy, for your own safety NEVER EVER throw the keys to his $250,000 car out the window. Doing something STUPID like that tends to provoke something called UNCONTROLLABLE RAGE. Kind of like setting your hair on fire and then taking every pair of shoes that you own and dipping them in motor oil. Get the picture? Learn from Rihanna. Don't do it. Bad things will happen.

Finally girls. Never take it for granted that a man "can't touch you." Because if you provoke him or do things to escalate the situation based on that ridiculous assumption, well, you are absolutely wrong. You will be in the hospital possibly disfigured for life, and meanwhile he will be at the mall out on $50,000 bail. And, even if he does get locked up for a short while, was it worth it just to prove a point? 

Okay guys. This is simple. Never hit a woman. EVER. Especially if that woman is Rihanna. A jury of your peers isn't a jury of your peers when half of their children idolize the plaintiff. And, probably half of the jury itself (definitely all of the men, and at least one or two of the women, want to sleep with her.)

Boys, if you grew up in a violent household and are afraid that it's worn off on you, and it probably has. Do yourself a favor. Get castrated. That way, in addition to having no interest in women, you'll be less prone to violent behavior in general. It's true, nine out of ten veterinarians agree. 

To both sexes. If you are absolutely gaga for one another and feel that you must get together, and one of you has a violent past. If you are under oh, let's say age 35- don't do it. Someone is going to get hurt. Young people don't think. They react. And, reacting without thinking means drawing upon the subconscious- which is exactly where all of these violent tendencies live. 

Alright, that's the word on the street for today. Until next time.

Copyright 2009 thinkword.blogspot.com All rights reserved.

13 February 2009

Nice Rack

Surely you've seen them. Either individually on the freeway, or en masse at expensive organic food stores, fair trade coffee shops, and other such places which cater to the naturalist/outdoor lifestyle image.

They can usually be spotted motoring around in a Subaru, Audi, Volkswagen, or perhaps the gas guzzling SUV of their liking. Yet, while their individual markings, colors, and chariots of choice may vary- they will all invariably have on display the same rooftop plumage. A Thule or Yakima bike rack. That's right. The infamous bike rack people.

Now I must digress. I have nothing against cycling, either as a sport or for utilitarian purposes. I myself am an avid commuting cyclist. I ride to work, to the grocery store, to rent DVDs...everywhere. My fendered Gary Fisher Wingra has been ridden in nearly every climatic condition known to man. When the high dollar Lemonds are tucked safely in their garages. . .or locked tightly into their Yakima roof racks, the Wingra and I are out rolling in full force.

That being said, it does bring me untold amounts of pain to see the incredible number of high dollar mountain and road bikes permanently shackled to the roofs of cars like so many misplaced hood ornaments. After all, you surely wouldn't want everyone to think that your brand new sport 'ute is just for hauling the kids to school or making trips to the local Costco. No, never! Americans buy sport utility vehicles for the sport, not the utility. . .right?

We need something to haul our canoes, kayaks, and all terrain vehicles deep into the great wilderness and beyond. The fact that most SUVs are relegated to hauling 42 inch plasma televisions home from BestBuy is surely just an awful coincidence. Besides, we've got the bikes on roof racks to prove it! In fact, once we drop the plasma off in the suburbs, we're heading straight for our favorite mountain biking trail, right? Riiiiiight.

In so many ways, the situation speaks to the very heart of our culture, exposing the shallow moral fiber of the consumerist environment in which we live. As the saying goes: "Image Is Everything." People who cannot even summit a single flight of stairs without pausing to catch their breath, or who will circle a parking lot for hours- too lazy to simply park and hike a few extra feet- will think nothing of spending $1000 or more on a new mountain bike to proudly display perched atop their new Subaru secured to the latest and greatest Thule fork mount. I wonder if you can purchase little cartons of faux red clay to smear onto the frame and wheels to complete the adventurous look? REI are you listening?

To this day I still stare in amazement whenever I see a 300 pound man toting around a 17 pound road racing bicycle; usually, atop his brand new Audi wagon. If only someone at the bicycle shop would've had the guts to explain to him that they joy, and coincidentally, the weight loss, is in the ACTUAL RIDING- not in the spending of thousands of dollars on a high tech piece of machinery which you are unable to even pedal up your own driveway without suffering a cardiovascular meltdown. I can promise you, that's exactly what the sales people were thinking. But, I'm sure it was easier for them to remain silent, and simply point him in the direction of the newest Thule fork mounts.

Copyright 2009 thinkword.blogspot.com All rights reserved.

12 February 2009

Joaquin Phoenix On Letterman (Wow!)

Here is the full interview conducted by David Letterman with Joaquin Phoenix. You Tube has been forced to take the video down by CBS. But, if it's on the street- "word" has it. Check this fool out! Drugs? Lack of sleep? What the heck is wrong with this guy?!

Copyright (text only) 2009 thinkword.blogspot.com All rights reserved.

What Do You Eat?

Of all the things I've heard asked of vegetarians, this one is by far the most ridiculous. Standing there with a puzzled look of disbelief the beguiled omnivore often asks: "Oh, well if you don't eat meat, then, what do you eat?"

Odd indeed. As even for meat eaters, meat is rarely the only thing on the menu, let alone the dinner plate.

More than that, how could anyone with a reasonably varied diet answer such a question? For the vegetarian, the most correct response would be, "I eat everything BUT meat!" However, perhaps due in part to the shock of answering such a ridiculous question, the witty portion of their brain inevitably shuts down, and they find themselves struggling to recount a few favorite random meals. Usually, what was eaten the night before or perhaps what they might plan on eating in the near future.

Needless to say after recounting a handful of things, anyone would be drawing a mental blank and growing weary of the exchange. Now in the mind of the meat eater, this only serves to validate the unsaid statement hidden in their question. That statement being: since you are not ingesting the genetically manipulated and chemically enhanced carcasses of abused factory farmed animals, you must certainly only be managing to eke out the most miserable and meager culinary existence.

Why just think of all of the food you are missing out on! No doubt the omnivorous bully conjures up the mental image of the lonely waif vegetarian begrudgingly digging in to an oh so unsavory dinner of iceberg lettuce, steamed white rice, plain tofu, and perhaps a few carrot sticks tossed in for dessert. Yum Yum.

What is truly amazing though, is that while ignorantly scrutinizing the supposedly severe and unbearable limitations of being a vegetarian, (file that one under urban legend, myth, and flat out lie) they ignore the staunch repetition of a meat based diet. A diet that generally revolves only around chicken (or insert other fowl which tastes like chicken), beef, and pork, maybe with some occasional seafood tossed in when the checking account balance isn't in danger of calling upon overdraft protection.

Really, it all comes down to this: no matter how you skewer, braise, fry, grill, or broil it. . .you are eating the same meats again and again, repeat ad infinitum. Now compare the four basic meat items to the nearly limitless fruits and vegetables available both here in the U.S. and abroad just waiting to indulge our culinary fantasies. And, ask yourself the question: "So, what do you eat?" Let us know the comments.

Copyright 2009 thinkword.blogspot.com All rights reserved.

Apple Cares

A friend of mine recently posted complaints to her blog regarding what she described as "missing features" of the iPhone 3G. A short while later she received the following somewhat troubling response from Apple customer service via email. The contents of which are posted below. 

Hi, my name is John and I work for Apple. I discovered your blog posts and thought I might respond to a few of your concerns. 

Apple does not supply an Instant Messaging client as a native iPhone App. However, there are several available from the iTunes App store. I might suggest the AOL IM App. This App will indeed keep you logged in for a period of time once your iPhone 3G enters sleep mode. I believe it is at least one hour so that you will receive any messages sent during that period. The App also supports groups. And, it is free.

Regarding the lack of App switching. Apps are generally prohibited from running simultaneously for several reasons. The first of which is battery life. The second reason is RAM. In comparison to your previous phone, iPhone Apps and programs are significantly more processor and RAM intensive. So to prevent users from accidentally crashing their phones by having several large applications open at once- Apple has chosen to limit this functionality. 

To address another of your concerns regarding navigating on the iPhone 3G. There is a shortcut you may not be aware of that will make it much easier to navigate between multiple pages of Apps. You don't have to finger swipe "scroll" between screens on your iPhone 3G. Simply tap the screen bottom left or bottom right depending on which way you want to go. This may alleviate a bit of your perceived "frustration" in that area. 

Here at Apple we always strive to address the concerns of our customers and we consider feedback such as yours a valuable part of our process as we seek to update and enhance product functionality. Actually, if you believe that the rumors are true, many of your concerns may be addressed in our next generation iPhone and possibly via firmware update to iPhone 3G. But, shhh...you didn't hear that from us. 

However, don't kid yourself. We are Apple, and you are a young white liberal female. We own you. Our products are irresistibly captivating and cool. 

Furthermore, you need us so that you can feel cutting edge and look trendy in front of your tattooed and granola crunching new age hipster eco-geek friends. So again, while we value your feedback, we would strongly urge you to stop with your whining, shut up, and open your mouth so we can put it back in. There. That's better. 


Apple Customer Care

(In case you hadn't figured it out, this email is fictitious. However, it is based on true events. Namely, a prank that I pulled on a friend. With friends like me, who needs enemies. . .)

Copyright 2009 thinkword.blogspot.com All rights reserved.