Saturday, June 27, 2009

today's sweat factor rating

In a break from rainy season, the summer sun shone in earnest today, bringing the hottest temp yet I think. It was 31 C plus several degrees of humidity but I gave it a rating of 6 (on ten) on the sweat index since I know worse is still to come in the next couple of months.

What I am very happy to report is that Aran has not badgered me to put the air con on yet. Except in the bedroom at night, which I can live with. I think we are finally pretty well acclimatized (and he's finally caught my power-down bug).

But we'll see how we do on vacation down in southern Japan and on a teensy island off near Okinawa. (Note to self: you're as white as a sheet, stock up on sunblock.) We just finished booking today and are leaving next Friday. First we're off to Nagasaki, then Kagoshima and environs, before heading to Yoron Island.

I'm excited and disappointed at the same time. We picked Yoron after we couldn't find a hotel in Yakushima, where I was really dying to go. The only option would've been camping but of course A wasn't keen to do that since I think he's only been camping once in his life and has no faith in my advanced skills. I also suspect he was too chicken to try the intense hiking with overnighting in mountain cabins that it would've taken to get to the Jomon Sugi (7000 year old cedar tree) which I would not have visited the island without seeing.

Alas, he says we'll go another time. I hope he's right. Next time we must work out the dog arrangements earlier. Of course then it won't be as much of a problem since she'll be broken into the doggie hotel scene this time around.

On a totally unrelated note, I thought I'd remark on a jaunty Tokyo women's fashion trend: summery straw fedoras.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

meating Mongolia

I frankly don't know who I'm apologizing to, and really shouldn't fret since lurkers are by nature hard to please, but forgive me for yet another quasi-political post. Working at OW2 has me evermore immersed in issues I already had a bent for, so there isn't much else on my mind these days, really.

Therefore I'm going to go ahead and share an extract from a top-notch Canadian site I've gotten hooked on that is teaching me more and more about my country's food industry & policy. Makes me truly glad I'm on the path to becoming a complete localavore vegetarian. But hey, make up your own mind.

Today, The New Resilient takes an Agriculture Canada press release about "new market access" in Mongolia for Canadian "meat products" and deciphers it into wry plainspeak (in italics below).

“Market by market, commodity by commodity, this Government is making sure Canadian farmers have every opportunity to reach customers around the world,” said Minister Ritz. “Today’s announcement is an important development in relations between our two countries, and opens doors to many new exports and opportunities in agricultural cooperation.”

Canadian farmers are hurting. Rather than examining the systemic issues facing producers such as the consolidation of meat packing into the hands of several large American corporations (sorry, there’s also a Canadian conglomerate on the scene now), or the dismally low prices they offer our producers for their products, we figure adding yet another market will help “farmers.” By that we mean the middlemen (Cargill, for example) that profit the most off of finished products and exports. We’re not really sure what Mongolian farmers, or Mongolians in general will get out of this. Nor do we know what Mongolia will send us in return. Oh yeah, they’ll export their money and we’ll export our meat!

I liked reading this (short, so don't be shy to read the whole thing) release because it reminded me how out of touch we are with where our food comes from and the actors and politics (and big money conglomerates) involved.

That's it for today except a note to suggest you check out today's article and videobrief at Our World 2.0 about how some of the world's first environmental refugees are engineering their own exile from a drowning traditional homeland.

How-to guide for environmental refugees

Carteret Islanders' own in-depth relocation plan
by Ursula Rakova

Thursday, June 11, 2009

copy, paste, send me

RE: Expressing my grave concern regarding our emissions reduction target

June 11, 2009

The Honourable Jim Prentice
Minister of the Environment

Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
10 Wellington Street, 28th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0H3

Dear Minister Prentice:

I have great interest in climate change and am following the talks leading up to Copenhagen. For some time I been disheartened by Canada's overall inaction on climate change issues but the recent Bonn meeting has me dismayed to the point where I intend to reach out to as many people as I can and have them too voice their discontent. For I truly believe that Canadians want their government to take climate change seriously and for their country to take ambitious action as soon as possible. December's summit is hyper-important and your administration MUST act accordingly.

Therefore I respectfully inform you that Canada's embarrassingly pathetic current target of -2.7% for 2020 is UNACCEPTABLE! Compared to the EU and the US, even Australia and Japan, we are not doing anything near what is economically feasible for Canada to achieve! We should be leading the world in this, not isolating ourselves in this bizarrely inadequate position.

Further, I must add that a strategy that includes pressuring emerging economies is something that I am personally ashamed to have learned my country would even consider employing. We are a rich and energy-guzzling nation that should take responsibility for our contribution to climate change and be a model rather than a bully.

I truly hope that you and the negotiating team are aware of the scrutiny that has begun and will certainly, and with my help, intensify in the coming weeks. I ask that you please remember that Canadians all know now that the science calls for 25 to 40% global emission cuts below 1990 levels by 2020.

Please do us proud.



Then copy, paste, change address block (+ use google & get your local MP's address) and send again:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

the bad, the good, the silly

Allow me a list post, since I haven't done one in ages.

Things I'm sick of:

- Cleaning kitchen & dishes (don't mind the cooking or the eating!)
- Loud helicopters
- Being on the computer all the damn time
- Aran never putting things back where they're supposed to be
- Mosquitos & frizzy hair (and the summer is only just beginning...)
- Getting zits (41 is "middle-aged", goddamit)
- Migraines (this one belongs at the top but it's just too obvious)

Things that I am still or have of late been enjoying:

- Fresh peanuts in the shell (G is right now begging as I crack them)
- Not hearing about swine flu
- The enthusiasm & humour of awesome workmates
- G-dog's smile (her tongue-lolling, ears-up happy face)
- Gardenia season
- Cycling to work & appointments instead of facing subway crowds
- Aran's ever-chipper attitude and general sunniness (no matter how fowl my mood)
- Continuing to simplify the way we live and looking forward to doing that even further in the future

The silly:

- Awaiting the new season of True Blood
- Overdue for an episode of The Daily Show
- Planning on painting my toenails for the first time this year
- Want to try making cheese this week (labneh, aka yogurt cheese)

Monday, June 08, 2009

a new red pet

I should do a bit of research to see if my little friend can continue to subsist on the dried moss she seems to eat an awful lot of, in her cozy new orchid pot home. What do lady bugs need?

Perhaps I should see if we have any edamame left with which to tempt her, since it was inside a bag of those that I found her a few days ago. They weren't even organic ones either (we were waiting for our farm order), but every one was completely unblemished and still on the firm green stalks: the freshest edamame I ever bought. Her survival in the zip-sealed bag is proof of that.

Anyway, she must like the moss very much since she has not flow out of the pot in search of anything else. Nor freedom.

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