Monday, June 30, 2008

Composting

So, I'm trying my hand at composting. I've never done it before, so any advice is welcome! I'm using a wooden box, probably about 2x3' with plenty of space between the slats for aeration. I threw in a bunch of twigs, weeds, dead leaves and some food scraps, along with a compost maker I bought at the hardware store. Good times.

I'm also trying to grow some plant cuttings I took from my mom this weekend. So far they're holding up okay. They're in dirt right now, so I won't be able to tell if they've taken root until they start growing a bit.

Oh yes, and yesterday was my sister's 25th birthday. Happy Birthday to you!


**UPDATE: Shout-out to Brian, whose birthday was also yesterday. Though, it was definitely not his 25th :-) Happy Birthday, man! (And sorry about the pic, but I couldn't resist!) Holla!

How could you ever regret this?! At least it wasn't Brian Slim Goodbody, eh?

Good for you food

The New York Times published an article today called The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating. They are:

  1. Beets: Think of beets as red spinach, Dr. Bowden said, because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.
    How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power.
  2. Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
    How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.
  3. Swiss chard: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.
    How to eat it: Chop and saute in olive oil.
  4. Cinnamon: Helps control blood sugar and cholesterol.
    How to eat it: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.
  5. Pomegranate juice: Lowers blood pressure and loaded with vitamin C and other antioxidants.
    How to eat: Just drink it.
  6. Dried plums: Okay, so they are really prunes, but packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants.
    How to eat: Wrapped in prosciutto and baked.
  7. Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.
    How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.
  8. Sardines: Dr. Bowden calls them “health food in a can.'’ They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.
    How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread.
  9. Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,'’ it has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
    How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or in any vegetable dish.
  10. Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.
    How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.
  11. Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.
    How to eat: Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Eric loves beets and swiss chard, so we have that occasionally. And my cereal has pumpkin seeds in it. Sardines? I don't think I'll be picking those up anytime soon. Sorry, body.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vote in November!

I've been gone this weekend visiting my parents. Just got this video sent to me by a friend. If you're wondering how to vote in November, look no further!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I think my thumb is green!

I just planted these on Friday. It's so exciting to watch them grow! I'll post more pictures once they've started to flower.


Those are definitely the wildflowers.

You may already know this, but over the weekend the very funny comedian George Carlin died. Many of his routines blasted the absurdity of religion. Here's a good clip.

**Warning for the thin-skinned: He uses a lot of dirty words and makes fun of the idea of god. If you're easily offended, don't bother. It'll just muss up your day. But, if you've got a sense of humor, enjoy!



Anyway, the (in)famous Westboro Baptist Church (whose website url is actually www.godhatesfags.com) is planning to picket Carlin's funeral. They're the group that likes to picket the funerals of American soldiers who have died in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Read the news release here. Or, watch founder Fred Phelps make the announcement here.

I want to get angry about it, but I'm sure Carlin would just be laughing his ass off. So, I will, too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Musings

Yesterday was my sister's 1-year anniversary, so that's pretty exciting for her. They're cute.


I did some more gardening on Saturday morning. It took me about 4 hours. Imagine the dirt area below being covered in grass and ivy (the newest bane of my existence). I made the edge with a trowel, "CLAW"ed it up, and then went through and pulled out all of the roots, grass, moss, etc. I planted flower seeds, because I already had them. Otherwise, I would have just been impatient and bought flowers already growing. Looking at it back there now, though, I see that the white fan-shaped climber is hilariously too small. I need to go back and get a bigger one. I planted some climbing flowers at its base, and some others at the base of the pole. There's even a flat rock that I found in there at the right, so I'm going to get a bird feeder to put there.

I can't wait until everything is growing and pretty!

In other thoughts (I'm musing here, remember?), I've been a vegetarian since early November. I read the book by Peter Singer, The Ethics of What We Eat. I couldn't even think about eating animals again that came from factory farms.

I decided to become a vegetarian not for the health benefits, or even as much for the problems with cruelty towards animals on factory farms, but mostly for the environmental benefits. Believe it or not, you save more carbon emissions by switching from a meat-eating diet to a vegetarian diet than by switching from a regular car to a hybrid. Oh, and also because I'm just not so interested in ingesting the growth hormones and the antibiotics that are injected into all of the animals on factory farms.

But, after doing some more reading and thinking about what I consume (food and goods), I thought about how a lot of that still hurts the environment. If I go to the grocery store and pick up some strawberries, they probably came all the way from California. Avocados are likely from Mexico. Pretty much any fruit or vegetables you eat in the winter come from Chile. I would say most of the things I own were produced outside of the United States. To get any of that here, it has to be shipped. Sometimes they may get to the US by boat, which is the most environmentally-friendly method, but once here, they usually get on trucks and buzz around the country. How is that too much better for the environment?

So, I started thinking more about buying locally. We've started going to the farmer's market every week to pick up our vegetables and bread. Oh, and soap. Some of the vendors even had some DELICIOUS cherries this last Sunday. Now, living where I am, I'm lucky to have about 20 different farmer's markets a week to choose from within a radius of about 15 miles from my house. Not everyone has that luxury, I know. And we can't get everything we need from there, just what's in season in Northern Virginia.

Well, there is a family farmer that comes out each week from Berryville, which is about 60 miles west of here. Smith Meadows. They raise cows, pigs, chickens, and sheep for meat production. They have a butcher that takes care of turning the animals into the right cuts, but any sausage, pasta, etc they sell is made there on the farm in their kitchen. I read about them, looked at pictures on their website, and the animals seem happy. How can animals look happy? See for yourself.

I feel good about buying meat from them. And, oh my god, it's delicious. A very fresh, happy animal kind of taste :-) Oh, we also get their eggs. Plus, they only drive 60 miles to sell the meat and eggs to us.

But I'll only eat meat from them, at this point. So then I began to think about my sometimes-meat-eating-vegetarianism. Clearly, by eating meat once or twice a week, I am not a vegetarian. But I wouldn't consider myself an omnivore, either, since I'm being very picky and conscious about what I eat. I decided to make a new word for myself - ecotarian.

I looked it up online to see if it is actually a word. Well, yes and no. In that it is a word that currently exists only online.

From Wikipedia: Ecotarian is a term that refers to the process of selecting food with consideration for all of the various ecological factors plus energy used to produce the food. The goal is to eat in a sustainable way. Sustainability itself is a tricky concept, as there is no end goal to focus on, but rather it is an aim to reduce our environmental impact, our ecological footprint.

And from an interesting-looking blog called Confessions of an Everyday Ecotarian, a nice introduction.

So yes, my ideas are evolving, but I think that it's important to live in a sustainable way, not just in a way that looks like you're conscious (like eating strawberries from Chile in January... but not meat!).

I don't know, what do you think? Just musing here...

Whoa

I just checked my flowers outside, and some of the seeds have already started sprouting! I just planted them on Saturday! Cool. I don't remember which seeds I put in which pot... I'm not very good at that, lol, but I think it's the wildflowers.

Babies and Toys

A friend of ours just had identical twin girls last week, so Eric and I went to buy them little dolls. Little Ugly Dolls, to be precise. Ha, I think they're so cute! If I were a baby, I'd definitely like to cuddle with one of these.Although, I think my favorites are still Damned Dollies. A girl's best friend :-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Voila!

After going to school this morning to archive my gradebook, having a meeting with a doctoral student about a student of mine, and having a meeting about the future of Lunch Lab, I came home. I checked the yard for foxes and didn't see any, so I thought I'd venture over to the hardware store and have a look around.

I ended up buying a ton of stuff. Luckily for me, I walked to the store, so I had to lug all of it back... oh boy!

Here's my creation.

I had a near-disaster at one point when all of the filled pots came clunking down on each other, but I fixed it and I think we're all set.

These are the flowers I used. I think it'll turn out really nice. They take about 8 days to germinate.

I know, I know, I could have just bought plants, but I'm having so much luck with my little herbs, that I thought I might be successful again.


Tomorrow I have a BBQ to go to, so I'll probably spend Sunday or Monday planting some more flowers in the back. Hooray!

Final thought: Sometimes monsters may look cute, but look out -- they bite!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gulp!

I went outside to start working in the yard and find a good place to put the tipsy pots, when I looked up and saw this in my backyard:


Shall we take a closer look?


That, my friends, is one of the red foxes that lives in our backyard. We've heard them pretty much every night since March, and even saw one in our driveway one night when we came home around 11:30pm. But this one is just relaxing in the sun. Right now. In my backyard!!

So much for getting any yardwork done. There's no way I'm hanging out with the fox!

I thought they were supposed to be nocturnal. Don't they shrivel up in the sun like vampires...?

Needless to say, I will not be getting to my tipsy pots today. Rather, I will browse around the Internet to find 8 gazillion more things to blog about :-) Maybe I'll clean the house a little. Maybe not, though!

I took pictures of all of my classes again this year. I don't want to post my students' pictures on the Internet, but they're so durn cute! Well, as "cute" as five classes of ninth graders can be. If you want to see them, e-mail me. I love showing them off! :-)

It's a very nice day today. About 73 degrees with low humidity. A perfect day for gardening! But, I'm too skeered!

PS. The neighbors have called Animal Control numerous times, but the county won't do anything unless the foxes start hurting pets or people because this is their natural habitat. So, I'm forced to hope they just decide to move on soon. You're not babies anymore... go find somewhere else to live!!

UPDATE: I found lots of foxy poops in the backyard and footprints in the front bushes. Also, this is kind of what the foxes sound like at night, but louder. It's track 11, "Fox calling out"


Million FOR Marriage

http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1612750319/bclid1612710208/bctid1616703578

Dear Friend,

Do you want to live in a country that legalizes discrimination? Despite the recent California Supreme Court decision that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional, efforts are underway throughout the country to take away rights from same-sex couples.

I just joined thousands of others in showing my support for marriage equality for all. But recently, proponents of bigotry and hate collected even more signatures in an attempt to invalidate the California Supreme Court decision. And they won't stop with California - extremists are even trying to add a ban of marriage for same-sex couples to the U.S. Constitution.

We are at a turning point in our nation's history and I'm hoping you'll join me in standing up against discrimination. Please sign the Million for Marriage petition and get us one name closer to showing that Americans overwhelmingly support marriage equality!

http://www.MillionForMarriage.org

Every committed couple deserves to enjoy the privileges and responsibilities conferred by marriage. Add your name to the petition and be a part of the movement to fight for marriage equality for all.

Thank you!
Michelle

Religulous

I just learned about a documentary coming out on October 3rd by Bill Maher called Religulous. It looks fantastic... I can't wait to see it!



The movie has a fun website, too.

Summer's here... time to garden!

Oh my goodness, I have kind of become obsessive about my yard, but with school still in session, I haven't had a lot of time to do anything besides pull weeds. But now, I have all the time in the world! Marla had these "Tipsy Pots" linked on her website, and I think they look very pretty. I might have to pick up some pots and make it today! I just need to find a place in the yard where I want to put them.

Oh boy!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wedding Bells

This evening in California, same-sex marriages became legal. Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84 were among those who were married, for the second time, today (their first wedding in San Francisco was deemed illegal, which led to the state Supreme Court decision allowing the marriages to take place). They met in 1950.



Congratulations to all of the newlyweds!! I hope the rest of the country soon wakes up and follows in the footsteps of Massachusetts and California. Why deny anyone this right?

Big Endorsement

Al Gore is endorsing Obama tonight at 8:30 pm EDT. Not that there's even anyone left in the Democratic race to choose from, but better late than never, I suppose.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Toys

Eric's new toy just arrived this morning. It's a 1987 Porsche 924S and he's smitten.


Now, where's my scooter??

Drive-in

Last night being Friday the 13th and the (almost) end of the school year slash (almost) beginning of summer, we decided to start showing a "drive-in" movie in our backyard on Fridays. We rigged up a sheet and used my projector and speaker from school to put on a bangin show.

First up, of course, was Friday the 13th Part 2. Why Part 2, you ask? First one with Jason. Good times.

I screamed a number of times. I think the loudest was right after this image. Ahh, scary movies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Say what?



Putin? President of Germany? Ahem, no. He's the Prime Minister (and former prez) of RUSSIA.

Good one.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Oldies

Okay, I just had to put this up here because it really made me laugh. The golf gear is not even in the "McCain Store" or anything, it actually has its own tab! Guess he's going for the old white guy vote :-)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Potpourri

So, my last post was title Milestones, not only because it marked the death of Kennedy, but because it was my 100th post. I guess that's a big deal in blogdom.

In other news, it's disgustingly hot here right now. I am not a girl who can handle the heat very well. I'm dying out here!

On the plus side, I ordered a new dress and top online the other day, and they came in the mail this morning. So, that was fun, at least.

Only 8 days of school left. I'm definitely going to miss the kids, but I sure do like my summers!

Oh, and Hillary Clinton just finished her speech suspending her campaign and endorsing Barack Obama. I thought it was a very good speech. I might give her $20 or so to help her pay off her debt. She owes close to $40 million right now ($11 million of which is to herself). Whoa! She's a decent woman. If it wasn't for Obama, I would have voted for her. We need a generational shift, though, and he's the one to provide that for us. So, let's get him elected in November!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Milestones

"We've had difficult times in the past. We will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder."

Robert F. Kennedy, April 3rd 1968


Forty years ago today, presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in California.

I'm not old enough to have been alive at this time and to have experienced the height of the Kennedy family. I don't remember even studying Bobby Kennedy in high school. A few touches
here and there in my college courses, at most.

But I have always viewed Bobby Kennedy as a man of hope and inspiration. Much more so than his older brother, even. When I think of idealism, I think of Bobby Kennedy. When I think of a
man who really cared about and meant what he said and who he was speaking to, I think of him. When I think of someone who fought with everything he had, even to his death, to advance human rights for everyone, I think of Bobby Kennedy. I would love to have been able to meet him.

Please don't forget his legacy. Much of what he fought for has actually been realized, but we cannot be complacent. We cannot forget about him or what he stood for. The danger is not past. There is still so much to fight for.

I continue to dream, and I continue to hope for the future.

Moving up

I got a new phone. Email me if you don't have the number yet. Isn't it pretty? :-)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A bit of rain

My city - Earlier today

So, we had a HUGE storm roll through about 3 hours ago. There were three tornadoes, massive lightning strikes, and near 80-mph winds. A woman died in her car one county over when a tree fell on it.

The plus-side? I skipped my afternoon meeting because the wind was blowing so hard my car was shaking on the way there.

**UPDATE: It's 6:34 and storming again!

**UPDATE 2: 8:10 - a new round of thunderstorms!

Letter to the GOP

Dear John McCain,

Welcome to the general election.



Can't wait for the debates!


**If you're interested in seeing McCain's entire speech...


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What can I even say?

Wow. I have heard Obama speak before. In person. And it was exciting and thrilling and inspiring.

But this speech, tonight, was fantastic. It not only thrilled me, it made my heart swell. It made me proud.



I heart Obama.

But more than that, I trust him. I am inspired by him. I have hope in him. And I need him.

We all need someone like him.

He IS the change that we NEED.

A final thought:

I was talking with two of my students after school yesterday. They were asking me about the candidates, and what I thought. One supported Clinton, the other was for Obama.

I talked about both of the candidates with them, and stressed to them the importance of not believing every rumor they hear about each. I suggested that every time they hear something that seems outrageous, they should investigate it before believing it and spreading it around.

I told them about the email a couple of months back that was throwing around accusations about Obama being a "secret Muslim." I said that many people read that, believed it, and chose not to vote for Obama because of it.

The Clinton-supporting student's response, in disbelief: "You mean somebody would choose NOT to vote for a candidate just because they're a Muslim? Why?"

I have HOPE for our future.

**I will put the video of the speech on here as soon as it becomes available.

**UPDATE: video (with a better one coming as soon as I can)

**UPDATE 2: newer video is above

Primary update #4

Obama projected to win Montana.

He's speaking live on CNN right now.

Primary update #3


Clinton is projected to win South Dakota, but Obama will still get enough delegates from that state to seal the nomination before Montana's polls even close.

MONTANA (holla!) will just push him even further over the top.

If I haven't talked about him enough, meet Obama for yourself or read about the issues.

Primary update #2

CNN calls the Democratic nomination for Obama


UPDATE: Video from CNN


Primary update #1

20 minutes before the polls close in South Dakota...

Good Morning!!

That's all I really wanted to say. 12 days of school left! :-)

Monday, June 02, 2008

I'll make it up to you, I promise

Okay, so over the weekend, the RBC decided on Saturday what to do about Michigan and Florida. If you want to know the details, look it up. Clinton got more delegates than Obama, but he maintained his hefty lead.

Then, Puerto Rico had its primary on Sunday. Turnout was 16% and Clinton won handily, 68-32. Big stinking deal. That amounts to about 200,000 voters who don't even have a say in November.

So, with the changes, the nominee now needs 2,118 delegates (instead of 2,026). The new countdown for Obama looks like this:

(PS. Clinton still needs 207 delegates. But her website doesn't count that way. They only use crazy math to delude themselves into thinking they're winning the popular vote)

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