zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
I don't know how many of these methods I'll keep up in the long-term, but I thought I'd list them in case they're of use or interest to anyone else.

Essentially I found myself in a mood to ask myself, just how much plastic is passing into the environment via my purchasing habits? Even though I send a lot of it to recycling, that's its own use of energy. Mostly I was looking at my grocery shopping:


  • I already take my own reusable bags (or reuse old plastic bags) at the checkout, and for fruit as well. I do like to get the occasional new plastic bag for use as bin-liners; I'm going to try emptying their contents directly into the red bin for a while, instead of tying the bags off and putting them in all together. But I haven't found myself throwing much into the red bin since making this resolution so no data on how that goes.

  • A 2L plastic bottle of milk every 7-10 days. And you can't even reuse milk bottles to store water against emergencies; hygiene aside, the plastic breaks down over time. Speaking of emergencies, though, I'd been considering getting a bag of milk powder for my supplies. So I thought I'd try it in every-day use. So far it's worked well in baking, yoghurt-making, hot chocolate, and morning cereal, ie all my normal uses except drinking straight from the fridge, which will wait until summer for testing. It takes a few moments extra in the morning to mix it (my preferred method: boil the jug, dissolve the powder in a bit of boiling water, then add cold to desired strength) but it's become part of my routine over the last couple of weeks so I think I will keep this one up. Bonuses: here at least it's significantly cheaper than fresh milk; no running out at inconvenient moments; and conversely no finding that it's gone sour before I've finished it.

  • A plastic bag around my bread each week. I've revived my bread-making to avoid this; to be honest it's the one I'm least likely to keep up. OTOH I have discovered that if I bake the bread and let the oven cool somewhat but not completely, it's a great place to incubate yoghurt overnight. And the bread is so tasty - it's just the time it takes. We'll see. I may just keep going through phases on it.

  • A plastic bag of muesli every week or so. I'm experimenting with pick-n-mix (taking my own bags) but pick-n-mix rolled oats alone cost about the same as (budget) prepackaged muesli. :-( Does anyone know why rolled oats and muesli come in plastic, when flour and sugar come in paper??

  • A couple of plastic packages of shaved ham every few weeks. (The recycling status of which I was never sure about, so red-binned them!) Careful attention revealed that cheap ham at the deli is cheaper than cheap ham prepackaged. Moreover today I was brave and found out that if you take your own container along they'll use that instead of a fresh plastic bag. (At least the guy I struck today did, and even set the scales to discount the weight of the container though I wouldn't have minded that little bit.) So I just need to keep organised.



Beyond plastic - I've also taken to washing dishes in a tub, and using the water on the garden. (Someone at church has set up her laundry pipes to use water from that on the garden; I think I'd just flood the house.)

And recently I came across SolarAid, a charity whose selling point is that you can 'offset your carbon' from flights you make by funding solar-powered lights for personal use (eg kids doing homework) in developing countries to replace kerosene, which besides emitting copious carbon dioxide is expensive, not that bright, and seriously unhealthy. It seems win-win-win so I looked for a catch but couldn't find any.

Anyway this came at a time shortly after a) I'd made some international flights and b) I'd received a tax rebate from last year's charitable donations so next thing you know I'd apparently donated enough to get sent an example solar light in the mail. It just arrived today, and it's cute and lightweight and works out of the packaging, and I'm weighing up whether it goes in my emergency kit or to City Mission here because goodness knows it's not just kids in the developing world who can't do homework due to lack of money for power.:-(
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
After Friday night's penguin adventures I slept in a bit Saturday morning, but still managed to be wandering the shopping precinct a few minutes before everything opened at ten. So for a few minutes there I was thinking Melbourne was a startlingly sleepy little town of a weekend.

Shops seen include the magic shop which is adorable but most of the stuff for sale seemed to be little tricks of the whoopee cushion variety (not saying I don't have fond memories of the whoopee cushion); teddy bear shop ("for every bear that ever there was"; an intriguing number of jerky shops; a pen shop and a bookbinding shop and cupcake shops and chocolate shops and all the clothes and shoe shops.

While I was in the complex that is Melbourne Central Station I also visited the Shot Museum. Because when you're a developer and want to build a giant shopping mall but there's a really tall heritage building in the way what you do apparently is enclose it in a giant glass dome and build your shopping centre around it. The museum is in the back of one of those clothes shops that sells manly clothes for manly men.

After a two-hour wander over a half-hour distance I ate my lunch in the park where I was mobbed by flies so small at first I thought they were mozzies. They're not quite that small but they're about halfway between mozzie size and proper Kiwi fly size. Then I went to see the exhibition in the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre in the Melbourne Museum - as well as the more permanent looking displays they were showcasing a project where about thirty kids around Melbourne got to work on making traditional possum skin cloaks.

So a couple hours later I came out and wandered through what looked like a Russian (or possibly more generically Slavic) cultural festival; at least the stall where I got pancakes and a drink of mors was fundraising for the local Russian Orthodox Church. Some incredibly staunch people wearing traditional clothes designed for Russian temperatures were dancing in temperatures that made the more sensible seagulls sit down in the shade of the trees in the park to rest.

I decided I was done walking so found the free city loop tram and sat there until I found an interesting looking stop, which happened to be the Lightning Ridge Opal Mines store. It was fairly quiet and the shop assistant gave me a lesson in varieties of opals (using the game of "Guess which one's $60, which is $600, and which is $6000") and let me hold a big lizard. I'm now pondering. (I'm definitely not going to get the $6000 one, gorgeous as it was.)

Wandering back from there through the lanes, which are a lot cooler than the roads because the sun doesn't reach all the way down, I stumbled across the city library. And a few shops near to the "dollar shop" style variety.

And then I got back to the hotel and crashed for the evening. Until I wanted internet and discovered the hotel's "30 free minutes per day" day runs from midnight to midnight instead of checkin to checkin, so then I wandered out to a spot where the map said had free wifi, and lo! there was free wifi and it was glorious.

(The sore throat is too long-lived without other symptoms to be a bug, and I've been drinking water fairly constantly so it's not dehydration per se, so definitely blaming the air conditioner.)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
There's a moth here determined to prove the adage.

Three unpleasant blips that make it sound like life sucks more than it does:

1) Thursday I went shopping to Barrington. My book-of-the-bus-trip was an Amnesty International collection of stories about human rights; in particular, I reached one about residents walking to get water after Hurricane Katrina and being blocked on the way. This... proved to be mildly triggering. Especially because the 'moral' at the end of the story was that people have the right to go where they want in their own country - nothing about the right to have clean drinking water. This right was only resolved fairly recently and New Zealand first opposed it then abstained from the vote.

You know what, I have strong opinions about the right of people to have clean drinking water. I really like clean drinking water and am willing, when necessary, to take half an hour out of my day to go and collect it.

So there was that, and then I had to buy as many groceries as I could feasibly carry back to the bus, which proved really heavy and so I was feeling quite worn down even before the busdriver (I think the busdrivers are being pushed too hard; a lot of them are... not themselves) took off before we'd all managed to get seats, and proceeded to drive as fast as one can drive on bumpy roads and several times failed to hear people ding the bell for their stops so had to be shouted at. Which doesn't make anyone happier.

2) Yesterday I visited New Brighton to go to the library. The roads that way were bumpy, and there were more shops fenced off or shored up with timber, and by the time I reached the library I was feeling distinctly glum. I read a C. L. Moore story (the only one by a woman in the Mammoth Collection of Golden Age SF or whatever it was called) while looking out over the pier and grey-green waves and seagulls. That library has one of the best locations ever. Then I went to wait at the busstop. Or anyway, at the lamppost which is the de facto busstop since the previous bus shelter got buried under a pile of bricks.

(When I got home, I candied the petals of two roses while watching two and a half episodes of season 2 Buffy. Practice might speed things up I guess? Also there needs to be a way not to leave brown bruise marks from holding the petal with tweezers.)

3) Today I met some new quake-friends for a writing meeting at the Borders cafe. Riccarton Mall was busier than Christmas Eve and Boxing Day combined. It reminded me of being in a Seoul mall soon after its opening when it was The trendy place to be and so crowded I felt mildly claustrophobic.

Also then this evening we got a lovely 5.3 aftershock. This was possibly my fault: earlier today I reshelved a pile of my books. (They were blocking access to the gasfire which someone's coming to look at on Monday, hopefully to say that it's safe despite the rather visible shifting of the chimney. If not, I guess I'll have to try and get the chimney removed before winter.) On the plus side none of them fell down, though they did wobble distinctly towards the edge. Also the light swayed and piano wobbled as I made my dash to the safest-looking place in the room; but nothing fell at all.

Some water did splash out of the toilet cistern.

I have power still but was told my parents were cooking over gas anyway so came as normal to our Saturday evening dinner.


Anyway, really life's pretty good when one's on leave from work. I could definitely get used to being on leave.


Will post this when they get power back or I get back home, whichever is first... --Ooh, power's back! Unfortunately the ISP isn't. Fortunately we have access to another network. You know, snuffing out a candle looks a lot suaver in the movies.

There's a moth lying on the table, slightly singed.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
The boil water notice has been lifted for Christchurch. It's so nice to be realllllly sleepy and wander into the bathroom and think "I should brush my teeth" and then just turn on the tap and brush your teeth and not get gastro.

Or at least I assume I didn't get gastro. If I do, the Christchurch District Health Board will have some 'splaining to do.

Random things: I changed my view of the Dreamwidth interface from Tropo-thingy Red to Tropo-thingy Purple. It's weird but a very awesome colour. Celerity's cute too but maybe too much of a change for me.
--On Dreamwidth: I like Dreamwidth a whole lot and believe in its goals and ethics and business model, but I don't think it's the One True Way. One of the things I like about it is that the people running it say it's not the One True Way and are supportive of the existence of other ways, including LiveJournal, both in what they say (currently they're suggesting people not import LJ content to DW while LJ deals with the DDOS attack) and in how they design (in maintaining/increasing interoperability). They do take opportunities sometimes when issues arise elsewhere to promote their points of difference in terms of design and ethics, and I think it's valid to see that as smug or opportunitistic though obviously this is not how I see it myself -- I see it as being justly proud of what they've created and as letting people who've been hurt by something know that there's another option out there iff they're interested. But anyway I think there's plenty of room for alternative interpretations and especially alternative choices: a healthy ecosystem is a diverse ecosystem.

My ereader has shipped, woot! I feel like phoning up my parents and saying "Is it here yet? How about now?" Also this morning I got an email from a friend asking for advice on what ereader to get her father-in-law. Guess what thread I pointed her too?

The last couple of days I've felt a bit more stable. I don't think it's coincidence that this kicked in approximately the same minute that my leave request was approved. I really must make it a this year's New Year's Resolution that I'll take leave before I need it, and also try to line up the next bunch of leave shortly after coming back from the previous bunch so I've got it to look forward to when stressed. (Last year's New Year's Resolution was: When sick, take one more day than I think I need. I'm very grateful that I have sufficient sick leave available, and have been sufficiently healthy over all, that this has been possible, because it's stood me in very good stead.)

That said, I do have a touch of indefinable blahs today. Doesn't help that I need to go shopping for socks and warm slippers and also for groceries. --Oh wait, if I go there I can in fact get both from the same mall. Cool. But I am looking forward to my local mall opening again. About four weeks ago they said the supermarket'd open in four weeks. A few days ago (when I emailed them to say ~"Lighting your fluorescent sign while you're closed wastes electricity and is false advertising and means when you do open no-one will know the difference") they told me it'll open in five weeks. At this rate, by Christmas it'll be opening as early as 2013.

(They also said that it doesn't waste that much electricity: "around $280 per month, cheaper than most house holds." I think they overestimate the average household a bit, though it's hard for me to judge as my circumstances mean I'm definitely much under average. Also they seem to have completely missed the remainder of my argument, saying that "we will need the sign on to let customers know we are re-opening" which makes no sense. If you have the sign on when you're open and when you're closed, the only thing it tells customers is "We may be open, or we may be closed, who knows?")

Blah. Don't want to go shopping. I hate shopping.

I need a massage. Conveniently I have a voucher for a massage. Inconveniently voicemail informs me they're currently unoperational - I'm not in the least surprised, given their location (Pilgrim Place - near the CBD - and concrete slab) but oh yeah, I lack all resilience to disappointment. On the plus side they should be back up and running mid-May, which is a month and a half before my voucher expires and no doubt I'll still need a massage; plus there's a place I've visited before which I know is up and running so I just need to get a few seconds of energy and go for the phone again. --Ooh, even better, webform!

...I know what else the problem includes: I've turned exothermic. The last couple of sunny days have been great, but now cloudiness returns. I really must call someone to come look at my gasfire, and hope they can get here before Easter.

I vote spaghetti on toast for lunch. I distinctly recall there being some bread left in my freezer.

ETA: Dinosaur Comics vastly improves weepytimes.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
A few months ago I got this great pair of shoes. They're ankle boots, and they zip up quickly, and they were cheap, and most importantly they're practically flat so that wearing them doesn't in and of itself injure me. Problem was, they were cheap, so now they're dying. Really dying: one of these days I'm going to take a step and leave the sole behind.

Today I *wanted* to buy a nice expensive pair of boots from The Last Footwear company, but they appear to have shut down their Christchurch store. They still have stores in Auckland, Nelson, and Motueka. No idea where Motueka is? Yeah, neither have I.

So I went to the mall instead and looked at the shoes in five stores. Six stores. One shop turned out only to have running shoes. Another one only had the kind of fashion shoes where the price is calculated by: number-of-ferraris-the-desired-boyfriend-should-have multiplied by the-fluorescent-it-burns divided by width-of-straps. Two stores were your Walmart-type thing so I wasn't hopeful, and lo, they didn't have any quality shoes. Two stores had a reasonable range of shoes, but all the boots were ankle-breakers.

At one point I turned in desperation to the men's shoes. Men's shoes are actually sane; I bet you can walk in them and everything. The problem is that the stores only had down to size 7, and I think I'd need a size 6 or possibly less.

<glares at feet>

On the bright side, when I went to the supermarket to do my shopping, I found a stainless steel potato masher. I've been looking for one of those for about a year.

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