Ecology

bobalexander.jpgAfter spending years in the political closet (one of the dangers of a politically mixed marriage) I have emerged with a flourish, and a job as Press Person for a Michigan candidate for the United States House of Representatives. I have been working for Bob Alexander, a Democrat running in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, against Mike Rogers, a four-term Republican incumbent. Bob is the kind of Democrat my parents are – a Joan Baez, “if you want peace, work for justice” kind of guy who spent years circulating petitions and working crowds “cold” to promote the value of a living wage for working people, and eventually persuaded the Michigan legislature to raise the minimum wage by 29 percent. He was not holding office at the time, mind you; it was just the right thing to do.

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eat_local.jpg The future of our food system is at a critical juncture, says Arty Mangan, Food and Farming Program Director for Bioneers. “The industrial agriculture industry says that they want to feed the world, but at what cost?”

The cost Mangan is referring to is the system of subsidies that eliminates crop diversity, cost structures that force out small farmers, international trade agreements that favor free flow of grain over local food security, and farming methods that favor profit over food safety or environmental health.

“The system has been rewarding the wrong thing,” Mangan concludes.

One of the main methods being used to transform our food system is localization. The power of localization becomes clear when discussing the “multiplier effect.” If a dollar is spent at a chain store to buy imported produce, only about ten cents ends up in the local community. In contrast, if a dollar is spent at a local market buying locally produced food, that dollar ends up generating over $5 in local benefits.

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hailstorm.jpg So we had a hail storm yesterday. 

We'd had kind of crazy weather all day - blue skies and puffy clouds one minute, dark gray clouds, pouring rain and sky to ground lightning the next.  The national weather service (or whoever does this) even interrupted TV programming to run some severe weather warnings throughout the afternoon.

Initially the warnings were about the lightning in the area, but then around dinner time they mentioned the hail.  Bill and I had been in the kitchen - he was making dinner and I was making the TWD Mixed Berry Crumble (see previous post) - when the latest warning came on, and we went downstairs to listen (we have one TV, and it's in the basement), and after hearing about possible hail, and just sort of shrugging it off, we went back up to the kitchen to see - yes - hail coming down.

So we called the kids, I got my camera, Bill got the DVD camera, and we hung out, mostly at the big front window, watching the spectacle.

It's good to do things as a family.

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kindle1.jpgMy husband Dave always seems to be ahead of the cool gadget curve, making sure we're the first kids on our block to have the latest and greatest tech toys. We've had our Wii for years, stood in line the first week for the iPhone (him not me), sold our regular laptop to upgrade to the MacBook Air (worth every penny) and are still jamming away a year later on Rock Band when most people have never even played the game. I couldn't imagine what he was going to pull out of his Christmas stocking this year. Thanks to the generosity of his boss, it was a Kindle. For those of you who shop on Amazon – which would be almost everyone with an Internet connection on the planet – the Kindle is not exactly new, but it sure is hard to get your hands on, which is a bit of a surprise considering how expensive it is.

I certainly wasn't going to pay $359 for this "toy." As an avid book reader who buys 30-40 books a year, I'd make my money back pretty quickly, considering the regular cost of new books. Of course, to actually read anything on it, you have to pay more, around $8-10 per download, which is about half the price of most hardcovers and over time seems like a good deal. Ultimately, my decision to not jump on this bandwagon was all about the experience. Sure, the "books" are cheaper and kept all in one place (you can switch from book to book at the click of a button and the device even keeps your place for you, which is nice), but what about the physicality of watching the story unfold as you turn the page? Of the feel of the paper beneath your fingertips? Of getting the latest book by your favorite author right off the press?

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I spent the morning in Chinatown, the afternoon in Altadena (don't ask me where Altadena is; having just gone there, I still don't know) and I had to get to Venice by evening. It's a good thing I drive a hybrid or my carbon foot print would be out of control. With two hours to kill before my rehearsal in Venice I came up with the fabulous idea to hit up the Robertson car wash. 

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You can imagine my dismay when it started raining literally the second I got my keys back. Not only was my car no longer clean, but there was bumper to bumper traffic since LA drivers immediately forget how to drive the second even one drop of rain falls from the sky.

That's when I realized I that I hadn't eaten in over six hours (which for me is just enough time to come close to death by starvation). To make matters worse I was in that no man's land part of west LA and I was sort of late to rehearsal. That's when I found it.

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