Friday, November 29, 2013

Shameless Plug #5: Pets and People by Carla Reed

Know someone who has everything?  Oh no, s/he doesn't… Yeah, yeah, s/he has the this and the that and the other, but now that we have arrived at the Season of Shopping (SOS), all of this matters.  'Cause you're supposed to come up with something else, something new, something very cool and different, for that special someone.

A few suggestions:

First up, travel to a non-Christian country for the month and avoid the entire issue. That is what my best guy fervently hopes for each year, conveniently forgetting that scary food poisoning episode in Thailand a few Christmases back. Or maybe, in his belief system, a near death experience is just a minor trade-off. You'll have to ask him.

Marbles the ButtHead, 1990-2007
Secondly, don't give your loved someone a pet, unless s/he has already agreed, and gets to pick out the animal. (That means you, Ann. And Kira concurs.)

But if you ignore that advice, or if s/he already has a pet, consider a pet portrait by Carla Reed. I met her when she was making the most fabulous lampshades; she went on to design and paint many of the fabrics that, over the years, have been wrapped around our bodies and lives. Heck, she even painted Marbles, the Butthead of the World, so she can paint anything.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bees, Bees, Bees, Please

Everyone has heard about the hard time bees are having these days, what with the high rents and slow job growth…  hmmm, that's not what I meant to say.

Actually, I bet they're not too concerned about rents and they already work for free. So we just have to stop killing them all off. Yes you, though perhaps not intentionally. In truth, probably quite unwittingly.

Fact is, a recent study has determined that the pesticides (neonicitinoids, or "neonics" for short) involved in honeybee colony collapse disorder have been found in plants sold at local nurseries, especially those big boxy plant sellers.

Wanna know more? This article in Oakland Local does a terrific job of explaining the issues, as well as gives some good advice about how to avoid poisoning your favorite friends in the yellow-and-black jackets.

Honey from "our" Bees
Wanna do more? MoveOn has a petition which asks Lowes and the Home Depot to stop selling neonics. And Friends of the Earth is also sponsoring a petition calling on Washington to restrict neonics.

Wanna really do something? Check to make sure that you are not using neonics in your garden regime. Buy your plants from retailers that do not sell plants which have been subjected to neonics.

For example,  Berkeley Hort, is looking into what pesticides its suppliers are using. The nice people there plan to continue the investigation and work to ensure that their plants are not toxic to bees. And I called up Annie's Annuals: the answer there was, "We have our own hive here, and would never do anything to harms the bees."

Finally, if you are really brave, you can grow many plants from seeds. It's not hard (ahem, I'll tell you my experiences with tuberous begonias another day) but it does take a bit of time.

Now wanna know a secret? We had a beehive this year. It came with its own beekeeper. And the pint of honey we received was the best. Sadly, the queen swarmed and now the box is empty, but we're looking forward to a new bee family moving in next spring. The rent? Really, really cheap.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Powershift 2013

I'd never heard of Powershift, the on-line "community that seeks to empower and serve as a hub for the youth climate movement." But my nephew Ian and some of his fellow high school students were raising money to get to it's conference in Pittsburgh in October, so I became a little bit better educated.  Here is Ian's report on the conference:

"Now that It's been about a week after I got back from Powershift, and I think now I can truly talk about the experience.

We left Friday at 9:30, and began the infamous road trip.  Seven hours, and a few paperbacks later, we reached the church we would be staying at (The Calvert Memorial Presbyterian Church), dropped off our stuff, and rushed over to Powershift. Unfortunately, sign-ins took a while, but finally we got in to see the keynote speakers.  At about ten, we all boarded the bus (about $70 for all of us, bus fare is expensive) and fell asleep in the church floor by midnight.

The next morning we woke up at six, took the bus into Pittsburgh, and started the workshops at 9.  The workshops were a whole variety of topics, some panels, some discussions, each about a hour long.  

I learned about the social justice aspect of environmentalism (a theme that would come back in every panel), fracking, nuclear power, and a powerful movie called "Bidder 70".  Wrap it up with a classy dinner and more amazing keynote speakers, and I call it a day.

Sunday we woke up at six again, got some bagels and coffee, and headed down to the convention center for the caucuses.  The caucuses were group chats for people fitting under the description of the caucuses.  I went to the high school one as it really was my only option, and we talked about the problems we were facing and the people who were causing them.

Next were more panels and discussions, where I learned more about the dangers of nuclear power and a interesting concept know as "Shared Economics".  After lunch and more panels, we sat down for the last keynote speakers, including Bill Mckibben!  We wrapped it up with a live music performance, and got back to the church at 12ish.  

There was going to be a large rally around Pittsburgh the next day, but we had to leave in order to make it back for school the next day.  

I hope that covers it all!  Email me back with any questions you have.  Tell Michael a report on my art progress is coming soon!"

Photos courtesy of Ian Cullings
Author photo courtesy of J. Lawrence