transparency

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

making shopping more complicated

Filed under: consuming — alison @ 07:05

At the end of the year I like to make an expedition to Artefact, a local boutique that has seen more ambitious days, and buy one or two work suits during their 30% off sale. Mark agitates for me to go in February when they have a 70% off sale, but I don’t like to wait because by that point I’m unlikely to be able to find a matching jacket and skirt in my size.

So this year I popped in to see what they had. I was the only customer in the store and the racks were full. No shortage of selection. So this year I’ll be waiting for the 70% off sale for the first time. I feel bad about it. If they close, I’ll know it’s my fault.

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Tell me I’m wrong.

Filed under: children,consuming,fallacies,naïveté — alison @ 06:43

I’m fed up with all the pious concern about greenhouse gases. Really.

Most or all the remaining fossil fuel underneath the earth is going to end up as C02 in the atmosphere. The question is when: are we going to move it all from the earth to the air in the next 50 years? Or 200? But we are going to move it. So what’s the fuss?

No, we can’t compensate for fossil fuels in the air by replanting the forests we’ve cut down. The carbon that was in the forests is now in the air. If we replanted all the forests we cut down, they would suck up all the CO2 released by cutting down the original forests. The fossil CO2 would still be out there.

Besides, we can’t significantly replant the forests. Not without reducing the human population to below a million (and keeping it there). The land the forests used to occupy is needed for human habitation and agriculture.

It’s too late anyway. Does anyone remember when the Kyoto accord was signed? And how we were all so disappointed because it was too little, too late, and anyone who thought that Kyoto targets were meaningful had missed the point? Well. We’ve missed our Kyoto targets. And if they were too little, too late, then we are up shit creek, aren’t we.

I know it’s not polite to say, because having children is what people do and for most parents is the most (difficult but) satisfying part of their lives, but I honestly don’t know what people think they are accomplishing when they reproduce.

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

shame

Filed under: consuming,fallacies,humility,illness,jewishness,reality check — alison @ 08:10

[Anyone reluctant to read about other people’s disgusting oozy things and biological functions is instructed to cease reading immediately and to delete this e-mail and forget they ever saw it.]

Before leaving for Toronto last week I developed a canker sore in my cheek. I don’t get them often – I think the last one was probably fifteen or twenty years ago. After a day in Toronto I was really fed up. I was having trouble swallowing, and the sore was clearly poised over some nerves because I had pain in my ear and teeth and that side of my face was numb and tingly from my lips to my lower eyelid. I made an appointment with a dentist. (Why a dentist? Because you can look them up in the phone book and you don’t have to ask if they are gynecologists or gastroenterologists or pediatricians before making an appointment. Because you can get an appointment. Because even if the problem isn’t my tooth, it’s the kind of thing dentists see a lot. Because when I got a canker sore on a trip to Vancouver in… 1974? my mother took me to a dentist. Because I let my Medicare card expire and getting a new card is taking a lot longer than getting a reimbursement from my employer’s dental plan is going to.)

Anyway. It was a very nice dentist’s office. The receptionist had me fill out a card with contact info and medical history. She led me into an office and sat me in a dentist’s chair, and a young man in scrubs came in and started asking questions. I giggled privately to myself about the phenomenon of professionals becoming so very young as one ages. He didn’t look in my mouth though, and the conversation soon tuned to the upcoming Gay Games / Outgames and Divers/Cité / Pride parties in Montreal, which he will be attending. I started thinking that this was a very peculiar dental appointment, and when was he going to look at my canker sore? And then the dentist walked in…

The nice Jewish dentist looked in my mouth, asked a few questions and immediately called in a colleague for a second opinion. I started feeling like less of an idiot for consulting over a canker sore. The stern Goyish colleague looked in my mouth, asked the same questions and pronounced: “Salt water rinses. If it doesn’t get better in three days, come back and we’ll do x-rays and exploratory surgery. No antibiotics. The body heals itself.” As a stern Goyish type myself, this evaluation sounded right to me and I submitted easily. But as the stern Goy turned on his heels and left, my nice Jew started twittering anxiously over me: my mouth must be very painful. Do I need a prescription for painkillers? Ultimately he wrote me a prescription for penicillin, which I accepted after receiving assurances that yes, canker sores were bacterial infections. I giggled privately over this little drama and the cultural split and the stereotypes, imagining them as a couple with their children, one giving directives for life and the other fussing over feelings and offering palliatives in secret.

I had been given the penicillin prescription with the proviso that I didn’t need to take it, but that it would shorten the course of whatever it was. My stern Goyish self held out for two hours before shamefully caving in and filling the prescription. Sigh. So much for cultural stereotypes. (I mean, I know I flout the WASP taboo against TMI, but I had sincerely thought I was good for the one against unnecessary antibiotics.)

My course of antibiotics ends today, and while my thingy has gotten a little better it’s not a dramatic improvement. Another appointment, this time with my own dentist. Who likewise calls in an immediate second opinion. I get a name this time, “aphthous ulcer.” It’s a combination bacterial-viral thing it seems, so antibiotics only help up to a point. My dentist’s second opinion held forth that Big Pharma won’t develop antibiotics against viruses because then they would lose all that income from cold remedies, and that I will get best results with homeopathic Arnica granules. The sore is infectious now, so for the next two weeks, as it finishes healing, no kissing. My own dentist looks on from the sidelines, fascinated. I firmly decline the homeopathy – somewhat scandalised, in fact – and go home to research “aphthous ulcers” on the internet.

Turns out they’re an autoimmune phenomenon of some kind. Neither bacterial nor viral. Certain antibiotics (not the ones I had been prescribed) do help, but probably by their direct effect on the immune system and not by killing bacteria. They are not infectious.

You know how they say to trust your professional and not the Internet? I’m going with the Internet on this one. I have a funny feeling.

And am feeling even more deeply ashamed for caving on the penicillin. (On the bright side, I can go snog my beloved now.)

[originally transmitted by e-mail July 18, 2006]

Sunday, September 28th, 2003

Re: Married Life

Filed under: consuming,fear,housekeeping,how to — alison @ 21:21

Hmm, this one seems to have hit some sort of sensitive nerve out there. I’ve gotten lots of helpful responses from people who seem to understand the place that properly done laundry has in a satisfying life.

So far:

***
Too much information/oversharing: three votes (including one cast vigourously by Mark).

While over the past years I have recounted amourous and occasionally unorthodox adventures and admitted dark urges to smash my chihuahua’s head open against a wall, these confessions are apparently a normal part of the public sphere or at least entertaining enough that their trespass into the public sphere was tolerated without comment.

The feelings of desolation that follow domestic disagreements with a legally bonded mate apparently enjoy no such license. Either they are too personal and not to be displayed because they are too boring (like nose-picking, tooth-brushing and breast-feeding); too personal and not to be displayed because they are too important (like how much money one makes); or occasion too much uncomfortable echo in the reader; or are simply not funny.

Whatever, I have been advised that by discussing laundry in public I went too far.

***
Separating laundry is an important aspect of clothing care: five votes.

Five friends seized upon the occasion to share their personal approaches to laundry, happy to share hard-won expertise with someone needing their help.

All are strongly in favour of separating, though the importance they attribute to different categories differs. Some separate icky from sweet; others, lint-generating from lint-collecting; sturdy from fragile; light from dark; large from small.

***
This probably doesn’t have much to do with laundry at all: three votes.

***
Laundry is not important enough to get that worked up about: two votes.

***
The bourgeois lifestyle is inherently violent: one intriguing vote.

Actual quote: “The bourgeois life is a violent life, it restructures all of everything into the space of consumerism & then isolates it. I think this re-channeling of desires from open-ended to the very concrete, with its limits but reassurances, is what you are going through. It’s the politics of capitalism in everyday life, not easy for any of us, and always in flux.”

When pressed for clarification, “bourgeois” was defined as middle-class with a separation of public and private spheres. “Yes, absolutely, it is much more convenient to do your laundry in your own machine in your own home. No question! But then you don’t leave the house.”

***
What I’ve settled with:

1) Domestic disputes are much scarier when you’re living together and legally married. Especially as Mark and I took the old-fashioned route of courting first, then marrying, then moving in together. Highly stressful.

2) Front-loaders do in fact require a different approach to laundry than top-loaders. You have to do a full load every time or else the machine gets unbalanced during the spin cycle. For our machine this isn’t fatal: it stops spinning, shakes the clothes around a bit, then tries again. But if the load is too small it will just keep trying forever and never really spin right. So it takes a bit of teeth-gritting to put things together that you wouldn’t have combined in a top-loader. Repeating to oneself that front-loaders are much gentler on clothes than top-loaders helps, as does viewing the washing process through the porthole and watching the machine toss your garments tenderly like an organic baby lettuce salad with raspberry-mustard dressing.

3) I’m still not combining mops and underwear.
Hugs again to all!

[originally transmitted by e-mail September 28, 2003]

Friday, September 26th, 2003

Married Life

Filed under: consuming,fear,housekeeping,how to — alison @ 08:01

Ok, I haven’t been writing my usual e-mails lately and people have been sending somewhat worried queries as to the sympathy of married life.

Hard to say. We were married July 1st and Mark left for the Netherlands July 11th. Then he arrived 15 days ago as a landed immigrant, entitled to live, work, breathe, travel but not vote. Yippee!

So that makes a total of 25 days of connubial bliss to report on. As someone with scientific training I can tell you that’s a very small n. But we have visited family in Ottawa, Mark has taken the dogs to the vet, everything seems kind of normal and couple-like. Except that we’re both terrified and are acting kind of stiff and awkward. (Though Mark stole my heart all over again when he introduced himself to someone as my friend last weekend. Yes!)

Tuesday was particularly stressful as Mark slated three major appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator) for the St Vincent de Paul society and replaced them with shiny new energy-efficient ones that *work.* Yuppie!

Apparently too stressful for our meagre resources. We had our first married fight last night over the washing machine. It turns out that he’s not going to let me use it unless I wash clothes his way: everything together in one load, no separating, and the hottest water possible. He thinks he’s educating me on the use of superior front-loading machines and raising my consciousness about energy use. I think he’s being weird (I think I should be allowed to wash t-shirts and underpants separately from floor mops, and in cold water).

I am having nasty flashbacks to my ex, who wouldn’t let me use the radio or play music. I suppose I should be delighted to find myself married to someone who won’t let me do laundry, but I don’t take well to being forbidden. And I *like* doing laundry.

Hmm… I am thinking something about suffering and privation being good for creative expression. I think there must be something to that.

Hugs all, and if you don’t hear from me soon, that just means we kissed and made up!

[originally transmitted by e-mail September 26, 2003]

Sunday, June 22nd, 2003

Busy week

Filed under: camping and hiking,consuming — alison @ 10:38

I missed Boudoir for the second year in a row. (I’m possibly getting too old for it.) I had Friday off, M. hauled me to the new MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), just open two weeks in Montreal, I dropped my paycheque. I didn’t need a backpack – M. bought a new expensive one for himself on Thursday and gave me his old expensive one – and I didn’t need a tent – M. bought a practical and moderately-priced tent on Thursday – but I needed a sleeping bag, a mattress, a water-purification system and nylon clothes.

I hadn’t known one needed nylon clothes for backpacking, but apparently one does. They are lightweight, and when backpacking every gram counts. And they dry very quickly, preventing hypothermia. In the event I bought a pair of nylon pants for keeping bugs out and a pair of boxer shorts for wearing under a comfy hemp skirt I already have.

Other nifty purchases: Muskol, sunscreen, waterproof matches, books of Quebec and Adirondack hiking trails, an aluminum emergency blanket, a small tube of biodegradable soap, a gadget for converting camping mattresses into legless chairs, a compressor bag to convert my large fluffy goose-down sleeping bag ($175 CAD / $130 USD) into a small soccer ball, special socks, an organic cotton t-shirt ($14 CAD / $10 USD) and a titanium cooking pot ($36 CAD / $27 USD).

Surprisingly, I was not instructed to buy hiking boots, and I didn’t bring the subject up. (Next paycheque.)

After thoroughly exhausting ourselves spending all that money we paused for a bagel at the Bridgehead Fair-Trade coffee shop that in the MEC.

Next stop: Ikea. We had to exchange some chair legs that had the wrong findings with them. Two and a half hours later, and laden with somewhat more than chair legs with the correct findings, we returned home. Boudoir had started an hour before and we hadn’t had supper or decided on our itinerary for today.

Apparently we still haven’t… but we bought the accessories, which is the important part.

Will keep you posted!

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