Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Commuter Sentences: mi musica es su musica

So I'm sitting on the bus with a woman
who clearly never learned the concept of how to behave in public. Though this is a common feature on my commute, because I've been "enjoying" her music for the last 20 min, it's grating on my nerves. Is it that she really likes to share? Does she need a sense of validation that her music is okay? Is she running a social experiment on peoples breaking points? I'll never know...Commuter Sentences: mi musica es su musica

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Commuter sentences: smell ya later

It's about time to do a commuter sentences. Namely because i'm on the damn bus and confronted by a smelly homeless person. The "pc" person in me realizes this us not "pc" bit as with many things like that, it's true. Poor Asian lady (also not pc but true) looks like she's going to puke. Culprit? Smelly homeless guy I nearly poked in the face with my umbrella.


My first experiences with body odor and transit came in Southern Spain, on the buses of Malaga. There's a shortage of water there, you see. And ample fried fish and garlic.


This, however is in a different class. That was "Euro" stink, sometimes experienced here, often by foreign exchange students and tourists. This is homeless stink. A combo of a long time of not bathing, not washing clothes, public urination and defecation and a general lack of self awareness. Again, not pc, but true.


My first experience with this breed of stink was also in Europe--in Prague when I was homeless (for a night). My friend and travel partner Terry and I boarded a tram to stay warm. There was a REALLY stinky guy. Nighttime Czech revellers were spraying perfume on him. I think the driver kicked him off. It was seriously gag worthy.


All I can say is that in comparison, I almost LIKE being bothered by overwhelming perfume, our third variety of transit odors, or fried food, our fourth. In fact, I'm craving a nice medly of Coty and fried chicken 'bout now!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cleaning Out E-Trash

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I managed to make a dent in my purge pile this week. Not completely gone, but it'll get there. I sold 4 books on Amazon (That was $23 I didn't have!). I also took 2 big bags of "stuff" to Goodwill and gave the 5 flower pots and potting mix that I've had for a few years stored beside my clothes drier to a Freecycler. Next on my list is my once-used drill sander, my VCR and VHS tapes, and more books! These are all "in process/"


One thing I have put off getting rid of for awhile are a bunch of old electronics and media, not because I wanted to keep it, but because I didn't know what to do with it. I found several resources to begin to thin them out. I'll list those below for you. For my part, I took a bunch of old data CDs and videotapes to the DC E-cycling drop off (though the guys kinda laughed at the tiny bag I brought--most people were off-loading monitors).


The major things I have are my old nonworking laptop, nonworking digital camera, and cell phone. Of course, all of these items have corresponding batteries which cannot be disposed of safely in a landfill. I am contemplating trying to sell the camera and laptop for parts on ebay. They may also end up going the way of the e-cycling center. Here are some of the resources I found. This is by no means a comprehensive list.More can be found at www.earth911.com.


Printer Cartridges--Staples accepts most if not all brands, and gives credit on its Staples Reward card. Some (if not all...) post offices also have a place you can drop off spent cartridges and cell phones. HP will send mailers to customers to return its own brand of cartridges.


Various--DC has its own e-cycling at the Benning Road Transfer Station (3200 Benning Rd NE...not for the faint of heart...the place is kind of scary) or at the Fort Totten Transfer Station every Saturday 8 am to 3 pm. They accept cds, dvds, most computer equipment, household chemicals, etc...check the web site, and check your own community's public works department for what they may collect. 


CD Jewel Cases--List these on Freecycle, Craigslist, or try your local library. My library was more than happy to accept them!


CDs and DVDs--if they have data, recycle. If it isn't sensitive, offer on Freecycle or free on Craigslist. You never know what someone may want them for...art, reuse. If they are media, sell on Amazon/Half.com or offer for free on one of the previously mentioned sites. Online services such as Greendisk offer recycling. Having never used them, I can't vouch for what they do, but it's an option to try.


Batteries--Aside from public collections such as DC's, many electronics manufacturers and retailers accept rechargeable batteries for recycling. Also, Radio Shack accepts many types of batteries (lithium ion and that sort, not alkaline) at their stores.


Photo by Maciej BliziƄski from Dublin, Ireland on Wikimedia Commons, under the CreativeCommonsShareAlike2.0 license.


 

State of the Blog at 300: Blogging and Happiosity

Annual-Sunflower  


This is my 300th post! I was going to post the other day, but was struck by a need to make 300 significant. Well, it isn't. I have thought a lot about blogging, the blog, and the blogger, in no particular order, as of late. Partially to do with seeing Julie and Julia last week. The question I keep grappling with is who is the blog for? Me? My readers? Is it a money making machine (that's a big no as of now!)? Is it a fame-seeking machine (Another no as of now!)? As my friend Eric said when he started his blog "I see how easily they can become self-indulgent or just a monopolizer of free time." It's the self-indulgent part that's most concerned me.


When I had my first blog, back in 2003, I was even less clear of these questions. I just felt the need to HAVE one because it was the it thing. In Accordance With the Prophecy is still on the web, but not updated. It was kind of like a journal, which was of course, the original intent of blogs, and was very self-indulgent.


Now, they're like little publications, with advertising and everything. They propel their writers/owners into quasi-fame, and have people seeking this sense of approval from number of hits or whatever. I personally shudder every time I see someone purposely promote their blog within other blog comments. It's just creepy. (Not when there's really a point, but when people are clearly just looking to get their stats up for some reason...and that's the height of self-indulgence.)


I've seen blogs explode and take on a life of their own--like Apartment Therapy. When I first started reading it, I think in 2004,  it was only in what could be called its pre-pubescence. It definitely had a readership, but was relatively small, to the point that the comments section was like a little community. Now, not nearly as much--it's turned into a different animal. Not bad, just different.


I started this blog after reading my friend Kim's and seeing that it could really cultivate a mini virtual community where you could share interests with people from near and far. (Thanks, Kim!) Since then, I also connected with many fellow Apartment Therapy readers and others...which is really fun!


I was confronted somewhat with the question of who the blog is for when I was approached by email by a company offering for me to do a giveaway. I have no doubt they sell great stuff, and probably usually have more hits than misses in customer service, but seeing as I had one less than fantastic experience with an affiliated company, I declined. It conjured up feelings of approval seeking that many bloggers face--"this means someone loves me!" "I have to do this for my readers!" I totally sympathized with the Julie character in the movie...


What is prompting this posting now, aside from it being my 300th post, is that I have hit a mini third-life crisis (assuming I live to be 99). Anyone who knows me knows I have these about every 6 weeks, so it should not cause alarm. But, I just had this moment, sitting at my work computer, doing something I don't like, thinking "What do I do in my life that I like?" Answer: not a whole heck of a lot. I don't pretend that this is anything but a first-world concern. It's only because I can decide what I do with my life that I can worry about whether what I'm doing is the right thing. I just need to increase my happiosity.


Happiosity is what my economics professor in grad school referred to as happiness, or the currency in the economics equation. Essentially, humans are always striving to increase their happiosity. Silly, but somehow, this seemed fitting to express what I am looking for--more than happiness. This boils down to a few key life areas: job, personal life, free time...I expect to try to cover these in more depth at some point in a way that does not amount to sophisticated belly button gazing. The highlights for now:





  • Job--I used to actually give a care (wanted to use another non family friendly term here) about what I did. Don't get me wrong, I care about doing a good job, but my motivation now is external. The only happiosity I get is from my paycheck (the 80% of it I still get) and the motivation is not getting one or of getting approval from superiors/advancement (of which I get very little to none).



  • Personal life--I've gotten to the point in my life where I am meeting few new people, and the ones I do know and love are dropping like flies, by which I mean, they're getting caught up in other life committments. I have very good friends, that I love, but I need to continue to add to my social circles to give myself a full and happy life. This would also include the infamous "dating," though I've had never had anything in dating that approximates fun. It more closely approximates "pain" than "fun." It is just a lot harder than I think it needs to be! I'd love to have one date this year that doesn't have me wishing I were a lesbian or a gay man at the end of it. (Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want...)



  • Free Time/Avocations--I spend a great portion of my free time doing stuff that is not fun or that I don't increase my happiosity doing. There are pursuits I like and care about that I don't do. Why? I don't know, but I need to get to the bottom of that. I fill up my time with unfun tasks and TV watching, which as I've covered in this blog before, amounts to nothing more than self-medication/tranquilization. 




My mind turned to my blog when I thought of what interested me...it really does contain all that which I find engaging. So, the very fact that I haven't been blogging lately is indication that I need to turn back to things that are meaningful for me.



So much for not navel gazing. I hope that this is interesting for you, my dear readers, to read as well as for me to write. This post has strayed into the "journal" a bit much, but I promise to have interesting posts that are not explicity about me, me, me, soon!


I included the above photo because sunflowers are so happy, don't you think? NPS Photo by Jim Pisarowicz, from here, which offers a plethora of wildflower info. Who knew!?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I mean, it's free...

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, and that's true but there IS such a thing as free paint, furniture, wood, and just about anything people want rid of. Of course, scavengers and dumpster divers have always known this. But, in the digital age, fortunately for us, there's Freecycle.


Freecycle is an online place to offer and request just about anything (though no medications, illegal stuff, or pets!). It's locally based but you can find yours at Freecycle.org. It's philosophical aim is to keep stuff out of landfills.


I've mostly listed things as offers (though I have gotten stuff too...like my microwave and a Swiffer handle when mine broke). This brings me to the whole point of this post...I managed to offload a few things yesterday including makeup sponges and bug spray that I didn't need. Someone is supposed to pick up makeup today (part of a set, too dark). Small items, yes, but in a small apartment little things make a big difference!


What never ceases to amaze me, however, is how people--to whom you are giving FREE things, i.e. something for nothing, will blow you off. It's ridiculous. I have a zero tolerance policy... If someone blows me off, I give it to someone else!


Anyway I'm making a dent in my mountain of discards. I expect this weekend to see vastly more!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Organizational Therapy

For some reason, starting 2 weeks ago when I hurt my back, I started to organize and clean out like crazy. Every so often, I become afflicted with purge fever, and feel the need to clean out, organize, and reorganize.


My back was injured during the linen closet clean-out. And, because I couldn't actually complete that, I think that fueled the fire. I had to look at the incomplete project with stuff spilling out into my bedroom. Sure way to make me nuts. The only therapy? More organizing!


This weekend saw much much cleaning out. I dragged out the box of "techno trash" I've had in my closet for awhile--an old laptop (inoperable), an old digital camera (also inoperable), old VCR "blank" tapes with TV shows taped on them, my old cell phone, and who knows what else. I also have a bag of rags (basically clothes that are too worn to be donated), a bag with some random housewares and other items.


This weekend, I finally admitted to myself that I probably haven't used my VCR or associated tapes in well over a year. (and probably multiple years--how can I confirm this? See photo.


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It's hard to let go sometimes. Even when you know that you have absolutely NO use for something. I have walked myself through some of these difficult choices by telling myself that it's nice to release the unimportant things to make ROOM for the things AND the experiences that ARE important.


I'm also working on thinning out some of my books. Books are much harder to let go of than VCR tapes for me. Having books around gives me a sense of comfort. But sometimes, comfort isn't comfortable. I'd say 98% of the books I own I rarely touch let alone read. I think it's OK for some of them--most of my poetry books are nice to have around to pick up every once in awhile, and some have sentimental value to some degree, but for others, there's just no reason. It would be one thing if I had a library in my house, but I don't. I have this:


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An ugly second bookcase that cost me $19 at Ikea. I would LOVE to get rid of it to give my apartment some breathing room. I've managed to weed out some books. For now, they're piled on this case awaiting their final fate.


Right now, it looks like I'm getting ready to move (and I'm not!). This is a good thing--I haven't had moving as a motivator for 4 years!  I've piled things in the corner of my bedroom. Next step: finding a place for all my junk!


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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Christine's Weekend Miscellany

You'll have to excuse me if I'm all over the place. My mind tends to be all over the place these days, which is acceptable since my back has me firmly in one place. I did something (yet to be determined by xrays taken last Thursday) to throw my back out. This has limited my ability to do much. In typical Christine fashion, I not only injure myself but then remain persistent in finishing whatever I was doing. I'm impatient. The back thing happened while I was--surprise!--organizing my linen closet last Sunday. I did stop organizing, but persisted in making steak and potatoes and chickpea-mushroom-brown rice burgers. I have no pictures of the burgers, but I give you chickpeas, which I soaked and cooked the day before the fateful incident.


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The burgers can only be described as "meh." Need more spice. But, they sustained me all week, and there's something about making stuff from dried beans that makes you feel very frugal.


The burgers must have appealed to someone, because I got home on Wednesday to a bunch of little visitors. Ants. The smallest ants I've ever seen. I put out some Terro liquid (best ant killer EVER), and they went to town.


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They are now mostly gone. I haven't seen one since Friday. I felt kind of bad as they started to disappear. The remaining ones looked confused, like, "where did our friends go?" Yeah, that remorse lasted about 2 seconds. This reminded me of a thought I had once before when I was ant-killing. I was thinking "Stupid, ants, look at them, can't get enough of that stuff...even though it's going to kill them!" I think I was probably sticking a doughnut in my mouth at this point, and that drove the lesson home quicker than you can say Aesop. We humans put a lot of crap in our bodies that isn't good for us. Something to think about...


So, this weekend, was mostly relaxing and waiting for the back to heal. I did make it to Eastern Market this morning, and bought some pickles. Bread and butter slices!


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Because of my back, I resisted getting too much produce, but did buy some blueberries, cucumbers, and peaches to supplement my grocery order set to arrive from Peapod tonight. I had to skip the "eat local" thing today--carrying groceries didn't seem prudent!


Because I was waiting for Eric to come for brunch, I had some time to kill, and found myself ducking in out of the rain and into Hill's Kitchen, a great kitchen store/demonstration kitchen with lessons by Eastern Market. I bought a great cookbook, "The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever." ($25) I plan on trying some recipes out of that soon. I LOVE casseroles--because I can basically cook once and eat all week! And, typically, casseroles tend to be things that reheat well. I rationalized my purchase by saying "Well, if I have a great cookbook, I'll eat at home more!" :)


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I'll let you know if I find any goodies! Have a great start to the week!