Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wie grün sind deine Blätter!

While sitting around a yule log a couple days ago, some friends and I discussed the relative merits of the ongoing Fake versus Real argument. 

Don't get any ideas. We were, of course, talking about Christmas trees.

Eventually, after discussing ease of set up and aesthetics, we came to the question of which is better for the environment. It seemed intuitive to me that real trees, even farmed and cut as they are, were the right choice for environmentally minded people -- such as myself. 

Intuition confirmed
If you want a tree for the holiday, the experts at Grist and TreeHugger say it's actually better to buy a cut real Christmas tree than an artificial tree.

Why? In a word, plastics. Fake trees are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Producing this type of plastic creates a lot of pollution, and PVC is difficult to recycle.

Plus, lead has been found in PVC. According to a report(PDF) in the Journal of Environmental Health, lead levels are higher in older artificial trees. You've probably heard about lead in children's toys, so just imagine the kiddos hanging around lead-tainted branches of your fake Christmas tree. Not a merry scene.

Farmed Christmas trees are ultimately a renewable resource. Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide, and after the holidays, the trees can be recycled into mulch.
So, what about you? Do you like them real, fake or not at all?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Everyone's gone to the movies...

Since YouTube clips seem to be the new hottness on the local blogs, here is my contribution to the trend. First, some comedy.

If this blog's audience is anything like members of my family, only a few of you (namely, musicians and people who hang out in music stores) will truly appreciate the genius of that clip. More guitar heroes receive similar treatment here.

Second, some music that's actually and intentionally good. The band is ALO and the song is Maria.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's getting better all the time...

Just a quick update on the Husky...

He seems to be getting back to normal, though he's still hobbling around on three legs. Complicating the healing process is the fact that he actually had work done on both hind legs. The right was the torn ACL, and the left had a fat deposit that need to be removed.

An indicator of his improving health and morale: Last night, when we got back from Trader Joe's (see below), he bounced out of his crate to come sniff through all the bags (Inspector Husky, we call it -- there's even a little song). He loves doing this, mostly because we occasionally hide a toy for him in there.

He's also lobbying hard for more outside time, but that will have to wait until the wound closes and some of the hair grows back. Not because I don't want him getting it dirty -- he's on enough antibiotics right now to kill all the bacteria in Columbia -- but because I don't want to freak out people walking by. Serioulsy, it's pretty nasty looking.

I don't want to be right...

Dear Trader Joe’s,

I shouldn’t like you. Really, I shouldn’t. After all, you’re just another chain with a gimmick – an appealing and quirky gimmick, but a gimmick nonetheless – and we have more than enough gimmicky chains around here.

But then you had to go and leave flowers by the door to welcome me with fragrance and color as I cautiously crossed your threshold.

And then, just past the symphony of colors and scents, the produce. Oh, how glorious it was to see my sugar snap peas looking healthier and tastier than anything I’ve ever seen at Giant or Food Lion. Surely they must cost a fortune.


They’re cheaper.

But that’s not all. The other produce met or exceeded the peas standard: fresh, inexpensive and a wide assortment of organics. I’ll give you this: You know how to make an entrance (area).

As I wound my way through the wide aisles, each bearing its own surprises (a 10-pound chocolate bar, pistachio cookies, bags of assorted frozen peppers – perfect for taco night!), my will-power waned, but it wasn’t until I found the Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew for nearly $2 less than anywhere else that I finally broke down and confessed my love for you.

Sure, you’re just an odd grocery store in a glitzy big box park along the highway and you don’t sell Gatorade, an essential at my house. But you’re fun. And cheap. And kind of tailored to my diet. And your employees are nice, helpful and very efficient.

But you’re so small: 11,000 square feet, according to those who know. How do you do it? How do you offer so much in such a little space? Actually, don’t answer that. I’d rather not know. I’d rather my affection exist without the cold realty of business tainting it.

Will I visit every week? Perhaps. I can’t say. I’m sure there will be times when I’d rather not drive the 10 minutes it takes to get to your door. Plus, I noticed you don’t have many of the non-food essentials: paper products, toiletries, etc. Which is fine. I know another place close by that has those; it's the only real hang up in all this: Food Lion.

I’ve stood by “The FL” for over a year, extolling its virtues to all who will listen. And here you are, in your shiny new building, disrupting a solid relationship. Home-wrecker.

Oh, that’s not fair. It’s not your fault that I like natural, healthy foods at reasonable prices. You didn’t force me to happily fill my cart with your wares.

Maybe this is just an infatuation with something new and novel that will fade with time. Who knows? But for now, let’s just keep this between you, me and the poor souls who still point their browsers to this moribund blog. (They’re cool; we can trust them to keep the secret.)



Monday, November 05, 2007

Oh what a relief it is...

Bit of an anxious day here at chez Hayduke...

The Husky went under the knife to repair, among other things, a torn ACL. Although the vet assures us he's fine, we need visual confirmation before relaxing. Thankfully, he'll be ready to come home in about a half hour.

His surgery comes after a week of hobbling around on three legs, a pretty sad sight. Also unfortunate was the timing of the injury, which happened just before our annual excursion to Green Ridge State Forest. As always, the trip was fun, but the Husky has been a fixture for the past eight years and it just wasn't complete without him getting covered in dirt and taking up too much space in the tent. See?

Anyway, I'm leaving for the vet now and after that there's the County Council hearing and the Ravens game -- quite a TV night! Before I go, here's western Maryland showing its somewhat-muted fall colors.

UPDATE: He's home and, aside from a foot-long gash, a shaved leg and a heavily drugged demeanor, appears no worse for wear.

While waiting our turn at the vet, they stuck an orange Post-It note with the letters "DND" on one of the exam room doors. A woman left that room just as we left the other. She seemed more composed than I was at the time, and my dog is still alive.

I'm still a long way off from accepting my dog's mortality.