Tagged state of the world

Climate rally

On September 21, Damjan and I joined 30,000 people (supposedly) at the climate rally in front of the State Library of Victoria. The rally was part of a series around the world in the lead up to an important climate change conference in New York.

Ben and Jerry's: If it's melted, it's ruined

Ben & Jerry’s was the only corporation that I saw at the rally. I like their sign, ‘If it’s melted, it’s ruined.’ True for ice cream, true for Antarctica.

Next major extinction? Pollies

There’s that photo showing the Coalition ministers-to-be. They look like they wanted to be taken seriously, don’t they.

Homemade sign

Handwritten homemade signs are still being made.

Climate action is on my agenda

And here’s me. Climate action is on my agenda. When we left the rally, Damjan walked around the city holding this sign. We got a lot of people smiling at us and saying, ‘Good on you!’ Not surprising for the one electorate in Australia that voted in a Greens MP. Oh, there was one guy who said, ‘Tony Abbott is great!’ We thought he might not have read our sign properly.

Pink wash

When we told our families that I was pregnant with a girl, we said, ‘No pink!’

I was determined that our baby would be dressed in green, yellow, purple, blue, grey, white and red. There are so many colors other than pink but if you looked at the clothes targeted at baby girls, you wouldn’t know it.

Well, the best laid plans often go astray. A generous donation of an entire wardrobe of first year clothing, plus gifts from people who didn’t know of our edict means that Mia has so much pink clothing that we could now run a pink wash of laundry, alongside the whites and coloured loads.

At least she has no pink nappies.

image

Middle class crime

‘Should I get six eggs or the full dozen?’ I thought. It was confusing, even more so when I realised that twelve eggs were more expensive than two cartons of six eggs.

As I stood in the supermarket, perplexed, I saw something strange. The woman next to me was holding a carton of dozen ‘basics’ eggs. This is the most inexpensive option — nothing barn laid, free range or organic about those eggs.

Yet, I noticed the woman had her hand in a carton of free range eggs too. I watched as she swapped each basic egg with a free range egg!

I was gobsmacked. I understand that people shoplift but this… this seemed particularly pointless. I can’t taste the difference between eggs from free range chickens and caged chickens. I buy free range and organic eggs for the principle of it, not the taste.

Ethical stealing? ‘I only steal Fair Trade. I want to support the farmers, you know.’

I have seen people swapping ‘Sainsbury’s Basics’ tomatoes for the premium ‘Taste the Difference’ tomatoes. Now, that I understand. I really can taste the difference, the branding does not lie.

Later that evening, I was listening to the radio and there was a discussion about the global financial crisis (again).

The commentator said, ‘As the recession deepens, we’ve seen increasing rates of shoplifting. Interestingly, it’s middle class shoplifting. More iPods are being taken, perfume, books…’

And, as I witnessed, also free range Fair Trade organic groceries!

Getting it wrong easier than getting it right

I read a frightening article in the Observer’s Food Monthly magazine. It was frightening to me, even though I probably have a relatively good diet. But I can see how people could very easily fall into the trap of eating badly even with the best intentions.

Read this on The Observer’s website here — Running on Empty Carbs.

I’m a fruit fiend. Every day, I typically eat a banana, two oranges and an apple. I’ve known for a while that each orange has the same calories as a small chocolate bar. The article confirms this:

‘Even fresh fruit… is a highly calorific food that should be treated with caution. “One consequence of the government’s Five-a-Day campaign is that children are eating fruit rather than vegetables to meet their target… If you are consuming an extra five pieces of fruit a day and changing nothing else, it will give you more calories because fruit is very sugary.” ‘

There are other depressing revelations (or reminders) about mashed potato, chorizo sausages, apple juice, Rice Krispies (like Rice Bubbles in Australia), muesli bars, dried apricots, bread and crumpets.

Why is it so hard? Why is it much easier to get it wrong than to get it right?

I’m trying to find ways of increasing the protein in my diet but I don’t have the skills or knowledge. It’s also expensive. What can I snack on, if not fruit, rice cakes, muesli bars or salted almonds? Am I meant to keep cans of tuna and boiled eggs on my desk?

Hyper-connected

I’m a pretty Web-2.0-savvy kind of person. I have a domain name, a blog, I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn… No one could say that I’m a Luddite.

However, I have to ask — what’s with this Twitter thing? So much press, ‘everyone’ is on it. A few weeks ago, the Guardian reported:

…it is huge step up to hold, as the Israeli consulate in New York did last week, a public, government-backed “citizens’ conference” on the social site Twitter – and then to keep replying to comments from all over the globe. It has proved massively popular: the consulate’s Twitter site (twitter.com/israelconsulate) yesterday afternoon had 3,739 followers, and at one point was posting a new comment, or answer to a comment, nearly every second.

On the Twitter website, it says, ‘With Twitter, you can stay hyper–connected to your friends and always know what they’re doing.’

  • Eating soup? Research shows that moms want to know.
  • Running late to a meeting? Your co–workers might find that useful.
  • Partying? Your friends may want to join you.

Why? Why would you want to be hyper-connected?

I usually can’t think of anything non-banal to pass onto my friends via my Facebook status. So I don’t update.

According to Twitter, though, my friends, family and co-workers want to know the banal details of my life. Eh? Really? Really really?

Peak banana

Somehow, a while back, I found out that banana plants were actually giant herbs. I told this to some people and they ridiculed me.

‘Giant herbs?’ they said. ‘You’re making stuff up.’

‘It’s true!’ I cried. ‘I’ll show you. Let’s look it up on Wikipedia.’

Wikipedia is, of course, the fount of all knowledge. Imagine my distress, then, when there was no mention of ‘herb’ in Wikipedia’s banana article.*

‘But it’s true…’ I said plaintively.

‘Yeah, yeah,’ they said.

I started doubting my previous conviction.

Unexpectedly, while visiting the Palm House at Kew Gardens, I received long overdue vindication.


‘I told them so! I told them!’ I shouted.

Yap passed on some more interesting banana facts.

He said, ‘There is a disease killing all the bananas, you know. It’s gradually reducing the worldwide banana production.’

‘Really?’ I said. ‘I didn’t know that! It must be because all the bananas are clones of each other.’

Yap nodded. ‘In fact, due to this disease, some experts have announced that we have reached peak production.’ He paused. ‘It’s peak banana**.’

* The Wikipedia article on bananas now does have a reference to it growing from ‘herbaceous plants’ in the first line. I swear this wasn’t there when looked.

** I thought Yap was joking and I laughed hysterically. But I just now looked it up on Google and found that there are indeed people writing about peak banana.

Free range chicken

I am a tender hearted person, really. I blink back tears when reading sad stories, watching advertisements designed to tug at the heartstrings, and go to great lengths to avoid maybe possibly slightly hurting someone’s feelings.

On the phone, my mum was telling me about this show she had been watching. ‘Jamie’s Fowl Dinners‘ had arrived in Australia.

I don’t like watching or hearing about animals suffering on their journeys to become food. You might say that I am wilfully ignorant. But there was no way I could ignore it this time because it was my mum telling me.

She said, ‘Did you know that chickens only grow for 42 days before they’re killed to be eaten? They grow up in cages and there’s not enough room for them to stand up. Because they don’t stand, they never grown bones properly. Their bones can’t even carry their own weight!’

‘EEEE, stop it, waaah!’ Tears were practically flowing down my face as I imagined the poor chickens, too fat and weak to stand up in the crowd.

‘Isn’t that interesting?’ mum marvelled. ‘I never knew!’

‘I wish they could grow chickens without brains,’ I lamented. ‘Just chicken bits that aren’t connected to feelings.’ Perhaps for some people, a chicken-sized brain is small enough to not worry about the chicken’s feelings.

Chicken is my favourite meat but I could no longer plead ignorance. From now on, I will only buy free range chicken. I already buy free range eggs.

Last week, I was proud of myself because to make sauteed chicken breasts with olive and caper sauce, I went straight to the fridge cabinet with the free range chickens. I didn’t even glance at the standard chickens.

I am lucky that I like leg pieces (thigh and drumstick) more than chicken breast. Chicken breast is very, very expensive. The free range variety is around £10 for two pieces. I used to buy chicken around once a month. To manage the extra cost, I will probably continue buying at the same frequency but smaller amounts.