Friday, June 30, 2006

Um, Hello

So, yesterday I was on the go all day, busy with the stuff people like me obsess over. First the grocery store; oh the challenges (note the semi-colon...who knows if its placement is correct, we intellectuals just use them at will). Then off to Sperlings Nursery. Sperlings tries to sell the unsuspecting public on their location, but the fact of the matter is they're on the 101, and it's so sodding hot there; (semi-colon!) not at all the oasis their website implies. But, since I'm all about paying top dollar with only a seven-day guarantee on any plants I purchase, that was my destination. I was headed over to a friend's for lunch and have decided lately that when I dine anywhere, I take a plant that my hostess has to plant in dirt. It's not enough that they're cooking for me, I want to check out their gardening acumen as well and guilt them into thinking about me (cursing me?) every time they have to throw water the way of the plant.

Then it was lunchtime! YAY!!!! Air conditioning, homecooked yummy food, interesting ladies. The annoying chirp (no idea how to change it) of my cell interrupted our intellectual chatter..."OHMYGOD this salad is delicious...did you actually roast that chicken this heat? the homemade lemon die for...fresh blueberries, room temperature...perfect!...oh fuck, I'm having a(nother) hot flash." Oh yes, and then the chirp of the phone and me rummaging through my huge bag trying to find it and remembering that I'd slipped it into this clever little zipper compartment especially designed for cell phones. "Hello... hello...yeah, well, just throw anything that looks marginally untidy into a big box and toss the box into the walk-in closet." Me responding to husband informing me that location company wants to scout our house for a shoot. We like the mnoney they throw our way and know how to fine-tune our home to minimalism in no time flat. Then he began saying something about our daughter Jane's house, all sorts of excitement, helicopter, bullhorn, two suspects, everything/everyone is fine." Um, excuse me?

Time for me to head back up the little mountain to our home because you can't use the words helicopter, bullhorn, suspects, police in one sentence without catching my immediate attention. Those very words applied to my daughter's house yesterday morning. She lives in Hollywood in a cute little Spanish bungalow that is close to La Brea and closer to Melrose. Nice, but edgy. Pretty, but with an underbelly. Family friendly, but not. In other words, it ain't the suburbs.

To be continued...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Another Month

'til BlogHer. I need to start posting more on the odd chance that some stranger will actually want to check out my blog. The pressure of that is enough to render me wordless.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth and a Moral Issue

A couple of weeks ago our son called from New York to tell us that he and his entire office had just gone to see a film. At 10 AM they'd left their office in Tribeca and gone to the movies. There weren't many other adults there, but the theatre was packed with middle school-aged kids who were there, courtesy of Wired magazine. [Wired, you rock.] My son works for an advertising agency that has a mission that goes beyond making money and the agency understood that seeing this film at 10 AM on a workday made sense, morally.

In California we elected a governor who has three Humvees in his garage. Three. Humvees. Remember this when you go to the polls in November. Even if you decide to vote for him, think about dropping him a line about the Humvee issue.

There are lots of things that we can do. Things that seem small, but when we all make the effort, what a difference we could make. We need to start now.


Most emissions from homes are from the fossil fuels burned to generate electricity and heat. By using energy more efficiently at home, you can reduce your emissions and lower your energy bills by more than 30%.

In addition, since agriculture is responsible for about a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, you can reduce your emissions simply by watching what you eat.

Here’s how:

Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds! You can purchase CFLs online from the Energy Federation.

Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer
Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has more tips for saving energy on heating and cooling.

Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Install a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.

Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases
Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most efficient models. If each household in the U.S. replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we’d eliminate 175 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year!

Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Use less hot water
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.

Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
You can save 700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.

Turn off electronic devices you’re not using
Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them
Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!

Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load and use the energy-saving setting
You can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

Insulate and weatherize your home
Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year. The Consumer Federation of America has more information on how to better insulate your home.

Be sure you’re recycling at home
You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates. Earth 911 can help you find recycling resources in your area.

Buy recycled paper products
It takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.

Plant a tree
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%. The Arbor Day Foundation has information on planting and provides trees you can plant with membership.

Get a home energy audit
Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Energy Star can help you find an energy specialist.

Switch to green power
In many areas, you can switch to energy generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. The Green Power Network is a good place to start to figure out what’s available in your area.

Buy locally grown and produced foods
The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.

Buy fresh foods instead of frozen
Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

Buy organic foods as much as possible
Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!

Avoid heavily packaged products
You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

Eat less meat
Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.

Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible
Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Click here to find transit options in your area.

Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates
Sharing a ride with someone just 2 days a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. runs a free national service connecting commuters and travelers.

Keep your car tuned up
Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated
Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!

When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle
You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid! You can find information on fuel efficiency here and here.

Try car sharing
Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance. Many companies – such as Flexcar -- offer low emission or hybrid cars too!

Try telecommuting from home
Telecommuting can help you drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week. For more information, check out the Telework Coalition.

Fly less
Air travel produces large amounts of emissions so reducing how much you fly by even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. You can also offset your air travel by investing in renewable energy projects.

The average American generates about 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year from personal transportation, home energy use and from the energy used to produce all of the products and services we consume.

CALCULATE YOUR PERSONAL IMPACT to see how much CO2 you produce each year.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gone with the Wind

Back to Atlanta...

A storm blew through Georgia the evening we arrived which provided some welcome relief from the insane humidity that accompanies summer in much of the United States. Walking down the jetway into Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport, a blast of moist heat hit me full face and produced an instant hot flash. My personal hot flashes involve beads of sweat all over my face which, if left long enough, merge into something not nearly as cute as beads. Not very attractive, but handled very effectively by blasts of air conditioning in a car or fans in the house. Moving air, that’s all I need, and plenty of it.

Leaving the airport, monsoonal weather all around us. Drenching rains for 10 miles and then sun baking the red Georgia clay for another 10 miles, followed by more blinding rain. Acres of pine forest obscuring any real views and churches. Churches everywhere, most with insanely complicated names like Church of the Foursquare Gospel and Redeeming Savior and Holy Spirit Church of God. We were headed to Rome, Georgia, deep in the Bible Belt. (This picture is supposed to perfectly impress upon you just how red that clay soil is...but it just looks like dirt.)

The wedding was perfect. I've already nattered on about that. The tough part of this whole trip was the length of time we had to stay there. In an ideal world our free frequent flier redemption tickets on Delta would have allowed us to fly in on Friday and back to L.A. on Sunday. Nope, we had to stay until Tuesday. Needless to say the entire wedding party and every guest was gone by noon on Sunday except our old and dear friends, the bride's parents. Their flight to NY wasn't until later that evening so we could at least spend the afternoon together. But then they left. We spent a lot of time talking about going out to dinner, seeing a movie, getting up early the next morning and getting the hell outta Dodge, but there was not one, NOT ONE, restaurant open in town. NOWHERE. So, we headed to some mall on the outskirts of town, grabbed the new Asian salad with Paul Newman dressing (good) at McDonalds, felt virtuous since we didn't eat what we wanted and then saw The Da Vinci flick (not brilliant, not horrible...very average...wait for it to come out on DVD).

Monday was full of museum stuff. Civil War Train museum...hmmm, I thought. Yippie, Himself thought. It was co-curated with The Smithsonian and was actually quite good. Then we headed Atlanta way. Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum...very good and then the Martin Luther King Memorial and Museum. Also v.g. The highlight of both places, for me, was walking into MLK's old church, Ebeneezer Baptist. I'd seen so much footage of him preaching from that pulpit that it was familiar.

Hi Jimmy. I wish you were still our president.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Dear Linda, it began, I can't believe I am writing the following words because I can't say them out loud. Eileen has Stage IV non-hodgkins lymphoma. I can’t talk now. Just write to me. Tell me my child is going to be okay. Tell me this isn’t happening. I wanted to call New York and assure Ann that all would be fine. Instead, I immediately went into the bowels of the internet and discovered more than I ever wanted to know about what would become Eileen's battle. She can beat this, I said over and over to myself and wrote to Ann. She can beat this.

That was 2½ years ago. Last weekend, we went to Eileen’s wedding, in Georgia where her family, all her ultimate Frisbee friends, the ultimate Frisbee team she coaches at the University of Georgia and old family friends gathered to celebrate the life, the happiness and the very positive future of this lovely, healthy and beautifully quirky, brilliant young woman. You know, brilliant in that way you just can't understand. Eileen has taught high school math for six or seven years and this August, she begins her PhD studies in math.

Eileen and her Pa. When you have more than just the day to celebrate, the indescribable joy is never far from the 'what-might-have-been' emotion. Until we all got goofy with the happiness of it all, there were a lot of sniffs and rooting around in pockets and purses for tissues.

More to follow, but my Charter connection is acting ugly. I'll save this and post before I get knocked offline.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

%^$#&^%$#$@ Wireless Router

We have an internet connection! See...I am typing on it just now. But I'm in my husband's office as my dear little wireless router and expensive booster router are confused and cannot connect my laptop to the internet. So when we get back on Tuesday, I will have our computer guru Stanley come round and sort things out. For now, I'll just go back to my packing and setting of timed lights (see, burglers...they're definitely not out of town!). Bugger...just remembered...forgot to stop the wretched mail. Shit. Stopped the papers, not that stopping them stops them. Our delivery dude does whatever the hell he feels like doing...apparently. So we get credited for not getting the papers AND burglers know we're not home. It's a win win situation for everyone!

We're headed off to Atlanta for a wedding. There will be no pics of me. I will be especially unattractive due to the humidity. But it's all about the bride, so shut up, Lin.

Does Delta serve food? Who cares. I'm taking sandwiches. It will be like an old fashioned train journey, except less comfortable.

Have a lovely weekend. And remember, we're not around so if you want to steal anything, go for it.