Friday, April 30, 2010

Bigger and messier than the Exxon Valdez spill

I hate to say "we told you so," but we did.

My heart goes out to the sea turtles, shrimp, oysters and other types of marine life native to the Gulf of Mexico, and especially the Mississippi River Delta region. Your life will soon be inundated with oil from below the sea floor. To the people of Louisiana and Mississippi, you are in my thoughts as well; I know many of you rely on the coastal life as your main source of income, and now that income may soon be mixed with more oil than was spilled in the Exxon Valdez spill of 20 years ago.

But we told you so. I know offshore drilling is the other largest contributor to the local economies in the deep south coastal region, but that half just blacked out the other half: fishing. This isn't the right time to be pointing fingers, but my finger's pointed at big oil. And it's pointed at anyone who has supported offshore drilling. No, my finger's pointed at anyone who hasn't spoken out in vehement opposition to offshore drilling.

Thanks to Democracy Now! for the photos.

I remember watching this video and it made me sad/enraged. Twenty years later, an area still reeling from the detrimental effects of Hurricane Katrina is about to face an even larger crisis. The source of income for many residents of this area is about to be wiped out, for a long time. The Exxon Valdez spill may soon be dwarfed compared to this oil leak from deep below the ocean surface. And if it's taken over 20 years to not clean that spill, how long will we wait for the damages from this new spill in progress to fixed?

People are still living in trailers next to what remains of their pre-Katrina houses all over Louisiana and Mississippi...My heart goes out to you. And to the animals, this is minuscule compared to the total damage humans have caused, but my heart will always be extended to you.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shake It For Grandma Biography

The Tree Sloth, both the three and two toed varieties, spends practically the entirety of each week hanging upside down from the same tree. Approximately once during this week, the sloth leaves the safety of their tree to urinate and defecate waste generated from the tree's branches and leaves it has eaten. Though this practice makes them more vulnerable to predation, the sloth always deposits their waste in a hole at the base of the tree, and buries it in the same spot. In this way the sloth gives the tree back that which it can no longer use, and contributes to its own future meals.

Similarly, Shake It For Grandma, which consists of Ashley Wilde and Dorian Reynold, simultaneously nurture and receive nourishment from trees by inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, while the tree respires conversely by inhaling carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen through the same leaves which the Tree Sloth eats and shits. And, Shake It For Grandma invites you to join them in another mutualistic, symbiotic relationship by consuming their music. Listen, dance, and enjoy, while enabling them to create new tunes for you to get down to.

Though no one is quite sure what the "It" refers to in Shake It For Grandma. All are encouraged to use their own interpretive abilities to shake something. Do not attempt to live outside of this cyclical existence. Anyone who tries to do so will inevitably fail. Follow in the example of the Sloth and shake it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

what I'm eating for breakfast: Autumn in the Midwest tofu scramble

This morning, after doing my standard hour(ish) of writing. I went upstairs to negotiate for some breakfast with a kitchen in need of a visit from the grocery store fairy. There was an adequate amount of food, for sure, but not many breakfast items. Basically, there was no oats to make oatmeal, my standard breakfast. But that's okay; I was in need of a change in the morning, anyways.

My mom said I should "look up" an "apple tofu scrambler" online. Interesting...I searched "apple tofu breakfast" and eventually found my way here. No apples, but there is tofu, sweet potatoes, and maple syrup in it.

Okay, I basically disregarded that recipe, but I owe inspiration for the following recipe to my mom and Tamara Marnell, of Bloomington, Indiana, author of The Amateur Nutritionist blog.

So here it is. I'm calling it Autumn in the Midwest tofu scramble:

  • two large chopped apples. I used honey crisp, which I have just under a half bushel of right now, purchased from a roadside stand in Michigan (see my other blog, which I need to update again, for why I was in Michigan).
  • 1/2 thinly sliced squash. I used a squash bought from the same roadside stand where I got the apples. I can't remember the name of this particular variety, but it's about the size of an acorn squash, and looks like a dark green pumpkin on the outside, and inside, it's just like a pumpkin. Any squash with orange, pumpkin-like flesh will work fine in this, as would sweet potatoes.
  • 1 onion. Okay, I didn't have any fresh onions. I used part of a frozen "seasoning blend" (mostly onions with a little bell pepper and celery as well), and a frozen fajita vegetable pack consisting of onions and bell peppers. I estimate what I added was the equivalent of one medium onion.
  • 1 cup chopped carrots. Again, an estimate, add as many carrots as you want.
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper. I would say green, or purple, would go best in this, mostly because almost everything else is a warm color, so the coolness of green and purple would balance it, color-wise.
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds. I used almonds, that's what I had available. I bet walnuts would be great in this, also.
  • 3/4 block firm tofu, pressed. More of this could be added, too, I just so happened to have 3/4 block leftover from yesterday's more modest breakfast of toast, tofu, and jelly.
  • About 1.5-2 tablespoons cinnamon. Unfortunately, I never actually measure things like this out, but about this much.
  • About 1 tablespoon allspice. Or equal parts nutmeg and cloves totaling to about a tablespoon.
  • 1-2 ounces Maple Syrup, or Agave Nectar, depending on how sweet you want it. I used a Maple Agave syrup blend.
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic. *See salt description at bottom of the list
  • enough oil to make thin layer on your pan
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy buttery spread (optional). I used earth balance. It's pretty good--has all natural ingredients and lactic acid derived from beets, not milk.
  • salt, to taste. *Okay, I couldn't find any garlic at the outset of this coffee drenched cooking endeavor, and when I tested the dish I thought it needed some garlic. My only option was garlic salt. Adding this turned out beautifully. I think the salt helped a lot, possibly more than the garlic.
In a large pan, combine oil, garlic, squash, onion, and carrots. Simmer on medium heat until squash is tender (about 5 minutes, if it's sliced thinly). Add apples, bell peppers, tofu, cinnamon, and allspice. Scramble all this together, adding syrup and butter substitute when cinnamon and allspice appear to be equally spread throughout the pan (Again, this is optional, at this point all the oil I had initially added had been absorbed by food, thus warranting more. I chose the earth balance, could have used more oil, though. Whatever you choose, the extra oil will mix with the syrup and help the spices spread evenly throughout the dish). Cook until apples are soft and tofu has a rich, golden color.

Top with more syrup to reach your desired level of sweetness. Serve with toast, or just eat it by itself.

This recipe makes enough for 2-3 people.

peace and love

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Just set up a new blog for my bike trip around Lake Michigan. I hope to use this blog for bike ride reports and other human propulsion related stuff.


I stepped off the All One gear fixed gear bike I ride around mostly and onto my Fuji Touring for a trip around Lake Michigan. I wrote much more than I did take pictures but I'm still trying to get these pictures off my 6 year old digital camera. The USB chord is not properly connecting it to my computer so far. I will figure this out, though.

I've set up this separate blog for my bicycle related postings, which I hope there will be many of. My friend Andrew, who recently rediscovered the bicycle because of a suspended driver's license, said it.

"We are the engines."

He's right. We are.

I recently propelled myself around Lake Michigan. Most of it, anyways, cutting off the last few hundred miles (four days worth of riding probably). The weather was getting colder every day. This successfully sucked any joy out of riding for 7 hours a day. If it isn't fun anymore, why keep going? Plus, my mom wanted to pick me up and ride some with me in Michigan.

All in all I rode approximately 600 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to Traverse City, Michigan, going clockwise around the Lake.

Now hopefully I can get these pictures up....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I have a frat brother named Matt but I'm not in a frat. We share the same human parents, one female, one male. He is in a frat but it's cool because he's read Peter Singer's work, eats meat occasionally but not excessively, and understands he's a speciesist because of it. He has some pretty cool frat brothers with whom I do not share preceding generation human parents and also they do cool outdoor stuff like solo hiking the Appalachian Trail and climbing rocks and things of that nature. My frat brother goes to the University of Illinois and was a part of the coolest group at the Firehaus bar where we drank Fat Tire. Dan bought me a Fat Tire, my frat brother's frat brother, he told me about hiking the Appalachian trail by himself for six weeks, going into a town once a week to purchase more edibles, my frat brother want to drink some of my Fat Tire beer from Dan so I let him, we shared the drink. We shared a drink. I told my frat brother of my plans to bicycle around a large body of water created by a large glacier millions of years ago. I told Dan of my plans to bicycle around the lake crossing via ferry near Mackinaw Island. My frat brother brought me to this delicious late night restaurant where they have pure vegetarian sloppy joes. Delicious was had there. The americano from the cafe this morning was also more so than the iced coffee procured at the McDonald's "restaurant" yesterday evening. Why are there so many fat Americans? The U.S. is currently working to address the issue of obesity. It is a complicated issue that relates to lifestyles, and eating a diet high in fat and calories, as well as physiological factors (including genetics). You will also notice that there are many Americans who are very concerned about good health and exercise regularly and make healthy choices when they eat.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thanks, Ani

Barack Obama called Kanye West a jackass for what he did to Taylor Swift at the VMAs (Video Music Awards). I have a feeling I am ignorant to the sheer volume of outbursts Kanye has had similar to this one. I don't really follow this stuff much, but happened to see the video on Huffington Post this morning. (I guess I was in a video watching mood because i also watched this awesome video.) This time, he jumped on stage just when the poor girl, Swift, was beginning to nervously stumble through a thank you speech.

I didn't actually watch the VMAs, but I agree with Obama, Kanye's a jackass. But that reporter shouldn't have twitted something he said off the record. While all this bullshit was brewing into intoxicatingly juicy fodder for People magazine to gossip about I was seeing Ani Difranco perform in Aurora, Illinois. She played in the same town where I went to high school. I rode my bike there, and didn't even have to take a train thirty miles before I rode it.

The show was at the Paramount Theatre, on Galena blvd. Ani kept talking about how great the building was, because she "[loves] old buildings." The Paramount is a cool place, I'd never been inside before, though I've passed it often.

I found out about the show yesterday morning, about 12 hours before it started, from an old high school classmate's facebook status. When I was sure that Ani Difranco was in fact playing less than 10 miles from my house I knew I had to go. I got to the show 45 minutes after it started. I don't know how it happened; one minute I was drinking a cup of iced coffee and it was 5:30, and then I looked at the clock and it was 7. Oh well, I didn't miss Ani. The house manager had to sell me a ticket in the gift store because the box office had closed by the time I got there, but it worked out just fine.

I bought the best seat in the house--front row and the exact center--45 minutes after the show started. She played a good mix of new and old material. I picked up her new album after the show, it isn't really very new. Red Letter Year came out in September of last year, but its new to me. And fuck, this record's good:

human beings are a cross
between monkeys and ants
you can see us from your spaceship
melting the polar ice caps
with our arrogance
summon a congress of angels
dressed in riot gear
we got ourselves a serious situation
down here

I've listened to more music in the past 24 hours than I have in the past week combined. And every note I've heard, except for a few songs on 89.1 in my mom's car, is from Ani's "new" album. I don't know if its my iPod dying or not downloading anymore music, but I've barely been listening to music lately. And besides one David Vandervelde album I bought on impulse over the winter everything I've listened to when I do listen to music is old.

The show was inspiring. Ani gives off all sorts of good vibes when she plays. She never stopped smiling, and I couldn't help but smile while she played for at least an hour less than 15 feet from where I sat.

The Paramount is a theatre, therefore it has seats, which was kind of strange for a show, but it was nice. A combination of Ani's peaceful and calming vibes and that comfortable chair made that set fly by. Even while seeing my favorite bands I often find myself checking the time, but I didn't do that once during Ani. I sat, perfectly content for the entire set, while she proved she really did "love her job," as she said at the beginning of the set.

I've been playing guitar, too. Lately I've been doing much more reading a writing than guitar playing, but I can see that changing. I need to get better at strumming those six strings so I can learn some of her songs!

I wrote a poem while she played, too. She gave off a creative vibe, too. Here it is, not quite finished, but close, I think:

From the Ani Difranco Performance, September 13, Aurora, IL, USA

I love this city watery breeze city where troops are being used support our troops love this city support sing folk rant sinning city with spitting stuck with city loving troops paradoxically feeling democracy’s spinal chasm as troops choose between the colors of lipstick on whores heading for brick was in city corner thank you America for being more than I expected now which side are you on bricks in our dendrites we have mortar for synapses and hands but we have troops are going for outside away from the splinters and televisions and splintered bricks I love this city and the water which it grew from mixed wi th sand and sement this theatre hand of humans handling bricks handling flowing floated watching ceilings which color means nothing while inside 21,000 splinters surge love this city watering breeze using folks create chasms in choice bodies bricks between troops and machines these are not pleasure machines for love city not supported bodies of bricks mortar handled out side troop users spent their tariffs on poppy now troops are grumbly taxis we love city with choice bodies and bricks melting pleasures chasms spelunked city singing of our city

Thanks, Ani, you've reignited my love for music. Now I think I have to buy a new iPod, though. At least they'll take my old one, recycle it, and give me 10 percent off a new one.

Peace and Love

Friday, September 11, 2009

On Art and Science

No matter where I go I will always find poetry. It is everywhere. In marine zoology there is poetry. There is poetry in modern warfare, in the firing of a drone missile in a distant land. Whether I am in Normal or Naperville, Illinois, or anywhere else in this gigantic universe, I can always find and create new artwork.

I've been rereading Scratching the Beat Surface by Michael McClure, this collection of his essays sums up the 60's mindset, upholds it, then tears it apart, like this romantically idealized way of thought should be. Through this collection of essays, McClure hammers out a manifesto of sorts, but in his own way. He is not didactic--never imposing his own morals on the reader--but he argues for a certain way of thinking that defies all terminology except moralor ethical, perhaps.

McClure once said "if poetry and science can not change one’s life, they are meaningless." I believe this is found somewhere in the approximately 170 pages of rich prose, but I haven't come across it yet. I agree with this statement, though. McClure sees an inherent connection between science and art. He deals mostly with the connection between science and poetry, and I believe there are many.

Art is a reflection of the world. No matter what anyone says about their art, it is a composite production of the world around them. Now art can be seen as a reflection of the artist within the world, but this is essentially the world, because we are all in the world. Whether one's art deals with the world abstractly or directly, it deals with the world, it makes conclusions about the world. Science is a reflection of the world, too. The scientist takes what is perceived as happening in the world and makes judgments and premises based on them. They take observations of the world and make conclusions based on those observations.

The product of art and science is conclusions, or at least attempts at making conclusions. The conclusion might be inconclusive, but it still is a conclusion. So, art and science are inherently connected, I think.

I attempt to show a hyperawarenes of this with my poetry. This poem is new. I don't know if I'm all that successful with articulating a feasible poetic theory or not yet, but I'm trying to.


how to place unclassifiable floating collections of protein is like living in this boiling concoction wave floppers to icy good byes expel some heat gracefully flip pray for krill, competing with nets and vessels billions of docile dentures, torpedo shaped smiles this sound means lung bubbles could be telling jokes dilating blood vessels bathing arctic sun maximizes pink beach bodies absorbing heat like a frog, water brought boiling won’t appear squeamish absorption maximization of commonplace becoming speciesfic muscles stiffen large deep water vision eyes roll over problem unfortunately bear like ancestors’ choice to dwell sea lee waving groan flippers rotated forward is waved like human trashcrement drifting to melt beach

*”Seals and their allies were traditionally classified in the order Pinnipedia—the system used here. Today, however, most zoologists believe that these mammals belong to the order Carnivora. Seals and their allies are broken down into 3 families. It is possible that sea lions (family Otaridae) and walruses (family Odobenidae) originated from bearlike ancestors, while true seals (family Phocidae) are more closely related to otters.” The Smithsonian Institute’s Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World’s Wildlife