Friday, December 31, 2010

Much to be Grateful for in 2010

Our house is the biggest change since the beginning of the year. It took a lot of patience and most of our carefully-gathered savings, but we now have a home that suits us. If we are careful, we'll have it all paid off by the time Kris retires, and then we can sit on our porch and just flick our fingers!(Not that we will, but the point is, we could if we wanted to!)
Our neighbors and our families are working out pretty well. We've even accumulated a full set of cats
I'm also grateful for the chance to work with Leigh Franklin Associates on several interesting projects that I hope may bear fruit in 2011.
Here's a collage of my 2010 Facebook statuses; it's automatically generated by an app, but I was surprised to see that it fairly accurately depicted my mood this year:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rosemary Christmas Tree!

Rosemary bush as Christmas tree
Christmas Cactus, Christmas Rosemary,
and Christmas Candle!

For a Christmas tree this year, we got a live rosemary bush. It looks fine, smells great, and the cats leave it alone.
(We'd all had cats before, and knew that they loved to toy with Christmas trees. As a child, I always assumed it was normal to guy trees to the ceiling with wire, because if you didn't the cats climbing the tree would bring it down.)
Now that the holiday is over, we're moving Rosemary outdoors where she'll be more comfortable throughout the year. We hope she'll be able to come inside to celebrate Christmas with us every year, as a decoration that's appropriate, environmentally responsible, and fun!

Our first Christmas in our new home!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Donating Blood Was Easy!

I saw a "Give Blood Today" sign on the way to the Post Office, and couldn't think of a reason not to.
Randy donating blood
Not my most attractive picture,
but something to be proud of
I used to give blood regularly (it's a free and easy way to do a little good in the world, and to get cookies on the side!) but between one thing and another, I'd gotten out of the habit. This seemed like an easy way to get back to it.
The location was a Catholic Church in West Seattle, probably Holy Rosary; the blood drive was staffed by the Puget Sound Blood Center.
I went into the basement and found that the procedure was pretty much as I remembered. The main difference was that there was a lot more safety information, e.g. information about Crutz Jacobs disease. They'd also dealt with a couple of questions such as "Are you pregant?"; I had the choice of answering "Yes", "No" and "I am male". I suppose they'd gotten tired of silly questions about it!
The nurse who did the interview and blood iron test was, like me, an avid thrift store shopper; the guy who actually hooked me up to the blood bag was also friendly and we mostly talked about my new rain barrel; the crowd of donors sitting in the "Wait Here 10 Minutes" table seemed to be parishoners; we discussed the new archbishop and also the need for living wage jobs. 
I'm glad I took the time to give blood; it didn't take much time and I enjoy talking (as I always do!)
Talking it over this evening, I was amused to learn that Mother-In-Law had attended Holy Rosary while living with Aunt May. I wonder if we went through the same door!

Comics: This Modern World

This Modern World is a sharp, funny weekly comic strip by cartoonist and political commentator Tom Tomorrow (real name Dan Perkins) covers current events from a liberal point of view. This jester says what the courtiers dare not!

I was going to go into more detail, but this review from "Comics Worth Reading" is spot on:
"These strips parody consumerism, politics, and media in an insightful, funny way. Even when the events in the older ones are dated, the point behind them still rings true. Although a corporation’s economic strategies for pretending there’s no recession might change, for example, the fact that they attempt to manipulate the public and the government doesn’t.
Although overtly political, Perkins takes on targets regardless of their affiliations; his reactions are based on actions, not labels. The names may change but the same interests are behind the scenes, and he points them out no matter if the President is Bush or Clinton. One of his main themes is class warfare, whether it’s the rise of temp jobs while corporations downsize, the unbalanced taxing of the rich and the poor, or generous corporate welfare in contrast to restrictive welfare reform policies.

He’s fond of letting politicians and political commentators hang themselves on their own quotes and of pointing out manipulation and misuse of statistics. He presents the bizarre behavior of crowds in fresh ways, whether they’re Rush Limbaugh dittoheads (remember them?), WIRED’s target audience, OJ Simpson watchers, or stock market investors.

The reader moving through the volumes gets an overview of politics over the last decade, including the Gulf War, George Bush, health care reform, Bill Clinton, the rise of information technology, Newt Gingrich, the booming stock market, Monica Lewinsky, and school shootings. Plus there’s the ever-popular government hypocrisy, lazy journalists, overwhelming consumerism, uninformed non-voters, and racism.

The look of the strip is based on Fifties-style character clip art assembled in a collage effect. Clipped heads of suburbanites appear against patterned backgrounds, and at times images are used just because they’re odd. Originally a single panel, the comic now most often appears as a rectangular grid, usually made up of four panels.

Newer cartoons involve more action; a greater variety of images, including more caricatures of real-life figures; and more textures and background shades. There’s also more use of media parodies, including Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Dr. Seuss, and The Mask. He also does the occasional “homage” in the style of Dilbert, Little Nemo, Family Circus, or the Fantastic Four.

It’s wordy, presenting lots of information, and the pictures are there to support and enhance the ideas. Still, the art is needed. Most of the human characters are relentlessly cheerful regardless of what they’re saying, which backs up the idea that the general public is manipulated and rather brainless. The chirpy characters make the reader more inclined to question what they’re reading, which teaches people to think, not just accept, what they’re presented with.

The closest thing to a continuing character is Sparky, the sarcastic penguin wearing visor shades. At first he was there to parody lovable talking merchandised animal mascots, but he became the voice of reason — and the author.

The art gives the comic a unique look, but fundamentally the appeal is the ideas. Perkins covers stories that don’t get enough attention elsewhere and provides a valuable alternative perspective on familar stories. You can’t solve problems until you recognize them, and he’s trying to get our focus enough to point them out. The cartoon is educational, full of justified righteous anger at our cultural hypocrisy and greed. He deals with the difficulty of how to satirize what’s already unbelievable with talent and creativity, so the cartoons are humorous even if it’s your ox getting gored...."
You can ead the whole review, or just go right to the comic - highly recommended:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Eggnog from the Farmer's Market on Boxing Day

Is That Golden Glen
Behind the Counter?
The season of eggnog became much much better this year, as we discovered
While we can drink only a little eggnog straight (it is crazy rich!), but it is the perfect additive to our morning coffee. Who needs "Creamer" when you can get eggnog at insanely better quality?
Plus - it's made locally - and from ingrediants one can actually spell (e.g. "cream"). The only downside is that it's a seasonable product. We tried to persuade the seller that Irish Cream is a traditional St. Patrick's Day staple but I'm afraid sales slack off after the year-end holidays.
What a pity! Can we invent a use for eggnog for each month's holiday?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Comics 2010

A few that amused me this year:

XKCD Incident Report


Christmas Videos: My Favorites!

These, my current favorite Christmas videos, may tell you more than you want to know 'bout me. Enjoy!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Capping Air Vent: Easy Home Project

Mission Accomplished!
(But now it's obvious
the pipe needs painting. Next job!)
Our oil tank's air vent (when oil goes out to the burner, air has to come in to fill the vaccuum) is a simple pipe that runs up the side of the house, with an open top for the rain and pine needles to fall in. There must have been a cap on it when first built, but that was back in the 1940s - who knows what happened to it. I could of course spent a little money for an official cap, but the requirements are simple: air-permiable, rain-resistent, and possessed of character.

A busted flagpole supplied me with an eagle topper that fit the pipe nicely, but I wasn't absolutely certain about the passage of air. I drilled a horizontal shaft back to front (this will be invisible when mounted since the ornament is above eye level) and then a vertical shaft from the base up. An air test (blowing through the bottom) showed that the vertical shaft debris clogged the junction but it was easy to ream out.

In progress ...
...a simple mod

In place it looks fine: a little bit idiosyncratic, but isn't that the point? One dollar saved, one item kept out of the land fill, and one minor task accomplished!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Electron Boy: Now in Comics!

Electron Boy
Electron Boy in real life
Here's a creative use of comics:

13-year-old Erik Martin was turned into a super-hero ("Electron Boy") for a day, as part of a Make-A-Wish program (he's got a rare cancer). This did some good for him, personally, and generated a great news story: "Local boy with cancer turns into a superhero for a day".

Electron Boy
Electron Boy in Comics
Artists inspired by his story, and his desire to be in a comic book, developed the Electron Boy comic, which can be viewed online for free, or ordered through CCP Comics for $5, at (donations go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.)

Other developments:

Vietnam Veterans of America v. Dod: the "Personality Disorder Discharge" lawsuit

From Vietnam Veterans of America:
"Vietnam Veterans of America has filed a lawsuit responding to Department of Defense's wrongful discharge of nearly 26,000 veterans.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has violated the law by failing to release records showing that it has wrongfully discharged nearly 26,000 service members on the basis of so-called "Personality Disorder." This Personality Disorder designation has prevented disabled veterans from receiving the disability compensation and other benefits they have earned. Vietnam Veterans of America and its counsel, the Veterans Legal Services Clinic of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, hope that the records they obtain through this lawsuit will convince Congress to mandate a systemic review of these discharges and compel DoD to repair the harm it has caused.
The complaint, press release and other documents are accessible at

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reflect on this year’s accomplishments: Tip of the Week

My internet friend Irene Thorton's Law Practice Tip of the Week could apply to anybody:
"Reflect on this year’s accomplishments

Before making goals for next year, stop and appreciate the many things you accomplished this year. Give yourself the satisfaction of savoring or relishing what went well this year. You’ll feel good for doing so and likely identify some ideas for next year’s goals.

How quickly can you come up with a 100 accomplishments?"

A quiet holiday moment
as enforced by Mother Nature,
Seattle, Dec 21, 2008

This might be a fun thing to do in a quiet holiday moment. Of course, I might have to find a quiet holiday moment first.

My chiropractor friend Dr. Huck once told me that the moderate benefits to health accruing from having one beer a day could be attributed, not to simple biochemical factors, but to the act of stopping and taking time to enenjoy a beer. Perhaps, likewise, one big benefit of stopping and taking time to think of 100 accomplishments for the year would be just taking the time.

I'll try it. I promise. Just as soon as I find a moment!

Bible Verses Predicting Wikileaks

Compare and contrast:
Luke 12:3
"What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs."

Ecclesiastes 10:20
"Do not revile the king even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird in the sky may carry your words,
and a bird on the wing may report what you say."

Let us hope we are tending toward more of the former, and less of the latter!

(Citations courtesy of Rob on Contrary Brin. Thanks!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kiva for Christmas!

I am reluctant to give money directly to a person in need, because I don't know whether it'll go to a good use or be wasted. I give to large, organized endeavours, but don't like the overhead and also miss the personal touch. It's a simple fact that we can do more for others if we get some personal feedback, because we're humans, not robots, and humans thrive on human contact. A third factor is that, frankly, I'm not wealthy and there's a practical limit to what I can give before I start being a charge on others.

kivaToday, my friend Al and I were talking while working at the Mercer Island Thrift Store, suggested I try KIVA, a system that manages microloans. They screen the borrowers so the money is not wasted; their overhead is very low; you can personally picked the persons or projects you wish to help; and best of all, they are loans that are almost always repaid, so you can re-use your money over and over!

I decided to give it a try, and discovered that it's as easy as buying a book on Amazon:
  • Go to
  • Pick a person or a project to whom you want to loan. For my 1st time, I just picked the topmost one, but you can scroll through hundreds of choices, sort by type of enterprise, etc.
  • Click on Loan Now. This takes you to a "Shopping Basket" similar to buying a book on Amazon.
  • When you're done picking loans to fund, you "Check out" - just like online book buying!
  • You need to setup an account on Kiva, but they're willing to use your Facebook account if you let them. What the heck!
  • Pay with a credit card or PayPal
  • Sit back and watch the loan perform on the Portfolio Tracker.
I've risked $25 on a lot sillier things, so I'm really looking forward to see how this turns out! The Portfolio Tracker turns this into not a chore but a game; instead of scoring points in a fantasy investment league, we're changing lives in a real-world microloan enterprise. What could be more fun??

How Kiva Works from Kiva Microfunds on Vimeo.

This Is True = This Is Fun!

I've been reading "This Is True" for years, and can PROMISE YOU that it will make you laugh, and maybe just a little bit smarter. Every week its editor, Randy Cassingham, collects a dozen or so TRUE stories that are stranger than fiction. This is by far the best humor 'zine going -
If you want to follow ONE humor site, THIS IS IT!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dreaming of a White (Center) Christmas

White Center holiday Lighting
Xmas lighting in White Center
at 16th and Roxbury
The Wednesday, we were thoroughly pooped from a day of work; instead of preparing a home-cooked meal, we put in more time insulating the house. So it was easy to justify trotting down to the Triangle for a pitcher and a couple of Bee Sandwiches to share.
(The Bee Sandwisch is a truly magnificent take on the Philly Cheese Steak-and-dip, named after the cheerful waitress Bee who invented it. Or so I am told.  What  I am sure of is that they are very tasty, and really too big for one person.)
As we three (The Lovely Wife, the Mother In Law, and I) relaxed, there was a commotion outside. And behold - the tree and the Dr. Seuss-ian artwork at 16th and Roxbury was lighted!
It's a joint effort of several White Center groups - and much appreciated!
Happy Holidays!

Local Foods are Easy in Seattle

This weeks' Change the World Wednesday Challenge is:

"This month, find and enjoy local foods. Research what items are local in your area and then incorporate them into your family meals. Let us know (through a post or comments on this challenge) how you found local foods, which items are available in your area, and how you used them

We're pretty lucky here in Seattle that we have some good local food options. The most obvious is our county's good network of Farmer's markets so organized that it has its own webpage.
I think the network is supported through King County. You may wish to see if your county would do the same, as a relatively cheap way for county government to stimulate the local economy while improving health and local resilience!
There's a farmer's market close to Kris' Pilates studio, one closer to our friends Ken & Crystal's, one close to our house, and of course the justily famous Pike Place Market! So it's not really an question of whether to buy locally grown food, but when. We also like to dicket a bit for a better deal!
Washington State's climate is diverse enough, thanks to the ocean and the Cascades, that we grown a fairly complete diet. While for variety one might want some foods that don't grow here (e.g. bananas), still you could be perfectly healthy eating only things grown in state.
Seafood is a special case. We love the salmon patties from Costco; they're tasty, economical and relatively healthy, but even better on all three factors are fish right from the Loki, a family-owned vessel that sells right on the docks, and also at several farmer's markets. The fish are not farmed and it's got a great sustainability profile.
We're starting to grow a bit of our own food, which is a lot easier now that we have our own house. Many of our neighbors grow a little food as well, so we can share tips on what works.
Berrypicking is still a possibility. The you-picks even have websites these days, so you know when and where to go. But if you have an eye for blackberries, there are still a lot of street-ends and odd-lots that you can fill a bucket at.
But by far the easiest local food we've enjoyed this year was the wine we bottled at Jim and Charlotte's! If you're going to drink alcohol, why not try something local? And what is more local than something made in house from a neighbor's fruit? Now, wine is a crop that takes years to mature but, as they say with trees: "The best time to start was ten years ago; the second best time is now!" So this summer we're going to be using the generous gift of a wine carboy to lay in wine from local blackberries to be drunk around 2018.
If you're in the area, stop by - we'll share a glass!

Insulating the Mother-in-Law

Now that it's winter, our basement mother-in-law apartment is cold!
insulation installation by ginger
Ginger - the Mother-in-Law -
Installing the bubblewrap-like stuff
that fit in the lower part

Our suspicions that the walls were not well insulated were confirmed when we popped off one piece of panel to see that above waise-high, there were a few places with scraps of old insulation that was slumped down and not really very effectivemostly it was panneling, studding and siding, with the rest of the insulation being "air and a prayer". Up to waste high there was cement foundation, with half-inch thick lathes supporting the panelling.

We trotted down to McLendan's and got a couple rolls of fiberglass insulation (R-13). Because the cement/lathe construction was too thin for the fiberglass, we also got some insulation that looks link bubblewrap with a foil layer. It's only R-5 but that's better than nothing!
We really lucked out on this purchase since we happened to go on on the store's "Friends and Family Sale" night. It's only fair, I suppose, since we spend so much time there!
Taking the panelling off was our biggest problem. While the molding popped off pretty easily, the panelling was locked in at the bottom by the rug and at the top by acoustic tile. I was able to warm a foot-wide piece of pannelling out, but the full-sized sheets were in for good. We had to cut!
The panelling
was the big problem
Our first trywas to get a circular blade for Mother-In-Law's single-speed drill, but holding that unshielding whirling blade above my head, as it grabbed and kicked (and, when power was let off, continued to spin for several seconds) just did not seem like a terribly smart thing to do. I understand why many who work with wood are short or have shortened fingers!
So back we went to McLendan's and talked it over with the guy at the counter. Soon a new, modern saber-saw was mine (...or ours, or something.... Washington's a community property state). As a bonus, the M-I-L lobbyed hard for a modern cordless drill set.

I had resisted the new drill, on the grounds that it was a needless indulgence, but oh baby was I wrong!!! Tools have come a long, long way since the first, feckless cordless drills I'd tried ages ago. This little twister has all the torque power I need and fit in my hand much more naturally than my former favorite (and now lost alas!) drill. It even had a little light that illuminated the work area, the value of which I could not have appreciated until I tried it. Later, when I was drilling guide holes and screwing in window fixtures, I discovered that it being chuckless really speeding up the work.

wall insulation and window
The windows might have had
a better R value than the panelling!

In the end, we have the place insulated pretty thoroughly now. The panelling is not in great shape, but we were going to have to replace it anyway.
We used the metal-coated bubble wrap in a few other areas, such as the back of the closet where we didn't bother removing the panelling; attaching it directly to the back walls actually improved visibility in the closet by reflecting light. We also used the bubblestuff in the cement-walled back entryweay; when summer comes, we plan to panel over that as well.

All in all, this was a successful project.  We spread the work out over several days, but in actual time on project it didn't take nearly as long as I'd feared. It really helped to have two people working on it, and getting the right tools made a biiiig difference!
It'd might be hard calculating with precision how much this will save in the long run, but since the insulation will last almost forever, it's sure to pay off better than money in the bank. And keeping the Mother-In-Law happy is a very important part to keeping The Lovely Wife Happy!

Does Corporate Media Systematically Fool You?

A list of Washington State troops
Killed in our recent wars launched
Through news misinforation
More proof, were any needed, that our major news channels systematically misinforms us:
* Voters Say Election Full of Misleading and False Information by
*The Lies That Fox News Viewers Believe (citing a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll)
* Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War"
I found these at Alternet but posted each separately so you may avoid Alternet's biases (if any).
You may be asking yourself, "Why would corporate-owned media systematically fool us into believing what the corporations that own them want us to believe?" ... and I'm sure you see the answer right inside the question.

Fortunately, we don't have to stick with the corporate media anymore. Turn off your TV, go find information for yourself!

As Frank Zappa put it:

"I am gross and perverted
I'm obsessed 'n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed
I'm the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you
I may be vile and pernicious
But you can't look away
I make you think I'm delicious
With the stuff that I say
I'm the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I'm the slime oozin' out
From your TV set
You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don't need you
Don't go for help . . . no one will heed you
Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold
That's right, folks
Don't touch that dial
Well, I am the slime from your video
Oozin' along on your livin' room floor
I am the slime from your video
Can't stop the slime, people, lookit me go
I am the slime from your video
Oozin' along on your livin' room floor
I am the slime from your video
Can't stop the slime, people, lookit me go"
--- lyrics by Frank Zappa

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rebooting the American Dream - 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country: Back to the Future

I'm reading Thom Hartmann's latest book, which is for available for reading on It seems to be a very thoughtful guide for the way forward, based on our history and human nature. Here's how it starts....
"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, September 28, 1820
On April 14, 1789, George Washington was out walking through the fields at Mount Vernon, his home in Virginia, when Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, showed up on horseback. Thomson had a letter for Washington from the president pro tempore of the new, constitutionally created United States Senate, telling Washington that he’d just been elected president and the inauguration was set for April 30 in the nation’s capital, New York City.
This created two problems for Washington.
The first was saying goodbye to his 82-year-old mother, which the 57-year-old Washington did that night. She gave him her blessing and told him it was the last time he’d see her alive, as she was gravely ill; and, indeed, she died before he returned from New York.
The second problem was finding a suit of clothes made in America. For that he sent a courier to his old friend and fellow general from the American Revolutionary War, Henry Knox.
Washington couldn’t find a suit made in America because in the years prior to the American Revolution, the British East India Company (whose tea was thrown into Boston Harbor by outraged colonists after the Tea Act of 1773 gave the world’s largest transnational corporation a giant tax break) controlled the manufacture and the transportation of a whole range of goods, including fine clothing. Cotton and wool could be grown and sheared in the colonies, but it had to be sent to England to be turned into clothes.
This was a routine policy for England, and it is why until India achieved its independence in 1947 Mahatma Gandhi (who was assassinated a year later) sat with his spinning wheel for his lectures and spun daily in his own home. It was, like his Salt March, a protest against the colonial practices of England and an entreaty to his fellow Indians to make their own clothes to gain independence from British companies and institutions.
Fortunately for George Washington, an American clothing company had been established on April 28, 1783, in Hartford, Connecticut, by a man named Daniel Hinsdale, and it produced high-quality woolen and cotton clothing as well as items made from imported silk. It was to Hinsdale’s company that Knox turned, and he helped Washington get—in time for his inauguration two weeks later—a nice, but not excessively elegant, brown American-made suit. (He wore British black later for the celebrations and the most famous painting.)
When Washington became president in 1789, most of America’s personal and industrial products of any significance were manufactured in England or in its colonies. Washington asked his first Treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, what could be done about that, and Hamilton came up with an 11-point plan to foster American manufacturing, which he presented to Congress in 1791. By 1793 most of its points had either been made into law by Congress or formulated into policy by either President Washington or the various states, which put the country on a path of developing its industrial base and generating the largest source of federal revenue for more than a hundred years.
Those strategic proposals built the greatest industrial powerhouse the world had ever seen and, after more than 200 successful years, were abandoned only during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton (and remain abandoned to this day). Modern-day China, however, implemented most of Hamilton’s plan and has brought about a remarkable transformation of its nation in a single generation.
Hamilton’s 11-point plan for “American manufactures” is a primary inspiration for this book. It was part of a larger work titled Alexander Hamilton’s Report on the Subject of Manufactures: Made in His Capacity of Secretary of the Treasury...."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Dirt Crop is Doing Nicely!

As a soggy winter closes in, one crop continues to flourish: my compost heap.
Lazy Man's Compost Heap
December 2010
Back in April, I built a composting area out of a neighbor's leftover sod, and seven months later, it's grown to exceed its limits. I'm looking forward to using at least half a cubic yard of new soil come springtime!

I'll be the first to admit that the compost heap does not have a form of beauty that appeals to lovers of rigorously planned gardens. It's outright chaotic in form, but there's an appeal to that. I'm a rather lazy composter (I prefer to think of it as being efficient); I don't obsess about an exact balance of green and brown materials; instead, I check its progress with a shovel now and then, and if it seems to need more of one thing or another, then I make an effort to find what it needs. So far, this efficiency has paid off.
For collecting kitchen waste (plants only - no meats!) we use a stainless steel lidded bucket designed for this purpose. I used to have a similar, cheaper bucket made out of crockery, but it broke; steel is more expensive up front but it will last almost forever so it's a better deal both economically and environmentally.
Adding to the kitchen waste is any yard waste for which we have no other purpose. I simply don't understand why my neighbors pay to have their yard waste hauled away, instead of treating it as a crop to be used on site. While the small yard waste contributes to the compost pile, other stuff contributes to the duff yard or goes on top of the shed to sustain a brush area atop our shed.
To maintain the compost heap, I use a rake and shovel from yard sales and thrift stores. I love to prowl hardware stores but used tools can be a had at a great price if you're willing to buy from neighbors!
The key point: the compost heap is not much work and it's saving me money PLUS helping, in a small way, improve our world. Imagine if every yard in our nation had a heap like this!

I was inspired to write this compost heap update by this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge
"If you compost, we'd like to know all about it ... in detail. Please give us directions on how to build a bin (if you did so), how to set up a bin and any tips/advice you may have for beginners. We're looking for "how to" information on this challenge.

Or ...

If you don't compost, please do some research about composting in your particular situation (apartment, farm, city neighborhood, etc.). Share what you learn and let us know if the information encourages you and, if so, when you might try it out. Of course, we'd also love it if you would actually start composting this week."

I recommend that you, too, follow CTWW - it's fun and inspiring!

Comics: The Order of the Stick

Perhaps my favorite webcomic is Rich Burlew's The Order of the Stick (OOTS).
I started reading OOTS for its humorous take on fantasy roleplaying and fiction, and that remains its most evident characteristic. However, over time, it has developed strong characters and occasionally very thoughtful momoments, all without crushing its essentially playful nature beneath the burden of literature. It is also interesting that the artwork consists of stick figures; as with XKCD, the OOTS uses simplified graphical representation for amazing effect, stripping away unneeded detail to expose the core of story.
The OOTS website also supports a lively forum discussing all aspects of the comic. This is a great example of a virtual community, including people from several continents, able and happy to get together on a topic that interests them.
My avatar on the OOTS forum

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Photographic Memory

Impromptu McCord
Likes sitting in boxes
In anticipation of, not immortality, but of outliving perfect memory, I've been taking lots of pictures and labelling them electronically (see example). Already it's helped me recall minor things; I'm normally healthy but prior to electronic storage of photos, that included a lot of forgetting ... a lot of loss!
In whatever form immortality, or extended lifespan, may take, the development of artificially enhanced memory storage and retreival regimes may be helpful. Every other body system might work ok if we could just keep it patching it; for example, knees, nerves and digestion may work more-or-less the same if we can replace wornout parts. Even the parts of the brain that are not mostly about long-term memory may work fine if replaced, when worn out, with duplicates (...passing over the great difficulty of doing so....)

But memory is inherently cumulative, and eventually may bump up against some limit inherent to the lack-of-design of the original. That's not necessarily a terrible problem. So long as one retains enough memory to be able to access "extended memory", future immortals may be happy with their condition even though the result may be mental processes radically different from those we enjoy today. I'm sure plenty of SF authors have exploited this concept (I'm thinking of a short story decades ago about a future cop entitled something like "Jorge Changes His Mind") but it amuses me to see my photo collection taking the first primitive steps down that road.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Good News: At Edwards Funeral, Love Protestors Outnumber Hate Protestors

Christian Science Monitor reports:
"Members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards in Raleigh, N.C. Saturday. But they were vastly outnumbered by a “human buffer” of people who quietly stood in the rain singing Christmas carols and carrying signs reading “God loves Elizabeth Edwards” or simply “Grace” and “Hope.” ..."
Once again, doing something constructive works!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Traditions in Scandanavia, as Explained by Humon

First the comic, then the explanation:

"Christmas Traditions" from humoncomics


Humon runs several comics on her site Scandanavia and the World. The one shown above is from the epynomous comic, in which the Spirits of countries interact. She explains:
"The boys are here dressed as a horrifying mix of various Scandinavian Christmas traditions.

The goat costumes are from the Christmas billy-goat. It’s the oldest Christmas tradition in Scandinavia, and most likely predates Christianity, and is therefore a heathen tradition that was simply absorbed by the new religion in these parts of the world. Usually it’s made of straw [link] but in some families people even dress up as it.

The candles are from Santa Lucia procession [link] A Swedish tradition that has spread to the rest of Scandinavia, though it remains most popular in Sweden where girls from all over the country compete to become the Lucia of the year.

And finally the flags as decoration on the tree is a Danish tradition that started during the Nazi’s time in Denmark where the Danes weren’t allowed to use their flag, and therefore used it as a Christmas decoration. This later spread to the rest of Scandinavia."
Interestingly, Humon publishes 3 different comics on her site, so if Scandanavia doesn't interest you, perhaps you'll enjoy Love and Tentacles; learn more here. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bus 125 and the Ordinary Thing That Happened

bus stop sign
The Route 125 bus was packed, with riders standing the length of the aisle on a sloppy December Monday in Seattle. The driver opened the door at the next stop, and the first person getting in said, "You've got a wheelchair coming on."
Immediately my wife and the two others sitting in the fold-a-way seat stood up. They turned to puzzle out how to flip up the seat to clear the space for the wheelchair rider. One found the red lever to pull, but it was too stiff for her, so Kris yoinked on it strongly until it gave way.
As the driver operated the lift, it became obvious that the bus was really too full to take on another passenger.
"Back door!" someone called. "I'll get the next one."
The driver operated the switch that opened the back door, and about six people got out. This left plenty of room for the new rider, and soon all were on their way, except of course for the half dozen who'd gotten off to wait for the next bus.
Think about it.
The whole bus knew what to do, and didn't really need to discuss it; they just did the right things. Those in the moveable bench jumped up to surrender their seat. When it became clear the wheelchair rider couldn't get on unless some got off, more than enough promptly got off. And they didn't do it for a reward; those that got off didn't know and wouldn't meet the stranger that they'd helped.
This is not really an unusual story; while tales of awefulness naturally get more attention, these more typical stories of every-day humanity are too ordinary to be news. The idea that humanity is strictly a profit-seeking animal is wrong.
People are kind, and that is just not news!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Bulk Buying at Farmers' Markets

A mix of apples and pears
25% off because we bought in bulk!
We love our Farmers' Markets; as consumers, we find the price and quality generally excellent, and as citizens we like they way they improve our community and environment.
We found another way to save even more money: offer to do a bulk buy of produce. For example, this Sunday we got 25% off by buying a whole box. They let us pick from a selection of fruit so it's not like we'd be stuck chewing the same thing all month!
This is a great deal for us; with 3 adults in the house, we go through fruit at a good clip, especially since I am boosting my fruit consumption to try to bring down my weight and therefore blood pressure. And it's probably a good deal for the farmer, who turned over a lot of product in a short time!
Another Farmers' Market buying tip is to look for the "seconds" or "Number 2s". These are fruits and veggies that are perfectly healthy, but ugly. If you're going to be cooking with them anyway, what do you care that they are shaped like a horror movie? Save the money and give perfectly good food a perfectly good home!
We picked up the box of organic lovelies in the photo this Sunday at the West Seattle Farmer's Market, conveniently located around the block from a pet store, several books stores and even more pubs. Any fruit that survive the week will be made into pies or sauce next Sunday. Then, we'll take the box back to the Farmers' Market for a refill! Saving money can taste great too!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Bottling Wine at Jim and Charlotte's

Wine for immediate consumption
in mason jars
 My friend Charlotte, who taught me everything I know about stocking books at the Mercer Island Thrift Shop, said she needed help bottling wine, so last Saturday Kris and I stopped by to see what we could do.
It seems that Charlotte and her husband Jim used to make wine as part of the Boeing Wine Club decades. They kept this up for a while after Jim retired, but for the past decade had been busy doing other things (Jim was the electronics guy at MITS for years, and put in a huge amount of time tinkering on donated gadgets to get them into sellable condition.) Recently while clearing out a basement room, they came across three carboys that had been put to bed 10 or 15 years ago - surely it was time to bottle them!
Kris, Jim and Charlotte
This was a heck of a lot of fun. We'd bottled wine before at Gallagher's Where-U-Brew, and enjoyed it a lot, but doing it in someone's basement was a whole new experience. The biggest issue is that Gallagher's is heavily optimized for getting it all done quickly; they're all set up with spaces and sinks and gadgetry, whereas this home operation was a lot more casual. Also, at Gallagher's we make the wine from juice and it therefore need not be filtered; at Jim & Charlotte's it had been started from fruit, so we had to run it through a filter (...or else the wine would be chewy. I dunno, that might have been o.k.)
We tinkered with the best arrangement for going from the carboy to the pump to the filter to the bottle and eventually worked out an arrangement involving the counter, a table and a chair. Corking was a challenge; whereas Gallagher's has a neat corking machine and pre-softened corks, we had to soak the corks to make them compressible, carve them to fit, and then hammer into place. It all worked but it was a long series of interesting puzzles to solve. Luckily we all like to have a good time.
There were three carboys: pear, blackberry and plum. The last bits of each we poured into mason jars, on the theory that we were going to drink them right away anyway.
Jim & Charlotte insisted that we take half the bottles. We felt that was a bit much since they'd supplied everything, but on the other hand, we didn't want to argue. We'll make sure it all gets put to good us (already we gave one as a holiday gift as our friend Claudia happened by.)
 They gave us one of the carboys as well - a very generous gift and one we will put to use as soon as the blackberries are in season. The best way to honor the gift of winemaking equipment must surely be to make more wine!
Thanks Jim! Thanks Charlotte!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Rebinding Mom's Bible

Mom's Bible needed rebinding.

It is probably older than I am, and in a lot worse shape.
Mom and her rebound Bible
Although it was not often read, over the course of more than fifty years, both its covers and the spine had come off, although the pieces had been kept together. Around last Christmas, Dave got the great idea of having it rebound, and I agreed to take care of it (...I guess the theory being that once I was in the book business so I must know about this sort of thing.)
Unfortunately I am a bit literal sometimes, and I didn't get the sense that mom was in a hurry to have the binding completed. This was the Christmas when we were moving to a new house, in preparation for buying another house, so what with a couple of moves and everything else, I got nothing done on this project except identify a skilled binder in Pioneer Square who kept very particular hours. I resolved to get this done, but kept putting it off.
Then came the sad time when Uncle Louis passed away. He was a great guy, always full of good humore and fine intelligence, but he frankly got old and the end came. Mom wished to record his death in her family bible, same as she had for other family members, and who was still in possession of it? me.
I had to move fast!
Inside Phil's Custom Bindery
Bookbinding tools
Using the google machine I found Phil's Custom Bindery located, not in Pioneer Square, but just a couple of miles from here in a small industrial park. Phil is a real character; he talked about books and about other stuff for at least half an hour before I finally had to leave to get other work done. His shop was fun to look at, including several old bookbinding gadgets, plus some modern printing machinery in the back, on which he was producing something with the curiously named "Perfect Binding".

Phil Shows His Work
Mom was very pleased with the result, and the price was not bad. I had to talk another half hour with Phil but that was fun too! I'll definitely come back the next time I have another project like this!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

4freeCLE Techniques

The Sissor and the Dollar:
symbol of 4freeCLE's
characteristic bluntness
My hobbyblog 4freeCLE catalogs free continuing legal education, using a number of shortcuts to simplify the job. Here's my notes on the process to help me to remember and you to copy.

  • Gmail Reader - monitors a lot of sites that have RSS feeds
  • For the rest, there's a number of change-detection sites. I use but have no reason to think that others might not work just as well (subject to the usual caveats of internet hygiene: don't go along with any registration process that wants too much information.)
  • In the beginning, there was This is a stone-simple listserve with nice archiving ability - something very important to people looking to see what has been available, on the theory that it might become available again. Listserves that don't include easy archive access are missing a big chunk of functionality, but I've seen them done by people who should know better.
  • When blogs became popular, I added I briefly experimented with automatically updating this blog from the listserve; it was straightforward to parameterize the blog to accept email additions (subject to certain security measures) and then add the blog's email address to the listserve. Unfortunately the posts often didn't look right; typically there was some signature trash or something at the end. Still, this was pretty convenient and perhaps I'll return to it someday. As it is, I simply "BCC" the blog when I email the listserve.
  • Twitter:!/4freeCLE was amazingly easy to set up. I never post there directly, but instead use TwitterFeed to automatically post whatever goes up on the blogspot. Every now and then I log into 4freeCLE/twitter so I can "follow" a few more lawyers; this will often get them to "follow" in return and help share the awesomeness that is 4freeCLE on Twitter.
Sharing the Work
With the number of people out there looking for free CLE, you might think there would be more people interested in contributing to a catalog - but there aren't. There are rather few people who actually submit their work to me to add;  I always encourage them to post directly but so far, no-one wants the responsibility. You can see the two or three entrepreneurial types who actually send stuff - that's why Ohio and California and the Washington State ACLU have an exceptional number of entries.

That's about it for now. If I think of something else, I'll add it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Turning Gold into Gold!

Weighing the gold
With gold prices above a thousand dollars an ounce (and with a very weak idea of how much an ounce weighs) I resolved to sell the ring from my 2nd marriage the next time I went by West Seattle Coins. Why not? I'm very happy with my third (!and final!) marriage and have no need of this relic from my second (!and worst!) one.  It has no artistic value (being a plain gold band, with "ludmila" in cyrillic carved on the inside) and I can think of something better to do with its cash value.

The process was pretty straightforward. There were a couple of people ahead of me, so I looked around at the shiny shiny coins in glass cases. If I were buying instead of selling, I'd have been mightily tempted!

When it got to be my turn, the actual sale itself took about 30 seconds. The guy weighed the ring, made me an offer, and paid in cash. My ring was way under an ounce and of course it wasn't pure gold, but I had a moment of disappointment at the price. Still, upon reflection, it seemed fair and I'm glad I took the money. The gold in the old ring means a lot less to me than the gold in my credit union account!

I would suggest before selling a ring from a past marriage, that you weigh it carefully and then use the google to get some idea of what gold is selling for (...keeping in mind you won't get the "Price Of Gold" since your item isn't pure, plus the shopkeeper has overhead.) If you have some idea of the money you may be getting, then you won't have to make a spot decision whether you're happy with the offer or not.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas From The Closet

Aunt Sugar suggested we do something special for Christmas this year: give as gifts things that have sat in the back of your closet for years.

This is a pretty brilliant idea. We have boxes and boxes of stuff accumulated over the years. Some of the boxes haven't been opened in three moves, which strongly suggests we can do without whatever's inside. Best of all, "Christmas from the Closet" promises to free up space that we can use for some other purpose.

Assuming, of course, that everyone else doesn't do the same!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Duff Yard

Duff is the natural soil of much of Puget Sound country.  According to a Puget Sound Action Team report, "Undisturbed sites in the Puget Sound Lowland area consist of up to 3.5 feet of forest duff soil." This soil is so unlike the garden soil I'm working to improve around the house that I'm told that Puget Sound had no red worms in the soil when Doc Maynard came to town; decomposition into soil was handled by a huge array of native bugs, such as earwigs.

This is the sort of knowledge that sits in the back of your head all your life until, suddenly, it connects with something else. I knew that forest soil was nothing like my yard and even had memories of the springy soil of old mountain forests, but didn't connect it to the needles and branches that our Big Front Tree was raining onto our front yard until recently.

I was raking the yard and got quite a pile of needles etc that I was hauling to the back through the narrow north yard, when I thought, "Why not leave some here?" The north yard is low, and over the course of a few years, I can bring it up level with the house windows to improve insultation, plus eliminate an unneeded step-down from the front yard. I poured the first few gallons out and thought nothing of it.

I gradually added to the pile and as it started spreading east, I decided to try making the entire north yard a duff yard. This would free me from some mowing, which is nice, but more importantly, it might improve the biodiversity of our little plot of land. I'm not sure what sort of microcritters prefer Puget Sound duff to a grass lawn, but there has to be something.

The photo shows the results so far. Interestingly enough, the color scheme reminds me of the bark chips that some people like to put down in lieu of grass. However, bark chips are no fun to walk on, whereas this needle duff has the comfortable springiness I remember from camping.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

From the Garden: You Can Beet This!

Today I harvested our beets and was quite pleased with the results. We'd started with a small pot of beet starts from Village Green, and planted them rather too close to the tomatoes (in general, I planted everything too closely this year - I'd expected at least half of everything to die off, and that didn't happen) so they were heavily shaded most of the growing season. Still, the beets put out a lot of leaves so I had hopes for some greens anyway.
It turns out the roots had grown as well, enough to be the foundation of a nice soup. We added various other roots, plus bressels sprouts, to make hearty winter vegetarian chow!

We'll definitely half to plant more beets next year; they were very little work and made some satisfying food despite the crowding. The green-and-purple plants are also quite attractive!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Groucho Marx Sings GOP Theme Song!

"I don't know what they have to say,
It makes no difference anyway,
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
No matter what it is or who commenced it,
I'm against it.

Your proposition may be good,
But let's have one thing understood,
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
And even when you've changed it or condensed it,
I'm against it.
I'm opposed to it,

On general principle, I'm opposed to it.

[chorus] He's opposed to it.
In fact, indeed, that he's opposed to it!

For months before my son was born,
I used to yell from night to morn,
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
And I've kept yelling since I first commenced it,
I'm against it!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lover Official Music Video - Tom Goss

From the Department Of Definitely Worth Sharing:

From the YouTube notes:
"Lover" tells a story very rarely told: of the loss endured by partners of gay servicemembers who are killed in battle.

The video features Tom Goss as the bereaved partner of an army soldier (DC actor Ben Horen) killed while on duty in Afghanistan. Among those playing medics who come to the aid of the wounded soldier are several former servicemembers who were discharged under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy: Mike Almy, David Hall, and Danny Hernandez, all of whom are active members of SLDN. Keith Bryant stars as a fellow soldier.

The video, Goss's fourth, was filmed in DC and Alexandria. is being directed by DC residents Aram Vartian and Michael Key of DC; Dylan Comstock is director of photography."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Internet in the Storm's nice to have the internet in this stormy weather, especitally the West Seattle blog for local conditions. One would hope that many towns and neighborhoods would have something similar, as the "worldmind" gets small, more detail-oriented, and effective.

I'm also using the Metro website to check The Lovely Wife's current bus route and the White Center blog for additional local news. The cable TV is all o.k. as far as it goes, but it can't be as focussed on my particular needs.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Espresso Stout Vanilla Float at Full Tilt!

This evening we stopped by Full Tilt in White Center. While pondering which of the dozen delectable ice creams to try, we noticed one of their taps (...yes, this is an ice cream parlor that serves locally-made beer...) was Two Beers Espresso Stout.

We ordered an Espresso Stout Vanilla Float.


This is what good little lattes become after they die and go to heaven.
Two Beers Brewing, Seattle WA!

This combination is highly, HIGHLY recommended! It has ALL the important food groups: ice cream, coffee AND beer!!

It is deeply satisfying; the stout is full-bodied, with a little espresso zip all carried by the milky goodness of the top-rank ice cream.

The only downside is that henceforth every milkshake and every latte will seem thin and lacking.  Be warned!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Null Space Cowboy Microgardens!

Null space - those unused areas in our new house - presents a fun challenge. Since we plan to be here 40 years or more, it makes sense to convert every aspect of the place into long-term value. Many such conversions require saving in advance for a few years, since we don't want to go deeper into debt; for example, our green roof, grey water, and electricity semi-independence initiative all require significant up-front costs. We'll get to them but not today.
Right now, however, we can put those null spaces to work. Making any nondestructive use out of something that currently has no use is a good thing, and we can start with uses that have minimal front-end expenses!
Let Us Indoors!
Today I started an experiment with growing lettuce indoors. I took few rectangular clay pots in which the last lettuces were stubbornly holding on against the onset of winter - not dying but not growing either. I put them near a window, where there is no foot traffic except the cats (who ignore the lettuce outdoors; let's find out if they do the same indoors.) The lettuces (and their future neighbors mint) will not get a huge amount of light, but they will get some from our normal, everyday use. Also they will be at room temperature without any extra effort on our part. I am curious to see whether over the next five months they will grow appreciably, using light and heat that otherwise would have gone to waste.
I added a few seeds in the pots that had room. Let's see if they sprout - there's no hurry - if they take until Valentine's day that'll be fine. Imagine the joy of a fresh, homegrown salad at the end of winter!
I took a few precautions. First was careful inspection to remove any pests. I'm not really squeamish, and in the normal course of events, a few bugs get indoors on our shoes and whatnot, but I felt obliged to examine the pots carefully and flick outside a tiny native slug who probably wouldn't have enjoyed being indoors anyway. I also set the pots on a bit of scrap cardboard to protect the floor; I don't think the pots will leak but you never can tell. Finally, I ... wait a minute ... the "Writer's Rule of Three" urges me to come up with a third thing in the series, but really, there isn't any. There's just pots on the floor, out of the way; it's not that complicated!
Visually, these pots are just as attractive as an indoor cactus - more, really, depending on your attitude toward barbed exotics.
I was inspired to try this in part by this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge:

This week, plant something edible indoors (in your homes, offices, schools, etc.). Some ideas are lettuce, herbs, spinach, kale, and even tomatoes.
Microgardening - raising food crops in null spaces - may never make anyone wealthy but it promises to be cheap fun and extremely thrifty! Seeds, dirt and pots are all very cheap, and the space is just going to waste, so why not give it a try? 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Up Front about my First Time (... at a Thrift Store)

My first memorable find at a thrift store was a battered copy of Bill Mauldin's Up Front.
"Up Front" by Bill Mauldin
It's a treasure that can never be surpassed in my heart, even though I've since learned that it's a very common item, with hundreds of thousands of copies in circulation (and probably as many now returned to wood pulp.) It was my first find, and it's a great book besides: highly recommended!

I found it at the Volunteers of America store in Everett, Washington, where I'd probably been dropped off after working as a counselor at their summer camp in Sultan and was waiting to be picked up to go home. That basement bookstore was my first, and as such, remains the standard by which I measure all other used book stores: crowded, chaotic, fun!

Today, when I want tools, clothing, books or housewares, the source of choice is a thrift. While there are some things you just can't get there, and I'll also buy new if I'm in a hurry, for most things it makes no sense to buy new when for a lot less money you can get them nearly new (...and sometimes actually news; more than once I've gotten clothes with the original store's price tag still on it!)

For example, my collection of a dozen Hawai'ian shirts was very inexpensive, yet brings great joy to me and is very practical - you can wear a Hawaiian shirt almost anywhere, if you have the right attitude!)  I also like to get hand tools at thrifts. I recently got a wrench that was probably as old as I am; it was made of real, solid metal all the way through, not the cheap pot-metal that cracks when you crank on it. I have every confidence that this wrench will outlast me ... and when I go, I don't want it buried with me. Give it to a relative, or donate it back to the store!!!

I also like the random nature of the assortment of goods at thrifts; you find odd things that you just can't find anywhere else. You have to be open to the opportunity when, for example, a cigarette lighter in the form of a golf-club head appears. That turned out to be the perfect gift for my father-in-law, a man who can pretty much get whatever he wants or needs for himself, but who quite naturally likes to be thought of during the holidays; this very idiosyncratic gift was all the more perfect for being not available elsewhere.

One of my favorite items that you can count on finding is baking pans. Why pay full price for something made cheaply when, with a little patience, you can snap up solidly built pans that served proudly for more than a decade and, with a little care, will serve you just as long? Some pyrex baking pans, a red clay cooker, and a couple of cast iron pans make our kitchen completely well equipped for serious food, and all for the cost of one pan, new!

From time to time, I discover that something I bought at the thrift just doesn't work out at home. I can be tempted by a gadget the same as anyone else, but if it sits on the shelf for a year, at some point I have to admit that I'm never going to use it. But this is No Problem because it was so inexpensive in the first place, I don't mind just re-donating it where I bought it! Shopping at a thrift can mean that even when you screw up, you don't have to suffer monetary regret.
But that's not a primary motivation. I love saving the money, and I am happy that I'm contributing to a good cause, but mostly ... I love the hunt!

Today's post was inspired by this week's Change The World Wednesday Challenge:
"This week, visit a local thrift/2nd hand store. Browse around to see if there are slightly used items which you could buy rather than purchasing new. After all, the environmental costs of creating the goods sold there have already been paid, so they are really light on the planet (that's the reuse part). To make this trip even more meaningful, bring something to donate (that's the reduce part).

Or ...

 If you are a thrift store/2nd hand shop connoisseur, tell us about some of things which you have saved from a "landfill death" ... and any tips/ideas you might have for shopping at these venues."
Now, I love shopping Thrift stores. Mostly, it's the thrill of the hunt; you can always go to a normal store and pick up what you're looking for - the downside is that you pay full price. But a thrift store stocks only what people donate, so it is impossible to predict what you'll find. You have to keep your eyes open, and also your mind!