Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Strangers in the night

Cycling home this evening, through the gloom and sometimes-mist, and fine rain, my small-but-bright light illuminating the way, and causing cars to dip their headlights when they see it, I spotted another lone light on the opposite side of the road, making its sure and steady way towards me.

As we converged, I could make out the rhythmic flashes from the reflectors on his pedal, up and down, and I knew that here was a fellow cycle commuter making his way home in the dark and damp.

As we passed, he called out with a cheery note:


I replied similarly, and finished the remainder of the short journey with a big smile.

Monday, 26 November 2007

The lifecycle of a pumpkin

From this chirpy perky smiley chap:

Chirpy pumpkin

To this incandescent horror (just one week later):

Pumpkin aflame

To this poor deflated thing (another week later):

Deflated pumpkin

I rather think the final one is my favourite.

Monday, 19 November 2007

What not to say

...to the person lying in your bed when you've just got up rather early in the morning and dressed in the dark.
"Looks like it's going to be a beautiful dawn, darling! Can I make you a coffee?"

I suspect it doesn't help if you whisper, and try not to sound too cheerful .

Friday, 16 November 2007

Are you sure?

Seems like I'm getting asked this question a lot lately.

It usually goes like this:

I'll be in a store, buying something small and trivial (like a carton of juice, or a Cranks sandwich) and the ever-helpful checkout operator will automatically reach for a carrier bag.

"Hold on," I'll say cheerfully. "I'm alright without a bag."

Or perhaps:

"Don't worry about a bag."

Or even:

"I don't need a bag. Thank you."

Whatever the format, I usually manage to deliver the statement with a cheery smile. The response is depressingly predictable, delivered in a slightly disbelieving tone.

"Are you sure?"

Well, yes. I'm quite certain, as it goes.

It's not a difficult concept to grasp, surely? A customer declining a shabby scrap of plastic that will serve its intended purpose for a few minutes before retiring to clutter up the house for months, and then some landfill site for the rest of the century. Or just loiter about in a tree forever.

My response is generally less cheery, delivered through teeth gritted in resignation or suppressed rage.

"Yes, I'm quite sure."

One day this question will be a thing of the past, a distant memory. Perhaps when we've got away from this habitual, helpful, value-add attitude and got into the habit of carrying our own bags. Or just using our hands to Carry Things.

Radical stuff, eh?

Friday, 2 November 2007

Tastes like chicken

...but it isn't chicken, not really.

The conditions that intensively farmed indoor chickens experience during their short, miserable existences have been widely documented for some time. And for a number of years, it has been my decision to choose free range birds whenever I buy chicken. Yes, there is a small price difference. But there is also a significant taste difference, and a massive ethical difference. If I eat chicken a little less often as a consequence, the result it that I savour it even more, and make the most out of every scrap.

The Chicken Out! campaign aims to raise standards for chickens, and for those of us that eat them. Why not pop over to the Chicken Out! website and remind yourself of the issues? You might even want to register your support for the campaign.

I have. After all, to use a well-worn phrase, I'm worth it.

(More on the abuse of poultry)

Thursday, 1 November 2007

And finally: my carbon footprint

Well, I offset my flights to, from - and indeed in - Australia.

Now, I know that offsetting doesn't actually wipe out the emissions resulting from the flight (hence the name, one might observe). It doesn't get me off the proverbial Carbon Hook, or solve the larger problems of climate change.

The particular scheme, operated by Qantas, and approved by the Australian Government, supports carbon sequestration through tree planting. I know it's a token gesture.

But it is a positive step. It is action, rather than inaction. I did consider the issue. I made a choice. And - most importantly - I took action. That definitely counts for something.

If you need more, see qantas.com/flycarbonneutral.