The Story of Stuff

Found via a coworker (sometimes spamming works)

The Story of Stuff

This is a video, sponsored by Tides Foundation & Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption and produced by Free Range Studios, combines life action (Anne Leonard‘s narration) with simple animation to get across its point about consumerism and sustainability:

“The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.”

You can either watch the video on the site (requires Flash) or you can download a QuickTime copy to view offline. It’s an interesting way to spend 20 minutes. Makes me think a little more about how much I consume that I don’t really need to.

Free Range Studios has produced a number of other videos, including The Meatrix, a series of short films that spoof the Matrix movies with the goal of “educating viewers about the problems with factory farming and today’s meat and dairy supplies”, and Grocery Store Wars, which seeks to “educate consumers about the many benefits of organic products”.


Channeling Lucy van Pelt

I’m in a hateful mood today. I find everyone annoying. It’s the kind of day where I wish I worked alone, preferably late at night like the old days. It’s not as though anyone is any different different today than usual, except me. Well, maybe me; then again, maybe I’m always crabby and today is no different for me, either.

Maybe I can blame it on being oxygen-starved from the head congestion.

Or maybe I’m just a bitch.

Earth Hour 2008

Started last year as an initiative by the World Wildlife Fund in Sydney, Australia, to  “take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.”

On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney’s energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for one hour.

With Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning their lights off, and unique events such as weddings by candlelight, the world took notice. Inspired by the collective effort of millions of Sydneysiders, many major global cities are joining Earth Hour in 2008, turning a symbolic event into a global movement.

This year, they’ve decided to take it global and are urging people to sign up to turn off their lights for one hour at 8PM on March 29, 2008. Over 9,000 people have signed up so far.

‘Tis the season

Have a riproaring cold kicking in. Headache. Clogged head. Sore throat. Feels like I’m drowning in mucous. On the plus side, I’m sleeping better. Jerry-rigged the elastic on my lovely lavender eye mask and wearing it to bed again is doing wonders. That plus the cold made me sleep quite nicely last night. Feel like crap today but that’s beside the point.

Myers-Briggs for Cats

A veterinarian in Portland, Maine, has developed a temperament sorter for cats, called the Feline Temperament Type Sorter. It consists of a 64-question questionnaire and accompanying analysis. Very cool. It’s creator, Debra Given, is also in the process of creating a cat-themed tarot deck and she has associated the 16 different temperaments with a major arcana card (the card images on the informational pages for each type are not from her deck but rather are from the Tarot for Cats deck).

I did the online questionnaire for my cat and thought it was very funny that the tarot card that accompanies his apparent type, BSDV (Bold Social Defiant Vocal), is the Hierophant…which just happens to be my favourite card and also just happens to be associated with Taurus, my sign. Now, that may just point to flaws in the questionnaire — some of the questions were difficult to answer because either neither of the answers fit or both fit — or flaws in the questinnaire-answerer, namely me, as I may have been putting some of my own Taurean impressions into the anwers. I’d thought that maybe he was actually more of a BADV since I think he’s a little less social than a BSDV would indicate but he’s definitely not aloof — he’s a cuddle bunny around me, though less social around others (especially if they come bearing other cats). Having read through the various types, I’m thinking he’s really a CSDV (Cautious Social Defiant Vocal), which is associated with the Empress.

A veterinary visit with a CSDV cat may be particularly stressful for all concerned. Vocal defiance brings out the worst in people. Veterinary staff members who are partial to dogs hate to see this cat on the schedule. Often even the most cat savvy vets and techs can not calm a defiant, vocal cat whose cautious nature causes him to feel reactive and defensive as soon as he leaves his home territory. Owners who have built a loving relationship with a CSDV cat feel as though they have betrayed a trust. No one feels good when examination and treatment result in a loud melee.

Oh yeah, that’s my baby. Definitely.

Small mercies

At the end of a week of biorythmic and hormonal lows (more about that later), the universe is taking pity on me in small ways today. Went to go down to the tuck shop in the lobby of my building this evening and the elevator doors opened up as I walked up to them without my punching a button. Then the tuck shop actually had some reasonably priced blocks of cheese in stock. And the elevator to go back up was right there again. Very tiny bonuses but enough to raise my spirits a little.

Reconciling the inner skeptic

Years ago, during one of my many periods of “downsizing”, the company I had been working for was generous enough (ha!) to provide us with the services of a career transition counsellor. I was already scheduled to go on vacation before the layoffs — turns out it was perfectly timed — and so I didn’t attend the counselling sessions with the other downsizees. When I returned, I got to spend 2 full days with the counsellor one-on-one session. I still look back on that time fondly. If you want to feel good about yourself at a bad time like that, spend a couple of days with someone whose job, who vocation it is to make you feel better about yourself. He did that and I will always be grateful for that. It didn’t help me find a decent job — I ended up back at the same company, which laid me off again a year later, prompting my move here — but it felt good at the time.

One of the things he had me do was take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, a rather long personality questionnaire. My results indicated that I was INFP/INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceptive/Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Preceptive), with the Feeling and Thinking parts almost perfectly equal.

Sometimes I have trouble reconciling the two parts, the dreamer and the skeptic. I believe in psychic abilities but am skeptical of many who claim to have those abilities. I believe in the permanence of the spirit but am skeptical of those who claim to see and speak to those who’ve passed on. I believe in the magic of the universe but have trouble believing anyone who says they can see or manipulate that magic. I believe in possibility of life elsewhere in the universe but am suspicious of anyone claiming to have seen an alien (or worse, to be one). Perhaps that is why I have trouble with religion — I don’t need proof to believe what I believe, but I need proof, I need personal experience, to accept what someone else says I should believe. I know. Religion is all about belief in something you don’t really know.

Sleep issues

After KoTa reminded me in one of yesterday’s posts about eating a banana before sleep, I googled a bit to find out why. Apparently, it is the tryptophan in the banana, which gets converted to serotonin, that can help.

The University of Maryland Medical Center’s Sleep Disorders Center offers an interesting list of tips for improving your sleep. I like the “don’t take your worries to bed” suggestion — if I could do that, I probably wouldn’t have trouble sleeping in the first place. I have insomnia on Sunday nights most often — usually because I’ve slept a strange pattern on the weekend and because the worries that I push off on Friday come back on me. I’ve had that particular insomnia for decades.

The Observer also has a 2003 article with ten tips for a good sleep. The tip about sniffing lavender is interesting. I have an eyemask that I used to use to block out the residual light in my room (I don’t use it now because the elastic has died). It was a marvelous satin mask — I should see if I can find another — that was stuffed lightly with lavender. Now, I don’t particularly like the smell of lavender but this seemed like a nice mask so I bought it. I slept so well with it. Part of it was just the sensory deprivation of blocking out the light but now I’m thinking that part of it may also have been the lavender.