Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vote For Me!!

So, recently I had the honor of being nominated by Cath in her First Annual Reader's Choice Comment of The Year Award. That is right, I have been nominated for COMMENTING on a BLOG. If I win, this is totally going on my resume. Award Winning Blog COMMENTER.

I wasn't going to troll for votes, but then I saw that other people were totally doing it. Okay, technically speaking, Microbiologist XX didn't TELL you how to vote for, but come on! She totally wants you to vote for her.

Plus, I just looked at the stats and right now, I only have ONE vote. That's just wrong. Microbiologist XX and this Massimo dude are totally raking it in. And yeah, I GUESS Microbiologist has a kind of funny comment about falling out of a sailboat, but you know it's kind of like, dude, clumsy much?

And Massimo's comment is just about how people used to call him Moose. Well, people used to shorten Ruchira to Cher but you don't hear ME whining about it. I say quitcherbitchin MOOSE!

So dude. Help me take down those two geeky scientists types. Go to VWXYNot RIGHT NOW and register a vote for my snarktastic brilliance.

Because if the holidays are about anything, they are about winning.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Previously on Arduous Blog, I worried that without the gift buying and the card writing, etc, etc, I would be unable to get into the holiday spirit. That the season (courtesy of axial tilt) would somehow simply pass me by. That without consumerism, the holidays are meaningless for a secular person.

I am happy to concede that I was wrong. I have enjoyed spending time with friends and family, going to holiday parties, listening to Christmas music, and looking at lighting displays.

And in some ways I've enjoyed all these things even more because I haven't had to deal with the stresses of gift buying and card writing.

I wouldn't want to do this every year. I do love buying gifts for my friends and family. Finding the perfect present.

But it's a relief to know that one can still enjoy the winter season even without all the stuff.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Carnival Time

I'm in LA, drinking in the sunshine, eating at my favorite restaurants, watching cheesy bad movies and helping Miss V with her search for a wedding dress.

But over at the Big Green Purse, Diane has an awesome carnival related to climate change. Read a little about what the amazing Green Moms have to say.

And for some irreverent dirt on Copenhagen, check out The Thistle's series on the climate talks.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Evaluation Time

So, because I know you all want a daily update on my various beauty experiments, here it is:

Coconut oil as deodorant = bad
Coconut oil + baking soda as deodorant= good
Coconut oil as body moisturizer= awesome
Coconut oil as hair conditioner= no frizz!

All in all, I'm pretty happy. The baking soda and coconut oil combo are working pretty well for me although I have yet to find a good way to apply the baking soda.

And I'm very much enjoying the coconut oil moisturizer. My feet have become super soft in just a week. I was worried that I would smell overly of coconut, but I find that the smell dissipates fairly quickly.

I liked the conditioner as well, but a certain person who will remain nameless claims that it makes me smell like a FOB. Because it's okay to dress Indian, but God forbid one should smell Indian!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


So once upon a time, two years ago, I entered the Crazy Chicken's Freeze Yer Buns competition. (Wait, it's not a competition you say? Oh, how little you know me.)

My goals were lofty, and my determination was strong. I would go the entire winter without turning on the heater in my apartment.

And lo! I did succeed. I went a whole winter never turning on the central heating, and only turning on my space heater a handful of times for a couple of hours a piece. The Freeze Yer Buns champion trophy was mine. (There's no trophy? Then why do I have a sculpture of Crunchy's frozen butt on my mantle?)

And then I moved.

And it turned out?

Places that aren't LA are bloody cold!!

It turns out, that Freezing Yer Buns is SO MUCH HARDER when it is actually FREEZING. Or even when it is you know, 10-15 degrees above freezing like it generally is in Northern California these days.

I do not like it, not one bit.

So, I have become an epic failure at freezing my buns. I have the best of intentions, but, but ... heat is so warm and lovely! Without heat, I get lethargic. I can't do work, I can't play, I can't do anything but think


Le sigh.

So, um, I suck. But conversely, my buns are nice and toasty.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Cards: Honest Opinion

So, for the first time in about five zillion years, I'm not doing holiday cards.

I've been doing holiday cards probably since high school. There are about 100 people on my list, and I include personal messages in each card. It's my way of reaching out to my loved ones and saying, "Hey, I'm thinking about you, even if we haven't seen each other in a while."

However, this year, what with the wandering and the lack of money, they're just not happening.

But I've been thinking, maybe, perhaps, of doing a holiday e-card. They're free, they're easy, and they don't involve using paper or mail or any of that junk. On the other hand, an e-card just doesn't say "I'm thinking about you," in quite the same way a snail mail card does.

So I'm torn. What do you guys think? Are any of you doing e-cards? Do you see them as a good eco-option? Or do you think the holidays are the time to reach out with actual pen and paper?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What Not to Buy For The Holidays

Actually, this post is not really going to be about rampant consumerism. I'm not going to suggest you pare down your list, or avoid plastic toys. I am not going to wax poetic about the joys of thrift shopping, or suggest you buy people experiences instead of things. I'm not going to plug Etsy or encourage everyone to take up knitting. After all, I've written those posts, you've written those posts, and frankly, today I'm just not feeling it. Instead, I'm going to talk about bad eco gifts.

Bad eco gifts? Is there such a thing, you may ask? Yes, as much as it pains me to admit it, there are.

Such as?

Diva cups. Don't buy your 15 year old niece one for Christmas. She won't appreciate it. Really. Please. Don't do it. And DON'T EVEN THINK about buying a used one!

CFL light bulbs. This is the gift that keeps on boring. Let's think a little more creative, shall we?

And also, no reusable grocery bags, please. Once upon a time, you could maybe get away with getting people a cool reusable bag. But at this point most people have reusable bags coming out of their ears. Stay away.

Carbon offsets. Buying offsets for yourself are a way to perhaps ease some guilt. Buying them for someone else is just reminding them of their eco-sinner ways. Stick to donating to an environmental non-profit in their name.

Baking soda. Yes, you can do a million things with it. But it also costs less than a dollar. And everyone has a box in the fridge.

Anyone else have some bad idea holiday gifts? Or alternatively, think I'm wrong about my bad idea gifts? Let me know!

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Post Is Not About Copenhagen

Although the talks began today, I don't much feel like rehashing right now. In any case, I think it's worth it to let a few days go by and see how things develop. I have moments of hope and moments of depression, but I think at this point, we just need to adopt a wait and see attitude.

So instead, let's talk more about beauty products!!

Because, let me tell you, after the whole coconut oil experiment, I am suddenly DYING to try new fun eco-nutty things. I go around trolling the internets wondering what to try next:

Apple-cider vinegar toner?
Do I dare try olive oil on my face?
Can I make my own chapstick?
Baking soda in my hair? Ew. No.

I would love to get to a place where my beauty products consisted of all natural products made from an incredibly small number of ingredients. I'm not sure how likely that is right now ... I still use Neutrogena face wash and Kiehl's toner and moisturizer. (There's no such thing as a natural SPF moisturizer, is there?) And because I had so many face issues last year, I'm not dying to futz with that. On the other hand, I do love using coconut oil as moisturizer....

In other daily deodorant news (I know, you've been watching this space breathlessly) I tried the coconut oil mixed with baking soda with good results. I'm going to keep at it for a while. If it doesn't work out, I'll move on to the crystal.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Or Maybe Not

Okay, I take it back.

The coconut oil did not hold up yesterday. I mean, it seemed to work just fine for about five hours or so. But it doesn't have staying power over the whole day. (I still think it works better than Tom's, which I don't think even worked for five hours.)

Although, I am sold on it as a body moisturizer. I put some on my legs yesterday morning, and this morning my legs still feel super soft.

So, now I may try mixing the coconut oil with baking soda. I am really hoping that this doesn't make a weird paste. I'm envisioning a situation much like Ross with the leather pants and the powder and cream.

I'll keep reporting back. But at least I can still use this whole jar as a moisturizer!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dirty Hippie Deo

Yesterday, I officially became a dirty hippie.

I know what you're thinking.

The diva cup did not make you a dirty hippie? What about giving up toilet paper? What about washing your hair with soap? Those things didn't make you a dirty hippie?

To which I say no! But yesterday, oh man, yesterday.

I bought a jar of coconut oil and used it as a deodorant.

See, about a year ago The Thistle wrote a post about how much she loved her coconut oil deodorant. And I kept meaning to give it a try, but I already owned a Tom's of Maine deodorant. Which frankly was pretty useless, but I figured I needed to use it up.

Anyway, I finally lost? pretended to lose? my Tom's deodorant along my many, many travels, so I figured it was as good a time as any to give the coconut oil a shot.

After I got over the momentary "Oh my GOD! I'm such an eco-nut!" pangs, I found that ... I think it works!

I mean, truthfully, I'm not entirely sure. It seemed like throughout the day I seemed to smell mostly fine. But like, I had never really spent too much time sniffing my underarms when I was wearing antiperspirant. Mostly I just assumed it worked. So now I have no real basis for comparison. Plus, since coconut oil still allows you to perspire, which I think is probably a good thing, it's obviously not going to have the same effect.

So, it works. I think. But if you see me, and I ask you to smell me, don't get weirded out, okay?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thoughts on ClimateGate

I've been following the Climategate blow out with a fair amount of interest recently. For those of you who haven't heard, basically some one hacked the emails at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and then published the emails on the internet.

And the emails released were incredibly damaging both for climate science and the climate scientists involved.

Now, I'm not a hard scientist. So when Real Climate explains this email by Phil Jones:
"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."
by noting that:

"The ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all."

I'm pretty much willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Although, scientists, if you actually use the term "trick" to mean "way to solve a problem," you ... really shouldn't. It's not jargon, it's just stupid. If it ain't a rabbit appearing from your top hat, it's not a trick.

So, I'm willing to cut the climate scientists some slack and acknowledge that "insider language" that may look damaging to an outsider could very well have been used in private emails destined for colleagues.

But there isn't really any good way to explain why Professor Jones tried to delete emails that were requested under the Freedom of Information Act. And while Real Climate tries to defend some of the less than polite emails by noting, "Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person," I'm not sure that that's such a great excuse.

Indeed, a mere couple weeks before the ClimateGate blow out, another blow out took place over the internet, in which Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute contested that Joe Romm of Climate Progress had repeatedly resorted to McCarthy tactics to smear anyone who disagreed with Romm at all about climate change or the policy implications thereof.

As a frequent reader of climate blogs, I have to say, it is a little shocking how much these blogs do descend into ad hominem attacks on fellow colleagues. The unprofessional impoliteness is not limited to private emails, and in any case, as everyone knows, in the digital age, nothing is private. I get that all scientists do not get along. I understand that science is competitive, and I do not expect the world's top scientists to be singing "Kumbaya" and holding hands with each other. But the lack of professional courtesy is out of control.

If there is something to be taken away from this PR disaster it's this:

Nothing sent over the internet is ever private.
Professional discourtesy will come back to bite you in the ass.
There is a need for transparency in science.

And the biggest take away:

Science is political.

It's useless to deny it. There is no such thing as completely objective science, at least not in a highly charged and uncertain science like climate science. And the sooner we start acknowledging this, the better.

For a brilliant analysis of ClimateGate, check out Mike Hulme's op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Captain Scrooge

I'm not doing Christmas this year.

No Christmas cards, no presents, probably no tree. Nothing.

I'd like to say it's because I'm being a good non-consumer, but it's really because I simply cannot afford it this year. Christmas usually costs me around $1000. I don't have $1000 to spare, hence no Christmas.

I'd like to say that having no money has woken me up to the true spirit of Christmas, but the truth is, not participating in the cards/presents orgy kind of means that actually, I'm just kind of ignoring the holiday season. Le sigh. Does that mean I have to consume in order to appreciate the holidays? That's a pretty freaking awful thought.

But what is a non-consumptive Christmas for a secular person? I guess one could say it's about friends and family, but I think every day of your life is about your friends and family.

It could be about Christmas music. I do love listening to carols.

Or about strolling the neighborhood looking at Christmas displays. Although given that the displays are an example of someone else's consumerism, I'm not sure it's fair to call them non-consumptive.

It could be about Christmas cookies ... except that eating cookies is literal consumption.

I guess the truth is, I'm not really SURE what Christmas is about without the consumption. But this month, I hope to find out.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I've been a bad blogger lately. I think I seem to have more absences than I have periods of consistent posting. And I can't really explain why it is, except that lately I have felt pulled in several directions at once.

Oh, also I've been a wandering nomad. After spending two months in New York, I spent a week in Chicago. And now I'm in the SF Bay Area for a couple weeks before I go to LA.

So let's see. I'm in California. I'm applying for full time jobs. Which is basically a full time feat. Meanwhile, I'm trying to do some writing privately on a couple things I have going. A novel that I've been mulling over for the best part of five years.

What else? I made the turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner for twenty. An impressive feat for the girl who two years ago couldn't cook a turkey burger on a Foreman, don'tchathink? I also made a vegetarian stuffing and cauliflower gratin. The stuffing was actually the biggest headache. I wanted to use store bought bread stuffing mix, because I just did not have time to sit there and toast and cut up loaves of bread. Big mistake. I had to go to four stores in search of stuffing which didn't contain high fructose corn syrup.

And this week I've been just eating left overs! How very No Waste of me. But really it's because I'm too lazy to go grocery shopping.

Anyway. Bay Area bloggers, let's meet up! The rest of you, I love you, and I'm sorry I'm such a bad blog buddy.