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Lights off for Earth Hour tonight!

At 8:00 PM tonight we will be turning off all of our lights for one hour to take part in Earth Hour. The purpose of Earth Hour is to make a statement about climate change. I’m usually rather wary about excerpting other sites here for copyright reasons but I don’t believe that the Earth Hour site would have an issue with this so here are the details:

On March 29, 2008 at 8 p.m., join millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund.

Earth Hour was created by WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, and in one year has grown from an event in one city to a global movement. In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour. More than 100 cities across North America will participate, including the US flagships–Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco and Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. View cities involved around the world.

We invite everyone throughout North America and around the world to turn off the lights for an hour starting at 8 p.m. (your own local time)–whether at home or at work, with friends and family or solo, in a big city or a small town.

What will you do when the lights are off? We have lots of ideas.

Join people all around the world in showing that you care about our planet and want to play a part in helping to fight climate change. Don’t forget to sign up and let us know you want to join Earth Hour.

One hour, America. Earth Hour. Turn out for Earth Hour!

If nothing else, think of all the electricity that will be saved for that hour! We aren’t sure what we’re going to do during that time… maybe Scrabble by candlelight?

Link: the politics of optimism

I found this article on WorldChanging yesterday:The Politics of Optimism and thought I’d go ahead and share it here. I found it very thought-provoking and it makes perfect sense to me in a scary sort of way that the powers that be would encourage pessimism to keep the masses disorganized and disinterested in trying to do anything to change things. Anyone who knows me might find it a bit funny to see me here espousing optimism but we’ve really been trying to change our attitude about things and I think it’s making our lives better. We’ve made a serious effort not to dwell on negativity and instead focus on the positive things in life.

It isn’t always easy but gets easier over time; yesterday I picked up a laptop at a customer’s site that was giving an ominous hard-drive-gone-south blue screen of death and I explained what the issue probably was, that there was risk the data was gone, but we’d have to wait and see after I’d gotten the drive out and tried making a disk copy. The poor guy looked like he was about to either faint or vomit and I said “don’t panic, think positive, we don’t know yet that the data’s gone and there’s lots of things we can try.” As I left with the laptop I thought to myself ‘was that really me who just said that?’ and pondered the fact that I wasn’t just saying it to calm him down, either, I meant it. That’s a major change for me.

We’ve added a new category to the blog called “Finding Balance” and that pretty much sums up the path we’re on now. We’re trying to live more positively in as many ways as we can – reducing our impact on the planet, trying to do good things, have a better outlook on life… and it’s strange, the more we work at it, the more good things seem to happen to us rather than bad things. More on that in a later post, as there are big changes in the wind around here.

By the way, the hard drive in the laptop was bad, but I managed to get a good disk image (in non-geek speak, that refers to using software to make a perfect ‘clone’ of a computer hard drive) and the machine was under warranty with Dell so today I got to bring it back with a free brand new drive and every bit (no pun intended) of the customer’s data perfectly intact.

They might not be everyone’s idea of cute and furry, but they need our help

We don’t really watch network TV anymore, and we listen to public radio so I am not sure whether this news item has made it out into the mainstream or not; something is killing thousands of bats in the northeast. Entire colonies have been ravaged, with some losing more than half of their populations last year and more bats affected this year. They are calling it white nose syndrome for the white fungus found on the muzzles of affected bats, but it isn’t clear at this time if the fungus is the actual cause of the infection, or just a symptom.

Bats are very misunderstood by many and the average person probably conjures up images of blood sucking vampires or rabies when they think of them, which is unfortunate. They are amazingly diverse and fascinating creatures that have been around for at least fifty million years, they are the only true flying mammal, they play a very important part in the ecosystem as pollinators, and many species are very capable predators of insects such as mosquitoes. Even if you are one of the people for whom the thought of leathery winged little flying mammals brings an involuntary shudder, you have to recognize that they have a very valuable place in the world and it would be greatly worse off without them.

We recently decided to make a point of setting aside a little money each month to donate to worthy causes, and our first donation went to the Bat Conservation Society’s Fund for White-Nose Syndrome Research. It isn’t much, but maybe if lots of people can chip in little bits here and there researchers can solve this mystery and find a way to stop the die-off.

More information:

National Geographic: Bat Deaths in U.S. Northeast Baffle Experts

Indiana State University Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation

Bat Conservation International’s Fund for White-Nose Syndrome Research

A good example of why our next pet is going to be a turtle

Kinda nice to see this sort of thing doesn’t just happen in our house…

Cat Man Do

I originally tried to embed the YouTube link in this post… lets just say it did not go well. I suppose there was some sort of conflict with our theme’s CSS and the end result was rather scary. So we went with the low-tech text link.

Simon is a [email protected]$%@#d, and other updates.

Since a certain black blob of a cat has yet again seen fit to wake the entire house before four in the morning, and I could not get back to sleep, I figured I might as well put the time to good use with some updates. This middle-of-the-might yelling through the house thing has been an ongoing intermittent pattern of his for some time and I wish we knew what to do to stop it. We’ve gone back to leaving the food bowls down at night but it apparently isn’t just a food thing.

When he does this, he sets off a chain reaction… this morning it woke Joy up first, so she quietly tried to get him to shut up, but I woke up then and once I was awake that set off an allergy fit. Figuring no one would get any sleep once I started loudly snuffling and sneezing, I just gave up and got up. Of course, once she knows I am awake, then Lindsy starts pacing through the house. This wakes up Cricket, who assumes it’s time to go outside, so she starts whining and honking (the latter because of her heart condition) and I have to let out two dogs at four AM because they have to go out RIGHT NOW — even though normally no one would be up for another two hours.

So now I am up, the dogs are up, and Winter and Olive are up. Winter has decided to get an early start for the day on menacing Olive, so I’m trying to quietly threaten her into stopping that, hoping that at least Joy managed to go back to sleep. In the midst of all this I happened to look over and see Simon peacefully snoozing on the bed by the fireplace. I threw a pillow at him. Yeah, immature, I know, but it felt good for just a split second.

Maggie is doing fabulous in her new home and it is such a big relief to have that situation resolved! The house is a lot more peaceful without her radiating misery like a flashing neon sign. She really wasn’t happy at all in this house, no longer having the fenced yard to hang out in, or anywhere we could walk her, and she hated the cold. Besides the stress of worrying she’d bounce over top of one of the ‘broken’ animals inadvertently, we knew she was miserable and this made us more stressed, which she picked up on and that caused her to be more anxious, and… well, you get the picture. It worked out so well for everyone involved and we were incredibly lucky to find her a home where she could ‘shine’. She sleeps on a bed with a member of her new family at night and last we heard they were gradually phasing out the crate. We are so happy for her!

We thought that finding Maggie a home would quiet things down here for a while but Cricket decided to have another epic health crisis a week later. Actually she went downhill so badly we actually made The Appointment and burial arrangements. The day after we called the vet she decided to start eating again, and rocketing through the house like a dog about 15 years younger, so we’ve canceled it. What happens is that she will get pickier and pickier about what she will eat, until she goes off food entirely and makes herself ill. Usually it’s some sort of sugar crash that we can fix by force-feeding her Nutrical, but this last time she made herself really sick.

She had decided that all she would eat was moose meat (we’d gotten a bag of scraps from someone on freecycle) which is pretty much pure protein, no fat at all. After not taking in any fat or carbs at all for about five days, she essentially used up all her energy and crashed, giving herself nasty diarrhea in the process. In retrospect, we should have seen that one coming, but at the time I was just happy that there was something she would actually eat consistently, and didn’t think of the long term effects.

Our new strategy with Cricket is ‘tasty junk’. Specifically, 88 cent pot pies from Ingles. That was Joy’s idea, and in my opinion, it was a flash of brilliance. Cricket sucks that stuff down like it is the absolute Best Thing Ever. Yes, it’s full of salt, and who knows what else, but she’s been on borrowed time for over a year now and if that makes her happy so be it. It’s the closest thing to a balanced diet we’ve been able to get into her in the past few months. We’re not happy about having to smell cooking meat in our kitchen (or at least some chunky, vaguely meat-like substance) nor the non-greenness of the whole ‘prepackaged processed crap’ thing, but sometimes you just have to pick your battles.