Art store run!

Went by the Utrecht art supplies store. Loose pencil (also china markers and colored pencils, in lieu of markers), gum erasers, metal rulers, gummed paper tape and a wide variety of paper supplies — all without additional plastic or extra packaging.

Which is why I think of the art stores as good office supplies stores.

Brass brads keep papers together

OK: three posts in the last 2 years is a pretty poor result. I’ll try to do better.

Now some plastic reduction. I bought these brass brads to keep papers together. They’re fun and remind me of elementary school book reports and high school plays. Inexpensive, reusable and not a bit of plastic.

Free legal guides for living

At home and at work. I love the guides published by Nolo Press, and I think they’re darn near indispensible for anyone managing or organizing a church.

I’ve noticed that this publisher of legal guides has branched out a bit, and so borrowed their The Sharing Solution, a book about managing cooperation and sharing of resources, from the public library. Had to return it today, and so looked on line at the publisher site to find out more about it (and see if it would cheap to buy as an ebook.) Instead, I discovered that Nolo has released the text of this and several other of consumer titles online for use free of charge. It is suitable for reading online — this is the text, not a PDF — and not a bad idea to upsell the print or PDF version for those who are more interested it and can afford the cost.

And this last qualification is important. A motif loosely connects the free books: making do with less money and preserving job, business and home. So this information may be vital for some.

Check for yourself. (Nolo Press)

Cold water for laundry

A recent change at Chez Bitb: I’m now washing laundry in cold water only. Some of you will surely wonder what has taken me so long.  Because of the huge energy cost for heating wash water, the issue for me is not if hot water cleans laundry better than cold water, but if cold water cleans laundry well enough. And by washing clothes just enough I try to make them last longer and possibly reduce the number of clothing articles I need.

I don’t usually promote commercial goods, but I use, like and recommend Charlie’s Soap, a scent-free detergent that works very well in cold water. (It also seems to have a cult following in the cloth diaper crowd.) I used to get it at a now-defunct green goods store, but discovered it sold at (of all places) the Vitamin Shoppe, where I got a fresh tub this weekend.

Free your mind from commercial occupation

My “Occupy mind” is moving from plowing (attracting attention through encampment) to planting, even if the seasons belie the metaphor. It’s time to develop concrete actions to match the feelings stirred up in the last two months. A political response is natural, and I expect you to keep pressure on your congregational delegations with respect to the banks, money in elections, student indebtedness and mortgages, among other issues.

But another, more basic issue, is changing our minds about what we really need as opposed to what we think we need. Confusing the famous with the important. Believing the promises made to you by people who have no interest in your well-being. (That thought started as a rejection of advertising, but really it goes much farther.) Thinking that your opinion is false because it is not well-spoken. (You can work on being convincing later.)

Of course, it’s easier to do this when there are concrete examples, and I’ll post good models as I find them.

Linux, Microsoft users: protect yourself against repetitive stress

I had a harrowing day today at the emergency room. All is well — better safe that sorry — but at the very least, let it be said that I should mitigate against eye and neck strain.

Coming home, I re-installed a piece of software I once used: Workrave. It forces you to take short pauses and coffee breaks, and leads you through stretching your arms and shoulders, and refocusing your eyes. You can set the length between breaks and how many times you can defer them, say if you’re on deadline or showing someone something on your computer.

For users of the newest (Oneiric) version of Ubuntu Linux, install the backports repository (Edit > Software sources > Updates tab in the Ubuntu Software Center) and install it there or any standard way.

Linux users who compile from source and Microsoft users can get their software here.

Cold outside, inside — but action

One of the tensions I feel is how far we (Americans, global citzens or the 99%) should respond to the current economic situation: act primarily in concord to develop a new economic order, or retool our expectations for life with less.

Or, I suspect, both. I am by habit a rather thrifty person, even in times of plenty. I suppose I want to have reserves in difficult times, but I also believe that it is immoral to live in such a way that depends on others to suffer for your comfort.

The weather is cold quite early this fall here on the Eastern seaboard. A good place to start. Better to wear more appropriate clothing indoors and turn down the heat than — as is the case in metropolitan Washington — to use far-shipped gas or (in my case) heat with electricity that comes from strip-mined coal.

Here’s an article from early this year that continues to inspire me. Saves energy, saves money, avoids the hubris of overconsumption.

Insulation: first the body, then the home” (Low Tech Magazine)

Universalist church-transit combo!

I love Universalist churches. I love streetcars. So nice that Providence, Rhode Island is planning to run a line very close to First Universalist (pastored by a friend of mine) a block from where Washington turns on Empire, according to this map and story at the Providence Journal site.

Hope it works.

Water, before the hurricane

This photo, of any empty bottle water aisle in Washington, D.C. is a bit disappointing, if completely predictable.

My solution, based on more than a few times through a hurricane, is to keep a covered dutch oven full of water on the stove, the electric kettle full and a pitcher in the fridge. And I’ll doubt I’ll have to depend on those.

I also make sure all the outstanding dishes and clothes are washed. (Clean clothes are no substitute for a shower should there be a real shutdown, but it does make making-do happier.)

Be safe.