Clothing retailers, get a clue

I recently left this feedback on a survey. I reiterate so that my tall sisters can sing it from the mountains with me:

I’m tall* and I’m a girl. I have long arms, long legs, AND a long rise AND broad shoulders. I have boobs that don’t fit under “normal” shirts, even if my shoulders fit. I have hips that don’t fit in men’s jackets, when the rest fits. I hate wearing men’s clothes and their boring colors. I am done with that. I am willing to spend my money on clothes (and bicycles, backpacks, sleeping bags, shoes…) that fit and that are pretty**.

I am these things, and I am not alone.

*Yes, I played basketball. And volleyball.

**But I’ll wear things that don’t fit if they’re pretty and nice to the earth and its inhabitants. 🙂 And I’ll wear the hell outta some Chucks.

Also, I just found out this isn’t something all people have a problem with:

http://tallpeopleproblems.tumblr.com

 

How to ship an inhaler

Yeah, it’s worth a how-to. It was that complicated… until it wasn’t.

Ok, here’s the bottom line: I used FedEx overnight (air) for US-domestic, shipped an inhaler with about 120 puffs, found a “station” to ship from, and had to write exactly this on the package, which I marked as NOT dangerous/hazardous:

“Not restricted as per special provision A98.”

IMG_8831Here are the details. The devil is in them.

1) This provision is for inhalers that are under a certain milliliter size. I was told it would be printed on the inhaler, but I couldn’t find it (on a Dulera daily inhaler). I saw that the delivery was something like 5 micrograms, so I surmised this would also be under the milliliters. If it wasn’t, fuck it. I was finished fiddling with it by then, and my guy was having asthma attacks as I dithered away at FedEx counters.

2) The regular FedEx office (where I went first) told me that the inhaler was a hazardous good. Don’t believe them. The provision says it’s exempt. The end. Or if you want, believe them, run around town trying to find a “station”, call FedEx 3 times, get connected (and disconnected, and re-connected, and then call again) to the hazardous materials guys. They will cite you the special provision, read its legalese to you, then ask you if your inhaler is under the size limit (as in #1 above). If you’re just sending an inhaler to a kid at camp, I think you’re gonna be fine. And as in #1, fuck it. Someone you love needs to breathe asap.

3) Regular FedEx offices can’t accept hazardous goods. You need to find a special “station”, and a normal FedEx place can tell you where that is. Right, this isn’t a hazardous good, and you fall under the provision, as stated ever-so-clearly on your package, but last thing you want is them rejecting your package at the last second. Go to the station. Oh, they also tell you that you can arrange a home pickup for your package. I tried that, too, and the driver refused it. In the end, I went to the station after hours of running around, phone calls, and utter frustration and worry. Skip all that and just go to a station. Even if you have to drive an hour, you’ll save all that time. It took me about 7.5 hours of phone calls and getting across town a few times before I finally made it to the station. If I’d just gone to begin with, I’d have saved about 6 hours.

4) Why FedEx? You might be able to deliver somewhere else overnight, and for cheaper. I had to use them because that’ s who was delivering next day to the in-the-boonies location I had to get my inhaler to. It cost me fifty bucks, but if my asthmatic had a serious attack while waiting for his package a day later to save me twenty? Yeah right. I gladly paid the fifty.

That was ridiculous. In the end? Inhaler arrived just fine and my asthmatic is still extremely alive.

Still writing 2012 on your checks? Lucky bastard.

Yeahhhhh, it’s 2013 and I haven’t even written a single blog post yet. (Oh wait. There’s one! I just hadn’t published for some reason, and evidently I was still getting over pneumonia. I think I get a bye on forgetting it.) So those correctly-dated checks are just gonna have to wait.

What am I up to now? Here’s my sanity check:

Obviously, work. And a weekend thing I can’t shirk: training my baby naturalists to become masters. So that’s pretty much Monday through Saturday, 9-5. So for the other day of the week and hours I’m not sleeping:

Around the house:

  • Still gotta get those kitchen lights working again. It’s been probably 4 or 5 months now. Ouch.
  • Gotta fix the leaks in the kitchen and bathroom faucets. Wow, and I’m a greenie??
  • Finding a contractor to replace my horrible peach tiles, horrible cold tub, and nasty mildewy grout with something amazing. Something airy. Something I won’t have to scrub.

Maybe something like this, with its delightful steamy goodness:

steam_shower_BHG
From BH&G: http://www.bhg.com/bathroom/shower-bath/walk-in-showers/#page=9

Or maybe, even more dreamily, it opens to the big wide world:

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 3.34.46 PM
From tumblr with no real credit , but from my own searches it might be originally from http://www.architizer.com/en_us/projects/pictures/house-in-banzao/27187/231738/#.URrIDlqG1DI

But most likely, I’ll just end up with a big shower, no tub, and a better vent fan. Oh, and a fixed tub faucet leak. And I’m ok with that. Mostly.

Ok, ok. Since this post is really just for my own mental organization (is there ever another reason for a blog post?), what do I really want out of the bathroom upgrade?

  1. The leak fixed. That’s where it all started.
  2. The tiles (and their mildew and all the scrubbing and gross factor) gone.
  3. No more shower curtain (and… its mildew. Theme much? Also getting rid of the shower curtain screech when it’s moved aside. Awakens folks in both adjacent bedrooms and is a fun party trick!)
  4. More light.
  5. Better steam evacuation (read: fix/replace vent fan).
  6. Better health. I visited a spa (oh wow) and they had eucalyptus steam! Then I thought, dang, could I have a steam room, too? Having just got over pneumonia, this seemed like an amazing and resouding YES. Having option 6 requires option 5.
  7. Update room for better resale (eventually) and better enjoyment (now).
  8. More room in the event one occupant is on the toilet and the other in the shower. Hey, it happens. And when it does, the shower person is quite the captive.

Around the yard, I’m hoping to get some of these projects banged out (ha. Right). Until that illustrious day, this weekend I put in spinach, chia, cuke, black-eyed, okra, and kale seeds.

Someday, I’ll pull up my perfectly good patio (the one that burns my feet in the summer) and put down some wood slices, and that patio will shoot off onto a path, leading to my backyard oasis, spiraling to a conclusion thus:

circular-patio-squares-rounds-l
http://www.sunset.com/garden/circular-patios-00400000038448/page6.html

Oh, and that patio? It’s covered with a pergola, luscious hanging plants, and a serene sense of give-a-fuck:

http://www.houzz.com/photos/163992/beverly-hills-peck—mediterranean-patio-los-angeles

And I’ll put uprights around my driveway, so I can grow vines (gourds!) over my driveway and make it less burny through the summer. It’ll also mean 100% less basketball. We’re currently at 1% basketball, so it’s not a huge loss:

Pinned Image
From—could you guess?— Urbanhomestead.org Man, they’ve got cool stuff.

And when those gourds aren’t growing, how about a bottle reuse project cum artwork, yathus:

Pinned Image
http://www.designrulz.com/product-design/2012/11/45-ideas-of-how-to-recycle-plastic-bottles/

If I’m lucky, I’ll make it to my lowball goal: a DIY rain barrel. This is the wah-wah of projects:

Pinned Image
http://www.shelterness.com/great-diy-rain-barrel-for-those-who-want-to-go-green/

And as for health, I’m hoping to train for a triathlon. Yes, I realize that “hoping to train” for something is a complete fail.gif, but I have at worst gone to the gym one time out of once this week. Tomorrow, that number either stays at 100% or drops to 50%. I read this article (http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/print-view/everything-you-know-about-fitness-is-a-lie-20120504) and am reading the 4-hour body (with a grain of salt, per the author’s own instruction), and I’m still doing yoga and still trying to get up earlier each day for more health, yoga, well being, and huh, at some point I should look into these “meal” things people are all talking about. In the meantime, Pinterest keeps me and my hopes-to-plan-to-do self in a constant state of denial and sweet oblivion.

Solar Powered Prisons Save Money

via Solar Powered Prisons Save Taxpayers Money | Sustainablog.

Image from Sustainablog

Yes, please. If we can’t switch from dirty fuels *cough*fossil fuels*cough* because it’s a better and cleaner way to do things, and because building new infrastructure actually creates news jobs (oh, don’t even get me started on restoring all those miles and miles of railroad lines that exist just about everywhere and would be an excellent way for us to move around the country), then maybe we can at least switch because it saves money.

Fine. I’m fine with that. And thank you, Charlotte Airport, for starting to worm compost and reporting the 1.2 million dollars you invested in, yes, worms will pay for itself in five years

Dudes. You can’t even get a Prius to pay for its own 30k over its lifetime. You can’t get a solar system at your house to pay for itself in five years, although perhaps in my (burning) climate, maybe it would pay for itself over its own lifetime.

But dudes. Dudes. Money talks. Great, let’s listen, then, since we’ve demonstrated over and over how it’s far more important than people. Finally, it’s a winner.

How to help someone who’s lost everything

This is a follow-up to my previous post from the perspective of the one who has lost a home and all possessions. I know many people right now are facing life without a home, without possessions, without mementos and precious heirlooms, without even a birth certificate anymore.

Here are a few tips on how to help these people facing the biggest life change anyone’s ever likely to face. Honestly. It was easier to put my father to rest than to figure out what to do after my mother lost her home.

Note: I get maybe a bit snarky toward the end when I talk about what not to do. Keep in mind this was an emotional deal for me, too, and cut me a tiny bit of slack if you can. I’m really not being ungrateful, and I’m just trying to help people understand maybe what it’s like to be on the receiving end.

For everyone:

The folks at the epicenter are not equipped at that moment to answer detailed questions, and anyway emergency officials have asked them everything—even horrible questions to find out if the person was responsible for her own world’s destruction. It’s awful. Please don’t add to that maelstrom of questions.

I know you want to help. If you aren’t in a place financially or geographically to spare a dollar or a pair of jeans, you can:

  • make phone calls to local aid groups
  • do some legwork for the victim. They’ll need paperwork re-issued (deeds, birth certificates, passports, titles, social security cards), so maybe you can start finding out at the library where they’ll need to start out
  • you can help start a relief fund for the victim or help set up a PayPal account for the same (this one gave me fits for two days). Spread the word liberally.
  • you can help get the word out that this person could use a hand. Maybe you’ll find someone who is in the position to give something to the victim.

For local folks:

20121107-100852.jpg
This sweet note made it clear to use only what my family needed. They really REALLY appreciated that.

If the victims are still staring at the wreckage of their home, or sitting motionless on the cot at the shelter, get a pack of socks, underwear, and t-shirts for the person (or family). Put it into a simple bag for them with a bit of room to spare. My brother received a duffle bag with those things inside (from someone afar, actually!), with the note you see here. It was the best.

If there are children, a small stuffed animal may offer amazing comfort to them. (This is out of my experience, though, so most of my tips are applicable only to adult victims.) A bottle of water and a piece of fruit or can also be nice. My mom was really happy to have pajamas to sleep in that night, and a pillow like she lost. It’s the little things.

Red Cross should already be there (the fire dept is supposed to call them), but in our case, the FD had a few unusual things going on (running out of water, for one), so if RC doesn’t show up soon, call em up. It won’t hurt if you end up calling them and they already know. They’ll deal.

Offer your phone for the victims or someone close to them to use to call family or the insurance company.

If there are pets involved, find out their names and go looking for them around the neighborhood. Seriously, you’re helping more by getting out of the immediate area. And what an amazing turnaround for my mom when she found one of her cats.

Red Cross should get them a place for a day or two to stay. Try to help find or even negotiate a middle-term housing situation for them. In our case, that is a travel trailer. In others cases it might be an apartment or other rental, housesitting (yes, really), or the ol’ spare bedroom.

20121107-101325.jpg
If this was just wear, of course it’d be fine. But it’s not. That brown stuff is grime. Not stains: dirt and grime that rubs off when you get near it. Don’t do this.

Don’t take it personally if they don’t stay in the place you find for them. Just giving them an option is a huge relief for them. Mostly. Don’t try to force them into the “easiest” option or the closest option. Don’t put them into a place you wouldn’t want to spend the night, yourself.

Which brings me to this tip: OMG, don’t give them anything you wouldn’t want to receive yourself. They don’t have anything, sure, and they’re grateful, but they still have dignity. Don’t give them rags to wear. Don’t give them the couch from the porch, the rugs the cats peed on, or a place to stay that would make a crackhead uncomfortable. Seriously. My mom was gracious and we, her family, tried to be, too. We all love second-hand and thrift stores, but there’s no way some of these items would’ve made the cut at Goodwill. Again, just because they’ve lost everything doesn’t mean they’ll take anything. Imagine staring at strange walls and facing the thought of sleeping on questionable, stained sheets, and eating expired food. Imagine if that’s what your new reality becomes.

20121107-101400.jpg
Remember that time three years before your house burned down? Yeah, even then this pudding was expired. But those were good times, huh?

Don’t make this the moment you take out the trash. And for the love of Pete, don’t donate expired food. Ever.

20121107-101343.jpg
Pee stains, anyone?

Mom was grateful for the clothing she got from neighbors and friends: the clothing that was folded and stacked on her car’s hood as it sat on the road; the clothing that was hung in the closet of the room my friends put together for her, and hung up or folded in the donation center the neighbors put together. The clothes in the trash bag? Not as excited to pick through and find the best-of items so clearly stamped as throw-away. And seriously, she loves Goodwill. It wasn’t a matter of “good enough” or “nice enough.” It was all about just taking a few moments to show that the items you are giving them were good enough to take a moment to fold, stack, or anything other than “unceremoniously dump”.

For out-of-towners:

My brother—also displaced by the fire—got an overnight package in the mail with some clothes and a duffle bag, as I mentioned. This was so awesome and discreet. He appreciated the gesture and its method. Better still (the note is one of the photos above), the sender acknowledged that my brother might not want or need some of the things in the bag. They gave him the sensitive “out” to use only what he could or would use. I don’t know who those friends of his were, but THANK YOU, friends. You have no idea what a relief that was for him to know it was ok.

Setting up and arranging the PayPal thing, and spreading the word on contributing to it, is a big help. Folks on both coasts are eager to contribute, which is amazing, as are folks in between and in other countries. It’s just amazing. One friend from the past is arranging her group of crafters to donate just $5 each to the fund. It’s just the sweetest thing.

My mom has no idea what she’ll do next, so item donations aren’t an easy possibility. Does she need a new table or bed? She didn’t have a place to put it, and ended up finding a “home” that came with built in beds and tables. Does she need a coat for winter? In Texas, that’s a question for next-month mom. She’s not in contact with today-mom. They’re not on speaking terms just yet.

Sorry, out-of-towners. There’s less that you can do, but not nothing. Even if you can’t do financial or physical contributions, I hope the list of “legwork” items (above) that you can do from afar can help you feel involved.

My aunts and uncles were able to travel into town to help out for a few days, and it really was great to have them near. My brother and I were able to return to work more quickly than without them, and having my mom’s “peers” around was much better than her feeling like her children were taking care of her.

Today she’s watching the bulldozers remove the wreckage of her hand-built home. Today I’m back at work, but before I could dive into writing as part of my job, I had to get this writing out of the wreckage of my own thoughts. I hope you’ll forgive its state, and I do sincerely hope it helps you—anyone and everyone—to understand how to help.

20121107-101353.jpg
It’s not you, it’s me: your perineal cleanser might be a kingly gift, but if the recipient doesn’t need a half-used bottle of it, maybe don’t take that the wrong way.

One final thought: don’t take it personally if your gift or suggestion if not accepted. I am finding it a good change of events to have mom forming her own opinions again. The first few days she was unable to make decisions at all, ate when she was told, went where we pointed, and in all ways was mastered by the situation. Today she is mastering it, and the help she still needs is ever more difficult for her to accept. I hope I keep that in perspective and understand that she’s finding what she most lost: her fierce independence.

Thank you, one and all, for helping her get there again. But maybe not so much thanks for the expired pudding.

Lifehacker and 3 Ways the Drought Will Affect You

from 3 Ways the Drought Will Affect Consumers.

This article, linked originally from Lifehacker (which misses the point and specifically calls out stocking up on meat and freezing milk) gets to the heart of conservation: waste less. Of course, the article couches it in terms of cold, hard cash: it costs you more to let your air conditioning run wild. It costs you more when you waste gas by driving needless miles.

I’ve been harping on this to anyone who will listen lately, and even those who won’t: buying a more efficient vehicle (or buying any “green” product, really) is a nice extra step to take, but it’s not the answer to the problem. It’s addressing the symptom.

In the case of cars and gasoline, finding a higher mpg car might seem like a conservative solution. In fact, it’s just addressing the symptom whose cause is driving too many miles.

Stop driving as much. Or, to put in terms of savings “Reduce the number of miles that you drive. Not only will you buy less gas, but you’ll reduce the cost of maintenance, lengthen the life of your car, and might even lower the cost of insuring it.” 

Ride a bike. Walk. Take a bus. Nothing will make you really consider whether you need to make a trip more than having to hoof it there (or wait for a bus, or air up your bike tires, find your helmet, get your bike lock…) You’ll be healthier for it, and richer, too. It will you save money on your car, sure, but you can also ditch that gym membership in the process. Or better still, you may simply find that biking or walking to get that latte just doesn’t seem all that compelling.

Ok, ok. I get it if you can’t use public or human-powered transportation. If you live way out in the country, where 10+ miles of shoulderless highway stand between you and “town”,  you probably already run all your errands at once. And if you don’t, you’re either half retarded or made of money. In those cases, my silly little blog doesn’t interest you or you don’t care about saving a few dollars. Or both. Why are you even here??

But maybe you live in a weird outskirts area that’s too remote for the bus or a walk, but still too “city” for a safe bike ride. I get that. So in your case, make sure you’re getting all your errands run in one swoop, like the non-retarded country people do. C’mon. It’s what your grandma would’ve done. Hell, you’re grandma would’ve nutted up and biked into town anyway. Just sayin.

Share the road? No. It’s not your road.

There is way too much of a trend here. Bicyclist dies in a crash, people immediately say bikes don’t belong on the road. Signs go up reminding motorists to “share” the road. Bicyclists gather in rallies and ask people to “be kind”.

Uh, no.

Bicycles are vehicles. You don’t ask to “share” the road with Mini Coopers or motorcycles. The road belongs to all of these people in every vehicle. You don’t rally to “be kind” to people in crosswalks. Outside or off of our vehicles, we’re just plain “people”. Not “pedestrians”, not “shoppers”, (and while we’re on the subject of labels, we’re not “consumers” either). Just people.

What’s that trend of labelling I’m talking about? Referring to people as “consumers” dehumanizes them. It’s not just greenie blogs that think this. Big fancy blogs about writing and word choice also agree. How about TIME magazine?

20120517-155137.jpg
I can’t believe this sign is allowed to exist.

Ok,so what’s that got to do with bikes or “pedestrians”? When we label someone as anything other than a human, the person stops being human in our minds. “Pedestrians” become creatures that belong on a sidewalk. Not in a crosswalk, and definitely not on the roadway. They become beings that we should look out for, like possums and deer skittering onto our precious blacktop. This isn’t my original idea. Read about it yourself and I’ll get on with my rant. Oh, and the “shoppers” thing? Yeah. That happens. I took that picture, and it’s not the only place I’ve seen that sign.

So the point. We’re not shoppers, pedestrians, or bikers. We’re people. All of us, in cars, on bikes, on foot. And guess what? We all get from here to there however we can. Those paths intersect and overlap. A lot. You might be on a road, but you have to keep your eyes open for everything. You might be on a bike path, and same rules apply. And when you’re in a crosswalk, or even on a sidewalk (where, sadly, my friend’s father was killed by a rogue vehicle)? Well, I think your squishy soft flesh and self-preserving brain agree: watch out.

Everyone,watch out. We all belong where humans belong. Vehicles—fast or slow, human-powered or motor-fed—go on roads. The faster objects then have a responsibility to watch for slower moving objects—people, other vehicles (including bikes), and animals. In big cities and congested areas in other parts of the world, people, cars, and bikes all weave in and out of the same roadways. It works. Cars don’t expect to see only cars on the roads, so they keep an eye out. People don’t expect a nice, safe, car-free sidewalk, so they are wary, too.

But over here in ‘Merica, we love our cars. We love em to be as big and badassed as possible. We scoff at people waiting for the bus. We consider any form of locomotion, especially walking and biking, as either done for exercise or by necessity. That is, you are rich enough to have leisure time, so you suit up in your appropriate exercise outfit and hit the streets to burn off some fat, or you’re too poor to afford a car and your feet or bike are your only choice. It’s a rare soul who drives by a bicyclist and thinks “man, there’s freedom. I sure wish I could leave my big gas-guzzler behind forever.”

Hence, signs for “shoppers crossing” and “Ped xing”. From high atop our SUVs and down in the depths of our Coopers we think “Shoppers and Pedestrians are not Us. They are not Drivers. We all-powerful Drivers must benevolently give way to the lower life forms. We must share.”

No. “Sharing” the road indicates you have something that you allow me to use. And those roads? They’re not yours. They’re ours. They’re not shareable because they don’t belong to anyone. I don’t “share” parks with you. We just use them together. Maybe I’m splitting hairs and co-use is already “sharing” by your definition. But I want to be clear about this. Roads aren’t yours for “sharing”. They are for us all to use together. At the same time; we do not take turns using the roads.

Keep watching. I’m out there, and I’m squishy, and you may not like me or that idea, but I’m a human just like you.