Blog Action Day 2008

It’s Blog Action Day 2008, and the topic is poverty. Obviously that’s huge, and I don’t have any solutions to the big problem.

But I do have a small solution that each of us can try. Go to Nothing But Nets and donate $10. That will pay for the creation and delivery of an insecticide-treated mosquito net. Just $10, and you may have saved someone’s life by providing them with protection from malaria–protection they couldn’t afford for themselves.


I gave up on the 29-Day Giving Challenge a while ago, but today I gave a lot of things away.

Yesterday I got a premium for subscribing to Everyday Food: two reusable shopping bags. I think this is a great idea for a premium, and I’m not the only one–we each got one when we picked up our registration materials at the triathlon last weekend. Between those and the bags we already had, the two that arrived yesterday were two too many. So when I went to Whole Foods this morning, I gave them away to people who didn’t have bags with them. Apparently it’s not just a good premium, it’s a good thing to get from a random stranger. Both recipients seemed very happy with their new bags. One woman said, “You just made my day!” And while that’s nice, I hope that the high point of her day didn’t turn out to be getting a free reusable bag at 8:30 a.m.

In the spirit of clearing out things we don’t need, I took several bags of clothes and an old DVD player to Out of the Closet, a thrift store with a branch nearby. (I also returned a book to the library–but since I then picked up four that had been on hold, I can’t count that as a victory over stuff.)

My errands weren’t all focused on giving, though, because I had to buy gas. At $4.61 per gallon, this made me even happier that neither of us regularly commutes by car. I paid a little over $55 for 12 gallons of gas. It’s a relief that I didn’t need a whole tank, because that would have cost $70.

I did squeeze in some self-indulgence (as if that’s rare). For the first time in about 8 years, I had my hair colored in the salon. I’ve been doing this myself–sporadically–with a variety of Nice & Easy shades. But the home kit doesn’t seem to be coloring the gray the way it used to. I figured that I could embrace the gray, but then I’d kind of have to cut my hair short. Or I could continue to let my hair grow out, but then I’d need to pay more attention to the color. I’m just not ready for the former. While I think Jamie Lee Curtis looks fantastic, she’s about 20 years older than I am. So I’m going with the latter, although I have a lot of qualms about how much it costs. On the other hand, chances are good that I won’t go to the salon more than once every three months, so I guess that if I amortize the costs it won’t sound so bad.

Oh, who am I kidding?

A Food-Themed Post

To begin with, I should probably mention that the sandwiches in the new blog header were not tragic. They were from a friend’s birthday tea, and were delightful. In fact, this was the tea that introduced me to chicken-cranberry salad sandwiches, which were so good that they left me saying “Why haven’t I thought of that?” I’m sure everyone else has been eating chicken-cranberry salad for ages.

Also, I’ve obviously been playing with the blog theme and header. This probably will continue.

Today I had a blatant opportunity to act on my 29-Day Giving Challenge, and I took it. As I walked toward Whole Foods on my lunch hour, one of the guys who sits on the benches along Gayley Avenue and asks for money asked me for money. I said, as I do, “No, sorry,” at which point he says, “A cold drink?” I said, “Sure,” and he said something that I was reasonably sure was “Snapple.” That’s when I recognized him as the guy who has specific requests when it comes to food. But I’m always happy to give people food, and a cold drink of any sort seemed like an extremely reasonable request when the temperature is in the 90s. Fortunately, it turns out that Whole Foods does in fact sell Snapple.

Both of us have been tired all week, so for the second time in four nights, we’re ordering pizza from our favorite local place–The Coop. It’s a tiny storefront with no seating, and they only take cash. However, they do deliver, and they make excellent pizza. It has a thin-ish crust with a sauce that is exactly the right degree of spicy, and it’s delicious when topped with our choice of pepperoni and Canadian bacon. The downside is that it often takes a long time, because the place is so small (tonight’s wait is 75 minutes, for example). But it’s worth it, particularly since it means that they’re getting lots of business. It’s one of the places I’m really going to miss when we move. But I still want to move.

View my page at the 29-Day Giving Challenge

I Should Be Working Out

But I’m not. However, that still is one of my goals for this afternoon, while J is off on a road bike ride in Malibu.

It’s been a busy weekend, and it’s barely Sunday afternoon. Yesterday we decided to see Iron Man, so we headed over to the theater to buy tickets. However, we soon found that between us and the theater was a huge traffic jam, due to a nearby car show. We decided to continue with our errands and go to a different theater once we were done. The next stop was at the Goodwill donation point, where I gave away the first item for the 29-Day Giving Challenge–a lawn bag full of clothes. Now, there were probably more than 29 items in the bag, so I suppose I could have doled them out over the course of the Challenge. But that doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of much of anything, so I’m counting the bag as one item.

Next, we went to the pool, where I swam 900 meters and J swam 1100. I’m hoping to be swimming twice a week, and doing 1000 on one of those swims for at least a few weeks before the triathlon. We also need to do some ocean swimming, and I still need to get on the bike. Well, not this weekend.

After the pool, we ate at The Stand. This is probably the fanciest hot dog stand you’ll ever eat at. J had the Chili Dog and I had the Kraut Dog. The sauerkraut didn’t have the tang I was hoping for, but the hot dog and bun were quite good. This is a little splurgy for hot dogs, but I’d come back. Oh, and they have Thomas Kemper cream soda on tap, which is very nice.

We made a brief stop at home, where we learned that the car show was over, and headed out for Iron Man. The movie was a lot of fun, and Robert Downey, Jr., did a great job as Tony Stark. I’m still not all that taken with Gwyneth Paltrow, but I think the problems I had with Pepper Potts had more to do with the writing than with Paltrow’s performance.

Back home again, I said, “How do we not own Raiders of the Lost Ark on DVD? Check TiVo and see if it’s showing tonight.” J did and said, “Believe it or not, it’s starting in 10 minutes.” So we watched Raiders (as edited for television) for the umpteen-millionth time. It’s always good.

Today has been a little slower, although of course there was plenty of laundry to do. When J left on the bike, I headed out with a grocery bag full of movies on VHS. We’ve been replacing our VHS tapes with DVDs wherever possible, and the stack of outbound tapes was getting pretty high. This seemed like a worthy second day of giving for the Challenge, so I dropped them off at one of the local libraries.

I’m not sure how I’m going to fulfill the Challenge during the work week, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. I do know that I need to get up off the couch and work out!

The Spirit of Giving

In the interests of simplifying my life–and hopefully our home–I’ve joined the 29-Day Giving Challenge. I’ll be giving away something every day for 29 days. So I suppose that means I should find something to give away, and a way to do that.

Here’s hoping that I’ll be more successful at completing the challenge than I am at displaying the badge.

View my page on 29-Day Giving Challenge

Tsunamis, Real and Adapted

This weekend, I had a dream about escaping a tsunami. So I guess it’s no surprise that we finally decided to watch HBO’s Tsunami: The Aftermath.

Once again, HBO has provided an excellent production that reminds us of ongoing recovery needs. I think that When the Levees Broke was stronger, largely because it was a documentary and Tsunami is fiction based on the actual events. However, the performances are excellent. Sophie Okonedo and Chiwetel Ejiofor are particularly moving as parents who experience the tsunami in different ways, and must search for their missing daughter. (I was struck by the idea that Okonedo is all of the actress that Thandie Newton is not, and now am even more motivated to see Hotel Rwanda.)

Toni Collette is excellent as always. I might wish Gina McKee had a bit more to do as the mother of two boys who determinedly petitions her government’s local representatives for assistance (she seems so calm that, in the wake of The Forsyte Saga, I begin to question her ability to emote any sort of passion), but that is only a minor quibble in an otherwise excellent miniseries. It’s a shame only Collette was nominated for a Golden Globe–I am surprised that Okonedo was not so honored for her poignant performance.