This Week in Review

Electricity: I just got this month’s electric bill. Or rather, half of it. Then I got the other half in the mail in someone else’s name. The electric company doesn’t know what happened, but promises they’ll fix it. Anyway, it came out to about the same as last month — we seem to be stabilizing at about 150kwh/month, or about 16% of US average.

Gas: I skipped class on Thursday because it was raining and I was feeling fried. So I used less fuel. Whee. I’m feeling better now. We’re taking a taxi home from the farm tomorrow, going about three miles. After the holidays, I’ll decide what I’m doing about calculating public transit and come up with an approximate amount of fuel used for June-December.

Heating: We’re hopefully going to actually get an energy audit inspection-thingie on the apartment soon, which will help tell us the optimal way of insulating the windows. Looking at the options, we realized that we really weren’t sure what would be best, and didn’t want to invest lots of money (and stuff) on something that wasn’t actually fixing the problem. I’ve realized that we’re probably causing the upstairs neighbors to use more fuel this year, and mooching off of their heat as the hot water travels through our walls to heat their apartment. But there’s nothing stopping them from weatherizing the windows and turning down the thermostat, so I’m going to continue to enjoy the toasty walls and the fact that our apartment is staying warm enough without heat so far. The tank is now about 3/4 full. I’m going to order biodiesel heating oil for when we do need to refill it. I’d appreciate any reasons anyone can come up with for not doing so, that I might have overlooked…it seems like biodiesel is a Really Bad Idea done improperly and on a large scale, but probably quite a good idea done on a smaller scale and out of byproducts of other industries (in this case, midwestern soy grown mainly for protein).

Food: The little windowsil sprouts are growing nicely. I’ve been looking through my cookbooks for inspiration and have found lots of potato recipes that should give our root-based winter diet some variety. For the CSA harvest potluck tomorrow I’m making an Indian potato dish with lots of cumin in it. I should own coriander (the seed kind). This week has consisted of using up a lot of leftovers and making plenty of tasty local food. Once the order from Wood Prairie Farm gets in, we’ll be able to eat almost entirely locally until the CSA veggies run out, so long as we don’t mind eating lots of beans and potatoes. I’ve even discovered a local fishery that sells smoked herring that I might be able to get at the Hannaford. We are having a treat and going out for dinner at a local Thai place tonight for Ben’s birthday. We are now not only both odd, but prime! (23 and 29)

Trash: I still haven’t built the worm bin, so the compost is piling up in little plastic containers in the mud room, to be taken to the farm tomorrow if it all fits in our backpacks. If not, I’ll just stick the rest of it in a 10-gallon container outside until the worm bin is made. Otherwise, trash continues to steadily slightly decrease. We’re well under 10% of US average.

Water: I feel like I’ve been using a bit more lately for things like dishes. I’m not sure. I have been cutting down shower water by turning the water pressure down further. I dont’ actually care about water pressure, just heat, so I actually use less hot water if I just turn it down to a gentle spray and use almost entirely hot water, than if I used cooler water at a higher pressure. I will take cooler showers if it seems to be necessary for further reduction, but weekly scalding showers seem like a reasonable hedonism.

Consumer Goods: Not counting food, I bought a grand total of a pen this week. I really shouldn’t even have bought the pen, but yet again I had forgotten to bring a writing implement to class on Wednesday and I was fed up with it. At least it’s a fairly nice pen, not a throw-away one.

Overall, a good week. I had a brief conversation on the future of library science with one of the reference staff that went well. I pointed out the risk of storing so much knowledge electronically given the rising cost of stuff to keep the electronics going, which she said she hadn’t thought about and said was a good point. Yay! (I should note that I’m all for having journals and stuff *accessable* online — it’s an amazing tool for both academics and the general public. But I want a hard copy somewhere. Preferably several. And it would be nice if we’d stop printing it on crappy paper that will degrade to unreadability in 20 years.) This is partly why I want to go into children’s services…it will involve computers, because everything does, but a substantial component of children’s librarianship will *always* involve real books, even completely ignoring whether The World As We Know It will collapse. There are some really great videos and recordings of children’s books out there, which is wonderful, but storytime via web terminal just isn’t the same. And in a way this is a wonderful field to go into if you’re concerned about the impact of industrial civilization…public childrens’ librarians really just don’t get paid enough to support a modern consumerist lifestyle. ;-)

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