Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shopping success

Ok, for those of you who don't know NeNe - she is one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta in a tv show on the Bravo channel. Sorry for the obscure pop culture reference (I forget you all are not as crazy as me).

We also had a VERY successful trip on Saturday - 1) Chipotle, 2) Ecco shoe store, 3) real live couture shopping mall.

Ok, number 3 was surreal and fascinating and a little disturbing. I mean, who can HONESTLY afford any of that stuff? It's just supremely impractical in my opinion. I mean, yes there is a difference in quality, which I am glad to pay for, between Walmart clothing and Ann Taylor, but do you really get that much better quality at Michael Kors that warrants a price increase equal to that of a small car? I doubt a pair of pants will last as long as our Jeep has.

But I digress...here is the kick butt work boot Jeff got and is very excited about:
He's ready for harvest!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Skirt, flirt, blurt, kurt

For the first time since my wedding day - coming up on 5 years in November - I am wearing a skirt. (Plus dangly earrings and a scarf, but I've been known to sport those regularly.)

Here's why: today we are going shoe shopping in Buckhead, land of NeNe and the other Housewives of Atlanta. Ever seen it on Bravo? Nuff said. I am stepping up my game.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Is my tush more important than the environment?

I am not really sure why I am on such a conservation kick - perhaps when you grow up on a farm, surrounded by things growing, and have an awareness that it's your livelihood, you just have an "understanding" with Mother Nature that you will do your best to protect her as well as turn a profit at the same time.

So when I came across the below article yesterday, I immediately groaned as my conscience whispered naughty reprimands to me - because soft tp and zero break-through double rolls are KEY to my happiness at home. Ok, see here, I will endure BOTH of those atrocities at work and in public places, but my home is my castle, (er, throne?) and one of the cheap ways I feel like I can pamper myself.

However, my ignorant blissful state has been shattered. For who knew that old-growth forests were being sacrificed for my own heinie?

On our next Target trip we will buy a recycled variety and test run it versus my favorite Quilted Northern double rollm, and let you know the results.

(Caution! It's a longer article!) From the Washington Post yesterday: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/23/AR2009092304711.html?sub=AR

There is a battle for America's behinds.

It is a fight over toilet paper: the kind that is blanket-fluffy and getting fluffier so fast that manufacturers are running out of synonyms for "soft" (Quilted Northern Ultra Plush is the first big brand to go three-ply and three-adjective). It's a menace, environmental groups say -- and a dark-comedy example of American excess.

The reason, they say, is that plush U.S. toilet paper is usually made by chopping down and grinding up trees that were decades or even a century old. They want Americans, like Europeans, to wipe with tissue made from recycled paper goods.

It has been slow going. Big toilet-paper makers say that they've taken steps to become more Earth-friendly but that their customers still want the soft stuff, so they're still selling it.
This summer, two of the best-known combatants in this fight signed a surprising truce, with a big tissue maker promising to do better. But the larger battle goes on -- the ultimate test of how green Americans will be when nobody's watching.

"At what price softness?" said Tim Spring, chief executive of Marcal Manufacturing, a New Jersey paper maker that is trying to persuade customers to try 100 percent recycled paper. "Should I contribute to clear-cutting and deforestation because the big [marketing] machine has told me that softness is important?" He added: "You're not giving up the world here."

Toilet paper is far from being the biggest threat to the world's forests: together with facial tissue, it accounts for 5 percent of the U.S. forest-products industry, according to industry figures. Paper and cardboard packaging makes up 26 percent of the industry, although more than half is made from recycled products. Newspapers account for 3 percent.

But environmentalists say 5 percent is still too much. Felling these trees removes a valuable scrubber of carbon dioxide, they say. If the trees come from "farms" in places such as Brazil, Indonesia or the southeastern United States, natural forests are being displaced. If they come from Canada's forested north -- a major source of imported wood pulp -- ecosystems valuable to bears, caribou and migratory birds are being damaged.

And, activists say, there's just the foolish idea of the thing: old trees cut down for the briefest and most undignified of ends. "It's like the Hummer product for the paper industry," said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We don't need old-growth forests . . . to wipe our behinds."

The reason for this fight lies in toilet-paper engineering. Each sheet is a web of wood fibers, and fibers from old trees are longer, which produces a smoother and more supple web. Fibers made from recycled paper -- in this case magazines, newspapers or computer printouts -- are shorter. The web often is rougher.

So, when toilet paper is made for the "away from home" market, the no-choice bathrooms in restaurants, offices and schools, manufacturers use recycled fiber about 75 percent of the time.
But for the "at home" market, the paper customers buy for themselves, 5 percent at most is fully recycled. The rest is mostly or totally "virgin" fiber, taken from newly cut trees, according to the market analysis firm RISI Inc.

Big tissue makers say they've tried to make their products as green as possible, including by buying more wood pulp from forest operations certified as sustainable. But despite environmentalists' concerns, they say customers are unwavering in their desire for the softest paper possible.

"That's a segment [of consumers] that is quite demanding of products that are soft," said James Malone, a spokesman for Georgia-Pacific. Sales figures seem to make that clear: Quilted Northern Ultra Plush, the three-ply stuff, sold 24 million packages in the past year, bringing in more than $144 million, according to the market research firm Information Resources Inc.
Last month, Greenpeace announced an agreement that it said would change this industry from the inside.

The environmental group had spent 4 1/2 years attacking Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Kleenex and Cottonelle toilet paper, for getting wood from old-growth forests in Canada. But the group said it is calling off the "Kleercut" campaign: Kimberly-Clark had agreed to make its practices greener.

By 2011, the company said, 40 percent of the fiber in all its tissue products will come from recycled paper or sustainable forests. "We could have campaigned forever," said Lindsey Allen, a senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace. But this was enough, she said, because Kimberly-Clark's changes could alter the entire wood-pulp supply chain: "They have a policy that . . . will shift the entire way that tissue companies work."

Still, some environmental activists said that Greenpeace should have pushed for more.
"The problem is not yet getting better," said Chris Henschel, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, talking about logging in Canada's boreal forests. He said real change will come only when consumers change their habits: "It's unbelievable that this global treasure of Canadian boreal forests is being turned into toilet paper. . . . I think every reasonable person would have trouble understanding how that would be okay."

That part could be difficult, because -- in the U.S. market, at least -- soft is to toilet paper what fat is to bacon, the essence of the appeal. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports tested toilet paper brands and found that recycled-tissue brands such as Seventh Generation and Marcal's Small Steps weren't unpleasant. But they gave their highest rating to the three-ply Quilted Northern.
"We do believe that you're going to feel a difference," said Bob Markovich, an editor at Consumer Reports.

Marcal, the maker of recycled toilet paper here in New Jersey, is trying to change that with a two-pronged sales pitch. The first is that soft is overrated. "Strength of toilet paper is more important, for obvious reasons," said Spring, the chief executive, guiding a golf cart among the machinery that whizzes up vast stacks of old paper, whips it into a slurry, and dries it into rolls of toilet paper big enough for King Kong. He said his final product is as strong as any of the big-name brands. "If the paper breaks during your use of toilet paper, obviously, that's very, very important."

The second half of the pitch is that Marcal's toilet paper is almost as soft as the other guy's anyway. "Handle it like you're going to take care of business," company manager Michael Bonin said, putting this reporter through a blind test of virgin vs. recycled toilet paper. Two rolls were hidden in a cardboard box: the test was to reach in without looking and wad them up, considering the "three aspects of softness," which are surface smoothness, bulky feel and "drapability," or lack of rigidity.

The reporter wadded. The officials waited. The one on the right felt slightly softer.
That was not the answer they wanted: The recycled paper was on the left.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Halo = sunny weather

Well, I am not completely sure that the new Halo game brought the sunny weather about. But here in the Hartman household, for whatever reason we are glad for it, now we have both!

Jeff has been diligently playing Halo with his new online buddies (look him up under username WOLREY if you want to play), and we have also finally been basking in the sunshine that's been awol the past week.

Although the ground in our area is still mighty soggy I can't complain about the weather anymore - bring on the sun!

Also - did you see the job appeal by Kristin Chenoweth? Love it. Not desperate - just the statement of "Hey, I must be good at this, I just won an Emmy. And I don't have a job since the show was cancelled. So if you're looking for someone, I like x, y, and z shows."

Pretty awesome. Ballsy, yet awesome. (Just like me! I wish I could be that cool, actually.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't Stop Believin'

Did I tell you that amidst the downpour this weekend, we took Saturday night and went to see JOURNEY at the Verizon Amphitheater? It was rainy and humid, but AWESOME (not to mention our limo transport was not too shabby either).

WOW - it was great! But word to the wise, although the lead singer sounds very similar to the original, he is not the same guy (aka Asian, and younger).

My favorites from the setlist:
Stone in Love
(Forever Yours) Faithfully
Open Arms
Don't Stop Believing
Any Way You Want It
Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin (Nah, nah, na-nah, nah)

Hope this gets a fun tune stuck in your head and some 80s hair going today!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Must. Have. Shoes.

Bemoaning the fact I can't find the shoes I want and Jeff can't find the work boots he wants...I do not have time to drive an hour to try and shop!

So if any of you see the lace-up black mannish looking Aravon shoes and / or Ecco workboots, please tell them to call me.

Also, HAPPY FIRST DAY OF FALL!!! Our rain has subsided and the sun came out, and the leaves have started to turn...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain, rain, go away!

We are caught in a tropical rain pattern. Something about low pressure circling and bringing up rain from the Gulf. Anywho, it has been raining since Wednesday last week.

This morning I am on my morning walk - inside, mind you (it's still raining) - and on the news there are SCHOOL CLOSURES! Can you believe it? I thought to myself, what wimps, just a little rain and they close school. It's not like the busses can't start because it's too cold.

Then they started showing images of the metro (courtesy 11 Alive). And now 2 people have died from being swept away. I guess this is more serious than I thought:

Water rushes over the Yonah Dam in Stephens County after heavy rains.

Stephens County, Douglas County and Villa Rica are under a boil water advisory Monday morning because of burst water pipes
Random image from a town north of the city

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The latest OCD fear

Have any of you seen the new "crazy shows", Obsessed and Hoarding (think Intervention but for OCD)? I think they are on A&E. Anyway, Obsessed follows people through their treatment for OCD, including everything from hand washing to counting to hoarding garbage / books / mementos. For the hand washers and germophobes, I can't imagine how this new study looks to them: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32845180/ns/health/

Your showerhead may deliver more than a refreshing spray of water. New research suggests disease-causing bacteria hide out inside showerheads, hitching a ride to your face and body inside water droplets.

The grimy results come from genetic tests run on samples from 45 showerheads in homes, apartment buildings and public places from nine U.S. cities in five states: New York, Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee and North Dakota.

About 20 percent of the showerhead swabs harbored significant levels of Mycobacterium avium, bacteria linked to pulmonary disease that most often infects people with compromised immune systems, said lead researcher Norman Pace of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Pace and colleagues found that M. avium and related pathogens were clumped together in slimy biofilms that coated the insides of the showerheads at more than 100 times the levels found in municipal waters that are the origins for the showers' water.

Once the pathogen-laden water spurts from showerheads, the bugs can suspend in the air where showering individuals can easily inhale them into the deepest parts of the lungs, Pace said.

Southern Environmentalism

Here are some things that have been bugging me down here.

1. Chick-Fil-A serves everything in styrofoam.
a. That's Everything. From sandwich containers to the carryout cup.
b. Yes, it kept my Coke cold during 95-degree weather with 80% humidity, but still.
c. When I asked the nice grandmotherly-like hostess about it, she had to check with the manager. She found out that it was "eco-friendly" styrofoam. Does that exist?

2. Sonic serves everything in styrofoam.
a. See point b regarding Coke, but substitute non-melting ice cream instead. Delightful. For about 15 minutes until I am finished.

3. There is no recycling service pick up in our neighborhood.
a. We do not live in the boonies. A mere 35 minutes from a major metro should justify recycling pick up.
b. When I called the garbage provider to verify they did not offer recycling, they reacted similarly to the nice granmotherly-like hostess at Chick-Fil-A: shocked. Apparently no one has asked about this before.
c. And finally, I cannot find any pick up or drop off locations near where we live or near the airport where I work.

Ok, folks, seriously? What are we, in 1982? Come on - global warming is REAL, littering is BAD, recycling is GOOD.

I only slightly feel ok about not recycling because it is not available. And we truthfully don't eat at Sonic or Chick-Fil-A probably more than once a month. My only saving grace is my reusable bags from Publix. THANK YOU to my favorite local grocery store for my one little do-gooder thing I can hold on to.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Need a passport?

Most of the time, Jeff and I feel like it was a really good decision to move to the South. However, a few times over the past couple weeks, we are look at each other and are like, (in relation to a conversation with someone else) WHHHHHHAAAAAT????? I so cannot believe you just said that to me.

And because of such recent events in our lives - one being NASCAR in Atlanta a couple weekends ago, another being "You Lie" from our neighboring state to the north, and yet another thing being our local nightly news and the crazy stories that happen down here - I keep getting the impression that we are sometimes living in a different country. Because seriously, the culture is FAR different than the midwest.

Time to break out the new virus top news story...not H1N1 but UR1HTR (hat tip to Lea Lane http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lea-lane/the-ur1htr-virus-hate-flu_b_285797.html)
Her thoughts (but I have edited a few things) ~

The ever-present UR1HTR virus (also called "hate flu" or "Republican flu") has been spreading rapidly since November, 2008.

Heavily Infected Areas
The hate flu seems to thrive in the southern United States, with pockets found throughout the country, especially in rural areas. The Republican Party, especially its southern congressional delegation, is already suffering an epidemic. Being around those infected with the virus carries special risk, especially in the very young, the vulnerable, the mentally challenged and the uninformed.

UR1HTR virus symptoms include irrational hatred of people of color (especially those in positions of power), Jews, New Yorkers and all things French. Other symptoms include loss of brain cells, aversion to facts -- especially scientific ones, minimal empathy, frequent invoking of God and the Second Amendment, chanting of slogans, love of NASCAR and World Wrestling Federation, screaming, fear of change, and hypocrisy.

Secondary symptoms include demonizing "the unfamiliar" or "other," linear thinking, weird hats, hooded sheets in the closet, lack of humor (except for The Cable Guy, Dennis Miller, and stale jokes about a priest, a rabbi, and a black man).

Those infected with the UR1HTR virus tend to gather (Sept. 12 rally, town halls) where the virus spreads rapidly and infects others through media enabling. Disruptions (bitten fingers at town meetings) and Tourette-like statements ("He's an Arab") are common.

While the UR1HTR virus cannot be yet eradicated, virus victims have been known to make a fast recovery when something awful happens to them so that government intervention is needed, or if they travel to France and enjoy the snails.

At Special Risk
Children, older people, independents, family members of those infected, and those who: talk about religion excessively and /or are fundamentalists, have never left the country (or worse, the county), would benefit most from government programs, or do not have a college education.

Those With Natural Immunity
Democrats, Union members, persons of color, atheists or agnostics, the over-educated, and travelers to more than 10 countries seem to maintain life-long immunity to the hate virus.

Boosters for Those Without Immunity
While there is no cure, the following seems to offer some protection against the virus: Michael Moore movies, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, NPR, and Jon Stewart.

Important Request
Please spread this information about the UR1HATER virus to help stop the spread. It is especially important to thwart the virus before November, 2010.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Ok, seriously, I know I am delinquint posting my Vancouver pics. I blame Jeff (since he's my IT guy and it's always IT's fault. Outsourcing.).

So instead I will tell you about my super-awesome-newest-funnest-show-on-the-planet, Glee.

Picture this: hot, young, married but to evil ho's beast teacher takes over a fledgling group of glee club kids at the high school he teaches at. Said high school is also home to a nationally ranked cheer squad and competition ensues. As wel as much singing and dancing!!!!!


Jeff can attest, I caught the premiere in May after the American Idol finale. And it was watched at least 6 times this summer as it sat on the Tivo, undeleted, for 3 months. Last night was the season premiere and it was seriously awesome. White girl even sang Rihanna. It was great.

So - in summary, check it out Wednesdays on Fox at 9 EST, probably 8 CST, and for the few still in Rapid City that read my blog, you will just need to check and see what times it's on. It's right after the So You Think You Can Dance.

Wednesdays are my new favorite nights!

Monday, September 7, 2009

H1N1 / Swine Flu

If you do not have a fever, it is not swine flu. That's what we decided. Although this thing is seriously hanging on for dear life. UGH

Friday, September 4, 2009

The problem with positive thinking

Still not feeling well but wanted to share this post. Seth Godin strikes again! http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/09/the-problem-with-positive-thinking.html

All the evidence I've seen shows that positive thinking and confidence improves performance. In anything.

Give someone an easy math problem, watch them get it right and then they'll do better on the ensuing standardized test than someone who just failed a difficult practice test.

No, positive thinking doesn't allow you to do anything, but it's been shown over and over again that it improves performance over negative thinking.

Key question then: why do smart people engage in negative thinking? Are they actually stupid?

The reason, I think, is that negative thinking feels good. In its own way, we believe that negative thinking works. Negative thinking feels realistic, or soothes our pain, or eases our embarrassment. Negative thinking protects us and lowers expectations.

In many ways, negative thinking is a lot more fun than positive thinking. So we do it.

If positive thinking was easy, we'd do it all the time. Compounding this difficulty is our belief that the easy thing (negative thinking) is actually appropriate, it actually works for us. The data is irrelevant. We're the exception, so we say.

Positive thinking is hard. Worth it, though.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back home and sniffling

Sorry no pics or comments yet but we have managed to knock on death's door since returning - I got sick literally on the way down from the mountains in Whistler on Saturday and Jeff got sick on Sunday. So we are keeping each other company at home while barely able to move or do anything except sneeze, sniffle, and cough!

More tomorrow...