Wednesday, September 9, 2009

6 Changes in One Post!

Brace yourself, this is going to be a long one.

Let me start by saying that no, I have not died, nor have I given up. What with not posting in 6 days, I bet that's what some of you were thinking. Nope. I'm still here. But these past 6 days have been rough, I have not been keeping up with the changes I've made, nor have I been making new ones. Shame on me! I've just...I don't know. You know? Sometimes I just don't know anymore.

Before I get on to the changes that I'm making, let me tell you about some of the revelations I've had as of late. This weekend was a big one in Toronto. End of summer, last weekend of the Canadian National Exhibition, concerts, air show, etc. People, noise and trash everywhere. Good thing the garbage strike ended a while ago. First, the concert. Patricia and I went to see Kid Rock Friday night. No, I am not a fan. I went because I'm a good friend. It was a typical rock concert, with both assigned seating and lawn seating. We were on the lawn. I won't go into too many details, but safe to say, while other people were rocking out and splashing their beer on me (drunk people are so messy!) I was pondering the carbon footprint left by Mr. Kid Rock and his entourage. Imagine all the fossil fuels used to get him, his people and all their gear to town. Imagine thousands of plastic cups left all over the venue from people littering. These sorts of events don't let you bring your own bottle in (and I can see why), but then if you are thirsty, you are expected to pay $4 for bottled water, and $9 for a cup of beer. And all that creates more trash. I don't even want to think about the noise pollution and the effect on local wildlife. And don't get me started on the number of cigarette butts strewn literally everywhere. I came home sober, wet, stinking and thinking of the planet.

Saturday night, I went to see the new Cirque du Soleil show that arrived in town this past week. Very good show. Really. But hundreds of cars idling, waiting enter or leave the parking lot? More fossil fuels burned getting all the performers, props, staging equipment and the huge tent to town in trailers? I'm torn on this. I'm a huge fan of the arts, and I think arts education is crucial for people of all ages. Experiencing the arts live is a wonderful and sometimes life changing experience. But at such a huge cost to the planet? Is sitting at home seeing the arts on TV as good as seeing it live? Is a photo of the Mona Lisa as good as or better than flying to Paris to see the real deal?

On Thursday of last week, the sky above Toronto was thunderous with the roar of fighter jets practicing for the three day air show this past weekend. I live right across the street from the Toronto City Centre Airport, so you can bet it was super noisy. Supersonic jets literally right outside my window, so close the glass was rattling. For three days, hundreds of planes soared overhead in a 4 hour long show. Vehicle traffic to and from this event made leaving home (unless you were on foot) impossible. Maybe I'm a kill-joy, but I just don't see the thrill. Let's pollute just for fun! Let's burn tremendous amounts of jet fuel and create so much noise that the local birds fly in confused circles! How can we justify things like this??

Monday was the kicker though. Patricia and I went to the CNE and visited the animal building. Here, city kids, who might never see live farm animals, can see the real things up close and personal. But these animals were not happy. A baby Holstein separated from it's mother, licking at the bars of its enclosure with anxiety. An ostrich pacing back and forth. A sow, who had given birth at the CNE only a week before, forced to stand with no room to move or turn, lest she accidentally crush her new piglets. All under a sign promoting "Farm to Fork - Canadian Pork" These animals were sweet, gentle, utterly cute and all of them were on their way to the slaughterhouse, conveniently located nearby. No one seemed bothered by these things, save for me. Am I sick in the head? God, I might cry just re-reading what I just wrote.

My solution, at least in the short term - I'm going vegan. I've signed up for Meghan Telpner's 5 Day Vegan Challenge (and the Green Smoothie Cleanse). I need to feel good about what I am putting in my body, and Lord knows I need to lose weight. I'm not nervous - vegan food is delicious. I don't even think I'll miss the meat (I don't eat much meat now as it is). I'm just looking for a healthy, balanced food plan that will help me lose weight (or at least kick-start the process). The less there is of me to haul around, the easier my next challenge is going to be.

And what is that you might ask? I mentioned last week that I had something big in the works, and oh boy, this is a doozie. If I can pull this off (and from what I have learned, it's going to be a big IF), this will be the hardest thing I have ever done. Mastering the 800lb Harley will be no sweat compared to this.

I've decided to become a police officer.

This process, which could take years if ever, will get me in shape, trim me down, and really show me what I am made of. What I'm looking for though is a career where I can make a difference in the lives of others. Not just a job, prone to layoffs and seasonality, but a career. Even if I do pass the physical fitness test, I have to pass a host of written tests, assessments, and go through a very thorough application and interview process. And then there's the schooling.

My biggest issue is this: When I was growing up, my parents taught me that the police are your friends, and they are there to keep you safe and as long as you follow the laws, you have no reason to fear them. And this is what I still believe today. But I think I'm the only one. No one is happy when the police show up. Firemen - great! EMTs - Fabulous! But the police? Oh, no one likes them. And they do good work. Hard work. I can bet that not one of them likes spending New Years Eve directing traffic in the rain so that people can get home safely and in good time. And do people ever say "thank you"? I doubt it. No wonder I rarely see cops smiling.

So there you have it.

On to the changes I'm making. And keep in mind that these changes are not only good for the planet, but also good for my body. In no particular order here they are:

Use Cloths for Household Cleaning
No More Elevators
No More Delivery Food
Natural Cleaning Products
Question Environmental Practices
Use Every Inch of Paper Before Recycling

The Paper - I've already started this one, and goodness me, I have an awful lot of scrap paper to use up before it can hit the bin.

Question Enviro - I've already done this twice - Once at Jack Astor's, where I am dismayed to learn that the brown paper table covering that is "part of their culture" is not recyclable due to crayon wax (they allow for diner doodling) and that Starbucks cannot recycle their yogurt containers or their paper bags used for cookies. What the hell.

Natural Cleansers - Got me some white vinegar and a box of baking soda. Going to have at it probably tomorrow.

Food Delivery - This stopped when I banned polystyrene, but I kept ordering pizza because the cardboard is recyclable. But seriously, now that I'm going vegan, training for a big scary fitness test and eating healthy, food delivery is just not going to happen regardless of what it is. I will be cooking or going out to acceptable restaurants.

Cloths for Cleaning - Easy. Already started. Loving the results.

Elevators - Oh Lord, please give strength to my fat little penguin legs. Even thinking about this makes me want to cry. But hey, a few rounds of this and I'll be fitting into my motorcycle chaps again in no time.

In other news, I may be buying a bicycle soon. Haven't ridden one of those since I was like 10. Found one yesterday that matched my Harley. Too bad it had no gears and no brakes. Um, no way. The search continues.


ladyhawthorne said...

Some place you can't recycle pizza boxes due to the oil the cardboard absorbs.
Good luck to you in your new venture, that's a huge commitment and I wish you the best in becoming a policeman.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Life's a bitch when you start thinking of the environmental impact of everything.

Then, you eventually settle down and it is more background noise. It's just when you first start realizing how incredibly wasteful everything is it's kind of hard to adapt. But, you will :)

Good luck on your new venture, Officer Penguin!

Anonymous said...

I think about the environment inprint of everything I do now. I have the same thought processes as you and it can get depressing. What makes it harder is balancing my children's lives with my eco-conscious. Is it fair to make them live within my strict confines? I don't know.

Good luck with the elevator! I'll take that one on too.

Good luck with becoming a police officer. I understand what you mean about people not liking the police. But, I have found that it's different in small towns where everyone knows everyone. Since the police officers are already friends and the kids grow up playing at their friends' houses with police officer parents, the perceptions are different.

Tressa said...

Love the blog! I like seeing the little changes that you do each day. You inspire me to take “baby steps” along with you.
Best of luck becoming a police officer! Just a heads up... It is a wonderful but thankless job. You will be referee to people who act like 5 year olds, deal with the same people on a regular basis (some people never learn), and be told how to do your job by everyone (who have no idea). It isn’t easy. If you are staying in the city… be prepared to deal with seeing dead bodies too. If you get a chance, watch episodes of “COPS” to get an idea of the basics of the job. There are the moments when you talk to a kid and make a difference, or stop a robbery from happening just with your presence. Those moments make being a police officer great, but they are few and far between. It talks a lot of mental strength along with the physical aspect. I don’t want to scare you, but want you to be informed just in case you haven’t already heard this. It is a great job and I hope that you continue with your goal!

Aydan said...

I agree with Crunchy and Karen about how it's easy to get overwhelmed with the environmental impact of everything, especially events for lots of people.

Re: animal treatment, that was the reason I became semi-vegetarian (almost a year ago). I still eat meat, but I get it from the farmers' market where I can talk to them and go see how they keep their animals, and I get cage-free eggs* there and milk as well.

*knowing that "cage-free" can be misleading, I asked the vendor where the chickens were kept. The guy who raises them was actually there, and he looked at me like I was insane and said "Outside." That made me happy.

Good luck with your road to policewomanry! It's tough, but I'm pretty sure that anyone who gives up elevators for the environment must also be tough.

Robj98168 said...

You can recycle pizza boxes in the Composter bin if your city has them. Same ith the cookie bags from starbucks. You are doing a big service buy becoming a cop, maybe see you on Cops or some reality show soon. While not a vegan or vegetarian, I don't eat much meat, partly due to same concerns as you.

Billie said...

I have no doubt that many animals are treated inhumanely but I don't think that pig was necessarily.

My uncles had a small pig farm many many years ago (probably 30 to 60 years ago). The farrowing stalls had a small gate across one corner(or a cage in the center) that the mother went into. The mother stayed in there while the piglets got to roam the stall while still able to access the mother for milk. The reason for this is that the mother WILL lay down on her piglets and kill them so you needed to keep them separate - and yet together so they could feed.

Good luck on becoming a police officer.

Olivia said...

Re Mama Pig: Years ago I took my kids to the Experimental Farm in Ottawa, Canada. As we were looking at a Mama pig and her newborns, mama laid down and squashed one of her babies to death. The kids looked at me in horror and asked me what was wrong with the baby. Traumatized for both my kids and the baby piglet I replied that the baby was fine; he was just bleeding a little bit. The kids STILL remember that incident and accuse me(!!) of traumatizing them forever.

Ya gotta watch out for those mama pigs.

Anali said...

Glad you are alive and well.

Just a heads up about becoming a police officer. My friend has been trying to be one since he was a little boy, and was recently told he can never do it because he has a bad back and is partially deaf in one ear.

I just say this because it is awful disappointing to go though a bunch of work to me stopped short without warning.

But with that said. Good luck! You can totally do it!