Five Random First World Problems

Planet EarthEveryone has their own specialized list of things that just get on their nerves. In many places on Earth, it’s things like “will someone steal my food?” or “will someone kidnap my wife and daughter?” But those lucky enough to find themselves living in the first world don’t have real annoyances like these. We just sort of find things to complain about no matter how well our lives are relative to the rest of the world. It doesn’t have to be a splinter to really get under your skin, or a bullet for that matter; not getting what you wanted at Starbucks is enough to ruin your day here. Being a privileged human is tedious sometimes and life can turn into a gauntlet of irksome odds and ends. Here are a few on my list:

Incomprehensible cell phones

It can take me years to learn how to use a new cell phone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a smartphone, a prepaid phone, or a GPS enabled phone, these tiny computers baffle me! They are the remote controls of the 2010’s. That said, without them I would probably get lost walking my dog. I can’t quit you, technology!

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Inauguration

I arrived down in Washington D.C the saturday before the inauguration with a few friends. We left a few days early to beat traffic and also because a few of us wanted to get some film footage of the weekends festivities. I went to the American University in Washington from 1999 and 2003 and i have to admit that the climate during those four years was much different then the climate now in 09 with President Obama coming to office. In my four years we experienced 9/11, the Iraq War, Anthrax, Sniper attacks and the beginning of what would be a failing economy. Although those memories were certainly present the optimism and hope would prevail amongst the masses this weekend in D.C.

Everyday there were more people arriving. We experienced only mild traffic congestion but every new day we had friends report that it was a bit more difficult for them to get into the Capitol. Everywhere we went people would cheer “Obama! Obama!”, it was much more reminiscent of the Beatles then an incoming President, although cheers for pop stars are generally reserved for their presence. Obama could have been in another country, people were still cheering his name. At one point i walked down Adams Morgan and cheered with the crowd of people that lined up and down the bars on the street. A young woman and i looked at one another and immediately embraced in a strong and heartfelt hug. I had never met the woman before. The energy was infectious.

The night before the inauguration we were all out till 3 am partying, dancing, drinking. Unfortunately we had to wake up at 6 am to drive further into the city so we could get close to the Mall. We all dragged our weary and mostly still drunk bodies from our slumber and got in my car. We made our way down past Howard University before Soldiers prevented us from getting any closer and asked us to park in the neighboring area. What marveled us most was that none of them had weapons on them, Obama had requested that all soldiers not carry armed guns (at least noticably to the public). We parked the car and began our trek in the bitter cold. We were not alone. The streets filled with people singing and dancing in the wee hours of the morning. The sun had yet to greet us, it was 20 degrees outside, yet everyone was in high spirits.

As we made our way closer to the Mall the crowds grew and momentum carried us. There were no real signs directing us but just a general direction we were all being pulled. We came across the highway that leads under the Capitol Mall, it was closed to automobiles but open to citizens. Thousands of people, like herds across the plains migrating to see this historical event. It was surreal and eery. You only see people walking down highways like that in movies and usually its apocalyptic imagery.

We arrived at our blue gate around 8 am only to find no signs of direction and thousands and thousands of people lined through the street. We immediately placed ourselves in line and waited. The wind was blistering and all of us were huddled together. Yet the mood was jovial. People told jokes, sang songs, hugged one another and chatted as if they were long lost friends. The hours went by though and it became quite apparent that we were not going to get through the gates in time for Obamas Speech. Basically it was general chaos and complete disorganization. Luckily our fortitude lead us to explore and we arrived through the silver gate just in time for an awful song by Aretha Franklin.

Obama came on, like most of us know by now and gave a somber and realistic speech on the state of our country and world. Although his words lacked the hope from his earlier speeches you wouldnt find its effect apparent on the faces of the millions watching live. People were crying, but with those tears were smiles.

Here are a few pix from the weekend:

Former KGB agent predicts America’s Demise

Randomn3ss reader Ryan sent me a link to a Wall Street Journal article describing how, for more than 10 years, Russian analyst and former KGB agent Igor Panarin has predicted the demise of America.  It’s a pretty eye-opening article, and the map predicting what could happen is even more unsettling.

Read the full article here.

Black and White

Prepare to be schooled. Legitimately.

On the second Tuesday in November, history will be made. America will have elected either its first African American president, more than 140 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, or the first woman vice president, nearly 90 years following the ratification of the bill that gave U.S. women the right to vote. It’s a spectacular opening of doors for future generations in America, and a new source of untapped talent for the highest offices in the land. Regardless of the scurrilous gossip strewn about the candidates personal lives, about the disagreements over flip flopping and petty fighting between party lines, there are real issues here at stake that actually matter to our lives and the lives of our children. As Lauren stated, it’s exhausting to witness the bickering, and maybe this is only another voice in the crowd of many. I’ve painfully recognized how uneducated and seemingly uninterested Americans are on the actual FACTS of this election. We have let our reality become distorted by the most backwards and terrifying process of dehumanization out there, the agenda of the corporate American press.

In an attempt to be as bipartisan as possible, I thought that I would try to outline some of the basic issues of both candidates and what they stand for. This is in no way a purpose for me to be stumping for either party (even though you know I’m not afraid to let you know who I support), this is simply an attempt to break down the basic facts. Just because you’ve always voted Democrat, or you’ve always voted Republican, does not mean that you should blindly support whomever that party has nominated. Do you agree with their stance on foreign policy? Their answer to the war in Iraq? Their energy policies? What about education? When it comes down to it, this is a personal decision, but one that should be an informed choice. We can’t base our sources of knowledge in hearsay, propaganda or in the opinions of spouses or parents or friends. I’ve done the gruntwork for you, and here it is. Make your own choices.

In black and white, I give you the facts:

  • Taxes

In comparison to the policies in place under our current administration, the McCain tax plan will reduce taxes by approximately 4.2 trillion. The Obama plan will cut taxes by 2.9 trillion. McCain’s tax cuts will hit across the board, with the biggest cuts going to the highest income households (top 1% of US citizens making over $1.2 mill/year), while Obama would give larger tax cuts to low and moderate income households and pay most of the cost by raising taxes on high income taxpayers (top 1% making over $1.2 mill/year). Both policies from both parties will substantially increase our national debt over the next ten years: McCain’s would increase our debt by $5 trillion, Obama’s by $3.5 trillion.

What does this mean for you? The typical American, middle class income (incomes of less than $200k yearly for individuals and $250k per year for married couples) will raise 3% with McCain’s plan. In comparison, with Obama’s plan, middle income households will see a boost of 5% back into their wallets.

Things to consider: National debt. Want to see how much we owe? Check this out. We need to pay taxes in order to dig ourselves out of debt and get this tattered economy back on it’s feet. Bigger tax breaks and higher spending pushes this debt onto our children and our children’s children.

(Please note, these are estimations based on currently proposed tax plans. Source: Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute and Brookings Institution)

  • Health Care

McCain proposes a refundable income tax credit of $2500 individually or $5000 for married couples purchasing health insurance. He believes that competition between insurance companies will lower the cost and improve the quality of health insurance. This, among other changes that McCain proposes, would cost the US deficit $1.3 trillion over ten years. Obama’s plan is to modernize the US healthcare system and make relatively low cost insurance available to everyone, along with subsidizing premiums for low and moderate income folks. This will cost the US deficit $1.6 trillion, but would also cover virtually all children and the majority of currently uninsured adults. McCain’s proposed plan would cut the number of uninsured people by a little over 6 million in ten years. Obama’s plan would bring the numbers of uninsured people down by 34 million.

(Source: Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute and Brookings Institution)

Things to consider: One in seven Americans are uninsured, living sicker and dying younger. Uninsured Americans effect everyone’s health coverage. Even the insured pay the price with crowded emergency rooms and escalating health care costs, which in turn make health insurance less affordable. The United States spends nearly $100 billion annually to provide uninsured patients with health services, often for preventable diseases or diseases more effectively treated with an earlier diagnoses. Can you guess where this money comes from, loyal tax payer?

  • Iraq

The basic discrepancy between candidates on this issue is whether or not to pull out from the war and withdraw our troups. McCain says fight it out, Obama says end it. McCain believes that it is our moral obligation to stay in Iraq until it is capable of governing itself and safeguarding its own people. He supports counterinsurgencies (sending additional troops) in order to control the population and violence in Iraq. McCain will promote efforts within the international community to support regional stability and to bolster Iraq’s economy. He also supports structuring the US’s military posture in order to put pressure on Iraq’s neighbors (Syria and Iran) to stop aiding Shi’ite militias.

Obama believes that we are in the midst of a war without end, and proposes a plan to finish it. He believes that our military resources are dwindling and leaving us less safe at home, and that with a responsible and phased withdrawal, both Iraq and the US will be better off. Obama’s basic plan will have brigades removed at a pace of 1 to 2 per month, to be completed in 16 months. He will also have a residual force remain in Iraq to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions as well as continue efforts to train and support Iraqi security forces with the support of the Iraqi government. Obama believes in a moral obligation to Iraq’s humanitarian crisis, providing $2 billion to support the millions of displaced Iraqi families while reserving the right to intervene militarily, with international support, to suppress potential genocidal violence within the country.

McCain highlights that the past year has shown a significant reduction in violence in Iraq, and he places the success on the shoulders of the troop surge. Obama supports redirecting our efforts towards Afghanistan where Taliban has since reemerged, pointing out that 2007 was the most violent year in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001.

Things to consider: With hundreds upon thousands of innocent lives lost, almost 5,000 American soldiers dead since the start of the war, and $3 trillion in national debt… the cost of the war continues to rise by the second.

  • Environment/Energy Crisis

It seems as though major authorities on the environment and energy crisis don’t think that either candidate has enough policy in regard to these topics. It also seems that both candidates bleed into one another’s solutions, there is a meshing between sides. The major differences are that McCain is touting increased fossil fuel production and nuclear energy, while Obama emphasizes alternative sources and conservation to meet our energy needs.

McCain’s emphasis on increased production of nuclear energy and oil is based in a re-commitment in these energy sources. Nuclear energy produces zero emissions, and could decrease our dependency on foreign oil, however safety can be an issue due to the high levels of radioactivity that can be emitted from the waste (newer plants have a much better safety record, but it makes some reminisce about Chernobyl). There are also concerns about the cost of researching and building nuclear power plants. McCain’s plan also will give $2 billion per year in order to advance clean coal technology.

McCain supports off-shore drilling, deep sea drilling off U.S. coastlines in search of oil in order to increase domestic supplies. Increasing domestic oil production could put a patch on the situation we’ve found ourselves at the gas pump, however ecologically speaking, oil is a non-renewable resource and not a great thing to be dependent on, not to mention the threat of what oil spills can do to our environment. McCain has the idea of providing a $300 million award for “the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.” Anyone know how to make batteries?

Obama will back limited off-shore drilling, as he believes that oil companies should first drill on the 68 million acres that they have which are so far unused. Previously against the idea, Obama has recently said that he now believes a compromise will have to be made in order to prevent gridlocking between oil companies and the government. His main objective is that we need to reduce our dependency on oil completely and move towards new fuel choices and alternative energies. Obama’s proposed policies take it a step further by investing $150 billion over ten years in order to build a clean energy future, along with creating 5 million “green collar” jobs. As for an immediate solution, he’ll give a $1,000 emergency energy rebate to help families pay for rising bills, the money coming from oil company profits. Obama would mandate the auto industry in order to influence them towards making vehicles capable of running on alternative fuels, and increase federal support of mass transit. McCain is against these mandates, and once a cap and trade is implemented (keep reading…), would rely on the market to cultivate alternative energy itself.

Both candidates support tax credits to those that buy hybrid cars. Both support a cap-and-trade system that would place a cost on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming, in order to encourage a shift towards renewable energy. Both also agree that regardless of the solution to stop the immediate oil bleeding from the gas pumps in America, something needs to be done to catalyze our shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.

Please see this as well as this for further info.

Things to consider: Where you’ll be in 2050 when the Arctic Ocean has completely melted, the glaciers are gone from the Alps, and over one million species of animals are extinct. I’ll be (hopefully) still kicking it at 68.

  • Education

The low standards that our education system has currently in place are dismal at best. American children rank 28th out of 40 countries in mathematics and 19th out of 40 countries in science. Education should be a top priority. Bush’s No Child Left Behind plan was a complete dud, most agree the reason for this is because it was neglected in funding. We have huge issues in America with teacher quality and accountability. (Although this article is Obama based, if you are interested in the current state of our national education system, it is phenomenally written, please devour.) McCain will work to improve the No Child Left Behind Law, Obama will fundamentally extricate it.

McCain doesn’t seem to have a clear plan in regard to changing our education system, although lets hope he focuses more on this issue with the addition of his running mate and mother of 5. He does believe that public schools need to be publicly accountable for test results. McCain supports the basis of using competition in order to obtain greater quality teachers, and thinks that if parents are unhappy with the public education of their children, they should be allowed to change schools. He’ll also reward teachers with individual merit pay. Obama‘s main concerns are in the US’s high school dropout rate (30%), quality of teachers, and extremely high college costs. He will work to create a voluntary national performance assessment for new teachers, as well as work with school districts to create a program for salary increases for accomplished educators that work to mentor new teachers. Obama will also enact an unprecedented American Opportunity Tax Credit of $4000 to families universally. He will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

Things to consider: Children are our future!

The basis of this article has grown out of Project votesmart. I believe that being informed is so important, and I am up for anyone willing to question. If we are open to it, we can all learn something here.

Signing off before my fingers fall off, as your CNN addict/political adviser chick, I bid you adieu…. DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!!!!

Frat Parties and 9/11. College in DC in a New World.

The sky was blue. I know people try to make it out like it was a different blue and how cliche that might be. But seriously, it was as if the ocean (in the caribbean, not the jersey shore) and the sky traded places for the day. It was a blue that you could just sink into and swim in. It was my first day training at Chef Geoffs. A local restaurant right off The American University Campus. I was a sophomore and had never really held a job so this was something new for me. My alarm rang early and i dressed myself for work. We had to wear these god awful khakis, blue oxford shirts, yellow ties and black shoes. All the servers looked like computer programmers before hollywood made it popular for computer geeks to wear vintage t shirts and sport bed head year round. When i arrived at work i was nervous. I had all the normal symptoms of anxiousness, the sweaty palms, swamp ass and told inappopriate jokes to try and ease the tension with my trainer Jackie. She had none of it.

We walked past the bar when jackie stopped dead in her tracks. The tv was on like normal but instead of Sportscenter the bartender Steve had put on CNN. A small plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Honestly i did not have any real emotional reaction to it. It just didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. After Steve gave Jackie and i an update on the situation we returned to work. It was only a few moments later that we heard some loud screams from the bar as we cleaned out the urinal cakes in the mens room. For the next few moments everything was a blur after planes crashed into the WTC, the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania.

An hour later we sat in front of Chef Geoff. All i remember thinking was that i was sure the restaurant would close and we would go home and deal with the ramifications. I wanted to be anywhere but at work. I wanted to go home to Philadelphia to be with my mother. I tried numerous times to call my mother and my father but the line was busy. It wouldnt be until late in the day when i finally reached them. They were crazy frantic. I wanted to be anywhere but DC, well DC and New York City. But Geoff sat there steadfast and resilient. He told us all to man up and get ready for work. We were going to remain open and be a haven for people all across the area. Sure enough businesses and restaurants closed across the DC metro area. Geoffs wife was Nora O’Donnell, an MSNBC White House correspondent and she brought all her friends and peers to the restaurant. By Noon we were packed. People sat in silence and watched in horror as the footage played over and over again.

Who was to blame? Why was this happening? What the fuck was going on? Everyone had their theories. Some thought it was Saddam. Some even thought it was the beginning of a new cold war and that Russia (even with its failing economy) was up to no good. No one thought or knew that it was some extremist from the mountains of Afghanistan who was trained by our own CIA.

Generally a lunch shift at Geoffs lasts from ten am till 3 or 4 pm. My shift lasted till 7 pm. When i got off work i had a glass of red wine and a ny strip steak. I checked my phone and had 17 voice messages from various friends and family. A few were even from my ex girl friend from highschool who hit me with her car earlier in the year and cracked two of my ribs. Of course in such circumstances i had to suck it up and call her back even as my ribs were still sore from her VW Jetta attack a few months earlier.

In the following months life in DC was odd and unfamiliar. It was like living on a different planet. The week after the attakcs all flights were suspended. The American University campus laid right under the flight trajectory of Reagan Airport. After a week flights were open again. My friends and i sat on the quad passing a joint attempting to make time go faster. Then all of a sudden the sky boomed. We turned our heads up in horror as we watched the first flight since the attacks glide over us. Planes didn’t sound like planes anymore. The ambient sounds of jet engines that we were so accustomed to were all of a sudden sirens of terror. We were sure this plane was destined to crash somewhere nearby, perhaps even on our campus. We waited and waited but nothing happened. We were safe. We passed the joint in silence.

Soon after, DC was hit by a string of Anthrax attacks. I was scared to open the mail. I made my roommate Whitey open all deliveries. To fuck with me he would take the envelopes and rub them all over his body. I figured better him then me. My paranoia was at an all time high. It didn’t help that a few months earlier i was at a Phish concert and some hippie chick dosed me with acid unknowingly. I bugged the fuck out. As a result i developed a paranoid personality and became increasingly anxious and uncomfortable around large groups of people and clowns (don’t ask). I couldn’t sleep because i was afraid people were gonna get me (i was only sleeping 4 hours a night). I wouldn’t eat because i thought all food was dosed with acid by extremist hippie kids (i lost 25 pounds). When the anthrax came it just added to the paranoia and my lovely roommate Whitey willingly tortured me throughout the whole ordeal. I even called 911 when i saw a letter laying in the grass close to a mailbox. It would take a year before i could get the mail out of my own mailbox.

Shortly after some guy with a sniper rifle started gunning down random pedestrians across the DC metro area. No one wanted to go outside. For some reason he shot some people at random gas stations and even filling your car up became terrifying. I would watch people run outside their cars, put the hose in their tank, duck and run around and wait in their cars, heads hidden down while they prayed. I myself did the same thing. After 13 victims the sniper was caught on the of the highway taking a nap in his car. Some trucker called in a suspicious vehicle, a regular sedan. Everyone applauded and congratulated Police Commissioner Moose Johnson for his forces superior work. Apparently they all forgot that he ID’d a large white van as the snipers mode of transportation weeks earlier. We spent a month ducking for cover everytime we would see a fucking white van when all along it was not even close to a white van! Good work Moose.

We also had bomb threats and were forced to evacuate the school twice. A fellow student thought it would be funny to freak out his schoolmates and made some prank calls from a local Maryland drug store. Funny guy. We all wanted school cancelled for the rest of the week but they made us go back to class later that day. My friends and i instead went to Geoff’s and got drunk on shots of tequila.

At graduation our commencement speaker mentioned all the shit we went through while going to school in DC. She listed 9/11, the Iraq War, Anthrax, Sniper attacks, a horrible economy, a shit president and then continued that if we went through all of that, we would easily be able to take on the real world. It was 9 am on a Sunday, most of us were ridiculously hungover and stuck in a hot ass auditorium. All we could think was when she was gonna shut her fucking trap and when we could start drinking. Apparently in the real world in times of turmoil, liquor sales go up (at least thats what i heard). If that was the case then we were all gonna be fine because if we had learned anything in college, we had at least developed a strong tolerance for a stiff drink. God knows we needed it.

Three 12 Zeros

One million for you, one million for me, plant a few million trees, cure a few deadly diseases… how would you spend $3 trillion dollars? Got any better ideas than invading a country and killing thousands of American soldiers and innocent people? Check out 3trillion.org, where you can take a stab at finding alternative ways to spend Bush’s hallucinogenic gold mine. I gave everyone in the U.S. a collection of Radiohead albums and was still able to end hunger and poverty related diseases.

The projected cost of the Iraq war was somewhere around $50 billion when Bush and Rumsfeld first started out on their crusade in 2003. Numerous golf outings and five years later we now have a projected $3 trillion price tag (Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stigliz). It’s unfortunate to assume that the Iraq war is a justified reason for the recession that we’ve found ourselves hurling toward.

Our grand GOPs in congress even enacted tax cuts back then, defying historical logic that in times of war taxes were raised to keep our economy afloat. Of course, we’re all getting beat up anyway, with conservative estimated costs of the war at about $100 a month per American household. Dear George W, Thanks for the $600 economic stimulus, which is adding to our national debt and will be back to bite us in the ass soon enough. Ouch, lucky us. We’ve also had a Democratically-led Congress for the past few years that has sat in the shadows and done little to reverse these actions; waiting and hoping and praying for the day that their golden child will arrive and make everything all better. It comes down to $435 million per day, $18 million an hour, $300,000 a minute, $5,000 per second… While Halliburton and other such companies have been sitting pretty and rich with our national debt’s blood on their hands.

Here is how the $3 trillion cost estimate of the Iraq war is to be divided in the eyes of our government:

  • $526 billion: borrowed money (from other countries as well as gov’t selling of bonds, treasury bills, etc. at around 4% interest that we’ll end up paying for in 30 years)
  • $615 billion: total interest costs for taxpayers (yeah, you)
  • $280 billion: rebuilding of the military
  • $590 billion: disability benefits and health care for Iraq veterans
  • $1.5 trillion: estimated cost to continue Bush’s war plan through to 2017

It is important for us to realize where this money is going. The U.S.’s faltering economy could be our Achilles heal in many respects; a weak economy makes us less prepared to handle any threat to security or internal crisis. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has recently stated that about half of the California National Guard’s equipment is in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Aside from breaking down our internal readiness, this war will cost us more money than any other war in history except for World War II. A recent Senate committee report shows that the cost of servicing the Iraq war debt will exceed federal spending on both education and health research next year. The impact that this will have on us and our children is astronomical. When did the vitality of Iraq become more important then the vitality our own country?

Do you think you have a better plan of how to spend $3,000,000,000,000? Visit 3trillion.org, and when you’re done, give George W. a call and tell him all about it: 202-456-1111.

Web Fun That’s Oh So Green

Yippee yay, it’s earth day!

Earth day was created in 1970 as a global environmental awareness initiative. It is now observed in 175 countries and supported by progressive action organizations such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Earth Day Network. (Thank you Wikipedia.)

Some great, green + fun websites for earth day and beyond:

  1. Buy local foods, support local farms. Visit Local Harvest to find local farms and farmers markets. Go pet a goat and feed some ducks.
  2. Carpool. Check out eRideShare to find local peeps that are looking to share rides. You can even search for someone to carpool across the country with.
  3. Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Check out GreenDimes, sign up to be removed from junk mailings and in turn they’ll send you a dollar, plant a tree on your behalf, or send you a free green ‘zine. Everybody wins! (FYI: When you sign up for this they will ask for credit card information to verify your identity. Sort of like what paypal does. It’s been a few months since I signed up and so far no funny business.)
  4. Once you go black, you never go back… take a walk on the dark side: Blackle is Google powered and eco-friendly.
  5. Recycle your goods and get new ones at freecycle. This site will hook you up with a local group that supports the reuse of anything and everything. Although the site seems a little difficult to navigate, once you’re in there seems to be a lot of activity going on in each of the different areas. There’s a slightly loved television stand in York, PA with your name on it.
  6. Go zero! The Conservation Fund will help you measure your very own carbon emissions and tell you how many trees you need to plant to offset your consumption. I’ve got 16 trees to plant this year to outweigh my emission consumptions. I had better get started. You can do it yourself or they allow you to make a donation for whatever the cost comes out to be to plant your trees.
  7. Get free stuff (by paying for it) at the Sierra Club. Right now, $15 will get you a membership (usually around $35), and a handy backpack for a thank you gift.
  8. Be a green person/dog/baby. I bought my dog these organic treats in the shape of little cupcakes that he refuses to eat from a store I found on Green People. They also have eco friendly and holistic business listings for people too. And their travel section has some really neat stuff.
  9. Save on gas. With gas prices expected to hit $4 this summer, be sure to get your daily feul economy tips for some serious advice on saving money at the gas tank and saving the environment.
  10. Read up. Eco Chick’s blog is as sassy as it is green. And I don’t use the word *sassy* often. Starre Vartan’s website is funny, smart and earth friendly. And how could a girl named Starre not be cool? Be sure to read her list of what not to do for Earth Day. As she says, because mother earth is a woman. Yeah!

It is true, we all need to be a little greener. Without the earth we won’t be here.

April 22 also happens to be the democratic primary in PA, so get out and vote all you registered Pennsylvanians. Polls are open 7am – 8pm, your local polling place is usually within walking distance to your house. Brody and I will be on our way to our designated voting center bright and early wearing our Obama buttons. See you there.

Shaolin Temple get $430k luxury toilets

I enjoy a nice bathroom when I’m out and about, but is a $430,000 luxury bathroom really needed at China’s famed Shaolin Temple?  I understand that there are huge volumes of visitors from all around the world that visit there, but those monks tend to live a rather simple life, why should they need to change to accommodate us visitors?

The simple life of monks at China’s famed Shaolin Temple got an upgrade with the installation of luxury restrooms worth $430,000.The official Xinhua News Agency said the most lavish of the restrooms measures more than 150 square meters.

It is equipped with a diaper changing station for infants, uniformed cleaners and a foyer with an LCD television.

The good news is that it won’t cost you a dime to watch the TV while tacking a crap there.

Source: The Canadian Press

My what a nice glory hole you have there

Earlier this month I shared photos of the diamond mine in Canada where they dig a big hole to get a little rock, apparently several people are fascinated with large, man-made holes in the earth’s surface because a recently popular submission to digg showed off 7 amazing holes. The diamond mine I shared was on this list, along with an amazing photo of a glory hole, and before you get to excited, I’m referring to,

a glory hole is used when a dam is at full capacity and water needs to be drained from the reservoir.

This photo is of the Monticello Dam in California.

Gory hole

To see more amazing glory holes, check out Fogonazo’s website.

Dig a big hole to get a little rock

The History Channel’s recent show, Ice Road Truckers, documented the struggle to get mining supplies to the Diavk Diamond Minds over lakes which freeze enough to allow heavy trucks to transfer the loads, all inside the northern most parts of Canada in temperatures as low as -40F. The trucking routes are used because flying items is too costly, the downside is that there is only a small window of a few months during the winter that the ice is thick enough to carry these heavy loads. What’s all this for? Diamonds, little tiny rocks. So what does this mine look like when the ice hasn’t frozen over the northern part of the world?

Pretty big hole for such a small reward. More photos can be seen here.

Not to be outdone, check out the biggest hole in the world, located in Russia

All this, just for silly little diamonds.