Friday, December 25, 2009

environment and livestock

came across a good explanation of why livestock done wrong is a big part of the problem and done right it can be a big part of the solution to our little greenhouse gas problem:
"Beware of Bad Science"

A couple of days ago I realized what change I want to make over the coming year in my own life: no more CAFO meat. I will give up meat that I did not produce in a humane and environmentally sustainable manner, or source locally from a farmer I can insure did the same. There are going to be a few exceptions to this rule of course:

-I will eat what I am served as a guest in another person's home. I don't want my choices to make me a pain in someone else's a$$.

-I will eat sushi from my favorite restaurant: Hana Restaurant in Rohnert Park.

-I will eat wild caught seafood (except Chilean Seabass, Southern Bluefin Tuna, endangered species type stuff). I believe hook and line fishing has proven sustainable over 1000s of years, appropriate regulation and enforcement is the answer to overfishing, not boycotting paying fishermen for their labor. High prices for the product actually reduces "effort"/resource extraction.

Basically since I've filled the fridge with grass-fed chicken we've been pretty close to that at home, excepting for the occasional package of chicken-apple sausage from Whole Foods. Luckily for me, Mary, who was really close to this eating style already, has also signed on to this change for herself, which will make it easier. So bye-bye whole foods CAFO sausage.

I however had a bad tacqueria habit. I even used to have a McDonald's habit, until Omnivore's Dilemma turned me off on that, and now the few times I've wanted comfort food so bad I've tried it I've ended up with a stomach-ache. So that hasn't been around for me that much. But the burrito Thursday is going to be a hit. I've never really preferred falafel to schwerma at middle-eastern places. But now, that's what its going to be. The other day I was out and about at lunchtime though so I had a salad at the bar at Pacific Market. It was great! My bet is in the end I'll be gaining a lot more than I'm giving up by adding this small amount of discipline to my own eating habits.

Prius Sucks!

The Prius is a great example of how consumers have a herd mentality that doesn't necessarily track proportionally with quality, value, or anything that you'd think rational individuals would use as criteria to make their decisions. I'm as guilty as anyone. I own a 2007 Prius.

My mother bought the 1st generation Prius when it first came out, and one test drive and I knew it wasn't for me. Main complaints were that the accelerator drags on you, so unless you ride it with a lead foot all the time, you find you are going too slow on the freeway. Secondly, the brakes, with their charging feature, are so "grabby" that everyone in the car suffers mild whiplash.

But after a few years, wanting to get a car for around town or even day fishing trips with good mileage, I decided to test drive one of the later generation Prius' to see if they had solved those problems. To my delight they had, the car was zippy and responsive, and the brakes felt like any others. I bought it.

Then I found out that it is the worst car I've owned. It has been well below expectations in so many ways that I feel compelled to list them here. I believe that Toyota's design engineers made a long list of bad decisions that leads me to think that they literally despise their own customers, and our satisfaction is not high on their priority list. It is the worst car I have ever owned by FAR, and I'm including my '79 Datsun 510 wagon in that, my first car.

What sucks about the Prius? First and foremost, all this hybrid technology and money and effort has gone into this car, we have to put up with all these idiosyncrasies, for how much mileage? 40ish miles to the gallon? That's pathetic! You can do that with a regular engine and a car that is aerodynamic and light.

Actually, I think a bulleted list might be better:
-poor technology/mileage increase ratio. 45 miles/gallon is ridiculous Toyota!
-the stupid reverse beep is awful
-your passenger cannot use the GPS while the car is moving
-if you have any objects in the passenger seat, the seatbelts beep at you 3x normal duration, followed by a louder even more incessant beep. usually you give up and buckle up your items (but it wont let you operate the GPS w/ a passenger detected, oh no, not Toyota)
-The battery is in the back, but you can't open the back door if its dead.
-There is a relay for the battery up front, but you have to read the manual to know about it, and its under a plastic cover that is impossible to remove with cold fingers alone
-If you need to move your car to jump it, you are out of luck, can't get neutral w/ a dead battery AFAICT
-Toyota's answer to traction control is to separate the accelerator pedal from the engine for 1 second if it detects wheel slippage. So you go to merge into traffic, and you give it gas, but the wheel hits some sand and slips. You are half way into the street have no gas pedal, just a little orange light saying the car slipped. Thanks, idiots!
-the recall where the gas pedal and the mats are incompatible. This one I'd tolerate as just an unforseen design flaw, without all the other stuff.

I know there are more but those are the ones that I can think of for now. What a terrible car, to be so darn popular. I personally can't wait for the Chevy Volt, and I'm going to have to refuse to sell the Prius to family members because I can't let them suffer as I have. I will not buy another Toyota. Be smart; stay AWAY from Prius! These things would be tolerable for 70 or 80 miles to the gallon, but 45? Demand more from the top car company before rewarding them with your hard earned dollars...

Friday, December 11, 2009

new arrivals

some new arrivals. a ram, 2 baby ewes, a baby ram, and another whether. 8 weaner pigs. Yorkshire x Hereford cross.

now I need to go fortify that pig pen...