Punch in the Gut

I stopped by the old place last weekend to pick up a favourite shovel I thought I had lost, and to visit with former neighbours/forever friends.

When I walked around the corner it felt like a punch in the gut. This was the scene before me:


Scars of ripped out gardens and smears of green asphalt.

Four months earlier it looked like this:



As painful as the scene was to face, the experience was an interesting lesson in the fragility and fleeting beauty of gardens. It also brought home to me how vulnerable the creatures we share our space really are to the human love affair with lawn mowers.

Great tip to save hydro

Here’s an easy way to reduce the amount of hydro your household appliances waste (an "eco-tip" from Treehugger.com): Eliminating Phantom Loads.

"Any appliance that has a phantom load–usually an ‘instant on’ capability like TVs and VCRs–should be plugged into a power strip with an on/off switch. When you finish using it, turn off the power strip instead of the device and you eliminate the phantom load."

TV, computer, stereo, computer, DVD player, computer….

It’s schnee-ing out


It’s been snowing since yesterday. Curses!! I don’t think I remember seeing snow this early even when I lived in Canada, well maybe except for Calgary, where I distinctly recall throwing snowballs during a freak snowfall on an August visit. But that’s beside the point. Albertans are apparently rednecks, who oppose the Kyoto Protocol, so they deserve that kind of treatment from Mother Nature. But here, in Munich, land of the environmental good guys!! Why???? My only consolation is that I’m getting email from friends back in Ontario who tell me they woke up to snow yesterday too.

Img_2305_1Our heat isn’t on yet. I thought this was some kind of thrifty European thing, to sit shivering in the house, wrapped in blankets and warm sweaters. I’ve been grateful for my laptop, which gets very warm on the bottom and serves double-duty as entertainment centre/electronic hot water bottle. Hydro is expensive here, and Germans are very dollar conscious, so I thought that "no heat" translated into "conservation". I mean, the lights in the hallways are on timers. There’s only one washing machine to serve the entire apartment building, and no dryer — everyone hangs clothes to dry. My tiny refridgerator is what North Americans would consider a bar fridge, the hot water in the bathroom and kitchen are on meters, the toilet — well let’s just say there isn’t enough water in it for a goldfish to swim in — and everything (I mean everything) gets recycled. There are more bikes parked outside the building at night than cars. Why would I expect the needless expenditure of nature’s resources for heat? I just assumed…

Well, I assumed wrong. My landlady was dismayed when I tentatively brought the subject up yesterday. Some guy will be here before 6:30PM today to fix the radiators.

Picture taken in the graveyard behind our place — I’m calling it, "The Death of Autumn".

Boycott Esso

Exxon admits greenhouse gas increase

ExxonMobil ("Esso"), the world’s biggest oil company, has been increasing its greenhouse gas emissions after supporting George Bush’s refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty.
The Texan oil firm, which is facing a consumer boycott in Europe over its stance on climate change, is now producing more than twice the CO2 pollution of a country such as Norway.