Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weigh in #21 - Faith in Humanity and Crazy Americans

Hello, final weigh in of the year since we're off to Blighty later this afternoon, weather permitting.

A massive 9oz for the last week. So a total of 417oz which is the equivalent of 26lbs and 1oz.

Obviously the blog will be on a bit of a hiatus whilst we're in the UK. Will try our best to reduce, reuse and recycle whilst we're home. Although it is so cold we'll probably have to burn everything to keep warm.

Finally got round to printing out some wedding pictures, and then I stupidly sent them over to my old house! I dashed over their at about 10pm one evening. Since it's been foreclosed on I didn't want the packages left lying out in the rain.

To my surprise the place is actually occupied now, so someone must have bought it. I was very shocked. Despite lights being on in the house I could not raise anyone, despite knocking and ringing many, many times.

In the end I left a note and posted it through the door, my faith in getting the pictures back at an all time low. However, my faith in humanity was restored as by the time I drove back home the lady had called me and we arranged to pick them up the next evening. Hurrah!

Sometimes I don't understand America and American politics. Everyone is up in arms about the ballooning national deficit, but no-one has the balls to do anything about it. That's because of the endless rounds of elections they have here. It seems to me you get voted to office and then spend the next four years raising money to try and get voted in again, so you obviously don't have more than a 2-3 year plan.

Take this week for example. They voted to extend the Bush era tax cuts for another two years. So that's one avenue of revenue they just closed off. As part of that same bill they extend un-employment benefit which I agree with, but it doesn't take a genius to see that that is going to put them more in the red.

Did they discuss how they would pay for this extra benefits? No. Maybe if they had increased taxes they might have had some money to help pay for the benefits.

So who's going to pay for this then? Well I found out part of the answer the next day at work. Uncle Sam just imposed another two years pay freeze for federal employees, including yours truly.

Maybe I should become an investment banker, and that way no matter how royally I fuck up and fuck over the country I'll still get a massive bonus, and hey if I get the sack a massive golden handshake. (Gay, sorry for the F words.)

Can't wait to see the next round of Wikileaks cables - rumoured to contain stuff about Bank of America!

Of course, not allowed to read them at work since we've been warned not to use Federal computers to view them.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weigh in #17-20, McDonalds revisited.

Hi everyone.

Well the last month has flown by. Been very, very busy and maybe a little stressed at work. Working from 7am to 1am tends to have that effect on me. Still the beam-line is up and running AND on time this year so feel very happy about that. The madness should be over for another year!

Okay, in quick order then......

First on is 7.5oz

Second one is 9oz

Third one is 10oz

Fourth one is 22.5oz.

That brings our grand total to 408oz which is 25.5lbs in 31 weeks. Pretty damned good I say!

We've recently received new recycling bins from San Mateo County and from Jan 3rd we can start to add food scraps to the green yard waste bins. That's excellent news, but most of our food waste is still going to be going into the compost bin and the worms lunch menu!

Talking of compost, yesterday I dug around in out compost tumbler to find the new biodegradable chip packet, you know the loud ones that claim to be biodegradable. Well we popped that noisy bugger into the drum on the 2nd October and two months later still looks like we just bought it off the shelf. Very little degrading.

Was not able to find the biodegradable wine cups we used at the wedding. Not that I looked that hard as it started to rain......

You may remember in my last blog that I was going to do the "why does a burger not go mouldy experiment" but I've been beaten to it. My good friend Bruce found a link to someone who carried out a pretty good set of experiments. They experiments and the conclusions can be read here. I won't spoil the ending by telling you what he found... no pun intended!

We had out last harvest from our tomato plants at the end of November....

it was a very strange summer indeed.

Summer is over, especially so for my poor family back in the UK, struggling through a couple feet of snow. Not to be out done we built our own snowman.... by built I mean bought one from Home Depot and then assembled it at home. "Frosty" as we named him (original huh?) is now proudly stood out on our front lawn.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Catching Up - Weigh Ins #13-16, Apple Harvest, Weddings and McDonalds!

Been over a month since I last updated the blog. Been a bit busy since then with a wonderful wedding, wonderful family and wonderful weather all to contend with and keeping me away from the computer. Since the weather today has conspired to postpone my 7th graders football game (soccer) I have some time to catch up.

October 21st was the 26 week anniversary of our 100lb challenge. Although I've not been blogging I have been weighing and recording what we have thrown out so here goes......

Weigh in #13 - 16oz

Weigh in #14 - 24oz

Weigh in #15 - 26oz

Weigh in #16 - 23oz

So our grand total for 27 weeks is now at 359oz or 22lb and 7oz.
At this stage we should have been at 54lb so we are running at 50%!!! I personally think this is awesome!

Okay, onto more exciting things news from the garden.

Late September, early October our Washington Navel orange tree started to bloom, and grow like crazy!

I think these two tiny little buds might be oranges forming! Exciting times ahead I hope. The tree is only maybe two years old so we're not expecting a bumper harvest from it.

About the same time the apples on the tree, well the ones left by the bloody squirrels, were ready for harvesting.

Although our landlord said it was a Fuji apple tree they look and taste more like Gala apples. Anyone care to comment?

With Ananda's and Gay help we harvested all of the apples from the tree. The two smaller boxes are the apples that had not been attacked by the codling apple moth, about 9lbs worth, and the apples in the bigger box are ones that had worm holes in them.

Not wanting to waste the latter ones I peeled them, cored them, got rid of the wormy bits and then made a delicious apple pie.... and yes I even made the pastry from scratch!

Since it was a rainy night I made some Bird's custard and introduced Gay to the delights of apple pie and custard! Yummy! She said that when she was growing up they served cheese with their apple pie. Turns out to be a tradition from Yorkshire in England. Who'd have thunk it?

The apples that we saved for eating are so juicy and delicious. Very happy with how they turned out. Next year I will be more vigilant in dealing with the codling apple moth - I have a recipe for making a home made pheromone trap, and I read somewhere that by irrigating the tree from above, so the fruit and leaves get wet, cuts the moth down by about 50%.

The summer this year in the Bay area was very weird and most of the crops I had in my garden at home seemed to be not producing anything, and then everything took off like nuts. Last weekend I picked over 4lb of cherry tomatoes from my 8ft tall cherry tomato plant, and that's on top of about 4lbs I picked a few weeks earlier. And that's only about 1/3 of them. A lot of them are going rotten because I can't pick them fast enough and cold nights have set in. Friends at work have been getting lots of them.

So this picture below is some of the results from my garden at home and at work......

The pumpkins are from the garden at work, there were three of them but one has already been turned in to a Thai red curry. Too tasty to carve. The egg plant is from work too. We need to find a way to grow more egg plant as they are delicious but not very abundant.

The big tomatoes are a mixture of "mortgage lifter" and "German Strawberry" varieties. The brown thing on top of the cherry tomatoes is a "chocolate beauty" bell pepper. These things taste amazing, but again this summer was so poor it's the only one I got. :-(

Peppers definitely need heat. Missing from the picture are the hot peppers. Nice red hot ones from work and serrano and jalpeno ones from home. I think I see some salsa being made today.

So all of this food is organic and pesticide free which brings up neatly to McDonalds. In a recent discussion with some of my friends on Facebook I offered to repeat the experiment performed by the Manhattan Artist Sally Davies. You can read about it here.

My good friend Bruce suggested that the experiment had not been done properly, which is true since they did not use any control experiment. So I suggested to Bruce that I would repeat the experiment with a happy meal or whatever it was, versus a 100% grass fed burger and organic sprouted whole wheat bread and I might even be persuaded to make some chips (fries) as well. Then we'd just leave them out on my kitchen table and see what happens to them. So, since this involves a bit of preparation on my behalf, I'm only willing to do it if enough people say they want to see it, so leave comments for me if you want to see it. Some comments encouraging Ananda to allow me to do this would be useful too. Maybe that should read encouraging Ananda to not eat the 100% grass fed burger!

Okay, finally a couple pictures from my parents and sisters recent trip to California. It was so amazingly wonderful to have them all at our wedding, it really helped make a perfect day more perfect. The first picture is the front of their vacation rental and the second one is proof that Mam and Dad did truly make it to San Francisco. Much Love to them all!

Final pictures are myself and my beautiful wife at the terminal in San Francisco, taken at the point where we shared our first kiss.

From there to here......


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Weigh in #11 and #12 - Mysterious plastic!

Okay gotta be super quick, wedding planning is in full swing!

Okay, this weigh in was 3lb 2.5oz. A bit heavy, but maybe some more broken glass. I can never decide if it's safe to put broken glass in the recycling bin. I always worry about the garbage truck guys cutting themselves, but then again, I'm sure when they dump it into the truck most of the glass will get broken. Anyone know what to do?

Next weigh in was 2lb and 5 oz. Not too bad. Most of that weight was due to me swapping out the fridge water filter cartridge.

Okay, this last lot is from the vacuum cleaner. Well my parents are arriving very soon so had to get the old vacuum out!

So that brings our grand total to 270oz or 16lb 14oz. In 20 weeks, that pretty damned impressive. Let's keep up the good work!

Finally, whilst turning our compost Ananda turned up a few plastic items. These are from of some of the paper based bags you sometimes get groceries in eg. I think the big one is from a bag of frozen blue berries. The paper on the outside has decomposed but the inner liner hasn't. You can play a game where you try and guess what the others are. Winners get a free invite to our wedding..... to do the cleaning up!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weigh in #10 - August 12th - Corn, Teabags, Baseball, No Impact Man and Foreclosures

But not necessarily in that order!

Taking a break from some frantic, well not really, wedding planning, to try and catch you up with the GGG project!

Starting off with the weigh in. A reasonable 26oz for the last couple of weeks. Grand total now at 187.5oz, so still way under budget! If only everything could be so under budget.... like the Bay Bridge for instance.

I went to the baseball with my beautiful niece, to show here America's favourite, sorry favorite, pastime! Hope I didn't embarrass her too much during the 7th inning stretch. It was a fun game and the A's might have even won. I don't really remember.

Unfortunately, Lesley had to return home due to the death of her grandfather. Very sad times indeed. We miss your Lesley. Hope you can make it back for the wedding.

Here's a picture of me with some of our harvest, corn and basil. Very nice indeed and very different from the perfectly uniform yellow corn you get down at Safeway, I can tell you. Garden is doing pretty well and the tomatoes are starting to turn red.

Still losing a lot of apples to the codling apple moth, but the squirrels are certainly in "retreat".

Further exciting news on the Numi tea-bag front. As you know I wrote complaining about the individual wrapping of them, and they wrote back saying they were trying to develop one that would break down in "a home composting system". Well I have one or two of them so I wrote back and offered them my services!

They told me they'll send me some once they get them finished, so I am happy to be a tester for them.

My efforts, sorry, Ananda and mine efforts at the reducing-reusing-recycling and composting life pales into insignificance compared to a certain Colin Beavan, "No Impact Man". We watched the same titled documentary the other day, and although he did got to some extremes, it was very interesting and certainly highlight a lot of shocking stuff.

Unbelievably to me the average American throws out 1600lb of rubbish a year. How the frick is that possible. Ananda and I aimed at less that 104lb for the year. If I knew the average was 16 times that I would have given us a bigger allowance - like 110lb ! ;-)

It's an interesting story; check out his blog at

(maybe one day he'll refer to my blog, ha ha ha)


One thing I wondered whilst watching the film was when he entered the no electricity phase of his project. So there he was in his apartment with quite a lot of candles on the go to keep the place lit. Do all of these candles throw off more or less CO2 than the CO2 generated in providing the electricity that he could use to power a highly efficient CFC light bulb? I wonder if he did the calculation. I'll write to him and ask!

Finally, (hoorah I hear you cry) Foreclosure!!!!!!! House is now gone, goodbye, see ya, nice knowing you, don't call me we'll call you, goodbye, gone. It had been moribund for sooooooooooooooo long I thought the effer would never die. Like a really, really bad actor milking his dying moments on screen as much as he could.

I still have my HELOC to fight over with but an interesting article in NY Times quoted a collection agency as saying they never pay more than $500 for a debt

"Clark Terry, the chief executive, says he does not pay more than $500 for a loan, regardless of how big it is.

“Anything over $15,000 to $20,000 is not collectible,” Mr. Terry said. “Americans seem to believe that anything they can get away with is O.K.”"

Full article at

So, armed with the news that my house had "reverted back to the bank for $347,000" on August 2nd, I decided to pay a visit for one last time, armed admittedly with a tool box, to the house to remove a certain fixture I needed for our new place.

The visit took place on August 15th and the buggers had already changed the locks and placed a new lock box on the door. It took them 16 months to foreclose on me and then less than 14 days to change the locks. Seems like they can move fast when they want too.

Return homed to open my email and find a message in my inbox from Subject title

" 418 Presidio St now listed for sale"

Good night all!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Weigh in #9 - July 29th

So a better week this week, 16.5oz, so our total is now 161.5oz.

Must dash. More enthralling stuff later. Maybe

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Weigh in #8 - July 22nd - Guests arriving!

Arrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Another disatorously heavy week on the rubbish front. 51 bloody ounces! We need to tighten our belts and get back to the 11oz weeks! It's still a hangover from the world cup and having some meat eaters over. Well that's who I'm blaming!

That's a total of 145oz in thirteen weeks, so still good but maybe we've been resting on our laurels too much.

We're also a family of three right now and soon to be a family of four when my neice Lesley arrives from Cananda for some R&R.

First order of business will be our composting and recycling program! Hopefully it's not too hard to grasp.

Okay, back to wedding planning.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Apple Insects - help needed

Hi all

well I guess I should have done something about it earlier. I think the Squirrels are really messing with my mind now. They've been infecting my apples with some nasty little beasties.

I took some pictures and posted a question on Dave's click here

but thought I'd let you guys have a stab at it.

Of course living in California it could be the brown apple moth, but let's see what the wider garden community has to say.

What with the squirrels eating the apples and then pouring these nasty worms all over them I hope there's some left for me to eat.

Oh yeah, and I had a screw stuck in the back of my car tyre last week - damned squirrels!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weigh in #7 - July 15; Garden Update and Fraggle Rock

So, almost getting behind with my weigh ins. Here is the weight in for this last week.

It was a massive 38.5oz, which is 2lb 6.5oz in old money, so over our quota for that week. It's time to take stock of where we are with our challenge.

Challenge started on April 23rd 2010 - Earth Day. We are at the end of week twelve which means our quota for rubbish should have been 24lbs. With today's weigh in we have reached the 94oz mark or 8lbs and 14oz. Until this week it was only 55oz so this weeks 38.5 is a bit of an anomaly. Maybe having too many people over to the world cup :-).

Anyway, we're still 15lbs and 2oz to the good on our challenge so thing are going really well.

Composting is in full swing and no matter how much we feed the tumbling composter bin it just eats it all up. It's maintaining a nice healthy temperature in there now.

The hot weather we've had for the last two weeks has certainly made my garden perk up too.

These German Giant Strawberry heirloom tomatoes have started to set on the plants.

I was surprised to see Red from Fraggle Rock hiding out in my corn stalks.

Maybe she and the doozers are keeping the squirrels away.

The corn "flowers" are in full blown and shedding their pollen down to the silks below. I found out that corn is wind pollinated from the male flowers, so should not have worried about the black aphids. I actually got rid of the aphids by spraying them with some water with one drop of bio-degradable detergent in it. Worked a treat.

The corn has started to sprout from the nodes below the flowers. Time to hang up some old cd's in the tree above the corn to try and keep the birds away. In the last week the corn has grew over a foot and is about 8 foot high. It's actually quite pretty.

Finally, proof that I am winning the battle against the slugs ; nice healthy looking marigolds. I planted these at the edges of the beds as sacrificial plants for the bugs and snails to feed on. Now they are growing so well I think my hand removal of snails, slugs and earwigs each night has paid off.

Hope you all have a great weekend.