Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vac from the Sea

Three cheers for the "Vac from the Sea!"  

Electrolux is going to create a vacuum cleaner that is made from plastic scooped out of the ocean! Thank you Electrolux for bringing attention to the issue of plastic pollution in the oceans. I only wish I could own my very own recycled plastic vacuum cleaner!


Thanks to the relatively new phenomenon known as LivingSocial Deals and Groupon, Jake and I had the pleasure of attending a real-life Nascar race at Elko Speedway on Saturday night. For only ten dollars we scored two tickets, two beers, a tub of popcorn, permanently damaged hearing, some intense rural-midwestern culture, lots of really bad hair and several thrilling moments where we were almost struck by lightning. IT WAS AWESOME!

Ironically it was also Lighting Safety Awareness Week

Despite the fact that we were sitting in giant metal stands in the middle of a field, nobody seemed too concerned. After watching the bolts of lightning very clearly strike ground three separate times in the distance, we decided to move to a lower seating area made of less-conductive wood. After all, these were the same people who had shaved racing stripes into their children's mullets and were seated with their infants next to cars flying by at an ear-splitting 100+ MPH. I was not real keen on following their example. Finally when a few raindrops started to fall the announcer let us know that there was "a little weather coming in from the north and the west... and, well... yeeeahhhh..." No mention of possible electrocution. No suggestion to GET OFF THE GIANT METAL LIGHTING ROD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD. All they told us was that they would keep going until the track was too wet for safe driving. Um... hello!?!? I was unaware that car racing was ever safe... AND I would have much rather been sitting on rubber tires with a helmet on.

Here is the radar image of the "weather" that engulfed the track moments later. We were in the red zone. Red=bad.

We left just as it started to pour. Lucky we brought an umbrella. Unluckily, Nascar fans think umbrellas are lame and they are not afraid to let you know.

On a related note, Brett Michaels is coming to Elko Speedway on August 20th for his Roses and Thorns tour. You know... just in case the Nascar isn't enough for ya.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Albatross and the Pacific Island Trash Vortex

Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer you guys, but there are just some things that have been really ruffling my feathers lately (pun intended). Luckily, I am not a bird living in the Gulf or near the Pacific Island Trash Vortex because the ruffling of feathers has become the very least of their problems. Have you heard of this massive amount of garbage floating around in the ocean? 

"It might sound like something out of an apocalyptic science fiction film, but I assure you—the Pacific Island Trash Vortex is very real indeed. It's essentially a huge carpet of garbage big enough to fill two Texases that's floating around due north of Hawaii. Still skeptical? Here's videographic proof of the Trash Vortex on the G Word. And here's a Greenpeace animation detailing the trash's path.

Okay, so there's a massive continent made of refuse floating around in the ocean. So what do we do about it? Let's not contribute to it, for starters."

So if this does not strike you has a HUGELY AWFUL SITUATION. Let me also share with you the story of the Albatross. The Albatross is an endangered species and in the Northern Pacific and albatross chicks are fed plastic garbage by their parents. The adult birds are confusing the plastic trash in the water for food and feeding it to the chicks. In September of 2009, photographer Chris Jordan went to document what was happening to these birds.

"On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent."


Just think of that every time time you put your groceries a plastic bag or take a swig from your bottled water. And be careful with that cap... it's a choking hazard.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Facing reality

I just saw this photo online and my stomach dropped. OH MY GOODNESS!!! This is a loon in case you can't tell from all the gobs of oil. He apparently drowned shortly after this photo was taken.

This is awful and the worst part is that nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. We're just pointing fingers and playing the blame game. What is wrong with us? How could we have created something so horrendous? It's just sick. It seems to me like people used to talk about the potential hazards of our non-sustainable way of life and warn that "someday we're going to start seeing enormous environmental disasters if we continue to live like we do." Well, things have been going downhill for a while now. Giant pieces of the ice caps have been crumbling away and melting into the ocean. Polar bears are drowning. AND NOW THIS! We screwed up big time. We screwed ourselves.

I'm not about to blame anyone else either. I am just another person who is living in their happy little oblivious bubble, totally detached from the reality of it all. It's so easy to ignore. We have made it so easy. I really feel like I need to try and make a change though. I'm starting by avoiding that all-to-convenient BP on my drive home from work every night. NO MORE BP.

I can already hear you saying, "That's totally lame Kate, you think this is all BP's fault?!? I know, I hear you -  so I am also going to try to start riding my bike to work. I'm hoping that everything works out. I used to ride to work in high school and I went over my handle bars twice and once ran into the side of a minivan. I'm going to pick out a new helmet today or tomorrow :) No more excuses though - It's really not that big of a deal! This tiny little sacrifice is NOTHING compared to the loss and destruction on the Gulf Coasts. There are so many reasons to bike instead of drive, and I'm not going to ignore them anymore.

I can totally do this...well, at least until November...

Friday, June 11, 2010

On a mission to carve some steasy arcs...

Who says you can't surf in Minnesota!?!

I have been looking forward to learning how to kitesurf since my boyfriend Jacob got back from a trip to South Padre Island this past spring. Hundreds of dollars and a week-long crash course later, he returned to MN an avid kitesurfer and promised that he would help me learn. Well, I finally was able to borrow a "trainer" kite and wet suit, so I think I might actually get to try it in the next coming weeks. We are heading up to Northern Michigan in July and I am hoping to get a lot of practice in during the trip. I have a lot of catching up to do, since Jake is already "getting lifted" now on a regular basis (that means jumping, for all you non-kiteboarders out there). I am pretty excited though. Here's hoping that the learning curve isn't too terribly steep and that I don't look like too much of a kook! It seems like there is definitely a strong little community of kiteboarders in the area though, which is really cool. LAKAWA is the local group dedicated to Minnesota kiteboarding and windsurfing. 

Wish me luck :)

These are some photos I snapped at Lake Waconia earlier this spring of Jake. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

IKEA: Supporting the procreation of Europeans since 1943


Did you know that it is estimated that 10% of living Europeans were conceived on an IKEA-produced bed!?! That's over 83 million people according to Wikipedia!

Holy lingonberries and meatballs!!! 

How do I know this? I read all about it on Mental Floss. You should check it out. It is jam-packed full of delicious information morsels. Unnecessary extra information that is totally worth the brain space. This is the kind of stuff you need to study-up on if you plan to become a Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit master. Here is a link to even more stuff about IKEA that you should totally spend time learning!