Friday, January 29, 2010

I Have The Sweetest Friends!

I received this pawsome award from Stella, Gunther & Betty, my cool blogging pals that live in Morro Bay, California. These guys live in such a beautiful place and they get to hang outside every day. I'm so jealous! They also crack me up with their antics. There's never a dull moment at their house!

With every award there are rules and this award is no different. The rules are:

1.
Copy the image.

2. List 10 things that make you happy and try to do one of them today.
3. Tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day.

10 Things That Make Stubby Happy

1. Eating - especially Popeyes!

2. Sleeping

3. Blogging

4. Car rides (except to the vet and dog wash)

5. Snuggling with Mom

6. Working with Dad in his office

7. Hanging out in my backyard

8. Playing with my friends

9. Making new friends

10. Short walks

I'm hoping to do all these things today!

I'm passing this award to 10 blogs, instead of 10 bloggers. Some blogs have multiple bloggers and I didn't want to leave anyone out. I love all you guys and you all make me smile. I get so much enjoyment from reading your blogs every day that I often sing to the computer. I'm so lucky to have such sweet friends!

Pearl - http://www.littlemisspearl.blogspot.com/

Puglet - http://www.dailypuglet.blogspot.com/

dw - http://www.writingchances.blogspot.com/

Emmitt - http://www.pugnotes.blogspot.com/


Penny - http://www.beefypug.blogspot.com/


Gen & The Foo - http://www.utterlychaotic.blogspot.com/


Tweedles - http://www.tweedles-georgie.blogspot.com/


Pugsley & Lola - http://www.pugsleywolfe.blogspot.com/


Bandit, Paisley, & Smokey - http://www.pugmoon.blogspot.com/

Riley & Star - http://www.rileystar-mymaltesekids.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Phoenix Will Fly Again

A twin-engine plane crash occurred in the western suburbs of Chicago this past Saturday night. Unfortunately, both occupants of the plane perished in the crash. The plane had just taken off from a nearby airport when it went down, scattering debris that hit a home. No one was at the home when the crash happened so no one was injured. The only known injuries from the crash were sustained by a red tail hawk who has since been named Phoenix.

It is thought that Phoenix was roosting in a tree that became engulfed in flames at the time of the crash. Police noticed her as they were investigating the crash. Animal control was called and when they arrived they found Phoenix standing on one leg on a snow bank. She was immediately taken to Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center where rehab specialist Dawn Keller couldn't positively identify Phoenix due to the severity of her burns.


This is all that's left of Phoenix's tail feathers. The accident left her with only her downy under feathers and the shafts of her tail feathers.

Dawn and her staff spent Saturday night and Sunday morning trying to stabilize Phoenix who sustained severe burns to her feet and face, especially around her eyes.

Phoenix's eyelids were badly burned but luckily her eyes were spared. Hawks have inner and outer eyelids that protect their eyes from damage in the wild. These eyelids probably saved her eyes and her life. Constant care is given to Phoenix's eyes as she is nursed back to health.
Phoenix's feet were so badly burned that they are wrapped up so they don't get infected. The bandages are changed every hour and also provide a bit of relief to Phoenix as she heals.

Phoenix truly looks like a fighter and a survivor to me. The people at Flint Creek are committed to caring for her until she is healed. It's too early to tell if Phoenix will be able to return to the wild. If she cannot go back to her home in the woods, she will live out her life as an animal ambassador at Flint Creek, teaching the public about her species.

I feel so bad for Phoenix. Mom tells me that burns are among the worst injuries you can have. I've told Mom to take some of my treat money and donate it to Flint Creek so they can continue to care for Phoenix and all the other 2,800 animals they take in every year. With three locations in the Chicago area, Flint Creek's most critical patients like Phoenix are treated round the clock at the Barrington location. Receiving no government funding, this non-profit is entirely dependent on private donations.

As sad as I am about Phoenix, I like to think there are some positives to come out of this tragedy. It may come as a surprise to some, but not everyone is aware that wild animals like hawks live in Chicagoland. Hawks are such a critical part of our ecosystem and most of us just take them for granted. The most important work they do, keeping rodent and bird populations in check, goes mostly unknown by the casual observer. Phoenix's story, seen on the news every night and read in the paper every day, will introduce these wonderful animals to school children and adults alike. It's my hope that once people see her story, they will be compelled to learn more about hawks via bird walks, nature centers, and books. Education is key to preserving this and all species.

Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will also benefit from this tragedy. I'm betting that most people don't think about wildlife hehab centers until an animal comes into their life needing help. Who do they call? Animal control is one resource and wildlife rehab centers are another. You guys know that Mom is a birder and she is on a birder listserv. She see emails every week from people asking where they can take an injured bird they've found and Dawn Keller is always the first to respond. Her staff will come out to any location to pick up injured animals. Their dedication to the wildlife of our area is unprecedented. People hear and see this dedication and it shows them that people really do care about the natural world and are willing to do whatever they can to preserve wildlife. Phoenix's story will open eyes up to wildlife rehab centers. It will hopefully inspire people to volunteer at or donate to these centers. And of course they can visit the centers and learn about the animals' plights.

Even though I can't visit Phoenix, I will continue to follow her story. Everyone can learn from her experience, even a pug.

Our local tv show Chicago Tonight did a segment on Phoenix and Dawn last night. I couldn't upload the video but here's the link:
http://www.wttw.com/main.taf?p=42,8,80&player=Chicago-Tonight&pid=pQaqdrukWvefo6BdclfNewX8DldClqm.

All photos courtesy of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Wag Out!

Recycled Bracelet

I bet you don't know what this bracelet is made from. Go ahead, take a guess. Give up? It's made from a 55-gallon metal oil drum. What a great way to recycle something that would otherwise just litter the country where this beautiful bracelet comes from.

Made by the people of Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, local artisians take what is available to them and turn it into a true work of art. Fairly traded, each bracelet is a unique one of a kind creation. Haiti has been in our prayers since the devasting earthquake a couple of weeks ago. The people of Haiti need us know more than ever and by purchasing their handicrafts, we show not only that we support them but that we believe in them. Head on over to http://www.threestonesteps.com/ to get your 2-inch metal bracelet today.

BoGoLight

It somewhat of a coincidence that purchasing this next product will help the people of Haiti. I was originally scheduled to post this earlier in the month before the earthquake, but I'm glad I waited until this week because it's needed now more than ever.

This is the Mini BoGoLight. It's a solar powered handheld flashlight that incorporates a solar panel, an LED light, a rechargeable battery, and an electronic managment system. Completely waterproof, the battery will last over 6 hours on a single charge. This may be the only flashlight you'll ever need.

Is anypug wondering why this flashlight is called the BoGoLight? I wondered this myself when I first came across it and then I figured it out. BoGo means buy one get one. Duh Stubby! When you purchase a BoGoLight, the company will donate a flashlight to an organization in need. How cool is that? You get a light to use and so does someone who really needs one but can't afford one. And those that really need lights today are the people of Haiti.

BoGoLight is participating in the Light Haiti Project so for every light you buy, one gets donated to someone in Haiti. There's never been a time to light up your world and the world of someone else so check out BoGoLight at http://www.bogolight.com/ and help light the way for the people of Haiti.

Coasters

I loved these coasters the second I found them. Every home needs coasters and most homes have the material these coasters are made from.

This is just another example of one man's trash is another man's treasure. These cool coasters are made from orange peels. Who thinks of these things? The peels are dried, heated, and then molded into shape as coasters. Each coaster is unique due to the color variations of oranges.

These coasters are a great conversation starter and the perfect, usable gift for the person who has everything. Don't tell Mom, but I'm thinking about getting her a set for Mother's Day. Get a set to keep or give at http://www.urbanecologie.com/.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DoGooder

Every day I come across projects and ideas that just wow me. They also make me think that Mom could have come up with them if she just put her noodle to it. This particular project is definitely one that is long overdue, much needed and of course Mom could have come up with it. So what else is new?

The idea behind DoGooder is that socially-minded individuals would rather see online ads that speak to them instead of ads that speak to traditional consumer minds. Sounds good, right? Heck yeah! But that's not even the best part. Let me keep you in suspense while I tell you a little bit about DoGooder.

First of all, DoGooder is a browser plug-in. Say what? A plug-in for your computer. It's super easy to install and takes only ten seconds. And of course it's free. Once installed, it hides the generic advertising you see as you browse the Internet and replaces it with green, philanthropic, and health and wellness initiatives. And the best part? They donate 50% of their profits back to charity, green initatives, and non-profits. How cool is that?

After you install the plug-in, just start browsing the Internet. Do what you normally do and soon you will see a green leaf and/or a number at the bottom of your screen. These are the number of good ideas you've seen during your Internet browsing. Called Goodie Points, the more you get the more money you generate for DoGooder to donate. According to their website, they donate to a wide variety of causes and organizations, and some of the ones they are currently donating to are
Charity Water, Liverstrong, The Humane Society, and World Wildlife Fund. You can even suggest one for them to consider simply by sending them an email. The bottom is that the more people install the plug-in, the greater the number of ideas are seen. More ideas equal more money donated to organizations that are doing good in the world.

5,326 people have installed the plug-in so far and the movement is growing. This Canadian company was only founded last year and is using the Internet to spread the news about doing good. Mom is going to install the plug-in tomorrow morning and then I will be testing it out for her. Yep, I'm doing the testing. A pug's work is never done.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Out and About!

I was excited but a little suspicious they other day when Mom told me we were going for a car ride. She wouldn't possibly break one of her New Year's resolutions, would she? No, not my mom. I thought to myself that we must be going somewhere good like Popeyes but it was way too early in the morning. Do you see the school bus in the background of the picture? We left the house at 8:30 am and my worst fears were realized.

Mom tricked me into going to the vet to have my blood drawn. I have been on Previcox for my arthritis for about a month. When I was on it at the end of 2008, my kidney enzymes became elevated and I had to stop taking it. The doctor then put me on Tramadol but I hated it. It tasted bitter and Mom and Dad did every trick in the book to get the pills in my mouth - yuk!


My blood work showed that my kidney enzymes were once again elevated so bye bye Previcox. Mom was upset because I have been acting like a puppy while taking it. I have been pain free and loving life. Now I have to back to taking Tramadol or find something else to relieve my pain. I was so upset when I got in the car that I had to leave muddy paw prints all over my seat.

I was feeling okay yesterday so I told Mom and Dad that I wanted to go with them to my Uncle Greg's house. He's my favorite uncle and he was having a birthday party for my aunt. I love a party, especially if there's food, so into the car I went and we headed up to Wisconsin.

Even though it was cold outside, I insisted on having my window down in the car. I love to have the wind in my face, the cold air rushing into my ears. There are so many wonderful things to smell on the drive to Wisconsin and I'm not just talking about the farm animals. We drove right by a smokehouse and I pleaded with Dad to stop the car so we could pick up a few things but he told me that we didn't have time.

When we arrived at my uncle's house, my cousin Molly was sleeping. She's only 2 years old and she takes a nap every afternoon. Hey, I'm 11 and I nap all day long. I wonder if I only took one nap a day when I was 2. Doubt it! As soon as Molly woke up she ran into the kitchen and found me. She cannot get enough of me! We hung out in the kitchen all day - me because I was waiting for food to fall on the floor and Molly because she was stuck to me like Velcro.

Molly doesn't understand English because her mom only speaks to her in Spanish. She doesn't really talk that much but when she does it's mostly Spanish. She also can't pronounce my name so she calls me Lolly. Say what? Maybe Lolly means Stubby in Spanish. I mostly just ignored her when she talked to me because I only understand and speak English.

Mom calls Molly 'mole' because that's what it sounds like when Molly's grandmother says her name. Molly's grandma lives in Chile and I guess it's just her accent but now Mom has me calling Molly 'mole'. Mole, mole, mole. I'm getting hungry from all this mole talk.

Molly wouldn't let me rest while I was at her house. She just kept going and going. I'm sure glad we don't have any 2 year olds at our house or I would have to move out. I need my rest people! When we got home, Dad had to carry me upstairs to bed. Mom says I look like a little baby in this picture . I think the chicks will really dig it.

Thankfully, I slept in late today and by mid morning I was ready to get up because I was starving.
Before I headed downstairs to eat breakfast, I decided to practice my singing. I'm getting pretty good, don't you think? Emmitt, I'm ready for my solo!

video

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hooray For Yao Ming!

I've told you guys before about the horrors of killing sharks for their fins. The fins are used to make shark fin soup which sells for almost $100 a bowl and is an asian delicacy. Almost 100 million sharks are killed each year becuase of demand for this soup and as a result, many shark species are now threatened with extinction. The demand for this soup is on the rise and a well known sports superstar has stepped in to put a stop to the killing.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the practice of shark finning, it works like this: sharks are pulled from the water, their fins are sliced off and the sharks are then thrown back into the water to die a slow death. Isn't that one of the cruelest things you've ever heard? Sharks are very long lived species and killing them in their prime means populations cannot be sustained. Sharks are also apex predators, which means they are at the top of the food chain and the entire food chain depends on them. They are also keystone species, which means that their presence contributes to the diversity of the life in their ecosystem and their absence (extinction) would lead to the extinction of other animal species. The bottom line is we need sharks. They keep everything in the oceans in balance. Without them, ocean ecosystems collapse.

Yao Ming, a basketball player for the Houston Rockets, is from China and is using his celebrity to influence the citizens of China into giving up their taste for shark fin soup. Last year he got involved with the conservation group WildAid, which is partnering with the group Shark Savers, to get the message out about the horrors of shark fin soup. The "Buy a Billboard" campaign is a year old and the results so have have been great.

For $100, anyone can purchase a bus stop billboard featuring Yao Ming urging people to say no to shark fin soup. Each billboard is in place for one year and the message is proving very effective. According to the sharksaver.org website, WildAid had billboards in Beijing for 3 months last year and a survey showed that 19% of Beijiners remember seeing the billboards and 82% of those people said they would stop or reduce their consumption of shark fin soup. Hooray! There's hope for sharks!

WildAid is also running the following commercial on stations throughout China. Yao is very determined to educate the public about shark fin soup as is evident when he told reporters "We have a species that need our attention and protection. They are endangered by excessive hunting by humans and deprived of habitats due to human greed." You tell 'em Yao!

video

I'm hoping other celebrities will get involved with the campaign and do PSA's or put their faces on billboards. Yao is big in China but so are lots of other celebrities. And what about putting some billboards here in the U.S.? There's a very large (and growing) asian population in the states and shark fin soup is sold in most major cities. How about putting a billboard in Times Square? Or maybe on the Las Vegas Strip? We need to get the message out and do it quick. Time is ticking.

If you would like to buy a billboard, donate to the cause, or just get additional information about the campaign, please visit Shark Savers. This grassroots organization is doing all it can do to ensure that sharks remain in our oceans and not on our plates. If you cannot afford to or don't want to donate the entire $100 toward a billboard, please email me and Mom will pay for the remainder of your billboard. Mom has also committed to match each billboard you purchase with her own billboard purchase (up to 10 billboards).

Please get the message out about shark fin soup. Even if you don't purchase a billboard you still have your voice. Your message can and will be heard loud and clear as you tell the world to stop eating shark fin soup.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Got Takeout?

Mom is crazy psycho about takeout food containers. She feels really guilty ordering takeout because of the waste it creates. All those styrofoam, plastic, and cardboard containers get tossed in the garbage after the food is gone, but the containers never really go away, do they? When I found out about this campaign last week, I knew it would be right up Mom's alley.

The mission of takeout without is to reduce restaurant waste. Yeah! Why didn't Mom think of this? And why did it take so long for someone to think of this? I love their tag line - fill your stomach not the landfill. So catchy! The campaign may have just started, but it's being propelled forward by people who are looking to keep takeout waste out of landfills.

So what is the campaign all about? How can you reduce your takeout waste and still order takeout? According to the takeout without website, the campaign is based on three creeds:

ReFuse Unnecessary Stuff - this is where you can make the biggest impact. Think of all the napkins, straws, forks, etc. that you're given when you get takeout. Do you really need all that? Are you going to use 10 napkins to eat your Subway sandwich? I think not. Refuse the napkins. Are you going to eat that Chinese food at home? Probably. Refuse the forks and spoons. Are you going to eat that bean burrito from Taco Bell in your car? Of course! Refuse the bag the drive-thru person insists on putting the burrito in. You can avoid so much waste just by refusing it.

ReTake Your Own Reusables - duh! How obvious is this? Lots of people take their coffee mugs to Starbucks so why not take this a little further? I'm talking about bringing you own silverware, straws (glass of course), napkins (cloth), and reusable bags with you when you eat out at places that use disposable goods. It may sound like a pain to do, but if you start small and bring one thing at a time, before you know it, it will become second nature. Mom has a friend that brings her own leftover container to restaurants. She has been doing this for years and because of her, Mom now does this too (not that Mom ever brings leftovers home).

ReConsider Your Habits - for some people, this is harder to do then any of the above. Let's face it - preparing meals at home is healthier than eating takeout. You can control the ingredients and the portions, making and eating just what you need. You will also save money and feel better, physically and mentally. I know that a lot of people eat takeout because of convenience, so this creed may be a challenge. Change takes time, so take baby steps.

takeout without is just getting started but it's already making a difference. They are trying to get restaurants on board. They want people to feel comfortable and welcome bringing their own containers, cutlery, etc when eating out. This not only reduces waste but also saves the restaurants' money. They are even hoping restaurants will offer incentives to people for taking these actions. How cool is that?

By taking steps to reduce takeout waste, we become role models for doing the right thing. We not only keep waste out of landfills but we also send a message to restaurants that we care about the environment. Caring about the environment means we care about each other. We care about each other because we're all in this together. So join the campaign. Be part of the movement.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I Love This Program!

Dad is leaving for San Francisco on Tuesday and everytime he travels out there I wish I could go with. I want to go there because there are so many cool environmental programs in the Bay Area. They are much more forward thinking in their concern for the environment and this begs the question - is this because they have to or because they want to?

One such program that I love takes place in Alameda County. It's a program that addresses a huge environmental problem, one that all of us contribute to. Unfortunately, I don't think the program would work in the midwest, at least not year-round.

The mission of Stopwaste.org is to reduce the waste stream for Alameda County. One way they have been accomplishing this is by offering food scrap recycling programs in cities in their county. Recycle food scraps? Oh yeah!

Did you know that food waste is the least recovered of all waste in the U.S.? Americans throw away an average of 1.3 pounds of food waste each day! What? Throw it away? If everyone had a pug there wouldn't be a food waste problem!

Check out this pie chart from the U.S. EPA to get see where food scraps fit into the waste picture.
I was surprised to see that the percentage of food scraps is larger than that of plastics, and is just behind yard trimmings. Hmmm. What do food scraps and yard trimmings have in common? They are both used in compost bins. The people from Stopwaste.org saw this correlation too and it prompted them to the start a food scrap recycling program. And believe me, it was needed. According to their website, food scraps and food soiled paper are the largest single items in their waste stream, accounting for 35% of all waste thrown away. That's a bigger percentage then the national average!

But how does the program work? It's so easy even a pug could do it! Residents are provided with a special food scrap pail that they keep in their kitchen. When dinner is over and there is food still left on plates, the scraps get placed in the pail instead of the garbage. This sounds really familiar to those of you who compost, doesn't it? Where this program differs from home composting is that meat and bones are accepted. Virtually nothing goes to waste.

The food scrap pail is emptied into the yard trimmings can, which is then picked up by the local waste management company. The food scraps and yard trimmings are dropped off at a facility where it gets processed for composting. Now this is the really cool part. After it's processed, it is put into piles called "windows" where it takes 3 - 4 months to break down into compost. How cool is that?
The compost is then sold to farmers to grow crops and to residents to use on their lawns and in their gardens. This system is the poster child of closed loop recycling!

Like I mentioned before, this system would not work in the midwest (or any other climate where it snows) because we do not have yard trimmings year-round. I'm not sure if this system could be implemented during the months we do have yard trimmings, where the piles would turn into compost under a blanket of snow. I definitely think this is something to look into because of the amount of food waste that is rotting and not composting in landfills. There is no reason to throw away something that we need and can use.

Until a system is implemented where you live, the U.S. EPA created this inverted food pyramid to provide you with ways of lessening your food waste in order of priority.

The recommendation at the top of the pyramid is the easiest thing to do. Reducing the volume of food waste generated is really much easier to do then most people think. Think about why you throw food away. Most of the time it is because you make too much, put it in the refrigerator, forget about it, and then it goes bad. Off to the garbage can it goes. By only making what you can and will eat, you are not only reducing waste but also saving money.

If you find yourself with extra food, consider donating it to food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters. All of us participate in food drives several times a year but food is need year-round in most communities. Most organizations would gladly accept your food - it's just a matter of finding outlets for it. It may take some time to find some, but I know they're out there. And if they're not? Then there's an opportunity for you to start one.

Food scraps are used to feed farm animals all the time. If you've ever lived on a farm or visited a farm you know that nothing goes to waste. Feeding farm animals table scraps is a great use for food destined for landfills. If you live near a farm, this is a great opportunity for you to rid yourself of scraps that the animals will love.

There are lots of industrial uses for food waste with most of them originating at the source of meat production. Rendering is the process of converting waste animal tissue into materials that are used in foods and other products. Again, nothing on farms is wasted. I can't go into a lot of detail here because Mom doesn't eat animals and she's peeking over my shoulder.

Composting is a great way to convert food scraps into fertilizer. As we have seen above, a closed loop system is the most desired way to handle waste. Some people compost at home but others don't. Whether you do or don't, know that your food scraps are still valuable even though they're waste to you. We hear this all the time - one man's trash is another man's treasure. No where is this more true then in composting. If you don't compost, try to find a neighbor or friend that does. I'm sure they would love to add your scraps to their heap.

Sending food to landfills is the least desired option, as is burning it. Waste that sits in landfills never really breaks down into anything usable. It just sits and piles up until it reaches the top of the landfill. All landfills are eventually shut down because they get full. Full of stuff. Stuff that, for the most part, doesn't have to be there in the first place.

Incineration releases byproducts into an already crowded atmosphere. Remember, things never go away. Burning a piece of anything releases whatever was in that piece into the air, be it good, bad, or neutral for the environment. Incineration is a part of some communities because it is their only option. There has to be a better way.

It's kind of funny but all this this food waste talk is making me hungry. It's making Mom do a lot of thinking about ways of reduce waste and of educating the public about the problem of food waste. I guess we have different priorities. Like I said before, if each household had a pug, food waste wouldn't be a problem.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Are You In?

I received some beautiful Christmas cards from my blogging pals but Mom really dropped the ball on organizing a proper Christmas card exchange. I'm giving her one last chance to redeem herself by having a Valentine's Day card exchange.

Valentine's Day is one month from today, so send me an email - stubbyisgreat at yahoo.com - with your name and address if you'd like to participate. I will send an email with all the addresses to all the participants so that everyone has everyone's info. Please email me your info by January 28 (that's 2 weeks from today) so I can email everyone the following day. That should be enough time to get the cards in the mail so they arrive in time for the big day.

I already have addresses for Salinger, Emmitt, and Sequoia & Tuni, so I would like to ask these puggies to send me an email letting me know if they would like to participate.

This is going to be so much fun! If you know of any other doggies that would like to participate, please have them contact me. The more the merrier. I can't wait to receive everyone's cards!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Here's The Birthday Girl!

Happy birthday, Mom! Believe it or not, that's Mom on her first birthday. Doesn't she look like a boy? Ouch! Mom just smacked me on my butt for calling her a boy. Okay Mom, you look like a really cute boy. How's that?

For those of you who weren't following my blog at this time last year, you can read last year's post here. You'll learn a lot about Mom - probably more than you ever wanted to know. But there are still a few fun facts about Mom that I'm sure she won't mind if I share with you.

The Chicago blizzard of 1979 started on Mom's birthday. 16.5 inches of snow fell that day and by the time the blizzard was over there was over two feet of snow on the ground. Schools were closed for an entire week (the blizzard started on Saturday) and as Mom likes to remind me, this was the only time in her entire school history that school was closed due to snow.

Mom refuses to fly on her birthday. It's true. She so super superstitious about this that she has to work her vacations around the date. Why you ask, does Mom have this silly rule? She doesn't want her entrance and exit dates to be the same! How silly is that?

Dad proposed to Mom on her 30th birthday. He threw a surprise birthday party for her, invited 50 of her closest family and friends, then got down on one knee and proposed in front of everyone. Such pressure! Lucky for Dad, Mom said yes.

Mom is going to spend most of her birthday with me. She says she doesn't want anything for her birthday but I don't believe her. I bought her something special that I think she's going to love, but I can't tell you what it is because I haven't given it to her yet. Tonight, Dad is taking Mom and a bunch of friends out to celebrate at a Mexican restaurant. I hope Mom drinks a lot of margaritas so we can sleep in late tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wear Blue Tomorrow!

I'm putting on my blue collar tomorrow, January 13, to show my support for protecting our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. Won't you join me?

People around the U.S. know that our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are some of our most precious resources. You guys already know why we need the oceans. Without them wouldn't be here. The coasts are part of the oceans and protect the land from the harshness of the oceans, in addition to providing habitat for so many animals. The Great Lakes provide millions of people with drinking water, recreation, and so much more. Each of these habitats also provide jobs to many people.

The oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes are also very beautiful. They contains some of the most amazing animals on Earth. Mom could just sit and stare at the ocean for hours. She says that it calms her. She grew up on Lake Michigan and never takes for granted what it provides to not only her but to everyone that lives near it.

Healthy oceans, coasts, and communities represent our heritage and our future. How we take care of them also represent our heritage and future. Do the right thing and they are healthy. Do the wrong thing and everyone suffers. It was with this in mind that President Obama created an Ocean Policy Task Force last year to develop a first ever National Policy for our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. President Obama realized that we must preserve these resources and I applaud him for it.

So why wear blue tomorrow? The Ocean Policy Task Force's final report to the President is scheduled to be submitted near the end of January. The Wear Blue For Oceans campaign is encouraging the President to enact a strong national policy and to include the Clean Ocean Zone (COZ) legislation in the final report to reduce pollution, protect marine ecosystems. According to their website, a strong national policy:

•Enable agencies to better address water pollution problems;
•Help to facilitate sustainable offshore energy, such as properly sited offshore wind turbines;
•Design better and more cost effective coastal and wetland restoration programs;
•Protect and restore natural areas to ensure healthy habitat for ocean and coastal fish and wildlife.

My blue collar is the only blue thing I own but I know lots of you have blue Snuggies. Those are the perfect thing to wear to show your support! You can even send in a picture of yourself wearing blue so the whole world will know you support the oceans. Send your pictures to pics@wearblueforoceans.org (make sure to add a caption) or upload your photo here.

Thanks for wearing blue and for supporting a national ocean policy. Together we can and will make a difference.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's Here!

Introducing the new product that is going to shake up the laundry market. Looks cool, huh? I told Mom to run out and get some so that we can test it out, but she's busy. Busy doing what? I have no idea. It's way too cold for me to go to the store, so I guess I have to wait until Mom isn't busy in order to conduct a test.

This pump design is definitely different and it looks much easier to use. Just 4 pumps per load is all you need to get your laundry nice and clean. The bottle is made from 50% recycled material and is recyclable. I'm worried that the top isn't recyclable but since I don't have it in my paws, I can't be sure.

method's campaign for this new detergent is that it's smarter, easier, and greener. It's smarter due to method's smartclean technology, easier due to the pump, and greener because the product uses less water, plastic, and energy. All in all it sounds good to me.

The only store around us that currently carries this new product is Lowe's. Our store only carries the 25 load bottle and it sells for $7.99 (the 50 load bottle sells for $15.00). Two scents are available, fresh air and peony blossom, in addition to the free and clear shown above. It's also available at a host of other stores right now (and at Target next month) so check the method website for a store near you. You can also buy it directly on the method website if you just don't want to leave the warmth of your home. I almost forgot - there's a $2.00 off coupon available for download on the method website too.

Check out this short video to learn about the new method laundry detergent. While you're watching it, I'll be using Dad's computer to order some detergent. I'm sure UPS will get it here quicker then Mom will.

video

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stock Up Shopping

Do you guys remember my post from last Saturday? It was all about toilet paper! Mom was having a hard time deciding which toilet paper brand to buy, how much, and from where. Can you believe that someone would spend that much time obsessing about toilet paper? Thankfully, Mom finally decided on a brand, an amount, and a store. She ordered it, along with some facial tissue, on Wednesday and it arrived yesterday.

That's a whole lotta toilet paper! 48 jumbo rolls to be exact. Seventh Generation was the winner and it contains 100% recycled content, with 80% of it post-consumer. These numbers didn't jive to me so I asked Mom to explain them to me.

Recycled content means pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled fiber. Post-consumer is more desirable but not always available or economically viable. Post-consumer is made from materials collected and recycled after they have reached their original end use, like the paper you put in your recycling container at home. Pre-consumer is made from scraps left over from the manufacture of paper products.
These 48 rolls came from amazon.com. They cost $49.55 and qualified for free shipping, plus no tax. The bottom line cost is a little over $1.03 per roll. The best part about buying them this way? There is no plastic! Even though each roll is wrapped individually in paper, this paper can (and will) be recycled. The cardboard tubes from each roll will be recycled, as will the box the rolls came in. The only waste from this box is the plastic on top of the box that held the packing list.

You guys remember Alice, don't you? She has been emailing Mom to purchase more Vaska laundry detergent for over a month now. Mom has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Method laundry detergent (which hits the market this Monday), but Alice had a great deal on Vaska this month so Mom decided to place an order. While she was on the Alice site, she checked to see which brands of facial tissue were available. Can you guess which brand Mom ordered?

Seventh Generation won again! Like the toile paper, the facial tissue contains 100% recycled content, with 80% of it post-consumer. Mom order 10 boxes for $15.80 plus tax (7.6%). Alice never charges for shipping so the bottom line cost is $1.70 per box. The EarthAware packing material is made from recycled plastic and Mom will be reusing it when she has packages to send. The only waste from this box is the plastic at the top of each box of tissue. Mom will remove the plastic from each box, take the plastic to the plastic bag recycling center at the grocery store, and put the box itself in our reycling container.

Mom decided that I needed to help put all the stuff away. Me? I'm not going to use any of this stuff so why do I have to help? I should have kept my mouth shut because instead of helping, Mom put me on top of the toilet paper box. Potty mouth on top of potty paper. How appropriate!

Friday, January 8, 2010

We Need The Oceans

Mom was at the library the other day with the intention of picking up a few books that are on her GoodReads list. She reads really, really, slow so I don't know why she picks up more than one book at a time. When she came across this book, she grabbed it, sat down in a comfy chair, and started reading. She was so into it that she lost track of the time and totally forgot about me waiting for her at home.

Of course Mom had to go back to the beginning of the book when she got home. I wanted to hear all about the how the fate of mankind (and pugkind) and the ocean's are one. I knew it wouldn't be a pretty story but one that I had to hear. I love learning about all my little ocean buddies so that I can spread the word about conserving them and their habitats.


The introduction of the book asks "Why care that the world is blue?" Great question! I get asked similar questions all the time. I'll go off on one of my bandwagon issues and the next thing you know, someone will ask "Why should I care? How does (insert issue) affect me? What can I do to stop (insert issue) from happening?" I think you get the picture. This is what the author, Sylvia Earle, has to say in the introduction:

""Green" issues make headlines these days, but many seem unaware that without the "blue" there could be no green, no life on Earth and therefore none of the other things that humans value. Water - the blue - is the key to life."

Wow! Talk about a great way to start a book. Get right to the point. Hit them where it hurts. Deal with the issue head on.

Ms. Earle was dealt another question back in 1976 from an Australian reporter: "If the ocean dried up tomorrow, why should I care?" Yikes! The answer to this question is not that simple. It's not a one sentence answer nor does it deserve only one sentence. You have to delve deep into what the oceans do for us, the inhabitats of this planet. Oh, and you need to address what we have done to the oceans in the past and what we continue to do today.

Raise your hand if you think you know why we need the oceans. It's okay if you don't know why. It's not okay if you don't care. This book will explain the oceans to you like no other book can, but before diving into the oceans, Ms. Earle will tell you all about the wildlife that is taken from the oceans each year. The mammals, fish, and shellfish all have a chapter here. There's even a chapter about the garbage disposal. What garbage disposal? The one that millions of people use each day - the ocean itself.

You will learn how the oceans are really in trouble. This is not just heresy or speculation. This is the real deal. You will also learn about the opportunities to change things. Right some wrongs. Make better decisions. Be part of the solution.

Even if you've never heard of Sylvia Earle before, this book is for you. Her impressive resume is way too long to list on this post. She has accomplished (and to continues to) so much in her research as an oceanographer. She is committed to tackling the ever pressing issues she is faced with day in and day out. It's not pretty but someone has to do it.

I've been sitting on Mom's lap, fascinated by Ms. Earle's words. They're breathing life into the oceans I have never seen. Even if I never get to the ocean, I know I need the oceans because as Ms. Earle tells me:

"Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea."

I will let you discover why we need the ocean, but trust me. We need it. We really do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Good Now vs. Good Later

I was so warm and snuggly in bed this morning, sound asleep under many blankets. I knew it was snowing and as Mom slept next to me, I was sure we were going to spend the entire day in bed. Who wants to go out in the yucky, cold, wet snow? Not me. Just like my girl Pearly, I do not like to get my tootsies wet. I'll get out of bed when the snow melts.

All of a sudden I felt Mom start to move. No! Go back to sleep!. The next thing I know, she's out of bed, running around like a mad woman. What is going on? I hear Mom yell "Get up Stubby. Time to go out and make poopy." Maybe if I pretend to be in a deep sleep she will just get back in bed and go back to sleep. Nope. She wasn't falling for it as she yelled "Let's go dude. I've got to hit the road or I'll be late for my appointment."

Where could Mom possibly be going in a blizzard? What could be so important that she has to leave the house when the weathermen are telling people to stay off the roads? Why can't she just stay in bed? All of a sudden I'm out of bed, out in the cold, and Mom is off to her appointment. Come back Mom!

Mom had an appointment for a facial this morning that she wasn't going to miss come hell or high water. She hasn't had a facial in a long time. For those of you who don't know, Mom was in a beach accident back in 2005. She received 30 stitches in her forehead and ever since then she has been afraid to have anything done to her face. That is until now. She has been complaining that her skin looks dull, feels dull, etc. So she scheduled an exfoliating facial for today, of all days.

So how did the facial go? Mom looked the same to me when she got home except that her face was a bit shiny. Not shiny like get my sunglasses shiny, just shiny like smooth. She told me that she already felt better but that she was given some product samples that she would probably never use.

Don't ask me why Mom had to put the products on my back to take a picture of them (I was napping next to her). These are samples of the products the esthetician used on her. I know what you are thinking - why would you let someone use these products on you? This is exactly what I asked her. Her answer - it's complicated.

Mom found an eco-friendly spa last year where she has been getting pedicures. She likes the spa's concept - it's LEED certified and they only use 'green' products - but she hasn't had the best service there so she didn't want to go there for a facial. She gets her eyebrows done at a different spa that isn't very eco-friendly, but she loves the esthetician so she decided to get her facial there.

Back to the products. Mom is not familiar with the dermalogica brand, so the first place she went to check them out was the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. As luck would have it, only one of the samples Mom was given was listed. The skin smoothing cream had a score of 7 (out of 10). There is so much bad stuff in this product including several parabens. Yuck! The lower the score the better and since Mom tries to avoid all products with a score higher than 3, these samples will go unused.

All this facial stuff got me thinking - is it worth it to use products that contain harmful chemicals so that you can look good now? Or are you better off searching for and and using products that don't work that great but that don't contain harmful chemicals? This is the classic risk versus reward. I personally think Mom looks okay and since I want her around for a long time, I think she shouldn't use products that contain harmful chemicals. Maybe she just needs to do more research to find a spa that meets her needs. She may have to travel a little bit further to get to a great spa but it will be worth it. On second thought, maybe she should just give up on looking good so that she can spend more time with me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Someone You Should Know

I read a lot of blogs every day. I read all your blogs plus many environmental blogs. There's so much information out there and I learn so many things by reading all these blogs. I'm definitely inspired by things I read and there is a blogger who inspires me daily.

Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish is hardcore. She is completely committed to giving up plastic. I'm not just talking about plastic bags and water bottles but everything. Can you imagine doing this? It's a challenge I think everyone could take on but not many people even realize they need to do.

Beth started on her journey just a few years ago. In 2007 she read an article about the Great Garbage Patch in the North Pacific and her life hasn't been the same since. Today Beth is an activist. She used the power of the Internet, her voice, and the voices of her followers to get the parent company of Brita to set up a recycling program for their filters. How cool is that?

Beth documents her plastic waste and she just made a video of her 2009 plastic. Please stop by her website www.fakeplasticfish.com to view it. You won't believe the amount of plastic she used for a whole year. I'm a pug and I'm sure I used more. Ugh! I really need to get with the program this year. Mom will be helping me develop a plastic waste elimination plan so that I do my part to help the environment. Won't you join me on my journey? Together, we can change the world.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Water Issue

Mom has been obsessing about drinking water since the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. I'm not sure why she's obsessing about but it's taking up a lot of time, time that should be spent with me.

Our water comes from Lake Michigan via the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency (CLCJAWA). We receive a water quality from our village at the end of each year, in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, and Mom is anxiously awaiting the 2009 report. Did you even know that there was a Safe Drinking Water Act? It is the main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water. The EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees the states and water suppliers who implement the standards.

I think Mom is obsessing about water because of the report that came out a couple of months ago that listed the quality of water in big cities around the country. Surprisingly, Chicago did not rate very high on the list (meaning Chicago's water isn't that great) and Austin, TX had the best water in the U.S. Since our water comes from the same source as Chicago, Mom got to thinking that maybe our water isn't all that great either. Enter the water quality report.

First some background info. Lake Michigan is a surface water source and is susceptible to all kinds of contaminants. Anyone could potentially dump anything they want into the lake, though dumping is illegal. There is no way to guard the shores of the lake from individuals' contaminating it. Businesses are subject to laws regarding what they can and cannot dump, and hopefully they abide by these regulations. Fines are stiff for breaking these laws, however some businesses are never caught.

Even though water is the most common substance found on Earth, only 1% is available as drinking water and of that 1%, 20% of it is located in the Great Lakes. We are very lucky to live close to such a great water source and we never take this for granted.

Our water is constantly monitored by our village, the Illinois EPA, the CLCJAWA lab, as well as independent labs throughout the county. It is even checked for water clarity every 10 seconds! The US EPA sets limits for contaminant levels in water and it is the job (and responsibility) of the agencies responsible for our water to make sure that contaminants levels are below the set limits. Contaminants come from everywhere - farms, acid rain, animals, and even medicine that is flushed down the toilet (this is a big no-no!).

The water purification process that CLCJAWA employs is pretty complex and unique, but for some reason Mom is still unsure about the safety of it. Mom has been drinking this water since she moved here 13 years ago and before that she drank good old Chicago water. She doesn't have any contaminants in her (that she's aware of) yet she insists we have our water tested to ensure it is the best it can be.

Mom is now on the hunt for a water testing kit. She is also (though prematurely) on the hunt for a water purification system. With all the buzz around Brita pitchers you'd think they would be a good choice but they're really not. They only remove chlorine and lead leaving all the other contaminants in the water and in you. Hmmm. The Brita faucet filter is a better choice but it doesn't remove everything. There are some water filters on the market that remove 99% of most contaminants but Mom worries about the filters themselves. Why you ask? Because only recently has Brita committed to a recycling program for their used filters and Mom wonders if other companies have similar programs (Brita filters are recycled via Preserve). Mom cannot imagine putting more unnecessary trash in landfills.

Reverse osmosis is another option but according to the research Mom has done thus far, this process only removes chemicals, not contaminants. People using this option over long periods of time have been shown to have chemical deficiencies, primarily calcium and magnesium. This process also doesn't ensure the purity of the water.

What's a pug to do with a crazy water obsessed mom? I see it this way. My only option at this point is to smile and support Mom as she goes about the water testing process. If she finds our water to be subpar (translation: not fit for pugs), I will stand by her as she spends hours upon hours researching the best water filtration process for our house. At least she can do her research in the comfort of home, on the sofa or bed with me by her side.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Which Brand Should Mom Buy?

Mom spent today shopping for toilet paper. I'm not kidding. She usually stocks up on toilet paper but she's really been slacking lately. Blame it on the weather or her hormones, I keep hearing that we're almost out of the stuff all the time. This of course does not affect me. I could care less if we run out but if we do the proverbial s**t is going to hit the fan.

Mom used to buy this brand of toilet paper. She would buy it at our local grocery store, Jewel. For some reason, Jewel stopped selling it in November. Why? Probably because people weren't buying it. I'm not sure why people weren't buying it but Mom tells me it's because it's made from recycled paper. That's a good thing, right? Not to everyone.

I've posted before about buying paper products that are made from recycled paper. This is called closing the loop. It's one thing to recycle paper but if you aren't buying products made from that same recycled paper then you aren't closing the loop. Your loop may be half closed but you can close it completely simply by buying the right products.

Now that Jewel doesn't sell this toilet paper, Mom has been on a mission to find a replacement paper. She has been buying the Trader Joe's brand for a couple of months, but she knows there are other brands out there and that there's probably even brands that she doesn't know about. So today she went on a hunt to track down toilet paper. Sounds like a good time, huh?

Mom's first stop was at Jewel. Why you ask? She decided to go to a Jewel in a different town to see if it was just our Jewel that discontinued her toilet paper. No such luck. Apparently all the Jewel stores have gotten rid of it.

Jewel has a couple of aisles devoted to organic/green products. Mom's brand of toilet paper hadn't been stocked in this aisle because its manufacture also makes a virgin toilet paper. This brings up a whole other issue about corporate responsibility that Mom will be working on this year (one of the resolutions she made) so it's actually a good thing that her toilet paper has been discontinued.

Mom decided to check out the organic/green aisle at Jewel today to see if any there were any recycled toilet paper products. This Earth Friendly Products brand was front and center in the aisle. It's important when checking out toilet paper (as well as paper towels and napkins) to make sure they are chlorine free and free of dyes. You do not need this stuff in your personal paper products. Equally as important is the post consumer recycled paper content. Most toilet papers contain 80%, like the Earth Friendly brand, but some are less. Check the fine print carefully so you can make the right choice. Mom loves this brand (she uses their laundry detergent) so she knew she would love the toilet paper. The only down side was the price.

The Seventh Generation toilet paper was sitting right next to the Earth Friendly brand. Mom knows this brand and likes it a lot. They are way up there on the corporate responsibility ladder and their toilet paper was competitively priced. Note all the bullet points on the packaging. They have a great product and they want everyone to know why it's great. No bad stuff in this toilet paper plus its softness has been improved. Mom spent so much time taking pictures that she never even used her GoodGuide scanner to get the real scoop on the various toilet papers. Duh!

This brand was completely new to Mom. It was not located in the organic/green aisle, but in the aisle with the regular toilet paper. She was intrigued by it because of its message - "Your purchase supports individuals with disabilities". Mom just had to check this stuff out.

Spirit is made by the men and women of Malcolm Eaton Enterprises, a non-profit agency located in Illinois near the Wisconsin border, which trains and employs people with developmental disabilities. What a great idea! They started making toilet paper because of the opportunities it provided. By teaching important job and life skills, these men and women find satisifaction and pride in being in the work force. It's very interesting how they got into the toilet paper business but you can probably guess why - money. Instead of having to rely on government funds, they starting making toilet paper for state agencies, then a few years later rest areas, parks, prisons, etc. throughout Illinois started purchasing the paper. After having success with their commercial product, they decided to create a retail line and that's what Mom saw at Jewel.

Mom was disappointed in Spirit because it is made from virgin paper. I'm sure that's to save on the cost of the end product but it's really bad for the environment. Even paper that is Forest Stewardship Council certified would be better than virgin paper from unsustainable forests. Mom loves buying products that support non-profits, especially those that provide opportunities for those who wouldn't have them without the non-profits, but she just cannot support a non closed loop solution.

So what did Mom do? She went to Trader Joe's and bought their brand. It is made with 80% post consumer recycled paper and both her and Dad like it. Mom didn't go to Whole Foods, but she thinks they sell their own brand and Seventh Generation. She is going to do some online research into other brands, but she needs your help. What brand do your parents use? Please leave me a comment with the brand name and I will have Mom read them. Someone out there has to use a brand that is Mom approved, right? Mom has already broken a resolution by spending the day hunting for toilet paper and it's only the second day of the year. Sheesh!