Monday, July 30, 2012

Driving all over Town

This week I had several errands to run. Unfortunately, they were all in different parts of the city. I decided to save on emissions and time and do them all in one day.

I live in the southern suburbs so I began in Blackwood which is about fifteen minutes northeast of where I live. Three years and four months ago I got hearing aids. I can hear without them but I can hear better with them. They came with a three year warrantee. Wouldn't you know it, one has just stopped working. Grrr. So the first stop was to drop off said hearing aid.

I continued east down the hill to Burnside Village. The bogan alarm must not have been working because I managed to sneak in unseen. I wanted to check the kosher section of the Coles there for Eskal pickles. I know Coles is part of the duopoly and I feel dirty when I have to shop there - and not in a good way - but it is, to my knowledge, the only supermarket in Adelaide with a kosher section. Alas, no pickles.

Following that I skirted the city and headed west to Thebarton to Steve Salvis Fine Guitars to see if he could help fix my mum's old ukelele. Teenage Son learns trumpet and French Horn and is self-taught on guitar and piano. Evidently, that isn't enough because he's been eyeing the ukelele greedily for awhile. I could buy a new ukelele for less than it's going to cost me to get this one fixed but it's a very good one, it was my mum's and it's more in fitting with Footprints to get it repaired.

Finally, I headed home stopping at the local post office on the way to send a package. All up it took about two hours. I don't know how many kilometres I covered but I'm sure it was less than it would have been had I done them all on different days.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Central Market

This morning I thought that it was definitely time to go to the Central Market again. Shopping there means I can buy in bulk many of the things I buy prepackaged at the supermarket. Furthermore, most of those kinds of products are ones which are not monopolised by unethical companies so even if I don't know the company providing the product it's going to be okay. I can go into Grains and Goodies with bottles, jars and bags in hand and buy up big without guilt. I live about 20kms from the Market so shopping there raises issues of car emissions. It's a case of packaging versus petrol. It's not really guilt-free after all.

I live in a nice area. The people around me love it. I don't. It's not that their judgement is wrong and mine is right or anything. It's that I live in the 'burbs and essentially I'm an urbanite. For me it's a case of shopping at my bland and homogenised local shops week in and week out or branching out every so often - or more - and  going to the market to be jostled by the crowd, shop alongside immigrants from all over the world, inhale the smell of the market and, if you've lived in Adelaide you know that smell, listen to the stallholders try to hawk their wares and experience sensory overload.

We arrived in Adelaide forty one years ago and my love affair with the market began on our first trip there. At first it was due to the warm cinnamon donuts and raspberry cordial my sister and I were bribed with to behave while my parents shopped.

During my high school years we lived on the outskirts of the city and I went to school for the first three years next door to the market. I was able during that time to provide myself with my beloved donuts and cordial. One year, for whatever reason, we had to have our Drama lessons in a big room next to the car-park above the market. I can still remember walking up the street and then being assailed by that familiar smell as we climbed the stairs.

Later I moved schools but worked at the market every Friday night after school. In the time I had to kill between finishing school and starting work I would wander around drinking in the sights and smells. No need to buy treats, I worked at a continental deli/coffee shop where I would eat hungarian salami sandwiches on rye bread, followed by a Baci chocolate.

During those years my mother and sister would get up early on a Saturday morning, shop at the market and be home before I even got up. They'd finish their shopping with breakfast at Lucias. Mama Lucia was serving cappuccinos to the Adelaide public before any of them could even spell or say it. It's still there and has taken over the former Athens deli next door.

When Husband and I set up house together we lived near the market and shopped there every Friday night. Adelaide was changing by then. The Mediterranean and Eastern Europeans stallholders were being added to by our ever-increasing Vietnamese population. Chinese supermarkets sprung up all over the market and eventually Chinatown was born.

Teenage Daughter had her first trip to the market at three weeks old. Our favourite stall-holders had taken possession of my expanding belly and couldn't wait to see her. When she was an only child, despite the distance to the market, I took her every week. We stopped going on Friday nights; the two of us went during the day without Husband. We ate lunch every week at Malacca Corner where she'd share my Hokkien Mee and Jasmine tea. When she'd finished she'd quietly go and tell the former owner and he'd give her a sweet. Anyone remember that lovely old man? I tried to take Teenage Son. We went a few times but never got into the same routine. He loves it, though, having been those few times.

I think it's probably six of one and half a dozen of another as to the ethics and eco-friendliness of shopping at the market. If it's not going to add to the problem then that's good enough for me.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Doing the Family Shuffle

On Sunday Teenage Daughter had a music workshop in the city and Teenage Son had a party near the city. Both started at the same time and each was finishing at a similar time. Husband and I discussed the various ways we could deal with the situation. The two best solutions seemed to be either take both cars and each drop a child and pick the same child up, and meet in the city to kill time in between or take one car and do a little "doe-sy doe". We opted for the latter because of Footprints.

Here's how it panned out. Teenage Daughter drove into the city to get her driving hours up. Once there, she and I hopped out of the car and Husband and Teenage Son drove off. Teenage Daughter and I spent a pleasant fifteen minutes walking in the city before she headed off to her workshop. I bought a notebook, found a bench and sat down making notes for my novel while I waited for Husband to get back. When he got back he and I did some more walking and had a cup of tea. I drove to pick Teenage Son up from his party while Husband killed time in the State Library reading the paper. Teenage Son and I got back in to the city with time to spare. Once Teenage Daughter had finished she drove us all home.

I think it worked well. The only flaw for me was that I HAD to buy a notebook when I have so many at home. Never mind, it's in my handbag now for future flashes of inspiration.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

One Small Bad Decision, One Big Impact ... Sort of

I do my grocery shopping most Fridays. I'd tell you it's less stressful to have a routine; Little Sister would tell you it's because I'm a control freak who can't handle change. The truth is probably somewhere in between ... or Little Sister is right. Shh! Don't tell her I told you that.

Last Friday I made a list and headed out to the supermarket. I had two 1kg tubs of yogurt on the list. I usually buy one for the week but we were having a curry over the weekend so needed extra. (We certainly did need extra - that was one hot curry!) Once I got to the supermarket, however, I decided to only buy one. I decided to see how full it was after the weekend and maybe buy one early this week when I had to run errands. That way, it would be fresher. It seemed like a good plan ...

For those of you who don't live in the same city as me, our supermarkets close at 5pm on Sundays. At 6pm Husband came in and told me the yogurt was pretty much empty. (He's the cook in the family.) I jumped in the car, drove to our local IGA and bought yogurt. However, in the process I made an unplanned car trip which added emissions to the environment. I could have walked but dinner was ready - this was a mercy dash. Once at the IGA I could only buy a 500g tub and an unethical brand. That meant I'd eventually have to buy another 500g tub this week. (I did that this morning when I was already out and about in the car doing the school run.)

My "good plan" resulted in unnecessary carbon emissions, buying from an unethical company and adding more packaging to waste/recycling. Life was easier when I could just jump in the car and buy whatever yogurt I wanted when I wanted whatever size I wanted! Am I disheartened and discouraged? No way! I'm just going to really think about last minute list changes.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Following up on three previous blogs

A couple of days ago I wrote about Favourite Cousin's home in Preserving History. I've been in touch with Favourite Cousin subsequently who said that recycling was part of the plan, as was using found objects in new and different ways. (I've paraphrased her.)

Before that I wrote about plastic in Plastic Footprints. A friend of mine contacted me with the following comment:

I had an argument with a dentist about a plastic film (fissure seal) the dentist wanted to put over my daughters' teeth at the back. There was nothing wrong with the teeth - no cavities, no decay, but they had a naturally occurring groove shape in them. The idea was that by covering the groove with this plastic compound, food would not be able to lodge there and thus prevent cavities. My concern was that there were small amounts of bisphenol A (and B if I remember rightly) in the compound which I did not want in the bodies of my children. I do not want these chemicals leaching into their systems.
The dentists insisted that studies showed that the results of such preventative measures were so good that it was definitely a worthwhile procedure. Their studies showed that the amounts of the chemical were so minute and that after 20 minutes there was none of the chemical byproduct to be found in the saliva. My concern was that if there was some to be found in the initial 20 minutes where did it go then? Into my chidren's bodies!
The dentist totally missed my point that I didn't want ANY plastic byproducts in their systems, especially these ones, however minute the amount because the particular ones in the dental fissure seals are known endocrine disruptors.
These are the same compounds to be found in plastic tin liners. (Why does tinned food need to have a plastic liner in the tin anyway? Another reason to always buy fresh. I was brought up to learn that tinned food was a good substitute if fresh were unavailable - now I disagree.)
I think these may also be the same compounds which leach out of many plastic drink bottles.

Another friend, a food technologist, then posted a link to Food Standards Australia New Zealand. BPA information, which explains how and why it is that it is allowed to be used in food packaging and dentistry. 

And finally, quite some time ago now I posted about my roofing company woes in It's Raining, It's Pouring. I called the company on June 20th and it's now a month later. In between Husband has made two reminder calls to them. No one has come yet. Husband told me yesterday that he'd heard on the radio that many big companies were monitoring the internet - social networking sites, in particular - for feedback about their companies. Some companies hire people just to do that. (I'd love that job. Facebooking all day and getting paid for it!) The idea is to see where they're doing badly and make the necessary improvements. So, I'm thinking of going public and naming the company and sharing my 
experiences. Perhaps after that I could email them a link to my Facebook page!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Preserving History

A couple of weeks ago Favourite Cousin mentioned that an article had been written about her house. Since she's in the U.S. and I'm in Australia and there was no on-line version of the article available she sent it to me snail mail. (Surprisingly, people still use that.) It arrived today.

Favourite Cousin and her husband built their dream home seven years ago. During the years prior, however, they had been collecting pieces from various demolitions and refurbishments around the city in which they live. By the time they were ready to build their dream home they had a barn full of stuff to go into it. Some items had to be put in before some of the building could be finished.

Their items range from fun and quirky things such as a brass medallion that once sat in the sidewalk of a downtown street to things which have a personal meaning to one or the other of them. Favourite Cousin's husband even has Al Capone's clock! That came when he bought a lot of three clocks because one of them had a personal meaning for Favourite Cousin; he found out later who one of the other clocks had belonged to.

They've hunted items out at antique stores, estate sales, auctions and by word of mouth. It's been a long slow labour of love which captivated both of them and finally came to fruition many years later. They're happy to be preserving some of the history of their city, too.

What they've also done - which may not have been their intention - is to essentially use recycled items to build, furnish and decorate their home. A gazillion brownie points for that! They have their project and I have mine but there has been a point at which the two have intersected and this is it.

I'd love to see their home and hear the stories of everything in it. Maybe one day I will. In the meantime I'm thinking some secondhand glass jars might just be a viable plastic substitute. They may even have a story of their own to tell.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Plastic Footprints

Last night I returned to French classes after a three month break. One of my friends greeted me and then told me about a book he'd just read as if we were resuming a conversation we'd been having the day before. In a sense we were resuming a conversation because he knows about Footprints and often tells or sends me information he thinks I may be interested in. More often than not, he's right.

The book he read was about a woman's attempt to live a year without plastic. I jumped on Google as soon as I got home and came up with Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel. I also found a Melbourne woman, Gina Pendergast, who is trying to live a plastic free life. The link to her blog is here A Plastic Free Year. I'm not entirely sure which one my friend was talking about but both are interesting. My brain was fried after two hours of French so I only skimmed read bits of both but look forward to following both blogs.

A plastic free life is pertinent to Footprints. People seem to approach it for two different reasons or a mixture of the two. There seems to be growing evidence that plastic is dangerous to our heath. Furthermore, waste plastic is dangerous to the environment, particularly marine life. Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

We've taken a wider approach; we're attempting to reduce our waste, plastic being one of them. I'm aware of the health risks and have been trying to slowly move across to glass food storage containers. As I've mentioned before my choice at the supermarket would always be more packaging if it came from an ethical company. The ethics outlined in the Ethical Consumer Guide also take environmental record into consideration. I would rather buy something more heavily packaged if the company producing it was kinder to the environment. Heavy packaging invariably means plastic.

Plastic is everywhere! It isn't just in things we discard, it's in just about everything we buy/own. I honestly don't know how one would get around that and that is why I'm keen to follow these blogs. If I can cut down on it, I would like to.

I'm fortunate to live in a state where plastic bags are no longer used in grocery stores, unless one pays for them. That eliminates all those bags which left alone in a drawer breed! I have my fruit and veggies delivered and the company doesn't use many plastic bags. The ones they do use get reused here. I use them for fruit and veggies again, or to line small rubbish bins. I'm even slowly re-stuffing the dog's big pillow after the insert had to be thrown out; I'm using plastic bags for that.

Teenage Daughter is given meals twice each week from her work place. They always come home in plastic take away containers. I think it would contravene health regulations if she were to ask for them to be put in a used one brought from home or, even better, in a glass one from home. We reuse the containers. I'd prefer not to because I want to move away from plastic but they're just the right size to send meals to my frail, aged father-in-law in.

The problem is that the seed has now been sown in my head. I've spent a good deal of the morning as I ran errands thinking about all the ways I could further cut back on plastic purchase and usage. I'll keep you posted on those as I learn more from others' blogs.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Footprints and Appetite

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to hear 'Conversations' with Richard Fidler on the ABC. Remember him from the Doug Anthony Allstars? Well, he's now a grown up journalist who gets to interview interesting people. One such interesting person was writer, Daniel Akst, who's written a book entitled, We Have Met the Enemy. I heard part of the interview and knew I had to download the podcast to hear the rest.

Rather than rehash the book, here is a link to Daniel Akst's website and what he's written about the book; far better in his words than mine.  We Have Met the Enemy. If you like what you read, you might want to go to the podcast at

So, how is lack of self control relevant to Footprints? In some cases, highly relevant and in other cases, not at all. The areas that Daniel Akst cites in his article about the book (above link) are food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, procrastination and sex, particularly in relation to extramarital relations.

Food: many of you have read my supermarket shopping adventures and know that I try to buy only ethical and eco-friendly brands. That won't make any difference to lack of self-control when it comes to eating it. However, a whole swag of overeating type foods just don't make it into the trolley in the first place. That sets up a safety mechanism against overeating. As you've also read in the past very few fast outlets are an option either. It is possible to overeat on Footprints but it's harder.

Alcohol: alcohol is increasingly concentrated in the hands of multi-national companies that have bad track records. There are very few brands of beer or spirits that I'm comfortable buying. Husband loves his wine and does the wine buying through a club. I don't think he has any idea of who actually owns the wineries he's getting wine from. That's a concern to me, particularly when we live in a region replete with wineries. I suppose if the wine were from a local owned winery the Footprints deterrent on uncontrolled drinking might be the environmental damage done from the production. To drink less would be to buy less which would have an impact on the supply/demand chain.

I don't really think that being on Footprints would have much of an impact on drugs, gambling, procrastination or extramarital sex. However, if I procrastinate I'm less likely to get my blog written ...

There is also a certain lack of self-control attached to conspicuous consumerism. To me, that has a strong link to Footprints. It is very difficult for us to buy for the sake of it. Before we buy, we need to research whether or not we can get it second-hand and, if not, what brands are the lesser of the evils. When faced with neither option we need to decide if we really need the item and if not, how it can be substituted. If we still need to buy the item after all that we have to research which brand will last the longest so the need to replace it is less frequent.

It sounds very constraining but I find a freedom in it. I like what we're doing and find it fun and liberating.


Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Hip to be a Hippy

Apparently Husband and I are hippies. That is according to the current generation of teenagers and young people.

Teenage Son just came back from a camp. One of his leaders noticed his earring and asked him how long his ear had been pierced. He replied that he’d had it done when he was about eight. She then asked if it had been okay with Husband and me or if he’d had to be persistent in his request. He told her that we’d let him immediately. She decided that that made us cool. I’m not really sure how. I’ve just never subscribed to the bourgeois idea that there is anything wrong with piercings or outrageous hairstyles. I have to confess, though, that I’m not a huge fan of mullets. They tend to brand people which is something I don’t like.

On the camp, Teenage Son did a program in which they talked about the ethics or non-ethics of chocolate. He went on to spontaneously educate the other campers and some of the leaders about the Ethical Consumer Guide and which companies were unethical. When asked about his knowledge he told people about the Footprints Project. Not only were we then considered cool but hippies, as well.

The summer of love occurred when I was about four years old. We didn’t live in San Francisco and I don’t really remember it. My parents, however, were activists. That being the case, I was exposed to hippies and their ideology. As the hippy era waned and we grew into the 1970’s I decided I wanted to be a hippy when I grew up. Too bad for me I’d missed the boat!

I don’t consider myself a hippy; I don’t believe they exist anymore. I believe they were a group in a moment in history. However, if anyone wants to consider me one because of Footprints that’s a compliment I’m prepared to take.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Conspicuous Consumerism

I hate going anywhere near large regional shopping centres, or even into the city, during the school holidays. They're so full inside that it's almost impossible to find a parking place outside. To me that represents conspicuous consumerism at its worst. I realise that my local big shopping centre also houses a cinema and a bowling alley which accounts for some of the crowd but by no means all of it. Twice each year I'm forced to go to town or Marion or both during the school holidays. During the summer holidays Teenage Son wants to spend any Christmas/Chanukah money he received and during the winter holidays he wants to spend birthday money. Consequently, last week I took him to Marion. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. That's not to say I enjoyed the experience by any means. I enjoyed the time with Teenage Son, however.

The first stop was JB hifi where he bought some DVD's. I can't point the finger at him because, while I waited for him to go through the checkout, I noticed the DVD of Nirvana unplugged going out for $10. All thoughts of Footprints were forgotten as I raced towards the checkout myself clutching my beloved Kurt Cobain.

We then went to the ABC shop to look at Dr Who paraphernalia. Have I ever mentioned that it's "chic to be geek" and that my son is very cool by that definition? I swooned over a Richard Armitage DVD but resisted his dark, smouldering sexuality. After all, I was clutching Kurt Cobain. Teenage Son couldn't find anything he wanted so we went to Games World instead where he bought both Dr Who and Big Bang Theory paraphernalia. There is an awful lot of stuff out there probably made in sweatshops to help us fulfil our need to collect meaningless things that go with our favourite TV shows and movies. *shiver* There were many people in there proving that it is indeed chic to be geek these days!

We then proceeded to Kmart where he bought Big Bang Theory and Harry Potter posters. Quite clearly books and shows aren't enough. As long as all the extra stuff continues to be bought it will continue to be manufactured. At this stage we're still part of that.

Lastly we went to my favourite shop, Typo. I'm sure it has no ethical sourcing policy but when I'm there I forget about that and think about how much I NEED a laptop cover with a picture of the Eiffel Tower on it. Fortunately I was able to resist. I may not be so lucky next time...

Both children are away this week so one would think I'd be able to avoid Marion. Husband is on holiday and we went to the movies yesterday. All I can say is that we got our exercise for the day walking from where we parked!

School goes back on Monday and I'm hoping that, if I need to go to Marion, it will be quieter. What I'm really hoping, however, is that I don't need to go there and that I can find the things I want at the Salvos. Or maybe rethink whether I need them at all.


Eating and Shopping Ethically on Holiday

This will be my last post about our Sydney holiday. We've been back for over a week now and I'm bound to start to forget small details soon! As I mentioned previously Husband and I stayed in an apartment. We bought groceries so we could have some meals there and eat some out.

After my arrival I went in search of the Coles Husband had given me directions to. He gave me great directions except for the fact that he told me it was on the ground floor of the World Tower. After wandering around aimlessly for quite some time I found it in the basement. By then I was starting to feel a little hungry. Our apartment was surrounded by wonderful restaurants and the smells that followed me on that short walk to Coles got the gastric juices flowing.

I wasn't happy to have to shop at one of the duopoly. Once there, however, I stuck to products that I know to be ethical. I bought them in smaller sizes so there'd be less food wastage. Unfortunately that meant more packaging.

One of the annoying things about my metabolism is that I can go from a little peckish to feeling faint and disorientated from hungry in a short space of time. After emerging from Coles at dinner time I'd reached the second state of being and needed to get some dinner into me asap. That being the case I walked past several lovely little eating places, unsure of how long it would take to be served, and walked into Nando's where I had dinner in hand in less than ten minutes. Ooops, a multinational dinner.  It wasn't my proudest moment but I gulped down that chicken wrap and chips greedily.

The next day Husband arrived and we made up for my bad girl excesses of the previous evening by having lunch out at a local French patisserie.

Back to bad the next day with lunch at The Hard Rock Cafe. That was my decision - again. It wasn't due to hunger this time. It was based on the same premise as our visit to Madame Tussaud's. I wanted to be able to add eating at a Hard Rock Cafe to a metaphoric list of life milestones. Okay, I guess that means I'm sheltered and don't have much of my life but I've eaten at a Hard Rock Cafe.

The next two days we ate at small local places again. I've already mentioned the dodgy lift up to the Japanese restaurant. It was warm and inviting inside on a cold wet day. Husband and I were the only people in there who were not Asian. I thought that was a pretty good endorsement. We were also the only people over the age of 25. As we sat down to a late lunch around 2.30 students began to stream in for afternoon tea.

A Korean meal followed the next day. It was another small place filled with Asian customers. We weren't disappointed; it was really good. The fire and spice of the Korean kimchi perfectly complimented the blander flavours of the Japanese from the previous day.

Being on holiday we took more liberties with our food choices. We bought snacks and chocolates where we would have forgone them at home. We bought them at the supermarket and stuck with ethical brands. We felt like we were on holiday but remained, where possible, conscious of the footprint we were leaving.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Eco-friendly Transportation

Husband and I did better on the CO2 emissions from vehicles in Sydney than we do in Adelaide. We live out in the mortgage belt where public transport has not kept up with population growth. Each time services are cut, ours are the ones hit the hardest. My local IGA is within walking distance but anything beyond that calls for a car trip. Husband is a sales rep so he does a lot of driving around. Being away gave us a break from that.

I flew to Sydney by myself. Of course when I booked my ticket I made sure I bought the carbon offset option, as well. Upon arrival – because I didn’t really know where I was going – I took a taxi to the apartment. I had a charming taxi driver who ripped me off big time. This was my third trip to Sydney in five years so I have a fairly good idea of how much it costs to go from the airport to the city and he charged me double. I’m not sure how it happened but it put me off using taxis. Husband flew in next day and didn’t get ripped off. That’s probably because he goes to Sydney so often he told the driver exactly how to get from the airport to the apartment.

Our apartment was near Chinatown and Darling Harbour, as well as the World Tower shopping centre. That being the case we didn’t need to use any transport to get to Madame Tussaud’s, the Powerhouse Museum or the supermarket. On the evening the children performed at the Opera House we caught a taxi there and back. The day we went to Sydney Tower we caught the monorail and then walked back the apartment – with aching legs! Husband did the walk twice since he left his camera behind and had to walk back to try to find it. The good news is that some honest person handed it in to the Concierge. I didn’t mind the idea of losing the camera but I was mortified to think we might have lost all our Madame Tussaud’s pictures. We took a taxi to see the children perform at Angel Place but had a lovely walk back to the apartment. By that time there was a small improvement in the condition of the legs – either that or they’d gone numb.

The day we left we took a shuttle bus to the airport. That was quite an adventure since the driver was obviously mad as a hatter. She swerved in and out of lanes, swore at other drivers and pedestrians and nearly took out one of the latter. That being said, the pedestrian didn’t have right of way... The shuttle was cramped and uncomfortable. I nearly had a panic attack but chose to try to view it as an adventure instead. Nevertheless, I was relieved to make it to the airport alive. Part of the adventure was a young tourist chatting up the girl next to him. That’s fine – they were both young back packers. I certainly did my share of chatting up young men when I was a young traveller. However, his voice was really loud so everyone on the small cramped shuttle got to hear all about how he said pop instead of soda and had failed a uni paper due to wrong sub-classifications. Riveting stuff.

The next time I go to Sydney I think I’ll try the train from the airport to the city...


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Upstairs, Downstairs.

Space is at a premium in many places and it makes sense to build up. I hadn’t really thought that much about it until we were in Sydney last week. In fact, I don’t think I would have thought about it there either had we not been evacuated from our apartment one evening.

Husband and I were sitting relaxing after a day of sightseeing when we got the message to evacuate the building. Our apartment was on the 31st floor and the lobby was on the 10th. There were a lot of stairs for us to descend. By the time we got to the bottom I had a severe case of jelly legs. Once out on the street we were told we could go back in because it was false alarm. Tell that to my legs. The next morning my calves and quads were so sore I could barely walk. That speaks volumes about my level of strength and fitness I know but that’s for an as yet unwritten poem entitled, “Ode to a Weak and Unfit Blogger”, not for here.

I decided that, if there was another evacuation, I would take my chances staying in the building and waiting for a sexy fireman to rescue me because there was no way I was going to walk down all those stairs again. Ever. There was no need, however, as we were left in peace for the rest of the trip. We took the lift up and down for the rest of the trip. I was doing that Footprints no no before my legs expired and would continue to do so. The building we stayed in was very tall and full of guests; I imagine the electricity used in just the lifts was enormous and I definitely contributed to that one. Except, of course, during the “Great Evacuation of 2012”.

The day after – when my legs were sore but not yet at their worst – we went to the Powerhouse museum. It is on three levels and one can use stairs, escalators or lifts. Under normal circumstances I would have taken the stairs. Unfortunately, pain precluded me from doing so. I opted for the escalators because they are moving whether I’m on them or not. That way, I didn’t feel like I was contributing to the power consumption.

We ate lunch in a little noodle restaurant in Chinatown which was upstairs. There were no stairs in sight, only a dodgy and rickety looking and sounding lift. Normally the lift would have made me anxious; that day I was glad I had no choice. I guess we could have eaten elsewhere but we were famished after a few hours in the museum and in no mood to shop around. Furthermore, my legs were too sore for any more walking.

The next day we went to the Sydney Tower. We took the monorail. One has to go up to get to the monorail station. Again I was in so much pain – worse actually than the day before – that I had to use the lifts. I felt like a very bad girl. Of course, in the Tower itself the lift is the only way to the top. Each lift is packed full of people for the ascent so I didn’t feel too guilty. Coming down was worse because Husband and I took one by ourselves.

That night we went to see our children perform at Angel Place Recital Hall. We came in downstairs and had to go up. I again took the lift with no apologies. There was, however, someone else in there with me so I felt a little less guilty. Husband was so embarrassed he took the stairs shaking his head in disbelief at my wimpiness. I’m going to remind him of it the next time he has a man cold. I walked down later, feeling very self-righteous and saying “ouch” with each step. By then I’d been shown up by my friend’s dad who has trouble getting around but still managed to get up the stairs.
The last stairs I had to face were the ones at our own airport upon our arrival home. Again I opted for the escalator.

Had I not had sore legs I would have taken the stairs automatically at most of those places without even thinking about it. The exceptions would have been in our apartment building, at the Tower and in Chinatown where we couldn’t see stairs. The upside of it was that I learnt two things. First of all, strong limbs shouldn’t be taken for granted and, second, there are a lot of places where we need to make the choice in our lives each day whether we’re going to take stairs, escalators or lifts. I’m going to opt for the stairs to keep my contribution to carbon emissions lower and build up some strength in my calves and quads!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Sydney Trip - Part One

Last week I went to Sydney for a few days. The main purpose of the trip was to watch my children perform. Husband came too and we managed to sneak in a couple of touristy things as well.

The trip got me thinking about entertainment. It seems that, as long as humans have existed, they have sought out and engaged in entertainment. As a species we love to watch and play sports, create and listen to or read stories, draw and paint and look at Art, dance, sing and act. The forms of entertainment around these days bear little resemblance to those of our early ancestors but they still fulfil that need we have.

The touristy things Husband and I did were, in some cases, forms of entertainment. We walked around Darling Harbour, went to Madame Tussaud’s, wandered around the Powerhouse Museum and went to the top of the Sydney Tower.

Yesterday I went on a hypothetical journey about what would happen if stores engaged in enormous boycotts. That, however, is not really what Footprints is all about. It’s about what my family is doing to live as ethically as possible. Today I want to look at some of what we did and how ethical it was. I’m going to specifically focus on the places listed above.

I really liked Darling Harbour. What I liked the most were the fountains. There was one in particular where jets of water on both sides created an archway of water. As I admired them I wondered whether they used a pump to minimize water consumption. I then thought, however, if they did, that the pump probably used electricity. Husband suggested that evaporation would mean periodic topping up of the water. The fountain was going to be there whether I was or not. Furthermore, since I wasn’t consuming it, my admiration of it was not leading to any supply and demand. I figured that my coming to Darling Harbour and admiring it would have no impact whatsoever.

Husband was lukewarm on Madame Tussaud’s. It was purely my idea. I wanted to go there at least once in my life and thought that Sydney was the one I was most likely to be able to get to. Why wait and never end up going? I don’t have a bucket list but going to Madame Tussaud’s felt like it was something I could say I’d done in my life. It far exceeded our expectations. It was so much fun. Husband ended up having a ball. Photography with the wax models was encouraged and props were provided. I suspect the whole thing was an environmental no-no. There were lights and loud music. Furthermore, all that wax and paint can’t be good. To be honest, I’d do it again. A big cross on the Footprints report card for that one. There would be supply and demand with Madame Tussaud’s. It is a ticketed place; it stays open because people visit it. By going and admitting I’d go again I’m contributing to the problem.

Another day we spent several happy hours in the Powerhouse museum. Museums are interesting. They do use electricity and preservation chemicals. However, not only do they entertain us, they teach us. I learnt so much at the Powerhouse Museum it made my head spin. Jury’s still out on this one. I’m loathe to write anything negative about visiting museums; I’m a History major.

Sydney Tower! Once up there it’s a panoramic view of Sydney. It’s really only the short 4D cinema experience and the lifts that I can find to condemn. So I was happy with the experience from a Footprints point of view. Furthermore, we travelled there by monorail which was running regardless of whether we were on it or not. We wanted to do so because it’s going to be disbanded. When we finished at the Tower we walked back to our apartment.

What I also found interesting about our trip in terms of entertainment was how much more we used our computers or watched TV in our apartment there. Since we weren’t working – either at work or around the house – when we were having down time at the apartment Husband and I sat on our devices plugged into Facebook. In all fairness, there were pictures of the children’s adventures being regularly uploaded. Nevertheless, the amount of device charging we did exceeded what we’d do at home. Oh dear.