My life, at the moment, in numbers

by
kitchenwitchery

Steve Glassman, the writer behind the wonderful Sunshine. Whimsy. Tacos. blog and a long-time friend, recently posted an entry about the current state of his life, via numbers. Since he encouraged others to share their stats, I went ahead and broke down my next 30 days.

From today, it will be:

1 day until my 43rd birthday.

2 days until Thanksgiving. Somewhere in between these two numbers, I must continue packing and make a feast.

9 days until the Boston Common Tree Lighting ceremony, an event I’m attending to boost my holiday spirits and as research for my latest novel.

13 days until the closing on the new house. Yikes!

14 days until the movers arrive at the rental to pick up our belongings. Everything must be packed, or else.

15 days until the movers drop off our belongings at the new house. Then, the massive job of unpacking begins.

18 days until I take a break from unpacking and return to working on my book.

25 days until I have to attack the thousands of emails that will have piled up during my less-than-relaxing vacation.

26 days until I return to work.

30+ days until Christmas Eve. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Manchester, N.H., looks like during the holidays. Will there be lots of light displays?

–Photo by Humusak2

November, an update in four parts

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Open Cardboard Box with Books on White Background

HO-HO, MERRY-MERRY: Normally, I’d be done with my Christmas shopping by now. I start putting my list together in January, begin purchasing items in July and complete the task by November 1st. That way, I don’t have to fight the crowds or worry about the bills that are due, and can just enjoy a stress-free holiday season.

But as we all know, 2016 was no ordinary year.

XMAS CARDS: Between the insanity of work, the election, job losses, illnesses, deaths, separations, a long search for a new house and more injuries/accidents/disappointments than I care to count, it’s no surprise that I’m less than jolly and really far behind in my holiday preparations. Although I’ve ordered our Christmas cards, they likely won’t be mailed until the middle of December; in the past, I’ve dropped them off at the post office on Black Friday.

XMAS PRESENTS: Due to our current financial situation, I’m also culling my annual gift-giving list to a handful people. If you normally receive a present from us, and do not get one this year, please don’t take offense. It’s not a reflection of our relationship status or affection. We’re just completely tapped out from the upcoming move. Hopefully, we can make up for it next year.

MOVING ON: Speaking of the move, M and I are about to purchase our first home. If all goes as planned, we’ll close on the house during the first week of December and spend the next week moving our stuff across the state.

Living apart these past few months has been incredibly difficult so you can imagine how excited we are by the prospect of being under the same roof again.

Neither of us has purchased a house before. Honestly, it’s not something we ever planned to do. But so far we’ve survived the insanity of applying for mortgages, searching the real estate listings, attending dozens of showings/open houses and the process of making — and losing — four bids.

In the end, we finally landed a house we wanted, and made it through the arduous process of revealing our entire financial history to strangers and dealing with the many deposits, inspections, appraisals, insurance assessments and mortgage proceedings. This week, while I’m packing like a mad fiend, we’ll receive the final bill for closing costs.

Ugh.

On the plus side, barring any complications, M and I will be spending Christmas in our new home together. Can’t wait!

–Photo by Vaniatos

Dear World: Paris was just the beginning

by
clovers

Each day, I make it a priority to share the latest environmental news, both at my “day” job and on social media. We are all residents of Earth, but as the creatures at the top of the food chain, we’re also the stewards of it. As such, it’s important to be aware of what’s happening to the planet and to understand the ramifications of our actions.

Alas, the news is not good.

Global temperatures are rising. Entire species of plants and animals are going extinct or dwindling in numbers. Weather events and droughts are becoming more extreme. Forests have been destroyed, water and air polluted and large swaths of land corrupted by industry. And, as the human population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, our natural resources have dwindled.

There is some hope.

Starting today, the climate change accords signed in Paris last December officially take effect. Under the agreement, 195 countries will enact an action plan to undertake rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. These nations’ leaders have committed to tracking their progress through a robust transparency and accountability system and strengthening societies’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change. They’ve also agreed to provide support for developing countries; tackle the loss and damage already associated with the adverse effects of climate change; enhance early warning systems and improve emergency preparedness; make agriculture more sustainable; and invest in renewable energy.

Of course, the Paris accords were not as stringent as many hoped they’d be. The agreement contained incremental changes, which many in the scientific community felt would not address the problems at hand, let alone the ones we will inevitably face in the future.

The deal maintained a voluntary system of pledges under which each country submitted its own goals to limit greenhouse gas emissions, yet failed to require any penalties for countries that did not live up to their end of the bargain. Even if all of the participating nations kept their promises, experts said their actions would lead to an expected warming of 3.5°C (6.3°F), far above the accords’ 1.5°C to 2°C (2.7°F-3.6°F) goal. The deal also didn’t consider how to handle the election of politicians, funded by the fossil fuel industry, who would seek to hinder the attainment of these benchmark goals.

In five years, world leaders will come back to the table. They’ll discuss the successes achieved (or failed to achieve) and set more ambitious targets for the future. Perhaps then, additional — and more concrete steps — will be put into place.

In the meantime, as members of the world community, we have a role to play as well. It is our job to stay informed, help business and political leaders achieve these goals and embrace even more productive ones. We must make an effort to alter our own habits in ways that benefit, rather than harm, the environment. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the immense nature of the problem that is climate change. But I’ve found that action, even when taken in small steps, can push us in the right direction and set an example for others.

Here are some ideas:

* Learn more about the world. Read trusted news sources, books and magazines that cover the environment and encourage other publications to dedicate resources to the topic. Travel, explore, be in nature. Discover how ecosystems work — and the ramifications of drastic change on the environment. Participate in cleanups in your neighborhood, forests or beaches.

* Vote. You have the ability to choose the people in power, both on a local and national level. If you don’t vote, you have no voice.

* Put your money where your mouth is. Invest in renewable energy sources. Consume fewer goods and buy local whenever possible. Use more energy efficient transportation options and appliances. Donate to reputable environmental groups. Use birth control. Adopt a pet and spay/neuter. Plant trees.

* Determine your carbon footprint, and if you can afford it, offset it. Urge individuals, businesses and governments to do so as well. Also consider taking steps to lighten your individual impact. In the interest of transparency, here’s mine:

carbon tax

* Change eating habits. Adopt a more plant-based diet. You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan (though either option may suit your lifestyle). Simply consume fewer meat products, particularly beef, and pay attention to what’s in your food. As writer Michael Pollan suggested: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

* Waste less. Instead of trashing items you no longer want, find ways to fix, recycle, reuse or donate them. Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away. Avoid using disposable plastic. Never litter.

* Educate the next generation. When I was a child, my town began a recycling program. At the time, recycling plastic, paper and cardboard was a completely foreign concept. Over time, though, it became a habit and then a way of life. If we teach future generations to embrace alternative energy sources and practice “greener” lifestyles, it will become second nature to them.

* Make your thoughts known. Write to companies and encourage them to change their business practices. If they won’t, take your business elsewhere. Sign petitions, attend protests, rally your community. Contact political representatives and members of the media. Share stories about the effects of climate change on social media sites, and offer your own solutions on how to make positive changes. Who knows? You may have the next big idea that could change the world.

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