Sunday, November 30, 2008

kombucha crisis

If any one can answer either of the two questions below, I will be thankful as long as I shall live:

1. Why is it that a perfectly sealed bottle of pristine-looking kombucha can turn out to be flat?
2. Are there any methods of detecting the defect kombuchas?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hell for Leather

Check out this informative documentary, Hell for Leather, which explores the high cost of cheap leather production on human health, water, and the ecosystem. Click here to watch.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

soy milk and Manolos: reflecting on one year of veganism

Today marks the day that, one year ago, I began my vegan transformation. I have to say, I am still excited and happy as ever to be leading an animal-free dietary lifestyle. I have reduced my carbon footprint, improved my digestion, and experience overall feelings of heightened wellness and energy.

Although today is a day of celebration, it is also a day of reflection for me--and honesty. While eating vegan has been a simple and extremely enjoyable transition, I cannot say the same about dressing vegan. I know that this difficulty stems from my own class privilege and materialism, and so I have been shy to explore the challenge on my blog, or to anyone but a circle of close friends. However, I have decided it is time to come out of the closet. The shoe closet, that is.

When I first developed a vegan dietary lifestyle, I did not jump on the vegan wardrobe bus, but instead told myself that lasting change is incremental, and I needed to transition according to my own comfort level to achieve lasting change. While I certainly decreased the leather shoes and bags I bought, I still made those guilt-ridden purchases, albeit more sporadically. And I felt terrible. But then I got to wear my new purchases, and I felt fantastic.

Here's the thing. It's very easy for me to look at a hamburger and think "dead tortured cow." But when it comes to--let's be honest--Marc Jacobs and Manolo Blahnik, the connection is a little fuzzy. I certainly learned this from my ex-boyfriend, but when it comes to love--or what/whom we think we love--we only see what we want to see. And I have to admit it. I love shoes.

So what's the problem? Non-leather shoes certainly exist, but they do not encompass my classist perception as to what qualifies as an amazing shoe, or a well designed shoe, or an artistic shoe, or a well-made shoe...let's get real: 99% of vegan heels are fugly as hell. I know Natalie Portman has paved the way a bit, but her line just about touts the price, and sadly not the aesthetics, of other high-fashion lines.

Despite the agony I feel, a few months ago I decided I was ready to make the shoe/bag commitment (although I also decided that I am not a vegan when it comes to waste, and so I will keep my prior leather collection). However, I decided not to blog about it until I passed the real test: a Barney's shoe sale. While I haven't hit the big B in a while, I did make it out of a Marc Jacobs shoe sale alive...although many cows did not. And so here I am, being honest about my whole superficial dilemma.

It really does pain me that over-priced wardrobe items are interfering with my own ethical convictions. On the plus side, I have kept my promise to myself for the past few months, despite many tempting offers (insert well-dressed mother here). I also need to realize that I have been superficial my entire life, and only socially conscious for a couple years now. In all honesty, it is extremely difficult to un-do what has been programmed inside of me since birth. Why, my very first pair of high heels purchased in the 6th grade were a fabulous Yves Saint Lauren strappy black sandal that still sit in my closet today for memory's sake. Mama didn't raise no fool--when it came to shoes, my feet had only the very best.

So here I am today. Torn. Will my commitment only last so long as my old Chanels are still in wearable condition? Luckily, leather lasts longer than a human lifetime because it's treated with chemicals that later run off into the soil and poison our I should be good for a while. I also cannot ignore the voice of my mother in my background (Louis Vuitton makes canvas heels).

But this only raises greater philosophical questions: why do I need many pairs of extremely over-priced shoes to satisfactorily complete my ensembles? Because, come on now, one is never enough. I have black pointed-toe heels, black round-toe heels, black wedge heals, black strappy sandal heels, black sling-back heels...the list goes on. And this is only one color.

So here I am. Vegan and aspiring life-style activist...but today I am coming out of the closet. I am still materialistic when it comes to my wardrobe. For all of my reusable shopping bags and aluminum water bottles and compulsive unplugging of unused appliances and vintage this and that, my closet is abusive to the environment.

And since I am being brutally honest, let me just clean out my entire closet. Last week, I bought a fantastic faux-fur jacket from Marc Jacobs--a vegan wet dream, really--but I couldn't escape being haunted by the label. Made in China.

I am just going to sidestep the whole international low-wage labor debate (worker exploitation/humanitarian crisis versus providing jobs to the jobless/growing economies in the 3rd world) and go straight to a fact that is undeniable: it makes no sense environmentally to ship my fantastic faux fur jacket across the world. It might not be a tortured dead animal who required a taxing amount of energy to birth, transport, raise and slaughter--but its an artificial piece of crap that literally just shat carbon emissions across the ocean. And I love it so much.

I do not really have a conclusion for this piece. Suffice it to say that I am acutely aware of my own materialism and class privilege, and the subsequent intersections with over-consumption and waste. Also, suffice it to say that I am deeply engaged in introspective work to challenge and question why it is I do the things I do, and why the things that make me happy really make me happy.

And to be honest, I am also wondering why I carry the burden of the earth on my shoulders, and think that I must be eco-perfect in every single way possible. After all, I do flirt with nihilism and question reality quite often.

This is not something that can be resolved or magically disappear over night. It's one of those life work things. But I thought I would be honest and open up a discussion.

terrorist attacks in India

NEW DELHI — Coordinated terror attacks struck the heart of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, Wednesday night, killing dozens in machine-gun and grenade assaults on at least two five-star hotels, the city’s largest commuter train station, a historic movie theater and a hospital. There were unconfirmed reports of hostages having been taken at one of the hotels. Mumbai police control room said at least 75 people had died and 240 injured, according to preliminary reports.(full article)

Monday, November 24, 2008

inauguration irritation

I just received an email from my congressional office, explaining that inauguration tickets will be distributed according to lottery.

Excuse me? Distribution should be on a first-come, first-serve basis. I requested my tickets very far in advance, and am annoyed that my probability of receiving a ticket is now dramatically reduced by this lottery.

200 tickets for 2,000 people. Fabulous.

At least I get a vacation either way.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A note to my readers

Dear readers,

On January 9, The Colonic is turning 2! I can hardly believe it myself. In preparation for The Colonic's birthday party, I was hoping that you could drop me an email with your favorite post, or what you like about The Colonic, or any other comments you may have. You can email me at

As always, thank you for being a part of my blog.

The Colonic
I wish someone had told me earlier that most things in life can be better understood by seeking to answer for oneself the purpose of art, and the purpose of government.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

food and god

As I was spreading my organic sodium-free peanut butter on my organic low-sodium bread, and sipping on my multi-green raw, organic kombucha, I couldn't help but wonder: is this my god? Is this the thing that really makes no sense, but I need to believe in it to organize my life?

Although I can't be certain, I don't think my longevity would be compromised if my bread had a little more salt in it, but I have this unshakable faith in the most pure and minimalist forms of food as my own physiological savior.

Granted, as a vegan, I feel stronger and healthier and have more energy--but I certainly take health far beyond veganism alone. These extra steps don't necessarily yield results that I can see, but it feels so good to believe. Actually, I need to believe.

So maybe health really is my god.

Friday, November 21, 2008

vegan treat

Dark chocolate sorbet has just knocked off frozen chocolate covered bananas as my favorite vegan goody from Trader Joe's.

Really, if you love chocolate, this is a must-try.

Sarah Palin and dead turkeys

As for this whole Sarah Palin interview in front of slaughtered turkeys, I am a bit confused. To start with, I don't know what this woman does in her free time that she is chilling on a dead turkey farm. But what confuses me is how this clip has been received culturally.

I just want to know why the anchor feels the need to give an ominous preface to the coverage, or why the turkey guts were blurred. For vegans and vegetarians, I would understand--but to the omnivorous world, I am just baffled. Why should people who have no qualms eating dead animals be squeamish about the slaughter process? If animals are meant to die and be eaten, should you all be at peace with it? You know what you are eating is a turkey, why can't you acknowledge how it has to die for your palette? And if you can't, maybe you should reconsider why you are eating turkeys.

Why are the omnivores phobic of watching their dinner die?

Cloning the woolly mammoth

Michael Crichton wasn't so far off.

Despite it's extinction over 10,000 years ago, the woolly mammoth could be making a comeback soon. Scientists are slowly collecting more genetic information on the ancient elephant, and with a complete genome, cloning is plausible.

Stephan Schuster, a Penn State University biochemistry professor and co-author of the research explains, "This really is the first time that we have been able to study an extinct animal in the same detail as the ones living in our own time."

full article

the first human wind pipe transplant

PARIS — Physicians at four European universities have successfully transplanted a human windpipe, using stem cells from the recipient’s own bone marrow to reline a donor trachea and prevent its rejection by her immune system (full article)

child porn and free speech

I have been brewing up an in-depth blog on free speech and censorship, but while it's baking, let me get a simple issue off of my chest.

Advocates of censorship generally lay their claim on the premise that the dangers of completely unregulated speech allow atrocities such as child pornography to run rampant. Oh, those heathen civil libertarians who want to protect free speech!

I would like to clarify that the aforementioned argument simply does not fly. Child pornography is unethical because it exploits a minor who cannot give consent--therefore kiddie porn is out the window before it can even enter the domain of free speech discussion.

elementary school renamed for Obama

ABC News reports:
A New York elementary school has been re-named in honor of President-elect Barack Obama. Ludlum Elementary School in Long Island's Hempstead Union Free School District was re-named at a board meeting Thursday, at the request of numerous school students. (full article)

meat and deadly intestinal germs

A potentially deadly hospital germ called Clostridium difficile has been found in 40% packaged meats sampled from Arizona.

This raises the question if these germs are being transmitted through food.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims there is not yet any scientific evidence that the presence of C. diff in meat causes illness in humans. Full story

Thursday, November 20, 2008

disabled man disabled from further law suits

After filing over 400 lawsuits under the Americans With Disabilities Act, a federal judge barred a disabled man from future ADA litigation, claiming his actions were extortion.

Is enforcing the ADA really frivolous litigation, or is it just a strong push for access on behalf of the disabled?

Get the full scoop here.

Eharmony to offer same-sex matches

The Pasadena-based dating website, heavily promoted by Christian evangelical leaders when it was founded, has agreed in a civil rights settlement to give up its heterosexuals-only policy and offer same-sex matches. (full article)

Bush, get out of office and leave women alone

Despite the fact that the Bush administration promised not to make any regulations past November 1st, Dubya has decided to impose new ultra right wing restrictions on female access to health care. According to Planned Parenthood:
The rule could allow health care organizations that receive federal funding to redefine abortion to include the most common forms of birth control — and then refuse to provide these basic services. For any health care provider to intentionally withhold information about widely embraced health care options from a patient is absolutely unconscionable under any circumstances. The federal government has no business funding providers who do not abide by this most fundamental standard of care.
Senator Clinton added:
"In the final days of his administration, the president is again putting ideology first and attempting to roll back health care protections for women and families. This HHS rule will threaten patients' rights, stand in the way of health care professionals, and restrict access to critical health care services for those who need them most. Senator Murray and I are standing up once again to the administration against this rule and will continue to fight for women's reproductive rights."
You can take action here

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

keep your kids out of my gym

I recognize that babies and small children have taken over. They are on our airplanes, restaurants, department stores, movie theaters, car washes, coffee shops and nail salons. In fact, wherever you go, chances are you will see one of those baby back packs, and odds are, the thing will be crying.

Fine. The babies have landed, and I have to listen to their noises wherever and whenever they may be. But I was not prepared for what happened today.

I was working out in the gym in my building, and some parent brings her tiny toddler to come play on the treadmill. WTF? Is there nothing sacred? Is there no such thing as adult space? The gym is my only true freedom. Keep your kid everywhere else.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Supreme Court rules in favor of US Navy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that military training trumps protecting whales in a dispute over the Navy's use of sonar in submarine-hunting exercises off the coast of southern California.
The divide of the Court is a real shocker: Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy joined onto Robert's opinion. Stevens did not join the majority opinion, but said that the lower courts failed to justify why they had sided with environmental groups. Breyer would have kept some restrictions in tact.

Ginsburg and Souter said oh hell no--the prospect of harm to marine life is sufficient in justifying limits on sonar.

dreading the v card

And no...I'm not talking virginity.

I'm talking veganism.

I have been a vegan for almost a year now (in about two weeks I hit the big 3-6-5), and lately I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on my transition. I can't help but wonder--why have some people had such a problem with it?

Whether the snide and loaded "why?" (eyes rolling, no less), descriptions such as "freak food," or monologues that include how "sad" my new life is, I'm just wondering...what the fuck is it to you?

I am not difficult in choosing a restaurant. I still go out to eat frequently with friends and family. I have never made a scene. I have never asked a family member to accommodate me. I never try and recruit vegans, but I do recommend food that I enjoy.

The only person whose palette I pressure is my father, and that is because he has a weight problem and is at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

Frankly, I get the impression that some people find my eating habits just plain annoying, and I will never understand why. I am not judgmental, I am no less social--and guess what? I am healthier than I have ever been, and have drastically reduced my carbon foot print. This is cause for celebration.

Please, stop projecting your shit on me. I know that cultural conformity is praised, but it should not be compulsory.

On the flip side, thanks to every one who has been supportive, taken a trip to RFD, or eaten a Big Maque.

Monday, November 10, 2008

2 trillion dollars and 0 transparency

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.
While the Federal Reserve might think that it is super cool in creating a rescue plan that did not need the approval of Congress (I really need to research the details of that one), it is super un-cool to spend 2 trillion dollars in tax-payer money and not disclose any information to the tax-payers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the D-O-E is D-U-M-B

Despite the fact that Yucca Mountain is over 20 years late in its completion (at the earliest), and despite the geological limits of the site due to fault lines and volcanic activity, the Department of Energy wants to expand Yucca Mountain as a repository for nuclear waste.

Not to mention the government told utility companies it would begin dumping their waste in 1998, and began collecting from them of one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour generated at their reactors. Alas, it is 2008 and the repository is not ready, leaving the United States with a tab of 11 billion dollars or more in commercial damages.

At least our President-elect thinks this is sketchy. I just hope the alternative solution is not found at the bottom of Alaska.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

3 lawsuits already filed against Prop 8

Lawyers for same-sex couples argued that the anti-gay-marriage measure was an illegal constitutional revision -- not a more limited amendment, as backers maintained -- because it fundamentally altered the guarantee of equal protection. A constitutional revision, unlike an amendment, must be approved by the Legislature before going to voters. (full article)
While I was horrified that Prop 8 passed in my own backyard, I can't help but look at the silver lining: this issue will finally be dealt with once and for all. If Prop 8 did not pass, we would continue to see it again and again. It might take some time, but let's just kill this once and for all in court.