Tuesday, 28 February 2017


I aspire to a 'zero waste' lifestyle, but I'm not there yet.  One major obstacle is plastic, a subject on which my mind wandered onto this blog a few posts back.  Where I live in Bury, there's a great vegetable market, though very little of what it sells there seems to be locally produced (local readers please correct me if I'm wrong). When you take 'food miles' into account, as well as, you know, the actual cost, it still seems as if it's better to buy from my local Co-op, just across the road. I'll set aside for now the fact that every single time I shop there they ask me "do I have a Co-op Card?" (no) followed immediately by "are you interested in becoming a member?" (NO) for the sake of convenience (however advantageous corporate loyalty schemes may be, the idea just makes me feel ill) but I also have to balance this against the unsustainable obsession all supermarkets have with wrapping absolutely everything they sell in at least one layer of plastic. This annoys me greatly and I've been scrupulously dividing my waste according to Bury Council's recycling stipulations (Bury Council aspire to be a zero waste local authority themselves, which is great, though I don't know yet if that means what they think it means) but this obviously pales into semi-significance when weighed against the fact that recycling is a far from perfect substitute for just not producing waste to begin with.

Tuesday is also writing day

My book, which has the working title, 'The Vegan Imperative' is coming along slowly, oh so slowly, but surely, I think.  You may recall a few weeks back I decided that Monday would be my writing day.  No matter what, every Monday I spend some time working on my book.  It's not a difficult promise to keep, vaguely defined as it is (five minutes, after all, counts as "some time") but I'm pleased to say I've managed to do so through January and February.  I have about eight to ten thousand words down, and they're shaping themselves into some kind of order.

But this isn't really enough, so I've decided that from today onwards (happy Pancake Day, if you like that sort of thing) Tuesday is going to be a writing day as well.  Yesterday I got a few paragraphs together explaining the Cambrian explosion (as much to myself as any future reader - evolutionary biology is hardly my area of expertise) and found myself tumbling down the rabbit hole of scientific research into such obscure matters as how and why the oxygen content of the atmosphere facilitated the evolution of eukaryotic life, the 'evolutionary arms race' that comes with the emergence of predation, as well as spending more time than I probably needed to pondering the more esoteric meanings of photosynthesis.  (Can you eat light?)  Writing a book is hard work, especially with a brain as scattered as mine, and with enormous gaps in my knowledge concerning the scientific lines of thought I want to follow, much research is needed.  I suppose if I can explain these things to myself I should be able to explain them to readers, too.

So all this requires more than one day a week.  It will probably require more than two, but for now that's as much as I can realistically afford.  It's snowing outside, and I need to top up my electric meter.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Everyday Things You Don't Really Need At All #1: Washing Up Liquid

I've always had a soft spot for those statistics you hear about how much of your life is occupied with the utterly mundane.  You spend one year of your life sitting on the toilet.  Six months in queues (not including the five months spent 'on hold').  Eleven years watching television.  Five years doing housework.  There's any number of listicles out there to scare and/or inspire you into spending more time doing things you love, always wished you had the time to do, or just doing the things that don't make you long for the sweet release of death.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

"I have everything I need"

Say these words to yourself, right now: "I have everything I need".  I'm confident that if you're reading them (maybe on your smartphone?) it's probably true.  You have everything you need.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Deep Breaths and How to Take Them

I'm thinking a lot about breathing this week. What prompted this was my annual asthma review on Monday with a very enthusiastic practice nurse, far more enthusiastically anti-asthma than I've encountered in some years. I've suffered from asthma all my life, so these reviews have become routine, if not an irritation - yeah, I have asthma, it's a chronic condition, treatable but incurable, shit happens, take your inhalers and move on. As such when the nurse asked me if I thought my asthma was "well controlled", I said yes. According to the working medical definition, she told me, no it isn't.