Converting back to a green life, one week (and nap time) at a time

Week # 16 – Cars and Coffee

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April 22, 2014


Anyone who knows me also knows that I am a huge Star Trek nut. Any science fiction, fantasy, horror, revisionist history, (a.k.a. “genre”) books, magazines, TV or movies, I’m there.

One of my favourite “classic Trek” movies is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. A few years ago at Hal-Con (a local genre convention) I had the opportunity to hear Walter Koenig talk about what it was like to be running down the street in 1970s San Francisco with a black woman and his character’s Russian accent, asking the general public if they knew how to get to the local nuclear reactor.  If it hadn’t been for the fact they were filming a movie they likely would have been arrested! In fact, some of the individuals they encountered didn’t know they were filming a movie!

In any case, the plot of the movie is that the future Earth is under “attack” by something that seems to be communicating in humpback whale song, and the future Earth humpbacks have been extinct for a few hundred years.  I won’t tell you what happens in case you see the film someday, but let’s just say it’s an interesting and entertaining idea.

The sad thing is, life may imitate art. Humpback whales, along with their relatives the right, killer and blue whales, are currently listed under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. They were once hunted for oil and meat (and still are illegally hunted in parts of the world), and the whales may still be hit by ships travelling through their migration, breeding and feeding grounds. Their habitat is also impacted by human activities such as fishing, and oil & gas developments.

The Canadian government is looking at downgrading the humpback whale’s status from “threatened” to “species of special concern”. Some groups believe this reclassification is being made to facilitate further oil and gas activities in waters inhabited by humpbacks. SARA legislation specifically requires that “no person shall destroy any part of the critical habitat of any … listed threatened species.” So if a species is no longer listed as threatened, this piece of the legislation would not technically apply, allowing the oil & gas development to continue without concern to habitat or shipping lanes.

It burns me (no pun intended) that the very oil being collected is that which I am so dependent on to heat my home and operate our car. I’ve ranted on about our current difficulties going car-free in a previous post, so I won’t go there now. But the idea came up again this weekend as we planned a trip to visit my family for Easter.

The ABS/Traction system in our car seems to be on the fritz. I only discovered this on my way to pick up my daughter from daycare on Thursday. I was picking her up early because the daycare had called to say she was sick, and I was about to turn onto the bridge when the “service traction” alert appeared on the dash. The car had been handling funny – like when I stopped at a stop sign I heard a “clunk” when I put my foot on the brake, then when I went to pull away I put my foot on the gas and nothing happened, then the “low traction” alert appeared. This happened a few times, then the “service traction” appeared. So, I pulled over, stopped the car, turned it off, waited a minute, and turned it back on, just like it said to do in the manual conveniently stored in the glove compartment.  Unfortunately, when I turned the car back on, the traction/ABS was still not working properly. I tried to call the daycare to let them know I would be late, but the OnStar wouldn’t work either. I picked up my Blackberry with its almost dead battery to phone my husband on our cell phone, and he didn’t answer.

It was at this point I did absolutely nothing for the feminist movement. I had car trouble and there I am pulled over to the side of the road, 18-wheelers whizzing past, and I am sobbing hysterically. I finally got a hold of my husband on his work line, and he headed out to pick up our daughter while I carefully proceeded to the service station at the dealership where we purchased our car.

The earliest appointment they had for us was this morning. So the car is in the shop right now, which is why I am home blogging instead of sitting at work. I had brought a book with me and figured I would sit and read at a local coffee shop while I waited for the maintenance to be completed. But they said it would be at least an hour and the courtesy shuttle gave me a ride home so here I am.

I still might go for a coffee later to relax. I had booked the day off anyway to relax and regroup after a relatively busy streak at work. I don’t actually drink coffee, but I love to slowly sip a spicy Chai latte and nibble on a yummy cinnamon bun – they are my weaknesses.

I’ve decided that my next challenge will be to only frequent local coffee shops rather than chains.  There are some great coffee shops in Halifax, such as Local Joe, Humani-T Cafe, and Coburg Coffee House just to name a few.

Coffee production, like chocolate, can have devastating effects on natural habitats, through both the farming techniques used and the waste & pollution generated through production and consumption. I was surprised to learn that coffee is in the top five traded commodities, outranked only by oil. Many coffee producers and vendors are trying to make their coffee more sustainable through fair trade, organic, and rainforest alliance certifications. Supporting local shops which offer fair trade coffee can also help support the local economy.

The last time I went for coffee was to discuss outreach activities for an event I’m working with – 100in1 day Halifax. (I will save the exciting details of this event for another post!). But on this sunny day, Earth Day, I may forgo the excess consumption of extra calories and what amounts to material goods for my body, and instead go for a long walk, saving the gas I would use driving to yoga later – which is also a post for another day.

P.S. Rented a car to visit my parents. And the home-made Easter  chocolates were a huge hit :-)


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