Why I Participate In Earth Hour

(click the thumbnails of the photos in this post if you want to see bigger versions)

To truly understand the purpose of Earth Hour, you must first realize that it’s not just about one hour. It’s about the conversation it engages of saving the earth, conserving energy, how we use energy, and how we can help to prevent further waste of our resources. It’s about the reminder to be aware of what you do, and what you use. It’s about awareness. For me, it’s also about being a part of something that’s world wide. It’s about feeling that connection to like-minded people all across the globe. For 24 hours, as it rolls through each time zone, we’re connected for something POSITIVE. Not war, not hatred, not destruction, but for the preservation of OUR collective home.

I’m not an activist for anything (too extreme for my tastes), but if I was, it’d be for the earth and for animals. I try to do my part when I can, but I know I could do more. I could ride my bike more, I could recycle more, I could use less energy, I could be less ‘plugged in’, I could speak up more. We could all do more, but if we all do at least a little something it helps. Plant some trees, car pool, turn off the lights when you leave a room, conserve water, buy local, stop wasting bottles of water, and so on. We all know what we could do. There are so many options for people of ALL income levels (not everyone can shell out the funds for solar panels, or a hybrid vehicle), that there’s no excuse to not do at least a little SOMETHING for the benefit of our planet. Really, we could all do more.

That said, I’ve always tried to make Earth Hour kind of fun. I take the time to remember to disconnect. I spend far too much time looking at screens all day, and Earth Hour brings it all into perspective, and brings it all back to what’s important. I turn off EVERYTHING (aside from the fridge), and unplug what I can. No lights, no tv, no microwave, no stove, no computer, no phone, no driving, etc. Nothing that requires electricity or energy of any kind.

I started participating in Earth Hour in 2008. That year I just took a walk with my (now ex) b/f around the block. Across the street was a Starbucks, and I was delighted to see that they were participating in Earth Hour too! I paid cash, of course, and recycled my cup. It was only the 2nd year of Earth Hour, so not many people really knew much about it yet, so it was a bit disappointing to not see more of the neighbourhood involved. Either way, we still enjoyed a night walking around for an hour, and took the stairs (11 stories!) back to the apartment, so as to avoid the use of the elevator.

By 2009, I had developed a great circle of friends, who thankfully were also into Earth Hour, so I could ‘celebrate’ with even more folks. We gathered at a friend’s house for a candlelit night of Trivia Pursuit, and freeze dried astronaut food.  lol It was great, and I wish I could do it again.

2010 was my first Earth Hour in California, and my husband and I played cards for about an hour and a 1/2. It was a more subdued night, but fun, and still a great reminder of all the things I mentioned before about Earth Hour. It was a little weird being in a different time zone from everyone ‘back home’, since we now celebrated Earth Hour at different times!

This year I think we’ll end up playing cards again, or reading via candlelight since I have several books that I have yet to dig into. We don’t have a dining table, so a nice candlelit dinner isn’t really an option, and we don’t really have any board games (not for just 2 people especially).  ‘Beyond the Hour’ I think I’ll make it my goal to use up less electricity every month this year compared with the prior year. Our hydro bill shows use our monthly usage, so this will make it easy to track. We’ve already done it for March, which is great. We live in a very environmentally aware community, so there’s lots of inspiration around here on how to help our planet (more on that in future posts). I’ll also pledge to read more and disconnect more, waste less, and plant a tree again this year.

Earth Hour isn’t really about the Hour. It’s about the Earth.



It’s All English, or Is It?

Tomorrow Today I have a paper due for college.

Let’s read that one again…

Today I have a paper due for college.

WTF?! Once I get over the initial shock of that (mind you I did take 3 courses in the summer of ’08 that required some essay writing, so it hasn’t been THAT long) let me also point out that this is my first paper due in a college in the United States of America.  This means my Canadian usage of u in words such as favourite, neighbour or colour, and spellings of theatre and centre and so on with ‘re’ instead of ‘er’, have to be thoughtfully altered to fit the local spelling criteria. There are many other examples. Thankfully the ‘red squiggly line’ of spell checkers usually highlights the Canadian ‘error’, but I’ve taken to ignoring them or even adding them to my dictionary. It’s a piece of my identity, and I quite like it. It’s hard to give it up. I told my husband of my woes and he said something along the lines of telling them to suck it up and don’t drop the u. Easier said than done when you want to be graded fairly on a paper and not marked for spelling “errors”, even if I think it’s not right.

I don’t really understand the purpose behind the spelling differences, but a little Googling reveals some rumours that Benjamin Franklin had something to do with it, by altering some spellings to further differentiate America from Britain after the Declaration of Independence. *eyyyye roooll*. However, that may not have been the only reasons, since he really wanted to change (majorly) the spelling of the English language. See herehere and here for some info. This is also a really interesting guide to differences in American and British English. As a Canadian it’s even more confusing because we use a combination of both U.S. and U.K. spelling and language variations. I mean, the English language is screwed up enough as is, but I am glad it’s not as crazy as Ben Franklin wanted it.

So, back to the topic at hand. Most people wouldn’t realize that there’s a small language barrier, if we can call it that, between these two countries (Canada and the U.S.), but I guess other than a few spellings, terms and accents, there’s really nothing major. It’s not much different than someone from the southeast U.S., or northeast even, moving elsewhere in America and having to adjust to weird foods and new terms. Or, someone moving from the Maritimes to just about anywhere else in Canada (Quebec not included, since they’re a whole other world anyway). Moving from the U.K., NZ or Australia to America or Canada (or the other way around) would be a more drastic change, despite not learning a ‘new’ language entirely.  I think that showcases even more why I feel that I am an ‘invisible‘ immigrant here.


We Can All Talk About The Weather

Being a Canadian living in California, I encounter one of two reactions when people find out where I’m from.

a) they know someone who lives in Canada (do you know Joe in Saskatchewan?)
b) they ask me about the weather (hyuck hyuck, must be cold up there… eh?)

It’s windy here (in California) today, kinda ‘cold’, and I’m forcibly reminded that it’s March. In March the weather seems to do whatever it damn well pleases, no matter where on the globe you are (though maybe it’s specific to the northern hemisphere, but I doubt it). This was definitely the case ‘back home’, and is definitely the case here!  Case in point: they received 10 cms of snow or something last weekend, followed by rain, and somewhere in there was a warm spell, and some flying monkeys I’m pretty sure.

Here in the last couple of weeks or so we’ve also had snow, rain and sunshine, and this is southern California! Snow is a rare sight here, and I miss it dearly. Locals, us included, were so excited when we had some up in the mountains recently that they flocked to it in droves for a fun-filled snow day! Conveniently it was on a weekend, because the snow only lasted 2 days.

Anyways,  no one believes me when I say that it’s cold here. I get it. It’s nothing like ‘back home’, and we’re a bunch of whiners here. I used to laugh when Californians complained about the cold too, but now I feel it. All things considered the weather here is nice, but it’s not all sunshine and beach days every day like everyone thinks! Once in a while we have to bundle up with scarves and jackets too. Everyone (except me so far) has super cute rain boots too, because we get several days of rain in the winter, and when it rains it doesn’t joke around about it. It’s still just another random thing to adjust to in a new place.

You’ll hear more about the local weather here, because we all love to talk about the weather. Regardless of how the weather is, it’s something we can collectively agree on (or not), have an opinion on, and generally relate to. We all share the weather. People joke about the mindlessness of talking about the weather, but I really think it’s a brilliant topic which opens doors to in depth conversations or just a nod of the head.  Whatever the conversationalists are in the mood for. Rain, snow, and sun makes up the small talk monarchy. We talk about our current weather, I talk about the weather back home, some talk about ‘that storm’ back in the 90s (you know that one), we all reminisce about something related to the atmospheric conditions of any given day.

Whether the weather conversation seems to wither depends on whether the weather is wonderful and worthy of words.