Friday, February 15, 2008

7 Random Things and some more thoughts about chocolate...

Bells tagged me for this meme, so let's see what things I can dredge up to share with you all tonight. In accordance with the rules, here are the rules.


1. Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post THE RULES on your blog.
3. Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.
4. Tag 7 people and link to them.
5. Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

1. I can still walk at a perfect eight-to-five step size. This mostly only makes sense if you were in a marching band, which I was for my four years of high school. You have to make all your steps a certain size so as to march correctly. Even though I haven't actually marched onto a field in four years now (and why that should make me a little sad and nostalgic, i don't know), I can still make my strides the perfect size. Totally useless, but interesting.

2. I have to buy Nokia cell phones, or else I destroy them. I am hopelessly tough on cell phones, and somehow, they are the only ones that hold up to me. I had one that was literally missing big chunks, and it still worked. I managed to glue the current flip phone together (yeah, only me. i know), and once I pried the crazy-glued pieces apart and cleaned them, it still worked.

3. I don't know how to ride a bike. I've just never managed to learn. Colleen recently gave me a bike, though, and has promised to teach me. Knowing Coll, though, she's going to set me up on a bike at the top of a hill, give me a good shove, and tell me to learn.

4. I'm really very bad at being a girl. By this I mean, I'm terrible with most of the stereotypical girl stuff. I like to play with engines and get dirty, and when I'm not at work, I'm wearing jeans or men's sweatpants and some kind of big, comfy shirt. I don't wear makeup much, I don't style my hair. I live in a pair of Dansko clogs or bare feet. Also, I'm allergic to hairdryers. I just can't use them, they baffle me. I do have a certain fondness for shoes, though, and sparkly things.

5. I'm unusually sensitive to Ny-Quil. I took the children's dose once, and Jim had to literally carry me to bed, because I was falling off a chair within twenty minutes of taking it. At least, that's what Jim tells me, I have no recollection of this. Witness reports corroborate the story, though.

6. I own three hammers. What can I say? I collect tools like some women collect earrings.

7. I am constantly looking around for escape routes in case of zombie invasion. I've already planned how to zombie-proof the house here, and how to escape from work. When the zombies come, I am ready to save the day. The trick is to get to a Wal-mart, they have weapons, ammunition, and supplies.

Okay, there you have my seven random facts. Now that it's my turn, I'm going to tag Kate, El, Georgie, Mom (that's right, do it AGAIN!!), Amy Lane, and RoseRed. If you've been tagged before (momolla), suck it up and do it again! Please? These are fun!

And now for something completely different. Let's ponder some more weighty issues, shall we? Well, let's keep pondering the most recently discussed weighty issue, since what's more interesting than talking about one's favorite luxury item?

As Momolla, who has done her own research, has pointed out, the government of Cote d'Ivoire has recently gone through a bloody, long, horrible civil war. Even having come out on the other side of that war, the new government has implemented extremely expensive taxes on cocoa farmers. Many of these farmers are paid below subsistence level wages annually. This poverty, this desperation, means that children born of the farmers go to work on family farms. Many of the smaller farms are staffed by family members who are not paid. These children don't go to school, they don't play, they work. They work from a very early age, so they can help support their family. This horrifies me, but I can understand the decisions the farmers and children are facing--pay to send children to schools you can't afford, or keep them at home to help work and maybe make a little more money.

What bothers me are the farms that do use children who aren't related to them--who actually pay recruiters a small fee to find a poor child, lie to that child, and then bring the child to a farm to work. Unless a human rights group or a government finds out about these farms, child workers aren't paid. They're small, and they're young, and they're starved and beaten and exhausted to the point where they can't protest any more. They can't leave, and runaways are beaten nearly to death to serve as an example. And there are thousands of children who are forced to live like this. That, above all, horrifies me. That there are children who are being starved and beaten and abused. The farmers will tell you that boycotting cocoa products will ruin them. That may be the case. The companies will tell you that they have no control over how the cocoa they buy is produced, that they can't monitor these things. That may also be true. But I can't help but think that if the larger companies were willing to pay more, to lose a little of their profits, so that these farmers weren't so poor, this would be less of a problem. If the price of cocoa were a little more reasonable, then perhaps these poor farmers could afford to pay for adult laborers to come in and work, or at least to pay the children who work, rather than beating, starving, and threatening them. And yet, chocolate companies, though aware of these problems, are not willing to part with some of their profits in order to help these children.

And that is why, in good conscience, I can't buy chocolate made from beans harvested in Cote d'Ivoire. The whole issue is a mess of blame-passing and lies and greed. Until something reasonable can be done about it, or is done about it, I will simply not buy Hershey's chocolate. Or Nestle. Or Godiva (not that the budget allows for that at the moment, anyway). Or any other chocolate that can't prove to me that it wasn't made with slave labor. My goal isn't to hurt the chocolate economy, nor is it to further wound the farmers who are trying to survive. My goal is just to be more conscious of what I buy, and what went into the production of the things I buy. I will buy chocolate from these folks, and these. I've been trying for a little while to be more aware of what I buy, of what goes into it. I'm doing some research into other fair-trade products and more natural products, as well. I'll let you know how that goes, eh?

Right. That's quite enough pondering of serious things. How about we talk about some knitting? Yarn is nice. We all like yarn. And yarn (to the best of my knowledge) is not subject to bitter controversy. So. It turns out there's a little yarn shop (not local yarn shop--little, right kate?) down the street from me. I will be checking their store hours and visiting there soon, I think, depending on the state of the budget. After all, yarn is nice. But it's just not so effective as a roof and some walls are at keeping the rain off. I wonder if a homeless knitter has ever felted himself or herself a little homeless box to live in? It would be warm, and water repellent. That reminds me, I have to find a place up here I can knit caps or blankets for so as to cull the herd of acrylic some. I have a trunk full. Completely full. Of just acrylic. So some knitting is in order.

The paint can is calling me again. I'm really almost done painting the room (just a touch more of the ceiling left, and then i will call it good), but since I've been working so much, I just haven't felt like coming home and doing it. You may not have noticed yet, but I'm something of a procrastinator. At any rate, I hope your week goes smoothly and graciously, and that there's some pleasant knitting time. And that wherever you are is getting at least a little less rain and wind than we are.


Rose Red said...

Very interesting list. Especially the zombies!

Re your acrylic - retirement homes often look for items using acrylic, as it washes better (they often have to wash items in quite hot water), so that might be an option?

Kate said...

In regards to the list of acceptable chocolate, I've seen a few of them around. Endangered Species brand chocolate bars look interesting but expensive and I just haven't had income for them the couple of times I've seen them. Target stocks them, though.

Bells said...

i have a friend whose boyfriend can go on about zombies and the imminent invasion of said creatures for hours. I find it strangely fascinating, so your 7th point was my favourite! Have you seen Shaun of the Dead? Best zombie movie ever!

Donna Lee said...

Again? Em, I am just not that interesting!

Georgie said...

Re acrylic - animal shelters like it for the same reasons as retirement homes.

Im quite astounded you cant ride a bike - makes me ponder how effortlessly we do some things and just take them for granted, really.

But now youve got me thinking about zombies and my escape plan - we dont have wal-mart!!