Answering the question: WWDLD?

I learned from one of my co-workers who recently saw 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama that one can simply e-mail the Dalai Lama. Now, don’t expect a direct answer. He’s a busy guy, so a bunch of monks weed through his e-mails (apparently. I haven’t seen the movie myself.).

But all this time, I’ve been asking, WWDLD? And all this time, I just needed to send an e-mail.

So my question, friends, is what do you want to know? (I think we’ll pass on Libby’s parking question — sorry Lib.) Let’s discuss and come up with a good question. Once we narrow it down, I’ll e-mail the Dalai Lama. And we’ll see what happens.

Blog Action Day: Take my canvas. Please.

Today is Blog Action Day, which means that I have to get up off my mouse and do some typing here. I’m way behind on my blogging, so the stories are piling up: recent climbing escapades, bad yogis, and of course, an op-ed on why even Superman could neither get nor keep (read: downsizing) a job at the Daily Planet in this market.

But that will all have to wait, because the topic for Blog Action Day is the environment.

It would be easy to talk about Al Gore and his Nobel Prize right now. Or Boulder’s attempt at creating regulations for solar panels — that’s hot here right now. But I’m going to trouble you with a more pressing issue for me, because this is my blog, and I often find myself quite concerned about things that have to do with me.

Why, for the love of Pete, do baggers at Safeway insist on giving me plastic bags when I bring in my own canvas bags?

A dear friend of mine who is a reporter at the local paper did a story recently on plastic bags: how we clean them up here in our community, what our local recycling facility does with them, and why they’re nearly impossible to recycle.

That’s right, nearly impossible. If those flimsy plastic bags they give you at the grocery store get the least bit wet or dirty, they gum up the recycling machines. Those slightly flawed bags you’ve saved up in the garage to recycle later are trash.

I’ve been fond of my canvas bags for a long time now, but this story made me start dragging the canvas into Safeway again. I’d stopped taking them there, because the cashiers always seem confused when I hand over my sturdy canvas bags (which are boldly marked with the Whole Foods logo). I took paper instead, because paper is widely recyclable nowadays, but even the request for paper often confounds the average Safeway cashier, even here in Boulder County.

We’re not San Francisco, but we’re close.

Anyway, this alarming new information about plastic bags inspired me to scorn those freebie vessels of vice and use my own saintly canvas bags whenever humanly possible. But baggers at my local Safeway conspired against me. They lightly loaded my lovely canvas bags, then switched to plastic. I took more bags next time and asked them to fill them to the very top. They did, but they still threw cold items with condensation on them into plastic bags as I watched in horror and imagined the thus ruined bags floating into myriad waterways until reaching an ocean, where a fish or small water-borne mammal will perish inside it beside my lost receipt.

Damn you, Safeway. I will triumph.

The only solution I’ve found to this environmental tragedy of mine is not socially or culturally acceptable in our society. It is not nice. It is not appreciated by your average Safeway cashier. But it allows me to take my groceries home without plastic bags, and it allows me to leave the store with my smug sense of self-satisfaction firmly in place.

I insist on bagging my own.

This is also an excellent way to prevent your grapes flown in from South America from being smashed under your New Zealand apples. But buying local is a topic for another day.