Friday, June 27, 2008

Allergy free from Gary

Make: Clean Rest
Model: Allergy Free Pillow
Size: Standard
Color: White
Part: RN117729
MSRP: $39.99
Paid: $0.00 (Gift from Gary Goldberg)
Made in: China

Date purchased: 06/28/2008
n/w?: Need

Comment: This could be my first unofficial sponsorship. After discovering my blog and reading about my mystery allergy, Gary Goldberg (the CEO of Clean Rest) was generous enough to send me one of their new allergy free pillows. As I've said before, I love free stuff, especially if it's something useful that I would have bought anyway (and I needed an extra pillow for guests coming to visit). The most ironic part of receiving this pillow in the mail today, was that I had just come home from an appointment with an allergist, where they did a full skin test to find what I'm allergic too. But—not surprising to me—the results all came up negative. So far, whatever is causing my eye lids to swell up on a quarterly basis, is still unknown. I happened to have another reaction last week (almost 4 months to the day of my last episode...right on schedule), so I called an allergist to try to solve the mystery, once again.

I actually looked at these pillows when I purchased my Tempur-Pedic, but it's hard to really test out a pillow when it's on a shelf at the store. I remember feeling the Clean Rest (with my hand) and thinking it was too soft, and I would need to buy more than one. Since they each cost $40, after buying a couple I would have been paying as much as I would for the Tempur-Pedic. I went with the space-age memory foam based on family recommendations. It took me a couple weeks to get use to the firmness of the foam, but (sorry Gary) I've grown to love it. However, the Clean Rest pillow is much better for lounging on the couch and napping. If I had a few of these on my bed, they would be great. It definitely simulates the soft fluffiness of down remarkably well for being synthetic and the health benefits from the pillows allergy barrier are great. This is also not as crinkly and plastic feeling as the allergy covers you would put on regular pillows, a huge plus if you've ever experienced those. Thank you so much Gary for sending me the pillow and protecting my sleep.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Journey to Africa

Title: Culture Smart! Kenya
Author: Jane Barsby
Publisher: Kuperard
Date Published: 2007
Printed: Malaysia
ISBN: 978-1-85733-349-7
List: $9.95
Paid: $9.95

Date 06/14/2008
n/w?: Need

Comment: If you are one of the few people who have followed this project from the beginning or have just found it recently and actually took the time to read back through all the old posts, you may remember, while I was defining the purpose of this project, I voiced my desire to do mission work in Africa. At the time, though I would have loved to do so, the opportunity wasn't available. However, less than a year later, a door has been opened that will lead me to Kenya this fall. I have known about it for a couple months now, but just committed to the trip yesterday. I am very excited to finally make this journey and I have a lot to do in the upcoming months to prepare for it. For the last few years, faith has been an important part of my life and it has played a large roll in how I've dealt with this experience and how I've grown from it. We are such a privileged society, and far too often we take those privileges for granted. I know that this trip will have a profound impact on my evolving perception of our consumer culture as I experience first hand what it means to have not.

You can read more about my upcoming trip at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Advantage consumerism

Make: Wilson
Model: Advantage Court II
Size: 10
Color: White
Part: WRS2960
MSRP: $45.00
Paid: $29.99
Made in: China

Date purchased: 06/12/2008
n/w?: Want

Make: Nike
Model: Fit Dry Short
Size: Medium
Color: Black
Part: RN56323
MSRP: $35.00
Paid: $28.00
Made in: Thailand

Date purchased: 06/12/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: First off, I feel terrible for buying two pair of shoes in less than 3 days (part of the reason I delayed making this post). It's funny that I now think of a pair of shoes as a substantial purchase. It's something that is used frequently (or should be) and has a substantial lifetime (compared to so many other things in our disposable culture). My problem with shoes is that my lifestyle tends to warrant having many pair. It's like my growing collection of bikes, they all serve a specific purpose. I can't run in laceless Converse and I can't play tennis in running shoes (although that's debatable). Tennis is one of the few things in my life that I will undoubtedly say that I was really good at. Was being the key term. I spent many summers in tennis camps and taking private lessons, honing my skills (i.e. a wicked serve) only to quit playing my sophomore year in high school because of a bad relationship with my coach. Much to my father's chagrin, I gave up tennis for a guitar and a punk rock band (we played two terrible shows before breaking up). I have only played tennis once since then, my freshman year of college, and I've continually told myself that I am going to start playing again.

I dug my old racket out of my dad's basement, last fall while I was back east visiting, and it has been sitting in my closet ever since. Last week I finally dropped it off to be restrung, picked up some balls, shorts (the only pair I had were cut off jeans), and my second pair of shoes in a matter of days. I decided that tennis balls and string fall under the category of disposables, since they don't retain any value once you begin using them. I also learned that Penn (America's #1 selling ball!) is the only tennis ball made in the USA. So next time you are in the market for balls, be a patriot and buy Penn.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Grün ist das neue Schwarze

Make: Adidas
Model: ZX500 Grün
Size: 9.5
Color: Fresh Green
Part: 30243
Serial: n/a
MSRP: $80.00
Paid: $80.00
Made in: Vietnam

Date purchased: 06/10/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: I'm not much of a sneaker freak, occasionally I come across a pair of Nike Dunks that I love, but they're just not my style. Sneaks are a lot like vinyl toys, I love the idea of them, but I could never see myself having my own collection. However, when I came across the new Adidas Grün collection I fell in love with both the medium and the message. Since I decided to start running again and my laceless Allstars won't do, I was in the market for a new pair of shoes. What better then a classic runner made from the latest recycled materials?

Coming from a company like Adidas, this collection is similar to the Nike Considered project. When it's such a small percentage of their total shoes it seems like a greenwashed "me too" ploy. But the shoes do show a genuine effort, even if the practices aren't implemented across their entire line. These shoes use recycled cork in the soles, PLA (corn polymer) for all the plastic like details. The mesh upper, lining and laces are recycled PET (plastic bottles), while the tongue uses bamboo. All of these sustainable materials come together to create a really fresh looking shoe, far from the aesthetics of Simple and Veja, which have their own respective appeal. One thing to note though is that there was a small tag tied to the shoe with the following disclaimer:

Adidas Grun is a collection that aims to reduce our impact on the environment. To do so, natural and recycled materials have been used in the construction of these products. This means that the products unique construction and use of materials does not guarantee that they will perform like Adidas athletic shoes. These materials may require special care. Some recommendations include avoiding damp environments, prolonged exposure to sunlight and other conditions that may stress the materials.

I figured with a lack of history using the materials this serves as a liability disclaimer for Adidas, but I still plan on running in them as if they were any other pair of shoes. It's discouraging that a company as large as them won't stand confidently behind their product. I guess I'll see how well they hold up.

Some love from the Treehug

A couple weeks ago I was interviewed for and then Lloyd Atler, over at Treehugger picked up on my site and made a post there last week. That was pretty exciting, since I've been an avid Treehugger reader for years (way before Discovery bought them) and they have a very large audience, which means I have many more people looking at photos of my socks and underwear than I ever expected.

However, everyone I have heard from who admires the consideration put into my purchases, and who long to remove themselves from their own overwhelming collection of possessions is always encouraging to hear. It's good to know that something many would perceive as tragic, can be used to inspire others to contemplate their own consumption habits.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pocket size nav guide

Title: Not For Tourists Guide: New York City 2008
Author: Various
Publisher: Not For Tourists, Inc.
Date Published: 2007
Printed: China
ISBN: 978-0-9793945-2-2
List: $15.95
Paid: $10.00

Date 06/07/2008
n/w?: Want

Comment: I bought my first Not For Tourists Guide back in early 2006, it was for NYC then—and though I live in Chicago—it's for NYC now. I've visited Manhattan more than any other city that I've not lived in. I had a poster of the city hanging over my bed throughout highschool and I had planned on moving there after graduating from design school. I made frequent weekend trips, via the Chinatown bus, while in college and I loved every moment of them. However, my plans have been very organic and I've had the pleasure (minus this past winter) of living in some of our countries other great cities. That doesn't mean I've lost sight of the Big Apple, NYC is still in my future (*cough* jobs anyone?).

If you've never used an NFT Guide, check one out next time you are at the book store. The information design is incredible. Each neighborhood is broken down into three maps, each one highlights a different type of infrastructure (entertainment, essentials, and transportation). This keeps the maps uncluttered and legible. There is also a fold out map of the subway in the back. The books are called Not For Tourists because—unlike tourist guides—there are no photos of landmarks or instructions on how you should explore the city. It's a functional tool to help navigate the city yourself. I had planned on buying this before my last two trips to NYC, but always remembered before it was too late to order on Amazon (I wanted to save a few bucks). But this weekend I was at the Printer's Row Book Fair (where I got to meet Rob Walker) and they were being sold for $10, so I took advantage of the savings (and avoided the unnecessary shipping). It does bother me that NYC is the only book that fits in your pocket. When I asked about the sizing of them, I was told that it has to do with relative area of the city (which makes sense) and that the LA book is the largest because it's meant to be more of an auto resource, since no body leaves their vehicles there. It's good to have this back for future trips to NY.