Traveling Fish & Swapping Tomatoes

I caught a bit of Michael Pollan on Fresh Air this afternoon. I love listening to people that tell me how crazy our world is. Some nuggets of info from Pollan:

– We catch Salmon in Alaska, ship it to China to be filleted, and they ship it back for us to eat. What, is there a shortage of American filleters?
– We import tomatoes from Mexico and we export tomatoes to Mexico. I would love to get a picture at the border of tomato trucks passing each other.

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Help a blogger out, would ya?

Annie, my wife who has left one comment in the history of the blog, recently informed me that the blog posts of late have been boring. I know, I know, how dare she directly insult my bloggerhood like that? But she’s pregnant and she’s tough, and, more often than I care to admit, she’s right.

So, this is me asking you for help.

If you have any questions or topics (garments, writing, publishing, rock skipping, etc) that you would like me to write on, ideas of how we can spice things up around here, and/or even silly quests that you would like to send me on, leave ‘em in this comment thread or email me at and I’ll try to address them in the near future….

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Playing Pirate in the Dayton City Paper

My latest column is up on the Dayton City Paper’s website. It will be on for a limited time so you better read it before the link dies. Some of you may recognize it. The column is titled “Playing Pirate” and talks about the Picton Castle.

Here’s the photo that’s included with the story. I currently have it as my computer’s wallpaper.

That’s not the ocean; that’s Lake Erie. Hard to believe, huh?


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TAL: Cambodian Garment Industry and Chain Store Defecation

Angela at Mommy Bytes pointed me toward a This American Life piece featuring the Cambodian garment industry. The reporter on the Cambodian portion of the piece, Rachel Louise Snyder, is also the author of “Fugitive Denim.” I stumbled upon Fugitive Denim online this spring and was tempted to order it, but I didn’t want to be influenced by it while writing WAIW? so I chose not to. Maybe I will now.

The best part of this particular This American Life show titled “David and Goliath” is David Sedaris on chain store defecation. Yes, that is not a mistype. While on a book tour someone informed David that the act of people defecating in dressing rooms, in the middle of circular racks of…

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My first review: Thy reviewer giveth, thy reviewer taketh away

Where Am I Wearing? was reviewed in the Library Journal. If there is a more nerve-wracking way to spend a minute than reading one’s first review, I don’t know it.

You can read the review for yourself, but I thought it might be fun to mine some of the flattering and not-so flattering nuggets out of context.

Thy reviewer giveth…

There were plenty of good things that would look nice pasted across the back cover of the book:

“not a typical book about globalization”

We’ll score that a good one. If you’ve read typical books about globalization they can be kind of boorish)

“the ultimate boy next door”

I’m thinking about making a calendar. Wait, until you see the manly hot outfit I have for the sultry month of…

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In defense of ageing & bad book Karma

Last night I went to a reading by author Bich Minh Nguyen. She read from her memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner.

Her family moved to the U.S. when she was a baby and the book has a lot to do with them trying to fit in – about them trying to be “super-Americans” as Bich (pronounced Bit) kept repeating. I’m neither Vietnamese nor an immigrant, but, like Bich, I grew up in the 80s. We ate the same junk food while watching the same corny television shows.

So, I enjoyed the reading. And, it made me aware of something I hadn’t thought of before. For most of my life I’ve read the works of authors older than me, if not dead. Now that I’m almost…

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The Compact: No shopping for a year

Saturday The Toronto Star featured a family that has decided to not buy nonessentials for an entire year. They’ve joined The Compact.

Members of The Compact commit themselves to not buying anything for an entire year. Sure, if everyone did it our economy would collapse, but I think it sounds like a pretty cool social experiment.

From the Star:

…the group decided to launch a social experiment. They wouldn’t buy anything new for 12 whole months. They hammered out some exceptions: food and drink obviously, medication and other health essentials, work necessities and safety requirements, like new car tires. Everything else they would borrow, buy second hand, or just do without.

Heck, given this economy we all might be doing this anyhow!

The Compact has a blog and a

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Wal-Mart in trouble in Bangladesh…again

From WAIW?:

In 1992, Dateline NBC aired footage from inside a garment factory in Bangladesh, featuring a Wal-Mart production line where kids as young as seven were operating machines and trimming garments. Wal-Mart argued that the people of Bangladesh are extremely malnourished and that the individuals that appear to be seven-year-old kids are actually adult Bangladeshis whose growth has been stunted.

And a recent headline in Businessweek: “Wal-Mart Supplier Accused of Sweatshop Conditions.”

Basically, the hardworking folks at SweatFree Communities uncovered a factory that supplies Wal-Mart with some of their “Faded Glory” line. The report showed that employees of the factory are forced to work 19-hour days. Wal-Mart has been self-inspecting the factory, but the visits are usually announced and the factory makes preparations and puts on a good show for the inspectors.

I have a few comments and questions:

– Self-policing isn’t the way to go.

– Is this a situation where Wal-Mart is indirectly asking, “Lie to us.”

– Cases of child labor have been greatly reduced in Bangladesh. But kids under 14 (minimum working age) sometimes lie to the factory to get a job. Workers lie to factories; again, a possible lie-to-us situation. Factories lie to retailers. When people are desperate for a job, factories are desperate for work, and brands are desperate for cheap products, this kind of thing is bound to happen.

– How ironic is the name of Wal-Mart’s brand “Faded Glory?”

– It will be interesting to see if Wal-Mart and Sweat Free Communities are able to work together to right this situation. I kind of feel like they won’t be able to. And this is the problem. I don’t think progress can be made in worker’s rights unless retailers and activists work together.

The press release from SweatFree Communities is below the cut.

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U.S. Lit Dissed by Nobel Committee

Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune has an interesting article about the Nobel Committee commenting on American Literature.

Here’s an excerpt from her column:

Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which chooses the Nobel Prize for literature. Engdahl said that the United States is “too isolated, too insular” to match Europe’s output of masterpieces.

“Europe still is the center of the literary world,” he declared to The Associated Press.

And then she poses a disturbing question:

So is it true that our literature is as subprime as our mortgages?

Falling from prominence: Our economy, our literature, Budweiser. What’s next baseball and apple pie?…

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