Monday, August 22, 2011

Sticker for Rusty Old Bike: "This is not rust. It’s a high-tech theft-preventive coating."

To give your rusty old bike some panache, or at least show others you have a sense of humor about it, print this statement and tape it to your bike:

This is not rust. It’s a high-tech theft-preventive coating.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Kaizen Culture: Don't Manage Waste, Eliminate It

Kaizen is the Japanese term for constantly working to eliminating waste in all ways, at all levels. It's quite popular in manufacturing and other pursuits, and is helping to increase the competitiveness of our industries.

But in our everyday lives-- now, that's a different, sadder story. Today is large trash day here in Swarthmore. On just a few nearby streets, I saw enough nice, usable furniture out on the curb to furnish an apartment.

Our current approach, at its best, is called cradle-to-grave management. But that's a misnomer, since there is no actual "grave" where so much waste can be buried. As in our industries, we must seek to eliminate waste, by not producing it in the first place. This is called cradle-to-cradle resource management, or zero-output waste management.

The way we're "managing" our waste now, we're destined to drown in it, sooner or later.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Corn Plastic: Beware the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing!

Corn plastic is bad. While it may look "less bad" than petro-plastic, it's making things worse, for these reasons:
1. While it does biodegrade, it doesn't do so as easily as similar containers from paper or sugar cane.
2. It appears to be messing with the existing petro-plastic recycling culture, a system already struggling with vast and intractable consumer ignorance.
3. Making a corn-based "substitute" uses MORE PETROLEUM than the petro-based one it's supposed to replace.
4. It directly supports Cargill Corporation, which you don't want to do for too many reasons to list here (visit, search Cargill, and pick your issue. Whatever it is, they'll be on the wrong side of it.)

Here's detail I copied from a posting by Dr. Dan Wolk on the subject:
Here's some useful information on the cups we're using at Mishkan, from (where I go for answers to the most perplexing environmental

"Corn and other bio-based plastics are particularly tricky because to the
casual observer, it looks like regular petroleum based plastics. There is
evidence that recycling as little as 1 part of PLA in 10,000 of PET
(Petroleum based polyethylene terepthalate) will degrade the quality of PET
and render it unusable as a recycled polymer. This is a huge problem for
recyclers and the source of great debate among bottlers and recyclers as
some companies have started bottling their beverages in PLA bottles. PLA
bottles are NOT recyclable with PET (though they could be fed back into the
PLA stream... Cargill does not have a collection system to recycle PLA so
this point is moot) but they look just like it to the casual observer. Thus,
unknowing recyclers can contaminate the PET bottle recycling stream
by placing PLA bottles with their regular recyclables. NAPCOR (National
Association of PET Container Resources) recently publicly refuted claims of
recyclability of PLA. I
am no fan of petroleum based plastics either, but to tout bio-based plastics
as being "green" is disingenuous and very confusing to people who are trying
to employ environmentally preferable practices. If you want a compostable
cup use paper!"

After reading all about it, including a response from Cargill's
sustainability director, the only advantage of the "corn" cups is that
they're not made directly from petroleum (though growing corn uses LOTS of
it!). They're not recyclable, and compostable only in a commercial
operation. Plus, their purchase supports a rather environmentally
unfriendly corporation.

The best alternative? Bring your own cup. If you're prone to leaving
those behind, as I am, the next best alternative: cups made from sugar cane
fiber (bagasse) - an agricultural waste product. Cost: 8 cents each - the
same as the "corn" cups.
In honor of Shavuot, I humbly recommend switching to the Bagasse cups when it's time to reorder..

Dan Wolk

Monday, March 9, 2009

For Sale: Stumbling Blocks, in solids and fine veneers

FOR SALE: Fine, furniture-grade Stumbling Blocks, in solid woods and hardwood veneers.
Lovely accessories, add grace to your home decor as pedestals, plant stands, and as tasteful arrangements, combined with other pieces. Also useful as side tables, and with optional cushion, as foot stools or seats for small children.
Wonderfully inert, useful for stabilizing large piles of objects, as well as for stopping trucks, traffic, meeting agendas, and relationships. Quite heavy, on-site pickup only. Make offer.

A green collar job is not just a retooled blue collar job

Why is a a green collar job is not just a retooled blue collar job?

The old Division of Labor ignores the intricate web of life, and is what got us into our current environmental mess in the first place. The Green Collar Movement can't afford to perpetuate the destructive old division of thinking that is integral to the division of labor concept.

I have plenty more to say about this, which I'll add when I get a chance.

For definitions, refer to:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sweat is good

It keeps you cool,
and doesn't leave a
nasty carbon footprint.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From my cold, dead hands: Unwiring the first wired president

Note: this is a work of fiction. Would I take the time to vet all the details in this story? Be serious, it's not like anybody's paying for this stuff.

Barak Obama is the first wired president. Truly the model Type A leader, ever since his first term in the Illinois Senate, Obama has rarely been without his Blackberry. Michelle emailed legal insights, mixed in with updates on their daughters. His staffers would provide up-to-the-second news and floor vote margins, so he sometimes knew what the opposition was going to do, before his opponents themselves knew. Then he'd relax by texting sports, jokes, and opinions with friends. And so it's been, throughout a successful and meteoric rise.

But all that is about to end.

One morning soon, in the presidential bedroom:

Oh, what a first week! Is it Saturday already? I must have slept through the alarm. Hey, where’s my Blackberry? I plugged it in right here by the bed last night, and now it’s gone.

Barak sweetie, Rahm came by before you awoke, and took it. The Secret Service couldn’t secure the signal, and they got worried.

But I can’t be without my Blackberry. I am the Wired President, after all. What will people think? I need to call Rahm... now, where’s my Blackberry? Oh, right.

Where’s the dang phone? Okay, it’s a land line. I can do this… Where’s the dang speed dial? I don't know Rahm's number- will somebody call him?

Oh, he’s still downstairs? Okay, what button do I push for that?

Hi, Rahm? Great thanks, how’re you? Hey, Rahm, sorry I missed you when you stopped by this morning. Rahm, listen— I want my Blackberry back.

Mr. President, I’m afraid that won’t be possible…

Rahm Emmanuael, remember who you’re talking to. I am the President of the United States, and you are my Chief of Staff, and I want my Blackberry. Got that?

Barak, listen: You have people for that stuff now. You don’t have to…

Are you telling me what I don’t have to do? Jeez, why don’t ya just put blinders on me and stuff my ears with spitballs? Having a Blackberry is like having eyes in the back of my head. I can't just give that up, once I've gotten used to it. I feel so... so vulnerable.

Sir, we— your staff and I— are here to take care of that for you.

Oh, yeah. And next you’ll tell me Michael Jordan was more important to the Bulls when he wasn’t playing…

The president manages to survive the rest of the day, but not without a few withdrawal incidents and a lot of separation anxiety.

Late that night, an emotionally drained Obama falls into an exhausted but restless sleep. A few hours before dawn, he awakes screaming.
"No! No! From my cold, dead hands! From my cold, dead hands! From my…"

"Barak!" Michelle shakes him awake. "You’re having a nightmare. Wake up!"

He jolts upright, panting, the sweat glistening on his brow and dripping down the tightly clenched muscles of his face. In response to his screams, the bedroom door lock snicks open electronically, and two pairs of crewcut sunglasses come into view, whispering into their headsets.

"What was it, sweetie?” She cradled his shivering frame in her strong arms. "What were you dreaming about?"

"I was walking through the tunnel, on my way to address the House of Representatives, and my Blackberry rang in my pocket. I reached in, and it wasn’t there. But it just went on ringing, and then the ring sounded like one of the girls crying. I started running toward the sound, and suddenly I was outside, standing in the sun. It became a ring tone again, and there was George Bush, standing in the middle of the White House basketball court. He answered the call, on my Blackberry. My Blackberry! I yelled "Hey, that's mine!" and ran after him, and he ran away, yelling, “Hah-hah! You’re the president now, and I'm not, and you can’t have your Blackberry, and I can! And I’m going to use your Blackberry and text my friends and be hip, and make the three-point shots, and you’re not! Hah-hah-hah-hah!"

I lunged and tackled him then, and he kept cackling, until he howled when I twisted his wrist and snatched my Blackberry back again. But then a couple of enormous Secret Service guys grabbed me, and started prying my fingers open, trying to take my Blackberry away. I hung onto it and yelled, 'No! No! From my cold, dead hands! From my cold, dead hands, will you have to pry my Blackberry, to take it away from me!' And that’s when you woke me."

(c) 2009 David Calloway