31 August, 2009

Incandescent Imbecility

May I suggest that the people who are stockpiling incandescent bulbs might just be flaming idiots?  Just a thought...  I've used CFLs since they first came out and cost $25 apiece, and while the light was a lot "fluorescent office lighting" back then, they have now gotten to the point where I and my guests can't tell which fixture has the incandescent, which has the halogen, and which has the CFL bulb.

To explain that - I have a reading lamp with a 60W incandescent in it, a second reading lamp with a halogen, a bathroom with a halogen, and everything else is CFL.  Almost invariably, they say the halogen reading light is too "cold" while the halogen in the bathroom is fine, and no-one has ever suggested that the light bulbs in the lounge or kitchen are wrong or give poor light.

For all you people who are going to mutter about "newfangled mumbletty mutter crap not like the good ole days" well guess what the good ole days are gone, behind us, and there's a new reality to contend with and it doesn't include your concerns that your light bulbs are messing with your sense of interior decorating.  If you really DO have such extreme colour acuity that you can tell the difference, change your effing precious decor to match the new lights.  

Do you know how many rooms had to be refurbished when the "good old oil and gas lights" gave way to those same electric incandescent lights that you're now clutching to your bosoms?  Get used to change cos there's gonna be a helluvva lot of change in the next few years, much of it down to your love of those incandescent bulbs and flawless decor...

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26 August, 2009

We're About To Find Out

. . . what "knife-edge" means . . .

UPDATE: Still more bad news . . .

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25 August, 2009

See If This Amuses


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23 August, 2009

Four Year Anniversary

I just realised - four years and a day ago:

Anniversary poor biopsy results 2005

That's how long ago I had my biopsy results back, with their bleak outlook of almost 70% dysplasic cells in the samples.

I might bother to have another PSA sometime soon, but in all truth, I am still following my diet and don't feel that I have a single worry.

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17 August, 2009

The Real Solution For Global Warming

... is simple.  Don't expect quite so much convenience, expect to have to do a bit more for the daily bread.

Some friendly things you can do right now to do your part:

  • Buy a lot more unprocessed raw food locally, and prepare and cook it yourself. It isn't going to be as much of a range of foods as you're used to, but it will definitely make a difference.
    Also, many people who buy processed food buy the same thing over and over anyway.  Why not swap it for something local, homegrown, and homecooked? There's definitely a time problem if you have long workdays, but those long workdays are generally NOT helping the ecosystem, whereas looking after yourself does help.  Paradox, huh?
  • Plan shorter single-car mileages per week.  The train/bus commute may not be as comfortable, but it IS better than doing all those miles in a car by yourself or carpooling with two other people instead of with (as in a bus) 90 people.
    I'm all in favour of inner-city and high traffic density areas becoming Electric-Vehicle-Only areas, with petrol and diesel fuelled vehicle drivers having to pay a daily fee in order to drive in such zones.  Fossil fuelled vehicles are not an option in densely trafficked areas.
  • Try to grow some of your food yourself, using minimal processed fertilisers or soil conditioners.
    That way you know what is in that food, beyond a doubt. Secondly, if you stick to natural soil fertilising and conditioning, you avoid much of the fertiliser pollution which plagues agricultural areas.  Monoculture (growing large areas of the same variety) is the single biggest cause of outbreaks of pests that feed on that variety, and that in turn is the single biggest reason factory farms have to use so much pesticide.
  • Try bringing up a few rabbits or chickens for the table.
    Our diets require a certain amount of meat, but nowhere near as much as we do eat.  And nothing - no amount of photos of piles of shrink-wrapped packages of the meat you consume every year - nothing at all, brings home the message of what meat really costs to produce in the way that raising, feeding, slaughtering, and then preparing your own meat animals does...  I don't want to turn people vegetarian, but I do want to point out that farming many animals in a monoculture creates the same problems as with food crops, of needing strong chemical means to get rid of the pests that converge and become a plague.
Those are four things you could start doing right now.  They won't alleviate the food crisis, but they will mitigate the effects of overfarming.  They won't remove vehicle emissions from the equation, but they will make a difference.  Taken individually, each one seems like a tiny drop in a huge ocean - but that's how the ill effects have all crept in, one tiny insignificant seeming drop at a time...

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The Real Reason For Global Warming

I can see how perhaps young people can't quite see what grunt work has to do with conservation. And I can also see that yes, they are worried by the Global Warming phenomenon because they will be the ones most affected by it.  Now comes the bit where I'm so so so sorry to have to say...

But right now, convenience, laziness, and shortcuts are what is causing all that ecosystem change.  Our desire for everyone to "have it easy" is what drives factory farming, deforestation, "convenience" stores (that name says it all really) and mountain ranges' worth of garbage and pollution.  It's everyone all over the world trying to dump personal responsibility in exchange for a mysterious shadowy vague "them" to blame it on and who will do the hard work.

And sorry to say, it's not going to go away if that's the attitude people are going to have.  Unless you're prepared to forego that "eco-friendly holiday" that's so conveniently mentioned online for you and which you'll only spend a few hundred tons of carbon and emissions on just from going to and coming back from, you aren't really doing the planet any favours.  Are you conveniently getting all your grocery needs at a giant supermarket chain?  Then if you are, no amount of "ecofriendly!" and "healthy!" signage made from rapidly shrinking supplies of natural resources are actually going to make any of what you buy eco-friendly.

No amount of telling yourself that "X-Mart is just going to have to do a cleaner job" will reduce the impact of that nice clean packaging made from 1000 year half-life plastics, nor will it take back one gram of the pollution spewed into the air to produce that food and ship it halfway around the world from a place where it's cheap, and it won't take away one milligram of the pesticides used to grow that food and which is now in some waterway killing local animals.

And why are those supermarkets still doing that?  Because YOU are letting them, and you're giving them a mandate to keep doing it by continuing to give them your money.  If YOU could be arsed to find local farmer's markets and prepare meals instead of defrosting them, if YOU had a shred of responsibility instead of blaming the supermarket chain, this wouldn't be happening.  Think about that when you're next asked to volunteer to clean up roadside trash or participate in a tree planting and make some weak excuse and go on an eco-holiday instead... 

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13 August, 2009

This Will Be Their Testament?

How sad. It's because of dickheads like these that we'll finish up with more heatwaves, more bushfires, more extinctions, less fresh water, and ultimately worse living conditions.  Who voted for these morons?  More importantly, who's going to vote for them next time?

If these people are doing this out of some misguided sense that they are saving us money, well guess what senators and parliamentarians and other halfwits, I can't eat our crap plastic money, but I will be really really really pissed off when food costs me all of my scrimped and saved plastic money that you worked so studiously to save for me...

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12 August, 2009

Cash For Clunkers Ripped Off

UPDATE: at least there's one other person thinking like me.  and a good high profile one, at that.

While Cash For Clunkers is at its heart seemingly a good program, it does have some drawbacks.  As in this little gem of a scheme in Germany, where the cars are just sold again later.  NOT the best outcome.  It would be good if the car dealers there grew a conscience and just injected those engines as well, but my bet is that half of them ARE the element that's turning a profit by reselling those old shit-heaps.

It's not a well-thought-out scheme to begin with, because it brings as many problems as it solves.  And the one problem it does solve best isn't pollution but a kickstart to the economy that was guttering and dying in the USA.  For that, the CfC scheme has been a Godsend, because it gets money out there and circulating again.

Problems it didn't solve:
  • Pollution.  As in the example of Germany, where it just moves the heaps around to spew somewhere else, in the States it just gets people to buy another pollution-spewer.  
  • Transport.  The people who can afford to upgrade their car, whether by trading in, CfC, or whatever else, already have a car.  People who don't have the wherewithal to afford a car, are still just as screwed as before.
Much better would have been to have two wrinkles on the scheme:

  • CfC only available for anyone purchasing an electric, hydrogen, or hybrid car with the rebate.  That would have solved the problem of pollution, and put incentive dollars in the pockets of those that most need them, the clean vehicle industry.
  • Clunkers that are in roadworthy condition to have the engine removed and killed, and a new more efficient and clean engine fitted and then allowed to be resold - but only to individual customers, and at a price no more than the rebate plus the market cost of the engine and fitting.  That would provide cheap cars for those who need them but can't afford them, be they in the States or elsewhere in the world.
Used together those two steps would have solved a lot of hassles and also pulled the sting of the scam being perpetrated in Germany.

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03 August, 2009

Just A Quick Observation On Weight Loss

I don't know how many TV news articles start with "Losing the weight is only half the story, here's the part that no-one else tells you."

The day one TV station headed an article with that tag, wasn't that the end of it?  Cos after that, everyone is telling you the part that "no-one else tells you" and in fact they need to change the tag to "... here's the part that everyone else has already told you."  Uh, yeah sure it lacks zing, but it's the truth... 

And the only bit I'm sure of is that losing weight IS the battle, just that you have to keep doing it.  %)  The word "diet" means "what you eat" and so to me a "weight loss diet" is equivalent to "what you eat to lose weight."  And there's no time limit on that.  You eat to lose weight, and you keep doing it.

That's the secret to losing the weight, I think.  Once you've found your way to lose weight, make sure it's something you'll be comfortable with for the rest of your life, and then keep doing it.

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Permaculture Tips

As you know, I like doing things that are closer to nature, things like gardening with less fertiliser and less soil preparation - stuff that reads a lot like permaculture, in fact.  I've been experimenting with my vegetable garden here, and in previous places I've lived, and come up with a few thoughts:

Huegelkultur:  Translates from German as "moundculture" and as you can see from this article it's pretty much just that - pile up biomass and pile a mound of soil over it.  I'm Austrian, like the guy Sepp mentioned in that article, and I'm an admirer of doing things in a low-impact low-footprint way.  But I'm not so sure.

  • One: raised beds are anathema to permaculture.  They are a way of taking the land's natural lay - and then altering it.  But I do agree that raised beds are better, just please don't call them permaculture.  
  • Two: It's a bit ironic to use a tractor to do all this while burning a shitload of fossil fuel and causing pollution.  
  • Three: Where did the dirt for the mound come from?  You probably need more than comes out of the ditch, and in fact all the pics I've seen show the logs piled on the ground, and then some "dirt ex machina" appears to cover the logs up.  
  • Four: The claim is that the rotting trees cause "natural tillage" by leaving air pockets that you'd otherwise have to plough.  But maybe the superior tillage also has to do with the fact that you dug up a mound of dirt, stuck some logs down, then piled the soil on.  In that process, you've given the soil a "superploughing" to considerable depth. 

Personally, I'd dig a trench, put the biomass in, and then pile the soil back on top, for the same effect.  Oh guess what? I already do that.  I take stuff that's too big to compost or feed to the worms, and dig holes in the garden and bury it.  My grandfather did that, and so did my parents. It's nothing new Sepperl, it's what we've been doing for generations.  

My method uses up all sorts of waste that would otherwise just rot in some midden somewhere.  And I don['t know either why it doesn't create a nitrogen deficient area of soil, but that perhaps comes from the other bits I do which aren't mentioned in the article and perhaps aren't being done.

Another problem in Australia is that summers get too hot to allow plants to be without a source of water, or you lose in one record heat day what took you three months to grow.  Just not worth it to have such deeply-held permaculture convictions.  And the same heat kills off worm farms unless you keep them under a wet blanket (there goes your brownie points for not wasting water) and turns what might have been promising compost into dry water-repelling dust.

Here's the things I've always done in my gardens and which improve any soil.

  • DO dig your beds from time to time.  As I said, kitchen scraps, branches, leaves, feathers and bones and skins, all go to the garbage pit under garden bed "F" or wherever I'm currently burying.
  • DO fertilise and condition the topsoil and subsoil layers.  Just not with chemicals.  I have compost that I wrap in old carpet pieces in the winter to keep them a bit warm, I have straw and hay and poo from the rabbits and the chickens, and I have worm tea and the leftover worm castings from worm farming.  These need to be dug into the garden bed and that tends to raise the bed enough, and probably encourages nitrogen fixation, water retention, and filters down decay bacteria to the stuff buried lower down.
  • While I'm at it.  My excrement is no good in that particular situation, although rabbit chicken goat sheep cow horse and pig poop are okay.  We humans tend to concentrate too many toxins and bacteria that will just turn around and bite us, so our excrement needs to go lay in a trench somewhere dark for a year to decompose further, and then you can dig it under.  
  • Urine?  Yes please!  Nothing more satisfying than going out and getting that wee among the veges.  Our urine is sterile, generally, and contains great trace nutrients including some that help in the fixing of nitrogen, thus solving the nitrogen-consuming decomposition problem.
  • Hair. I've taken to sweeping up at hairdressers and bringing that to the garden.  Hair contains even more material that breaks down and provides growth factors.  You can dig it into the top/subsoil layers along with the upper material, in among the biomass lower down, or feed it to the worms, in particular, who will find it very filling and tasty.
I also have my garden beds laid out to a width that's the same as the rabbit hutches and chicken runs.  And those have wheels...  I can wheel a hutch full of rabbits over a garden bed and their wastes drop directly onto the topsoil, their urine contains more calcium than an application of lime, the scraps of oaten and lucerne hay form a mulch on the surface to keep moisture in and insulate the soils from the heat.  Two or three initial hand waterings washes the organic waste down into the soil where you want it, and if you were smart you ran poly drip tube in rows so you can now have the advantage of buried drip irrigation.

That 's how I started here last year, but I had to use bought potting mix.  This year, I've gathered all the composted and compostable materials, have a worm farm in production, and got a long job ahead of me digging over a few dozen meters of garden...  But it will produce a top crop this summer.

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