Saturday, January 31, 2009

Laundry Theory

I thought I might explain how a normal blogging gets dropped.It's 9:16 in the AM and I have a theory. Let's go research.

My theory is that we all use a lot more laundry detergent than we need. As with any solvent, there's going to be a point of diminishing returns. If I was a detergent company I'd want to make sure my customers were well past that point. I'd want to ensure my product worked to its full potential (and buy it again), and I'd want customers to use more of my product (and buy it sooner).

After 10 minutes, the wikipedia article on laundry, and now on laundry detergent (a good example of wiki's left leaning motif), I'm finding some interesting stuff. Detergent has a pretty big carbon footprint, and Tesco in the UK had the same idea I did about labeling products with environmental impact information. In rank from largest carbon footprint to smallest: Powdered detergent, liquid, concentrated liquid, Fat Tire Amber Ale. So if you love nature... drink Fat Tire, not Tide. Soap nuts, the dried fruit of the sapindus tree, are one of the best natural solutions. They don't look too expensive, I might try them after I run out of my giant box of powdered detergent (hey, it's cheap, and I didn't know).

Well it's now 9:52 and I've found someone else who had a related thought: Just be sure you're not using too much. I'd expect people have already thought about this, but perhaps they haven't. It does bring up the question of why the caps need to be so big...I can't help but say it must be related to consumers doing what they do faster. Aside: Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-business... I'd do the same thing if I was a CEO of Ultra. Then again, if you really want to save, DIY. I still haven't found anything directly related to my theory, but I did find a green game with Tom Green.

It's 10:22 in the AM. Typically by this point, I'd have changed my topic and probably just blog on the carbon footprint of different types of detergent. So now know, that's how I usually drop a blogging.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This Island Earth

I am almost through the Planet Earth series. If you have not seen these, do so. If no one you know owns them, and you don't have netflix, and your local rental store doesn't carry them, just go buy them. Although the graphics and audio may be outdated in a few decades, there may be some of the last and best shots of several species, and the content is of the type that demands to be passed on (for reasons, historical, biophilic, and academic).

During the episode I watched last night, I had two ideas for Sci-Fi films.

Sci-Fi Number A: As the human population continues to grow, an entire continent abandoned to remain un inhabited and provide the human population with the ecological benefits of a major area of true wilderness (water shed, O2 production, greenhouse gas reduction). Human's development of technology slows natural evolution of the species (has it already?). After a few millenia, scientists discover a species has developed on the wilderness continent that has the potential for global superiorty. The decision must be made whether to let nature run its course, exterminate the species before it becomes too powerful, find a way to co-exist, bringing it into our enivronment, or vice-versa. Of course, a huge and cheesy fight scene could always happen.

Sci-Fi number B: In the not so distant future the elite of the one world gov't declare overpopulation the source of all problems, and without the possibility of a traditional fix. They announce that they will go underground, and will resurface once the world population has declined to a sustainable state... i.e. they tell the general public to have at each other. This could be a story of anarchy and survival, or a bard's tale of banding together for the good of all (even if not for the common good, BAM!)

If anybody has seen these movies, let me know. I've not yet dreamed them, so I'm anxious to see how they turn out. If anybody wants to make these movies, just put my name in the credits in little tiny letters, and give me one penny for every copy produced.

*Ideas for science fiction films is not a recognized side effect of the Planet Earth series. If Sci-Fi visions become more frequent than 12/hour, you should consult a doctor, or priest, or anyone who will talk to you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yes, I Cran.

A couple of summer's ago, I wanted to road trip. I wanted to see some sights. I wanted to get away. I wanted to visit a girl.

I heard one of my friends was looking to split gas with someone so he could get to his summer job in Utah. He worked as a guide/counselor at a camp that takes troubled kids out in the desert for a coming to god experience (not God, in this case, just god). That's probably another post, but basically they take city kids out of civilization for a month or more. No TV, no cars, no running water. Just tents, sand, and the inescapable voice of your own thoughts. He tells me the program is quite successful, but I digress.

We stopped in Dinosaur, Colorado to get Monster Energy drinks (since I don't drink much caffeine, we knew this would get us to Salt Lake City). We had been on the road 15 hours or so and decided to take a stretch break. Once our eyes remembered they could look around instead of focusing on the upcoming road. We noticed an old school bus parked across the street with a gaggle (20 or so :-) people milling about it. In short, they were migrant workers. In slightly longer than short, they were hippies who traveled where work was, making money off the land, and possessing, little but living much. They all happened to be white (although some were well tanned), and many were the children of doctors, lawyers, et al. Others, like the friend we were about to make, had been living in a bus their whole life.

We discovered the bus had a major break-down. The group was short the money to get it fixed. Once my friend discovered I was ok with it, we offered a ride to SLC. We knew we only had room for one person and one pack, or perhaps a woman and a small child (and there were several toddlers or infants). After some debate among the group, our riding mate was chosen. Cranberry Juice (as reads his birth certificate) was the group's "Teacher" or unofficial leader. He decided it was best for him to leave the bus and go onto Montana, where he knew he'd be the most capable of raising the necessary funds by picking mushrooms (legal mushrooms, although hallucinogenic would be pocketed for personal use).

Cranberry Juice was born in the back of a bus following the Grateful Dead. He had no formal education, but was clearly intelligent (probably why the group had trusted him as Teacher). We discussed during the couple hour drive to SLC the culture of his group. Why did young adults leave trust funds to come with them? Did they pay taxes (yes)? Did they vote (yes, but they did not align themselves with a party)? Did he think he would ever settle down? Were they unique?

The answer the last question was a resounding, "NO." These groups number in the tens of thousands in the US. Cranberry Juice estimated over 50,000 Americans follow this life. He knew it was at least that anyway, because once a year most everybody convenes. Usually based between two places of work, everybody stops and spends a week. Some relax, the higher Teachers and elders meet to discuss important matters that might affect everyone (be it new laws, the forecasted cost of gasoline, etc.). After a few days people move on and continue about their migrating business. It's basically a mobile city's annual town hall meeting.

Prior to this, I had no idea groups like this existed in such numbers and was surprised to find they all broke the minority stereotype that is associated with migrant workers. I was glad for the experience. These groups provide cheap labor that travels where the work is this is surely a valuable asset to those communities who they visit. I know there are exceptions that give these groups a bad name... but if you ever meet a guy named Cranberry Juice, you're in good company.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Honk your body

I don't know if I've mentioned it on here before, but I've been reading a book on language, it's history, and the study of it. I'm about 400 pages in, but it's taken me 7 months. You see the difficulty is that I've only read this text while on the crapper. It has changed quite a few of my views on language, and reinforced others.

I've read all sorts of interesting things in this book: The Lord's prayer in Old, Middle, Early, and Modern English. It's really interesting to see how the laguage evolved. I've read an essay by a Professor from Urbana Champaign who found teaching Hamlet in bush Africa difficult (their language had no word for ghost, et al). I've recently read about Spanglish... and how it's not bad Spanish or bad English, but a combination that allows fluent speakers of both languages to express themselves with more freedom.

Anyway, today I'd like to approach the subject of prepositions... which may be touchy for those of you that grew up around a MLS Nazi. Do you guys remember the rule, "Never end a sentence in a preposition"? Well guess what... Robert Lowth, in A Short Introduction English Grammar freaking made it up. No science persay, he just found preposition stranding informal, so he wrote it in a book. He may have borrowed from Latin, but why should the Latin spoke at the beginning of time (1 AD ;-) have any bearing on a totally different language that had evolved far from it's roots?

If Lowth can do it, so can I. Here is Brady's perscribed grammar for dealing with prepositions.
-It is ok to end a sentence with them to avoid cumbersome talk, or when it makes sense as part of the infinitive form of the verb. Example: "There are some treausers we're going to look for." Instead of, "There are some bikes fot which we're going to look." The latter is simply cumbersome, and additionally the infintive form of the verb in is arguably "to look for." (procurar in Portuguese, similar to buscar in Spanish, translates directly to, "to look for")
-It is not OK to end a sentence in a preposition if you are wasting breath. Why not, because it's unneccesary. Stop wasting my time with meaningless honks of your body. Examples: Where are you at? or Where are you going to? I know you midwesterners especially just want to use that extra word, but don't. Just shut your mouth before it comes out; Cram it up your cramhole.

If you've made it this far, you're either bored, you have some interest in grammar, or you're just one of those people that can't put a book down half-read... even if they know the rest is going to babble on and on and eventually, after much verbosity get to the point that you could see coming since 100 pages ago (these type people are the only kind who've ever made it through Ayn Rand books). Either way... I bet you'll click on this link to some current Disputes in English Grammar