Friday, March 21, 2008

Calcium Coffee

Objective:Cut waste.

  • I generate roughly 1 eggshell a day, which goes into the trash.
  • I grind coffeebeans each morning (we use the French Press method - yum!)
  • I put the coffeegrounds go into the soil I'm building in a container garden
  • I wish to avoid more work

Solution: Drop the morning eggshell in the morning coffee beans before grinding.

  • Coffee taste doesn't change noticeably (you will recall that camp coffee is often made with an eggshell in it ... I was told as a child it helped control boiling-over, but who knows if this wasn't just an adult joke?)
  • I speculate that there may be a slight enrichment in the coffee's calcium content; this would be a plus since about the only noncheese dairy I consume is the cream in the coffee anyway
  • Grind time does not increase appreciably
  • My soil amendment is a little better.

Evaluation: A success, however small, is still a success!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

St Edward State Park

My high school is now one of the best parks anywhere: St. Edward State Park. Toward the northerly end of the east side of Lake Washington, a pious logger donated a big hunk of land to the Seattle Archdiocese, which built what was intended to be the start of a huge religious complex. I went there as a high school seminary student.

Between one thing and another, the Archdiocese decided it was best to sell off the land, but wisely put conditions on its use. Thus it is the biggest vaguely-natural area still on Lake Washington. When the park system (running low on money) looked into privatizing the park, local citizens did great work to come up with alternatives. See Citizens for St Edward State Park:

Take a photo tour:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A More Perfect Union

You have to admit Obama made a great speech, inspiring as well as educating. All America can sign on to it.

And he didn't abandon his pastor. He talked honestly about their disagreements, and showed us how to be better Americans.


Stupid Client Conversation On Killing Print Jobs

This guy's printing a 180-page report on 6-page-a-minute printer (so you have a clue how long ago this was), and I was waiting for my turn at the printer.

Him: "The first page is wrong. I can't kill this print job because my PC's locked up, but the report's all wrong."

Me: "You want to kill the print job? But the system isn't letting you? And your PC's locked up so you're going to have to reboot anyway?"

Him: "Yeah, we'll just have to wait. Unless you have a better idea."

Me: "There's always the Offon Maneuver. I'll show you."

I turned the power switch Off.

Him: "Waaah! What are you doing? Don't do that! They told us never turn the power off! My print job will be lost."

Me: "Exactly".

I toggled the switch on. The problem was solved, with no harm to anything except that poor guy's brain. Luckily he was one of the smartest people on the project, by universal consensus (which shows you the value of consensus in technical matters).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oil Math

USA produces over 5 Million barrels of crude oil a day

Oil was under $20 a barrel when Bush came into office

Oil is now about $110 a barrel; a major cause is Bush's occupation of Iraq which has made the Middle East even more unstable than usual.

Do the math:

5 Million/day times ($110 minus $20) = how much are domestic crude producers gaining EVERY DAY thanks to Bush?

(Now, yeah, there are a lot of subtleties glossed over above, but they cut both ways. So don't quibble. Look at the fundamentals.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Coffee and Fair Trade

Mmmmm! Who doesn't like coffee? But we want the good stuff, and we want to be responsible. Here's some resources (thanks to the P-I for pointing me to many of these):

"TransFair USA, a non-profit organization, is the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the U.S. and one of 20 members of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). TransFair’s rigorous audit system, which tracks products from farm to finished product, verifies industry compliance with Fair Trade criteria. TransFair allows U.S. companies to display the Fair Trade Certified label on products that meet strict Fair Trade standards"

Equal Exchange:
"Equal Exchange, founded in 1986, is the oldest and largest for-profit Fair Trade company in the US. We offer organic, gourmet coffee, tea, sugar, cocoa, and chocolate bars produced by democratically run farmer co-ops in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Equal Exchange's mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world."

Batian Peak Coffee: "This company is 100% farmer owned. Our farm is located about 60 km from the capital Nairobi, the main varities of Tea grown here are the Assam."

Caffe' Vita Coffee Roasting Co:
"Sustainability extends from the local communities we are a part of to the coffee farms that we buy from. Locally, we strive to educate our staff and customers on coffee quality and issues of sustainability. We also support many social service community groups in and around the communities we serve."

They have a delightful blog about looking for good, sustainable coffee:

Stump Town Coffee:
"Believing in the social, environmental and economic benefits of sustainable business leads us to support not only coffee farms that are committed to the well being of their workers, land and water, it compels us to be a sustainable business in our own community..."

Tony's Coffees & Teas:
"Tony's Coffee is licensed to roast and sell Fair Trade Certified coffees by TransFair USA, and also certified by the Washington State Department of Agriculture as an Organic Processor."

Choice Organic Teas:
"Choice Organic will forever disdain the use of environmentally harmful chemicals to cultivate tea."

Pokemon Presidential Politics

I don't know who did this, but it's genius:

If you are the artist, let me know so I can give you credit (or, if you prefer, delete it. It's up to you!)

Container Gardening in the City

It won't save the world, and it won't save a whole lotta money, but let me extol the virtues of using whatever little space we city-dwellers have for biointensive container gardening.

It's fun.

It's cheap.

It attracts birds, which are also cheap fun.

If you start real early, you can grow from seeds which makes the operation almost free, from a money standpoint. (Time, of course, is another matter.)

The time we spend watering and otherwise nurturing your plants and the soil they grow in is therapeutic. Container gardens are therapists that work for free, and let you hold a beer while working on your mental health!

There are a lot of little corners that are better off with something growing in a pot. Look around! A sunflower need very little space, and yields amazing results.

This year, I'm trying to grow everything from seed (although I did invest in a very nice current bush, which is already rewarding us with blossoms) and trying to build as much soil as possible from existing materials, instead of just buying potting soil (I may have to get a little more potting mix, but so far I've just refreshed last year's soil.) Wish me luck!