Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tinkers And Comics And Brin, Oh My!

David Brin writes:
"What if America lost its knack for making things? Manufacturing is the root that all other projects sprout from... even the arts! In a new graphic novel - TINKERERS - famed author David Brin combines art with a guided tour of history and tech, exploring how to win back the knack!

I kid you not! I was asked by a major metals industry group to create a comic book set in 20 years, that discusses the many reasons for US industrial decline... and how it might come back. A low-res preview edition is available online (if you'll spread the word!)

Physical copies will be available soon from Amazon. I cover the whole range. Comments are welcome...

Tinkerers has its own Facebook page! "
I'm interested in the concepts behind Tinkerers, and I think it has a very important messages. The most important may be that things aren't simple; there are many explanations and no single villain, but none-the-less the problem is real and needs to be addressed - even if the subject of economic policy is not as exciting as video games.

It's worth your time reading through the version on the internet; it's not as exciting as your average manga, but it is a quick read, and full of stuff that should make you go huh! Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Economics of Down Trashing

Recently, reviewing all our household expenses, I realised that our garbage can rates can be noticably reduced by contracting for a smaller garbage can.
Since we never filled the default-sized 32-gallon can, I down-ordered the 20 gallon "mini-can" for a $5 savings per month. This will never make us wealthy but every bit helps - plus, it adds a little urgency to properly sorting our trash. Because we have cats and therefore kitty litter, we have an unfortunate minimum amount of trash to haul, but my goal is to make it to the 12-gallon micro-can to minimize our costs.
This experience reinforces things I should already know:
  • If it saves you money, you'll find a way to create less garbage
  • It's worth taking the time to check all your expenses, now and then, to spot new opportunities.
I was reminded of this while reading this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge:
"Write about 3-5 items which are recyclable but which many people toss out. For example, the plastic safety wrap around the neck of a mouthwash bottle is recyclable but often overlooked and tossed."
I, personally, had no idea that that bit of plastic was recyclable. However, that blogpost was full of useful little tips about things I had never noticed, e.g.
"...tak[e] the paper used to individually wrapped rolls of recycled toilet paper and using it in place of paper towel to clean the bathroom (sink, mirror, etc). It's just a piece of paper that usually went directly into the recycling bin, now it gets a second life. It's also very sturdy. Doesn't shred or lint."
This common-sense suggestion appealed to both my sense of frugality and my sense of responsibilty to future generations. But together, these overcame my reluctance to look into The Forbidden Zone of the Bathroom Wastebasket -a strange place rarely visited and potentially loaded with scary items.

I hitched up my courage and took me a look. Here's what I found:
  • Q-tips (the cotton-and-paper kind)
  • Cotton pads for moisturizer
  • Floss
  • Lump of soap and hair that collect in the drain (we never use soaps with toxins in them; that just seems silly!)

  • Mouthwash bottle wrap
  • Old mouthwash bottle
  • Pain reliever box & insert 
  • Everything else, I guess. 
Residential bathrooms tend to be too small to justify separate bins for compost/recycling/trash, but on the other hand, the volume of waste is small enough to allow handsorting when tossing.