Recycling Center in Overland Park

Overland Park has a pretty awesome recycling center! Its easy to find, basically you go down 119th street heading west, go past metcalf a bit and turn left at hardy st, it goes right in to it. Its by the Time Warner cable center there in OP.

Here are a bunch of pictures I took the first time I was there, they kind of looked at me funny…..

















I’ve gone twice now to drop off my glass and a couple other things. They take just about everything. I can truly say that between composting and recycling we have about a bag of trash a week these days. I am trying to get it down to having NO trash at all, but I’m not sure that’s going to be possible, I’m working on it though!

Something else I’m working on is looking for bags that are biodegradable. I am considering using paper bags but curious if there is a plastic trash bag out there that would work…..

–Fin

Anachronism: Line Drying Clothes

In much of the US, people EXPECT to do their laundry using a washer and dryer. Driving through most suburban neighborhoods, you wouldn’t see people out hanging clothes on a line to dry. In fact, many neighborhood home owners associations BAN line drying of clothes as an eye sore.

Thankfully, there’s not a home owners association to bitch at us, and so we have taken it upon ourselves to annoy the neighbors by going back in time to the very recent past. The funny thing is, not many people realize just how much energy drying their clothes uses. An average family can spend a good $100 to $200 a year according to the EPA using a clothes dryer instead of line drying clothes. At an energy cost of near 1000 kWh / year, switching to line drying clothes could power an average home for a month.
Yesterday, I helped Fin put up the clothes line, and she’s switched to that from the dryer this summer. Line dried clothes have so far, been an epic win in this house, if only for the fact that my shirts actually seem to loose that dude-funk when they’re left in the breeze for a while. The amount of time to do the laundry isn’t much changed, and the clothes get dryer much quicker than you’d expect.
It’s also nice to be outside spending some time with Fin doing something together. The downsides? Well, I guess people get to see your socks and undewear hanging out there:
Also, clothes dried by the sun do have a tendency to fade faster. Still, if your homeowners association allows it, I recommend the practice. If they don’t, well, maybe you should question them as to exactly why they consider it an eyesore. The idea that trying to save energy, help the environment, and reduce costs is an eyesore, well, it’s just sorta sad. This blog is about changing that before the rest of the world leaves us in our own wasteful dust.

Laundry and Composting

Well, we got a composter! 115 gal compster for $50 at Lowes, not a bad deal. Also I am making sun tea, that’s what’s on the top there. Sun tea says “summer” to me. 🙂 Anyone out there make sun tea? Its easy: take a glass jar, fill it with water, add either loose tea or tea bags, set in the sun. You can pretty much forget about it all day or for a couple days depending on how strong you want it. I use loose tea and when I bring it in I strain it then put it back in the same jar and put it in the fridge.


We got the laundry line set up, yay! I really like hanging out clothes, its very relaxing. I don’t spend any more time on it then I would if I was using my dryer. You think it would take more time but it really dosn’t Things take a bit longer to dry then they would otherwise, but really not by much. Also I can leave them on the line as long as I want and don’t have to rush to the dryer when it beeps or risk having the clothes wrinkled, or worse: over dryed.

There are alot of advantages to line drying clothes besides just the energy savings:

1) They last alot longer
2) They don’t shrink
3) They smell better
4) The sun helps remove stains
5) Sunlight helps to disinfect clothing

I was talking to my dad today about line drying clothing and he said he can remember helping his mom to actually wash clothes by hand and use a wringer to wring them out. Then they would hang clothes out on the line. It hasn’t been that long that people have been using washers and dryers. I don’t think I would like to give up my washer, but I really do enjoy hanging out the clothes.

We hung two green plastic/wire lines and one chain line. Its an actual chain that I got that was intended to be used to chain pets. My idea was that I could hang hangers through the loops of the chain and they wouldn’t slide along the line. It worked very well! I was able to space out the clothes like I wanted to and not have to worry about the clothes bunching up or the wind catching them and blowing the hangers off the line. I usually hang up all our shirts and my jeans so I didn’t want to be doing too much extra work here. What I did is hang up the shirts, put them on the line, and then when they are dry I can just bring them in and hang them in the closet, no extra work! I used clothes pins to hang up the jeans, towles, and socks/stuff then folded it into my laundry basket as I took it down. Easy!

Here are some great links if your interested in getting started yourself:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Lazy-Line-Dry/
http://www.laundrylist.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothes_line

This one is *awesome* for learning about all the different methods and styles:

http://www.tiptheplanet.com/index.php?title=Air_dry_washing

–Fin

One Reason Why Computers Suck

Fate’s theory on computers: there is no consumer computing device which actually works.

Everything you see at BestBuy, the lines of laptops from HP and Apple – all of them – are broken in some fundamental way. I don’t care how awesome your home PC is, give me five or ten minutes with it, and I’ll figure out something you “should” be able to do that causes it to spit up all over itself. Funny enough, there are a good number of people out there actually paid to do that. That certain talent, is the reason why I’m involved with the computing industry, and simultaneously also, technology incompatible.
Now, in my profession, I see a lot of computer equipment, and generally deal with it on a far more detailed level than most people. Floating in my head are a great number of random facts about how various pieces of computer hardware work. What amazes me though, is that when it comes right down to it, computers don’t.
If you’re reading this blog, you’ll likely know the difference between Hardware and Software. Driver software makes the hardware tick. An outsider might expect that driver software would be developed alongside with the hardware directly – when the hardware is done, so is the driver software. Looking at the problem in detail though, it’s obvious you’ve got something of a chicken and an egg here – how do you develop software for non-existent hardware? I’ll spare the gritty details of how that works, and jump straight to the results.
And that result, is generally with either you – the consumer – or the OEM (big box PC makers like HP and Apple.) On a modern Windows PC, you’ve probably noticed “Windows Update”, asking on a regular basis if you’d like to ruin…er…. update parts of the software on your computer. Depending on your level of technical sophistication / bravery / stupidity / intelligence, you may have chosen to install / ignore / install randomly these updates. For today, we’ll focus on the Driver updates.
Now, let’s say I’m an up and coming competitor to ATI and nVidia, and have developed the new wizz-bang awesome 3d video card which has 10 spanking new features, including the ability to render photorealistic boobies realtime. Gamers the world over drool (understandably) over this new piece of computing excellence. The announcement is made, and the new Wank-O-Matic 5000 video card hits shelves. Immediately, my competitors begin discussing how their next version of video card will render even better photorealistic boobies realtime in their next generation of cards. That, however, doesn’t stop Gamers from lining up overnight to purchase the Wank-O-Matic 5000.
On buying it however, they take it home, and discover that only 8 of the ten new features work well, and the other 2 don’t work well at all. Sad and dismayed, gamers announce it’s a good video card, but the major selling point is overrated. Not to be stopped, I now promise every gamer – but wait, it’ll be fixed in an update! As time goes on, the major issues with the new creation are fixed, and at long last, the Wank-O-Matic 5000 does everything as advertised. The only thing is, noone is using it anymore, it’s now been obseleted by the Wank-O-Matic 6000, and the new up and coming Wanktastic 8G.
Which brings me to the heart of the matter – all of the computer hardware in existence today, is not fully utilized. Indeed, any computer purchased within the last year or so will have a shiney new 64 bit chip in it – being used to run a 32 bit operating system. And, this isn’t something created recently. The first 32 bit processor was introduced in 1985. It wasn’t, however, until 10 years later, that consumers could take full advantage of that.
I know it’s difficult, but, at some point, I just have to start to wonder. The personal computing industry is now over 30 years old. At what point do we stop saying “computers are new” and start expecting everything to work as advertised when we buy it? When do we begin expecting hardware vendors to not simply say “fix it later” when the product can’t even be used anymore from being so out of date?
Thinking about it, the answer is obvious to me: people are happy with mediocre. Computers crash, things occasionally just don’t work. Part of me hopes, one day that will change – people will begin to expect that this sort of technology shouldn’t crash or be difficult to use. Another part of me though, I must admit, is happy we techies can half-ass solutions. Cause really, as long as it’s good enough, it works right?

Recycling and Farmers Markets

So, I called my trash company Thursday to get both my broken trash barrel replaced (the wheels are falling off and the lid is broken) and to set up recycling. Turns out recycling is $18 for three months. I was paying 10.50 for 3 months for just the trash barrel and didn’t really want to pay an extra $18 for recycling so I canceled the trash barrel and added recycling. Next project is to get a compost heap set up. I bet we have almost no actual trash after that happens. Supposedly they are going to drop off the recycling thing and pick up the trash barrel on Tuesday. We shall see considering they were supposed to replace the trash barrel like six months ago.

We went to the Farmers Community Market at Brookside and the farmers market in Overland Park. The market in Brookside is a totally organic market, the market in Overland Park is not.

Prices at the Farmers Community Market at Brookside were on par to slightly more expensive then shopping at Whole Foods. It is a pretty small farmers market, I ment to get some pictures but I forgot, I’ll have to do that next week if I remember. We had Puddin’ Head Coffee and Fate had a breakfast burrito, I had spinach and cheese quiche. I bought some tri color beans, spring mix (thats very spicy!), some tomatoes, scallions, peppers, tomotillos and a couple other things I don’t remember. I had some of the spring mix for lunch, it was very good.

The farmers market in Overland Park is a much bigger market. There was quite a few people there when we arrived around 10 am. They have a big pavillion hall type thing set up that is a permenate structure and everyone pulls up to that and sells out on tables and in some cases out of the back of trucks. You walk down an isle of vendors and basically stop at each one and get what you want from them.

There are quite a few smallish local farmers that come as well as a couple that I recognized as being resellers. Basically people that go and buy from big vendors like Sysco or American Food Service and redistribute to the public at these kinds of things. Most of The City Market is people like this if you go durning the week. I think on the weekends the actual farmers come out. That’s a market I’ve been to during the week and the prices are extremely cheap…but the produce is mostly on line with the prices from what I saw.

We got a cantelope, corn, onions, peaches, an eggplant, and I believe a few othere things at the farmers market in Overland Park. We’ll be eating very fresh this week!

–Fin

Reduce, reuse……recycle?

We are a disposable society.

Seems like kind of a trite statement, now doesn’t it? Political commentary best left to the media…..except I see it every single day on my job.

I’m a janitor. Yeah, I’m one of those people that most people ignore. That’s what I do, not who I am. But I digress.

One of the jobs that I do on a regular basis is empty trash at a very large office building. Its interesting to me what people throw away. I have more then one blog post I plan on writing that has been spawned just simply by the act of dumping peoples trash.

For today’s post I plan on focusing on soda pop cans. You know the ones….you put in your quarter (or fifty sense, or dollar…depending on where you are) and get out your Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or whatever your poison of choice is (and I really do mean poison….have you ever looked at the ingredients in that stuff???)and drink it down. Now….what do you do with the can?

Its been my experience lately that people fall into one of just a couple categories on this:

1) throw it in their trash can
2) take it to the break room and throw it in the trash can
3) take it to the break room and throw it in the recycling bin
4) save it for the janitor as they come by and give it to them to put in the recycling bin

Weird, huh?

Not weird to you? Well, the way I see it….why just throw the can away? Why *not* recycle? Why in the world would someone put their empty aluminum can in the trash can when a recycling bin sits right next to the trash can? Why would someone put the cans in their trash can at their desk when the janitor is more then willing to take their can to the recycling bin for them if they were to just save them?

The only thing I can come up with is people just truly don’t pay attention. Otherwise…why would they pick the trash can instead of the recycling bin when they are right next to another? Also…why would they throw their regular trash into the recycling bin?

In a broader sense, why do more people not recycle? Overseas its the norm, and expected. Trash service usually only allows *one* bag of actual trash to be put out weekly. All the rest of the trash that is produced is recycling. A bin is provided, recycling is placed in it and hauled away. (The process for separating it is facinating, by the way) Its easy and simple.

So why don’t more people do it?

I have to confess that I don’t….yet. I plan on calling my trash company tomorrow and getting a recycling bin so I can start actually doing it.

Oh….I’m Fin by the way 🙂 I’m not as verbose as Fate….but I do have more opinions!

–Fin

How fast do you eat?

Lunch to me is a big deal. My lunch is 1 hour. Not 30 minutes. Not 15 minutes. 1 hour. So, when I eat lunch with the guys, it’s moderately annoying to me that it usually seems more like 5 minutes than 60.

Why?

Well, lunch goes like this – obtain food, eat food, talk about work. Only problem is, the eat food step is completed in about five minutes. And that makes me think, just how much can you enjoy your food in five minutes of eating?

Now, I can understand if you’re bringing the same horrific salami on white bread with soggy pickle everyday. Generally though, I have a really good lunch, one that is worth more than swallowing hole – plastic sack and all.

Sadly, I never realized that I too had fallen to the sickness of the overly quick lunch until recently. For some time now, my lunch had been subject to the vacuum cleaner effect. It came to me mid-way through the usual collection of lunch fruit: wow, I’m not getting to taste any of this. And so, I mad a conscious effort to finish my lunch eating at a normal pace.

You probably wouldn’t believe me, but just slowing down how fast I ate lunch made the entire world around me move slower too. Seriously. Simply taking 1 bite more per piece of fruit managed to break the laws of space-time. Any physicist out there can try and repeat the experiment by eating their salami on white bread by using more than 2 bites.

As a bonus, your digestive track will thank you for it. Eating too fast can lead to a great many health issues (obesity, acid reflux). Occasionally it pays to take some time, and well, taste the food.

If you find yourself having trouble slowing down, check out this associated content article.

Welcome to the Jungle!

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been dealing with a growing annoyance. It started with something simple enough: apple sauce. It was a simple craving for a random food. So, at the grocery store, I attempted to find my mark. Unfortunately, this happened after I started reading labels.

Every apple sauce jar at the store had the same flaw: High Fructose Corn Syrup. Now, in general, I’m not an anti-HFCS Nazi. After all, several of my favorite foods contain HFCS. But what annoyed me most here is that I prefer my apple sauce, unsweetened. You wouldn’t expect unsweetened apple sauce, just apple’s with preservative, to be hard to find.

You’d be wrong.

I mentioned this at the office, and the general reply I got was, well unsweetened applesauce sucks. When it comes right down to it, adding corn syrup to applesauce is the cheapest way to sweeten it so the most number of people enjoy it.

When it comes down to it though, the annoyance for me was the lack of choice. A lack of choice created by the faster-better-cheaper mentality. We look at our modern world as something purely progressing, and don’t stop to think if choices we eliminate have value. It’s a curious thing to me, how few people stop to look at what’s been done, what can be done, and the possibilities of the world around them.

And in general, I’m convinced, this forstagnation is being subtly encouraged by things we view as beyond question – public education, religion, technological advances, capitalism. All hold intrinsic value, but so often ideas and systems tied to concepts we hold dear are not challenged out of fear for challenging the concept itself.

This blog will be about an ongoing attempt to adopt a lifestyle which values choice, personal freedom, honesty, and individuality. And, it’s not just me here writing about this point of view, my partner in crime, Fin, will be updating too.