I’ve been doing a lot of on-site work with a particular client this year. They have those super-powered hand dryers in all of the bathrooms. Above each hand dryer, there’s this little laminated sign:
Absurdly bureaucratic, no? Humour is the only response to this kind of punctiliousness, isn’t it? So, I quietly produced and laminated a replacement sign:
That satisfied me for a few months, but I was concerned that it was overly subtle. Someone might assume that a new edict had been rolled out by senior management, nullifying the original instruction. So I tried a slightly more obvious angle:
In retrospect, I really should have put the line break between “air” and “like”.
There’s still gold in this vein. I plan to make one more sign before the year is out. I was thinking of going with something more nonsensical:
HÃƒÂ¤nde hoch, baby, HÃƒÂ¤nde hoch mir dein Herz, gib mir, gib mir dein Herz
I’ve been doing a lot of on-site work at a client’s office this year. I’ve been holed-up in a kind of satellite office, which has a small, one-person bathroom.
This organization is pretty progressive, so the bathroom has automated lighting that comes on when the motion sensor detects I’ve entered. They’ve also got the two-button toilets and fancy hand dryers. It’s all very green.
Too green, actually. Because if you remain still–as you might while, you know, using the bathroom–for more than a minute or so, the motion sensor thinks you’ve left, and plunges the tiny room into darkness. And–insert jokes about male aim here–one really needs to see at that particular moment.
So, I’ve taken to kind of waving one hand lazily over my head, like I’m in a rodeo, riding a bull. I’m also reminded of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, which includes the line “to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free”.
The participants maintained a single trash can for a year. At the end of the year, the participants had a little weigh-in to determine who’d generated the most waste.
A Single Trash Can Over Three Months
That’s pretty hardcore, so I started thinking about a less extreme challenge. What if we attempted to only generate a single trash can of garbage over three months? By ‘trash can’, I mean a largish indoor bin, like one of those free-standing, foot-pedal-operated ones you typically find in a kitchen.
That seems pretty achievable. We’ve got robust recycling here in BC, and an apartment composter that processes everything organic excepting bones and citrus fruit waste. The tricky bit would be not buying any big consumer items like, say, a new laptop, that’s accompanied by a lot of non-recyclable waste. We have no kids, which are, I gather, engines of consumer waste.
And we wouldn’t make it a challenge–I’m not a particularly competitive sort. I wouldn’t do it for the conservation alone. But it would be a good exercise in thinking more carefully about how much we consume, and how much ends up in a landfill. And maybe then I could convince a couple of friends, family members or readers to do the same thing.
In any case, our composter is on the fritz (the motor got all corroded), so we have to wait for replacement parts. If I can convince Julie, though, we might give it a try this winter.
Could you only fill one trash bin over three months?
Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. IsabellaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s parents, Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.
The Great Bear Rainforest is a huge swath of the land–the size of Austria–on BC’s central coast. It’s home to three kinds of bears, six million migratory birds, 3000 genetically distinct salmon stocks and many species of plants unique to the region. Most importantly, it’s the largest tract of intact coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth.
As you may recall, there was a landmark agreement in 2006 among various stakeholders–the provincial government, logging companies, First Nations and environmentalists. They agreed to a new approach to resource planning developed by an independent team of scientists, and committed to its implementation by March 31, 2009. But we’re not (ahem) out of the woods yet. From the petition:
A couple of years ago, Premier Campbell made a very specific commitment to preserve this precious rainforest. The final countdown is on for the BC government to make their promise a reality by the March 31, 2009 deadline. Premier Campbell needs to hear from you.
We are down to the wire. Unless all elements of the promise are kept, the ecological health of the rainforest will be in jeopardy once again. We’ve come so far towards the rare success of having a vast unspoiled forest safeguarded, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not undermine all this good work by not reaching the finish line.
Give Me an Early Christmas Present: Sign This Petition
If you can spare 37 seconds, I’d really appreciate it if you would sign the petition urging the government of BC to keep their promises regarding this precious region. You don’t have to be from BC, either–support from other parts of the globe really helps.
If you’re keen to help beyond signing the petition, consider any of the following:
For the past couple of years, I’ve advocated to anybody who would listen that I thought there was great online opportunity in forming a green ad network. Something like The Deck or Federation Media, but for a group of vetted, popular environmental and sustainability sites. There has, of course, been an explosion of such sites on the web in the past few years. A few such networks exist, but they all feela littlehokey.
They haven’t got a list of publishers up yet. This seems fairly crucial, so I’m going to email them and enquire about that. Regardless, I think that such a network might be able to weather the economic downturn better than most.
UPDATE: I got a prompt response from goodsense founder and CEO Adam Wood: “We’re just finalizing our list of publishers and expect to have one we can share publicly in the next couple of weeks.”
I’m a big fan of Wordle. Everybody likes pretty tag clouds, but until recently, I’ve had no practical use for the tool.
What with the forthcoming election and all, and being in marketing, I thought it might be interesting to use Wordle to distill each of the four national parties’ websites into a tag cloud. The cloud would reflect the terms that the party uses most frequently on their English-language websites. With an assist from Ask Metafilter, I got them done. I’ll explain a little more about how after the clouds.
As usual, click for larger versions:
What Conclusions Can We Draw?
That’s more a question for you than me, as I haven’t spent much time trying to grok what these clouds tell us (yes, I used ‘grok’). What jumps out at you?
How Did We Make Them?
First, I grabbed a complete copy of each party’s website. I just stuck with HTML files, so if a party hosts a lot of PDFs with unique content, then that’s not reflected. The sites, of course, ended up being different sizes, and I’m relying on my site-copying software, so I can’t be certain I got all the pages.
Then we concatenated each set of HTML files into one gigantic file. Using some scripty-magic, we generated the top 100 or 250 words, each appearing as many times as they appear in the original site.
I went through each of these to clean out most or all of the leftover HTML code, navigational terms like ‘email’ or ‘newsletter’ and French words. The French is why we used 250 words in some cases. For some sites, I downloaded both the French and English version of the site, so I needed to remove the French. By working with a 250 word file, I was able to clean out the French and still have a sizable database of words.
In short, it’s somewhat unscientific, but I’m optimistic that the clouds represent a reasonably fair reflection of each site’s top content. If anyone wants to work with the content I copied, I’m happy to share it. I’m not going to publish the complete sites here, though, as I expect that would constitute a copyright violation.