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Living in a city with a new plastic bag ban, month 1 – is it all just about brushing your city’s eco image?

Because no one in the city marketing or advertising departments had a clue what 4 millimeters is like

From last year’s Chronicle, a local newspaper – a way to have *less* plastic bag waste was to require the plastic bags being sold to be at least 4 MILLIMETERS thick?

Austin joined the list of the cities with a plastic bag ban in the beginning of March this year.

The plastic bag ban means that you no more get plastic – or paper – bags at the grocery store checkouts, or when you order take out food.

This will supposedly make such a huge impact in not having any plastic bag waste around the landfills or on the sides of the highways and so on, according to the marketing speech.

At least the city is no longer demanding that the reusable plastic bags would have to be at least 4 milimeters thick.

So now that everyone brings their own  bags, problems listed are going to be solved, right?

When you buy produce at the grocery, you still get those extra flimsy bags for packing your napa cabbage or rutabagas or whatever jackfruit you buy. Those bags are extremely single use. Ever tried to use those for trash or anything else after they have served for their original purpose as a bag to carry your produce home? I wouldn’t trust any less than 5 layers of those bags for just innocent kitchen garbage in. For things like doggie bags… I wouldn’t even dare to think.

Oh, the doggie bags? They still tend to be plastic (at least I’ve never seem a non-plastic bag for scooping your dog’s poop in). So now instead of reusing a bag you had, you have to BUY plastic bags. For scooping poop in them and then throwing the poop bag away… how is that not ending in the landfill or on the sides of the roads (like they now do)? The last time I tried to dissolve or compost a “biodegradable” plastic bag got no “biodegration” after months in a compost pile.

You still have to buy the garbage or trash bags. The city doesn’t like it if your garbage is in paper bags – or, gasp, without any bags at all – in the refusal bins (that are so carefully set 5 feet apart of something, because that makes also such a huge impact in being an environmental city somehow). If you used all the bags you got from the grocery previously to bag your trash in, now you have to buy, guess what? More plastic bags. That you will use only once. And to just put trash in them and then throw them away. I’m sure that’s so much more environmental.

So apart of people selling you plastic bags for e.g. trash and doggie bags, there are other people too who benefit of the ban. Namely those who sell reusable bags (at least for a few months). And the city, since it’ll be seen as such an avant-garde location in everything environmental. Even though for the city image it seems to be like driving a Prius or shopping at Whole Foods. Just because you drive one or shop in one doesn’t make you automatically great for your environment. (Grow your own food and walk at least sometimes! It might be a bit better for the environment).

It’s at least some effort to make the city greener though. But there are better ways.

If we decided to ban something in the city, why exactly just the plastic bags (and only at the grocery checkout points and restaurants)? Why not for instance bottled water? There are water fountains everywhere, in nearly every public and commercial building. Bring you own damn bottles and reuse them. While the now banned plastic bags could be used for so many thing (more in a bit), what can you do with a plastic water bottle that has been used for its original purpose? Not much usually. Please do tell me how exactly the plastic single use water bottles are not a waste problem like the plastic bags were.

Or why not bag the phone books? I believe you still get the white pages but only if you have a landline. Even if you don’t, you still get the yellow pages. Every house and apartment gets it, every year. When was the last time you used one? For me it must have been in the early 1990s. Why not simplify the (white and) yellow pages, and make those an opt-in? Call if you want to get a copy. It just seems 99 % of the yellow pages (which don’t have an easy opt-out method) end up straight to the landfill, still wrapped in the plastic they came in.

I’m sure phone books can be reused for something else as well… if you’re tired of ideas involving mod podging them in every surface of everything, here’s an idea for your old phone book:

This dress used to be a phone book before Jolis Paons, an artist, got her hands on it…

Single use water bottles and phone books are just two small things, but they would save more waste from landfill than the plastic bag ban ever will. Or if the plastic bag is now suddenly an issue at the landfill, can we have some other options than plastic bags for the garbage in the first place? Why not make composting mandatory? Where I live there’s no composting, and there’s no sorting or recycling the waste either (because a housing complex or area of under or over 1000 apartments can do exactly what they please for the waste, recycling, composting or the lack of the last two. Which in the case of where we live is from the recycling perspective nada).

Meanwhile, if you have copious amounts of plastic bags saved, you could – if simply reusing the bag is not good enough for you – use it e.g. for making plarn for your craft projects or fuse the plastic to a durable fabric you can use in some project that needs durable and waterproof fabric.

Meanwhile… as I’ve lived as a kid in a country that charged for the flimsy bags at the grocery checkout, it’s not an issue to have my foldable bags with me when going shopping. But apparently it’s a major annoyance since I see and hear every day people complain about how horribly inconvenient it is to think ahead and bring your own bags when you go shopping.

Well, let’s see what effect the ban will have on the landfills in the next 5 years. For our household plastic use it will not reduce it but increase it as now we will have to buy all the bags we use for garbage. Including for everything that should really go in the compost pile.



The Most Annoying Facebook People Categories


While this probably would be a better subject for a Facebook note, I don’t want to unnecessarily stir some people I consider friends (at least to some degree).

I’ve been wondering for a long time what would be the most annoying type of Facebook posters, and here is my categories v. 1.

(Note: these are not yet in the final order. So for that there will be probably a later version)

1. Emo “Life sucks” “My work sucks” “No one understands me” “Pity me”.

2. Breeder – every post is about their offspring. “My kid just had a poop” “My kid is so smart” “My kid blah blah”.
Note: emo and breeder occasionally happen in the same person. It can be hard to decide if to say anything when the friend with usually breedertastic updates goes suddenly to emo mode “so apparently having a sprog is a dude/chick repellant, no one wants to hang out with a chick/dude who has a sprig”. Well…

3. Twitterer – every post is a twitter status. Triple annoying for every #trending topics word in the status. “#my #facebook #status #updates #are #so #cool!”

4. Farmville – those whose every single update is about some Zynga (or any other Facebook) game “I’m on level 4 in poopville! Come wipe my pooper” “Come play Whateverville or poker with me! Fertilize my crops! I just reached level N+1”.

5. Pity me – see emo. Usually with more adult type of drama, or health issues. “My life sucks more than yours” “So I got like $ 900 more to pay, thanks IRS”.

6. Breeder-to-be – status updates include scans of the yet-to-be-released offspring. “Here’s Sprogleigh on week 3 scan” “zomfg!!1 We’re so preggers” “Sprogleigh makes my legs so swollen & other TMI”. After the release of the kid, this type usually turns to Breeder, see above. Most however stay in the breeder stage only for a few months (until the novelty wears off, and the cuteness probably weights less than the hungry wakeups 24 7).

7. The One Who Adds All Your Friends – double creep points if the person doing that is your mum/dad/other relative of the same category/your ex/someone significantly older than you.

8. The Famous – doesn’t matter if he or she is, they surely are full of Facebook Drama.
See also Friend Collector.

9. Friendlist Drama Queen – those who keep adding and removing people constantly, without apparent reasons. I guess that would be one of the signs of having OCD.

10. Friend Collector – those who are not as famous as Anthony Bourdain or Guy Kawasaki but who keep harvesting friends – thousands of friends that they don’t know. Double points if The Famous/Friend Collector keeps recommending you add Some Chick you surely don’t know

11. Some Chick/Some Dude – some person with a hot looking photograph and apparently interesting hobbies etc that appears first in the friendliest of Friend Collector or The Famous, then creeps up to the friendlists of multiple friends of yours. None of which have met Some Chick or Some Dude because they live somewhere they have never even been to.

12. Stupid Fake Name – this would be all those Jen In Facebook, Firstname Lastname combinations that are just weird inventions. Fine, I do understand the need to sometimes have a separate account with a fake name, or to hide under some random name, but if you add someone, please tell who the hell you are in the real life. How exactly do I know you? If I have no clue who you are, you are just Some Chick, and I’m not going to add you, ever.

13. Super Sporty person – those who do constant updates about how much they have run. Great if they are really runners and actually sporty, but for some reason all my friends that do any sport more seriously, don’t bother to status update how much they’ve run. It just feels odd to see multiple weekly updates when the Super Sporty was previously (aka in Real Life) known as the Smoking Couchpotato.

14. Suburbia Ranter – this type has strong political views, sees him/herself as a liberal, but has surprisingly conservative views, and lives in the Honky Suburbia. Suburbia Ranter gets annoyed by the people tweeting when they drive, the sprogs running amok in Walmart, Target or some similar place, and has habitual political posts that are also supposed to be ah-so-liberal. This type seems to call for the inner Conservative-Basher in many people that have made a conscious decision to not live in Honky Breederville. As a difference to emo, Suburbia Ranter is annoyed by the political issues, other people’s offspring etc, whereas emo’s annoyances are anyone and anything that is against him/her (so way more a teenager attitude than Suburbia’s).

15. Compulsive Liker and Compulsive Commenter – sometimes the Liker is also a The One Who Adds All Your Friends.

16. Link Poster – lots and lots of links. Double creep points if every digg, tweet, delicious, flickr, tumblr, goodreads and everything else social ends in the links.

17. Wall Spammer – some friends just shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near your wall.

18. Failbooker – the one whose posts and updates belong in failbook. Well – too funny to unfriend.

19. Only Some Weird Language – so you live in a country where they speak language X, and most of your friends speak language X. All the posts are however in language Y…. learn to create some groups. People who might understand what you say might like to read what you say, not those to whom it’s all Greek (or Finnish).

20. Creep Otherwise Not Specified – those who just creep for some reason, but you can’t put a finger on it. Maybe they make you wonder if they are a serial killer or something.

Did I forget any important category?

I guess The Activist could be annoying too, if the only things he or she ever posts are for some political/animal/health/whatever cause they have strong opinions about (and nothing else to say). But I don’t think I’ve seen that many Activists that they’d start to annoy. Many have some things they are passionate about, and to mention it once in a while is OK, just not daily. Wait, The Activists that are way too passionate about everything tend to kind of go under the ignore, so I guess I’ll have to add them after all;

21. The Activist – constant posts about the subjects the poster is passionate about. Breastfeeding, vaccinations, religion… double points for any 3 or more items that are controversial or usually feed the trolls in the internet.

22. Repost On Your Wall if… you like this status. Some smart and made up quotes that they copied from their friend who copied it from their friend. I guess in the real life these people were the ones falling for the chain mails. Well, once every now and then it’s fine to have such a status, but not when it’s habitually

23. Bless You – most updates are how Jebus loves you or how Dog this-and/or-that. Oh please create a filter, and show your jebusness to only those who you know are interested in your type of religion. Religion is like underwear – I don’t want to see what you are wearing. Or like a penis – it’s ok to have one, just have other interests in life than playing with yours too, and please don’t shovel it to the throats of young people. Oh, and all the mazel tovs count in this category too. Anything religious as long as it’s the daily and constant, primary content of the updates.

By the way, all those categorizations above are based on multiple people. So there are more than one Sporty, more than one Breeder, more than one of practically any of them (and combined).

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Firefox has a clueless or mocking sense of humor

Since I upgraded my OS to Mac OS X 10.7, I’ve been positively surprised how smooth it is compared to all the other pre-release OS I’ve used. In fact, the only problems I’ve had have been with audio built-in, but I’m not 100 % whether the problems of not recognizing any input are due to the OS or someone having taken apart this Mac later. Previously I didn’t have problems with it, but I was on a different Mac too. So this time, not using my own.

Firefox just had a funnily stupid error message:

Your Flash Player is out of date. Never fear, we can help.

To keep you as safe as possible, we recommend you upgrade your Flash Player. Without it, your browser could be less stable and less secure. So get the free update now or learn more.

Wait, to be safe and secure I should have or install Flash player? Wow, great security advice. Especially as the standard controls of any browser do not allow to be enough anal in the flash cookie policies. My default for that, when or if I have Flash on a system installed, is to not allow R, W, or X for the folder of Flash cookies. There are other ways to get rid of and to get better control of those cookies too.

It would be a better thing to advice me that I might miss some of the “fun” when I don’t have Flash installed than to be less secure, as that’s not the case. But what is Flash really used for? Mostly for ads. 99 % of the Flash things are stuff I do not want to see. 100 % of the Flash things are things I want to decide myself whether I want to see them, and not have them loaded by default. Flash is 100 % unsuitable for using it for serious business apps, such as stores or kbases. Flash is useless, and it’s also so 1998. Meh. Meh.

Screw you, Firefox. No, I’m not installing Flash.

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Dear People in TV Commercials, part 1

I admit, I like watching TV ads – sometimes. But there are only a few really enjoyable ones. Some are just bad, and some are WTF, and some I’d like to ask something.

Hey, Great Driver, who is insured by some Hauer Company, who gets the snapshot discount offeres by (auntie) Flo in Progressive commercial. If you are such a great driver, why is your buddy, who you admit is a horrible driver, driving you around?

Hey screaming couple who didn’t know what they were doing when they were in a Lowe’s last year’s commercial, I mean bought a house and were in a Lowe’s commercial and then screamed a lot during it. Did you know I can’t go to Lowe’s because your ad gives me creeps? Even now that it’s been replaced by a less crazy couple who didn’t go insane or start screaming when they bought their house. Thanks to your commercial, I shop at Home Depot.

Hey Whataburger dude. I really hate your voice. And no, “burgers as you like” is not for all. I, for instance, don’t like any burgers, nor do I like your way of pronouncing the “hhhwataburger”.

Dear car salesmen in car commercials. Please quit using the hands the way you do. Just because your teacher taught that it shows honesty when you keep the hands visible, don’t massage them, don’t put them in your pockets, and don’t touch your face, does not mean that I find you credible. If I see anyone use their hands like you guys, I either consider them creeps, or don’t trust them for whatever business I’m supposed to do with them.

Dear breeders in “Corn Sugar” commercials. Call it as you like, but it’s still HFCS. Your body can’t tell the difference? Mine can. My taste buds can too. And guess what? I make even my own ketchup just because that HFCS crap is everywhere.

Dear dude in Dial commercial. If you like smelling like dirt, why do you bother to wash up? Oh wait, is the point of Dial that it makes you stinky and dirty? Oh I get it now.

Dear people making ads for light beer, please start to use other demographics than just white men worried about the calories. Are you trying to encourage men to worry about the calories in beer? Newsflash: most female anorexics don’t count the calories in alcohol, and they stick to clear stuff such as vodka and rum.

Dear Directv, are you trying to market your product only to the Russians?

Dear Outback Roadhouse, is your food as “authenticly” Australian as the accent in your ads?

In 15 minutes or less, 15 % of you could be wondering why you are buying your car insurance from a gecko with a fake British accent.

Dear idiots who made the Above The Influence ads, do you realize how many of your ads just fail? I hate especially this type of parents (and offspring).

Anyway, one thing I like doing when I visit other countries is to watch some TV ads (if I end up watching any TV at all that is). They often tell more about the people, time, and culture than the same soaps that you can watch across the globe.

My current favorite character in TV ads would still have to be the Old Spice man.

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What do you miss from where you came from?

flags (not

Where do you come from?
What do you miss from where you came from?

Especially the first one is not my favorite question, and let me tell you why.
Just because you were born one day somewhere doesn’t mean you should associate yourself with that place. Just because you grew up somewhere doesn’t mean it would “explain” and “help understand” how you are to a greater extent, if you have happened to live significant parts of your life somewhere else. That wouldn’t be as bad a definition if the places where one grew up were either ver heterogeneous by their composition in population and culture, or the places were somewhat related, or even just compatible, in culture.

But when the locations happen to be monocultures, and not too compatible, you have to explain, and you have to explain again and again why, how, and what. And then people will just associate you with those locations, not as what you are, what you have become. Not everyone does that association, but based on years of dealing with people who never went anywhere else, who think they can understand everything about the others by applying geographical labels, yes, there are those who are happy to apply a few labels to me, and then treat me as nothing more than someone who came from the place or places I don’t identify myself.

The place I was born I can define in essence as this: I don’t belong there. I have never felt I belonged there. I don’t live there; I haven’t lived there for a long time, and I have personally no desire to visit that place either. The only reason I do visit it every few years is because of my mum, who has never visited me anywhere, and who complains when I don’t want to spend all my free time where she wants. Let me do something a bit more explanatory in this post than give you a few geographical labels; I try to describe the places and people in locations. The majority of the people over there subscribe to a religion I have never identified myself with. The state-sponsored schools spoon-feed you the state religion until you are 18 and can sign yourself out of it, and you can guess what I did the day I turned 18. The food people eat over there are weird, and I would not define a single one of the traditional foods or foods I knew there as a comfort food, or as a food I’d ever want to cook. The landscapes, especially the people there tend to define as their national mental landscape, don’t impress me. I need oceans, sea, mountains, very old cities, heterogeneous cultures; everything except a small place where everyone is taught to think the same. I have most of my life failed to understand most of the interpersonal cues there as I seem to lack the cues that belong to that place. I also fail to grep most linguistic expressions and what is generally deemed funny, again something associated only with that one culture and location. In many cases I can understand the words in an expression, but I can’t translate it to anything as I lack the context or meaning of it.

The other places where I grew are very different. I belonged better, even if for some I didn’t belong. I could express myself with language, I could understand better what people don’t say by reading them. I could understand what is funny. Even the food didn’t make me feel like I was continuously in a Bizarre Foods episode. If you want to apply a geographical label to me, add the label of that location. It’s still a rather monoculture, but much cultural and regional variation (sometimes two miles in a city making it impossible for the people born there to understand the others), and with way more of what keeps me happy. But that label and the first label don’t usually complement each other. People see a conflict and apply the first one to me and quit wanting to understand anything. The same way as they knew Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, that itself would have the magic to explain and help them understand everything about Michael Jackson, who he was, what he thought, what he liked, what he wanted in life. No, I don’t think Gary, IN, had anything else to do with him than the fact he was born there.

After the second place where I grew up came the others, and they helped me learn more, redefine myself etc, but to a lesser extent. Still, apply all the labels you want, even though I don’t want any.
And now I live again somewhere different. I belong here now is a good enough description. Pick your languages, religions, subcultures as you like, or just be yourself.

I know most expats miss something from where they grew up, usually foods. My sister also keeps asking what if anything I would miss (that she could send), and the answer is usually nothing.

a food I miss

Or what I would miss (such as the sweet above) is not something that even she would know of, as she belongs and belonged somewhere else. All the foodstuff, sounds, smells etc that I would miss belong to the “second label” of myself. How could I really miss something from somewhere I never belonged, meaning the first place in this case?

(Note: the picture in the flag does not associate to any of the labels you would really want to stick to me, it’s just a flag I took a picture some day)