Local Post: Sean Kirst's Thoughts on Blogging
2/27/2007 04:46:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I caught this through News Tracker this afternoon. Interesting thoughts, on citizen journalism and a columnists thoughts on local bloggers.

I'm ready for the next meeting... It should have been after the chili cookoff the anti-thesis to Dinosaur at the Fair.
(In)voluntary Simplicity
2/26/2007 08:14:00 AM | Author: baloghblog

Our dishwasher broke today. Instead of a spectacular failure, the machine ended its life in a slow and steady leak of suds over the past week(?), surfacing in buckling floor tiles and a drip that we could not place. Alas, repairing the floor, and tiling the kitchen is a story for another day.

dish.jpgI did the dishes tonight by hand, in a sink full of sudsy warm water. There are two parts to that statement that are out of the ordinary in my home. First off I hate doing dishes. The second is that we were doing dishes in the sink. I have always felt vindicated by an article I read, or was it a blog post (Ask Umbra?) that stated that a dishwasher was much more efficient than human hands in using heated soapy water to clean dishes in both energy, and water usage. That was all I needed to hear. In went the dirty dishes, out they came sparkling and clean (for the most part). No remorse here - that is what the machines purpose was, and it could do the task in a way (efficiently) that could make me feel better about the decision to use it.

However, as my fingertips turned to soggy raisins, and I passed the dishes to be rinsed to my wife, we came to the same conclusion - we'd think twice about reaching for another clean glass or plate, knowing that an extra dish to clean would be the result. That made me think: no matter how efficiently that old dishwasher cleaned my dishes, and how much water it saved over doing them manually, I had probably filled that dishwasher many times over with dishes that shouldn't have needed to be washed in the first place.

This simple epiphany could be applied to many other things in my life that were made easier by "efficient machines". How many extra trips car to the store have I taken based on its efficiency of transport. How often would I travel to the store if I were carless? How many clothes have I washed (and dried) after only a few non-strenous hours of wear? Would I be so quick to wash them if I had no washing machine? How much food have I found spoiled in the refrigerator, despite its efficient "crisper" drawer? Or, for that matter, the amount have I allowed to get "freezer burn"?

Ridding myself of these very helpful and necessary* machines is not in the cards. Nor would I want it to be. However, this bout of involuntary simplicity has taught me that some of the most efficient machines that we own may actually have been providing us with more work to do.

UPDATE: After further thought on the subject, I could take my reasoning a step further. Despite the increased efficiency of the dishwasher, the end result of its use is not only the purchase of a new machine to replace it, but also an entire kitchen floor. So, one could argue, all of the gains in energy savings, and reduced water consumption were wiped out by the need for a new floor (which it self will carry a high embodied energy and water use in its production.) Certainly the hand washing of my plates and glasses wouldn't have led to the purchase and installation of a new floor.

And another step further than that: All of the time and effort that the dishwasher had saved us in labor, was surely offset by the labor we will need to use to repair our floor.

I am reminded of Thoreau:

But lo! men have become the tools of their tools. The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter, a housekeeper. We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven.

(*necessary to maintain my marriage vows!)

pic by ktanriover

originally posted over at groovy green.
New Widget in Sidebar
2/23/2007 08:11:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Scroll down to see my new CFL bulb widget, that shows how Syracuse ranks with other cities in the US in the purchase of CFL bulbs and their CO2 reduction. Let's get buying Syracuse!
Syracuse Real Food Co-op Video
2/21/2007 08:27:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
This video makes me doubly wish that a) I lived on the southeast side of town, or that b) I wish the Real Food Co-op would open up a western burb store!

Update: What about here for their western expansion?

Smart kids! Via their blog
Links to my articles up this week
2/21/2007 08:01:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

As you can see, I have been invited to do a little freelance writing at Greenthinkers.org with Scott and his team. I hope you come by and read me as I join in the fun over there...
Indiana Subaru Plant at Zero Landfill Status
2/19/2007 10:34:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
I was fortunate enough to be invited to Indiana to tour the Subaru Assembly plant which for the past 3 years has been at zero landfill status. It was amazing to see the sprawling facility, and it's rows and rows of machinery and workers, and realize that not one bit of waste had to be taken from the facility to a land fill. Achieving over 95% reuse and recycling rate, the remaining 5% is incinerated in a energy producing plant in nearby Indianapolis.

I drive a Subaru, and have been pleased with the safety that it has provided my wife and I in the bad winter weather in upstate, and it's reliability has been great. It makes me even more proud to drive a Subaru after realizing the companies commitment to reducing their environmental impact.

We co-wrote a piece for Groovy Green Magazine:

Several members of the Groovy Green team recently visited Subaru’s automotive manufacturing plant in Lafayette, Indiana. For nearly three years now this plant has produce zero landfill waste. That’s right, 100% of the by products produced from fabricating Subaru vehicles in Lafayette are reclaimed. How has Subaru been able to achieve such a dramatic accomplishment while other car manufactures are still taking trips to the landfill? At its core their strategy is simple and straightforward; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. With those words as a mantra and with a willingness to challenge the notion that building cars is inevitably a wasteful process, Subaru has become a great example of what a company can realize if it believes in doing the right thing.

Located on a beautiful tract of land just NW of Indianapolis the 832 acres of the Subaru campus was designated in 2002 as a National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat that’s home to deer, coyotes, bald eagles, beavers, and Canada geese. Tom Easterday, Senior Vice President, Subaru of Indiana (SIA) proudly talks about the company’s commitment to building cars in a more environmentally friendly way. Subaru’s mantra is: “Eliminate environmental risks of our operations.” What’s striking though is that when he talks about the accomplishments of Subaru from being the first ISO 14001 certified auto assembly plant in 1998 to the first assembly plant to reach Zero Landfill in 2004 is that he gives most of the credit to the floor level employees, or associates, as they’re called. It appears much of the greening of Subaru has been because of this “bottom-up” initiative – where the drive to reduce environmental impacts permeates all levels of the corporation.
Click here for the full article.
2/19/2007 08:26:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
Cross posted from Groovy Green:

Just caught wind of this, this morning:

havidol.gifVia Yahoo News (Reuters):

A media exhibit featuring a campaign for a fake drug to treat a fictitious illness is causing a stir because some people think the illness is real.

Australian artist Justine Cooper created the marketing campaign for a non-existent drug called Havidol for Dysphoric Social Attention Consumption Deficit Anxiety Disorder (DSACDAD), which she also invented.

But the multi-media exhibit at the Daneyal Mahmood Gallery in New York, which includes a Web site, mock television and print advertisements and billboards is so convincing people think it is authentic.

From havidol.com -


HAVIDOL helps sufferers see that no matter how much they have, more is always possible.

Patients have reported feeling:

  • renewed interest in themselves

  • increased ability to spend

  • higher risk tolerance

  • better quality consumer decisions

  • improved social attention-getting skills

  • return to former self esteem levels

  • supplementary stamina levels

  • augmented vision

  • a surge in well-being

Click more for the hilarious side effects. And if you hate those pharma ads like I do, you have to check out the full site.

The Day I Stopped Eating BigAg Peanut Butter
2/15/2007 12:49:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Is today.

While stopping home for some lunch and perusing a few of my favorite blogs. I came across this story, via Huffington Post. I thought (as I chowed down another peanut butter and cracker) "hmmm... that looks like peanut butter I'm eating."

"I wonder if it has the same code as in the article?"

Sure enough:

Mind you, this is a 3/4 empty jar of peanut butter containing the dreaded "2111" code. Ewww. What the hell have I eaten? And what the hell were those peanuts (or machines) coated with to give me the risk of getting Salmonella?

Bulk organic peanut butter, here I come.

Bye bye Peter Pan and Skippy.
I'm back
2/13/2007 09:24:00 PM | Author: baloghblog
Writing in the big (semi-big?) world of blogging has had its perks. I have taken two trips on some one else's dime, met some wonderful people, and learned a lot about the back end of a blog, and the back end of a partnership.

But recently I found myself worrying about what stories I thought might be popular to post, rather than what stories I am interested in, and what ones I'd like to tell. I found myself missing baloghblog, and all of its semi-anonymity. Sure I was always excited to see where people were coming from to read my writing, and how many people stopped by on a given day - but I think that I was using baloghblog more to sort out all of the thoughts swarming in my head, and less so to become rich (heh) or famous (heh heh).

I am not resigning my post at GG, I will still be posting relevant links and articles that I find over there. I will still be writing in-depth articles as well (I have something in the works about "This Old..." Well - you'll just have to wait and see.) But I am going to pick back up the reigns of this old nag, and see if she's got a few more go-rounds left in her.

I realize that it has become more important to me to try to make a change in my community, and real changes in my lifestyle, then it is to write about those changes in a abstract way. I have written bi-weekly articles for my place of employment, and they have been well received. I will be rallying the troops over there to help join me in my efforts to reduce our company's impact on the environment and prepare for a future with less available gasoline and energy.

I am planning an extensive expansion of my garden this spring. Despite the forecasted 2-3 feet of snow we're getting in the next 24 hours, I think that I'd better get planning and get those seeds ordered. I'll be writing more about that soon, and posting a pic of the plans.

I just need to go back to my roots for a while and remember why I got into this in the first place.