It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The One Sentence Challenge

Jamais Cascio listed me as one of the folks to take a shot at the One-Sentence Challenge, as offered by Paul Kedrosky:

Physicist Richard Feynman once said that if all knowledge about physics was about to expire the one sentence he would tell the future is that “Everything is made of atoms”. What one sentence would you tell the future about your own area, whether it’s entrepreneurship, hedge funds, venture capital, or something else?

My current area of expertise is one where the future will look back and laugh at my puny attempts at thought. However, I’m studying design and also thinking quite a bit about things like omniscient surveillance and sustainable living using my experiences growing up in a poor, rural part of the south.

I think I might say, “Seriously consider the fully loaded cost to create and deliver each and every thing you consume or discard before you decide to consume or discard that thing.”

Or I could just be lazy and re-write Kant’s Categorical Imperitive as, “What would the world be like if everyone acted the way you’re acting right now?”

Here’s Jamais answer, but it’d be interesting to hear what a couple other people I know might respond to the same question:

Richard Kadrey

Laura Lemay

(note to self: link to their answers)

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posted by jet at 15:06  

Sunday, September 10, 2006

When the Environment is the Enemy: Teague

Yet another surprise in the mail bag.

WTF? An expanded polystyrene (EPS) box from Teague? What manner of prank is this? Did someone I know get hired at Teague and put me on their elite client list? (Well, not too elite, it is made of generic EPS and not Styrofoam(TM) brand EPS.)

Um. Ok. A EPS box with a little booklet inside it.

A little booklet showing me their work in hopes I’ll hire them. I’m a software engineer by day and an ID student by night. Why are they sending me this? Did they send this to every student member of IDSA?

The box lets me know that it “can be recycled”. Well, lots of things “can be recycled” if you live in the right part of the world, but how many of us live in a place with easy recycling of block EPS? In the back of the book there’s a note saying I should call a 800 number or go to a website to find out where to recycle it, and that if I can’t recycle it, I can mail it back to Teague and they’ll recycle it:

No joke. Apparently I am either supposed to throw it away, figure out where to recycle it, or pay postage to send it back to Teague.

Looking at, the nearest place that takes EPS is 45 miles away. I should burn how many gallons of gas to recycle something I didn’t need or want in the first place?

Why not just send me the little booklet in a fancy little cardboard box? Or better still, not send me anything at all until I’ve expressed interest in their services? What’s the fully-loaded cost in terms of natural resources of developing this little piece of advertising and shipping it out to who knows how many people? How many of these boxes will get recycled? How much fuel was burned by the vehicles delivering these boxes?

Perhaps the actual content in the booklet have been better delivered to me via the web. The booklet is smaller than a CD insert so the type is very tiny and the spine won’t lay flat. Even if I wanted to read this it’d be difficult to do so.

Thanks, Teague!

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posted by jet at 10:05  

Saturday, September 2, 2006

When the Environment is the Enemy: Sears

The other day the mail carrier dropped off a 19″ x 16″ padded plastic envelope. The return address said “Sears”, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d recently ordered from them.

one envelope

I opened it up and discovered that it contained four, 14″ x 12″ padded plastic envelopes.

one envelope

After opening the first envelope, I remembered that weeks earlier I’d ordered the service and install manuals for the stove that was already in the house when we moved in.

one envelope

One of the envelopes contained only a single sheet of paper: a schematic for the stove.

At this point I’m pretty peeved. I’ve got five envelopes made of plastic that I can’t recycle or reuse.

Then I got to noticing that the stack of paper I had was pretty light, possibly lighter than the weight of the packaging itself. I don’t know what the postage charge was, but the thought of paying to have stuff shipped to me that I can’t use or recycle really makes me cranky.

So I broke out the postal scale.

Stove documentation, 6.5oz:
one envelope

Packaging, 7.5oz:
one envelope

That’s 7.5 oz of plastic mailers to protect 6.5 oz of paper. I paid twice the postage for unnecessary packaging that will end up in some landfill.

Thanks, Sears!

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posted by jet at 16:40  
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