Archive for January, 2009

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iLOL’d: Not Always Right.

January 31, 2009

At some point in our lives, each of us has probably heard the phrase: “The customer is always right.”  It is a mantra repeated by many around the globe, by retailers, fast-food employees and several others.

Well, here’s a newsflash: the customer is not always right.  Not Always Right is a community blog dedicated to chronicling the remarkably common events when the customer is, in fact, entirely wrong.  Various reasons abound: a customer may ask for a product that isn’t in stock or that isn’t carried at all, some people have rather silly ideas as to how a business should be run (or how much of Niagra Falls Canada should be allowed to have), and some are just plain rude to the employees for no reason whatsoever.  From understandable mistakes to complete idioticy, Not Always Right covers it all.

Lolz abound at http://notalwaysright.com/.

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Recycling: Part 2.

January 31, 2009

Now that we’ve taken a look at what happens to the things you take in to recycle (and learned that, yes indeed, it does get recycled) we can move on to the instructory phase: how to take your trash in for recycling.

First you need to examine your trash (not piece-by-piece; just glance at it and see what it’s made of) to find out which of it can be recycled.  Aluminum cans, glass bottles, pop bottles, and milk jugs are all a given.  Cardboard and gloss-free paper (including newspaper) are also good.  Plastic is a bit trickier.  Most of it can be recycled, but not every recycling center is equipped to take every kind of plastic.  To make this simpler, your recycled plastic should be marked with a triple-arrow with a number on the inside.  These numbers range from 1 to 7 and denote the type of plastic used.  1 and 2, respectively pop bottles and milk jugs, are the most common and the most widely supported (as stated above), but 3 and below are a bit trickier to process.

The next thing you should do is find a recycling center in your area and find out which materials they accept.  Many older facilities are not equipped to handle plastics 3-7 and will discard them.  If you cannot find a center in your area that takes these, you are better off to either discontinue purchasing the product that uses those plastics or finding alternative uses for the used containers.

Finally, prepare your trash for recycling.  This is probably the hardest part, as it requires you to segregate all of your trash by composition (metal, glass, paper, fabric, and the various kinds of plastic should all be separate from one another).  Anything that cannot be recycled (paper layered with metal or plastic, plastic that the center does not accept, and any kind of garbage not listed above) goes into its own container for regular trash disposal.  Once you have full sacks of recyclable material – as many or as few as the family vehicle will hold – you’ll need to drive them in to the center.  For convenience and gas savings, this is best done on your way to perform other errands such as grocery shopping.

Once you get it into the center, it’s a pretty simple matter of dropping the stuff off.  Often your things can be deposited outside, but it may be necessary for you to take your recyclables into the building proper.  From there, the center employees take over and you get back to your business.

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Thought of the Day

January 31, 2009

Forgiveness is a taste far sweeter than revenge.

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Are you calling me a liar?

January 30, 2009

So many times have I heard that phrase asked.  So many bruised egos looking to assert themselves in a world that does not look too kindly upon incorrectness.

So many false dichotomies surrounding the perpetration of untruth.  Or rather, exercise of the same few false dichotomies.

Some people don’t take too kindly to the proposal that something they have said is incorrect.  They view it as a matter of honor.  If one thing they’ve said is incorrect, then anything they’ve said could be incorrect, and they are not to be taken seriously anymore.  They can’t stand the idea of not being taken seriously, so they will defend – often to the death – their claim that they are right.

Other people take the matter a tad more personally.  They believe that anyone who spreads mistruths must be considered a liar, and that if they are wrong about something, then they have been spreading mistruths and therefore must be considered a liar.  These are the ones you really have to watch out for, because they will stake entire debates on their honor.  They will never allow themselves the opportunity to be thought of as even possibly wrong for fear of being branded A Liar.

I can’t speak for all cases when making a guess as to where this philosophy comes from, but for many individuals I am sure it stems from the Holy Bible.  A passage – which nearly every Christian takes to heart – warns that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone”.  Many Christians interpret this to mean that anyone who tells a lie will go directly to Hades, no questions asked.  So if you imply to one of them that they may be telling a lie, you may as well be saying “go to hell”.

The problem with this isn’t in their interpretation of the Bible – or even their interpretation of the term “liar” – but the false dichotomy, as mentioned above.  Many of these people believe the following solution to be true:

if (information)=false

then (information)=lie

therefore (source)=liar.

The problem with this solution is that it removes one of the major factors: accident.  By misinterpretation or misinformation, it is extremely easy for someone to accidentally spread something that is not true.  If I am arguing with you and I suggest that something you have said was wrong, I am generally going to assume that the reason you are giving me this information is because you don’t know that it is incorrect.  Otherwise, what point would there be for me to argue with you?

The bottom line: No, I am not calling you a liar.  Nor am I saying that the person you heard it from, whom you probably respect a great deal, is a liar.  All I am trying to say to you is that you – or whoever started spreading the information – made a mistake and needs to look at it again.  If someone actually stands up and admits to spreading misinformation on purpose, then maybe I’ll talk about liars.

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Being Green: Recycling.

January 30, 2009

Recycling is a subject with which most people are probably familiar.  We see its advocates and pieces almost constantly – recycling bins, recyclable labels on packaging, and friendly TV spots reminding us to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!”

Unfortunately, that doesn’t give us a very good idea of what recycling is. Or, for that matter, how to do it (properly).

Recycling is a rather tricky process.  You take your material – for the sake of argument, pop bottles – into a collection station, usually referred to as a recycling center.  You drop off your bottles, they give you some money (sometimes), and you drive home, fairly sure that you’ve done something good from the environment but a bit confused and perhaps a bit discouraged as to what good you’ve actually done.

Meanwhile, at the collection station, they dig themselves into the stuff you’ve brought.  If you sorted the stuff out at home, it can go straight into processing; after being sorted by color, the bottles are crushed into blocks and sold to the processing companies.  Once these guys get ahold of your bottles (and by now, several other people’s bottles), they grind them up, sort out the bits of labels and plastic lids, and use the resultant material to make things.

But where, we may wonder, are these things they’re making?  We pump tons of recyclable materials into the centers each year, but it’s rather rare to actually see anything in a store that’s made from any post-consumer products.  With that in mind, it’s easy to wonder whether they’re actually making use of this stuff that we’re taking our precious time to deliver to them.

Rest assured, though, these materials are being used – especially if cleaned properly, as mentioned last Friday.  PET flakes – the stuff left over once the wrappers and lids are removed – are frequently used to make plastic fibres (such as found in clothing, pillows or those neat reusable shopping bags), or sometimes made into new bottles.  Other kinds of plastics are made into lumber, construction material, picnic tables or other things.  Glass and paper have their own applications.  Aluminum, possibly the most valuable recyclable resource, can simply be remade into new cans for a huge reduction in carbon output.

On the other hand, if you just throw this stuff in the trash, it is hauled away and dumped into a huge trash pile where it will spend the next few decades slowly decomposing and emitting huge quantities of toxic chemicals.  Your choice.

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iApprove: care2.com (and associated newsletter).

January 29, 2009

Usually I loathe newsletters.  They clutter up my inbox on a daily/weekly basis, and are generally full of information that I don’t need (or don’t want to read about).

Care2‘s newsletter is actually kind of useful, though.

I won’t say it’s perfect.  It doesn’t supply 100% useful content; sometimes it doesn’t supply any useful content.  But it almost always provides something entertaining from some realm or another, and occasionally provides a DIY remedy or food recipe that is actually useful.

Of course, it is a radical environmentalist site, so your mileage may vary.

Subscribe to the newsletter, or just browse all available articles, at http://www.care2.com

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So… The Big Rewrite.

January 28, 2009

This is the fun part.  I have to take the first draft of my novel, written in November, and hack it apart and rearrange it and rewrite large portions of it until it becomes the novel I was actually trying to write.

Of course, by “the fun part” I mean “even harder than writing the draft in the first place”.  In order to make sure that the story ends up where I want it, I first had to write down a point-by-point summary of the story, then change the summary into the new plot I want.  (If I didn’t, I’d experience the same thing I did when writing the first draft – start out in one place, then end up somewhere completely different because of some plot point that thought it ought to be added.  Writing out the plot beforehand enables me to keep constant tabs on what direction I want to be taking the story.)  After that, I have to take the story and re-work it to fit the layout of the new plot.

To make this easier, I’m merging the old and new plot into a single document and labeled the parts accordingly: old plot points that I’m leaving out (or moving) are in italics, plot points that are staying in the same place are underlined, and plot points that are new (or moved) are bold-underlined.

This may sound like a ton of work, but it’s actually only taken me a couple of days (work-time) to do, and in the end it’ll make the rewrite significantly easier.  Maybe.  I’ll have to try it first, but I’m pretty sure it will.

Aaaaaand that’s the scoop.