Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Prepare to get wet

Are you ready to get wet? I hope so because I'm starting (restarting) a series about water*.

Yesterday, my daughter and I participated in a fascinating Northern Water tour to the headwaters of the Colorado River (CR) to learn how water is diverted across the Continental Divide (under Rocky Mountain National Park!)

I also recently read Where the Water Goes, a book that follows the CR from the headwaters I visited yesterday all the way to Mexico.  Read the New Yorker article by David Owen that he expanded into this fascinating book.


While I do not live in the natural Colorado River basin, the CR provides a portion of the water I use whether I am at home in either Los Angeles County or Boulder.

Bad Dad bought me a signed copy of the book when David Owen visited {pages}.  He wondered if I would learn anything new because I'm such a water geek and I also work in environmental science.

The answer is an unequivocal, "Yes!"

Water is complex.  Although I already knew most of the environmental science, the history and rationale for past decisions were mostly news and fascinating.  The NPR story gives a hint of some of the things you can learn in the book.

Your homework is to read the New Yorker article and my past water posts.  If you like the NY article, then read the book.  (Even though I own a physical copy, I checked an ebook out from the library so I could read it on the go on my phone.)

Then we will dive into water issues.  It will be a highly idiosyncratic tour with stops where I think the issues need better explanation.

Your tour guide will be me, a lifelong outdoors woman who grew up in the American west, earned a BS in chemistry, a PhD in physics and works as a weather and climate data specialist.  I also hang out with a lot of people who are as interested in water as I am and have lots of tidbits to share.

Rain gear and waterproof shoes are optional.

* Have I written only 34 past posts about water? I thought I wrote more often about it. I might not have tagged all pertinent blog posts and will go back and rectify that when I have more time.

Friday, July 14, 2017

That bamboo rayon may not be so green

More bad news about clothing choices came to light recently.

First, remember how I wrote that polyester shirts were greener than cotton shirts when the full use cycle is considered? Well, it turns out that polyester clothing can shed fibers in the wash, which may end up in the oceans and rivers and, eventually, in wildlife.

Rayon has been hailed as a miracle fiber.  It's silky like silk and polyester, breathes like cotton and linen, takes dye readily,  and is washable.  It used to be made from wood chips that are mill waste from making lumber out of trees.

Now that rayon has grown in popularity and the price of paper has shot up, there aren't enough trees.  Fast-growing bamboo to the rescue!  It's a grass so it grows fast.  It's renewable, natural and sustainable!

Not so fast.

When I was a chemistry undergrad at Berkeley in the 1980s, I came across a thick textbook at Moe's Books about rayon manufacturing.  The number of steps and caustic chemicals needed to turn break down wood chips into cellulose fibers and then to reconstruct them into rayon fibers is staggering.

The good news is some mills, notably in Europe and Australia, have invested in equipment to make rayon using closed-loop processes in which 99% of the chemicals are recovered and reused.  You can find them labeled with trade names such as Tencel and Lyocell.

The bad news is that most rayons on the market are dirty in the sense that they are made with great harm to the environment and workers.  Paul David Blanc wrote about this in Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon.  Also read H&M, Zara and Marks & Spencer linked to polluting viscose factories in Asia.

Wastewater outfall near Sateri Fiber and Jiujiang Jinyuan Chemical Fiber viscose plants in Jiangxi, China Photograph: Changing Markets Foundation via Guardian
Just as I haven't given up eating meat entirely.  I haven't given up rayon, cotton or synthetic fibers.  I use everything in moderation and try to buy from responsible manufacturers.  I also often reuse/repurpose old textiles.

Related:



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Chow time at Brooks Falls

Brooks Falls - Katmai National Park, Alaska

Live! Bears! Salmon! Birds! Waterfall!

Faux Disruption

I read Home Delivery! What Will They Think of Next? by Peter Funt with a chuckle.

When I bought my first Bernina, I went to the store by bike. The Bernina dealer delivered the machine to my home on her way home from work. Another colleague bought a framed picture and the art dealer delivered it to him at home, too.

At one time, the Boulder Public Library delivered requested books to your home in a "green bag." You return the bag and the book to the library later.

Funt rightly points out that dot coms like AmazonFresh and Instacart are inventing stuff that already exists. Home delivery of food was ubiquitous from the days when milkmen and green grocers were common sights on the street. Grocery stores delivered because most housewives didn't have cars.  They never stopped offering home delivery.

When I was in graduate school 20+ years ago, a classmate without a car told me about King Soopers' home delivery service. She would ride her bike to KS, select her weekly fresh food plus monthly nonperishable staples, and then take them to the customer service desk to arrange for home delivery. She then rode her bike home and met the KS delivery van a few minutes later. The rest of the month, she bought just what she could carry by bike.

Back then, King Soopers charged $9 to pull your groceries and deliver to your home. If you needed only one of those services; e.g. you pulled your own groceries and just needed delivery, or you needed someone to pull the groceries for you and load them up into your own car at the store, then you paid about half as much as full (pull+delivery) service.

For about $5/month, my friend solved one of the difficulties of being car-free.

The Denver Channel compared different home food delivery services and discovered that, while Instacart allows you to order groceries from King Soopers, Instacart offers a much smaller selection and charges 30% more than if you order directly from KS.
King Soopers Homeshop would cost me $96.12 for delivery and $90.12 for pick-up, followed by Instacart who cost $134.51, or 30% more than just ordering from King Soopers directly.
Home delivery was a necessary service before private cars were commonplace. For less mobile people, particularly the sick and elderly, those services are a lifeline.

Silicon Valley did not invent any of this. SV just pays their workers less, charges you more, and evades taxes.

This is an extension of my thoughts about Fauxtomation.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Making Trouble

Herma Hill Kay's obituary made me sad that I didn't meet her at Berkeley.

“How to make trouble without being a troublemaker, that describes my style,” Ms. Kay said in 1992, after she was named dean at Berkeley Law School. “I think that if you are going to help build an institution, you have to be careful not to destroy it in the process.”
Read more about this pioneer and deep thinker. Iconic is an understatement!
A co-author of the California Family Law Act of 1969, Kay also served as a co-reporter on the state commission that drafted the nation’s first no-fault divorce statute. She later co-authored the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which has become the standard for no-fault divorce nationwide.

“It was never undertaken to achieve equality between men and women,” Kay said during a 2008 interview. “It was undertaken to try to get the blackmail out of divorce and I think it has accomplished that…. Marriage is no longer the only career open to women.”

In 1974 she co-authored the seminal Sex-based Discrimination casebook, now in its seventh edition, with Professor Kenneth Davidson and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In 2015, Kay received the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of American Law Schools (AALS)—from Ginsburg herself.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Still mourning but moving ahead

November 9, 2016 was very tough for me. It seemed like the people out to destroy everything that I value had won. They won by waging asymmetric warfare, using tactics that I would never even consider using. The bad guys won.

My husband suggested we walk on the beach to improve our moods. It didn't work. We walked in Manhattan Beach, the only place I go to on a regular basis that had Trump Pence yard signs. Every time we passed white people, I wondered if they were among the majority of white people that threw everyone else under the bus.

I wrote a post that day. Then decided to sleep on it before clicking "Publish." I still have not decided to publish that piece.

I'm mourning for the America that I thought was within reach. The one that lives up to it's ideals and treats everyone justly under the same rules and laws. The one where we act rationally to maximize the public good *and* personal freedom.

The people who espouse racial profiling and make deadly "Stop and Frisk" ubiquitous, want to impose Christian sharia on everyone, beat up and jail political opponents, collude with hostile nations and throw away our constitution won.

I became an earth scientist because I'm passionate about the planet that we live on. The people who shouted, "Drill, Baby, Drill!" and want to ignore global warming won. If we follow their path, this planet, and all the people on it, are toast.

I've not been blogging much because I'm in mourning for my country and my planet.

On November 10, 2016, Wandering Scientist tweeted a picture of a Bunny ready to fight from Rabbit Isle Bot.

I've been reading and thinking a great deal and believe it is time to get more active in my resistance. I'm very short on time, so will be posting shorter pieces--often in linked series--instead of the long stand-alone pieces that I used to write. There will be more about environmental, energy and social issues. There will be fewer sewing and knitting projects because I'm doing less of those these days.

The resistance against injustice has always been largely middle-aged females. E.g. Liberia and Chile [1] [2]. We must build and hold together coalitions founded in mutual respect and trust. It is not easy. The struggle will never end. But it is necessary. We are not alone.


Some recommended important books (all but one written by women):







Sunday, July 09, 2017

Gender wars of household chores

How did I miss The gender wars of household chores: a feminist comic.  It was published in the Guardian back in May!
In case you are wondering, Emma hits close to home x2.