Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Ink-Free Office of the Future

Trolling around on mental_floss yesterday and came across this interesting idea: Apparantly Xerox is developing a printer (and subsequently a paper) that requires no ink or toner. Wha!? Kind of a crazy concept to wrap one's head around, but it goes a little something like this: the "printer" uses a "coating" several microns thick to put your printed information on to the paper. Within 24 hours, the image has magically erased itself and the paper can be reused again for up to 50 times. Granted the test images they're showing look a lot like the old mimeograph copies of my childhood math tests, but I'm a sucker for any creative new technology that changes the way we think about using so much paper. Click here for an interview direct from a Xerox innovator (by way of The Future of Things) Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pretty Pinkies

I've got a little toxic secret: I love me a good coat of nailpolish. Back in the day, it was the wilder, the better. Greens, blues, white, silver sparkles, alternating my school team's colors, I did it all. Unfortunately commercial nail solutions are among the most toxic products that you can put on your body. Worse yet, each application can remain in contact with our precious fingers (or toes) for up to a week. Fingernails are not inpenetrable, which means painting them up causes the solvents and chemicals to be absorbed into the body. For the past few years however, I've stripped off the polish and let my nails breathe to make up for the years of suffocating I'd put them through. Chemicals aside, these solvents do strengthen and smooth nails which is why after 3 years I thought it time to get myself a new bottle of nail polish. I had heard rumors of non-toxic alternatives and my search led me to Honeybee Gardens. While not "safe-enough-to-eat", the polishes are odor-free and have no formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalates or FD& C colors. Best yet, is the fact that these polishes require only rubbing alcohol to be removed—no more nailpolish remover! I went for a simple pink but there are 15 other colors to try too.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Air Quality pt. 47

Trying to muddle through Paper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World by Daniel Imhoff (c. 2005, Watershed Media) but having trouble concentrating on all the tiny words when it's just too nice outside. One passage stopped me cold though (and I must quote directly in order to give the same impact) p. 22 "A physicist at Boeing once described the pollution from the takeoff of a SINGLE 747 like 'setting the local gas station on fire and flying it over your neighborhood.'" Woah. Seriously? As someone who lives within a half mile of a major airport, this claim is especially troubling. Why does everyone seem to ignore the airplane pollution? Why is it such a dirty little secret? SUV's bad, but DC-10 okay?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bee gone?

Okay folks, I’ll admit it, I’m kinda nervous about this whole bee thing. In Europe, Canada and about 25 states in the U.S. have reported a 40% loss of bees. (Even the name is extra daunting: “Colony Collapse Syndrome”) Most people will say “Less bees, that’s not too bad. Bees bug me.” Au contraire, mon frere. Bees are the backbone of the agriculture industry. The US produces $15 BILLION worth of crops each year that rely solely on bees to pollinate. Even worse is the fact that scientists don’t know what is causing the bees to disappear. (It seems like it’s bees not being created since there aren’t great quantities of dead bees lying around). The killer remains a mystery and at large.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

After yesterday’s news that Los Angeles was at the top of the nation’s air pollution list, I was feeling kind of bummed since I fall into the category of those especially vulnerable (those who exercise heavily outside). But today a resource for those wanting to check the air quality before heading out to exercise. Air Now allows users to search by location to check the air quality index in your area. (Only detriment for me is that “Los Angeles is lumped into only one area, while anyone who lives there knows that the air quality can differ greatly between the San Gabriel Valley and the beaches). Know that if the AQI is higher than 151 that it’s probably a better idea to hit the treadmill or indoor pool that day instead.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

L.A. #1! L.A. #1!

Congratulations Los Angeles! You were named the U.S. city with the worst air pollution! Actually it topped all three pollution category lists: short-term particle pollution, year-round particle pollution and ozone pollution.
Tell the good folks of LA what they’ve won Bob! These types of pollution can contribute to heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks, especially for the most vulnerable: children, senior citizens, people who work or exercise outdoors and people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Rounding out the top ten are:
2. Pittsburgh, PA
3. Bakersfield, CA
4. Birmingham, AL
5. Detroit, MI
6. Cleveland, OH.
7. Visalia, CA
8. Cincinnati, OH
9. Indianapolis, IN
10. St. Louis, MO
And bravo to Houston, often on the list in the past didn’t qualify this year… that could be a good thing or a bad thing...