Weekend Video: Cow Plops anyone?

There is Gold in them thar Cow Plops!!!

At least that is what this National Film Board short seems to suggest, where an inventor has come up with a good way to extract methane from cow poo, which is usable with cars and such.

The description of the short does it justice:

This short film presents Mr. Bate, an inventor who discovers a substitute for gasoline in barnyard manure. Even though he fits the classic mould of single-minded know-how and practical dreamer, his discovery is tried and tested. He demonstrates how his home-made digester does turn manure into potent methane gas that powers his auto. And for good measure, he demonstrates his latest sustainable invention - a bicycle powered by the bumps on the road.

Now that is what I call a really GREEN solution to a problem, given we need cows anyhow, why not use their DUNG for fun?

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Car or Bus?

Mass Transit?

That is one of the big questions I have to think about given my new appointment.

In my previous job, there really was no reason to take the bus because:

  • It took 4 times the time to take the bus as it did in a car
  • The Bus did not run often enough and did not cover the times I might need to come and go to work
  • Parking for my car was free

Variable Changes

With my new position the financial variables have changed and it now I might again look at the transit equation again:

  • Parking now costs money no matter where I put my car (varying costs but none are very cheap).
  • The amount of time to get to work by car is now only 1/2 the estimated bus time
  • The transit tax write off comes into the equation as well

To bus or not to bus, that will be the question, but for now I will drive.

Biking?

That is another interesting point to consider for this trip. Straight biking to work while excellent for the health can be dangerous in traffic (some of the route has bike paths but not all of it), and I am not sure whether there are showers at work (I do sweat a great deal). The electronic bike is an interesting idea I have been looking at, but whether I can recharge at work is another interesting question to think about.

Car Pooling?

I do know someone at my new job who I might be able to car pool with, which might be an excellent choice as well. I have previously car pooled which works well if the people car pooling all work the same hours, which can be tricky, but the more interesting question is how do you arrange to compensate folks for car pools? Anybody with any ideas, please feel free to post them.

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Basement Clean Outs Lead to Treasures

So we have spent the long weekend moving, and adding furniture to our basement but are also attempting to clean out some of the clutter that has accumulated over the past 10 years.

A few things that I have learned:

  • If you find a box that has not been opened ( you can tell because it has the packing tape from your move on the top ), do NOT open it if you are attempting to de-clutter. As soon as you open a box it will cause you to rationalize why you kept it and it simply will create more clutter (at a 6:1 ratio (i.e. 6 new boxes will be created from this one box)). You can peek inside to make sure it isn’t a box of gold, but if you look closely you are finished!
  • There are treasures in your basement, for charitable organizations:
    • I found 3 old sets of glasses, that I will take to my church (they recycle them and someone else will get glasses cheaper or free).
    • My old TV (20 years old and allegedly didn’t get channels 2-13 any more) will go to the Salvation Army and not to the landfill site. This is supposed to be free, I will report on whether that happens.
    • A great deal of arts and crafts supplies that will go to the Salvation Army as well, hopefully they can make some money on that.
    • A large amount of baby clothing and paraphernalia that is being donated to the next generation in my wife’s family.
  • Shelves can be useful for storage, as long as it is for storage and not clutter, we shall see what comes of these shelves, but they need to be attached to the wall (given my son will most likely climb them some time very soon).

The spiders that lived in my basement are very upset (they now live in the garage thanks to a vacuum blitz as well), but in the name of de-cluttering some insects must be moved.

I spoke with another person who de-cluttered, but they did so after their basement flooded, and they had to throw out a great deal of treasures because they were ruined. My advice would be to de-clutter now, and don’t let mother nature or the forces of nature force you to do it.

During Hard Times Beer Sells

That seems to be the message, given that Molson Coors profits doubled in the second quarter of ’09. During hard times more folks tend to buy their liquor and drink it at home, this seems to prove this Financial Lemma.  Of course even cheaper folks like me search for the cheapest beer (or even better drink their friends beer).

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Giving Away Free Crap

Ottawa has an interesting weekend every year, where you can attempt to pick up stuff for free, but better still, you get a chance to get rid of stuff that is cluttering up your house.

The rules are quite simple, you simply take the clutter from your house and take it down to the curb and maybe put a sign on the articles saying take it away, and usually someone will. I guess if you are on the look out for some free bargoons, you then drive around looking for things at the ends of driveways as well, but I don’t participate in that side of things, I simply enjoy getting rid of stuff in my house.

We managed to get rid of an old bicycle, a tricycle, some toys, a sled, a pink blow up chair, a beer bottle drying rack and various other articles, which hopefully have gone to homes that need them and will enjoy them. I can hear some folks saying, “You could have sold those on E-bay or Kijiji…”, but that would have meant me investing time to do this, and this is much easier. The articles have no value to me right now, and if someone else gets something out of them, more power to them.

My neighbour (who was having a yard sale), did manage to get rid of a couple of computer monitors he didn’t need as well (he couldn’t sell them, but when he put them down by the curb, they disappeared). I view that as a good use of this system as well (and very green).

My garage has less junk in it, and this exercise caused me to throw out more junk that I was “storing” in my house as well (interesting how that happens). For the folks who take this stuff their plus is they get stuff for free, and for the city of Ottawa, they hopefully get less crap in the garbage going into landfill sites, so all in all, I think this is a good community idea.

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Earth Day: Another Idea

I missed the official Earth Day, however, I did do a few things for Earth Day to help out the environment (not much, but a start).

Compost

My wife and I have started composting again. We also use the compost in our garden so it is a money saving thing as well (don’t need as many expensive fertilizers or have to buy top soil). Sometimes we forget about our kitchen bucket, but eventually either the smell or the fruit flies will remind us the bucket needs to be emptied.

We always end our composting year by throwing our Jack-O-Lanterns in there for the winter (the bins we use are at the bottom of the back yard and are not accessible in the winter time).

Tune Your Small Engines

I had Hunter Power Equipmentcome over to do an end of season tune up for my 10 year old snow blower. They did service on it about 5 years ago, and after that it ran better than when I first bought it, and now it is ready to keep blowing snow for many years more (and do it in a much less toxic fashion). A tuned engine especially on a snowblower or a lawn mower is a very good thing (the amount of pollutants from small engines are a major contributor to the Smog issues of the world).

I also am not buying a new snowblower, which is a frugal thing in my mind too!

Cloth Grocery Bags

This is starting to annoy me, since I keep forgetting to bring the darn bags to the store and either end up buying another cloth bag, or have to purchase the plastic bags.

A good friend brought up an excellent point that most real shoppers have already thought about which is what to do about the meat that you purchase. If you buy meat, normally you put it in an extra plastic bag to keep it from leaking, but now with cloth bags, meat blood or fluids will now leak onto your cloth bag. This means the shopper in the know will either:

  1. Wash their cloth grocery bags often
  2. Designate one or two cloth bags as the “meat” bags and wash them very often
  3. Use the plastic bags in the vegetable department to wrap the meat up in.

Anybody care to comment on this one?

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