Remember a few days back we chatted briefly about the importance of privacy?
Articles like this give a good example of just how practical that somewhat esoteric discussion can quickly become. Next time you send an e-mail, or post “anonymously” in a forum, or check your web mail, remember that you might not be the only person reading what you’re writing! That’s probably not a big deal if you’re making lunch plans, but if you’re talking politics or volleying patent application drafts around…
But far be it from me to complain without offering a solution. Secure e-mail is not that hard to set up – just Google “GPG” and perhaps read up a bit on public key cryptography. While you’re in the mood, check out Tor to anonymize your web browsing, and consider adding an “s” to that little “http” in the address bar. You’d be surprised how often you can encrypt as you surf!
And if you want to go further than that, we should probably talk.
Could $100 oil turn dumps into plastic mines? Reuters
By Kate Kelland
LONDON (Reuters) – Sparked by surging oil, a dramatic rise in the value of old plastic is encouraging waste companies across the world to dig for buried riches in rotting rubbish dumps.
“By 2020 we might have nine billion people on the planet, we could have a very big middle class driving millions more cars, and we could be in a really resource-hungry world with the oil price climbing and a supply situation in Libya, Russia and Saudi where natural gas is limited,” said Peter Jones, one of Britain’s leading experts on waste management.
“It is those drivers, those conditions, which will encourage the possibility of landfill mining.”
In Britain alone, experts say landfill sites could offer up an estimated 200 million tonnes of old plastic — worth up to 60 billion pounds at current prices — to be recovered and recycled, or converted to liquid fuel.
Prices for high quality plastics such as high-density polyethelenes (HDP) have more than doubled to between 200 and 300 pounds ($370-560) per tonne, from just above 100 pounds a year ago, according to experts in the waste industry.
OK. So they’re raiding landfills. To get scrap plastic goods. Which are then recycled. All well and good – but the next part is where it breaks down for me. I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but around here I pay to have my plastic waste carted off and recycled, not the other way ’round! I was under the impression that recycling plastics costs more than it nets. And maybe, after all the carting and sorting and paying-for-diesel, and paying-for-labor, it does.
But somewhere, according to this article, there’s somebody out there writing checks for scrap polyethylene. Granted, you’d need a lot of empty water bottles to get your piece of that market rate, but the fact that the economics of the situation are completely backwards from the service model we’ve all gotten accustomed-to has me wondering…
When I stop into The Mendon Cyclesmith, it’s either to see my buddy Craig (proprietor extraordinarie), to buy something new and fun, or because something is broken. Yesterday, it was the later: one of the spokes on my road bike’s rear wheel decided to break after the chain hopped the top sprocket one-too-many times.
As always, the visit put a smile on my face, because I think it’s a universal impossibility for anyone to walk out of Craig’s shop without a grin on. It’s just the kind of guy Craig is, and one of the reasons he’s so unique in the cycling world: you don’t leave his shop feeling intimidated, you leave it feeling like you’ve made a new friend and he happens to be really good with bikes. And you’d be right, because both are the case.
But what really got me was yesterday. As I rolled out of the parking lot, a guy in a Jeep made the turn in toward the shop, and I shot him a quick wave. I’d never seen the guy before, but he grinned and waved back. He might have turned away and thought “OK, who the heck was that?“, but I think there was something more to it: I waved, and he waved back, simply because we have something in common – we both shop at Craig’s place.
I think you’ve achieved something akin to business nirvana when your customers feel like they’ve got a unique sort of camaraderie just because they shop there. The world needs more businesses like The Mendon Cyclesmith, where patrons coming and going exchange knowing winks, nods, waves and grins – because they all know what a great place they’ve found, and that connection renders them no longer strangers.
Kelly and I headed out to Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Monday night – saw Sara Barielles, Maroon 5 and Counting Crows. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it was filled with awesome.
The light show on the way home was almost as exciting as the one at the show – the summer’s strongest storms yet plowed through Western New York just after the concert let out, treating us to a panorama of lightning and a thorough drenching.
Sometimes, it seems like a piece (or style) of music can define the mood of a situation: the same set of curves, at the same speed, in the same car, can feel a lot different depending on whether you’re playing The Propellerheads or Tears for Fears. Not to mention where the volume’s set. Sometimes, a well-timed piece of music can even rudder a situation – perhaps a fading party resurrected by a well-queued raucous piano rock song? Or a little Joss Stone?
Brad Senne’s album The Shapes that Shift Us is precisely not this kind of music – it’s the converse. It’s a perfect fit for certain times when the mood is already set, and you’re just looking for the right piece of music to go along with that mood. It’s acoustic, but sometimes it’s driving. It’s folk, but sometimes it’s symphonic. It’s happiness, but sometimes it’s longing.
“Drift Gently” – my favorite track on The Shapes that Shift Us – makes me think of curling up in a big comfortable chair, with a piping hot cup of tea and a perfect blanket, watching Kelly read on the couch. In the undertones of Senne’s guitar, I can hear the corners of my lips curl up into a barely-perceptible smile as I raise my mug and the smell of jasmine steam washes over my face. If I owned a convertible, I think I’d want to listen to “Dance till Dawn” with the top down on a shoreline road somewhere. And if a family vacation ever finds us renting a clapboard-sided beach house in a tiny ocean town somewhere, I hope there’s a CD player so I can play “Caroline to Maine”.
Exquisitely recorded and played with just the right blend of precision and swagger, The Shapes that Shift Us is one of many acoustic albums that, it’s possible, are the reason that God gave us great headphones and stereos. It begs to be listened to on a beautifully-detailed hi-fi system, and it sounds great through my Grados, but somehow it seems it might be just as fitting – albeit in a different scene – played through the raspy paper speakers of a bakelite-clad radio. No matter how you plan to listen to it, you can buy a copy of The Shapes that Shift Us DRM-free, and in a variety of formats, at Magnatune.com.