Monday, February 23, 2009

State of the Economy?

A couple days ago, on my way to lab I passed a parked car that looked funny; its right side was high up in the air. When I got closer, I saw that it had no wheels left and its right side was being held up by a yellow floor jack. It looked like someone had stolen the wheels and abandoned the jack. The car was a fairly nice sports sedan; it may have had a set of fancy wheels...

Regardless, I remember seeing stuff like that during the 1980s. I also used to see many cars abandoned at the side of the highways and people parked at the side of the road with car trouble. A few years ago, I mentioned to my parents that I never see abandoned cars any more who responded "yeah, because everyone has money now". I had figured automobiles were getting more reliable, but it's true that there were fewer old cars on the road as well.

A few weeks ago, I made a road trip to NYC and I saw at least 3 cars stopped at the side of the road. I noticed it, but I didn't think much of it. Now, I wonder it is a sign of the times.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tyvek Tire Boot

I have a set of cyclo-cross tires I use on my bike during the Boston winters, but last year I found a 9mm gash in the tread of one of them (all the way down to the tube). Luckily, it was at the end of the winter and these tires didn't have many nubs left, so I put the tires in the corner thinking I'd replace them the following winter. Well, when winter rolled around I threw them back on the bike but I booted the gash with two layers of Tyvek from a mail envelope.

After a month, I replaced the Tyvek with a fresh two-layer boot. One layer of the original boot had pretty much worn through. They don't sweep the roads during the winter, so there's a ton of sand and gravel on the road which worked it's way into the gash to abrade the Tyvek.

Today, after another month of commuting, I switched back to normal commuting tires without any flats due to the gash. I only ride about 5mi per day, but the tires lasted another two months; nice!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Kleenex, Napkins, and Paper Towels

I used to use a lot of Kleenex to blow my nose and then one day a few weeks ago, I figured I would stop using Kleenex. Instead, I decided to get some handkerchiefs to wipe my nose. I mentioned this to my wife, and she told me we had some in the closet somewhere, so she dug them out and now I use them instead of disposable tissues! I use one for a few days until I use up all the clean surface of the cloth and then I wash them. I like the handkerchiefs; they work well at containing the snot and wash with the rest of the laundry (I have 4 handkerchiefs, so they last between washings). In summary, I think they're great, and I think they'll cut down on my use of paper tissues. The next step is to use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.

In a related note, I floss my teeth in the bathroom at work after lunch so I stand by the sink for a couple minutes each day. Recently, I've been observing the bathroom users. Thankfully, almost everyone washes their hands before they leave (but maybe it's just because I'm standing there), but I also noticed that most people who use paper towels use 3 paper towels to dry their hands! I am positive that one does not need 3 paper towels to dry his hands; one is sufficient, and I usually just wipe the clean water on my pants. They take 3 paper towels and most of the towel surface is dry when they throw it into the trash (Keynesian economics at its best). I wonder if the same people who take 3 paper towels would do the same if they had to buy the paper towels themselves. I suspect this is just another example of waste caused by hidden costs. If every bathroom user is wasting 2 paper towels each time they use the bathroom, imagine the pile of wasted towels at the end of the day! Rainbow Light NutriStart Multivitamin Dietary Supplement Powder Packets for Children 6 Months to 4 Years 30-Count Boxes (Pack of 2)