Archive for the ‘Informative’ Category

Design and recycling

Posted: 24/08/2014 by Toby in Informative, Uncategorized
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fridge-magnetI really enjoyed reading this article, because in it there’s some discussion about the wide range of products, each with their own design, completely non-standard, and in my mind sometimes unnecessarily diverse. Because of this variety, it is very difficult to viably recover the materials from them, and a lot of effort is needed. I don’t think the author advocates stifling industry, but I do think that there is a point to be made about designing willy-nilly and for no reason.

Here is a quote to whet your appetite:

One of these facilities recycled fridges and freezers, and I was struck by the variety of models being processed. Every single appliance was different. This meant that every time a disassembler tried to get the valuable compressor out from the back of a fridge before it was crushed, a new set of challenges arose, with different sizes and types of screws, fittings and frames all blocking the way. It made me think that if fridge designers were to work alongside disassemblers, they would see with their own eyes the problems inherent in their designs. Perhaps we would have better fridges and better designers as a result.

Another example, and this is less about recycling, and more about just a pet peeve of mine, how many different types of button batteries are there? Why is this? Obviously people don’t make buying decisions based on the battery that is buried deep within the guts of a throw-away product, but I still think that it’s unnecessary for companies to just dream up a new button battery when there are so many already commercially available.

Back to recycling – I’m hugely in favour of going the next step and getting designers to really think about the way their products will be pulled apart. This, to me, is akin to when auto makers were designing engine blocks, and once upon a time, no thought was given to the lowly oil filter and where it was positioned. Now in most modern cars they are reasonably accessible, thanks to one or two thought leaders figuring out how much mechanics and consumers would appreciate having the filter in easy reach. I have read of some excellent examples of design changes that adapt for easy dis-assembly, but I don’t have them at my fingertips just now. The best I can think of is the disassembly of a PC. I read about one that just had a few screws and then basically came apart by un-clipping most of the components.

More of that, please.

Trashing our Planet

Posted: 20/08/2014 by Toby in Informative
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I just sent this article around to my family, it’s another cry in the wilderness, and a well written one at that.

Something else I’ve been wanting to be publicly horrified about, comes from a conversation I had about global warming and pollution. It was at church, with a church member – granted someone who had just demonstrated that he liked a good dust up – it made me wonder how many other Christians (or more specifically, believers in Christs’ Second Coming) essentially feel the same way. 

What he said was, “It doesn’t matter the earth will be transformed at the end anyway.” Referring to the teaching that Christ will come and reign on the earth for 1,000 years, after which He, us, and it will go to (or be part of) the Celestial Kingdom. Closely related to this concept is the teaching that plants and animals are given to Man (people) for his use, and that God will always provide what we need. Essentially, there will be magical redemption before the human race catastrophically ruins the planet and makes it unfit for habitation.

Mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually (but not physically, thankfully), I convulsed at having this said out loud. 10 years ago I might have even nodded my head in ignorant agreement.

This kind of short sighted thinking ensures that at some point, maybe in our lifetimes, and maybe in our children’s lifetimes, the harsh reality of our consumerist, throw away society will catch up, and cause catastrophic contractions of the economy. What will the top 0.01 percent of society in their gilded yachts do then? What NEW and IMPROVED toys will they peddle then?

And what is the solution, what kind of U-turn is needed?

For one, a culture that does not throw away, and does not buy more than it needs – one that spends time instead of money.

For two, a governmental policy that requires and enforces responsible production and responsible waste processing, regardless of the impact to economic growth. Here is the more difficult thing, because governments, and the people who vote for them, don’t want to be the first ones to cripple themselves. I do understand that it is competitive between countries in many ways, but governments would do better looking after their own people, and trading within their means.

As an example of what I mean: The US securing oil overseas (like in the Middle East) means that its manufacturing, transportation, and other oil-dependent economic gears continue to move. To withdraw and write off that oil as unobtainable would mean consumption of internal reserves, and the stifling of manufacture, transport, energy and all sorts of things. This step alone would reduce the standard of living for millions. It’s not a good idea, but it is better than the alternative: war, fracking, deep sea drilling, and ongoing wastefulness until there is nothing left to frack, drill, or fight about, and those millions see their standard of living evaporate anyway. In the less undesirable scenario, 1/4 of the budget which was spent on the military is spent on sustainable infrastructure. Money spent on stabilising other economies is spent on stabilising the economy at home.

I don’t really know what that looks and feels like, to be honest. No one does, any more than they know when the 2nd Coming of Christ will be. For most, it’s too scary to even contemplate.

But let’s contemplate it for a second. This is just a thought experiment, but let’s say the entire economy was only the teeny fraction that produces food. No more consulting, no more banking, no more insurance. The rest of us could basically do whatever we wanted, hopefully something productive, albeit at a much much lower standard of living. We might regress to the dark ages before toilets, light bulbs, and smart phones but I’ll bet you those people had happiness too.


Posted: 13/08/2014 by Toby in Informative
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For a short while, I thought that Libertarians sounded pretty good, but then again, I’m not political so I didn’t chase down the idea of Libertarianism very much. However, after reading this, I have decided I’m not much of a Libertarian at all.

Libertarianism is different – it is a philosophy based on the individual (not the state) owning him or herself.  The central tenet is that each of us has a fundamental right to liberty – the right to do whatever we want with the things we own, provided we respect other people’s right to do the same (acknowledgement to Michael Sandel “Justice”).  This implies the concept of a minimalist state which interferes as little as possible with the individual.

There is no reason to believe that the state knows better than the individual what he or she wants or needs yet governments progressively (pun intended) encroach on our ability to achieve personal ambitions.  It would be hard to argue that a completely libertarian society was workable or fair, but the concept is sound and governments need to make a strong case to remove freedom form the individual.

From: see comment by ‘Proud Libertarian’ in the comments section.

I think after my studies into the environment and waste management I’m turning into a bit of a socialist. People generally don’t know what’s good for the human race, or for the planet, and must be forced to act responsibly, particularly when personal ambitions clash with responsible behaviour.

Dutch Disease

Posted: 08/07/2014 by Toby in Informative
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I found this while reading an article which argues in favour of alternative energy for Australia.

Part of the article is talking about Australia’s coal export to Japan, and how vulnerable Australia is to Japanese preferences. An interesting and compelling part of it was the argument that by not having diverse sources of economic growth/income, when the bottom falls out (preferences change) then there is nothing to cushion the shock.

I like this point a lot because I feel that it is extremely short sighted for production and manufacture (and resources) to be sent overseas when in reality a country can and should support local industry, even if it means the cost of goods is higher and the economy is slower. The sustainability of this approach is much more justifiable.

Here’s the relevant section with some editing:

[T]he great majority of coal exports (and other types of commodity exports) from Australia are directed at East Asia [and] the resources sector accounts for more than half of Australian total exports. Moreover, Australia exports more coal to Japan than the rest of the world put together; thus leading to the issue of the Japanese monopsony (where a large buyer controls the market).

Furthermore, these countries’ (most notably Japan’s) energy preferences can also have huge effects on Australia’s terms of trade and trade volumes. For example, if East Asian nations were to apply strict environmental rules in the near future, or even in the presence of market-based policies such as cap-and trade systems, there could be major shocks to Australian commodity exports that would translate into domestic job and investment losses. Australia might face what is commonly known as the “Dutch Disease.”

The Dutch Disease has its origins in Dutch exports of natural gas and, in this case, [is] described as “the negative symbiosis between the mining and other tradable sectors that mutes both the rate and efficiency of economic growth.”

This is an argument for alternative investments in other sectors other than mining. The Dutch Disease will cause a nation’s currency to appreciate, because of an increased demand for the natural resource, and, therefore, make other exports (manufactures in this case) less competitive. This, again, provides an argument for investing heavily in other sectors such as renewable energy technologies. In this sense, expansion of one part of the economy draws resources from the rest creating serious imbalances and inflation. This phenomenon provides important insight for the mining sector and most notably the coal sector.

Article here:

Having the right Tool

Posted: 25/02/2014 by Toby in Informative
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So hey, just a quick anecdote from me about having the right tool (and knowing what you’re doing).

On the minivan, the back brakes started getting squeaky, and so it was time to change the brake pads. I’d done similar jobs before, and I thought to myself, how hard can it be? So I pulled the wheel off, loosened up some nuts and tried to put it all back together with new pads. There was only one big problem, however, and that was, the piston simply would not budge!

I finally used internet university to find out what I was supposed to be doing. I found this very helpful: and in there it says I need to wind back the piston using a special tool. I went to the local car parts shop, and they had one! But it didn’t fit. I went to a bunch more shops, and all they carried was the little thingy that didn’t fit. I finally went to Chrysler and asked them what they use. The mechanic showed me a very professional looking kit, and I thought wow that must be quite expensive. I looked it up on eBay and it wasn’t too bad. Probably overkill to get a special tool for one job, but I figured I’ll probably use it again on the other brakes, so why not.

With that tool, the job was literally done in less than an hour, piece of cake. Looks like this:
(picture to come later..)

On the 27th December, we rtook a rendezvous out to the west, good Old Dubbo. I’ve only been there once before and that was to go see a Circus, I went up there in my gogo mobile, with my friend Julie. We didn’t get a chance to explore the town back then, so now seemed like as good as time as any. As I looked up what to do there, I wondered whether our 4 days would be enough time to explore in the end. I had considered doing Parkes as well, but decided not enough time! So I made a list and we did what we had time for.

The kids were a tad excited about staying in a hotel. Not that you can tell!!!


We booked into Tallarook Motor Inn. It was located in a good location for families. Right next to a park with a long bike path. We packed the bikes, as our big plan was to bike ride around the Dubbo Zoo. totally cool idea. Everyone I mentioned it too said its awesome who’d been there before, and they were right. It was fun biking around with the kids looking at all the animals. You get a 2 day pass, so the first day it was just our family, then on the second day my brother Edgar and 3 of his kids Jordan (11), Dakota (7) and Owen (5), joined us. It was so nice getting to do a fun activity with their cousins, since we hardly get to see them as they live so far away. They get on so well.

Day 1.



Somehow a tyre pump didn’t come with us, but thankfully the neighbour of the Motor Inn we stayed in, offered to pump up all our tyres for us ready for our biking day at the Zoo. It was nice and hot so we thathered up with sunscreen, hats and water, and set off. The plan was to get there early spend the first part of the day there then do something else in the afternoon when it gets even hotter, see sites or go swimming at the Motel.

We got to the Zoo got our passes and set off riding our bikes. We decided not to cycle from the Hotel in case the kids burned out, and good thing too since William’s bike got a flat about 1/3 of the way through and then we all had to head back since we had no pump or repair kit.

My one suggestion I’d give the Zoo is, to have pump stations throughout the Zoo for some people like us who forgot, so they can get it fixed. And either a button for help to wizz the bike back for repairs to their bike hire shop, or have repair kits in 3 spots so as to fix such problems throughout the Zoo. However that wasn’t the case, so we had to go slowly and get ourselves back to the car and see about getting his tyre fixed for the next day with Uncle Edgar. It was hard yakka for William with a FLAT tyre but he cycled it all the way back to the car, it sure didn’t help he put on TJ’s shorts and couldn’t keep them up. His dear Dad made him take them off and William wasn’t too happy about cycling in his underwear most of the way back, I don’t blame him. Toby took him part of the way then, I stayed with William and he took the other two back to the car and waited for us to get there. When we got there there was no shorts. Toby lost them on the way back. So then he had to cycle back where he biked to find them. Thankfully he did, albeit HOT!

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We went and got some food and headed over to the Savannah Safari Park for the kids to play. Then after we then had to go about getting to a store to buy the goods needed to fix William’s bike so it was ready to go again. I will say overall he took it pretty good. The Zoo is a 5km straight trek through the the Zoo, we were taking all the detours so he probably had to cycle 2 kms with a flat tyre. Then headed back to the Motel and took a dip in the pool. Dinner and to bed.

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Day 2.


Edgar was camping in Bathurst, so he had a bit of a trek to drive. So he told us to get started, we made it all the way upto the Lions, when I finally realised that he had arrived. So we waited for them to catch up, which meant they missed several animals. So eventually we made out way back to them. A few were starting to fizzle and so we left them at the toilets why the gun ho ones came to see some more animals. Everyone had a favourite animal. Jordan were the Zebra’s, Owen the Giraffe’s and Dakota the Elephants, Rocky likes Tigers.

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Rocky crashed it, and was causing Toby some cycling issues as he was falling all over the place. We realised that he’s too heavy and big now for this seat, so we need to find a different solution after this to get Rocky about till he can keep up on his own bike. So Toby decided to head back to the car for the last part and we tropped on without him.

As we headed back it was a bit of a race. I managed to snap some shots whilst cycling :)


When we got back we headed to the park once more and chatted whilst the kids played, got some lunch and then headed back to the Motel for all of us to cool down in the pool. Edgar had forgotten their swimmers so he took Jordan to go buy them all a pair and headed back. We had lots of fun all playing in the pool, we brought water guns etc… with us. It was a good day.

Day 3.

We got some more things in today. We saw the Sustainability Garden, Sensory Garden and Japanese Garden. I loved the Japanese Garden. The kids enjoyed feeding the fish.

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Rocky was trying out throwing stone’s at fish to see if he could get one, grrr…. the poor fish thought he was trying to give him food. We then hit, Livvi’s Playground, it was lovely and big just a shame it was so darn tooting hot, everyone just wanted to stay in the shade, hardly anyone there, not surprising with all the heat and not enough shady places to be. Then we headed over to the OLD DUBBO GAOL. We picked the theatrical tour, it was a lot of fun and the actors/employees, need to be commended for their great work. We all had fun and laughed. Toby even got picked out as a potential “aiding and abetting” a slave to escape the gaol, too fun.

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We also got to see Alladin’s Cave, not as easy to find as I would have thought. A glass bottle mud hut, kinda cool. I haven’t found a picture of that yet. All in all we all had a nice time and were glad we got some family time away together over the holidays. Dubbo was a nice town, not sure I’d like that heat though constantly.

Then we took the long trek back to home sweet home.

When I was a youth my teacher Dean, put on a Chocolate Party for our class, we had a great time and so I decided it would be fun to do the same for my youth.
They were all very excited about it, which I was glad about. They all brought their favourite chocolate and they requested my brownies and I prepared a bunch of chocolate games to play.

The Rules: you can only eat Chocolate, both solid and liquid.  No water, only chocolate, chocolate or chocolate!

We started off slowly with the dice game of rolling a 6 you put on a hat of choice then start cutting a block of chocolate, one square at a time and eat it, one square at a time. When you finish eating that square you can start on the next. Fekita, Siale and my favourite block of chocolate is Hazelnut (Cadburys), so we started with that, yum…. Issac seemed to have that block of chocolate, in his corner. He certainly got a lot more turns, than anyone else! Poor Siale had real troubles rolling a 6, we did a second block snack (Cadburys – yes a tad more messy) just so Siale would get a chance to partake. He finally did. (pictured below)

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Next we did a singular competition of who could fit the most malteasers in their mouth at one time. We all added one at a time and we were all doing pretty good till the 20’s… I made it to 22 and started feeling my gag reflex take over, however Siale and Fekita kept going. Fekita won with 30 in her mouth at one time, then Siale her brother feeling the competition matched her, but then had to spit a bunch out, very impressive Fekita! You’ll notice (below) a vomit bucket just in case, and Riley showed up a tad late because of work, but we made sure to get him to do this game also :) Solo!

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Next 2 teams were formed, team 1 and team 2. I had hoped to make them create a cool name for their teams but sadly we didn’t get that far. The game was to make a concoction for the other team to partake of.  Team 1 partook first, Alayna volunteered first to partake, the drink looked very thick, she was very brave, we thought for sure she was going to throw it up, but no she kept it down, however said she couldn’t finish it, and so her team got in there and helped, Fekita and then Issac they struggled also and then Alayna said give it to me and finished the drink off. Touche’.

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Next it was teams 2’s turn to blend something up. When the second team came in turns out Gigi volunteered to partake this time, and partake she did, it took a while but she seemed to enjoy it and wouldn’t even share with her team, right down the the toblerone chunk at the bottom she got a spoon and consumed the whole thing, WOW! Team 1 felt gipped that they’d obviously made there’s too nice and not nearly gross enough, like the concoction they had to partake of.


Next was the taste testing. I had everyone go into the living room, whilst I made up a 7 item taste testing  tray for them to sample. Still split in there teams, for points. One came in at a time and partook. I was surprised how few knew what they were eating after all confessing their love for Chocolate. A few definitely shone in that one. Shush…. Sarah and Riley.

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Several didn’t guess any right, 2 guessed 4 right, 1 guessed 2 right, and 1 guessed, 1 right. It was totally funny to see them eat it and trying to figure out what they were eating. Alayna was using her mouth to feel up the food first. I put all the food in their mouths so they wouldn’t get to feel the food up first. Also when it came time for the drink tasting, they had troubles finding their mouths with the cup.

As time was running out to head to the youth dance we got out a bunch of the chocolate food, handed out bowls and said have at it. Then I brought out the instant pudding shots and said ok which 2 are going to go head to head, in the pudding shot competition? Riley and Issac were selected/volunteered. They had 5 mins to down as many as they could and they could only use their mouths and fingers to empty them out. It was pretty close Riley downed 13 but one was disqualified so 12 for him, and 11 for Issac. Good going guys! I couldn’t believe no one threw up :(

So as everyone ate we did one more game and that was the team that could come up with the most names of chocolate bars. Team 1 got 17 and Team 2 got 24. So yep there are seriously more than 41 chocolate bars out there to partake of, everyone!

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Then Cate showed up (YW’s President) and Toby (YM’s President) piled in the van with all the kids and headed off to the dance. When they got there, I hear they started the party! That’s one way to work off what they just ate! Sadly still no one threw up at the dance. Totally Bummed. I even said for the person  that throws up first, they get a free I Love Chocolate t-shirt. No luck :(

Toby and I had “I love Chocolate” shirts we’d made special, for the event.

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We all had great fun, and I didn’t even get to do all the games I’d come up with :(. Oh well, might just have to have another one next year :D


Love you Guys!