Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Design and recycling

Posted: 24/08/2014 by Toby in Informative, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

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.

This year I really wanted to do something fun with the kids and so, I decided to make it green day. We invited a couple from Church to come for dinner Josie and Lachie Mackie, Josie being a fellow American, so she grasped doing something fun. They came all dressed up in green, nice job I thought I didn’t even have enough green to cover my whole self with green, my top was even mint green, sad really.

In the morning I started off by getting up early and making everyone green pancakes and green milk for Breakfast. Toby gladly ate the pancakes obviously not the milk :)

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I packed their lunches with all green food. Green apples, green cucumber, green pikelets and so forth. I even had Leprechaun juice for them, for when I picked them up from school.

Then for dinner we had green mashed potatoes, zucchini, green salad and pesto chicken. It came up quite delicious, if I do say so myself (ok I was pleasantly surprised). It wasn’t that easy finding something green for dinner to keep it all green, and something the kids would eat.

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The lemon/lime drink wasn’t that green, so we even added food colouring to fix that problem. Some weren’t as willing as others. Gigi and I were in!

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After dinner we played games. First was an easy one where you have to roll the dice for gold coins. Once you filled the clover then you won. I didn’t win. I can’t remember who won now, one of the kids.

Then it was search for shamrocks in the back yard. I stuck shamrocks on clothing pegs for that game so we could put them cool places. First we had the adults hiding them for the kids, then the one who found the most got Lepricorn gold (gold chocolate covered coins) and then the kids hide them for us adults. Lachie won that game for the adults.

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Then I made up a bowl of lime shaving cream, and put gold coins in it, the kids each had a turn in pulling them out when they thought they’d found all the coins, they’d guess how many coins were in it. No one got it right. Gigi especially loved the goey sensation of that game. Rocky didn’t like it at all.

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You’ll also notice that there are pictures up on the wall, that was from the afternoon, I had the kids do a colouring in of a Leprechaun and then Josie and Lachie said who won, for another gold coin.

I had a man game, called Glob Shots. The boys had 5 shot cups of green jelly. The one that got them all down first only using there mouth and tongue got a No 1. trophy. Lachie finished first but he also broke one of the cups and so didn’t eat that one as it shattered. Toby got all 5 down. We were all suitably impressed.

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Then after we all sat down yapping with dessert and making pots of gold, when they were finished we put them all up on the frangipani tree outside.

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I tried out a recipe called Leprechaun Bark. It was quite tasty, rich though so you don’t eat lots of it. I also did an adjustment to a treat with pretzels. I dipped 1/2 the pretzel in white chocolate, then I had a crushed up pepermint crisp bar, and then dipped it in there. It came out a real treat and was Josie’s favourite. Below is a shot of my version of Leprechaun Bark. We also had mint covered chocolate balls and spearmint leaves, both green also.

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My Leprechaun bark was milk chocolate melted on the bottom and refridgerated, then I melted white chocolate  and added green flavouring to turn it green and poured it on top. Then I had picked out green m&m’s (smashed them up) and the rest of the crushed up peppermint crisp and sprinkled it over it, and refridgerated, once all hard you break it up to serve.

So it was a totally Green Day for us O’Hara’s.

 

 

Nude Food Day Last Friday students in all classes, K-6 were introduced to the concept of Nude Food Day by presenters from 4/5B. Students will develop an awareness of how unreusable waste is damaging to the environment and realise that they can take small steps to reduce waste.

A colouring competition was held to promote this concept, and two children from each stage won a healthy fruit salad snack in a reusable container. Congratulations to: Renee (Kindy), William (Kindy), Reuben (Year 1), Gigi (Year2), Clare (Year 3), Brendan (Year 4), Masson (Year 5) and Jordan (Year 5). Starting next term, every Thursday will be Nude Food Day at school.

Students need to bring healthy lunches and snacks in reusable packaging. There will be bins for compost, however, any packaging that is not reusable needs to go home with the child as no rubbish bins will be available.

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Toby and I are proud that 2 of our kids won. They are both very creative and it was nice to see others can see it also. :)

It’s taken some time to get to writing this. Our son is now 8 years old, seems strange to think, of him that old before we know it he’ll be in double digits. We always start out with the kids opening their gifts, they have to wait till we are all there so we can watch. The below gifts pictured are from Grandmama and G’dad, a tie and tie pin. TJ was happy with his gifts, his large gift from us was a set of scriptures. He likes them alot so we’ll start reading them together this year.

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It sure takes time to get things organised for parties, or maybe I should say a decent party! I tried to simplify it as much as I could. His event was his Baptism, and somehow the timing worked out that his birthday fell right on a Sunday and it worked out that he could get Baptised that same day. Making it easy to remember, for the future.

We went to morning church and then got last minute things organised ready for his baptism. Toby had prepared a song in sign language for him and his great Aunt Helen and his primary teacher Sister Frost spoke at his baptism.

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The Baptism ran smoothly and afterwards we had some food. My friends were very supportive and helped with bringing a plate and keeping the tables sorted and food flowing, which we were very grateful for. Also my mother made the punch which was a hit. TJ choose a rainbow ice cream cake for this year and I was surprised it went as far as it did, everyone who wanted a piece got one and there were even 2 slices left over, which TJ’s cousins managed to polish off for us. TJ ate up the chocolate “Happy Birthday”, no problem! You’ll notice he lost his first tooth just a few days before his birthday.

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I tried to keep the table simple as our Bishop doesn’t like the fanfare that can take place at Baptisms nowadays and so here are some shots of what we did.

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I made up some cards for the young kids, saying “chews the right” and stuck a packet of chewing gum on it and, some chocolate for TJ wrapped with messages to remind him about this day and the promises he made. I also made some cookies into number 8’s, boy they went quick!

All in all everything went well and it was nice to get home and relax and know our first baptism among our children is over with, and for the kids to enjoy playing with TJ’s new things all together. The Baptism Bag was fantastic from Grandmama. He’s already gone through it at least 4 times that I’ve seen. They are a great way for the kids to remember the importance of why we all need to be Baptised.

We love TJ so much and are so proud to be his parents. He does provide us with challenges, but what little spirit doesn’t. We love his soft heart and how his countenance shine’s forth.

Happy 8th Birthday and Batpism TJ.

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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

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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.

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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

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Love you Guys!

Collaborative Consumption

Posted: 10/11/2013 by Toby in Other, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Those two words put together made me chuckle, one of the best things about the English language is that there’s so many combinations of words that mean similar things but have a different connotation. If I were to say collaborative consumption, would you instantly think to translate that as ‘sharing’?

I sent this article to my family and there was a nice little discussion over email about it. It made me want to write a bit more. The article is here: http://storyofstuff.org/blog/its-time-to-replace-more-with-better-2/

I liked the article for two reasons. One, I agree with it, and two, it’s a different spin on an old idea. It’s put in such a way that the younger set, younger than me, might understand it, especially those who would have grown up middle or upper middle class, and never saw anyone borrow or share. I remember when I was a kid there were plenty of jokes on TV and in the comic strips about neighbors borrowing things and not returning them, but for me it doesn’t seem to be much a part of life (any more).

But I feel keenly the fact that so much ‘stuff’ simply sits in the garage or in the house waiting for once-a-year use. The typical Westerner (I say Westerner because I’m in Australia and they act pretty similar to Americans, and I understand that in England it goes on) seems to accumulate lots of just in case and occasional ‘stuff’ that piles up in the house, jammed into cabinets, basements, and garages. Part of me questions this behaviour, probably because of the way I was raised. I’m not saying my parents didn’t accumulate, they did fine, especially my dad. But somewhere along the way I just got a real allergy for wasteful consumption.

It bothers me that a small hole will render an entire sock useless. I haven’t learned to darn them though. It bothers me that so much of what we buy isn’t very fixable. Just this week, William’s new toy that he got for his birthday was rendered useless, simply because the wheel broke off. But I didn’t have the right glue, the stuff I had wouldn’t hold that kind of plastic, plus, I couldn’t pull it apart to get the steering working. The rest of it worked perfectly, though.

And it also bothers me that there’s so much ‘stuff’ that gets sold every day, only to get thrown in with the hoard of ‘stuff’ that people have, and only used occasionally. It doesn’t bother me enough to become a vigilante crusader or anything, but it’s like an uncomfortable undercurrent.

Between a cheap item that might not last, or isn’t repairable, and a more expensive item that should last longer or is actually repairable, can you guess what most people buy? This is the kind of signal the ‘market’ sends to manufacturers. It constantly amazes me some of the cheap and shoddy items that are being sold today and I think to myself how can there really be a market for this?

Now that said, I think that for lots of items there is a functional/cheap ratio below which an item simply isn’t usable, and many objects are highly reusable due to that threshold being reasonably high.

So, there is this problem of cheap objects that don’t stand up under heavy use, and they’re not easily repaired. In that situation, collaborative consumption looks less viable.

There’s another problem.

Once upon a time, people didn’t move very far away, they stayed in the same job for most of their lives, and they got to know the people in their neighborhood. Sharing worked well in this scenario because they were sharing with people they knew, and they could get their stuff back.

It wasn’t perfect, and sure there were plenty of people who no one lended to, but it’s a big difference to the way many people live today. Workers don’t stay in their jobs as long, they seem to move more often, and for whatever reason, people don’t always get to know their neighbors any more. They might have a small network of former school friends, or former workmates, or people they know from church, but with those kind of friends, it’s not as easy to walk down the street and ask to borrow a saw or an esky. It’s much easier to go and get your own, so then you don’t have to ask anyone.

And let’s not forget, because things aren’t as sturdy any more, and not as fixable, and we’re not as adept at fixing anyway, well, if you lend something out, and it comes back broken, who’s out of pocket? Not the borrower, that’s for sure.

The only real case I can make for collaborative consumption these days is one of my favourite things to do, and that is get to stuff second hand. Not borrowing, but buying at a fraction of the cost. One of my best purchases on eBay was a matched set of bike racks for $80. The retail value was $300 for new, and they worked perfectly. Even when it’s not an absolute steal, say $5 for a $100 item, there’s still a good case here, for the fact that this item will now get a second life, in your hands, provided it hasn’t been destroyed already.

I think in my ideal world, all stores would be replaced by libraries, or borrowing sheds where you can borrow whatever you need, and bring it back. I don’t think this world will ever exist, because there are too many people obsessed with accumulating.

But one can dream.