Friday, October 31, 2008

STUDS


All the cool people need to stop dying.

Upcycle, please.

Antonio

Thursday, October 30, 2008

METROLINK PROM


We're throwing a Metrolink appreciation event this saturday in an attempt to get the word out about Proposition M and... to have lots of fun. EVERYONE'S talking about it and it's going to be a pretty amazing thing. I don't know what to wear. Various shades of beige, probably. With some sort of snazzy tie.

No two things go better together than formalwear and public transportation, right!? So, Saturday, Novermber 1st, but on a tux and meet us at the Delmar Station at 7:15. There are rumors of a Wash U accapella group providing music for us to dance to. In order to attend, you have to:

1) show up
2) look nice
3) buy a metro ticket, transfer, or pass
4) be ready freddy to have fun

This is our chance to save the metro, will you join us?!

I'm still looking for a date, though. Any takers? Leave a comment if you're interested.

Upcycle, please,

Antonio Pacheco

SCIENTISTS


I read this article today on BBC:


Now that gap in research has been plugged, according to scientists who carried out a detailed analysis of temperature variations at both poles.
Their study indicates that humans have indeed contributed to warming in both regions.

Whoa, really? This same study also discovered that: 1) gravity is indeed what makes stuff fall to the ground and 2)the egg came first (not the chicken, as previously believed). They still havent figured out where dryer transports all those missing socks.

Come on, scientists. Maybe if we'd spent more resources trying to figure out how to fix the problems we've created and less time debating whether or not we created them in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Upcycle, please

Antonio

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BAGGU PART 2

A few days ago, I wrote a review of Baggu Bags,stating that although I thought the concept was great, the bags could be pushed further in terms of their overall sustainability. If you read the comment board for that post, you should have noticed the interesting post by Emily Sugihara, the Co-Founder of Baggu Bags:

Hi Antonio,

This is Emily from Baggu - I just wanted to address your concern about why we use Nylon instead of cloth. We think it actually makes Baggu greener.

When we designed Baggu, we took into account our product's entire life cycle (manufacturing, use, and end of life). Here's an explanation of the thinking that went into our fabric choice.

First, while nylon is a petroleum product, it is also a cradle to cradle material, meaning it can be recycled indefinitely. Baggu offers a recycling program to our customers. If a bag becomes damaged or worn out, customers can return their bags to us for a $1 credit towards a new Baggu. We collect the bags to eventually be recycled into new nylon.

Secondly, we felt very strongly about providing an alternative to plastic that was affordable and user friendly. A reusable bag is only green if it is actually being used to replace plastic bags. I personally keep three in my purse all the time, and I never, ever have to take a plastic bag, be it at the drug store, buying clothes, etc. Because cotton is not as strong as nylon, a much heavier weight fabric has to be used to carry the same weight load. I could never keep three heavy weight cotton/canvas totes in my purse - they wouldn't fit. People will actually use Baggu bag because of its appeal, its convenient compact size and strength, when they may have found larger cotton totes impractical. The average Baggu replaces 300 to 700 plastic bags every year.

Finally, the way our landfills are built nothing biodegrades. Not even food. All trash is basically sealed together in giant plastic liners to prevent the toxic things (like plastic bags), that are mixed in with the trash from contaminating the ground water. So unless your city has a composting program, a nylon bag in the landfill and a cotton bag in the landfill are exactly the same, only a cotton bag takes up more space.

Hope this explains our decision to use nylon. We're a small family run company, and we weighed the alternatives to come up with what we felt to be the best option. Thanks again for your blog post - it's really great to hear from people who care about the environment so much. This is why we're doing what we're doing!

Best,

Emily Sugihara

I've gone through and bolded what I thought were the two best points. Regarding the first point, too often we use the concept of recycling as a sort of indulgence, as a way of continuing past levels of consumption by simply stating, "oh, don't worry. It's recyclable." I don't necessarily believe that simply recycling is any better in the long run because many materials, when recycled degrade and become lesser things; recycling a plastic bottle doesn't get you a new plastic bottle, etc. But the concept of cradle to cradle products, I find very interesting. That is, we should not be content with simply recycling(or really, downcycling them) things, we should instead, upcycle them. If nylon is a material that can indeed be recycled indefinitely, then, yes, it's great.

The second point, i think, is the most compelling. I dont personally carry around my tote bags with me, simply because Emily is absolutely right, they take up tons of space and carrying around a tote full of tote isn't that fun. I think I spoke a little bit about this in the original Baggu post, but there is a certain inconvenience tied to the environmental movement that is almost fundemental to that movement. If you care about the environment, you're willing to go out of your way to do so. You take these extra steps to find a recycling bin, carry around real silverware, pay more for organic produce, take time to reasearch where your food and products come from, etc. But the problem with that approach is that there are a finite number of people who are willing to do all of that; for environmentalism to become mainstream and popular, it has to be a bit easier for people to adopt into their daily lives. I'm not advocating for environmentalism to be mindless or overly simplifed, no. We should definitely be cognizent and aware of every decision we make and the ramifcations those decisions have, but environmentalism should not be solely a culture of willful inconvenience. It should be enjoyable and enriching and to a certain degree, easy.

Baggu Bags do this really well because they fold up into neat squares that aren't overly heavy and don't take up tons of space. So, instead of a tote full of totes, you can just carry around three or four Baggu Bag squares at all times. You could even have one in your pack pocket! And that, I think, is pretty cool.

I was convinced by Emily's argument, so I bought a few. When they arrive, I'll use them for a bit and write another review.

Upcycle please,

Antonio Pacheco

PS: Speaking of totes! I just got a new one in the mail a few days ago from far, far away. It's nice, I guess.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

WINDOW GARDEN


In studio, we have a garden growing in a tin can and PVC pipes. We're growing black beans, mint, snap dragons, and basil. The black beans are getting bigbig. Mint smells good. And we got the Basil for a dolla from hitomi. Snapdragons need to be transplanted/DJ doesnt have a green thumb.

I wonder if the black beans will bear fruit. That'd be really exciting. We're trying to have the mint spread its roots through a series of PVC tubes, almost as if it was simultaneously planted in multiple containers, laying down multiple root systems. I guess that's what mint does in real life; we're trying to emulate that. I'm worried for them, though. Winter is coming quite swiftly and ruthlessly. They need to be insulated.


Black Beans!
Climbing.
MintyMint.
Variegated Basil.
Snapdragons.

Upcycle, please.

Antonio Pacheco

Monday, October 27, 2008

PROP M Part 2

Public Transit is Upcycling (and as an Upcycler, you should vote yes on Proposition M)

In St. Louis, we have the resource of a public transit system set to expand and become even more useful to our citizens. By using railroad right-of-ways, the MetroLink utilizes space that was otherwise unused. And most importantly, public transit allows users to reclaim lost time in their day. When they would be sitting in traffic, staring at the car behind them, they can take a nap or read a book as they move along on the bus or train. All that discarded time becomes something productive, where we're interacting with our neighbors and getting where we need to go. Not to mention that public transit means sharing resources, which is inherently less wasteful.

So, we have to support this system. We already have a set of train tracks that run out to the county, and we already have all these resources created. We must use them to the extent they deserve to be used: and that means funding for operation. If Metro goes forward with the planned cuts to services, then our trains and buses become unused resources, and we'll lose the valuable human capital that serves so many jobs in our transit system.

Public transit does a lot of good for us, and needs our support to continue operating. The half-cent sales tax increase that Proposal M supports will allow Metro to continue to operate and to expand, and we deserve a transit system that will serve our needs into the future. Please make it to the end of the ballot and vote yes on Proposal M.

-Miss Metrolink

Sunday, October 26, 2008

CHICAGO'S BICYCLES PART 2 (REENNNNTALLLZZZ)


When we were in Chi City a few weeks back, we ran into this really coool bicycle station in Millennium Park, the McDonald's Cycle Center. It's a bike station on the northern edge of the park where you can rent out bicycles for transportation about the city. It's a pretty cool concept, I think. According to their website, they provide shower facilities, bicycle parking, and repair services in addition to their rental services. This is one of those things that American cities need more of. I'm pretty sure this sort of thing is already popular in Europe; hopefully, we'll catch on here soon.
The rentals are a bit pricey, though. $54 to rent a road bike for a full day seems like too much when you could easily by a pretty baller road bike off craig's for twice that. But, here, you pay for the convenience of rental bike facilities. Because you don't own the bicycle, you dont have to worry about repairs or tune ups, you can simply ride it around and take it back to the bike center when you're done. It's pretty cool.

There's been a lot of discussion in both St. Louis and Los Angeles about the survival and expansion of public transportation systems in these respective cities, but these debates have usually been framed around the notion that public trans is synonymous with buses, trains, and trolleys when really, this is not the case. if there was one thing that I learned this summer concerning public transportation, it's that the best way to transition seamlessly from buses to trains, or trains to trolleys, etc, was via bicycle transportation. It's much faster to bike a mile or two than it is to wait 15 or 20 minutes for a bus to take you that same distance. It's a better experience both psychologically and physiologically because instead of standing or sitting around, waiting for the bus, you're out and about biking around. Not only can you get a better appreciation for the city, but you actually move about that city in an efficient manner. And it's fun.

Here's a bike map from Chicago.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Saturday, October 25, 2008

RIVERS V. DRAINAGE DITCHES


These pictures are from out last metro adventure to the Value Village thrift store in MacKenzie. Apparently, it's a chain? Based out of HOTlanta? Who knew.

Anyway, the pictures are from this drainage ditch that we had to cross to get from the street to the parking lot in front of the store. While we were crossing this ditch, we had a mini debate about its merits as an urban watershed. Melissa was pretty upset by its existence and cited it as one of the many environmental injustices humans perpetuate every day. I, on the other hand, did not quite agree. I found the ditch somewhat endearing; it reminds me of the Los Angeles river. But my reason for appreciating the ditch goes far beyond simple nostalgia. This appreciation is based upon hope; the notion of what this ditch could be if we'd simply pay attention to it. It made me think about the common belief among those in the environmental community that human activities are fundamentally environmentally destructive, which, Personally, I don't think this is the case.

Well, no. They are. Right now, anyway. But, they don't have to be. And they shouldn't be. And that's what I'm trying to get at.

I believe that every organism on the planet is equal; we are all made of the same things and breathe with the same exuberant thirst for life. We're all a part of the same collective existance and that existence that makes life possible. And that means that we all, in some way, contribute to each other's existance and the overall perpetuation of life on earth. So, in that sense, humans have as much a stake in making the world work as do the ants, birch trees, and antelope herds. Our cultures and creations and ideas matter just as much as theirs and in that way, humans and "nature" can never be two separate, abstract concepts. Without them, there can't be an us; without us the world should be a much less exciting place. But we don't frame it that way. We always think of humanity as somehow being separated from the rest of existence; we're either better or worse, smarter or dumber, faster or slower. We seek the regularity and dependability that we assume comes with human intervention. We're scared of "nature;" it's that scary noise in the forest, that cold October wind, that tinder dry bush on the hillside. We know nature is unpredictable and, by definition, wild. That scares us.

But it doesn't have to be this way. I wonder what the world would be like if we thought of ourselves as an integral part of nature as opposed to constantly trying to escape or overcome it. What if instead of trying to either attempting to emulate or destroy nature, we became nature? Then, maybe the drainage ditches we create could be rivers. Our homes could be habitats and our roads migratory paths. Our world wouldn't be lined with concrete or plastic, we'd be smarter and more thoughtful than that.

We'd be better than that; we'd be better than this.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

Friday, October 24, 2008

PROP M

Here are some Metrolink videos!








BAGGU


These things are pretty cool. We all know how much I love totes, and even though these are made of plastic, I approve. Theres something interesting to me about the motivation to make an existing, wasteful product better and more sustainable. That spirit is pretty evident in the design philosophy of Baggu and I appreciate it. It's a business model that effectively tows the line between outright capitalism and responsibility.

Yeah, their models are hip and cute (and without faces?), but that's just marketing. There's a certain convenience in unsustainability that needs to be countered aggressively and maybe, an effective way of fighting that convenience (or, of accepting the modest inconvenience of sustainability) is by making it cool. I mean, asking people to NOT use plastic bags is not asking for a lot... but really, it is. We're addicted to the ease and mindlessness of the throw-away bag. And that's awfully disgusting. Baggu seems like a good first step in that direction. Now, if only they used cloth instead of plastic, I'd be willing to buy a few.
Upcycle, please!

Monday, October 20, 2008

THE BAMA BUS IS COMING



This Saturday, I was in the middle of this here crowd. And it was an amazing experience. I'm pretty sure there havent been 100,000 people in Downtown St. Louis is over 50 years. Talk about change.

I hear Obama saying the right things and I think people are listening. I think this is it? But lets not get too sure of ourselves, as my dad said last night, somewhat jokingly, "you know how white people like to change their minds..."

I hope Obams doesn't get Tom Bradleyd. Please?

Anyway, when I was there, I was amazed by how pumped up (and ready to go?) people were about this campaign and about the possible future. I saw tons and tons of people hustling Obama gear out of the trunks of their cars and suitcases all Along S. Memorial Drive/I-70. I bought this shirt from some guy for $10 (he wanted $15, but I talked him down/ please excuse my sock in the lower left corner of the picture?) Then, I ran into these girlies who were stenciling shirts! And I bought this shirt from them (they had just made it)

They were from bamabus.com, which is realllly rad/cool/awesomepossum. Basically, they're two girls from Cali who are driving around the country making art and promoting Obama. They were in Madison last week; I'm not sure where they're headed next! They had this whole set up saturday with stencils and spraypaint, etc for people to make their own shirts! I'm quite a fan of their aesthetic. Here's a video!





After the speech, I bused (93 Midtown-South County) it down to Cherokee Street and had myself some lunch! Then, I headed over to Jay's International Foods (7O Grand) and bought a ten pound sack of rice in a burlap bag. Totes?

Upcycle, Please


Antonio Pacheco

HIATUS

So, No one (til last night!) has blogged on this rittle blog for weeks on end. Please forgive us! Midterms suck.

I think we're back, though. I'm working on a few things right now that I'll hopefully post this week. We need to get back on our game.

Topics yet to come:

My Bed
Rivers V. Drainage Ditches
Bicycle Programs in Chicago
Proposition M in St. Louis; Measure R in Los Angeles
An update on our black bean tin can garden in studio!
More Election Stuff!

But until then, keep reading through our old posts! maybe you missed something interesting we posted in July, or something? Oh, and read Hug Life. That baby's still kickin'!

Upcycle, please!

Antonio Pacheco

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Un-American to call someone Un-American


So how about that mudslinging? Since we are now well into October (2 weeks until Election day!), we are fully entrenched in the greatest of election year traditions, the good old-fashioned practice of destroying your opponent’s character, credibility, etc. Sure, the negativity has been there all along, but there is something truly exceptional to the ways in which politicians throw decency to the wind in October. For the last several weeks, we have observed Obama’s persistent calmness during debates while McCain the Robot fumed and fidgeted and wandered into the depths of irrationality. I mean, someone at least get the guy a suit that doesn’t look like it’s strangling him. But that’s totally off topic.

I found myself tremendously irritated this week when Sarah Palin (in an attempt to be relevant outside of the realm of pop culture) made a cozy trip to North Carolina, where she made the following remarks at a heartwarming fundraiser:

"We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation…This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans.”

You know, we have spent the last eight years with the divisive, hypocritical language of George W. Bush, the rhetoric of “us” versus “them,” the exclusivity of the term “American,” and the never-ending manipulation of the meaning of patriotism. Who is this woman to say that certain parts of our country better represent our national ideals than others? I’m tired of being told that my personal views make me a second-rate citizen, and I’m really not in the mood to take this from someone who probably never took time off between hunting elk and funding programs to shoot down wolves from helicopters to actually read the Declaration of Independence. If I let myself get swept away by the idealism of it, I feel that the greatest part of this country is its diversity, that we can all have completely different creeds and still work together for the common good (the last eight years aside).

I was recently filling out a Danish Residency Permit (I’ll be headed to Copenhagen in the spring), and I lingered over the section regarding nationality. Whenever I had to consider this question in the past, it usually involved a process similar to describing the make up of the UN in one word and was eventually resolved with a hyphen. Yet the sample answer was very simple: was I American or Canadian? It has become so easy for us to think of the millions of ways that we are different from one another that the most obvious answer (at least to the rest of the world) seems completely foreign at times. So I officially declared to the fine country of Denmark that I was, in fact, American (not the whole host of other options that were flooding my mind) and carried on. Then I mailed my absentee ballot. In one afternoon, I felt more American than I’ve felt in a really long time, and my patriotic act didn’t involve slapping a yellow ribbon magnet on my Hummer and driving down Main Street to say hi to Andy Griffith. Because real America manifests itself in an infinite number of ways – that’s what makes it “American.” Now is the time for all of us anti-war, tree-hugging, freedom loving people to declare our American-ness because, for better or worse, this is our country too. Enough with the self-destruct button.

Unless McPalin wins. Then I’m recanting my promise to the Danish Consulate to leave the country by May of next year. I’m from Los Angeles – I can figure out a way around immigration laws.

So get out there and vote!
Laura Dominguez

Friday, October 3, 2008

FOLKSIES

That's What She Said


The debate was good? Interesting? Damn, why is Sarah Palin so charming? There's something about her "folksy" mannerisms/alaskan accent that I find really charming in a simple, false sort of way. It's obviously a ploy. It's totally fake. But its so false that it might be real, such an act that it could not be. And I think that's why she's so dangerous. She has the ability to appeal to the sort of people who are going to win this election for either Barack or McCain, the simple folk. The "joe six packs" and soccer moms of Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The sort of people the media and these candidates have been making martyrs of the the last year, the people who are neither open minded nor educated enough to really consider her act a farse. Those who want immediate satisfaction and relief. She appeals to the people who can be hoodwinked and duped by inflamatory words and phrases, "higher taxes," "gay marriage," "our troops," etc etc.

Coincidentally, those are the same people who do not believe in climate change and are making no attempt to lead more sustainable lives. I don't think Joe Six Pack recycles. And he definite doesnt convert those aluminum cans to heliostats for use in growing food indoors. You know? Maybe not. The point is, her debate style has appeal. But her policies and intellect are rather sub-par and ill-conceived.

But maybe, that's what some Americans are looking for.

I'm not, though.

Upcycle, please.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life is better with bingo

For your debate-watching enjoyment: Palin Bingo
YAY!
With love, from St. Louis

JOE SIX-PACK AMERICAN


"I think they're just not used to someone coming in from the outside saying, 'You know what? It's time that normal Joe Six-Pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency,' and I think that that's kind of taken some people off-guard," she said in a radio interview with conservative host Hugh Hewitt.

I listened to this commentary on NPR last night about the concept mentioned in the quote above that I found really interesting and somewhat funny. This whole notion of the average american being "joe six pack" I think is... well, I dont know quite what to make of it. Voters say they want someone they can relate to and possibly, have a beer with, running their country. But, as the NPR commentary mentioned, is this really a time during which you want just regular people running the country? Not that regular people aren't great, but I think our world is in a position where we need bold, visionary leadership. We need people to lead us who are extraordinary and intelligent, eloquent and open-minded; we need leaders that are by definition, different from those we have today. it's the Joe six pack politicians that got us into many of the messes we're in. And if Americans think that those same sorts of politicians are going to get us out of our current messes, then they have another thing coming.

Personally, I wouldn't mind having a beer with any of the candidates running, but some of our candidates/current politicians are the sort of people you'd play edward 40 hands with. And that's what bothers me. This isn't a time for ignorant, close-minded, bumbling robot politicians. We cannot afford to make that sort of mistake, our children cannot afford for us to make that mistake.

Also, isn't it a bit insulting to think of the "average american" as some dumbass, alcoholic redneck? Does no one else get upset about this characterization? It's one thing to say, okay, maybe the average american isn't an amazing, inspirational, selfless person and it's quite another to insinuate that the average american is dumb and backwards. I think that sends a pretty awful and ridiculous message to the rest of the world about who we are and what we value as a people.

So I think that maybe, we should consider looking for different qualities in our candidates. You know, like, intelligence and voting record, maybe? Or moral conviction and social awareness. You know, the sorts of things you think about before/after you do a keg stand with George W.

Upcycle, please.

Antonio Pacheco

DANIELA


The prior three posts were from this baller I know, Daniela. We go way back.

She designs and draws circles freehand around all the architecture kids here, which I think is pretty evident. I found her project to be really amazing and interesting. There are so many communities around the world like Red Hook that are desperately waiting to be connected and bicycled into the future. I sincerely believe that its creative, visionary people like her who will help to design a better and more sensible future in the world. So please, read her posts?

Upcycle, please.

Antonio Pacheco
 
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