Monday, October 25, 2010

Micro-Taz and other nonsense

Last night, something found its way into my newly-installed Earth Machine.  When I opened the cover, something moved very, very fast, so fast that I thought it might be a snake, perhaps a small Racer, because it really went like a bat out of hell, round and round inside, until I wondered if it would perhaps propel itself upward with a force exceeding 1G and thus project itself onto my face.

This is a very effective piece of artwork in large part because it's fulla thirds and diagonals.
It turns out that it was some sort of fleet-footed lizard.  I couldn't see what kind, because it was dusk, and because it was moving at relativistic speed.  He managed to squeeze back out of the thing and then he disappeared behind the garden shed.

He was in there feasting on those f*cking fruit flies that have been plaguing me - good for him.  I haven't figured out what to do with the flies.  I'm covering my compost with carbon feedstock as required, and there's no odor, but there is a veritable cloud of flies.  Flies are never good news in the subtropics.  We don't want those.

So I'll add the lizard guy to my list of fly countermeasures, and I'll hail the subtropics while I'm at it: Nature always finds a way around here - I love that about this area.  To look at our neighborhood, you'd think it represents the ultimate in scorched-earth experiences (having been plowed under in its entirety with all indigenous macro-life annhialated a year ago when construction started).  And yet the compost bin is on the ground just one week before a carnivore manages to defy the diversification odds and arrive from... somewhere.

Starbucks inadvertently gave me two other good ideas this week, and one of them also pertained to flies.  Starbucks has a wonderful recycling program called "Grounds for your Garden" in which they give away 5-lb bags of their spent coffee grounds (and they generate A LOT of spent coffee).  They just park them in a bucket near the door and people take them as they want. 

Only trouble is, this stuff is like mahogany gold.  You can basically forget about growing decent Gardenias in greater Houston unless you feed them Starbucks material (we're ALL addicted, humans and plants alike).  So a lot of people want this stuff and it's hard to get your hands on it.  Except I found a new Starbucks on the Gulf Freeway, sort of away from the neighborhoods, and I think it serves mostly Yuppies with BMWs who don't really have an urge to collect used coffee grounds.  I managed to abscond with 10 lbs a few days ago.

Now, in the Before Time, you'd crack open a bag of Starbucks grounds, and it would just be grounds.  Well, somewhere along the way, Starbucks must have realized that their employees were spending a lot of friggin' time scraping the grounds out of the filters.  Furthermore, the filters were not being recycled, and they are compostable.  So when I got THESE two bags of grounds, I found a bunch of soggy filters still in them.

Initially this irritated me but then I realized that I could take my tongs and spread out the filters on top of the active surface, sort of like a compost equivalent of the Shroud of Turin.  This may indeed help with the flies where loose carbon material was still allowing them to penetrate.  We'll see.

The other idea pertained to the bags themselves.  Initially I thought I would simply recycle them, but they're really good quality vacuum bags.  Cocaine bricks don't come into this country packaged as robustly as Starbucks coffee.  If I wash them out, I might be able to use them as outer sleeves on the organic artisan breads I'm always freezing (frozen organic bread is 10x better than the fresh garbage they sell in mainstream grocery stores). 
I accidentally holed this first one (shown here stuck with a magnet to the fridge to dry) before I got this idea, but I think I'll try it out.  Those artisan breads need to be double-bagged to minimize freezer burn and, to this day, I haven't found an ideal way to do this via either recycling or via purchase of a new product (Ziploc bags are too small, wrong shape; used bread bags are too flimsy).

So there you have it - you can rest easier at heart knowing that your next Starbucks cuppa has at least the potential to be a zero-waste proposition, supposing that's the kind of thing that floats your existential boat.  Me, I just want fewer flies and better bread. 

And this post is mostly unimportant nonsense, really, but I'm taking my lunch break, and I didn't feel like reading the news.

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