Dressing table

image of Ikea Malm dressing table

Ikea Malm dressing table in birch color, 120 cm (47.5 in) width

I was lucky to find a used Ikea Malm dressing table in birch color, which is no longer sold (at stores in my area and on the Ikea USA website). The only available version is white which would look horrendous in my studio since everything else is natural wood color.

Apparently I’m not the only person who fell in love with this model dressing table, as indicated by this other blog post at misschievous.tv in which the author describes it as “…the infamous MALM vanity from IKEA by now that I, and many other makeup enthusiasts, own.”

Her article mentions that there apparently was an original version of the Malm dressing table which measured 191 cm (75 inches) in width, whereas the one I was lucky to find is 120 cm (47.5 inches). This 47 inch model is wide enough. I can’t imagine having the room for a 75 inch model unless I had a mansion.

One thing that was amazing about this piece of furniture: In typical Ikea fashion it was very simple to disassemble, fit into my small car, and resassamble.

The material is some kind of pressed laminated type of board with synthetic birch-effect veneer over particleboard. A far cry from the natural stuff I typically propound here. In fact if this thing were trimmed down a bit it would be nice. It doesn’t need to be so hefty. Yet the heftiness of it imparts a certain plush, very solid quality to it. Still, I bet it could be a lot lighter and still very good, although it would not have the same level of solidity.

Anyhow it is a used piece of furniture that was taken care of very well and will continue to be taken care of very well. Now I just need to rearrange half my apartment to put it in place…

New Highly-Efficient Toilets in San Francisco

photo of highly effecient toilet

picture of new, highly efficient toilet that was just installed in my apartment

It looks like the City and/or County of San Francisco has a program to increase water efficiency and install new toilets in apartments. A couple days ago someone came and replaced my older toilet, which I hated, with this extremely cool, new one which uses a fraction of the water the old one did.

The only sad thing is that it is taking so long to get everyone to use new, efficient plumbing devices like this.

But even the idea of flushing feces and urine down into a pipe containing freshwater is absolutely crazy. Ultimately this has to be changed.

I also believe that by law all sink and bathtub spigots should be required to have a standardized interface whereby attachments such as hoses can be attached. I have always wanted to be able to attach a hose to my bathtub spigot, as this would be a nice, extremely water-efficient way to quickly and easily rinse my body.

Of course there are hose attachments which go on the shower head but those are not the same. Its much better to squat in the tub and also more useful for children, pets, or having to rinse/cleanse things.

In the future humans are going to have to learn to control the water – and fire – energies better.  Irresponsible misuse and disrespect of both is causing major problems.  Massive overuse and waste of fossil fuels is one huge case of misuse and disrespect of fire energy.

Defend against mites and other parasites

From time to time most people probably experience times when we feel kind of itchy all over or on certain areas of our bodies. Of course such a feeling can be related to many possible factors including histamine response in the skin. Yet it can also be from organisms such as mites which can live in our clothes or bedding.

One idea I’ve come up with is to occasionally treat my skin or bedding with some kind of medication to keep organisms in check.

In addition to common-sense measures like keeping clean bed linens, I am now of the belief that an occasional application of an oil or medicine to the skin or bedding is a good idea.

Today at the health food store I decided to purchase an actual lice medication which is based on Tea Tree, Ylang Ylang, and other essential oils. Even though I’m not concerned about lice, any medication which is capable of controlling lice will be capable of controlling other parasites.

Tea Tree is known to be one of the most powerful essential oils. The formula therefore appealed to me. This particular product comes in a spray bottle and includes a nit pick (yes, an actual hair pick designed to get out the egg clusters of lice, called nits), and a shower cap. The cap of course would be used for treating head lice.

One word of caution: I have never actually tried an herbal formula like this with a louse (lice, scabies, or crabs) infestation. For those it may be better to use a medication with synthetic pyrethrins. Although these are considered toxic, mostly in natural sectors, in fact pyrethrin was originally from a species of chrysanthemum flower. If someone has a louse infestation I would recommend using the most powerful medicine available to wipe it out as quickly as possible. Over-the-counter lice treatments work very well and are less toxic than most people claim.

Although buying the pre-made formula was convenient, in the future I’ll try to make my own.

I wonder what people will do in the future if there are no more fossil fuels. Where will we get tea tree oil?

So much of the way we think and operate is based on the presumption of an abundance of inexpensive energy. It makes me want to go into the forest and start experimenting…

An inspiring, true hero

A 62-year-old American woman is making her fourth attempt to become the first person to swim from Cuba to the US without the protection of a shark cage.

Diana Nyad has already been stung several times by jellyfish but is continuing her 166km (103 mile) journey, team members said.

She left the Cuban capital, Havana, on Saturday afternoon and is aiming to reach Florida on Tuesday.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19311095

Go Diana! Swim! Swim! Swim!

Diana is a rare, true hero, a person who challenges herself to break limits and strive for excellence and greatness.

We live in a truly sad time when we see praise an adulation of people for things which are not true achievements. Our society is sick because it doesn’t know what is important and what is superfluous or frivolous.

For a body or a society to be healthy it has to know, for the sake of its own integrity, what is most valuable and what is not. When the organism or the society forgets what is of true value it is sick. Even the Olympics I find highly grotesque and such a sick contortion of the idea of health for the sake of immense profits.

Better to ditch the Olympics and just go out for a good run. Even one drop of being a creator or an initiator – getting out and taking that run or swim your body’s been longing for – is better than an vast ocean of being a spectator.

Anyhow, I am so inspired by Diana that I thought of her today when running and ran extra hard for her. Even if she doesn’t make it to Florida she is still a hero and still a great person.

I love the fact that she is only competing against herself, and not for the sake of winning anything other than surpassing her own limits of achievement which is the highest of all rewards, far beyond glamour, fame, recognition, etc.  And no one set this up, no one designed or created this “event”.  It is something she set for herself, which has so much more meaning than something that is set for one.

Her story also inspires me: if she can withstand jellyfish stings and other tribulations while swimming in the ocean, I can withstand rude motorists and insulting pedestrians while running through the city grit.

I believe that we are always heroes when we carry out the revolution in our lives of getting up and getting out and going for it without fear.  But of course such a mindset of real achievement runs totally counter to the propaganda mindset instilled on society about synthetically created achievements which fit in with the party lines, militarism, aggressiveness, etc.

If we are to stay healthy as a society we need to never lose sight of what true achievements are and not get deluded by the dominant paradigm false “achievements” which we are constantly being force-fed to society.

If we start to do this, and begin to see clearly, we will see that many true achievers are being persecuted in this day and age, especially bicyclists, many of whom have become martyrs for life and Mother Earth.

Aqueduct flows into Japanese home

scene of woman kneeling at water basin in traditional Japanese home

from the jdrama series “Ryomaden”, ep. 24; 09:22

This image from a scene of a Japanese show is simply amazing. A woman is kneeling down at a water basin which flows from a small aqueduct which runs through the neighborhood, into this room which looks like a kitchen. Whether this would be the main house, or perhaps a separate building I do not know, but every little detail of this scene fascinates me.

In this scene the camera slowly pans over to the left revealing the aqueduct outside from which the water flows:

scene of interior of traditional Japanese home with aqueduct outside

scene from jdrama series “Ryomaden” ep. 24; 09:30

Here is one last, astoundingly beautiful scene showing two women talking and the aqueduct, lined with stones, flowing behind them. There is also a small garden and even a chicken:

scene of two women talking with aqueduct in the background

scene from jdrama “Ryomaden”, ep. 24; 10:17

My first tansu

picture of a tansu
I’m so excited. Today I got my first tansu.  This particular type is called a “ko dansu” or “kodansu”.  It makes the perfect little organizational compartment to go next to my futon.

On top of it you can see a smaller, mini-tansu I got last week. (Ok, I guess that smaller one was actually the first.)

In the foreground you can see my Galaxy Tab 10.1 running aWARemote for Winamp which is an extremely cool app that lets you remotely control Winamp running on a PC on your local network.

So now I’m thinking of getting some mini-tansus for different purposes: one for sewing supplies, one for jewelry/beadwork supplies, etc.  Wow, and I’d love to have one with art/painting supplies, something I have yet to take up…

Article discussing 241Am ingrowth and Pu isotope ratios in Japan

Sorry to be a downer here, but it concerns me highly that governments around the world consist of many people with low scientific aptitudes. More than ever, society needs leaders who are scientifically literate, able to process and comprehend complex data of various types and perform analysis based on information inputs.

More and more it seems like society is rewarding those who “innovate” in scamming more than in creating.

I was reading an article today about research on Plutonium from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accidents and there were some interesting points relating to the danger of Plutonium in the environment.

From the article “Isotopic evidence of plutonium release into the environment from the Fukushima DNPP accident“: http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120308/srep00304/full/srep00304.html

Analysis of Plutonium isotope ratios and concentrations in exclusion zone areas around Fukushima DNPP indicate higher than normal amounts of Plutonium 241, attributable to the nuclear accident.  The amounts of Plutonium are lower than Chernobyl, which also had fuel containing Plutonium, and are consistent with distribution of bits of Plutonium being distributed as fragments of fuel cores which got blown up when the #3 reactor exploded. Plutonium 241 is a beta emitter.  Its half-life is 14.4 years.  It decays into Americium 241, which is an alpha and gamma emitter.  Both of these are serious concerns, particularly if they are inhaled or otherwise ingested into the body.

Based on analysis Plutonium and Americium in soil near Nagasaki where a bomb with a Plutonium core was detonated over the city in 1945, there has been “no significant difference regarding their downward migration behavior” (through the soil) in the past 60 years. The concentration of Americium increased and reached a peak in 2008 after which it will continue to decrease gradually. In other words, it sticks around for a long time and over time as it turns into Americium it actually transfers more easily into plants.

From the Plutonium that has been scattered across the Earth from all the atomic weapons tests, the amount of Americium 241 is expected to peak in 2042.  From the Fukushima DNPP accident it is expected to peak in 2081.  In other words there will be significant issues related to the radiation release from the Fukushima DNPP disaster for many decades to come in exclusion zone areas.

Am may remain in the surface soil for decades together with Pu isotopes. In our previous study on the migration of 241Am and Pu released from the atomic bomb detonation in Nagasaki26, we found that the 241Am/239+240Pu activity ratio (0.036±0.006) detected in a soil core (0–15 cm) in Nishiyama area, Nagasaki, Japan in 2008 approached the expected maximum value27, indicating that 241Am and Pu were still together in the soils after six decades and showing no significant difference regarding their downward migration behavior (Fig. 3). In addition, a more efficient transfer of 241Am into plants may be expected. A recent study showed that the coefficients of 241Am transfer from soil to wild plants28, particularly to legumes, are 3–5 times higher than those of 239,240Pu. Therefore, it is highly necessary to investigate the distribution and surface activity of 241Pu inside the 20 km zone, where much higher 241Pu could be expected. This is important for the long-term dose assessment of actinides, and will have important implications in the strategy for decontamination procedures.
source: http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120308/srep00304/full/srep00304.html

Some other info from the article:

MEXT has estimated the 239+240Pu dose of external exposure and inhalation from resuspension as 0.12 mSv for a person living for 50 years in the contaminated area8. On the other hand, the 241Pu/239+240Pu activity ratio of the Fukushima-derived Pu was found to be higher than 100. The additional dose contribution from 241Pu has to be estimated. As an example, assuming a similar contamination of 241Pu in the surface soil as that in the litter layer and using the method of IAEA-TECDOC-95524, we estimated the 241Pu dose for a person living for 50 years in the vicinity of S2 site to be 0.44 mSv, about 4 times the 239+240Pu dose.

We noted that in the surface soil (0–1 cm) under the litter layer at sites S3 and S2, no 241Pu was determined and 240Pu/239Pu atom ratios were 0.144 and 0.177, respectively, close to the global fallout value of 0.180. This phenomenon indicated that the released Pu deposited in the litter layer, had not reached the underlying surface soil by May 2011 when the samples were collected. We considered that the atom ratios of 240Pu/239Pu and 241Pu/239Pu found in the litter layer reflected the isotopic composition of the released Pu from the Fukushima DNPP accident.

It was found that although the inventories of Pu isotopes in the reactors in the Fukushima DNPP were ca. 3.5 times those in the Chernobyl No. 4 reactor23, the percentages of core inventory released for both 239+240Pu and 241Pu were about 5 orders of magnitude lower than those of the Chernobyl accident. These results suggested that for the Fukushima DNPP accident, the plutonium emitted into the environment was mainly due to the release of Pu associated with fuel fragments as a consequence of the hydrogen explosions, as suggested by Kirchner et al.22.

This is the type of desk I want

pic of room with japanese desk
This is the type of desk I would like to get. More and more there are reasons why I am drawn to Asian furniture. For one, it is usually far more environmental than modern furniture. A basic desk, made from a wood which is probably not too heavy, vs. for example a modern, synthetic desk made with pressed particleboard and synthetic laminate as a surface.
The shiny, clean surfaces of modern furniture are appealing, yet there’s something classic and timeless about older wood styles.
Another issue is weight. Most modern furniture is very heavy and presupposes the existence of fossil-fuel based transport. But I like the idea of furniture that could be carried or even transported by bicycle or with a wagon. Probably, in the not-too-distant future, humans will have to return to such furniture anyhow when fossil fuels become depleted.
Another thing is build quality. Particle-board laminates tend to peel and the particle-board tends to wear out over time as the chemical constituents age and break down. Wood however retains its quality and even increases in value as it ages, hence there is a substantial market for antique furniture.

The other day I was thinking about how environmentalism goes far beyond the mere fulfillment of demand, of the provision of mere material objects which meet certain criteria established as environmental.  It is a whole way of approaching everything in life and of living.  There is the idea, the ethic that we should appreciate and make the most of any resource we take.  We should not carelessly take things and not intend to make the full use of them and the most efficient and conscientious use of resources that we take.

But one sees this inefficiency and carelessness everywhere.  So many things  are designed only with extremely short-term thinking in mind.  Vehicles are designed to be sold.  Humans do not make something like a car with the idea that it will last for 40 years, that the components will be interchangeable and replaceable in the long-term with the goal of minimizing waste and resource usage.  Instead different companies make different models with non-interchangeable parts and they are designed to eventually be junked so that newer models can be sold.

This is one way that the raw destructiveness of capitalism can be seen and why environmentalism requires restrictions on the consumption of resources for the sake of conservation and efficiency.

Environmental sustainability vs. animal flesh foods

chart showing gallons of water required to produce 1 pound of food

Gallons of water required to produce 1 pound of food
source: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/pimentel_water.htm


and I really like this one:

chart of environmental sustainability and food chain ranking for types of foods

environmental sustainability ratings for where people eat on the food chain, and a proposed tax logic to reflect the true environmental cost for various foods
source: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/pimentel_resources.htm


chart of Earth's land area uses

Earth’s land area uses
source: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/pimentel_resources.htm

Think of all the other benefits too.  People who are vegetarian have much better blood circulation and hence enjoy many health benefits including better sex.

Also, people who do not eat animal flesh are much less prone to kill other beings meaning our planet would be a substantially more peaceful place without all the killing vibes.

As a surreal endnote, the day after I made this post here is an article that appeared in the news:

USDA buys meat to help drought-stricken farmers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government will buy up to $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish to help drought-stricken farmers, the White House said Monday as President Barack Obama brought his re-election campaign to rural voters in Iowa.

First hi-res MARDI image

So much of the Mars missions is about astrogeological research.  I just read a very interesting article about scientists with the US Geological Survey who are part of teams that work with the rovers on Mars.

The descent phase of the Curiosity rover offered an important opportunity to survey the landing area in greater detail than would be possible from orbiting imagers.  The instrument for this purpose is called the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI).  We already saw some preview lo-res images from this instrument showing the view from Curiosity as it landed.

Today the first hi-res image of the MARDI has been released.  This would have been one of the first if not the very first image it would have taken during descent, when it was still relatively high up and only seconds after the heat shield had dropped away from Curiosity during descent.

But the coming MARDI images will be of high interest because they will show in detail the features of a wide area around where Curiosity has set down and these images will help guide the scientists to determine where to take the rover.  These images have already been taken during descent and are stored in memory and will soon be transmitted back to Earth.  The first MARDI images transmitted back were downsampled (reduced in resolution and size) in order to enable speedy relay back to Earth.

One interesting thing mentioned in the article is that the science teams which deal with operating the Mars rovers actually have to live on a wake-sleep cycle timed to the Martian day, which is 40 minutes longer than an Earth day.

As another side note, Google Earth (which now must be a misnomer) actually has an option to view Mars.  You can actually search for Opportunity and see the landing site of the Opportunity (and its now-defunct sister, Spirit) and the path it has traced since landing on Mars 8 years ago.  I was astounded to see that it has traversed over 20 miles and, just last year, it reached the edge of a large crater called Endeavour, the scientific significance of which is so great that it is actually being considered as equivalent to a second landing site.

Beyond this, the openness that one finds with NASA’s conscientiously disclosing almost all informtation about its rovers, and in fact about all its missions, is nothing less than extraordinary.  I think this alone – this openness – is an achievement to be highly proud of.  When they say that these missions are for everyone, they really mean it.

A higher-res version of the above image, along with caption is available at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/pia16021.html

Thick stacks of clay minerals indicate chemical alteration of thick stacks of rock by interaction with liquid water on ancient Mars. Aluminum clays overlying iron/magnesium clays here in the ancient terrains of Mawrth Vallis indicate a change in environmental conditions. Aluminum clays may form by near-surface leaching while iron/magnesium clays may form in the subsurface. The image is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (References: Wray et al., 2008; Loizeau et al., 2010.)

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