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Friday, December 31, 2004
I think it is unanimous, Daddy Z should not go to work anymore. Your last blog, though highly informative, did not make me want to recycle because many years ago, NBC did an expose (ex -po - zay) about how recycle centers just trow some of the stuff away.

As for people who say no more plastic, I want them to get seriously injured or sick so they can see that nearly everything that is saving their lives is made of some sort of plastic.

I start work on Monday. May will be here before we know it.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
For years now, I've dutifully checked every plastic piece of trash for the right set of numbers to figure out if I could recycle it. Our trash service collects one through four, along with our other recycling, all in one bin. We are advised to rinse plastics first and to remember to remove bottle tops, which frequently are made from a different kind of plastic than the primary container.

We perform this civic service at home for two reasons. First, putting stuff in the recycling bin keeps it out of our regular trash, so we don't need to take the big barrel out every week. We just put out the recycling bin, which is easier to lug around since it’s filled with empty cans, plastic bottles, glass jars, and newsprint. Second, I have felt strongly the importance of taking care of the environment, limiting pollution, and limiting our use of non-renewable natural resources. Plastics are a petrochemical product, meaning that producing them requires using oil and/or natural gas, and I recall from chemistry classes that manufacturing plastic, and sometimes even recycling it, can produce noxious chemical fumes. I don’t want all of that crap in the air I breathe, and I don’t want large chunks of plastic in the wild where it can do physical and chemical damage.

The silence of the empty office produces some rather interesting, non-sequiter thoughts. Today, I wondered (possibly aloud), "what do the numbers mean?" Then, "if the numbers mean something, why can I mix them all in one bin?" And this: "what if recycling plastic doesn't really help the environment?”

Quickly, everyone – to the Internet!

There are a lot of leftist treatises on the importance of recycling plastic. The most extreme I’ve seen so far recommends that we stop using plastics entirely. Frankly, I think that’s both useless and stupid. Useless, because plastics are ubiquitous – clothes, furniture, cell phones, car parts, circuit boards, carpet, building materials, containers of every variety, printed materials, and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other products are made from plastic. If all consumers stopped using plastic wrap to save their leftovers, I doubt the plastics industry would blink.

Boycotting plastic is also stupid. Many of those products – the ones that could exist before plastic, anyway – would be made of some other natural material (like wood) if it weren’t for the abundance of plastic, and so would cost several times what they do now. Plastic makes our world less expensive. It also makes it safer; when was the last time you worried about dropping a two-liter soda bottle? They used to be glass, and they used to shatter quite well. Now they’re plastic, and if you drop one, you might spill some soda, but you won’t shred your feet.

In any case, if you wade through the propaganda, you can find some useful facts. First of all, the numbering system has an explanation (albeit a little complex). Each number represents a different plastic resin, and each resin has different properties. In the first place, some plastics melt when exposed to heat (thermoplastic), and some resist melting (thermosetting). For example, most of you probably have non-stick pots or pans that can go in the oven (and all can be used on top of the stove). The non-stick coating is plastic (usually Teflon, or PTFE – polytetrafluoroethylene), but it doesn’t melt. But don’t try cooking anything in a plastic milk jug. The Intermediate Technology Development Group, a “charity which works with poor communities to develop appropriate technologies” has an explanation in their technical brief.

Since the easiest way to recycle plastic is to shred it into pellets, then melt the pellets and extrude or mold new objects, plastics that resist melting can be a big problem. Plastics one through six (PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP, and PS) are all thermoplastic, and according to the ITDG brief, make up about 80% of the world’s plastics. But these plastics melt at different temperatures, so the recycling process has to be different for each different type of plastic. The problem gets worse when hardeners or other reinforcing agents (like fiberglass) are mixed with the plastic.

Assume for the moment you’re recycling only PET (1) and HDPE (2). PET melts at 250C, HDPE at 130 (482 and 266 Fahrenheit). While the plastics don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) entirely melted for recycling, they do have to be heated to the point where they are soft enough that they can be molded into new objects. It’s difficult to heat plastic evenly, because it is not a good conductor of heat. There’s also a narrow range of temperatures at which it is safe to work with plastic (too hot, and it gives off fumes and can char; too cold, and it doesn’t work). So PET and HDPE have to be separated before they can be recycled. Because other contaminants (like food clinging to containers) interfere with the softening process (and can contaminate the final product), they have to be removed as well.

From what I can tell, although there are some pretty sophisticated ways to sort plastics through machinery (using X-rays and fluoroscopes), this part of the process is mostly done by hand.

So apart from helping the environment, recycling plastic employs trash workers whose job it is to sort plastic by color and number. Any manual process is prone to human error, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how many bales have to be resorted or thrown away because of mistakes.

So I’ve answered my first two questions, but the last one will require more investigation and lots of math.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Feels Like

UV Index: 0 Low
Dew Point: 12°F
Humidity: 48%
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Pressure: 30.02 inches and steady
Wind: From the South at 6 mph

It's just fine up here in MA!
Monday, December 20, 2004
Dear Tom:

Feels Like: 4°F
Wind: NW at 14 mph
Humidity: 22%

Friday, December 17, 2004
This is fun, but frustrating. Try to spell something long. Also frustrating is the severe stickiness of the "u" on my keyboard.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Do those pillows come in fat, or black, or even better, fat black? Do they have the fried chicken and and robitusen (how the hell do you spell robitussen?) scent? On a more perverted note, do they have the mountain fresh scent (there are two other (s)(c)ents, sent and cent)? If you turn your head inward, do you get to see the "road to China?"

I would like to take credit for positing (not posting, but positing) these questions on my own, but that would be an untruth. Instead, however, I tell you that some of these queries came from my beloved students, who, thanx to drugs and my destructive influence, have learned how to navigate through, participate in and enjoy the outer fringes of their minds. :)

Harry Kwannachamas to all, happy birthday to the bloggers, and, finally, love, peace and soup. Mostly because soup rocks!

Oh! My secret Santa bought me a Virginia pennant (I'm excited), I'm getting that "loving feeling" (I'm scared to death), I can no longer play tennis anymore because my platella (knee cap), has shifted slightly, so my knee doesn't work right anymore (I am mad/sad as hell), and I am coming home for the days of holiness (pronounced like Holly with a ness attached).

I'm alive. I can't say much for Mr. Wallace except that I believe he is alive - but cannot confirm that at this point. All I know is that his Fantasy Football team has two essentially dead RBs and maybe I should tell him before time runs out for him to pick up a live one. Well, maybe not. What would be the fun in that?
And, to commemorate the anniversary of the blog, among other things, I would like to post a link to one of the oddest things I've seen all week.

I know what I'm getting John for Christmas!
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Hey Bitches!

I just wanted to thank everyone for participating in this little experiment. You're all wonderful. Except for those who don't post anymore.

In any case, I just wanted to mention that our blog has been around for over a year now. In fact, all in the same week, Margaret and I celebrated our fifth anniversary of really pissing off her parents, the blog came of age, and I was called an asshole for not loving the Red Sox. Sorry folks, I just don't give a rat's ass.

Welcome Daddy Z to the land of the lost. We are lost because we refused and sabatoged all efforts to be found.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Speaking of surreal....

Scott Zetlan has joined the blog.

[Think: "Elvis has left the building."]
Today, I am a man. Or something. I finally know what the sani-rinse option on my dishwasher does. Those of you who don't, look it up. The general consensus seems to be that it's useless -- after all, the moment you take the dishes out of the dishwasher, they're no longer bacteria-free.

But here I am, three weeks after my son's birth, and I now have good reason to hit that little sani-rinse button. It had been sitting there, unused, on the control panel, smirking at me as if to say, "what a friggin' waste of money. Sucker."


Now, though, I have reached a point in my life where it is truly easier to hit this button and waste water and electricity than it is to boil a pot of water.

Yet I do not lament the loss of my pre-sani-rinse childhood. Rather, I marvel at the surreality of adult-hood, the pseudo-miracles of modern technology.
Monday, December 13, 2004

Yesterday, I attended my first Redskins game. My husband got a good deal on some tickets (read: they were very very high up; we may have had a better view from the Game Blimp), so we packed up some friends and were off. We drove for hours, sitting through traffic and braving the roads around DC so that I could attend my First Professional Football Game. Also, so that our friend’s 8-year-old son could attend his Eighteenth Professional Football Game.

Now, I have attended a lot of college football games. I’m used to the screaming fans, the crowds, and getting ripped off at the concession stand. Pro football, however, is – pardon the pun – a whole other ball game. Fans don’t just scream; they assault. Crowds aren’t just boisterous; they’re out of control. And personal pizzas aren’t just $6, they’re $8. It’s sheer craziness.

Part of the premise, I think, behind the $7 beer (aside from Corporate Profits) is that it should keep people from getting too drunk. When it costs at least $50 to get drunk, and at least $70 to get REALLY drunk, theoretically, it’s too expensive to get really drunk. (But no, there is another answer: minibottles.)

Let me describe a typical exchange between fans in section 418. I’ll leave out of some the more colorful language, but you’ll get the idea. The characters: “Bob,” a guy in his mid-twenties, relatively quiet Redskins fan sitting in his seat. “Eric,” a scrawny and loud kid probably still in his teens, an Eagles fan who claims he “can’t get arrested again” and who won’t sit down. Finally, we have “Walt,” an older man, probably in his 60s, a Redskins fan who was also relatively quiet up until this exchange.

So you understand the situation, one of the Eagles players was injured and lying on the field. They had brought out the miniambulance and play had been delayed for a few minutes. God forbid we pause the game because someone is paralyzed. Bob said something I couldn’t entirely hear about being glad that an Eagle was hurt – probably something along the lines of “Yeah! Kill him!” Eric turned to him and replied, sensibly but a bit drunkenly, that you shouldn’t cheer for someone getting hurt, and that if a Redskin was hurt he wouldn’t be happy about it, and how he hated Bob’s entire team but didn’t want them injured or dead, and added a few of his own thoughts on Bob’s personal character. Then Walt chimed in with something about putting all of the Eagles in body bags, and commented on Eric’s personal character, but Eric didn’t hear him. So Walt repeated himself. Four times. Finally, Eric heard him, and turned to tell Walt precisely what he could do to some part of Eric – to which Walt replied that he probably wouldn’t be able to find it. Eric said that it was right here and he could whip it out, and Walt told Eric to get him a magnifying glass and go ahead. Eric started climbing over seats. Finally a few surrounding fans took notice and held both parties back until everyone started watching the game again.

This type of exchange happened every 30-45 seconds, and about 1 in every 10 of them came to blows. Section 418, at least, kept all 3 police officers that were there VERY busy.

We saw several fistfights and more attempted fistfights. (I do have a theory that a lot of men are quite willing to attempt to fight as long as there are a lot of people to prevent an actual fight from happening.) We saw people throw beer and heard people make some very creative and violent threats. We saw one guy get hit with a bottle and another guy laugh about it. We saw a police officer fall down concrete stairs attempting to remove one of the more violent fans. We saw behavior that made the Artest brawl look almost reasonable.

Oh, there were some fun moments – such as when the cheerleaders took the field, and the 8-year-old woke up from a sound sleep to crawl over 4 people to get his binoculars. There was a very nice couple sitting behind us that we got to talk to a bit; they were very normal and human. But quite frankly, I have very nice friends that I can invite to my house to watch the game – and on the TV, the 8-year-old can get a much better view of the cheerleaders. It’s much warmer in my house, and the drinks are cheaper.

But of course, we do need to have fans at footballs games, because pro sports are a business and have to make money – and clearly $50 tickets and $7 beers are the easiest way to do that. There should, however, be a rule: any man attending a pro football game must bring either his wife or his mother.

Problem solved.

I will not make Charlottesville at any decent hour on Friday. I will leave work at 3pm, which means I will be in Charlottesville at or around 3am. Now, if you insist, I have no problem drinking at that hour. In fact, I recommend it. Having said that, I need to work on the throat clearing in my writing. In any event, I will see you all Saturday Morning.
Well-put, Jelani. Very nicely said. I applaud you, and your soapbox. Er, shoebox.

Further, I would like to direct everyone (and by everyone, I mean the three people who still read the blog) to It would be funnier if the person were more serious, but oh well. We can't ask for too much from our cheap humor.

And even further, Jelani, when will you be arriving in town on Friday? We're planning something with alcohol, and of course must consider your needs.
Is this thing on?

I have bad news. A blog is dying. We are all guilty, jointly and severally, of watching its demise and doing nothing. I now stand on my shoe box because soap boxes are a) too small, b) not as sturdy as they used to be, and c) I would have to buy boxed soap when I already have shoes. In any event, I am now standing on a deflated shoe box because, as I have now discovered, shoe boxes aren't at all sturdy. Nonetheless, I stand here in a crowd of people where the probability of being the shortest or one of the shortest people in the crowd is great, which means my message will no doubt deliver its flacid blow to deaf or out of "earshot" ears. So, I yell. With hands cupped around my mouth (not to hide the infliction of morning breath), I fill my lungs with air and summon the courage to form the words necessary to convey a message.


Breath life into this blog, lest its death be excruciatingly painful, slow and quiet. Fiends, Browsers, Bloggers! Blog for your right to blog. Blog for the right to blog. Blog for blogging's sake. Finally, blog the blogger's quo. I blog this to your attention because when all is blogged and done, all we will have are our blogs. And we will always have blog.


Yours Blogly
Saturday, December 04, 2004
I am obviously having too much fun with this stuff and want you to join in. Have fun!

Michael Lohan was arrested and charged with forging bad checks and processing stolen credit cards. The prosecution called Lindsay to testify that she had not given her father the permission to use the cards or put her signature on the checks. Despite his best work, the prosecutor was unable to get Lindsay to get the information out of her –bergaflickle!. Finally, Michael takes the stand and testifies that his daughter did give him permission to use the cards and thus he has committed no crime. By the time Michael takes the stand, Lindsay is no where to be found. If fact, they found 22 plane tickets to 22 different locations sold to one Lindsay Lohan. The prosecutor offers into evidence Lindsay’s previous testimony to contradict Michael’s testimony. Michael’s lawyer object. The judge should rule:
I. The hearsay is reliable and thus admissible
II. The declarant is unavailable, so the statement is admissible.
III.The hearsay is not reliable because it was during a court proceeding where witnesses are known to lie for family
IV. The statement is unreliable hearsay and thus inadmissible

A. Only I
B. I and II
C. I, II, and IV
D. IV only

The IRS and the FBI had the grand jury served five subpoenas on Traci Lords’ manager, DeVil Him Self. These subpoenas asked for Traci’s initial application to work for Smut T. Videos, Inc. and transcripts from conversations that STV’s lawyers had with some STV employees. Knowing that the state of Californication required all employment applications to have a copy of the applicants drivers’ license or some other state issued ID, the prosecution was trying to prove that Traci was too young to be in that line of work and that STV was involved with tax evasion. Self refused to tender the documents. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was brought before a judge. Where he still refused to produce the documents. Self’s lawyer, fresh out of law school, says, “Your honor! Mr. Self does not have to produce these documents because it violates his fifth amendment rights.” The judge will rule,
A. All proprietary information will be blacked out with a permanent marker and thus will not violate any of Mr. Self’s rights
B. The act of producing the documents will serve as an implied testimonial act and are covered by the privilege against self-incrimination
C. That this decision is inline with United States v. Gould, 536 F.2d 216 (8th Cir. 1976) where the Supreme Court held that this was not an implied testimonial act, so Mr. Self must produce the materials.
D. None of the above.

The correct answer is B. A is wrong because it is gibberish. C is incorrect because that case, although properly cited, is about judicial notice and there is no such case with that holding. This fact pattern is from the case of United States v. Doe, 465 U.S. 605 (1984).

Same facts as above. What if DeVil Him Self did not have a conversation with any of his corporate lawyers. The FBI was not able to get Traci’s application, so the IRS wanted to get the transcripts of the conversations. Ever the smart cookie, Self’s lawyers jumps up again, “Your honor! That violates Attorney-Client privilege.” The judge will rule
A. “That is preposterous!” Self did not speak to any of his lawyers in the transcripts. Therefore, since Self in on trial here, those statements made by his employees are not covered by privilege and must be turned over to the court.
B. Since the lawyers are hired by STV, any conversations that the lawyers had with STV employees on STV’s behalf will be deemed covered under attorney-client privilege, so Mr. Self does not have to tender the documents.
C. Unless each of those employees individually hired a STV attorney or have a form on file that purports to do so, none of the transcripts are covered by privilege.
D. None of the above.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Dear JB,

I’m sorry that exams suck. I wish you were here, so we could all drink your pain away. Instead, you will have to embark on that mission with the sole help of Zonald. Oh well.

We miss you!

Good luck with exams. When will you be around here?

It has been a week since anyone last blogged. The joy in my life has gone away. Please restore the joy to my life. I need useless reading to help me cope with mind-numbing, gut-wrenching, global-killing, life-stealing, sleep-depriving, appetite-killing, social life-ending, blinding, exams.