The mysteries of Google

Google is keeping me awake.

They apparently updated the page rank system a couple weeks ago. There’s a lot of panicky chatter about it on the webmaster forums. (Mystifying, too. Many people are “quoting” Google as saying that PageRank has no effect on Google listing results, which makes no sense to me.)

My personal Google resume, while still largely referring to me, is quite different than it was last time I checked it. Also, weirdly, it now includes things I recently sent out through Constant Contact. Apparently the new ranking system favors newsletter aggregators (unless those aggregators are new, which I admit is possible).

My professional website’s Google listings are extremely pear-shaped. I don’t even know where to start.

It’s exciting, in a grumblecakey-awake-late-geeky kind of way.

Ecoguilt Calculator

Patagonia has made me feel a little less crazy.
They have a proto-ecoguilt-calculator on their website (thanks to Jeanne for the tip).
I’ve wanted an ecoguilt calculator for a while, and the Patagonia tool is a good start.
It doesn’t do everything I want.
I want to know exactly what karmic burden I am accepting when I buy a product.
I don’t just care about my carbon footprint, although here’s a nice carbon footprint calculator.
I want to know about:

  • Carbon footprint (including materials, production, and shipping)
  • Virtual water
  • Support of local economies
  • Physical safety (in terms of working conditions, solvents, pesticides, other chemicals) of the people involved in production
  • Degree of admirable-ness/ethicalness of the labor practices in the entire supply chain (good marks to living wages; big demerits for child labor, forced labor, or slavery)
  • Whether any animals are involved in production (either as materials or power) and whether those animals are treated well
  • Organic production methods for any agricultural products

I want to be able to compare (for example) these bamboo towels to these organic cotton towels and know which ones are more virtuous overall. Patagonia makes me feel less crazy for wanting to know this stuff. (Not that I need any high-performance outerwear. Really, right now it’s about towels and patio furniture. I have finally accepted that a linen or cotton patio umbrella isn’t practical, so I’m trying to at least get a used one from FreeCycle.)

Shame on you, USPS!

Posted by Johanna

As Simone mentioned, I recently ordered stamps through USPS’ Postal Store. Yes, I was lazy. I didn’t want to waste a whole lunch hour standing in line just to buy the stamps for my wedding invites that I have yet to send. And, since I do almost all of my other shopping online, I figured I should branch out and do my postage stamp shopping online, too.

Never again–or at least not until USPS changes their shameful, wasteful ways.

I purchased 21 booklets of stamps (14 booklets of 26¢ stamps and 7 booklets of 41¢ stamps) and each individual booklet came wrapped in cellophane with a cardboard insert three times the size of the stamp booklet. Note: on neither the cellophane nor the cardboard are there recycling instructions. Additionally, the excessive packaging–which I originally thought was for the benefit of stamp collectors–actually is printed with the notice, “PKG NOT SUITABLE FOR PHILATELIC ARCHIVING.” Seriously?!?

To further demonstrate the wastefulness, I actually used a kitchen food scale to measure the weight of the actual products (the stamps) versus the weight of the waste (cellophane and cardboard). The 21 booklets of stamps weighed 1.5 ounces while the waste weighted 12 ounces! The waste weighed EIGHT times as much as the product! And, as you can see, the volume of the waste was also many times more than the volume of the product.

Boo, USPS. Boooooooo.

That’s a little more than I wanted.

So, you know how the packaging on the (admittedly very delicious) Saphara Tea makes me crazy with the wastefulness? I was just going to give them a piece of my mind when I discovered this:

They have music for each kind of tea.
Downloadable music.
From the “Saphara World Music Player.”
In case you need a more multi-media tea experience.

It’s gone too far.

Oh, and apparently “Saphara offers an exclusive combination of premium teas and social responsibility. The packaging is composed of 100 percent recycled paperboard, which includes 35 percent post-consumer material. All printing is done with 100 percent vegetable-based inks for full biodegradability, and the pyramid bags, strings, tags, overwrap and carton are all made from biodegradable materials to minimize impact on the environment.”

The fact that “some trash” has higher environmental impact than “no trash” does not seem to have sunk in. I’m going to do that piece-of-mind thing now.

Unlike the Immortal Sablefish?

“It is a slow-growing species, extremely vulnerable to mortality,” says Leonard.


As opposed to all those immortal fishes??

Sure, he’s saying that a species with lots of fast-growing, fast-to-reproduce individuals have less of a problem with mortality, as a species. That’s why no-one is complaining about the overfishing of krill. It just struck me as funny. What with pretty much every known species being vulnerable to mortality, as far as I know.

How this happened: I was in Whole Foods yesterday looking for halibut (because it’s high in magnesium and therefore good for my joints), but halibut’s apparently out of season, and I got suckered into buying some Chilean sea bass because it had a “sustainable fisheries” sticker on it and looked the most like halibut of anything there. Then I felt guilty because of the whole fishing thing in general and the Chilean sea bass thing in particular, so I looked it up and found the above quote which, perversely, made me feel better about the whole thing. I feel guilty about buying fish, generally. Except for the ultra-sustainable tilapia (which I think of as the bamboo of fish). But who wants to eat tilapia all the time? Bland. Not so much with the Omega-3s. A bit on the pointless side. May as well eat tofu. (In fact, I’d usually rather eat tofu than tilapia.)

Plus, today I discovered that despite halibut being at the very top of the “high in magnesium” foods list, there are no other fish on there at all. So the whole magnesium justification is out, and I should just eat spinach instead.


Fogey File

Things that make me feel old:

(1) Area codes with a non-1-or-zero center digit. When I was growing up, all area codes had either a 1 or a 0 in the middle. I asked my dad about it once and he said it was a technical limitation of the telephone switching system from way back.

(2) After accidentally deleting the Busta Rhymes episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast from TiVo about three years ago, not realizing until yesterday that we could just look it up on YouTube.

(3) The thing I’m happiest about finding on YouTube so far is a 1914 recording of a song written in 1820 from a poem written by a guy who was born in 1774.

(4) Realizing (while doing a crossword puzzle) that I remember when “undo” was a fancy new computer function.

(5) Having a panic attack because I only have 3.8 GB of space left on the file server, and then realizing that probably sometime in my lifetime, 4 GB was more storage than there was on all the computers in the whole world. (Maybe. Have been unable to find a chronology to confirm.)

Addendum: I was talking to Colin about this the other day, and we figured this: Back in the day (the October 1970-type day, when I was born), a really whiz-bang corporate computer had maybe 1 kilobyte of storage. Yes, kiddies, that’s 1KB. Most of the data at that time was on tape or cards, so the computers themselves were not big on the byte capacity. For there to have been 3.8GB available on the planet, there would have had to be 38,000 1KB computers in 1970 (or, alternatively, 3,800 1MB computers), which we are pretty sure there were not. But if anyone can tell us otherwise, we’d be delighted to hear about it.

And P.S. I got my shiny new file server and now I have 418GB of available space, and I sleep much better, so ha!