Wednesday, July 27, 2011

But.... I have the right to.... Do you really?

Now that much of the debate has subsided and we are on to the news headlines of this week.... I am compelled to take another look at the controversial CFL (compact florescent lamp) issue.   Funny thing... I had a working experiment going on during the week of this story as it made it's way across the news just a couple of weeks ago.  You see... one of the exhibits in the "green tent" that I was encamped in at the Oakland County Fair was in fact a simple display on how the CFL performs vs. the incandescent light bulb.   I can't help to think this is not the first (or last) time this conversation has taken place.  Consider the advent of the motorized bicycle or buggy.  I imagine that those who really liked the way their current offering of bicycles performed were not at all impressed with the motorized version.  I can imagine the push back...." That will never work.... why would people not want to just peddle.... It's too loud... smelly... scares my horse!"

Premier Kites & Designs Horse and Buggy Garden Spinner
During my week in the tent... I heard a lot of those same statements coming from the visitors who stopped in to visit.  Please don't misunderstand... I DO appreciate the visitors AND accept the opportunity to have open discussion on the issues of the day.  It's just that I see some type of common thread that runs through some people.  There is a stubbornness in the air when it comes to accepting new idea's and innovation.   Perhaps stubbornness is not the right word... but until I find a more accurate word.... I will stick with it.   Here is how the typical conversation might develop.... The individual approaches with curiosity... and almost always a smile.  Now that is not always as it might appear because sometimes smiling faces.... don't always tell the truth. 

The demonstration is pretty simple and is not unlike something you'd find in a school science fair.  A basic series of three light fixtures running CFL's lined up next to a series of three incandescent bulbs.  Kind of like a series of three horse drawn carriages lined up in a race with three motorized carriages.  The two are run through a volt meter intended to demonstrate the draw of electricity required to run each type of bulb.  It comes at no surprise that the CFL shows a draw of about 33-35 on the meter and the incandescent is drawing 100-105 on the meter.  What do we see on the surface?  The data shows that there is an net reduction in electrical use by roughly one third.  "Wow... that's pretty impressive... what you've got there."  Here is where things start to blur.  "But... ya know... I don't like the type of light that comes from those new bulbs... I just can't see as good, takes too long to warm up (5-15 seconds in cold rooms), and they don't work in my garage in the winter."   It begins to sound what I imagine the early nay Sayers might have said about the motorized buggy.

A compact fluorescent, a GE LED, an EcoVantage energy-efficient incandescent, a Philips LED, and a halogen  all alternatives to traditional lights.

  But... there is much more to the story.... you see... because inevitably this type of person feels the need to bring the Constitution into the discussion.  Yes... the United States Constitution is being sited as given this person the freedom to choose what they feel is their... "Constitutional Right" to chose what ever type of light emitting diode they deem is best for their discriminating eye sight...regardless of the performance facts displayed as evidence before them.  Really?  Do you really have the right to make that choice??   
Let's take another look at the volt meter again.  There is a one third factor in reduced electrical consumption with the newer technology and this will undoubtedly get much better with the next generation of LED lights now taking the world by storm.   Let's take this and apply the numbers to say a simple number of 1,000,000 current users of light.  That would be 30,000,000 vs 100,000,000 and now that is a 70,000,000 saving in electrical consumption.  That is some serious KWH we are talking about here.  Consider the amount of coal that is needed generate that extra 70,000,000 and the cost to un-earth,  process, transport to the production facility... add in the impact to the land mined, emission produced to transport, and then the emissions released during the combustion process.  That is pretty significant!
Edelbrock - 6593 - Performer Series Air/Fuel Ratio Monitor - Goodies S

Now the politics come into the equation.  Wait a minute... that may be true... but the Constitution still protects my rights to choose.  Really?  And... the guy on the radio show I tune into every day.... say's it's not true.  Those guys over there... they are wrong... there is nothing harmful about any of this.... and... besides... it protects jobs!  What?  You have to consider the effect that this type of mentality has had on a good portion of the population.  The same droning drum beat day after day... year after year... from morning until late into the night and then again the next day... over and over... and what do you get?  People stop thinking for them selves and in effect... become walking... talking.... extensions of that same drum beat... over and over... even after it the thought of being rational has long since passed.  I see it as a kind of brain washing or thought engineering on society.  People are so hung up on the politics and stop thinking about what is best for the masses in favor of what is best for the party or political agenda. 

Advanced Graphics Uncle Sam - 74 x 19, MODEL: 379

Well... that takes me well of track... but the point is made that when the right to free choice that has negative consequences on the majority (think globally) exceeds the free choice of the minority (think political party) then what happens?   The answer here is usually some type of mandate or legislation is put into place designed to protect the masses from the minority.  Think of mandates like.... speed limits. Why do we have speed limits on the Federal Highway system.  It is not a suggestion that you drive at or near the speed limit.  In fact... if you drive too slow... that is a violation as well because it creates a hazard to the majority.   There are no signs I've seen posted that say.... " The suggested speed limit is 70.... or  " We suggest you drive slower in construction zones... since the death of one of the workers may be a distraction to our work... not to mention a loss to a family..." . 

What about automobiles and seat belts?  I personally find them uncomfortable and restrictive.  When we were kids... seat belts were an optional choice. Heck... for that matter... I recall seeing children sprawled out on the rear dash like a rag doll... unknowing of the potential of what physics had in store for them in the event of a sudden stop or worse yet a collision.   This is a perfect example of the mandates made to protect the masses from the potential for disaster even against those who might prefer the freedom of choice.  Try and pull out your pocket Constitution when the officer is writing you up for speeding in a construction zone with no seat belt on!     

The bottom line on this story is... enjoy the freedoms you have today provided by the Constitution... since so many in the world have tried other systems and failed while our's is still a work in progress.  Enjoy the freedom to choose... incandescent, CFL, LED, Candle, or natural sun light.   One thing is for sure.... there will be more developments and probably mandates coming to a town near you.  Stock up on your bulb of choice since change happens when we least expect it. 

Forgot to show you a simple and easy CFL Recycling solution with pre-paid recycling kits.

Each household only goes through a small amount of CFL's per year.  This system provides easy, convenient, and eco responsible options for your house hold and business recycling needs.  There are also kits available for house hold batteries, florescent light tubes ,  ballasts, and mercury containing devices.    These kits make great fund raising opportunities for your school, civic group, church group, or any community group.  Learn, teach, live.... cleaner and greener!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall.... Who is the Greenest Fair of them All?

The title begs you to select from a choice of two very difficult and qualified options for this week.   The first option is.... The Oakland County Fair.  Huh?  What you talking about Willis?   Yes... how can the Oakland County Fair not be considered on of the greenest of them all?  Let me tell you... this fair bleeds green,  looks green, and yes... smells green.  I have been embedded in this fair since Tuesday of this week and have provided periodic updates to you.  Today.... I am continuing as promised to update you on the happenings at the fair.  There is so much to report that I will have to keep it limited to just the high lights.  First I will start with a shameless plug for the Oak-Green Challenge Tent.  It is really no stretch at all to say that this is possible the greenest tent on the plant this week.... except that to avoid confusion I will admit that is in fact a blue and white stripped tent.... loaded with "green" content.   

It is no stretch to say that I have become friends with several participants showing some.... well... pretty amazing and "cutting" edge education and content.   We collectively created a game called "The Green Challenge" for each visitor who enters our tent.   I will not go into detail on this at the moment since it will potentially tilt the scales of fairness to those who may come out today or Sunday.   Let me just say this.... I have never seen anyone with the ability to "re-purpose" wood like my new buddy Ray.   This kind fellow is part of a group of folks known as the Detroit Wood Turners.  They save wood from going into the landfills AND create amazing things from the material that was dare I say... once on the "Chopping Block"... get it... Wood...chopping block? 

I will include the following photos of a hat made from recycled wood content.  You might say this could make you "hard headed" if you where to try and purchase this from Ray.  

We turn now to the coordinator of the Green exhibit... Lori Bosetti.  She is showing an excellent demonstration on one of the most talked about issues in the news this week.... no it is not how to balance the Federal Budget... but how a CFL light Bulb out performs the horse and buggy version called the incontinent light bulb.  Lori has no fear and will take on any and all on the facts.  As Will Rogers once said...."I only know what I read in the paper...."  and that may in fact apply to what you are hearing about CFL's.  Lori will set it straight for you. 

This next exhibit is all about.... deep fried food.  What how can deep fried food be green?  And to that note.... this fair does have a pretty serious issue with fried food offerings.  I did not say it was a healthy living and nutrition fair!   These vendors deep fry everything!  Twinkies, candy bars, fries, chicken, elephant ears,  and for gosh shakes why would you deep fry vegetables?  THEY DO! 
The point hear is that my new buddy Lee has a Mercedes diesel that has been retrofitted to run on re-pursed vegetable oil from deep fat fries.   Amazing.... just see the future of the fast food industry model... you pull up to the drive-thru and order up your burgers and fries, have them give you and oil, lube, and fill up.... window cleaning... and your off and running again?  

My buddy Damon Dotson has a pretty amazing display of solar panels, wind turbine, and solar water pump.  One of the high lights of the week for me was a little toddler waddling up to Damon's baby sized pool display with a solar powered water pump... picture in the child's mind a giant drinking fountain.... this sent us running to tell the boy...."don't drink the water" as he was already in the squat position with lips pursed.  It must have been disappointing for him!

We have an ecological awareness presentation by my bud Chris.  He has an excellent presentation on the controversial practice of "Fracking" or Hydrolic Fracturing of the bed rock deep in the earth.  Chris has some pretty amazing stories and facts to share about what this is doing to the drinking water in many wells around the world.... and now coming to a water shed near you.... unless you speak up and sign off on his petition to ban this practice in Michigan. 

We have a representative from Shaklee Products know as Down to Earth Enterprises.  Angela has some very impressive products that help you go green and stay clean.  Being the science junkie that I am she amazed me with her "How to make water... wetter..." display.  You will have to stop in  and see her to get the science behind this mysterious phenomena.            

The folks from the Oakland County "OakGreen" Challenge have material here available to better understand what is happening on the County level to support green initiatives.  This is a county wide initiative and Challenge thrown down by Brooks Patterson himself to reduce energy consumption by 10% by the end of 2012.  That applies to homeowners, businesses, and local government.

Its already half time for 2011 so you'd better get started on this!  Materials are available on line with the link located above this content. 

Last we have yours truly...   The on display.  We are doing our part to tell people about our education and awareness programs... now booking for fall of 2011.   People generally express their words of encouragement and show of support for what were trying to accomplish in the way of "green shifts" and the fundraising that makes sense message.   Thank you for that support AND we have added several tens of new "green advocates" this week.

This week has been exceptional.  I am a big believer in quality over quantity.  That best describes the flow of the week here at the fair.   We really are a side show of a much larger and well established fair of many long standing traditions.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the grass roots nature of this fair.  Those who know... know.  Then there are those who don't.... and likely don't care.  I feel connected here with the families camping out with their kids AND animals.  I love watching the youngsters come and go with their "western" gear on.... boots with spurs include.  In fact... I have even fell in love with my truck again this week.  With new front shocks its good as new pushing 100K.  I enjoy the gravel roads, the green fields, the beautiful barns.... and.... the MONSTER TRUCKS!  

  Which now brings me full circle again... you will notice the signs posted throughout the fair grounds  letting you know that the fair in of itself... has made some significant "green shifts".  There were many involved in the process to make this happen.  The fair Board in of itself is responsible for coming to the realization that this could be and should be done.   As the signage indicates the Michigan Soy Producers helped make this possible with a grant that funded much of the soy based products used through out the fair grounds.  From the Soy Bio Diesel running the rides all the way to the "Stinkey Pee Eater" (did I mention how much joy this brings me to say this?  You should try it too!) the fair indeed make a significant shift.  It is clear that this was the right thing to do.... simply because it is "clear".... meaning that with all this equipment running... I did not detect a scent of diesel and the sky was clear as evidence by the photos.... although truth be told... the monster trucks did blow out a few rather large belches.... but hey.... you gotta be realistic and those trucks are nothing but magnetic for the crowds. 


Now... on to the other end of town to Ferndale Michigan and the "Live Green Fair".  I stopped out to the location on Friday to visit with local on line publication owner Crystal Proximire to get the low down on her venture AND the fair.

Crystal.... it turns out also has a relationship with Western Market... who we are working with and promoting the composting systems with.  This weekend my good friend and the hardest working (and event media point person) man in the "Green Business".... John Carlos of will be showing those small yet significant composting systems.

These systems are a super easy way to ramp up or get started with household composting.  The key features are... no smell, no bugs, no mess, AND the corn starch based liners can go right into your system.... contents AND bag... no muss... no fuss...     

If you don't know John... chances are you will.

I can tell you that this fair is in fact the show.  In other words... it is not a Fair with a green side show... it is a green fair no question about it.  These visitors are here for a purpose and that is to find out about the latest and greatest in the green industries.  This crowd is not thinking about going green... they have gone there.... a long time ago .... and are looking for the next level.     

Do I wish I were at this fair for the weekend?  I told a good friend of mine that it is like the little angel and devil on both sides of my head.   I hear them fighting it out... (Devil) Don... you've been locked down at this country fair for almost a week.  Pack it up and head to the action!....  (Angel)... Now Don... you made a promise to be here all week... and that goes to Sunday.  So... even if I see conflicted.... I am content to stay firmly planted and hope that we grow enough to cover both events in the coming year.   Ferndale has done an amazing job of reinventing itself with the times.  There leaders in the County with the Main Street Program.  They have a very strong DDA and Chamber of Commerce.... and the occupancy rates seem to bee stable.   Note the recent improvements to the Walk ability of their down town.  Even Woodward is now much more manageable by pedestrians and bicyclists.  Yes Oxford... it can be done....  

With that in mind.... the mirror on the wall will have to settle on a split decision.  Both fairs offer excellent opportunities and my recommendation would be to hit one today and the other on Sunday! But... I can guarantee you will not get elephant ears and deep fried veggie's in Ferndale! 
I'm out.... off to another day of paradise in the country side... ;)  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Greening of the Oakland County Fair July 12th-17th

Summer's has officially arrived by all accounts.  The July 4th fireworks are still going on in some communities and believe it or not.... dare I say.... the days are getting incrementally shorter from here on out.   This year's annual celebration of freedom was especially beautiful with a back drop like non other provided by mother nature.  With the sun still glowing in the north western sky and a series of clouds radiating out from a central point like the spokes in a wheel... the stage was set for the fireworks to begin.
Oakland County 4-H Fair Association Mission Statement
The Oakland County 4-H Fair Association Mission is to provide a public educational showcase of our youth through hands-on experience with exhibits, demonstrations, and presentations as young people develop life skills in a family atmosphere.
All that being said.... the stage is set for the next big event of summer.... The Oakland County Fair.  For those of you who have attended the fair annually or are considering a visit for the first time there is plenty to do for everyone.   The fair has been well known for its agricultural history and will stay true to its roots.   You can expect the traditional Miracle of Birth Barn, 4-H events, Racing Pigs, Show Me Petting Zoo, Frog Jumping Contest, Demolition Derby and Monster Trucks events.  You will see show-case animals on display at the small animal auction. Let's not forget the Play-world Carnival and nightly events in the arena starting at 7 pm.   Many of these are free events while others are chargeable events.  The Carnival has special pricing for opening night with a reduced $17 fee and open from 1 to 11 pm.  All other days are priced at $20 with hours of 1 to 11 pm.   Did I mention the Circus?  There are 3 show's daily so plan to see the show.   

So what is new at the fair this year?  The Oakland County Fair is going Green!  Not that the fair isn't already green in the agricultural sense of greenness.   Earlier this month I met with L.C. Scramlin, the General Manager of the Oakland County Fair, and talked about some steps that could be taken in the the greening of the fair.    L.C. indicated that there has been a desire to take some small steps toward greening up the fair and took the bull by the horns (so to speak) this year.  The first small... yet significant shift you will notice is the change over to eco-friendly coffee cups.  L.C. indicated "There so many things we can change over we want to start with every cup of coffee we serve in an eco-friendly cup will be a good start".   With well over 80,000 plus guest expected during the week that could stack up to a lot of coffee cups.  

You will notice the world art on each cup indicating the message of thinking globally here in Oakland County when it comes to use of resources and the effect on the world.  Small... yet significant.  The cup is a biodegradable cup that will break down naturally.  The traditional polystyrene cups are not biodegradable and will be here long after their one and done use.  The lids are made of recyclable plastic and can be re purposed with the right collection processes. 

The next shift is the big shift that should turn some heads this year.  When you can make a shift to a major process of the maintaining of the operation using an agricultural based product... that is a true "Win-Win" proposition.   Enter the Soy Bean!  L.C. indicated to me that the fair had applied for a grant through the American Soy Bean Association .   However,  as luck would have it a grant came through from the local Michigan Soy Bean Association .
The grant funds were used to supply the fair with a variety of unique cleaning supplies that are required to operate AND clean for a crowd of 80,000 plus.   Let's take a look at a list of some of the cleaning supplies you can make from a soy base.  Here is a short list:  Glass cleaner, clinging toilet bowl cleaner, BBQ grill cleaner, all purpose cleaner, heavy duty hand cleaner, drain and septic cleaner, dry erase board cleaner, driveway sidewalk and patio cleaner, kitchen cleaner and degreaser, and my favorite... go ahead and say it with me.... Stinky Pee Eater.  How would you like that job?   This is just a short list of items we discussed and many will be on hand next week to do the job they are intended to do.  All of these soy based products are available (currently being loaded) at for use in your home or business.  A portion of the proceeds for any soy based product purchased at during the month of July and August will go toward the Oakland County Fair.  

Fun to use AND say....