Why can’t I be President and Order Everyone to Fix Global Warming? – It’s Just A Game.

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change at 9:01 pm

Politicians can’t effectively handle threats that have a long planning horizon.  Any attempt to address a very scary possibility will result in the politician being voted out of office as a wing-nut that isn’t paying attention to more immediate problems. Trying to pass broad, expensive-to-someone regulations give that someone an immediate incentive to spend money to confuse the issue and try to stop the regulations. It doesn’t matter that cutting soot emissions will save enormous amounts in health care later. Only a fraction of the population is willing to pay attention to the conduct of their politicians now for future benefits unless there has been a huge PR campaign. Usually the one financing the campaign isn’t the one with the greater community good in mind.

Community planners have a shot at effective long-range planning.  Since Community Planners take their jobs seriously and are usually in it because they love their communities they are willing to work at not getting snowed by special interests. Especially after Katrina, Community Planners can weigh the town survival against lower probability events. If higher precipitation might cause half of the downtown area to slide down the mountain they can see the benefit of increasing building code requirements.  Similarly, if higher water loads would just cause a couple of high-priced homes that would be covered by insurance to fall into the ocean but wouldn’t really effect the survival of the town, codes might not change. Community planners can do cost/benefit analyses for very small areas. 

Laundry and the Maid – not

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 8:04 pm

Laundry – Maybe Not

Laundry takes up an incredible amount of time. To maximize the life of your clothing and keep them looking their best, you need to sort by colors, wash in the appropriate cycle and not over-dry. Items to be hung should be taken out of the drier as soon as it is dry and immediately hung up. The rest should be folded. Actually, I prefer to stuff underwear and socks into drawers, but some people I know keep a terrible maid because the maid makes the socks look like ‘little soldiers.’

What are your alternatives?  Throwing a load in the washer while the kids are brushing their teeth at night and into the drier as soon as you get up will generally reduce your utility bills (night time usage is cheaper than during the day – check your bill for the rate-reduction times) and doesn’t take a large block of usable time. Dressing kids with clothing straight out of the drier makes them very happy in winter and saves folding or hanging time.

 Alternatively, you can let the maid do it.

 First, do you ever ask how do they live at home when something unbelievable (to you) occurs? Most people on very low incomes (maids) are stuffing as many things into the washer as they can at the Laundromat and washing on one of two cycles that might be available. They are then drying their clothing on the highest setting available  (which isn’t very hot) to get out as fast as possible.

 If your maid has to get through the laundry she isn’t checking the pockets. If your husband left his wallet in the pants she collected, too bad. He’s not yelling at her. If your child left a roll of lipgloss in her pocket, again, the maid really isn’t spending time to make sure the whole load isn’t covered in wax.

 Sorting takes time. If she is not doing more than whites and everything else, you’re not going to know until all the blues come back a shade of pink.

 Maids in the game of speed drying are dangerous. Most maids don’t want to find that they under-dried the laundry and will have to wait another 10 minutes for the contents of the drier to be ready.  To avoid this, they use the timer feature and high temperature, usually for 40 minutes.  This setting isn’t disastrous for a large commercial drier.  The loads are big and machines aren’t set for a very high maximum temperature. Home driers are another story.  Sheets can be dry in 20 minutes when done with a cool down period to minimize wrinkles. Forty minutes at the highest setting will shrink them, dry out the elastics in the fitted sheets, probably cause them to shred prematurely and set wrinkles in them at the end of the cycle. Just imagine what it does to delicates or woolens.

 If you’re lucky your maid is standing by the drier for the end of the cycle to minimize wrinkles.  She almost certainly isn’t cleaning the laundry while she waits.

 Folding, at least, is a straightforward task that won’t kill your wardrobe if it’s not done quite right. It might need you to go through and sort, which defeats the purpose of saving you time. (As soon as I figure out a foolproof way to get the maid to separate my 6-year old son’s t-shirts from my husband’s I will let you know. I have no hope of figuring out how to teach my maid the difference between my daughter’s oversized tees and my husband’s.)

 Unless you have a live-in housekeeper, laundry is almost never the use of a maid’s time that will result in the most saved time for you. If, despite all of this, you still feel you want the maid to do the laundry, your best bet is to time the time you spend doing the laundry in a normal maid workday period and adding that amount of time to your cleaning time. Hitting a chess clock every time you walk through the laundry door over the course of a day that you devote to laundry is one way to figure this out. Be careful to only count laundry time in a period that the maid could reasonably be expected to be there.


Why Abrupt Climate Response Is a Game

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change at 9:10 pm

Check out Jean-Marc Jancovici on what might lead us to think the Gulf Stream will stop with some nice grounding in why no one is sure exactly what might happen.    Check out the whole site on the range of things that could happen.
 The bottom-line take-away is that the environment will change.  Like a school exercise, I’m going to simplify your life and tell you which changes to assume will occur.  To keep things interesting and because there is no certainty, the assumptions will change periodically. With luck we’ll come up with structural changes we can make now that will help us survive later (& not cost too much if things don’t change drastically.)


DPW Truck Flashers – Hazardous to Worker Health?

Posted in Just A Thought, Vehicle Safety at 3:19 pm

When new ‘safety equipment’ for municipal workers is required in NJ how extensively is it tested?

The strobe lights that are showing up on trash trucks and police cars make me wonder.  If you are over a certain age, bright lights can be problematic when driving.  I’m just arriving at this age and have noticed that where I once looked carefully at a trash truck to watch for feet that might back out unexpectedly, I now tend to look away because the flashers are so bright they hurt on a foggy day.  The trucks are bright yellow.  Do they really need flashers to make them more visible?

I really don’t want the disaster of hurting or killing someone. I’m sure the workers don’t want the disaster of being hurt or killed.  Were these flashers really tested?

What do You Want From Your Maid?

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 3:07 pm

Time – Definitely

Anyone hiring a maid is purchasing time. If you have to do things over yourself because they weren’t done properly or you spend more time looking for lost items than it would have taken you to clean in the first place, you wasted your money.

 First, determine how much cleaning time you really need.

 Deep cleaning – A thorough, top-to-bottom cleaning of one room takes 3 ½ to 4 hours.  In practice, each maid is going to be able to deep clean one room per visit. To keep dust mites under control, every room in your house should be cleaned every three weeks. Even if you and your guests don’t have a severe dust mite allergy, you will be more comfortable in a room with fewer dust mites.

Ultra light cleaning – For the rest of the house time yourself: Race through the rest of your home, doing a cursory cleaning of the kitchen & bathrooms, making the beds and vacuuming the visible floors. Mop only the floors that need it. This time, plus 3 ½ hours for a deep cleaning, plus a 15-minute break, is the minimum time you need.


How to Have the Best Maid

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 12:05 pm

Should I adopt one of her kids or sign over my paycheck?

Your goal is to get your house clean, without having everything in it thrown out or hidden, preferably at an affordable cost.

You’re going to give very precise, written instructions that can be translated by her friend and be checked by the two of you together, for every room in your home. You are only going to obsess about one or two rooms a visit. (If you have a small apartment, it will only be about one or two chores a visit.)

You’re going to make choices about where you really want your maid to spend her time. Were you asking her to do the laundry just to ensure that she stayed a minimum number of hours or do you really hate laundry?  Maybe it’s just the folding you hate.

You’re going to do your best to make your maid worth twice as much an hour. With luck, you’ll be able to convince your friends that your maid is worth more so that your maid gets rid of 2 clients for every new client she takes on.

This last point is a stretch. She might be tempted to dump the person she likes the least, but to give up two people and only get one is scary. It makes her more vulnerable to terminations and she may feel its more important to bring more money home than to spend more time with her kids – even if one of her employers is only paying half as much as everyone else.


Why Is My Maid So Bad?

Posted in Hiring A Maid at 10:18 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever seen slower motions when wiping a counter . . .
Quality time isn’t just for kids. If your maid is working 6 to 6 1/2 days a week, 10 hours a day, she’s not going to have the energy to move the furniture to dust under it. You’ll be lucky if she moves the items on the bathroom counter.
Your maid is not looking for a star grade in the local school for butlers and maids.  She is not researching the best way to clean so that she can start a maid service. Your maid’s performance is primarily motivated by being able to feed her kids. If you are asking her to spend twice as much time at your house as she does at everyone else’s home, for the same money, she won’t. Similarly, if she is so exhausted that she can’t work long enough to pay her bills, something will give.


Why Plan for Abrupt Climate Change Now?

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change, Uncategorized at 5:38 pm

“I’ve read the news. People say we don’t have to worry about global warming / abrupt climate change for another 40-100 years. I plan to be dead by then.” 

Must make life insurance planning easy.

The estimates that the Arctic ice cap will melt by 2080 are based on the decrease in ice surface area measured by satellites. Unfortunately the ice thickness seems to be shrinking much faster than expected. http://www.imarest.org/news/ProfWadhams.pdf (Not a peer-reviewed article but based on his credentials, http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/pw11/ , he should be authoritative.

What do you mean the Gulf Stream stopped?

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change at 10:47 am

Did Poseidon just put a trident in front of it? Wouldn’t the water just go around the prongs?

I said no discussion of the premise and already you’re asking how the Gulf Stream stopped.

The short answer is that fresh water from the melting of the Arctic ice cap and Greenland ice sheet dilute hot salty surface water coming north in the Gulf Stream.  When cold Arctic winds cool the water it should sink, dragging more surface water northwards while flowing south along the bottom of the ocean.  If extra fresh water comes into the Gulf Stream faster than it is being moved south, the water becomes less salty, sinks more slowly or not at all, and the Gulf Stream slows.  If the surface of the Gulf Stream becomes too ‘unsalty’ the water is no longer heavier than the water below it so the Gulf Stream ‘stops.’

William Curry, Director, Ocean and Climate Change Institute, gives a nice overview.  Please note that Curry says the Gulf Stream won’t stop, it just won’t go as far north. For our purposes we’re going to say it stopped.

Premise For The Abrupt Climate Change Game for Community Planners

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change at 8:58 am

You are a community planner charged with regulating land use in your Northeast US community. (After I see how this one works I’ll open up other areas.) You can influence building codes, school programs and other local responses because you are an active member of the community.

Your community has not given you a war-mandate – no unlimited funds, no ‘crazy’ ideas (at least in the main proposals.) Even though God appeared in the heavens to reveal what will happen, 40% of the community was sleeping and either hasn’t woken up yet or thinks the planners have lost their minds. Get too impractical and this forty percent will convince others that they shouldn’t smoke pot in their old age – it’s just not the same as when they were kids & God’s message was really an illusion.

State & Federal programs might follow your lead but will not give seed money or support in any kind of timely fashion.  Working out what you would need from the Feds and how you could get it under existing programs is legal but you need a fall-back plan in case every other community jumped on the Federal bandwagon and congress didn’t authorized enough resources. (If you are a state or federal politician reading this please repeat a mantra of ‘this is a game, this is a game, this is a game.’ We know that if God appeared to your community you would instantly try to pass all necessary state & federal laws –especially when 60% of your constituents saw the revelation – but your colleagues were all in the 40% sleeping.)

The Situation – we know that the Gulf Stream will stop in two-18 years. (This is not The Weekly World News – we did not get an exact date.) There will be 10 years of climate instability. A new climate pattern will emerge for the next 100-1000 years.

The Mission – Arks are neither needed nor appropriate. (Arks are for families and only Florida, the Gulf Coast & my brother’s house on the Chesapeake Bay might need them anyway.)

You need to come up with a plan to:

  1. Maximize safe, efficient housing for the new conditions
  2. Turn your municipality into a net food exporter

Good Luck.