Archive for January, 2008

Setting Your Lunar Clock

Posted on January 30, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A spherical chunk of rock circles the Earth with a gravitational energy force that affects every aspect of Earth’s life, including your own internal clock. Every 28 days the Moon rotates around the Earth causing the tides to change, hiding the sun’s rays at times, and causing mental and spiritual mood changes within each person. Ashira, the author of various books about Pagan issues is a guest writer on the blog today, explaining how the moon affects us.

To understand how the lunar clock works, we need to know the cycles the moon travels in. There are five different cycles that the moon goes through each 28 days. The New Moon happens for one day. That day falls between the Waning Moon and the Waxing Moon. The Waning Moon is roughly 14 days in length. This is when the moon goes from Full Moon to a New Moon. The Waxing Moon is also roughly 14 days in length and is the period between the New Moon and the Full Moon. The Full Moon is also for one day. The three days prior to the Full Moon (part of the Waxing Moon) has a much stronger energy pull as well as the Full Moon day. These days don’t add up to exactly 28 days as sometimes either the Waning Moon or the Waxing Moon take a bit shorter time frames to cycle through.

The Phases
Within each of these cycles of Waxing, New, Waning, and Full there are phases that each of these cycles go through. A New Moon can not actually be seen in the sky no matter how late you go outside to look for it. This is sometimes referred to as the Dark Moon. As the moon shifts into the Waxing Moon cycle you will begin to see a sliver appear until it grows into The Full Moon. When the Waxing Moon begins its cycle it is sometimes referred to as the Crescent Moon. One way to tell the difference between a Waxing and Waning Moon is which side the dark side appears on. When the Moon is Waxing the dark side will be to your left and the Waxing Moonlight will shine to the right. A Waxing Moon will be seen in the sky for only short period as the sunsets.

When the Moon has grown to a perfect circular disk it is known as the Full Moon. It will rise almost precisely as the sun is setting and will slip from view almost at the same time as the sun rises. It is the easiest of all Moon cycles to pick out. A Waning Moon is when the Full Moon decreases in size back down to a New Moon. For about three days prior and three days after, the Moon will still appear to be full. However, if you are observant you will be able to see the slight changes as they happen each evening. The Moon will begin to disappear on the right side and be bright on the left. The complete opposite of the Waxing Moon.

Telling the difference in the sky
An easy way to remember the cycles is when the Moon is getting fatter it is Waxing and when it is shrinking it is a Waning Moon. Why is this important to know? Each phase of the moon has a different gravitational pull and just as those different energy forces affect the tides and they do affect you. You can find more eetails about new age lunar cycles here.

To contact Ashira R email ashirarhapsody at yahoo dot com or send feedback to her ideamarketers.com page.

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Greenwashing Gains Currency

Posted on January 27, 2008. Filed under: Green Economics | Tags: , , , |

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It´s almost an official term by now. Greenwashing. Defined by TerraChoice.com as: (green’wash’, -wôsh’) – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

So if we have a term for it, just how serious is greenwashing in practice? It’s pretty awful over in the Americas, that’s for sure; greenwashing concerned 99% of 1,018 consumer products that TerraChoice investigated in its November 2007 study ‘Six Sins of Greenwashing´.

MarketingSherpa recently came up with a few common sense criteria for ´green´ products;
o Raw materials used
o How materials are gathered
o Manufacturing processes
o Packaging
o Marketing methods
o Shipping
o Product’s use
o How the product is discarded

These criteria make sense across the board. I am not a fan of holier-than-thou labeling but I think that marketing funds could be spent on informing customers rather than misleading them or generally glossing things up.

TerraChoice

Want in-depth information about products? TerraChoice has a listing of validation products for the North American market. For consumer reports, you can also check out Eco-labels on http://www.greenerchoices.org. To understand what is going on behind the scenes at the various green product labels, check out http://www.buildinggreen.com. The alonovo.com site where US consumers can purchase goods and donate a portion of their spendings to carbon offsetting goals also buzzes with well-researched information.

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Consumerism Provides Key Insights Into Best Practice Green Methods

Posted on January 20, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Projects outlining individual actions are gaining significant traction. “What would it be like to try to live a no impact lifestyle? Is it possible? Could it catch on? Is living this way more fun or less fun? More satisfying or less satisfying? Harder or easier? Is it worthwhile or senseless? Are we all doomed or is there hope?”

These are all questions Colin Beavan asks on his Noimpactman blog. He’s a New Yorker who threw his family in at the deep end by embarking on a documented one-year attempt at living the no impact life.

The fact that answers to his questions are not common knowledge combined with people’s increased interest in green lifestyle is indicative of where individuals are in their thinking. Beavan writes from a feeling of impatience with ‘senators and the CEOs to change the way we treat the world’. It’s taking too long, Beavan says, adding that the project is a protest against his ‘highly-principled, lowly-actioned former self’.

It is bizarre, but consumerism itself provides much needed pointers. “Shopping, that traditionally most narcissistic of consumer actions, may actually lead us to civically reengage”, says Alex Steffen, executive director at WorldChanging.com, a Seattle-based organization that ‘works from the simple premise that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future only need to be connected’. “We’ve got to lobby for better regulatory policies, investment in responsible companies, boycott bad players, destroy or reinforce companies’ brands and influence the media,” Steffen believes. On a global scale, this message appears to be best understood by US shoppers. Elsewhere in the world, individuals are beginning to group together too. New consumer based peer buying initiatives are sprouting up around the globe.

Analyzing the prerequisites of the consumer intention economy Trendwatching, a Dutch consultancy in Amsterdam, says that “it all comes down to letting consumers make their buying intentions known and inviting one or multiple suppliers to bid for their business.” It’s as simple as that. Yet the implications of consumers’ changed buying patterns are huge. Doc Searls, an Intention Economy specialist at Linux Magazine believes “the Intention Economy is built around truly open markets, not a collection of silos. In the Intention Economy, customers don’t have to fly from silo to silo, collecting deal info (and unavoidable hype). In the Intention Economy, the buyer notifies the market of the intent to buy, and sellers compete for the buyer’s purchase.”

Trendwatching spotted a ‘growing number of intermediaries helping individual consumers to get a quote or offer based on their intentions’. But most initiatives that are intermediated by so called ‘information brokers’ focus on only one product/category such as airline tickets, real estate or banking services, the consultancy says. To find the appropriate site individual buying of series of ordinary products is still virtually uncharted territory.

Just how prepared established companies are to cave in to consumer demands to change polluting production methods isn’t clear as yet. There might be no ‘logic’ in companies’ meeting consumer demand to create for instance a no impact lifestyle, but if alternative models are successful, they might have no choice.

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Low Impact Life Styles Can Be Taught – Start By Paying Hard Cash For Something You Don’t Need

Posted on January 12, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Living the No Impact lifestyle is impossible. A carbon footprint by dint of its existence equals some degree of damage to the earth. Yet increasing numbers of consumers and companies make conscious efforts to keep the impact at a minimum. FLOWmarket takes the concept to the extreme.

FLOWmarket is a Danish anti-shop that travels the globe. Its racks are jam packed with bottles, boxes and bags, yet the shop sells nothing a human being doesn’t need. Its formula is designed so it achieves 100% on this philosophy.

Labels on the ‘scarcety goods’ on offer in its permanent retail outlet in Copenhagen are humoristic but the products are all void of actual content. Shop assistents seriously stack the shelves with the empty products, which are seriously selling like hot cakes. Commercial-free space, pollution dissolver and spam killers are priced at anything between 2 and 20 Euros. Customers come away thinking, that’s for sure. This October it will be open for one month in Seoul, South Korea. It has already hit New York, Shanghai (China), Taipei (Taiwan) and Zurich (Switzerland).

Global ethical consumerism is getting big. Less outrageous formulas than FLOWmarket aim to achieve on tangible goals, which they derive from an equally tangible surge in interest from consumers with a genuine passion for green. The US initiative Alonovo.com is a pioneer with significant clout. It offers an online value based/new economy shopping mall that is pioneering a green buying concept that could be the most comprehensive to date. Even though in a startup phase, already the platform offers shoppers virtually any product. Buyers can link their purchase directly with a green cause, offsetting their carbons.

Alonovo’s producer behavior measuring transparency also makes shopping an educational experience. Shoppers start out by setting their ‘value standards’, and then search lists of products. Alonovo’s ultimate aim is to provide corporate behavioral information about all products. Shoppers can decide what they prefer best before proceding to the Amazon powered checkout. A total of 50% of the purchase goes to the cause a buyer supports.

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Got A Playstation 3? Consider Donating Its Computing Capacity To Biomed Research

Posted on January 11, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Got a Playstation 3? Know somebody who has one? Then you can help biomedical research by donating your machine’s computing capacity to scientific research when you’re not playing.

How? It’s as easy as inserting a program that you’ve downloaded from a website by the scientists on a 1 GB pen drive and inserting the pen drive into your console and restarting it. That’s what the people say who request this little favor of you, the Research Unit on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) at the Instituto Municipal de Investigación Médica (IMIM) and the Universidad Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona, Spain.

What happens when you do this, is that you get connected to a platform that these scientists have created soon after the launch of the PS 3. Hooking up groups of over PS3 users tends to create a natural super computational capacity. This is because the PS 3, as one of a few commercial available devices, uses a particularly powerful processor Cell.

“The combined computational force of all the PS3s reaches the features of a powerful supercomputer, given that at this time there are 3 million PS3s in the world,” explains Gianni De Fabritiis, researcher at the Research Unit on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) at the IMIM-UPF. The researcher added that “the calculation capacity of 100 consoles would equal thousands of conventional computers”.

The researchers need a bunch of PS 3’s to provide them with calculation capacity that is of peta flop calibre simply to shorten the calculation time that their own computers take over simulating the behaviour of microscopic biomolecules. Similar initiatives are also underway by Stanford University researchers who are in need of supercomputing capacity to research alzheimers and other diseases.

Fabritiis claims that simulations calculations are of enormous difficulty when designing algorithms and architecture analysis, even for the most modern computers.

But at the moment, computing power is incremental in biomedical research because elemental physics behind enzymatic reactions, the tertiary structure of proteins or the conductivity of ions through biological membranes, among many other biological processes, is just beginning to be understood.

“The capacity to calculate is essential to resolving the operation of high-complexity biological systems”, Fabritiis says. He and his team have created a revolutionary computational initiative to which PS 3 players can hook up. It’s parked at www.ps3grid.net. It is a platform within the PS3GRID project, which allows everyone that participates to put their videogame console at the disposal of high-level international science.

”In only a few seconds using a 1 GB pen drive, we can load Linux Live operating system in the PS 3 and the PS3GRID software”, the researchers claim. They say that molecular calculations will be carried out 16 times faster than with a normal PC as a result. People that participate can return to the normal Playstation 3 game activity by simply restarting their console.

At the moment some 130 PS 3 gamers are hooked up to the site. Anyone interested in donating part of the computational time of their Playstation 3 to science can simply download the program onto a 1 GB or more pen drive from the website and stick it into their PS 3 machine.

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How to Make Your Own, Dirt Cheap, Eco-friendly, Washing Powder

Posted on January 5, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

My mother told me today that she’s figured out a way of making her own washing powder. She’s tried and tested it and it is as good as the top brands, she assures me. This is how you can do it too.

The formula is simple. She puts a bar of old fashioned Sunlight Soap plus three spoonfuls of soda chunks in a jerrycan with just over two litres (one gallon) of water.

She waits for a week until the soap bar is totally dissolved, then shakes the mixture thoroughly and Ta-DA… ! She has created an old fashioned style washing detergent that couldn’t be more powerful, without the toxic contaminants, than synthetic washing powders.

And my mother’s mixture is dirt cheap! She pours around three cup fulls for every load of clothes she puts in the washing machine. The clothes come out totally clean, soft, freshly smelling! (Confirmed by my father).

The bar of soap costs around 1.29 euros here in the Netherlands (that’s without shopping around) and it lasts her as long as around 500g of ordinary washing powder; some seven or eight machine loads.

Having invented her own washing powder, my mother completed the circle that was started over 100 years ago by the Lever Brothers, the UK company now known as Unilever, that produced, but more importantly, marketed this soap to the world.

The Lever brothers are credited with making two important changes to the first commercially available soap bar; they changed the shape into usuable, dividable blocks and they pioneered the first marketing techniques, by the block in radiant blue and yellow colored paper. This made Sunlight soap one of the world’s first marketed products.

Prior to the commercial sale of Sunlight soap, people used to create their own soaps at home. Sunlight soap derives its name from the village for Lever workers, Port Sunlight.

Apart from my mother (and as of next week my sister, me, the neighbors, the local mp for the green party and hopefully a bunch of readers), people use sunlight as a personal soap only. It is still around in many countries. In the Netherlands and Belgium it’s sold under the original name.

According to Wikipedia, in the US and Canada, the soap is manufactured by JohnsonDiversey. The story goes that when Sunlight initially hit the US market, the marketing campaign that accompanied was disastrous. Swamping the US market with millions of free samples of the soap, many Yanks were misguided by the colorful wrapping and mistook the label for a lemonade drink mix. Apparently numerous -mainly senior citizens- fell ill, drinking dish soap.

Now, over a millennium and many wise lessons about the negative effects of marketing-driven myth making later, a dissolution of the Lever brothers’ legacy might be as easy as their packaging revolution trick was simple.

Throw the bar in a bowl of water, scoop in some soda chunks and do absolutely nothing. When, a week later, you’re applying your home made brew, I bet you, this revenge on the multinationals will feel like witchcraft of the first order!

If you decide to try this yourself, by all means, do forget it was my mother who pioneered this thing. I am not allowed to name names. Mind you, she’s not intent on repeating any mistakes by heady individuals who mess up the environment anyways. No, no; my mum willfully sinks into oblivion.

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Analysts: Airlines That Are Not Environmentally Friendly Will Have Less Access To Finance

Posted on January 1, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Negative public perception of companies’ environmental policies can no longer be regarded as territory for marketers or advertisers only. Companies now risk their funding if they are not ‘green’, say financial analysts.

A recent issue of InFlight Magazine reported that airlines are forced to go green not only because of consumer pressures but also because of financial reasons.

Analysts say that airlines that do not have a strategy in place (very soon) to address environmental issues might soon find itself unable to get finance. That is totally at the other end of the spectrum of where the commentator was coming from. It is a first sign that real change in attitude is taking place. You can argue about the effectiveness of the various carbon programs or of purifying the fuels, but at least the hypocrisy factor’s gone down.

The magazine outlines that risk analysists are increasingly giving as much weight to the effect of public perception as to the still uncertain scientific understanding of aviation’s precise impact on the environment. Who knows, perhaps the mix of regulations, new European guidelines and financial considerations that together could make or break airlines when it comes to the bottom line, might turn out to become a model development for other industries. “A risk manager will […] as a matter of course take account of a business’s holistic impact on the environment and will subject that to the same level of audit scrutiny as he would traditionally give to a business’s balance sheet”, Flight Global writes. It goes on to quote a risk management expert as saying “We don’t have to prove we’re right about the risk. We just have to prove we may be right.”

Further down in the article a (ratings agency) Moody’s Analyst is quoted as saying: “If there is successful adherence by European airlines through a formalised structure, that could well improve access to capital. These airlines could well show the way, be the harbingers of a trend and could ultimately become the model. But they will first have to demonstrate that they are managing these programmes effectively.”

The same specialist believes that a new US administration could be positive for the creation of an emissions trading program. If the Open Skies transatlantic air travel liberalisation is going to step up competition in the airline industry, it will also lead to a further internationalision, which might mean that the European initiative could be adopted in the US as well, the analyst said.

Moody’s is already working on standardised methods to rate airlines’ pollution in as fair a way as possible. The methodology includes financial metrics and qualitative considerations such as fleet age, fuel hedging strategies and geographic spread of risk. A rating agency is acting as a bridge between the rather inflexible world of industry to the more flexible world of finance and consumers at large.

Green economics is hardly an established concept academically. That is because economists have difficulty believing that anything other than the input in their models reflects reality. But they forget that the numbers they so diligently belabor are only valid because everyone else in the game plays by the same, fallacious, rules.

The biggest misconception by far is of course the concept that the earth’s resources are accounted for with as if they are infinite. Academia might lag behind the times though, because if you look at businesses, especially those ‘blamed’ for some of the worst pollution, a notable change is taking place. Economics is of course a field that is traditionally highly empirical – it took us until the 17 hundreds to have one bright mind think up a systemic approach to the mishmash of Mercantile parties – and who knows, the rule book might be re-written in the not so distant future.

Watch this video of an alternative proposition on the earth’s natural resources. A reaction to the movie reads: “You obviously do not understand free markets. Who is making green technology buddy? Its not the government. Its businesses in the ECONOMY that are creating green technology because it is PROFITABLE to do so.” But it seems that the tipping point is has moved forward. Profitability as a focal point is on its way to being replaced by probability.

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