economics, physics, & homes

Michelle and I hit the Lucky Lab tonight for their salad & pie special. She had read an article about organic foods in Newsweek, and we discussed it. Like most stuff in Newsweek, there was no answer, so we were left to discuss. We both know there are benefits to both ways of producing foods, and I’ve probably heard all the social things already. We discussed the physics of it (what I argued for) and the economics (what she defended).

Her argument: Organic foods may be better for you, but there is no conclusive proof. Organic growers compete with traditional growers, and guess which kind of food people can afford. Herbacides and Pesticides are known to be safe. The population of the world is growing…. Her arguments were generally devil’s advocate arguments, but she in law school. She has popular opinion on her side, as well as scientific evidence and economic proof.

My argument: feritilizers, pesticides, harvesting & shipping all depend on fossil fuels. Our (American) culture dictates that there is an endless supply of energy, our source of which is predominantly the result of prehistoric biomass. (How will big oil have a source if we remove all the biomass from the forest before it can become oil?… Oh wait, there I go thinking long term again.) We ignore the laws of thermodynamics (the amount of energy in the universe is constant, and the changing of matter from one form to another results in loss of potential energy) because we will always have enough petroleum. The way that agriculture currently works is to create large qualtities of genetically similar food that require lots of chemical attendants, machines for harvest, refinining & transportation, then we can eat them. Blah blah blah… the gist of my argument is that organic foods make sense from a physical science standpoint because we do have physical limits to energy sources like petroleum, but no seeming end to supply of labor, which is what replaces herbicides, distrobution, etc. in a traditional farming system. There was something about economics being a pseudo-science, but it must not be important now, because I’m tired. I’ll continue later. Maybe not here though.

Forest Blvd

My mom is in Hastings, NE closing on my grandparent’s home. They are moving out to Yakima, WA today, with a brief stop in Estes Park, CO. I’m saddened by the sale of the house, because it is probably one of my favorite buildings ever. Here are pictures of the front and back.

The house is on a large city park with a small lake/resivoir that runs the length. There are plenty of resident animals, including squirells, ducks, rabbits, and lots of other birds. We even refer to these grandparents as “the ducks” because we associated them with the waterfowl as children.

I hope they enjoy the trip out, and hope they like Yakima. I’m going to miss the house, and the park, and such. anyway, best of luck to “the ducks.”

Pileated Woodpecker

This morning outside the library I ran across two pileated woodpeckers. They were chasing each other around the trunk of a tree, and didn’t seem to care that I was staring at them. People walking by didn’t seem to care that I was staring at anything either. However, when I ran down and grabbed a digital camera and started taking pictures, people noticed. I guess when you have a camera, you aren’t just a crazy person.

I shared the pictures with the library staff, and was surpised at how delighted people were. I guess everyone likes birds.

My boss recently hired another mac user. It’ll be nice to have someone who agrees with me about how good macs are rather than just how bad microsoft is.