Home Again, Home Again

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Early this morning, at 4:30 a.m., I arose, washed, dressed, and began packing the car for the trip home. It was still dark outside as I made my trips back and forth to the car. The morning was warm and humid, which is a big change from the cool weather we have been experiencing lately. I called Attila at 5:30, and we chatted as I ate my oatmeal and drank my coffee. Then it was time for me to get busy with the final tasks, shutting off the water supply, unplugging all the electrical cords, doing dishes, bagging the garbage to take home… I finally backed out of the driveway at 6:11 a.m., to begin the journey home to the country house.

The first two hours on the road were challenging, as a heavy fog made for poor visibility. Also, my usual exit from the highway was closed, and luckily there were signs warning of this, so that I took the exit before my usual, and drove through residential streets as a detour, until I could finally rejoin the desired route. About half way home the fog lifted, so that driving became much easier. I arrived just after 10:30 a.m.

To celebrate my arrival home, Attila came home for lunch!! Since June that has only happened once until now, this was the second time. We were very glad to see one another, and chattered the whole time we were eating our lunch.

My afternoon was spent unpacking and catching up with the mail, and the bills. Mountains of paperwork were waiting for me. It was all done and dusted before Attila got home from work.

It is peach season in Ontario, and I took advantage of that to purchase two four quart baskets of Ontario peaches. The ones I purchased were actually a product of the Growers Association that my father belonged to, and drove delivery trucks for, in the 1950s. We had a lovely dinner, Giant Oven Pancake, topped with fresh sliced peaches.

We received a flyer advertising assistive technologies, everyone got one in the mail. In it was a product I hadn’t heard about before, Zorbi. I did a bit of snooping around and found out it is the chemical sodium polyacrylate. Then I read about that chemical, that absorbs a lot of liquid, they use it in disposable diapers apparently. A lot of disposable diapers go into our landfill sites, so I wondered if that was somewhat problematic. Also, in the United States they are infusing it into farmland to retain moisture. Somehow that sounds wrong to me. So I did a search on sodium polyacrylate in landfill sites and found a pertinent scholarly thesis on SMARTTech, at Georgia Tech Library,
“Title: Potential biodegradability of sodium polyacrylate polymers in a stabilized landfill environment Author: Delphos, Paul Jeffery Type Thesis”.
I registered thinking I could read the thesis for my own edification. However, I found that this thesis was not accessible, “Access restricted to authorized Georgia Tech users only.” I wonder why? I was disappointed, the thesis sounded like it was relevant and informative, it is unfortunate that the public is prevented from reading it.

After my early morning, the long drive, and dealing with bills, I am knackered. I proofread this entry, but errors have a way of escaping behind drooping eyelids! Please excuse.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Thursday 21 August 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 22.1°C
Dewpoint: 18.2°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: W 13 km/h
Humidex: 28

Quote

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”
John Kenneth Galbraith
1908 – 2006

8 Comments

  1. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Some years ago I worked for Dow Chemical. They have an absorbent product, methylcellulose, that’s been around and used in diapers for many, many years. But honestly, you don’t have to worry about absorbent products in landfills too much, simply because so little water gets into landfills that you can dig them up 25 years later and still read the print on newspapers. The landfills are sealed and very little decomposition takes place in them – unfortunately.

    Glad you got back home safely and that you had a lovely lunch with Attila. I kmow I love it the few times each year that DH comes home for lunch and we can enjoy the time together.

  2. I don’t feel as confident about the the safety of absorbent products in the landfills as you do Teri.

    I don’t think we know what the long-term effects of these products are, in landfill sites, or in agricultural soil. And the fact that a study, that seeks to understand just what occurs in the landfill, is available to “authorized” personnel only, sounds an alarm bell with me. I can still remember the assurances that Thalidomide was safe for pregnant women, and I have never viewed the corporate knowledge base with absolute trust. Landfill sites, and I know this through first hand experience, are not environmentally inert. It will be our children, and our grandchildren, and perhaps even our great-grandchildren, that end up dealing with, and paying for, the problems that arise from these mountains of garbage.

    Another example of a problem that we did not pay attention to until it became huge is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/?ar_a=1. In 1969 I was writing about the foolish use of plastic packaging for food items, which was the tip of the iceberg, and everyone then assured me that I was worrying about nothing, often rudely. Most of the authority figures from that time period aren’t around now to observe the results.

    I do agree with you wholeheartedly that having lunch together is positive in so many ways! It is a wonderful break for the person working in the outside world, and wonderful company for those working at home.

  3. *grin* I never said anything about absorbent products being safe in our landfills, Maggie. I said that they’ve been going in there a LONG time before the polymer that you’re concerned about was even created. I also said that landfills are sealed to water and that even a newspaper from 25 years ago would still be readable. I consider that to be rather discomfitting, rather than saying I’m happy about something.

    BTW, you know what that absorbent polymer is? Have you ever seen those little crystals they put in plants and when you put water with them they absorb about 600 times their weight in water and turn into those large pearl-like balls of various colors? Water beads? Those are the same thing. So there is a lot more of that stuff going into landfills than just from diapers.

    Thought you’d find that interesting. Those same (larger) crystal beads are being used as a decorating option by florists.

  4. Re: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, did you see the articles from when people were looking for Malaysian Airlines MH370 talking about how there was now less garbage out there than people expected? That would be because plastic decomposes in sunshine. Yes, it can take a long time, depending on the plastic, but it does decompose. (Not fast enough to save a seagull or dolphin caught up in something, though.)

    The thing we really need to do is stop allowing our freighters and cruise ships to dump their waste into the ocean. Dumping from coastal towns and ships are probably the majority of the problem when it comes to waste in the water.

    Ever lived by the ocean? All you have to do is walk along the piers and you’ll get a not-to-pleasant education on the amount of waste that accumulates along the docks. 🙁

    Of course there’s still the garbage out there too from when Japan had the tsunami. With the waves going as far inland as they did, an awful lot of flotsam and jetsam was carried back out to see – like roofs, pallets, cars, and all kinds of paper, plastic, wood and metal articles. 🙁

  5. Those polymer beads from the florist are quite the thing, being spread around everywhere, as the earth from potted plants is sometimes dumped in back yard composters, or in the garden. I have to confess that I myself use those beads in one application, my cobber. It won’t be going into a landfill site though, as I plan on reusing it until it disintegrates, which, if the summers continue to be as cool as this summer has been, could take a very long time.

    I will always feel that we don’t really need all the plastic we are using and discarding, and I doubt our small efforts at using glass and metal containers makes much of a difference overall, but still, that is what we do. To me the human race is “penny smart and pound foolish”, me included.

    “Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, the photodegraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level. As the plastic flotsam photodegrades into smaller and smaller pieces, it concentrates in the upper water column. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean’s surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.” From Barnes, D. K. A.; Galgani, F.; Thompson, R. C.; Barlaz, M. (2009). “Accumulation and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364 (1526): 1985–98. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0205. JSTOR 40485977. PMC 2873009. PMID 19528051.

  6. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    I agree with your quote above. The only thing they’ve not mention is that thankfully the plastic is inert when ingested and since it is at a miniscule molecular level will hopefully not cause any harm.

    I wish it was more evident with some things as to when we are actively causing harm, maybe then we’d move more quickly to change. Then again, if harm were so evident then maybe we would be too late to correct something.

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