Monthly Archives: April 2018

Ühekordselt kasutatavate asjade taaskasutus

Palju prügi tekib ühekordselt kasutatavast kaubast, nt raseerijad, joogitopsid, kilekotid ja plastpudelid. Tekitatavat prahihulka saab vähendada taaskasutusega, sealhulgas nime poolest ühekordselt kasutatavate asjade taaskasutusega. Kõige lihtsam näide on kilekottide kaks korda kasutus, esimest korda pakendina ja teine kord prügikotina. Pole põhjust eraldi prügikotte osta kui iga päev jääb järele tühje saia-, puuvilja- ja muid kotte. Kilekotte saab ka rohkem kui kaks korda kasutada, nt lõunasöögi kaasa pakkimiseks mitmel päeval, ja lõpuks prügikotina.
Taaskasutuse soodustamise sildi all müüakse näiteks paksust plastikust laia korgiga korduvkasutatavaid joogipudeleid, aga ma ise pole sellist ostnud, vaid kasutan tavalist müügiautomaadi plastpudelit kuude kaupa. Kui plastik kollakaks tõmbub, siis vahetan välja. Kuna tavaline plastpudel on õhem, siis on see kergem ja ühe sellise tootmine keskkonnasõbralikum (nõuab vähem materjali) kui paksu pudeli tootmine. Tervikliku keskkonnasõbralikkuse võrdluseks oleks muidugi vaja teada ka keskmist kasutusaega. Kui paksu pudelit kasutatakse palju kauem kui tavalist, siis võib kokkuvõttes paks pudel keskkonnasõbralikum olla.
Papist või vahtplastist kilevoodriga joogitopsi saab samuti palju kordi kasutada. Seda saab vahepeal seest pesta, aga kui jook pole rasvane (nt piim), siis aitab veega loputamisest (kui juua teed, mahla jne).
Üks korduvkasutatavaim nime poolest ühekordne asi on raseerija. Ma kraabin oma lõuga kõige odavama üheteralise raseerijaga, sest see annab parima tulemuse. Mitmeteraliste raseerijate terade vahele jäävad äralõigatud karvad kinni ja see muudab mitu tera sisuliselt üheks plokiks, mis enam ei lõika. Üheteralisest raseerijast saab karvad välja seda korraks survestatud veejoa sisse torgates (kraan korraks lahti ja kinni). Lahtiselt riiulile pannes kuivab tera kiiresti, ega paista roostetavat nende paari kuu jooksul kui ma seda iga päev kasutan. Lõpuks läheb tera muidugi nüriks (ei lõika karvu, vaid hakkab neid välja kitkuma) ja ma viskan raseerija ära. Sellest hoolimata saan ühekordset asja ligi sada korda kasutada.
Korduvkasutus annab parema tulemuse kui täiesti uus raseerija, sest uus on liiga terav – nahk tõmbub liiga tugeva või mitmekordse kraapimise tagajärjel punaseks ja hiljem lillakaks (seda nimetatakse raseerijapõletuseks). Paar korda kasutatud teraga saab lõua igas suunas mitu korda üle kraapida, mis lõua ebatasasuse tõttu annab siledama tulemuse kui üks kraabe väga terava raseerijaga.
Habemeajamisvahtu või aftershave’i pole tarvis – külm vesi asendab mõlemat hästi. Näiteks reisimisel on väga mugav võtta kaasa ainult üks ühekordne raseerija, mitte mingeid vedelikke, mida lennujaama turvakontrollis eraldi näitama peab. Tavaliselt hotellitoas tasuta habemeajamistarbeid pole, ainult seep ja šampoon, vahel ka väike hambapasta ja hambahari. Aga külm vesi on peaaegu igal pool maailmas saadaval.

Joining together detached houses saves energy

Suburbs in many countries consist of detached houses that very close to each other – I have seen neighbours’ walls half a metre apart. Both houses could save energy by joining their adjacent walls together, which reduces heat loss in cold weather and heat entry (thus the need for air conditioning) in hot temperatures. Ideally, the joining should happen at the construction stage, but it is not difficult to do after the houses are built. Just enclose the space between the sides of two houses by extending the front and back wall and the roof of each house. It is not a load-bearing construction, it just has to keep the wind out from the space between the houses and provide some insulation to the space.
An added bonus is the creation of a covered storage area (a door to the space between houses should be created if the houses don’t already have a door on that side). A possible downside is that to get from the front of the house to the back, now one has to pass through the house or the storage area. But given the narrowness of the typical walkway between suburban detached houses, passing through the house may be the best route anyway. Also, when enclosing the walkway, a door can be made in each end to keep it open for passage.
Another downside is that windows on the side of the house now look into a covered storage area, not outside. But if the houses are so close together, then the only view from the window is the wall or window of the neighbour. After enclosing the side, this view becomes darker, but that does not seem a great loss. If it is, then energy-efficient lights can be installed in the enclosed area and kept on during waking hours, so people can admire their neighbour’s wall or window. Really, windows with such views can be replaced by a poster-size print-out of a photo of the view, because if the window looks into the neighbour’s window, then the neighbour probably keeps the curtains closed to prevent spying. And a wall through a window looks pretty similar to a photo of the wall stuck over the window.
The real reason to not join the houses is probably marketing and the desire to show off that it targets. People want to boast of owning a detached house, even if it is less than two metres from the neighbour’s. Knowing this, property developers construct such dwellings and market them as detached (“own your own house”, really owned by the mortgage issuer for 25 years). This is similar to the reason why McMansions are built, only the income of the buyers differs. Also similar are the pride and marketing that make people buy large SUVs, pickups and all-terrain vehicles for driving solely on paved roads.

Iseendal juuste lõikamine on kõrge tootlusega investeering

Olin üle 25 aasta vana kui õppisin internetivideote põhjal endal ise juukseid lõikama. Soovin, et oleksin seda varem osanud, sest see on tõenäoliselt mu kõrgeima tulumääraga investeering. Juukselõikusmasin maksis USAs ja Austraalias 20-25 dollarit, Inglismaal 15 naela, mis on umbes ühe juukselõikuse hind juuksuri juures. Nii et masin tasus enda ostuhinna esimese kuuga, edasine oli ja on puhas kasum.
Esimest korda lõigates olin väga ettevaatlik ja kulutasin poolteist tundi. Nüüd kulub kokku 40 minutit, sealhulgas juuste põrandalt kokkupühkimine jne. Juuksur lõikaks ilmselt kiiremini, aga õige võrdluse saamiseks peaks sellele lisama ka juuksurisse mineku, seal ootamise ja sealt tuleku aja. Ise lõigates on hea veel see, et saan valida endale sobivaima aja, milleks on tavaliselt hilisõhtu (juuksur oleks siis kinni). Saan ka jagada juukselõikuse aja juppideks ja lõigata näiteks ühel päeval masinaga pea küljed ja tagaosa, teisel päeval kääridega tuka ja pealse ning kolmandal kraapida raseerijaga kukla.
Mulle tundub enda lõigatud soeng parem kui juuksuri, aga ma pole ka väga kallites juuksurites käinud ja minu arvamus võib olla kallutatud. Igatahes need vähesed komplimendid soengule, mida ma elu jooksul saanud olen, tulid siis, kui olin selle ise lõiganud. Võibolla on süüdi mu valikuline mälu.
Tundub kummaline, et minu tulemus on parem kui juuksuril, kel on paremad oskused, kogemus, tööriistad ja ligipääs pea igale küljele. Võimalik seletus on, et juuksur on vähem motiveeritud head tööd tegema kui mina. Madala kvalifikatsiooniga ametitesse nagu juuksur lähevad suurema tõenäosusega laisemad ja lohakamad inimesed. Odavate ja keskmise hinnaga juuksurite puhul, kus käisin, on see probleem ilmselt tõsisem kui kallite. Mäletan, et juuksurid ajasid lõigates omavahel juttu, vastasid poole lõikuse pealt telefonile ja kui järgmised kliendid ootasid või lõunapaus oli tulekul, siis kiirustasid. Tulemus oli vastav.

Signs with strong language are not enforced

Various prohibiting signs are posted in many places, saying for example “No smoking”, “No trespassing”, “No skateboarding”, etc. The language of a sign with the same message can be stronger or weaker, e.g. “Smoking prohibited” vs “No smoking. Strictly enforced” or “Trespassing forbidden” vs “Strictly no trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” It seems that there is a negative correlation between the strength of the language and the strength of enforcement. The rules stated on signs threatening strict enforcement or prosecution seem not enforced at all. Non-enforcement is certainly the case for the “Smoke-free campus. Strictly no smoking” signs around the Australian National University and for similar signs around other universities that I have visited.
Why might stronger language of the sign indicate non-enforcement? Stronger language is also longer, requiring a larger sign and more paint, which makes signs with stronger language slightly more expensive to put up. So why pay more for signs that suggest non-enforcement?
Local people learn the rules and their actual level of enforcement over time. For them, signs are not really necessary. Therefore, signs are put up only for first-time visitors or for legal reasons. Legalities usually just require some legible sign, not a long and strongly worded one, so to satisfy the law, the optimal choice is a shorter and simpler text that fits on a smaller, cheaper sign.
First-time visitors are either uncertain about the enforcement level or know it. If they know, then they are effectively locals – for them, there is no need for a long sign. If the visitors are uncertain, then they might infer the enforcement level from the strength of the language. This can go two ways. If the visitors are rational and the strength of the language is negatively correlated with the level of enforcement, then a shorter sign signals stronger enforcement and deters rule-breaking better. Then all signs would optimally be short. If the visitors are irrational and interpret the signs literally, then more strongly worded signs deter rule-breaking more. The negative correlation between strong language and enforcement suggests that people are irrational and take threats literally. Or that those putting up signs are irrational and for some reason choose the less effective strongly worded signs.
An alternative explanation is countersignalling (Feltovich, Harbaugh and To 2002). In this model, there are three types of sign-posters. The first type does not care much about whether the text of the sign is obeyed (may post the sign only for legal reasons). The second type cares a little bit, but not enough to pay for much enforcement. Still, the second type slightly enforces, so there is a small positive probability of some kind of punishment when breaking the rules. The third type really wants the rules to be followed and invests in enforcement correspondingly. The potential rule-breakers quickly learn from punishments whether they are dealing with the third type. So the third type does not need any particular kind of signs to distinguish himself from the first two.
The first two types are harder to tell apart. The first type is not interested in distinguishing himself from the others – in fact, being confused with the others is beneficial, because it is more likely to make people obey the rules. The second type would like to distinguish himself from the first type and be confused with the third type, but this desire is not strong enough to pay the same enforcement cost as the third. So the second type will settle for distinguishing himself from the first type. This is done by paying for slightly larger signs with stronger, longer language on them. In this case, in the absence of experienced enforcement, the potential rule-breakers respond more to strongly worded signs than to short ones.
For an external observer, it is difficult to distinguish a small amount of enforcement from none, so the perception arises that enforcement goes together with short signs, but non-enforcement sometimes with long, strongly worded signs and sometimes with short signs. So there is a negative correlation between the strength of enforcement and the strength of the language. This correlation is stronger if the fraction of the first type in the population of sign-posters is small, for example because some first types do not post signs at all. People posting signs are a selected sample from the population of those who want some rule obeyed. The selection oversamples those who care more.

Silly sunglasses

Most sunglasses do not cover the eye fully. For example, any design where the lenses are close to flat (aviator, retro) or small does not protect the eye from rays coming from above or the side. Sunlight commonly comes from above, so these sunglass designs do not block a significant part of it. If the lenses are tinted (not clear), then they worsen the outcome for the eyes, because the dark glass in the centre of the visual field makes the pupils expand. When that happens, the pupils let in more light from any direction, including sunlight from the unprotected top and side directions.
In comparison, the polycarbonate safety glasses that currently cost 2 AUD in a construction shop have a wrap-around design and large lenses that leave only a small gap between the forehead and the glasses. Light from the side and nearly all other directions has to pass through the glasses before reaching the eye. The material for the safety glasses is polycarbonate, which block 99.9% of UV light. In order for sunglasses to provide better UV protection than the safety glasses, they have to block a larger percentage of UV light or cover more ray paths into the eye.
Suppose that sunglasses were made from a material that blocks 100% of UV. Then to improve on the safety glasses, the sunglasses would have to cover at least 99.9% of the ray paths into the eye that safety glasses cover. In other words, the sunglasses would have to have the same wrap-around design and as large or larger lenses.
An improved design for both safety glasses and sunglasses would take the wrap-around design one step further: cover the eyes from top to bottom as well as from side to side. One way to achieve such cover is a half-dome over each eye that touches the forehead above the eye and the cheek below, as well as the bridge of the nose and the temple.
A brimmed hat that blocks light coming from above compensates to some extent for flat-lensed or small sunglasses. The hat does not protect the eyes from light coming from the side and below the brim, so the classic sunglass designs are still inferior to wrap-arounds even combined with a hat.