What does the “g” in “gDiapers” stand for?

Genuine?  Green?  Actually, I’m pretty sure it stands for

GOOD GOD!  THE TOILET IS GROTESQUELY GUSHING GALLONS!

Yes, while I’m for saving the planet and all, I think that the makers of planet-friendly, biogegradable, flushable gDiapers should have a large warning on the box:  May cause toilet to explode at 3am.

Granted, it’s my fault for not reading the instructions.  But then again, I’m a guy.  A guy with a baby.  Like I’m going to read diaper instructions.  If not a warning, the gDiaper people should at least be guy-conscious/guy-friendly and include a picture on the box indicating that the included swizzle stick is for helping the diaper break apart in water; not for ramming vast quantities of diaper down the nether regions of the toilet.

A simple drawing of an angry diaper-prodding guy with a big slash through it would suffice.

Sell your stuff. Save the planet.

Back about a year my wife and I moved back to the US in something of a hurry. Rather than move all of the stuff we had accumulated in Tokyo, we decided to take only essentials: Stuff to get us going again in the US, and items of sentimental value. This of course left a lot of things to get rid of, and eight years in a place is plenty of time to accumulate a lot of stuff.

We talked about disposing of much of it as soudai gomi, which roughly translates to “big trash”, but this bothered me. Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a problem with throwing things away. My mother referred to it as “pack-rat-ism”, but really I’m just intrinsically averse to the idea of taking stuff that once had value, labeling it useless, and forgetting about it. Rather than trash our stuff, my wife and I spent a couple of weeks scrambling around first selling and then giving away everything we had accumulated.

And we did a pretty good job. On our last night in the apartment I lugged a single old bookcase out to the curb — resplendent with official soudai gomi seals purchased from the city — to be picked up as big trash. The money we made selling other items paid for the shipping of our essentials back to the US. And I felt good knowing that the stuff that had served us well would go on providing value to others.

I also felt oddly relieved; lighter. Less stuff. It was as though old cobwebs had been dusted out from the corners of my mind. On the flight back to Boston I decided to see how much stuff I could eliminate from my life. Perhaps two items passed on for every new item in. There was certainly a lot of really old stuff in storage back in Boston that would have to go.

And so for the last year or so I have been selling and/or giving away items online. At first I used Ebay, but with it’s clumsy interface and emphasis on generating a profit or some such, I became frustrated fairly quickly. (Hey, I just want to pass on my stuff. ) Amazon’s Seller Account turned out to be far more simple and effective: I’ve sold everything from old cameras to tourists in New York City to classic computer books to geeks in Spain. I prefer to actually sell items that I, personally, still find valuable. (Or that were particularly expensive.)

Craigslist is awesome for giving stuff away, with the added advantage that folks will usually come over to pick said stuff up.  We’ve had desks, beds, and lawn mowers hauled away thanks to Craigslist.

Anyway, I decided to write this post after coming across Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff, an excellent, straightforward outline of the whole stuff problem, where it comes from, and where it will go if we continue to allow rabid consumerism to continue unchecked.  At the end of the twenty minute video she links to 10 Little and Big Things we can do to take action against the whole stuff problem.  Many of the actions we’ve seen before.  It’s the “big thing” in number 10, however, that I think is the most interesting and yet may seem to be the least most difficult.  Conversely, it is certainly the most simple.  And, really, it gets at the heart of the problem.

The solution?  Buy less.  In other words, stop “consuming”.  Step out of the linear materials economy.  Acquire.  Preserve.  Repair.  Pass on.  Share.

Note that this does not mean “go without”.  It means, where possible, stop feeding from the corporate-sponsored linear material economic machine.  Don’t consume, but acquire.

And share.  This is what I now realize we have been doing by passing along our belongings.  Selling one’s stuff online, or even offering it for free, adds to an ever-growing alternative material goods supply.

So simplify your life.  Sell your stuff.  Help out the planet just a little bit.  And maybe you’ll discover, as I have, that the less you own, the better you feel.

50 Dollars have it all the life

In a dramatic turn of international fiscal events, it would appear that well-off Chinese men are gearing up to acquire American mail order brides. (Ladies, consider the socialized health insurance!) A hacked version of Skype and some brute-force language translation make this potentially viable.

uuskype.PNG

I was particularly intrigued by the “How to add the foreign woman?” link which, once automatically translated, reveals the touching story of “Qin Xiaomei and joes” wherein Qin Xiaomei and/or joes gushes “We like Jiubie reunion of lovers, the two sides across the ocean, the talk of Tongtongkuaikuai miss each other’s feelings.”

Poetry electric.

It’s enough to make me as well want to marry Qin Xiaomei and/or joes.