Monday, April 12, 2010

This blog has moved

I am updating my blog. I am trying to redirect the RSS feeds so that you don't have to do anything, but in the mean time, you could just update it yourself (

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Maybe you don't want green cleaners

Turn off your lights! Fossil fuels are evil! Buy hybrid cars! Clean you home the green way! Be environmentally responsible. Vomit green if you have to!

It's everywhere, and very little of it is completely understandable which causes much confusion. For instance the tiny electric car which, since it was electric was subsidized 50% by the state government and 25% buy the federal which made a 16000$ car a mere 4000$. Impressive. Makes me think that someone forgot to tell the governments that all the power plants in Oklahoma and most in the US still burn fossil fuels to make electricity. Of course the cars and plants are more efficient--for one thing they are tiny--but probably not worth the government footing 75% of the bill.

But the products that are making me laugh right now are the green household cleaners. I love the commercials (like this one, which makes me squirm--especially the octopus part) which say things like "stop torturing our aquatic life," "say no to hazardous chemicals," and "use a safe and natural way to clean." So here's the problem:

The main ingredient in nearly all of these "green" cleaners is going to be (and has been in all that I've seen) SDS or sodium dodecyl sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate--It's all the same. It's a nice molecule. It makes some nice bubbles, cleans really well, and is cool with dissolving in small amounts of water so it doesn't fall out of solution and create soap scum. It's a biodegradable surfactant that is created by combining sulfuric acid and a 12 carbon chain.

But wait! Guess what is the main ingredient in all of your not-so-"green" household cleaners? If you guessed not SDS, you are totally wrong!

So what is so special about this surfactant that makes it greener when it is exactly the same thing?! Well, it's how they make it. Most industrial surfactants are made from petroleum products. But certain surfactants can be made from the oils of plants (like from the palm kernel) that come out to be the exact same molecule. The only problem with this is that there are not nearly enough palm plants in the world to produce the surfactant we consume, so most often, petroleum is used. Which is fine. It is the same molecule and just as biodegradable, it just comes from a different source.

These companies try and come across as though you are using less harsh chemicals that are better for the environment, and in the case of a small percentage of their products (such as disinfectants where they use antiseptic plant oils instead of bleach) they are. But in the majority of their products, they are simply trying to reduce our dependence on oil. Which is probably a laudable effort on its own. But they are pretty much straight up lying to you if they say the chemicals in their products will 'torture aquatic life' less than your old dish soap.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

It's better than eating nothing

It snuck up on me. If I had to guess, I'd say it started a couple years ago in grad school when I had to wake up before noon in order to get anything done. I found myself starting to eat breakfast again (don't scold! when you wake up at 10 or 11, lunch *is* breakfast!) and found that it made me kinda queasy from 8 until around 10:30. And before you ask, No! I was not pregnant. If I was pregnant 2 years ago, I would probably know by now. Anyway, it slowly worsened until I finally stopped 2 years later and thought to myself that it probably wasn't normal to be feeling awful after nearly every meal, and that skipping dinner just so I wouldn't feel terrible that night was probably not the best strategy. Also that I didn't have any favorite foods anymore. What the hell!? Food is awesome. I love food ... at least I think I do, but whenever I try to imagine what I'd like to eat, I never come up with anything ... sad.

So I decided I probably have a food allergy or intollerance or something like that. My doctor agreed with me, although, by agree, I mean I said "I think I have a food allergy" and he said "yeah, sure that could be." Set me up with some blood tests, turns out I'm slightly sensitive to soy ... but not enough to cause anything major. So here I am at the last resort or as I like to look at it, a new adventure! The elimination diet. Or the Allergy avoidance diet. Whatever you want to call it.

Warning, Science ahead: It turns out that you can be allergic to food, in which case, you have antibodies to proteins in that food, so you body sees the food and thinks it is an invader and attacks. Yummy. You can also, however, be intolerant of food, which is usually a lack of an enzyme or some other reason you cannot properly digest or absorb the food which causes all sorts of fun things. It seems the former they can usually catch with a blood test. Unless it's a quite uncommon problem. The latter takes some metaphorical elbow grease. Unless the elbow grease is implying cleaning dishes, in which case it's literal elbow grease. My doctor, after telling me to google 'elimination diet' to which I replied "I did. I got Martha Stewart's breastfeeding elimination diet. That's probably not it, is it?" decided to google it for me (seriously? I think I'm getting a new doctor ...) and sent me to this allergy site which claims that probably 60% of adults have food allergies and don't even realize it. That's a lot of people. It could be you!!

The diet is simple. Eat only things that are super hypoallergenic. Once you start to feel better, add food groups until you find the one that sets you off. Sounds easy. Or hard. depending on how you look at it. I tried watching what I was eating and through process of elimination, finding the culprit ... but seriously, there is so much crap in food today. It's probably an intolerance of some preservative or something that is very common! So here I am on my big adventure...

What foods, you ask, are hypoallergenic? Well, white rice (b/c it's a whole bunch of nothing), apples and pears, most vegetables, beans (ick), non-gluten grains like Qinoa (no idea how to say that) and lamb (random, right?). Also, rice milk, pear nectar, and chamomile tea to drink.

This is terrible. I have no idea how to cook lamb.

Today I went to the store and bought apples and pears, green beans, mushrooms, Qinoa, rice milk (yikes) and lamb. I got home, started cooking, and realized that I already ruined everything b/c the damned lamb was sold in a marinade that had something which I already *know* I'm allergic to (lemons. not limes or oranges. Just lemons. odd, I know) including a whole slew of other things I'm not supposed to eat. But I'd be damned if I was going to throw out my first lamb, so I washed it off and cooked it the less exciting way. With garlic and salt. It was good. No it wasn't. It was kind of gross. I have had lamb before. I have had really good lamb before. I will have to keep trying.

The rice was good, though. And by good, I mean, I am not starving right now.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

No no no, why?!? No!

Happy New Year! As a present, a post I wrote a couple of months ago when I was writing my thesis one night trying desperately not to do what I was supposed to be doing and became easy distracted by flashing lights. I should have known I would never actually get through it, but here, I finished it off for you today:

I haven't blogged in ages. And I'm probably not going to start up again until I graduate, just so you know. I just haven't had time, and when I found something that would have motivated me to post before, I had something else to do and I quickly forgot about it. Then Zero Water happened ... two weeks ago. Which I promptly forgot about after having written half a post and now was reminded. But I'll try and display my frustration for you 2 weeks later.

Yeah, I quit on this post like 3 times. Should that have been a sign not to post it? Probably, but I am determined.
Oh my god.

I've seen these zero water commercials lately and laughed them off as I tend to do when I see stupid things for sale on TV, but every time I wonder what that little meter does that says 000 when you put the water through the Zero Water filter, but then I stop worrying about that and continue worrying about N-methyl glucamine. However, this time, I (stupidly) decided to google it to see what exactly it's measuring when it comes up with "000." I wandered around for a bit mostly spotting Zero Water propaganda and people who are selling it, and then I found this guy. I started reading, because I thought it was a joke. Oh silly silly me. I have been away from blogging for far too long. I did learn that the Zero Water meter is measuring total dissolved solids PPM (parts per million), which, it's not actually doing. It's just a pH meter--measuring the acidity or conductivity of the water. This doesn't measure TDSPPM as well as other things, but it gets within 10%. Super pure water doesn't measure properly this way anyway, but you don't want to drink that, because it will kill you ... seriously. But don't worry. Zero water is not anywhere near that pure.

A couple of things to point out. The writer of the linked blog discusses a few things that make me smile. For one thing, 000 TDSPPM isn't "zero total dissolved solids" like the dude says--it's just less that .5 parts per million. Trust me, there's a lot more than a million parts in your glass of water, and that's good, because like I said earlier, totally pure water will kill you. Also he complains about chlorine and iron being in his water claiming that chlorine is 'bleach' .... while that's sort of true, but he better not feed his kids salt, because by his definition, that's bleach too. This contraption also removes iron and mercury. Now, of course mercury is bad for you, but Iron is good for you. Is it worth it to take out the good with the bad? The answer is "Who the hell cares??" They EPA and the FDA set regulations on tap water so that it will be safe. If you don't like the way your tap water tastes, I can see getting a filter. If you are trying to be overly safe, you are worrying too much and a paying too much money.

And nevermind that some places like New York have some of the best tap water you can find because of all the minerals it picks up on the way to your faucet naturally from the reservoirs in that area. Your water is not going to give your children autism or make them sickly or anything like that. Unless it's brown ... don't drink it if it's brown ...

That's it for the previously written post. If I haven't talked to you in a while, I just graduated (hence the spare time to post), and I'm starting a job in Oklahoma City after a quick vacation in the Virgin Islands (it's really hard to find a floppy beach hat in Oklahoma in 20 F weather, and I know you feel really bad for me about that). I'll probably be moving half an hour North to chill in the city (yes, OKC has big buildings and *gasp* culture ... when I find it, I'll tell you all about it) soon and trying some new things with my oodles of spare time now that I only have one job and it does in fact end at 5 pm.

The burning question that I'm sure you have is, "Kendall, will you restart your blog?? (since it is so awesome and I miss your continual musings about crazy people??)." The answer to that is, I hope so. I am am working on a list of long term and short term goals because my friend @stephtheblogger was talking about it earlier this week, and jump starting the blog is on the list, so I hope to talk with you more. That's all for now.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Phantom 30 gig

I thought I'd write about Windows Vista before I forgot about the experience ... Most people seem to hate it and because of this no one uses it. Strangely enough, that seems to be the biggest problem I've found with Vista. Nobody likes to use it, so there's more scattered and confused tech support for it. There's also less software for it and just a general confusion about it ... You can tell, because Microsoft tried to attack this general dislike and confusion with the Windows Mohave ad campaign. I discovered this lack of support when I had a rather interesting problem with my system.

I was trying to partition the hard drive in order to put things like music on one partition so that when I inevitably need to reformat I wouldn't have to copy all 32 gigs of music I have to a back up drive and then back again after the reinstall. I figured I would split my 100 Gb hard drive in half and leave around 50 for windows and whatever I might need to install. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? I'd had the computer about a month and hadn't done anything crazy to it, so I went in to look at how to partition it, and ... there were about 60 Gb used. And my music wasn't even on it!! As a matter of fact, it wouldn't even fit nicely on there! I was astonished that vista took up that much space, so I went hunting to see what exactly needed all that room. I tried sizing the folders on the C drive, and then I became even more perplexed. The total space all the files on my C drive took up was about 30 Gb. There was a completely missing 30Gb. Like I said, I was very very perplexed. So I did what I always do when I am very very perplexed. I googled it. Because I have found that no matter what my compter problem is, someone, somewhere has already encountered and kicked the ass of said problem. It's a good situation to be in. Unless you're running Vista ... I searched for what I found to be an exceptionally long time for a computer problem for an answer to this question and not simply the confused question posted all over support forums. I even went to *gasp* the Windows tech support site ... I know. I was desperate. Anyway, I finally stumbled upon this forum thread which had the answer to my question!! but even that guy had a seemingly difficult time finding this ridiculous problem, *and* it was posted on an Ubuntu forum. The one good answer. Was posted on an Ubuntu forum. Really? So I turned off the system restore feature and recovered about 20 Gb (the other 10 it turns out is an additional Lenovo backup ... man that system was backed the heck up).

But really I'd just like to complain about the ridiculous situation Microsoft had got themselves into. I actually think that Windows Vista is pretty cool. The neato graphics are awesome. It looks cool. The search option in the start menu is *spectacular.* It utilizes IPV6 if that's your thing. Tablet functions are already built in if *that's* your thing. For the not-so-computer savvy, I think it's a great OS, because it pretty much does everything for you. The only reason I'm not using it now is that I had a nasty LAN problem with the network in my office. I had and IT person come look at it, because, well I didn't have time and it was a really weird problem and it took me so long to find Vista help the first time ... He couldn't get it to work (He was seriously in my office at least twice a week for about a month, poor guy.), so I quit and installed XP over the break. Now I have a few more moments to look around for a good answer, and it turns out it wasn't even really a Vista problem.

For the computer savvy, it's rather annoying, because you have to navigate through about 4 or 5 menus to get to things like network connections just to disable the wireless connection. It does a lot of things on its own, and that is pretty cool, but never take away my manual option, because it never fails that something will go wrong and even if the manual option doesn't work, it could still give me more information as to what is going on. But I don't think Windows is really going for the small percent of the population that is computer saavy with their general OS.

So what happened with Vista, which has done nothing evil to me besides eat some of my hard drive space and waste a little bit of my time due to an incompetent OU network? Well, the trouble is something that causes problems, I think, in most of the world. Too many people take other people's word for it. Newscasters, Oprah, Politicians, the New York Times (who once "wrote" an article stating that blonds will die out by the year 2020 or something ridiculous. This story had months before circulated as spam and was proven to be incorrect by and apparently has been around for a loooong time. Seriously? I wrote them a nasty email), bloggers, Wikipedia (don't get me started on high school science teachers who don't bitch slap students for using wikipedia as a reference--though it is generally very good, and I do love it ... ) Obviously the internet and TV don't really help this situation.

I find that to be a recurring theme in this blog and something that generally annoys me about people. If someting can easily be experienced first hand, don't be lazy and just rely on stereotypes and public opinion. Everything is spun. I think that will be my new year's resolution: Experience more things first hand. (What? I'm only like a month late--you should ask my professor how late my papers get in ....)

... Or maybe Vista really does suck ;-)

PS. I've got a new polymer post coming up! At least Steph should be excited about that!


Saturday, January 10, 2009


Hi friends!

I've been very quiet for the last month or two (holy crap, has it been that long??). I could tell you what went on, or ... no wait that'll take up good blog-space. Let's see, the last post was on ... wow. November 17th. Well, now I wouldn't be surprised if everyone stopped reading it. Thank goodness for RSS feeds, eh? Anyway what happened was: First my brothers and I raced my Mom and Dad down to Houston for Thanksgiving to meet up with my dad's side of the family. Then there were only 3 weeks left before school was out, and silly me thought I would be able to get work done while all the profs were assigning everything they forgot to teach us during the semester. Directly after that there was Christmas break, which really was not a break, and consisted of a drive to Tulsa, losing my purse (dumby), a nice quick drive down to San Antonio, a friend visiting for New Years (no, I know. He sucks--his website does not work.), a crazy awesome New Year's party, and catching up with all my Tulsa buddies, and a drive back to Norman--whew. And since then, it's been a paper turned in that my prof didn't really agree with ... or it didn't agree with him ... I dunno--I have yet to figure that out, as well as a ton of lab work to catch up to where I think I should be ...

But since the year has turned, I went back through the blog (rather quickly between DCA runs if you know what I'm saying). And pulled up all the titles of unpublished or draft ideas I had started but never finished (well, not all of them. One was not really ever meant to be printed--just funny and ... lude, and the other one is a surprise I'm saving for 2009, so it'll stay secretlike in my blogger account). Some of them are pretty funny. For the most part, the reason they are here and not an actual post is because I either lost interest (The Phantom 30 gig was supposed to be about Vista, but I've since given up on Vista ... but I might still write the post), or not gotten around to it, or I've totally forgotten what it was about (Reverse Psychology Girl, Spanish Thingy)

Reverse Psychology Girl
More Polymers
Math Tutors!
Spanish Thingy
The Phantom 30 gig
TV is a lie!
Google is creepy
Wikipedia as a research tool
Free in a package of batteries

Anyway, now we may take time to meditate on things past ... and things to come. Hopefully in 2009 I can take a few minutes to stop thinking about decanoyl-N-methyl glucamine and sodium docecylsulfate to write a post or two.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

If you were a dragon and had 3 heads, would you still be one person?

I once made a philosophy major cry.

I had left my head at home, and I didn't think very hard about it, and didn't think that perhaps philosophy majors get a lot of crap and thus don't like answering the repeated question: "Yes, but what will you do with it?" I was genuinely curious. I wasn't trying to give him a hard time. Really. You don't believe me, do you?

I should have asked him why he chose it instead of something else, because he had a plan, I just didn't see what philosophy had anything to do with that plan. It was more sensible to me that someone trying to go into that line of work go for a business major or some such.

But that's pretty much how I feel about philosophy. As demonstrated by this excerpt the 'engineering ethics' paper I just wrote:
Kantian ethics or deontological views entail that since we are rational beings, reason alone can be used to determine what is moral and what is not. The main argument against this view seems to be stupid people. The analogy presented here is a babysitter who spills water on the cat and in her determination to get the cat dry before the adults come home puts him in the microwave. In her capacity for reason, the microwave seemed like the best option. Her reason and intention keep her in the morally right area with deontological ethics. Perhaps Kantian ethics has a learning curve.
That's my favorite version of ethics. The one that involves reason. Sheesh. I should say that this was how the philosophy professor who guest lectured my chemical engineering controls class so non-chalantly discarded kantian ethics, which is why this paragraph is dripping with sarcasm. I was annoyed with him, but the man has years of philosophy training up on me, so I couldn't think quickly enough to argue with him. I could have argued it in the paper, but this was more fun.

I find philosophy interesting at times ... like when I'm on the toilet. Or just spacing in Kinetics class. I often think about why we're here and how in the world we got here and what I really want out of life, etc. Apparently last Thursday was 'World Philosophy Day.' My friend shared a BBC article with me that included four questions 'to make your brain hurt.' It was interesting, because I've actually thought about a few of them before. It was also interesting, because it demonstrated what kills me about philosophy. It's the so amazingly loosely based analogies they love so much. Sometimes it seems like they just say whatever they want, and it automatically applies ... just look at this bit: They get you piece by piece to admit that you are not your body, but rather your mind (ok, ok), and then out of nowhere ... Bam!
what if surgeons imprinted your mental states on two pre-wiped brains: George Bush's and Gordon Brown's? Would you be in the White House or in Downing Street? There's nothing on which to base a sensible choice. Yet one person cannot be in two places at once. In the end, then, no attempt to make sense of your continued existence over time works. You are not the person who started reading this article.
Whooaa there. There's not really any part of this I agree with anymore ... I don't even know how we got here. Obviously I am not only my mental states, but also my experiences--basically memories. And I feel as though if we had the technology to reformat brains and install new OS's on them, we would probably end up with more than one someone running around, so I do not accept that premise, either. Then all of a sudden I am not the same person who started reading the article ... maybe I've just watched too many sci fi shows or have a vivid imagination, but it just seems crazy to rule in that we can copy brains and rule out that there can't be copies of ourselves .... oi.

Don't get me wrong, I find Philosophy to be rather interesting and often useful, but this is just crazy talk ... and it's 5:30am and I'm writing this to avoid finishing my homework, so I should go. Read the rest of the article, though. It's pretty cool!