August 27, 2008

Bike share in Tel Aviv

Came across a bike sharing program being launched in DC at [url=]Treehugger[/url] . Besides the usual hitches of bikes being stolen , vandalized , do you carry a lock or do you have to take it a collection point somebody commented what happens in the case of mandatory helmet rule . Do you carry one with you for the whole day or do you get someone else's sweaty helmet ? With Tel Aviv soon to launch a bike sharing program that is another valid question to be addressed .
As per the tender here is something interesting

But failing to return it on time ...

A little harsh and I am sure enough to scare most people .
For someone keen on what is being asked for, here is a copy of the tender for the setup, rental and operation of the system in TA and Jaffa .

Now when are we going to have a similar operation in Jerusalem or are we going to live with dug up roads till the light rail comes in 2020 (?)

August 25, 2008

Sewage - an exercise in futility

Every time you use the toilet you flush down from 10-15 liters of clean potable water which probably traveled many miles through a myriad network of holding tanks , pipes and what-not . And the act of flushing gets rid of the waste and all is forgotten to most of us . We all know that it goes down the sewage system but beyond that we don't care. I say we must because every pipe has two ends , flushing away your refuse just transfers it to the other end . So at the other end we create another system of settling tanks , aeration systems where this refuse is brought to a state where it is deemed harmless to be released into the waterways . The price is that the whole process is very energy and resource intensive . And it doesn't always work . Over time as the amount of sewage increases there is a need for more and more facilities or else as it happens all over the world , raw sewage is dumped into the waterways creating a serious health hazard . To illustrate
Take Delhi, as a typical instance. Yamuna is Delhi's main sewage drain. Yamuna enters Delhi at
Wazirabad - where the city draws its water supply - and after this an estimated 1,800 million
litres per day (mld) of untreated sewage flows through 18 drains into the river. In the last four
decades, the total sewage output has increased rapidly. Untreated sewage has grown even
faster. In 1999, the Central Pollution Control Board estimated that Delhi produces over 2,547
mld of sewage of which only 885 mld is collected through the sewage network for treatment
and the bulk - over 75 per cent flows into stormwater drains and then into the river. By late
2000, treated sewage had increased to 1,333 mld as had the quantity of sewage - still over 50
per cent of the city sewage was dumped into the river. By 2005, Delhi plans to triple its present
sewage treatment capacity at a cost of Rs 750 crore. But this will still be less than what is
needed. Paradoxical chase It is an ironic situation. Even if Delhi builds all the sewage treatment
plants, it will still not have the sewage to treat. Why? The city's sewage drains are choked and
silted. The government admits that the present capacity of the sewage treatment plants is not
being utilised and when it builds new treatment facilities, sewage never reaches these plants.
From Down to Earth

So we create a gargantuan system to get clean water , shit in it and then make an even larger system so that we get the shit out of it so that we can get clean water again . Sounds a bit crazy to me .
"Anyone starting out from scratch to plan a civilization would hardly have designed such a monster as our collective sewage system. Its existence gives additional point to the sometimes asked question, Is there any evidence of intelligent life on the planet Earth?"
G. R. Stewart

Wouldn't it be better to create a system where human refuse is handled at the source with minimal use of water , especially potable water when a really small fraction of the developing world has access to clean , potable water ? Wouldn't it be better to reuse the nutrients , give back the soil the nutrients that would otherwise be chemically synthesized ? I am talking Humanure but that is another story .

August 18, 2008

A case for urban gardening

Ever wondered where how far your food traveled to get to your plate ? Ever wondered how did the food survive all that distance without getting spoiled ? Every wondered what chemicals were sprayed on your food so that it would grow to be blemish less and what percentage of the chemicals remained after a thorough scrub ? Ever wondered how much forest are we going to be left with after we make room for all the agricultural land we need ? All these questions would take reams and reams to talk about individually but as you can guess I am taking them all together to make a case for urban gardening , growing food at your doorstep .
Growing food close to where you live cuts down on all the food miles , cuts down on all the energy required to transport food from the other end of the globe , does away the need of having varieties that are chosen more for longer shelf life than for taste and food value . Growing your food ensures food that is fresh , untainted by chemicals and best of all chosen for taste and food value .
Urban areas have abundant land lying vacant between buildings , non-productive unecological lawns , balconies , terraces , paved areas of no consequence etc . All of these areas can be utilized for growing vegetables and fruit. Lawns and paved areas are an anathema to urban areas . Whilst the former are resource intensive and unproductive and serve no purpose other than giving you woes over the grass being greener over the fence no matter what you do , the latter creates surface runoff preventing water seeping down and urban heat island effect . So rip of the grass and the paving and plant vegetables and fruit . Make a compost , reduce the amount of organic waste you create and give it back to the land . They are doing the same in Royal Parks in UK if this article is to be believed .

August 17, 2008

Water saving

Watering with a sprinkler, drip etc has a serious disadvantage , a lot of water gets lost by evaporation . So I always thought of using Olla for irrigation . The idea is that the earthen pot is dug into the earth next to the roots of the plant and water seeps out slowly right next to the roots . And then I had this inspiration what if I replace it with a plastic bottle with tiny little holes . Sadly even the tiniest holes makes the water gush out and in less than 10 minutes all the water is gone . Then it was suggested by the good people at Gardenstew that I should put some cotton yarn in these holes that will act as a wick and regulate the water . So I did exactly that and the system seems to work .Here is a little graphic to explain the idea . Needless to say I used Inkscape for the graphic.

Apparently this idea always existed and wasn't as original as I thought .
Silicon can also be used in conjunction with the cotton yarn to reduce the water oozing out of the holes .

August 03, 2008

Firefox 3 rocks

Just installed the latest version of Firefox and I must say the improvement in the memory footprint is tremendous , when minimized the memory use drops to 5k which is great compared to what it was earlier . Haven't seen the rest of the goodies yet but it is promising.

Another Composter

I believe I roped in a new composting initiate .