Raft of Junk Lands

Raft of Junk
Darkly tanned, more than a little dirty and hungry, two men who spent three months crossing the Pacific on a raft made of plastic bottles and an abandon airplane fuslage (seen in image) to raise awareness of ocean debris finally stepped onto dry land. “We made it,” hollered Marcus Eriksen to a crowd of about two dozen gathered at Ala Wai Harbor on Wednesday. “Where’s the food?” Friends greeted Eriksen and fellow eco-mariner Joel Paschal with lei, fresh food and beer to celebrate the end of their nearly 4,200-kilometre voyage on what they call the JUNK raft. “We got used to eating fish and peanut butter,” said Eriksen, who celebrated his 41st birthday at sea.

The pair left Long Beach, Calif., on June 1. Their nine-metre vessel had a deck of salvaged sailboat masts, six pontoons filled with 15,000 plastic bottles and a cabin made from the fuselage of a Cessna airplane. While at sea they realized they were traveling less than a kilometre per hour and it would take them much longer to reach Hawaii than the previously anticipated six weeks. “We had to go to half rations for awhile,” said Paschal, 32.

Without a backup plan, the two used a satellite phone to get in touch with Roz Savage, who was crossing the Pacific solo in a rowboat and happened to be in the same area at the time.

Savage, who was heading from San Francisco to Hawaii, was in dire need of water after both her potable water makers broke. When the three met up, Savage got onboard the raft, Paschal speared a mahimahi and the three dined together. Before parting, the men gave Savage a water maker and she gave them some of her extra food. “We exchanged the necessities of life,” Eriksen said. “And that kept us going.”

Food wasn’t the only problem the men encountered on their trip. The raft, which can only sail down wind, had a hard time leaving the Long Beach area. The raft encountered storms that tore it apart during the first two weeks. Some of the bottles that were supposed to help the raft stay afloat started to sink. Eriksen and Paschal had to anchor the raft 160 kilometres off shore and rebuild it before setting sail again.

The voyage was part of Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s project called, “JUNK.” The third person of the group, who didn’t make the trip, was Anna Cummins, Eriksen’s fiancee. Cummins took care of land support, blogs and fundraising. She said the goal of the trip was to creatively raise awareness about plastic debris and pollution in the ocean, the same goal Savage pursued in her trek across the Pacific.

The three want “single-use plastics” to be banned, saying they’re wasteful and usually end up in the ocean. “Recycling is one solution, but it’s just a small part of the puzzle,” Paschal said. Each day the men posted online videos and blogs of their trip and kept in touch with Cummins. They also spent two to three hours a day maintaining and repairing the raft.

The men said a variety of marine life gathered under the raft throughout the trip. One day, said Paschal, they caught a fish after watching it grow for five weeks. They were going to eat it, but when they cut it open they found its stomach was full of plastic confetti. The team hopes to visit schools around Oahu and share their experiences, and is working on a documentary film about the voyage to raise public awareness of the danger of plastics. Sounds like a very interesting adventure.

Flint is looking for a hand-out

Michael Moore would have a field-day with this one. In the city of Flint, Michigan, they are looking for sponsors to cover the $400,000+ cost of adding surveillance cameras to monitor high-crime areas. At the present time there is only just one camera.

The city and a private security firm, Asset Protection Specialist, are looking for businesses and individuals willing to pay $30,000 to have their names or corporate logos placed on one of the pole-mounted boxes, which also feature a police shield and a flashing blue light.

I am guessing the first sponsor will be some sort of home security alarm firm or maybe the local fast-food joint?

Mow your Lawn or Go to Jail

In Ohio they take grass-cutting very seriously. So seriously infact that homeowners who don’t mow their lawns face a stiff fine, even jail time in some cases.

The city council has decided to get tougher by increasing the maximum fine for failing to cut the grass from $150 to $250. And they’ve also added up to 30 days behind bars if a violator is particularly bad. Mayor William Healy says it’s the type of action needed “in order to clean up our neighbourhoods and our city.”

In the US it seems you don’t even get enough jail time for serious offences like assualt and robbery so this was a bit suprising.

Weird News Roundup

Here are some weird news shorts:

-Police in Arkansas say they found DNA evidence on a half-eaten candy bar helped them zero in on a robbery suspect. Should have eaten the whole thing, eh?

-A group of up hundreds of enraged young men killed 11 people who were accused of being witches and wizards in western Kenya, in some cases slitting their throats or clubbing them to death before burning their bodies. I guess they have never seen an of the Harry Potter movies.

-In yummy news, a trailer loaded with 14 tons of double-stuffed Oreos has overturned, spilling the cookies still in their plastic sleeves into the median and roadway.

-Only in the Big Apple, a Manhattan restaurant is offering a hamburger that costs $175 and is topped with gold flakes.

Anyone want to live in a metal box?

A Detroit-based construction consortium hopes to use empty shipping containers to build a $1.8 million, 17-unit condominium project. The Detroit Free Press reports today that the project would stack empty containers four high, cut in windows and doors, install plumbing, stairways and heating, and add amenities such as balconies and landscaped patios.

Groundbreaking could take place this fall on the project if it wins city approval, and it could open in 2009. It’s designed by Detroit-based architect Steven Flum. Developers plan to offer condominium units measuring 90 to 180 square metres.

Prices will range from about $100,000 to about $190,000. I guess it is an interesting idea for afforable housing but those prices seem more than a little extreme. I would think $30k-$40k per dwelling is more reasonable.

Do you fold your toilet paper or crumple it?

Here is some interesting information about toilet paper, I will personally state that I am a folder and think that anyone that is a crumpler is kinda weird.

The Fold Versus Crumple Debate

I’ll try to put this as delicately as I can. Apparently there’s a significant debate about whether it’s better to fold several sheets of paper, or crumple them together in a bunch. One major argument in favor of the “fold” method is that depending on the quality of your paper and your folding technique, you can refold (and thus reuse) a single set of sheets. The counter-argument is that this is super-gross. I have my own opinions on this issue, but let’s just say I’ve tried multiple methodologies over the years and feel that I’ve perfected my technique.

So what’s the distribution of crumplers versus folders in the wild? An online toilet paper usage survey has received almost 5,000 responses. At the moment, the folders are slightly in the lead (52%), but tend to be a little older than crumplers. Also, far more crumplers are male than female (70% of crumplers in the survey are male). You can take the survey or just hit the ‘View’ button to see the results without contributing your own.

Dog Kept on ‘Ice’

The case of a chilli dog on display at a local convenience store prompted an outraged woman to take action. Cindy Gravelle says she took a big gulp when she spotted a miserable looking pooch in the walk-in cooler, pressing its face up against the glass door, during a milk-run to her local 7-Eleven earlier this week.

Gravelle was doubly disturbed the next day to find the same dog, which appears to be an American Eskimo, in the cooler apparently for safekeeping while its owner worked a shift at the store near Centre St. and McKnight Blvd. N.E.

“Eight hours later it was still in the fridge,” the horrified 41-year-old said yesterday.

“What is wrong with these people?”

Gravelle’s dogged pursuit to rectify the situation led Calgary Humane Society officials to contact the store about the strange pet-keeping practice.

7-Eleven spokesman Alyn Edwards said it was “a discretionary decision” based on “unique circumstances” which will not happen again. It appears the dogs owner thought because it was an Eskimo dog it needed to be kept in very cold surroundings.

Japan on UFO’s

Japan says, “UFOs do exist”, a top Japanese government spokesman said Tuesday. The comment by chief cabinet secretary Nobutaka Machimura drew laughter from reporters at his regular briefing on government policy.

Machimura, asked about the government’s view on UFOs at a regular press conference, told reporters that the government can only offer a simple response. “Personally, I definitely believe they exist,” he said, apparently tongue in cheek.

But the prime minister stuck to the official view. “I have yet to confirm (that UFOs exist),” Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told reporters later in the day. I guess it is possible but why is there only grainy hard too see photos if they really exist?