Friday, March 30, 2007

Roots loses contact with planet earth.

A couple of weekends ago I was in the Eaton Centre when I was accosted by a young woman at the entryway to the Roots store. Spying our Gore-tex jackets and hiking boots, she correctly surmised that we might be "outdoorsy" types.

She wanted to sell us on this "great new product" that would help us on our hiking trips.

Air in a can. Yup, Roots is willing to sell us a can of 90% oxygen for the low-low price of $60. And once you use it all up, do not fret! It can be refilled for a mere $20!

According to Roots, flipping the little plastic nose cover up, bringing the cannister close to your face and spritzing while inhaling promotes mental alertness, relieves stress, increases energy and ability to concentrate.


Uh, I have so many problems with this.

First - you have eviednce from what epidemiological/clinical studies exactly?

Second - My lungs are perfectly adapted to extract the amount of oxygen I need from the atmosphere thankyouverymuch.

Third - pure oxygen could damage my efficient little alveoli (the bits of my lungs that take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide). The atmosphere is actually made up mostly of nitrogen (not oxygen!) - it's only 20% oxygen. It's well-established that breathing 50-100% oxygen over a prolonged period of time causes lung damage. In fact, there are lung diseases where scarring occurs because of the presence of highly reactive oxygen radicals that are created when the lungs get all inflamed. Yuck. is this cannister of 90% oxygen going to come with a warning label?

Fourth - $60 for something I can (continuously) get for free? You've GOT to be kidding me.

Fifth. Oh and so I'm going to lug this on the hiking trail with me?! Who did the focus groups with the outdoorsy people, I wonder? They didn't manage to figure out that most of us would want to reduce the weight we carry, that we're out there for the challenge and not a quick fix, that creating more "stuff" to send to landfill is unlikely to be our cup of tea.

Sixth - the salesgirl said "wouldn't it be better than breathing in that polluted air outside?" Aside from the fact I'd rather spend my $60 on reducing the amount of emissions I'm responsible for - is she suggesting I just attach this permanently to my nose? (besides, see #3) It's pretty hard to get away from outdoor or indoor pollution in Toronto and please tell me that they aren't really marketing this as a healthy alternative to our dirty air when the energy required to create and fill the cannisters probably caused some of the pollution?

Seventh -
You know how athletes train at high altitude so that they can run faster? That's because there's less oxygen up there, so they are forcing their bodies to make more efficient use of the oxygen they do breathe. Which makes me wonder if overuse of Roots' new product could actually dampen the ability of your blood cells to transport oxygen around your body.

Eigth - are they trying to commodify air? I mean talk about tragedy of the commons. I think the most tragic thing would be that the commons ends up all owned and no longer common. (I'm not even going to get into bottled water here, people. But you can guess what I think of that). I refuse to even think about how someone could own my air.

Ninth - talk about a completely transparent attempt to sell me something, anything, for profit. Roots can take that attitude and shove it.

And ten: I leave this spot and all the numbers that come after ten open - for anyone who would like to add a thought.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I heart HP

I was recently super-impressed with HP. I bought a new laserjet printer to save my sanity while printing all those copies of my thesis. Then, because I had printed so many pages (sorry, trees!), the toner cartridge ran out. ...and may I just say that it ran out well after I expected it to, given the amount of printing I did.

And THEN - when I opened the box for the new cartridge, I discovered that it is SO EASY to recycle the old one. They provide you with a postage-paid mailing label, and you just stick your old cartridge into the now one's box. Which is perfectly designed to fold closed again without even needing tape.

And the whole thing even fit in a regular mailbox. Whooppee! I love it when recycling is easy.

Monday, March 26, 2007

President Happy Owl gets Voted Out


So yeserday I was trying to keep all of Europe in line. I was trying to meet carbon dioxide reduction targets by implementing policies and negotiating with other regions of the world. I did a decent job of reducing CO2 emissions...

...too bad most of Europe ended up starving. I got voted out because I was so unpopular - and apprently it will take a while to fix the damage I did.

I was playing a game called Climate Challenge. It was put together by the BBC to try and illustrate some of the causes of climate change, the policy options open to governments, and the challenges facing international policy negotiators.

I guess fixing the world's climate problems is kind of complicated. Now that I have a better idea of how the game works I might try again.

Too bad we only get one shot at this stuff in real life.

Friday, March 23, 2007

It is believed that... I'm a delinquent

Ah, my poor sushi-night, I have been neglecting you. Partly, I've ben on a bit of a steep learning curve with my new postoctoral work, but mostly, I confess, I've just been azy.

Today someone actually commented on a previous post despite the site's inactivity... and someone else commented to ME that I hadn't been blogging much.

So here's hoping that I can get my groove back. It's appropriate that it's a Friday - tonight is ALWAYS sushi night! (for clarification, wander back through the archives to the first post ever).

It's also appropriate that I nobody strain their brain on a Friday afternoon. So Let's have some fun instead. Here's the "Dictionary Of Research Phrases", which I pulled from someone's science humour website. And may I say... "This Dictionary has long been known... to exist"

"It has long been known..."

    I didn't look up the original references.
"A reasonable trend is evident..."
    These data are practically meaningless.
"Of great theoretical and practical importance..."
    It is interesting to me.
"While it has not been possible to provide definite anwers to these questions..."
    An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.
"Three of the data sets were chosen for detailed study..."
    The results of the others didn't match my conclusions.
"Typical results are shown..."
    The best results are shown.
"These results will be shown in a subsequent report..."
    Haven't gotten around to it.
"The most reliable results are those obtained by Jones..."
    He was my graduate student.
"It is believed that..."
    I think...
"It is generally believed that..."
    A couple of other guys think so, too.
"Much more work is needed before a complete understanding of the phenomenon can be reached."
    I don't understand it.
"This result is correct within an order of magnitude..."
    It is wrong.