Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inventions That Make a Difference: SinkPositive

Here's a great idea for conserving water in Design Revolution: 1001 Products That Empower People by Emily Pilloton for those of us with toilets.

It's called SinkPositive and it can transform any regular toilet tank into a sink. Basically it's a tank lid with a faucet and a sink.

This is how it works. You've done your business and you're ready to flush the toilet. When you flip that little lever, the toilet's normal flush and refill cycle causes the faucet to spout water for washing your hands. It drains down a hole into the tank where it's used to refill your toilet bowl and tank for the next use.

You don't need clean fresh water for your toilet, so by using the SinkPositive you're getting double use out of the water you're going to use anyway and using less of it. Lower water bills, here we come!


You can get one here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Inventions That Make a Difference: SODIS

Here's another great clean water idea from Design Revolution: 1001 Products That Empower People by Emily Pilloton.

SODIS. I have no idea what the letters stand for but I do know that it's a simple solution.

If you have a clear water bottle or jar, you fill it with clear water. It has to be clear enough to read newspaper headlines through the water looking through the standing bottle from top to bottom. If it passes the clarity test, put the bottle on your tin roof and let it cook for six hours on a sunny or slightly cloudy day. If it's cloud all the time, you have to let it cook for two full days.

That's it! You've just killed the stuff that can cause diarrhea and other waterborne diseases.

The SODIS web site is here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Inventions That Make a Difference: Hippo Water Roller

The second water idea that I like from Design Revolution: 1001 Products That Empower People by Emily Pilloton is the Hippo Water Roller designed by South Africans Johan Jonker and Pettie Petzer.

It's basically a big plastic barrel with a old fashioned lawn mower handle. You roll it to your local water source, fill it up, and roll it home. It holds about 24 gallons of water which is enough for a family of five for a week.

They say that even though it weighs 40 pounds when full, a child can use it on flat terrain. They have also observed that the level of "coolness" is high enough to get the men fetching water. Needless to say, that frees up a lot of time for Moms and daughters to start businesses and go to school.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Inventions That Make a Difference: Clay Water Filters

I found a great book at the library called Design Revolution: 1001 Products That Empower People by Emily Pilloton. It's full of a lot of awesome designs that are try to or are solving a lot of common problems experienced here in the United States as well as globally.

When trying to solve problems experienced in the developing world (Majority South) it's hard for those in developed countries (Minority North) to remember to keep it simple. However, I think that Tony Flynn has done a pretty good job with his Clay Water Filter.

He's developed a three-ingredient water filter made from locally available materials. A pot is made from crushed terra-cotta (think tile roofs and flower pots), organic material (leaves, coffee grounds, rice hulls...), and water that is combined to form a clay substance. It's then sun dried and then fired in dry cow dung and leaves for 45 minutes. In the firing process, the organic material is burned away leaving a porous (think leaky) pot through which water can pass, but not the bad stuff (big word: pathogens).

Check out pictures here.
Get instructions here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Creepy Crawlies

Most people have problems with some form of creepy crawlies. What I have trouble with is snakes.

When you live in Africa, you learn that if you see a snake you kill it then see what kind it was. If you wait to identify it first, you're dead. Or better yet, run away REALLY fast.

So I've never been too keen on seeing a rattlesnake. It's something we have to watch out for here in Colorado, but I'd never seen a live one until yesterday.

I was walking out to my car after work rather nonchalantly, not paying a lot of attention when something small moved on the ground a little ahead of me. When I looked down and saw what it was, I literally jumped back about 2 or 3 feet.

It was a baby rattlesnake! As my curiosity drew me closer, my instincts pushed me side ways. I stood there and tried to remember if babies are poisonous and seemed to remember they were. But I had to have evidence that it was right there on the concrete step.

So, tiptoeing a "safe" distance away and keeping one eye on the snake, I pulled out my phone and turned on the camera app. Staying where I was at and leaning over very slowly so as to keep from scaring it, I took this picture.


Then I walked really quickly to my car while paying very careful attention to the ground. Where there is one baby, there are others. Thankfully, I didn't see them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lessons Learned

I'm continually learning about myself. The funny thing is, the things I learn have been "hitting me over the head" for a long time before I finally learn. I guess that's just how it is.

Most recently learned: I process through writing.

I'm not called to be a writer, but I write a lot. It helps me think through things and figure them out. It helps me discover things and then to put them where I need them to be in my mental archive. It separates the good from the bad, the good ideas from the kitch, and even just validates my existence some times.

The learning I'm working on: I need to declutter my life continually.

I grew up in a slower paced world than the one I live in. Stuff keeps getting shoved at me or I keep picking up stuff and adding it to my life. Much of it is good stuff, but too much good stuff turns into bad stuff. And sometimes something that was good for awhile isn't good anymore. It's had its time and needs to end. So I keep tugging away at the stuff and trying to get it tweaked down to size. I think this learning is going to take an entire lifetime.