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June 8, 2006
They leave the recycling truck running, I notice, as people come and go down at the public works yard, putting papers and cardboard boxes in the truck. That can't be right. They do need the motor to operate the part that pushes everything toward the back and squashed it together, of course, but must it really sit just there and idle all day? It would take more power to turn it on and off, the man who helps me with my box of elderly phone books says, so we just leave it on.

And all our plastics and cans are combined, now. How can that be? Oh, a machine sorts it, he explains. A conveyor belt.

Oh. So there's a machine. Electricity for the machine, I guess, too.

Do you know how much it takes to make one of those solar panels? my friend says. No, I don't know. But I know what to do with our old paint cans: I can take the lids off them to show the sanitation workers they're empty and dry and they'll take them away with the metal. This is a good deal.

The diaper wars have turned out to be a draw, as I understand it: it turns out to cost as much in resources to wash your cloth diapers as it does to make new paper ones. This was a pitched battle at one time; partisans on both sides researched the bejesus out of it, so I imagine that whatever numbers have emerged are right on target. Just train your babies early, the article concludes by suggesting, and get out of the diaper business altogether. This can be done: although Americans are positive that homo sapiens as a species is, at all times and in all places, incapable of bladder control until the age of two, Korean children are toilet trained long before then -- most by age one. Truth. It's a matter of attitude, they say.

Most things are. It's uphill work getting a hearing for a small individual action in the social arena -- individual actions are just that, small. But an individual spiritual action is enormous for the actor, and ripples through her life permanently: what you train yourself to be and do is lasting, and colors how you experience the world, how you experience your own life, for as long as you experience anything at all. We form our spirits with what we do. I may be just one person, but I am the only person living my particular life.

And I am the only one who can decide how much that life will matter to me.

In something of the same vein, Ways of the World today offers some thoughts and answers on gas prices. How did they get so high? What does it mean? Go there or be square, And, if you missed Carol's thoughtful meditation on the Enron convictions, it's right below.
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