Minnesota Scavengers: Don’t Miss This

September 11, 2009 at 9:36 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

imagesAccording to the Grand Forks Herald, “Minnesota’s longest rummage sale is set for Saturday on the state’s longest scenic byway.

“The King of Trails Marketplace covers 415 miles on U.S. Highway 75 from the Canada border to the Iowa border, promoter Ethel Thorlacius, Stephen, Minn., said. Highway 75 was designated the Historic King of Trails by the Minnesota Legislature in 2002 and as a Minnesota Scenic Byway in 2004. Vendors will sell antiques, arts, crafts, collectibles, flowers, food and more from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“’It’s getting to be more and more people and not businesses who have produce, baked goods and rummage sale items to sell,’ Thorlacius said.

“The trail of bargains will be outlined by yellow balloons. Thorlacius said Kennedy will conduct sales inside its old schoolhouse and Argyle will use sales proceeds to add on to its Historical Society Building.

“’Every year since we’ve started, Ron Donarski, who owns a truck garage along Highway 75 in Stephen, cleans it up and makes it available for the Marketplace,’ Thorlacius said.

“Crookston will begin its Marketplace at 9 a.m. inside the Crookston Arena, 220 E. Robert St.

“The National Weather Service’s forecast for Saturday calls for a 20 percent chance of showers with a high temperature of 70 degrees.”

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Beach-Scrap Sculptures Thrill Some, Irk Others

September 5, 2009 at 10:20 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

148406_w407Some New York State scavengers are doing exactly what I’ve always dreamed of doing. It’s part of my lifelong beachcomber fantasy. But not everyone appreciates their creativity, as Erin Schultz reports in the Riverhead News-Review:

“For years now, two displays of ‘driftwood art’ on local Long Island Sound beaches — complete with beach huts and collections of memorabilia like discarded sandals, bikini tops and Barbie dolls have wowed passersby — or at least made them turn their heads.

“Both displays, one located on an isolated stretch of Reeves Beach in Riverhead and the other on a higher-traffic section of Bailie Beach in Mattituck, have guest books containing signatures from people all around the world. And for both of the men who continue to cultivate their driftwood creations, the commentary in these books has been nothing but positive.

“Up until recently, that is.

“To Ed Flanagan of Mattituck, the display on Bailie Beach is a ‘monstrosity.

“‘This collection of driftwood and garbage may be considered art by its builder,’ he wrote. ‘But in fact, it is an eyesore, a magnet for local children and an accident waiting to happen. The structure is unsound, an arsonist’s dream and a serious fire hazard.’

“The creator of the Bailie Beach display is Garret Cutler. He’s spent the last five years placing dozens of pieces of driftwood in the sand, curving them this way and that outside his home overlooking the Sound.

“Some logs look like people. One is clothed in a bikini top. Another serves as the body for a toy horse head. A bamboo hut sits next to all this, and Mr. Cutler and his friends often relax under its shade. And a circle of upright driftwood logs called the “Sanctuary” houses a bench, a bucket of Barbie dolls and the guest book Mr. Flanagan decided to sign early last month.

“‘I don’t want trouble,’ Mr. Cutler said after reading Mr. Flanagan’s comments. ‘It would be heartbreak for me to have to give this up.’

“Riverhead resident John Gadzinski [depicted above in photo by John Neely] and his girlfriend, Tee Hadley, have spent the last four years cultivating a driftwood beach hut between two boulders on Reeves Beach in Riverhead — land along the Sound that was recently acquired by the Peconic Land Trust.

“‘Welcome to John and Tee’s Beach Hut,’ reads the sign at the entrance. ‘Please enjoy, but do not destroy.’

“Mr. Gadzinski, a 62-year-old employee of the Southampton Golf Club, said he’s spent only a night or two in the hut, which incorporates a tiny living room and bedroom — but nobody, including himself, has ever tried to live there.

“License plates from different states that Mr. Gadzinski has collected over the years line the walls of the tiny enclosure.

“‘Some are mine off my vehicles, and some people brought others from out of state,’ he said. ‘The kids love it.’

“He said that visitors often leave sandals, bottles of bug spray, beach glass and seashells to enhance the display. They also occasionally help decorate a nearby ‘driftwood tree’ with buoys from old boats.

“‘People have been really receptive to it,’ Mr. Gadzinski said.

“John and Tee’s Beach Hut does not have electricity or water, nor does Mr. Cutler’s creation. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Mr. Flanagan, a 63-year-old retiree of the Air Force and Grumman Aerospace Company who often runs on Bailie Beach for its natural beauty.

“‘It is a curiosity, but I don’t think it should be here,’ he said of Mr. Cutler’s Sanctuary. ‘It’s not safe. It could fall down … My concern is that there are more and more of these things going up, and it just gets me annoyed. Besides, don’t you need a permit for a bungalow?’

“Southold Town Councilman and former Trustee Al Krupski said he was not aware of Mr. Cutler’s creation, but he said that if it qualified as a ‘structure,’ as defined under town code, it would need a permit.

“‘But if it’s something innocuous like driftwood art … It’s hard to say without looking at it,’ Mr. Krupski said.

“In Riverhead, Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale said that as long as the beach displays are above the high water mark, it’s not disturbing public land.

“He added that since no one lives in Mr. Gadzinski’s creation, it’s considered temporary, so a permit is not required by the town.

“In defiance of claims made by Mr. Flanagan in Mattituck, Mr. Cutler said that his shack and sculptures are well above the mean high tide mark.

“Though he said he’s not a sculptor or visual artist by trade, Mr. Cutler, a Massachusetts native and a financial advisor in Manhattan, said he is a beach bum and environmentalist by nature. It was while walking on the beach that he started to wonder what to do with all the unattended wood washed ashore, he said.

“‘I began to see forms, scenes and beings in the wood,’ he said.

“Soon, Mr. Cutler found himself traveling the beach with his dog, collecting the wood to display as art. He said that everything else displayed with the wood — the dolls, chairs and clothing — was also found on the beach.

“‘There are some macabre scenes with the dolls,’ he said. ‘But it’s a joke. It’s a display of exuberance.’

“Born and raised in Riverhead, Mr. Gadzinski said he has always visited that particular spot on Reeves Beach to fish, swim or just get away from it all.

“After a ‘good winter storm’ about five years ago, he said he filled a bucket with nails, drove his pickup truck up and down the beach and “just went to it.”

“‘It’s an ongoing beach cleanup,’ he said of his hut. ‘All of the wood that we found had been washed up on the beach. [The beach hut] is not hurting anything.’

“Though he’s not yet seen it, Mr. Cardinale said that Mr. Gadzinski’s work sounds like art — and a good way to recycle driftwood.

“But, he added, not everybody is going to like what they see when they pass by.

“‘Some might argue that this isn’t the most attractive thing they’ve ever seen, but some also argue that the Mona Lisa isn’t attractive,’ Mr. Cardinale said. ‘It sounds like a creative recycling project for the driftwood, and it probably enhances the beach for everyone.'”

I want to see the “macabre scenes with dolls”!!!

Texas Trash Houses

September 3, 2009 at 11:44 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

29233717Today’s New York TImes has a story about 64-year-old gray-ponytailed Texas scavenger-architect Dan Phillips, who with his wife Marsha helms the Phoenix Commotion, a confab committed to building low-cost, low-income housing with salvaged materials such as license plates, bones, bottles, wine corks, scrapwood and DVDs … or, as the Times calls it, “trash”:

“To him, almost anything discarded and durable is potential building material. Standing in one of his houses and pointing to a colorful, zigzag-patterned ceiling he made out of thousands of picture frame corners, Mr. Phillips said, ‘A frame shop was getting rid of old samples, and I was there waiting.’

“So far, he has built 14 homes in Huntsville, which is his hometown, on lots either purchased or received as a donation. A self-taught carpenter, electrician and plumber, Mr. Phillips said 80 percent of the materials are salvaged from other construction projects, hauled out of trash heaps or just picked up from the side of the road….

“While the homes are intended for low-income individuals, some of the original buyers could not hold on to them. To Mr. Phillips’s disappointment, half of the homes he has built have been lost to foreclosure — the payments ranged from $99 to $300 a month. Some of those people simply disappeared, leaving the properties distressingly dirty and in disrepair. ‘You can put someone in a new home but you can’t give them a new mindset,’ Mr. Phillips said….

“Phoenix Commotion homes lost to foreclosure have resold to middle-class buyers who appreciate not only their individuality but also their energy efficiency, which is also part of Mr. Phillips’s construction philosophy.”

The Phoenix Commotion’s mission statement affirms a commitment to landfill reduction: “While an exact percentage is difficult to achieve, a reasonable estimate would be that 10% of the average landfill waste-stream consists of usable building material. Reclamation is practically impossible once these materials reach the landfill, because of the immense liability involved. Municipal lawsuits tend to be large, and last for years. Most municipalities have simply forbidden salvage activity, to avoid possible lawsuits. There are, however, strategies for reclamation of materials before reaching such finality.”

Heather Mills Launches Recycled-Clothing Line

September 1, 2009 at 6:19 am | Posted in Celebrities, News | 2 Comments

millsPaul McCartney’s ex-wife Heather Mills has launched a new line of clothing made with recycled fabrics. According to fashion-model Mills’ web site, “her fabulous new Be@one recycled clothing line” premiered last week:

“Society throws away over a million tones of clothing and textiles into the rubbish bins annually. Many of these items could be resold or remade into something new and exciting. This is why eco aware and fashion loving Heather had the idea to develop this new inspirational clothing line. The collection consists of women’s and menswear, designed for the assertive, fashionable and eco-conscious person. All the fabrics used in the pieces have been carefully sourced and remodeled into something unique and highly wearable. From a haute couture recycle lace white evening gown to a pair of high waisted trousers for the office, B@one is about to show there is nothing trashy about recycling unwanted clothing!

“Be@one will produce two collections per year which will be a tran-seasonal collection for men and women of all ages and backgrounds.”

Uh, that should be “trans-seasonal.” Isn’t it always sad when famous people (especially famous vegans) misspell words and you’re sitting there correcting them in your mind, thinking: I can spell better than so-and-so? Heather should hire me as a website editor or spelling coach.

“Not only is the clothing sure to create an impact but also the premier of a breathtaking video produced by Heather & edited by Bill Civitella which projects images of the beautiful world we live in and how it is changing through society’s carelessness.”

Mills’ clothes were first unveiled at the Celebrity Catwalk charity fashion show last Thursday in Hollywood.

“Celebrity Catwalk has been set up in order to help make a difference and support the National Animal Rescue that works tirelessly to improve the lives of homeless animals. The Humane Society estimates that animal shelters care for between 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States. There are simply not enough responsible homes for all these innocent animals. Every year in Hollywood, the rich and famous lend their time and talent by hitting the catwalk for charity raising funds and awareness for national animal rescue charities. Jamie Fox, Nicole Richie and Melissa Rivers are a few of the luminaries who have hosted this fashion show in the past fusing the world of fashion and entertainment into one unforgettable evening for a wonderful cause. This years host” — Uh, that should be “year’s” … so she should hire me as a punctuation coach as well — “of Celebrity Catwalk is the lovely Bridget Marquardt, co-star of Girls Next Door. It promises to be a very busy and glitzy night for animal loving Heather. Heather’s hands on” — uh, that should be “animal-loving” and “hands-on” … hire me!!! — “approach in helping our furry friends is to be honored with an award to congratulate her commitment to animal activism. … Grammy award-winning” — uh, that should be Award, with a capital A; Heather, please contact me through this blog! — “singer Mya, high fashion Photographer” — please, that should be “photographer, with a lower-case p” — “and judge of Americas next top model” — good gosh! that should be America’s Next Top Model! See, Heather, it’s not so difficult — “Nigel Baker will also be receiving awards for their work helping to protect animals. Such an exciting fashion fundraiser for a very worthy cause.”

And it ends with a sentence fragment.

The blogosphere is laughing its head off at the clothing line. “Heather Mills creates laughably horrid eco-friendly clothing line,” jibes Celebitchy, which provides photos. “We couldn’t agree more that recycled clothes can be cool,” notes The Frisky, “just not the ones Heather made.”

Christmas “Fruitcake” Threatens Thrift Shops

August 28, 2009 at 10:34 am | Posted in News | 4 Comments

Ho Ho Ho Christmas CardCharity shops (aka thrift shops) in the British city of Leeds are being victimized as part of a strange sinister rampage.

According to the Daily Mail, a vigilante group has been “threatening attacks on shops for selling Christmas cards too early. Four businesses have received letters warning them not to sell festive cards before November and one charity shop had its locks glued.”

The shadowy figure behind the campaign “phoned the Mind shop in Headingley, Leeds, claiming to represent the ‘Movement for the Containment of Christmas’ and a hooded figure was caught on CCTV posting one of the letters to a nearby Oxfam store.”

Mind is a charity-shop chain operated by a mental-health nonprofit and Oxfam is the UK’s biggest charity-shop chain.

“West Yorkshire Police have been called in and Mind has stopped selling the cards for the time being for fear of further expensive acts of criminal damage. The shop manageress, who does not want to be named, said: ‘A man phoned and said our lock had been glued because we were selling Christmas cards far too early. He said if we pass the shop and we see you are still selling Christmas cards we will glue the lock up until the cards are removed. When I asked him what the problem was with us selling cards, he said that he was from a team against charity shops selling Christmas cards so early. This has made the staff, who are mainly volunteers, feel very uneasy and we have alerted the police. We have removed our current Christmas cards sales display for the moment. This is a great pity as we have been selling off last year’s stock and making £70 a week for charity.’

“The handwritten letter was headed ‘Movement for the Containment of Xmas.’ It said: ‘This is a very polite but very serious reminder not to display Xmas cards until 1st November. We will put superglue into your locks if you do. Peace and goodwill (the Mind shop got done on Sunday).’

“The letters were delivered 48 hours after the locks were glued last week. Clive Barker, 38, manager of Oxfam said: ‘We don’t have a clue who is involved in this terror campaign. It is a bizarre way of getting things done, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but this is the wrong way of doing it. As a charity shop we need to get donations any way we can and selling the cards brings in valuable money so any disruption is bad. The fact that Mind had to pay out money to fix their locks is ridiculous.'”

Do-gooder Spends $8,000 in Thrift Shop

August 26, 2009 at 7:31 am | Posted in News | 2 Comments

486586Is this the world’s coolest scavenger or what? I’m thinking it’s a new kind of superhero.

“An anonymous woman who spent £5,200 in a Wandsworth charity shop has been dubbed ‘the mystery angel’ by volunteers,” reads the Guardian.

“The woman, who begged her identity remain a secret, strolled into the Salvation Army in Wandsworth” — which is an inner-London suburb on the banks of the Thames — “just before closing time last Friday and almost bought up the shop.

“Six exhausted workers stayed until 8.30pm helping her pack up the goods, which included everything from designer clothes to children’s desks.

“Shop manager Richard Baggaley said: ‘We were a bit worried that she was a lunatic who was just going to say goodbye and leave, but she has paid. She’s gone from being the barmy lady to the mystery angel.’

“The woman, a church-goer in her 60s, said she was collecting items for a school she was setting up in Kingston, Jamaica.

“According to workers, she did not give details but simply said: ‘You have helped me in the past and I hope to make good use of these things for the future of those less fortunate than me.’

“She bought an estimated 1,000 brick-a-brack items, including about 100 pencil sets, a leather reclining chair and several paintings.

“She also cleaned out the designer rail, buying Ralph Lauren shirts for all of her new teachers.

“The goods completely filled the Salvation Army’s three and a half tonne truck used to deliver the load later in the week. Soon they will be shipped over to Jamaica in a giant metal container to start a new life.

“Mr Baggaley said: ‘The first batch of customers who came the next day asked if we were closing down, because there was so little stuff on the shelves.'”

Heads Up!

August 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Posted in News | 1 Comment

phthalates_duck_mdHere’s a heads-up for yard-salers, flea-marketers, rummage-salers, and most other scavengers:

A new federal law makes it a crime to resell anything that’s been recalled by the manufacturer. To warn buyers and sellers of used items about this law, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has set up a section on its website dedicated to information people need to know about recalled stuff. On that page, we read:

“The implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) will have dramatic changes for the marketplace. This Information Center is intended to help sellers of used products understand the new law and existing regulations.

“Selling recalled products is now unlawful. The law sets strict limits for lead in paint and for lead content. Additionally, three types of phthalates are permanently prohibited in certain toys and child care articles and three other phthalates are prohibited on an interim basis in certain child care articles and children’s product that can be placed in a child’s mouth.”

Phthalates are chemical softening agents now being phased out in the United States but commonly used for many years in the manufacture of plastic and rubber items such as toys.

“The purpose of this site is to help you to identify the types of products that are affected and to understand how to comply with the law, so you can keep unsafe products out of the hands of consumers. Consumers who regularly buy used products may also find this information helpful in avoiding products that could harm them or their family.

“New requirements on importers and manufacturers of products should lead to safer products in the resale market in the future, but right now, resellers need to be able to determine what was manufactured in the past that may no longer be compliant.”

Stay out of jail, folks.

Metal-Detecting Tourists Seek Saxon Brooches

August 20, 2009 at 9:42 am | Posted in Adventures, News | 2 Comments

article-0-061AF61E000005DC-696_468x309It’s a metal-detecting vacation … which the Daily Mail dubs “the worst holiday ever.”

According to the Mail, 21 American metal-detector enthusiasts [seen at left] “have paid more than £2,000 and flown thousands of miles to discover the treasures scattered across East Anglia.”

“Heads down and brows furrowed, the group spent most of their eight-day holiday patiently waiting for the small ‘beep’ that would tell them their efforts had been rewarded. Most appeared so deep in concentration that they were unaware of the glorious rolling countryside around them — and the rare sunny weather” in Norfolk. “Each was armed with their very own detector, which projects an electro-magnetic field into the ground and beeps when it comes into contact with anything metallic.

“The highly sensitive detectors are equipped with satellite positioning to pinpoint the location of finds. But although the Americans were determined to ‘touch the hand of history’ by finding an ancient artefact, most were left with just an old tin can or used shotgun cartridge to show for their labours. One enthusiast, Jim Normandy, 79, a retired pharmacist from California, said he was ‘thrilled’ to unearth a 17th century button. ‘We have been coming here for 19 years, first to Kent but mostly to Norfolk, because there is so much history here’ …

“He paid £2,200 for the trip, excluding flights, and stayed at the same Norfolk hotel the group have chosen for years. There, after hours of sweeping harvested rape fields, each find was meticulously logged. The Americans’ most spectacular discovery to date has been a 2-inch Thor’s hammer Viking pendant, made from silver and gold, which was found in the Great Witchingham
area. But they have also found objects dating back to the Iceni tribe, Bronze Age axe fragments, as well as Roman jewellery, Saxon brooches and medieval money….

“David Barwell, a former chairman of the National Council for Metal Detecting … selected the fields for US tour operator Discovery Tours.”

Shocking Thrift-Shop Theft

August 17, 2009 at 9:47 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

diamond-ringsArgh! Dude was minding his own business last Wednesday in a Scottish charity shop (aka thrift shop), scavenging for books. While dude browsed, thieves snatched his canvas handbag, raced away with it and drove off to points unknown. The handbag contained £1 million worth of jewelry which the unfortunate fella had been transporting as part of his job. According to The Scotsman:

“It was a simple bag snatch –- a crime that took just seconds as the thief stole a nondescript canvas sports holdall casually set down by a man browsing for a secondhand book in a busy charity shop. But yesterday the seemingly petty crime in an Oxfam book shop in Perth was at the centre of a major police hunt for a suspected gang of international jewel thieves after it was revealed that the missing bag contained a staggering £1 million in diamond rings, bracelets and necklaces, owned by one of Britain’s leading jewel merchants.

“The hapless victim of the jewel heist was the 62-year-old South African sales representative of a family firm in London’s Hatton Garden – the centre of Britain’s jewellery trade.

“Yesterday he was said to be still recovering as details of the magnitude of the theft were made public.

“Detectives hunting the three-strong gang –- two men and a woman –- believe the jewellery rep was the victim of a well-planned and executed crime and not an opportunist theft.

“Officers from Tayside Police are scouring CCTV footage in a bid to identify the three.

“The bag was snatched on Tuesday afternoon as the sales representative, who has been in the diamond trade for more than 40 years, was paying one of his regular visits to Perth.

“Minutes before his bag was snatched in the Oxfam charity shop in South Street, he had called at Timothy Hardie, the leading jewellery shop in St John Street, where Colin Montgomerie bought the engagement ring for his wife Gaynor.

“Sarah Craig, a spokeswoman for Tayside Police, said: ‘The man placed his blue canvas sports bag containing the jewellery down on the floor [in the Oxfam shop]. While the man was browsing through some books, his bag was stolen. It contained over £600,000 worth of jewellery.'”

That was the wholesale price. The retail price would be twice as much.

“She explained that a woman seen acting suspiciously in the Oxfam shop may also have been in Timothy Hardie’s while the jewellery rep was in the store.”

Les Paul: Scavenger

August 14, 2009 at 11:38 am | Posted in Celebrities, News | Leave a comment

gibson les paulSome of history’s coolest people have been scavengers. According to today’s San Francisco Examiner,

“None of the music that rocks the world would exist without Les Paul, who figured out how to get a bigger sound out of his cheap Sears-catalog guitar by hooking it up to a microphone he made from scavenged telephone parts. He was 13 then. He died Thursday at 94 years old, but the music his electric guitars made possible will rock forever.

“Les Paul had many disciples. Among them is Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong, who rocks a vintage Les Paul Jr. guitar.”

JetBlue Offers All-You-Can-Fly Deal

August 13, 2009 at 9:50 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

art.jetblue.plane.giThis is a bargain for travel-scavengers … or is it? According to CNN, “JetBlue Airways will offer an ‘all-you-can-jet’ pass for $599 in which passengers can book an unlimited number of flights within a one-month span, the airline said Wednesday.

“Pass holders can fly to any of JetBlue’s (JBLU) 56 destinations between Sept. 8 and Oct. 8, with no seat limitations or blackout dates, the company said in a release.

“Airline equities analyst Bob McAdoo, of Avondale Partners, said he ‘has never seen a promotion like this before.’

“In fact, Air Canada had a similar promotion in 2007, where it offered an unlimited flight pass starting at $1,657 per month.

“Still, with JetBlue flights already slashed as low as $100, customers might have to fly 6 or 7 times in a month before they break even.

“‘This is a way to get people to pay attention, with publicity that doesn’t cost the company much,’ McAdoo said. ‘They’re doing this at a time when there are probably a lot of seats available anyway.’

“Customers must buy the $599 pass by Aug. 21, and they can book flights within three days of the departure date. All travel using the pass must be booked between Aug. 12 and Oct. 5.

“Taxes and fees are included for domestic flights, and changes or cancellations made less than three days before departure cost $100.”

1,500 Garments Rescued from Shredder!

August 8, 2009 at 8:40 am | Posted in News | 4 Comments

11_02_09_21_36_12_BellSouth.Logo1Rescued from almost-certain destruction, over a thousand articles of clothing are now enroute to people who really need them, thanks to a clever scavenging project cooked up by a pair of big-hearted coworkers. And thanks to Shane from Knoxville for sending us the tip and a link to this great story that appeared yesterday at KnoxNews.com:

Two Knoxville AT&T employees prove that helping the community is just a matter of getting creative.

When AT&T Inc. acquired BellSouth Corp. in 2006, the original plan was to burn or shred all the employees’ work clothing that featured the BellSouth logo for security reasons.

But Fred Waters and Jay Foster came up with a different idea.

Waters and Foster are both part of AT&T’s Pioneer Program – a volunteer group that uses grassroots projects to bring about change in local communities.

“We got with the company and asked if they would allow us to partner with someone in the community to remove the logos and give them to those who need them,” Waters said.

Waters then presented his idea to the Knoxville District Baptist Missionary and Educational Association, which then found church volunteers to de-brand the clothing.

Volunteers tediously removed the BellSouth logo from more than 1,500 articles of clothing, including button-down shirts, polo shirts, khaki pants, shorts and heavy Gore-Tex coats.

The end result was given to Lost Sheep Ministry, which will distribute the clothing to those in need.

“We are just excited to get these clothes,” said Lost Sheep Executive Director Maxine Raines. “They are so needed and are a true blessing.”

Several hundred items were donated to an orphanage in Kenya, she said.

Raines said the remaining clothing will be given to those in need in Knoxville – some clothing given out immediately and the heavier clothing when the season changes.

“Trashonaut” Probes Meaning of Garbage

August 3, 2009 at 5:57 am | Posted in News | 2 Comments

BXP39417Junk is in the eye of the beholder. Newsminer has this story about 40-year-old Karen Hawes, who drove her Honda Element from California back to her home state, Alaska, in June to start examining trash:

“During the next 10 months, the budding ‘trashtronaut’ plans to seek out Dumpsters, salvage yards, landfills and trash pits on two continents, learning something about people and the garbage they leave behind.

“The trip began last weekend, when she traveled to Prudhoe Bay for a peek at the local landfill. After a week in Fairbanks, she left on Monday for Dawson City, the next stop on a southward journey she is planning all the way to Argentina. Hawes hopes to complete her trip back to the U.S. by spring 2010. Trash is an odd obsession, the personable Hawes said, but the thought of spending the next year immersed in it is thrilling: ‘It’s more personal curiosity than anything,’ she said. ‘I enjoy meeting people too, so this fills that need.’

“There’s no master plan behind Hawes’ junk journey, although she intends to chronicle her adventures on a Web site, http://www.trashtrip.com. Hawes has pondered a book about the trip, but she has no solid plans other than to hit the road and explore.

“Hawes has been living a minimalist lifestyle since quitting her engineering job with Lockheed Martin in 2005. Her vagabond approach consists of ‘couch surfing’ with friends while traveling the country in her Element….

“She said her fascination with trash began during a trip near Olympia, Wash., in 2006, when she found a seemingly remote site to set up camp. But after finding beer cans strewn across the area, Hawes said she realized how hard it is to get away from people and their junk. The spark for a trash trip smoldered for a few years. Since everyone leaves garbage behind, she figured an objective ‘observe and report’ approach to junk would be a good way to glean something about various cultures along the way.

“The early stages of her trip have already made an impression. Hawes was interested in the struggles that come with disposing of trash in Prudhoe and said the fans of Fairbanks’ transfer stations were fascinating to behold.

“Checking out the yards of a handful of local garbage hoarders also made an impression, she said: ‘It’s just amazing what people will amass,’ she said. ‘Acres and acres of useless junk, but they can’t give it away — it would be like giving away a child.'”

Thanks to David in Long Island City for the link.

Salvaged Bricks, Last-Minute Bargains at New Berkeley Hotel

July 28, 2009 at 9:28 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

OAK_SHAT-exter-1For reasons relating to one of our day jobs, we took a guided tour last week of Downtown Berkeley’s brand-new Hotel Shattuck Plaza, which is outfitted with eye-poppingly cool design elements and green technology.

To update a National Historical Landmark edifice that has housed guests since 1910, Kevin Davis of San Francisco’s Ziv Davis Interior & Architecture Studio chose black, white, and candy-apple red as the ground floor’s signal colors. The latter captivates in exuberant glass chandeliers that make you want simultaneously to laugh, love them, and bite off chunks to suck.red-i-love-it

Black and white seize your attention the second you step through the front door, as the foyer’s marble floor tiles bear the shape of a peace sign four feet across. (The peace theme, a nod to Berkeley being Berkeley, is echoed in the hotel’s do-not-disturb signs, which say not Do Not Disturb but Peace, Please.) Black-and-white wallpaper in a bold postmodern-lace pattern graces the hotel’s organic restaurant-bar, Five, whose patrons eat three meals a day (selected from a menu that includes watermelon beer) under the 1910 structure’s original — and enormous — crystal chandelier.

Inserted into a slot just inside the door to each guestroom, that room’s key-card activates the LED overhead light, bedside lights, air conditioning, speaker phone, iHome, and flat-screen swivel-mounted TV. Remove the card and it all powers down: It’s an energy-saving strategy that is currently popular in Asian hotels but just catching on in the States, front-desk supervisor Matt Swenson told us. As for scavenging …. hundreds of bricks salvaged from the original structure during the two-year remodel will go into construction of the hotel’s new outdoor plaza.

It’s a very nice place and no Motel 6, which means that of course it’s not cheap. But Swenson told us that for a very limited time, bargain hunters can reserve double rooms at the Shattuck Plaza for only $98, which is about $40 off the regular price. You can only get the deal if you say you “saw it on Twitter,” and you can probably only get the deal through July.

Planning a visit to the Bay Area?

Villagers Fret Over Tons of Scavenged Artillery

July 27, 2009 at 8:03 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

bulletHundreds of thousands of scavenged bullets are raising a ruckus in China.

According to the Shanghai Daily, steel-mill owner Yang Changchun collected hundreds of thousands of spent bullets from an arsenal with plans to recycle them at his mill into other steel products. But first he wanted the bullets to be washed, so he dumped them on a roadside that runs beside a river near Chongqing, sparking widespread alarm.

“The bullets, estimated to weigh 30 tons, covered one-third of a road in Wanshou Village….

“Villagers were worried that the bullets could be used for evil purposes.

“Police officers were also stunned at the sight of so many bullets and told the newspaper they were unaware of such a deal between the arsenal and mill. They are investigating the case.

“According to Chinese gun management regulations, police are the only authorized body to destroy guns. Civilians are banned from using guns.

“Yang’s workers were seen washing the bullets at the roadside river. The cleaned bullets will be sent to Yang’s mill to be recycled into steel products, they said. The workers had been cleaning the bullets for four days….

“Yang’s mill had previously been punished by the local government for making poor quality steel products.”

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