U.G. loved her friendship with humans, but politics is confusing. While the rest of the free world volleyed insults and lies against trumped-up praise back-and-forth with the POTUS elected by less than 26% of US voting-age adults. The proverbial shit hitting the fan. U.G. put on her goggles, checked her emergency escape plan, put on her noise-canceling headphones, buckled-in and worked on test piloting ideas for the people of Idaho who had elected her to serve.
U.G. took on even the most unpopular issues because she knew to have a fighting chance landing any of Lee’s paradigm flipping environmental ideas she had to pick an edge she could get leverage under. She was not squeamish and she had no family left to embarrass, so she worked on drafting legislation to get biofuel from human waste paid attention to as a renewable resource.
U.G. had been working on getting permits to test several models of biofuel toilet systems in the cabins on her land for over a decade. Now, she wanted to level-up, get some laws updated to allow rural septic companies to install and test prototypes. Parts to be manufactured in the U.S. and assembled in Idaho (or as locally as is physically possible). The concept was simple, but the proper execution required to do-the-job-right or not-at-all was a bit more complex.
For the tests to function efficiently people would need to use the units and keep a bale of leaves, grass, shredded paper, next to their toilet paper. The extra material functions to absorb moisture, and release the excrement from the pellet compactor. If there were not enough people to build up critical mass in their tank they would need to add compost to make bio-fuel pellets, preferably stuff that doesn’t make good compost for the garden like citrus peels, chicken and fish bones, etc… The pellets drop into a degassing chamber where they are dried out. When dry the biofuel is stored in a brick or stone hopper, both the fuel silo and the underground water heater insulated with a blast wall a minimum required safe distance from the house. Then the collected natural gas would be used to light the pellets and replace electricity or natural gas hot water heaters.
It’s estimated that 10 to 15% of the energy used in homes is used by hot water heaters. This is no small potatoes, 25% of GHGs (greenhouse gasses) are generated by power plants. U.G.’s motivation was to reduce the daily load of household use of the grid. But, her extraterrestrial Dog friend Lee had other motivations when he designed the space-age biofuel toilet in her house.
The Dog-person had been very upset about people pooping in WATER. It was sacrilege to him, so vile and upsetting. U.G. had a difficult time consoling him the first time he heard toilets flushing in a large public restroom. They had held it together, Lee crying real puppy-dog tears until they got to the nearest wooded area where he could go dig a hole. To make himself feel better he ran from the truck into the woods on all fours nose to the ground, like a human’s domesticated dog.
If you think this behavior is strange. Try to see it from his perspective. A people descended from dogs instead of primates, who evolved on a large planet with no oceans and no large lakes. Before he teleported down to the surface of Earth he orbited hidden in the blind spot of a satellite for several hours tongue hanging out, trying not to drool, how beautiful the oceans and the clouds and the icecaps of the planet below him were, a memory heightened by fear just before landing and first encounter on the salty smelly little planet Earth.
Later, through knowledge gained by the telepathic AI-Critter, he knew his qualms were verified. Many humans suffered and died because of lack of clean water. People suffered not only from thirst, but because of human-made pollution and naturally occurring waterborne disease, and also tragically because of cholera caused by water contaminated by feces. In all seriousness, Lee would say. Everything is connected to the-butterfly-effect. It’s not about the water not flushed in one toilet. It’s about all seven billion toilets flushing every day.
U.G. didn’t argue with the 6.3” bipedal Dog-person to tell him that he misunderstood the butterfly effect by 6 billion 999 million toilets. He meant what he said and she was happy to follow his instructions about how to properly make biofuel pellets in her Dog-planet updated outhouse.
Now, years after his death, as a Congressperson she astutely took up the unglamorous job of writing building code laws for rural biofuel toilets. From attempting to joke with Lee over the years she did have an arsenal of bathroom humor to soften the rejections of her proposals.
Biofuel toilets were in U.G.’s political past. Her local off-the-grid experiment was permitted and working. U.G. knew too well from her years of experience working in government to get anything done preemptively would require being able to read the future.
Idea number 6. on U.G.’s How to postpone the apocalypse’ list, — A list of ideas for everyone interested in working together to save the world. Was to flip the paradigm from mass production to demand production. Use the Earth’s resources and energy to make something only if someone wants it.
The big question is how to best do this? Corporations with a history of products in the market can look at what is selling and what is not. They can adjust production to fill back orders and discontinue items they had to sell at a loss, on sale. This model of mass production has worked impressively well (ahem sarcasm) when you measured the scale of the mountains of garbage. Or attempt to estimate the size of the drifting garbage gyres in every ocean on the planet.
The success of the free market measurable in other areas. Mass production in factory farms has contributed to heart disease being the leading cause of death in the US for over 80 years. Junk food invented in the 1890s. Many poor people are fat in America and they wear the ugly clothes off the sale rack or buy used clothed other people didn’t wear enough to wear out.
Last chance, closeout, for a limited time only! How many times a day does the average TV viewer hear those phrases? We drive through the sprawl and read endless variations of those same phrases plastered all over the ugly boulevard inside and out of shopping complexes. Going out of business sale, moving sale, grand opening sale event, 100% off deals, 2 for 1, discount dollar savings.
U.G. wondered a lot about how to make sure everyone had everything they needed, including a pollution-free planet to live on. She did not want people lining up in bread lines like in the tales she had heard of, in a few countries she had never personally been to, where dictators rule and the people go hungry because the shelves are bare. One of the warning signs of the end-times stuck in her mind as she watched the price of a loaf of bread go up, and up while wages did not. Revelations 6:6 Daily bread for a days wages, but the oil and wine are cheap. She translated oil and wine to today’s greasy fried fast food and cheap beer or dollar well drinks at happy hour and the rise in the cost of family-safe (organic) nutritious food. She never had to worry about food herself until she worked too much to properly tend her garden. She was a little shocked to find the price per pound for some vegetables, mushrooms, and nuts was more than the price per pound of some meats.
Back when U.G. was working to get permits to build prototype biofuel toilets/off-the-grid hot-water-heaters in the three cabins that remained on her property and on a few neighbors off the grid homestead projects. She had made friends with a few young people and a couple of very old ones. She didn’t want to turn the public loose in her house. There was too much there that Lee had designed that she didn’t understand well enough. Dean as caretaker to her property and a retired engineer friend he trusted had been working alone in there, over time. She honestly didn’t know how many hours a week Dean put in, taking pictures of parts and components, drawing careful diagrams, drafting design plans for copyleft patents.
Lee had plans for the entire house as one system, but hadn’t divided it up into components. U.G. under the near-certain penalty of her own death promised Lee to never tell the human’s about the AICs. The AI-Critter could easily zoom into any detail in Lee’s house plans. But, just as she heeded warnings about the end times in the Bible in silence, not wanting to cause panic in people she didn’t expose the extraterrestrial AIC to public scrutiny. Humans needed hope, and she did too, so she kept the AIC hidden close to her chest. Like actually not literally, in a bra on the fur over her heart on-her-chest where her boobs would have been if she was a human woman. Only letting the AIC out to run around when they were sure they were alone, in private. She felt bad that she couldn’t share knowledge of the AIC with her new friends. But, Lee’s cautions about humans had been 100% correct so far. She wasn’t going be a foolish enough to dismiss his intelligence just because he was gone.
Lee had felt that humanity had a chance if people drove the market instead of the market driving them. He thought if they could get their worldwide web efficient enough, then everyone could tell those who make things everything they want, all the time. He died in 2001, so he didn’t live to see how popular chatting, image, and video sharing had become on social media.
U.G. witnessing how much people shared everything, tried to imagine a way to add demand production of goods to that growing mass of chaotic information. She daydreamed about what she wanted, a lot. She thought maybe she could explain by example. She described and publicly posted what she wanted most on her blog.
It was very similar to the list she had been compiling asking people what political issues mattered to them most. But, people still drew a blank and would answer with funny comments like “What I really want?…I’ll have to think about that.” They were used to being pitched ‘got milk?’ while they were explosively lactose intolerant and watching bacon adds in high def as a vegan.
A public list of any product you want that is either not on the market in the US or is only available at too high a price. Please list the number of people, and country, state or province, gender, and age-range is optional information, include only if relevant.
U.G.’s personal list went like this: One person. Idaho, USA.
- A small compact car-sized plug-in EV pickup truck/utility vehicle. Prefer a truck is Made in the USA. Would like to choose custom colors and seat options.
She wanted to replace her Uncle’s old Ford pickup truck with a cute little bronco like EV vehicle. She drove around so much when she got into government she rented cars or hired a car to drive her. She could afford a Prius or a Leaf, but she wanted an American made EV truck. She could almost stomach the price tag of Tesla. But, why do it when they didn’t make the small utility vehicle she actually wanted?
U.G. always thought it would be nice to have a little truck that was modular. Compact parking space size and under 14’ long. The back could fold out longer into a small but useful truck bed, or have a wagon attachment when she needed to haul things. When she needed to haul people, not stuff, the back seats could be added like many minivans to convert into a 4 seat vehicle plus a child seat in the center console space. Or it could be a covered hatchback when the back seats were left out and the truck bed was not extended. Also, she wanted her little plug-in EV bronco to be tritone, body of bright grape purple with a light cobalt blue top made of the new flexible solar panels and a dark green undercarriage. It was a wild looking little vehicle in her imagination and this made her chuckle when she described it to other people.
The next item on U.G.’s want but can’t find in the US list was a foot-pedal flywheel mixing station for her kitchen.
U.G. had seen nice kitchen appliances but she didn’t want to be dependent on electricity for cooking. There were no plugs anywhere in her house except for in the ceiling directly below the electric solar panels on the roof and in the floor above the underground battery bank wall for her computer. Lee thought exposure from electric wires spread all over in the walls in the home where you slept and ate every day was bad for animals bodies' delicate central nervous system and endocrine system.
The second item on her personal list:
2. Countertop height flywheel food processor appliance with multiple attachments: mixer, coffee grinder, blender, cheese grater, etc… The cabinet the flywheel is housed in, designed with storage for all the attachments, blades and bowls.
A little exercise from a foot-pedal, without the strain on elbows and wrists of mixing and stirring by hand, sounded pretty nice to her. Something elegant and practical, modern design with easy to clean lines, in a pastel enamel-coated steel with colorful teal and purple titanium accents.
U.G. liked the idea of an appliance that made a pleasant whirring sound, without the buzz and whine of an electric motor that hurt her ears. Lee had set up a hopper-fed stick and compost grinder in the barn outside of the garden. The design of it inspired the smaller flywheel mixer set for the kitchen. He probably would have made the kitchen flywheel appliance if he had felt better in the last years of his life. He didn’t feel well at all, suffering a lot at the end, so she never mentioned fixing up things in the kitchen to him.
The third daydream on U.G.’s want list. Was custom shoes and clothes. To say she was funny shaped as a Cat-person was just the least of the problems U.G. had a very difficult time finding comfortable human clothes that she looked nice in off of the rack. U.G.’s grandfather had gone to a tailor to get his suits and dress shirts and a cobbler to get his boots custom made. Her parents had gone to the same cobbler and tailor and dressmaker until one by one, all three small businesses just faded away as their skilled proprietors died and their children didn’t fill their shoes.
U.G.’s Mother found an artist who made custom-fitted and designed clothes. She did a lot of wedding dresses, prom dresses and some clothes for very large people like U.G.’s Mother, who had been obese in the last few years of her life. This woman loved to make suits for U.G. She had been kind to U.G. helped her find a nice Native American couple skilled in cobbling shoes and boots to make comfortable footwear to hide her paws. Shoes that didn’t fall off or mess too badly with her gait or cat sense of balance were not an easy thing to find.
U.G.s seamstress was named Szarlota, like Charlotte. When she finally earned her citizenship, her American name, the name on her ID was Charlot to make it easy for AE (American English) speakers. And her friends called her Loti. A joke, it is the name of old currency before the Euro, it’s like calling her Dollar instead of Dolly. They were longtime friends since U.G. had been 16 and she had been barely 20 trying to make it in the U.S. as a newly arrived illegal immigrant from Latvia.
Now, after a couple of decades working as a seamstress Loti’s hands were painfully arthritic and she wore arm braces to help support the carpal tunnel in both wrists.
Measuring U.G. for a new outfit. She would say. “Fur is so much more fun, more of a challenge than a person in underwear.”
“You always say something like that.” U.G. didn’t wear underwear she had fur. The clothes Loti made for her were for show, a costume for humans. Loti would use a couple of layers of lightweight fabric draped loosely to hide U.G.’s natural coat, not to keep her warm. All the seams sewn folded-in on the inside to reduce bunching and tangles. After all, she was a long-haired cat. All over daily brushing to prevent knots was part of her daily routine.
“Loti, why did your last seamstress leave?” U.G. asked during a fitting.
“Same reason as last time,” Loti replied, a couple of pins in her teeth, as she adjusted her hem and inseam. She would fold the cloth in both hands, and the pens in the cushion would move to the garment, from her mouth, two or three at a time.
“Oh. Can’t pay them enough to keep them, and they get other work.” U.G. answered for her.
“Turn.. turn around, quarter turn,” Loti said focused on the seam. “I don’t want you to look fat. We know it’s mostly fur don’t we.”
“Mostly.” U.G. lied thinking of her middle.
“The legs are. Not that you are not a strong Cat-Lady, but your legs are thin.”
The last daydream on U.G’s list was dedicated to Loti and the dying art of seamstress and tailor. And to the young creative people, she had met who dream of fashion as an art form and a career. A couple of them lived and worked in the experimental cabins, they made most of their own clothes or wore whatever hand-me-downs they could find often spruced up with a bit of creative patching.
U.G. wanted a ‘design-to-order virtual-clothing and shoe co-op’, like an artist co-op, only with a manufacturing and fitting studio with enough staff to compete with the brand name retail stores. The designers would post a catalog, a line of clothing and a pallet of fabrics people could choose from to make their outfit. The software would use the patterns and a form to tell people where they needed to measure themselves to order enough fabric to make the garment. The shop website would tell the customer what was in-stock or direct them to custom order options for designs and fabrics they didn’t find in the local co-op catalog. To reduce waste the garments would not be cut until the person came in to see and feel the fabrics and the mock-up designs in-person. Unless speed was more important; then they paid extra to have the garment made in advance. Skilled labor pooled for the benefit of everyone. The shop subsidized if need be to make affordable custom designer clothing that can compete with mass-produced brands. The sweat-shop work made easier for human hands and eyes by utilizing sewing machine robots to complete a lot of the painstaking labor like button-holes, embroidery, quilting, and sewing tough fabrics like canvas and denim, etc…
U.G. knew this type of clothing was happening in a few specialty shops. But, it wasn’t happening in enough locations to make a dent in the environmental impact of the global fashion industry. Most Americans can not afford custom-designed clothing manufactured using only fair-trade labor and eco-friendly fabrics. When U.G. went to a factory outlet shopping mall, looking at the racks of things that had been shipped across the ocean, to be moved from one store to the next, some of it never to be sold. She wondered how many hours of people’s lives all around the world were spent toiling away like Loti only not for their own business, in a sweat-shop factory working on ugly clothing no one would ever wear or making plastic-fabric plush toys no child would ever play with.
Then she would look at Loti’s face when she tried on a new suit. Mostly she just nodded, her gaze looking up and down at the fit, but there was still a twinkle in her eye. A smile when she knew it was done right. And U.G. knew Loti was proud whenever she saw U.G. on stage giving a speech wearing “her” clothing.
The third item on U.G.’s personal list:
3. Environmentally friendly clothing and shoes made to order via 3D design software, manufactured in a locally owned fashion co-operative.
Lee dreamed of utopia and peace on Earth. Wouldn’t expect anything less from a Dog-person. U.G. really wanted was to save the humans and life on the planet, everyone working together to postpone the apocalypse. She wasn’t so idealistic as to expect it to happen spontaneously. She had a plan, and she was just getting started with the groundwork.