Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where in the Hell is Coober Pedy; and why you should care?

For the people who call this place home, nothing will ever be the same.  You see, an oncoming oil boom is un-avoidable.   ($20 trillion worth of oil can do that to a town).

Coober Pedy has been a speck  (5 ‘soles’ short of 1700 people lived their in residences literally carved out in its caves until recently) of a town since it’s founding in 1915 shortly after the gemstone opal was discovered there; it’s located in a remote inhospitable region of Southern Australia.

Although a very small town, the community has you might say, its oddities; it’s about halfway between Port Augusta and Alice Springs.  Attractions include the opal mines, the graveyard, and several underground churches. The first tree (image displayed on right) ever seen in the town apparently brought about quite a ‘stir’; it was welded together from scrap iron and still sits on a hilltop overlooking the small municipality. 

The Coober Pedy golf course (yep, they have one) is most often played at night with the help of glowing balls, to avoid extreme daytime temperatures; the course is completely free of grass and golfers. You see, there's little to no water and temperatures routinely reach above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Surprisingly the settlement also has an ‘Australian rules’ football club, the Coober Pedy Saints was created in 2004 and competes in the Far North Football League (formerly the Woomera & Districts Football League). Because of the town’s remote location, to play matches the Saints must make round trips of over 900 km (about 562 miles) to Roxby Downs located in northern South Australia, where the rest of the league’s teams are situated.

Lately another 20,000 or so people have suddenly flocked there, making it one of the hottest real estate markets in all of Australia; taking into account the location and climate conditions, the sudden influx is just short of remarkable. The recent ‘stampede’ is only the beginning; the phones of local real estate agents have been ringing off the hook since the news broke.

The big draw is the riches about to be extracted from an enormous geological structure called the ‘Arckaringa’ basin, encompassing an area exceeding 30,000 square miles (77,700 km²).  Buried within the basin is enough black gold to completely change the global oil landscape.  Specialists in the field now believe ground zero will be much like Saudi Arabia was in the 1950’s; early estimates project the basin may contain more oil than Iran, Iraq, Canada, and Venezuela combined.

The resource is estimated to hold between 3.5 and 223 billion barrels of oil, which provides the potential for Australia to become a net oil exporter; a huge spread yes, but at the lowest estimate (3.5 billion barrels), the Coober Pedy find is capable of making Australia a net oil exporter and at the higher estimate (223 billion barrels), Australia could in a few years become one of the world’s biggest oil exporters.   

The world’s dependence on OPECs crude is already slipping because both the U.S. and Canada are successfully unlocking unconventional oil supplies from deep underground shale deposits with new drilling techniques. Given all the unrest in the Middle East, crafters of OPEC’s oil monopoly has good reason to be worried.   

Now theres another source of completion from “Down Under.” With this discovery, perhaps the world will have yet another chance to wean itself from a total dependence on crude. With a little help from the gods, may-be we can get-it-right the second time.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Laundry Detergents for Naturally Clean Clothes



          Conventional Detergents
                                                       Home-Made Laundry Detergents


                                                                                                                              Soap Nut Shells

The next time you find your self doing the laundry, take a second to breath in the fresh, clean scent of just-washed linens to make doing laundry feel like less of a dreaded task. This action is not recommended however if you’re using the typical petroleum-derived laundry detergents with ingredients such as: Phthalates (these nasty boys cause a wide range of adverse health problems including liver, kidney and lung damage not to mention problems associated with the reproductive system and then theres those minor sexual developmental abnormalities), tricolsan (an antibacterial and antifungal agent) and synthetic fragrances found in most conventional laundry detergents that you find in the ‘laundry aisle’ of your local market (yep, that includes Tide, Gain, New Blue Cheer, etc.).  Fact is; if one or more of these laundry products are in the room, you’re lucky if you don’t have a coughing fit, or an asthma attack; maybe worse.  

Toxic chemicals that are ever present in “store bought” laundry detergents may make your bed sheets smell like they’ve been dried in a crisp sun drenched mountain breeze, but that fragrance couldn’t be farther from anything resembling the truth, in fact, it’s un-natural at best.  With such laundry products you not only risk skin irritants but encounter first hand carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer) and hormone disruptors; in short, the chemicals in conventional laundry detergents are best described as downright dangerous.

Imagine for a few seconds that distinct over-powering smell you experience as you walk through the laundry detergent aisle in the market (Wal-Mart, Kroger, Myer’s, etc.). That fragrance is actually a bunch of toxic chemicals ‘off-gassing’ into the shopping space of your favorite store. And you guessed it, you can bet the very same products are polluting the air throughout your home or if you’re lucky, just your laundry room, every time you dump that conventional detergent into a load of clothes to be washed.

The good news is, it’s not a necessary evil to expose yourself and your family to those nasty chemicals. Theirs at least a couple of alternatives that’s both safe and natural. First, you can easily make your own laundry detergent inside your own abode. It’s a good bit cheaper and you’ll know exactly what goes into the mix. Sorry, no unknown
bouquet of perplexing chemicals to be concerned about with this product.  So go ahead; give your laundry routine an ‘eco-makeover’ with this do-it-yourself laundry detergent recipe.

Before You Get Started, keep in mind that when it comes to making your own laundry detergent, you can choose powder or liquid. However, Powder tends to be a bit easier to use & create; you see you don’t have to use the stove to make it, which also has the added bonus of saving on that monthly electric or gas bill. But, if you prefer liquid detergents, feel free to go that route; there are plenty of recipes that are absolutely free on-line, but here, a powder based detergent is recommended!

The four simple ingredients in this recipe will make you wonder why you ever thought you needed the hundreds of ingredients in conventional laundry detergents to clean your clothes with in the first place:

2 cups grated soap flakes (Ivory soap bars work well)

3 cups washing soda (Arm & Hammer brand works fine)

3 cups borax (Twenty Mule Team brand will do)

1 cup sea salt (any brand works)

The above listed ingredients must be thoroughly mixed in a plastic pail, etc. before use and stored in a location that is convenient for your use when performing laundry duties.

Directions for use: For light loads, use 1 Tablespoon (1/2 oz.). For heavily soiled loads use 2 Tablespoons (1 oz.).

You should take note that the “suds” are not included in this recipe, but if you love suds or believe the myth that they are necessary to get clothes clean; then just add a squirt or two of cheap dish washing liquid (the cheapest you can find) to the wash water but you can have success without suds.

The Second method for avoiding the hazards of ‘chemically laced’ laundry detergent has been around for a few years; believe it or not, it actually grows on trees in the temperate zones of Asia, North America, and South American.  You simply can’t get any more ‘eco-friendly’ when washing your clothes than this.

‘Soap Nut Shells’ or ‘Soap Berry Shells’ as they are sometimes called, have become increasingly popular as a nontoxic laundry detergent in recent years. They have been used to wash garments for thousands of years; in fact Soap Nut Shells were first used by the native peoples of Asia, North America, and South American more than 2,000 years ago. The key to success is to use the ‘shell’ of the fruit absent the ‘nut’ or ‘pit’.

Soap nut shells derive from five to twelve species of shrubs and small trees; native to warm tropical or temperate regions in both the Old and New World.  The most superior species (Sapinus Mukorossi) grow east of the Himalayan Mountains in India where they are simply harvested, de-seeded, and dried in the sun before being shipped to all corners of the world.  And yep, they WORK — really, really well!

Soap Nut Shells are the only 100% chemical free, odor removing, fragrance free, eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, all-natural, biodegradable laundry detergent available and as an added bonus they eliminate the need for a fabric softener in wash water or the dryer. They’re USDA Certified as Organic and can be used in standard top loading machines or HE washing machines.

These little miracle workers are typically sold on-line by the pound at such places as E-Bay, Amazon, or NaturOli.  The only ‘must have’ required for using them properly is a small muslin bag (Laundry Pack) that’s typically included with each purchase / order.

Directions:                                                                                                                   Toss a ½ (.50) ounce Laundry Pack of Soap Nut Shells into a warm water [Hot water will actually reduce load count and may cause cleaned clothes to retain the natural forming soap residue causing “clothes stiffness”] wash load (the normal life of a laundry pack – 5 to 7 loads) . . . Number of loads will vary due to water temperature, water ‘hardness’, washer type, cycle selection, etc. – With ‘HE’ machines, expect a minimum of 10 loads. 

It’s somewhat significant to keep in mind that the largest organ a human being has is the skin; it covers and protect other important components that together form the body.  Case in Point: Why would any sane person, intentionally expose it (the skin) to the toxic residues that adhere to the cloths you wash & wear every day?