Autumn Color

Celebrating Eco-Progress: Patagonia

Listen, I LOVE Patagonia outdoor gear and clothing, though I almost certainly wouldn’t dish out the premium prices if it weren’t for several factors:

  • They use recycled materials whenever possible
  • They use organic cotton
  • They make their clothing to last so that it doesn’t need to be replaced nearly as often

Just this morning, on my bicycle ride to work, I wore Patagonia shoes that have a 70% recycled cork footbed and 100% recycled insole; blue jeans made from 100% organic cotton, which I bought used; and a jacket made with recycled plastic soda bottles.

All excellent supply-side sustainability measures, for sure, but today’s Celebrating Eco-Progress installment looks at how Patagonia is one of the few companies out there addressing the consumption side of the sustainability equation.


One such challenge around changing consumption is how to extend the use phase of the lifecycle. An inspiring prototype comes in Patagonia’s Common Threads initiative, which allows customers to sell used Patagonia products through eBay.

It’s a powerful testament to the apparel’s key brand attributes of quality and high performance, but it also carries the idea beyond just extending the use phase of the lifecycle: It’s about creating and extending product narratives that enhance the value of the goods for consumers and the brand simultaneously — now, goods that previously were discarded or remained dormant in storage become active reinvigorations of the company’s products.

According to Patagonia’s Common Threads website:

  • The population of the United States discards 11.9 million tons of clothing, shoes, and textiles per year.
  • Since 2005, we’ve taken back 45 tons of clothing for recycling and made 34 tons into new clothes.

Now, one thing the article overlooks is that Patagonia is really just riffing off an idea that’s been around for many, many years. Used clothing and gear stores, either of the thrift or consignment variety, have extended the lifespan of many tons of clothing, shoes, and textiles, not to mention many other household items.

The Patagonia innovation that is cause for celebration, however, is the wide-scale collection of used product by the producer in order to reuse as much of the material as possible.

THAT is cool!

Late To The Party Again: Broken Social Scene

As has been well-documented here at Fish & Bicycles, I am very often late to the party when it comes to music. (See posts on my belated discovery of: Death Cab For Cutie, The Flaming Lips, Portishead, Menomena.)

In the case of the latter, as I wrote in January, I discovered Menomena just in time for one of the founding members of the trio, Brent Knopf, to up and quit.

And now, I’ve gone and fallen for another band that’s been around for a while, the Canadian collective known as Broken Social Scene, founded in 1999, only to find out that just one month ago Broken Social Scene, um, broke up, or, as it’s being referred to in the press: an indefinite hiatus.

It’s a real bummer too, since I’ve recently been thoroughly enjoying their fourth (final?) album, Forgiveness Rock Record.

After listening through it several times and watching quite a few videos of the band performing, I’m particularly impressed with their ability to make musically interesting music, with lush layers and ebbing and flowing dynamics, all while not doing anything particularly complicated. I like how they cover a variety of tempos and moods, how they can be at turns garage rockin’, mellow and moody, or even experimental psychedelic.

Fortunately, I’ve got their three other albums to explore, as well as the two Broken Social Scene Presents: releases, which are basically solo albums by core Broken Social Scene members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, and there’s always the chance that by the time I’m done digesting all of that the band will reunite.

In the meantime, a music post without a video wouldn’t be much of a music post, would it? So, here are two songs from Forgiveness Rock Record, the first featuring Kevin Drew on vocals, the second Brendan Canning:


Tweet of the Day: @OccupyWallSt!/OccupyWallSt/status/125904659192889344

Tweet of the Day: @TomMINT!/TomMINT/status/124993776824483840

Video Fridays: Zombies Can Dance

It seems only fitting, given my post on zombies earlier today, that this week’s Video Fridays installment should highlight what’s become a huge community event here in Bellingham: the annual Halloween Thriller Dance.

Each year, several months prior to the end of October, any and all Bellinghamsters are invited to attend classes to learn how to do the dance from Michael Jackson’s 1983 music video, which, of course, involved Michael dancing with, that’s right, zombies.

Then, on Halloween, at several locations in town, the show happens, if not in true, spontaneous flash mob fashion (locations are announced ahead of time), certainly in that spirit, and now thousands of people turn out for it each year.

Anyway, with Halloween just a few short weeks away, how about we get in the mood?

Sorry, I Don’t Get Zombies

Ok, I admit it, I’ve not watched a single zombie movie, nor do I care to.

Whether this means I lack a sense of humor, a stomach for gore, a sense of play or all three, well, I’ll leave that for others to judge. In the meantime, given my lack of exposure to the movies, all I can do is guess at why the zombie craze persists and why it has remarkably come full circle; from horror movie genre, to a merchandising boom, to a live role-playing game, Humans vs. Zombies, played by hundreds of thousands of students on college campuses all over the world, and finally back to the cinema in the form of a horror movie based on the role-playing game.

Even my own son wears a t-shirt bearing the “I ‘heart’ Zombies” graphic included here in this post…but then, he was born on Halloween.


Anyway, now, in perhaps its most bizarre manifestation, this, via The Bellingham Herald:

Courtesy of The Bellingham Herald

The family prepared in the parking lot. Chain mail and armor secured, they grabbed their weapons and headed into the old mental hospital.

And then they smiled for the camera.

It wasn’t your average family portrait session. But it’s exactly what photographer Jen Owen asked for her birthday, and her husband, Ivan Owen, happily obliged.

“I guess it makes me a cool wife, instead of fluffy, frilly family pictures, to want to go kill zombies,” she said.

More than just a day of photos with the Owens and their three kids, the zombie apocalypse shoot was a summer-long project, capped off with photos at the end of August. Ivan Owen is a salesman by day with a side business crafting chain armor, so while the kids were off for summer break, the whole family worked on creating their zombie slaying ensembles.

Now, I don’t mean to ridicule the Owen family in any way. Like I said, their zombie family portrait seems bizarre…TO ME, meaning I clearly don’t understand the appeal of the whole zombie thing.

But, in some ways, I wish I did, since the Owens and all those thousands of Humans vs. Zombies players very obviously are having a heckuva lot of fun.

Los Tres Coníferos

Star Trek Freaks Me Out With iPhone Scene

So, I just came through a few days of self-imposed bed rest in order to fight off one of the many bugs going around, a fight, I’m happy to report, that I won, and for kicks during my non-sleeping hours, thanks to Netflix streaming, I went back in time and watched some Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes.

And there I was, watching Season 3, Episode 8, and in one scene Commander William Riker is sitting alone at a table in Ten Forward, the Starship Enterprise bar and lounge, he’s sipping on a shot of the hard stuff, and he’s staring down at a tiny device on the table, poking at it with his finger, reading and stroking his beard, and…

…it just utterly freaked me out, because that’s exactly what I look like everyday at lunch, only I’m assuming the same posture, making the same motions, totally absorbed by technology in a room full of other people, using the latest iteration of a device that was first sold in 2007, 18 years after that Star Trek scene was broadcast.

Like the iPhone itself, the theme of this post is hardly original. Just Google “Star Trek + Apple” and you’ll see. Rather, this is merely how I experienced this topic.

Summary: Not long after the iPad came out, Trekkies and Apple Haters posted YouTube clips from Star Trek episodes showing crew members and other characters using tablet devices, like this one:


Now, that scene came just three episodes before the scene I mention above, I also watched it during my convalescence, but I didn’t react to it nearly the same way only because I don’t own an iPad.

Anyway, along with the clips were articles and blog posts making the claim that Apple simply stole the idea for the iPad from Star Trek. But then someone went back a further 20 years in time and discovered that the iPad was first brought to life by Stanley Kubrick in his 1969 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey:


The latter got considerable attention, when Samsung, who was trying to bring their own tablet to market, but were being blocked by Apple who claimed they got there first, sited that scene from 2001 as proof that Apple stole the iPad design from Kubrick and had no right to claim it was their original idea.

While the late Steve Jobs was no doubt a visionary, his company’s considerable accomplishments were less about inventing than about bringing long-envisioned dreams to life, as Jonny Evans at ComputerWorld points out:

With its claim that the iPad looks like the tablets used in “2001: A Space Odyssey”, Samsung has conceded that Apple is transforming science fiction into science fact…

After all, it’s one thing to make a prop for a movie or a TV show, and it’s another thing entirely to make a working device, and I can’t recommend highly enough a great Ars Technica piece from a year ago that traces the history of the original Star Trek designs, including a discussion with the designers themselves, who talk about the gadgets in relation to the iPhone and iPad.

Tweet of the Day: @cfellis

Kinda apropos my post from July, on the Wildwood Chronicles, the planned trilogy of novels by Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy and his wife, illustrator Carson Ellis, you gotta watch the video at the link provided. Hilarious!!!!/cfellis/status/123788034905882624