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Saturday, April 21, 2007
bookburning is some hard hot work
Listening to:infotainment about Alec Baldwin's parental fuckup
Reading:infotainment about. . .
Weather:53, climbing rapidly, blue sky and sun!
It got down to 29 here last night, but in just a couple hours it has gone up 20 degrees so yeeha. This motivated me to find something valuable to do outside. Which brought me to unearth a small box on my porch.

In the box were a couple of phonebooks (we get the smaller-size ones here in P county), a couple magazines, and some lengthy booklets and pamphlets, and about 100 promotional CD's. I used to save all those bloody AOL CD's you get in the mail for this sculpture project I had been envisioning for more years than I should admit, but that's future post fodder. Or not.

Back to the bound chunks of paper. I have serious concerns about the actual environment impact of recycle. Especially out here in rural amerika. Don't get me wrong, I hump my plastic and glass and cans and shit to the bins by the old sprawlmart (did just yesterday, as a matter of fact) when my collection gets big enough to annoy me. But I'm careful to only do it on my way somewhere else, because I definitely don't think burning yet more fossil fuel to move this shit around is a good thing. I suspect some kind of landfill mining of the stuff might be more energy efficient. But my jury is still out on the huge and growing problem of humans, especially hyperconsuming amerikan humans, and solid waste.

And since I am a bit of a mellow pyro, I like to burn stuff. So I regularly burn my household's cardboard waste. Spaghetti boxes (first take out the stupid plastic window), milk cartons (take out the plastic spout), cereal boxes (throw out the inner plastic bag), various cardboard packaging (remove staples and tape and whatnot), etc. It's in line with my general enviro belief that concentration of stuff is a bad thing, and mother earth can clean herself of bad stuff in tiny concentrations. Therefore my little biweekly cardboard pile smoke gets cleaned from the air easily enough, and keeps the pile out of a giant landfill, and reduces the impact of fossil fuels that would be needed to haul it for recycling (from house to bins, bins to collection centers, collection centers to recycling plants, etc.).

And we're back to the box on the porch. See burning carboard boxes is easy cuz there's architecturally all kinds of air built into the firefuel matrix. Books and other bound collections of pages of paper are the uber bitch to burn. Unlike logs, they won't catch and slowly burn, and unlike balls of crumpled paper, they don't immediately flame up and release all their heat and leave nothing but lacy ash. Books don't want to burn.

You got to hand it to those reactionary nutcases who burn books because it's hot bitch to incinerate those bad boys. At least 451 degrees, right? [I get most of my scientific knowledge from sci fi books, so be very very suspicious of my neoscience rants.] Go ahead, throw one into the fire. It might look like it's burning on the outside, but tomorrow morning you'll find that most of that book is still quite readably unburnt. There's a lot of manipulating and tending required to burn books. You can tear them into smaller chunks, flap open their pages and prop them carefully over some unburnable metal, tear out pages and crumple them, use your stick to flip the pages over as they burn, etc. It's all about getting the fuel/oxygen ratio right, specifically incorporating more oxygen through the book. Just tossing that thing on even a pretty wicked bonfire will not do the trick, which is to leave nothing but powdery ash.

Well now I'm hot, sweaty, and smelling smoky. I know, you're jealous.

permalink posted by cat 9:33 AM

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bookburning is some hard hot work