Tag Archives: packaging

Sermon on the Mound


A for-profit religion where nothing is sacred, and human sacrifice is obligatory

Eve of 2007

The following sermon was delivered at a 2007 New Year’s Eve bonfire


Dear Worried Souls:

Take Heart! the Worst is yet to come.  Witness this miserable mound of machine age offal.  Wasted resources compounded daily–advertising, packaging, junk mail, paperwork, broken equipment—a sorry heap of worthless Trash reviled by all.  The costs have become unbearable.

It does not live so cannot die.  We must dispose of it anyway, and we aim for the Sky.  We plead for help from the great Mother Earth and Father Sun. Open our senses to the stench of Burning Plastic.  Burn our Lungs with Particulates and Smoke. Singe our eyes with the Motes we scatter.  Spread sparks of Common Sense wherever Smog may go.

On this eve, the Church of the Holier than Thou, Incorporated ignites this sacrificial pyre, in humble apology to the Planet we call Home.  As long as we can live and breathe on this speck of Cosmic Dust, we give Thanks for our Success and Vow to Make Sin Pay.

Thank you, Mother Earth, for deflating false profits and reducing their costs. Our debt to you is incalculable.

Thank you, Father Sun, for your clean nuclear power, the solar system’s eternal source of centralized energy output.

The Loving Lambs of Church of the Holier than Thou, Inc. have watched in Horror as the TechnoDemons befouled the Earth.  Their numbers numbed us.  Their profits (er . . . prophets) preached Winning by Losing, and promised Eternal Hell.  Machine Noise rocked the planet and rattled the Tectonic Plates.  We Bleated in Horror, Fear, and Rage, but there was Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.   We prayed for Peace and Quiet.

We sighed as they Drowned Porpoises, Paved Neighborhoods, Spilled Oil, Dumped Chemicals, Bulldozed Wildernesses, Polluted Oceans, Pipelined Tundra, Gobbled up Farms, Obscured the Stars, and Obliterated the Sounds of Birds and Breeze.  We cried for Mercy as Global Temperatures Rose, Tempers Flared, Ice Caps Melted, the Ozone layer dissipated, and Dynamite collapsed mountains and hills.  We watched Mutations and Health Problems Created for Profit and spreading like Cancer.  We searched in Vain for Recycling centers, Compost piles, and Locally produced goods.

This Mound of Refuse–papers, plastics, boxes, wraps, junk mail, bubbles, baubles and bills–represents countless Murdered Trees and Earthly Treasures that died for junk mail, propaganda, advertising, photo-ops, cellophane, and disposable containers.  Swallowed in the glut (er  . . . gut) of Human Consumption, these plundered assets Writhe in Pain.  Their pitiful Pleas reach us from Roadsides and Garbage cans, raising Taxes for waste removal.  “Stop this Plague upon our Souls,” they cry in tortured sobs.

We at the Church of the Holier than Though, Incorporated, know a Natural Solution when we see one.  We will find a way to uplift this junk into Something Useful, so we can Make Sin Pay.

Yes, the Savvy Saints of the Church of the Holier than Thou, Incorporated have lit the solar flares, at last, but we are weary, wary of yet another trick, a Light too Bright to be Natural.  But Fear no longer.

The TechnoDemons’ Hot Stocks have Cooked their Geese.  The Gold weighs heavy in their Stomachs and Blocks their Bowels.  Take Pity, and sell them fresh Vegetables.

We at CHT, Inc. mean Business.  We will grow the Economy to Scale.  Green leaves and Roughage will prevail.  Put methane in cars, corn in stomachs, trans fats in wheel bearings, and soy in tofu.  Put the mercury back in thermometers and the lead back in batteries.  Shade roofs with solar panels. Generate energy from Landfill. Triple postage rates on junk mail. Clean the ditches with tax collectors. Hire prisoners instead of illegals.  Transform scrap metal to passenger trains.  Make synthetic hormones from oxidized plastic.  Sift sand for silicon.  Collect rain on roofs, or whatever it takes, to Make Sin Pay.

We Lobby you, great Mother Earth and Father Sun, to grant our request for Survival Skills Technology.  Light our way through the Sewers of Human Degradation, as we seek Natural Markets for these discarded Treasures.  We pray for a Healthy Return.

May Sparks from the Fire of this Pyre seed new Trees of Knowledge, wherever particulates drift.  Too cumbersome to be mulched, too poisoned to nourish, too diseased to be safe, this Trash has no Market Value, no place to Go but Up.

With a Match and a Blessing, the Church of the Holier than Thou, Incorporated–where nothing is sacred and human sacrifice is obligatory– sets this Sacrificial Offering ablaze.  We Pray this Fire will spread Sparks of Enlightenment wherever the Smoke may Blow, and dispel the Mind Pollution that hides the Bottom Line.

Here’s How 061416: “Value Added Packaging”


I consider it a triumph when I can extend the life of packaging beyond a single use. To add value to packaging sometimes requires as little as soaking labels off jars or cutting the flaps off a box.  Then I can re-label as needed, using masking tape and a felt pen.

This photo shows some of the uses I’ve found. Jars, preferably those with metal tops, work for everything from keeping mice out of chicken food (and pantry supplies) to serving as storage containers for my dried herbs.  Claussen pickle jar, chutney jar, and preserves jar shown.  The preserves jar holds my chocolate chip/dinner mint/nut snack food.  The tall jar is a re-purposed red wine vinegar jar that serves as a pen dispenser.  It dispenses one pen at a time.  The plastic topped jars that I’ve converted into “Supreme Court Balls Starter Kits” held Publix natural peanut butter (crunchy).

The “Supreme Court Balls Starter Kits” were an inspiration following the infamous 5-4 “Kelo” (eminent domain) decision of 2005. This land grab by Pfizer pharmaceuticals, acting through the New London, Connecticut City Council, invalidated property rights for individuals when a higher bidder comes along.  Subsequent events by all levels of government have proved they are quick to eminent domain property whenever it suits their financial interests.  The jars pictured here hold coins.  One is full of pennies, $6.80 when filled to the brim.  The pennies weigh 2.025 kilos or 4.45 pounds.  The jar holds 400 ml or 1.75 cups of water.  It is 12.7 cm (5 inches) high and 24.75 cm (9.75 inches) in circumference.  So this jar is also a teaching tool for metrics.  It also highlights my belief that saving spare change in jars is a good hedge against bank failure, since they can’t be hijacked by a keystroke, they retain metal value, are hard to steal, and don’t burn up in a fire.

I imagine the “Supreme Court Balls Starter Kits” and the accompanying “Supreme Court Balls Designer Labels” will be worth a lot of money when people wise up to what the Supreme Court has done to individual property rights.


The metal spice container is now a salt shaker that allows me to add uncooked rice in the large middle opening and shake the salt out of the shaker opening. This is necessary in the humid South, because rice alone does not keep the shaker holes from getting clogged.  For this, it is necessary to close the top.

The yogurt containers (or any dairy container, such as those for sour cream) are useful for cooked food or to freeze cooked food. They are also great for giveaway food.  This maneuver serves the dual purpose of adding food value to used containers and getting rid of the packaging without having to throw it away.  Note the mouse-damaged plastic top that prompted me to transfer chicken food from yogurt container to glass jar.

The home-made pesto is in a re-purposed cake icing container.

Old spice jars are also good for storing small items, like hooks and screws. Film containers (for those of us who still use film cameras) store things like razor blades and small screws.

Then there’s the grocery store produce bag, which can keep whole bowls of food fresh in the refrigerator. This one is protecting grated cheese.

Old shoe boxes make great storage containers for CDs and photographs. Any de-flapped box becomes a great, lightweight tool for organizing and storing clutter.  I use them as trash cans, too.


Then, there’s the tool room, where old tin cans serve to organize my supplies of bolts, drill bits, and nuts. The plastic containers hold various screws, hooks, and assorted hardware, including replacement blades for the box cutter.


Chicken food, wild bird seed, and deer corn bags become trash bags. They are sturdy enough to hold sharp objects, like broken glass, without puncturing.  Buckets like the one here that held joint compound are valuable enough by themselves to be sold at outlets like Home Depot.


Finally, the water-filled milk containers between the mint and stevia plants are an experiment. The idea is to keep plants cool on the hot deck and to have spare water if the pump breaks or the power goes out.  I washed the jugs thoroughly and added 3 drops of chlorine bleach to the water, as we were taught to do during the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s.  The versatility of concrete blocks will be explored more thoroughly in a future blog about my inventions.





Has anyone considered the carbon footprint (and excessive waste) of all this single use packaging?  Whatever that fluorescent light bulb saves in end-of-line energy use is used up front in excessive packaging.  Why has Congress outlawed incandescent light bulbs?  Because if people had a choice, they would buy them.  Deprived of choice, people are forced to buy the patented technology or go back to using candles.



Demand Side Economics

If you have something I want, I’m happy to pay for it.  This is called “Demand Side Economics,” a new concept, in which the customer is right.

If Supply Side Economics could supply Demand Side Economics with what it demands, all our problems would vanish.

Unfortunately, Supply Side’s shareholders, shipping contracts, plastics and packaging contracts, and of course government contracts, prefer supplying cheap plastic junk made by slave labor in China to US markets that are glutted with poorly designed, overbuilt, patented gadgets that don’t work right.  Americans are increasingly homeless, obese, stuffed to overflowing, and looking for places to dump, but the landfills are full.

Enter Demand Side Economics.  Save coins and grow food.  Economics is economy, or thrift, a word that has fallen into disrepute among the Supply Siders who don’t care what people want or need, only what they have machines and contracts to manufacture, package, advertise, ship, and distribute.  But for one thing.  All the investment goes up in overhead, and product quality plummets while costs rise.

Hostile Packaging and Other Provocations by the Cult of Repressed Anger


by Katharine C. Otto


I bought a lawn mower blade awhile back. Getting through the plastic package was harder than installing the blade. Don’t buy a “Power Care” universal blade from Home Depot unless you have the tools to crack its shell. Scissors don’t work. You’ll need tin shears, at least, or a utility knife. Make sure you have gloves, too, because if you use a utility knife, as I did, you’ll have to brave the plastic’s rough edges and risk slicing your fingers off if the knife slips.

Hostile packaging is one of many weapons used by the Cult of Repressed Anger, a terrorist organization dedicated to proving you’re paranoid. Hostile packaging thrives on retail shelves everywhere, wraps itself around batteries and printer cartridges, encases toys and clocks, clings to CDs. Any wrapping that requires tools other than fingernails or teeth qualifies.

The Cult of Repressed Anger doesn’t rely only on hostile packaging, though. It uses excess packaging, as well. Here, Styrofoam-filled boxes and plastic wrapping inside plastic wrapping attest to the organization’s subversive nature: to increase dependence on oil by overuse of plastics. The 24-roll pack of toilet paper has six inner packages of four rolls each. And now Kroger, last bastion of naked vegetables, encloses its green leaf lettuce in cellophane.

The Cult of Repressed Anger is heavily funded by hidden costs. These are the sly little insertions in bills, bank statements and special deals. These are the bar codes instead of price tags, and the disconnect between the advertised price and the cash register. We get the little stickies on fruits and vegetables. The Cult also gives us the frequent flyer miles that disappear into mysteriously into hyperspace.

Each transgression is too small to fight – you feel petty when you try, or it takes too much time – but they add up over the day, and you wonder when you get home why you’re so irritable.

The Cult showers you with excess, forcing you to sort through the confusion and dispose of the trash. It attacks through your mailbox, e-mail, television, telephone. When it isn’t seeking you out, it’s lying in wait for you, pouncing on your time with extensive telephone menus that don’t address your problem, or assaulting you with cheerful, self-promoting propaganda while you’re on hold.   It buries instructions on how to use the stuff in exhaustive small print telling you how not to use it.  It drowns you in paperwork that someone in authority believes is necessary. This is part of its plot to destroy all the trees on the planet so oxygen will go the way of natural gas and water, and become a limited resource, for sale by the cubic foot.

The Cult delights in camouflaged concrete islands, speed bumps and roadside hedges that block your view of oncoming traffic. It places signs that give street names behind signs that sell real estate. It puts the large white arrows indicating a “turn only” lane under the cars in front of you. But the sign that tells you the street will be closed if it floods stands in the open, visible to all.

No one is safe from the Cult’s sinister reach. It feeds on itself and generates new converts every hour. It lurks within the hearts of your closest friends, your family, your spouse. Even your children can’t be trusted.

I surrender. I’ve lost the war. I’ve joined the terrorist Cult of Repressed Anger and have become a human bomb. If I explode and shoot off my mouth the next time a government drone extorts my Social Security number and thumbprint in exchange for my license to drive, don’t say I didn’t warn you first.

*Published in the Savannah Morning News June 30, 2003