Monday, January 19, 2015

Capital 2

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA, RCRA-HSA) set standards for waste disposal.

I worked for Steve Weil, the EPA Branch Chief that wrote the implementing regulations (40 CFR 260 et seq.)  Industry fought the regulations tooth and nail. I had a front row seat.

Now things are different.  Industry eagerly awaits the second edition of  Emma Popek's

Sampling & Analysis of Environmental Chemical Pollutants, A Complete Guide, due to be published in 2016.  

In every case that I am aware of, smart implementation of the regulations reduced production costs and improved profitability (over the long term).  Sometimes there were capital costs that reduced short term profitability, but ultimately the ideas in RCRA were smart and very cost effective.  Legislators should take note of this. RCRA was very good for business, but it is not the kind of  law that the current crop of legislators would recognize as business friendly.  That is OK, they are not the kind of legislators that I recognize as intelligent.  

In agriculture, where many waste streams were exempted, the operating companies declined to implement potentially very profitable resource recovery and pollution prevention.  Many of these companies have since been sold to the Chinese.(Murphy Family Farms bought Brown, Smithfield bought Murphy. The Chinese bought Smithfield.)

My experience in this field makes me think that most captains of commerce did not get rich by being smart, but by being greedy bullies.  (For all of "The Art of War", the Chinese excel at being bullies. Look at their cross bows from the Warring States Period.  The Chinese hog facilities had more problems than Murphy's.   I toured ag facilities, and I know the conditions, and what the people were paid.  The owners and managers were not fair to their employees or the communities. These ag facilities were owned and managed by folks who were out for every dollar they could grab. these owners and managers dumped their costs onto others.

Along this line, and with Piketty's analysis, I would point to the rich and wealthy as responsible for; ( ) and ( and only now have we gotten to farm waste regulated as solid waste - (

In contrast, after RCRA was passed, Bechtel M and M put some real effort into achieving full compliance with RCRA, and thereby dropped the cost of operating their  M and M Lab.  Later, I was working on a national priority list (NPL- CERCLA) site, and our subcontractor analytical lab went through an agonizing conversion to microanalytical techniques mostly driven by the waste minimization and pollution prevention requirements in RCRA-HSA. However, the lab's profit margins doubled, so in a matter of months, it had recovered the capital expense.  Thus, I know that a smart, highly-principled company can treat its employees well and  make better profits, than a dumb and greedy company.  The problem is that there are very few smart and highly principled companies based in the US today.  The company on the NPL site was a dumb, greedy company that is gone.  Unfortunately, smart and principled companies such as Bechtel and Kaiser are going to suffer from AGW just like the dumb, greedy companies. Riley Bechtel is nice guy, and he has billions of dollars, but he does not know anything about growing food.

 Food in every  2-week period between now and the end of the world is always the bottom line.  Filling a cave with dry food is not the answer.  You cannot put food for all of your descendants for a thousand years in a cave.  For one thing they will eat it up long before the end of the world - you are not going to be there to ration it out.

Now really, how much importance do you think that I attach to the comments that I do not spin as pretty as some? I am more likely to be worrying about how much liquid water has accumulated in the GIS. ( )  I do not like the comments because the comments indicate that those spinners are NOT THINKING! I want spinners to think.

Spinning is boring.  You might as well think while you spin.  And, you might as well spin as fast as possible.


Ruth B said...

Spinning is boring, eh? Well, you've just shot yourself in the face with your local spinning guild, Interweave Press, and countless fiber experts. Good spinning requires attention to the yarn, not just speed. It also requires a knowledge of wool and wool breeds and their suitability for a particular yarn, analysis of the particular fleece or roving which is being spun in order to determine how best to spin those fibers (each fleece is unique, even if it's from the same sheep). The preparation of the fleece - carding or combing - must be chosen based on the desired yarn and done correctly in order to remove any vegetable matter and short cuts, otherwise they will end up in the finished yarn and cause pilling. As the fibers are being spun, adjustments may have to be made in drafting technique and speed to achieve a consistent yarn. Any remaining VM or extraneous matter must be removed in such a way that the yarn is not damaged. When preparing to ply, the number of treadles per draft must be measured and be consistent in order to achieve a consistent ply, neither over- nor under-plied based on a prior check of the singles plying back on themselves. The number of plies and the plying technique, including Navajo plying, can significantly affect the final yarn and should be chosen based on the functional and aesthetic qualities desired in the finished yarn. Winding off and tying the skeins before setting the twist needs to be done properly so that the skein can hang to dry evenly and will not twist and tangle when later put on a swift to wind into a ball. And let's not get into dyeing, which is another skill set on its own.

Spinning is not boring. It requires attention to detail and time and patience to develop the skills required to do it well. In a master spinner, it requires a knowledge base which includes breeds of sheep or fiber plant sources and their care and management, years of training and experience in evaluating raw fiber quality, and more and more years of skill building to spin different types of yarn for different uses - from sailcloth to receiving blankets. All of which is to say that in your single-minded quest for speed, you've sacrificed quality for quantity. Go back and do your homework, Aaron. Pay ATTENTION to your fibers. You may not produce as many yards, but your quality will improve dramatically.

Aaron said...

Good to hear that there are some real spinners out there!

Can I order 30 pounds of 5,600 ypp, 9 tpi, woolen spun, hand-spun loom weft from you? I need it in a couple of months.

I have the fiber on hand, (Ann Harvey Rambouillet) I just need somebody to spin the weft, while I spin the warp.

It is so nice to know that some spinners can produce 170,000 yards of the same kind of single, in one production project, without getting bored.

Susan S. said...

You are trying, it seems to capture the processes of the spinning and weaving industry using preindustrial revolution equipment, but thinking in terms of the manpower requirements post industrial revolution. Before the development of the spinning Jenny, spinning was the bottle neck-it took multiple spinners to keep one weaver in full time employment (and multiple carders to keep each spinner busy) -more after the invention of the fly shuttle on the early eighteenth century

So your demands on other hand spinners (and yourself) are somewhat unreasonable. Bulk quantities of cloth were not produced with one person doing fibre preparation, spinning and weaving-there was specialization involved even pre industrial revolution.

Aaron said...

From the time of the Han Chinese and the Classical Greeks, textiles were a large, competitive industry.

Certainly, there were subsistence producers, cottage producers, but there was also production on an industrial scale.

Where there is industrial production, folks work out better tools and techniques to produce better product, faster.

Specialized producers were able to produce better products, faster.

The question is, What was the productivity of a talented, professional handspinner?

Oh, yes, spinning was a bottle neck,but how large was the bottle neck? Touring a lace museum in Bruges, it dawned on me that the comparative advantage of Flanders textiles was better spinning. The folks in Flanders had been better spinners since the time of Charlemagne.

Those old spinners used spinning wheels with accelerators. But accelerators were not used by the Victorian ladies. What was different? The professionals wanted to spin fast, because they worked in a competitive industry, while the Victorian ladies wanted to spin slowly to conspicuously consume leisure time.

The estimates on spinning production in preindustrial times are based on modern spinning tools and skills. Since these do not include tools such as accelerator wheels, we do not actually know how fast talented professional hand spinners can produce yarn. I only know how fast I can spin.

I do know that a fat old man with palsy can spin 7 or 8 hanks of 10s per day. From this I know that if we make up a few fast wheels, I can teach a whole room full of spinners to spin that fast. (And, I am sure that within a few weeks some of them will spin faster than I ever dreamed of spinning.)

The problem is the flyers. I use flyers that Alden made. He is not making them any more. Other people do not seem to want to make them.

I spin fast because I want the yarn. I want more yarn, and I want better yarn than what I can buy. I look to history for hints on how such yarn can be made. I am not an enactor or trying to replicate history. I am simply trying to reverse-engineer some of their tools and skills so that I can make better yarn.

The truth is that when the spinners have good skills and good tools, it takes fewer spinner(s) to keep up with knitter(s) or a weaver. Also, spinning effort increases with the grist of the yarn and width of the cloth. A current estimate for wool cloth at 6 oz/yard, and 30" wide is that it will take 16 weeks of spinning effort to support 3 weeks of weaving effort, and that is spinning about as fast as I can spin. Samples only ~6" wide were about a day's spinning for a day's weaving.

And, when the combers and carders have good skills and good tools, it takes fewer combers and carders to keep up with the spinners.

Ruth B said...

Yes, there are real spinners out here, and yes, you probably could order the weft yarn to be handspun by me, but I'm not sure you'd be willing to pay what I'm worth. Since you have not specified that you want it carded as well, I will expect it to arrive as clean roving, shipped to me at your expense, and you will pay for me to ship it back to you as well.

I'm not sure why you want all 30 lbs to be spun at once, since it appears you only want to make one bolt of flannel, unless you have another 30 lbs of fiber stashed somewhere for warp yarn and you intend that your final bolt of fabric will weigh about 60 lbs (most complete bolts of fabric I've ever handled only weigh about 10 lbs or so) - but perhaps you are reverse engineering the sails on a Viking ship. I know you enjoy re-inventing history.

As to terms, I expect 50% to be paid before I begin the project, and after notifying you that it is complete, you will need to pay me the remaining balance before I ship it back to you (at your expense). If the balance is not paid within 15 days of notification that the project is finished, I reserve the right to keep the yarn and sell it or use it as I see fit (including dyeing it bright pink and giving it away to the local senior center to be made into granny square afghans, if I so choose).

Normally, my terms are not so stringent, but since you refused to honor an agreement with a colleague of mine regarding a case of brandy which you still owe her, I'm afraid I must demand full payment before sending the final product to you. Bad credit has its consequences in this field, and your credit is lousy.

Put your money where your mouth is, Aaron, or go away and bother somebody else.

Aaron said...

Ruth B.
I would not hire you unless you posted a performance bond. It would likely be faster for me to spin it myself as I have the tools, and skills to use them. I expect that your net production rate for that yarn is a little over 200 yards per hour; or, 5 months for the full project. That is, I can spin the warp and the weft faster than you can spin just the weft.

The Medici made their family fortune acting as textile factors. They took orders from weavers and arranged for competent spinners to fill the orders. The Medici also handled such things as bonds and insurance. I notice that you do not offer any kind of performance bond, nor any technical qualifications.

I did not pay the case of brandy to your friend because she did not perform the full scope of the challange. There was no agreement until she fulfilled the terms of the challange. And, you want to be paid for something you do not have the technical skills or tools to perform.

I think your bluster about being able to spin 168,000 yards of 9 tpi in 2 months is again a failure to consider the full scope of the contract. You assume that if I can spin it, you can spin it. No! I have better tools. My wheel inserts twist much faster than yours.

You have not done technical trials, or you would know that you cannot spin (woolen) that fast from commercial roving. (Oh, you were going to spin semi? Not the contract! Forfeit performance bond! Call the Medici!!) If you are going to spin true woolen that fast, you need to work from FRESH rolags. If I were doing production spinning, I would hire someone to come in a couple of mornings per week to card. It is faster to work from fresh rolags than to struggle with old ones (or rolags that have been shipped.) Half an hour of carding in the morning will produce enough rolags to spun 3,500 yards of 5,600 ypp woolen singles. That is a day's spinning.

And, you are going to need a spinning wheel that runs about 2 or 3 times faster than fastest wheels/espinners used in the 2014 Spinzilla week. Come-on, do you want to spend 18 hours per day, day after day, week after week spinning, when with a faster wheel you could do the same spinning in 6 hours per day?

Me, I like fixing breakfast for my wife, then I card, then in 6 hours I spin what it would take you 18 hours to spin, I fix my wife's dinner, clean up the kitchen, watch a DVD-and-knit with my wife, and go to bed while you are still spinning, spinning, and spinning. At the end of the day we have both spun 3,500 yd of lace weight, but who had the better day? At my pace , 30 lb of 5600 ypp / 9 tpi is 48 days of spinning, and an easy 2 months work. If you want to spin 12 hours a day, you should be able to spn it in a month. (And there would be 6 hours per week of carding.)

I have long wool on hand for the worsted spun loom warp. I will spin it myself. Warp must be perfect, and you do not have the Medici to vouch for your technical skills and post a bond. Tell me, how much wool loom warp have you spun, and do you have good references from the weavers?

A traditional 40 yard bolt of this fabric weighs 15 pounds of which about 60% is weft. So there would be 18 lb of weft for the loom (2 bolts). Then I want to ply some of the woolen weft yarn into 5-ply to knit some nice sweaters + matching hats and scarves. I might be a little short here, but I have plenty of of Anna's Rambouillet, so I can always spin more woolen single.

You (plural) came to me, I did not go to you!

Holin Kennen said...

You have no idea of the skills I have, Aaron. It is unwise to make assumptions about what I can or cannot do. You don't know what kind of wheel I have, either or how fast I spin. You don't know what my training has been (extensive) - over 30 years), what "performance trials" I have done (more blue ribbons than I can count) or who my customer base is. You simply blather on about what i can or cannot do, even though you've never met me,. As usual, you invent facts to support your erroneous and over inflated claims of your own expertise when the few photos of your product indicate that you have a long way to go before matching my skills.

You asked me if I could spin up the weft for you. (See your prior comment in this very thread - "Can I order 30 pounds of 5,600 ypp, 9 tpi, woolen spun, hand-spun loom weft from you? I need it in a couple of months.). I DID NOT COME TO YOU, YOU CAME TO ME. If I can perform the task asked of me, the particular tools I use to accomplish it are not important. Nobody in history has ever had a wheel like yours, yet you compare your spinning to master spinners in history. By your requirements, unless they had a modified Ashford Traditional wheel, you would assert that they lacked the proper tools as well. Balderdash!

I told you I could do the job and now you want to back out by inventing reasons why you're better at spinning than I am and why I can't do it. You wanted it in two months, now you say you need it in a month. Sorry, that was not what you asked for, and you don't get to change the terms to back out of your request. You didn't ask for carding to be done. That can be done, but it will cost you extra. If you wanted it hand carded rather than taken to a mill, that will also cost extra if I have to hire the people to do the carding. You're into it for real money now, even before I start spinning.

Don't blather on about what kind of wheel you think I do or don't have. For all you know, I might have built one just like yours, or I might have my own accelerated wheel (I have several wheels, one of which is accelerated and would suit very well). Don't make claims that my spinning speed is less than yours. You don't know how fast I spin. BTW, it is sufficiently fast to get the job done in the time required, and the resulting yarn is far more consistent than yours and will, therefore, be of higher quality. In fact, your yarn quality is what I would expect from a first year student. Since you claim to be able to spin perfect yarn, I would expect to be awed by the quality of the yarn in your photos, and while it is adequate for a beginning student, it is nowhere near sufficiently consistent to meet my standards.

I have spun warp yarn, and lots of it, but you didn't ask for that - you wanted woolen weft (from your comment, "I just need somebody to spin the weft, while I spin the warp."). Clearly, you are moving the goal posts again, as usual. Regrettably, I cannot have the Medici vouch for me anymore than you can because THEY HAVE BEEN DEAD FOR CENTURIES. You can't back out of your challenge by asking me to get bona fides from 15th century dead people.

Get a reality check, Aaron. You've been caught with your pants down. If I were you, I'd sit down and shut up, but when have you even taken good advice, even from Alden Amos? I feel for the poor man - he must cringe at the drop in sales of his book as a result of your bombast. With friends like you, who would need enemies?

E said...

Good gravy, Aaron, is that ever a condescending set of assumptions about Ruth. There's no need to be so rude. Have you ever seen her spinning equipment? Why would you assume she spins that much more slowly than you without any real evidence about her speed one way or the other?

I can see wanting some kind of evidence if you were really going to commission someone - but what you've done there is just invent - assume based on zero evidence. It's impolite, at best, to do that.

This approach of making wild assumptions about the skills of others, and the tone you tend to take while doing it, is why people poke fun at you.

purplespirit1 said...

Oh Agres, I'm sure you knew that it was inevitable that you'd be 'necked again!

vampy said...

Aaron, you know not all modern spinners are the same, or trying to be 'victorian ladies' right?

I WANT to spin fast. I can draft way faster than i can treadle with my wheel on its smallest whorl, even for relatively fat singles for a 3 ply sock yarn. If a wheel with an accelerator existed that allowed me to treadle at a leisurely pace and draft very quickly, and was nice and easy to treadle with minimal friction, and not too expensive, I'd be all over that. I imagine lots of other spinners would too. However I can't make such a wheel myself, my health issues don't allow me to spend hours in the garage working on stuff, I gave away my lathe because of this, and while my woodworking skills may be up to it, my metalworking ones certainly aren't. A supremely fast wheel just isn't on the cards for me, so I make do with what I have. Spinning fast is awesome, I want to spin as fast as i can without losing accuracy.

However I have no real desire to compete with other spinners, or even myself. I don't want to measure how many miles of yarn I can spin in how many hours. I don't want to make garments that are waterproof and will keep me warm while fishing on the north sea. I want to decide what I want to make, figure out the best yarn for the job, spin the yarn, design the pattern, and make it. I don't want to spend hours measuring and recording and timing. I don't want to spend ages guessing what people did hundreds of years ago, cos hundreds of years ago people didn't live in nice centrally heated insulated houses like I do. My principal use for knitwear is to avoid putting the heating on until my bf whines he is too cold and wants it on, and wearing outside every day to feed the chickens. My needs are different from the needs of people in the past, so while looking at historical textile manufacture is interesting, its not a huge influence on how and what i want to spin.

If my lifestyle were different, my choice of garment, and thus of yarn would be different. As it is, while I do want to spin as fast as i can, I don't NEED to spin miles of yarn fine enough to weave a shirt from, as I don't own and can't afford a loom that could deal with such a high EPI. My use for yarn is different to yours, that doesn't mean I'm somehow stuck in a victorian way of thinking and want my spinning to waste my time. All it means is that not all spinners have the same goals.

Aaron said...

I know how fast spinning wheels (and e-spinners) by all the various makers insert twist.
I know how fast people in spinning competitions, spin.
I know how fast the folks in Spinzilla spun, which is very consistent with the speed of spinning wheels and spinning competitions.

I know how fast folks like Stephenie Gaustad spin. I know how fast the wheels in her Studio spin. I know how fast the wheels in Will Taylor's Studio spin. I know know the actual production rates achieved with some of the fancy limited production high-ratio wheels, and from that, I can calculate the actual speed of those wheels.

So, unless you are using a one-of-kind custom wheel, by a wheel maker that makes wheels much faster than any wheels ever made by Alden Amos or Reeves, Yes, I know about how fast you can spin. It is just a matter of doing some detective work, knowing the equipment, and being able to do the math.

I know that I spin much faster than Alden Amos ever thought I would be able to spin as he made my high speed flyers. These days, I exceed the design speed of those flyers by more than 50%, and he designed them to run as fast as he thought plausible. he told me of the Ashford flyers he tested blowing up. Some days I worry that at the speeds I am running, his will blow up

Anybody and everybody that wants a very fast wheel should have a chat with Henry Clemes

Holin said...

Yes, Aaron, I have a Reeves wheel. I like it, and it is sufficiently fast to spin 30 lbs of woolen weft in two months. I have other wheels as well. Your point would be what? If a spinner can deliver the product in the time frame required, who cares what tools they use?

Aaron said...

When was the last time you spun a of pound of fiber into 5,600 yards of medium firm woolen single (9 tpi) in 2 days?

This is not jumper single, or fingering single, this is medium firm "lace" single. It takes a lot of twist.

The folks that I know that keep good production records when spinning high twist yarns, do not get that kind of twist (4 years ago) from their Reeves.

If they did, I would have bought a Reeves, because it would have been a lot easier, and a lot cheaper than building my one of a kind contraption. I like easy. I like cheap. I like off-the-shelf solutions. I think the Reeves is a beautiful wheel. On paper, it looks like it goes that fast. On wool, it does not really go that fast.

Holin said...

Have you even tried one of Rick Reeves's wheels? Rick hasn't been making them for years. I got two of them during the last few years he was making them. They are rare birds now and very, very expensive. Mine does the job just fine, thank you. And once, again, you ignore quality over speed. Just like McDonald's.

Aaron said...

Yes, I have spun on several of Reeves wheels including a high ratio.

Nice, but by then my Traddy had already been modified enough that while (much) slower on paper, the Traddy produced fine singles faster.

The fellow that owns the high ratio Reeves is well known as an expert on spinning tools and I am sure it was perfectly tuned.

Holin Kennen said...

Aaron, there is no such thing as a "high ratio" Rick Reeves wheel. Rick provided several different whorls with his wheels, one of which had a high ratio. I rather doubt you've spun on one, or you would know that. Wrong again, Aaron. Your poor Ashford is no better than most wheels, and only the fact that you are treadling it like an Olympic sprinter accounts for its speed. If that's what floats your boat, that's fine, but you're still producing poor quality yarn. As many of us have suggested, SLOW DOWN AND PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FIBER. Your production rate will decrease somewhat, but your quality will go way up. Then you might actually have something to offer to the rest of us beyond mere bragging with nothing to show for it.

Aaron said...

Reeves made a very few high ratio wheels that had an additional higher ratio whorl. I seem to remember the top ratio was ~70:1 vs the 24:1 of the regular whorl set. These went to a few elite spinners. I do not know if you have one of these wheels, but it is what I tried.

I can give you a list of climbers and skiers that like objects made from my yarn that would toss objects made from your yarn in the trash on receipt. Quality depends on the criteria. Your standard for quality is "pretty", my standard is warm and durable. Compared to my yarn, your yarn fails the tests for warm and durable.

And, you look at the yarn, and I look at the finished object. How do your objects look after long season of climbing, or skiing, or sailing? I expect that your objects will look pristine because they only got worn once, because it did not perform, and the wearer got cold and wet.

Holin Kennen said...

Since you have no idea what my yarn is like, your assertions that climbers and skiers would toss my objects into the trash is ridiculous. My boot socks are holding up quite well after two seasons, thank you very much, and they look nice after many, many wearings and washings. They are warm, too. Again, I fail to see how you can evaluate the quality of my yarns or my standards having never seen them. Or do you just imagine them so that you can assert that your yarn is better in your own head?

Aaron said...

You run on and on, about what you think I am doing without having any information.

Do you think you can waltz around the fiber world without people taking pix of your yarns and posting them? After all, they are very pretty yarns.

Twist holds fibers together for warmth and durability. I have knit objects from yarns like the ones you spin and the objects were cold and not very durable.

I learned that yarns with tighter spun plies and more plies are warmer and more durable. So that gives me two very good reasons for saying my yarns are warmer and more durable than the yarns you spin.

For wet weather, I find worsted spun long wool at 5,600 ypp, plied into 5-ply sport weight to be the warmest. For dry cold, I find 5,600 ypp fine wool woolen spun plied up into 10-ply (Aran weight) to be best. No 2 or 3-ply can match those yarns for warmth and durability. Cabled yarns are more durable, but do not "fill" as well, and thus the knit objects are not as warm. By the time 2 or 3-ply yarns have enough twist to be warm and durable, the yarns are too stiff to provide good fill and the knit fabric is cold. Yarns with a large number of plies have very good knitting qualities.

Durability of boot socks should be measured in vertical feet for ski socks, and miles of trails hiked for hiking socks, or days worn for work socks.

Your objects seem good because you do not test them in direct competition with objects from Patagonia, Marmot, Columbia Sportswear, LL Bean, North Face, and so forth.

I know Nepali porters that get thousands of miles from their socks by wearing flip-flops on bare feet below the snow line, so they only wear their socks above the snow line. Since they spend most of their time below the snow line, the socks last for many seasons. I have had some of these socks for more than 20 years. They are among the worst socks that I own. I keep them as a reminder that: No matter how bad things are, they can always get worse - real fast!