Thursday, August 06, 2015
Thursday, June 25, 2015
|Not the prettiest of plants but that's okay, the|
nutritional content and taste make up for it!
This little grouping is growing very happily
in one of our swales right between our rhubarb
We have it growing in several locations around here and it’s no wonder. It self seeds readily and tolerates a wide range of soil. Well, we’ve got pretty nice soil and are happy to let it set seed. In fact, I’ll be doing my best to help it along by scattering seed in various places. The more of this the better!
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Sunday, June 07, 2015
Friday, June 05, 2015
As I sit here I have four year old Justin sitting next to me. He’s playing with an AT&T sim card. He’s curious. A minute ago he was playing with the two little plastic containers that each contain one of Kaleesha’s teeth that were removed a month ago in preparation for her getting her grill (her braces). I mention all this because 36 months ago I would have never guessed I’d be sitting on this bed living this life. I had not yet met Kaleesha or Justin or the other six fantastic humans I now live with. My life would soon take a very sharp turn for the better. It was already a pretty fantastic life. I had no idea it could be so much better.
A few minutes ago I was reading through my RSS feeds and came across a post by Matt Gemmell who, as it happens, shares my birthday. He’s 36:
I was born on this day, thirty-six years ago – which means that, traditionally, I’ve already had about half of my life.
Whether I live another 5, 15 or 30 years I can say I’ve had a pretty fantastic go of it. I hope to last a good long while because at 46 I’ve got a new partner in life and 7 kids that I want to spend a lot of time with. This is a whole new chapter, maybe a new book and not one I saw coming. And with it I feel the need to search harder for a reason to hope that life on earth might be improved.
In my 20s I wanted to leave the world a better place. I thought we could all play a part. I was passionate, angry and idealistic. Then, at some point in my early 30s I thought that at the very least I’d try to do no harm even if I couldn’t create a positive change. It’s easy to fall into that kind of thinking given the apparent trajectory of things on our planet. I’d had a moment while floating in the ocean in which I had the thought that I was just one cell in the sea, just a tiny tiny human in the briefest of moments in a long expanse of time. Humans are just a brief moment, I was just one tiny life form in the grand scheme of things. A began to understand the greater context. Astronomy and the contemplation of the cosmos only increases the sense of being tiny and yet finding a comfort in that. I find the greatest sense of peace in being just an infinitesimal life existing for just a flash of time. I belong to this Universe. I’m home.
Are you wondering where I’m going with this? Bear with me, we’re almost there. You see since selling those 6 ducklings yesterday baby girl mama duck has been very upset. From our perspective, she was a new mama duck that was loosing track of her ducklings and the sooner they were sold the safer they would be. But she was the mama duck and now she’s very distraught. She just wandered by the window and I could hear her quiet quacking. She’s making the rounds and seems to be in a contstant search. ALL of her ducklings are gone she doesn’t understand why. It is a futile search.
It might well be that my human mind is creating a story. Perhaps I’m projecting. I don’t really know what baby girl mama duck is thinking. But I know what I’m feeling about her and my perception of her loss. A very deep sadness for her. And yet just just moments ago I was going on about finding peace and taking comfort in my awareness of the context of my own tiny, brief existence. The Universe is a big place and we are, essentially, irrelevant. Life on earth will gradually fade as the Sun slowly grows in size and luminosity. In a billion years all of Earth’s water will have evaporated into space and in five billion years our sun (currently a main sequence star) will begin to run out of its primary fuel, hydrogen, and will begin a transition to helium fusion. It will expand slowly into a subgiant and then into a red giant before contracting into a white dwarf.
Futility. That’s not quite the right word. Or is it? We are limited. As individuals and as a collective. Just as baby girl mama duck is limited in her perception or understanding of where her ducklings were, we too are limited. And yet, just as she refused to give up her search, so too do we push on.
Today I’m 46. I don’t know how much more time I have left on our beautiful planet or how I’ll spend that time. As I sit listening to the sweet sounds of kids on a swing blending with the many layers of nearby and distant birdsong I do know that I intend to make the most of it. I’ll enjoy each day and will do my best to create meaningful relationships with the people and natural communities in which I live.
The wonder and beauty of this life is to be found in the intertwined processes of exploration, observation and co-creation. It is in our own efforts that we will find and create meaning, ephemeral though they may be. That’s just the way of it.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.
Fools. No. Criminals.
Monday, May 04, 2015
|Three of four planned water harvesting swales are in and partially planted.|
|The beginning of our design-a work in progress.|
The next important step was deciding to build water harvesting swales on contour on the south facing slope to the east of the house. Up until now the side yard was mostly a heavily used play area for the kids so switching it over to planted swales was an important decision. We were able to do this, in part, due to the decision to not keep goats in the future which allowed us to begin taking down the fencing which exists all over the property. Taking down the fencing means much easier access to different grassed areas for the kids to play in. The side yard is no longer a primary play area so much as a path to get to other areas further out.
|Working out the details of our plan|
We have a family of 9 living on this 5 acre property and we share it with chickens, ducks, cats, dogs and wildlife. The property itself is fairly complex with soft, fertile soil below the house, rocky soil above the house and 4 acres of woodland which includes a stream and rocky shut-ins consisting of mostly igneous rock running along the western and southern border. The land is mostly sloping with much of the slope facing south or west. In short, there's a great deal of activity and intended purpose happening here and so the permaculture dictate that observation be step one is something we've taken very seriously. We observe and discuss a great deal before taking any action and developing a plan to guide us and to serve as documentation of what has been done is important.
The plan is not done but our work is in progress. We'll proceed slowly as we co-evolve the design plan and the property at the same time. Eventually the written document will catch-up and become more of a plan for future action than a journal of what we've already done. In some aspects this has already happened as the plan has listings and placements for trees and bushes which will not arrive until next week (Pecans, Chestnuts, Goji Berries, and Lingonberries).
Sunday, April 19, 2015
|Halfway through the dig!|
The biggest development in the kitchen garden: three new hugelculture beds built with lots of half rotted logs and ready for planting.
|Planted with fruit and filled with rain!|
Thursday, April 02, 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015
Check the links above to Kaleesha’s great posts providing all the details and lots of great photos!
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
We’ve been wanting to better utilize one of the walls in our bedroom and finally got around to the project during a brief warm spell in January. The goal was rustic shelving that would hold books, satellite modem, and our flat screen. We had a stack of beautifully weathered old cedar wood that had previously been used in someone’s privacy fence. It’s been sitting outside for a while so we needed to use it soon if we were going to use it. It was perfect for our shelving.
It was pretty straight forward. After disassembling the fence we discussed the consruction and came up with a list of lumber sizes. We cut all the pieces which was only slightly tricky because our recycled lumber needed to be mixed and matched a bit. The whole project took about 5 hours. The only cost? Screws which were also being recycled from an earlier project so getting their second use. Not too bad!
The final touch was a wall collage of old National Geographic maps and vintage nature journal sketches from this Flickr collection by the British Library.
There’s nothing quite like staying warm in the winter with wood. In the past I tried to cut and split what I needed but with the years my back has gotten increasingly cranky (as has Kaleesha’s). In particular cutting and splitting wood is a task that can easily put us in bed. That said, sometimes it just has to be done. If it weren’t for the pain it would be a nice way to spend a few hours outside with the kids. Even with the back pain we seem to be able to enjoy it a bit. Everyone working together makes for some sweet moments.
Luckily we had some wood left over at the top of the hill from our observatory project. Cut over a year ago it was perfect for splitting and has been keeping us warm for the past week. Royal and Little were especially helpful in transporting the wood down the hill, smiling and chit-chatting the whole time. Adorable.
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Thursday, February 19, 2015
I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Today at lunch I overheard my six year old directing one of the older children in the making of her PB&J sandwich. “Not like that. I want it the way it’s supposed to be.”
At six years old, Little already has ideas about the way things are supposed be. Are all children like this or just mine? I don’t know. I suspect it’s more common than not. In my home, all nine of us, right down to four year old Justin, have perfectionist streaks. Natural born idealists. Though the older we are, the more set in our ways and certain we seem to be.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Colin Dickey writing for Aeon on why it’s dangerous for modern civilization to be so dependent on technology:
On 1 September 1859, the British astronomer Richard Carrington witnessed a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), a burst of solar winds and magnetic energy that had escaped the corona of the Sun. The Carrington Event, as it came to be known, was not only the first recorded CME, it was also one of the largest ever on record, and it unleashed a foreboding and wondrous display of light and magnetic effects. Auroras were seen as far south in the northern hemisphere as San Salvador and Honolulu. As the Baltimore Sun reported at the time: ‘From twilight until 10 o’clock last night the whole heavens were lighted by the aurora borealis, more brilliant and beautiful than had been witnessed for years before.’
At the time, the event caused some minor magnetic disruption to telegraph wires, but for the most part there was little damage caused by such a spectacular event, its main legacy being the fantastic displays of light across the sky in early September. But should a solar flare happen on the scale of the Carrington Event now (and there’s a 12 per cent chance of one hitting the Earth before 2022), the effects might have a radically different impact on our advanced civilisation. If a CME with the same intensity were to hit the Earth head-on, it could cause catastrophic damage.
A National Research Council report in 2008 estimated that another Carrington Event could lead to a disruption of US infrastructure that could take between four and 10 years – and trillions of dollars – to recover from. Particularly vulnerable are the massive transformers on which our entire power system relies. Massive fluxes in magnetic energy can easily overload a transformer’s magnetic core, leading to overheating and melting of their copper cores. In the worst-case scenario, a repeat of the Carrington Event would cripple our infrastructure so severely it could lead to an apocalyptic breakdown of society, a threat utterly unknown to our ‘less civilised’ ancestors.
The recent measles outbreak in the US has once again provoked discussion over vaccinations, and why some parents choose not to vaccinate their children despite the benefits of doing so. Whilst not the only factor, part of the blame lies with misinformation about the chemical composition of vaccines and the effects these compounds can have. This graphic summarises some of the key components in vaccines, as well as clarifying their purpose and safety in the concentrations present.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Apple’s been on a very impressive roll and I’m not talking about it’s ever evolving line of mobile devices and computers, but rather its continuing build-out of solar farms. In 2012 they completed their Maiden North Carolin data center with its own on-site solar power facility which is the largest privately owned solar array in the U.S. Since then they’ve completed work on a facility in Prineville Oregon that utilizes “micro-hydro” and another solar facility in Reno Nevada is set to come online in 2015. In locations where they do not generate power they are sourcing it from wind and other renewables.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The vast majority of people will get their science news from online news site articles, and rarely delve into the research that the article is based on. Personally, I think it’s therefore important that people are capable of spotting bad scientific methods, or realising when articles are being economical with the conclusions drawn from research, and that’s what this graphic aims to do. Note that this is not a comprehensive overview, nor is it implied that the presence of one of the points noted automatically means that the research should be disregarded. This is merely intended to provide a rough guide to things to be alert to when either reading science articles or evaluating research.
A post about your feelings…
So, I’ve been seeing a lot of ‘I’m sorry for hurting your feelings posts’ with regards to vaccines, and I thought I’d make it clear that I’m absolutely, in no way, at all, sorry for hurting any of your feelings if you’re anti vaccination and not telling me.
You deserve to have your feelings hurt.
Your opinion, which you are absolutely entitled to, hurts children. It kills children. So I’m entitled to also have an opinion about you and your poor decision making. I’m entitled to mock you openly when I watch a video of an infant with whooping cough. Because without your beliefs on vaccines today there would be no whooping cough.
Sunday, February 08, 2015
Saturday, February 07, 2015
This is a fantastic movie. Imagine a documentary about particle physics that might bring you to tears. So beautiful. The movie documents the CERN particle collider and the search for the Higgs Boson. It illustrates the basic physics that are being studied even as it explores the humanity of some of the scientists that are involved. The art and illustration used to explain the science is very well done. All of it very accessible to anyone regardless of science background. Purchase from iTunes or stream it from the website.
Friday, February 06, 2015
Over the past year I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with Facebook and have finally decided to abandon it. It was Salim Virani’s article Get Your Loved Ones Off Facebook that finally sealed the deal. I’m not going to spend anytime reiterating what he has written. If you’re on Facebook you really should read it yourself. What I intend to do here is detail how I am transitioning away from Facebook by replacing it with different services.
I’ve been a regular user of the internet since 1997 so I had 10 years of experience before joining FB. Remembering the days of the internet before Facebook is an interesting exercise. There’s no doubt that FB provides a convenient access point for sharing anything and everything via timelines, groups, and messaging. From images to video it’s all just a click or two to post or view content from practically any internet connected device.
A few resources for staying in touch. The most obvious is the old standby email. Make sure you collect the email addresses for folks you want to stay in touch with. And make sure your email address is available to those who may prefer email.
Chatting without FB Messenger is easily accomplished via free services and apps such as Skype. With Skype I can have private text, video or audio chats or group chats from my Mac or iPhone or iPad. Also available for Windows and Android. Individual texting and group texting is yet another option which is increasingly easy to access from a variety of devices and operating systems. In our home we’re using Macs, iPhones and iPads to message with each other as well as anyone with a cell phone. Twitter is an interesting blend of messaging and wall posting and might as well be in the mix.
The Facebook “wall” is also replaceable though it requires a bit more effort for everyone involved. For the sharer it requires setting up a blog which is fairly easy to do and free. Free options include Google’s Blogger platform (the home of this blog), WordPress, or paid options such as Typepad. Here’s a nice list of free and paid options. When you set-up your blog you have a variety of options such as allowing comments to articles as well as visual/design customizations via themes. A nice change from Facebook’s persistent blue graphics everywhere.
Then there is the process of gathering up the blog feeds of friends, similar to friending people. This part is not as easy as it is in a closed ecosystem such as Facebook. One of the easiest ways to get started is via a free service such as Feedly. Set-up an account and then begin adding the feeds of friends blogs. This is accomplished by clicking the “Add Content” link in the Feedly sidebar then copy/pasting the address of the blog into the field. Feedly will look for the rss feed for the blog and give you the option of subscribing. Done. I’ve been using RSS for 10+ years so I’ve got a fairly large list of sites that I read, or, in some cases, skim. Feedly allows for easy organization of feeds by topic areas via folders. I’ve got a folders for a variety of interests: astronomy, science, Apple and tech news, general news, design and most recently I’ve added a “Friends” folder in which I will place the feeds for any Facebook friends that have a blog. You can access your Feedly via web browser or a variety of rss apps. On the Mac I prefer accessing via web browser, on my iPad or iPhone the free Feedly app is excellent.
What about photos and video? Photos can be fairly easily added right to your blog’s timeline via upload from whatever device you’re using. Or, if you prefer a dedicated photo service Flickr is a free service that offers plenty of space (1 TB) for sharing photos. A nice side benefit of flickr is that it is in itself a social medium which encourages following and commenting. Flickr photos can also be posted to blogs. Video can be easily accomplished with YouTube or Vimeo, both of which offer the option to embed video in your blog.
There’s no doubt that developing your own ecosystem takes a bit more work but it comes with the benefit of greater control of content presentation and independence from Facebook’s data collection machine. Well, not quite independence because it is becoming quite clear that it is nearly impossible to be clear of such collection but why make it easy?
Thursday, February 05, 2015
In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it's unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system, from a human perspective. I've taken liberties with certain things like the alignment of planets and asteroids, as well as ignoring the laws of relativity concerning what a photon actually "sees" or how time is experienced at the speed of light, but overall I've kept the size and distances of all the objects as accurate as possible. I also decided to end the animation just past Jupiter as I wanted to keep the running length below an hour.Riding Light
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Domestic Bliss, Posted to Patreon
Monday, February 02, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Win a autographed copy of “Free to Be” OR four bars of our very own Daisyblend handcrafted goat milk soap!! How? Read on.
Kaleesha’s book is free on Amazon today! When this image is shared and/or retweeted with the #freetobegiveaway and Amazon link, your name is entered into a drawing for your choice of an autographed copy of “Free to Be” OR four bars of our very own Daisyblend handcrafted goat milk soap. If you share on both Twitter and Facebook you’ll be entered twice.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Friday, January 16, 2015
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Monday, January 12, 2015
Thursday, January 08, 2015
Friday, January 02, 2015
Ha! I just brought up Star Trek in a discussion the other day and came across this today. Star Trek: The Next Generation In 40 Hours — Medium
And this is why I love the NG:
"Our heroes fly around on a 1,000-person spaceship run by Starfleet, which is Earth’s peacekeeping/military organization. Earth, along with a bunch of alien planets, is part of the United Federation of Planets (The Federation) which is a like a space U.N., devoted to universal liberty, rights, equality, sharing knowledge, and exploring the galaxy.
In the world of Star Trek, hunger and poverty have been eliminated. Energy comes from matter-antimatter reactors (or something). Food is created instantly in replicators. Humanity has dedicated itself to exploration and self-improvement."