Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Random Press Round-up

And now for a completely un-DIY related post. Perhaps it's because of the quiet gray weather outside, or maybe it's because my head is all stuffed up with a cold and I feel kind of dream-like, but I've come across a lot of weird quotes and posts today. I kept wanting to share them with you all. Rather than clog up my Twitter stream, I decided to post them here in a solid chunk. Hope you enjoy!

I hadn't visited Craftster's hottest craft projects list in a while. Some good stuff was on there. Like the koala pic above, which was hand embroidered. Just crazy. I also want to start stamping slogans onto my pennies.

On the airplane yesterday I flipped through the June 2009 issue of Harper's . One of the sections included excerpts from Werner Herzog's diary while he was making the movie Fitzcarraldo. At one point he bitch-slaps an albino turkey in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest.

Here's the quote: "Camisea, June 4
The camp is silent with resignation; only the turkey is making a racket. It attacked me, overestimating its own strength, and I quickly grabbed its neck, which squirmed and tried to swallow, slapped him left-right with the casual elegance of the arrogant cavaliers I had seen in the French Three Musketeers films who go on to prettily cross swords, and then let the vain albino go."

A rapid Google search brought up another link to one of Harper's dreamlike real-life gems.

All sort of awesome information about fungi, in a very well-written article. Well done, Natalie Angier of the New York Times.

And finally, Yahoo! News sucked me in when I was checking my email. I will guilty admit that sometimes I click on the fluff. What happened to Mike Tyson's daughter is very sad and strange. The crazy quote at the end of this article confirmed the overall bizarro feeling:

"Dinka Radic, who lives across the street, described Exodus as smart and sweet.

"The little girl, she says 'You got chocolate in your house?'" Radic said. "I say 'Yes,' and she says, 'OK, give me some.'"

When she gives the girl the chocolate, Radic said "she just kisses me on my knees. Kiss, kiss, kiss. Very nice."

And that was the end of the article.

In awesomer news, I found out that William Gibson twitters. My goodness. Time for tweets like:

The most intelligent 21st-century fashion strives for a radical atemporality. Probably because the digital is radically atemporal.

Strangeness, layers and layers of it. Think I'll head over to Bikram Yoga tonight, try to sweat out this cold. Time for the simplicity of working the body, sweat and breath. Although I must say, I do love every Werner Herzog turkey-slapping minute of the strangeness. I just need a rest sometimes, the better to take it all in.


Maker's Faire 2009 (or Bust!)

Big news, my lovely readers! Yours truly will be flying out to the Bay Area this weekend to volunteer at this year's Maker's Faire! Although I doubt you are reading a DIY blog without being familiar with MAKE or CRAFT magazine, here is a link if you are curious to know more about the event: http://makerfaire.com/

I have to say, this all happened very fast and still feels a little unreal. This past Friday, I was scrolling through Twitter after work and came across Permie.net's request for a volunteer at her permaculture booth at this year's fair. (p.s. if you want to know what permaculture is, just check out permie.net)

I've been dreaming of getting more involved with the permaculture movement, and this seemed like a great opportunity. Plus, it's been quite a while since I've visited Jake (see the incredible http://heyjakesollins.com/), so this trip is killing two birds with one stone!

So, I've got a lot of reading up to do in the next few days. First item on the agenda is getting my hands on the latest issue of MAKE to read permie.net's article about map-making.

There may be some worm bin making action as well, so although I've already attended a workshop and made the bins through the Red Clover Collective, perhaps I can track down a copy of "Worms Eat My Garbage" just to make sure I know all my stuff. (Although nothing teaches you more than failure!)

I'm a little nervous, since I know I will be surrounded by some pretty knowledgeable folks, but I'm more insanely excited to soak up all this information, get in there, and get my hands dirty. Can't wait to come back and post about it!

Side note and impromptu book review: This all happened because of Twitter! Although permie.net and I only know each other through our tweets, I feel that it's a personal enough platform that I felt comfortable responding to her request for volunteers. Of course, don't just be answering anyone's tweets- check out their profiles, websites, etc. to make sure they are legit! Use your solid judgement.

This video of Gary Vaynerchuck delves more deeply into the whole phenomenon of "social networking" (although I feel kind of cheesy and dirty using that phrase).

I'm reading William Gibson right now, so I guess I'm feeling very fascinated/mesmerized/a little unnerved/excited by how "Bigend-ian" all of these layers of communication are. If nothing else, read William Gibson! His book Pattern Recognition really influenced how I view advertising, media, and the internet in the modern world. Really gives a lot of insight about what makes "buzz" and what constitutes "cool" (all the way from the street to the corporate level. Think ninjas combined with data mining) ..Although Neuromancer will always be my first love!.. In any case- The future is now :)


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wind Farms: More Harm Than Initially Realized?

In April I found a link to "Better Plan, Wisconsin." The site is a testimonial by residents living very close to wind turbines. They document the loud noises, constant vibrations, and flashing shadows that eventually disturb their sleep and other living patterns.

A quote from http://betterplan.squarespace.com/ describes the disturbing consequences caused by the huge rotating blades:

“Last night it was whining,” said Ann. “It wasn’t just the whoosh whoosh whoosh or the roaring. It was a high pitched whine. And I don’t just hear them, I can feel them.” She describes feeling like a beat in her head. A pulse that matches the turbine’s rhythm.
“Last night was really bad,” she said.

While Jason, who works nights, wasn’t having much trouble with the turbine noise, it was keeping Ann and her children from sleeping well at night. They were tired all the time. They were also getting frequent headaches.

And there was trouble with their animals as well. The Wirtz family raise alpaca and have a breeding herd. Ann says the alpaca became jumpy the first day the turbines went on line. “Normally they are so calm. But the day the towers started up, they seemed to panic. They were on their back legs right away.”

Ann says the herd had always been docile and healthy, with no breeding problems. Since the wind farm started up, their temperament has changed and none of the females have been able to carry a pregnancy to full term. “ They’re nervous all the time now. And I can’t prove anything but I do know my animals. And I really felt something was wrong. All the years we’ve had them we’ve never had a problem.”

Then today Treehugger.com tweeted about the death of goats in Japan. The turbines disturbed the goats' living patterns until they were unable to eat, and ended up starving to death. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/05/taiwanese-wind-farm-kills-goats-sleep-deprivation.php

What to do? Fossil fuels cause greenhouse gases, wind turbines disturb natural patterns, and solar energy requires massive amount of technology and batteries. As our knowledge of alternative energy sources increases exponentially over the next few years, I'm sure that humanity will create less wasteful ways to create energy. But in the meantime, perhaps smaller, more grassroots ways of collecting energy are the way to go?

This article in the NY Times talks about a couple who decided to put a wind turbine up at their own home. You can tell even from the picture that this kind of turbine is much less disruptive than the giant ones from wind farms.

Building our own alternative energy sources at home could also be an effective way to experiment with different design models, instead of industries turning out a massive number of giant towers for a farm. To describe this with a plant metaphor, the wind farms are kind of like a mono-crop, susceptible to one type of problem, whereas small-scale home with many types of energy sources is like a diverse forest, with all kinds of systems acting together.

In the end, there are always ups and downs to every solution for the energy crisis. But as always, the main goal is: use less, be creative, and keep moving towards efficiency.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Down with Worms, Up with Bokashi?

Yeah, so my second vermicompost (worm composting) bin is on the outs. *weep*

The first failure was my own fault. I was keeping the bin indoors, on a shelf in my kitchen. The best spot for it happened to be next to the radiator, and since it was winter, I forgot how easy it is for the compost to dry out next to all that hot air. All the worms got too dehydrated and vanished.

So then I got a second shipment of worms (thanks Uncle Jim's Worm Farm!) I was starting to get some ribbing from people for keeping compost inside, plus with all the kombucha and mushrooms I'm already growing, I thought there might be a little too much microbial action happening already in my apartment. (Don't worry, I've since changed my mind about this, as you're soon to find out!) So I put the bin outside on the concrete slab, next to all my new native plants from the Baltimore FlowerMart.

I should never have left that full tub of lettuce sitting in the garbage can tempt me. I forgot one of the most important tips about composting: Always freeze the scraps you are planning on putting into your compost! This helps kill any fly eggs or other unwelcome pests.

But instead I took that darn lettuce from the garbage can and tossed it right in to the compost. Or maybe some other contaminated food was the culprit. In any case, my vermicompost bin become a fly infested mess several weeks later.

To avoid spraying any chemical insecticides, I decided to just seal my whole bin up in plastic. (Don't worry, I used 7th Generation trash bags!). I'll open it in a few weeks to see if the flies have died, and if there are any worms left. But I think I'll take a little break from vermicomposting.

After doing some research into indoor composting, I found out about this awesome stuff called Bokashi. Here's a website for details: http://www.composterconnection.com/site/bokashi-bran.html Basically it looks like its bran, molasses, and salt that's been mixed with beneficial microbes.

There's a whole set-up you can buy, and it looks like you are supposed to layer a ton of the Bokashi with your compost, but if I've learned anything from the worms and kombucha, you can pretty much toss stuff together in a bin and it will break down. I'm planning on just using my vermicompost bin, buying a bag of this stuff, and mixing it in with my food waste and wet shredded paper.

I could go on and on now about other composting tips I've learned, but I guess I will save some for the future! Can't wait to let you all know how this Bokashi stuff turns out. For about $15, it's worth it, and it's sure to be a fun experiment.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mushroom Success!

This photo was taken about two or three days ago. I came home tonight and checked out the box to find this ginormous portobello!

I knew that it would be really fresh tasting, but was still shocked at the deliciousness. Very firm texture, and it's hard to describe what "fresh" tastes like, but there was definitely a noticeable difference. I couldn't even bring myself to cook the thing!

Here's a sillier pic of my shocked face (I'm not going to say I didn't gasp with a slight amount of horror at seeing a huge mushroom so suddenly, but I got over it!):

Yay successful summertime projects!


Indoor Gardening Photos!

Potatoes growing out of a bag of soil in my kitchen. About half a dozen organic potatoes sprouted before I could eat them, and this is the result.

Now I wait for the plants to bloom, then die, then I dig up the 'taters!

Another photo where you can see the grow bag. (Parsley is growing out of the coffee can) More photos of plants growing out of bags of soil can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/1112006@N23/


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Weekend Twestoration

Decided I'd go ahead and post a link to the Wildlife Habitat "Twestoration" project, where people can post photos of their environmental restoration project (or add a #nwf hashtag to your tweets!). I have some mixed feelings about focusing too much on the intersection of "green" and social networking (too much computers, not enough hands-on sometimes?) but overall its very rewarding to be able to share project ideas and tips with like-minded folks.

Since we don't even have a scrap of yard at all around our apartment building/rowhouse, I have mostly been gardening inside in small containers. (Potatos, fennel, parsley, beans, basil, and lettuce, in very small amounts!) But then a series of projects coalesced over the last few weeks, and all of a sudden, I found myself with a much more comprehensive wildlife area than I planned, right on the concrete by our trashcans!

More pictures are available here

1. Moved my vermicompost outside and set the bin up on buckets to prevent rat invasion.

2. Built a rain barrel through the Herring Run Watershed Association. Collected rain water that collected some kind of film of white/orange particles on it. Decided not to use water for my vegetables, but still want to collect rainwater to prevent it from eroding the soil and sweeping trash right into the Bay. Collected rainwater will be perfect for new, non-edible plants.

3. Went to FlowerMart this past weekend and picked up a few plants for the dirt-filled paint buckets in our backyard. Since I have a bit of a "function" obsession, I got herbal plants that are native to the Mid-Atlantic region that attract pollinators. Also some native carnivorous plants because they're awesome.

- Goldenseal
- Black Cohosh
- Mountain Mint (smells wonderful!)
- Pitcher Plants and Sun Dews

I left the plants in their pots right now since they still look kind of fragile, but hopefully I'll be able to re-pot them in the giant buckets one day, and we will have a whole Mid-Atlantic regional wonderland going on right on top of the cement!


More Poetry!

There were a few good responses to the poem I posted earlier, so I thought I'd go ahead and post the poem I'm turning in for class tomorrow. This is for selfish reasons: I want your suggestions!

I'm looking for words with hard "C" sounds to replace "heartbeats," "antennae," and "ancient fears." Yeesh, I feel like a poet writing that sentence *insert wryly sarcastic eye-roll here* Other suggestions always taken into account! Anyways, a poem that was inspired on my way out the front door this morning:

Sorry, Kafka
Sorry, Kafka

I kicked the carapace down the stairs.

There was a cockroach in the corner
so I crushed it, coughing, scraped
its corpse off my shoe.

One crumpled antennae quivered, a cacophony
of creeps clamored through my corpus;

I quelled my archaic cowardice.

A cockroach was in the corner
so I crushed it, kicked its carapace
down the stairs.


Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day Weekend Festivities

Thought I'd try to sneak in a quick post here about all the great stuff going on this weekend. I did a quick search about May Day and found out that it is the pagan start of summer! (and of course, it has also become a celebration of labor rights. I of course am subverting the system by learning about permaculture on the job and sneaking a peek at my new zines)

Of course, better weekend event calendars can be found at the Baltimore City Paper site, Metro Mix, or BeatBots, but here is my little condensed version.


Friday, May 1

Benefit at the Floristree for local record store heros True Vine: http://www.beatbots.com/board/YaBB.pl?num=1241035833

Annual FlowerMart in Mt. Vernon: http://www.flowermart.org/

Some old school friends of mine own TAG Galleries and they are having an event tonight as well. Lots of stuff that reminds me of Juxtapoz Magazine.

Saturday, May 2

What's up @wildlife_watch and @nwf ! The National Wildlife Federation is my Twitter-friend (well, wildlife_watch is my real life friend, but anyway). They have really been ramping up their use of social networking sites, with Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook pages where you can post photos of wildlife and environmental restoration projects. I'm planning on hooking up my new rainbarrel and getting some native plants to put in the soil-filled paint buckets out back of our building!

Free Comic Books Day at Atomic Books (Also can be found on Twitter! @atomicbooks)

I.E. Poetry Series at Load of Fun

Gunwife Gone at The Wind-Up: Tiffany Dafoe is an amazing human being, and I haven't yet heard her play sax but I hear she's great. And the Wind-Up is one of my favorite new spaces in Baltimore (it's so open and fresh inside!) so I'm hoping I can make it to this show.

Sunday, May 3 Pow-Wow! I have been hearing about this underground Baltimore celebration since I moved here 3 years ago, and still haven't made it there. I have the feeling you might have to pay your Baltimore dues before you get to make it there? In any case, a crazy time in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I'm hoping to maybe bring some kombucha to share with the crowd? And my knitting to keep me company. Let me know if you're going to be there and maybe we'll meet up?!

Next week: I'll be reading at UB for the release of our literary publication Welter! Plus Animal Collective at the Ottobar (which is sold out, trying to sneak in somehow but don't think that's happening :*( And more to come!

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