Skyglow Raises Awareness of Light Pollution

Two local LA photographers, Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan, just surpassed their Kickstarter goal to fund a very worthy project: a book, using the duo’s stunning timelapse photography to raise awareness of the problem of light pollution. For us humans, if we can’t see the night sky we lose our sense of wonder. But light pollution also harms many of the earth’s organisms, from migrating birds to insects.

This is one of those problems that would be relatively easy to fix simply by making sure that lighting is not directed upwards and by using bulbs that emit light on a limited portion of the spectrum. And we’ll save energy in the process. Unfortunately, as the Los Angeles Weekly recently reported, the City of Los Angeles has not done a good job with light pollution.

If you’d like to contribute to Mehmedinovic and Heffernan’s project, their website is skyglowproject.com. And check out our post on light pollution, Why Your Garden Should Be Dark at Night.

Saturday Tweets: Holiday Weekend Edition

Tools for Conquering Internet Addiction

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I think there are two deadly sins for the DIYer: One is accumulating cast off items for theoretical future projects. The other is falling into the trap of either researching a subject so thoroughly that somehow you never get around to actually doing it, or avoiding doing that research in the first place by checking email, Facebook or any of the other anti-productive tools our Silicon Valley overlords subject us to.  It’s the distraction problem I’d like to look at today.

The state of restless research and “busyness” that leads to ultimate inaction is an aspect of what was known in the Middle Ages as acedia and what has misleadingly come to be known as “sloth”. For me it begins this way, “I’ll just check my email.” Then, two hours later, I’ve descended to the click bait circle of  hell where I’m viewing all the latest cat memes, 80s music videos and hitting the “like” button like a mouse in a Skinner box.

I’ve become very worried in the past few years about this interweb induced state of acedia. As Nicholas Carr observed in his prescient 2008 article in the Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” I’ve noticed that my attention span seems to be shrinking and that I’m less able to sit down and read books without the temptation to jump on the Internet and look stuff up. I’ve also noticed that I’m having a harder time initiating and completing the sort of gardening, cooking, food preservation and general DIY projects that provide fodder for this blog and for our books.

I think it’s time for some drastic action. It’s time to limit certain highly additive and often counter-productive Internet activities such as email, social media and general surfing not related to my core mission. Two tools I’m evaluating are LeechBlock, which works with the Firefox browser and allows you to block up to six sets of sites for certain periods of the day and two Chrome-based apps, Stay Focused and Strict Workflow (which uses a Pomodoro timer, an enforced 25 minute work period I’ve found helpful).

In the past I’ve found limiting email and social media to two brief periods a day, in the morning and late afternoon, really enhances my productivity. The problem is that I’ve fallen off this wagon. I’m hoping that these apps will get me back into this twice a day communications habit. I’m also thinking of taking the radical step of limiting emails to five sentences using the fivesentenc.es email signature.

While I find the internet to be a very useful research tool, not to mention a great way to publish my thoughts in both words and audio, I’ve become concerned of late with unintended consequences. At the risk of seeming alarmist, I think we may be in for some turbulent years as the full implications of a hyper-connected world work their way through our culture. Anyone watching Wolf Hall? The unmentioned offstage character in that drama is the printing press. Mobile computing, texting and the “Internet of things” could prove even more disruptive than Gutenberg’s invention.

Is Internet addiction a problem for you? What technique or tools have you found useful?

047 Done is Better Than Perfect

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Our guest this week is my East Coast doppelganger, Eric Rochow of Gardenfork.tv (who also interviewed me on GardenFork Radio episode 377). Eric covers all kinds of DIY topics: everything from gardening, to beekeeping to slow cooking to, well, just about anything you can think of. He also produces an excellent podcast. During our interview we discuss:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Cottage Food Operations Workshop Offered by UC Cooperative Extension

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For folks in Southern California who are thinking of starting a home based food business, UC Extension has a class coming up that will help you get started. UCCE assures me that the information provided will be of interest to anyone thinking about starting a Cottage Food operation, not just farmers. For more information contact: Rachel Surls, Sustainable Food Systems Advisor UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County (626) 586-1982 [email protected] Here’s the info:

Who should attend?

This workshop is designed especially for farmers of fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and honey interested in making value-added products in home kitchens as Cottage Food Operations (CFOs). Workshop is open to everyone.

What is a Cottage Food Operation?

The California Homemade Food Act (AB1616) allows individuals to prepare and package certain non-potentially hazardous foods in private-home kitchens referred to as “Cottage Food Operations” (CFOs). Processed meat, dairy, fermented foods, and juices are NOT legally acceptable cottage foods.

Learn about:

• Cottage Food Law

• Food science and sanitation

• Information about processing jams/jellies, honey, nuts, dried fruit, baked goods

• Packaging and storage

• Business operations for CFOs

Please come join us for this one day event: Wednesday, June 17, 2015

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Morning refreshments and lunch will be provided.

UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County
700 W. Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801

Registration required: $25 with online payment by June 10 or Register online: http://ucanr.edu/cforegla

This project is funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

$40 at the door, space permitting

Saturday Tweets: Rat Paths, Compostable Cups and Phosphorus

DIY Portable Pizza Oven

I just spoke with Eric Rochow of GardenFork.TV .(He’ll be our guest on the next podcast.) If you don’t know Gardenfork, you should. Eric has put together a lot of cool videos and podcasts. One of my favorite is this portable pizza oven. I’m thinking of building one for local events. For more info on Eric’s pizza oven check out his pizza oven page.

046 Caring for Older Cats

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In this special Catcast, we talk to Dr. Tracy McFarland, who was our guest on Episode 36, about caring for older cats. During the podcast we discuss:

  • Signs you need to take the cat to the vet
  • Dental disease
  • Oxifresh oral hygene
  • The dietary needs of older cats
  • Dry or wet food?
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Water
  • Hyperthyroidism
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  • Grooming
  • Step stools
  • Checking your cat’s teeth and gums
  • Feeding times
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Integrating older and younger cats
  • Heating pads for older cats

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Citrus limetta, a.k.a. Sweet Lemon, a.k.a. Sweet Lime

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A few years ago, Kelly discovered an unusual citrus, by mistake, at our local Armenian market, Super King. I say by mistake because what she thought was a lemon turned out to be Citrus limetta, labeled as “sweet lime”. Unlike a lemon, it’s sweet with lime flavor notes and a hard to describe exotic backspin.

Adding to the confusion, sweet limes are also known as sweet lemons and a host of other popular names in the Middle East and India where they are popular. Though somewhat watery, I like to eat them fresh, but they are most commonly used for juice. I should note that Kelly is not fond of the flavor.

This citrus is also not anything like a Meyer lemon which, while sweeter than a normal lemon, still tastes like a lemon.

From what little information I could find on sweet limes, there are several different varieties. You’re most likely to find this fruit in places with a large Iranian population. Should you find yourself in such a market, see if you can also score a medlar.