Book Review: The Machine Stops by E.M. Forester

...achine Stops, a haunting, odd–and oddly prescient– short story about the dangers of over-reliance on technology. It is extra noteworthy for a few reasons. The first is that it was written by E.M. Forster. Yes, that one. Passage to India Forster. Room with a View Forster. Who knew he dipped his toe in SF? The second remarkable thing is that he did this toe dipping in 1909. In 1909, the telephone was a new technology, and radio in its i...

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Barefoot Running: No Shoes, No Problem

...less cautious when using new devices of unknown benefit because of overly positive attitudes associated with new technology and novel devices.” The point about “overly positive attitudes associated with new technology” is a lesson well worth remembering, it seems to me. I could go on and on. I think this poetic video of a young man from Kenya, who has never worn shoes in his life, says it all: As Kirk Anderson says, “Ba...

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The Great Cellphone Debate

The one that worked–with bail bond ad! Kelly and I share a cellphone, and I’m always trying to think of ways to ditch it, if just to have one less bill every month. I often deliberately leave it at home when out of the house. I hate being interrupted by it and I dislike the social awkwardness of public phone conversations. Not that many people call our cellphone anyways as we don’t give out the phone number much. When...

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Advances in Gardening Series: A Progress Report

Yes, you’ve seen this before. But Erik looks so bad ass with his sledgehammer, I just had to put it up again. Some of you may remember that back in November we ripped out most of our back yard, redesigning the layout to maximize our growing space, and accommodate interests we have now that we didn’t have when we put in the original plantings. We’ve learned from this experience that you should never be afraid to change...

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How To Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

Photo by Flickr user leibolmai Freezing foods is just about the most boring food preservation method. It’s also the easiest and best way to preserve nutrients. But, when it comes to freezing fresh vegetables from the garden there is one important step: blanching. Blanching slows down enzymatic activity that can deteriorate the quality of what you freeze. How much to blanch depends on the vegetable in question. Thankfully...

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Making Salves, Lip Balms & etc.: Close of the Calendula Series

My calendula after-bath salve. The camera refuses to capture the deep butter yellow color On Saturday, as a part of this long series on Calendula (here, here and here), I posted about infusing oil with herbs. If you’ve got some herb infused oil, you can make that into a medicinal salve or balm. Salve is nothing but oil thickened by the addition of wax. I prefer beeswax salves, though there are vegan alternatives, like candelil...

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Clean your bathroom without resorting to Poison

We talk about non-toxic housecleaning in almost every lecture we do, and we cover it in both books, but I can’t remember if we’ve talked about cleaning the bathroom on this blog. We did cover how to clean kitchen sink fairly recently, but I’m not sure what else we’ve done.  Of course, I know my regular Root Simple readers are so hardcore they could give me tips in this area, but I thought it would be good to cover non-to...

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Rooftop SIP Garden in LA

Got to visit John Zapf’s vertiginous LA compound yesterday. He’s got an amazing rooftop vegetable garden using self irrigating pots. John has little sun in the yard so the roof is only option for veggies. He uses drip line to refill the reservoirs. Reminds me of the Green Roof Growers of Chicago (minus the extreme weather). His two cents on what to grow: chard good, zucchini good, corn in pots not so good. For more info on self ir...

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Harvesting and Drying Calendula

Mrs. Homegrown here: Okay, so in a previous post I talked about growing Calendula. This post I’m going to talk about harvesting and drying it. The next post I’ll do on the topic will be about making a skin-healing salve from the dried petals, olive oil and beeswax. When to harvest:  Start harvesting your Calendula as soon as the first flush of flowers is in full bloom. Don’t try to “save” the flowers. The more you...

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What Mountaineering Accidents Can Teach Us About Food Preservation

Would you eat pickles made by these two? Each year the American Alpine Club publishes a book detailing all the mountaineering accidents in North America. The club’s goal is simple, as they put it, “to help you learn from the mistakes of others.” I’ve often thought that the same approach should be applied to many of the activities we love in the homesteading movement, especially food preservation. Now, I think t...

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