Is Ham Radio Useful?

...The BaoFeng UV-5RE. Last year I got my general and technician amateur radio licences thanks to an easy to learn memory trick. But when it comes to actually using a radio I don’t have a clue. To learn more I joined my local club and took part this last Friday in a contest, using the club’s equipment, to talk to Hams worldwide. The contest involved the quick exchange of call signs. One moment I’d be talking to Japan the next Slov...

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Summer Urban Homestead Failures: Exploding Beer Bottles

Somehow in last week’s roundup of the summer’s failures I blocked out of my memory the most exasperating: exploding beer bottles. I think I may have had a contaminated siphon hose which passed on some nasty, yeasty bacterial bug to every single bottle of two batches of beer I had made this summer. Three of those bottles over-carbonated to the point that they became beer grenades and exploded. One blew up on the kitchen counter and...

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Thoughts on Samhain

...e Catholic Church November 1st is also marked as All Saint’s Day and the 2nd as All Soul’s Day, both of which honor the dead, the sainted dead and the faithful departed, respectively. And All Soul’s Day is better known around here as Dia de los Muertos (and celebrated in style). Face it, this is the time of year to deal with mortality and memory. Halloween is lots of fun. (I love the genial anarchy of both Halloween and Fourth o...

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Everlasting Flower for Colds

...t until this week. I’ve only had one cold since last summer, and that one hit so fast and hard I just sort of gave up on doing anything but riding it out. The one I have this week is more of a typical head cold, and  a good chance for a field test. And I can say that I think they helped. But I’m not sure how. My confusion is a result of memory vs. notes. I remember James saying he takes this tea instead of Day Quill whenever he has a...

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Revolution: A New TV Series About Extreme Suburban Homesteading

...then make a pilgrimage to Chicago to find her uncle and rescue her brother. Her uncle turns out to be running an artisanal cocktail operation in a derelict hotel that has, as most post-apocalyptic films have, an endless supply of either beeswax or tallow with which to keep hundreds of torches lit 24 hours a day. 5 We find out that the uncle possesses secret ninja skills–having, apparently, spent the past fifteen years working on both artisa...

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Emergency water storage

...er comes from a well or other untreated source, then you should treat it prior to storage by adding 1/8 teaspoon of regular, unscented chlorine bleach to each gallon of water.   Treating dodgy water: If you suspect that your water is contaminated–for instance, if after an emergency you doubt the cleanliness of the water from the tap, you should take steps to purify it before drinking. These are things to commit to memory, or maybe pin on th...

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Happy Halloween!

...k. Anyway, for on Halloween night I try to have a good dinner in a clean house–to set a high tone for rest of the year. I also like to burn lights on this night, and toast the dead with whiskey. Of course most people know that the Halloween practices of parading around in costume and carving turnips (or in the New World, pumpkins) are artifacts of old Celtic tradition. Some lesser known Samhain activities one might consider include: Slaugh...

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It’s official: I’m a Ham

...of Congress. It’s been on my to-do list for years–get my ham radio licence. I took a six week class offered by the Pasadena Radio Club to study for the technician class licence and on a whim crammed for the general class. I passed both tests and as of yesterday am now also known as KK6HUF. Many thanks to W6MES, who volunteered his time to teach the class and to the major memory system for helping with all those numbers. It was a lot...

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Out Of The In Box

...h contains plans for everything from a simple chair to a multi-level home, all in a distinct modular style. Best of all, it’s available as a pdf for free here along with a couple of other interesting books from the period. Above is Isaac’s clever cube crapper. Not much headroom in the head, but what a nice view. Isaac’s work has a playful plywood-meets-the-moon lander vibe. I think I would have loved this modular bunk bed as a k...

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Avatar: I’m not lovin’ it.

...ou’ve got Cameron’s jungle. Add the fiber optics and you’ve got a computer geek’s vision of Mother Earth. What bugs me about the critical reaction to Avatar is the idea that the movie somehow represents a yearning for contact with the natural world (ironic in a movie that substitutes flesh and blood actors with digital puppets). In fact, Avatar is an artifact of a culture profoundly out of touch with nature. and serves on...

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