Stoicism as a Toolkit for Modern Life

Lucius Annaeus Seneca ca. 4 BC – AD 65. This is the first in a series of posts focusing on positive techniques for keeping our heads screwed on straight in troubled times. Growing food, doing stuff with your hands, drinking homebrew with friends–all these kinds of things help keep us grounded and hopeful. But sometimes you need a little more help. Maybe we’ll call these posts “When chickens aren’t enough.” Whether t...

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Picture Sundays: Doberman Chariots

“Ready for the race! Brutus of Quintre and his charge are ready for the sulky races, a regular feature of some of the South African sporting events.” Photos via The Doberman Insider. Now that we are without a car, it’s time for us to figure out alternative forms of transportation. Our late dog was a Doberman and I remembered a book we used to have about the breed that showed some unusual events that used to be held in South Afr...

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Saturday Linkages: Poison, Pee and Plagiarism

Birdhouse shaped like a Google Map icon. Via Dornob. For the birds Avian Accommodations: Google Map Pin-Shaped Birdhouses | Designs & Ideas on Dornob http://dornob.com/avian-accommodations-google-map-pin-shaped-birdhouses/ … Thar she blows . . . Here’s to No-Blow Gardens | Garden Rant http://gardenrant.com/2013/03/heres-to-no-blow-gardens.html … DIY Pure Salvage: 10 Eclectic Tiny Homes Built with 99% Scrap | Designs & Ideas on Dornob...

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Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

The correct way to stake a tree. Image from the Vacaville Tree Foundation To answer the question of why tree staking should be avoided, one can turn to the latest Extension Service advice or to the nearly 2000 year old words of Seneca: No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. It...

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Notes on Mark Bittman’s “Behind the Scenes of What We Eat”

Last week Erik and I went to see well-known food writer Mark Bittman speak on food policy. He spoke in a huge room in The California Endowment–and it was a full house. Afterward, Erik and I compared it to being in church. We were surrounded by people of the same faith, being told things we already know, and being reminded to be good. And I don’t mean that in a bad way! It never hurts to meditate on how to be better, to do more. Bitt...

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Apron Contest Winner

...e me laugh, so I had to choose her as our winner. Lots of people cook and craft, but Katie cooks and crafts with an irreverent and sassy sense of humor. My kind of girl. Her entry was rather long, so I’ll just give you the highlights. She said she would first roll around on the floor and wrap herself up in the apron like a “sexy burrito.” She cooks, of course. She even makes her own recipe books of tasty treats. In addition t...

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City Repair LA

Mark Lakeman stares down the new Bimini Street salamander. Portland architect and activist Mark Lakeman, founder of the City Repair movement, is in Los Angeles for a week of lectures and activities. Lakeman believes in actions that correct what he believes is our disassociation from nature and our alienation from each other. He’s a passionate opponent of the grid, the imposition of street networks and regimented thinking that he traces ba...

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Humanure Dry Toilet Made From a Milk Crate

Modern toilets take two valuable resources, water and nitrogen rich human waste, and combine the two to create a problem: sewage. In a dry or “humanure” toilet, you cover your deposits with a layer of non-toxic sawdust. Once the toilet is full you dump the contents into your outdoor humanure pile and compost the waste at high temperatures for at least a year. You can then use that compost as fertilizer for plants. The ubiquitous fiv...

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When the Crate’s Better Than the Chair

Steve Badgett of the design/art/architecture collective Simparch tipped me off to Dutch furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld’s set of chairs built out of crates, done back in the 1930s. As Rietveld put it, “A piece of furniture made of high-grade wood and manufactured completely according to traditional production methods is transported in a crate to avoid damage…no one has ever ascertained that such a chest embodi...

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Out Of The In Box

res, which 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 b...

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