How to Answer the Question, “What Should I Do With My Life?”

Yes, that kitten is Phoebe, back in her blue-eyed days. I headed down to San Diego County earlier this summer to do a talk at Growcology. Bianca Heyming, who runs Growcology along with her husband Nick, told me some advice her dad passed on to her about how to figure out one’s path in life. It’s the best wisdom I’ve ever heard on the subject. Her dad told her, “Look at what books are on your bookshelf a...

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Getting my Ham Radio License

I often find myself doing a kind of cultural dumpster diving, searching for forgotten activities waiting to be rediscovered. Most of this scavenging takes place at Los Angeles’ massive central library on lower level two, where all the how-to books are shelved.  This month I’m finally acting on something I’ve contemplated for years: getting my amateur radio (i.e. Ham) technician’s license. I’ll be...

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Cactus Thief Strikes Again

...man who steals them . . . our losses and our pains have to do only with the things we posses.” (Discourses Book 1.18) And wanting to posses a Home Depot cactus is quite pathetic. It reminds me of something a friend told me, “Never drive by and look at a garden in a house you once owned.” Our gardens are impermanent. That impermanence is actually something that makes gardening interesting. My wandering cacti might even have a mor...

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Loquat season is here!

...ossy leaves that remind me of citrus leaves and magnolia leaves and avocado leaves all at the same time, meaning it’s vaguely tropical looking. They don’t seem to require much water or pruning–so they do well under benign neglect, though I’d suspect the fruit is best on trees which are not completely ignored.  This is the time of year when the fruit comes ripe, and it’s always kind of an exciting time because the loq...

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Food Preservation Disasters

...ed Recipes I vow to use tested recipes from trusted sources. Both for food safety reasons and culinary reasons, it’s a good idea to use trusted sources for home preservation projects. Some of the recipes I tried were from unfamiliar books and dubious websites. Some sources I’ve come to trust: The National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website. Kevin West’s book Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Cannin...

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Filter Fail: How to Cure Internet Addiction

...ation overload,” but I prefer the phrase “filter fail” that Douglas Rushkoff introduces in his book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Rushokoff borrows this idea from the writer Clay Shirky). The problem is not that there’s too much information out there. The problem is that we’ve failed to screen out what is irrelevant. It happens to me everyday and I’m not alone. This year, according to the research...

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What is Killing the Bees?

...ueens. Import hives from other climates. Feed hives high fructose corn syrup. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder warns about what happens when we prop up and interfere with complex systems like beehives or the economy. When we don’t allow failure (such as trying to prevent mites with chemicals) we set ourselves up for bigger disasters down the road. It’s very convenient to be able to p...

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Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

...ice 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 is, therefore, to the advantage even if good men, to the end that they may be unafraid, to live constantly amidst alarms and to bear with patience the happenings which are ills to him on...

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How to Bake a Traditional German Rye Bread

...ession of late on 100% or near 100% whole rye sourdough loaves. I’ve used as my guide a nicely illustrated book How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. His specialty is just the sort of rustic German style breads I’ve always wanted to learn to bake. What I love in particular about his caraway rye sourdough loaf (pictured above) is the crust. Unlike most other breads you don’t slash it before tossing it in the oven. The goal...

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