My Brand New Homebrew Soda Carbonator

Erik won the good husband award this Valentine’s Day. He surprised me with my very own soda making machine. This is not a SodaStream–it’s better. It’s an industrial strength CO2 tank topped with sturdy dials and valves and whatnot, all sourced from the local homebrew shop. He’s going to do a how-to post soon (tomorrow maybe?) on how to put together the parts, and how to use it. So hold on for tho...

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The Energy Environment Simulator

Photo: Niklas Vollmer. Sometime in the mid-nineties I was thrift shopping in San Diego with my friend Niklas Vollmer. I can still remember the moment we stumbled on the Energy-Environment Simulator. We couldn’t stop laughing and we realized that we had to buy it. How often do you run into an Energy-Environment Simulator in working condition? t’s been the centerpiece of Nik’s living room ever since, even makin...

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Dave Miller on Baking with 100% Whole Wheat

My bread baking obsession has fallen into roughly three periods or phases. First came the Nancy Silverton years, when I went through her complex and not always successful recipes. Then came a period when I was too busy to bake much, so I turned to no-knead bread, dominated by Chad Robertson’s first cookbook. Results were better but I was still making white bread. My new bread baking adventure began this weekend when I t...

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Stern Sprouted Wheat Vegan Cookie or Health Bar Type Things

...Then let it sit around at room temperature. Give it a rinse every morning and every night until it sprouts. Toss it around a bit so it aerates. Wheat will sprout in 24- 36 hours, depending on temperatures. I should pause here to point out that since this all happens at room temperature, you want to be careful about cleanliness. Keep your hands and tools and containers very clean. Don’t let the sprouts get too long (i.e. too old)  when makin...

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What the Internet Will Look Like After the Zombie Apocalypse

..., completely independent of the internet. The map above is the network built by HAMs in Austin, Texas. Basically it’s a bunch of hacked Linksys routers connecting wirelessly over a wide area. Plug a laptop into any of the routers and you can trade messages, files and live video back and forth. This is possible because it just happens that the frequency range of off the shelf wireless routers overlaps with amateur radio frequencies making it...

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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

...eated and cooled buildings are adapted to local climate conditions. Current construction practices tend to favor the same type of ramshackle 2×4 and drywall buildings from California to Long Island, and all the climate zones in between. Just stick an air conditioner on top, put in a heating unit, and you’re done. Sadly, most buildings are an energy efficiency disaster. Poor design is so prevalent, it is shocking once you know what to l...

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Ten Uses for Palm Fronds

...palm fronds can be made into creepy masks. Get good at this craft and open an Etsy store. 2. Make a roof. Weave them together and you’ve got the perfect roof for your tiki hut. Warning: you’ll need a lot. 3. Make a low quality mulch. Using palm fronds as mulch is somewhat controversial. The stuff takes forever to break down. Our arborist told me that some conventional citrus growers use palm frond mulch specifically because it takes...

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On the Back Porch of America

...ot Simple pal and LA bike revolutionary, Ben Guzman and his business partner Angela Wood produce videos, through their company Small Medium Large, that readers of this blog will love. Small Medium Large’s series, The Back Porch of America, is like the Foxfire books come to life. You can watch a couple of episodes here. This is what television would look like if we dispensed with false reality show drama and treated subjects with respect. Fo...

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How to Deal with Extremely Root Bound Plants

...around to help me take them, and the battery on the camera was flashing red, but I needed to get those plants in the ground as quickly as possible. I only had time for a couple of bad shots. How to Save Root Bound Plants First off, I’ve found that root bound plants are often dehydrated plants, because the pots are mostly full of roots, making the soil hard and water repellant. If this is so, it helps to give the plants a good soaking before...

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The Theme of a Great Garden

...rough stonework and the use of California native plants. The garden feels as if exists in a time before humans. It got me wondering how thematics would play out in a more modest home landscape. Perhaps, when it comes time to design a garden it would be useful to toss around a few abstract words and ideas to help unify the design vocabulary of the garden. Picking a theme or several related themes could make it easier when it comes to making plant...

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