Made in the shade- Passive cooling

...re 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 look for. Have you ever leane...

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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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How to Keep Skunks Out of the Yard

...years I’ve used bird netting to keep them out of my vegetable beds. The problem with bird netting is that it’s a pain to work with–it catches on things, tangles up, and occasionally traps a bird. I hate the stuff. It took me 16 years to realize that I could exclude skunks from the entire backyard.  All it takes is a simple strategy: know thy enemy. Our new back gate. Hopefully the skunks will be scared by the...

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Online Adobe Classes With Kurt Gardella

...w online classes. More information after the jump. Dear adobe friends, I wanted to remind you that I am teaching 2 Adobe in Action online classes beginning next Monday, March 17th. The History & Basics class will give you all of the skills you need to find and test soils for use in adobe construction and also take you through the process of making your own adobe bricks: Class: History & Basics of Adobe Construction (8-Week Online Class) D...

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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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How To Make a Sourdough Starter

.... And I take requests–if there’s a topic for a video you’d like to see just leave a comment.  Making a sourdough starter is as simple as mixing flour and water. There’s no need for all the crazy things I’ve heard suggested: adding potatoes, grapes, yogurt and certainly not commercial yeast. And the yeast that makes sourdough happen is on the flour itself in far greater quantities than in the air. After following the...

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Party in the Bathroom!!!!!

...an thrilling. I wonder why cats tire of everything else (toys, perches, etc.) quickly but the faucet never loses its charm. And I can’t help but obey her every wish, because, after all, she’s dying (despite looking bright and fiendish, she is in heart failure) and she’s on lots of diuretics, so water is good for her. I am her tub slave. Phoebe says, “Hmm, the rate of flow lacks that certain je ne sais quoi, Fix it. Now....

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Virtuosic Bread Shaping

...sked her how she learned to shape pizzas. The bread being shaped here is called Markook, In Arabic, مرقوق، شراك. It’s a flatbread found throughout the Middle East (an Armenian friend who grew up in Lebanon told us about it). A casual Youtube search will reveal many different Markook shaping techniques. Here’s a pillow free version making the rounds on Facebook: Post by Akhilesh Sharma. Back to learning a difficult skill. In the...

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Get Baking and Share the Loaves

...he refrigerator. This deepens flavor, allows flexibility in your baking schedule and can help a hearth loaf hold its shape in the oven. Are you beginner? Make your bread in a loaf pan. It’s a lot more forgiving than trying to shape a boule. Use a tip sensitive thermometer to determine if your rye bread is done. Baker didn’t discuss the exact temp, but I shoot for 210°F. For wheat loaves let color be your guide–you want just shor...

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Artichoke Season at the Homegrown Revolution Compound

You can’t ask for a more perfect plant than the Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) which is also one of the most ideal plants for our climate here in coastal California. Let’s count the other reasons: They are perennial, producing and abundant crop starting with the second year. Artichokes are attractive, making an ideal choice for edible landscaping. They spread like crazy. Suckers can be transplanted elsewhere. They’re damn tasty...

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