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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The Energy Environment Simulator

...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 making a cross country move. The device demonstrates energy inputs and demands. Depending on how you turn the knobs, you can either engineer a future of never-ending power or, on...

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Dave Miller on Baking with 100% Whole Wheat

...ance between elasticity and extensibility. Our job as bakers, Miller suggests, is to understand what gives bread its form and to shape and bake dough at the best possible moment. Much of the weekend was spent analyzing what can go wrong and how to fix it–the causes of over-proofing, under-proofing, bad color etc. If you’re scaling ingredients, noting the temperature and controlling variables as best you can, it’s a matter of ded...

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What laundry detergent should I use for greywater applications?

...of “whiteners” and “brighteners” found in grocery store brands. To me, this is a plus.  It is not found on supermarket shelves. I have seen it in some health food stores, but we order it online. This is not too bad of a deal because it is concentrated, so a gallon bottle lasts a long time. 2)  The second option is soap nuts. Soap nuts are the dried fruit of the soap nut tree–they look a little like a cross between a...

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A viewing suggestion from the media arm of Root Simple

...17;m typing on to communicate with the outside world, to the electric light burning beside me. Bless the BBC for making Tudor Monastery Farm (a title which I believe would not fly on American television). This is a quiet series showing three historians/archeologists at play in the Weald & Downland Open Air History Museum, trying out some of the skills they’d need to be tenant farmers to the local monastery. It has some of the structure...

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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 those det...

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On the Back Porch of America

I rag on Hollywood a lot. But today, for a change, I get to point to something positive. Root 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 woul...

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From the Archives: Loquat Leather

Judging from the reaction to Mrs. Homegrown’s post yesterday it looks like some folks have a loquat obsession. Welcome home brothers and sisters. At the risk of tooting my own loquat horn and repeating an old blog post, Mrs. H neglected to mention my controversial 2012 loquat leather experiment and recipe. You’ve still got to de-seed the damn things but at least there’s no need to skin them. Plus it makes us...

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Summer Nights in the Garden at the Natural History Museum

Join us for an evening of music, art, nature and science at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum’s Summer Nights in the Garden. We’ll be part of the festivities this Friday July 25th where we’ll be: POTTING SUCCULENTS! They’re one of the most low maintenance plants out there, and one that’s perfect for our dry L.A. climate. Urban homesteading experts Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne are here to help you...

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