Live Like a Stoic for a Week

Image: Rugu. A group of British academics are asking an important question: “Can the ancient philosophy of Stoicism help us to lead better and happier lives?” This week they’ll be providing everything from a Stoicism Handbook to recorded meditations to help wake your inner Seneca. They are also asking for people to participate in a week-long experiment to see what kind of effect Stoic philosophy can have on day to day living. C...

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Self-Righteousness Fail: We Bought a Car

At least we got something interesting to drive. Image: Paleofuture. Back in March, a video producer who was texting-while-driving slammed into me and totaled the early 90′s hatchback that Kelly and I shared. We went from a one car household to a car-free household overnight. A combination of environmental guilt and distaste for car shopping led us to a six month car free living experiment in Los Angeles. That period ended in late September...

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Eight Things to Consider When Saving Vegetable Seeds

The directions for seed saving in our last book, Making It, almost got cut. Perhaps we should have just changed those directions to “Why it’s OK to buy seeds.” The fact is that it’s not easy to save the seeds of many vegetables thanks to the hard work of our bee friends. That being said, Shannon Carmody of Seed Saver’s Exchange gave a lecture at this year’s Heirloom Exposition with some tips for ambitious gar...

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Closed vs. Open Floor Plans

One of the things that attracted us to our house is that it had been neglected for most of the 20th century. With the exception of the bathroom, there was no horrendous 70s or 80s era “remodeling.” Our home’s most unfashionable characteristic is a closed floor plan. Even the kitchen still has an almost 100 year old swinging door. I’m nearly certain that the next owners of this house will knock out the kitchen wall and pu...

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How To Stop Powdery Mildew

My winter squash has what Mud Baron once described as “jock itch for plants:” powdery mildew. I’ve tried all kinds of notions and potions in the past, but this year I decided to see what the science says about powdery mildew. Our climate where I live in Los Angeles is, unfortunately, ideal for producing this vexing fungus. IPM Let’s begin with some condensed advice from UC Davis’ Integrated Pest Management page: P...

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Last of the Saddle Tramps

Mesannie Wilkins riding Rex,  Depeche Toi on Tarzan A wise man once told me it’s good practice to read books published before you were born. Last of the Saddle Tramps just makes the cut. Published in 1966, it is a memoir, Mesannie Wilkin’s accounting of her great journey from Minot, Maine to Los Angeles. On horseback. In 1954, Mesannie was 63 and she didn’t think she’d survive another winter in Maine. She’d been a f...

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Fabulous Postcards from HenCam

From Vintage Chicken Photographs. Terry says this picture reminds her of Erik. It reminds me of our friend Craig at Winnetka Farms. Whichever! Let’s hear it for tall handsome gentlemen holding poultry! Our friend Terry over at the great chicken site HenCam has produced three lovely sets of postcard books based on antique photos of people with animals. One set is people and chickens, the second is people with other livestock, and the third...

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What I’m Growing this Winter

Winter in our Mediterranean climate is when we grow cool season vegetables. It’s my favorite time of year here. The hills turn green, the smog blows away and we have that phenomenon called “rain” (hopefully). As usual, I’m planting seeds from an Italian seed company, Franchi. Here’s what I’m growing: Arugula “Coltivata Sel. Ortolani” One can never have enough arugula. It’s my favorite vege...

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Have We Reached Peak Kale? Franchi’s Cavolo Laciniato “Galega De Folhas Lisas”

I’ve heard murmurings of a kale backlash. Apparently, too many restaurants have kale salads and fancy city folks like us are losing sleep worrying what the next hip vegetable will be. I have a proposal. Let’s keep with the kale for awhile longer. I propose a Franchi kale “Galega De Folhas Lisas” as the new big thing. Translated, the variety name is something like “Galacian smooth leaf.” To add to the confusio...

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Extreme Low-Tech Communication

This has to be the ultimate achievement in low-powered long-distance communication. Ham radio operator Michael Rainey, AA1TJ, transmitted a message over a distance of over 1,000 miles by yelling Morse code with his own voice into this primitive home-made transmitter, nicknamed “El Silbo.” No power was used other than that generated by his own voice vibrating the microphone (which was a re-purposed speaker). If you want to build your...

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