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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Composting the Deceased/ My DIY Funeral Fantasies

...rate sufficient heat in an open boat to render the body to ash, so (best case scenario) the body will end up in the water, which is okay (as far as I, the deceased would be concerned, see fantasy #2) but not such a good thing for anyone who finds my barbequed corpse floating about, nor such a good thing in smaller bodies of water, where I’d be a pollutant. A low end version of this would be setting my ashes afloat in a wicker basket and usi...

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Breadbaking (Level 1) Class at the Ecology Center

...harvesting, processing, and shipping store-bought bread), using less plastic packaging, and spending less money. Become a baker and join us during this heart-healthy workshop to learn how. Instructor: Erik Knutzen Cost is $20 for Ecology center members and $30 for non-members. The Ecology Center is located at 32701 Alipaz St. in San Juan Capistrano, California....

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Biochar: Miracle or Gimmick?

charcoal used as a soil amendment. The University of Minnesota Extension service is in the midst of a four year study to test the use of biochar in vegetable gardens. Preliminary results (which you can read here) show benefit for some crops such as kale, but a decrease in growth for others such as asparagus. The more we learn about biochar, the more we need to learn. From an overall standpoint, there appeared to be some benefit of using biochar i...

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Power to the Peoplemover, a Zine About Riding the Bus

The cover of issue 2.0 of Power to the Peoplemover Many hours spent on the bus in the past two months, thanks to the dude who totaled our car, has reminded me of the conceptual ancestor of this blog, a zine about bus riding I edited in the early 1990s with Canadian artist Michael Waterman called Power to the Peoplemover (PPM). For the kids out there zines were, essentially, xeroxed blogs. We didn’t have the interwebs, but we did have some...

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Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

The correct way to stake a tree. Image from the Vacaville Tree Foundation To answer the question of why tree staking should be avoided, one can turn to the latest Extension Service advice 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...

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Butterfly Barrier Failure

So my idea about using 1/2 inch bird netting as a cabbage leaf worm butterfly barrier? Failure. Above is the photographic evidence–a butterfly caught within the netting. So two alternatives: Floating row cover (inconvenient and too warm for our climate) More biodiversity in the garden I’m liking the biodiversity option the best. Planting a bunch of brassicas is like opening an all you can eat buffet for cabbage leaf worms. Our bac...

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What To Do With Old Vegetable Seeds

In short, throw them around. We’ve got a lot of expired seed packages sitting in a shoe box. And I’ve been reading a newly published translation of a book by the late, “natural farmer” Masanobu Fukuoka (review coming soon). Fukuoka inspired me to distribute those old seeds around our micro-orchard to see what comes up. Fukuoka has some tips in his book The Natural Way of Farming for creating a semi-wild vegetable garden:...

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The Perfect Chicken Coop?

Do a Google image search for “chicken coop” and a solid majority of the results will look very much like this nearly 100 year old coop featured in The Gardener’s and Poultry Keeper’s Guide and Illustrated Catalog. Why is this basic design still with us? The attached run gives chickens some space to scratch around in while keeping them safe from predators if you can’t make it home by dark. You can hang a feeder in...

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