Climate Crisis Summit


Climate scientist Peter Kalmus, a friend of Root Simple and a guest on our podcast (116 and 39), took a long train trip this past week to be a part of the Climate Crisis Summit in Iowa with Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Here’s what Peter had to say on the Twitters,

I’ve found two articles since Bernie’s climate summit. One in NYT which focused condescendingly on the “buddy movie” aspect (not climate), and one in the Iowa State Daily that led with a climate denier. This event was a huge deal. The media continues to fail on climate.

In the interest of not failing on climate here at Root Simple I’ve embedded the summit in its entirety.

134 Eric of Garden Fork on Mental Decluttering, Washing Machine Repair and More!

On the 134th episode of the podcast we talk to DIYer, YouTuber and podcaster Eric Rochow of Garden Fork TV on some eclectic DIY notions and projects including why he’s quitting beekeeping, mental decluttering, washing machine repair, print making and more.ing,

Watch Garden Fork on Youtube and subscribe to the Garden Fork Podcast. You can also find Garden Fork on Patreon.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected] You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Our Hot Streets Are an Opportunity

I can’t remember where I got this idea from but I think it was Alissa Walker or someone she was writing about who had the bright idea to go out and check the temperature of our streets on a hot day with a IR thermometer. Since I have one of these handy gadgets for firing up my pizza oven, I thought I’d head out in the neighborhood at around 2:30 in the afternoon and take some temperature readings.

The asphalt in front of our house measured an egg-frying, temperature of 135.3º F (57.3 C).

A rare, tree-lined Los Angeles street one block over was a lot cooler at 80.9º F (27.1º C).

A few blocks north, and to much fanfare, our city coated an asphalt street with a gray coating as part of a “cool pavement” program. The temp on this street was 120.8º F (49.3º C).

Being a crank I have two conclusions:

1. Let’s plant trees.

2. How about instead of painting streets gray we do something really radical and pull them up entirely and start cooling people rather than serving cars?

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Recent research has found that when manufacturing emissions are taken into account, most cool pavements hurt the climate more than they help.”

So, as is typical for our mayor Eric Garcetti it’s all about the press conference and not so much about the actual science. The one glimmer of hope that I have is that people younger than myself are catching on to the empty gestures of neo-liberal, pseudo-environmental politicians like Garcetti and the rest of the Los Angeles City Council. They are beginning to see a more radical alternative to business as usual. As Mark Fisher says in a book everyone should read, Capitalist Realism Is There No Alternative?,

The long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect. The tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism. From a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again.

So how about we tear a hole in these hot streets and plant some trees?

Save Civilization With a Toilet Auger

What is most important of all human tools? My dear brothers and sisters, today we need to talk about the toilet auger, guardian of the real “flow state” that keeps us all civilized.

First a caveat. If you have a serious plumbing issue you should call a plumber. In the past I’ve made the mistake of trying to do things in the plumbing realm myself causing damage and insulting the collective intelligence of the plumbing profession. A good plumber is a trained professional able to solve the mysteries of proper venting, install rigid copper pipe in tight spaces without burning the house down and willing to crawl through spider infested basements and even face sleeping mountain lions.

That said, sometimes you’ve got to unclog the toilet before the plumber can arrive to solve the underlying problem. I know about this because, and there’s no way to say this discretely, our last toilet lacked the proper geometry and force with which to banish the previous evening’s intemperate feasting. Because of our crappy crapper, my toilet auger and I had a once-a-week conclave.

Unlike a regular plumber’s snake a toilet auger has a graceful bend so that you won’t scratch the porcelain. And it works a lot better than a plunger. Go down to your local hardware store and get one today. Or, better yet, make thee a dry toilet and you’ll never have to flush or use a toilet auger again. But until that day and, my brothers and sisters we’re not there yet ourselves, wield your toilet auger as a righteous sword! Or would a better metaphor be as a lasso of filth? You decide.

Make Magazine: Online and Free

Update: It appears that the archive was taken down at the request of the magazine shortly after I wrote this post. Thanks Sean for letting me know!

I was sorry to hear that Make Magazine and its parent company Maker Media are calling it quits. Founder Dale Dougherty promises to bring the concept back at some future date but until that time there’s some good news. You can access all issues of Make Magazine for free at Archive.org.
An article in Tech Crunch quotes Dougherty,

“We’re trying to keep the servers running” Dougherty tells me. “I hope to be able to get control of the assets of the company and restart it. We’re not necessarily going to do everything we did in the past but I’m committed to keeping the print magazine going and the Maker Faire licensing program.” The fate of those hopes will depend on negotiations with banks and financiers over the next few weeks. For now the sites remain online.

[Update 6/9/19: Dougherty tells me he’s been overwhelmed by the support shown by the Maker community. For now, licensed Maker Faire events around the world will proceed as planned. Dougherty also says he’s aware of Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey’s interest in funding the company, and a GoFundMe page started for it.]

I wrote an article on drip irrigation for Issue 18 and have to say that it was a pleasure to work with the Make editorial team. Unlike other publications I’ve written for, the editors at Make knew a lot about the technical details of the subject matter and worked hard to ensure accuracy.

Speaking of technical details, the only thing I’d change if I wrote that article again is that I would recommend 1/2 inch drip irrigation tubing instead of 1/4 inch in the interest of keeping things simple and reducing the need for multiple fitting sizes. I stand by the rest of my irrigation pontifications.