20080930

Window Awning


Window Awning
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I spent a few hours building out our first window awning. The first stick of bent rebar was the most difficult. It was slipping out of the C-clamps and wanted to spring on us. After a dozen welds it stabalized.

Annoying Chop Saw


Annoying Chop Saw
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy loves to run the chop saw while I'm standing right behind it. She even scared our little kitty while he was hanging around this afternoon.

Doug Rushkoff - Financial Melt Up

I knew Rushkoff back in the .com days when money was flowing and publicists like myself were loaded with work. Folks like Mark Pesce, Genesis P'Orridge, Grant Morrisson, Richard Metzger and Paul Laffoley were all, in their own particular voices and images, telling those willing to listen about what may be to come. At the time I was producing a monthly think tank on the lower east side of NYC called Expansion Monday. Here many with stinging premonitions gathered to discuss the particular shift we felt coming, one of non-linearity. Back then Disinformation was one of my clients. And so I was fortunate enough to attend their NYC event in which these voices shared a mic and painted a kinda scary kinda wild picture of a certain cliff hanger future in a new millennium. At the time I remember reading the sentiment shared by pop culture magazines like Wired, they said there are no more futurists. I kept thinking, "sure there are, they're are just no more who are telling you what you want to hear!" Ten years later many of the premonitions felt by this community have and are falling into place. Doug Rushkoff just started blogging for BoingBoing. He posted a piece on the economy that I'd like to share with you. Financial Melt Up, Doug Rushkoff

20080929

Biodiesel the 10 liter batch

I did a quick trip to Las Cruces, NM today to pickup some methanol and had lunch with a very interesting Maker I met on-line.

I was able to pickup the methanol for $4 a gallon at Rick's Performance Center. You will need to purchase one of their containers for repeated fill ups. I came home and immediately mixed up a mini batch of B99 using:

- 10 liters of WVO
- 70g of lye
- 2 liters of methanol

The mix is settling now, but looks promising. I expect to save $3.19 on every gallon of B99 I produce instead of buying diesel. As usual I do not include my cost of labor.

Yes!


Yes!
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
700 billion for Wall St. voted down by the House. The DOW drops 777 points today. Seems appropriate.

20080928

Your Last Good Idea - Copyrights, Patents & Franchises

I think most of us know why patents and copyrights are counter to vitality. The hoarding of knowledge leads to a sluggishness and narrowing of creativity. Many of the copyrights and patents that give control to few to dispense to the many are originally created by makers. But sadly these works are made for entities such as corporations and so these inspirations go the way of capital. In a previous post I said that today's revolutionary is the maker. Surely we should thank the few who embrace open source, the creative commons and other like mediums for their willingness to contribute to authentic abundance. As I ponder this trap I have long sensed that there's an aspect of this process that's been unrecognized.

When the maker allows their original thought or inspiration be commodified and locked, they have made an inner pledge that even they are perhaps unaware of. In the case in which the copyright or patent becomes the makers future work, and most certainly this can be seen in makers decisions to franchise, the maker moves from creator to caretaker of their good idea. Inspiration digresses into redundancy. Of course if that good idea is released into the world community to be shared the idea would be free to transform as would the maker. The maker would be free to have their next good idea. You could say that capital and it's systems of hoarding ideas asks the maker to assert "this is my last good idea."

From another view we could say that no idea is property because there is no one to own it. Should I build a ship, the first of its kind, a marvel of good design, I can acknowledge that there exists a history of shipbuilding and a history of knowledge that has accumulated over time on the subject. It is this evolution of an idea and the people who carried it that enabled me to build my own (however seeming unique). A multitude of beings gathered knowledge over generations to bring this ship into form. Our relationship to these beings, in the sense that we are life and they are life and life has always been, is that they are us. In every generation we re-arrive. How can the I that is here now take credit for any thing? And what of the materials? The wood for my ship comes from the earth and is the result of eons of evolution. The water to sail it on, Gaia. I can neither create wood nor water nor wind to fill a sail. In this way no idea and no creation can be property because there is no individual to own it. Man, to date, has created nothing from materials found elsewhere from the earth.

Nothing masks abundance and the interconnectivity of life better than capital. What capital co-opts are ideas - namely the idea of what it is to be human. Are we singular, mechanistic and limited? Or are we multiplistic (a community of life), unbounded and creative? Our ideas naturally take the course of our answer to this question.

"The merchant of Love's Bazaar is none other than the customer himself. Where then is the profit in trying to buy and sell?"
- Javad Nurbakhsh

We Lathed Two Windows


We Lathed Two Windows
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I spent about five hours lathing two windows. It was easy! Our dome skeleton will start to show some skin throughout October.

My Feelings Exactly


My Feelings Exactly
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This sign is so appropriate that I felt like I had written it.

We Got a Bike Repair Shop

Finally. Our little town get a real redneck bike shop. Notice the tape holding the sign in the window and the plumbers tape holding the bike above my girlfriend. Conveniently located next door to "God's House of Prayer" which consists of a coffee maker and four uncomfortable chairs. You don't need much to start a bike repair shop or worship the Lord.

Visit Us, Volunteer, Lathing the Dome

Over the months many people have expressed interest in working with us to learn how to use the tools we use and see if they are interested in building in the same way we are. So we're looking for ways to invite you here to work on projects that demonstrate this form of building and give you a chance to work with the tools we use.

If you'd like to drop in on us and you have a few volunteer hours to give, please join us next weekend, October 4-5. The work we'll be doing is applying expanded metal lathe to our rebar dome using a pneumatic hog tie gun and also hand tying with wire ties. The weekend of October 4-5 is also Truth or Consequences Hot Springs Cool Art event and there will be events in town each day and eve so it'll be a nice time to be here. We can welcome those who wish to camp on our site or recommend really inexpensive hot spring hotels in town.

Hope to see ya!
Wendy & Mikey

Mac Embedded Tools Update

I recently upgrade my mac to Leopard 10.5. This means that I had to
also upgrade all the tools I use for my embedded hardware projects. It amazes me just how many people are on the arduino / processing setup when it is so limited compared to what can be done with a $50 jtag programmer. Seriously folks single step hardware debug is CRITICAL to getting projects done fast.

Lifelessness

Just two days after my post "The Greater Depression" in which I wrote about the lifelessness of our current way of living boingboing posted this story about a company that is spraying dead lawns at foreclosed homes green to create the illusion of life. Let me get this straight, there are living beings who would likely care for the lawn who are homeless. But rather than place them in the role of home dweller where they can care for the lawn, this company will spray paint the lawn green. Did someone say lifeless?

20080927

Oops, I Broke It Again


Oops, I Broke It Again
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I was determined to replace the defunct charge controller in our golf cart today. Sadly we have a rare model that as a non standard Schott charger that is not directly compatible with our replacement Zivan charger. I tried doing some rewiring and ended up making a mess of things. Will need to spend more time to get our EV Gem E825 running again.

20080926

Brave Hunter


Brave Hunter
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our lizard eating cat strikes again.

Yikes


Yikes
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Dow Jones last 12 months Sept '07 to Sept '08.

The Greater Depression - The Renaissance - Finding A Place

In 2000 when I quit my job and reoriented myself away from money and towards the gathering of skills: welding, sewing, building, growing food, many of my friends thought I was nuts. I did not make these changes with a doomy perspective. The epiphany that inspired me was one of a better world that followed a great collapse. So here we are. Some of my friends no longer think I'm nuts. The nearing end of oil and the collapse of the monetary system have set rapid change in motion. Oil had enabled us to fraction ourselves off from the natural world and build an artificial one on top of it, a poor and unsustainable mimic. Yet the natural world we started off with actually perpetuates life, it is life, needs no caretakers and naturally provides. We replaced it with a dependent machine. Without oil the machine grinds to a halt and leaves us where we started, with the only task we've ever been given, to live on earth. Our monetary system enabled greed to be the road to wealth. Wealth was not measured by generosity, creativity or love. When I look at what's dying I see things that never had life in the first place. The lifelessness of our way of living is just becoming more evident. But remember we are life, and life has always existed. And so I feel no reminiscence towards what's passing away now.

So I made my choice a few years ago. I left NYC for Truth or Consequences, NM, a tiny desert town that was never fully dependent on the national economy. Folks here have skills: welding, sewing, woodworking, canning, growing etc. The domestic economy is vibrant, in fact barter is more respected than the dollar which says so little of one's character. When a developer came here with big plans to "help us" I realized that he could not see that poverty is being redefined. While one in four American homes are empty, here in T or C we have a nearly full occupancy. He sees trailers and mobiles, "poor folks!" I see balance, living within one's means. This is wealth! This is a place that skirted through the great depression of the 1920's and 30's. Here locals grew food and stocked the supermarket for those who could not grow. That supermarket is still here.

In Truth or Consequences one must bring their work or create it here. You could say that it's a perfect place for folks who attend Burning
Man. Like the desert utopian experiment T or C is pioneering, it asks you what your made of and what your skills are. You can still buy a home here for $50k, taxes average at a couple hundred bucks a year. What's here? Whatever you bring here. Like Burning Man it asks you to manifest and share what matters most to you. This place highlights my own belief that in this time the maker is the revolutionary.

We'll all find our place soon enough. As we slide deeper into what's being now called the 'greater depression' I suggest we consider this collapse is also the renaissance in disguise. If your tempted to savor what was: money, consumerism and greed, consider how little life it contained. Mystics over the ages have told us that we fell from paradise, from the garden. Religious texts speak of man's fall into idolatry. These concepts need not be filed under religious thinking. When we built a world on top of one that was given to us and we thanked ourselves for it we parted ways with the natural world and we made gods of ourselves for the doing of it. What do we have to gain from this collapse? Only paradise and the rediscovery of our humanity. And perhaps wealth will finally move to the hands of those most capable of holding it, those who know how to live in the real world a world that teaches us through our ability to live in it that the health of the individual is dependent on the health of the whole. The above photo was taken by Moe Koenick.

20080925

Biodiesel v1.0


Biodiesel v1.0
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
My first liter of biodiesel after settling overnight. I had used 5 parts oil 1 part methanol which is a little higher than I need for my canola oil. I can get away with as little as 1 part methanol to 9 parts oil. Looks pretty good, right? I have not tried driving on it yet. I'm not worried about driving with it. Just looking for a good methanol resource to brew a 10 gallon batch.

Mental Note DDU Bucks


Mental Note DDU Bucks
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Now that we are expert window installers we decided to take a note for our next dome. The window buck installation goes a lot better when we weld all the rebar infrastructure to hold the buck first, then place the angle iron buck. We had been welding the buck to whatever was nearby then welding more pieces to it, but that didn't work so good. The buck got in the way and things got messy.

Our Garden is Moving


Our Garden is Moving
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
It is officially time for us to start canning and drying food for the winter. Our garden has been cranking out about 10 tomatoes a day along with those baby carrots I complained about and some jalapenos.

DDU Bathroom Window Buck


DDU Bathroom Window Buck
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I burned my left hand pretty good while plasma cutting out around our bathroom window buck. The way we originally installed it didn't leave enough space to get the window in. We spent the day re-doing the whole buck infrastructure to make space for the window.

Wanna Grease Car?


Wanna Grease Car?
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
A neighbor of ours is leaving town and selling his '81 Mercedes 300D (not turbo) for $7,500 with 265,000 miles on it. It is a lot of cash for a 30 year old car, but I have to say this one is in damn good shape. I've never seen a Benz this old that had working A/C, heat, locks, windows, new tires, ipod stereo, etc. Usually folks pick these up for a few grand and then dump another $5,0000 into repairs. David already did the repairs. He has been running it on B99 without any problems and this vehicle is ideal for a grease conversion.

20080924

Clean Fuel


Clean Fuel
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This is a small jar of biodiesel I produced after about 30 minutes of settling in another container. I'm used to my waste veggie oil being a ruby ice tea color. It is nice to see a cleaner burning fuel. The only downside I have found with biodiesel making so far is the usage of lye and methanol. They are hazardous chemicals so handling them requires the utmost care (masks, gloves, emergency vinegar, water, etc.).

Easy Biodiesel


Easy Biodiesel
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
At the moment I have a lot of waste veggie oil on hand for our grease car. I was thinking about things to do with it and decided to try making a one liter batch of biodiesel. These small batches of biodiesel make a lot of sense for grease car owners who use very little fuel from the starter tank and have plenty of waste veggie oil on hand. Once I find a inexpensive source for methanol I will try doing 5 gallon batches of biodiesel which would allow me to avoid paying for diesel fuel most of the year.

- One liter of 130deg Waste Veggie Oil (denim filtered)
- 7g of Lye (NaOH drain cleaner)
- 220ml of methanol (yellow heet)

- mix lye and methanol by swirling or gently shake
- now you have methoxide solution
- mix methoxide solution with waste oil
- shake vigorously for 5 minutes
- 30 minutes should see glycerin form at bottom
- let settle overnight
- ready for car - use strainer

Really Small Carrots


Really Small Carrots
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We made a mistake when planting carrots. The carrots were too close
together and we didn't thin them out early in their development. We
did get a few normal sized carrots, but many of them ended up like
these.

20080922

Cars Cars Cars


Cars Cars Cars
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We managed to make some progress on the dome window treatments today. However, most of my energy went into vehicles. We sold our Ford F-350 diesel truck which had been driven less than 50 miles since we bought it nine months ago. We also purchased the cute little NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) and just need to find a replacement 72V charger for it. Our friend Jason who dropped off the title for the NEV had car troubles of his own. He blew out his alternator as he pulled into our driveway. I spent about two hours helping him get a new alternator and jumping his dead battery with a solar panel + motorcycle battery.

20080921

Parallel Grease Filtering

In a attempt to speed up our grease filtering I am now running three denim cubie to cubie filters simultaniously. This seems to be working pretty well. I am getting about 10 gallons of 30 micron filtered and dewatered grease every 24 hours. The denim filters are virtually free so this could save me a few hundred dollars a year on my racor and under the hood spin on canister filters.

Window Shaping


Window Shaping
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Now that all of our angle iron window bucks are installed Wendy and I have moved onto shaping the interior space around the window. We are trying to create smooth strong transitions from our some wall to window so people can sit in the window.

20080919

Bulking Up


Bulking Up
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We picked up about $170 in organic bulk food from our local food coop today. We will be storing these food stuffs in 5 gallon plastic buckets with the lids on to keep out bugs and mold. Our order consisted of:

- 25lbs jasmin rice
- 50lbs white unbleached flour
- 25lbs of chic peas
- 25lbs of black beans

The savings are pretty incredible when you compare to what we had been paying per pound for these items. That and the end of the global economy is coming.

The Buck Stops Here


The Buck Stops Here
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We just finished installing our last window buck. Now we have a few days of building out window seats and lath that connects to each frame. We also screwed up on the bathroom window so we have a few pieces of metal to remove.

Melon Drink


Melon Drink
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I have a abundance of melons ready for harvest which we are trying to find new ways to enjoy. Today we tossed four slices of honeydew into our Vita-Mix along with four ice cubes and made a wonderful beverage. We also did a round with honeydew and pomegranate that was even better.

Denim Waste Oil Filter


Denim Waste Oil Filter
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
It had been suggested to me months ago that denim can make a pretty good filter for waste oils. Since I am trying to reduce my filter costs both in the obtainment system and under the hood I thought I would cut up some old jeans and try out the theory. I am really impressed with the quality of the oil I am getting with two layers of denim as a filter. It takes hours to get a few gallons of oil filtered, but I've come up with a extremely minimal setup that can be run in parallel. Pretty much every greaser will have these tools on hand:

- 4 cubies
- old denim, secure around cube cap threads
- 1 funnel
- 1 clean cube to catch the filtered grease

Even with my oil at 100F from the sun I'm still filtering less than 2.5 gallons per day. I just poked a hole in the top of the dirty cube to act as a air intake. I've tried filtering oil that had water content and the denim swells right up preventing contaminated oil from passing. I believe each layer of denim acts as a 20-30 micron filter.

20080918

Another Vehicle?


Another Vehicle?
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We found a buyer for our large Ford F-350 diesel truck which we never used. At the same time our friend Jason approached us about a eight year old electric vehicle that was in reasonable shape. This is a 72V Gem E825. We have been test driving it around town and are impressed with its performance. The vehicle goes from 0-21mph so fast it is scary. It has head lights, turn signals, seat belts, windshield wiper, brake lights, etc. All the things a vehicle needs to be street legal.

20080917

South Window Framed


South Window Framed
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I used a angle grinder to remove more arch sections from the dome. We managed to get our 4' x 5' south facing window buck in today.

The Princess and the Squash


The Princess and Squash
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We ate a tasty acorn squash yesterday. Today we had a butternut squash. In both cases we simply sliced the squash in half and tossed it in the sun oven. We have found baking the squash with soy butter, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon to be excellent.

What's this??

Does anyone know what this plant is? It's leaves are just coming back
after a bit of shock from a transplant. I think it edible as it arose
from compost. Olive maybe? I love the way that from an ariel view it
looks like an atom or moleclue.

Battery Refill distilled vs. rain water

Now that the weather has cooled down our solar panels are giving us far more energy than we need. This causes the batteries to remain at a charge over 100% all the time. This also means the batteries are going through more water due to the excess energy. I needed to refill the batteries and didn't want to buy a bunch of distilled water in plastic bottles. Instead I tested the difference between our rain water we have caught and distilled store bought water I already had on hand. It turns out our rain water has about 8 PPM while our store bought distilled water as at 11 PPM. Our rain water actually has less particulates than Shure Shine store bought distilled water. Needless to say I filled my solar batteries up with rain water and have no plans to purchase distilled water gain.

Grease Washing


Grease Washing
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Since my grease car filters are plugging up at 600 miles I decided to try "washing" my waste oil. The container on the right is unfiltered WVO. The container on the left is WVO with a few table spoons of water in it that has been vigorously shaken. I'm going to let the water and debris settle to the bottom for a week and see if I get a lighter color oil. If this works I can do washing within the 5 gallon containers I harvest oil in before transferring to my long term storage tanks.

20080916

Long Live NiCads


Long Live NiCads
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
My neighbor Davey came over with a pile of old drill batteries. We pulled out my little welder and gave them a few good zaps. We were able to get all the batteries back to their usual voltages 9.6V, 14.4V, 18V at least for a little while. The real test will be how they perform after a charge. The trim we found was three good zaps with the welders groud clamp on the batteries positive. My 10 year old Nokia drill is running like it is brand new.

20080915

Acorn Squash


Acorn Squash
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Have you ever had a fresh acorn squash sliced in half and baked in a sun oven with butter and nutmeg? Me either. That is what I'm going to do tomorrow as I enjoy the Wall St. drama. We have a lot of squash to get through.

We Are Doomed!


We Are Doomed!
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Looks like the banks are giving up on playing with our money. Time to stop going to work and grow some food.

Window Frames


Window Frames
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I spent a few hours this afternoon assembling our last two window frames. Tomorrow we can find out how many we can install a day. Probably only two per day.

Is this rye?


Is this rye?
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We planted rye last year as a cover crop. We didn't water it much. Now we think that some of that rye went to seed and spread across our property.

20080914

DDU Windows / Door


DDU Windows / Door
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This is a quick drawing I put together this morning to show the layout of our windows, door, bed, bathroom and closet for our first dome.

Reinforcement


Reinforcement
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Each window buck requires hacking away some of our dome structure. I welded a bunch of random 3D triangles to help strengthen the arches before cutting a hole for the window buck.

Buck Up


Buck Up
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Now that we have our first window buck securely in place. I can go ahead and make two more tomorrow for our other windows. One large buck for our south facing window and one small buck for our west facing bathroom.

Buck Installation


Buck Installation
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We cut out a small part of our dome today to put in our first window buck. We did most of the cuts with a angle grinder that had a carbide wheel. The last two cuts Wendy did with our plasma cutter due to limited physical access.

Passive Solar


Passive Solar
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We now have three windows for our passive solar heating of the dome. Each of them is double pane and cost less than $80. The big 4' x 5' will be our primary window for solar gain. We are also going to place a 3' x 4' window to the southeast and another smaller window to the southwest. Since we generally don't get much below freezing here that should be enough heat for most of the winter combined with our R40 insulation.

Newish Door


Newish Door
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Normally I'm too much of a cheapskate to buy a $300 used door when we
could buy a $25 door that would pretty much serve the same purpose.
However, I did not go on the most recent trip to Albuquerque with
Wendy when she picked up this Pella fiberglass door at the Re:Store. I
think this door is normally over $600 and it was never installed so we
did okay.

20080913

Pumpkin Bread (in a jar)


Pumpkin Bread (in a jar)
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This one was a real surprise today. Wendy and I were at a thrift store checking out some beat down doors. The owners wife handed us a mid sized mason jar with pumpkin bread then explained how it can sit on a shelf for years. We tried it and were blown away by how good it was. I guess you can bottle anything.

Stalking the Wild Asparagus

A friend recommended I check out this book. This is a classic amongst the wild food crowd. I am really enjoying the authors philosophy about the abundance and accesibility of wild foods.