A small modification

Extra vintage glass green knob + old wood box with busted lock = nice!



For years I've had trouble listening to modern music. I'm sensitive to the synthetic nature of it. My ear wants less abstraction. It's strange because I was in a pop band for most of the 1990s. Today I don't listen to music very often, only when I'm going to do nothing but listen and I choose mostly world music.

I find the same process happening with materials. I can not stand the sight of plastic and synthetic fibers make me cringe. When I found a hot water bottle made of real rubber I could barely believe it. The other day I picked up these two non-abstracted items, a wood clip board and a hand carved wood box. I noticed that both are sill raw materials, they've only been slightly abstracted. I paid two bucks for the bounty and found it hard to believe that stores are selling plastic versions of both for 100X what I spent.

Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire Update

The fire raging in the Gila, now called Whitewater Baldy Complex, continues on. We hear it is on its way to being the largest the area has known. It's currently 170,000 + acres in size. The percentage contained is zero.

The management team posted a Flickr set. We continue to be blanketed over by the smoke which seems to blow in a couple hours before dusk each night and cause an orange sun. Even here some 50+ miles away as the crow flies, smoke causes some to struggle to breathe.


The Art of Fermentation

The Art of Fermentation by mikeysklar
The Art of Fermentation, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
Sandor Katz's latest book "The Art of Fermentation" is shipping. I was excited to see that Michael Pollan wrote the foreword and even more elated when I confirmed our temperature controller was featured in it as the most "versatile model he has used". The wide temperature range and long probe cable were key features for Sandor.

The Art of Fermentation #2 Cover

Where are the Bees?

Where the Bees? by mikeysklar
Where the Bees?, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
We had to move our bee hive to make room for fence repair. Neither one of us was interested in doing this because bees get confused when you move their hive by over 3 feet.

Where the Bees? #2

Crazy Beach Evening

Crazy Beach Evening by mikeysklar
Crazy Beach Evening, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
The smoke from the Gila fires rolled into Elephant Butte resuming the orange lens effect.

The Pool is Open

The Pool is Open by mikeysklar
The Pool is Open, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
We know that summer has really started when the city pool reopens every Memorial Day weekend.


Extending the Life of What Still Has Value

I think about value a lot. Years of searching for it has finally led me to an understanding of what it is. It's got to do with life. Our manufactured goods don't contain it, they contain our shame. That's why we are so quick to throw them away. We know that their production diminishes life. Value can be found in the hand made thing where the life of a real person is not far off or grossly abstracted.

At a recent garage sale I found a beat up old Mexican serape from the 1940s full of holes with new ones blossoming continuously. I also found a lovely mexican bag that without a lining was being destroyed by my using it. My keys kept snagging on the inside stitches that make up the design.

Today, wanting to be closer to the makers of these things or at least the spirit of value they imbued the goods with I tried to repair them and extend their life.

When it comes to sewing I'm a hack but I try. For the serape I made little patches and the bag I lined with a black cloth from my scraps.


First Day of Farmers Market

I managed to only snap this lousy photo of our farmers market on opening day for 2012. The wind kicked up early and was fierce enough that we didn't hang out long.


Passion Pie Cafe

Today was opening day for Passion Pie Cafe, a lovely bakery and coffee shop on Main Street here in T or C. It's a beautiful venue adorned with local art, stocked with board games and books and the food and  coffee are fantastic. We're a so very lucky.

Peas Peas Peas

The snap peas have gone wild, I made a classic carbonara. Oh la la!


Video: Bus 52 Presents Holy Scrap

We had the recent pleasure of meeting the folks who make up Bus 52, all five of them who are traveling the country on a bus. Bus 52 is a year long project devoted to reminding and reconnecting America to its roots of community, innovation and improvement. They film and upload video posts and articles about people from every kind of circumstance confronting challenges in their community in innovative ways. Here is their Holy Scrap interview. 


Fire in the Sky

Fire in the Sky by mikeysklar
Fire in the Sky, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
Wendy and I were enjoying our brunch when we noticed everything go orange outside. I'm pretty sure that this smoke is coming in from the Gila Wilderness fires. The weather page claims it is dust being carried over from parts of Texas and New Mexico, but the winds are not going the right way for that.

Fire in the Sky #2Fire in the Sky #3Fire in the Sky #4Fire in the Sky #5


Man vs Rattlesnake

Sesame found a rattler today while on her walk at the park that we visit twice a day. She was with her best friend Pancho. Suddenly the two of them went of like a three alarm fire. Me and Pancho's mom called 911 and in minutes had two cops on the scene. The rattler was a diamond back. It was stuck in some chicken wire fencing and could not get out. After spitting venom at the cop they decided to shoot it. Then they laid it out to measure; 4' long, 2.5" diameter, 7 rattles, an big ol snake.

Just so ya know you have to kill them when they're found in places that people frequent. Rattlers are territorial and people get bit. Rumor has it the anti venom is so expensive our local hospital does not carry it, you'd have to be helicoptered to Albuquerque.

If you look close at the pic you can see him stuck in the fence. If there was any doubt, summer is officially here.

Airplane Graffiti

When flying I can't help but take advantage of the opportunity to scribble messages in the on board magazines in the pocket in front of each seat. What better opportunity to send messages to strangers than a magazine that may be all the reading material a person has while stuck in one spot for an extended period of time? I've taken to calling this airplane graffiti.

Now I'm not usually a supporter of negative messaging. I'd rather show a good example than bash bad behavior. But in the right context I think shame can be a powerful force that can suggest new behavior patterns to the mainstream.

Where am I leading with this? Yes once again I filled several airline magazines new messages, mostly about materialism.

If You Want 100% Employment Just Kill the Economy

I just got back from New York. While traveling the voice of the media broadcasting from public TV sets reminded me of the cultures current obsession with job creation.
It seems to me the best way to employ everyone is to kill the economy. Once the economy is out of the way we'll be makers of things, growers of food, friends, smellers of flowers, mothers, givers of gifts, sharers of knowledge and many other things. Just as in times of war suicide rates drop, without an economy boredom and purposelessness will disappear from the culture. We are all able to do things, many things. I think most would agree that its the economy that prevents them from doing the things they most wish to do. There is only one thing in the way of everyone having something essential to do, and it is the economy.

Painting: a recent garage sale find. Looks like the local area.

Article on a related idea Treehugger.


Eclipse Party on the Mesa

Eclipse Party on the Mesa by mikeysklar
Eclipse Party on the Mesa, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I had a great time seeing the annular eclipse near the Rio Grande by Rotory Park in TorC. A few friends, some locals and even a tourist from Australia stopped in. Hands down the best image of the eclipses came from the #10 and #11 replacement welding mask sheets that Tim picked up from the hardware store.

Eclipse Party on the Mesa #2Eclipse Party on the Mesa #3Eclipse Party on the Mesa #4

Eclipse Party on the Mesa #5Eclipse Party on the Mesa #6Eclipse Party on the Mesa #7

Mesa View of Sunset - Day Before Eclipse

I snapped this photo last night on the mesa by Rotory Park (.65 miles from our home). This is where I plan to be for tonights eclipse and it sounds like there will be a pretty good turn out from the locals.


Hack A Day Covers Da Pimp

Hack A Day Covers Da Pimp by mikeysklar
Hack A Day Covers Da Pimp, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Special thanks to Caleb Kraft over at Hack A Day for a super sweet write up on my DIY battery recovery, tester and charging unit - Da Pimp. I can't help but feel special when Hack A Day calls me a ubergeek. There is some serious competition for that title in their community.


Fruit Thinning

Fruit Thinning by mikeysklar
Fruit Thinning, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

The only thing harder than waiting years for fruit trees to, well come to fruition is to thin the fruit. I'm making a effort to leave 6" of space between each piece of fruit on our peach, apricot, almond and apple trees. If we get any fruit I'd rather have it be juicy and large. This should also avoid the situation where branches brake off from too much fruit on any single limb. Next up will be pomegranate and jujube.

Any tips from other orchard owners?

Fruit Thinning #2

Mead Racked

Mead Racked by mikeysklar
Mead Racked, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I racked two different sized batches of mead into new containers. This was done to increase the clarity and reduce the settlement that had accumulated at the bottom. The big 5 gallon carboy I started on April 11th and the smaller 1 gallon I started on January 29th. The small on is very clear and ready for bottling. It already smells amazing. Two to four months seems to be the magic window where there is a massive improvement in taste. The mead goes from a "hint of jet fuel taste" to a much more refined sweet calm wine.


Solar Eclipse May 20th

Solar Eclipse May 20th by mikeysklar
Solar Eclipse May 20th, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Wahoo! Finally, we get to see a annular eclipse in New Mexico. The west side of the US is in luck. Not so much for the east side.

Sunday, May 20th before sunset

I'm just going to use #14 welding goggles over my iphone camera. What is your favorite technique for watching eclipses?

Solar Eclipse May 20th #2

Test Batteries for Sulfation Using Da Pimp

Have you ever found yourself digging through a pile of batteries and wondering which ones are good and which ones are spent? This video explains how to "see" battery sulfation based on voltage spikes using Da Pimp as a tester.