Sunday, December 13, 2009

Moofin' it

In the Sundance Catalog, a nouveau-retro Euro city bike: http://www.sundancecatalog.com/PRODUCT/For+the+Home/Living/49934.html Features solar-powered LEDs. Also details like chainguard and fenders. Single speed, coaster brake.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving thanks . . .

Lots to be thankful for on the urban permaculture front. A couple of those bean sprouts have actually emerged from the soil! Also, I was able to sprout some purple basil in an AG3 using a tea bag as a medium. Curious to see what the longterm results will be.

Oh the big news, I finally bought some test leads and merged Aerogarden with aquarium. It seems to be holding steady after a week. The main question is, why?

On the not-so-thankful front, the crayfish seems to be eating the basil roots. Which is ironic, considering that herb might join him in a sauté pan one day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Updates

Jeremiah (my crayfish) moulted again. He looks a lot more intimidating now.

I am moving closer to merging the aquarium and the Aerogarden. In fact I have two AG's parked next to it. All I need is some more tubing or alligator clips. The fact that the aquarium's own pump stopped working adds urgency to the project.

Outside, my onion is going nuts. It's still in the 50s 'F here so I haven't had to move the plants in yet. But when I do I might do a Florida room type thing with all the Aerogardens together. I need to restock them all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

AeroGarden Minis on sale


First-generation AeroGarden 3's on sale at the online outlet. A steal, and should be useful to just about anyone who likes plants, cooking, or light.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Zucchini sprouted


Getting it to do anything this late in the year will be a challenge.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Repatriated lizard


I repatriated him outside . . . where the bugs are. Hi Dasha lol.

Mudbug moulting


He's come out of his shell and become more reclusive at the same time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I got the cilantro to sprout!

Cilantro is notoriously hard. The only other time I've got it to go was actually via aquaponics! This time I put all my remaining seeds in an AeroGarden3 and cleaned everything with ozonated water via the Tersano Lotus. After a week some mold started to appear anyway. I cleaned it up with some more Tersano juice and a couple of days later . . . voilà! Since I started with so many seeds (about 18) I might have enough to get two AG3's going . . . supplying me with tasty cilantro for my Mexican and Oriental dishes throughout the winter.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I got a crayfish in my tank


I noticed they had crayfish at the pet store so I picked one up for 99 cents + tax. Since I am worried about them eating the snails I got the meekest, mildest one. In fact this guy looked like he was about to get beaten up if he stayed there another night. There were some really aggressive looking fellows in there, reaching up and trying to catch the fish swimming by. This one has super tiny claws and was trying to hide in a corner. I unsuccessfully tried to scan him on my scanner; he must have thought he was being abducted by aliens.

I get lizards on my bike


I have caught this guy coming inside to sleep on my bikes twice. Apparently the tubes remind him of branches.

I get spiders on my Jeep


As I have been spending more time outside I have been paying more attention to the spiders I see. I appreciate, even admire them now. I see a metaphor in their patient, elegant work for the things I have to do to succeed. This spiderweb has stayed on my Jeep for more than a week, even though I have been driving around.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

LA: Can't we just get along?


From LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-biking2-2009nov02,0,2055848.story

I'm not a vehicularist. I believe in as much separation as possible. But there are times to be assertive. It's hard to explain.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quarry


I've been curious to see what my venus flytrap caught after I left it outside for a while. After a couple weeks it's opened up and I can see it was mostly mosquitos.

Tersano Professional


I was checking out Tersano's Professional website. Looks like they also have a version for making buckets of the stuff. Seems like a no-brainer for people who do a lot of cleaning. I wonder if you can use it in pools.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Plenty of peppers


I have four or five peppers on the sole survivor of the half-dozen plants I got off Fleabay last year. They included a "mystery" plant in my order so I'm not totally sure this is a poblano. And the onions have sprouted up again after the heat of the summer has passed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cheating



Will bean sprouts do anything in an AeroGarden? We're about to find out. I'm starting with lentils. They are still alive after one day.

At a snail's place



I went down for a walk by the river as I am wont to do as I pass by the place when returning to town. I noticed dozens of snails just above the waterline on the rocks so I scooped some up for my aquarium, which only has plants in it now. I took them home in an abandoned bait container which also had an earthworm in it which I put in one of my pots outside. Hey, free worm and snails. Everybody seemed to survive the trip home and they are active and moving about. I'm really thrilled to be the custodian of these beautiful creatures now.

Next I'm going to check at bait shops to see if they have any live crayfish.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Holy crap, Tersano's gone MLM on us


Tersano is starting a multilevel marketing program: MyTersano.com. I'm seriously interested, as I am a fan. But I'm no Billy Mayes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

EV-maker Fisker buying GM plant


From CNET: Fisker buying a GM plant in Delaware.

Is this ironic? That GM threw away its pole position in EVs (think "Who Killed the Electric Car?") and instead focused on ridiculous SUVs, such as the Hummer brand they just sold to the Chinese? (That wasn't meant to rhyme.)

Unfortunately, the project is doomed to failure, because the car is ugly. Why did they turn to Buick for design inspiration? EV-buyers want something high-design looking, like a Prius or Honda Element. Am I right? Also, why call the family model a Nina? That is too girly for something that is designed to shelter and protect.

Atlanta aquaponics


Thanks to Treehugger I see there is an aquaponics supplier in Hotlanta: Sustainable Design Group.

Their system uses fish, but I think crayfish would be better, as they are scavengers. They are also eminently cookable and possibly more profitable?

Before I dived in I'd need to learn more about the microbial and food-safety implications of all of this. It could be much safer, though, than dragging dead seafood hundreds of miles from the sea, per SOP in most restaurants.

I do not like the recycled white barrels they used in one of their installations. I'd rather see more agrarian-looking vessels. Of course this stuff gets expensive very quickly. This is a potential new market for potters . . .

I am excited to see some work in the aquaponics arena. It seems like such an obvious idea. And so sustainable, even the algae has the potential for being harvested for biodiesel.

SEO triumph

If you google "Aerogarden" and "aquaponics," this blog is the #2 result! And Red Icculus is #3!

Of course, to do that you have to know what aquaponics is, and be wondering if you can do it with an AeroGarden! I must have at least three or four readers.

Nevertheless I feel like an (accidental) SEO genius. I think Barrack Obama, Megan Fox, Snoopy, Madonna, Sting, Elvis Pressley, Theodore Roosevelt, Kings of Leon, Death Cab for Cutie, Billy Mays, the Beatles, Balloon Boy, Katie Couric, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the LOLcats, Miley Cyrus, Twilight, Adam Sandler, and Oprah Winfrey would be proud!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Aquaponics dry run


Well I replaced the basin on an AeroGarden 3 with a glass bowl I found at World Market for $8. With some extra tubing I was able to plop the air stone into the bowl and theorhetically create a habitable environment. I couldn't get peas to sprout in the thing, though, probably because my growing medium was a just couple of old corks. After a couple weeks I pulled the plugs; the dried up useless old peas were starting to get moldy. On the plus side, there was no algae in the bowl, and it looked pretty cool.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

WWII Orkin bike


An Orkin man serving the Fort Benning area used a bicycle to keep going in spite of wartime gasoline rationing. It was bright red. The smaller front wheel allows for a large front basket. From Margaret O. Kirk, The Making of the World's Best Pest Control Company (Rollins, 2005).

Happy with Tersano again

I am pleased to report the replacement Lotus sanitizer that Tersano sent me is working after two months . . . It is such a neat technology and I am very happy to have it back online. The rainwater smell is very nice in itself. I am still figuring out ways to use it; it is such a paradigm-shifter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dumpster bike 2



Not the best picture . . . recovered a bike from a Dumpster near the tennis courts. Apparently the local pro chucked it due to the rusty drivetrain. But nothing looks bent on it and there are hardly even any scratches. Check out the silver handlebar tape and retro shifters. I haven't checked it out thoroughly; it seems to be some kind of iron Bianchi from the 1980s or 1990s. Interestingly, all the bikes that life sends my way appear in shades of silver.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Green a.m.; Black Bike


Compare to my earlier "Gray a.m." What I see in the morning these days on the Black Bike, which I am renaming "Bête Noir" as a nod to its urban sophistication.

Salad days






Not much to report. I still have a few leftover projects that seem to carry on of their own accord.

I am pleasantly surprized by the onions out back. After many attempts, they finally took hold and are now growing most vigorously. It is so nice to have green onions at one's disposal. I also got a nice snow pea plant going, but its pod are almost woody. Maybe I should pick them earlier.

I lost some purple plants, the sweet potato :( and the little ornamental peppers. But a couple of the poblano plants survived, just from being kept next to the window inside. They are in a big pot now; can I expect big things?

I have a couple of plants thriving in the aquarium. One is a prayer plant from a cutting I got from work. The other kind is doing so well it actually bloomed, though it doesn't get any direct sun.

The AeroGardens are all growing some type of lettuce. Only the AeroGarden classic has had any sign of spider mites so far. I will have to watch that as temperatures increase. I also planted some leftover herb pods but only a couple of them germinated successfully. The mighty basil I had going for 18 months is now just a dried out twig.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Success

I am now firmly established in the habit of riding my 2.3 miles to and from work each day via electric bike. It is such a joy. I am pleased to report the overhaul has been a great success. It rides so smooth now and it is just so much fun. After six months, the routes I take in and out have been refined so that I am usually physically separated from any traffic, and I have figured out how to cross the intersections in a harmonious fashion. In fact, it feels safer to me than driving a truck in the midst of all the snarling vehicles. The warming weather (trees are already starting to bloom here and the high is supposed to be 78'F today) and lengthening daylight make it that much nicer. The ideal commute, at a cost of $1 per month.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reelights


I am reely excited to have gotten a set of Reelights. These are Danish bike lights that run without batteries. Instead they use induction energy from magnets mounted on the spokes.

It is fairly advanced technology. There are a couple of practical features that make them attractive to me. The kind I got flash only while the bike is in motion. Because they are mounted on the hubs, they extend the light profile beyond the battery-powered lights mounted on handlebars or saddlebag.

The front wheel hub on my electric bike is too big to allow for even their extended version bracket, so I got the basic set (SL100). The front light is going on my trail bike to provide emergency get-home-past-sundown light and perhaps to provide a visual warning to hikers. The back light goes on Black Bike.

Serenery


Some scenery from a bike ride home.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gray a.m.



The view along the canal I bike past in the mornings. It was foggy yesterday. I'm amazed at how black-and-white this photo turned out without any post-processing. (c) 2009

Bike book idea



Think I have a pretty good idea for a book: "Bike Culture: Great Minds and the Bicycles, Boneshakers, and Penny Farthings That Propelled Them." The image above, apparently from the California Institute of Technology, is Albert Einstein riding a bike in Santa Barbara. I have also seen Ernest Hemingway on a war bike in Italy c. 1917. I'd like to develop the stories beyond the images.

Einstein is said to have meditated on his Theory of Relativity while cycling. "Life is like riding a bicycle," he wrote to his son Eduard. "To keep your balance you must keep moving" (Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Simon & Schuster, 2007).

Hemingway developed a passion for bicycle racing while in France. The sport also found its way into his metaphors: "Writing a novel is like a six-day bicycle race . . ." he told Mary Harrington of the New York Post in 1946. "Only it goes on two years."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dinosaur industries?

Remember when Bush was handing out tax incentives for people to drive bigger, heavier cars? I'm referring to the tax write-off businesses could get on small trucks---in practice, often SUVs.

Eight years of that, and the U.S. auto industry still can't make a profit. Perhaps they should simply scrap it and start from scratch. Electric sports-car maker Tesla is reportedly following more of a computer-industry paradigm. And the likes of Cirrus and Eclipse have revolutionized the once moribund general aviation industry by similarly throwing away the established playbook.

India can put cars on the road for $1500 each. How much longer can U.S. citizens compete in the world economy if they're paying ten times that for transportation, as well as for housing and probably food too. There's a reason everything is made in China now.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Days are getting longer

The days are getting longer, and my plants can tell. I have an ornamental sweet potato parked next to an AeroGarden and it is going nuts, sending new shoots skyward.

The salad greens seed pod I transfered to that AeroGarden is doing well, although the light is on the tallest setting due to the 1 year, 2 month old basil plants in there, which are trying to go to seed now.

My home aquaponics setup is down, as I needed the microphone stand for a recording project.

I have a couple of green beans plants going, enough to enhance a bowl of ramen every week or so.

These plants still look like crap: lemon tree (virtually no leaves), poblano pepper plants (which never did anything), and a florist-assembled multi-tropical planter is starting to go to pot after a couple of years. Also, my little ornamental pepper plants that I've kept going maybe three years are starting to look dessicated.

I have a Christmas cactus that is doing well next to the AG, but no blooms. Maybe it needs plant food.

Vege-Tables

I do think the Tersano Lotus helps keep vegetables fresher longer. This has been my experience with some broccoli and celery I processed, dried, and dumped in the fridge's veggie drawers (which I also sanitized).

Friday, February 6, 2009

Joy


Although the leaky tire hasn't been resolved, at least in the back, I took a leap of faith and rode Black Bike to work today. I'm glad I did!

The temperatures were in the mid-20s'F this morning, about my cutoff for cold weather (gloves being the weak link in my thermal armor). It was due to get warmer, and a beautiful, clear day.

I think it had been two months since I was riding the electric bike to work on a regular basis. This was its big debut after the Overhaul.

I'm pleased to say, it went great. Everything worked well. It was so incredibly SMOOOTH. I seem to be getting more range out of the batteries too.

So, it's been a fairly inconvenient process, full of inconveniences. But so satisfying when everything comes into place. Again, a successful 2.3 mile round trip using less than five cents' worth of fuel.

I'd ridden my unpowered bike a couple of times this month, opting not to when it was too cold or wet. I appreciated the electric assist on The Hill. I arrived relatively unruffled and not sweaty.

Did I mention the bike looks great? I am more delighted than ever to be back in the saddle.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Continued chaos and disappointment

Long story short: the front tire on Black Bike spontaneously mended. Now the rear tire has a slow leak for some reason. I didn't even ride it anywheres. I suspect maybe the valves are disjointed or something.

The Tersano cartridges I got on eBay didn't work. They were apparently all expired. The little indicator was green, indicating they were expired. Apparently they can expire without you even using them. Fortunately, the merchant refunded my money instantly; I suspect she found them on clearance and didn't know what she was getting into.

I ordered some replacements from Amazon, hoping they of all people will sell enough to keep fresh stock. I'm also picking up a six-pack of the AeroGarden 3 salad greens, thinking I should be able to grow that stuff now that it's cooler and I have some neem oil.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Back in the saddle?

Well I reinflated the electric bike tire. I'm hoping that the sealant inside the tube will work its magic once I get it rolling again. It is virtually 100 percent complete; the only issue right now is that slow leak.

On another green-living front, my new Tersano Lotus is out of commission. It is not broken, but needs a new cartridge. It does not seem to work without the filter. Amazingly, it only took me a month to go through the first one. I have ordered a few at a price of about $4 each. I was really surprised I used it up so fast, but I have been using it often.

In some good news, a couple of my AeroGarden Mini (f/k/a AeroGarden 3) green beans have become productive denizens of this happy eco-shelter again. And a couple of cilantro and baby greens pods I started in my aquarium seem to be doing well in their new homes. And the outside herbs and peas are doing well.

It should be a pretty good year as far as the clean life goes. I won't have to buy things like terra-cotta pots again. With the sanitizer I should have more success making my own AeroGarden pods.

I am looking for a good AeroGarden medium. I have started things with green florists' stuff but I am leery . . . it is probably leaching chemicals or something. Cotton balls get moldy. Maybe I should just get some official AG plugs.

There is a hydroponics store in town but I haven't visited it yet. Their literature looks suspiciously psychedelic. Also, I should have checked the Targets after the holidays to see if any of their AeroGarden stuff was on clearance yet.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Black Bike :(

Replaced the front tube . . . this one is flat too . . . not as fast a leak . . . yet still my spirits are deflated . . . bloody Black Bike.

Other than that, it's about ready to go. I battened down the front cable with a super large Lizard Skin I chopped in half. It looks OK. Hopefully should stay intact.

How long has this dumb bike been offline? Since mid December? Sheesh. Really not looking forward to replacing another tube.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rode Greybike

Rode the big gray bike to work today. In spite of the faintest, unexpected drizzle, which thankfully cleared up.

I got a bit overwarm on the big mother of a hill on the way in and had to stop and pack my overlarge parka into my rack bag (which is gray, like the tires). But other than that it was a decent little 2.3 mile trip.

Riding home was actually fun. It is mostly downhill, so I coasted a lot. After slogging around on battery-laden Black Bike for so long, I was surprized at how light and responsive Greybike is. I was really flying (but not up That Awful Hill). I continually refine my route, and found some main streets that were fairly deserted even in the heart of rush hour.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Electric bike 97% complete

I investigated the flat tire problem and found a fingernail-sized cut on the valve stem.

I bought a Lizard Skins chainstay protector for purely vanity/cosmetics reasons. However it gave me the idea of using one as a cabling organizer/protector for the wiring up front. I just ordered the super jumbo size, hoping it will be big enough.

The bike is looking pretty sharp. I haven't put the folding baskets back on it because they seem so heavy. With one severely bent rack and a broken rear spoke in the past year, I am wondering if adding groceries to the heavy batteries is just too much to ask. Maybe I should use it just for personal transport.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Failed yet again

Almost every time I trust my local bike shop (LBS), I am disappointed.

Brought the black bike in to get the front wheel trued after my clumsy re-spoking. Just knew they would screw something up.

I'm assuming they got the wheel trued OK. I don't know for sure because, now I have a flat tire. It went flat within two hours.

I'm just glad I didn't try to ride it home. What if I had had a blowout barrelling down the main drag in traffic?

I don't know why the tire is flat. I noticed the valve cap was missing in the store, but I didn't suspect this. What kind of jive-ass fix are they putting on it that it will go flat in two hours?

In all fairness, it's hard to work on a wheel when you can't really disassemble all the wired in stuff from my Wilderness computer brain, etc. It's also way heavy.

I don't know what's going on in the wheel, why it's flat. I'm too tired to check. I called to let them know. They said bring it in. I don't want to waste any more time, or risk any more damage. I hope they didn't fuck up my schweet new Schwalbe tires.

Bottom line: your LBS probably hasn't seen an electric bike before, and probably won't do such a great job. Possibly safer to do your own for maintenance, even basic bike stuff.