Thursday, July 28, 2011

Aldo Leopold Center

Speaking of permaculture... I visited the "shack" of Aldo Leopold today in Baraboo, Wisconsin. This site might be one of the first attempts at modern "permaculture."

It was a muggy mosquito-laden day biking through the oaks, chestnuts, and pines on the way to the birthplace of  A Sand County Almanac, a classic in conservation ecology. I had seen video footage of the site this past earth-day at a screening of Green Fire. being here in person I gained an appreciation of what a family-man Aldo Leopold was. Walking around the fire pit and reading circle, I saw how the proactive conservation at the shack was team-oriented, family-centered. They changed the once-cleared farmland back into a thriving Oak savannah. The variety of birds darting through these carefully spaced trees is dizzying. This family created a living legacy beyond written words they left their mark, their secular "spirit" in the physical plane, in the growing ecosystem that germinated decades ago, in their minds. Being there I sensed how this was a family of survivors. 

One of the most striking artifacts in the Center was a beautiful hand-crafted bow Leopld had made. Apparently, the entire Leopold family were accomplished archers. Aldo's wife Estella was the best shot as she won the state archery championship! A family of trained hunters does not go hungry :)

Here is a video clip from my pilgrimage. 

The river I speak of is the Baraboo River and the living daughter or Aldo and Estella Leopold is Estella B. Leopold - professor emeritus of botany at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I posted this interview with Mark Shepard of Forest Agriculture Enterprises a few months ago. With today's feature in the New York Times on the rise of "Permaculture" I thought it appropriate to revisit. I can not emphasize enough how empowering this video is for me. After watching in-depth I have been turned on to several new ideas, like producing food energy by planting perennial rather than annual crops. I am inspired to plant forest gardens filled with hazelnut trees! I highly encourage my readers to take the time to watch. And for those of you of the skeptical mindset I am right there with you. When something sounds to good to be true, it usually is. If you have counter arguments to Mark Shepard's philosophy please share.

106 Acre Profitable Permaculture Farm - Interview with Owner Mark Shepard from The Socio Capitalist on Vimeo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spirits of Iron - Creative metalwork

Passing through  Elbe, Washington on our nomadic adventures we came upon these metal sculptures.  Truck hitches as elk chins and monkey-wrenches as Moose legs, these random acts of creativity embody the DIY fronteir art mentality of this American west. Happy to see these spirits thriving. Hats off to the artist - Dan Klennert. Worth the stop.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Real-Time History from Dad

I see that someone from Endicott, New York is reading Tom Paine's Ghost.  I tell my father this and immediately he says.

Did you know IBM started there?

Also, Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company started there.

The things that you learn when you talk to Dad

Just a quick series of possibly-interconnected points from an early-morning conversation with my father.

My Dad opens the paper and says

"Do you like NASCAR? I don't see the appeal."

I say "No, seems like a boring way to spend our precious time."

Dad - "You know, the origin of race-cars in the US was guys trying to supe-up their cars in order to out-run the cops with bootleg booze."

Me - "Wow, I did not know that."

Dad - "Did you know that the term bootlegging came from smugglers who snuck booze around in hip flasks tied to their shins under high leather boots?"

Me - "I can't say that I did.."

Dad - "You know that smuggling alcohol has played a huge role in American History right from the start? George Washington had to deal with frontier-men from Western Pennsylvania in his administration as president. These people were upset with the first real federal tax - a whiskey tax - and were starting to get violent with the federal tax-man. Our first violent civil conflict was the Whiskey Rebellion."

Me (having just traveled to mount Vernon last week) - "Do you think George Washington ever seized the 'contraband' whiskey?"

Dad - "I don't know."

Me - "I only ask because I noticed at Mount Vernon a bit of information that may be applicable. One display pointed-out that George Washington would often enter a tavern and pay everyone's bar tab to gain political favor. I am wondering if Washington had a deal with the tavern-keepers to supply them barrels of whiskey if they made it appear as if he was being generous."

Dad - "I guess we'll never know ;)"

Good Answer


Anatomy of a nuclear reactor

Evelyn Mervine, founder and author of Georneys has WON this year's Post with the Most Competition! She submitted a series of interviews with her father, Commander Mark L. Meverine in March 2011 addressing deep-seeded public concern in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. For her overall clarity, sense of urgency,  attention to detail, and integration of new-media formats she has proven a champion of real-time open-access philosophy.  Cheers and Hoozah to free information on this independence day!

And a big congratulations to a new member of the ever burgeoning blog community - Evelyn Mervine!

Listen to and read the entire series here.

One Q&A from this excellent series of interviews.

Evelyn Mervine - Do you think nuclear  power plants should be built in an earthquake prone area such as Japan?"

Commander Meverine -  I think it’s important for the nuclear industry, to be unemotional  about what has happened here. So, like I said, it does appear that all  of the design features that were required for the earthquake,  functioned, and the plant was going through a normal shutdown sequence.  Obviously, when the tsunami came, that was something that was not  designed for, because it flooded the location where the emergency diesel  generators were and caused them to lose all power, and we're now in a  scenario that's well beyond any design contingencies that were designed  for that plant.

So, I think the nuclear industry has to take a serious look at what has  occurred in Japan. Although nuclear power is an important source of  electricity, I think we have to seriously question any plants that are  located next to the ocean and the worst case scenario for this type of  event, an earthquake followed by a tsunami, as to the impact it would  have on that plant, and the emergency backup system.

Clearly, in this case, this was not taken into account and the net  result is, we have a nuclear plant that appears to be very very close to  a core meltdown.
Listen to the entire first interview below.

Interview 1 | 3/12: Nuclear Engineer on Japan Nuclear Disaster from Evelyn Mervine on Vimeo.