Chris Kott

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since Jan 25, 2012
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bee dog forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur cooking rabbit trees urban wofati
Toronto, Ontario
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Recent posts by Chris Kott

I don't think there's anything racist about playing the odds. The statistical probability of meeting an infected person of asian descent is higher than any other demographic. I am not changing my behaviour personally, but I also won't make unnecessary trips to places likely to be frequented by widely- and recently-travelled individuals. Sadly, this will include some of the best Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and asian fusion restaurants in the province.

I don't begrudge them my business. I just think that I am worth more to them alive.

7 hours ago
Sounds like the decisions Iran's government has made has turned the country into an incubator. I don't think panic is ever a viable solution to anything, and this is no exception.

I think the most rational precautions anyone can make beyond following basic disease transmission protocols, like not touching your face before you wash your hands, involve making sure that the pantry is topped up. I have a half-year's worth of rice, mostly because we eat rice, and various quantities of dried goods. I could make a lot of soup with just what I have right now, and I will top up my half-dozen bean and various grain and lentil bins in the next week.

We also bake, so we will gradually buy a little more of everything that keeps that we need to make things, and stuff like olive oil.

My seed stores are plentiful,  but I don't see this causing that scale of food shortage by itself. Mainly, I would be concerned with growing nutritionally superior food from my nurtured garden soil to boost overall health in at-risk family members.

I am concerned about India's stance, suggesting that the Indian population has some sort of immunity. I have heard it suggested that they routinely suffer related coronavirus outbreaks, allowing for a healthier immune response to COVID-19, but I find it more likely that specificity and recordkeeping might be lacking.

I think it probable that it will be declared a pandemic at some point, possibly soon,  but that would actually be a good thing, if hesitant governments were released of the burden of being perceived as panicking to take measures that would be effective in slowing the spread of infection.

12 hours ago
Hi Bon.

First, read this. It's Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur article. That should give you a grounding, and enough information to ask the right questions.

Next, you can look through the hugelkultur forum here on permies. You just posted to it, so I assume you know where to find it.

Another consideration is that chippers are great at making mulch out of tree scraps, and that hugelkultur involves larger, whole-log sized pieces, large branches, whole trees, rather than homogenously-sized tree bits. You want the size of the whole wood pieces on the bottom for structure and stability over time, as the increased surface area of chips will mean that the piles break down faster.

The other direction in which you could go, if your mate is really keen on fire, is to get him to learn how to do an outdoor pit-burn in order to turn his burn pile into biochar, that is, activated charcoal that becomes inoculated with healthy soil organisms and improves the soil structure and health. You could quite literally excavate the pit trench where you want your hugelbeet, place the pile in it and top-light it, adding fuel as necessary to keep it producing char and not ash (it's a whole process, and somewhat involved, but right up many pyromaniacs' alleys; ask me how I know).

This would have benefits in your hugelbeet apart from the biochar acting like condos for your soil life. Biochar doesn't degrade, as it's just an open-pored carbon matrix, so it can hold the soil structure when uncharred woody and organic components around it have decomposed.

I hope this has provided some useful information and direction for your further reading. Whenever those question pop up, the membership of this site is usually all-too-happy to provide answers. Let us know how it goes, and good luck.

16 hours ago
Double-sided tape, sometimes called D-tape, can be used, but I have never done it that way.

I am a print finisher and binderyperson by trade, which includes an unhealthy amount of bookbinding and book repair. In cases of one-off books whose spines split or that start to lose pages, we typically cut the spine off, clamp it such that the cut edges are all parallel in the book block, apply glue to the edges of the pages, ensuring that it seeps in, and apply a spine strip and folded endpapers.

The reason you want a liquid glue is so that it can seep into the pages from the binding edge before it dries. An adhesive on a material backing, really any tape used for the purpose, will stick to the edges of the cut pages, but won't penetrate enough to last; instead of being resecured with adhesive that has penetrated between 1/32" and 1/16" between the pages on the spine, those pages will be held only by their edges to the backing by the adhesive. Furthermore, as it dries, the adhesive will stick less, and as the book is used the stress will encourage pages to fall out. In this scenario, the book will start falling apart from the inside-out, losing pages from where they open, rather than from the outsides of the book block.

I like the pencils and rubberband clamp idea. Lacking a proper clamp, one can always use books on a table, the weight of the books acting to press the freshly reglued spine until it dries. I would probably use this method over pencils and rubberbands, but it would probably work just fine for some applications.

Bindery tape, which looks a lot like duct tape but is often more durable with a finer feel, is often applied to the outside of case-bound (hardcover) books to reinforce a wearing spine. Using a material like duct tape or bindery tape directly on the guts of a book, especially older ones, where the paper is losing its structural integrity, will likely just change the way the book falls apart.

Bookbinding used to be done with animal glues and flour-based paste for the cover assembly. Ideally, you want the glue you use for the spine to retain elasticity when it dries, like an animal glue, rather than becoming hard and brittle, as most pastes do.

But let us know how you decide to proceed. Restoring books is a laudable goal and worthwhile, especially if they're better than the fall-apart acid-pulp crap most stuff gets printed on nowadays. Keep us posted, and good luck.

16 hours ago
One easy fix for many people is something like oatmeal. In addition to decreasing all-cause mortality by 22%, swapping out refined grains for oatmeal, with its much higher levels of soluble fibre, could easily cut your blood pressure. This presupposes that you have any refined grain to cut from your diet, and that you aren't already taking in sufficient soluble fibre, but these are issues with many people on the typical western diet.

Additionally, it has been proven in lab studies (though I have temporarily lost the link to the article) that the chemical compounds that make up the smell of forest floor decomposition, that we are normally exposed to when walking through a mostly closed-canopy forest environment, cause us to relax, right down to our blood pressure. So if possible, take detours through forests on your bike rides, and perhaps, if you take scheduled rest breaks during training, make sure one happens in or immediately downwind from, a forest.

Lastly, coming at it from the other side, I was once cautioned by my doctor that I was borderline overdosing on my daily blueberry/kale/almond milk smoothie. Granted, after I added the kale, it was black in colour, and it was, shall we say, and acquired taste, but one of the things he told me that it was doing well was essentially scrubbing my innards clean of the deposits that, in some, clog arteries and cause high blood pressure.

Do you have any other dietary concerns that will complicate making changes? Allergies, or preexisting conditions that require a specific diet?

In any case, please keep us posted. We are all likely to be on one end of this issue or the other at some point. Good luck, and let us know.

17 hours ago
Hilarious. I read that as PEBCAT first.

1 day ago
Honestly, I think that if you wanted to convert a whole lot of human power directly to rotary action, like on a shared axle powering a PTO-driven machine, the best way would be to salvage as many decent elliptical machines as possible, or else the type of rowing machines that use the resistance of a large fan wheel. I would gear them all so that they'd coast until any amount of physical effort were applied.

We have so many useful devices around designed specifically to tax the human engine in specific, measured ways, in one place. It seems to me the best way to use human power in this way would be off of an excercise machine that used a whole-body workout to spin an axle.

Nice! One other advantage to electric infrastructure is what has ICE and small engine mechanics concerned, the relative lack of maintenance required for electric vehicles and tools. I mean, you need to keep them clean, and sometimes they need to be designed so that the electrical components can stay clean while the rest of the machine gets dirty, and you need to sharpen and replace parts that are prone to wear, but from what I have heard from mechanics on the subject, there's very little to be done on, for instance, modern electric vehicles that isn't a straight swap-out for fresh parts, motors and batteries and such.

I would love to see more development in this sphere. Imagine, for a moment, an electric traction device that was essentially a giant self-stabilised wheel, a rolling hub-motor in a tractor tire or track with onboard swappable battery banks, onto which purpose-built, self-motored accessories attached. For longer, slow-moving processes, a battery-bank trailer with solar panels could be towed. And imagine this piece of equipment being designed to drive down between planted rows, perhaps sewing a hardy green manure polyculture in its wake, a suitable platform for a person or automated equivalent to mulch or seed or apply compost extracts or fungal slurry during another crop's growth, where conventional equipment wouldn't be an option.

I could imagine such stripped-down electric traction devices being cheaper, such that multiples could live on one property, so that if one was tied up subbing for a PTO, another could do the locomotor duty. Imagine you could buy them in singles or multiples, with a quantity discount, and the advantages of designed for disassembly and repair ethic.

I went a tad afield, but yes, I see great potential advantages to an electric infrastructure for homesteading over diesel, but I don't know that we are developed in that thread enough to be able to support such a conversion completely.

Soon, though.

Using the soapstone as a facade is a lovely idea. I don't know how well it will stand up to riser temperatures, though.

I would use the steel drum and then enclose it with a built-up screen of soapstone, arranged so that there can be some slight airflow between tile and riser drum, with strategic perforations arranged by gapping the tiles. Doing so might provide air intakes and outlets at the bottom and top, increasing the heat exchange between the riser and the air, but also trapping more of the radiant heat in the soapstone lattice/tile facing.

Some drawings or pictures of the tiles you're talking about could help. But this sounds interesting. Please keep us in the loop, and good luck.

1 day ago