Gerald O'Hara

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since Jan 17, 2013
45.7187 N, -97.4436 W (where it is really cold)
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Recent posts by Gerald O'Hara

Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:I can pee without pooping but can't poop without peeing.

However, I will admit to sometimes having a ninja turd attack when I innocently assumed I was just there to "make water".

Poop can sneak up on one sometimes.... Just sayin'.

I picked this post to respond to because it justifies the following comments in order to understand WHY we get those NINJA TURD ATTACKS when thinking we were only there to "make water!"

As luck (and G*d) would have it, the complaint issued by Jennifer is not a design flaw; rather a specific design feature. The human waste disposal system is controlled by the "autonomic nervous system" (read: automatic) and the solid waste disposal function is specifically controlled by the 10th cranial nerve in the brainstem called the "VAGUS NERVE" (yes, this is going to be a bit "technical". We are talking about the "pooping system" after all).

The Vagus nerve is a rather complex wiring system which controls the activation of certain bodily functions, of which the poop mechanism is one. There are several signal types that enter into play here. One of these is called the "gastro-colic reflex" which simply stated means that when you eat enough to activate the "stretch receptors" in your stomach, those stretch receptors send a signal to the "main frame" (read: brain) and that sends the "empty out" signal to the colon to make room for what is currently in the stomach. Often as not however, as Jennifer has stated, there is no signal from the brain to the colon to tell it to empty because there is nothing in the stomach to tell it that. So you just get the "time to pee" signal from the pelvic nerves and most folks comply with that in a timely manner, assuming they are in a situation where they can do so.

Now it is important to understand that the signal the brain sends via the Vagus nerve (i.e wiring system) is a smooth muscle contraction signal as opposed to a "skeletal muscle" contraction signal such as when you decide to move one of your extremities. Most of the "hollow organs" are comprised of this Smooth muscle.

The vagus nerve (parasympathetic nerve) has control of a number of functions including (but not limited to) the heart, liver gall bladder, bile ducts, stomach, trachea, bronchi and lungs, the kidney, and adrenal glands all of which can be activated by this "smooth muscle contraction" signal. The bladder, which is held in check as it fills by the "sympathetic nerves" in the "autonomic system" is activated by an "over-ride" signal from the parasympathetic nerves which causes it to empty. Ergo, you often pee but not poop, but in many cases you may notice that you fart while you are peeing. This is the result of the same parasympathetic nerve stimulation along the "parasympathetic wiring of which the "vagus nerve" is included. If you have ever noticed that some folks actually lose consciousness and even some die with excessive straining to empty the "waste port". Stimulating the vagus nerve also has the ability to slow down the heart to the point of stopping if it goes on for too long.

The two systems are equal and opposite forces, just like in Newtonian physics. Now it is also true that there are "stretch receptors" in the bladder as well, which when stimulated as the result of reaching its "volume/capacity" sends a signal to the brain to send a signal via the pelvic nerve to the bladder to empty in order for it to NOT overfill which causes some impressive concern for folks who fail to heed its call in a timely manner such as when driving or doing something that can not be easily stopped at the moment one gets "THAT signal".

So, without going much deeper into the wiring diagram and operation of the human body, suffice it to say, the "two hole activation system" is indeed a deliberate design feature of the "Supreme Architect of the Universe".

I should also like to point out that the "HUMANURE" system is for reasons no one is completely positive about, unfortunately provides an unsafe product and should NOT, repeat NOT be used on vegetables or edible garden produce. Flowers are fine, but there is an association with certain forms of neurological disease, among which MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS is associated (but never as yet proven). There was (and may still be a product called "MilOrganite" which is made from HUMANURE. If you read about it, you will conclude that this is NOT something we want to add to our diet...ever.
Just sayin'
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3 years ago
So with all this "technology" you'd think we can come up with the "least technically involved" approach to making a cup of coffee.
Recently, I bought a "tea ball" which is a very fine strainer in the shape of a ball. It comes apart in two halves and I put a tbs. of coffee in it and plunk that into the hot water. Voila! coffee. The longer it sits there, the stronger the coffee gets. I grind the coffee fairly coarse so I dont' get a lot of mud at the bottom of the cup.
5 years ago
I have been thinking about this for several years. I have no degree in engineering or physics, so I probably don't know what I am talking about, but here goes.

Several of you have explored the concept of the falling weight and that has been my thought as well . Big Ben worked on that principle. They got it wound ok. What about something the size Of a chimney with a mechanism of an 8 day cuckoo clock? As the weight falls torque is created producing electricity from a suitable size generator. Going up as the weight comes down is a bucket which is filled by a toilet flush mechanism that fills to bring the weight back up. A small electric motor pumps the water back up to the top for the next flush. Or how about a properly geared mechanism that a five year old can wind? Who cares how much human energy is needed? If you want some lift, you do a little work!

Most of you are looking to power much larger items, but suppose we just stick to some simpler but critical uses?
My thinking is that rather than try to power big items, why not just stick to two or three basic items: light and radio for instance. I've been thinking about a variation on the windup radio I bought some years ago. The truth is that LED's can produce a tremendous amount of Light and consume very little power. A two way radio and even a small commercial radio doesn't require THAT much power.

What I envision is a box that can be installed in every room in a house between the studs which are 16" on center (usually). A windup box for each room would provide those basic necessities( particularly in an emergency) and not need to be on for more than an Hour or so. Make it with gears that a five year old could wind or an 85 year old and just that alone would keep anyone (particularly one who wishes to be"off-grid") in the 20th century.

The radio I Have uses a ribbon spring and even has its own solar panel which is minuscule in size but produces enough to do the job. With just the right engineering this could be a viable first step to energy self-sufficiency for all of us!
Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni
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5 years ago

albertpostema Hatfield wrote:Hi everyone, new here, yet it already feels like home. Thanks Paul for the heads up.

Just throwing in three and a half cents on this dog manure issue. We have just recently worked on a "pet policy" for a newly forming deep ecological community.   The parasite issues, the composition of the manure, etc were all valid issues. ie; are they eating organic food? If not what is in their food? Concerns were for our organic certification, as well as general health safety and the community values. 

END RESULT   First, if we have it, dog manure is organic matter and should be kept onsite.  No free ranging though, to control random dispersal.  All manure collected and composted seperatly in a dry location with the end results being added to the composted paper stream.  This mixture is then put into into the tree based hugelkulture. 

(Paper recycling is really just a different way to throw away garbage. Dont let your organic matter leave, COMPOST )

Secondly,  discussion about  pet compatibility with deep ecology tabled.
    Hopefully for awhile...ha.

ps. I have attached a produced document full of web research on dog manure and its ecological impacts.  The EPA identifies dog manure as a non-point source of pollution, so its definitly not benign.

A brief read of the link provided yielded an interesting point. In discussing the variety of parasites found in the waste products of dogs were included "hookworms, ringworms and roundworms..." Of note is the fact that there is no such thing as ringworms. Ringworm is a fungal disease of the skin and has no relationship to any form of "worm".
Just caused me to chuckle a bit.
6 years ago
I'm in the northeast corner, about 30 miles from the MN border.
It is a long way from Rapid City and probably a lot colder here.
I'd be interested in hearing from you when you come to SDAK.
6 years ago
Not sure what happened. I was going back to answer one of your questions on the RMH string you posted and it was "GONE".Then I sent an email to you and it bounced.
I am, as you may remember in SDAK...Northeast corner.
I am just learning about permaculture and quite honestly haven't mastered the concept as yet.
Drop a line to Icu4dzs at
6 years ago
G'day Jamie,
At the risk of sticking my foot in my mouth I am going to offer some information that may or may not assist you with the "problem".
Before I started building a rocket stove, I spent quite a while trying to find out if there was a specific proportion to the rocket stove components. After "kissing a lot of frogs" I finally found a site from M.I.T. which described the specific proportions required. I will start by saying that my original piece of equipment was a 30" piece of exhaust pipe steel 5" in diameter. The steel was cut into two pieces on the 45 with the short peice being 10" and the longer piece being 20". This was welded together and actually made a reasonably credible rocket stove in that simple configuration. I did take a piece of 4" flat bar and weld that to the inside of the combustion chamber to provide a shelf for the fuel as it entered the stove. As I said, it worked pretty good but not great. It still seemed a bit "smokey" and I wanted to know what I had done wrong.

I found this website and on it was the equation necessary to have a very successful rocket stove. The entire stove depends on the area of the opening into the combustion chamber which in my situation was 5" x Pi. (3.1416) In the equation from M.I.T. the important feature was the diameter of the fire box, such that the diameter of the opening to the fire box is considered algebraically as "X" The horizontal portion where the combustion chamber is situated will now be considereed 2x and the total height of the riser should be x + (1.5 or 2 x) + 5 cm. So in my case the horizontal combustion chamber which was 12" long had to be cut down by 2" and the vertical stack had to be cut down to about 17 ". This gave a much more satisfactory burn and allowed the wood to keep burning as long as I tended it and added more fuel periodically.

Therefore, when looking at the opening in your RMH where the first thing is the rocket stove, it would seem to me that the proportions of the stove opening and the length of the exhaust stack might be mis calculated yielding a goodly amount of smoke.
As I said, I am NO engineer as may be a few of the gentlemen here but in either case, you may want to play some tricks with the math and see if your design meets with important principles needed to fix the problem.

I certainly hope this computes and adquately relays the thought process somehat more clearly.
I hope this helps in your quest to find a good resolution of your rocket stove difficulties.

6 years ago
I've been thinking about this myself. Water has the highest Delt G of any substance but for some reason, all the RMH designs seem to prefer cob or something very much like it. I have also been thinking about using AAC (aerated autoclaved cement) which is used for building walls with R40 ratings...not bad,huh? Well my guess is that one of these two items should be useful for this type of construction.
I'll bet there is someone out there with some engineering experience who can tell me why both ideas are not good, so I don't waste my time using those materials. I really want to know if using water for the thermal mass is possible or would it take TOO LONG to heat the water with the given amount of fuel?
6 years ago

Jamie Corne wrote: Hey Gerald! You ready for the arctic freeze this weekend? You're more north so I'm going to assume it's going to get colder and windier up there...hopefully not.

As far as the tube that is galvanized - as far as I know - you have to heat zinc to 900 degrees before it gives off toxic fumes that could harm anyone - but as Ernie has stated on the forum's really not that big of a problem since we are venting outside and the fumes would be so minimal...

Well, here it is Sunday AM and it is pretty cold. We got a little fresh white dust last night but that is about it.

Jamie Corne wrote: I appreciate the sentiments though. Our first complete burn will be highly ventilated - just to be on the safe side. Never hurts to be safe.

Old habits from flying with the Navy...always say somthing when it comes to questions of safety. THere is no such thing as "Keeping your mouth shut" if safety is in question. I understand your point. Hopefully it won't get THAT hot inside your barrel.

Jamie Corne wrote: That fire brick that we found was at the Habitat for Humanity Restore Store in Sioux Falls. They tore down a house with a massive fireplace - and they got A LOT of the brick that was still usable. From what I understand - many Habitat Restore's across the nation have them from time to time because they tear down many different types of homes - older ones especially, which tend to have fire places. Otherwise, if you go to I-29 brick in Sioux Falls - they are 2.19 a brick - for the 3000 degree F rated bricks (used for kilns).

My luck they won't have any left and I'll have to pay the $2.10/each. While I can do that, and currently, it is worth it to me to have them than skip that part, I do believe that going the distance with the "right bricks" is the only way to go. I (as I said above) don't like to compromise safety or anthing that would challenge my existence.

Jamie Corne wrote: Watertown doesn't have ANYTHING for rocket stoves. Don't waste your time there. No firebricks - no fire clay - no Vermiculite in the winter - nothing. Brookings either. Hopefully that will change soon, if we can get people to move to rocket stoves and mass thermal heaters.

It would be great to have you come on down (or over as the case might be) and see our rocket baby. Building it hasn't been without its headaches...that's for sure...but this weekend, we're planning on being awfully warm without having to make a bunch of trips out to the woodshed for logs. That...will be nice for a change. And waking up in the morning with it still being quasi-warm instead of bone-chilling cold...we can't wait

I'll let you know when I come by that way. It may be next week since I only work two days a week. I like to plan big trips in advance and since I have to bring my dog, and feed the animals before I leave for the day, I have to do split second planning. I'll skip the stop-over in Watertown though. Since shipping is so brutally expensive out here and very unreliable, I will have to drive my truck to get these items.

Jamie Corne wrote: I hope to have more conversations with ya - especially about the stoves that you build. Take care and if we don't talk before the storm is over - stay warm and stay safe!

You can if you like send me a PM and I will be happy to discuss this with you. I shouldn't put my email address here, I guess.

I got the rocket stove outer jacket built yesterday and I only had one bag of perlite so it didn't fill up very much but now I have to grind the welds (they look awful because the N2 tank wasn't working right at first.) and weld the top on it, make some legs for it and add some spacers for the top to hold a pot. I did manage to boil water on it yesterday though. I had a tea kettle full of ice and in no time at all, I had it whistle. That was really a great feeling. Once I have the insulation in and the top on it, I should be ready to do another one and this time use an old water heater tank that I salvaged and see what I can accomplish.
More as it happens...
6 years ago

Rich Pasto wrote:"you believing it is not a requirement for it being true." - US Army

they work.

The corollary to this states, "A plant does not have to believe in photosynthesis for it to occur"
6 years ago