Creighton Samuiels

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since Apr 14, 2013
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Recent posts by Creighton Samuiels

I was thinking of repurposing some of my large front yard into a three sisters corn spiral this spring.  But I'd love to try this cultivar, if actually available.
4 days ago

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Anyone have a low-budget replacement for light bulb that's less bright?  "heat lamps" from the reptile store are about $4 per bulb, I'd like to get at least 3 bulbs for that price.

I'm not sure what kind of heat lamp that you speak of, but most of them that I've seen are PAR type halogen bulbs, or parabolic reflector spot bulbs.  You're going to pay too much at the pet store anyway.  You should be able to find whatever wattage you desire from 300 watts down to 40 at Wal-Mart.
1 week ago
I may be talking out my butt here, as I have very little personal experience with semi-arid regions outside of Southern California.  But the fact that those bushes can grow at all implies that they have access to water.  Do they have huge tap roots?  If not, then I would suspect that you are in an area that experiences night dew, which would make a dew collector a good investment.  The best way to tell is to dig up one of those naturally surviving bushes and examine the root structure.  If the root structure is broad and near the surface, this implies a regular dew cycle.  Such adapted plants also tend to have "fur" on their stems and branches; filament-like root structures that are capable of capturing dew that forms on the surface of the plant itself.

If, however, the root structure looks like a long tap-root that runs pretty much straight down, then they are groundwater accumulators.  If this is true, you might want to consider a technique of vapor capture that I learned for emergencies while in the military; but you might be able to adapt it to collect a useful amount of water.  The trick is that all plants will  'exhale' water vapor out of their leaves during photosynthesis, which can be condensed.  I learned to do this by taking a plastic bag and tying it around a green set of branches.  Let it have the sun for about 20 30 minutes, then shade that bag without removing it from the branch.  A little bit of condensation will form inside the bag under shade.  I don't know how this might be used as a regular method, because if you leave the bag on too long that branch will run out of CO2 inside the bag and simply stop; and if you still leave the bag on that portion of the plant will die.
2 months ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:Guild?

That's IT! Thanks!
2 months ago
I'm discussing food forests & huglekulture with a friend, and I'm having real trouble remembering word that describes the smallest multi-layer grouping of plants in a food forest.  The word doesn't refer to the whole forest, but just a small portion of it that has all seven layers of a food forest in a short radius.  Can anyone help me remember this word?  Google works much better when you have words to use.
2 months ago

Jordan Lowery wrote:Most of the year I sleep in my mayan hammock. It's large and comfortable. And in the morning it gets hooked to the wall. A benefit to people living in small spaces. It's made from all natural fibers.

I've sleep many a night on my own "mayan" hammock.  There is a trick to it that doesn't work for the American style hammock with spreader bars.  The mayan type don't have spreaders, and will swaddle you.  It's quite comfortable as long as your sleeping space isn't too cold, because it is hard to insulate the bottom of the hammock.  Excellent for warmer seasons, and easy on a bad back if done correctly.   Sit in the center of the hammock, pull the far side up over your back an onto your head, then twist your sitting position one direction so that you are about 30 degrees off of center of the hammock, then stretch out your legs inside of the hammock fabric.  You will be almost flat with one side of the hammock higher up your face and the other side of the hammock higher up the side of your legs.  Feels a bit odd at first, but it's easy to get used to.  Getting out at night to use the restroom is harder than a mattress, however.  And getting comfortable enough to sleep with another human being is next to impossible.  If used nightly, they last about a year or two, but will certainly be cheaper overall than a new mattress.
2 months ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:I'd be worried the bodies might not decay in deep cold water, but might become preserved indefinitely:

In the deep cold of the high latitude oceans, they might be preserved for quite some time, but eventually they will decay and return to the ecosystem.  The largest problem with a typical green burial is not how long decay takes, but that it captures useful real estate that can't be used for any other purpose (legally speaking) indefinitely.  I know where there is a public library, that has a beautiful park as it's front lawn, with a civil war era cemetery right in the middle of the lawn; there is a fence that keeps people from entering the cemetery portion of the public park.  The land should be for the living, (human, plant or animal) but a traditional burial mound like many American Indian cultures have used in the past, while it saves square footage, isn't a legitimate burial method under our current laws.  Water burial most certainly is, and there is way more useful ocean space available within a reasonable boat trip of any American port city.  And it's so much cheaper that I'm surprised that major cities that have to pay for the burials of the poor & homeless don't already require them.  New York and Boston could save money by contracting a daily boat trip, if only for the homeless that have died in the previous 24 hours, skipping the nasty embalming process altogether and using a couple hundred pounds of ice (or a refrigerated hold) to keep the dead refrigerated long enough to reach their final destination.  The US Navy does require it during a declared war, due to the volume of dead.  There are photos from WW2 showing military water burials involving hundreds of slain US military personnel at the same time, which has a lot to do with why there aren't nearly as many WW2 memorial cemeteries as there would be otherwise.  There are more American WW2 personnel buried in Europe than in the United States, simply due to the logistical problems with shipping that many dead soldiers home; and yet the world population is so high now that "where will we bury our dead?" is a real issue that most people don't want to think about.  India is such a densely populated country that river burials (floating out to sea) have been a thing for thousands of years.
2 months ago
This thread is very interesting to me, but it seems that there is a green alternative that hasn't been addressed here yet.  Water burial.  As a US veteran, I'm entitled to have the US Navy drop my corpse in the open ocean during an Atlantic transit.  The only thing that would have to be paid for is the transportation to the nearest Navy port, the body bag, and the flag.  (Because the US Navy is exempt from the EPA regs and fee)

But anyone can be buried at sea, and it's both green and cheap.  There are limitations for the Gulf of Mexico and for the Great Lakes, but typically it's just a single form from the EPA and a weighted body bag (a 20 lb rock in the bag works fine) and a boat able to take you to a place off shore that is at least 350 feet deep and 25 miles from shore and not a protected reef, IIRC.  (1000 feet in the Gulf Mexico, and there are several spots along the Atlantic with additional restricted zones, and the Great Lakes are much more severely limited due to treaties with Canada; but there is no port city that isn't within about 75 miles of an acceptable water burial location).

However, many of us live *way* too far from a port city to directly take advantage of this.  Since learning about this option myself, I've considered whether I can do it in Kentucky by 'creating' a protected and licensed 'water cemetery' out of an old rock quarry that is presently an old camping ground and already filled with water.  Build out a pretty floating pier in the deepest portion, prohibit fishing and swimming as private property, and add some necrotic lifeforms into the water and decomposition would be significantly quicker in deep water and there isn't any concern about disturbing an existing plot.  Eventually, however, the bottom would start to accumulate rocks from all those used as weights.   Also, a continuous water bubbling system into the deep might be necessary to provide enough oxygen for the process to proceed at an acceptable pace.  It's certainly not worth it for myself alone, or even my entire extended family, but 10's of thousands of people could be "water buried" in the same place without issues over several decades.

And yes, Europeans & Canadians can do this too, but in both cases there are more regulations, including a requirement for a detailed "tag" attached to the body bag that can be expected to survive the water for at least 2 years.  Americans can be entirely anonymous in death, perhaps so that organized crime can still get away with "swimming with the fishes" so long as they fill out the proper forms and pay the taxes.
2 months ago

Erica Wisner wrote:
Plate glass is cheap and ubiquitous in our modern, industrialized world, and I attribute this mainly to our near-limitless access to energy for both manufacture and transportation.  We also have widespread access to the chemistry information, which used to be trade secrets...
But glass is not easy to repair or reproduce in the woods; and it but might not always be so easy to find in a less-industrial time and place.

"Easy" is subjective, can anything that we do on this forum really be called "easy"?  But the modern process for plate glass is also described in the book, and we could do it as a community, but it would be dangerous.  The trick is that hot glass is carefully poured onto the surface of a heated pool of mercury, upon which the glass floats, and the entire thing is allowed to cool very slowly.  Once cooled, the panel is removed and cut into panes.  This is the reason that older windows had smaller (6-8") panes inside of a wooden grid structure, because making smaller panes was cheaper in the cost of the mercury and was less risky.  A pool of mercury would have to be held inside a ceramic bowl in order to take the heat, and a smaller bowl would need a smaller kiln.  But if we were to get a large enough ceramic bowl and enough mercury, we could make small panes inside a normal sized rocket mass wood kiln.  If that kiln was inside of a larger workshop, the heat of the kiln would keep the workshop warm in winter while other small manufacturing could occur.  This is not something we would bother doing unless a "world made by hand" came to pass, but we could do it.  Soda glass has a small temp range for successful melting and reforming, but with practice a talented glassworker could get a glass jar to melt into the mercury pool while inside the kiln, then just leave it for the next morning to cool.

"Infinitely recyclable" glass may be - but once broken, it takes about as much energy to re-form glass into sheets or containers as to start from scratch (sand/soda), which makes it a poor candidate for most recycling efforts.  Our local recycling center can't accept glass unless/until someone is interested in processing it locally, because the cost to ship it to the nearest recycling smelter is more than the recycle(able) glass is worth.

This energy investment is a major reason I have not attempted to build a glass kiln - because if we ever run short on industrially-produced glass, we'll likely be even shorter on the fuels needed to inefficiently roast our own. Like many high-energy processes, it's more efficient to melt glass in large quantities than at the backyard scale.  I'm tempted to tumble or rough-melt glass scrap into gravel, or find uses for it where possible, rather than ship it multiple times over great distances to complete the recycling loop. 
Once glass breaks or ends its useful service life, it's basically a weird rock. 
A pretty, shiny, breakable, somewhat fragile, sharp, and dangerous rock.  If we had less of it, it might be considered semi-precious, but common as it is, it's a disposal problem.

Broken glass makes a fine aggregate for concrete.

There's something in me that loves knowing what everything is made of, and loves pondering truly biodegradable alternatives (or enhancements) to some of our common industrial conveniences. 

Then you would likely love the book that I referenced above.
2 months ago
I'm curious why this is an issue.  The main reason that glass overtook other options for 'bug resistant' windows was because, once we knew how to make it, it was the least difficult and least expensive option.  I own a book called The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell that details the basic process, while also noting that soda glass is an infinitely recyclable material.  We would find it difficult to produce clear window glass without visual distortions, particularly of any size, but reproducing panel pane glass from recycled bottles and/or new sand isn't beyond our art.  If you can build a rocket mass heater, you can build a glass kiln.
2 months ago