Alex Riddles

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since Mar 27, 2016
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forest garden urban bike
Columbia Missouri
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Recent posts by Alex Riddles

I don't get fanatical about it.  But, I try to eat what I've grown year round also.  Two things I find that help get me through the "hungry gap" are Jerusalem Artichokes, they can be harvested mid winter and Asparagus which is the first thing to produce a harvest in the spring.
6 days ago
I grew up in Iowa.  Tornados are just a part of life there.  One tip I have is, if you are traveling and see a tornado it will typically be traveling from Southwest to Northeast.  You can use this to dodge out of the path.
1 month ago
There is a website that has many recipes for wild game and foraged plant based  foods.  It includes a recipe for pickled Jerusalem Artichokes.  They are pickled in a vinagre based brine that helps convert the indigestable inolin to fructose.  This helps with the gas problem.
7 months ago
When I was growing up in Iowa (zone 5)  we had a Santa Rosa plum.  It survived those winters and produced a huge crop of plums year after year.
9 months ago
I have been an absentee landlord and it was an unmitigated disaster.  These days I own a duplex in a suburban neighborhood.  I live in one apartment and rent out the other.  I have learned a few things along the way that have helped be make it all work out.

The banks and insurance companies view my arrangement as home ownership.  So, I get the homeowner mortgage and insurance rates.  That saves me some money.  Up to three units will be viewed this way as long as you are living in one of them.

When I show the apartment to prospective tenants I walk them out the back door and tell them, "that maple tree and the one by my back door don't produce anything to eat, everything else does (I have about 50 fruit bearing trees and shrubs in the back yard).  I grow more than I can eat, and I share ." So, now they are thinking I'm a really great guy.  Before they leave I give them the 3 page application and tell them, "I always take applications and I always check references.  But, I can find out what I need to without spending a lot of money.  So, don't worry about that application fee."  This gives bad tennants a means of walking away without any embarrasing information coming out.  The application specifically asks about evictions.  This process is going on while I am still painting the apartment.  So, there will be a time lag.  Those that are being evicted need to move before the apartment will be ready.  So, this doesn't work for them.  Also, bad tenants don't want to live next door to the landlord.

When I get the application back I really do check references.  I talk to the current landlord and employer and where I live criminal records  are easy to find online.  So, I look at that also. Any traffic ticket will show up with an address.  So, I can see if this matches the address they gave me.

It all boils down to two simple rules:
1) Be a hard ass when you're picking tenants.
2) Be a good neighbor afterwards.
Has anyone built and used one in the Midwest?  It seems all the comments are coming from climates drier than mine, and I am wondering how well it would work where I live.
2 years ago
Where I work we have about 600 people in the building and a coffee machine in the break room.  I have been collecting the coffee grounds for a few months now.  The only person I asked initially was the lady that makes the coffee.  I brought a 5 gallon bucket with a screw on lid that I bought in the paint dept at Home depot.  I leave the bucket between the coffee machine and the garbage can.  These things make it easier tor her to save me the grounds than throw them out.

The lid attracts some attention.  It is much easier to install and remove than a lid that snaps on.  So, the first thing people notice is something that looks like a good idea. It helps to shape their opinion of what I am doing.  I also make it a point to take the bucket home every day and return it clean and empty every morning.  When I am asked what I use them for I am quick to explain that I dig them into my garden.  "Worms are like people, when they have coffee they get ambitious.  By Spring my garden will be tilled and fertlized."  Everyone has been supportive.  Some of my coworkers have pointed out that Starbucks gives away bags of spent coffee grounds to anyone willing to take them.
2 years ago
I spent some time looking at some of my old textbooks and realized there is a lot we don't know about these wedges. Mainly the carbon content. But, that can be measured with an optical spectrometer.  Once you know that you can set your heat treat oven to the correct temperature.  If you have $100,000 worth of equipment at your disposal that's how you would proceed.

Then I found a YouTube video by Dave Bardin called tempering steel.  He goes through how to get the job done in a low tech way and is very detailed in his descriptions.  The part about using a file to test whether the steel is annealed will be very useful, a very simple test that will tell you if your wedge is safe to use.  Also there is a pinned comment that talks about using clay for differential hardening. They didn't teach us about that in engineering school.
2 years ago
A cold water quench is likely to make the problem worse.  The fast cooling rate makes the metal more brittle.  On the way out the door now.  But, I'll check some of my metallurgy books from college and post a more detailed reply soon.
2 years ago