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News From The Mother Earth News Faire in Pennsylvania Last Weekend

Air travel bonanza: I got 3 seats, so am sitting by the window, watching the sunrise illuminate the wings of this (United) A320 on my way home from Pittsburgh. A few things about flying:
1. I've lightened up and will never check a bag in again. I keep my Osprey roll-on slim enough to avoid cram-job in overhead bin.
2. I pay about $30 for preferred boarding, which lessens the cattle car routine.
3. I really like United these days. They've got a lot of things (including website) together; flight crews are friendly and helpful.
I wandered the Faire yesterday and found lots of useful tools and info, talked to a lot of people, many of whom knew (and had utilized) our building books.
Garden Tools A vendor was selling Italian garden tools; I bought a mattock, a machete (way different from Collins machetes), and a pair of fine pruning shears. http://www.growerstools.com/
Wood Stove with Oven I've been looking for a wood stove with visible fire window + an oven, and found one, which I'm pretty sure I'll order: "The Vermont Bun Baker," a high quality stove built in Australia, and encased in soapstone: http://www.vermontwoodstove.com

Mother Earth News Faire in Pennsylvania

Some random pics from the Faire yesterday. It's an absolutely wonderful event. I'm finding a ton of interesting things here. For anyone interested in building, farming, homesteading, doing stuff for selves, there are countless items, ideas, demonstrations, lots of speakers on a variety of subjects.
I had 2-300 people at my Tiny Homes on the Move event yesterday. Biggest crowd I've ever had, and we had fun. They were with me or rather, they were with the builders/owners of these nomadic homes. A lotta rapport.

Meeting John Henry in Normalville

Got into Pittsburgh on the redeye yesterday -- no sleep -- can't ever sleep on planes, even with 3 seats. Picked up rental car, drove out to Seven Springs mountain resort, where I checked into the hotel/ski lodge for The Mother Earth News Faire. On the way to my room I asked the housekeeper about barns in the area. Well, she was local and she started giving me directions. A maintenance guy came along and joined in -- he was local, then 2 more women, and they all started giving me directions at the same time, me scribbling down notes.
How about a place to eat, I asked, in a small town, not at one of the restaurants in the lodge. Vikki, the housekeeper said, well, the locals all go to Seymour's in Normalville.
Normalville? No way was I NOT going to a place with that kind of name.
After a half hour's drive and many stops for photos of barns and houses (and the '50s tableau in the photo that was unexpectedly on the side of a small road), I arrived at See-More's All-Star Grill in, sure enough, Normalville. Authentic! The real America, in many ways. Not a trace of hipsterism, or cappuccino or kale or wi-fi. Local tractor drivers, farmers, people who work with hands.
I had the breakfast special -- "Cream Chicken 'N' Biscuits/MashedPotatoes/Corn" and it was delicious. I started talking to the guy next to me at the counter. He was lean, maybe '50s, pony tail, silver earring, turns out he harvests wild ginseng. Which got us into mushrooms, deer hunting, wild foods. We hit it off and shook hands as I left -- strong grip. Told him my name, and he introduced himself: John Henry, he wasn't kidding, I said steel driving man, huh? and he said yeah…
One thing I've learned when traveling to never-before-visited places is: Ask-ask-ask. I used to venture out solo, but now whenever possible, I ask people. Barns, food, coffee, music, new hip city neighborhoods…If people see you're interested in what's on their turf, they'll go out of their way to help. Here, several times, cashiers walked out of their stores with me to point out directions…
Had a great day yesterday with cameras, drizzly rain notwithstanding, the excitement of newly discovered territory…
Lots of interesting stone masonry in area. This is a chiropractor's office on the road to Seven Springs.

New GIMME SHELTER Newsletter Out

Pre-blogosphere, these newsletters were my sole form of "instant" communication. They're a lot less frequent these days, but I still send them out -- for one thing, they reach people who don't look at my blog.. Right now there are about 600 people on the mailing list. We also post them on Shelter's website; here's the latest: http://www.shelterpub.com/_gimme/_2014-09-11/gimme_shelter-2014-09-11.html

Tuesday Morning Fish Fry

Blog Posts I just did 2 posts for our new blog -- they'll be up within a week -- http://www.theshelterblog.com/, as I transition to a different blogging mode. Not as much stuff as this (although I can't resist blabbing now and then). More material on building, the home arts, gardening, farming. Especially building.
I feel like I have a lot to communicate with builders after all these years of non-academic study of carpentry and other methods of construction.
Back in the saddle with this new blog.
Coming off 5 years of building domes, I set about to learn the most practical methods of building homes, small buildings, and barns. It can be so simple.
Sample future posts:
•Drawings of 5 tiny homes (including every stick of wood in framing (from Shelter)
•Barns of my acquaintance
•Timber Framing
•Master Builders of the Middle Ages
•Architecture: architects need to know that the definition of architecture is "…the art and science of building." Building.
Dwell magazine: occasional comments on this paragon of soulless living
•Rad Rigs: More tiny homes on wheels
I'm really excited to be shifting to this mode. I have something like 70,000 photos, both film and digital, to draw from.
Today's New York Times has a terrific science section, including a stunning photo of the moon by the Lunar Orbiter V, and an article about a combo robot/man diving suit that will be used to explore a Roman ship believed to have sunk in the 1st century BC, and which carried "…the Antikythera Mechanism, a mechanical device for predicting celestial movement."
Serena was just superb on Saturday. Power and grace. Beautiful.
Surfing Without Catching Waves Went out on my 10' Haut Surftek board the other day, too many surfers for me, just got a couple of krappy rides in the foam. Then a few days later could not get out through 6' surf with my surf mat BUT as I get older I settle for just being in the ocean AND I'm gonna get waves -- going to Kauai in November with surf mat and fins.
Over & Out I'm leaving tomorrow for Pittsburgh, then to Seven Springs, PA to do a presentation Friday,  Sept 12 at the Mother Earth News Faire. Anyone know if Pittsburgh is worth exploring?
Photo: grapes at Louie's
I've Got You Under My Skin by Diana Krall on Grooveshark

Septic System Scams - Homeowners, Beware!

I got a robot phone call last night (around dinner time, of course): "Hello, this is not a solicitation, this is about your septic system…"
The object was to sell homeowners on additives that will "…improve septic tank digestion of solids."
Don't fall for this scam. Below is what we wrote in Septic Systems Owner's Manual (There are 5 complete chapters from the book reprinted here, along with other septic info.). Click here.
Septic system additives, especially enzymes. (You don’t need to add enzymes; they’re naturally present in the sewage.) Beware of telemarketers or ads hawking additives claiming to avoid tank pumping. They actually break down the scum and sludge into small particles, which are then readily flushed out into the drainfield, increasing possibility of premature drainfield failure. The State of Washington has banned septic tank additives. In Tiburon, California, a homeowner recently added enzymes to a septic system that had been working perfectly well. Soon after, sludge moved out into the drainfield and the system failed.
I wrote an article that appeared in The Mother Earth News in 2008 about the sorry state of septic systems engineering and regulations in the US. To read it, click here.

Long Interview With Lloyd by Ari Solomon

This is a pretty thorough recap of my background in building, domes, the '60s, and the subsequent Shelter books.


Luxury Mobile Home

I've seen some big units like this that cost $500,000 or so.

Surf Matter Is (P)art of Wave

"… The benefit of surfing for decades is not that you progress along some rocket to the moon skill increase curve
but the slow gradual understanding of the pleasures of the sun, the wind and the  water."
-Pranaglider, August 11, 2014


Vietnamese Surf Boats

Fabulous article on fishing boats sent this morning by Godfrey Stephens. Click here. Scroll down to "Two Very Different Surf Boats Near Quy Nhon" for this article, but the whole article is full of unique boat info.

The home page: http://www.boatsandrice.com/index.html


These guys killed it yesterday. Louie says there's the expression, "We're in 'em," meaning everything's working, like we're in the (school of) salmon. They had over 20 of these beauties, 22-25 pounds each, at $8/lb, it's $160-200 per fish.