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Kick-Ass Toyota Truck

When I drove up Highway One Wednesday to see my friend Louie in Mendocino county, I stopped for coffee at a cafe in Bodega Bay. I saw this truck with poisonality and when I went into the cafe, I asked the young guy sitting there if it was his. Yes it was. He was Stuart Brown, and he had replaced the independent front suspension with a straight axle and was welding bars on it (more to come) so it could bounce of things out in the woods. We hit it off and it turned out he knew who I was and had a copy of Builders of the Pacific Coast. It's wonderful to be running into these 20-30-year-olds these days who are into the same things we were 40 years ago (and still are).

Perpetuum Jazzile, Slovenian Choir, Live Africa 2008

Godfrey Stephens just sent me this, with a note:
"A storm of sorts…
Turn up volume…"

"Perpetuum Jazzile is a Slovenian choir that performs jazz and popular music….The choir consists of both female and male singers, occasionally augmented by jazz instrumentalists from RTV Slovenia Big Band….a wide spectrum of jazz styles, performing complex and dense harmonies….performs bossa nova and swing music, as well as funk, gospel and pop,[citation needed] either a cappella with vocal percussionist Sašo Vrabič, or with a jazz trio…"
Above text from Wikipedia

Lesley's Quilts #1

My wife Lesley has been making quilts for many years. They haven't been on display anywhere for a few years, but we're working on a web site. they're wonderful to look at. What I've always liked about her quilts is the randomness that she allows to take place. She has a geometric pattern, but doesn't carry it out like an engineer. If she runs out of fabric in the middle of a pattern, she'll let the pattern be asymmetrical. Someone just wrote her today (which prompted me to post this):
"…I always loved the vitality and quirkiness of your work. I am a HUGE fan of that; so of course I love Kaffee Fassett as well. I love your little hand cut pieces, and your wonderful stitching and the odd bits of whimsey e.g. beads, and of course, best of all, the color…."
I'm going to post her quilt photos now and then.

Joni Mitchell Live -1970 -Song: California

This is a lovely piece, her voice hauntingly pure, accompanying herself on a dulcimer. Boy!
I met a redneck on a grecian isle
Who did the goat dance very well
He gave me back my smile
But he kept my camera to sell
Oh the rogue, the red red rogue
He cooked good omelettes and stews
And I might have stayed on with him there
But my heart cried out for you, California
Oh California Im coming home
Oh make me feel good rock n roll band
I'm your biggest fan
California, Im coming home

Tiny Farming Blog

This is a wonderful blog: "Organic micro-farming with two acres and some tools ~ a daily photo journal..." http://tinyfarmblog.com/

Urban Gardens

"This disconnection between the production and consumption of food has deepened over time. Now, we, the non-producers, don't trust ourselves to grow food. We don't trust our soil and our rain. We've surrendered one of our most basic needs to strangers, corporations, and advertisers. As a result, we eat food that isn't food: prepackaged, preservative-soaked material; pre-cooked and frozen meals re-heated and served at overpriced "casual dining" restaurants. We eat vegetables, if we eat them, that have been processed beyond recognition. Most often, we can't even see, much less touch or smell, the food we're buying until after we've purchased it and removed layers of plastic and cardboard packaging. Our ignorance is so complete that we do not even know what food is supposed to taste like. We eat meat from degraded animals killed in filthy conditions, and it doesn't even taste good.
Gardening, even just window gardening, can take place in the most densely-populated urban areas.
The farmer's market cannot replace the supermarket, especially for those of us who live in areas with a limited growing season, but if we can grow food that we share or even sell to each other, then we are more likely to be aware of where our food comesfrom-and what can go wrong with it along the way."

Jay Baldwin's Quickup Camper

Jay Baldwin, long-time Whole Earth editor and toolmeister, has designed a lightweight (800 lbs.) pickup truck camper that folds down for aerodynamic travel. Jay has built just one prototype. It's not in production. To my question of getting investors, Jay wrote:
"I am not looking for investors (though I'll listen to any decent ofer), as I do not feel up to starting a new company at 76. What I need is someone to make and distribute them., and send me the modest royalty. I designed it to be a a truck "conversion" in the same way that dealers sell van conversions with striped, big windows and  a French Bordello interior. Feel free to tweet it, and say that we will suitably reward anyone who gets this going. I have talked to many RV makers (Airstream sat on my proposal for three months before saying no, even in aluminum). They all say pretty much the same thing is so many words: "It's a great idea, but if we put it in our catalog, it would make everything else we sell look obsolete." …  I've had it in five shows and also featured it at Art Center school of Design in Pasadena. and two Dwell conferences and three years of the MAKER Faire,  to much acclaim."
Pix of camper at: http://www.quickupcamper.com/

Remodeled 1906 Earthquake Shacks San Francisco

After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake devastated the city, some 5000 earthquake shacks were built for citizens. Jamie Meltzer, a Stanford professor, had two of the shacks remodeled into a house with a total of 650 sq. ft. "…pretty spacious for me because I had lived in the East Village in NYC in a 359 square foot place." Design by Klopf Architecture, construction by Javier Claudio. More pix at: http://bit.ly/2Nxmo1

Boeing 727 Jungle House

A refurbished 1965 Boeing 727 hotel suite in the jungles of Costa Rica: http://bit.ly/JZ4J

Mind, Listen to Body!

After all these years of not only running, swimming, paddling, etc., and editing a string of fitness books, I still get immersed in work and tend to put off getting out in the physical world. But (often) a small voice says, Get out there, you know you'll feel better, and sure enough. I always come back exhilarated. Monday I forced myself to grab my paddleboard, went down, and with a high tide, paddled into the channels of the lagoon. Boy, this felt good. I beached the board on a bank, and swam. Came back to the town dock, talked to the fishermen, got home reenergized. Last night I ran with Tomás along the coast to Pirate's Cove and we jumped into the ocean. Had a pint of local pale ale at the pub with the boys, then drove home along the coast as the light of the day faded.

Galloway's Book on Running - 9th Printing

Our book Galloway's Book on Running will soon be in its ninth printing.

Septic System Owner's Manual - 8th printing

Our Septic System Owner's Manual will soon be in its eighth printing.

Quail Sentry in Garden

California's state bird. The males (with topknots) are almost always the sentries. This guy was sitting on a beanpole in the garden yesterday, watching over a brood of chicks scratching around on the ground. Quail colonies have been steadily increasing here over the years. They are all over the place now. They're members of the pheasant family (Phasianidae), as are chickens.

Make Sparkling Water At Home

We got a Sodastream Home Soda Maker a few months ago and it works beautifully. Brad Zebal, who reviewed it for CoolTools, wrote: "Aside from reducing our plastic/aluminum waste, we don't have to lug heavy bottles back from the store. I also like to think about all the energy we will save annually by not buying water that's been shipped from one part of the country to another."
This a glass with a small amount of pomegranate juice added.


Frightening Info on Global Warming

Article in June 29 New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert on scientist James Hansen's conclusion that the threat of global warming is far greater than expected. Quotes from the New Yorker abstract:
• What is now happening, Hansen said, is carbon dioxide is being pumped into the air some ten thousand times faster than natural weathering processes can remove it.
• Hansen argues that the only way we can constrain the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is to drastically decrease the use of coal.
• In order to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, annual emissions around the globe would have to be cut by something on the order of three-quarters. So far, there’s no evidence that anyone is willing to take the necessary steps.


New Free (Pdf) Book: New Liberal Arts

Parts of this book are very good, like below.
"In this age we are surrounded by stimuli, messages in our environment clamoring for a little piece of our awareness. Advertisements are designed and sold with the simple premise of stealing one small mote of your attention. Your technological devices, designed to assist you in your life and work, beep incessantly with updates, alerts, and alarms. Cars become more and more like the cockpits of fighter planes with their heads-up displays and data readouts. Even our relationships take more maintenance; lovers separated by such a small obstacle as a day at the office stay in constant contact through email, instant messaging, and social networks. In our new digital world we’ve finally started to run out of one of our most precious resources: Our own attention In the distant past, educated people worked for decades to train their brains to retain information. Greek bards had to be able to recall the story and rhythm of, if not the exact words of, either of Homer’s epics at the drop of an Athenian dime. Monastery-confined monks would construct vast “memory palaces” in their minds to store and recall data in photographic detail. Starting with paper and pen, technological advances began to make that sort of rigorous mental dexterity obsolete. But in our rush to modernity, have we gone too far? Have we given over too much of our brain power to the devices built to boost our productivity? Are our brains now just tasty mush for our zombie progeny??"
Free download from: http://www.snarkmarket.com/nla/
See Kevin Kelly's take on this: http://kk.org/ct2/2009/07/innovative-publishing-model.php

Shelter Inspires Tattooer Matt

We just got an online order for Shelter, HomeWork, and Builders of the Pacific Coast* from Tattooer Matt (aka brassknucklebreakdancer) in Oregon, who wrote:
"Shelter from the 70s was a gift this past winter and after reading it, i have since moved my 2 kids out to a yurt i built on 20 acres 40 minutes outside of portland, maine.....its the best book i have ever read."
Boy, does it make me feel good to hear that the builders in our books motivate people.
*Shameless Commerce Dept. You can get 40% off if you get all 3 books together: http://bit.ly/StHl3:

How to Build With Grid Beam Book

"Think of it as a giant Erector Set. Grid Beam is a great way to make working prototypes of furniture, experimental vehicles and even small buildings. If your idea doesn't work, you can change it until it does. If you don’t need it anymore, Grid Beams are easily demountable and ready to use for the next project. I find the ability to try ideas quickly in analog form to be a huge advantage. With nothing simulated, you know for sure it works, not merely that it should work. A drawing can lie to your client or worse, to you. Grid Beams never lie. The book illustrates a remarkable array of projects, all real, and many actually at work. Inspiring!"
-- J. Baldwin
From CoolTools:

Is it Wood or Is It Lumber?

Feedback from David Naas in Santa Cruz :
(Line from movie The Mosquito Coast:) 
"Kid's out in the woods and hollers I found a pile of wood... Harrison (Ford) hollers back is it wood or is it lumber?" Point being that in Builders of the Pacific Coast that line begins to blur... I wonder if guys like Sunray Kelley even notice the difference sometimes…."
Yoga studio by SunRay Kelley

Spectacular Hot Springs in Pamukkale, Turkey

"For thousands of years a deep underground spring has been pouring out streams of hot, mineral-saturated water. As it has flowed down the mountainside the steaming water has hollowed enormous circular basins in the earth, and the water's rich mineral content has coated them in a smooth layer of dazzlingly-white calcareous rock. To the ancients such beauty could only mean that the place was sacred to the gods…." http://bit.ly/ouJaS

Family Living in Santa Cruz (California) Mountains

This is a great all-photo blog by Doug Lawson. "I'm a writer and tech consultant who's living with my family in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California."

At left: Snail car

Great Stuff in Latest Issue Mother Earth News

Amazing how The Mother Earth News has transformed itself in the last decade to a relevant, interesting, timely publication with all sorts of useful info. The June/July issue includes adobe brick homes a la Hassan Fathy, fiber-cement house siding, raising chickens for meat, building a clothesline (avoiding hi-energy costs of dryer)…http://www.motherearthnews.com/

Mother Earth photo by Clarke Snell 

Strawbale Building in Snowy Ontario

Ross Elliott, from McDonalds Corners, Ontario, runs a rural building consulting company, and sent us this winter photo of a "…strawbale place, curved to fit around some 100 year old maples."

Reclaimed Wood Furniture From Vancouver island

"We salvage trees brought down by storms or left behind by forest companies. Our favourite is the Western Bigleaf Maple (acer macrophyllum), sought after by luthiers, wood turners and carvers for its exceptional colour and figure.
Tree growth takes place just beneath the bark. The rich contours of this  ‘live edge’ give a sculptural quality to our furniture.
On its journey to become your custom made furniture the tree is milled into massive slabs, innovatively dried, exquisitely designed, expertly crafted and finely finished all at our studio on Vancouver Island." http://www.liveedge.com/

Flock of Band-tailed Pigeons in Garden

This big flock of beautiful wild pigeons inhabits a few square miles in my neighborhood. They, along with blue herons, are the most wary of local birds. When they come in like this, the slightest bit of motion, even when we're inside looking through windows, will set them off in a flurry of wings and noise. (Also, I'm convinced animals feel it when you look at them.) We were having tea this morning when they helicoptored in. I crept over to the window with my Canon 20D. Look at the bird coming in for a landing on the right. — poetry of motion.

The Coolest Apartment Block on Earth

"Viennese artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, has designed what has become one of the more unique and visually stimulating buildings in the world. With over 1000 unique windows, individualized handles on windows and doors, a living roof, café, parking garage, restaurant, bar, playground, and a running stream, the Waldspirale in Darmstadt, Germany is an architectural wonder. Upon first glance, second and third, one is simply enchanted and astonished." http://bit.ly/WyCvj

Amazon Taps Its Inner Apple

In a long article about the possibility that Apple will come up with a beautifully designed and crafted, wow-inspiring device that'll knock somewhat-dowdy Kindle for a loop:

"Nonetheless, this is how Steve Jobs could perform a jujitsu move on Jeff Bezos. After Amazon went through the trouble and expense of seeding the landscape, implanting the concept of the e-book in people's minds, creating a market where there wasn't one before, and moving to control the distribution system, Apple could muscle its way in with a full-color multitouch-screen media tablet that not only reads books but also offers video, music, Web surfing, email, and the combined power of the iTunes and Apple App Store. The device might even load into a desktop dock that accommodates a full-size keyboard. Books would only be a small part of what it offers, making it appeal to a vastly larger audience than the Kindle's…."


From "Amazon Taps Its Inner Apple" by Adam L. Penenberg; fastcompany.com, Wed Jul 1, 2009

Mud Bath Au Local/Fresh Halibut

Friday I worked on my (irregular) email newsletter GIMME SHELTER most of the day (slow writer) and around 6 took my paddleboard down to the lagoon. Incoming tide, headed into one of the secret side channels, maybe 25' wide' winding thru mudflats and pickleweeed. No soul in sight. Gliding along prone, @water level, get v. close to birds. Elegant egrets, wary blue herons, cloud of red-wing blackbirds at one point. Water warm from day's sunshine, headed into small side channel, gliding thru cordgrass. Pulled board up on mudflats, stripped and coated every part of my body I could reach with gooey black mud that was pungent with ocean & sea minerals. Dried a bit in wind, then jumped in deeper channel to wash mud off. paddled back to dock and here was fisherman Andrew, pulling in with 4 fresh halibut. I bought a 7-pounder, brought home and filleted. Great evening at seashore.

Go to the post page…



Go to the post page…

sea otter

California Sea Otters Engangered

An article in the SF Chronicle yesterday stated that "Sea otters along the California coast are dying off faster than at any time since the late 1990s, a disturbing trend that experts say is partially due to human-caused water pollution, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Tuesday."

Vital Stats: Average 4 feet long; males weigh about 65 pounds, females 45 pounds. They have webbed hind feet, strong canine teeth, retractable forepaw claws, closable ears and nostrils for swimming, and dense, waterproof fur.

Habitat: Found near shore in shallow waters, generally 115 feet deep or less. Kelp beds are the ideal environment.

Diet: Carnivorous. They eat 20-25 percent of their body weight each day of invertebrates such as abalone, clams, sea urchins, crabs, barnacles, snails, squid, chitons, worms and sea stars.

Photo by Eliya on Flicker

Discovering Timber-framed Buildings by Richard Harris

This is a gem of a little book, by Richard Harris, with handsome drawings of timber-framed buildings in England. It's of interest not only to lovers of these structures, but valuable for architects who may be designing a new building, or restoring an old one. There's a Google preview of the entire book here: http://bit.ly/bSR1Y

Joe Bark Paddleboards

"Joe Bark does not have down time. The Palos Verdes shaper/ /firefighter/freediver/spearfisher/father/surfer/paddler/boardbuilder/husband/harbor patrolman doesn't get much time to sit back and relax. Not that he'd want to. No, Joe is a study in constant motion, in fusing work and life and passion into one all-day marathon of doing what you love. And what Joe Bark loves is the ocean. Everything flows from there."

Bear in Garden

chainsaw bear sculpture
Chainsaw art in our garden. This little guy seems alive.

Short Intense Exercise Produces Surprising Benefits

A study done in 2007 (that I belatedly discovered) showed that "…alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with easy-does-it recovery…dramatically improved endurance capabilities. "
"…new evidence suggests that a workout with steep peaks and valleys can dramatically improve cardiovascular fitness and raise the body’s potential to burn fat….best of all, the benefits become evident in a matter of weeks." See: http://bit.ly/Kkr7J
NYTimes drawing by Chris Sharp