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Stone Farm Building on irish Coast

About an hour after seeing the building below, we passed this old stone building with a slate roof.

For more postings from our trip to Ireland last September: http://bit.ly/cH4onq

Stone Spec Homes on Irish Coast

This was one of about 7 beautifully-built spec homes near Kilcrohane on Dunmanus Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. They were obviously built during boom times, but it looked as if none of them had sold. It was a lovely little collection of buildings, obviously done by a master stone mason. 
I'm starting to go through my 2000 photos shot in Europe in Sept-Oct. '09. This was shot in September.

Mighty Mac Chipper Shredder

Attn: gardeners, homesteaders: I had to replace a screen on my shredder last week, and was reflecting on what a great (USA-made) tool this has been. I wrote a review on it for CoolTools in 2008, which started out:

"I bought a Mighty Mac shredder/chipper about 25 years ago, have used it — heavily at times — all these years and, with a few engine repairs and turning the shredder blades around once (they are 2-sided), it's worked flawlessly on our 1/2-acre homestead.…"
Rest of review: http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/002936.php

Muck Boots Great for This Time of Year

I wish I'd discovered Muck Boots years ago. If you live in the country (and walk on earth instead of pavement), these are great to slip on when it's wet and muddy. They're insulated. Way more comfortable and warm than typical rubber boots. You can just step into them.

Nice Book on Bungalows from Taunton

Fine little book on the world of bungalows
Only $7 from: http://store.taunton.com/onlinestore/item/500-bungalows-douglas-keister-070888.html

Monk's Cave in Romania

Cave cell of Daniil Sihastrul (Romanian for "Daniel the Hesychast"), ca 1482, in Putna, Romania. According to Wikipedia, "Hesychastic practice involves acquiring an inner stillness and ignoring the physical senses…"

Tasty Architecture in San Francisco

Saw this yesterday in Portrero Hill district in the city. Nice colors, clean lines, simple, practical, economical. There is good architecture here and there!

Me Olde Diggs

Yesterday I was in San Francisco, and passed by the neighborhood where I grew up (near Miraloma Park), and went by our old house. 154 Ulloa. I lived there from ages 2-15. There were 26 kids on our block and we roamed and owned the streets. No TV in those days (the '40s) and we listened to the radio religiously. Superman; Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy; Batman; I Love a Mystery; the Shadow…I used to dress up like Superman: red swim suit over Levis, and a dishtowel around my neck for a cape and I'd jump (fly) off the balcony to the grass below.

What Apple's Tablet Could Mean for Us

My job is communication, and I do so with photos, writing, books, flyers, posters—and now, blog posts and Twitter. What's frustrated me right from the beginning of blogging is the difficulty of doing anything more complex than picture on left, text on right. For years I've been looking for a way to do blog layout like our book pages—and quickly.
I'm really excited to think there may now be a way to do magazine layout in 4-color. This morning I came into a coffee house in Berkeley and read an article in the New York Times (there's nothing like a hold-in-yr-hands newspaper!) about Apple's notebook, to be announced tomorrow. This caught my eye: "The New York Times Company, for example, is developing a version of its newspaper for the tablet, according to a person briefed on the effort…"
Bring it on Steve!

With Apple Tablet, Print Media Hope for a Payday
By BRAD STONE and STEPHANIE CLIFFORD/Published: January 25, 2010

Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, & Funky Forts

From author/artist Derek "Deek" Diedricksen:
"THE BOOK’S FINALLY HERE! 'Gary Larson meets Bob Vila' — housing/fort/small house/shack book…is a culmination of my love for ultra-tiny living, and covers some of the small houses and cabins I’ve unprofessionally built.…" http://relaxshax.wordpress.com/

Godfrey Stephens Carving

Detail of plank carved and colored by Canadian artist Godfrey Stephens

Builders of Pacific Coast Inspires Canadian Builders

We just got this email and photo from British Columbia about our book Builders of the Pacific Coast. It's really gratifying to connect like this.

I just wanted to say thanks for this book. I have been looking for something like this for years. For the last ten years my dad, brothers and I have been developing a 5 acre parcel on an isolated island in Northern British Columbia. We have been living the pages of this book. Splitting shakes on the beach and scrounging driftwood. This book has definetly been a motivator through the long cold winter months, to get me renewed and excited for another year of building.

Thanks again,

looking forward to spring,
Jon Seinen.

French architect Gilles Poulain

From French architect Gilles Poulain, who says "No play, no fun!" http://www.gparchi.com/

Frame of Miwok Dwelling

I spotted this yesterday in the garden outside the Miwok (coastal California natives) museum in Novato, Calif. This is a willow frame, lashed together, and when covered with bundled grass and a tule mats, was called a 'kaawul kotcha.' There was typically a flap door covered with animal hide.

Vernal Pond Filling Up

We've had 3 years of dry winters, but this year the pattern has changed. We have these big zones of low pressure blowing in from across the ocean, not being blocked by high pressure, and it's been raining bountifully. I'm in heaven. During dry years I fret sub-consciously about the dryness of soil and plant life. But now, there's a joyousness in the hills. The plants they are lovin this! Creeks are rushing. The air is perfumed with energy. Yesterday I ran on a cold windy afternoon along the coast to an old ranch where there are a couple of lovely ponds with tules and water lilies, where for a few months in springtime I can slip into the pure green water and glide around.

Ian Siegal's Broadside

Boy is this guy good! To me, he was out of the blue. Heard "Hard-pressed" on radio, ordered CD. Tight 3-piece band, blues and rock n roll, he sings with a raspy powerful voice every bit as good as Joe Cocker in his prime. "…drawing on influences such as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Son House, Junior Kimbrough and Tom Waits."

"You'd be hard-pressed to find another man like me,
Standin' on the ground, wide as the sea,
Soul of a pirate, heart of a saint,
Evil incarnate, but the devil I ain't…"

Powerful Oakland Graffiti

Oakland is tough and real and got soul. This shot two days ago at Foothill and 46th…

Stormy Night Run/Flashlight Fails

Three of us took off about 6:30 last night, heading up the cliff-climbing trail south of Muir Beach. We've had a wonderful 5 or so inches of rain the last 4 days with powerful storms roaring in from the Pacific, The night was clear, but the next storm was hovering, so the air was supercharged. Up at "my" point, a finger of cliff aimed at San Francisco across the water, the wind was howling. A thousand feet down to boiling foaming crashing waves on rocks. My chi meter was maxxing out. Talk about feeling good!

I was dawdling and my two friends went on ahead and of course my light goes out when I'm still a mile and a half from the inn. There was a 1/4 moon and barely enough light for me to stumble along the trail. I got into it after a while, my eyesight sharpened and pretended I was a coyote; they don't have no stinkin lights! It was kind of a thrilling experience, what with the storm energy, negative ions -- and lucky, because if the clouds had covered the moon I 'd have been on a cold hillside on a black night with no idea of direction home. My guiding spirits pulled me through (once again, thanks guys!) and I made it to my truck and warm clothes, pint of Guinness and the lads at a candle-lit table at the pub.

Chest Pains in the Night

Que experiencia! A few weeks ago I went paddleboarding in the lagoon late in the day. The water was like ice and as I came back toward the town dock, some people were watching me. My (racing) paddleboard is really fast, it seems to skim across the water and people are invariably surprised to see its speed. And so what do I do, being the mature person I am, but showboat it, sprinting, paddling as hard as I can. I should add that I hadn't paddled for some time. Things were OK until I got into bed that night. I felt chest pains and had trouble breathing. Never happened before. 911-time and the full rescue experience. A roomful of local firefighters, an IV in my arm, the EMTs, and then a ride to the hospital. There was also a helicopter, which I declined: "No way!"
I ended up spending the night in the ER of Marin General Hospital, where they ran test after test. I saw 4 doctors, got spritzes of nitro-glycerine, the whole catastrophe. The ERs are geared for serious stuff; a dumbass condition like mine isn't on their radar. Too simple. One doctor was pissed at me because I wouldn't get a chest X-ray (by that time I knew I was OK). The next morning a cardiologist put me on a treadmill, and said, "I didn't know you were a runner." Everything was fine. Sheesh!
Home never looked so good. Got into my own bed with a hot water bottle and bowl of homemade chicken soup. Paradise!
Conclusion, later talking to my own doc: chest contractions from overexertion, muscles constricting lungs, brought on by showing off. I know, I know...

Avatar: Wonder at Life

One thing I loved about the movie (intensified by the 3-D) was the feeling that I was moving through the woods with the tuned-in natives. And the flying was like a short time in my life when I dreamed of flying night after night. I tried explaining this to someone, but didn't get the idea through. But in today's NYTimes, biologist Carol Kaesuk Yoon writes a rave review (rare for the NYT) about "…the pure wonder of seeing life" in Avatar:
"Please excuse me if I seem a bit breathless, but the experience I had when I first saw the film (in 2-D, no less) shocked me. I felt as if someone had filmed my favorite dreams from those best nights of sleep where I wander and play through a landscape of familiar yet strange creatures, taking a swim and noticing dinosaurs paddling by, going out for a walk and spying several entirely new species of penguins, going sledding with giant tortoises. Less than the details of the movie, it was, I realized, the same feeling of elation, of wonder at life…." http://bit.ly/50tAHW

Stewart Brand on Wade Davis

Stewart Brand hosts the weekly "Seminars About Long-term Thinking" in San Francisco. Last week it was Wade Davis, who wrote The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. Here are a few excerpts from Stewart's write-up:

"He began with Polynesians, the wayfinders who mastered the Pacific ocean in the world's largest diaspora. Without writing or chronometers they learned 220 stars by name, learned to read the subtle influence of distant islands on wave patterns and clouds, and navigated the open sea by a sheer act of integrative memory. For the duration of an ocean passage "navigators do not sleep…."

"In the Andes the Incas built 8,500 miles of roads over impossibly vertical country in a hundred years, and their descendents still run the mountains on intense ritual pilgrimages, grounding their culture in every detail of the landscape…."

For more, go to this link and click on "Hide Stewart's introduction," and you'll get Stewart's synopsis of Wade's (sold-out) talk: http://longnow.org/seminars/02010/jan/13/wayfinders-why-ancient-wisdom-matters-modern-world/

Japanese Antiques in Berkeley

The Zentner Collection is a retail outlet in the San Francisco Bay Area (5757 Horton Street, Emeryville). Here's how they describe themselves: "The Zentner Collection has been dealing in Asian antiques for more than 30 years with a special emphasis on fine Japanese antiques. We offer one of the largest tansu collections in the world offering rare examples of Karuma, Fune, Choba, Gyosho, and Kaidon Tansu from the Edo thru Meiji Periods."
We went there on our Berkeley trip last week to look at tantsus. This is a beautiful (if pricey) collection of all kinds of Japanese antiques.

Steam-Powered Burning Man Victorian Tinkerers

Last week we went to Berkeley to see Avatar (in 3-D) (which I liked a lot). We also went to the gigantic used materials place Urban Ore (check it out if you live in the Bay Area) to pick up a used door and in the next yard over was a whole bunch of interesting constructions. Went in to meet Shannon O'Hare, who is not only a 3rd-generation Californian, but leader of a Victorian-era-minded "…Do It Yourself (DIY) group of tinkerers, gearheads, and steam bohemians who fabricate steam-powered art pieces out of repurposed industrial detritus." Check them out at: http://www.neverwashaul.com/
Photo is of a working steam-powered wagon.

SunRay Kelley at WaterWoman Festival

The WaterWoman Festival was held at Joshua Tree National Monument in November, 2009. SunRay can go anywhere in the world and frame a beautiful building from whatever wood is lying around. He was one of the 3 featured builders in Builders of the Pacific Coast. Click here for a slide show from the book, including SunRay's beautiful natural-materials temple at Harbin Hot Springs in the Northern California hills. Also, pic of SunRay at work. Look at those arms!
-Photos by Chris McClellan

Victorian Era Photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe

British photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe shot sepia photos between 1875 and 1910 with a large mahogany and brass camera that took "whole plate" glass negatives (6.5"x8.5"). He is best known for his photos of the harbor, the boats and the sea of Whitby on the north east coast of England. We stumbled upon the gallery of his work when visiting Whitby in October. It's a stunning body of work of an era long gone. Whitby is now more of a tourist village than a working fishery, but vestiges remain. http://www.sutcliffe-gallery.co.uk/

Wildlife Sculptures by Chainsaw Artist Randy Boni

Randy Boni grew up near the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, where the wildlife such as deer, bear, red tailed hawks, palliated woodpeckers, and elk, offered him realistic references for the wildlife he carves. "I'm fussy about realism, proper proportion, and I try to bring life into the creatures that I carve."

At a Mighty 104, Gone While Still Going Strong

Article in NY Times on The Great Joe Rollino, famed strongman, who was struck and killed by a car in New York while out walking on Monday. Joe was 104 years old. He once raised up 635 pounds with one finger and could bend quarters. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/nyregion/12ironman.html?hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1263409357-OjbvWioKul+oTMwrrejcoQ
Photo of Joe at his 103rd birthday party by Charles Denson

Ringtail Photo

Photo by ecologist Peter Warshall, who writes: "The ringtail came from near our home in the Chiricahua Mountains, where Geronimo had his last gardens."

Green Roof Garden Shed

"Project Name: Ancaya Green Roof Garden Shed built in 2005 in Raleigh, NC, USA
Roof Size: 112 sq.ft.
Roof Slope: 58.3%
Plant Ecologist, Green Roof Contractor: Emilio Ancaya, Living Roofs, Inc.
Landscape Designer: Kathryn Blatt
The plants growing on the green roof include species of Delosperma, Sedum, Talinum, Euphorbia, and Sempervium …"

Insightful Comment on Stuff Made in China

Just got this comment on my blog of December 20, 2009 regarding tools made in China:
crasch has left a new comment on your post "Stuff Made in China is Too Cheap":

How many of Lloyd's books are sold outside of California? Outside the U.S.? Should potential buyers of Lloyd's books refuse to buy them, because shipping them would involve transporting them hundreds, thousands of miles across arbitrary political borders?

Carried to it's logical extreme, 'buying local' would mean buying only books sold within your own town--could Lloyd survive on income solely from local sales? I suspect not. Moreover, Lloyd's wonderful books would be lost to the rest of the world.

We all benefit because Lloyd's market is the world, and therefore, large enough that he can specialize in writing books.

The same goes for Chinese toolmakers. Do they work under less than ideal conditions relative to workers in the U.S. (pollution, human rights abuses)? Many probably do. But the alternative for them isn't a safe, $90/hour, unionized job. It's going to back to rice paddy farming, or some other similarly backbreaking farm labor.

China's population is over 1 billion. Just as in the U.S. some workers work for great companies, some work for terrible companies, and everything in between. To refuse to buy any products from China because some of them suffer human rights abuses is as ridiculous as refusing to buy U.S. goods because many of our citizens suffer human rights abuses (the U.S. imprisons more people than any other nation, including China, most of them for victimless drug crimes). A better way to address possible sweatshop conditions is by supporting certification programs like http://www.fairworkplace.org.

We can address pollution by putting a tax on cargo ships that use polluting engines/fuels. That way the cost of pollution is incorporated into the price of goods shipped from overseas, and the shipping companies have an incentive to come up with non-polluting fuels.

However, those problems are quite small relative to benefits that both China and the U.S. derive from trade. Just imagine the loss we'd suffer from the disappearance of Lloyd's books x 1.3 billion. I, for one, lose no sleep over buying Chinese goods.

Real Wood Cabinets With Milk Paint

Timber framer Michael Hollihn, in British Columbia, says: "Real cabinets are made out of wood," and points out that MDF (medium density fibreboard) being used for most cabinets these days "…is one of the leading off-gassers of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which we now know leads to many respiratory and neurological disfunctions…better off to not have it in our living environments where we want to heal and relax from the stresses of daily life…not to mention the poor quality and longevity of this product."

Builders of the Pacific Coast Excerpt in Architecture Week

Architecture Week, an online magazine (400,000 viewers a month), just did a nice excerpt from our book, Builders of the Pacific Coast: http://bit.ly/6PDqbc

Sunset Last Night

On my way home from running/mushroom hunting last night
-iPhone photo

Deer Antlers

I've found three like this while running in the hills yesterday afternoon. My friend Paul Wingate once remarked on vegetarian deer producing all this calcium on a diet of grass.
-iPhone photo

Wooden Washtub Bass

A few years ago I was in New York for the annual Book Expo America and one evening ran across the Baby Soda Jazz Band playing in the Washington Square park. Not only were they great, but the bass player, who turned out to be Peter Ford, had a homemade wooden bass with an amazing sound. (I played the washtub bass in high school and college.) I corresponded with Peter for a while and finally got him to sell me the parts for one of his basses. I just put it together a few weeks ago and is it fun! I'm not getting any work done! That's a broomstick handle, a 1/8" nylon string, and the black sound board is a piece of a Samsonite hard suitcase.
Photo yesterday by Lew Lewandowski
Here's the Baby Soda Jazz band playing Muskrat Ramble, and you can see Peter playing the bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au9dW9a0B4o

Floating Garden in British Columbia

Margy and Wayne Lutz have a floating cabin and garden on a lake in British Columbia, Canada. On their blog, Margy writes:
How Does Your Garden Grow? — With purple sage, red potatoes, and green lettuce all in a row. The heart of my garden is my float. It was designed and built by my good friend John. Cedar logs provide the buoyancy needed to keep four 3 X 10 raised beds above the waterline. On the bottom of the beds is a heavy cloth called mill felt. It is porous, but very strong. Frequent watering is needed in the warm summer months, so John installed a solar powered water pump and hose for me."

Two Shipping Container Conversions

One is a sod-roof guest cottage at an artists' retreat in Scotland. The other, "Muvbox," is a solar-powered restaurant in Montreal that closes up every night, and takes 2 minutes to unfold at the touch of a button each morning.

The Shepheardes Calendar

Image from Images from The Works of Edmund Spenser, Volume I. The Shepheardes Calendar. Designed and engraved on wood by Hilda Quick, based on the woodcuts in the original editions printed in quarto by Hugh Singleton in 1579.

Launching a Boat/Unclear on Concept

This was this guy's first boat and he was taking it to the lake, but he wasn't sure how to launch a boat off a ramp. However, he figured it couldn't be that difficult to do, so he stopped by his Union office for advice, and they just told him..."Don't let the trailer get too deep in the water when you're launching your boat." Well later on, he couldn't understand what they meant by that, as he just could barely get his trailer in the water!
-From: http://nickvt.blogspot.com/

Navy's New 50 MPH Tri-hull Combat Ship

"The design for Independence (LCS 2) is based on a proven high-speed trimaran (Benchijigua Express) hull built by Austal (Henderson, Australia). The 127-meter surface combatant design calls for a crew of 40 sailors, while the trimaran hull should enable the ship to reach sustainable speeds of nearly 50 knots (60 mph; 90 km/h) and range as far as 10,000 nautical miles (20,000 km)." -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Independence_(LCS-2)

Raccoon Kills 3 Chickens

We have a little flock of bantams. The rooster here is an Auracana. We forgot to close the door to the chicken yard last week and the raccoon got 3 chickens, including one of my favorites, the little Silver Sebright with the beautiful black and white feathers shown here. OK, I'm like live and let live with many of the critters that constantly patrol our homestead, but this is a puniishable offense. I tried catching the coon in my biggest Havahart trap, but it wasn't large enough, so I just ordered the largest Havahart, 42" long, and I plan on having roast raccoon.

Maori Jade Pendant

Jade pendant from New Zealand Maori artist Thomas Ratima at Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I bought a pendant there over a year ago and have had it on ever since. This is a wonderful gallery, carrying the work of three cultures: the First Nations tribes of the Pacific Northwest, the Inuit of Alaska, and the Maori of New Zealand. I highly recommend visiting it if you're ever in Vancouver. The art on display is stunning. Their website is here.

Graphic of 2010

Architect Rich Storek created this using the app nVeil (son of Telefire).

Lloyd Pic for Korean Interview

A few months ago I got this email from our agent in Korea: "Dosol told me that nation-wide TV broadcasting company would like to contact you for an interview. They are going to make a programme about you." I did the interview and sent them this photo taken here in December ('09). Dosol is the Korean publisher that is translating our Builders of the Pacific Coast. Koreans are about to get a look at builders in British Columbia!
Photo by Lew Lewandowski

Mexican Street Art

I just looked at these two objects on my window sill. Mexican artistict brilliance with found objects. The little sea-shell guy doing a wheelie, and the ingenious motorcycle made out of spark plugs, old ball bearings, distributor points, just rusty shit getting thrown out.
Ain't they got soul?
My kinda art!

Mystery Mushrooms

What a year for mushrooms! These were by the side of the road yesterday. Don't know what they are but I'm don't believe they're inedible.

I've been gathering candy caps in the woods and putting them on a kitchen shelf in bamboo baskets to dry. The whole rooms smells like maple syrup (which is what candy caps smell like when dry).

World's Best Pocket Camera

Last week I got an email from Pepe Alvarez titled "Awesome Camera," and he was right. I've been carrying a Canon Powershot G10 in my fanny pack for over a year now and it's a wonderful camera. (I shot most of the 2000+shots on a recent European trip with the G10.) Well, the new Canon S90 is indeed awesome and sounds a whole step up from the G10 (and G11). It's smaller, lighter, has a f2(!) lens. Plus the 10 MP is better for my purposes than the 14 MP of the G10 (bigger isn't always better). Check it out at: http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/s90.htm
Also, see why Mark McCluskey of wired.com says: "The S90 is the best compact camera I've ever used." - http://www.wired.com/reviews/product/pr_canon_s90

Low Energy Cooling Tower Designs

Free Plans for 700 Sq. Ft. Cabin With Solar Panels


Western Scrub-jay in Garden

This jay flew down into the garden a few days ago. They're like the coyotes of the bird world: adaptable, tough, mischievous—and smart.

Go to the post page…

"…For the last decade, Zac Freeman has been saving pieces of household junk that would one day become a part of his masterfully intriguing art collection. He wanted to give his two dimensional portraits three dimensional value by using glue to meld everything from bottle caps, nails and old keyboard pieces onto a board to create faces that can only be seen from a distance.…"