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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

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.

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.

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.

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

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."

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."

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.

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.

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

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

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.…"

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.…"