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31 May, 2009

Letter Re: Quick and Easy DIY Compost Bin

The following letter was written in response to this DIY article: Quick and Easy DIY Compost Bin.

"I am new to vermicomposting and decided to use your recipe for a compost bin. Tell me if I am on the right track!

I drilled some small holes (1/2 the size of a toothpick) into the bottom of a 28 lb. cat litter bucket. The bucket with the holes sits nicely into another bucket, leaving about 3” at the bottom for drainage. I also drilled many holes into the tight fitting lid.

Then I added some dried leaves; a layer of kitchen scraps; another layer of leaves; more kitchen scraps; some green material; wet it down and covered it up. These buckets are lightweight enough so I can manage them. Right now, the bucket is about ½ full but am sure it will settle after a day or so. I plan on rotating it daily.

Anything else I should know? My first week with the worms was traumatic … I had many escapees…Want to make the composting easier! Thanks." -- Brenda in Cali.

My Response: Brenda, from the sounds of it you're off to a great start! You might think about adding a little soil to the mixture, but it isn't necessary as the biological material you've already got in there should be plenty. Also, be mindful when you're adding water as the goal is to keep things moist but not too wet.

I especially like your idea about nesting the bucket within another as a way to capture the water that drains out the bottom. I assume you did this to control the mess, but if you were to use that water to feed your garden, I bet those plants would love it!

Thanks for writing!


13 May, 2009

96% believe the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms, USAToday Poll reveals

Go there and add your vote!

With the current anti-2nd Amendment culture thriving in Washington, I can't think of a better time to see to it your voice is heard. Don't stop here, though; write or call your elected representatives and let them know how you feel! Or, better yet, send them the link to this page!


12 May, 2009

EDITORIAL: Peak oil, not speculation

There seems to be a very refreshing pattern emerging lately, as Peak Oil Theory--once a decidedly fringe concept--continues to gain more and more converts. As I wrote in another recent article, what a difference a few years makes!

Here's the link.

A quote:
"After many years of solid growth, oil production plateaued in October 2004. Regardless of the price level, the oil supply simply stopped responding, and from then on, the world had to make do with broadly flat supplies. Ordinarily, the expansion of the world's economy would be accompanied by increased energy consumption and an inelastic oil supply might have been expected to hinder economic development. It didn't. In the four years to mid-2008, the world economy expanded by 18 percent. The global economy boomed, even without new oil.

However, this came at a price. In the absence of oil supply growth, demand accommodation was required. This was achieved by secular prices rises averaging 25 percent per annum from 2003 to the end of 2007. In other words, the price of oil went up, and this constrained consumption by causing the marginal consumer to drop out of the market. This proved a workable solution for a time, but the global economy could not sustain 25 percent annual price increases indefinitely, and by the second half 2007, the situation was becoming critical. Consumption was being maintained by continuing draws on inventories averaging 1.4 mbpd, and virtually every producer, with the possible exception of the Saudis, was running flat out. By early 2008, even the Saudis were throwing the kitchen sink at the market - all to no avail. On paper, it looked like a peak oil nightmare."


11 May, 2009

Swine Flu: A Survivor's Tale

Click here to read the full article at Time.com. It is the story of Moises Bonilla, a Mexican maintenance worker who is a survivor of the recent H1N1 Influenza A outbreak.

What is said in the article resounds with what I wrote yesterday, regarding the virulence of the disease and the understanding of what a blessing easy access to antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu has been. It is plainly stated that the reason for Mr. Bonilla's recovery was that he received these drugs and then "rapidly" got better, but "many who had started suffering before had already developed severe pneumonia; and for some, it was too late to be saved."

This only serves to reinforce the fact that it is easy access to antivirals that accounts for the oft spoken of "mildness" of this virus, not that it truly is just a "mild" disease. The scary face of this thing will be seen if and when it continues to spread exponentially and eventually outstrips the strategic supply of antivirals as discussed in yesterday's article.

Do not forget that the WHO stated recently that, if the current spread of the disease continues, "it would be a reasonable estimate that a third of the population would be infected."

I don't know about the rest of the world, but I do know that there are only enough doses of antivirals to cover around 5% of the U.S. population. After reading Mr. Bonilla's story, ask yourself what might our death rate look like when over a hundred million Americans are sick and there is only enough meds to treat 15 million?

As for today's numbers, laboratory confirmed cases rose to 4,868 (up from yesterday's ending number of 4,512 and 1,786 just five days ago) with fatalities holding at 53 (thankfully). One hundred additional fatalities are still listed as "suspected," but are yet to be officially confirmed. The number of suspected cases fell slightly to 1,120+ with those considered "probable" taking up the slack by climbing to 485 . The official WHO numbers don't coincide with these exactly, but I've been using these totals instead because they include cases that have been excluded from the official WHO numbers for various reasons, such as those that were self-reported by some states. (source)


07 May, 2009

Peak Oil in the Gulf as Early as 2013

According to a government study released at the recent Offshore Technology Conference, Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to peak at around 1.8 million barrels-per-day as early as 2013. And that is "the industry’s best-case scenario."

They're also calling for natural gas production to most-likely continue its now decade-long decline.

This is especially bad news considering Cantarell is already dying up, and nobody knows for sure what the hell the Saudi's have due to their shifty accounting practices. We're finding that blended fuels save us very little, and oil has to get a lot more expensive before tar sands become economical. The bottom line is that we're headed for a point where, regardless of alternative energy sources, we are going to have to vastly change the way we live.

Are you ready?