25 January 2007

Oil Be Seein' Ya

Hail on the chief!

Power to the peakle!  Piss in the powder and praise the ambulation.  Prop up the prayerful.  Lead us not in too uncertainty, but deliver us our pizza.  Mine us the glory, the power of the vampire...  at least until we've passed the peak, empirical evidence not with standing.  At least until we've picked the bones of the past.  At least until we're pissed.

Pickled in their owned whine, pickled in a peck by their own henpecked pack, their feeding frenzy turns on their own insecret urgents, kundaleaning on their puppets, saintgeorging their dragons.  Landgrabbing at their own psychotrophies, paxing their blags.  Pack to the future: the ünteröberfuerher's articulated cargo culture backed to the gills by their spindizzy illumiknotty cranking the turingspindle, fueling the smouldering krankenfear, winding the springs of smalldering souls.  Fed to the gills on fantasy freelunches, fast boxlunch combustibusiness, massmart instalodges beating the ploughshares the landcares the earthwares into swards of instagratafie.  Burgeoning crapitalism winnowing the crashcrops and salting the earth.  Dah-doo enrunrun, dah-doo enrun.

Their disconnect, their triple-sec, piped pap for crumbfort -- thrice nine I lived there.

Take no heed the surgeon-general's warnings

Robotman's sexpak, empire sturmtrouper, freedom's child backs from the front, back from the udder side, sucks hind tit, sucks on exhaustgas of mannamachina running on empty, running on fumes, fuming and fulminating and running on emptation, "Where is my playcheck? You bastards! You've eaten it!"  Sadly attempts reconstructing the undeconstructible kaputznik intellogies, slides down the slippery slopium in epimenidisney daze.  Glide down the path of disticulated blatherbots' future imperfect, misstilling their weird from the sweat of my own frothers brow.  Small beer in my contigulum.

Nightout in the diskriegulum

Back.  Back from the utter realms of desolated trendfeldenkreit; back from the spam and the spin, the spick and the span, the tucked and tanned desertifed and stratified panglobulous hemi-semi-demi-quavered, the fucked and fanned transmogrified powerpack semisold into wageslavery.  Back from where the normalisms rain.  Back from the bangling headnoise of the neocrims and quaquaquaqua econofascisti; their blathering, their blistering ignoramofarten dismalism ranting and islamowailing "Let rip the warcrimes! Unleash the packs of lunchmeat!"  Crunching bongbots.  Thieving slavetakers.

Bring jah paper, bring jah fire.  Fill up the rightbrothers with righteous fury and fire the eagle's nest;  smoke the whitehouse wasps from their paper castle.  Matchless we march the halls of terregnum, the walls of interment, the malls of terrafie.  Donner und blitzen the gorgon's lair the liars creedpots the krankensteins castle.  Galileo lift thy head raise thy eyes past the neohorizon.  Il papa, il duce, spare us your sanctity.

No cheer for the menschless

So build aye my fortnot my safehouse my madhouse, my powerless mousehole.  With walls inside out and doors of perception flung wide.  And welcome aye the rain and sky, the earth and sun in roofless untermensch obscurity.  Let fall the fools of power where they may, the tools of destiny.  Enchancingly cast spells of remake; cultivate what's left of us an earthward spiral way.  Mine is no disgrace.

24 January 2007

Blight Update

Well, the Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a writeoff, as are all of the Lime Greens which were in close proximity.  (One Lime Green plant is a little further away from the disease zone, and may yet survive.)  The Tigerellas are showing just a touch of blight, as are the Taxi; both groups are not far from the blight zone, but the Bordeaux treatment seems to have arrested the disease progress, helped along by somewhat-less-humid weather -- though it remains very hot.

Squashes and stung Cucumbers
Down in the main veggie beds, the Brandywines (my most-blighty tomatoes) are still looking very healthy and blight-free, though there are other fungal diseases of minor impact around.  There is so much new growth on them, though, that I shall go for a prophylactic Bordeax treatment again this afternoon, just to be sure the new leaves and flowers get some protection.  After two disastrous years of Brandywine harvest, I am determined to do everything I can to ensure a decent crop this year.  The catch, of course, is that we've already started harvesting a few Red Kaki, Ida Gold and Cherry Tomatoes, whilst the Brandywines have barely begun flowering, so there's still quite a long and difficult time ahead for them.

Pumpkin-Fly Cage Experiment

On the experimental front, my shadecloth caging of the Squashes seems to be working!  Yay!  Uncaged squashes are not worth the bother, resulting in 100% losses to Pumpkin Fly.  But the Squashes under cloth are (so far) mostly free of stings.  The Telegraph Improved cucumbers gave us a few very tasty cukes, but the rest (not caged) are mostly stung.  Still, we rescue the pieces that we can, and the Chooks get the maggots, so nothing goes waste.

I was unable to track down any proper insect-excluding cloth in the country, so tried out a piece of 12% Shade Cloth.  The big questions are: whether the holes in the cloth are small enough to keep the fruit-flies out, and whether the cloth will cut out too much light.  I'm not too much concerned with this last issue, but fruit-flies (alright, Pumpkin Flies, if you prefer) are quite small.  So far the prognosis look good.  Of course it means I will have to hand-pollinate any Squashes I want to save seed from... but that's a small price to pay.

18 January 2007

Coal-to-liquid Myths

An article over on ifenergy.com carries a quote to the effect that
SASOL, a South African energy and chemicals firm, to build two
coal-to-liquid fuel plants in China. These plants, costing $3 billion
each, are reported by the Financial Times to jointly produce 60 million
tons of liquid fuel (440 million barrels) a year.
raw material and capital costs of a barrel of fuel would fall under $10
and other costs would not bring total costs over $15
If these newspaper reports about the SASOL costs and
volumes are correct, they would indicate a breakthrough. The SASOL
costs are also far less than those of current US technology.
As a South African I am not inclined to believe a single word put out by SASOL.  If the figures are so good, why do we South African taxpayers continue to (involuntarily) subsidise these arseholes to the tune we do, year after year after year, despite the high price of oil?

Not to mention that coal-to-liquid tech -- no matter how good, cheap and efficient -- is still going to add to the atmospheric carbon load, continuing to drive global climate change.

The "we can continue live our soccermom-driving-4.8litre-Land-Cruisers lifestyle just by using some magically-more-sustainable energy source" propaganda machine rolls on.

16 January 2007

Addendum to my Previous Post

You know that Spring has turned to Summer when the halcyon days of lush, vibrant growth come to an end, and the pests catch-up with you.   4mm of rain last night washed much of the Bordeaux mixture off the Tomatoes, so...  take a wild guess what I've been doing this morning.

Time to start thinking about, and sowing, the Winter crops.

15 January 2007

Summer Woes

Blight -- the fungal disease that killed an estimated 2 million of some of my ancestors -- has hit the Tomatoes. First to succumb were the Cherokee Purple, and, being in the bed next to the Lime Green Salad Tomatoes, have passed it on.  The Lime Green seem naturally quite resistant, so there is still some hope.  Also threatened are the Taxi (big yellow tomato, good for cooking, not so great raw) and Tigerella.

I took a calculated risk this year in planting the number and variety of Tomatoes that I have -- some nine varieties, in all -- and several of them, Cherokees included, are no more than days away from first harvest.  Luckily more than half the plants (and most especially the prized and beloved Brandywines) are situated down in the veggie garden -- almost 100m away from the blighty ones, and no signs of Blight down there yet.

Normally if we get a touch of Blight, it only comes around mid-Feb -- our humid season -- but this year has been exceptionally humid exceptionally early, so no real surprise.

As loath as I was, I could see no alternative, and sprayed all the Tomatoes and Potatoes with Bordeaux mixture.  I hate the thought, and it is the first time in over ten years here that I have ever had to resort to such drastic measures, but many of these Tomato varieties are "first timers" for us, and heirlooms that I have gone to considerable trouble to source seed for, So I really, really need to save seed from them.  The Bordeaux mix seems to have checked the Blight quite successfully for now, but rain is forecast for tonight, so I guess I'll need to spray them all again tomorrow.

We don't have the "luxury" here of a sophisticated "organic growing" supply chain, such as enjoyed in more first world circumstances, so I was not able to simply go out and buy Bordeaux mix.  Actually it is really simple to make, and very much cheaper than commercial preparations:

Into 9 litres water, dissolve 100g Copper Sulphate.  In a little water (a cup or so) dissolve 100g quicklime (a.k.a. "builders lime" -- very cheap at building-supply stores.)  Be careful to add the lime slowly to the water, and not the other way around, as the reaction when they mix generates considerable heat.  Pour the lime-water mix into the Copper Sulphate mix and stir well.  That's your Bordeaux mix.  Spray it thoroughly onto the affected leaves, stems and fruits.  Any badly affected leaves/fruits should be removed from the plant and burned immediately.  Also avoid planting Blight-prone plants in the same place again for a few years -- which leaves me with very few options next year!

I hate this solution!  I firmly believe that the soil-resident fungi are key players in liberating nutrients for plants, and always take an active soil-fungus population as a sign of good soil health.  Bordeaux mix can only affect these badly.

Interestingly, though, the Blight struck in very new beds -- first developed last year -- where the soil is still very heavy, cloddy and way out of balance.  In the veggie garden, where beds are much better established and much more mature, even quite Blight-prone varieties are still healthy and strong.  Evidence that the soil is supporting their needs much better than the new beds?

02 January 2007

A Very, Very, Very Fine House

"A Low Impact Woodland Home" tells the story of a beautiful, self-built, Earth-friendly home in Wales. I want one! :-)

When we designed and built our own house (over ten years ago, now) we were working with very tight cost, time and schedule constraints.  Probably just our own lack of imagination.  So our house is nowhere near as environmentally low-impact as we would like, and not even close to what the Woodland Home achieves.  (I remain convinced that my on-going hayfever battle stems from having moved into the house when the CCA-treated timber was still outgassing noxious poisons.)

I know of several neighbours who would rush out to replicate the Woodland House if they saw it.  And they would be missing the point completely!  One neighbour has imported several large truckloads of sandstone from hundreds of kilometres away for the house she dreams of building (but cannot afford to finance, build, maintain, heat or cool, is too large for her and her family's needs, and in every way represents the malaise of cheap-abundant-energy thinking).  She, too, has completely missed the point.  Another neighbour recently built an additional (timber-frame constructed) cottage on her property atop stilts that raise the floor of the house about 3m above the ground, so as to get a better view.  Every drop of water has to be pumped up to the house, which becomes a challenge during the not-infrequent power outages.  It must be hell in a storm, facing into the teeth of the very fierce Northwester storm winds.  And I'd hate to have to bring in the groceries or buckets of garden produce.

Here we are designing for a totally different set of problems, requirements and constraints than we would face in the Southwest of Wales or anywhere else.  We have a different fund of locally abundant materials.  The point is to make best use of what is locally available; not to import materials from hundreds or thousands of km away.  The Woodland House uses local timbers; we would also use structural timber, being in a forest area.  They use straw-bales as insulating infill for walls; here we would prefer wattle-and-daub, or perhaps cob, since strawbales are unlikely to survive the onslaught of local insects, and we sit on a deep layer of very high-grade clay just below the Earth's surface.  A sod roof is out of the question for us, since we need to harvest all our water from the sky -- no other water source is readily accessible.

So, much as I love and admire the Woodland House, I would shudder in despair if I saw someone here trying to replicate it.  Think local!  Look around you with your eyes truly open to the opportunities and gifts of The Place Where You Find Yourself.

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