Saturday, June 12, 2010


I got my pipes for my bike because they were the cheapest ones that came with black heat shields. Chrome pipes are almost $200 cheaper. But since I ride in all weather my bike gets really dirty. So I like it being all black so that you can't tell as much when it gets dirty. I love my pipes but I definitely wouldn't recommend them to anyone. The end that meets up to the exhaust was too thick so we had to grind metal away to make it fit. Then the brackets that hold the heat shield on broke so we had to re-weld them. I was pretty peeved considering they were almost $200 more than most pipes. I sent them a complaint email so I'm waiting to see what they have to say about it.

Finally got the rock wall started to hold the hill up. I'm gonna be making three different levels. Well , technically four, but the top level was already there. The bottom level is gonna be for hanging out and I made it wide and long enough so that I can start doing Tai-Chi again. The second and third level are gonna be where the garden is gonna be. I'm thinking of doing another compost bin up on the fourth level. Not sure what I'm gonna do for stairs because I'm probably going to have to buy some bigger bricks for that. But first I need to finish making the levels.

I think the girls like having a playing environment (i.e. the hillside) that's constantly changing. I already got quite a bit of the second level dug out but it's slow going since I only have time to do a little bit at a time. The girls like to help but there's not much they can do when it comes to digging. I'm gonna try to get some help from friends and/or family so that I can get the damn thing done before summer's over. I am glad for the exercise though. Greta (my gf) commented that I'm more muscular now than when we started dating (6.5 months ago). Definitely got a little ego boost from that :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Secret Ingredient Revealed!!

This is the secret ingredient to a thermophilic compost system. POOP!! Most thermophilic compost systems use poop from cows or horses. But not mine. Mine uses people poop!! More commonly known as Humanure. I first learned about this system from researching sustainable off the grid waste treatment. After researching it I found that its really the only reasonable way of dealing with human "waste". Our current system wastes tons of water and energy and even after all that waste still leaves tons of pollution. Its rather absurd.
Also there's the composting aspect of it. Plants require nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. Currently we use petroleum based fertilizers to provide these nutrients for the plants. Leeching of petroleum based fertilizers is a huge planet killer. Currently there are enormous dead zones in the gulf of Mexico where no life can live caused by said leeching. Humanure provides all of said nutrients while getting rid of our waste without wasting any other resources.
I dont want to make this a lengthy rant on the evils of modern waste management so feel free to check out the Humanure Handbook for more info:

So theres the compost toilet in all her glory. The way it works is you put down whats called a cover material then you pee and poop in the bucket then you put cover material over it every time you go. For cover material Im using peat moss but sawdust (it has to be tree sawdust not lumber sawdust, because the lumber has usually been treated with chemicals) is also very common for these systems. The cover material soaks up all the odor. You can put your face right up to the bucket and it looks and smells like a bucket full of dirt. Im hoping to build a more elaborate system for adding the cover material but so far its been working well.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


My neighbor used to work in construction so he knows people that will bring him tons of concrete from demolition sites aka urbanite. So he said I could have as much as I want. I was moving it across the street in a wheelbarrow and then he pulls out his truck and told me to use it instead. I was surprised considering Ive only talked to him a few times. Im pretty stoked to be friendly with my neighbors since Ive never known any of them. Anyways, Im currently carving up the hillside where Ill use the urbanite to build retaining walls. My little sister Jordian is helping me move the urbanite up near the hillside. Every time I come in the house she wants to know if Ill be working outside and asks if she can come help. My other little sister Evelyn only seems to be interested in the garden work. To each their own I suppose :)

The broccoli is starting to get florets. It seems like the lettuce, spinach and strawberries will be ready to harvest at the same time as the broccoli. Can't wait for the feast!!

I really have no idea what Im doing with the gardening. Im simply going off what I read on blogs and see on youtube videos. Ive seen bean plants that are bushes and dont need to climb on anything. So when I got the snap peas all I did was stick them in the dirt. I noticed that some of them were looking limp and sad, but the ones in the middle were doing fine. After close inspection I saw that the ones that were doing good had little vines that were holding on to the handle of the bucket. Apparently snap peas need to have something to climb on. So I cut some pieces of old rusty fencing material we had lying around and stuck it into the dirt on the outer edges. After a few days the plants had already latched onto it and theyre really happy now. Only problem is that it seems like Im gonna have to make them hang lower because theyre getting bigger fast.

My cat Yo-yo likes to come hang out while I'm working. But a lot of times she annoys the crap out of me by begging to be held. She's an old lady but she acts like such a baby :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Im still preparing the secret special ingredient for the compost bin and I cant use the compost bin until the secret ingredient is ready. So in the meantime Im doing a bit more prep-work. Im putting plastic around it to discourage any critters from getting in there. Supposedly with thermophilic compost bins they get so hot (between 115 and 140 degrees) that critters usually stay away but Ive never had one before so Id rather put the plastic on and not need it than need it and not have done it. I also made a cover out of some fence wire for the top of it.

I finally got my rain barrels too. The city will sell them to you for $85 each. I got 4 of them for $80 off craigslist!! So far I have one set up under the gutter with an overflow tube connecting it to another one then there's an overflow tube on the secondary one just to let it spill out. I put each one out on separate days just before it rained and each one filled up. So my theory is that if I had put them both out on the same day they probably both wouldve filled up from just one rain!! One small problem is that I put the secondary one up a little higher so its not letting the main one spill out all the way. I think thats why the one in the pic didnt fill up all the way. Of course it might just not have rained enough. Ill have to wait and see. I put a screen on the inlet hole so the water is pretty clean. But theres some plastic floating around from when I cut the holes. Ive already used some of the water for my hanging plants :)

When I bought my plants it said they could all be grown in pots. My girlfriend said that from what shes seen artichoke plants get real big. I have no experience on the matter but it looks like the artichoke is getting too tall for its space. So Im working on screwing some pieces of wood on to the beam to make it hang lower. Im thinking maybe the artichoke plant wouldve been better off in its own pot (I have it with a cauliflower plant right now). I hope I can transplant it if it gets too big.

The strawberry plant is starting to get some berries!! Maybe the lettuce and spinach will grow back in time to join the strawberries in a simple little salad :)

Friday, April 30, 2010


Finally made my compost bin!! Ive been wanting to do it for a long time but I really wanted to make a good space for it instead of building it and then having to landscape around it. Its actually a special kind of compost bin called a thermophilic compost bin. Thermophilic compost bins take a secret ingredient which Ill share in a future post, maybe even make a video out of it. Still got lots more to do on the hillside but I feel a lot more optimistic since I actually made something tangible instead of just digging all the time.

My hanging plants have actually been done for a while. I tried making a how-to video but my video editing skills suck so it was too much work. Also theres lots of how-to resources out there.

As mentioned in the video I harvested some of my lettuce and spinach. I took them to work with me and had them with some cucumber ranch. The lettuce was actually really good. Very flavorful and a very silky texture as opposed to crunchy like iceberg or romaine. Im thinking I need to get some more spinach and lettuce plants because i read that its good to have them growing close together. Need to double check that first.

Monday, April 26, 2010


My mom got started cleaning the house out. In the TV room she took a bunch of shelves out and this is what the wall looks like. It's pretty much like this all around the room (and in other parts of the house I'm sure). Hopefully seeing this people understand why I don't live in the house. There was so much junk all over the walls that this wasn't visible. Luckily it seems like my mom is finally ready to change things for real. We've been spending a lot of time talking which has been nice. It seems like she understands the problem she just needs to change her habits. And she doesn't get any support from anyone else in the house. So I'm taking it upon myself to support her and pull her toward living the way she really wants to live.

Still working on the hillside. I started digging out the space where I'm gonna put one of the compost bins. I'm also gonna put a rainwater barrel right next to the compost bin below the downspout on the gutter. Turns out I need a lot more space then I needed so I've got a lot of digging to do. I'm hoping I'll have some buff back muscles from all the digging :)
Ive been finding a lot of worms (I'm trying not to kill them) while digging and I found this GIANT worm. It's actually shrunken because it's scared. When it got comfortable and stretched out and started crawling it was at least a foot long!

I've been in the process of building Greta (my girlfriend) a moped for a few months. Then I found this bike on Craigslist which is exactly the same as my moped just black (mine is white). The guy wanted $50 for it, but when I called he said someone was already supposed to come get it. I told him I have a spare engine for one and could get it running right away so I'd be willing to give him $75. He called back the other guy that wanted it and the other guy said that he'd rather see me get it (and I'll bet he didn't want to spend the extra $25).
So I got the motor off and took the engine apart and it's pretty much not worth saving. Luckily the two pieces that I'm missing, piston and head, look salvageable. Should have her up and running in no time (of course time being relative to all the other projects I'm working on).

Friday, April 23, 2010


My uncle finished working on my sister's new bike, a Suzuki GS500. It's a 1990 but we got a 2004 motor with 4,000 motor with 4,000 miles for it. It's STUPID fast. I'm kind of scared to teach people on it. My first bike was a '83 Yamaha XV500 which was nothing like this. But it was a cruiser not a sports bike. Anyways, I'm riding it for a few days just to make sure everything is running good on it. I think I'm getting attached to it. It's not as useful as my bike. But damn it sure is fun!

Not sure if you can tell in the picture but there's a pretty abrupt step. That's where I've dug it up. I've gone about a foot down. It's about good now. Just have to make it level. Trying to make it level with the ground that the deck sits on. Then I'm gonna put 4in of pea gravel down.
Ever since we lived in my house the "yard"/land has been shit. My parents never took the time to make it nice. Well technically there were a few times (in 15 years) that they did clean it up but then it went back to shit. Well now that the house is in my name I'm taking it upon myself to change all that. So I'm starting with the hillside because it's the only place that isn't covered in car engines and such. Also, my big sister started working on it over 15 years ago but without the help of my parents it never got anywhere. When I'm out digging, I still get that image of her, excited, driven, ambitious, trying to make a part of our lives a little more pleasant. Part of me is trying to help her do that.
My little sister Evelyn helped me one night. I hesitantly let her handle the pickax to break up the dirt so I could dig it. She's pretty good at it, and she really likes doing it. If I get home before she's in bed she comes and asks me what she can help me with. We make a pretty good team :)

I bought supplies months ago to get water hooked up to the clubhouse. I'm just gonna run it off the spigot that's outside the house. Most of it I could figure out but I couldn't figure out how to hook the plumbing up to the spigot. I was actually at Lowes looking for something completely different but I happened to walk by the plumbing section. An employee walked by and said "what are you looking for?". I found it odd that he didn't ask if I was looking for something. He could tell I was looking for something and was direct. I really prefer that approach. Luckily he knew exactly what I was talking about and got me set up with what I needed. This project has been on hold for over 4 months because I couldn't figure that little part out. Now in one night, it's done. Now all I have to do is hang the rest of the plumbing which is easy.