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Chris Kott

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since Jan 25, 2012
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Recent posts by Chris Kott

Great discussion.

I just want to add, trapping heat in a ground-based heat loop, even one as simple as an air exchange system taking exhaust heat from the roof peak of a greenhouse or hot shop, would be like trapping the heat in a bench, but bigger and longer-lasting.

My much better half is a glassblower when she's not engraving things with sharp spinny metal. This is my plan for waste heat reuse. I think my secondary use will involve powering a retort to make biochar.

Incidentally, the dirty exhaust that, as a byproduct, creates lovely patterns in woodfired kilns can also negatively affect the colour of glass, especially clear glass. That's why wood gas exhausting from the retort will not be fed back into the furnace, but will, instead, fire a secondary burn under the retort on its own, probably using a one-way pressure valve and a venturi tube/manifold from a barbeque.

-CK
4 months ago
I agree with Trace. If you find yourself about to utter the words, "Do as I say, not as I do," you're in the middle of a teaching moment where you can correct your own behaviour and educate your child.

I also agree with Robert. No battle plan ever survived contact with the enemy, to paraphrase the saying.

It is difficult to parent as part of a person. You can't really compartmentalise yourself as some would like to do, to be the work person at work, and the dad person at home. I mean, you can try, but one persona invariably bleeds into another, and you find dad person acting in ways perhaps only after-work person allows.

Basically, you have to own your own shit. Kids will pick up everything, most especially those things you try to hide from them. You'll think you're doing fine, and then you'll mash your thumb with a hammer and yell, "FUCK!" Suddenly, it's the only word they know, and it's hilarious to them. (To us as well, though we can't admit it).

Behaviours are the most important. If you come home from a day of work and plop yourself in front of the TV while your significant other does all the home tasks, you're ingraining into your children what it means to go to work and come home. If as a person and parent, you're constantly not only deferring to, but waiting for, your significant other to make the decisions, you're teaching your children that it's the job of the male to shirk the mental load, and that it's the job of the female to do all the planning and execution, excepting the tasks she specifically allocates to the male.

If you're going to focus on one thing, let it be the sharing of the mental load between couples. It's good to check in, even constantly, with the other partner in the mix, to make sure you're on the same page, but it's critical that each do their share of the heavy lifting where it comes to not only execution, but planning.

As to the future, you can't dictate what your kids will like or decide to do. The best you can do is design your property to do what you need for it to do for the rest of your life, so you can age with your land. If they're of the same mindset as you, they will want to be a part of it. If not, they won't have to worry about you as you age, because you will have taken care of your collective needs already.

And after you're gone, they might decide to sell. But you won't be there to suffer that. And hopefully one of your children will see the value in it, to carry on for another generation, at which point they will face their own version of this question.

Good luck, and keep us posted.

-CK
4 months ago
Really cool idea.

I was thinking of a barn-truss pallet structure, where the trusses were formed by the joined sides of pallets. Essentially, the roof would be assembled in barn truss arches of five pallets each, and set atop a box of pallet walls of appropriate size. At least a two-bedroom, maybe three with a loft.

Unfortunately, pallets in useable condition are becoming more expensive with the increased cost of lumber. You obviously found what you need. I would suggest deconstruction and reuse rather than demolition and burning when you're done with this iteration. Though by that time, pallet prices might have come down.

Great idea, though. I was considering a yurt recently, but the land we're buying has a cottage on it, so we'll work with that first.

-CK
4 months ago
Hi Edward.

We all get that from time to time. I feel that while bitcoin mined using renewables is better than otherwise, it's still a misuse of energy.

The anger is one problem. I try to do productive things with regards to the subject matter that's upsetting me. If I don't, it either rules me, and I externalise it onto people that don't deserve it, or I internalise it, and it builds into anxiety attacks.

Bitcoin is another problem. I have figured out a solution that would actually help the earth that uses the cryptocurrency model, but I have no outlet for it. It's a bit complex, yet simple, so here it goes.

Mine cryptocurrency using swarms of solar-powered satellites intercepting some of the sun's energy at the intervening lagrange point in the Sun-Earth system.

The only thing that's cheap right now to safely transport from the earth to orbit and back again is information. We do it every day, multiple times a day; our civilisations depend upon it.

SpaceX is launching multiple satellites per rocket launch to deploy Elon's Starlink project. The technology is there to launch satellite swarms.

The I.S.S. has what they refer to as R.O.S.A., or Roll-Out Solar Array, which is proof-of-concept that deployable solar panels can function correctly. I would be more comfortable with something origami-based, that looked like a lotus or chrysanthemum or something, but I suppose rolls will do.

So the swarm would harvest energy to maintain synchrony, to block out enough solar energy from the earth to do the job of cooling it, and would mine cryptocurrency to pay for itself. It wouldn't even add heat to the atmosphere because everything would be taking place in space.

Earth gets a solar heat shield that pays for itself and starts funding industry in space. Who can say how well a cryptocurrency that literally staves off the planet's roasting and whose long-term operational costs would include an occasional replenishment of satellites within the swarm could perform?

Sounds to me like a better option than wasting valuable energy here on the planet to crunch numbers, with exhaust heat as the byproduct.

-CK
4 months ago
The diagram reminds me of the macguffin from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Khaaaaaaaaan!), especially the way nuclear waste, which is literally underlined in green text reading "radioactive," is thrown in there without an explanation as to why it's there or what it's doing. It's like the protomatter in the Genesis device. It's the mysterious component, along with "catalysts" in the hydrogen, that is responsible for and explains the "transmutation" responsible for energy production over unity.

Two things stuck out to me before Ian launched his very detailed deconstruction. The first was word usage. Real scientists are definitely not going to use a term traditionally linked to alchemy to describe any new process. They'd use the terminology available to them in their field to come up with a credible and descriptive term that doesn't make one think automatically of alchemy, and people trying anything they could think of to remain young, or alive, or to create vast wealth for no work.

Any explanation that smacks of magical thinking is suspect.

The second thing I noticed was that nobody else in the world is really talking about them. If it had as much potential as is claimed, wouldn't we be hearing at least as much about Aureon as we are about the Bill Gates-backed synchronised solar mirror array set to replace fossil fuels in industrial processes requiring heat?

You'd have to silence the NIMBY party, but I bet that those heat engines the OP referred to, decomissioned coal and aging gas plant infrastructure that still heat water to make steam to move turbines, could be powered in at least half of the untied states year-round by such synchronised solar mirror arrays distributed in the areas to the immediate north of power plants retrofitted to be heated that way.

Is the term "overunity" used in professional circles, or is it an artefact of alternative energy conspiracists?

And the electric universe idea again? Everyone knows that the universe is underlaid with a vast network of interdimensional mycorrhizae.

-CK
4 months ago
True. But check out some of Malthus' writings on the matter.

He essentially observed that humans had this propensity to utilise abundance for population growth rather than for maintaining a high quality of life for all. It mirrors the animal dynamic, one example of which can be seen in relation to masting tree species.

On the oak savannah, during mast years, there is an abundance of food for nut-eaters. So their populations explode. They experience increasing food stress, then starvation, whereupon the population shrinks, until the next mast year, when the population explodes again. Rinse and repeat.

The predators of those nut-eaters have a similar pattern. Their abundance happens when the nut-eater population explodes, thus causing a population explosion of their own. When the prey population dwindles, so does the predator. Until the population explosion following a mast year.

And we do exactly the same thing. The only way we can do any differently is to consciously change our behaviour. Sating our need for stuff is one stand-in for having more children in the animal sphere, but it still results in material waste, which leads to either poverty or food scarcity, or both.

This is why the war on poverty or hunger is doomed to fail until we increase a Kardashev level. We need sustained abundance to enable an educated society (I mean where everyone gets a university or equivalent education, on the whole planet), for long enough that we build abundance-building feedback loops beyond ones that act like mast years, or fossil fuels. A jump lasting a mere century that makes a small portion of the global population obese toy-hoarders isn't advancing humanity out of its Malthusian catastrophe anytime soon.

Educating everyone, but women especially, can improve conditions societally, such that a giant safety net made of your surviving children isn't required for survival past your working years. It also greatly increases one's potential working years, and increases their individual value.

I feel that population growth is the wrong metric to track. I feel that educating everyone, at the public expense (with everyone paying taxes, and preferably at a rate that increases as you take more out of the system through hoarding of wealth rather than reinvestment) is the only real way to approach any true social justice, along with creating a world where such education is not only a boon, but critical.

You know Star Trek, where so many engineers are required to keep society functioning that it forms a third of Starfleet (maybe way more; I seriously doubt that you need as many command and security personnel as you do engineers and, to a lesser degree, scientists)? That's the kind of society where we'd have enough highly technical jobs to do to satisfy a highly educated populace.

It needn't be solely engineering, although you could broaden the meaning of that concept by including one word: systems.

Systems engineers would work with systems designers to create systems of systems whose individual "waste" is fed into other systems that use it as a feedstock. This applies if you're talking about a Galaxy-class starship, a Cardassian space station, or terraforming projects, just to name a few examples.

Realistically, we need to expand the system. There has to be a beneficial outlet for the education we're giving to these people who otherwise had none, and no need of it, because literacy in agrarian societies, say, where being literate doesn't help your survival by getting you more resources, is a luxury. But if suddenly you have neighbours with electric traction for their fields, and knowing how to read gets you education in electric tractor repair, or solar panel installation and repair, or any one of a number of farm-related time- or risk-saving technologies, which gets you paid and the farmers greater yields, thus money to pay you, there is then a payoff.

So it's not just education, but that's a crucial piece. There has to be a need for that education that pays off for society, but more importantly, for the individuals and their families.

-CK
4 months ago
I am not a fan of soy or tofu, but for the most part, that's just a culinary dislike, along with a general disfavour for a thing that requires so much processing, which becomes potentially dangerous in an industrial food setting.

So much about soy and tofu gets better if you're doing the processing yourself, at home. But some things do not.

Apparently, and I will try to find the article that mentioned this, soy fields are devoid of much of the life present in other crop situations because nothing sees it as food. That might be great from a pest perspective, as it would naturally require fewer to no pesticides to cultivate, from the conventional agriculture perspective, but it's not so good in terms of animal life down to the smallest level living adjacent to those fields.

Are there no other types of bean that can be used in the same way, one that, although perhaps still a result of the Columbian Exchange, has been accepted by microbial and other life here?

-CK
It's a good idea if you have the time and resources. Honestly, if I won the lottery, or if some organisation was arranging funding to pay for all this, it's exactly the type of thing I would want to put into place.

Understand, though, that being away for extended periods will probably mean choosing your sites with a view to collaboration with local community.

My fear, were I managing several sites by myself, is that during my absence, literally anything could happen, including someone destroying my site by using it as an ATV stunt site and camp ground, or someone seeing something of value they could take and sell, and doing that.

You could also see loss due to predation, even if it's hungry bears tearing down your fruit trees to get at the top branches.

But if you decide that you're going in to create a partnership with local community, giving members things of value, like jobs and perhaps even a community stake in the business, you suddenly have someone on-site year-round, who will value the project at least as much as you, if it is designed and created with a view to supporting the community.

I like to think of semi-nomadic bison farming as an example. If I buy a bunch of rangeland with lots of grazing, drop some bison on it, and hightail it for somewhere else, the bison could survive with only an annual culling of yearling or two-year old males above the population required for healthy genetics in the herd. I could also come back to find that someone decided that this herd was tasty-looking, and would fetch a fine price.

But if I were to start up and invest in such an operation in consultation with a ranchers' organisation looking for such an opportunity, or better yet, an indigenous group that could embrace that lifestyle and use it to both build the herd and bring in income, it's money in their pockets and food in their families' mouths when it succeeds; they have lots of reasons in that scenario to care for the project like its their own.

So you know what? Do it. Set up a semi-nomadic bison ranch somewhere in their traditional range. Set up food forests all over north and south america. Hell, grab a piece of beach in Jamaica or somewhere else and set up a seafloor-based vertical mariculture operation.

But just like you choose species that are appropriate for your conditions and for how you want them to all work together, select the operations to match the sites, and the people with them. The people that look after sites, even just to live near them and make sure people don't mess with them, are critical infrastructure if there are people there at all.

In some places, usually where there is perceived or real disparity between locals and those from away, the affluence required to come in as an outsider, arrange for the land through lease or purchase, and then develop it, could easily offend, just like showing up somewhere and trying to supplant their traditional knowledge with other ways.

If advice is sought, however, right from a project's inception, not only do you avail yourself of local knowledge about natural patterns and weather conditions, you get people on your side who might otherwise look askance at your wealth and see it as a reason to steal from you, or otherwise not intervene when some misfortune befalls.

That's my take on creating and maintaining multiple permaculture sites. If you don't plan to include people, especially if they're anywhere near it in the first place, they will likely be your downfall, or at least an obstacle instead of the boon they should be.

-CK
4 months ago
I often get myself into trouble when discussing contentious issues when I make what I decide are logical and obvious long-term determinations that are, perhaps, not mine to make out loud, for everyone else, in the current socio-political climate.

If I am a beneficiary on any level of a historic injustice, I can see how it might not be my place to decide when enough time has elapsed, or what constitutes sufficient apology. I am not trying to do so when I suggest that the best course is to get over divisions and treat each other respectfully on an individual basis, but it definitely fits the pattern of an opinionated white guy trying to call the shots.

I may be wrong here, but I feel that the most important thing we can do from the outside is ask to be told their stories. I know my indigenous history was limited to who teamed up with which European power, and a few scattered minutiae. I don't feel we truly understand.

I know that when the MNR sends forestry professionals to indigenous communities in their areas of management to talk about glyphosate use to knock down pioneers post-harvest during seedling establishment, and the community absolutely refuses to just be okay with it, and the government goes ahead and does it anyways, that's paying lip service and nothing else.

So we as individuals can do better than that. If it becomes the common response, to listen, and then proceed in a way that respects everyone, I believe we can make moving forward together a reality and begin a more complete healing. I feel that needs to be the focus, absent any specific guidance from the indigenous community. But I suppose that's where listening comes into play.

-CK
4 months ago
In retrospect, every good move was made at the Federal level. The Premier of Ontario's track record throughout all of this is pretty abysmal. He's been really busy using Ministerial Zoning Orders to allow demolition of Heritage buildings and development of conservation and farmlands to build more freeways, and otherwise to offer handouts to his party's financial supporters.

He was basically caught red-handed altering the numbers on guidelines that his science advisory panel approved last November, just as our second wave was starting out, inflating the threshold numbers at which we'd switch to more severe lockdown measures.

He's delayed every time there's a decision to be made that he saw as politically troublesome, and as a result, we're currently at the beginning of our fourth wave. The data shows it's primarily being driven by patients with only partial or unknown vaccination status, but of the approximately 700 new patients we're seeing per day, approximately 200 of them are fully vaccinated (my numbers are rounded to illustrate the rough breakdowns).

My personal feeling is that our premier was probably the worst candidate for the job, and that's before the pandemic hit. During this crisis, he's just proven what I felt to be true.

-CK
4 months ago