Ideas for a Maple Guild?

January 30, 2007

So I’ve got this Silver Maple tree standing by itself in the backyard.  It’s a baby, being maybe 14-16 feet tall at the most, and it was put in by the landscapers last spring.   Having read and bought into permaculture, I’d like to put a small guild of companion plants around it.  My pressing need is for soil improvement, so some nitrogen-fixers and soil miners are in order.

Does anyone have some suggestions?   I’ve got the books and will go digging through there for ideas, but I’ve been busy with other things and I’d hope this would start a conversation.

Defending Oil Assets…

January 30, 2007

 Even as the president’s Baghdad strategy goes forward, we need to plan for a potent redeployment of U.S. forces in the region to defend oil assets, target terrorist enclaves, deter adventurism by Iran and provide a buffer against regional sectarian conflict.


Sen. Richard Lugar ((R)-Ind.) in an op-ed column in today’s Washington Post.


Lugar ends his column talking about the need to defend our ‘vital interests’ in the Middle East.    What these ‘interests’ are is so blatantly obvious that it doesn’t require further elaboration.


January 29, 2007

In today’s society, marketing is king. The wikipedia entry for marketing includes the following description:

“taking actions to create, grow, maintain, defend and own markets”

While most people think of marketing in commercial terms, it also applies to politics, where the marketing is more commonly referred to as ‘spin.’ George Ure has an interesting graphic in this week’s news describing how spin works, with everyone buying into the left/right continuum when it’s really ‘haves’/’have nots’. The ‘haves’ are defending their markets quite well and are consolidating their position by slowly shunting the lower echelon of the ‘haves’ (i.e. the middle class) back into the realm of the ‘have nots’ where they have existed for most of recorded history.

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Michael Pollan: Unhappy Meals

January 28, 2007

Author Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) has written a new essay on eating.  Worth a read.


January 28, 2007

I’ve picked up a new skill:


Regular reader and fellow GroovyGreen contributor Beo recommended the book “Bread Alone” in the comments section of my sustainable library post, and I picked it up a few weeks back. This is my first attempt at making bread of any sort, let alone from scratch. It’s the Country Hearth Loaf recipe from page 64.

I learned a fair bit while making the loaf:

  • I didn’t put enough flour in the dough before trying to knead it and ended up with a sticky mess until I wised up and added more flour.
  • I also figured out that for scoring the loaves, a regular kitchen knife just doesn’t do the trick. I’ll have to save one of my razor blades after it’s become too dull to shave with anymore and try that.
  • My oven has some hot spots, and the crust got a bit dark in certain spots. Next time I’ll bake it for less time before inspecting it and rotate the loaves more often.
  • Finally, I tried to move the loaves into the oven without the benefit of a peel, and thus excessive manhandling resulted in my nice round loaves turning into the deformed blobs you now see. I’ll look at either the silicone baking mats or perhaps getting an actual peel.

All in all, it was a great experience. The crust, as I mentioned before, got a little overdone, but the bread itself was nice and chewy with a great wheat/nut flavor. We had my wife’s parents over for a dinner of home-made turkey noodle soup and bread, and they loved both of them.

Cut Loaf

Thanks again, Beo!

Krauthammer – Energy Nonsense?

January 26, 2007

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer has a pretty interesting article today both skewering President Bush over his SOTU remarks about ethanol and outlining the US’s various options for “energy independence.”   Whether you agree or disagree with his ideas, he presents one truth that we all need to consider in the constant debate over how to keep the lights on without burning up the planet:

“There is no free lunch. Producing energy is going to produce waste. You pick your poison, and you find a way to manage it. Want to do something about global warming? How many global warming activists are willing to say the word nuclear?

So much easier to say ethanol. That it will do farcically little is beside the point. Our debates about oil consumption, energy dependence and global warming are not meant to be serious. They are meant for show.”

Going to See Will Steger this Weekend

January 26, 2007

Arctic explorer Will Steger is setting off on a new expedition this winter to Baffin Island, Canada to raise awareness of the impact global warming is having on the polar regions. I’ll be attending the kickoff event for Steger’s expedition at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival on Saturday.

It’s from noon to 1:30 or so at Harriet Island. I’ll be posting a story about the event to Groovy Green sometime next week.

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