Vermiculture: Raising and Using Worms

Tote based worm bin at harvest time

Eww. Why keep worms? Whether you’re on a quest for self-sufficiency or stranded in a zombie apocalyptic survival scenario with no end in sight earthworms are valuable animals. Worms are fairly easy and kinda fun to care for.  And they have several uses: Composting organic byproducts into worm castings Fertilizing and aerating fields and gardens Baiting fish, frogs, or even raccoon Feeding  farmed poultry, fish, turtles, etc. Survival food for people (yep–that’s a protein!) Which species to acquire? The redworm (Eisenia fetida) is often considered the ideal composting laborer. Redworms are almost perfectly adapted to thrive on a diet of rotting vegetation, compost and manure. But I prefer the European nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis) for our vermiculture in Florida because it tolerates higher temperatures better than the redworm. Europeans are also prolific breeders and inexpensive. SpeedyWorm, my favorite supplier, sells both redworms and European nightcrawlers. Another thing I liked about ordering Europeans from SpeedyWorm is that they are sold by quantity rather than weight and each … Read on

In This Space With My Lover

Where am I? In imprecise terms of space-time I am in my office–the same room where I sleep–somewhere between my thirty-ninth and fortieth years as a human being on a planet I’ve learned to call Earth, Home, Gaia, Terra, Third Rock or Sol III. The room is about square, 10 paces along any wall. It is intended to be the smallest bedroom of a farmhouse with three. But I use it as much more. Aside from the kitchen and two bathrooms this is the only room I utilize intensively. In this room are most of  my possessions that ought to be kept indoors: a computer, a heater, mail and papers that have not yet been scanned, DVD’s about Spartacus and Vikings, cell phones, my camera. Maps of places I’ve visited or wish to visit are fixed to every wall. She, my most treasured possession of all, is here too. In the closet are some her clothes and … Read on

Why Police Might Handcuff Dead People After Shooting Them


Lately because of this video and this one as well as the Michael Brown case and others a lot of people are asking why the police handcuff dead people. The raw view of police shootings that are becoming more commonplace online are upsetting to those unaccustomed to violence. I suppose the practicalities involved don’t occur to them as readily as the pathos. It’s fairly simple: To determine whether a casualty is dead someone has to get close enough to make that evaluation. This means being in range of an attack if it turns out the wounded patient is not dead. Restraints mitigate that risk. Sometimes handcuffs are left on a decedent long after the police and paramedics are sure that person is dead.  The public might view this as adding insult to injury but the reason behind it is likely more practical.  When someone has been killed by the police their body is evidence in a homicide … Read on

Good Reasons to Focus on Laravel

Laravel is an application framework for PHP. It’s free opensource software released under the MIT license and hosted in a repository at GitHub. The framework’s central objective is quick creation of elegantly coded web applications following the model-view-controller design pattern. Okay, so how does Laravel stack up against all the other frameworks shooting for the same star? Reasonably well as judged by votes vs CodeIgniter and a 2015 review of platforms on Monitis. With several components from the highly regarded Symfony framework at its foundation Laravel is gaining a reputation for ease of use, elegance,  flexibility to tackle small scale and massive enterprise applications alike as well as reliability. And potential clients are paying attention. Recently I’ve been contacted by a string of recruiters trying hard to fill at least two Laravel PHP developer contract-to-hire positions in South Florida. There are clients willing to pay $60-100k for coders familiar with Laravel in combination with these current capabilities:  Bootstrap, MVC, Git, Angular.js, SOAP and REST along with more general skills … Read on

How to Go Paperless Over A Weekend for Next to Nothing


I’d built up a 24 month backlog of paper filing. That was starting to get in the way so I decided to reboot my paperless life.  I’d gone nearly paperless in Washington and Miami making it work by sparing no expense. The fancy scanners, premium services and enterprise document management software were overkill but the system worked for a while.  For the reboot I wanted a more frugal approach. Here’s how. Make sure you have… IFTTT (free): a web service that lets you link other devices and services using simple logic. The name stands for If This Then That. Evernote ($5) : for archiving your documents.  You could use a free account but five bucks increases limits from 60 MB to 4 GB  of transfer per month and from 50 to 200 emails per day. I needed that much to catch up on my backlog quickly. Gmail (free): you need an email account that integrates with IFTTT. You probably have this already. Evernote does work with IFTTT directly for some … Read on

Tenntoo preconfigured anti-procrastination hack timer

Image of Tenntoo timer

Procrastination sucks. It’s a spiral of despair. We put off what we should be doing only to have the amount of work that we’ll eventually have to do grow and become even less attractive than it was in the first place. Merlin Mann recommended his approach of dashes, short bursts “of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time”, in a post on 43 Folders. I started using them a little later and the following quickly became my all around favorite. The ‘(10+2)*5′ trick is a specific type of dash based anti-procrastination hack that requires a timer. Tenntoo is that timer. I first tried this trick several years ago and if applied consistently it truly does kick procrastination’s ass. The trick is to work for ten minutes with single-minded focus. Ten minutes, and that’s all you’re allowed to do is work, work, … Read on

Training Schedule & Checklist for Horses

This is the general schedule that I follow when training a halter-trained horse to carry a rider. It is based on principles of natural horsemanship as well as my own experience. The spreadsheet accommodates four horse over the course of six weeks of initial training. The 6th week’s routine should be  trained until the horse is suitable for an experienced rider, revisiting the earlier regimen every few weeks if needed. Another excellent resource is the book Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage: Designing and Managing Your Equine Facilities by Cherry Hill. This reference covers all the essentials from choosing an appropriate fence (no barbed wire!) to the right way to use each type of blanket. I found the sections on barn surfacing and budgeting to be especially useful as we plan for the right way to keep horses as efficiently as possible on a piece of our 20 acres. Attachment: Horse Training Checklist  

Can the U.S. Handle this Incursion from Mexico

In considering any immigration reform proposal it’s important to acknowledge the reality on the ground. Managing the tide of unauthorized entry, criminal activity, and illicit commerce that takes place along the U.S. border with Mexico is a separate proposition from the relatively manageable law enforcement task of handling the other 20%.  The Mexican border is a special and warrants special attention proportional to the scale of the problem. If the nation state of Mexico were to send an organized colony numbering in the tens of thousands into Texas or Arizona we would call that an invasion and respond with overwhelming military force. As it happens the hundreds of thousands of criminals returned to mexico–and those who stay– come to the United States driven by social, economic, and predatory forces rather state action. Therefore an appropriate response is not necessarily a military defense. But as the incursion is on such a scale the indicated force and commitment necessary … Read on

101 Attention-Grabbing Subject Lines for Email Marketing Promotions

Many emails image

Email marketing to your opt-in list is one of the most effective – not to mention affordable – types of marketing there is. Assuming you’ve built a solid list of people who are interested in the type of information or services you provide, the next critical ingredient is getting your audience to actually read your emails. However, that’s getting more and more difficult to do. Statistics vary. But for sake of argument, a study by the Radicati Group from May 2009 estimated the number of emails sent in the world each day to be around 247 billion. Yes, BILLION. Which means more than 2.8 million emails are sent every second. Of those, around 80% of these messages are considered spam. Still, that leaves most professionals in the U.S. receiving over 100 legitimate emails a day. So with everyone’s email boxes overflowing, how do you get your email marketing promotions to … Read on

Free Excel File for a Mental Math Workout


Here is a simple program written in Excel that can help you or your kids practice adding and multiplying numbers in your head. This tool was largely inspired by Arthur Benjamin’s book Secrets of Mental Math.  If you want to start doing addition very quickly in your head instead of working it out on paper here are two important tips. One of them is usually taught in school arithmetic. The other isn’t for some reason. I, along with some math professors, think that math education should strive for much more than the ability to show work by writing it out. Here’s the secret many school teachers don’t share. Just add from left to right. As Dr. Benjamin mentions in Secrets “most of us are taught to do math on paper from right to left.” I suspect our typical in-school math training stops there intentionally to discourage mental math. Teachers feel they need something written to evaluate. Students … Read on