13 April 2012

(low) tech writer, the book

I'm pretty excited to announce the publication of essays from (low) tech writer in book form, after a year of work. All the material has been edited and updated, and I've added some content that is exclusive to the book (including the long-lost chapter on knots). The book can be purchased on lulu for $15.

It will probably be available as an e-book before long, but this one really wants to be on paper. Enjoy!

18 December 2010

When a blog is no longer a blog

These pages are no longer being populated, and the project can no longer properly be called a 'blog. But there are dozens of essays here, and you can read an introduction and browse the essays at the index page on lowtechwriter.com

Blogs are easy to read when you want to get the latest news or opinion, but they are not really set up as reference engines for content. Sure, you can search for data, but can you easily browse a blog in some way other than in archived monthly chunks, from newest to oldest?

This blog has finished as a project, and the project turned out to be more 'collection of essays' than 'daily diary'. So, how to make my essays accessible? The tools on this blog don't really cut it. Blogger calls what they provide, "push button publishing": it would be nice to have a push-button solution for reformatting the 'blog, which needs now to function like a normal website.

I've done all this myself on the index page at lowtechwriter.com. But it would be nice to just push a button on Blogger and have it be automated. That seems to me to be exactly what technology is for.

Read all the essays again at (low) tech writer dot com

09 November 2010

The Project Has Ended

I just noticed (has anyone else?) that I haven't posted here since May. That's a long time. What's going on? Well, a couple of things. One simple explanation is that I've been taking paid work as a writer, and that tends to reduce the energy I have for this kind of creative outlet. But probably more significant: I think the project is finished. I'm sure I could keep writing: that is to say that there is no shortage of source material. But I think it's time to direct my energy to other things.

When I began the (Low) Tech Writer experiment, I was in crisis in my work life and asking deep questions about how the world worked. Many of these essays were written to explore this territory, even if I always stopped short of making the connection between these subjects and the details of my life.

Partly through the writing of these essays, I have come to the Far End Of The Crisis and now can write/talk/live with much more clarity. Other projects beckon.

I loved being the (low) tech writer. Maybe I'll return to it one day ... after the robot revolution, when we'll really need good social commentary.

Thanks for reading!


06 May 2010

Zoe on "Lemon"ade

Warm welcome to guest-writer Zoe Maddalena. I'm her daddy, and if it isn't glaringly obvious in about a minute ... she is her daddy's daughter.

Last Sunday my youth group was holding a hot dog/chili fund-raiser for a mission trip. But that's beside the point. The point is, my job was to make lemonade.

Not "life gives you lemons" lemonade, not sugar-and-fruit-of-the-citrus-persuasion lemonade, but powdered lemonade. Country Home, or something like that. It looked like highlighter and sand, and smelled like detergent. Mixed with five gallons of water, it didn't take on that translucent effect that actual lemons might give it: it was milky opaque.

Back to the story.

I was given a great big cooler that had been sitting in storage for about a year, so it was pretty dusty crusty dirty. So I hauled it into the dusty crusty dirty kitchenette, dumped it in the dusty crusty rusty sink and hosed it down and went on the hunt for some dish soap. I found some Dawn, or Joy, or something cheerful and bright and clean-y. So I cleaned it out and made the hungry masses some "lemonade."

But there was one thing that I noticed that I can't get out of my head. The Dawn dish soap was proudly labeled, "Made with REAL LEMON JUICE!"

I don't think there was any of that in the actual lemonade.

04 May 2010

Solar Oven

A hand-me-down from my friends Mark and Georgina, local gurus of sustainability. Mark had a couple extras from a demo day at his place of employment, and said, "I'll give you one if you're really going to use it!" No problem there.

The pic is of my first effort: a hastily prepared rice dish, put out around 4 PM, unsure if the sun would be hot enough in the last hours of this early May day. The rice came out of the sun at 6.30, perfectly cooked. It would have felt like a very pure and simple cooking experience if I hadn't needed to microwave the chicken stock we keep stored in the freezer. The lady of the house was not very impressed with that. If only I had an extra hour of sun, I would have been able to shun the nuclear option.

I have some unexpected disappointments to sort through. This is, essentially, an outdoor cooking method, one that my wife seems happy to leave to The Man. But, strangely, there is no smoke. There are also no special tools, no sizzling, splattering of fat, or poking of charred meat with forks. Really I think my disappointment comes down to a lack of fire. I should say, just to be clear, that my criteria for cooking with fire is that said fire be at ground level, not burning at a distance of one astronomical unit.

I can live with it, because with this smokeless cooking method, entirely devoid of splattering fat as it is, there is also no power being used ... so no draw on the power lines in the house, no burden on the grid, no demand generated on some coal-burning plant somewhere, and so no smoke near or far, which means no impact near or far. This is good.

I'm counting on the fact that I'm banking some carbon equity, and can soon plan a meal that involves solar-baked potatoes and veggies, with a side of grilled meat.

19 April 2010

On the Nascent Science of Geoengineering

I'm no scientist. I'm just a guy. But I heard a scientist talking about geoengineering  on the radio the other day, and I'd like to say for the record that I do not agree. Geoengineering refers to proposals to manipulate the planet's climate in order to counteract global warming.  An example: spraying chemicals in clouds to make them more reflective thereby bouncing the sun's rays away from the earth. Another example: sucking carbon dioxide into big holes in the ground. Hmm.

Now, I like tools well enough. I appreciate well-thought-out and well-crafted technological solutions. Take hammers. Hammers are cool. Hammers do their job really well, and you can choose from a number of different designs depending on your work-style and end-purpose. Hammer designers have been working on better hammer designs for a long time, and at this stage, we'd have to say that hammer design and technology is pretty mature. And yet, we occasionally smash these modern, well-designed hammers into our thumbs and create problems for ourselves. Nobody can design all the risk out of our tools.

So my question is, how worried should we be that well-meaning scientists, as smart as they may be, are talking about designing planet-sized hammers to solve a global problem? Even if I believed that Scientists (that group of people who totally agree all the time on how things work ... right?) could understand all of the large-scale mechanisms at work in global climate patterns, which I don't really believe, I'm not sure I would want them trying their hand at a global solution. What if the hammer slips? We're not talking about a big toe here. We're talking about the Earth.

19 March 2010