helblonde: (ursine frown)
When I was reading up on the Dakota pipeline (a pox be upon it *ptui*), I looked at a bunch of maps of fracking wells, as one does when one is interested in geology.

Then I reflected for a bit about fracking, wastewater injection, Oklahoma and measurable, increased seismic activity. Also this article about the physical consequences of glaciers melting. And I looked again at where we've allowed fracking in the north.

OMG EVERYONE WHY ARE WE FRACKING SO DAMN CLOSE TO THE YELLOWSTONE CALDERA?!!

I'll just put the idea out there that rupturing the earth around a supervolcano is a terrible idea. Okay, strictly speaking, it's the wastewater injection that's the problem, but still. It's a terrible idea.

Even if it doesn't lead to a Supervolcanic Megaeruption - which isn't likely based on current conditions - it's sure to have some effects. As the USGS says in this publication, "The region’s hydrothermal system is highly sensitive to quakes and undergoes significant changes in their wake. Earthquakes may have the potential to cause Yellowstone’s hot-water system to destabilize and produce explosive hydrothermal eruptions." That's...bad. Explosive hydrothermal eruptions are not really big geysers. They blow shit up. Like with craters.
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] joycebre and I made a foray into some of Giambattista della Porta's hair dying recipes (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] falzalot who provided the braid to experiment with).

We made homemade lye* and quicklime. That was cool. We tried a few abbreviated recipes, without much success. That is, the recipes went together fine, but I haven't seen any changes in hair color. The recipe with the saffron and honey smells fabulous, though. I have locks of hair soaking in just lye and just quicklime and haven't seen any changes in color despite 20 hours in the baths.

We'll be shopping before we try again, to see get some of the herbs and such we didn't have this time around**.

I have seed on the way to grow some of the plants. I have a suspicion that the fresh celandine, for instance, will give us a good hit of yellow. Who knows? Perhaps we'll find that they were putting yellow pigments atop their hair color, rather than bleaching and coloring as we do today.

Let's do some more science!

* By the way, home soapmakers, I have about a gallon of lye. If you need some, let me know.
** We'll skip the recipe that calls for Gold Litharge. It turns out that's just a fancy way of saying lead oxide. We're not keen on the saltpetre, vitriol, sal ammoniac, and cinnabar recipe, either.

Progress

Apr. 16th, 2013 11:04 pm
helblonde: (Flocke and seal)
Step by step we climb the foothill.

Before the winds really came up yesterday, I got a bunch of oak branches burnt down to ash. I did it in the Weber, thank goodness, so I could shut all the hatches and not have a patio covered in it today. The used up coco mats from the hanging planters made excellent firestarter, by the way. A little of that goes a long way.

Today, I found a ceramic pot to steep the lye in. I lined it with rocks, put in another coco mat (to act as a filter), poured the ashes in on top of the mat, and then filled it up with water. I covered it and then put it up where it should be undisturbed. I'll check the concentration on Friday.

I also found my pH strips. They work, despite their age (they were given to me as a kid). Listerine, my test fluid, is pH 4, which is frightening. Don't put that in your mouth!

I've been shopping for straw hats for my A&S class. The wholesale sites I've found have insufficient information on the hats. Fortunately, retail sites are a little more forthcoming and have better pictures of the same hats. Retail markup appears to be about 4x. I did find a site that will let me pay wholesale prices. The hats are sold by the dozen. When it gets here, I'll test out one hat to see if it'll work for the class. Hopefully, I won't be left with eleven lemons.
helblonde: (Poppy)
I've been cutting out the under branches of our* oak tree. Partly, this clears out space for walking. It also takes a bit of weight off the fence. This is my second week of filling the green bin with twigs and leaves. I expect to do this for a few weeks more.

Do any of you workers of wood want the larger diameter pieces (1.5"- 2" now,  and larger once we can get up there with the chainsaw) for knife handles or anything? Most of the pieces are gently curved or crganically straight. None goes more than a foot and a half without branching. I'm happy to save them for anyone who can use them. Otherwise, they'll be firewood for later.

I have been saving the mid-sized branches because I want to burn them for ash to make lye. I want to make lye, well, mostly because I can. But also, because [livejournal.com profile] joycebre and I have settled on a day for abusing hair in a period style. We're going to be trying out a few period recipes for hair bleaching, and lye is a component. Yes, we're trying this at home! We're using donated hair, by the way. We're enthusiastic, not crazy.

I'm going to have the samples at A&S for my "Make a 16th century hair bleaching hat" class, but it you want to check them out some other time at the event, I'm happy to play show and tell.

In other news, I took a closer look at the garlic. It was severely afflicted with rust. I trimmed off the worst-affected foliage today and sprayed the rest down with fungicide. The garlic picked up the rust from the mallow that afflicts my yard. Pleasantly, the onions, which are right next to the garlic and theoretically closer related, are completely unafflicted.

Since I was already spraying fungicide on a day clearly unsuited to it (stupid wind), I decided to go ahead and spray the nectarine tree, since that is already showing signs of leaf curl (thank you neighbors who can't be bothered to treat their heavily infected tree). I sprayed the roses, too. Mostly they are looking healthy. I only have one which had a nasty bit of rust (that I cut out mercilessly), and another which is still fighting black spot. No powdery mildew so far this year! Considering how much rain we've had this spring, and how that interferes with keeping the plants treated, I'm rather pleased.

However, if it should decide to rain in the near future, you know who to blame. Spraying the plants is rather like washing the car; Mother Nature takes it as a dare.



* Strictly speaking, it's the neighbor's tree, but it grows behind their shed where they ignore it and over the back fence, where we can enjoy its shade.
helblonde: (Default)
Unrelated to anything in my life, I've been thinking a lot about the problems with electric cars. From what I've been read and been told by [livejournal.com profile] moriven, who is significantly more interested in these things, electric cars have a battery life problem. They have a limited distance they can go, and then they have to be plugged in for a really long time to charge back up.

It seems to me that automotive engineers may be stuck in an old way of thinking here. Do cars need to have only one battery? What if they designed a car with a series of smaller removable batteries that were drained in sequence? As the battery cells are used, they could be swapped out for freshly charged ones, either from charging racks at service stations, or at a charging rack at home. This would let people go farther in their cars and charge back up to full without putting the car to rest for a day or so.

For example, say, a car had 6 battery cells. The owner would buy a set of 6 extras and a charging station for the garage. Then the driver could use 4, pop into the garage and swap them out from a rack of charged cells and be back out on the road in minutes. Or they could go to a service station, and pay a fee to swap in 4 fresh ones (like a propane tank exchange). 

Charging stations, no matter how they end up configured, are going to start popping up in more and more places. I'm not sure we're ready for that. Our country needs a massive infrstucture upgrade if we are going to embrace electric cars. Our electric power grid is not set up for another heavy drain. I think of the rolling brownouts in summer on the East Coast and just shake my head. How much worse would they be with another massive drain on the system? Sorry, kids, no TV or AC tonight, Mommy needs to get to work in the morning.

Also, I have a hard time embracing the "greenness" of electric cars when so much of our electricity is generated by non-green means. Is there any real improvement between an electric car powered by a coal-burning power plant and a gasoline powered vehicle? I'm not seeing it. At best, it just moves the point of pollution away from ourselves to the someplace where we don't have to see it or know about it. Electricity is just there in the wall, right?

Now, I'm not saying that all of our power generation across the country is from coal and other nonrenewable sources, but the majority of it is. Which goes back to my infrastructure point. We need more power generation and better transmission lines to be able to support large-scale growth in the electric car industry.

More Birds

Aug. 6th, 2009 04:47 pm
helblonde: (Licky Kitty)
Bender, the neighbor's kitty was mighty friendly today. This made me suspicious. Sure enough, a new mourning dove has moved into a different one of our hanging planters on the front porch. She was looking mighty suspiciously at Bender - as well she should - he was hunting papa bird while I was out there repotting some basil.

This will be the third brood we've had on the porch this year. The first bunch flew away while we were in San Simeon and the second moved out a week or so ago. I had no idea that mourning doves had such a long nesting season. I wonder whether they hatch more than one brood. The first two broods could have been the same parents, but this new bird looks different. Well, she has different body language, at least.

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