And Stuff Podcast: Episode 007 — California Pt. 2

November 6, 2015

This time Cam and Walker talk more about water in California.


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Show Notes:

Tweet at us @andstuffpodcast and email us at


Bionic 51

Butter Dance

Yak Butter

And Stuff on Twitter

Email And Stuff


California water sources



Abu Dhabi



Air Well

Air Wells in Ethiopia

Biosand Filter

Berkey Filters

Rainwater Collection

Asphalt Shingles

Tin roof rain

Grey Water

Clean progressively dirtier laundry


Composting Toilet

German Toilets

Japanese Toilets

Squat Toilet


Humanure Handbook

Danish Oil

Boss DS-1

Op Amp Buffer

Knife Safety

Printing in Linux


“Do An Easier Version of it”

October 25, 2015

is something that I try to convince myself to do when I’m having a hard time getting the things I want done accomplished at all. It’s not quite the same, but sort of the same, as breaking up a large task into smaller task, or in GTD-speak, it’s not quite the same as recognizing that some tasks are actionable but some are actually projects that contain their own actions. Whatever.

The idea is that I’ve taken a goal or project or plan and I’ve decided to do it, so I’ve inserted it into my system, broken it up into actionable items, etc. but for some reason I’m still not doing it.

One thing I want to be doing is daily meditation. I tried out Headspace and found it useful but difficult. Once the free part ran out I didn’t feel like paying for it because even the easiest level was kind of difficult. But what I noticed is that while ten minutes of meditation is obviously more useful than five minutes, I’m more likely to actually convince myself to do it if it’s five minutes.

For about a month now I’ve had “five minutes meditation” in Omnifocus as a daily repeating task and I think I’ve checked it off, instead of leaving it for the next day, a total of twice. So I thought about how much more likely I was to do five minute than ten minutes, and I thought about how the meditative practice in the way I’m seeking to actually practice it is really about reminding yourself to be more aware of all things by having a special time just to focus on that awareness. So, you know, thirty seconds of this kind of meditation per day is actually still going to be providing a benefit.

In practice I’ve found that I can give myself a 100% guarantee that if I tell myself “you should meditate for 60 seconds”, then I will actually do it. I’ve decided to think that this is a lot more valuable than a 90% guarantee that I’ll do it for any other space of time.

And the part that makes me not want to do it is that it’s difficult. I can keep my mind from wandering for a minute easily. I cannot easily keep my mind from wandering for two minutes. The frustration of attempting to meditate every day and “catching myself” failing is what convinces someone with my personality that it’s not worth doing at all.

So Do An Easier Version Of It.

Everyone I’ve read has suggested to me that starting for shorter times is the way to go about this, but their ideas of “short” times are usually ten minutes. I don’t want to do a slightly easier version of it, I want to do a version of it so easy that I will succeed almost accidentally.

This post wasn’t supposed to be about meditation, it was supposed to be about Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, of which “do an easier version of it” could be one. I was thinking about taking OS and trying to apply it to productivity. But I’m not going to rewrite this post because “posting a hastily-written unedited post” is my easier version of “post a post”.

I’m using an app called Due to time my meditations. I started at one minute, and I’ve been adding one second every day. One minute is so easy I can’t fail. One second added per day is so easy I can’t not laugh. I won’t be up to the ten-minute-long Headspace-sized sessions for over two years from now, which is hilarious, but I don’t care, and I can already feel how good it is for me to tell myself to do something and then actually get to watch myself do it.

P.S. Follow the podcast on twitter: @andstuffpodcast

And Stuff Podcast: Episode 006 — California Pt. 1

October 8, 2015

This time Cameron and I talk about the drought in California, and other things.


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Show Notes:

Drought Maps


John Oliver on Chicken

Why is Cheese Yellow?

Bulletproof Coffee: (Warning! Bullshit!)

Center Pivot Irrigation

Furrow Flooding

Masanobu Fukuoka

Organic no-till


Red mulch


Night soil

NPK, erroneously referred to as PTK

Raw Denim:

Vertical falling

Slub and Nep

Z and S twill

The Martian:



Alaskan Bush People

Potato calories per acre

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And Stuff Podcast: Episode 005 — No Title This Time

September 16, 2015

Back from podcast “hiatus”! Now with an actual paid podbean account.

This time Cameron and I talk about digital audio vs. vinyl, guitars, and agriculture.


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Show Notes:

Accidental Tech Podcast

Vinyl vs. CD

“Because vinyl’s restrictions do not permit the same abuse of audio levels as the CD, Mayo says that listeners might hear a wider dynamic range in an album mixed separately for vinyl over a compact disc version optimized for loudness — even though vinyl, as a format, has a narrower range than CD.”


Digital Audio Tape

Super Audio CD

Delta-Sigma modulation

All American Five

Tube Testers

Re-capping radios and amps

Fanned frets:

System on a Chip



Diet Soda

Everyithng is addictive


Organic farming


Genetic Engineering

Indoor Farming

Farming in Detroit

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Two-Day-Late Sunday Snapshot #5

July 28, 2015

Thinking about revamping this post series and using the Day One app to make it work better. Been trying to use Field Notes to take notes daily about what should go here but the analog-digital divide there is a little too much. Field Notes works best for me for having one page per activity, rather than one page per day. But Day One is specifically designed for one post per day.



Started taking coluracetam at TID 9mg. The only obvious effect is that my dreams are SO MUCH more memorable and vivid. It doesn’t seem to have any of the excess acetylcholine negative symptoms that I experienced with the other racetams I’ve tried, but I have noticed that I’ve been a little more tired than usual.

My tinnitus has improved significantly, which is probably due to the tianeptine, which I highly recommend everyone ever take.

Started using sulbutiamine more often as an alternate to caffeine, and that works well too, as long as I don’t overdo it.

So right now that’s my stack: tianeptine, coluracetam, NALT, caffeine, theanine, NAC. Occasional sulbutiamine and ALCAR.


I finished reading Reamde, and posted about it last post. I started Seveneves and it is absolutely amazing. I’m on about page 50 of about 600 or so. It reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke in that it’s got a lot of hard science in it, but the readability is really great. In fact, it’s probably Neal Stephenson’s easiest to read novel so far, despite all of the hard science.


Been using Pilot Juice almost exclusively, but that’s because I haven’t been doing much analog note-taking. Juice is by far the easiest to carry around all the time, so that’s that.

Content creation:

Uploaded a video of me making a bookmark for Kelsi. I spent a lot of time on the audio track for it and I’m pretty proud of it. Probably one of the best “in the box” MIDI sequencer-based compositions I’ve done.

Also found a nice ffmpeg incantation for turning an audio file into a video with visualizations, so I’m doing that to all the And Stuff podcast episodes and putting them on youtube. The audio quality is actually better than the actual podcast because youtube gives you infinite space and the free podcast host we’re using only gives you 50MB per month. So on youtube I’m using 384kbps aac for audio, and on podbean I’m using V9 mp3 (which is about 38kbps).

Two of the episodes are up so far:


Class is almost over, I hate it so much. Final is on thursday. I need to cram basically starting now, oops.


Did 9.0 miles, which is an improvement over the last few weeks. I’m loving cycling so, so much.

Anyway. Good week, I think.

Reading Day #4

July 21, 2015

Hoorah! I just finished REAMDE! Since last post that’s pages 953-1044. In total I read 240 pages today, which sounds low for the amount of reading I did, but it is Neal Stephenson and all. And by the end of it I think there were seven major protagonists to keep track of.

A short review of REAMDE by Neal Stephenson follows.

This is by far the closest thing to an action film that Stephenson has come to in terms of plot. The first half or so of the novel is basically a crime/espionage thriller, but with the humorously hyper-modern twist that all of the kidnapping and burglary and everything gets set into motion by a computer virus (called REAMDE) that holds your data ransom. And the ransom can only be paid in in-game currency in a popular MMORPG.

Most of this plot is resolved when the primary protagonist, at this point a captive of ex-KGB who drag her to china in an effort to get their data back, is “rescued” by stumbling unto a jihadist bomb factory in Xiamen. Then the second half of the plot starts out as a giant international chase scene before concluding with a detailed tactical engagement involving something like four small armies. If filmed, this might even be longer than the forty-minute action scene in Mad Max: Fury Road. Which is not a complaint at all.

I guess what Stephenson did the best in this novel all has to do with form and plot, but it didn’t really incorporate any of the themes we’re used to. The lengthy sections describing the internal workings of the MMORPG were very Stephensonian but other than that most of the exposition was focused on the family of survivalists and the bizarre journeys of characters who unfortunately found themselves swept into the plot. This might sound very snooty, but I usually expect there to be at least one or two highly intellectual themes, or at least influences, in Stephenson, and that’s where this book seems to be lacking. And while MMOs are fine, I’d really rather read about pretty much any other tech instead, but I guess I’m just quibbling.

(Apparently his next one, Seveneves, is all about genetic-engineering, so I’m fairly sure I won’t have those disappointments next time around.)

Overall it is still a great book, and despite lacking a few attributes I usually expect from the author, it tickled my brain in most of the other ways I expect from his books. I mentioned earlier today there was that point where all of the chaos he’s made of the plot starts to reveal hidden patterns and all of the characters who’ve been scattered across the globe start showing signs that their random journeys will all end up in the same place and as the reader I feel myself saying “oh jeeze, oh jeeze” and then from that point on every word gets more and more satisfying. And that’s enough of a reason to read it, for me, anyway.

Reading Day #3

July 21, 2015

Read pp 878-952 in REAMDE

Got to the spot I was anticipating a few posts ago. The uncle and the jihadists have now run smack into the MI6 agent and the Russian mobster, who have teamed up with the uncle’s gun nut extended family. I learned a new word: “jeremiad”.

Here are some excerpts that kind of illustrate how badass this part of the book is.

The cougar Zula fragged those jihadists with is still stalking them, apparently.


Uncle Richard is supplied with and uses a shotgun on someone’s face:


Anyway, I’ve read about 150 pages and only have about 100 pages left in this tome. I guess I’ll just keep reading until I finish it and then making a final post. This was actually really fun and makes me feel like blogging is new again, even though it was a pretty simple task. Hooray for reading!

Reading Day #2

July 21, 2015

Read pages 845-877 of REAMDE.

Zula just did the most badass thing–escaped her captors by intentionally attracting a cougar to their campsite by disposing of food poorly.

Love it when on page 869 of a book we’re introduced to a new, relatively important character, lol. It’s weird but despite the random new addition I find myself already emotionally connected to him.

Also did 45 pushups and 66 situps, hahawoo.

I had an appointment at 2 CST so I didn’t actually get in as much reading, but whatever. Before my appointment I went to Mojo coffee shop and read while enjoying an americano. Mojo is definitely the best cafe in New Orleans. I’m having such a good time insisting on reading today, I recommend everyone read all day sometime, just because.

Reading Day #1

July 21, 2015

I started on page 804 (of 1042) in REAMDE, and now I’m on page 844.

It’s getting to the point in the novel where all of the factions present–the surviving russian mobster, the jihadist cell, the CIA-agent, the virus-writer-MMO-player (who is now teamed up with the russian mobster’s former computer contractor and the jihadist’s captive’s friend), and the MMO game’s company’s CEO (who is the jihadist’s captive’s uncle)–are all geographically about to run into each other.


We’ve been following all of their personal stories in a kind of meandering viewpoint for a long time now, and all of those stories, while entwined, were separate, but they’re all about to become one. This is a pretty typical Stephenson thing and it’s always the payoff for getting though 75% or so of a 1k page novel, because he always pulls it off so satisfyingly. Even though this is probably the least satisfying novel I’ve read by him, it’s still tickling my brain in all of the right places.

I just came to the end of the 19th “chapter”, but each chapter is really just a day in the story, and is broken up into unnumbered sections where the viewpoint character changes. I mentioned on a recent episode of my podcast that Stephenson (and Pynchon) does this a lot, where there is a giant amount of detail for each day of the story, such that the story is “short” in that this one only takes 20someodd days of time, but still takes up 1000 pages.

Also, I just biked 2.8 miles. Feels so good!

Reading Day #0

July 21, 2015

Thinking about doing a kind of personal “readathon” just because I haven’t been reading as much as I like to and, well, as they say, “treat yo self”. All I really need to do today is study, so I guess that’ll be study and read, although I’d also like to cycle, and do some laundry, etc.

I’m thinking I’ll try and make four posts today, if that isn’t too annoying, about my reading progress.

Mostly I want to finish REAMDE and start The Martian. Here’s my progress:


OK, well. I’ll post an update around noon.