Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Podcast: Paul Wheaton's Permaculture - Caught Up!

Woof - a hundred and three podcasts!

My absolute favorites are the random rants - not so much any particular topic but those times when Paul just has a lot of stuff to get off his chest. They twist and turn, hang out for a while on one item, blow through three more in 30 seconds, then loiter again for a half hour. Incredible. No links - discover and love these on your own!

Second fave are the book read-alongs - since I've got the books to follow along too, I can get a quick gauge of my comprehension level as well as getting pointers to some of the key concepts.
Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden
Sepp Holzer's Permaculture

Finally, the group presentations - recordings of Paul going through one of his articles-as-powerpoint - are their own form of goodness. Okay, I cheated and listened to these with the article open on my computer, since my extremely minimal visual imagination wasn't up to converting from just audio to sensaround.
Raising Chickens
Wofati (eco-housing)

But that doesn't cover it - Jocelyn feels like an old friend now (and thanks for trying to herd the cats back on topic!), Jack Spirko shares his interests, Caleb and Krista add their insights, Maddy Harland points us to new things to read, the never-ending argument with Helen Atthowe about live-plant nitrogen sharing, and MOPs (masters of permaculture) drop in: Toby Hemenway and Geoff Lawton! (To be fair, there were probably other MOPs in there, e.g. Skeeter, but Toby and Geoff I recognize )

These podcasts are a great break from eyestrain ;-)

Links to Paul's articles - all good reads:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book: The Rebel Farmer by Sepp Holzer

I want to be Sepp when I grow up.

Unfortunately, that ain't possible, because the best time to start being Sepp is apparently when you are born. First, be born with curiosity, integrity, practicality, inventiveness, persistence, flexibility and a genius for understanding ecologies. Second, be born to a farming family on difficult land. Finally, face challenges and obstacles your whole life that are matched only by our successes and triumphs. You still won't be Sepp, but you'd be fun to chat with.

This autobiography is a glorious insight into the man than Paul Wheaton puts at the very top of his eco-scale - better than everyone else on the planet. There are tidbits of techniques scattered throughout the book, but they are beside the point - Sepp is absorbing because of the way he thinks.

Not available electronically, but worth the tree for the printed version. Go read it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book: Getting Started in Permaculture by Ross & Jenny Mars

Totally short book - feels geared towards family projects with the kids, but still a worthwhile read, especially for the "permaculture perspective" section at the end of each chapter. If you are wanting a first dip of the toe into permaculture, there is a lot here that is quick and easy to try out.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Don't Sweat the Details

My approach to permaculture is following a formula that has worked well for me in grasping new technologies in the software world: learning with incomplete understanding.

A large part of learning anything new is absorbing the vocabulary that its adherents communicate in - both the new words and more importantly the new meanings of old words. For example, my current day job overloads the word "transaction" to have 4 distinct meanings that everyone is expected to instantly understand from context.

Permaculture is no different: mono culture vs poly culture, nitrogen fixing, stacking functions, ethics as opposed to principles, humus (apparently pronounced "hue-mass"), vermiculture, C-N ratio, NPK, and on and on! Then add in the people: Mollison and Holmgren, Holzer and Fukuoka, Bell and Hemenway, Jacke and Salatin - they become a shorthand for the things they've pioneered. Finally there are the plants, fungi and animals, whew!

So I sip from the firehose at first - rushing through the books. If something doesn't make sense at the moment, then I just bull ahead until I get to something else, trusting that eventually it will connect with the rest of the vocabulary web that I'm building.

I'm not really absorbing these first several books. They are adding to my framework, but I'll have to re-read them and probably a couple times. The best I hope for at this point is that I can remember where I saw that discussion of weeds as pioneer plants...

Too soon to say it is gel-ing for me yet, but going through the Omnivore's Dilemma was the first glimmer of it - reacting to the content and being able to think about it in a context.

Still, the long lists of plants and their attributes are only getting a quick glance - I'll sweat those details when they become more relevant.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Podcast: Paul Wheaton's Permaculture

From the guy who brought us the community at permies.com, Paul Wheaton is my kind of guy - software geek, loud, opinionated, quarrelsome, pragmatic, hyperactive, passionate, and with a big heart.

I'm working my way forward through the hundred podcasts he's recorded so far (get them at itunes by searching his name, or direct from his site). The production quality sucks so far - choppy audio, background noises of driving and eating, abrupt cuts, meandering off-topic rants, ubiquitous profanity, and I DON'T CARE!

And neither should you.

This is a real guy, doing real things, following up on his interests and passions and sharing them with us. It is a fun, gritty roller-coaster that ends up informing and entertaining - I'm regularly smiling and laughing out loud while listening, and I'm just as often rewinding to write down a name or search terms on whatever scrap of paper is handy.

I love these podcasts - listen to them!