Wednesday, April 30, 2008

DIY Bucket Filter

Plans to build your own water filter out of a five-gallon bucket are now available from the Aqueous Solutions website, Resources page.

These small units are great if you want to drink harvested rainwater but are concerned about contamination from air pollution or roofing materials such as asphalt shingles.

We've made it real easy for ya: you can print out the paper and take it to the hardware store. All the parts and tools you need are listed along with photographs and approximate costs. You should be able to get everything from the hardware store except perhaps the charcoal - there you might need to go to an aquarium supply shop, or order filter carbon in bulk over the internet.

This design should cost less than $90 to build, and will provide sufficient drinking water to a household of 5 people for up to 6 months (or about 500 gallons).

For more information on rainwater harvesting, see Brad Lancaster's site.

Photo courtesy Valli Smith.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Future

These ten succinct specifications by J. H. Kunstler say it all.


A Ninja for All Things Water

Cannot more strongly recommend to check out Brad Lancaster - resident of Tucson, AZ and certified water resources ninja. His work defines the genre of rainwater harvesting and maximum eco-usage of greywater for irrigation etc.

His site:

He is cool. Buy his book!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Reflection on the Tao

From the Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu

(Chapter 22, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

The Master, residing in the Tao
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn't display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn't know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

When the ancient Masters said,
"If you want to be given everything,
give everything up,"
they weren't using empty phrases.
Only in being lived by the Tao
can you be truly yourself.


I have heard stuff like this before this before, from another source:

Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"

That's Jesus. What he's referring to is non-attachment - in this case practicing non-attachment even when it comes to your own life. Zen philosopher Alan Watts had this to say on the topic...

Nirvana is the goal of Buddhism...the word means 'blow out,' [or] 'breathe out,' because if you try to hold your breath, and in Indian thought, breath -prana- is the life principle - if you try to hold on to life, you lose it. You can't hold your breath and stay alive; it becomes extremely uncomfortable to hold onto your breath.

And so in exactly the same way, it becomes extremely uncomfortable to spend all your time holding on to your life. What the devil is the point of surviving, going on living, when it's a drag? But you see, that's what people do. They spend enormous efforts on maintaining a certain standard of living, which is a great deal of trouble. You know, you get a nice house in the suburbs, and the first thing you do is you plant a lawn. You've gotta get out and mow the damn thing all the time, and you buy expensive this-that and soon you're all involved in mortgages, and instead of being able to walk out into the garden and enjoy, you sit at your desk and look at your books, filling out this and that and the other and paying bills and answering letters. What a lot of rot! But you see, that is holding onto life. So, translated into colloquial American, nirvana is 'whew!' 'Cause if you let your breath go, it'll come back. So nirvana is not annihilation, it's not disappearance into a sort of undifferentiated void. Nirvana is the state of being let go. It is a state of consciousness, and a state of--you might call it-- being, here and now in this life.

Good advice for living!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The poverty of growth

Nice short talk by Bill McKibben on why economic growth is a losing proposition...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bummer of the day (year? century?)

A study by the Environmental Working Group finds 21 different pesticides in umbilical cord blood, including 14 agrichemicals banned or heavily restricted in the US...bad actors like DDT, chlordane, the full report.

Yeah, that's a colossal bummer. What can we do? Here's one helpful thing: A Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Health care in the US

Man, health care in this country has really gone downhill. I went to the doctor the other day, all he did was suck blood from my neck. Don't go see Dr. Acula.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Aqueous Solutions awarded prestigious Lindbergh Foundation grant

Totally sweet news...this year I'll receive a grant from the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation to develop charcoal filtration technologies for removal of pesticides and other harmful chemicals from drinking water.

Each year, the Lindbergh Foundation presents grants to individuals "whose research projects will make important contributions toward improving the quality of life by balancing technological advancements and the preservation of our environment."

The award totals $10,580 - a symbolic figure representing the cost of the "Spirit of St. Louis" airplane in which Charles Lindbergh completed the first trans-Atlantic flight, from New York to Paris, in 1927.

I plan to use the award money to advance Aqueous Solutions' laboratory research activities, undertaken in collaboration with scientists and engineers at North Carolina State University, the University of California-Berkeley, and Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand.

The grant will also further the design and testing of a prototype water filtration system under development at Pun Pun Organic Farm in northern Thailand.

Plus, I'll be honored at this year's Lindbergh Award Celebration, to be held in May in Atlanta, GA, where I'll make a presentation on Aqueous Solutions' research and projects to the Foundation's Board of Directors.

How cool is that?