Back…

I apologize for the long hiatus on this blog… There are a couple of reasons for the long silence. The first reason is that when I got from Japan back in mid-June, I felt like I should write a post wrapping up my experiences there, yet somehow I couldn’t quite find the words so I kept putting it off. So, I’m giving up (for now), and will simply point you at this talk I did at Google’s Tokyo office that does a decent job of summarizing my experiences. The second reason for the long silence is that I’ve been seeing someone else… I mean, I’ve been blogging elsewhere. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

When I got back to my property in June, I was obviously anxious to see what state my property and huts would be in after such a long absence. Out here in the country, anything can happen. Fortunately, nothing did happen, and I found my property more or less as I’d left it. Of course, it was warmer, as temperatures were still dipping below freezing when I left for Japan. From what I heard, Spring this year was wetter and longer than most years, and my property was particularly lush and green even in late June. Wild grasses seemed thicker and taller this year than in past years, and they covered up my normally rocky ground to give my clearings a more meadowy look.

I’m not doing a whole lot on/with my property this year. I pretty much have everything I need/want to live comfortably, and as far as I’m concerned, I’ve achieved my goal of establishing “minimalist comfort.” I did, however, plant a small garden again, though I missed planting season so I’m not sure how productive it will be. When I got back in June, I was surprised to see my strawberry plants sprouting out through the pine needles I’d covered them with for the winter. They’ve since continued to grow, so I planted a few more strawberry plants. They seem like the only plants that thrive on my property, through the cold winters and hot summers. Maybe I’ll just give up on growing other vegetables and have a strawberry patch…

One thing I may try to do this year, if I can afford it, is to set up a rain catchment system. I was skeptical about rain/snow harvesting before, but after spending a winter up here (including a month during which I lived off of snowmelt), I’ve been convinced that it’s worth doing. I’d like to start with a 300 gallon tank, which I could probably fill up with run-off from Hut 2.0’s roof, and would go a long ways towards keeping my strawberry patch watered next year.

Other than that, I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention and energy on my new project: Bootstrap Solar. In short, I’ve been developing an affordable yet powerful solar power pack for powering smart phones, iPads, and other small devices. The project was inspired by the earthquake/tsunami in Japan back in March, when I realized how crucial yet difficult it was to keep phones charged in a disaster (or, even in ordinary times if you spend a lot of time away from power sockets). I’m hoping to start selling them in kit form as early as next month, if I can raise enough funds. In any case, I’ll probably occasionally cross-post here as well, but follow BootstrapSolar.com for regular updates.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’ll try to post again… hopefully sooner next time.

19 thoughts on “Back…

  1. Yay glad you’re back (or almost back!) just checked out ‘the other woman’ blog and I think it’s an amazing idea (sadly not too relevant for my suburban life so I won’t be your first customer – sorry) but I can imagine this really taking off and becoming a staple for disaster relief teams as well as for personal users such as campers etc. I really hope it takes off for you (although what would you do if you became a millionaire? That would confuse the minimalist life a little!!) Good luck, Michaela

  2. Welcome back!

    Nice solar project. I’m another Bay Area refugee that bought acreage in the same area as you about 5 years ago. I too am trying to do a small technology enterprise in the middle of nowhere.

    Let me know if you’d like to get together & compare notes.

  3. Oh I forgot to mention I have built a couple larger units that can run more stuff than just USB devices…the one I sold last fall included a 300 watt inverter.

    http://kmswoodworks.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/solar-generator-completed-and-for-sale/

    The unit I kept for my own use fits in a trim aluminum case and can power my laptop, digital cameras, ipods and any other small devices via a 12v cigarrette car style socket or a small inverter which also run off the 12 volt socket. With the 10 ah battery its plenty powerfull for any small electronic application.

    Solar Laptop Station at Zion NP

  4. Glad you’re back safely, and a couple of thoughts on your post: in poor soil I’ve found it easier to harvest what nature grows rather than to grow domestic plants. Get a good “edible wild plants” type guide for your area and do some experimenting. Re. rain harvesting, if at all possible, bury your tank at least most of the way, but leave easy access for cleaning with wet/dry vac and mop. Clean yearly. Don’t try to prefilter water except with a screen; fine-filter as it comes into the house, and carbon-filter (or something) drinking water. The best eavestroughs are made from 4″ PVC cut lengthwise (assuming you’re not using copper). Hope this is helpful.

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