Category Archives: Skills

This summer’s project: Mason Bees

Cheap, easy, useful, helpful and fun.

Raising Mason Bees that is, not me!

Boom chicka wow wow.

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New feature: Definition of the Moment

I read dictionaries. Avidly. They are my phlegmatic friends whose opinions I can trust, kindly teachers who tirelessly volunteer as mental spell-checkers. I estimate that a good 50% of my web searches are the search for definitions.

The value of a dictionary is found in that it permits a greater precision in thought. One can, using this magical instrument, cut complex thoughts down to one pithy word, or conversely, use it to see if our chosen term is in fact what we think it means to others; to see whether our bricks of logic are well used in the building a solid logical stage. Dictionaries, in their various forms are the Swiss Ginsu Knives of thought; they are multipurpose and can slice though mental steak, vegetables, tin cans or running shoes.

And who hasn’t had the need to slice, dice and chop though a mental running shoe?

My favourite dictionary is in fact, not a dictionary at all, but a feature common to most search engines:

define: <word or phrase>

(Let us also remember our friend the Thesaurus and the Online Etymological dictionary, a labour of love by David Harper.)

As of now, I’ll be adding terms that I often look up, or review when making arguments and tagging them with definition. Hopefully, this collection of words will help you clarify your own positions and arguments. Note that I add these definitions for my–and hopefully your own–convenience. They are not intended as commentary, or as a definitive unalterable sense. They are bite-sized bits of research, nothing more.

Understand that the best use of these tools are not to support chop-logic, but to have a deeper understanding of a given idea, and to help us clarify our thoughts. They are instruments used to help us to think and communicate with clarity, and thus are tools to aid us in creating a better world.


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Forget big change, choose tiny habits

Just a quick note to let people know: this is the first habit changing system that I’ve ever used that seems to actually work. So far, it’s only one habit, but I do it easily and naturally. I’ve gone from doing 0 push-ups a day to about 50 per day. And I do it automatically. Caveat: it has only been a week, but it’s the easiest week in picking up a new habit ever. I’m really looking forward to seeing this accumulate over time.

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How to solder a copper pipe

I live in Quebec. The temperature is currently minus ball-freezing. My area also has very strong winds which blew the door to my water heater room open overnight. A pipe froze and burst.


I have a choice. Spend $150 bucks to get it fixed, or learn the skills myself. What’s a man to do? Fix it.

For as much as I despise what Google is doing to YouTube (anyone notice that names just disappeared from lists to be replaced with retarded ajaxified icons that pop-up user info? /me shakes his head) I love the real content that can be found on it.

You’ll never find quality like this on television.

How to solder a copper pipe.

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Paul Wheaton gives a Permaculture Keynote

I’m a big fan of Permaculture. In theory. That is, this systematized assemblage of tips, tricks and techniques is, from all that I read, watch and listen to seems to be a very sensible framework for creating a healthy soil, environment and life-style that not only feeds one’s self, brings the creatures that surround us into positive utility, and does so to the benefit of all involved.

Permaculture, from what I can tell requires a fairly deep understanding of a range of subjects such as horticulture, agronomy, soil, animal husbandry, and to some lesser extent energy analysis plus as many other subjects as one is willing to learn. As a youth, I had never believed that I would become a vermiculturist or have an interest in mycology. The learning curve, from what I can tell is somewhat steep, with the results and satisfaction commensurate to the interest and energy invested.

The one lesson that has most resonated with me is a simple one, derived from watching my grand-parents work their farm: waste nothing. Everything from manure to a bit of string is stored up energy waiting to be accessed with the key of creativity–and the desire to save a few bucks.

While surfing countless Permaculture videos on YouTube, one can see an endless variety of excellent ideas that stand on their own. What I’ve failed to glean, however, are the practical applications of starting off one’s property, using this system, without first having taken a multi-day and multi-dollar course.

It is one of my interests, and thus share it with you few who may not yet be aware of it. What bits I have been able to put into practice fits in quite nicely with what some might call the Prepper lifestyle–or as I prefer to think of it, learning to be skillful and self-reliant regardless of easily accessible grid-provided energy.

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Paul Sellers teaches woodworking

Woodworking videos and instruction. This is Paul Sellers’ YouTube channel where he shares his woodworking experience. The videos are mostly to show what you can do with wood but partially instructional as well.

I really like Paul’s style. For as much as I’m in love with Matthias Wandel awesome, motivating and inspiring engineering style of woodworking, much of his work would be very difficult to do without power tools. Paul shows us how to do woodworking when the lights go out (as did my grandfather’s generation).

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