Friday, July 03, 2009

Plans for 2009: Mid-Year Update

At the beginning of the year I made a list of things that resembled resolutions for the new year. I had this feeling like I was not doing things as much as thinking about doing things. The list was there so that I would have a place to look during those moments of free time when I think, "I should probably try and do something interesting right now instead of wasting my life away."

Then in March I checked back in to see how many things I'd done, and I was honestly a little bit surprised that I had done more things than I thought I would have. So now I'm checking back in, with the year half gone, so see if I've made it anywhere near halfway through the list.

Making stuff:

- GOAL: Cook "real" food at least once per week at home.
- STATUS: Not going so well. I've learned some new recipes that make it easier to cook something that is relatively healthy relatively quickly, but I'm still mostly just making sandwiches and kool-aid for dinner. I'm doing a decent job of staying away from eating junk food at home though.

- GOAL: I wish I could get good at making my own sourdough bread.
- STATUS: I started out making a lot of Amish Friendship Bread, and that got old after a while. I started a regular sourdough and made bread with it once. Making bread is a long ( like 15-hour ) undertaking. Recently, after several months of keeping the sourdough alive but not making bread, I finally had to commit some of the sourdoughs to the drain.

- GOAL: make beer and root beer
- STATUS: The root beer was fun, but kind of petered out after a while. I met some people recently that brew beer, and I might try and learn from them. I also read recently about making your own mead, so I might consider doing that since it might be easier.

- GOAL: make chese
- STATUS: Haven't made anything. I think I'm going to follow Fankhauser's syllabus where you make yogurt, then work your way up to cheese. I'm not a big dairy person, so I'm not actually in a big hurry to do this one.

- GOAL: Grow food. Possibly hydroponically.
- STATUS: Well, I didn't get my hydroponics set back out, but I did attend a class at Park+Vine called "Your Spring Salad" and got a really great set of seeds and seedlings. I grew several different salad greens, beets, radishes, and onions. I successfully harvested and ate some of the greens and one radish. Most of the plants died while I was in Minnesota for almost a week. Some are still alive though.

Local Food:
- GOAL: eat more local
- STATUS: I had a big project in mind a few months ago and was actively learning a lot about local food systems and was seriously considering building or at least running some sort of local food website for the Cincinnati area, but I think I got kind of burnt out on it. Maybe I need to go back and revisit what I want to accomplish and build some more relationships.

- GOAL: visit a bison ranch and possible eat some bison
- STATUS: This is still something I want to do sometime when I have a free weekend and someone to go with. Unfortunately weekends like that are rare for me. There is a ranch not too far from here.

- GOAL: join a CSA
- STATUS: I didn't join a CSA, but I did a lot of research and the CSA page on my Cincinnati wiki is far and away the most popular page on the site. I believe I have put together a table of information there that is not available anywhere else. Although it is fairly well out of date now.

Farmer's Markets:
- GOAL: visit farmer's markets more often
- STATUS: I've visited the Green Corner Market several times and visited Findlay Market once since March, although I still have not made it a regular practice.

Recycling Paper:
- GOAL: make paper
- STATUS: Big win. I successfully followed this set of instructions and made several pages of paper. I use a shredder to shred waste paper, then use a blender to blend it into pulp. Then I use a piece of screen to make it into new sheets. The new paper is still a bit rough, but the process basically works. I would like to start making things like greeting cards. I would also like to experiment with adding seeds to the paper.

Crafting / Remaking / Upcycling:
- GOAL: turn my busted IKEA hampers into useful new things.
- STATUS: I successfully prototyped a folding table made from one of these hampers, but it is now falling apart. I need to figure out how I am going to go from cardboard prototype to real, useful table.

Knitting / Weaving:
- GOAL: learn to weave or knit
- STATUS: I haven't really done this at all. It seems like lots of people are into knitting, but not as many are into weaving. I would like to track down this video tutorial I saw one time that showed how to weave. Ah, here it is.

- GOAL: create a place to take kitchen compost outside somewhere
- STATUS: I haven't gotten to this yet. I really need to soon though because my under-sink compost container is getting full.

Rapid Prototyping:
- GOAL: have something made by ponoko and/or papekura
- STATUS: I took a design from Thingiverse and sent it into ponoko. And I got back a sweet laser cut bunny. But I (stupidly) scaled the bunny up and it doesn't fit together the way it's supposed to. I might order something else, now that I see how the whole process works. I just wanted to get my feet wet, so I consider that a success.

Making online stuff:

hereincincinnati blog
hereincincinnati wiki
virtual vine st.
wikipedia photo hunt

I'm just going to summarize all of these by saying that I haven't worked a whole lot on any of them. I'm considering working on the wikipedia photo hunt idea some more now that I have a phone with a great browser, gps, and a camera.

New Ideas:

- It's hard to believe that 4 months ago the hackerspace was just a twinkle in my eye. A LOT has happened since then. The hackerspace is a real thing. It is a corporation, I'm on the board of directors, and we have signed a lease. We are currently working on raising money and making our space awesome to hang out in.
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Local Currency:
- I've had some more ideas on this, but haven't gone out and implemented them. My desire to run an instance of oscurrency has not decreased.

New New Ideas:

- Due to several factors intersecting - including the possibility of many libraries closing soon in the State of Ohio - I've been pondering the future of libraries more than usual. Obviously libraries have been struggling with what their purpose is for many years now, but I've started to evaluate what types of alternatives to centralized libraries have become possible in just the last year or so. With the rise of cheap and easy cloud computing, and the maturation of the open-source Koha, I've been thinking that there may be an opportunity to create a community of small-scale independent online libraries. Something like a blog-hosting site, but instead of a blog, you get your own ILS. Still need to think on this some more, but I am going to pursue it and see where it leads.

- Via a contact in the hackerspace, I was invited to a crafts night at KHAC hosted by the Cincinnati League of Artisans and I learned that it is really pretty easy to screen-print. I was so excited by it, I asked for (and received) a screen-printing starter kit for my birthday. I have some ideas for some shirts and I may also screen print onto my homemade paper.

Android apps
- Oh yeah, did I mention I have a G1 now? It is really awesome. I've started doing the Hello World tutorials for programming Android apps and I have some ideas for apps that I think I'd like to build if I learn enough. One would be turning the wikipedia photo hunt idea into an android app. Another would be an offline topographic maps application that can be used while hiking.

- I've acquired a starter and brewed several kombucha batches. I'm still learning about tea and haven't made the perfect kombucha yet, but I like doing it.

- I have been lusting over these for months now, and now that I have the hackerspace, I have an excuse to buy one. And I think I've found some people there that will team up with me to build it.

Just Getting Warmed Up

I've surprised myself again with the number of things I've done between March and now. The biggest thing is that the Cincinnati Hackerspace is real. This was (and is) a big project, but the awesome thing is that it will help me do all my other projects. I've found a community of like-minded people and we now have a really nice facility in which to work. I couldn't be more excited.