“Tin Can Phones in a Digital World” or “Rural Broadband Infrastructure”


I love everything about living in a rural community, well, almost everything. The air is clean, the water doesn’t need filtration, the air is nature-smelling and the ocean waves are our lullaby. We have a large house, a significant block of land, and friendly neighbors along a quiet street. What’s not to love? While we do get five bars on our cellular service, there is insufficient population and local demand to justify broadband internet in the area. Period.

We have four choices, really. Do without, 54kbps Dial-up (Why, exactly, am I even listing this as a choice?!), Cellular internet and Xplorenet Satellite 3G (for now). Please allow me to discuss with you why some of these are viable, some are not, and while others are hideous to even consider. Continue reading

“Space travel and Woodworking” or “High Technology’s Effect on Heritage Crafts”


This may shock my darling audience, but I am of two minds regarding the dire negative effects of space travel, robotics, modern factory technology and chinese ultra-mass production trends. Is the market being flooded with Walmart and dollar store junk, made for half a cent and sold for a couple of bucks doing bad things for our heritage trades? Will outsourcing our labour to foreign countries where workers in sweatshops get paid a sack of rice per month to make Nike sneakers for a fraction of a percent their retail cost encroach on our market shares? You know what? I really don’t think so. I will confess that it has an effect, but I don’t think it has the one you might suggest. I think it improves our market, considerably, for those savvy enough to consider the shifting dynamic of an increasingly demanding customer base. Continue reading

“Second Chances” or “Homeless as Precious Resource”


I received my degree in Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with a focus on developmental and ccounselling from Grenfell Campus of Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2012. It took me 6 consecutive semesters, taking six courses every term and as many as 5 in the summer-months. It filled me with joy to FINALLY have some sort of idea what people were thinking. It also helped me realize why life seemed so much harder, task by task, than some other people; I discovered that I likely had Aspergers Autism. It may be my neurochemistry, my personality or any combination thereof… then again it may not be any, but I think I found a very real solution to the homelessness epidemic and a lingering moral dilemma that has been bothering me. It was staring us all right in the face this whole time, and we had the power to fix much of the issues for a long, long time. That solution is simple… give them a chance. For many woodworkers trying to make a living and trying to make an honest go of a home-business, we can give a homeless person a second chance, and at the same time make use of a valuable human resource at the same time. Continue reading

“Early Bird Gets the Worm” or “Second Mouse Gets the Cheese”


Gods help us, the summer is practically over. Tomorrow is the start of Mabon and preparations so many harvest festivals of years gone by would have been completed by now. It’s a real tragedy that I practically missed this summer while I was working with Fisheries, but I’ll have the whole winter to prepare my home and my family for a lovely spring/summer 2015 when … uhh… I also won’t be here much. But that’s okay! I’ll be here in spirit, and my creations will also be present (Like the garbage box and dog run, like the flower planter, like the some of the shop toys I’ve described already, here, here and here). I want so much for Sarah, my darling wife, to be happy and comfortable here when the warm sun returns to this frigid, frozen wasteland that we call home. To that end, I’m going to discuss some of the quintessential summer woodworking plans: A picnic table, a barbecue tray, an Adirondack chair and a window herb garden box. These projects just scream summer, to me. Continue reading

“Sociocracy” or “Consent vs. consensus”


Though it can be argued. there was a real sense of justice in some areas of the ancient world. It can also be argued that there was never a sense of justice since one guy could wield a bigger stick than his neighbor, but one can’t spend any real time in the purer study of classics without noticing that the old fellers really had some keen ideas. Many of those ideas worked great, in theory, but like any system the waste and efficiency dwindled with size. A family-unit can run pretty efficiently, as the image of the 1950’s household can represent. It may not have always been a happy time for all participants, but there were rigidly followed rules, roles and responsibilities, and jurisdictions were clear. What can we learn from these examples of systems that worked, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, when we design our own little micro-government for businesses and small communities like the intentional community like my Tir Tairngire Ecovillage? I present you, “Sociocracy”. Continue reading

“Importance of Critical Thinking” or “Downfall of a Generation”


There is no denying that “The Google Generation” is sadly lacking in the ability to think abstractly or critically, as a whole (there are, obviously, exceptions to every rule). Ask my wife about how some of her students react to the question, “What causes a rainbow? Where does your tap water come from? Where does your sewer water go? What are hambergers made out of? What is the cubed root of pi?” These and so many other questions are answered with a grunt, a shrug, or abject silence. I’ve had people tell me that Hambergers are made of ham. I’ve had students ask me why icebergs float. I’ve had grownups not believe that dark colours absorb more heat. This isn’t just in small towns or the uneducated, but many, many people have lost the desire to learn and the curiosity to ask “Why” and “how” to everything that they see. It makes me sad. Continue reading

“Ecovillage Greenhouse Redesign Beta” or “Feeding the 5000… eventually”


Homestead 1In my previous article, I had discussed the Tir Tairngire Ecovillage project as the grand scope of things. I had decided to rush parts of it, simply because it was already after midnight and I knew I’d have to re-address certain facets of the whole thing, which I’ve been doing for nearly a decade and a half. I had real problems with the 45d angle that has been forever evident in the location of my site, and it would really be hellishly inconvenient to rotate lots, adjust roads, or search for another site when I already OWN this one. It’s just not practical. That said, I’ve decided to reassess one of my biggest concerns: The 1/2 Acre (~0.2 ha) Homestead Greenhouse. I also was faced with the challenge of angling the buildings to make best use of the lower angle of the winter sun in the northern hemisphere.

Continue reading

“Ecovillage Dreams” or “How I Invested 50% of My Life”


ogoI’ve mentioned my interest in agriculture, specifically sustainability, green housing, passive solar, traditional woodworking, et cetera, ad nausium. But all these interests stem from one particular obsession. This obsession carried me through my entire post-secondary career, through three failed engagements and a dozen changes of address. It got me through desperate poverty, cycles of abusive company and the discovery that I had Aspergers Autism (which explained more than I thought it would). That obsession forever haunts me in the back of my mind the way that liquor haunts a recovering alcoholic. That obsession is for a life reminiscent of The Shire from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, and kept me warm at night when everyone else left me for dead. That dream is Tir Tairngire Ecovillage, and the embers have not grown cold yet. Continue reading

“What A Waste!” or “Leftover-Leftovers!”


Let us not kid ourselves, human beings are terribly wasteful creatures. Recent statistics show that the human race produces more than 12 times as much food as it requires as a species, and yet half of the people on this planet are living in poverty, many of them literally starving to death. I don’t propose a solution to the global mismanagement of food (because it is NOT a global food-shortage, it’s a regional food shortage because of first-world greed, but focus Robin, FOCUS!), what I do propose is that we attempt to reduce the amount of this waste entering landfills by sorting it before it leaves the home. Other recent statistics suggest that 99% of Sweden’s garbage is recycled; and I think it’s time we discuss compost and it’s relationship with home ownership and woodworking. Continue reading

“Sounds of Home” or “I Loved to Ride my Motorcycle”


I was practically raised on a motorcycle. My first gasoline powered toy was almost identical to this bad boy, a Kawasaki KV75. Far from road-legal, I typically buzzed around my parents 7 acre (~2.8 hectare) property and zipping down the beach road near the house I grew up in. The sleepy little town of St. David’s is in the Bay St. George region of the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador, right below the Port Aux Port Peninsula, located right on Crabbes River Delta, near the long bridge crossing to Jeffrey’s.  My father’s land is in the red boarder, my uncle’s in blue and my grandmother’s in green. The growl of that little 2-stroke was a familiar sound around those old stomping grounds. Continue reading