Thoughts

Helping the giant salamander breed

In their effort to control flooding, the Japanese have dammed up their rivers. But that move shut out giant salamanders from their natural breeding places and have made it impossible for them to get upstream. Scientists in Japan have worked out a way to allow their legendary giant salamander to get around dams, through elaborate staircases and small waterfalls that preserve the salamander’s natural surroundings. Now they hope the species will thrive in the wild once more.

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Reviews

An interview with Robert Kenner about Food, Inc

David Brancacio from PBS’s Now program sat down with Robert Kenner, the director for a documentary about food and the food industry called, appropriately enough, “Food, Inc”, to talk about the making of this very interesting film.

You can watch the interview here, and the trailer for the documentary here. It comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray in a couple of days, on November 3rd, and can be purchased directly from the movie’s official website or from stores like Amazon. I highly encourage you to get it and watch it.

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Thoughts

Turning trash into usable products

Ann Wizer from XSProject Foundation (as in “excess”) is making custom-designed bags and other products from non-recyclable plastic waste found in Indonesia and the Philippines. She buys the raw materials from trash pickers, whom she pays at above-market rates, and, using trained artisans, creates beautiful products from trash that would be clogging landfills, streets and waterways in those countries.

Through its work, the Foundation is protecting the environment, reducing poverty, and teaching locals how to sustain themselves through the work of their own hands. The end results are beautiful, as you can from the photos and the embedded video below. The cause is noble, the work is noble, the means are innovative, sustainable and ennobling, and so I think Ms. Wizer and her XSProject Foundation deserve our applause for the wonderful work they’re doing.

Embedded video from CNN
Turning trash into usable products (CNN)

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* I would have linked to their online catalog of products, but at the time of writing this, it seems to be down.

Images used courtesy of XSProject Foundation.

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How To

The cat house – part 8

This is part eight of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this post, you’ll see the finished cat house, hear a bit more about the thinking behind the project, and find out my final opinion about what I’ve built. At this point, the cat house is pretty much complete, although a couple of small touches — like a frame around the window and a rubber door at the entrance — still need to be done. This means there will be a part 9 at some point in the near future, likely within the next 1-2 months.

As mentioned in the videos and in one of the first parts, the cat house was built using both leftover and reclaimed wood and thermal insulation. Pretty much everything I used in its construction I already had lying around my yard from ongoing renovations to our home. The only things I bought specifically for it were the two casters, the asphalt roof tiles, and the wood screws, which added up to a cost of 100 RON or about $33.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 7

This is part seven of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, I’ve already completed all of the carpentry work and the cat house is assembled. It’s also been stained and it’s about to be treated with wood wax. Lots of details about what’s been done and what’s about to be done are offered in the video, such as what I’m going to do about the entrance and how the roof has been mounted and how it seals against heat loss.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 6

This is part six of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, you can see the three layers of insulation in the side walls: the 2 cm boards at the exterior, the polystyrene layer, and the 1 cm boards nailed over the polystyrene and secured to the 2cm exterior boards with wood screws. Most of the interior joints have already been caulked. Next up is finishing the interior, then sanding and treating the exterior.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug and YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 5

This is part five of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, you can see the almost-finished bottom, where the 3 cm thermal insulation has been laid against the bottom part of the floor and secured to it by wooden planks and wood screws. The bottom beams (the ones belonging to the frame) have already been treated with base (against mildew and rot), and the interior has also been treated with base at this point. The bottom still needs to be caulked properly at the edges of the thermal insulation, then stained and treated with wood wax/varnish.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 4

This is part four of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, you can see the finished exterior, with the 2 cm wood planks cut to size and nailed in place. The floor is also completed. You’ll see the wood has stains and other marks on it, since it’s left over from the renovation job. By the time the cat house is completed, all of that is going to be sanded away and any holes or dents are going to be repaired with wood filler.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 3

This is part three of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, I show the finished frame and talk about the next steps in the project. You’ll have to excuse me as you watch the video, because there are two places where I can’t remember the English words for what I wanted to say. Living in a foreign country and speaking another language all day long has one obvious downside — I tend to forget some English lexicon, and I don’t like it. Fortunately, these are just momentary lapses. When I sit at my laptop and write, I have no problems (yet).

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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How To

The cat house – part 2

This is part two of a personal carpentry project whose stages were recorded on video: building a cat house for our two kittens. Here are the other parts:

In this video, I show the basic frame of the cat house after it’s been put together, and talk about the wood used in its construction.

See this video on blip.tv, SmugMug or YouTube.

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