« April 2010 | Main | June 2010 »

May 31, 2010

three out of four walls and some levitation



I have been putting a good effort towards the off-grid bathroom.  we have three walls and roof in progress as well as a foundation for the actual toilet.

eanes elementary technology open house:

each classroom now has a smartboard

the daughter was in a lego robotics competition.  they had to program the robotic dog through a series of commands.  what fun!

who doesn't love ballerinas?  our friend who recently danced in coppelia obliged us with some fun photos here at the house.  see how she can levitate and spin. 

May 24, 2010

under my photo guy hat, and a footprint

off grid bathroom footprint

I have spent a great deal of time and sweat clearing cedar trees for this bathroom footprint.  I am hoping to have walls and roof in two weeks time...

some photography assignments this past week:

alpina bmw 2002tii

took some pics of a car, a super rare alpina bmw 2002tii

alpina bmw 2002 tii

wedding photographer westlake

and some friends got married...

wedding pics

wedding photographer austin



May 17, 2010

where does all that food and drink go when you are off-grid, the composting toilet project

urine diverting composting toilet

I have been researching this composting toilet project for some time now.  I concluded that the magic to controlling odors is to separate the liquids from the solids, have a steady flow of fresh air that is exhausted high up above to the outside.  that, and a liberal covering of peat moss/sawdust.  the chamber above is sized so the large brown plastic container slides in/out easily.  that catch basin will be emptied to a solar assisted composter.  it's also sized so a five gallon bucket can also be used if necessary. 

12v dc brushless muffin fan exhaust

I'll use a 12 volt DC brushless fan to keep the chamber at a negative pressure.  the exhuast will be sent up and out through a four inch duct.  these fans normally cool the CPU on your computer. 

solar panel  

we will power that fan with the sun.  we now have a single panel for the smaller cabin and a three panel system will supply the bathroom and larger cabin. 

in lieu of christmas cards....

we always have the best intentions of sending out holiday cards, and usually fail to get it done.  so once a year, we supply crawfish instead.  the second annual AMH crawfish boil.

louisiana mud bugs

and I get a real louisiana outdoorsman to cook 'em up.

not really richard petty


and a mixologist to use some of the mint taking over the back yard.

cooked up 62 lb this year.  everybody had their chance to get as many bugs and they wanted.

we threw in some green beans, mushrooms, corn and taters as well.

art sale

the kids seem to observe the casual gatherings as opportunity to make some $.  they made all sorts of bookmarks and waited till everybody was good and happy before they came through the screen room hawking their goods.  I heard they raised $16, split it amongst 5 kids.

treachery of others

baird wore a hot off the presses Treachery of Other shirt.  I hear they have a gig on june 11th at the carousel lounge, wanna go?

May 10, 2010

cinco de mayo and a bunch of concert photography (shearwater, wye oak, hospital ships)

austin's changing cityscape

we got a little festive for cinco de mayo at the la condesa block party.  I've heard some people who don't like that downtown austin has become its own little metropolis "becoming another dallas".  we enjoy the shops and restaurants in such close proximity.  so much activity just five miles from our house.  we often talk of one day having a small downtown condo.  one thing we really miss of some of the other cities we lived in is the ability to walk most places.  I hate that we really rely on our cars.  cars should be for fun, but not a necessity.

la condesa cinco de mayo

the bar patio at la condesa.

yogurt bar

we spent some time window shopping and found a brand new organic yogurt bar; TART.  they have a wall of soft serve machines where you use to serve yourself, move on to the fixins bar and pay by weight at the scale.  TWO organic yogurts were $5.15.  this was a real kid pleaser.

the parish

we went to the parish for a late night of live music.  got some good pre-show pics of kat checking in on her iphone (larger version here).  the parish is one of our favorite live music venues.

shiner at the parish


hospital ships

hospital ships


hospital ships


they make a lot of sound for just two people.  chatted with them for a while and found that we used to live on the same block in hampden baltimore and we even have some friends in common.

wye oak

click to enlarge

wye oak

click to supersize



one interesting note about the show was that members from all three bands contributed.  they often swapped instruments as they moved around on the stage.  all three bands sounded great and we really enjoyed the show.






the first paycheck:

he has anxiously waited for the arrival of his first ever paycheck for his part in the arcade fire/spike jonze movie.  he agreed that half would go into his college fund and he'd use the other half to buy a pokemon game, he had accounted for each dollar.  I should not have told him an exact $ amount as he was PISSED OFF to find that they took taxes out. 

the man took a bit out.

his seven year old brain just doesn't have much regard for social security or medicare. 

May 03, 2010

have you ever seen a nicer day? I doubt it.

perfect weather, is what we have been a recipient of lately.

we spent the weekend off-grid.  did a little work, but mostly the play, food and wine occupied our time.

glass tile backsplash with grout

I did get the glass tile backsplash grouted and kat assembled the rolling cabinet that slides under the kitchen counter.  we have some cooking gear and have started to stock the kitchen with essentials, salt, beans/rice etc.  maybe we should call it the "plan B estate". 

scrap wood track

the kids made all sorts of things with the small scraps of wood, including this marble and car track and even a see-saw.  amazing the things they can find to do when there is no electricity!  well, I shouldn't say we have NO electricity there in off-grid land...

12v switch panel

behind this door we find an 18 amp-hour sealed gel-cell battery, and a 12 volt fuse box.  the switches are for various LED lighting fixtures and there is even a power point to recharge an iphone or plug in a dvd player or electric blanket for chilly evenings.  the next step will involve a 15 watt solar panel to keep the battery charged.

12 volt led artichoke light

I hacked this artichoke light so it is now 12v LED.  worked really well at lighting up the screen room that is now completely screened in.  the moderate temps made this a fantastic space for sampling grape juices into the evening.


potato and cork off grid garden

our wimberley potato, tomato and shallot garden is growing quickly!  corks make a great growing medium.

and in other news:

phoenix at stubb's april 2010

 kat loves phoenix (the band),  caught another sold out show.

thomas mars (phoenix front man)

 attended the wedding of a friend at the beautiful laguna gloria campus of the austin museum of art.

laguna gloria

austin museum of art laguna gloria

old pics found in camera... from the flaming lips show we took the daughter to in march.

daughter with ear plugs at flaming lips concert

ear plugs made front row tolerable.

Stardeath and White Dwarfs rockin out on the theramin.