Archive for: November, 2015

Fresnel Lens – Solar Cooking will be happening at Suburban Stone Age

Nov 15 2015 Published by under Fall, Information Age, Journal, Stone Age, The Ages

What do you do when you have a bum shoulder and can’t dig your pond? Why, you buy a death ray on eBay so you can melt glass and cook food, of course!

Let me explain…

A Fresnel lens is a thin plastic lens made of small concentric grooves on one side that focuses light like a magnifying glass. You’ve seen them around – they are those plastic sheets that are used to magnify text, and on a large scale are what’s in a lighthouse to create that beam of light.

When you use a Frenel lens to concentrate sunlight, you take the warm embrace of gentle sunshine and focus it into a face-melting, unholy death-ray. Seriously, if you do it right, that spot of light is strong enough to melt steel. Wow!

So naturally I HAD to have one.

Why? Well, to my mind, this Fresnel lens unlocks a whole wealth of possibilities using only the power of the sun. I can cook, disinfect water, start fires easily, and even go to new places such as metal cutting, welding, and making homemade obsidian. All from the benign power of the sun! Which, by the way, will still be available in the aftermath of a major earthquake.

And so enters a new Era of solar cooking and more at SSA. On the way are two Fresnel lenses, one spot and one linear, plus a parabolic mirror just for funsies. I’ll do my solar cooking and experimenting while my shoulder heals, then go back to finish digging my pond before spring.

(Side note – guess what the pond can also be? An emergency store of water for a disaster. Which I can distill into safe drinking water using the Fresnel lenses and only the sun. A beautiful thing, no?)

I’ll keep you posted!

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California Drought and Greywater Usage Update

Nov 08 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

I love me a hot bath more than just about anything. But as a drought-striken Californian, that is a luxury I’ve had to forego for the last few years.

Last week, I sustained a significant shoulder injury.  I was so sad. Until I heal, I can’t dig ponds, build fences, clean, and lift, like I was looking forward to doing all winter. Total bummer.

But today something awesome happened! I’ve been coming along nicely on my greywater system, using laundry water to irrigate the landscaping and plunging my family’s water usage to a record low of 62 gallons per person per day. ( This month’s total bill from the water company was $54.26) Since I had most of the grey water plumbing rigged, it was simple matter to run a pump to the bathtub so I could take a therapeutic soak for my shoulder and afterwards pump the water to the garden.

Long story short, though being injured caused a surprise change of plans, it also set me on a new path. With careful management, I can now reuse even more grey water from both the laundry and from baths/showers. I think that is a win-win.

Sometimes in setbacks there are hidden victories. I’ll keep you posted.

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