How to crochet with reused plastic bags


Today I had the pleasure of meeting a friend of mine’s mothers. One of them pulled out a bag she was crocheting, and told us with pride that she had made it from reused plastic bags… in this case, newspaper bags (at the top) and grocery bags (forming the bottom). The thing is quite sturdy and remarkably ingenious. She of course demurred and has pointed out that she’s not the first to do this. But we were super excited and she graciously let us photograph the process of making plastic yarn.

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Murdered in Oaxaca *updated*


Sali, Marcella Sali Grace, was a young woman from Eugene that traveled the same circles I did. I’m not going to claim that I knew her well; we’d crossed paths, we’d spoken, and she’d been very dear to a number of my friends. She was found murdered, rather brutally, in Oaxaca, Mexico. The details aren’t pretty.

Sali was killed, at least in part, because she was a woman. I still to this day run across people who think that feminism is done, that women’s liberation has been won. But it’s not. And of course, liberty won’t come without a fight. I think most of you reading this blog already know this. But Sali’s bravery, her refusal to be cowed by a world that told women they shouldn’t travel alone, it’s important. Her living, her traveling, was an act of standing up for herself and for women everywhere. She, and so many traveler women I know, they forge ground.

*update* It looks like Sali’s friends and fellows in Oaxaca have worked to get the bastard responsible arrested. They put him under guard and traveled to mexico city to get an arrest warrant for him, it sounds like. Also, there are several more pictures of Sali now posted to the thread at Portland Indymedia.

My New (old) Accordion!


In preparation for a return to a wandering lifestyle, I had to come to some decisions in regards to my accordion… namely, my old accordion—a full-size 120 bass monster with three voices (7 switches) on the treble side and and two voices (3 switches) on the bass side—was too large to travel with. I had a small, broken, 80 bass accordion that was wet-tuned (and out of tune), which one portland repair place told me wasn’t worth fixing. But I took it to a second opinion, and I’m glad I did. Eileen Hagen’s Accordion Center fixed it up. If you’re in Portland, she’s the lady to see for repairs. Her prices are reasonable, she sells accordions for good prices, she takes trades, and she—as far as I know—treats people right. She (or rather, her technician) fixed my accordion in less than 24 hours… retuning most of it, putting in a missing reed, putting on new straps, back plate, etc., and I’m pretty happy with it. So now I have one voice on each side but damn it’s light. and all I’m giving up is some volume and the diminished chords.

As soon as I got off the bus to walk to the train station though, the leather of the handle ripped out of my hand and I ended up carrying the damn thing on my shoulder. Sigh. Making a new one of webbing.

Indian CEO Gets Pwned by Workers


Okay, so I’m not usually one to revel in violence and/or bloodshed. I truly believe that you can’t blow up a social relationship. But in India just now, a CEO was shown why you can’t treat people as objects [TimeOnline article]. After firing hundreds, the head of Indian operations for Graziano Transmissioni, an italian car-parts manufacturer, was killed by the angry mob of workers. What’s important to realize is that this is not a “murder” that has happened in a vacuum (as the Times article indicates by linking it with postal violence from the 80s). Globalization has been tearing apart India’s financial independence and the recent economic boom hasn’t done shit for the poor, at least what I can tell. Hell, even the minister of labor has declined to condemn the attack.

The murder has left much of corporate India in shock. However, Oscar Fernandes, who heads India’s Ministry of Labour and Employment, declined to criticise the attack.

The minister said: “Workers should be dealt with compassion … Workers should not be pushed so hard that they resort to whatever happened.”

Told You So


Last year I wrote an article for SteamPunk Magazine describing various end-of-the-world scenarios. And of those scenarios, the one that scared me the most was the melting permafrost = methane gas that cooks us all in the atmosphere. And it looks like that has started to happen. Basically, since the last ice age there’s been a whole bunch of ice that is trapping a whole bunch of methane. And methane is 20 times the global warmer than carbon dioxide. And that ice is melting. Runaway global warming. There’s an interesting analysis of the article at the very interesting site worldchanging.com.

As for solutions, scientists are looking at massive crazy experiments that might work or might make everything worse. Worldchanging.com is arguing for a “one world civilization”. Personally, I say civilization is what got us into this mess. I advocate actual sustainability, combined with bio-regionalism and decentralization. But mostly, I advocate enjoying the hell out of your increasingly short lifespan.

Oh, that picture, by the way, is from these bastards who actually want to mine the stuff and burn it actively as fuel. There might not be good and evil in an objective sense in this world, but there’s stuff that is globally suicidal.

Playing a show (my first one), in Seattle


I’ve been invited to play my first real gig as a solo accordionist/song-writer. I’ve been playing on the streets for almost three years now, as well as at various parties and bars, but this is my first bona fide “show”. I’m opening for Jill Tracy, who I saw and heartily enjoyed last year at Convergence 13 in Portland, and for The Ghosts Project [warning: link goes to myspace], whom I’m excited as hell to see, and for my friend Nathaniel Johnstone (violin and guitarist for Abney Park) who is performing with his solo project for what I believe to the be first time. Also on the bill are Schrödinger’s Cat, whom I admit I haven’t heard.

It’s an early show, so if you want to hear me you’d probably best show up at 7:30.

Wood-Fired Hottub

I don’t recommend going out and paying $6000 for a wood-fired hottub, but Dutch Tub is a pretty genius idea for anyone looking for sustainable decadence. Works on simple convection: you build a fire inside the spiral of pipe, and the warmer water rises. Cooler water gets sucked into the bottom. You can insulate the fire for additional efficiency. Temperature is controlled by controlling the height of the fire-basket that is inside the spiral: raise it and less of the heating coil is heated. Granted, wood, while renewable, isn’t a resource that an entire global economy should depend on. But anyone who knows me knows I’m not interested in having a centralized global economy anyhow.