This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Monday, August 23, 2010


22 August 2010

miles biked-0
water used-15.575 gallons (-.575 of surplus)

My run of luck has run out the past few days as far as being able to do things right the first time.  My compost bin has been eaten through by creatures and is molding and most of my seedlings are looking pretty fried.  I noticed yesterday that the compost bin had a mysterious hole in a strange place.  Because my porch has already had some documented strangeness happening on it recently, my first thought was that it had been vandalized.  The past few weeks someone has been leaving trash (beer bottles mason jars) on the porch. Being that we are right on Lyndale Ave and on the first level I certain amount of unwanted waste can be expected.  However, what really got to me,  was when I went out to my bike on the porch one morning to find a half eaten croissant balanced carefully on my bike rack.  Seriously? How does that even happen?  What kind of random person goes up a flight of stairs to leave a croissant on a bike rack?  At what point when deciding you don't want the rest of a croissant do you decide the best place for it would be to balance it on a bike rack?  Do people leave half-eaten croissants on cars?  I don't think so.  Its one thing to trash a porch, or a sidewalk, but a bicycle? Come on people, work it out. And respect bikes :) 

Anyway, after examining where the hole was, it really doesn't make any sense that a human would have done this, it must have been mice, or other things (which I don't really want to know about).  There were all kinds of strange flies I've never seen before flying around in and out of it (I'm going to call them compost flies).  The bin has also been growing mold. I want to avoid the number of bugs that can get into it, but increase ventilation to get rid of the mold.  A friend suggested that I cover it with an old sheet.  I did this today and strapped it down with a bungee cord.  I noticed a bunch of white worms in the bin (I'm guessing the compost flies laid eggs) so gross.  Does anyone know anything about good and bad pests in compost?  I think I'll be introducing some worms to the bin to help things out, but at this point I'm wondering if it would be best to clean it out and start over? 

Another recent failure is my garden is starting to look totally fried.  Its been pretty hot the last few days and with the heat mat (raising the soil temp another 20 degrees) I think it might have been getting too hot for them.  What was strange was when they first sprouted they all looked fine and pretty healthy, however after a few days exposed to the hot air they started to wilt and die.  3 or 4 days ago (when things started sprouting) I had a green bean, soy bean, a few lettuces, tomatillo, lemon balm and basil coming up.  Now, the only the green bean and basil is holding on.  A transplanted a cucumber sprout because it was getting tall, and that too start to wilt.  :/  I realize that many of the vegetable seeds I am germinating want different temperatures so it was already a risk to be germinating them all in one seed flat at a constant temperature. However, I'm not sure what the ideal climate for them is when they first sprout.  I'll probably start another flat of seeds and watch the temperature inside in flat to make sure it doesn't get too hot.

As my thesis chair-Tom Fisher-put it,  " design, as in life, there are no mistakes, only new opportunities to discover and relationships to make." I That's a good way to look at it.

On another note, today I calculated the amount of water "surplus" I had (the difference between the water I used everyday and the possible 15 gallons)  I've only been using about half of my water quota, partly because I've been being really careful with it.  Now that I know how much water I can get by using, I feel more comfortable using more of it.  I had a total of 33.875 gallons of water surplus after one week!

Water breakdown of week 1:
Day 1 - 12.26 gallons used (2.73 surplus)
Day 2 - 15 gallons used (0 surplus)
Day 3 - 7.5 gallons used (7.5 surplus)
Day 4 - 5.95 gallons used (9.05 surplus)
Day 5 - 8.0125 gallons used (6.9875 surplus)
Day 6 - 7.3875 gallons used (7.6125 surplus)
Day 7 - 7.8875 gallons used (7.1125 surplus)

Total surplus = 33.875 gallons!

I do expect to have a surplus of at least 15 gallons each week so I can take a real shower (meaning a 5 gallon solar shower -water heated by the sun) and use 10 gallons for laundry and cleaning.  I've been 1-gallon bucket showering all week, which allows me to get clean but isn't enough water to wash my hair.  It was nice to wash my hair finally today! But it felt a lot cleaner after 7 days than I expected it to.  This is partly because I can't use any product (oil-based ingredients).  My hair after a week of not washing actually looked quite a bit like it does after using hair products for only a few days without washing.  A little sweat and oil = volume my ladies!  Its a little ironic how hard we try to get "clean" every morning, when the first things we do (and I did before this project) is dry hair and put product in it to make it not look quite so clean haha.  I'm liking this new, product-free hairness . A little teasing and natural oils and my hair looks pretty much the same and is probably quite a bit healthier without blow drying (too much electricity use) and covering in product everyday.