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 30, 2010


29 August 2010

After some failed vegetable spouts and a rapid depletion of variety of foods available at farmer's markets already, I've decided to re-work my grow table plan a bit.  I have some vegetables coming up as sprouts still, but many were fried when it got too hot (and I left the lid on).  One of the problems I'm having is the sprouts look fine and I transplant them and they seem to die in the middle of the stem.  My basil is shown here, it literally just can't keep itself up anymore and flops over (stem in the middle is really thin now).  A project we studied while doing our greenhouse project this summer was a winter-CSA run out of a greenhouse in Milan, MN.  It is about 16'x22' and feeds 20 families, mostly growing microgreens, without any supplemental lighting and barely any heating.  What is interesting is they grow all the greens in rain gutters (only 4" deep).  They can have a continuous supply of nutrient rich microgreens (greens harvested after only a few weeks) by planting new ones every week.  Being that I am already almost out of greens I can find locally, I am going to make this the new main goal of the grow table.  This way I can grow food fast enough that it is useful to me when I run out of other supplies. 

My friend John donated a gallon bag of sunflower seeds to me the other day.  He buys this stuff in 50 gallon bags at garden centers as birdseed for about $25.  You can buy it at the Wedge for $4/gallon, I'll take the birdseed.  Turns out growing sunflower spouts is a super easy and popular thing for people to do in kitchens in the city.  Its nice because they are ready to eat in less than 10 days from planting.  After watching a few videos, my process was this:

video I followed was this raw lady:

1_dump a few cups of sunflower seeds into a mason jar and rinse
2_let sit for 6-8 hours in water and rinse again
3_hang in a mesh bag, or thin strainer to drain all water out till seeds are dry
4_pour back into mason jar and rinse twice a day for a couple days (the seed start to sprout in the mason jar)
5_as soon as most of the seeds are sprouting, put them in a container filled with organic soil (I used a black seed flat, the lady in the video used a plate) doesn't sound like the soil needs to be too thick
6_put seed on top of soil, very densely.  Not so dense they are on top of each other, but John describes it like a 'blanket' of sunflower seeds.
7_sprinkle a little bit of soil on top, not very much.
8_cover with a dark top of some kind (I layered my seed flats, John says the 'cover' flat can actually be resting on the seeds because as soon as they begin to sprout they push the top up they are so densely planted. 
9_allow to sprout for a few days (not sure how long yet)
10_cut with scissors at base of sprout and put in sitr-fry, salad, smoothies, sandwiches
covered with seed flat on top (keep dark and warm)

after 2 days of growth (still covered)


28 August 2010

I wish I had some good pictures of today because I got to impose my lifestyle on my old roommate Beth for the weekend who was visiting from San Francisco!  I admit I had a couple slips, I HAD TO, HAD TO take her to my favorite restaurant in the city (Himalayan Restaurant on Franklin), definitely not local. 

We had a pretty perfect (almost) no oil day in Minneapolis.  Wake up to a breakfast at Common Roots (local restaurant close to my house), no coffee.  We walked to Hidden Beach (East Beach) on Cedar Lake.  It always surprises me how quickly you can walk places that I think are much farther away.  Because my bike is my primary form of transportation, I really don't walk anywhere farther than 5-6 blocks away.  Because of this, I always think it will take a long time to walk somewhere 1-2 miles away.  The walk to Hidden Beach is 1.8 miles and it only took us 35 minutes however.  Although our dinner wasn't local, we DID bike there (4+ miles away).  Minneapolis has one of maybe the largest bike rental program in the country (largest?) that was just started this summer here.
The program is definitely set up for people to take quick trips by bicycle instead of the bus, or car, or walking.  While you have to put a deposit down (up to $250?) the bikes are $5 a day if you keep each trip you take under 30 min.  This program isn't really helping people who can't afford cars to become more mobile (not everyone has $250 to deposit), and it isn't great for renting a bike for an afternoon if you are a visitor.  But you can take short trips for really cheap. 

I also drank my first green smoothie from the wedge today.  They use compostable cups, so I got one to see how long it takes to compost (or if it actually composts).  I cut it up into pieces except for the lid before throwing it in. The good thing about composting food containers is you don't have to rinse them!  Less water, more food for worms!  Speaking of the worms, the compost is slowly starting to lose its smell, you can no longer smell it without opening the top anymore, starting to smell more earthy. 


27 August, 2010

With a big deadline and no food prepared already didn't have time to spend even 20 min making breakfast this morning.  Definitely a day I would have grabbed a pop tart and a coffee and ran out the door :)  I need to start making a schedule of what I plan on eating every day and pre-make foods.  EVERYTHING just takes so much longer, but if I had things somewhat pre-made already it would go much faster.  This goes for more than just food: laundry takes time, getting water and carrying to where I need it takes time, biking around doing errands takes time...I need some structure, something like this:

SUNDAY-grocery shopping for week's worth of food (veggies at farmer's market-only buy what you can eat! and freeze anything that is almost out of season (milk and grains at co-op)
MONDAY-make bread for the week (pizza dough, or bread for spreads), cut fruit (melons)
TUESDAY-make sauces (spreads for bread, pesto, tomato sauce etc), hard boil eggs
WEDNESDAY - farmer's market again, run any errands (not as many to do when you can't buy anything)
THURSDAY - work on vegetable garden, plant new seeds, transplant seedlings
FRIDAY - make products (cleaners, lotions, deodorant)
SATURDAY - laundry day week (hand washed with surplus water from previous 6 days, about 45 min)

When I really think of how much there is to do it is overwhelming, breaking it down into doing one thing each day might help. I'll see how this works.