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)

Friday, September 10, 2010


8 September, 2010

My new roommate Abby has a cat.  This cat's name is Quill.  Quill is a gray little bundle of fluff with a huge, fluffy, gorgeous tail.  Quill is a wonderful little cat, kind of quirky, but what cat isn't.  I feel like Quill and I had a pretty good relationship going until yesterday...when I walked into the dining room to find her LAYING in my greens seed flat!  Quill!  What are you doing?  Dirt isn't a bed! Its dirty!  Man.

The greens were pretty flattened and she had dug around in them a little bit, but I managed to pull them together pretty well, and they are starting to pop back up again.  The situation, however, is that Quill knows she isn't supposed to be on the grow table and goes up there when we aren't looking.  I've walked in the room a number of times to see just the flash of her jumping off of the table before I can see her. 

I don't know what it is about cats in plants, but they seem to love to be in them.  While, with houseplants this is ok as long as they aren't eating them, with vegetables/greens I am going to eat it is a different story.  First of all, this is my FOOD, I'm basically hoping these greens will grow because they are my only option for eating greens once they stop growing locally (pretty soon).  Secondly, unlike root vegetables, the part that is growing above ground is what I'm going to be eating so having cat's laying in them is kinda gross. I'm feeling really protective about these greens...

Anyway, Abby and I have decided that we can block off the part of the house that the grow table is in during the part of the day we are all gone, when we are around, Quill knows to stay off.  Sorry Quill, but you've lost free-roaming privileges. 

Its interesting to think about the challenges of having pets and growing food inside. If people start doing this more and more (as they may have to to make up for a short growing season here and a need to eat locally without petroleum-based transportation) the area for growing will have to be designed in a way that animals won't be able to mess with it.

On another note, with school starting I'm now spending the majority of each day in studio and class and (after starving for a few days because I didn't bring food I could eat) am realizing that I need to start bringing local, organic food that doesn't have to be refrigerated or microwaved for lunches.  This morning I made some tortillas which I can dip in pesto (for lunch) or maple syrup (for snack) in.  These tortillas are more like Indian naan because they are a little bit thicker and doughier than actual tortillas.  Really good, super simple, and I can really use them for a lot of different things; with sugar and butter they are a yummy dessert, they can be used for cold-wraps (with sprouts and other vegetables), used for little pizzas, or just with spreads. 

2 Cups flour

1/4 Cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 Cup hot water
a little honey or maple syrup

Mix, add flour as needed to create soft ball.
Knead until smooth.
Let sit for 30 minutes.
Break in half, then half again, then thirds. Makes 12 tortillas.
Roll out until thin on a floured surface.
Cook on medium heat, both sides, ready when turns from wet to dry

I need to leave time in the morning to make whatever I'm going to bring everyday, so I usually get up around 6:00 (I was getting up with the sunrise at 6:30) to make food for the day). I've also been bringing fruits, nuts and bread, but the tortillas with some kind of dip satisfies a craving for good-tasting sugared or seasoned food :)  thanks for showing me abby!

I should also mention that it has been getting REALLY cold.  It is usually around 50 degrees when I am getting up in the morning, and the heat hasn't kicked on in our house yet because most of the day it is warm enough.  The morning is the coldest part of the day, though, and  while it would be nice to have heat, I'm glad I am not having to factor that into my electricity/energy budget yet....there will probably be some big changes/sacrifices when that happens.  This is another paradox of energy because as it gets colder, there is more of a need for energy to create heat; in our food, in the spaces we inhabit, heating water, storing food (refrigeration)...but I will have less of an energy budget because these things will all be competing for energy.   All the things I would have done before the project to keep warm are already starting to come to mind; electric blanket, drinking LOTS of warm liquids, crank the heat, space heaters, warm foods, hot showers. Starting with a cold bucket shower in the morning I have a hard time warming up the rest of the day (warm up a little biking around).  I usually am wearing a sweater/jacket all the time, even indoors.   In order to conserve the energy/heat I am using to make tea in the morning (because it is SO cold after showering) I put it in this amazing thermos I have which keeps it warm ALL day, great job thermos.  This way I can bring hot liquids with me without having to use more energy to constantly be heating them.  I think warming up a gallon of water in the morning may need to become a priority...


  1. I use clean egg shells in my garden to keep my cats from sleeping in my tomatos. I just crush a few up and sprinkle them around the garden. They don't like to walk on it so they stay away. The egg shells also begin to break down naturally. Good luck!

  2. a dog wouldn't lay in your greens....

    just sayin'....

  3. haha, i'd love to see Pibber trying to lay in my seed flat. yeah for dogs.

  4. A spray bottle is a great behavior mod tool for cats. Of course she will be "nanny booboing" when you are away so exclusion by closing her out is the way to go. You will also need to be on the lookout for mice and protect your seed supplies AND your growing table. Mice love seedlings, especially chard and beets and come into greenhouses or indoors when cool weather starts. Think of a way to make the legs of your table difficult for them to climb, maybe aluminum foil.

  5. Chard is a great leafy crop for your tables because it is a great cut and come again crop. Unlike most lettuces which can be cut maybe twice, you can harvest chard leaves for months without replanting.