Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Thursday, February 17, 2011

building our house - part 3A - rubble for foundation

the foundation for our house will be 1.5 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep.
it will be filled up with rock, rubble and sand.

parts of pR are very rocky and while digging the swales, several multi-sized rocks have been laid around for this very use - foundation laying.

but these rocks have to be broken into manageable chunks for ease of lifting as well as fitting into above dimensions.

enter kumar - rock cutter/mason (கல் தச்சன் - kal thachan). the mason has the added skill of using these rocks to construct walls, houses, etc.
a very skilled operation, and such an operator is usually found within a cluster of villages.

this is where the story starts.

tools of the trade - mini chisel wedges

mega mallet

hammering the wedges into place. he pays careful attention to the sound while knocking the rock to find out the weaker spots and the fault lines.

heave ho. it is more brain than takes strength to wield the mallet, but if he gets the placement correct, a couple of shots should do it.

and lo, it cracks.

using a iron bar lever, the crack is wedged open.

and the mighty are felled.

end of the days harvest.

a total of 3 tractor tipper loads will be needed. around 3-4 person days of work.
and tons of rock.
now these need to be moved to the house location. and thats all us...

using animal power - brick making continued...

while making bricks, we relied, in our early batches, on the tribal dance system for a good mixing of the soil and water.

but it hits the knees quite hard.
and so we outsourced that entire operation out to a local farmer/all-purpose worker - ravi.
while it took siddarth and me over 2 hours of huffing and puffing to completely mix 2 piles, ravi would casually mix up 4 piles in over 4 hours.
not only was he much stronger than us, but he could pace himself and relied more on technique/skill rather than brute strength.

ravi came up on his second day and said that he was thinking about how people in the past built castles and monuments using mud. and that they must have used elephants to do the mixing. so why not try with cows.

strength, stamine, skill and intelligence....what more does one want from our education system, which ravi never participated in.

so here is animal power at work.

instead of multiple piles, it is one grand crater.

and the wheels go round....

...and round

and here is the final monster patty.

this one yielded over 170 bricks.
and we are totally at 800 bricks.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

eric brende's Better Off... a superb book about a couple's experiment of living their life over a year without any modern technology.
their experiment places them in an amish type community (in fact, a more austere version).

their trials and tribulations resonated heavily with what we underwent over 2010.
but his analysis of technology and its role in today's world is well worth paying attention to and marks for karpagam and I, a watershed in understanding this concept.

for example,
a modern automatic machine is no mere inert tool. it is a complex fuel consuming being with needs of its own. it gobbles up energy, it demands care and maintenance; it even has bouts of temperament. in many cases, no diaper will contain its mess...
and an approach we plan to use,
it is better to find a non-technological solution than a technological one, or failing that, a less technological solution to a more technological one.
here he is in his own words.

before anyone jumps to use luddite in their response, do read the book.
and yes, i am using a very high technology medium to communicate this message.
that would appear contradictory.
it is clearly that...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

giving away wealth in not enough

gates and buffet have been at the forefront of giving up their wealth....billions of dollars.
and they are asking others of their ilk to join in this giving away.

and surely many will join in this giving away.

while it appears to be a noble task (i agree), the point where this process has given way is how and the speed this money is utilised.
invariably these monies will be fed into charities focussed on improving the healthcare and education.
and in education their efforts are not quite making any dent and i continue to maintain that this corporate approach is more likely to worsen the situation.
the sheer impact of pumping in so much money into any sector will just inflate everything uncontrollably.

what is more important than giving away your wealth, is to stop making it.

ban-ki-moon has called the current economic model - environmental suicide.
it is putting it lightly, making more billions using the standard economic templates is environmental murder.

so gates, buffet et al - stop making more money at the cost of our environment.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

the hoopoe at pR

the lovely hoopoe graces our pavilion. it is a hi-res image. so click on the image to see it beautiful crown and lovely black and white stripes.

and then there were two :-)

so the list we made last month already needs amending.