Review of two 12v light bulbs -- Sunthin v. Chichinlighting

 7 watt Sunthin bulb draws about 450 milliamps.

7 watt Sunthin bulb draws about 450 milliamps.

I've been spending more time thinking about the cabin's energy use: how to reduce it and how to supply it. The new solar panels are working great, despite not really having a sunny day since I put them up. And the second battery means I have enough energy stored, if the sun doesn't shine for a day or few.

Lighting is one of my major power needs, and so I've installed two 12 volt lighting fixtures wired directly to the battery. Going directly to the battery means no inverter is needed just for light, which is more efficient. 

Initially I purchased a pair of Chichin 3 watt bulbs (three!?!). As you can see in the photo, these drew a paltry 250 milliamps. I've got a pair of batteries totaling about 210 amh, so if the bulbs worked they would have run until about spring.


The Chichin bulbs turned out to be a big waste of time, as they began flickering within two weeks. Despite their efficiency, not a good buy.

I'm now using a pair of 7 watt Sunthin bulbs. These are much brighter and still only draw 450 milliamps. They definitely appear more than twice as bright as the 3w bulbs, only need 80% more energy, and have continued. 

The Sunthin bulbs have a soft, warm color to them so it doesn't feel like you're hanging out in the emergency room or a police interrogation cell. Would recommend. 

Posted on March 13, 2018 .

New hobby: modding Opinel knives


Hobby, project, obsession ... any of those.

I had a lot of pocket knives growing up, but until recently, I'd never heard of Opinel. It's a very basic French-made knife. They're made to cut salami or to get tossed into the tacklebox, tool kit or kitchen drawer. Someone called it a "picnic knife." The blades are well made, particularly the carbon steel, but they lack any sense of ... style.


Having never worked with wood before, all of this is new to me. I've been reshaping the blades with a dremel, cutting them into shorter and more dramatic lengths. And then bringing down handles, reshaping, staining and sealing.


I've been doing some very basic leather work as well, and am making small cases for the knives. 

I've been buying them used on eBay, which is fun in and of itself--trying to see how low a price you can score. There are always dozens of used Opinels for sale, and a new one is less than $20 anyways.

Posted on February 27, 2018 .

Forward Motion


Momentum & The Woodpile

This is my third winter in the cabin. And I've gotten better at them each year, learning the necessary little tricks to staying warm off the grid.

But one of the biggest "tricks" is simply having enough wood for the stove. And on that, I messed up.

For the first time since moving here, I may need to buy firewood. So far I've chopped my own, mostly by clearing out trees that have been dead for many years already. Plenty have toppled; some are standing dead. There's no shortage of dry wood on my land.

So what the hell happened?

You could probably just call it laziness--and that's certainly true. Still, I thought it was close, thought I might have had enough cut. But that brutal cold snap we had--for a week temps ranged from -6 to 26-- made quite a dent in the woodpile.

So now I may buy wood, which seems like a waste. What kind of homesteader in the woods buys firewood?

I just never got started on the woodpile. Not really. Sure, I cut and split a lot of wood but it was in fits and starts and I never really picked up steam.

Inertia may be the most powerful force in the world. Not just physical, but also emotional and artistic and educational inertia. Woodpile inertia.

There's a lot of inertia in writing. Getting started can feel impossible, but once you get going it gets easier. You're in first gear when you write those opening lines. But once you get moving, the story writes itself.

I've heard of writers who stop in mid-sentence, so that it is easier to pick up again.

A body in motion stays in motion. A body at rest ...

Posted on January 21, 2018 .

Kickstarter for Issue #1 of & Ranch!

Hey folks ... I'm really excited to finally be able to share this:  Issue #1 of & Ranch, a literary comic about a writer going off the grid is about to happen!

& Ranch is the story of Yuri Realman, a writer who abandons his life in the city, roams the country for a while and starts to figure out who he really is: A hermit.

Structurally, & Ranch is a comic book about Yuri's story, interspersed with his writing and photography. In content, the focus is on moving away from consumerism, connecting with nature and embracing alternative ways of living a fulfilling life.

While there are many parallels between myself and Yuri (along with a striking physical resemblance), & Ranch is a work of fiction. But, it is well-researched fiction.

Really, Yuri's story could be any of ours.

I've always been a fan of people willing to take risks and create lives outside the norm. From modern nomads to tiny homes, off-grid setups to the #vanlife movement, a lot of amazing stuff can happen at the fringes. But while there's plenty of how-tos and encouraging social media accounts, there isn't (yet) much literature focused on those ideas. I'd like to help change that.

Check out the video, and if it looks like something you'd be interested in then I would be honored if you'd support and share it. The first issue is on its way to the printer now, and I expect to ship in mid-December. Thank you!

You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Posted on November 17, 2017 .