I got back into NYC the other day and met up with Leanna from Mama Dee's Community Garden. She was excitedly looking at YouTube videos about drip irrigation systems. She told me that they needed to replace a leaky hose running from the municipal water on the south east end of the garden leading to another spigot in the middle of the garden.
After a quick visit to the garden we sketched out a rough plan and set off to Home Depo were we picked up the supplies to build a system of PVC pipes to run water through out the garden.
We decided that we would run a pipe along the south wall of the garden and have intersections between every pipe section with a valve, so a valve every 10 feet or so. This way water can be gathered from the back wall at many points in the garden.
A few 3/4" elbow (90 degree) joints (for building around corners)
Bag of zip-ties
8 3/4" valves
One 3/4" straight coupling
One 3/4" end cap with threading
After cleaning up a mess in the Peachtree Hills garden a few weeks ago I've learned that freezing water can burst PVC pipes. In the Peachtree Hills garden the PVC system had points where the pipe dipped down. Water collected in those low points and then froze and burst the pipes.
In this design I started the build high and sloped it down. In retrospect I should have used a level to ensure the pipe sloped down.
Building the valve connectors
Between each section of pipe we wanted to place a valve so that any area of the garden wouldn't be far from a water source.
To achieve this we used T intersections with a valve on the end.
This is the completed valve assembly. It is constructed from three pieces.
3/4" T shaped connector.
A short length of 3/4" PVC
An in line 3/4" valve
First we cut small sections of pipe. Leanna used a dollar bill to measure. It's important to leave a bit of space between the connector and the valve so that if we needed to alter the design in the future we could simply cut the short pipe section and add other components. By leaving extra room we can ensure that there is enough extra pipe sticking out of each component to allow it to be attached to something else, rather than have a short section of pipe cemented inside it rendering it useless!
We then cemented the pipe sections to the T joint and valve, taking care to align the valve and T joint in the desired orientation.
Constructing the irrigation system
The next step was to start laying out the pipe. We started at the water source and connected pipe sections together with our T join valve assemblies.
We used extra pieces of PVC pipe to create stands to hold the pipes in place with zip ties.
It was a fairly simple process:
Layout pipe section
Cement valve assembly to end
Cement next section
Only when two pipes met behind the tool shed did I deviate from this. Because there is no access behind the shed I used a simple 3/4" pipe coupler.
At one point along the wall we encountered a corner which we had to build an S curve to navigate.
I extended the pipe all the way to the far end of the garden. A cap would have been used to end the pipe but we forgot to buy one!
Connecting the pipe to water
The final step was to go back to the beginning and install a threaded connection for the hose. I decided to not extend the pipe system away from the wall but rather attach it to the water spigot using a standard hose. This way we can transition to a rain water system if the opportunity presents itself.
I'm not sure what possessed me to assemble the end section like this, I guess I just thought it looked nice.
With the hose connected we were done. Sadly the city hasn't turned the water on yet so we are unable to test this installation. I'll report back later.
I drove up from Crow Forest Farm today into the unknown world of intentional income sharing communities to visit Twin Oaks and Acorn. These two places are, to undo their re-branding, communes. Twin oaks was established in 1967 while Acorn was establish in 1993 with help from Twin Oaks.
Twin Oaks Community
The two communities have a shared value system but radically different organizing and decision making procedures. I wont comment much on the social and interpersonal systems due to my very limited time there.
Driving into acorn I came first upon a band of people manipulating dirt near the parking lot where the shared vehicles rest, doors unlocked, keys at the ready. Beyond a stand of young fruit trees is a beautiful building described by some as the seed palace. This recent addition to the property is where the main coop business, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, is run. The building uses passive solar and under the floor heating. It has been designed to reflect the sustainable goals of the commune. While neither acorn or twin oaks top priorities are sustainability - like you would find in an eco village - they do their best to be low impact.
Beyond the palace is the old bar where I will be sleeping for the next two days. To the east is the old farm house which came with the property. It is one of a few buildings devoted to housing members. To the west is Heart Wood. I'm told it is the most desirable living space probably because it is also home to the kitchen where community meals are prepared and plenty of food is kept.
There are smaller structures scattered about the property. A stage is set up in a small clearing and a small smoke hut contains the tobacco smokers.
Behind the palace is a steal building scared black from a recent fire. The building still stands and contains multiple work shop areas. A group of people cut and cement tiles ceramic bits into a tile mosaic which will be fit above the seed palace door.
Acorn is a self identified anarchist community. It operates under modified consensus and a general culture of autonomy. There are two meetings a week, one for decision making and another for long form single topic discussion.
My tour guides Paul and Pax fill the group of visitors in on the inner workings of the commune while walking us across the long narrow track of land. Beyond the seed cultivation areas and subsistence garden plots are large hay fields. Some small fenced in areas with goats dot the landscape. Beyond the fields is a swamp and some woods where we are told the wild flowers grow.
Later in the day a bell is run warning us that dinner will be in ten minutes.
Everything here is shared. From books to bikes to cars. Some even half joke that boyfriends are on that list. The culture of sharing allows for the million dollar a year seed business to run at a very tight margin while still providing for nearly every need of the members here.
If you do the math everyone living on each of these communities is well below the poverty line. However they all enjoy full health care, full employment, 4 weeks vacation (minimum), access to cars, housing, and food. They don't worry about waking up tomorrow and not having a job or getting sick and not being able to see a doctor or having their rent increase.
Twin Oaks repairs their own vehicles
This simple magnetic chart manages the vehicles share program at Twin Oaks
According to Pax, at twin oaks the hundred members live in a manner that allows them to use 80% fewer resources than their mainstream counterparts. This fact is what draws me to these communities. They don't strive for a reduced carbon footprint, it isn't their mission, it is simply a side effect of living and working together. For all the talk about climate change this is the first time I've ever seen truly revolutionary action.
It is clear to me that these communities represent, in the broadest terms, what needs to happen right now across the world. A shift from the individualistic to the community. From scarcity to abundance. From hording to sharing. We already rely on a massive shared resource, the earth, and if we don't change our behavior now that shared resource will not continue to sustain us.
Another Twin Oaks residence
I look forward to returning to Acorn in June for an internship.
I got to spend the weekend visiting Crow Forest Farm. I drove in Saturday afternoon and found an exhausted Christina in the Octagon. She had just finished teaching a small class about Ukranian eggs, messages to the heavens. I got to meet her little chicks:
After an early night we awoke and began preparing for a day of work and education. The farm is hosting "shed" talks (in the shed) where people present on interesting topics. This weeks topic was the Keystone XL Pipleline. There was an interesting discussion after a compelling (and dire) film. There is a protest in D.C. on the 26th to push for the rejection of this pipeline.
After the shed talk a few of the guest stuck around to help plant in the garden and build the chicken's coop
We were able to put up the frame before eating an amazing dinner that Christina prepared.
You’ve probably been hearing about the computer bug Heartbleed recently. It’s bad and it affects you but don’t despair, this is a great opportunity to make your online life more secure and easier to manage. I’ll tell you how!
First off let’s talk about Heartbleed. Basically someone goofed and released a bug in some software that helps websites secure connections between you and their servers.It’s what makes the “s” in https stand for secure. You can read up on the details yourself [edit: XKCD has a great explanation] but long story short it compromised a lot of servers across the Internet, servers where you might have an account. Which you now need to update with a new password.
The good news is that you probably needed to update your passwords anyways! I’m going to explain why passwords are important and how to keep your passwords secure and manage them with ease, after the jump.
If you’re like most normal people you know that passwords are important and you’ve probably got a few variations on a theme that you use, the normal one, the one with a number in it, and the “strong” one for e-mail and banking. Its already a pain to keep track of which one goes to what website and generally it’s something you’d rather not deal with.
Now I’m not talking about people, per se, I’m talking about robots that hackers employ to “hack” many millions of people at once. If you’re in a situation where a real live hacker is trying to gain access into your Facebook account you’ve got bigger problems than general password safety and your use case is outside the scope of this post. Good password management will keep malicious robots and prying ex-lovers out of your accounts but you’ll need a much higher level to keep a skilled advisory out of your Instagram.
Your typical hacker isn’t personally going to crack your password. They are going to write scripts that exploit known vulnerabilities in systems across the web. This is why it’s a good idea to keep your software up-to-date. Most of the time “ethical hackers” (called white hat hackers) find security flaws in programs like Internet Explorer, Flash Media (literally just popped up while I wrote this) Player, and OpenSSL (e.g. Heartbleed) before the bad guys do. They will then report the issue and a “patch” will be made for the software. This is why you are constantly seeing your system ask you to update Flash or Java. These programs are constantly fixing exploits.
Pro tip #1: keep your system up-to-date
This same methodology is used to break into your account. A script will take a bunch of user names, which are often publicly available, and just try common passwords like “123456”, which recently became, according to splashdata.com, the #1 most used password (it unseated “password”).
How do we know these are common passwords? From data breaches like that which happened to Adobe last year. This means that hackers have a fairly good list of common passwords, chances are that if you haven’t put much thought into it there are thousands of other people who have put just as little thought into their passwords too and you all are using the same one!
Here’s the thing, when you use crappy passwords you’re putting yourself and your friends at risk. It’s easy to understand how keeping your bank account secure is important, but consider you’re social network. If you’re on Facebook and you message a friend, it’s as if you are talking to them. If someone else has control of your account they can speak on your behalf, using the trust you’ve built with people you love to exploit them! A few years back I nearly sent $800 to England because I thought a friend was stranded there. Less extreme issues can come when a hacker sends malicious links to friends. You’re weak password could have just allowed a hacker to trick your friends and family into downloading a debilitating virus!
Worse yet that malicious software you’re grandma just downloaded from an e-mail “you” sent her might have just made her computer part of a bot net – a zombie like network of computers that can be controlled by a third party. This bot net might be used by Chinese hackers to attack European targets, setting off World War 3.
See what horrors your weak passwords cause? Not to worry today is the day you change all of that!
This is now in the dailycatphotos.com database. Let’s say that you’re very bad and use the same password and e-mail for your Facebook login. This means that anyone with access to the dailycatphotos.com database can look you up, try your e-mail and password on Facebook and gain access to your account.
Pro tip #2: Don’t re-use passwords!
Mix it up, make it long, and don’t pull from the dictonary
When designing a password length is most important. The amount of computer resources it would take to “brute force” a password – try every possible combination of characters to guess the password – goes up exponentially with each character added.
So a 9 character long password would take a matter of minutes while a 10 character password takes hours to “crack”.
As you add more kinds of characters you use also increases your password’s strength. If you use only lower case letters your adversary will know that there are only 26 possible characters for each slot. If you use capital letters that doubles the possible characters, throw in symbols (!@#$%^&*) and even spaces and you’ve made your password much more complex.
Pro tip #3: M1X 1t-upppp!
You’ll also want to avoid common words. Passwords with common words that you’d find in a dictionary are easier for a computer to “crack”.
Don’t make it personal!
Never use any personal information in your passwords. Don’t use birth dates, addresses, names or anything else that is connected to you. If I were trying to crack your password the first thing I would try is combinations of your birthday and other personal information.
Let’s build a strong password system
You have two main options for managing passwords. Either you come up with a “Password Template” (as I call it) or you need to use a password manager.
The Password Template
The objective of a password template is to create a password that is both memorable and unique. Let’s use the lessons we learned above to construct our password.
The first step is to make something long and memorable. This can be a turn of phrase or some kind of quote you enjoy. For this example we’ll use a random phrase:
dancing in the mist what a wonder
Weird but it’s a good length, let’s add some symbols and capital letters.
Dancing 1n th3 MIST what @ w0nder!
This is getting much better. Any service will congratulate you on having such a strong password! So how do we make it unique? Easy, just add the service name inside the password, like so:
Dancing 1n th3 Facebook MIST what @ w0nder!
Dancing 1n th3 Gmail MIST what @ w0nder!
Dancing 1n th3 Bankname MIST what @ w0nder!
See the pattern? Each password is now both strong and unique. This method allows you to keep many strong passwords in your head. Now go make your own!
The downside, of course, is that if someone finds out one of your passwords they have all of your passwords. Though you could find a clever way around this issue I’m sure. [update 4/12/14]
Another great method for managing passwords is using a software tool to store all of your passwords in a vault. The basic concept is that you have all your passwords stored behind a single login, so you only need a single password to unlock all your other passwords.
There are a few options:
KeePass – This is the software that I use, it’s a bit more technical but leaves me in complete control. I can open my password database on my Android phone and keep a copy on a thumb drive. edit: I use KeePassX for my Mac
LastPass – This is an online service which seems to be very good, though I’ve never used it.
Roboform – This is the service my mom uses. It seems well integrated with browsers and serves her well.
Let me walk you through my common password process.
I go to the new service I want to create an account for.
Go through the normal process and simply copy and paste the information into the program. KeePass even has password generator:
All the passwords I create are big and random. The downside is that if I can’t access my password database I can’t log into anything!
KeePass has a method for creating an auto-type sequence so I can press a single button and have it automatically fill in my user name and password.
The downside is that all your passwords are now random, not even you can remember them. So forget logging into your Friendster account from your buddies computer. Unless you bring KeePass along with you on a thumb drive or use another service that provides a way to access your passwords remotely.
So that’s that. Now you know why it’s important to have strong and unique passwords and you have two methods to go forth and update your accounts.
I’ve been credited in the following report done by James Owens.
There is some very interesting data in here, I’ll share some quotes and graphs from the document.
The movement helped build democratic power
in the form of alliances across social divides reinforced by the ruling order. The network of allies brought together by Occupy organizing in NYC in the first half of 2012 displayed the kind of inclusion across differences of race, class, and social identity that characterize democratic pluralism. The study found Occupy organizing in NYC enabled a pluralistic network of alliances connecting over 200 non-profits, emerging grassroots groups, religious organizations, and incorporated businesses with over 120 Occupy groups. Those partners described themselves and their constituents using a broad range of marginalized as well as professional identities.
This provides evidence that Occupy was much more inclusive than is commonly believed.
Of the 124 political projects analyzed in this study only 2 sought to create or revive Occupy assemblies along the lines of the New York General Assembly (NYCGA) or Spokes Council. That so few projects sought to produce GA style authority structures does not support conclusions that the leading purpose of OWS or the NYC Occupy movement was to produce large consensus structures. Another finding that challenges common claims about the movement is that only 4 projects in the sample sought to produce alternative systems compared to 21 projects producing campaigns to reform existing financial, education, legislative, and electoral systems. This contradicts generalizations of OWS or the NYC Occupy movement as primarily an exercise in prefigurative politics, that is, more an attempt to produce alternative systems than to reform existing systems.
Keep in mind that this data is focused on self reporting groups. The more radical factions of OWS probably didn’t report themselves as revolutionary. Though I think this information should put to bed the idea the OWS is a strickly revolutionary movement. Which, in my humble opinion, is a irrelevant and tired debate.
This chart reflects the stated priorities of OWS groups. While the one below looks at some specific groups and the racial and income identities they brought together.
This chart is interesting in so far as it shows that very few groups bridged the upper and lower income, while the middle income went both ways.
I’m happy to have an internal report like this that can back up my experience from within the movement that was very diverse. It was my pleasure to help (in some small way) bring this into the world.