Category Archives: Family & Home

Earthquake Preparedness Kit

in the Bay Area, we live under the constant threat of a devastating earthquake happening at any time. There is no way to know exactly what to prepare for, but we wanted to create a “rolling survival kit” – something we could pack into a trash can on wheels, to be towed to some nearby location if our house were to be leveled. There’s no way to cover every possible contingency, but this is our shot at three days worth of survival gear for a family of three.

Earthquake Kit - 1

  • Twelve gallons of clean, sealed water
  • Four days worth of Coast Guard/Homeland Security-approved emergency rations
  • Canned beans and soup
  • Leatherman multi-tool (pliers, knife, screwdriver, wire cutter, can/bottle openers)
  • First-aid kit
  • Mylar emergency blankets (10-pack)
  • Hand-crank/solar-powered radio/flashlight
  • Mini camp stove with extra fuel
  • Water filtration system
  • Lightweight cooking pot
  • Plastic cups, bowls, utensils
  • Dust masks
  • Solar-powered USB charger for phones
  • Fint-and-steel fire starter
  • Drinkable vitamin C
  • Toilet paper, maxi pads, toothpaste/toothbrush
  • Moist baby wipes
  • Cotton swabs (for fire starters, in place of tampons)
  • Prescription medication
  • Misc plastic trash bags
  • Towel
  • Duct tape

There’s always more that can be added, but this covers most of the bases, fits into the rolling trash can pictured below, and gives us a lot of peace of mind should a worst-case scenario ever come to pass.

Earthquake Kit - 2

Pale Blue Dot

This three-minute speech – Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” – was the finale to the original Cosmos series, and stands in my mind as one of the most moving short speeches I’ve ever heard. Voyager 2’s last glimpse back at the earth as it became the first human craft to exit our solar system provided the backdrop and the inspiration for Sagan’s soliloquy. Seeing it in 1980 marked a dawning of cosmic awareness for me as a young teen.

Tonight we watched the finale of Neil de Grasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” reboot. Tastefully, the series finished with Sagan’s original Pale Blue Dot audio, set to new (and far more gorgeous) visuals.

Every week for 13 weeks we’ve gotten together with another family and hung on every word, absorbed as much as we could, and tried to help our children appreciate as much as possible of these incredible perspectives on life, the universe and everything.

It is impossible to summarize the hugeness of the undertaking in producing the new Cosmos, or of the impact it has had on us. It has truly been the TV event of the decade for us, and I hope the seeds it has planted will continue to grow in Miles’ heart for the rest of his life.

Knoll Organic Farm

Took the day off work to chaperone school trip to Knoll Organic Farm with sixth graders. All about biodiversity. First image shows apricots, figs, rosemary, barley and 20 others all growing in the same space – they get more than 3x more yield per acre than conventional farms by growing like nature does, where everything is entangled with everything else. Second image shows biodynamic soup – rainwater, molasses, figs, whatever else, left to stew until almost kombucha, then trickled into the irrigation system like homeopathy for soil. Third image: half-walnut as pig-nose.

Amazing: “When we have snails, someone from Chez Panisse drives out here to pick them up.”

Glorious afternoon!

Grosspop’s Theosophy

My grandfather (we called him by the German “Grosspop”) was an active Theosophist, and imparted wisdom from his readings to us boys every time we saw him. Theosophy was (is?) a sort of combined philosophy/religion that drew wisdom from all of the world’s religions, with a strong emphasis on reincarnation and positive thinking. “Ja Ja Scottie, every lifetime is just a stepping stone on the universal road – a thousand years is but a day of history” (read that to yourself in your thickest German immigrant voice).

Founded in 1875, it gained mild popularity in the U.S., and columns by theosophical writers appeared in pamphlets and newspapers all over the world. You don’t hear much about them anymore. We loved him dearly, though I think as kids we didn’t really know what to do with his musings.

On a recent visit to my parents’ house, my father handed down to me a scrapbook full of theosophical clippings Grosspop had gathered and saved over the years. I remember seeing Theosophy magazines around the house, but had never seen this scrapbook before. Honored to have this in the family; just wish I could have the opportunity to talk about Theosophy with him now, as an adult.

theosophy

Miles’ First Poetry Slam

Felt so proud (and awed) by Miles at the New Years Day poetry slam when he pulled this out of his back pocket – not the usual kid/dada stuff he’s usually attracted to, but an honest-to-goodness heartfelt original poem, full of existential questioning. Forgot to record on NY day, so we re-created the reading at home yesterday so he could earn his Writer badge on DIY.org.