Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Haute Hydroponics: Urban Cultivator Indoor Growing System

Survival Cool Plow & Chow Product Pick: Urban Cultivator

The dimensions of the Kitchen Cultivator are 24″ wide x 34.5″ high x 24″ deep.  One model comes on wheels.  The top is a maple cutting board.

If you have a EuroCave wine cooler or are considering a similar high end wine storage option, you should definitely consider a companion purchase--the Kitchen Cultivator from Urban Cultivators.  These EuroCave-like "cultivators" are ready-to-grow indoor gardens that come with seeds and plant nutrient.  Plus, they have computerized water, lighting, temperature and humidity control. So, even urban dwellers who don't know jack from the bean stalk can become neighbor Farmer John and grow organic greens and herbs with ease.   

Urban Cultivators offers a whole new way to enjoy locavore produce as the food source is even closer than the nearest Farmer's Market or typical kitchen garden which at best is a few feet through the kitchen door to a yard, patio or balcony.  Michael Levenston on the excellent City Farmer web site said about the Kitchen Cultivator: "It truly is the zero mile diet."
 One can also incorporate a Kitchen Cultivator into your Kitchen Cabinet Design.
Granted, with a price point of about $2,200, these polished food connoisseur cultivators are not exactly super affordable for the average Joe Eco Prepper. But, if you have the extra green bucks and want to add another layer to your food security plan, why not grow organic produce right in your own kitchen? 

The commercial sized Urban Cultivator Commercial unit is popular with chefs.  More and  more restaurants and commercial food establishments are using them.  For the well heeled and those with large households,  the commercial units are also well worth the investment. Consider how much money you'll save on pricey organic produce, especially off season.

There is a commercial version of this indoor hydroponic growing system called the Urban Cultivator Commercial. It sells for about $6,000.  If I had to make a choice, I would trade granite countertops and/or a fancy stainless steel sub zero refrigerator for one of these in a New York minute.  Those sleek surfaces and high end devices may look great, but, last I checked, you can't eat granite or stainless steel!   

Naturally, anyone that can afford one of these cool, haute hydroponic systems from Urban Cultivator should also join a CSA or have a serious organic garden and/or larger greenhouse as well.  But, owning one of these groovy growing machines adds another sweet, healthy layer to your food resiliency plan by having an appliance that is the perfect combination of style and substance.

Copyright Paul E. McGinniss 2012

Check out the Video Below of the Kitchen Cultivator. (Click video twice to view full screen.)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's Time To Stop Saying We Can't Afford Renewable Energy

 We Can't Afford Not to Move Forward With Renewable Energy

I found the most amazing image on Elephant Journal just now.  (see below) The image was an illustration for a post by Lynn Hasselberger which stated "Every hour the sun beams onto Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year."

                                Image Above Via ElephantJournal.com  

This reminded me of an article I wrote last year after I met Ray Kurzweil.  Check out Kurzweil's optimistic predictions about solar power below.

Our Green Future: Ray Kurzweil's Predictions 

In light of world issues, especially the recent nuclear disaster in Japan, it's hard sometimes to not be distressed on the state of the energy paradigm. But then you hear futurist Ray Kurzweil say we're going to have enough cheap solar power to meet all our needs in twenty years. And you stop and think: why all the doom and gloom about the potential of renewable energy? Am I missing something?

I interviewed Ray recently after a New York screening of the must-see film about him, Transcendent Man. Ray expounded enthusiastically like he does in the film: "We are applying nanotechnology to solar panels. And the cost per watt indeed is coming down at a rapid rate. The use of solar energy and the total amount we are producing is on an exponential rise: it's been doubling every two years for the last twenty years. So it's only eight doublings from meeting all our energy needs. And we have 10,000 times more sunlight than we need to do that."

Ray Kurzweil in "Transcendent Man" Photo courtesy Ptolemaic Productions

Some think Ray's ideas about technology are dangerous. A few years back a Rolling Stone magazine feature referred to Ray as "America's scariest techno prophet."

And skeptics think Ray's ideas are far fetched. Yet many other distinguished world scientists don't think Ray's incredible vision of the future is far fetched and are now developing magical technologies like nano solar cells.

Only twenty years ago most could not imagine how the Internet and communication technology would transform the world. Scientist Michio Kaku reflects in his new book Physics of the Future: "Predictions for the future, with few exceptions, have always underestimated pace of technological progress. History we are told, over and over and over again is written by the optimists, not the pessimists."

So, is Ray Kurzweil too much an optimist? I surely hope so.

Copyright Paul E McGinniss 2012


Monday, August 13, 2012

Dorm Room Bug Out Bag Essentials: Ten Things Every Student Needs In Case of Emergency

Survival Cool Back-to-School Product Picks

September is National Preparedness Month so anyone with kids going off to school should encourage the whole family to join FEMA's National Preparedness Coalition.

In these crazy hazy days of freaky weather and other calamities, an emergency situation can occur anywhere, anytime.   So, you might as well help set yourself and your kids up with practical ways to be prepared and empowered.

An essential back-to-school item every student needs is a groovy Bug Out Bag that contains a few things which will come in handy if there is a natural disaster or emergency situation.

One more thing before I get to the Survival Cool product picks.  You might wonder why a "green blogger" is turning into such a prepper?   Well, as I've been saying since I met Alex Wilson, Mr. Resiliency  himself, the best and newest "green" buzz word is Resiliency.

In fact, I proclaim the Green World's fourth R after Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to be Resiliency!

Surviving by being self sufficient and preparing for the reality that the energy and food grid could fail at any moment is one of the greenest things you can do.    

Okay then, here's The Survival Cool Back-To-School Bug Out Bag product list:

1)  Bug Out Bag Power

Having a backpack with thin film solar PV already built into it is a great idea.  But, you might have a backpack already, so you can opt instead for this strap on PV panel by Voltaic Systems which can be attached to any backpack.   Don't forget to add a battery storage element for your Bug Out Bag so even when the sun is down you will have back up power.

2) Water Bottle With Water Filter

 Water Filtration Bottle

If  you and your kids are not using a reusable water bottle by now, well the time has arrived!   A simple metal water bottle like a Kleen Kanteen is a great step in the sustainable direction.  But, why not take it an extra, healthy step forward and consider using a water bottle with a built in water filter.  Unfortunately, having full confidence anymore in what comes out of our water spigots is a suspect proposition.  Why not filter your water and be certain it is safe to drink?   Even natural streams and lakes can contain pathogens so having a reusable bottle with a tested, built-in filter gives you that extra assurance.  This Clearbrook 2WF Water Filtration Bottle is an emergency water filtration device that is said to reduce up to 99.9% of common contamination including biological pathogens, VOCs, and heavy metals. It can make potable water from virtually any source and produces 100 gallons of  "great tasting, pure drinking water."

3) A Spare Cell Phone 

Hypothetical situation.   You dropped your smart phone while getting into the boat to flee the rising water.  Or, your phone got smashed somehow under the rubble.  Or, you lost it in all of the confusion.   The Spare One is an inexpensive extra phone you can keep in your Bug Out Bag, just in case.  The battery will stay good for ten years and you get ten hours talk time out of it.   These back up phones are also great to stash in your car, too, or take with you when traveling.

 4) A Bug Out Bag within your  Bug Out Bag


OK, so you really are on the run.  And, you only had time to grab the Bug Out Bag!   Well, wouldn't it be extremely useful to have another bag to fill with food and other necessary items you manage to gather while on the road to safety.  This PackBack from Trek Light Gear is only 3 ounces and reportedly carries more than 30 pounds. 

5) Emergency GPS Device 


For about $100 you can obtain a Spot Personal Tracker which when activated allows anyone to find out where you are.  You can contact 911 via Spot and transmit your location to police, paramedics and emergency assistance.   Even if you are not hiking in the remote wilderness, this is a smart tool to have in case you fall down and hurt yourself or go on a road trip and the car breaks down and there is no cell phone reception.  In the 21st century we literally never need to be out of touch and out of range.

6)  A Whistle 


There's a famous Lauren Bacall line in the classic 1944 film "To Have and Have Not": "You know how to whistle don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow."

Well, maybe you do know how to whistle, but in an emergency you might not be able to whistle loud enough for people to find you or ward off potential trouble.  The Storm Whistle is a small thing you can buy for less than $10 that could be a big help.  It's super loud and won't take up much room in your Bug Out Bag.  So, there's no harm in getting one to keep you out of harm's way.

7) Self Protection

Now I am not a huge fan of pepper spray, especially when it has been used on peaceful protesters.  And, I was hesitant to put this type of product on my Survival Cool Bug Out Bag product list.  However, when you get right down to it, non-lethal self protection makes sense to have on hand and could be a life saver in certain situations.   The lipstick pepper spray I found on the Safety Girl web site is a discreet way to stay protected.   Just make sure your girlfriends (or boyfriends) don't mistake it for lip gloss.  And, for the boys (or girls) not inclined to carry cosmetics, you can get pepper sprays that look like pens to hide in your bag.  Please, be careful with pepper spray and make sure you do not use it inappropriately or incorrectly.

 8) Emergency Data Backup 

LaCie RuggedKey

So, let's say you really need to bug out of your dorm room or apartment and you can't take the lap top or computer, but you want to take essential data with you?    You might get through the disaster that caused you to physically flee, but then there is the potential for a cyber disaster from losing files, data, art, music, term papers or whatever that you might not have backed up on the cloud.  The smart eco prepper will have something like the LaCie RuggedKey.  This cool looking USB flash drive is so Jason Bourne by being resistant to water, heat and cold.  Not to mention, if you just happen to be scaling down the side of a building or cliff,  you can reportedly drop it 100 meters and it will still be fine.  The RuggedKey comes in 16GB and 32 GB sizes and features USB 3.0 and data encryption.

9)Emergency Self Powered Radio & LED Light

The Eton ARC FR360 American Red Cross Solarlink Self-Powered is a no brainer.   Never say never and instead be clever.  Have this water-resistant, multifunctional device on hand.  It picks up AM/FM frequencies and all emergency weather reports from NOAA.  This little powerhouse can be energized by four different sources: the dynamo/hand crank which charges the Ni-MH battery, 3 AAA batteries (not included), an AC/USB adapter (not included) and built in solar power which also charges the Ni-MH battery.  It also has an emergency red blinking light feature and a USB cell phone charger in case all your other smart phone back up systems are out of reach or out of power.

10) Emergency Food Bars

These 3600 calorie Datrex food bar packs are most definitely not for late night munchies.   But, if you do chow down on them late one night while working like every good eco prepper on your latest term paper about climate change and rising sea levels, make sure you replace these food bars. Keep them near your bug out stash just in case you need to have an emergency nourishment source when the hurricane hits or systems break down and food is temporarily not available.  These food bars are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and and have a five-year shelf life. 3600 calories is enough to sustain you for three days. When things get tough and you're stuck in the dorm because of a natural calamity, fighting off flesh eating zombies, hiding from the aliens trying to steal your soul, or hungry hall monitors, just make sure you have some to share with your roommate.  (Or, maybe you'll just hide the food well and act hungry!)

Copyright Paul E. McGinniss 2012

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