Tropical Tree Farms

This looks incredibly lucrative, and social responsible at the same time. These guys grow raingforest hardwoods for sale as lumber. I want a farm too.

Since the supply of these hardwoods is plummetting, their value will shoot through the roof. And, the supply of these farm-grown trees will assuage demand.

All these guys need now is to expand, and lobby every government in the world to require that only farm-grown tropical hardwoods be allowed for sale.

See also iguana farming… we could combine two ventures in one space!

Web link of note: Tropical Tree Farms

Companion Planting

I am still interested in agricultural trends/innovations by way of what I read in the book on the Grameen Bank.

One I intend to try this year is known as the “three sisters” method- planting three specific vegetables together to improve efficiency:

  1. build flat-topped mounds of soil for each “cluster”
  2. plant several corn seeds close together, in the very center
  3. when the corn is 6 inches tall, plant beans and squash around the corn, alternating between beans and squash
  4. The plants grow together in a single group:
    • The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles
    • The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants remove
    • The squash spreads along the ground, monopolizing the sunlight to prevent weeds
    • The squash also acts as a “living mulch,” creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil

The Iroquois used this technique… I am looking for other techniques to cut down on labor and improve the amount of nutrition for a given size of land.

But wait there’s more- closely connected to this idea is “biointensive farming”- using closely-planted crops to create microclimates, as well as reduce erosion.

  • The Growing “The Three Sisters”:
    Corn, Beans, and Squash
    article has some good drawings to quickly demonstrate what this looks like. From Garden Gate magazine.
  • More on “Companion Planting“- extending beyond the Three Sisters. For example growing chives near carrots to improve the carrots’ flavor!
  • Pinning down the politics of Minifarms is tricky but in the end moot. They have articles on Raised Bed Agriculture (“RBA”) and biointensive farming. They talk about “growing soil”- choosing crops to improve the quality of the soil with every crop.
  • The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems is a research, education, and public service program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system.” Here is their downloadable resources for teachers. I seriously wish I had a class like this at Berkeley, instead of “American Environmental Cultural History” which was largely mewling bunk.

Pushcart War

A story written like a children’s book version of a war history book.

The pushcart merchants are tired of being bullied by the gas-guzzling truckers. The Mammoth company squashes a florist’s cart and the pushcrat owners fight back with blowguns made from straws and peas with pins in them.

There are revolutionary heroes, and guerilla fighters, including General Anna, an old woman who sells fresh apples from her pushcart. Subversive yet patriotic and populist reading for children.


Totto Chan

I had forgotten how wonderful this book is. My elementary school, Ohlone, was founded on many of the same principles Totto-chan’s school Tomoe Gakkuen was. Our teachers would read us stories from this book in fourth grade and even before.

Japanese talk-show host Tetsuko Kuroyanagi reminisces about her elementary school, Tomoe, but entirely in the third person, as a children’s book. The teaching philosophy of its founder and principal, Sosaku Kobayashi, is inspiring.

Totto-chan has the kinds of adventures we all have as children, digging up entire cesspools and helping her polio-stricken friend how to climb a tree. Well, some of us have those adventures anyway… Your childhood may be squandered already, but it’s not too late to live vicariously through Totto-chan!

Entry in Wikipedia

Here are my notes on the things I found in this book:

  • Tomoe Gakuen 1937-1945
    • destroyed by fire in 1945
    • southwest Tokyo
    • 3 minute walk from Jiyugaoka Station on the Toyoko Line
    • lot now occupied by Peacock market
  • Sosaku Kobayashi ( june 18 1893- 1963)
    • born near Mount Haruna in Gumma Prefecture
    • assistant schoolteacher as a teenager after only elementary education
    • combined teaching with music studies
    • proponent of Eurythmics
    • entered what is now the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, graduated
    • music instructor at Seikei Elementary School, founded by Haruki Nakamura
    • wrote a children’s operetta- this got the attention of Baron Iwasaki (of the family who founded Mitsubishi)- who sent him to Europe
    • Baron Iwasaki also sponsored Kosçak Yamada, “doyen of Japanese composers”
    • Kobayashi in Europe 1922-1924, studying with Swiss compooser Emile Jaques-Dalcrroze in Paris.
    • Kobayashi establishes Seijo Kindergarten
    • 1930 back to Europe
    • established the Japan Eurythmics Association
    • worked with the Kunitachi College of Music
  • Swiss compooser Emile Jaques-Dalcroze
    • Euryhmics, 1904
    • influenced many Japanese artists:
    • Kosçak Yamada
    • Baku Ishii (pioneer of modern dance in Japan)
    • Kabuki actor Ichikawa Sadanji II
    • Kaoru Asannai (modern drama pioneer)
    • Michio Ito (dancer)
  • Chihiro Iwasaki ( – 1974 )
    • Chihiro Iwasaki Museum of Picture Books in Shimo-shakuji, Nerima-ku, Tokyo
    • curated by playwright Tadasu Iizawa
  • tsukuda-ni (tiny crustaceans and the like boiled in soy sauce and sweet sake)
  • kinpira gobo (spicy burdock)
  • nori
  • chikuwa (fish rolls)
  • denbu
  • itadakimasu!
  • Kuhonbutsu Temple
  • Josef Rosenstock – Jewish refugee conductor
  • Kosçak Yamada
  • kingyo vendor – apparently there used to be goldfish vendors who would roam around with carts selling goldfish!
  • “Seaside School” field trip – Toi Spa (hot spring on ocean)

    • on the Izu Peninsula in Shiuoka
    • ferry from Numazu
  • poet Basho:

    Listen! a frog
    Jumping into the silence
    Of an ancient pond!

  • Senzoku Pond has an island with a shrine on it-
    dedicated to Benten, goddess of beauty and music (also a character in Urusei Yatsura)

  • poet Issa Kobayashi

    Lean Frog,
    Don’t you surrender!
    Here’s Issa by you

    Feldgling Sparrows!
    Make way, make way,
    Way for the noble Horse!

    Spare the Fly!
    Wringing his hands, wringing his feet,
    He implores your mercy!

    The snow thaws-
    And suddenly the whole village
    Is full of children!

  • Kuhonbutsu Temple
  • station Midorigaoka – on the way to school on the Oimachi line
  • 5-sen coin – before the war, a yen was divided into sen
  • 47 Ronin – chushingura – an incredibly violent national epic about loyalty and self-sacrifice.
    • Lord Asano
    • “I, Rihei Amanoya, am a man!” – accessory merchant who did not narc
    • Sengakuji Temple
    • Kuhonbutsu Temple
  • Hideo Saito, cellist, friend of “daddy”
  • Shiga highlands
  • The skiing star that Totto-chan rides with, “Schneider,”
    is likely Austrian skiing legend Hannes Schneider, who left Nazi-occupied Austria in 1939 for the US. Given the age of Totto-chan, their meeting could be after his German imprisonment or even after his US immigration, but is definitely before the war.

  • Singing Pictures
    • Japanese children’s book
    • A circle and a spot; A circle and a spot;
      Criss-crosses for the nose; another roungs and dot.
      Three hairs, three hairs, three hairs – and wow!
      Quick as a wink, there’s a fat hausfrau.

  • folk tale about a rich man’s daughter who couldn’t marry because she kept farting.
    Her groom is blown out of bed 7 and a half times.

  • Performance of Swan Lake at Hibiya Hall
  • rakugo tale about a man whose name is so long he drowns in a well before he can tell his rescuers who he is
  • Todoroki Keikoku (Thunder Canyon)
  • Tomoe School is a shabby old school;
    Inside though; it’s a splendid school!

  • folk songs:

    “Carp Streamers”
    Over the sea of rooftops,
    Over the sea of clouds…

    “The Doll Festival”
    Come let us light the lanterns,
    Light them one by one…

  • Kabuki play Kanjincho (“The Fund-Raising Charter”)
    • Yoshitsune
    • Togashi
    • Benkei
  • Denenchofu
  • Daddy’s brother “Uncle Shuji” is Shuji Taguchi ( aka Shu Taguchi )
    of the Nihon News in New York, and the Far East representative of
    American Metro-News
  • film “Battle of Rabaul”
  • new word: sawakai (“tea party)”
    instead of sobetsukai (“farewell party”)

  • what are “funeral dumplings” ?
  • classmate Aiko Saisho – her great-uncle is Admiral Togo of the Russo-Japanese War
    and relative Atsuko Saisho is a poetess for Emperor Meiji


Toothpaste Millionaire

It’s a kids’ book about business.

Rufus and his friend Kate start a low-margin toothpaste business which ends up crushing the industry.

The story is interesting and educational. The story touches many concepts including:

  • profit margins
  • capital investment
  • issuance of stock
  • the employer’s responsibility to the employee
  • loans and credit
  • price fixing (!)
  • corporate sabotage (!!)


Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy’s book isn’t increibly lame… but it’s not the greatest either. As you might expect, it reads like a 200 page article from Glamour.

What you wouldn’t expect is her rant on why she wouldn’t recommend getting breast implants (hers are fake), how her geeky high school years and deeply religious upbringing clashed with posing in Playboy, or how she never wanted to be a model, but rather a comic…

This book doesn’t have a whole lot of continuity.

Last comment: it’s not a good idea to write your memoirs when you are 24.


Camel Meat

Remember the stuffed camel recipe?

I see it on the web all the time.
But the people who post it clearly have no intention of making stuffed camel.

I want to see what it would take to put that effort together.

Whole lamb we can get here in the US, as well as 20 whole chickens.
But a whole camel? That’s the most important part, and also the hardest to secure.

This guy apparently imports camel meat:

Ahmed A. Ahmed
4319 Minnetonka BLVD #106
ST.louis park MN 55416
Tell fax (952)936-0788

So does this guy. Is he related? Or maybe the same person?

Rashid Ahmed

Incidentally, the Congo Coobook has an entire article on “Cane Rat” and another on “Cow Blood.” Like recipes. And you thought it was difficult to get people to eat camel!