Friday, December 8, 2023

One Degree of Change

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” - Andy Warhol

F-16 Fighting Falcon Ready to Rock! (Photo taken by James)

There are quite a lot of aspects of aviation and flying airplanes that, surprisingly, transfer over seamlessly to real life.  One of the best examples of this is if you're flying an airplane and your heading is off by 1 degree then after 60 miles you will be 1 mile off course.  1 mile off course may not seem like a lot but keep in mind that resulted from your heading only being 1 degree off initially, which is a very miniscule amount.  If you've never had the pleasure of trying to hold a heading to an exact degree while hand flying an airplane that's getting rocked around by changing winds and turbulence, I can tell you with great certainty... it is not easy (but it is really fun).  At the same time, going 60 miles may seem like a fairly large distance but you have to keep in mind, the speed that airplanes travel at vary wildly and airplanes can cover a lot of ground... fast!

A Cessna 152 cruising at 120 miles per hour (mph) will cover 60 miles in only 30 minutes, which is at the slow end for airplanes.  A Cirrus SR-22 cruising at 240 mph will cover 60 miles in 15 minutes.  A Dassault Falcon 50EX corporate jet cruising at 480 mph will cover 60 miles in 7.5 minutes.  A Boeing 737-700 airliner cruising at 520 mph will cover 60 miles in 6.6 minutes.  An F-16 Fighting Falcon going 960 mph will cover 60 miles in 3.75 minutes.  An SR-71 Blackbird going 2,300 mph will cover 60 miles in 1.56 minutes.

Back when I was actively flight instructing (teaching people how to fly airplanes), this was one of my many favorite thought experiments to do with students, usually after their first cross country flight (with me onboard) during which they would always, inevitably, at some point during the flight, stop comparing their heading indicator to the actual magnetic compass (commonly referred to as a wet compass).  The heading indicator gauge is not magnetic, it's a gyroscopic instrument and anything with a gyro in it means it has friction which means it needs to be reset often to keep it on the correct heading.  It needs to be compared to the actual magnetic compass every 15 minutes and adjusted accordingly.  If you forget to do this, after an hour your heading indicator will suddenly be off by about 15 degrees (some airplanes more, some airplanes less).  Which is significantly more than 1 degree off, it's 15 times as much in fact!  This results in you thinking that you're on course but your heading is actually 15 degrees off and each minute that goes by you'll be significantly further off course, in terms of mileage.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Open Letter to Boulder County Regarding the Proposed Integrated Weed Management Plan - 2023




Two Radishes


From the Office of Grass to Veggies



Contact: James Lissy | | | Longmont, CO

Re: Boulder County Proposed Integrated Weed Management Plan

Download PDF Version


Earthrise from Moon
Earthrise from the moon – Apollo 8 – Photo by Bill Anders.  “The Earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space.” – Jim Lovell

As a resident of Boulder County, the county’s proposed integrated weed management proposal is appalling due to its emphasis on using, over-using and unchecked use of chemicals which pose a significant threat to human health, pollinators, water quality, aquatic life, soil and overall health of the environment.  The lack of pro-active notification to the community regarding this plan, lack of emphasis on indigenous / regenerative agriculture for weed control, lack of consideration of modern science and lack of scientific monitoring when chemicals are used make this proposed plan highly unacceptable.
I understand that the County wants the easy button when it comes to weed control.  The County wants to be able to suppress the undesirable weeds as easily and efficiently as possible.  However, the effects that the chemicals have on everything else in the environment is blatantly ignored in this proposed plan.  At the bottom of this letter, you will find a list of scientific articles that walk you through the actual effects that these chemicals have on the environment as a whole.  While a lot of these chemicals do effectively kill the targeted species and some are certainly more harmful than others, the majority of these chemicals have drastic and unknown consequences on the rest of the environment as a whole.  These are extremely important considerations since these chemicals can have negative effects on desirable plants species, pollinators, soil health, water quality, aquatic health, endangered species, and us humans.  Not to mention that the increasing resistance to chemicals in the targeted weed species has been noted in several studies which hints at chemicals that are currently effective will likely not be effective in the future.
As you read through the actual scientific and independent research a few things become abundantly clear.  Governing agencies and society as a whole generally consider these chemicals to be safe until proven otherwise.  Even after the chemicals have been proven to not be safe, the new peer reviewed scientific papers done by independent scientists with independent funding gets rejected and ignored by governing agencies within the US, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The only “science” that the EPA currently evaluates is what is submitted by the company that manufactures the chemical when they first submit an application to the EPA.  These companies stand to make billions of dollars in profit if their applications are approved by the EPA which is an obvious and clear conflict of interest.  Most governing bodies outside of the US peer review submitted research to either verify or dismiss the submitted research which makes governing bodies outside of the US currently much more reliable for determining harm levels of chemicals.  The majority of these chemicals have adverse effects on plants, worms, soil, fish, aquatic life, and seed production of desirable plants.  These negative effects of chemicals are normally not discovered until well after the wide use of the chemicals, making the damage already done.  Paper after paper cites lacks of research or notes that more research is needed into specific and potentially harmful aspects of chemical use.  When research is done on effects of pollinators, this research is usually limited to honey bees.  This limited research is absurd for a few notable reasons:  Bees in general are not the only pollinators and are only a portion of all overall pollinators.  Honey bees are not native to the US and there are a lot of native bee species in the US which are commonly referred to as native bees.  Native bees are extremely important to the ecosystem since they have adapted to live here naturally, without human assistance.  Chemical effects on native bees have not been researched.  A lot of these native bees are solitary, do not live in hives and live underground or in brush on the ground making them more susceptible to the potential effects of chemicals.  Furthermore, pollinators in general have a wide range of foraging which also makes them more susceptible to chemical use even if the chemicals are not sprayed directly on them.  Chemical effects on soil and water health are often overlooked and it is routinely discovered that chemicals once touted as safe have drastic negative effects on soil and water health.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Dry Flowers and Herbs

Marigolds Drying
Freshly trimmed marigolds set out to dry.

An often overlooked aspect of gardening are the edible flowers and herbs.  The benefits of these are two-fold: pests tend to stay away from strong scents and they're edible!  So if you scatter flowers and herbs throughout your garden you then have a natural pest deterrent that you can also eat.  In the case of pests whom like some pleasant scents, such as the Japanese beetle, the flowers and herbs will pull them away from your vegetables and into plants that you don't care as much about.  It's important to note that even these dreaded beetles have scents that they do not like so diversity is key!  There are a lot of benefits to growing flowers and herbs in your garden but the part that most people forget about is... eating them!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Pro Tips for Harvesting Carrots

Freshly Harvested Carrots

Carrots can be a pain in the butt to harvest, especially when your soil is mostly clay, such as on the Front Range in Colorado.  If the soil is too dry then it's way too easy to break the carrots in half, ruining the entire carrot or worse...  ripping the greens off the top of the carrot...locking the carrot into the deep grasps of the soil until the end of time.  Or until it decomposes back into the ground anyways.  There are some tips to avoid all of this and make harvesting carrots a breeze.

To see if your carrots are ready to harvest, put your finger where the carrot top greens go into the ground and clear the soil away to expose the top of the carrot.  This allows you to see how wide the carrot is and thus an educated guess as to if the carrot is ready to harvest or not.  Do this on a few carrots and if a few look wide enough, pull one of them out of the ground and see how long they are and how tasty they are.  It's always a good idea to pull a test carrot or two before you harvest all of them.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Fall Spice Beverage

Fall Spice Beverage
Fall spice beverage ready to be devoured!

Making your own fall spice beverage that will be one of the best tasting drinks you've ever had and will be a million times better than anything that the vast majority of coffee shops make is incredibly easy to do and only uses a few common baking ingredients.  The base recipe is without caffeine but it is very easy to add either tea to it for a true chai or espresso or coffee for a very tasty coffee drink.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Juice It

Fresh Juice
Freshly Squeezed Juice Oozing With Color and Flavor

Fall is in the air, freezers are nearing capacity, vegetables are still producing like crazy.  When you find yourself with an excess of leafy greens, regardless of the time of year, the solution is quite simple... juice it.

Juicing the surplus leaves you with a drink that is packed to the brim with nutrition which will leave your body feeling like a trillion dollars and your energy levels on par with someone just pounded 10 espressos, all at once.  It also makes it so the vegetables don't go to waste.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Vegetable Stock

"No rules. Don't be afraid to do whatever you want. Cooking doesn't have to have rules. I don't like it that way." - Masaharu Morimoto

Vegetable Stock
Vegetable scraps ready to go!

Woah, woah, woah, did you just take your vegetable scraps and throw them straight into the compost???  What are you doing?  You could make vegetable stock with those scraps first.

Vegetable stock, or if we're being honest - any type of stock - is simple to make.  Take your vegetable scraps, throw them in a pot, fill the pot with water, bring the water to a boil, then take it down to a simmer and let simmer for at least an hour and a half.  Give it more time if you want a stronger flavor.

Let it cool down, put a strainer on a second pot, pour the liquid thru the strainer to weed out the food scraps.  Transfer the remaining liquid into freezable containers (soup containers work great), label them (you won't remember what it is, trust me), then throw them in the freezer.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Let It Be

"Whisper words of wisdom, let it be."  - The Beatles, Let It Be

Whispering Words of Wisdom
Whispering words of wisdom - created with Dall·E AI

Some years the spring rains stick around for a long time causing cool weather well into the summer, stunting the growth of most plants.  Some years the tomatoes fail.  Some years the squash aren't too productive.  Some years the strawberries are awful.  Some years the cucumbers cease to grow.

You can't control any of this, you can only control how you react to it.  You can't change the weather.  You can't force the plants to do anything.  There are so many factors that are in the hands of the universe and well outside of your jurisdiction.

Some years the temperatures get hot in the early spring causing the summer plants to take off early and be extra productive.  Some years there are literal wheelbarrows full of tomatoes and squash.  Some years there are more cucumbers than you know what to do with.  Some years the berries are amazing.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Fava Beans

Fava Beans
Fava beans ready to be harvested

If normal beans took steroids they would turn into fava beans.  When cooked right these gigantic legumes have a light, earthy and refreshing flavor.  When cooked wrong they can be hard, dry and as tasteless as a rock.  Fortunately, cooking favas so they turn out delicious is easy.

Harvest favas when they're 4 to 6 inches long, still mostly green, and the beans inside are developed.  Give them a pinch to find out.  If you wait too long and they turn from green to brown, save those favas for seeds for next year.

Once the favas are harvested, turn the oven broiler on.  Space the favas out on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle olive oil on top, followed by a healthy sprinkling of salt and a little bit of pepper.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Who Am I?

Rocking the farmer vibes with mega beard

I can change how I look just by not shaving.
I can change my appearance just by not cutting my hair.
I can change others perception of me just by wearing different clothes.
Who am I?

Does any of that actually define me?
Does any of that change who I really am?
So I ask you again - Who am I?

Perhaps I’m defined by the job I hold or the car I drive or the house I live in or the jewelry I wear or the hat I don or the outdoor gear I possess. Does any of that tell you who I really am? So I ask you again - Who am I?

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Dandelion Vinegar or Any Vinegar

Dandelion Vinegar
Dandelions steeping in vinegar

Earlier in the year someone asked me if I had a good recipe for a dandelion vinegar.  I did not, however it got me thinking, how would I make a dandelion vinegar?

Vinegars are made by taking a vinegar of some sorts, adding fresh ingredients to it, letting it sit for a few weeks, straining it, then enjoying it on salad or in cooking.

A bunch of dandelions were on hand so a mason jar was filled half way with the dandelions, a white wine vinegar was then added.  Each day for two weeks the jar was shaken to mix it all up.  After two weeks the dandelions were strained and the results were... a very enjoyable vinegar for salad!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Dandelion Tisane (Tea)

One should be so lucky to be like a dandelion.  When they are torn down they reappear even stronger and more resilient than before, the phoenix of the garden they are.

Dandelion Tisane
Dandelion flowers, mint, lemon bee balm, lavender, echinacea, and chamomile

For those who don't drink alcohol, there's a very easy and delicious way to enjoy dandelions that is sure to make you break out into extreme happiness.  Make a dandelion tisane!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Dandelion Wine

“And there, row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine."
- Ray Bradbury

Dandelion Wine
Freshly bottled dandelion wine

This is an odd article to write seeing as I don't drink anymore for various reasons.  But about 2 years ago I made this slamming dandelion wine and it was too good to not write about so here we are.

Most Americans consider dandelions to be a vile enemy.  They curse the dandelions very existence then spray them with noxious poisons that not only succeed in killing the plant but causes cancer in humans, destroys the soil, pollutes the waterways then ends up in everybody's bodies.  Without fail the dandelions come back from seed a few weeks later and the whole process starts over again.

Instead of that nonsense, what if people actually used the dandelions that grew and made them into something useful?  To be clear, dandelions are already useful in their raw existence.  The flower, leaves, and roots are edible, you can eat them right out of your yard.  Most people cringe at that idea, even though it's free food, but what if the dandelions were turned into a delicious wine?

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Many Moods of Spring Greens

"It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn." 
- B.C. Forbes

Buttercrunch Lettuce - Spring 2023

Plants are alive - they communicate, they scream, the leaves get droopy / curled when they haven't had enough water, and the plants get upset if they get too much water.  It's quite clear, plants are alive even if they don't have what we consider to be a normal brain.

Just like other beings that are alive, each type of plant has preferences and certain conditions that they like.  Spring greens are where this is the most noticeable.

Spring greens like cool weather but they don't like freezing temps nor do they like it when it gets too hot (think 85+ F or 29+ C).  They have very specific conditions they need to thrive.

Greens that fall into this category are your arugulas, lettuce, radishes, spinach, etc.  To get the best tasting greens, they require cool weather.  Once it gets too hot out and past their comfort zone they start bolting to produce seed and the whole plant gets a hell of a lot more bitter the hotter the temperatures get.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Fluffy Pancake Extravaganza!

"The key dietary messages are stunningly simple: Eat less, move more, eat more fruits and vegetables, and don't eat too much junk food. It's no more complicated than that."
- Marion Nestle

Fluffy, Crispy, Creamy Pancakes!

The Holidays are long over.  Spring keeps poking its sunny head around the corner.  Yet you find yourself with mass amounts of left over cream cheese that's on the cusp of going to waste.  What are you to do?

These pancakes are fluffy, crispy, creamy, not the least bit healthy and are damn good.  Cream cheese and copious amounts of butter makes everything better.  Don't hold back, pack mass amounts of both into this recipe, you will not be disappointed:

Friday, March 3, 2023

Meat Me 2.0

“I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right. We've got to give those animals a decent life and we've got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.” - Temple Grandin

Smoked Brisket
Brisket - freshly smoked all day long - ready to be devoured.  No barbeque sauce in sight, that's bark baby!!!

This original "What About the Meat?!" article written in 2021 is one of the very few articles that I have written where I naively assumed it would never ever need to be updated.  Up until that point in time the meat and ranching industry in Northern Colorado seemed to have been stuck in a grimy, oily, sludge and did not seem likely to change anytime soon, let alone change fast.

My how the times have changed, since then, the amount of ranchers in the area has seemingly exploded.  On top of that, the newer ranchers seem to be taking a crap ton of pride in their craft.  They want you to have the best possible meat and they have become a lot more transparent about their entire process all the way from the animals being born through the slaughtering and butchering up until the meat hits your deep freezer.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Just Add Salt

Stranger:  You grow how many pepper plants?

Me: (thinking) Last year I had about... 60.

Stranger: (jaw drops to the ground)  What???

Food or Science Experiment?

It's fascinating what people find strange.  60 pepper plants in one backyard can't be fathomed yet buying and eating ultra-processed foods that slowly kill you is completely normal.  It would seem as though our society has it's priorities backwards, but I digress.  What were we talking about?  Ah yes, the peppers.

Pepper seeds were just planted for the 2023 growing season and I'm currently starting 72 of them.  By the time they germinate and start growing there'll probably be around 60 plants again, maybe more.  What's one to do with all of these peppers?

Friday, January 27, 2023

Start Seeds Somewhere... Sometime

“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” - Abraham Lincoln

Seedling waking up for the year - 2022.

Seed starting is the essential first step to a vegetable paradise.  If you're in a colder climate that has a shorter growing season, such as Colorado, then starting your seeds inside is essential.  Different plants have different growing times.  Some plants, such as peppers, take forever to grow.  Others such as radishes, have a ridiculously short time before you are reaping the rewards.

The general strategy is to start the plants with the longest growing times first then each month keep moving along to plants that have slightly shorter and shorter growing times until you can plant outside and/or move the inside plants outside.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Seed Starting - Think Vertical!

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” - Kurt Vonnegut

Seed starting shelve station, succinctly standing.

What's one to do when one lives in a normal house and does not possess a surely luxurious greenhouse, which would make all this vegetable growing nonsense much easier?

Get creative of course!  You don't need no stinking greenhouse to be successful, although you may dream about greenhouses nightly.  In normal houses, space is almost always an issue.  But that's okay, just hop on the creative train and make do with what you have.  All that's really needed is some sort of shelving, a corner of a room or a wall, and some grow lights.