Wind Love

Last Thursday morning I hopped into a car with 4 other travelers, strapped my bikes to the back and got ready for yet another 12 hour ride to one of my favorite cities in the world, Portland OR. Because of the increased daylight and due to the fact that we left earlier than I usually do, it was still light when we began driving along the Columbia River. I was impressed particularly by the hordes of massive white turbines slowly spinning in the wind that covered the horizon. These monolithic structures have always given me a feeling that approaches mystical. I wonder if the windmills of Europe invoked the same feeling in newcomers upon first site. As we past by, I couldn't help but wonder how large these white giants actually are. Today i decided to find out.
There are many different models of wind turbines, but the large industrial ones most often seen clustered on hills are usually on a tower 212 ft or taller with blades that sweep a vertical area of about an acre. With blades, the towers measure over 320 feet tall. Some reach up to 400 feet tall!


Wind power is something i'm rather interested in but know very little about. I'll post more as I read more!

till next time,



Homemade Homemade

So, sorry for the long pause in posts. Since my last I've finished up winter semester at BYU, packed all of my belongings into a VW Vanagan and moved to Portland Oregon for the summer. More on that later.
Over the past few months Leland and Tatyana and I decided to take over a stagnant culture club group on facebook and change it into the 'culture' club. (feel free to join, btw) In this new and improved club, instead of going to operas and watching old films, we make cheese. Yoghurt. Ginger beer, and all things 'cultured'. It has been a blast, and although we had maybe as many failures as successes (with the cheeses anyway) we managed to have a lot of fun and enjoy some great homemade ginger beer as well. Here's a few of our very loose recipes we cobbled together and some of the websites we pulled from.

Ginger Beer

the basic recipe for ginger beer is surprisingly simple and very rewarding. Variations (a must for all curious chefs such as ourselves) came naturally and usually yielded equal or better results.

the beer is carbonated using baking yeast, you know the kind often sold in packets at the supermarket. The longer you let the yeast do its thing, the more carbonated, and eventually more alcoholic the beverage becomes. More on that later.

Here's what you need:

-bottles that can be sealed (probably the best are the ones with wire down corks. We used left over french lemonade bottles sold at sunflower market)
-warm water
-lemon juice (we squeezed our own as we liked the pulp)
-ginger root
-a grater for the root

that's it!
the formula that we used is found here at Jeffrey Morgenthaler's Blog http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/2008/how-to-make-your-own-ginger-beer/

the formula is simple, and is a ratio that can be used to produce as large a batch as you have space and/or appetite for.
1 0z ginger juice
2 oz lemon juice
3 0z sugar water
10 oz water

the sugar water is a 1:1 water:sugar mixture.

we first grate the ginger into a bowl and then squeeze the mush with cheesecloth or (in true boyscout fashion) with our bare hands, which produces a very very pungent juice that we discovered induces coughing and crying if drunk. Then (or often simultaneously) we squeeze lemons to produce twice as much lemon juice as we have ginger juice ( we liked it with pulp). Put the two juices together in a jar and then add sugar water until the total mixture has doubled in volume. The sugar water is made by combining one part water one part sugar in a pot on the stove and stirring over heat (medium? low?) until completely dissolved. This can be saved and used for future ginger beer experiments as well) Adding more sugar water means sweeter beer, more ginger means more bite and more lemon (we discovered) generally meant more flavor, which we liked. Put this all in a corked bottle and then fill the rest of the bottle with warm tap water. Now add '25 granules' of yeast. This is not very much, and I would wager we usually ranged anywhere from 75-200 in our various attempts at '25'. The more yeast the faster it carbonates and ferments, so keep that in mind. Then cork and shake the mixture together and let stand in a warm dark place for about 2 days. (I used the boiler room in my apartment, and leland's basement also worked fine) We varied the time a bit, but 2 days seemed to produce a strongly carbonated, not yet alcoholic ginger beer.

okay, some variations we enjoyed:
-adding fresh squeezed blood orange to the mix. Amazing fruity taste and dark red color. We found that when adding other fruit juices, it was best to add them in addition to the lemon juice, as the lemon juice really provides the kick in flavor that most fruits do not.
-Grapefruit juice
-Lavender. we were fortunate enough to have a member of our group from california with lavender growing under a lemon tree in his yard. :-) we just broke up the fresh herb and added it to the mixture before carbonating. This was probably my favorite of all our variations. (although you may want to strain it afterwords to avoid lavender in your teeth)
-replace the sugar water with honey (always a good idea) also I used cane sugar or brown sugar to make the sugar water cause I feel better about it that way.
-use yoghurt whey instead of yeast to ferment the beer. This was interesting, but easy and not un-rewarding. Just add the whey off of some live yoghurt instead of yeast to the beer and then let it sit. Whey carbonates slower than yeast, so let it sit for longer. We did a week, and it may have been a little too strong, so try maybe 4-5 days. Here's a link with some more reliable info. http://www.instructables.com/id/Lacto-fermented-Ginger-Ale/

I hope this may help some of you interested in making ginger beer from scratch, and inspire you to experiment with other fun culture projects!
next: Yoghurt



This American Youth

Just a shout out to my brother Ian, who is a much better writer than I. (I'll still take you in arm wrestling though Ian!)

check it out



Rainbow Road

A little piece I did in commemoration of our ride a few weeks ago. Should have thought of it before hand!also check it out at my website (brand new!) www.spencerhawkes.weebly.com

hope you enjoy,till next time



An interesting statement I found in the book 'the soft revolution' which im trying to read before the end of the semester.

"is it not ironical that in a planned society of controlled workers given compulsary assignments, where religious expression is supressed, the press controlled, and all media of communication censored, where a puppet government is encouraged but denied any real authority, where great attention is given to efficiency an...d character reports, and attendance at cultural assemblies is compulsary,where it is avowed that all will be administered to each according to his needs and performance required from each according to his abilities, and where those who flee are tracked down, returned and punished for trying to escape- in short in the milieu of the typical large American secondary school- we attempt to teach 'the democratic system'?"

-Royce Van Norman, John Hopkins University 1966

Gorham High School, where I graduated in 2006, was like this, but our principle tried to do many things that would encourage more democracy. For example, the school council was eventually changed to include as many students as adults, meaning that decisions could be stalled if the students voted together. Also students participated in the interviewing process of hiring new teachers for the school. We voted on schedule changes and the like. Of course we were far from a real democracy, but the attempt was admirable and I think schools should move in that direction and far beyond.

just a thought



I was introduced to www.weebly.com this week and in my digital illustration class we must make a personal website before the end of the semester to use as portfolio promotion and the like. Here's mine in it's primitive stages! Leave a comment!


till later




I had a bad experience with Amazon this week. Actually, my last experience with Amazon. :-) Here's a cool website that sells books, no shipping, and raises money to get books to people who can't afford them and promote literacy. Check it out.