Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Peroxide Experiment.

One of the goals I have in starting a mushroom farm is increasing my knowledge base and sharing that with anyone else who is interested. There is a lot of information about mycology out there. Hell, I only live a few miles away from Paul Stamets. 

But I have trust issues. I can read all the studies and understand all the chemistry, but there is just something about performing experiments yourself that seals the deal. So, I have a few ongoing right now and plans to share all those here and on my eventual website. The first I'm going to share is about peroxide.

I believe R.R. Wayne, PHD pioneered much of this research and I do owe quite a bit of gratitude to that. But again, trust issues. I've read a bit of his material. 

The theory is that hydrogen peroxide will not damage healthy mycelium, but will kill the bacteria and molds that will cause contamination in your grow. I recently bought a golden oyster kit from Root Mushroom farm and had one of my kids grow it out. The boy, who shall remain nameless, grew it less than enthusiastically. So it grew out pretty poorly and ended up contaminated. I tried to salvage things by creating a liquid culture so I could try again, but my technique was a little lacking that day or whatever and the culture was contaminated too. 


Now, if I'd have thought about it, I would have performed an experiment with that, but I didn't do you get this one. 

As soon as I saw mycelium growing, I inoculated a couple of grain jars and waited. I checked the grain jars before I checked the liquid culture and spotted the contamination. 

Again... eww. 

I was not happy about this. So, I decided to try to salvage the spawn. That picture on the picnic table was taken July 28th. Shortly after I took the picture I poured in some peroxide. Without getting too scientific, I poured in "enough". It was enough to see that the peroxide had contacted the major spots of contamination. Then, I waited and watched. 

I took the next picture August 1st. 

You can see that the mycelium has greatly overtaken the contamination. I was still a little unsure and waited some more. I took another picture today August 5th.

It appears as though the mycelium has almost completely forced out the contamination, but not entirely. I plan on fruiting this bucket away from my main grow area out of a sense of caution, but I think it might make it. Just because science, I dosed again tonight with peroxide. Again, I used "enough." 

Time will tell. Hopefully this will be enough evidence for me and I can start using peroxide as a saving factor in contaminated grows in the future. Of course, using a flow hood instead of a cruddy still air box would be nice, but I ain't made of money. 


Sunday, August 2, 2020

So... I mean yeah, but why?

Why a mushroom farm? Why would a successful blogger/entrepreneur/nurse/playboy want to settle down and start a mushroom farm?

Believe it or not, a lot of it is about waste and helping people. 

It's weird. I'm a nurse. I worked emergency room for years and now I work in pre and post op. Yet, I frequently don't feel like I'm really helping people. I help some individuals now and again for sure, but mostly it feels like I slap on a few bandages and toss you back out there with a chuck on the chin and a see-you-next-time-around-champ. 

But creating fresh, local food that is good tasting and good for you? That sounds like something everyone could use. Mushrooms are tasty and filled with good stuff that helps keep you healthy. It can serve as a wonderful accompaniment to meat helping people reduce their meat intake and still enjoy their food. I love eating meat, but it is problematic on a lot of levels.  So, if I can help with that I think of it as a win. Also, many mushrooms, like lion's mane and reishi have medicinal properties that can help people with the quality of their lives without having to spend a lot of money. And, on top of that, creating food locally helps reduce transport costs and reduces the pollution burden of getting necessary food to people. 

Speaking of pollution...

One of the things that I hate about working in the medical field is all the waste. Everything has to be single-use plastic wrapped and sterile. Since it is all corporate controlled and geared toward the most profit we tend to waste a ton of packaging and plastic because it is cheap to produce. The huge pile of plastic refuse I leave in my wake on a normal work day is not sustainable. I feel guilty every day that I am a part of this system. But, I have to eat too.

But, most of all, I decided a long time ago that I would never be happy working for someone else. The idea that the product of my labor supports a huge administrative and executive structure irks me. When I ask a supervisor or boss a question about what I do, I shouldn't get an answer about policy. It's done that way because it's the smartest way we could figure out to do it. 

Over the course of the next few blog posts, I'm going to describe what I have planned and how it fits within the above framework. I'm trying to build something here that is useful, healthy, sustainable, and beneficial to the environment. Hopefully it can turn a profit too. 

Only time will tell. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Adventure Nickel Farm

Obviously this blog has not been active of late. Neither you nor I have been here. But, since this place does exist and has some history, I might as well use it. 

We are starting a mushroom farm. 

I'm going to use this blog, at least until I get the website up anyway, to talk about all things mushroom farm. 

We've been mushroom geeks for some time now. I have the receipts too. If there is even a small chance I can make a go of mushroom farming, I should at least try, right? Besides, it's an adventure. 

So, I'm starting with oyster mushrooms, because they are easy, and lion's mane because they are cool. 

I've had some success so far. But I'm still learning. I have some experiments that I want to share with like-minded mycophiles. But for now, I will settle for getting an announcement done. 

I'm telling the world. You just get to be one of the lucky first few to hear it. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

TravelZoo $399 China trip review

This is the TL:DR summary of the $399 trip to China we booked through TravelZoo. If you want the full daily breakdown, go here. (Link will be live when the article goes up.)

It's November of 2018. I want to say we booked this trip last February. Someone at work told me about a crazy good deal on a website called It was a $399 per person, including flights, to China. It was a limited time offer that would take place in the off-season, stayed in all 4-star hotels, and would have an English-speaking guide the whole way. We could book for either February, too soon, or November, which was just far off enough to not seem real. It looked too good to be legitimate but, after some research, we went ahead and booked it.

It didn't take long for us to find out the $399 price tag actually was a little too good to be true. There was a $100 gratuity for the bus driver and tour guides that wasn't included in the initial price. There was also a fee for the visa and an optional fee for the courier service to hand-deliver your visa application to the Chinese embassy for processing. All in all, it amounted to around $786 per person for the barebones tour plus the excursions we pre-booked, including flights, all breakfasts, most lunches, and lodging. So yeah, it was still a really good deal.

Each day of the itinerary had at least one excursion option and frequently had more than that. The prices ranged from $35 to $79 per event and went up to multi-day extensions costing a lot more. We decided to pre-book the Forbidden City and Tiananmen square option and the Great Wall of China climb. We ended up signing up for more while we were there and I'm glad we did. If you don't book the excursion, you end up sitting on the tour bus for endless hours while everyone else goes off and does stuff. But, then again, there were times we would rather have just sat on the bus. We were able to bargain a little discount for a few excursions once we were there and ended up doing a few more things than we pre-booked. You can check out the full report to see everything we did. 

There were some problems with the booking company Nexus Holidays. Communication with them was spotty at best. Since there were five of us together, they decided to save us money by putting us on a group visa, which did save us around $400, but led to some sketchy moments in the airport. They had emailed us the visa the night before we left and it somehow ended up in a spam folder. The tour group had only told us to show up at the airport and it would be fine. So we showed up for our flight and they wouldn't give us a boarding pass without the visa we didn't know we had. The airline counter staff was very patient and helpful, but poor communication with the booking agent was something that we heard several others on the tour complain about as well.

Speaking of the airline, the flights and hotels for this trip were very good to excellent throughout. Hainan airlines was top notch with roomy seats even in economy. Every seat had a screen in the headrest that played music, games, movies and other distractions that helped eat up the long flight from Seattle to Beijing, the shorter flight from Beijing to Shanghai, and the long flight back home. The meals were good too.

Hainan Airlines 787 Dreamliner

The hotel accommodations were pretty outstanding too, not that you'll be spending much time there. Our first hotel room in Beijing had a hot tub in every room. It was billed as a warm springs hotel, but was actually scalding hot with no real temperature controls other than time and entropy. Didn't matter though, in three days we used the tub around 15 minutes. They get you up early and don't let you back to the hotel until it's been a long enough day that all you want to do is crash out and get some sleep before the next early start. Jet lag doesn't help. All of the rooms were clean and well appointed. Of particular note was the Merchant Marco hotel in Hangzhou. The shower set up in our rooms was awesome. Breakfast each day was included with the hotel and was pretty consistently prepared if somewhat inconsistently labeled. A few of the mistranslations were hilarious. We had salad sauce, butterhead, stair vegetables and thousands of pages of bean curd. It was all pretty tasty though. Except for the coffee. The less said about the coffee, the better.

Chunhuiyuan Hot Spring Holiday Resort

Our actual tour was about half bus ride. Can't be helped really, China is huge and they probably didn't take tour routing into account when they arranged all the palaces 700 years ago. In Beijing we saw the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City (and Tiananmen Square), and we took a rickshaw ride through a neighborhood to a local family home. They also had us walk around the old Olympic facility for some reason. I would have skipped the Olympic facility (Bird's Nest and water cube) if that had been an option. We didn't do the optional Golden Mask show or the Peking duck lunch (we have pet ducks, it seemed a little traiterous). Those who went on those parts seemed to have good opinions of them.

China is a communist country, but apparently capitalism is catching on. On of the local tour guides spent some of the bus ride explaining how capitalism is flourishing in the areas where it is allowed and we got to experience plenty of that on the tour. Every day except the first had at least one, and sometimes two, stops at a special shopping experience. In Beijing we went to a jade factory, a cloisonne enamel pottery factory, a street market, and an herbal medicine center. In the southern part of our trip (Shanghai, Souzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou) we went to a pearl factory, a silk factory, an embroidery museum, a tea farm, and another jade store. We spent a lot of time trapped in rooms with high-pressure sales people attempting to sell us their wares. I was waiting for the time-share pitches to start. From my somewhat uneducated perspective, the deals offered at these places appeared to be pretty good when compared to what you could get back in the U.S., but were not as good as the deals you could get at the places where locals shopped which we somehow never had time to get to.

Amazing green jade horse

The goods were generally of pretty high quality and at a reasonable price for what you were getting. If shopping is your thing, this tour will provide you with more than enough opportunity to shop and haggle forever.

The southern part of the tour followed the same form as the northern part with better air quality and somewhat more modern amenities. Yes, the air in Beijing was polluted enough that we bought filter masks. Our sore throats and lungs started improving the same day we bought them. We visited a museum, walked along the Shanghai waterfront marveling at the architecture and light show put on by the city, and visited the set of some Chinese television show I know nothing about. IT turns out that the itinerary is really a bit of a suggestion. We didn't see things in the order listed on the itinerary and some things were changed for reasons that weren't really explained to us.

Oh yeah, and don't drink the water. There is no potable water at the tap in China. You will be on bottled water rations the entire time. But, it was easy to stay within the amount of water they supplied so no real worries there. It's important to stay hydrated with all the walking you are going to do, but most people weren't eager to spend any more time in the bathroom than necessarry though. The toilet facilities were frequently of the trench variety, AKA the squatty potty. Yeah, it's essentially a trench in the ground you squat over. Toilet paper and something to dry your hands with after you wash them are all in pretty short supply as well. They even have a rating system about what style of toilets are present and the like. It's a thing.

Overall it was an incredible experience. Once we added on the optional tours and shopping, the price was well over what is listed on the brochure, but it still seemed to be a solid value. We brought our two boys with us and the chance to show them a totally foreign culture was priceless. The tour was family friendly. It was also valuable to us adults for the same reason. There is nothing that makes me appreciate the place where I live so much as seeing the rest of the world and trying their coffee. Oh yeah, and not having to wear a filter mask. There's no place like home. In the end, it was a great idea to book the tour. I don't think it would have been a meaningful experience had we tried to do it on our own. The language, culture and government were too different from out own and we would have floundered. Even if we were to do a second visit, I would strongly consider another guided tour. But we would be much more capable now if we decided to try it alone. Happy travels. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018


Last week I had the opportunity to attend the A.W.L.S. class put on by Backcountry Medical Guides at Lake Tahoe. Today I want to put up a review. For those who aren't familiar with me, Hi! My name is Eric. I'm an emergency room nurse and have been for the past ten years. I've done lots of these medical classes from ACLS and PALS to TNCC and so on. I even taught PALS for about a year. I also got my EMT-basic right before nursing school.

My hospital provides nurses with a stipend every year which can be used for a relevant class. I was able to convince them that this class was relevant and I'm glad I did.

I was initially going to go to a version of this class at Mt. Hood, but I didn't get enrolled in time. These things fill up so register early if you can. Instead, a co-worker and I went to the Lake Tahoe class. It's hard to argue with Lake Tahoe as a setting and the weather was pretty perfect.

Our class went Friday through Sunday. For those of you who are going to have to justify the class expense to some corporate entity, much of the curriculum was about sharpening your patient assessment skills. Who couldn't use better patient assessment skills, AMIRIGHT?

Sorry for shouting, I get excited.

Much of the information I got out of this class is stuff I have encountered elsewhere previously. What is invaluable is putting it in proper context.  Since I became an ER nurse, I have come across accidents in the field, had neighbors and family members come to me with reports of traumatic injuries and all sorts of other things of that nature. I always get off to a slow start. I struggle because I don't have my monitors and my co-workers and all the endless supplies that I need. This class tackles those injuries and incidents with nothing more than you might have in a backpacking first-aid kit.

Oh yeah, and it goes over what is good for first-aid kits in different scenarios. That alone is worth the price of the course damn near. How many times have you packed for something and tried to figure out what would be a good kit without packing bags of NS and two cubic feet of kerlix?

The information in the course is fantastic and is delivered, in this case anyway, by people that really know what they are talking about. John, the lead instructor in this case, was EMS in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons as well as a flight medic. The other two instructors were equally as experienced and proficient.

So, if getting better and more confident at patient assessment and treatment of patients in an out-of-hospital setting, specifically the waaaayyyyy out of hospital setting of three days out into the wilderness, sounds good to you, sign up now. Classes fill up fast.

I would give the class an A+.

Enjoy some pictures.

Improvised litters with a sleeping mat and climbing rope

Hard to concentrate with the beach outside

Warming a trauma patient in the field

Improvised c-collar with a SAM splint

Just another mass casualty

Improvised splints

Scenarios in the woods

Zoom in, five scenario groups

Poor John, we "fixed" him

As an aside, we were at a small conference center with room for another conference. The other group was a group of clairvoyants. Seemed really ironic to me that one room was filled with people who thought they could see the future and one was filled with people preparing because they knew they couldn't predict the future.

Also, why hold a raffle with people who can see into the future?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Walkies with Buster

I took Buster for a walk down some forestry roads behind our place. It's a great place to let him off leash. Of course, I can't let him off leash until we are well out into the distance because I have enough problems with the neighbors already, thanks to Buster.

As soon as we got past the gate, I started getting him used to the idea of listening to me. I ask him to stop, he usually does because we've worked on this before and he's a smart dog. Sometimes he doesn't though because he's only seven months old and still a puppy -- despite how big he looks.
I get him to stop and stay stopped long enough that he no longer shows interest in going anywhere. Then, I make him wait for me to catch up to him before we both proceed forward. It usually only takes a few repetitions and we're in a good place.   

After two or three of these, as I catch up to him I undo his leash and we're having walkies. 

For the first mile or so, Buster runs along the dusty, gravel road and disappears into the scrub layer or the forest only to emerge a short distance later with a look on his face that says "Can you believe that?" only to run forward a little bit a repeat the process. Then we come to the first major road junction. 

I didn't teach him explicitly, but he waits at each trail junction until I catch up. Only when I make a turn down one of the forks, does he leap forward and zoomie past me. The big one is the turn that takes us down, through ATV trails, to the river. 

We drop down into the valley and get off the dusty gravel road. The ATV trails are shady tracks well, worn into the pine needle-covered earth. As we walked along, I reached down and picked up a smooth stick around a foot long and loudly decreed to Buster that this was the stick of destiny. 

We sometimes play a simple fetch with whatever stick of destiny is at hand, but I was trying something new today. Instead of fetching me back just any old dry stick, I was going to try to teach Buster to get me the Stick of Destiny.  

Down by the river, Buster sticks closer. I think it's because the ATV trails have so many intersections, he stays close so he doesn't get lost. If he does though, trails don't mean much. He gallumphs through the ferns in a straight line from wherever he is to where ever I am anyway. 

Since he was closer, I decided this was the time. 

I held up the Stick of Destiny and called his name. Buster turned and looked back at me. I lifted the stick to my face and loudly snuffled at it. There could be no mistaking. I was smelling it. 

Buster looked at me like I'd gone crazy. But, interested, he came back to check out that stick. I let him smell it too, but when he opened his mouth to take it, I pulled back. Attentive now, he watched as I threw the stick down the trail. 

Familiar with the game, Buster tore off after and promptly picked up the nearest stick and raced back. Rather than stand their and wait for his return, as soon as I threw the stick, I ran after. When he turned around only to see me race past, he hesitated only a second before turning around and following. As soon as I got to the stick, I started celebrating and then I let him sniff the stick. When he tried to take the stick away, I repeated the game. 

It only lasted a few rounds before he lost interest, especially when we got close to the river. Every thought of a game swept right out of his head as he tore off at top speed to splash into the river. He romped and played for a minute and then we were off again. There were several places where a big, strong dog could get into and out of the river and he wanted to splash in to each of them. Along the way he tried to steal the Stick of Destiny out of my hand which prompted another round of search. This time, though, he picked out the Stick of Destiny from a bunch of other sticks! I rewarded him with all the praise and enthusiasm I had. Great dog! A couple more successful searches and we were close to the next river entrance. He started off again at full speed, but this time he had the Stick of Destiny in his mouth. 

Buster isn't real good at drop it yet. He understands, I think, but just doesn't really want to drop it. 

He stopped when I told him to, about three feet from the river. He turned and looked at me with the stick hanging out of his mouth. It took several repetitions, but he dropped the stick and plunged in to the river. 

What a good dog. We spent an extra minute or two as a reward and then started home. The final third of the loop is mostly uphill and back on the dusty gravel. The day was hot and I was sweating through my shirt. Buster obviously liked the river better. He stayed close all the way up. As we hit a slight down hill section, Buster trotted out further ahead. I heard the sound of a dirt bike in the distance. They fly down the logging roads fast and a loose dog is dangerous to everybody. I called for Buster to stop.

He turned and looked. Then he kept on trotting ahead. 


I kept calling. Each time, he turned and looked, smiled, and dept right on trotting away. 

I tried cajoling voice, commanding voice, demanding voice, all to no avail. 

Frustrated, I threw the Stick of Destiny at him hoping he would start to play the game. But he ignored as it landed off the side of the road in the brush. The motorcycle sound had faded, but he had to get leashed up again anyway. We were nearing the end of the hike and we couldn't have another Wetlands Incident. Besides, he had to learn. I warned him and yelled a few more times. He continued to trot farther and farther down the road. 

I was angry. So I turned and started back the way we came. I fully intended to reverse the last four miles instead of finish the last mile of the loop. This trick had worked once before. I hated to used it again. Too many times and he would be on to it. 

I made it about three-hundred yards down the road before I heard the tinkle of Buster's name tag come up behind me. Instead of running past me, allowing me to grab his collar like last time, he set up a few feet behind and fell in. I stopped but didn't turn around because I was angry and didn't want to scare him away. 

As soon as I stopped, I heard something fall. I turned around to see him standing two feet behind me with the Stick of Destiny on the ground in front of him.

I swear he smiled. 

He had to go back on the leash, of course. There was no way I could be mad at him though. I told him "Let's go home." He trotted forward and we finished our walk. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A fairy tale

I'm transitioning this site to be about writing. I suppose I should start putting up some writing.

Here is a little fairy tale.


By me.

There once was a boy who loved winning. 

Silly, isn't it? Everyone loves winning. 

But this boy loved winning quite a lot. Much more than the other children. 

The other children loved winning too, but they equally loved other things like flowers, and music, and chocolate.

The one little boy thought they weren't very smart. After all, if he won, he got rewards too. Especially when they played games for chocolates.  And when he won, he would sing a song too, but about himself and how great winning was. 

The other children didn't like to play with him. When they told him they didn't like playing with him because he took all their chocoaltes, he said he didn't care. They just didn't like winning as much as he did. 

So the boy looked at the other children and said, "You're all too easy to beat anyway." Then he clapped his hands together and walked away. Besides, they never sang the songs about him, even when he won. 

He went into the world in search of people who would play with him. Maybe they had chocolates, and other things he could win from them. He thought of the great songs he would make them all sing. 

He met many other people and it turned out they like to win quite a lot too. They were very good at winning. The boy couldn't beat everyone anymore. Some would beat him and he grew very angry. Then, one day, he met a man who said he knew why all these other people were beating him and he would tell him if only he would give him all of the chocolates he had left. 

"My boy," The man said, "The reason they are beating you is because they are CHEATING!" 

The boy thought hard about all the times he lost and became convinced they all had cheated him. Of course they had! They could never have beaten someone who loved winning as much as he did without cheating.  

The man walked away laughing because he had won all the chocolates, but the boy left laughing too. For he knew how to win better than ever before. And winning was better than chocolates. 

The boy went back and cheated and began beating all the other people. He grew so good at cheating that he could even beat the best cheaters. 

Eventually he grew to be a man. 

The man went back to the children, who were also grown, to show them how good he had become at winning. It wasn't long before he had almost all of their chocolates and other things too. Because he had gotten so good at cheating that he had invented games where he could win even if the others didn't know they were playing. And the man laughed and made them sing songs about how wonderful he was at winning. But eventually he got tired of even that. He had won all the things he wanted from the people and rode a chariot high above them all. 
So again, he went off again in search of someone else to win against. 

But not just anyone would do. He wanted to find the most difficult thing to ever win. If he could do that, he wouldn't have to make up his own songs, others would make them up for him. They would have to. He would have won everything. 

No matter how many people he asked, none of them knew the hardest thing to win that he hadn't already won. So, one day, while walking down the street, he saw an old man and an idea came to him. Maybe if he asked a different question. 

"You, old fellow... What is the most powerful thing in the world?" He asked to a humble man pushing a cart down the road. 

The old fellow squinted his eyes up and answered him, "Why, nature is." 

And the man knew it was so. He set out to find nature, and everywhere he could, defeat her. 

The man had become quite powerful and was able to do much damage to the workd before Nature herself heard about the man and set out to meet him. 

She came to him in the remains of a forest. He was chopping down the trees to make musical instruments upon which would be played all of the songs about him.

Nature became the largest tree in the forest. When he walked up to her with his ax, she introduced herself. 

He smiled. For he had been waiting for this moment a long time. 

"Why would you try to defeat me? I am everything you are."

He spit on his palms, picked up his ax and said, "Because I can win at anything, against anything." 

Then he started chopping. 

Nature shook and cried in the way of the tree. Her leaves fell down around him. She had seen this before and knew how it would end. 

She cried out, "You cannot win. For I am you and all your children and their children after that, forever until there is nothing more." 

The man just laughed at her nonsense and kept chopping. He was almost through the tree. He could hear the smaller cracks growing louder. 

"You must stop now. For when you are done, it is forever. There can be no turning back."

"Of course you would say that," He screamed at her, veins bulging out in his neck. "That is what anyone would say if they didn't want to lose!"

And with one last mighty swing, he buried the ax into the tree. A loud crack sounded in the forest. The tree began to fall. He had done it. He had defeated to most powerful thing in the world. 

And there was nothing left to win. 

He sat down next to an old tree stump with a smile. He'd beaten everything, but he felt strange and knew that death was upon him. Looking around, he realized that, even though he had chopped down the tree, he was dying and Nature still remained.

For Nature was weakened. But, like the stars, she could not be defeated. As she weakened, all the creatures of the Earth weakened with her. For they relied on her for everything. She was them and they were her. 

The children of the man and all the people of the Earth did not sing songs about him. They tried not to speak of him at all but, when they did, it was to frighten little children into going to bed. The damage was done and Nature had been made too weak to nourish the people and they died. 

Then Nature grew stronger and returned.

The END.