Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Make Money Without a Job: Sell Photos

About a year ago, I discovered that I could make a little bit of income by selling photos I take with my digital camera. Best of all, it can be residual income: that is, I keep making small amounts of money, months after I submitted a photo. Multiply those small amounts by selling many photos, and it all adds up to a decent income.

When I first started this site, I had not yet fully embraced the digital era, when it came to photography. I was not a professional photographer either, by any means. In fact, I was still using an old Kodak pocket camera that took the increasingly difficult to find 110 film. That was okay for taking a few travel photos, but it cost money for film and processing, didn't allow me to store photos on my computer or online, and didn't allow me to upload pictures to the webpage.
I knew I needed a digital camera, but I didn't have much money to spend on one and was reluctant to spend it anyway on a technology I didn't really understand, for fear of wasting my money on something that didn't do what I needed it to do.
So I asked around, and was given a cheap digital camera that had been sitting in a drawer, unused. See, that was what I wanted to avoid: buying something marginal, then having it sit in a drawer within a few months, after I use my new-found experience to replace it with something better suited to my needs. So like a true 'possum, I benefited from someone else having done that.

The free camera did indeed solve my problem, and many of the pictures you have seen on this site was taken with that camera. What eventually forced me to upgrade was the need to take lots of photos, in order to have a few that were usable; and also the need to make videos. The camera itself was capable of doing those things, but the largest card it could use was 256 mb. That doesn't hold very many photos, and even less video, so it would require that I have lots of 256 mb cards to swap out. Using my advanced sense of frugality, I determined that a)the 256 mb cards cost as much as newer 1 gb cards that I couldn't use, b)the 256 mb card would soon be going away, and c)it would be false economy to buy a bunch of 256 mb cards while they were still available. So I decided it was time to buy a decent camera, now that I had some idea of what I needed. Besides, I could deduct the purchase from my taxes, as a business expense.
BTW, this is what I got:

Once I had my new camera, I was able to buy and use 1 gb and soon, 2 gb cards for less money than I had paid for my first 256 mb card. This allowed me to take thousands of photos everywhere I went, and also videos of various things: machines running, deer walking around, even a smart-aleck video I made to illustrate my "hybrid Jeep" (hybrid gasoline/gravity that is, as I was coasting down a mountain trail with the engine off).
Playing with that camera has been a lot of fun. Then I discovered a secret: I could sell photos! Of course, I had always known that some people can sell photos, but I figured one had to be a pro to do so. That's not necessarily true, though. The fact is, if you can take a decent photo, you can sell at least some of your photos. You may not make a lot of money from the sale of a photo, but if you take your camera along on your travels and other activities, you will find that you will take a lot more photos than you ever thought possible. If you can just sell a tiny percentage of those photos, it adds up. Let's say you sell a photo for $5, just for the sake of argument. That photo gets published somewhere on the web, where lots of people see it. So in addition to the original $5, you get maybe $2 per month, based on traffic, for as long as the photo remains published. Now let's say that, over the next 6 months, you manage to sell only 100 photos. See where I'm going with this?

There are many ways to make money with photography, besides selling travel photos. The great thing about it is that, in this digital age, photography is no longer expensive, once you actually have the camera. And it is not necessary to be a "pro", as long as you can take a decent photo; because if you are the only one taking advantage of a photo opportunity that presents itself as you do what you would be doing anyway even without the camera, there is no competition for selling that particular photograph, because yours is the only photo in existence of that particular event. The rest is just marketing.

And to that end, here is a source of information for marketing your photos for money.

If you need help with your photography skills (don't we all!), click here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Great Depression, Again

My favorite commentator, John Silveira, has written an article about a subject that is on nearly everyone's minds lately: financial depression. Here is an excerpt:

In 1921, we had a severe depression. It’s no longer part of America’s collective consciousness because it only lasted about a year and was followed by a time of then-unprecedented prosperity that we remember as the Roaring 20s. In 1930 another depression began. That one lasted over a decade and only “ended” because World War II broke out.

What caused one to pass so quickly and the other to drag on until it left a scar on the American psyche?

* In the depression of 1921, the government did nothing.
* In the Great Depression of the 1930s, the government did everything.

Read the rest of the article.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Flushing With A Bucket: Off-Grid Water Supply Realities

I have just been reading Jim Dakin's ebook, “Homesteading Under $3000” (which may be downloaded for free at his webpage), and was prompted to write a few comments about waste disposal, based upon my own experiences. My point here is not to find any fault with Jim's commentary, but rather to add to it. I understand that one writes about what one has experience with. That's all I am doing, too.

Jim is an advocate (as am I) of buying a cheap piece of land and living thereon, in an off-grid manner, in a cheap, older travel trailer. He recognizes that a deep well and accompanying pump is financially and logistically out of reach for most who are contemplating or living such lifestyle, and that this fact results in severe water rationing in many cases, whether one is hauling water or using rainfall catchment, or a combination thereof.

Within this context, Mr. Dakin talks about using a pump-up sprayer as a shower, using water heated on a camp stove or, in winter, the woodstove. Jim puts forth the small hand-held sprayers, those lacking any sort of hose, as ideal. He also is a believer in the sawdust toilet as a solution for human waste disposal. Of course, even such a frugal use of water creates some greywater from showering, washing dishes, etcetera; and Jim advises a “drywell” comprised of a 55 gallon oil drum with holes punched in the bottom, filled with rocks and buried.

This makes a lot of sense, and is a workable solution. In fact, I have used just such a system, exactly as presented. I have also used similar systems which incorporated larger pump-up sprayers (which I much prefer), stove or solar-heated (I have a 1.5 gallon black plastic pump up sprayer which, filled with water and placed in the sun, quickly gets hot enough for a nice shower), as well as various types of RV and portable toilets. What I eventually ended up with and used for awhile was a system which far surpassed any of the foregoing in convenience, and in fact would be sufficient as a permanent solution.

The way it happened was, I stumbled across an old single-wide house trailer that needed to be moved from the trailer park it was in, so that I was able to acquire it for the grand sum of $50. This trailer was replete with, among other things, a standard flush toilet in the bathroom. At the time I had been using an old portable toilet and, while the portable was a workable solution, I fairly relished the possibility of having a standard flush toilet. So once I got the “new” abode in place and leveled (relatively speaking), I used my old WWII-era Marlin bolt-action .22 rifle to shoot a few holes in the sides and bottom of a 55 gallon drum, then sunk it in a previously-dug hole. Instead of filling the drum with rocks as in Mr. Dakin's drywell, I left the drum empty and filled the hole around it with rocks, as a sort of leach field. This, I covered with plastic sheeting and a layer of soil. Then I ran a sewer line to the drum from my newly acquired toilet and proceeded to start utilizing same, flushing it by pouring about 3 gallons of water directly into the bowl from a mud bucket*, previously filled from my rainwater catchment tank.

I was happy as a lark for awhile, but then I decided to improve on things by setting a 55 gallon drum on a stack of concrete blocks outside the (exterior) bathroom wall behind the toilet, run a line from the drum to the water inlet of the toilet, and direct the water from one gutter to the drum. Ah, such luxury! I no longer had to flush via a poured bucket of water; I now had an actual flush toilet, with the little handle and everything! The only thing I had to do in the way of maintenance was, if there was an extended period of no or little rain, I had to go to the creek and get a jug of water to pour into the tank before I could flush. Or, as was more often the case, I would discover this when the water actually ran out, resulting in no action when I pulled the handle. In such cases, I would usually just go ahead and pour the water directly into the bowl as before, after returning from the creek several hours later (surely you don't expect me to go to the creek and not fish!).

During one such dry spell, upon reaching back to pull the handle and discovering that it didn't work, I started wondering if I should just use the water I had allocated for dishwashing rather than make the trip to the creek. Unfortunately, this would necessitate putting off washing the dishes for another day or two, and I was out of clean dishes, and paper plates for that matter. Then it suddenly occurred to me that I could use the water for both purposes! By golly, just because water has been used for washing dishes, does not preclude its use for flushing a toilet!

Up to now, I had been allowing the greywater to just run out onto the ground in the yard, using the greywater drainpipe already installed in the trailer. I showered in the tub using my pump-up sprayer, occasionally took an actual bath when it rained enough that I was flush with water; used water bottles and the standard lavatory for hand washing, toothbrushing and shaving; and heated water in a stock pot to fill the kitchen sink for dishwashing. All that greywater, going to waste. Enough of that; I found my hacksaw and proceeded to saw off the drain line from the kitchen sink and the lavatory, capping the end that went outside and placing a mud bucket under the stub coming from the sink/lavatory to catch the water issueing therefrom. I setup a 55 gallon plastic drum outside at the end of the greywater line, to catch water from the tub. All this water, I used for flushing the toilet.

This worked well. Indeed, it worked so well that I began having a problem with mosquito larvae growing in the now-rarely-used toilet supply tank, as well as water overflowing and running under the trailer, so that I finally removed it altogether and diverted the output from that gutter to a new fish pond. But that's a story for another day.
Of course, I was back to flushing with a bucket again, but that's not such a big deal, is it?

*5 gallon plastic bucket, so called because “sheetrock mud” is sold in such a bucket.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pork Cuts And Cooking

How to Cook Pork

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Pork is the culinary name for meat from the pig. Although the word pork can also refer to cured, smoked, or processed meat, this article will focus on fresh meat. Pork can be eaten and prepared in various forms: cooked, cured, smoked, roasted, broiling, grilling, steaming/grilling, sauté, stir fry, pan broil, braise and as a stew. In this guide you can find different methods on how to handle, cook, and store pork.


  1. Know your cuts. Many countries cut the meat differently and/or have their own names for particular cuts. Generally, though, there are four basic parts of the pig that most of the cuts you'll see at the store come from: the shoulder/hand, the loin, the belly/side and the leg/ham. The muscles surrounding the backbone are tender and lean (and usually more expensive!) because they aren't used as much by the pig as the muscles closer to the ground, which are tougher but more flavorful.[1]

    • Shoulder - Further divided into the lower picnic shoulder and the upper Boston shoulder (also known as the Boston butt). These cuts need to be cooked with low heat and in gently simmering liquid (e.g. a slow cooker) in order to melt away the fat and connective tissue, but the result is tender and moist. Available as: boneless Boston shoulder roast, Boston shoulder roast, cubed pork for kebabs and stews, ground pork (the picnic).
    • Loin - This is where rib roasts, baby back ribs, tenderloin and the chops come from. Since these cuts are naturally tender, dry heat cooking methods (roasting, grilling, broiling, pan-frying and stir-frying) are best. Available as: blade roast, rib chop, loin chop, sirloin chop, sirloin roast, tenderloin.
    • Belly/side/spareribs - The spareribs can be grilled and then roasted, but the rest of this section is usually reserved for bacon.
    • Leg/ham - This cut is usually sold cured, cooked or smoked, but if you buy it fresh, you can glaze and score the rind and roast it (a popular option for holidays and special occasions).
    • Other - You can boil the head for brawn (head cheese), stocks and soups, and then fry or bake the ears for crunchy munching. Throw the hocks/trotters into long-cooked soups, stews and sauces to add body. The tail can also be eaten, as can the organs: paté, small intestine sausages (chitterlings) and black pudding (blood filled digestive tract).

  2. Make time to brine. Since modern pigs are bred to be lean, the meat has less fat to keep it moist during cooking.[1] Brining is a good solution for this, but it requires planning ahead. The meat sits in a mixture of salt and water and absorbs the water slowly through osmosis. The bigger the cut, the more time it'll need to brine (generally between 4 hours and 2 days[1]). You can also add other flavors, like sugar.
  3. Know when to stop cooking. As with any meat, you want to cook it long enough to kill any harmful micro-organisms, but not so long that you dry it out. The USDA recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 F (70 C)[2] (use an instant-read meat thermometer in the center of the thickest part of the meat) but some cooks prefer to stop between 140 and 150 F to preserve juiciness, since the trichinosis parasite dies at 137 F.[1] Whatever you decide, remember to account for the fact that the internal temperature of bigger pieces keeps rising even after you take the meat off the heat. Otherwise, it could "overcook" even after you're done cooking.

    • Pork cooked to 160 F (70 C) can sometimes remain pink in the center, depending on the cooking method or added ingredients.[2] So don't assume that because it's pink, it's not safe to eat!

  4. Store pork safely. When you buy raw pork, refrigerate it as quickly as possible to 40°F. If you don't cook it within 5 days, you must freeze it (0°F) or throw it away. Once you do cook it, eat it within two hours (or if the surrounding temperature is 90°F, within one hour), or store it in the fridge in shallow, covered containers for up to 4 days, or freeze it. For best quality, eat frozen pork within 3 months, and never refreeze partially defrosted pork.[2] In general, though, thawing can dry out pork, so keep that in mind!


  • When shopping, fresh pork should be grayish to pinkish in color and should have just a bit of marbling. Avoid cuts of pork that have an abundance of fat around their outside.[3]
  • To avoid dried out pork, wrap the pork tightly. If the meat dries out it will become to tough to handle and prepare it.
  • Cook to the proper temperature but do not overcook or the meat will become dry and tough.
  • Let meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving to allow juices to be distributed throughout the flesh.[4]

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/12/15/FDGB3AASVB1.DTL
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets/Pork_From_Farm_to_Table/index.asp
  3. http://quamut.com/quamut/pork/page/how_to_buy_pork.html
  4. http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t--463/pork-cooking-tips.asp

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