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So far Kai Staats has created 518 blog entries.

A summer harvest

A spring harvest

The Cascabel Community Garden never ceases to amaze me with its prolific production of fresh produce, even as the summer temperatures set new high records. Our local community members apply their experience, skills, and labor year-round, with roughly three growing seasons and associated harvests. Today, following my morning run, I stopped by the garden to select onions, garlic, tomatoes, and the last pickings of leafy greens. The tallest of the tomatoes were started in my house in January, way ahead of the official season. When I moved to the Biosphere 2 to work on SAM the weekly watering was not ample to keep them from wilting on my window sill. Transported to the community garden greenhouse, they were well cared for and now stand over six feet tall, with juicy, sweet tomatoes on every vine.

If I could never again eat a store-bought tomato, I’d be a very satisfied person.

By |2021-07-21T17:07:37-04:00July 12th, 2021|At Home in the Southwest|Comments Off on A summer harvest

Space Radio with Dr. Paul Sutter

Astrophysicist Dr. Paul Sutter interviews SAM Director Kai Staats from within the Biosphere 2!

“This week on Space Radio I had the opportunity to catch up with my good friend Kai Staats. Kai joined us from the grounds of the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 as we talked about his newest project, Space Analog for the Moon and Mars. Among other topics, we discussed the removal of perchlorates from the Martian soil and how Methane could potentially be used.” — Dr. Sutter

By |2021-06-12T21:38:59-04:00June 10th, 2021|Ramblings of a Researcher|Comments Off on Space Radio with Dr. Paul Sutter

Snowfall in Cascabel, a photo essay

Woodpeckers in snow, by Kai Staats

There is something magical about snow in the desert. It’s unexpected, often rare. Last night we went to sleep to the sound of rain on the steel roof. Sometimes soft, like sleet. Sometimes hard as the water hardened to hail. This morning the sound was clearly unique, that of a dusting across the windows and corrugated metal sheets, the sound that only snow can make.

We set out by foot, to the end of my land, down into the San Pedro basin, and up the far west side. The goal was to overlook the entire valley from that higher vantage point, but the snow didn’t let up and the visibility remained low. We walked back down into the San Pedro, past the three ranches on the far side, and then south up Page Canyon. Three miles in the flakes grew larger, wet, and sticky. Every few minutes we were shaking off the build-up on our hats, gloves, jackets and eyebrows.

I’ll never outgrow the desire to romp in the snow as puppies do in their first winter. The smell, the sound, the crisp taste of the air. And today, that rare desert phenomenon came to Cascabel. Thank you Colleen for sharing the magic with me.

Woodpeckers in snow, by Kai Staats Snow in the San Pedro, by Kai Staats

Snow in the San Pedro, by Kai Staats Snow in the San Pedro, by Kai Staats

Saguaro in Snow, by Kai Staats The Abominable Snowwoman Colleen by Kai Staats

By |2021-02-02T12:35:35-04:00January 26th, 2021|At Home in the Southwest|Comments Off on Snowfall in Cascabel, a photo essay

The construction of SAM begins!

SAM at B2 with Trent Tresch and Kai Staats

After two and a half years in research and development, networking and team building, chasing dollars and fund raising, this is the day we can officially say, “SAM IS BEING BUILT!”

SAM is a hi-fidelity, hermetically sealed analog and research center composed of a crew quarters, airlock and hub, and greenhouse with temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide level controls. When complete, SAM will include a half-acre Mars yard for pressure suit, tool use, and rover tests. Located at the world renowned Biosphere 2 outside of Oracle, Arizona SAM is built around the original Test Module, a 480 cubic meter sealed greenhouse with automated, gravity-fed pressure regulation system designed and built by Taber MacCallum, William Dempster, and fellow Biospherians in 1987.

This week I have moved from my residence in Cascabel, Arizona to the Biosphere 2 where I fully anticipate long, back-to-back days of physical labor and further development of this exciting program. It is likely that my own blog entries will be few and far between for the coming year, but I will be posting regular updates about our progress at samb2.space/blog/.

I hope to see you there!

SAM at B2, lung repair with Trent Tresch SAM at B2, lung repair with Trent Tresch

SAM at B2, lung repair with Trent Tresch SAM at B2 with Trent Tresch and Kai Staats

By |2021-06-13T19:58:50-04:00January 20th, 2021|Ramblings of a Researcher|Comments Off on The construction of SAM begins!

Nothing quite like a wood burning stove

Wood burning stove

David Omick installing a wood burning stove, photo by Kai Staats A year ago today my neighbor and good friend David and I completed installation of a wood burning stove in my Arizona wilderness home. My electric bill dropped by more than 50% overnight, and my deep satisfaction with a fully renewable energy source remains unquantified by percentage or monetary value.

With 17 acres of mesquite forest, a maul, and a weekly workout, the main floor of my house is heated with the radiant heat of a single stove. As expressed in The axe and the fire, the manual preparation of wood for heating a home is gratifying in ways difficult to describe. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, it takes time. And it is intentional, meditative, and a good workout that makes one truly appreciate warmth felt.

David Omick installing a wood burning stove, photo by Kai Staats David Omick installing a wood burning stove, photo by Kai Staats

By |2021-07-26T19:58:35-04:00January 18th, 2021|At Home in the Southwest|Comments Off on Nothing quite like a wood burning stove

Insult without Injury

You cannot be offended if what is said about you is not true. Nor can you be feel insulted if you are confident in what you believe. Only those who are unwilling to accept the truth or uphold their beliefs without foundation will claim to be offended and react to insult.

By |2021-08-13T00:48:32-04:00January 16th, 2021|The Written|Comments Off on Insult without Injury

Working with wood

Living on the road for eight years granted me a global perspective. I saw what was once my home from an outside point of view. I found comfort in moving from place to place and solace at each point of entry.

My outlet for creativity was almost entirely digital. On my laptop I could edit photos, produce a film, and write essays, letters, and post blog entries. But no matter how I shape, carve, cut or polish in the realm of electrons, the smell of sawdust and stain cannot emanate from ray traced wood grain. I craved expression in three dimensions, with excess glue beneath my fingernails and cuts to my skin to remind me of challenge of forming something beautiful.

I thought I sought a house to enable me to open old boxes with so many forgotten stories, a place to do laundry without coins and to prepare food without an order. But truly, it is working with wood that gives me a sense of purpose, pleasure, and home.

By |2021-08-13T14:38:10-04:00December 12th, 2020|At Home in the Southwest|Comments Off on Working with wood

The construct of an unfolding fantasy

I have built my life in the construct of an unfolding fantasy.
I see myself as something more than I really am,
and then work to make that image a reality.

But if I project too far ahead, imagine too grand, I am overcome by anxiety.
And if I live too close to reality, I fall to depression.

Science fiction builds technical reality.
Fantasy is the foundation of our civilization.
Depression is the leading mental illness of our time.
Do civilizations collapse when they lose their vision for a better future?

In the space between I maintain my forward momentum–tumbling,
falling with arms outstretched, catching myself one leap at a time.

Too far. Not far enough. Stumble. Jump. Push forward. Pull back.

Reality check. Check-check.

By |2021-08-18T12:28:21-04:00November 18th, 2020|The Written|Comments Off on The construct of an unfolding fantasy

Breaking restraint

There is a deep pain in seeing human lives restrained, and a
tremendous joy when those restraints are broken through education,
interaction, and the pursuit of dreams.

By |2020-11-14T11:50:12-04:00November 14th, 2020|The Written|Comments Off on Breaking restraint