Here at Bambu Batu, the House of Bamboo, we’re pretty much suckers for anything panda bear related, and we’ve got a really good gut feeling about this one. In an age of economic uncertainty and unsustainable fossil fuel dependency, the idea of relying on Panda Poop Fuel for your energy needs has to make you smile.
Ok, so when we say Panda Poop Fuel, we’re not exactly talking about running your car on panda poop. Actually, it’s the little enzymes that live in the gut of the giant panda bear that we are really interested in. These microbes that populate the G.I. tract of the beloved panda have some powerful properties that could make them very useful in the realm of biofuels.
The average giant panda bear eats about 20 or 30 pounds of bamboo every day, which is a pretty amazing feat if you stop to think about it. For one thing, that means they have to spend almost all of their time foraging and consuming bamboo just to keep up. That’s because bamboo is actually not very nutritious, and since it constitutes 99% of the panda’s intake, they have to ingest some pretty ridiculous quantities of the grass just to meet their dietary needs.
But secondly, and what makes them interesting to the biofuel developers, is that bamboo is incredibly difficult to digest. Have you ever tried to break a bamboo pole over your knee? Now think about trying to break some of that stuff down in you belly. No, it’s not going to happen. Not unless your gut is loaded with the kind of bacteria found in the unusually short intestines of the panda bear. Capable of breaking the obstreperous lignocellulose down into something accessible to the panda bear, these microbes could also have a very useful application in breaking down the difficult-to-process cellulose of corn byproducts and other discarded fibrous plant matter that could potentially be a rich source of biomass for fuel.
And this could all be great news for the endangered panda bears, because in today’s economy they may have just found the perfect niche to make themselves a hot commodity, something that even a heartless Koch Brother might realize is worth protecting.
When Bambu Batu, the House of Bamboo, opened nine years ago (yes, our birthday is coming up on Feb.20), we were the only shop anywhere to offer such a wide variety of bamboo clothing. In 2006, the bamboo clothing industry was still in its earliest stage of infancy. Nobody walking into Bambu Batu had ever seen bamboo clothing before. Seeing the looks on people’s faces when they touched a bamboo towel or a pair of bamboo socks for the first time was truly delightful.
Now it’s 2015, and our selection of bamboo clothing is more impressive than ever, as we continue to offer the widest variety of bamboo products of any store in the land. Those who scoffed at us when we first opened our doors on Grand Avenue in Grover Beach, writing off bamboo sheets and shirts as a passing novelty, have been proven wrong. And conversely, those who love the feeling and wearability of bamboo clothing and clamored for more of it, have all been richly rewarded.
Today the selection of brands and colors and weaves of bamboo fabrics and textiles is more diverse and higher in quality than ever before. But in spite this growth and progress, the mission and purpose here at Bambu Batu has not changed one iota. We remain committed to providing the best quality natural fiber clothing and textiles, made in accordance with the highest standards of fair labor practices, at the most reasonable prices. Unlike a lot of bamboo clothiers who have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years, seeing an opportunity in a growing market, charging prices that keep bamboo clothes out of reach for the average middle class family, Bambu Batu remains a family-owned business that makes the relationships with our customers a top priority.
Running a business is hard work, but when you have a product you believe in and clientele you can genuinely respect, and who genuinely respect you, then it is truly a labor of love. Even so, it’s very important to make time for diversions. That why I set aside a little time for bamboo haiku, combining two of my favorite asian contributions to civilization.
The multifaceted grass and the 17-syllable poetry seem to go hand-in-hand. They both soothe the soul and inspire the heart, helping to release the mind from the fetters of the daily grind. They take you back to nature and, at their best, they aim to elevate one’s consciousness to a higher plane.
Some prefer chair yoga and micro meditation, but whatever it takes to break up the monotony of the work day and keep your spirit grounded, I say go to it!
And perhaps most important of all, it’s essential to keep a sense of humor in all of your endeavors.
You might not spend your spring vacation in a chateau in the south of France, and maybe you don’t serve caviar for lunch, and you probably don’t have a team of serfs to carry you to and from the tennis courts in your covered sedan, but when it comes time to lie down and rest after a long, hard day, you too can experience the luxury of bamboo sheets. So soft and comfortable, they are fit for a king.
Sleeping on bamboo sheets from Bambu Batu, you’ll know how it feels to lie down in the lap of luxury, like a guest in the royal chambers. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure knows what I mean. And once you’ve been spoiled, it’s hard to go back. Soon you’ll be waking up expecting the servants to stroll in with silver platters and breakfast in bed. You might even find yourself mumbling in your magnificent sleep, phrases like “Let them eat cake,” or “L’etat c’est moi.” Yes, the royal treatment make take some getting used to, but when you wake up glowing like the Queen of Sheba, you’ll thank yourself for it.
You can’t put a price on the value of a good night’s sleep, the kind of sleep you get with a quality mattress or a set of bamboo sheets. Waking up refreshed, starting your day on the right foot, after a sumptuous sleep, there’s no better way to rise and shine. You’re more likely to spend your day feeling, positive, enthusiastic, confident and generous. In fact, you’re likely to want to share the sensation with your friends. Whether that means inviting them over to spend the night, or simply gifting them the special treat of a new set of bedding. Either way, you know that they’ll feel flattered, pampered and eternally grateful.
At Bambu Batu, we’ve been carrying bamboo sheets since 2006, so we know it’s more than just a passing fad, and we know it’s a product that sells itself. For softness, temperature regulating, and all-around nocturnal comfort, nothing can match the splendor of bamboo sheets. Our customers know it too, and after this many years they know they can count on us for the highest quality and most reasonable prices for anything bamboo. So shop online or stop by in person; either way, you’ll be glad you did.Bamboo Sheets and Blankets
In addition to these luxurious bamboo sheet sets, which come in a wide variety of colors, Bambu Batu also offers beautiful 100% bamboo coverlets and bamboo duvet covers. Click on images for complete details.
You better not pout, you better not cry, but if you did I’d say that I understand why. For those of us who lack such time-saving devices as a team of uber-industrious elves or a jug of high-octane reindeer fuel, it can be a daunting if not insurmountable challenge to get all the gingerbread men properly decorated, the freshly cut Doug fir thoroughly tinseled, and every stocking hung by the chimney with care.
But at least when it comes time to stuff those stockings with thoughtful, meaningful treasures that have been produced ethically and without exploitation of the Earth or her inhabitants, Bambu Batu has a few bamboo gift ideas to help ease your holiday shopping while adroitly avoiding such dreaded pitfalls as the Walmart parking lot catastrophe or the Best Buy customer service fail.
So without further ado, here’s our Top Eight list of items under $20 for this holiday season.
#1. One of our all-time most popular items, the re-usable and indispensable bamboo spork. Arm yourself for a power lunch, and proper picnic or a simple appetizer… this one tool does it all. Available with or without the handsome cork carrying case.
#2. You may not be so traditional as to roast your own chestnuts, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying an open fire. Even the smallest of fires—produced from the non-toxic wick of an eco-friendly and naturally scented beeswax candle from Big Dipper Wax Co.—can be a genuine pleasure this time of year.
#3. Can’t think of anything more creative than an entirely utilitarian personal hygiene item? Yes, toothbrushes are a welcome addition to every stocking. So how about a bamboo toothbrush from Smile Squared? For every toothbrush purchased, another is donated to child in the developing world who needs one. Win-win!
#5. Another great gift for the avid traveler, or anyone who likes to eat on the go, the travel utensil set from To-Go Ware eliminates the need for disposable plastic ware, and adds a touch of class to every impromptu take out dining session, with bamboo fork, knife, spoon and even a durable pair of chopsticks.
#6. For purposes of personal pampering, it doesn’t get much better than a fluffy soft bamboo washcloth from Daisy House. Savor the sumptuous luxury of a super absorbent face cloth with the finest bamboo towels on the market. (Named best overall towel by the Wall Street Journal!)
#7. As a Bambu Batu customer, we know you care about shopping local, so don’t forget to pick up a few bars from Poppy Soap Co., handmade with love by Lindy LaRoche of Los Osos, available in eight remarkable recipes.
#8. I almost forgot the most import thing about holiday giving: the children! Spoil your little ones with a new set of bamboo pajamas from Yala, just about the most snuggly things on earth.
“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain,” so says the Rasta wise man Bob Marley. Healing the body with sound and music is nothing new, rather it is an ancient art whose time for rediscovery has come. And as frustration with conventional Western medicine grows and grows—whether you attribute it to new diseases and longer life spans, point the finger at the insurance companies and the ruthless monetization of medical care, or simply blame it on Obama—the popularity of alternative treatments just continues to blossom like a giant lotus in a Japanese garden.
In that vein, the Hearst Cancer Resource Center at French Hospital here in San Luis Obispo just introduced a new class: Sound Therapy with Singing Bowls. Anyone who’s ever picked up a singing bowl (of course, we always have several to choose from here at Bambu Batu) and rubbed it the right way, knows a little about the wondrous sensations produced by the resonation of these mystical Tibetan instruments whose tradition goes back over three millennia. But proper therapeutic use of the singing bowl involves a bit more knowledge and technique.
The class is being offered on the second Monday of each month from 5-6 pm at the HCRC. Instructor Sean Levahn is a licensed massage therapist and certified Reiki master. For more info, call the HCRC at 805-542-6234.
Yesterday, hundreds—perhaps thousands, but surely a dismally small number—of U.S. citizens went out to the polls to participate in this American experiment we call representative democracy. Today we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that another season of mudslinging is behind us. But more importantly, I’d like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to one of the few real winners in this election cycle.
Her name is Heidi Harmon, and she ran what was probably the cleanest, most honest and respectable campaign I’ve ever seen. For the first time in my life I had the privilege of casting a vote for a someone I genuinely believed in, someone I honestly believed to be a real person with a heart and soul, an artist, a mother, and a citizen of the planet, willing put the collective interests of her planet ahead of the political and economic interests that have always set the rules and defined the playing field.
At the end of the day, Heidi’s opponent, the incumbent Katcho “I-sell-gasoline-for-a-living-so-don’t-ever-expect-me-to-take-a-stand-against-big-oil” Achadjian (R) had more votes, and will thereby keep his Assembly seat for the 35th district. But anyone who’s ever spoken with Heidi, or attended any of her rallies, or met any of her team of grassroots supporters, or read any of their numerous letters to the editors that have been published in the local papers over the recent months, must know that regardless of vote tallies, Heidi Harmon will always represent the winning side.
Taking the gas station entrepreneur head on, Heidi ran as a self-identified “climate change candidate” and set herself apart from nearly every politician from either major party. In neighboring Santa Barbara County, Big Oil demonstrated its might by soundly defeating Measure P, which would have banned fracking and certain other form of oil exploration, outspending the ban supporters to the tune of $7.6 million to $284,000. On a brighter note, Northern California voters passed Measure S in Mendocino County, effectively banning fracking in that county and giving the citizens—not corporations—the final say in their local water use policies.
Let’s just hope Mendocino, and not Santa Barbara, will serve as the bellwether for future fracking controversies around California and the nation. And let’s also hope for a future in which we are less often forced to settle for the lesser of evils, and more often given choices we can be proud of.
The 5th Annual Central Coast Bioneers Conference is coming to SLO later this month, October 24 & 25, at the SLO Grange Hall, 2880 Broad St. The locally hosted event takes place in conjuction with the 2014 National Bioneers Conference and features recorded presentations of all the keynote speakers, addressing topics of Climate Justice, Women’s Leadership, Indigenous Knowledge, Biomimicry, and more. Among the highlights will be noted author Naomi Klein, who’s currently on tour to promote her newest book, “This Changes Everything.”
Local participants can also attend innovative workshops on community building, environmental stewardship and ethical investing. You’re also encouraged to join field trips to local points of interest, to study bird watching at Hi Mountain Condor Look Out, community planning at Tierra Nueva Cohousing in Oceano, and the future of farming at Kukkula Winery in Paso Robles.
For pricing details and a complete schedule of local and national events, check the Bioneers website. Tickets available online and in-person at Bambu Batu.
“The Magician and the Prince” | A Zen Parable from Bambu Batu
Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom there lived a bright young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in volcanos, he did not believe in princesses, and he did not believe in God.
One clear summer day, under a sky as blue as corydalis, the prince took his horse on a long, long ride, beyond the boundaries of his father’s vast dominions. Near the summit of a high mountain he met a strange old man. This foreigner spoke to the prince of his own homeland, near the volcanoes, among gentlemen and beautiful princesses.
The prince did not believe these stories, so he demanded to see proof. With the old man, he traveled for another day until they passed a pair of princesses on the road, and later climbed to the rim of a volcano.
The prince hurried home on his steed, and ran straight to the king. “Father! I have seen volcanos! I have seen princesses! I have seen God!”
“But son,” the king replied, “volcanos, princesses and God do not exist.”
“I saw them!”
“Tell me what God looked like.” So the prince described the long beard and the unusual hat as he remembered them. The king sat back and laughed. “You have described a magician. You did not meet God. You were fooled. The princesses and volcanos were simply illusions.”
Disappointed, the prince hopped right back on his horse to cross the hills and find the old man. “You lied to me,” he said. “My father is the king and he has explained your tricks. There are no volcanos and there are no princesses.”
“Aha,” said the old man. “I haven’t tricked you. There are volcanos and princesses in your kingdom as well, but you can’t see them because you are under your father’s spell. For he is a magician as well.”
When the prince returned home again, he looked his father in the eyes and asked him, “Is it true, father, what they say? That you are not a real king, but just a magician?”
“Yes, son, I am only a magician.”
“So the man in the faraway land really was God.”
“No son, that man was just another magician.”
“But I must know the real truth, beyond magic.”
“But there is no truth beyond magic,” said the king.
At this the prince sunk his head in despair and declared, “I will kill myself.”
So the king used his magic and called on Death to appear. The prince trembled in fear. His thoughts then returned to the incredible volcanos, and especially to the beautiful princesses.
“Alright then,” he said. “I can bear it.”
“Very good, my son,” said the king. “You too are becoming a magician!”
(Loosely adapted from a passage in “The Magus”, by John Fowles)
The elusive and illustrious See Canyon Ramblers are making a rare appearance in downtown SLO this Friday, Oct. 3, out of their Oceano cavern and straight onto center stage for Art After Dark at Bambu Batu. In addition to the toe-tapping tunes of this bluegrass fusion band (including a few members of the local “beergrass” sensation, the Mother Corn Shuckers), you can always expect a gregarious throng of art enthusiasts, bamboo lovers, new age revelers, and responsible beer consumers.
This month’s featured artist, Terri Tylman, creates vibrant, colorful images of tropical visions and local landscapes, using a very unusual technique with color-infused metal. Take advantage of this chance to meet the artist and see her work in person, because I’m having a hard time describing it in words!
Friday’s line-up also includes local astrologer Harry Farmer and intuitive angel card reader MaryAiñe Curtis, at your service to help you wrap your mind around your soul’s path and your cosmic destiny. If that’s not enough to bring the inner peace you seek, perhaps a cold beer from Creekside Brewing Company will do the trick. We always have a few varieties on hand, from the palest ale to the deepest darkest porter, and brewed so locally you can literally see their raw grains from here.
And chances are, you’re really going to want a cold drink come Friday night, because this weekend is supposed to get hot hot hot. I’m not saying it has anything to do with Climate Change, but possible triple digit temps as the worst drought in California history intensifies, and you can decide for yourself. And if you’re familiar with the Indian Summers for which the Central Coast is famous, you might even take the opportunity to pick up a nice, light-weight bamboo tank top to help get you through the season.
Whatever your needs may be, we hope you’ll join us for this next edition of Art After Dark, because we know it will put a smile on your face.