Archive for the ‘Philosophy talk on a cereal box’ Category

Nazi Checkpoints

October 4, 2009

Drip, drip drip.  Chip, chip, chip.  The frogs in the pot don’t realize that the water is beginning to boil.

Citizens of the United States are supposed to be able to travel freely and not be subjected to unreasonable searches or seizures.  Although the Constitution doesn’t specifically mention “travel,” the right to travel has been a firmly embedded right since the Articles of Confederation guaranteed that “the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other State.” There is also a long line of case establishing that states can’t treat newcomers differently than long-time residents unless the state restriction is necessary to serve a compelling state interest.

And in the 1999 SCOTUS case of Saenz v. Roe, 526 US 489 (1999) Justice Stevens notes:

The word “travel” is not found in the text of the Constitution. Yet the “constitutional right to travel from one State to another” is firmly embedded in our jurisprudence. United States v. Guest , 383 U. S. 745, 757 (1966). Indeed, as Justice Stewart reminded us in Shapiro v. Thompson , 394 U. S. 618 (1969), the right is so important that it is “assertable against private interference as well as governmental action … a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.” Id., at 643 (concurring opinion).

Then we all know, or should know, of course that The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” The operative word being “unreasonable.”  Generally government can’t stop us or search our person without having some reason to do so.  Government can’t go on fishing expeditions.  Government is supposed to know what specific contraband it is looking to seize and particularly where that contraband is likely to be found prior to engaging in any search.  Government is not supposed to set up so called “dragnets” where it nets the innocent as well as the guilty.

If you are seized you are not free to go about your business.  What constitutes a seizure can vary from state to state, but generally if there is a show of authority (men in blue, orders to stop, guns, flashing lights, badges and other such acts/things) and you yield to that show of authority/force than you have been seized and prevented from going about your business.

This is a confusing area of the law.  On the one hand the cops can set up drunk driving checkpoints because of the immediate danger that freaking dumb drunks pose to the rest of us.   On the other hand Indianapolis v. Edmund, 531 US 32 (2000) made clear, at least for the time being, that cops can’t set up checkpoints with the purpose of interdicting illicit drugs.  Interestingly enough the so called “Conservative Justices” – Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist were in favor of allowing random police stops of citizens going about their business. As Rehnquist noted in his dissent random law enforcement checkpoints are legitimate to “…checking for driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations, and because there is nothing in the record to indicate that the addition of the dog sniff lengthens these otherwise legitimate seizures, I dissent.”  Conservative my ass!!  He is a Republican.

My definition of a Republican: someone who thinks the government can do nothing right unless and until it comes to kicking in doors, searching, seizing citizens, legislating morality, law enforcement and the military and than the government can do no wrong. I’ve never been certain how some people can hold two mutually exclusive beliefs.  That’s me though.

Anyways, now that the foundation has been built: 1. we have the right to free intrastate and interstate travel and 2. we have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures let’s look at some startling violations that are happening as we speak.  Tipping point?  You decide.

Tipping point?  You decide.  Chip, chip, chip, drip, drip, drip.  The water around the pot of frogs slowly comes to a boil.

GET OUTSIDE EVERY FREAKING DAY WHILE WE ARE STILL ALLOWED TO DO SO!!!!

How many campfires did you sit around this summer?  I know one thing, not enough!!

37Here I am catching a crappy wave.

17So GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © and rip it up!!


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Do you know how lucky you are

August 29, 2009

Do you know how lucky you are?  Each of us have our own problems.  Some more than others.  I don’t care who you are, we all have problems. So it got me to thinking how lucky most of us are.

It also reminds me how fragile our lives are and how the things we depend upon can disappear in an instant.

If it comes to you from somewhere else or takes a spider’s web of logistics to get to you it can be gone in the blink of an eye.   Things like blue jeans from China and olive oil from Italy can become unavailable.  Boots, shoes, shirts and underwear made in the Philippines may not be coming in those big shipping containers.  Cheap tools, generators, batteries and electronics from Asia could be next to impossible to find.    The day may come when lanterns, light bulbs,  masks, ammo and spare parts get scarce.   You may not be able to find oranges and pineapples north of 40′ in the winter.  Anything with a made in somewhere other than where you live could get real expensive.

Even those things close by could get undependable.  Electricity, hot running water, cold running water, telephone and cell phone service, natural gas, sewers and heat can all be interrupted.   It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have plans in place to have backup, redundant or substitute systems in place for as many of these things as you possibly can.

You could wake up in the morning and discover that the gas stations, supermarkets and banks/atms in your town are all closed too.  We are already seeing some governments closing and some towns shutting off street lights to save money.  This fall and winter we will see schools and colleges close due to the flu.

Rule #1 – don’t take things for granted.

Rule #2 – plan for their absence.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © even in the rain.

c1Some pretty blueberries ripe for the plucking.  Get yourself a field guide or two, GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY and start picking some wild fruit.

Health Insurance Inc.

August 20, 2009

On August 17, 2009 the DOW went down something like 180 points.  Most stocks tanked.  However some stocks performed pretty well that day.  People that are generally in favor of more competition.  Some people also think the government does a lousy job at most things.  I’m still amazed that I can send a letter from here to Alaska for 44 cents and that it will get there in a few days.

So Obama had a plan to allow the government to set up a health insurance program that could introduce some competition into the private marketplace.  In case you haven’t noticed there isn’t a whole lot of competition in the health insurance marketplace.  It’s basically run like an oligoply.  That is there are few players due to high barriers to entry.

So people that are generally in favor of competition and think the government does a sucky job are opposed to the government competing with private health insurers.

You can imagine how fearful private health insurance corporations are of the government offering services.  Just like drug dealers who don’t like other dealers trading on their turf, private health insurance corporations are deathly afraid of losing business to government.  They want to protect their own trade.  Remember private companies like Aetna, CIGNA and Humana care about profits before all other things.  Your health isn’t even a second though.  First thought is profits and the second thought is shareholders.

So on August 17, 2009 the market tanked.  It went down 2% or so.  This was also the day that Obama said he would take the public option (government offered insurance) off of the table, or so the rumor mill swirled.

What stocks do you suppose did great on the day when most others fell, health insurers.  As soon as the public option was removed from consideration the health insurers rebounded because they know that they don’t have to compete.  Sorta like a drug dealer that caps his competition.  When everyone else tanked Aetna, CIGNA and Humana all had a banger of a day because competition was stifled.  Each of these stocks went up about 5% on a day that the broader market was hit by large declines.

Don’t be a tool of for profit health insurance corporations.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

I written about burdock a few times and explained the many medicinal uses of it so I figured I’d show a couple pics of second year plants in flower.

p1010002Do you recognize these burrs/  Have you pulled them off of your dog or yourself after a ramble in the woods?

p1010003Well now you can spot this plant and now you know that the roots from the first years plants and the young leaves are both edible.  So supermarkets even sell burdock root.  Also, burdock root is a major ingredient in may traditional Chinese medicines.

Guns at protests

August 18, 2009

Good.  In case you haven’t seen it, a man carried what looks to be an AR at a protest in Phoenix, AZ. art.obama.gun.pool That’s fine by me.  I think it’s good to exercise our rights.  I also think that it’s good for those in government to be aware that the forceful overthrow of government is always an option.

PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) — A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama’s speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events.”

I understand that some folks are concerned.  I figure some people who are opposed are just anti-gun or gun control nuts.  I don’t care about them.

Then there is probably another group of folks who are concerned that carrying guns at political protests can lead to violence.  I understand their concerns.  I hope that those in power are concerned too.

gun-at-town-hall-chyron

And at an Obama town hall meeting in New Hampshire another protester had his sidearm openly displayed.

Once again I think it’s fine and appropriate for American citizens to be exercising their rights.  I also think it’s important for our elected representatives to understand that change can be forced too.  Most Americans were against the bailouts for Wall Street, yet our congresspeople ignored MILLIONS of phone calls and emails and letters and went ahead and bailed out big finance and big insurance.

It’s great for people to get out and protest things.  I wish more Americans took to the streets to petition the government for a redress of our grievances. Be careful though folks, cops being what they are, don’t allow yourself to be drawn into some unnecessary conflict with the blue enforcers of government policy.

Those we elect need to know and understand that they will be held accountable.  Law is in the books.  Order comes about through the ongoing threat of force.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!! ©

This is lamb’s quarters.  It is definitely one of the more tasty wild edibles.  Some stuff is good to eat and I’ll grab whenever I run into.  Stuff such as berries, the blueberries, the blackberries and mulberries.  Yum.  Then there is other stuff that is genuinely good to eat to, stuff like lambs quarters, dandelions and purslane fall into this category.  Then you got a whole lot of stuff that just ain’t that good and I’d only eat if I was hungry.  Anyways, back to the point at hand, lambs quarters.  This stuff is in the second category.  it is good to eat anytime.  Lambs quarters is the pale looking plant with the leaves shaped like goose feet.  that’s also another name for lamb’s quarters – white goosefoot.

q10Here is a better shot of a lamb’s quarter plant.  Some of the ways I spot this plant are the whitish leaves that seem kind of waxy and the hollow stem.  It can grow 4-5 feet tall and gets massive seed heads on it.  These plants develop so many seeds that Indians used to collect the seed and grind it to flour.  You can also boil the seed and make a sort of oatmeal from it.

q9Wildman Steve Brill writes, This European relative of spinach and beets, which grows throughout the North America, bears large quantities of edible, spinach-flavored leaves you can collect from mid-spring to late fall. It’s one of the best sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and iron in the world; also a great source of trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber.”

Lamb’s quarters grows everywhere.  I guarantee you that if you don’t know what it is there is some growing within a few hundred yards of where you live – city, country or suburbs and you consider it a weed.  You want to eat the youngest leaves or the smallest leaves from the top of the plant.  This is a great plant to start foraging with because it is easy to ID and really does taste great.  In addition it could keep you alive.  This is a real tasty wild edible.  Get yourself some field guides, positively ID the ones in your neighborhood and try it out.

Oral surgeon and health insurance

August 12, 2009

So I had a root canal done a couple of months ago.  It really sucked.  I had some issue in my mouth so I go to the dentist.  They tried to cap one tooth on the top.  That didn’t work, but I still had to pay for it.  The cap wasn’t done right so it was banging into a tooth on the bottom of my mouth.  Each time the teeth clanged together it hurt like an SOB.  So I had to go back to the dentist again who now told me that the tooth on the bottom, the one below the new cap that she just put in, needed a root canal.  She sent me off to an oral surgeon.  BTW if you ever get a root canal done when you leave the surgeon’s office you’ll be feeling fine because of the Novocaine.  When that Novocaine wears off though you’ll be writhing in pain in the dark on your bed.  So on your way home from the surgeon, get your pain script filled and take the Vicodin or Percocet right away even though you feel fine.  Don’t wait for the pain before taking the Vicodin.

Off to the oral surgeon I go.  I had an initial consultation that cost $100.  Then two additional treatment visits were needed.  The first treatment visit they drill it out and put in a temp filling.  Then you come back a week later, and if everything looks ok, they take out the temp filling put in something more permanent and off you go.

So because I have dental insurance I had to pay something like $750 and the rest would be covered by the dental insurance. That is what I was told by the surgeon’s billing office.  As far I was concerned that was the deal I accepted.

The numbers: $100 for the initial consultation, then I paid $375 after I left the first treatment visit with the deal being I’d pay the second half, $375, after the final treatment visit.  The insurance company pays the balance of like $750, so the total surgeon’s charge is around $1,500.

About a month after I was treated I got a check in the mail from the surgeon’s office for $68.  It represented a refund of some overpayment.  That was more than two months ago.

Yesterday I get a call from the billing folks in the surgeon’s office, the dental insurance decided not to pay something and they want me to pay back the $68 that shouldn’t have been remitted to me.  They’re waiting to hear back from the insurance company about the rest of the money.  The billing person told me that the insurance payment can be yanked back and I may end up owing more money.

I told her that’s not the way it works.  I never agreed to an open ended contract and that I can’t agree to something if I don’t know what it is.  The most basic rule of contract formation is mutual assent.

So the billing lady tries to explain to me that if they hear back from the insurance that some of the root canal isn’t covered that I will be billed.  I told her again that’s not the way it works.  I paid my bill in full as required by their office policy at the time that the services are rendered.   I told her it’s not right that three months later they can bill me $100, $500 or $1,000.  I never agreed to that.

Imagine bringing your car to your mechanic or having a plumber out to your house.  They give you and estimate.  You look the estimate over and based upon their assurance say, ‘fine, complete the job.’ Then three months later you get a bill from your mechanic or plumber looking for an additional $500 or $1,000.  That’s not the way it works.  The only contract I know of that can be changed at the whim of one party are credit card contracts, but that’s because they are credit card bastards.

And that is why we need healthcare reform.  Has anyone else ever been given the run around by a health insurance company?

You know who is most against healthcare reform, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Don’t be a tool of their vested interests.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

I look out of a window at home to the backyard where the pool is and I see something or someone floating in it so I go to investigate.  I pull a lot of froggies out of the pool because we need to be careful with our amphibian friends.  Turns out it wasn’t a frog at all, but a….snapping turtle.  He must have made is way into the pool during the rain the night before.  Turtles can’t use pool ladders.  Eventually he would have tired out and drowned so I rescued him.

y6Here Mr. or Mrs. Turtle is in the recycle bin from the town.  The recycle bin is maybe two feet long so you can see that this was a good sized creature.  He was not too happy about being caught.  So I stuck a knife into his brain cavity, boiled him up and made some terrapin stew.  NO I DIDN’T.  JUST KIDDING.  Actually I dropped him off at the Terrapin Station to catch a lift home.  No, just kidding again.

I actually ran him up behind the house to a large vernal pool where he probably came from in the first place.  Here he is getting dumped on the ground, making one final hiss at me and slithering back into the water from whence he came.

y5You can see his open mouth hissing at me.  I think he was pretty old because his shell was covered in algae.  It felt good to save some little creature’s life.

Health care tort reform and yarrow

July 29, 2009

Part of health insurance reform is tort reform.  We hear a lot of people talk about tort reform and how tort reform is necessary.  I worked for three years in a very prestigious plaintiff’s litigation firm.

Three big points to make.

1. Everyone is against lawsuits until a battery explodes in their face, a stairway collapses under their feet, a surgeon leaves forceps inside your belly or a radiologist misses a radiolucent lump in your brain.  Then as soon as someone perceives that they’ve been hurt they come running to a lawyer to fix their problem.  My point is that just like government provided economic benefits, you are against the other guy’s, not your own.  You want tort reform for them, not for you.  Look at the example of Tom Delay (Scumbag-TX), when his own father was hurt they wasted no time filing a lawsuit. Not to be out done you also have the example of Rick Santorum (Dirtbag-PA),

“Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., says that the No. 1 health care crisis in his state is medical lawsuit abuse and in the past he’s called for a $250,000 cap on non-economic damage awards or awards for pain and suffering. “We need to do something now to fix the medical liability problem in this country,” he declared at a rally in Washington D.C., this past spring.  But Santorum’s wife sued a doctor for $500,000 in 1999. She claimed that a botched spinal manipulation by her chiropractor led to back surgery, pain and suffering, and sued for twice the amount of a cap Santorum has supported.”

So just like I said everyone is for reform as long as it only restricts the other guy and not you personally.  You should see how people come running to lawyers as soon as they think they have “a case.”

2. The plaintiff’s bar accepts cases on contingency.  You know what this means?  Contingency means that a lawyer gets paid only if she wins.  The lawyer getting paid is contingent on them winning the case.   This is a big deal.  Expert witnesses in cases can cost $5,000 or even $10,000 for a single day!!  Plus they always want to be put up in the most expensive hotel rooms.  A big case can go on for two or three years.  There has to be depositions, which are expensive.  Maybe the lawyer wants some of his own testing done or he ma need to hire a PI to do some footwork.   Plus there can be tens, hundreds or even thousands of hours put into a big case.

The whole time that the case is pending the secretary needs to be paid, rent needs to be paid, insurance needs to be paid, utilities need to be paid.  You get the idea.  All of this money is out of the lawyer’s own pocket.  If he loses the case he not only is out all of his out of pocket expenses, but he never gets paid for his time.  ZERO.

So lawyers will only accept cases that have a very good chance of being successfully pleaded.  A lawyer will not accept a marginal case, because they can work for years and pay tens of thousands of dollars in out of pockets expenses and than never get paid because they lose the case.

Would you work on contingency?

3. It is very difficult to win a case.  The jury pool has been pretty well corrupted.  The insurance industry, big business and their paid servants in Congress have been sure to inform everyone of run away jury awards, the hot coffee case and every aberrant two standard deviations out of the norm award.  It is very tough to win a jury case.  Questions of doubt are answered in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff needs to convince everyone.  The defense just needs to convince one.

Don’t easily give up your right to seek a redress for your injuries.  Those of you opposed to government involvement in the health care system, those who cry socialism, are you prepared tohave the same government set caps on lawsuit damages?  It’s a bad idea.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

This is yarrow.  It used to be called names like soldier herb or knight’s wort because yarrow can stop bleeding.  Yarrow is one of our most useful herbal remedies.  It is particularly good for women and the problems they may have related to menopause and menses.   It is worth reading up on.

02This is a nice shot to show you how you can identify yarrow.  Notice the leaves look fernlike.  Each leaf is almost feathery.  It’s latin name is something like millefoil.  The prefix mille means something like thousands, same prefix as millipede, because millipedes got 1,000 legs.  Well yarrow has 1,000 leaves, each leaf is like 1,000 sub-leaves.

Here is a pic of it blooming.

oDon’t confuse it with wild carrot.  The leaves and flowers are different.  A yarrow poultice is used to stop bleeding.  Yarrow tea is used for colds, fevers and internal bleeding.  It’s also known as an anti-inflammatory.  So get your own field guides and look up yarrow.  Yarrow is a must for your herbal remedy toolbox.

Dick Cheney

July 18, 2009

Four more banks were taken over by the FDIC this afternoon. Two of them were rather large banks based in California.  I’m talking Billion $ banks. Now back to the evil topic at hand.

Dick Cheney the well known hawk never served in the military.  He was famously quoted as saying,”I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.” Washington Post 1989.   He also received five draft deferments for a variety of reasons.

And although the Republicans were very successful at blaming President Clinton for DOD cutbacks the truth of the matter is that Dick Cheney under Bush 41 was responsible for major budget and troop cuts.   Did you know that Dick Cheney as Sec Def cut the Army troop levels by 26%?

“Over Cheney’s four years as secretary of defense, encompassing budgets for fiscal years 1990-93, DoD’s total obligational authority in current dollars declined from $291.3 billion to $269.9 billion. Except for FY 1991, when the TOA budget increased by 1.7 percent, the Cheney budgets showed negative real growth: -2.9 percent in 1990, -9.8 percent in 1992, and -8.1 percent in 1993. During this same period total military personnel declined by 19.4 percent, from 2.202 million in FY 1989 to 1.776 million in FY 1993. The Army took the largest cut, from 770,000 to 572,000-25.8 percent of its strength. The Air Force declined by 22.3 percent, the Navy by 14 percent, and the Marines by 9.7 percent.”

Dick Cheney was so good at being the hatchet man that he was hired by Halliburton after leaving the Bush 41 Whitehouse.  At Halliburton Cheney reigned over leadership of the company at a time when Halliburton was tendering bribes to secure business in Nigeria.   Under Cheney, even with economic sanctions in place, Halliburton did business in such places as Iran, Iraq and Libya.  ?  So the revolving door between industry and government continues to spin.

Now it comes out that Cheney gave the order for the CIA to mislead Congress concerning President Bush’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance program.

“The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.”

Although they claim that Cheney’s secrecy in this case didn’t involve Bush 43’s domestic surveillance program, who knows what to believe.   What beats the band though is that “Andrew Card (Bush’s Chief of Staff); David Addington (Cheney’s CoS and Counsel); John Ashcroft (AG); John Yoo (DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel); and George Tenet (CIA)” all refused to cooperate with the investigation.   Think we could get away with that?

And the thing that gets me is that Cheney has been taking to the airwaves at every opportunity to proclaim that the Obama Administration is putting us at risk.  No, Cheney can say whatever he wants, that doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me is that There has been no comment from Mr Cheney.So the sycophant Big M Media will bend over backwards to give unlimited access to Cheney to use as a platform to spread his private message, but when it comes to holding the PTB accountable “no comment” suffices.

Whomever interviews Cheney next, the first question out of their mouth better be about illegally keeping secrets from Congress.  Wanna make a bet?  Cheney is part and parcel fo the elite global ruling class.  If it was found that eating baby brains would cure Cheney’s terminal disease, make no mistake about it, the baby brains would be flowing.  He is an international pirate.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!©   This is the flower to the milkweed plant.  They smell like summer.   The milkweed is a very edible plant as long as you boil the white sap out of it.  You can take these flowers and batter em up in a tempura or beer batter and fry them.

P1010010


Be vewy, vewy quiet

June 23, 2009

In general I think the human race, and the world which holds us, would be a far better place if the human species was to do a lot less talking and a lot more listening.  My dog speaks very little, but when he speaks he really means what he says.   Being a man of few words he seems to do just fine.

Just like when you take martial arts or yoga you learn how to breath deeply, you also need to train your senses to take in all that they can.  Maybe you watch, but don’t see, or listen, but don’t hear.  One of the best ways of opening your senses is by laying still.  Just stop.  Stop it.  You can’t listen when you’re making noise.

A refrigerator running all the time adds a constant din to your environment.  And I bet that because you are so used to your refrigerator yelling at you 24/7 that you don’t even notice it.  Try to sit at home without running a TV or radio.  Instead of welcoming or accepting unnecessary noise into your life, be aware of it and at least make a conscious decision whether to have the noise join you.  Don’t let noise be a home invader.  Invite it into your life, or keep it off.

Life in the 21st century is already fast enough without constantly being surrounded by noise.  Civilization emits a loud hum.  Unneeded noise adds stress to your environment.

The next time you are walking outside no talking on the cellphonePut away your Blackberry.  If you run or ride your bike listening to music try to keep the tunes off for a while.  Take that stupid Blue Tooth thing out of your ear.  It makes you look like an idiot anyways.  Hey, friends are honest with each other, right? No texting either.

Think what noise you are subjecting others to.  I know you listen to the most awesomest, bestest rap music ever, but please keep it below 80 decibels.   Sunday morning at 07:30 probably isn’t the best time to weed whack your lawn.  And I know you are proud of your custom Sportster, but your neighbor may be trying to put their sick kid to bed.

Listening more will greatly improve your situational awareness.  Next time you’re outside just stop everything and listen to the birds.  How many different bird calls do you hear?  Listen and than try to watch where the sound is coming from.  See the bird?  Listen to the neighbors yell at their kids to turn down the music.  Listen to what your neighbors are watching on TV.  What are the people in line in front of you talking about.  You’ll be amazed what you hear once you start listening.

I’m not saying that you need to take a vow of silence like some monk.  The next time you speak, pause before you do so and really think about what you are about to say.  Ask yourself is each word necessaryIs it really what you mean to sayBe deliberate with your words.  Choose your words carefully.

When someone is speaking with you, you know having a conversation just listen as deeply as you can.  Breath in what they are saying and stop your mind’s racing thoughts of everything other than what the speaker is saying.

Pass it on, shhhh.  Really, please shhhh.

G E T  O U T S I D E  E V E R Y   D A Y!!

So headed back to the ocean this past weekend.  The waves were good.  I’m trying surfing.  So we have some ocean pictures.

P1010007Here you gots your standard beach pea.  These things grow in the sandiest beach sand imaginable.  And this is the fruit of the beach pea.

p1010008I’ve never eaten them, but I understand that you can boil them and eat them while still hot.  They don’t look very good to me.  I’d have to be pretty hungry to try these peas.

p1010011And here is a beach rose, rosa rugosa.  And the fruit of the beach rose is a beach plum.  Also known as rose hips.

P1010013These beach plums are super high in vitamin c.  They’ll ripen to a nice rich red color.  You can make a tea from them.  I’ve known people to make a cordial by stuffing a mason jar full of rose hips, adding a lot of sugar and topping it all off with good vodka or grain alcohol.  You turn it over every day for three weeks and then drink it down yum.  I bet homemade beach plum cordial would be good for a cold or sore throat.  Folks also make beach plum jelly.

Assembly Required

June 5, 2009

This blog has to do with suburban survival so I sometimes deal with boring things, like BEING ABLE TO READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.

Have you ever put a gas grill together?  I bought a relatively cheap gas grill that cost under $100.   The last time I put a grill together I screwed up one of the left legs and one of the right legs and ended up having to take almost the whole thing apart before I put it back together with left and right legs in the appropriate places.   I wasn’t going to let them happen again.

memorial day 0919Here I have everything laid out on the picnic table.  The label on the box said it would take 35-45 minutes to put the grill together.  It took me 20 minutes to unpack and organize everything.

The other thing that helps me when I do some assembly project is to turn the thing the same way as the drawing in the direction.  It makes it easier to make sure that I am putting left where left is and right where right is and front to front and back to back.  Got that?

I also find it helps to  slow down and move deliberately.   The old adage measure twice cut once, holds true.  Read the instructions slowly and carefully.   Then read them again.  You almost want to cross things off as you do them to make sure that you don’t miss anything.

memorial day 0927The fasteners were well organized.  I took a break to go to Home Depot for something else.  Altogether I would say it probably took me between three and four hours from beginning to end.  And you’ll be happy to know that it works fine.

So remember –

1.) Before you start to assemble something new make sure that you take everything out of the packaging, organize the parts and familiarize yourself with them.

2.) As you assemble the thing orient it so that it is turned the same way as the drawing/pictures in the assembly instructions.

3.) Slow down and move deliberately.

4.) Read the instructions slowly and carefully

Get Outside everyday!

You have to know what this is –

memorial day 098

You may notice that it’s starting to look a little dark out in the picture.  Please don’t be afraid to go out walking in the woods at night.  The woods are another world at night.

I don’t do the religion thing.  I don’t care what you do or whether you do anything at all.  But this dandelion flower to me is like Proof of God.  I don’t even like the word “God” because it is too limiting.  But looking at this perfectly symmetrical flower you just know that there has to be a Major Force at play.    It’s like a perfect geodesic dome.  Then you think that it is a way for the plant to propagate.  And in order to do all that it had to look nice enough to attract bees and other buzzies to pollinate it.  Amazing.  There is your Proof.

And since we are on the subject of dandelions you do know that the dandelion is mighty yummy.    The flowers make a brightly colored dandelion wine.  Imagine cracking a bottle of dandelion wine during a cold January day.   I like the young leaves added to salad.  People say dandelion leaves can be bitter, but they’re not as bitter as arugula.  If they’re too bitter for you just boil them a bit.  Some folks dip the flowers in batter and fritter them up.  Root tea has a ton of medicinal uses, but you would know that if you read my entry on field guides and had your own field guides.  And I’ve read that you can roast the root till brown, grind it and use it as a coffee substitute.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

June 3, 2009

If you’re curious enough to be reading my little blog, then you know that GM was dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (“DJIA”) and replaced with Cisco Systems, Inc.  Well at least one company that made something is being replaced by another company that makes stuff.  Another component of the DJIA was dropped, Citigroup, Inc. and replaced by Travelers Insurance Co.  Replacing one money shuffling leech with another money shuffling leech.

So it got me to thinking how the makeup of the DJIA may have changed over the years so I did some light research.  October 1, 1928 is the first time that the DJIA was made up of thirty (30) companies.  Here they are:

October 1, 1928

Allied Chemical General Railway Signal * Sears Roebuck & Company
American Can Goodrich * Standard Oil (NJ) *
American Smelting International Harvester Texas Company
American Sugar International Nickel * Texas Gulf Sulphur *
American Tobacco B Mack Truck Union Carbide *
Atlantic Refining * Nash Motors * U.S. Steel
Bethlehem Steel * North American * Victor Talking Machine *
Chrysler * Paramount Publix (formerly Paramount Famous Lasky) Westinghouse Electric *
General Electric Company Postum Incorporated * Woolworth
General Motors Corporation Radio Corporation * Wright Aeronautical *

Look at what we got here – manufacturers, auto and truck manufacturers (3),  steel companies, GE, railways, rubber, commodities and an aircraft manufacturer.  Then you have three, what I would consider, consumer driven retail outlets – Sears, Woolworth and Victrola.  I don’t see one bank or insurance company.  All in all, the DJ Industrial Average, looks, well, Industrial95% of these companies seem like they made something.

Then as of the latest reshuffling:

June 1, 2009

3M Company Dupont Kraft Foods Inc.*
Alcoa Incorporated Exxon Mobil Corporation McDonald’s Corporation
American Express Company General Electric Company Merck & Company, Incorporated
AT&T Incorporated Cisco Systems, Inc.
Microsoft Corporation
Bank of America Corporation Hewlett-Packard Company Pfizer Incorporated
Boeing Corporation Home Depot Incorporated Procter & Gamble Company
Caterpillar Incorporated Intel Corporation United Technologies Corporation
Chevron Corporation International Business Machines Verizon Communications Inc.
Travelers Insurance Co.
Johnson & Johnson Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated
Coca-Cola Company J.P. Morgan Chase & Company Walt Disney Company

Now let’s look at what makes up the DJIA.  Well the first thing I notice is that auto/truck manufacturing is no longer represented.  The banks/insurers/money changers are well represented however with AmEx, BofA, J.P. Morgan and Travelers.  Then as far as consumer retail types I’d say we have Coke, Home Depot, McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Walt Disney and maybe even Johnson & Johnson, Kraft and Proctor & Gamble.  A couple of telecomms and electronic manufacturers.  It seems like a lot more useless junk in the latest DJIA then the original in 1928Now I only count seven companies that actually make something. And no, I don’t count Coca Cola as making anything other than cavities and obesity.

It’s no longer Industrial. So what’s it say about our country and what we’re making now.  We don’t seem to be making much now.  What’s that saying I heard about paying each other to do each other’s laundry.  To use the newest hyped vocabulary – It’s unsustainable.

I may be wrong, probably am, but I expect another leg down in the economy.  I don’t think nearly enough malls, stores, office parks, restaurants, mattress stores, cell phone stores and auto dealers need to close. I think we have many more great adjustments to suffer through.  Don’t let your guard down.

I live in the suburbs with the two lane divided roadway that is plastered with junky stores, big box stores, strip malls and restaurants.  It’s my belief, and I may be wrong, that one third of these will be closing over the coming years.  Next time you are driving around imagine one third of the crappy, little junk stores that get by on consumers spending their money closing.  Consumers are tightening their purses like a frog’s ass, and a frog’s ass is watertight.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

memorial day 092Pretty cool picture, huh.  Unless you have allergies.  The reason you can see the web so well, and the reason the web looks kind of fuzzy, is because it is totally covered by a thick layer of pollen.  You can see Spidey waiting in the center for her next visitor.  Yum!

Big News and torture

April 24, 2009

First, the Big News, remember when Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch at the behest of the US government?  “Mr Lewis Bank of America’s chairman and chief executive, also knowingly hid the state of Merrill Lynch’s “staggering” losses from shareholders at the behest of former Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.” Mr. lewis didn’t want to takeover Merrill because of Merrill’s “staggering losses” but he was forced to after being “threatened” by Fed Chairman Bernanke.

“…Paulson and other policymakers may have resorted to breaking securities laws in order to protect a fragile financial system, according to Peter Sorrentino, “Everyone involved knew that was a clear violation, that’s material non-public information, so basically we just closed the rule book during the crisis and said we don’t care, we need to keep the lights on, and we’ll deal with that manana,” Sorrentino said. “Logic went out the window and they were just acting out of fear,” he said. It was “completely panic mode.”

THE WOLVES ARE IN CHARGE OF THE HEN HOUSE.  THEY DON’T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT US.  ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THE PERPETUATION OF THE  SYSTEM. PRESERVE THE STATUS QUO AT ALL COSTS.

Next:

Do you support Iran waterboarding the American reporter/agent being held by Iran?  Why not, Iran accuses her of being a spy.  If the US can waterboard suspects Iran should also be able to. Iran should drug her, put creepy, crawly bugs on her, keep her awake for a week straight, put lightsticks up her butt, electrodes on her nipples, dry fire a pistol at her head, slam her up against a wall, water board her 180 times in a month, let vicous attack dogs bark within inces of her face, strip her naked and let her freeze than pile her up with other naked detainees and not feed her for a week. I support Iran doing this to the captive reporter, poor Ms. Roxana Saberi.

If you support the US using torture, or if it helps you to justify and rationalize your own barbarism or bloodlust, “extraordinary interrogation methods”, and you don’t support them doing it to us, then in my opinion you are a hypocrite or lack reasoning skills.  I’m always open to argument so convince me why it’s ok for US, but not for them.

Which gets me to the issue once again of torture.  The US should not torture suspects.  It puts US citizens at risk of also being tortured by others.   US CITIZEN Jose Padilla was tortured and drugged.  I also believe that we need to get to the bottom of who authorized it, hold those folks accountable and put an end to the practice so others are not put at risk.

Torture – coming soon to a FEMA camp near you. Then I will be laughing at you as you meekly cry, “…but…but…but…..I meant you can only torture them and not US.”  Hahaha!!  Give them the power and they will use it.

GM is shutting down over the summer. Was this part of the plan that GM management had to present to the government in order to get taxpayer funds?  If not, just think how poorly GM must be run if they weren’t able to predict less than six months beforehand that they would have to close plants down for the entire summer.  Wild.  They should declare bankruptcy.  You couldn’t run a convenient store like that and stay open.

Just think how this summer may look with tens of thousands more facing temporary layoffs and putting more economic demands on the already bankrupt states.  Will the last one out of Michigan please turn off the lights?

Finally, the government is going to force some consumer friendly credit card regulations to reign in the worst abuses by credit card bastards.  Charging someone an interest rate of 25 or 30% is usurious and should still be illegal.  From Marketwatch: The House bill would take actions such as:

Marquette National Bank v. First Omaha did away with the ability of states to regulate out of state credit card companies.   That was the beginning of the end for the American consumer.  I don’t think that the proposed bill goes far enough.  I want blood from the bloodsuckers.

One last thing, The number of first-time jobless claims rose by to 640,000 last week and continuing claims are again at the highest level on record, the U.S. Labor Department said in its weekly report on Thursday” and continuing claims also set another new record at over 6,000,000, more than double last year’s rate at this time.  That’d be a 100% increase.

So don’t get too down on yourself if you get laid off as you got lots of company.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

I was out walking and I saw some deer out feeding in last year’s corn field.  I wanted to walk closer to them to see if I could get a better picture.  I had the dog with me and he isn’t as patient as I am.  I was able to walk maybe within 100 feet of them.

p1010078Can you see her?  You may have to click on the pic to expand it.  So I’m trying to walk slowly, take a few steps and stop, take a few more steps and stop.  There’s no cover for me so I’m not too hidden, just moving slowly and trying to appear uninterested in them.  How would that be for a shot!!?!  Oooo, I love venison.  I know she’s probably too small.

p1010079You see these two puppies staring back at me  and the dog very interested in us?  So my dog can’t contain himself anymore and there you go….

p1010080…the little whitetails running for cover.

Oath Keepers

April 9, 2009

There has been a lot of brouhahah about the  Oath Keepers.  For those of you not familiar with the Oath Keepers it is a group of:

“Military, Veterans, and peace officers who will honor their oaths to defend the Constitution, will NOT “just follow orders,” will stand for liberty, and will save the Republic, so help us God. Our motto is: “Not on Our Watch!”

So these brave folks have vowed to defend the Constitution even if it means disobeying orders from their superiors.

I don’t believe it.  Not that I don’t believe their good intentions, but no one knows how they will act when faced with the unknown.  Many a brave man turned tail and ran at the first shot fired.

Shall we look at some evidence and why I feel that the vow of the Oath Keepers can’t be relied upon?

So no, while I appreciate the Oath Keepers warm thoughts and well wishes I don’t believe that when push comes to shove they will disobey direct orders to do whatever is asked of them.  Talk is cheap.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful and I’m sure that the  Oath keepers are well intentioned, but based on the evidence – shooting unarmed people, shooting people in he back, wide spread beatings of citizens, seizure of legally owned firearms when people most need them taking pot away from dying people and on and on and on there is only one conclusion that any sane person can come to; that the authorities can’t be trusted.

And some news of the day – “The US government has admitted the nation’s power grid is vulnerable to cyber attack, following reports it has been infiltrated by foreign spies.” Are you prepping to live in the pre-industrial age?

And the Fed released the minutes from its last meeting, the economy is much worse than they let on and as you hopefully know the Fed downgraded its forecasts – “Sixty-three experts butted heads openly and were unable to decide whether the economy has just simply slowed more than expected, or is in the toilet — where it will remain for years to come.”

Don’t depend on anyone else to do what’s right.

Get outside everyday!!

An old stone dam built in the woods.

p1010063It’s difficult to get a sense of scale but I’d say it’s maybe 10-12 feet from the water to the top.

p1010065A nice piece of quartz sitting in the woods.

BHO

February 25, 2009

Short post today.  Saw the president last night.  I generally like the guy even though I didn’t vote for him.  I mean it’s nice to have someone young in the office.  It’s nice to have someone who has traveled internationally and lived overseas in the office.  It’s nice to have someone smart, who doesn’t weed the opposition out of his public appearances, can address doubters and can speak off the cuff on most issues.

That being said WTF was the point of the big speech last night.  It was a bunch of nothing.  More platitudes and more hollow slogans and empty words.

I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’d expect the market to go down like 100 points today.  That’s just my feeling based upon the fact that I think the market movers and shakers were looking for a whole lot more and got nothing from BHO other than more grand and flowery oratory.

At some point you gotta stop talking about swimming and dive in the pool and get wet.

Bits n’ pieces

February 21, 2009

I’m sure everyone has already heard that Obama throws $75 billion lifeline to homeowners with our tax dollars. I don’t like the bailout of homeowners.  I feel bad for them.   I really do.   If your house went down in value and now you owe more than the house is worth, well that’s the market trying to reach its equilibrium.  You bought at the wrong time or borrowed too much.  If you took out a home equity loan to buy toys and electronics and now can’t meet your obligation that’s not my problem . People need to be held accountable for bad decisions that they made so economic evolution can be allowed to run its course.  There shouldn’t be any general bailout for homeowners who got in over their heads. Homeowners should declare bankruptcy and try to get a workout.  Bankruptcy judges should be allowed to reduce the debt as I believe they can generally with any debt during a bankruptcy.  If some lenders broke the law or acted unfairly then punish the lender.  I don’t like the idea that people who bought houses they couldn’t afford may be able to keep them even though they still can’t afford them while I’ve done the right thing and bought a smaller house that I can afford.

And since we’re talking about tax dollars being spent how about some more corporate welfare for KBR so the can deliver poisoned food and water to our guys and gals overseas? WTF is wrong with our government. Is slopping the war profiteers more important than the safety of our own family members?    “Saying they want more answers, U.S. Sens. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., on Wednesday said Houston-based contractor KBR Inc. allowed soldiers to be exposed to the chemical for more than two months even though KBR knew the site was contaminated, according to The Associate Press.” Bastards all of them.  Is this the best we can do for our military? Piss me off.

I saw a good article in Newsweek that reflected what I’ve always said, ‘That the myth of upward mobility is just that, a myth.’  Mr. Kotkin writes a good opinion piece.

But from the 1940s to the 1970s, the American middle class enjoyed steadily increasing incomes that stayed on a par with those in the upper classes. Since then, wages for most workers have lagged behind. This disparity is strikingly evident in income data compiled by Citigroup, which shows that the top 1 percent of U.S. households now account for as much of the nation’s total wealth—7 percent—as they did in 1913, when monopolistic business practices were the order of the day.  Their net worth is now greater than that of the bottom 90 percent of the nation’s households combined. The top 20 percent of taxpayers realized nearly three quarters of all income gains from 1979 to 2000.Even getting a college degree no longer guarantees upward mobility. The implicit American contract has always been that with education and hard work, anyone can get ahead. But since 2000, young people with college educations—except those who go to elite colleges and graduate schools—have seen their wages decline.

And why when I point out the fact that government policies have lead to these disparities am I accused of waging class warfare?  I’d say the 1% of the folks who have 90% of the income are the ones waging class warfare, not the folks losing their jobs, homes, cars and health insurance.   WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Smart little kid developed a survival shelter made from packing peanuts, plastic sheeting, tubes and special connectors.  It snaps togethere like an erector set.  This kid won $10,000 for his design.  He wants to grow up to be a biomechanical engineer or a geriatric psychiatrist.  Me too.

iglooObviously shaped like a geodesic dome.  Here’s the link to the newspaper article survival shelter.

Not sure if you heard, but there are some economic related riots in Russia.  It seems that used car salemen import used Japanese cars.  Well the Kremlin didn’t like this so they slapped down some steep tariffs on therussia3_190 imports.   The Russian used car salesmen, seeing how their livelihoods were threatened organized protests.  The Kremlin responded with force.  This picture is the shape of things to come in the US. Prepare yourself to lay low and become anonymous.  Don’t be a big mouth or the government will push you to the ground and drive your face into the pavement with its knee.

BTW the 7.62 * 39 ammo that I was paying $4.99 a box for has jumped up to $6.95.  That’s a 20% increase!!

What do you folks think of this cartoon?

deadmonkeyI don’t think it’s racist.  Just me though and I’m not black.  If anything I think that I’m more sensitive than most about diversity and what not.  When I saw this cartoon I thought the artist was saying that the stimulus bill is so bad it was written by a monkey(s).  I thought that the tshirt with a monkey on it that said Obama 08′ was in terrible taste and was racist.  This cartoon, nope.  What do you think?

And an interesting op-ed on unchecked military spending.  We are all now reaping the rewards of the confluence of the mlitary, private industry, government and Big M Media.  Big M Media gets you right where they want you with shows like: The Unit, 24 and now Homeland Security.  It’s all BS.  It all boils down to getting money out of our pockets and abrogate our constitutional rights.  We have too many foreign bases.  Our fingers are in too many cookie jars.  Our military is too large.  Being the biggest on the block makes us a target, makes us more likely to resort to military force and drains our coffers.

And  what’s up with Republicans who voted 100% against the stimulus bill now touting the $’s that will be delivered to their home districts.  This is just degenerate politics.

Went skiing.  It was a beautiful day.  It usually is when you get to ski.

w4Ski trail.  Nice huh?  It was a warm day so the snow was soft and squishy like mashed potatoes.  The trail in the top picture is actually really steep, could be a 30+ degree grade.  When the snow is soft though it’s real slow so you have to ski the steepest trails going.  I had so much fun going down this trail I think I skied back up another one or two times.

w5This is looking up another nice hill that’s great to ski down.  It was the same warm day so it’s possible to steer around the trees.  Both of these slopes face more or less north or northeast so they tend to have snow on them more consistently.

City or country?

February 7, 2009

Bits n’ pieces –

Good piece on the Preparing for Tyranny blog about universal health coverage or single payer health care.  I am in favor of a single payer system.  Insurance companies are leeches standing between providers and consumers of services, sucking off resources that should be going to health care.  Anyways, read his thoughtful entry.  Here in the northeast we take freedom and liberty seriously.

Also, interesting article on the death/murder of 84 infants due to poisonous teething formula.  Imagine losing a baby because the teething formula was poisoned.

Okay then City or Country?

There was a letter on the Rawles’ website the other day from the owner of the the blog Surviving the Day After that basically chastised people for living in urban or suburban areas.  In other words if you didn’t live in the middle of nowhere than you were doomed. And if you didn’t head for the hills, leave the cities was the cry, then you’d be swept up in disaster and death.

Now seeing how this blog is Suburban Survival for the Simple I figured that I’d try to engage in some analysis.  Maybe we can look at some weaknesses and strengths of both.

I figure there’s maybe a handful of things that can happen that will cause total breakdown of society.  You got ya nuclear, biologic and chemical attacks.   I figure this would be over a limited area.  One, two, three cities?  Then you got ya plagues and flu epidemics, maybe throw in the Black Plague because those naughty boys have been playing with it.  Maybe fly in 5, 10 or 15 infected terrorists on different planes.  I guess that could spread and cause widespread panic, maybe martial law too. Than you got your EMP attacks.

All in all though I don’t see a complete breakdown.  Stores will be open, maybe with less selection, and definitely fewer stores.   I think mail will still be delivered.  Banks will still process payments.  The police, courts and jails will all be functioning.  Gas stations will be pumping gas.  What we do to put food on the table may change, but life will go on.  The medium of exchange we use may change, but the result will be the same.  Lawyers will definitely still be billing.  Carpenters building and teachers teaching.  World Keep On Turning.

Work > Earn > Build/Make > Buy/Barter

Most likely outcome is a continued slow economic slide lasting for years.  Maybe a decade before everything shakes out into our New Grand Economy.  More people living together.  More people working in agriculture and food production.  More local manufacturing.  Less driving and deliveries.  That’s all a different post though.

Like I said though if the mushroom cloud goes up, who knows.   Or if some pandemic spreads you wouldn’t want to be in population centers.  You can’t live your life in fear though.  Be prudent at all times, but we can’t make decisions based on fear.  Otherwise, if you jump in over your head too soon you could end up like those two in Montana.  They ran out of food.  She froze to death.  He was rescued by the sheriff.  He had lots of guns, but no food!!

Rule: if a nuclear bomb goes off in your city, town or village you don’t want to be there.

Rule: if there is a pandemic you want to avoid other people.

If you already live in the city or the burbs you already have a circle of friends and maybe family.  Having a support system is critical.  No way would you want to leave your friends and family during a time of crisis unless that location was dangerous.  In the city/burbs you have many more neighbors than you would in the country.   So you know your neighbors.  Hopefully they’re friends of yours.  Maybe you borrow tools from each other or can look out for each others stuff.   I think you’re better off staying where you know folks than running to a place full of untrusting strangers that probably won’t be too happy to see another refugee arrive to town.  No matter where you are knowing your neighbors is critical.  I know when I see strangers on my street I pay attention and am watching out for my neighbors’ houses, kids, cars and stuff.  I saw a neighbor’s car get hit and then the driver drove away.  I got the license plate and gave it to my neighbor who then called the cops.

Rule: It’s good to be where you know people.

Ditto for the neighborhood.  I’ve lived in this town for the better part of 45 years.   I know the streets, roads, sidewalks and deadends.  I know the hills and hollows.  I know the rivers and streams.  I could bug out of town and know how to avoid roads.  I know what rivers to float down  and where the falls are.

Rule: It’s good to know the terrain and geography.

I know the parks, libraries, hospitals, schools, stores and mechanics.  Better yet I know what merchants/doctors/restaurants/mechanics/stores/gas stations are good to go to and who to avoid.   You wanna run somewhere strange and not know where to get stitches, the best burger and beer, find town hall and police or get ripped off by some strange mechanic/dentist/lawyer/tradesperson that you don’t know?  Called the mechanic today, ‘you’ve been here before right?’ ‘yup, like 20 years.’

Rule: It’s good to know the people that you do business with.

Rule: It’s good to know where critical services are located.

Now let’s figure that you live in the middle of nowhere.  I’m not sure that the libraries will stay open.  How about that fire department, cops and schools.  Sure in the cities and burbs we’ll see a reduction in municipal services, but we won’t see the total disappearance of services.   The trash will still get picked up, maybe not as often, but it will get picked up.  How about snow plowing city v. country.   Then you got your medical services.  In the burbs and cities there is a large choice of providers.  Chances are they all aren’t going to fold up and close.  Out in the hinterlands if you only have one MD for 40 square miles then you ain’t too well diversified.  You don’t want your healthcare to get Madoff’ed.  The hospital here is close by and will stay open.

If the power lines go down, the telephone lines fall, the gas main break, the water pipes break which area will be fixed first?  I think you know the answer.

I can also see the delivery of food and other products breaking down the farther you move away from population centers.  I’m not sure if the tractor trailers are going to keep rolling quite as often anywhere.  So how often is that little country store that only 10 miles up from you going to get restocked, or the tanker trucks coming.  You can be certain the the majority of goods will be delivered to the more populated places more consistently.  It makes good economic sense doesn’t it?  That’s what I would do if I was in charge of logistics.

Rule: centers of population will get restocked more frequently, more resources will be allocated to them and municipal services may be more dependable than in rural areas

Boy if the price of gas ever goes up again… and I’d say the chance of that is a near perfect 100%, the further away that you live from where you need to go whether it’s the grocer, banker, USPS or your jay-oh-bee then the more the price of gas hurts.  When the cost of transportation is high then it’s good to live in close proximity to what you need.   Think where you’d rather live when gas hits $4, $5, $8 a gallon.  And it will.

I can walk to a hardware store, big grocery, church, a few small convenient stores, drug store, liquor store, sporting good store, USPS and so on.  I can ride my bike to just about anything you can imagine.

Rule: oil still has a world of upward potential as oil becomes more scarce driving may become a luxury for only the very rich.  Driving 30, 40 or 50 miles to the store, the job or the movies will be a rare event indeed.  I agree with Kunstler that the days of happy motoring are approaching an end.

If you don’t read Kunstler he is a must read.

My little town has its own bus that runs around.  Many urban/sub-urban places have buses, trains and subways that you can get around on.  Maybe even a cab service.  In the Hinterlands?  Not so much.

Then I imagine for the few jobs that do remain most of them will still be where most of the people are.  Lose you job out in the wild blue yonder and it make take a while longer to find a new one than in a more populated area.

Rule: the availability of public transportation is a large consideration.

Rule: the majority of jobs will continue to be where the majority of people are

Rule: if you want to develop your own business showing folks how to tie flies, plant gardens, repair bikes, watch/teach their kids or handy man business you will have a greater chance of success with a larger available market.

If you’re familiar with Ferfal’s blog then you know he writes with a first hand experience of what the decade long economic collapse of Argentina has been like.  A point he always makes is that there are home invasions in the city and in the country.  The difference is that in the country no one hears your yells so the criminals have more time to do the worst things imaginable to your family and you.  The city and country both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Rule: learn from the experiences of those who went before you and follow in their footsteps.  Learn from their mistakes.

Rule: the actual collapse of an advanced economy like Iceland or Argentina haven’t yet digressed in a Rabid Biker Zombie shoot em up.  Who knows about the future though.

Rule: due to concealability handguns seem much more useful during an economic collapse than rifles

It takes quite a few people to set up 24/7 guards and/or patrols.   The more you have and the more it’s spread out the tougher it is to protect.  If you own a large ranch or farm with equipment spread out over a wide area you may have a tough time protecting your crops, livestock, equipment and even metal pipes and fences from looters and thieves.

Rule: the more spread out you are the more difficult to defend

Rule: to defend a large homestead you would need a large number of people.

Rule: one or two families in a cabin in the woods can be waited out or burned out

Now ideally I think you’d have a number of places that you could bug out to if need be.  I live in the suburbs, but maybe it would be good to have some land, friends or family in a more rural area.  Ideally a few locations to run to in different parts of the country.  Be even better if you know some people in a foreign country that you could run to if need be.  That’s why I tell folks to Get Your Passport even if you don’t plan on going anywhere.  Better to have it and not use it then not being able to leave as quick as possible if the gates start slamming down.  You know how slow the folks at the USPS can move so get that paperwork moving along.  The regulations are changing in four months so get your passport now.

Rule: wherever you live be prepared to run to a few other locations

I don’t mean to rag on country places.  Having some land in the country and building a cabin is the dream of just about everyone isn’t it?  Although I have access to a trailer and some land in the North Country.  It’s not just to bug out too.  It’s a vacation place too.  I would like to buy some acreage and build my own low impact woodland home on it.  Check out the link there are plans.

Here is a pic of the front and the inside of what I’d like to eventually build.

front

wide2
I just want to point out that one setting may not be right for everyone.

Rule: And it doesn’t matter where you live as long as you Get Outside Everyday.

News and rants post

February 6, 2009

Just a general post of different news and thoughts.

720c4e6d5a_020409mccant1

The Perp

Follow up to the no torture blog from a few days back.  Hey I’m in favor of the death penalty and vigilante justice if you can be 100% certain that you have the right guy.  Yesterday there was a story on the news about some jerk that started hassling and groping some young woman on a bus. Then when she got off the bus the jerk followed her.  Luckily the bus driver helped the woman and prevented anything worse from happening.  I am a strong supporter of the rule of law and due process, but here we know we got the right guy.  I say beat the hell out of him so he never will consider committing the same transgression again.  It saves time and money and will get the job done.  I know I would have liked to put my heels to his head.

Fortunately, if someone isn’t caught red-handed in the act we have to let the wheels of justice slowly spin and hope that the courts, judges, jury, lawyers and witnesses all coalesce correctly so that the guilty are punished and the innocent are freed.

Which gets me back to the torture policy of the last administration and some Americans too.  There’s the sorry story of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen that was picked up in New York by the US government.  Because we can’t even manufacture paperclips any longer in the US, we also outsource torture, so We the People sent Mr. Arar to Syria where he was held incommunicado and was tortured for a year.  We The People illegally kidnapped some guy, sent him to a foreign land and had him tortured.

Or another legal resident of the US, Ali Saleh al-Marri who has been detained since 2001 AS A WITNESS.  Maybe he’s guilty of something and should be put to death, but we just don’t know because the government refuses to charge him or present any evidence.

Then there’s the case of another Muslim, Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen on vacation who was taken off of a tour bus, sent to Afghanistan and then beaten by CIA interrogators for a year.

That’s not the end of it, “In recent years, well over 100 people have disappeared or been “rendered” all around the world. Witnesses tell the same story: masked men in an unmarked jet seize their target, cut off his clothes, put him in a blindfold and jumpsuit, tranquilize him and fly him away.

And another, the CIA kidnapping a guy right off the streets in Italy.

No American should be pleased by these actions of our government.  How hard is it to imagine our government doing the same to any of us?  Believe me it’s a small step.  Today it’s Them.  Tomorrow it’s US. Trust me on this.

Don’t become desensitized to Our Government grabbing people, drugging them, sending them to some weird outpost and torturing them.  Today it’s Them.  Tomorrow it’s US.  Trust me on this.

Tomorrow it’s US.

Speaking of fascist Republicans, “Under a series of secret orders, Bush authorized the NSA for the first time to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails between the United States and a foreign country without any court review.  The law creating the court, called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, made it a federal crime—punishable by up to five years in prison—for any official to engage in such surveillance without following strict rules, including court approval.”  Here is a good story how a fascist government reacts to whistle blowers, “18 FBI agents—some of them wearing black flak jackets and carrying guns—showed up unannounced at Tamm’s redbrick colonial home in Potomac, Md., with a search warrant.

And since I’m on our country’s rapid slide into fascism, let’s not forget the treatment of Jose Padilla.  Not doubt Mr. Padilla is a despicable character, but he was held without being charged and then administered mind altering drugs.  Free countries don’t hold suspects indefinitely without being charged or administer  psychotropic or hallucinogenic drugs to prisoners or accidentally (of course) destroy tapes of the interrogation.

Read this, “Fascist America, in 10 easy steps.”

Are you worried yet, or do you defend these intrusions in exchange for an ethereal breath of fleeting safety?

Then I’m liking this Obama thing restricting the pay of the executives whose organizations receive taxpayer bailout funds.  “President Barack Obama on Wednesday imposed a $500,000 cap on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving taxpayer bailout money…”  I like that.  I don’t expect it to make a difference, but it feels good.  Ska-rew the banks.  If people that get welfare or food stamps lose their rights, told how to spend their money or give up their privacy rights, then inanimate corporations should be held to the same freaking standard.

I screwed up.”President Obama speaking about his nomination of that feckless and feeble Tom Daschle.  It’s nice to hear someone admit to a mistake so frankly.   Remember when a reporter asked President Bush to cop to a mistake that he made and Bush replied, I wish you’d have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it,” Bush chuckled. After assuring the reporter that “something will pop into my head,” he finally gave up, admitting, “I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.”

My thought has always been that you need to be able to recognize mistakes in order to take corrective action.  If it makes sense, someone that is never wrong can never be right.  Anyways, I like having a president that can say, “I screwed up.”  Talk about the buck stopping there.  It’s about time.

And then on the other hand I can’t tolerate the revolving door between the government/military/industry and media.  Raytheon lobbyist picked for deputy Defense post. WTF!?!?!  The guy who was Raytheon’s top lobbyist is nominated by President Obama to decide what military contractors will win the bids.  Doesn’t that just reek of corruption?  It’s wrong.  It’s thievery.  It’s piracy.

Add why does it seem like everyone Obama appoints has tax problems? WTF.  First there was Daschle or Dickless as I like to call him.  Now it’s his labor secretary. Why isn’t anyone doing any kind of due diligence and vetting on Obama’s appointees?  It doesn’t give me much confidence in the runnings of the new administration.  It’s just two weeks yester.

A few reasons why I believe in a graduated tax are because those who make more can afford more, sorry folks that’s the way it is.  Trying to pay 10% of $1,000,000 and live on the $900,000 is a helluva lot different than making $10,000 and trying to live on $9,000.  Also, those who benefit the most from our system should pay the most.  You’re free to disagree,

Now why does it seem that those who make the most are able to pay the least and cheat on their taxes the most?

Have you heard Billionaire Buffet lament that he pays a lower effective rate than his secretary and his cleaner.  Is that fair? NO! NO! NO!  He benefited more.  He should pay more.

Why should unearned income be taxed at a lower rate than wages?  Why should FICA have a cap at $80,000?

I’ll tell you why………….because the millionaires and billionaires can afford lobbyists, lawyers and tax accountants.  Why do you think Billionaire Steve Forbes is pushing the flat tax?  Do you think it’s because he loves the welfare recipient or the factory line worker?

The next time you listen to Rush and he’s pushing some tax cut or change to the system please call him and ask him how much $ he stands to gain then ask how much $ your family stands to gain.   Rush received MILLIONS in tax cuts while getting his hourly wage slave listeners to support them.  You’re a bunch of rubes.  More below.

The collapse accelerates.  Weekly jobless claims were released, 626,000 Americans were laid off last week. That’s ain’t just a number.  That’s 626,000 families whose lives were overturned last week.  Think about that.  People worried about paying rent/mortgage, putting gas in their tank, food in their bellies or shoes on their kids feet.  This is serious, serious stuff. Economics is more often the cause of revolution than politics and liberty.

Wasn’t the American Revolution v.1 fomented more by taxation and unfair market protection for the East India Trading Company then any grand experiment in democracy?  Thoughts?

Concerning the acceleration, The US president Barack Obama says more American banks will collapse as a result of the global financial crisis.”

Inflation/Deflation blah, blah, blah.  At some point inflation is going to come back worse then ever.   You can’t run the printing presses and sell bonds like the US has without a future inflation.  I liked this video that explains a good metric to use to track trends.  It’s a short video and worth watching. Got silver?  Got gold? I’m not saying to buy PM’s because they do seem historically high to me right now.  I wish I bought 10 years ago, but I do think there is a lot of eventual upside to them.

The market is currently up over 100 points and why not weekly jobless claims jumped and retailers are biting the dust. (sarcasm) If you have any money in equities I hope it’s gambling money or you know something the rest of us don’t.  Oh sure, it’s bumping up due to the wish of more federal bailout monies for the banks that now need a bailout after Years and Years and Years of record profits.  I’d say it’s time for the shareholders to take it on the chin not the taxpayers.   The stock market is irrational.

We have not hit bottom yet.  The Elliot Wave gang is saying that we may fall to 5,000.  I’m not sure how much stock (pun intended) I put into Wave analysis, but I don’t think we’re near bottom.  Still an interesting tool to use for analysis.

Cheney is back doing what he does best, and enjoys most, building fear up in the American people.  Boo! the bad guys are trying to kill us.  Be very afraid.

Doesn’t Cheney have anyone else to shoot in the face?  BTW I do hold Cheney accountable for shooting his hunting companion.  I don’t care if his victim forgave him.  When you shoot you have to know what’s behind your target.

Why doesn’t Cheney go back to what he does best and lay some people off.  Although the Republicans have done a great marketing job of painting the Dems as being responsible for defense cutbacks, as SecDef, “Over Cheney’s four years as secretary of defense, encompassing budgets for fiscal years 1990-93, DoD’s total obligational authority in current dollars declined from $291.3 billion to $269.9 billion. Except for FY 1991, when the TOA budget increased by 1.7 percent, the Cheney budgets showed negative real growth: -2.9 percent in 1990, -9.8 percent in 1992, and -8.1 percent in 1993. During this same period total military personnel declined by 19.4 percent, from 2.202 million in FY 1989 to 1.776 million in FY 1993. The Army took the largest cut, from 770,000 to 572,000-25.8 percent of its strength. The Air Force declined by 22.3 percent, the Navy by 14 percent, and the Marines by 9.7 percent.

Slowly now – under Bush 41 and Cheney the Marines were cut 10%, the Navy 14%, the Air Force 22% and the Army 26%.  Got that!?!

And Clinton got blamed!! And you believed the Republican Media!! Hahaha!! Marketing con jobs don’t equate with the truth.  Does the truth hurt you? The other side is that Clinton got credit for the peace dividend and the budget surplus that came about partly due to Cheney’s cuts as Secdef.  BTW I was in favor of the cutbacks and base closings.  I still think our military is at least 50% larger then it should be.

Yup, the military is too big.  It’s corporate welfare with hardly any return or multiplier effect to the common cause. There was a reason that the framers were against standing armies because, “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

It’s my sincere belief that if the military is too large we will be too anxious to use it.

And of course the bailout of the banks got screwed up.  “The Bush administration received assets that were worth $78 billion less than the amount it invested as part of the massive infusion of capital into the country’s banks, congressional investigators have found.”

Let’s blame it on Obama and his Soo-shall-ism.

Let’s just give the richest 1% of Americans more of our hard earned money and call it a day.  We don’t need our government to do it.  “Not since the ’20s has income inequality been this great.”  It’s not a mistake.  This is what tax cuts do.  The richest 1% get filet mignon and you get tube steak.  And you bought it!

Glen Beck is a weird creature.  I don’t have an opinion on him.  I like some of the crap he spouts and dislike some of his spew.    I don’t think that Glen Beck is a great or deep thinker.  He’s more an opinion man and shoots from the hip.  I saw a transcript from his show the other night saying that Obama is fear mongering.  Maybe so, but I’ve yet to hear the vision of mushroom clouds or UAV’s spraying bugs over American cities used to lead us into the wrong war at the wrong time.  I’ll just rebut a few things that Mr. Beck spoke about.  To quote Dick Armey, ‘a jackass can bring down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to put one up.’  BTW I don’t like Armey.  He’s wrong about almost everything.  I wrote him a letter one time telling him that he was wrong about everything.  He actually responded with a thoughful, well-reasoned personal letter back to me.  For that I admire and respect the man, in spite of my disagreements with him.

1. The recession will last for years.  We may face a decade like the Japanese did or worse we may face an Argentinian or Icelandic style breakdown.  Fear mongering to point that out?  Would you rather have a president that tells you to go shopping and act as if nothing has changed?  Remember two weeks after 9/11 Bushie told us to go to Disney World and visit the malls?

Which do you want to be told to go shopping or that the country is facing big problems?

2. Beck complained about the cancellation of oil leases.   Good.  I would have canceled them years ago or charge the companies what they should be paying.    What lies on the people’s common land is for the common good.  It’s not to be sold or leased to private concerns at below market rates in order to enrich private ownership.  And don’t forget that the government overseers were doing coke and were actually in bed (having sex) with those they were supposed to oversee.  Cut the oil companies off from the leases is my opinion. Ska-rew them too!

3. I don’t begrudge the money for the WIC program.  This is money for hungry woman and little kids.  It’s better than bonuses for the guys that drove the banks into the ground.  More people need help now than a year ago.  These monies make a difference on the poorest streets of America.  Why do Republicans hate food, medicine and shelter for the hungry, sick and cold?

4. Money for jobs for people is okay with me.

5.  Money for university building projects is okay with me.  Educational facilities have a big payback to a society.

6. $500 Mill for the NIH is reasonable.  Think if some flu bug got going and the NIH wasn’t funded, do you think Beck would complain?

7. $1Bill for the Census seems good.  They Census hires lots of people and this money will be injected right back into the economy.  Seems like a better bet considering how we gave the banks much more than that and the banks aren’t making loans or even telling us what they did with the money.

8. $89 Bill for Medicaid.  I don’t begrudge money spent on healthcare.  Medicaid helps millions of people.  We need to remove healthcare from employment.  If you don’t agree with me now, you will when your wife or you loses your job.  And at least one of you will!

9. $36 Bill for COBRA coverage.  COBRA helps people who got laid off.  I know people that are making use of COBRA.  With unemployment spiking the way it it this seems like a good use of funds.  Any of you know someone making use of COBRA?  Money for kids’ healthcare is good too.  Look at number 8 again.

10.  $20 Bill for more food stamps seems good to me to when so many people are hurting.  Once again this is money that will be injected right into the corner store or bodega.  Twice again why do Republicans hate giving food to the hungry?

11.  Begrudge more money spent on Amtrak?  This is what I mean, is Beck just stupid?  Ahhh, due to Peak Oil we need to spend much, much more money on mass transit.   Why does Beck throw darts at more money being spent on mass transit?

12. Money spent on ice breakers.  Beck is like a six year old.  The ice doesn’t just disappear overnight.  Because the ice is melting many more ships are taking the short route through the poles.  There is a big race on to also claim resources under the ice. An icebreaker will help commerce to keep moving.  Just last week a ship was rescued by an icebreaker.

13.  $150 Mill for producers of livestock, fish and bees seems like a good investment to me.  What’s more important than securing our supply of food?  How fast do you think Beck would blame the government when the food supply dries up or the food chain breaks down?

14. Beck goes on to deride money spent on alternative energies, green technologies and conservation measures.  Sensible investments and the manufacture of high tech batteries  could employ thousands in the coming years.

He closes by asking if anyone else is insulted.  Yeah I’m insulted by Beck’s stupidity and shortsightedness.  It’s easy to throw stones and not so easy to come up with ideas to fix problems.  Beck is a moron.  Might be fun for entertainment, but it’s a good thing he’s not setting policy.  His thoughts are an inch deep and as wide as the Mississippi.

In the end we get the government that we deserve. Some good Mencken quotes on government.

Get outside everyday.  A healthy heart will do more for you than thirty 30 round mags.  You live how you want.  You polish your guns.  Hold them close like a 14 year old with his Playboys.  Meanwhile I’ll do my pullups, walk everyday or ski, eat well, sleep well because of exercise and not be a fat tub o lard sitting on the couch watching the tube.

i5Last Sunday we went back to that abandoned ski area again for a few runs.  Six times up and six times down.  Here is Running Bear skiing being chased by Green Eyed Dog through the beautiful birch forest.  Tough to see, but those gators that Running Bear is wearing were made at one of those stores that existed in the 70’s where you could sew your own outside and camping gear.  Anyone remember those stores?  You’d buy the kit and then use the stores sewing machines to make your own backpack, tent, sleeping bag or gators.  Running Bear still has his hand crafted gators that are 30 years old.  Notice those big office buildings in the background.  You can find nature anywhere if you open your eyes.

Another snowy day the other …

i9

Snowy woods on a snowy day.  Mmmm, mmmm, good.


It’s wrong.

January 26, 2009

Torture is wrong.  I know some may disagree with me.  I’m against torture for a number of reasons: I don’t think that it is effective, it’s illegal, I think that it lowers our moral standing around the world and I think it puts our service people at risk.  One day when I was driving I saw this sign and liked it.

p1010003Sign in front of the local Quaker Meeting House.

1. Torture doesn’t work.  I know that someone will say anything to end pain and suffering.  That’s the crux of it.  Even in an imaginary ticking timebomb scenario like you see on 24, a committed terrorist is just as likely to give bad info to end his suffering as accurate info.  Then we have a ticking timebomb and the good guys going off in the wrong direction.  It’s tough enough to find a needle in the haystack without making the haystack any larger.

2. Torture is illegal.  Our constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment.  There is no doubt that torture is cruel and unusual.  We’re trying to get info by applying cruel and unusual physical and mental mistreatment.  Torture is also illegal under UN conventions and international treaties that the US is a party to.  Holding a gun to someone’s head or waterboarding are both forms of mock executions and therefore illegal under both US and international law.

3. Torture lowers our standing around the world.  At one time the US was the shining beacon of hope.  Not so much any longer.  Now our major export appears to be weapons and war.  At one time we would speak out against rogue regimes that practiced torture, now we engage in the same acts that we once decried.  It’s pretty tough to condemn others who torture when we do the same stuff and send our captives to places like Syria and Egypt to be tortured.  Now we even outsource torture.

4.  It’s a race to the bottom.  If we torture their guys than how can we legitimately complain when they torture our guys.  When we engage in torturing captives it places all US citizens at greater risk.  As someone who still carries the scars of torture, ask Senator McCain about torture.

Is there anything we won’t do?

winter24Taking a rest.

winter4It’s tough to see here, but this is what we call a bowl.  We like to ski bowls because you can go side to side and downhill the whole time.  It means a longer ride and more turns for less effort.  Right before this picture was taken I took a good spill.  I was skiing down one trail, crossed another trail, went over the lip of this bowl, followed the fall line where a little frozen stream runs and then did a face plant.  Oh well.  No falls, no balls.

The Four Agreements

January 20, 2009

Has anyone ever heard of the Four Agreements?

The Four Agreements isn’t just a wonderful book, it’s also a way of life.  I think everyone can try to apply the concepts to their life.

4abookIn a nutshell there are four rules that we should try to live by.  Humans have a tendency to make everything about themselves.  Each of us thinks that we are the center of the universe and everything is about us.  Sorry to break it to you folks, but the world will keep on spinning no matter what happens to you, me or anyone else.

So here they are:

“1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”

For me I think number 2 is the toughest.  When I run into rude or mean people sometimes I make the mistake of thinking that it’s about me, or something that I may have done, it’s usually not.  Most likely the rude or mean person has something else going on in their own life and is just projecting their anger onto others.  And who doesn’t like to gossip.

In heavily populated areas as things start to degrade and earning a living gets tougher and tougher people are going to get more aggressive and act out more.  With declining availability of resources we’re all going to get on each others’ nerves more and more.  People are more likely to act out and behave poorly.  Young folks, guys particularly, have this whole thing now where they have to act project a “hard” personna.

We need to develop thick skin.  We need to learn to walk away from conflict and truly turn the other cheek.  We need to control ourselves to prevent the escalation of a simple misunderstanding into a shooting or stabbing.

To keep ourselves from being drawn into unnecessary conflict we have to learn not to take things personally.

Apologize and back away. Swallow your pride and walk away.  You don’t always need to be right.

And if you’ve done all of the above and conflict is inevitable and unavoidable than gut the bastard, bleed him slowly and bury him in a deep grave with lime.  And shed no tears because you did everything that you could do.

Get outside everyday –

p1010051The Four Agreements and this post are all about developing thick skin.  In other words we need to be like ducks and let the rain drops just roll off of our backs.  Get the picture?  Quack.  Notice that Mr. Mallard in the right foreground is eating a french fry.  We never through food out.  Someone somewhere will be happy to have it.  Please don’t throw organic stuff out in plastic bags where it can’t decompose.

mountain2Becoming better at anything is a struggle.  Here my friend is struggling to stay vertical. Most assuredly by struggling he is becoming a better skier.  Whether it’s shooting, gardening, sewing, cooking, canning, reading or doing math you can only get better through practice, sweat and struggle.  Every blister is the reward for hard work.

Failure

January 7, 2009

Failure?  Really, what’s failure, but an unintended change of plans.

Nothing good comes easy.  I was out skiing the other day, and as is often the case when I’m in the woods, I got to thinking.  You come to a path with a fork, the easy way or the hard way.  It’s always easier to maintain the status quo – to keep doing what you are currently doing.  Keep the same job, stay in the same apartment, keep the same dirty habits and not sign up for that class that you always have thought of taking.

How many times did you fall from the horse when you were learning to ride?  How many times do you think an Olympic gymnast falls from the balance beam or smacks her chest into the uneven bars on her way to winning a medal?

Failure and struggle are the flames that harden our resolve.  I always thought that it is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all.  We need to be strong and sure enough to press on even in the face of adversity and failure. Once we set our compass we can’t allow anything to prevent us from reaching our goal.  Every path is filled with pitfalls.  Every shoe is filled with pebbles.  Even our friends and families sometimes try and dissuade us.  Really, sometimes those closest to us are negative influences towards positive change, but that’s another post.

Change and learning new things is tough.  It’s easy to sit home every night with your butt on the couch.  Changing takes time, effort, discipline and resolve.  Personally, I would rather fail ten times at something new than never to have tried to achieve in the first place.

Set your goals, develop a plan, harden your resolve, press on and achieve.  The decision is yours, you can be the log or you can be the wedge.

I like to say that, “You can’t make cookies without breaking some eggs.

And my father would say, “It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it.”

If you are afraid of falling you’ll never ski.

Running Bear downhill

This is Running Bear skiing downhill.  Don’t try this at home kids.  Classic old fashioned NON-RESORT New England skiing.  The trail is greater than a 30 degree grade.  Notice the close placement of the trees.

p1010115Here Running Bear is close to the point of Operator Failure (“OF”).  Green Eyed Dog is a little concerned.

p1010116Here we see Running Bear has reached the terminal point of OF.  (It is funny when your friends fall, but only because I know he’ll bounce right back up.) Do you think that Running Bear is done?  Please don’t insult him.  No, Running Bear will get up, brush himself off and we will go on our way for more uphills, downhills and falls.

My point is that you can’t be afraid to fail and when you inevitably do, you need to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and move on.  NEXT!