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Monday, July 28, 2014

The tribe and the world

Humans spent a long time living in small bands of hunter gatherers. Connecting with 30 – 50 people is pretty much hard wired. When a tribe got much bigger than that, it tended to split off into different subgroups. For most of us today, we still really only deeply connect with a relatively small number of people.

Then came civilization. Frameworks had to be set up to get people to cooperate on a larger scale. The people in charge try to expand the natural loyalty people have to small groups to a much larger group. It kinda works, but at great cost. Civilization requires taxes and armies. We've grown from the village, to the city, to the nation, to empires. There are benefits, but most of the benefits go to a tiny elite. History has plenty of examples of individuals and small groups breaking away from civilization when the costs get too high.

Even countries' militaries know better than to count too much on national loyalty. Most soldiers do not fight for their country as much as they fight for their brothers in arms. Small military units have similar personal dynamics to ancient hunting and raiding bands.

Some thinkers, philosophers, and Science Fiction writers think corporations will replace the nation state. The largest corporations have more assets than all but the largest countries. They are not limited by national boundaries. Their reach is world wide. Some even employ mercenaries and private intelligence agencies. Their fatal flaw, as I see it, is that they only exist to make money. It's hard to be too loyal to an organization that isn't loyal to you.

Large multi nation organizations have existed before corporations and still exist today: religions. Their influence on people's lives have varied from very little to all encompassing. Religions tend to emphasize how their members are special compared to everyone else. It's one of the ways they try to bond their group together. While religion can be a strong bond, the fact that so many people of the same religion fight each other shows its limits. Religions also tend to fragment into different sects. Size is always the problem as we are still hardwired to bond with fairly small groups. Just think about people who are avid church goers and move to a new area. How many of them never feel comfortable in a different congregation in the same religion? It's not easy to join a new tribe. They were not dedicated to their religion as much as they were to their local church tribe.

So what's a 21st century person suppose to do? First of all, make sure you have a tribe. In the modern world it's a mix of family, friends, and maybe some coworkers, co-religionists and neighbors. They have to be people you connect with and can rely on. They might not be people you even like especially all that much, but you can rely on each other in a tight spot.

As for the rest of the world? It's tempting to just write them off and stick to one's tribe. However, a few thousand years of culture, civilization, and religion have left their mark on us. On a personal level I try very hard to recognize the godhood in everyone. Sometimes I have to look really really hard, but it's better than nothing. That leaves me with my brothers (my tribe) and the brotherhood of man. (and woman, you know what I mean). All the in between stuff: civilization, nations, religions, and stuff are not that important to me. It's just the very small groups and the biggest. The small we can connect to with our hearts, the largest we can connect to using our brains. A little spirituality can glue it all together.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The last 100 feet and new neighbors

A new neighbor stopped and introduced herself to my lovely wife and I. She and her son were looking for the boundary markers. Apparently they were also looking for a place to drive their ATVs through the woods to the lake road.

It's isn't going to happen. They bought a nice log cabin at a foreclosure sale. It has 5 acres of land with it. None of that land will connect with my road. Years ago people on the lake side bought lots on the other side of the road just to prevent access. The idea at the time was to prevent a logging road from going in. Nothing like a major logging operation to mess up a tiny lake front area. It's also been a good barrier against over development. There are enough buildings around the lake as it is.

She hinted that maybe I'd let her kids cut across my land. I pretended that I didn't get the hint. It's not the first time someone's wanted to use my property as a short cut. I've never given permission as I like my privacy.

Here's some helpful hints about moving into a rural area from the city. The locals don't want to hear how much better, cheaper, more sophisticated, or bigger things are back home. If it was so great why did you buy property here? Don't insult the people, places, businesses or institutions. The local you talk to might be really fond of those things. If a local tries to correct your pronunciation of local places, don't disagree and say the way it should be pronounced.

Yep, the new neighbor made all these errors and more. Let's just say that first impressions were mixed. I'm a pretty understanding and forgiving guy. A smart person will catch on and work harder to fit in with the locals. Ignorance can be fixed. A stupid person will arrogantly persist in their errors and wonder why no one likes them. Time will tell.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Boat Progresses

It's starting to look like a boat -an odd little scow of a boat, but a boat none the less.

This first photo is of the big blunt bow. The cabin has been roofed over.

The second photo is from the stern. There's the lazarette with a big white deck plate for access. Past that, in front of the open cabin is a rowing bench that stretches from one side to the other. The space under the seat is open to the cabin, allowing for some much needed leg room.

The big bench rowing seat is a departure from the plans. The plans also called for bench seats on each side. My lovely wife asked if it would be possible to not build them in. She'd rather have removable seating and that's fine with me.

I've an old utility trailer that will be modified to carry the boat. It needs some work. The tires are pretty worn and the springs are tired. A buddy of mine has some heavy duty springs that he's willing to install for me, so that's a relief. Tires aren't too expensive for that size trailer.

I've got to get everything ready in time to take the boat traveling with us this coming winter.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Boat Balance

Always it's the same dilemma When the weather is perfect for sailboat building, it's also perfect for sailing the boat I already have. My Oday 19 sits just off my beach, about 350 feet from where I'm working on the Ooze Goose. Decisions, decisions.

My lovely wife and I were having our morning coffee outside in our yard. As we were soaking up the sun we heard the song of the halyards. The halyards are the ropes that raise the sails. When it's windy, the halyards bang against the aluminum mast. Wind strong enough to ring the mast are strong enough for good sailing. What could we do? We answered the call.

Temperatures were in the mid 70s. The wind was strong enough to move the boat nicely, but no so strong as to demand our full attention. There were no other boats on the lake. It was just us, the loons, and the osprey.

We stopped to have a late lunch. Then it was time to work on the project boat. After a few hours I ran out of screws and glue anyway, so there was no way I could have spent all day building. It was a good stopping point as the glue needs time to set. In the morning another trip to the hardware store is in order.

With today's addition of a rowing seat the boat is almost ready for a test run. All it needs is the oarlocks installed and it could be rowed. That's real tempting, but I should finish up the rest of it before wetting the hull. Playing with it on the water now would only delay it's final completion.

My sandpaper arrived in the mail today. Maybe I'll test it after it's sanded and painted. I haven't even started the sailing rig. The boat project is at the point where there's a lot of waiting for glues to set and then I'll be waiting for paint to dry. The only thing to do then is to answer the call of the halyards.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Financial institution warning signs

Last year I had to deal with the hassles of my credit union being bought out by a bigger credit union. What a mess that turned out to be. My lovely wife and I planned to travel all winter. That required that we be able to do our normal business electronically. It was all we could do to straighten out our business before heading south in October.

The credit union web site went though a couple of redesigns, requiring new passwords and procedures. One day all the debit and credit cards in our branch simply refused to function. They made an error transferring the accounts to the new server. Every card read like they were maxed out.

Since we've gotten back from our trip, there have been a number of little red flags popping up. Things that I was able to do with the old credit union can no longer be done. Services have been cut back and restrictions added that were not there before. One of the big warning signs for me was walking in the credit union during the day, seeing only one teller on duty, and not having to wait for service. Of course, the teller was unable to complete my transaction due to a new policy.

Today I started to take steps to untangle myself from that institution. By August I should be able to move my business elsewhere. Right now it looks like my business will be split between a tiny credit union and a mid sized state bank. Thay should be able to handle my rather modest needs.

This is also a good time to simplify my financial doings. Over time household business can get more complicated than it needs to be. Things just sort of evolve. Last winter I had to do electronic banking at least once a month, sometimes more often. My goal is to have things at a point where if I did nothing at all for six months there would be no major negative consequences. That would allow me to explore some really remote places.

It would not surprise me to see the old credit union taken over by another institution or even closed down. There are warning signs.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Endless Summer

When I was kid, I used to live for summer school vacation. It's when I was let of prison for an all too brief reprieve. As a little kid, summer seemed to last forever. When old enough to work summer jobs, summer got a whole lot shorter.

Before then, however, I had huge gobs of unstructured time. Not only did I have time, I had freedom to do things in it. My buddies and I would disappear into the woods, only to come back at dark. Our bikes would take us to local lakes, neighboring towns, and deep into the woods on logging roads. Today parents would be arrested for giving their kids such freedom. Back then, it was normal.

It saddens me to see how summer has changed for young people. Every minute of the school year is structured but summer is just as heavily scheduled. Little people are dragged from one supervised activity to another.

Kids that aren't shuttled around all summer spend day after beautiful day inside playing video games. The outside world isn't safe.

Maybe it's by design that those endless summer days are no more. Perhaps too many of us, having gotten a taste of freedom, wanted it in their adult life too. Now we should all be happy little drones who should feel lucky that we can work constantly without a vacation, never mind a whole summer off.

As for me, it's too late. Having tasted the sweet fruit of freedom I'll never be a model worker drone ever again.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer on the Lake

Well, it's another late post. I blame wonderful weather. My lovely wife and I went from having no plans to having a campfire with family and friends. In fact, my daughter and granddaughter are staying over. It's all good and I love it.

We will have more company in the morning. Visiting friends in the afternoon. After that we are reconnecting with another friend we haven't seen in years. Suddenly, everyone wants to be social.

I could worry about all the projects and business I'm not getting done, but instead I'm kicking back and enjoying myself. Tribe building is an important activity too.