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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Luck of the Irish

My Irish buddy explained what "Luck of the Irish" is. It's when you step in dog crap, but you are wearing your old shoes.

The last couple of days, I've had just that kind of luck. Saturday my lovely wife and I drove down to Massachusetts to visit my daughter and her family. As we pulled into her town, the transmission started to slip badly. We did make it to their house, but just barely.

We'd planned on heading home Sunday, but fortunately, we didn't need to be home. Today the garages were open and I was able to get the truck into a transmission shop. It's going to need a new transmission. That's the dog crap part of things.

However, if I have to replace a transmission, this is the place to do it. The closest transmission shop to where I live is a good 50 miles away. In my daughter's city, there are four shops that specialized in transmissions. Might as well get it done here, where's there's some competition.

My wife had to get home because she has a doctor's appointment. As it happens, a friend of mine was able to give her a lift. He happened to be traveling through. I'm staying in MA until the job is done.

The mechanic asked if I did a lot of hauling. I mentioned that I'm going to be towing a sailboat. Turns out he's an avid sailor and we had a nice chat about sailing. He decided to reclassify my truck as a work truck so it got moved to the front of the line. That will save me a few days. He's also making sure to use heavy duty parts to stand up to towing.

Luck of the Irish. Having a transmission blow is never good, but if it had to be replaced, this was the way to do it.

-Sixbears

Monday, November 29, 2010

Free Range Human

City life is more energy efficient than country life. Sadly, this to a large extent is true.

A city does a lot of things. Much of what a person needs in daily life is within walking distance. If too far to walk, then a short metro or a city bus ride will get you to what you need. Out in the country, everything is far away. In the city, a car is unnecessary. In the country, it's almost unthinkable not to have one. In fact, most people will have more than one.

Housing people is more efficient in the city. City apartments do more with less square footage. They don't need the same space. No need for a garage if you have no car. No need for a big pantry if you walk past the market and dozens of restaurants every day. Heck, no need for a kitchen if all your meals are in restaurants or take out.

Apartment buildings tend to be more efficient than individual houses. It's simple geometry. Heat is lost from outside walls. A stand alone house can lose heat in all directions. In an apartment building, most of your walls are shared with other apartments, not the outside.

So cities are more efficient. Why don't I live in one?

Chickens.

What's the most efficient way to raise chickens? Huge factory warehouses. Like a city, they have tremendous efficiencies of scale. Chickens take up very little space individually, as they are really packed in under one big roof. It's easy to feed them in conveyor like fashion. Food in, wastes out, huge production -just like a city.

Free range country chickens are different birds entirely. They see the light of day. Much of their feed is not standardized. Much of their diet comes from weeds and bugs they scratch up themselves. They run around loose, doing whatever they want.

The factory chickens all have exactly the same experiences in life. Everything is controlled and regimented. Free range chickens develop individual personalities because their lives have variety. They live closer to a wild state than their factory farmed cousins.

I like to think of myself as a free range human. Not quite wild, as there are still societal cages around me, but it's a lot easier to jump the fence.

If you live in a city, that's fine, if that's what you like. However, ask yourself; are you a factory farmed domesticated animal?

-Sixbears

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Father of Invention

Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. Ever wonder why we don't hear anything about the father of invention? Is it because they don't really want to talk about him in polite company? Perhaps they are just a bit ashamed of him?

You see, the father of invention is laziness. Laziness doesn't get the respect it deserves. Hard work is supposed to be good for a person and build character. If it's so good for us, how come so many of us keep avoiding it? I think hard work is over rated.

Think about it, if we weren't afraid of hard work, we'd all be dibble stick barbarians. We are too lazy to plant our fields by poking a stick in the ground over and over again to plant seeds. Our inventions have allowed us to mechanize the whole process. Today's commercial farmer doesn't have to get much dirt under his fingernails. Now I'm not saying today's farmers are lazy. They actually still work hard. The ones who really benefit are the 97% of the population that no longer have to work the soil.

Cheap oil has powered the machine age. Our labor saving inventions provide our necessities with a lot less brow sweat than it used to take. That's the mother and father of invention working together: finding a lazy way to get what we need.

Transportation has also benefited by the illegitimate offspring of mother and father invention. Few of us walk the miles our great grandparents had to walk in their day to day lives. We've invented machines for that. We are too lazy to walk our 20 miles a day.

Cheap oil was the mother's milk of our industrial machine age. Now the cheap stuff is gone. We still have an awful lot of necessities that need to be filled. We all still like to eat, and don't want to work real hard for it.

Will we have to all go back to the land with our dibble sticks? Maybe more of us will have to provide our own food, but I've still got a lot of hope for the father of invention. There are ways of producing food that have low energy inputs -both chemical and physical energy. Permaculture comes to mind. Once established, it's a pretty low demand system. No doubt other lazy methods will also be developed.

The power of laziness can be applied in many situations. For example, I'm lazy and don't want to gather any more firewood that I have to. The lazy solution involves employing low cost insulation to reduce my firewood needs. If I wasn't lazy, I'd gladly chop a dozen cords of wood every year.

The key to laziness is knowing how to apply it. It might be necessary to put in a little work up front for big laziness pay offs later. A permaculture garden takes work to set up, but properly done, you're grandkids will still benefit from it. Making a house weather tight takes some work, but it frees up time and money for many lazy years to come. Setting up an off grid house takes work, but when the electric bill disappears, that's on less bill you won't have to work to pay off.

The mistake many people make is accepting short immediate laziness instead of future long term laziness. Being too lazy to insulate the house causes unnecessary work to heat the house in future winters. If you are too lazy to grow your own food, (in a low effort way, if possible) then it's work work work all the time to earn your daily bread.

Planning and thinking is often mistaken for work. Anything that can be done with your feet up on your desk, drinking a hot coffee, sheltered from nasty weather, and with clean hands, is a lazy man's job. It can save you from real work -done with heavy things, in uncomfortable circumstances. Don't know why thinking isn't more popular.

So let's hear it for the under appreciated father of invention: laziness. May it always serve you well -as it has served me.

-Sixbears

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Storm Windows

Always wanted to change the old single pane windows in the original part of the house. The dome addition has nice double pane argon filled windows. Downstairs, it's old double hung windows. There was always something more pressing, (or interesting) to spend money on.

Single pane windows lose a lot of heat. Every year, they've been covered up with one thing or another. In the early years, I had some scrap wood and built frames covered in plastic. Those were then screwed over the outside of the windows. They worked well enough for a few years. One annoyance was that the plastic was translucent, not clear. It wasn't possible to see anything out the windows.

Eventually, the plastic became brittle and the frames broke. After that, we tried the clear plastic that's applied with double sided tape on the inside of the windows. Once the plastic is in place, a hair dryer shrinks the wrinkles out out of the plastic. That too works well enough and has the added bonus of being perfectly clear. Two problems: the plastic is only good for one season, and the tape has a tendency to remove paint off the window frames.

We even tried bubble wrap. A local store had a huge amount of bubble wrap to give away. It actually insulates a window really well. Of course, we are left with the old problem of not being able to see out the windows.

This year, we had the money to put in brand new windows, but it was much more interesting to buy a sailboat. After buying the sailboat, something still had to be done about the windows. None of the old standbys interested me this year. It was time to try something new.

I must confess to being a bit of a pack rat. Over the years, I've acquired a goodly number of old windows. Most of them are for a greenhouse project, but there are more than I need for that. I found some of the salvaged windows were a few inches winder than my house windows. After cleaning them up and replacing some loose glazing, I screwed them right over the outside of the house windows.

Not only do they work really well, they even look pretty good. Better yet, they are reusable and didn't cost any money. The only downside is that they work well enough that I might never get around to replacing the old windows with new.

-Sixbears

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Friday, November 26, the holiest day in the consumer calendar. It's the day for shopping madness. Stores open their doors like the legs of a cheap . . . Oh never mind.

I never go shopping November 26. Now some people boycott Black Friday to make an anti consumerist statement. For me, it's nothing so organized. The shopping scene on that day is enough to keep me away, all by itself.

Isn't greed a sin? What else is it but greed when people camp out to be first in line to buy some big flat screen TV for 50% off?

Black Friday will find me entertaining some old friends. We'll put the coffee on and catch up. Thanksgiving day is spent with family, but the day after is a great time to reconnect with those who've moved out of town. The holiday brings them back. We'll tell stories and have a lot of laughs. Might even break out the guitars and badly play some good music.

Beats fighting the crazed crowds trapped in the throes of a spending frenzy.

-Sixbears

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Wishes

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.

This is just about my most favorite holiday. Beats the heck out of Christmas in my book. Christmas is way too crazy. Expectations are high, stress is right off the map, and it's become outrageously expensive.

Thanksgiving is a low stress holiday, or at least it should be. Get together with family and friends, eat some good food, relax and spend time together. Most important, give thanks for all your blessings. In our daily lives, too many of us don't take the time to give thanks. It's nice to have a holiday to remind us to do so.

If Thanksgiving is a time of stress for you, maybe you are spending it with the wrong people. Most years we are lucky enough to spend the holiday with family. There were years when family was scattered to the four winds so we enjoyed time with friends. One year we even spent the day with strangers. We were traveling around the country living out of a tent. We set up in a campground and someone came by to invite us to a gathering at the main hall. All the campers got together and made one huge feast. We had very little to contribute, but were warmly welcomed anyway. It was a good Thanksgiving.


-Sixbears

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Restrictions on travel

The government hasn't done enough by screwing up air travel. Now they are considering trains, boats, buses and metro systems. Scanners scanners everywhere.
http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/130549-next-step-for-body-scanners-could-be-trains-boats-and-the-metro-

It's a wonderful idea if you are in the scanner business, but not such a good idea if you love freedom. Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia didn't have as many checkpoints.

Are they trying to reduce unemployment by greatly expanding the TSA? Picture TSA agents and scanners at every point of entry for every type of transportation. How huge and powerful would such an agency be? Imagine the drag on the economy. All the people and resources tied up in in nonproductive work. The electric power demands from all the new scanners would be considerable. Travel in general would become more expensive and time consuming.

Is that the America we want to live in? Could we face the scorn of our children and grandchildren if we let it happen? What kind of world do we want to leave them?

I've never met a terrorist. The only people I've met who've been taking away my freedoms wear American flags on their uniforms. It's a disgrace.

-Sixbears

Boat Projects

I've been having a marvelous time planning and doing projects for my sailboat. There are no marine supply stores within reasonable driving distance. All my new boat stuff has been purchased on-line. It's easy to get carried away with all that. Who doesn't want to pimp their ride?

Some projects have to be done. The boat needed new navigation lights and new wiring in general. The trailer tires will have to be replaced. While the current ones got the boat home, they aren't to be trusted for several thousand miles of highway driving. I bought a new anchor. The one that came with the boat was badly undersized. I still need a GPS and a hand held VHS. Those will be the last things ordered on-line.

The rest can wait until I've actually sailed for a while. Then I'll have a much better idea what is necessary, what is nice, and what is a waste of money.

Good thing I put the brakes on my purchases. Some stuff I've gotten free from friends. My sea kayaking buddy gave me a really nice compass. He'd bought it for his sea kayak, but it wasn't a good fit. It's perfect for the sailboat. Another friend just gave me a good Danforth anchor. Now I have two good ones.

My current plan is to outfit the boat with all the necessary safety and navigation equipment. Beyond that, I'll wait and see what needs present themselves. Once I'm down to Florida, I'll have the opportunity to talk with experienced sailors. I'll be able to actually walk into stores and see things for myself. (I already had to ship a bad purchase back to the company.)

Better yet, there will be the opportunity to buy good used equipment. Why pay retail when used is good enough?

Planning is good, but there reaches a point where it becomes self defeating. I don't know enough yet. It's tempting to go all out and get everything imaginable. Then I remind myself how I actually like simplicity -one reason we went with a small boat instead of a large one. It's important not to lose track of values.


-Sixbears

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Insurance problems

I've some friends of mine that moved into their house before it was completely finished. It's a bit of a pain, but they are saving a bundle on rent. There is no siding on the house. It's covered in housewrap and will be fine until spring, when they'll be in a position to afford siding. Problem is their insurance policy will be canceled in December because they don't have siding.

Now for anyone with a mortgage, this would be a crisis. Without house insurance, the bank will call your loan. It's a condition of having a mortgage. My friends didn't get a mortgage. They've been working on the house as the funds come in. Which is why the siding isn't done yet. Since they don't actually need insurance to keep their house, this problem is downgraded from a crisis to a concern.

They have a fire extinguisher, smoke detectors, and the place has all new wiring. Fortunately, they don't smoke. Smoking is a major cause of house fires. Snow's on the ground around their place, so they don't have to worry about fire spreading from a neighbor's land. They've taken precautions. Come spring, they'll be in a position to finish up the house enough to meet insurance requirements.

My dad doesn't have any insurance on his place in Florida. After the 2005 hurricanes, insurance rates went way up. My dad said the heck with it, he wasn't going to pay that kind of money. If the house blows away, it blows away. He'd just look for an apartment. (or move in with me, which is fine too.) In the five years he hasn't paid insurance, he's saved more money than the purchase price of his place.

My truck insurance is due on the 28th of this month. I won't have the money to pay it until the 30th. No problem, I'll send out a check then. There's a ten day grace period before the insurance is cut off. Of course, if I had a car loan, the bank would be notified on the 29th that my insurance wasn't paid. Since I own the truck, there's nothing they can do about it. New Hampshire doesn't even require vehicle insurance, so they can't get me that way either.

I don't have a problem with the idea of insurance. It makes sense to be able to spread the risk around. Mandatory insurance bothers me. People should be able to opt out of any sort of insurance: house, vehicle, or health. When it's required, the insurance companies know they have you. In America, we used to have the freedom to take chances.

-Sixbears

Monday, November 22, 2010

What kind of revolution are we fighting anyway?

Let's be clear. We aren't going to win a guns against guns, toe to toe bash up against the government. It's what they do: break things and kill people. Don't try and compete with the professionals.

On the flip side, I'm not advocating unarmed passive resistance. By all means, arm yourself.

What for? We aren't going to be snipping at blue helmeted troops. However, a well armed citizenry does help keep things polite. The police are less likely to drag you away in the middle of the night if they are met with a hail of bullets. Then they retreat to their squad car, only to find the driver shot and the vehicle in flames. The Nazi's and the KGB would not have been so successful against an armed citizenry with a bit of backbone.

Having some basic self defense capability is always a good idea. There are enough thugs out there, both state sponsored and freelance.

What we are fighting against is an unholy marriage between big business and government. Corporations have more rights than individuals. Until that is reversed, the government will serve their masters. Corporations are using money they get from us to take away our power and freedoms.

The solution is quite simple. Don't give them any more money. Banks foreclosed on your house? Raised your interest rate to 30%? Tired of the government bailing out the banks while you suffer? Then destroy them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uop5R7E314 Don't let it being in French put you off, it's subtitled. Simply put, if enough people take their money out of the banks, they will collapse. No need to fire a shot.

Every time a person does business with local small business instead of a giant corporation, a blow for victory is struck. When the deal is done completely in barter, or even as a favor, it's a double blow for victory. The Federal Reserve has only one product, when we don't use it, they lose just a bit more power.

Looks like things have gone too far with the TSA. There's open resistance. People are avoiding the scanners, overloading the hand grope system. Many have decided not to fly at all. Expect the airlines to freak out pretty soon. Only government bailouts have keep them in business as it is. They run on thin margins. Expect some to beg for government relief and others to go out of business. Fine by me. As long as they support the TSA dog and pony show, they can suffer the consequences.

Remember when the Federal government wanted to chip all livestock, right down to backyard chickens? Now they want to regulate people's backyard gardens. They can pass any law they want, but if everyone ignores it, it won't get enforced. Sure, they can make an example of a few farmers, but that'll only get us mad.

If you ever get on a jury, remember that you are not just judging the person, the law itself can be judged. (in spite of any instructions the judge may give the jury) If juries won't convict people because the laws are unfair, then the laws will have to change. This attitude may be why I was thrown off two juries and replaced by alternates on day one. If nothing else, proclaiming to believe in jury nullification will get you out of jury duty.

Government can do actions outside of the normal legal system. In the past, many have resorted to making people disappear. That works on a case by case basis, but only in the short term. A government that rules by brute force loses legitimacy. The iron fist is pulled from the velvet glove for all to see. The government "for the people" facade is shattered. It becomes very clear to everyone who the enemy is.

Does anyone out there still trust big media? Why? They aren't in the business of upsetting the cozy big business/government partnership. It's all about selling ad revenue. It's not about the truth.

Expect restrictions on the Internet. They hate our freedom.

When you run your vehicle on home brewed biofuel you starve the beast of road tax. When you grow your own food, make your own electricity, collect your own water -you gain a measure of freedom. People have voluntarily reduced their income to the point where they pay no income taxes. If the big corporations don't pay taxes, why should you?

Here's a controversial tactic. First, some history. The Roman Empire was able to expand and gain wealth at the same time. It was easy in the early days. Wealth from conquered lands fed back into the empire. That worked for quite a while. Problems arose when the conquered lands stopped sending money to Rome and Rome had to send money the other way. Maybe it was in the form of services the empire had to perform. Sometimes it just reached the point where the cost of military occupation exceeded the wealth extracted from the land.

The tactic? Make the government pay. Collect everything you can from the system: unemployment benefits, food stamps, heating assistance, medical services -anything at all. Make sure the system pays more to you than you pay to it. Some people don't want to do that, and I can respect their personal choice. However, it is one more bullet for your gun. Something to keep in mind as your situation changes.

At some point the government will be faced with a choice: either serve the people, or serve big business. Should it decide to serve the people, it has a chance of still being around in the future. If it doesn't it will be less and less relevant to people's lives and eventually all support for it will dry up.

Starving the businesses that have stolen our rights serves two purposes. They are punished directly -hit in the pocketbook. (If they wise up, they can change and survive.) Secondly, as corporations weaken, their influence with the government is weakened.

We can have a revolution without firing a single shot. The beauty of this form of resistance is that we can live better right now. Eating local food is healthier. Backing away from the corporate money system gives us more time to enjoy our lives. Doing more for ourselves, be it growing a garden, installing a solar panel, or fixing our stuff, gives us a sense of empowerment.

Non violent happy people having a good time, yet undermining the system, is something the business/government forces doesn't have the proper tools to fight.

If you want to live such a life, just do it. (as I steal back a corporate slogan.)

-Sixbears

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The world just got bigger

I was going to avoid the whole TSA controversy as I didn't have all that much to add. Today, however, it became personal. One of dad's friends in Florida called, all worried about his health. He was having a very bad day. For a while, it looked like I might have to go all the way from New Hampshire to Florida.

Flying is out of the question. I've had too much exposure to X-rays and feel it best not to have any more unless absolutely medically necessary. Then there is the dignity angle. What are the choices here? Naked pictures or "the bad touch."

Now it comes to light that if someone decides they don't want either, they can't just walk out of the the airport. There's the possibility of a $11,000 fine and arrest:
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/sfl-airport-scans-pat-downs-refual-20101121,0,5604032.story

So much for flying. Bus routes to my dad's are sketchy. Lot's of transfers and long layovers. It's not even possible to get there by train. That leaves driving.

Dad's place is 1600 miles away from my house. I can drive it in 30 hours. I know this because I've done it. Wasn't much good to anyone once I got there, but it can be done.

Fortunately, my dad's doing fine now. His medical problem looked worse than it was. There's no need for me to go down there right now. This little episode did get me thinking. Florida is no longer an easy day trip. Now it's a 30 hour marathon drive.

The next thing you know there will be road blocks and traffic checks all the way down and everyone will have to show their papers.

Anyone else remember the land of the free and home of the brave?

-Sixbears

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tie it down

In my travels, I see a lot of bungee cords lying in the road. I never stop to pick them up. The way I see it, due to the very fact it's lying in the road, it has failed. Whatever someone thought they'd secured with that bungee, wasn't secured anymore. Bungees are quick, easy, and prone to failure.

Tie down straps are a step up. A good tie down strap, when properly ratcheted tight, is fairly secure. I've some good ones and will occasionally use them. The thing I don't like about them is the ratchet mechanism. They are pain to use and more complicated than they need to be.

What I really like is rope. Learn a handful of knots: bowline, clove hitch, square knot, double half hitch and you can fasten down just about anything. I've a few other odd ball knots I use for my own person needs. That's the thing with rope. It's been around for along time. There are special knots for just about any sort of fastening need.

Good rope if fairly cheap these days. Keep a variety of sizes and types handy. Replace old rope when it wears out. Want to really appreciate modern rope? Try making some from natural fibers using primitive methods. It's discouraging to work all afternoon for a short piece of twine.

One winter my lovely wife and I decided to head south to canoe the mangrove swamps of Florida. The snow was deep in NH that year. I put on snowshoes to tamp down a trail to where I kept my canoe and hauled it out. Like an idiot, I didn't store my canoe tying ropes very well. They got wet and froze.

What I should have done is buy new rope. What I actually did was tie down my canoe with half frozen rope. When rope won't bend properly, it makes for some sloppy looking knots. Every time I stopped the car, I checked the condition of the ropes. Surprisingly, everything was fine until about 500 miles south of home, where I hit warmer weather. The ropes became loose and slack all of a sudden. I took about 10 minutes to tighten them up and they stayed tight the next 1000 miles to Florida.

Got rope?

-Sixbears

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good hard freeze

I'm hoping this winter brings a good hard freeze. A week or two of sub zero Fahrenheit weather would be perfect. Forty below zero would be great. I want to go a least one full week where it never rises about zero.

Am I nuts?

There are a couple good reasons why I'd like to see some good old fashioned cold. The big one is ticks. Growing up, winters were colder than they are now. If it's cold enough, long enough, ticks can't survive. I'd never even seen a tick until I was in my late 30s. A series of milder winters allowed them to thrive. Along with ticks came Lyme disease. Nasty.

Last winter, parts of New England experienced seriously cold weather. This past summer, ticks had been seriously knocked back. I only saw one this past summer, and that was 30 miles south of me, in a river valley. It's a different micro climate than my place in the hills. Didn't get quite as cold.

So I figure one more bout of serious cold should really knock the tick population back. Bugs in general have a hard time with a good hard freeze. It really sets them back. That's fine by me. Even things like the fungus that causes tomato blight is knocked out by winter cold. Gardeners who live in warmer climes have a harder time dealing with it. On the other hand, their growing season is longer than our brief interlude of bad skiing.

Since I'm the one doing the wishing, ideally the big freeze should hit about the second week of February. By then I should be somewhere in Florida. Just because I want a good northern freeze doesn't mean I actually need to experience it.

-Sixbears

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crapwood season

It's the season for burning crapwood. During the colder heating months, I burn seasoned ash, oak, maple, beech, yellow birch -good solid hardwoods.

This time of year it's cool enough to run the stove, but it doesn't have to work very hard. This is when I'll burn some softwood, white birch, aspen, and any wood that's a bit punky or half rotted. Wood like that doesn't put out the BTUs of good wood, but those BTUs aren't needed yet.

The big downside of burning crapwood, especially with the woodstove's damper turned way down, is the chance of creosote buildup. The chimney has to be watched closely, and cleaned as needed. It'd be embarrassing if a retired Firefighter like me had a chimney fire.

Some people are real firewood snobs. They'll burn nothing but the best. Seems like a waste to me. I hate to let any sort of firewood go to waste. It's just a matter of knowing when and how to use it.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The problem with the country doomstead

It's nice out here in the woods. Clean air, water, and plenty of space to move around it. There's not a lot of people. Rules are looser and enforcement looser yet. Perfect place for a doomstead.

Unless you have to earn a living.

There's not a lot of jobs out here in the hinterland. Plenty of places around me with for sale signs. Sure, it's a great place to hide out if your danger is mutant zombie bikers. There are weaknesses if the problem is economic. Now there are plenty of other problems to worry about, but many of them are expressed initially as an economic down turn.

Take peak oil for example. We've past the peak for cheap, conventionally produced oil. The only reason supply has kept up with demand is due to expensive processes like extracting from Canadian tar sands and ethanol production. Deep water drilling has proven to be pretty darn expensive too, not just in economic terms either. Doesn't really matter what the problems are, there's always an economic component.

Don't move out to the county then try and find a job that'll support your homestead. Make sure you have a source of income first. Ideally, have a source of income independent from the local economy. There might not be much of a local economy.

One major problem with rural life is that it's always a drive to almost every good or service you need. When fuel was plentiful and cheap, people didn't even think about it. I know people who moved back to town because the 30 mile round trip commute to work was too costly. It's not just fuel costs; it's vehicle reliability. There are really only a few options. Drive new cars all the time and never let the warranty lapse. Have at least two older vehicles, with the hope that one will run when you need it. (what I did when commuted to work.) Keep one old vehicle, and not have a job you need to drive to. (what I do now.)

Some people try and compromise. They work and live in a city, but have a "vacation home" as bug out location. There are risks with that plan too. Will it be possible to get to your rural retreat in an emergency? Do you have locals you know who'll keep an out on the place for you? If not, the locals might just think of your place as a fat resource ready for harvest. As it is, when the local economy has a downturn, vacation homes get burgled pretty often. Remember, that's here in New Hampshire, a state with a low crime rate. Your mileage may vary.

On the bright side, rural living can be a lot cheaper. If you've got a good well, off grid power, a big garden, and a woodlot for firewood, you are in good shape. The key is self sufficiency. If you can make or fix most of what you need, trips to town are greatly reduced. That cuts down on transportation expenses. People lived out where I am in the horse and buggy days, but a trip to town wasn't a daily affair.

My grandfather worked at a logging camp for a few years. He had weekends off and would walk 30 miles one way to get home, then 30 miles back. Sometimes he'd be able to hitch a ride on a horse and buggy, but often he just walked. Are you prepared for those days to come back? It could happen.
I love it out in the country. Wouldn't mind a few new neighbors even. (I consider a neighbor anyone within 5 miles.) Just hope they have a way of making a living. Heck, I hope they can afford to pay me to do a few odd jobs if my source of income dries up.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The kitchen clothesline

I think my kids are appalled at the way my wife and I live sometime. It wasn't too bad when I put up a great big clothesline outside. The one in the kitchen, however, disturbs some people a bit.

The four hooks permanently mounted in the kitchen are unobtrusive. They look like the sort of thing someone would put a hanging plant on. Instead of plants, they are anchor points for a couple lengths of nylon line. I can hang a full heavy duty laundry load on it.

To me, it makes perfect sense, so I'm not too concerned with how it looks. The woodstove dries out the air in the house -too dry. By hanging the laundry inside, some much needed moisture is added to the air. Not only am I saving energy by not running a dryer, no energy is used to run a humidifier. That's a win win in my book.

I still have a propane dryer, and even use on occasion. Not sure what I'll do with it when the propane runs out. Haven't bought any propane in a year in a half. Maybe I'll give it away.

My dad always says he never saw anyone work so hard to live the way his grandfather lived. He's only half joking.

-Sixbears

Monday, November 15, 2010

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Don't you just love that question? It's favorite of personal departments, motivational speakers, and guidance councilors.

What kind of answers are they looking for? In five years I see myself rising from cashier to assistant weekend night manager? In five years I see myself working 80 hours/week at my own struggling business. In five years I see myself working as a barista to pay off massive college loans for a career that's been outsourced to a foreign country.

Those probably aren't the answers they are looking for, even though they might be what really happens.

If you want to drive those people nuts, say something truthful. I want to be happy, get laid a lot, and have plenty of time for drinks on the beach. Then I want to take a couple years off to grow an epic beard.

Personally, I've really got to laugh at 5 year plans. They didn't work for the old Soviet Union, why should they work any better for people's personal life? As I see it, if you actually get to your 5 year mark, you've either set "truthful" goals for yourself, or have missed opportunities along the way.

At 18, I had some plans. They didn't include getting married. Among my friends, it was thought I'd be the last in the group to tie the knot. There would be no tying me down. So, of course, I was married at 20 after a 4 month courtship. Bad idea? One would think so, except I'm still married 32 years later and consider it the best thing I ever did. Really helped put me on the path to my "truthful" goals.

Within the next 5 years, who knows what opportunities will present themselves? I like to get out of my rut every so often and do something different. Maybe I won't stick with the new path, but it often opens me up to things I never knew about before. My world expands and my life is enriched.

Things don't always turn out 100% positive, but when they don't, it certainly makes for some awesome stories.

In five years, I see myself having interesting experiences, learning new things, having a good time, and maybe some more drinks on the beach.

-Sixbears

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scattered

Community is important. For a lot of us, the core of our community is family. For others, our birth family is so screwed up we thank god for strangers. Strangers may give us a break. No matter how your core community is formed, you need to have one. Humans are social animals. We don't function quite right completely isolated.

Which is why I'm a bit bothered by the way so many modern families are scattered all over the country.

My wife grew up in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York. Her aunt lived across the street. In fact there were a lot of relatives houses within safe walking distance for little 5 year old legs. To see her grandparents who lived in the farm house a couple towns over was a big far adventure. None of her relatives live in her home town any more. Of course, many have passed on, but their descendants have all scattered to the four winds. Property taxes and disappearing jobs drove them away. Her tale is not unique. Details vary, but the American diaspora happened across the country.

More of my relatives are close by, but many of them are anchored to the area by houses that won't sell.

I'm blessed by having my own kids and grandkids fairly close. They have found ways to make of go it where they want to live. Two of my daughters live in the small city nearby. My other daughter lives in a neighboring state. We get together often, and I love it. I love to travel, but always enjoy coming home.

My friend's mother just died in a hospital in Florida. He and his wife flew down from New Hampshire. Wonderful lady. She'll be missed. Seven or eight years ago she and her husband had a winter home in a park in Florida. Nice place, as far as these parks go. It was mostly filled with double wide trailers. Someone years ago had the foresight to build the part around the massive old live oaks and preserve them. The place has these great trees for shade, and a couple of ponds. The recreational facilities are nice too.

It's the sort of place I thought my parents would like. They'd gone through a medical bankruptcy and had reached the point where they had to sell their house. Mom had physical problems. Cold winters caused her extreme pain. They used their last remaining funds and bought a place in the park. Mom loved it there her five remaining years. The downside? She missed the weddings of two out of my three daughters. Before she passed she only got to meet one of her great grandchildren. That's only because one daughter and her family made a special effort to travel to Florida.

My friend's mother and father moved out of the park a year or so ago. They could not resist buying a giant McMansion for small money. Now I can't help but think of my friend's father rattling around in that big place, all alone. No idea what he'll do now.

My dad's still down there in the park, but he's in good enough shape yet to travel north. He spent the month of August with me. I do worry about my dad. He's 75. He drives and walks around on his own two legs, so in Florida, that makes him a catch. Still, he's got to watch his sugar now. He had a couple small strokes. Tests can't find anything wrong, and he claims to feel fine. Friends of his in the park keep an eye on him. Glad he's social. Lots of people know him and like him. It's a community of a sort, and I'm glad they are there for him. Problem is, it's a community of all old frail people. Plenty of wisdom, not a lot of strong backs.

My name is on the deed to my dad's double wide. After the medical bankruptcy, dad's credit was so trashed, the only way the park would approve the sale was if someone with better credit was also on the deed. As luck would have it, that was during a point in my life when my credit was good. So now, I guess I'm an owner. However, as much as I like the park, I don't want to live there. It's not community enough for me.

-Sixbears

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Haiti on my mind

Haiti is on my mind. Who speaks for Haiti? Cholera is running rampant through the country. It's no mystery why. Once a poor country suffers a horrible earthquake, something like that is almost inevitable. You see, it's often not the disaster that kills the most people, it's the collapse of essential infrastructure. In a country like Haiti that just barely gets by in the best of times, it doesn't take much to bring it to its knees.

Not too long after the Haitian earthquake, Chile was hit by an even more powerful one. Why isn't Chile being hit by epidemics? Chile's infrastructure is much better. Even though the Chilean earthquake was much bigger, it suffered less overall damage. Essential services were knocked out for days and weeks, not months, like in Haiti.

Cholera isn't a hard disease to beat. All it takes is clean water and good sanitation. Chile restored those systems reasonably quickly. Haiti's tent cities never had a chance. They are over crowded with primitive sanitation and sketchy water supplies. Boiling all drinking water would help, but cooking fuel is always at a premium. Good water filters would also have prevented the spread of the bacteria, but few people have them.

Haiti's problems go beyond simple poverty. It's possible to overcome some material limitations with education and organization. Many people in the Haitian camps don't know even the basics of cholera prevention. If everyone knew what to do, the disease would not have spread so quickly. Then there is the little matter of organization. It's important to remember that this is a country where attempts at organization used to be discouraged by the Tonton Macoutes -brutal paramilitary forces who enforced the Duvalier rule. That sort of machete wielding suppression of initiative tends to leave a mark on society.

The thing to remember about disasters, is that what follows often kills more people than the actual disaster. I'm afraid that'll turn out to the case in Haiti. Good infrastructure that can survive disasters or be quickly repaired prevents the follow on on causalities. Beyond that individuals who have knowledge and some basic supplies can prevent problems. Being able to self organize is also a major plus. Scant resources can be used in an efficient manner and problems caught early before they spread out of control.

One of the reasons I've been following Haiti is that one of my neighbors is Haitian. His wife keeps us informed about the plight of the extended family still in the country. I feel for my neighbor and his family. However, there are countries all over the world facing similar disasters. Pakistan is still half flooded. Good chunks of West African are under water. Parts of Asia also got hit bad. There's a lot of bad stuff happening all around the world. Millions of people are in danger.

Disasters don't just happen in third world countries. Sure, they've got a harder time of it, but even in advanced countries, you can wait for weeks for help to arrive. Just ask the survivors of hurricane Katrina about that.

Be prepared to take care of your own. That's not just supplies, but knowledge and organization. Sometimes it's as simple as knowing how far from the well to put the latrine -and the knowledge that you even need an established latrine.

-Sixbears

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hard lesson

Thursday, I had my leg elevated, with an ice pack sitting on it. It looked better than it did the day before, but it certainly was far from healed.

My son-in-law stopped in for a visit. He offered to move some of my firewood under cover. That's what I was doing when I banged the heck out of my leg. My first reaction was to tell him not to bother. The job could wait until the leg got better. Then I shook my head and remembered a hard learned lesson. It's fine to accept help from others. I told him that would be great and thanks.

I've never had any problem helping others, but receiving help was always difficult. My parents raised me to be self-reliant. That's a good trait, but no one person can do everything. They also taught me generosity. Giving feels good. Never had any problem with giving of my time, talents or material goods.

How to receive, on the other hand, was a hard learned lesson. It happened some time after I'd been injured on the job as Firefighter. Recovery was long and hard. Money was tight. Some people avoided me. You learn who your friends are when you are down and out. Others offered help. Tough as things were, it was difficult to accept help. Finally, someone told me something important. Remember how good it feels to help someone? Let other people help you so they can feel good too.

No matter how prepared for disaster someone is, no one can be prepared for everything. We need other people. I thought I was pretty well prepared before I got injured. It was four years before I received my disability pension. The first year was easy. My vehicles were paid off, debts were few, and I had a year's worth of supplemental income insurance. Year two, the insurance ran out, car repairs added up, and we began to fall behind. By year four, we were just days away from losing the house but then I won my case and we were able to pay back taxes.

Friends and family helped a lot. In the beginning, my food pantry was pretty well stocked, but few have enough food to feed a family for four years. Mormon friends dipped into their own food storage to help me out. I'm not even Mormon. One friend even gave me his truck -perfectly maintained without a spot of rust on it.

As desperate as I was, it took me a while to learn to accept the good works of others. Turns out all they need is thanks.

Thanks everyone, for all the help you've given me though the years.

-Sixbears

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taking it easy

I finally have some days without rain and had hopes of getting outside work done. Instead, I'll be taking it easy.

Somehow I bruised the heck out of my leg. In my younger days, I'd keep working. Sometimes I'd get better anyway. Once I ended up in the hospital. So now, I take it easy. Really really really hate hospitals.

It's RICE for me. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The bug out vehicle goof

A friend of mine was telling me about a guy he worked with. The poor guy suddenly got the idea that things are falling apart and he needs a bug out vehicle. So this guy buys a big full sized van, on credit, of course. He buys a whole bunch of specialized firearms. Now he figures he's all set, he can bug out in an emergency.

So my buddy asks him where he plans of bugging out to. The guy had only vague ideas. What's the gas mileage of the van, he asks. About 15 mpg. Then my friend asked how he planned on filling up the tank when it ran low. At gas stations, of course. No doubt shaking his head, my buddy asks him to remember the ice storm they had in town. The bridges were closed and with the power down, no one was pumping gas.

The guy had a sudden realization his bug out plans weren't as good as he thought.

Bugging out might make sense, but not in the way the poor guy envisioned. As I see it, I "bugged out," of town 21 years ago. Yep, that's the key, you've got to beat the crowd. Maybe you beat them by decades, maybe only by a few hours.

For most perceived emergencies, I'll most likely bug in. I've good water, a lake full of fish, hunting within walking distance, and the surrounding trees can keep my woodstove going. Should I ever have to go for some reason, there are relatives and friends who'll be willing to take me in. Odds are I'll be the one taking them in. Should I have to leave, however, I've places to go.

Have your stuff ready. My gear doesn't look particularly organized, but it is grouped in different regions of the house -camping gear, guns, food, tools, and anything else I'd need. We can hit the road in a hurry. Once, on a whim, we decided to go camping. We were packed and on the road in 20 minutes. Had I a full hour, I'd have been even better equipped. As it was, we lacked for nothing on our camping trip.

Have enough fuel to get where you are going. My truck runs on waste vegetable oil along with diesel. Last trip I went on, there was enough veggie jugs in the back of the truck for me to go 2600 miles without stopping at a gas station.

GPS is nice, but don't count on it. Know how to use a map and compass. Be familiar with alternate routes out of your area. Think outside the box here, maybe you could use railroad access roads, bicycle paths, logging roads -anything your vehicle could travel across. In the winter up here in the north, I've even driven on frozen lakes.

There are a lot of people who suddenly realize some of the dangers facing us. Many, like my buddy's friend, go out and do a panic buy. Throwing money at a problem might not be the best way to deal with it. In reality, his old vehicle would have worked as well as the big van he bought. If the bridge is closed, it doesn't matter how big your van is. His realistic options for leaving his area boil down to two strategies. He could leave early and beat the rush, or he could walk out. A well equipped backpack in the back of his car would have worked better than a van full of guns.

There are other ways of looking at people who bug out: evacuees, refugees, or homeless.

Now some people feel they can't "bug out" ahead of time from their unsafe area. The reasons are endless, and a personal choice. If you are one of those people, having a reasonable bug out plan makes sense, but never forget it's a desperate measure. Have a plan: a place to go, a way to get there, alternative routes, and backup plans of your first choice is nonviable.

Don't be afraid to think outside of the box. I remember a story that took place during the September 11 attacks. Manhattan Island was closed off from the mainland. The tunnels and bridges had been closed by the authorities. One couple left the island by paddling kayaks to New Jersey. Good thinking. A big van full of guns wouldn't have worked better.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When the spouse comes on-board

Had a nice long talk with my buddy in Kentucky. Now for some time I've been telling people to at least get a small solar electric system. It's not necessary to run the whole house. Enough power to run a couple lights and the TV or radio make all the difference in the world when the grid goes down.

I guess he took my advice to heart. He went out and bought a small solar electric kit.

Then he had to tell his wife about it.

It's not like he's spending the rent money to do this. They can afford it fine. However, buying something without consulting with the spouse can sometimes be a dicey proposition -especially when it's a purchase one spouse might not agree with.

His wife surprised him. She thought it was a good idea. In fact, she suggested he spend considerably more money and get a more capable system. Soon he was back on the phone with me asking about equipment, suppliers, and system designs.

Then she comes home with a pile of books about building small energy efficient cabins. It occurred to her that a small rural cabin, with its own power system, could be a really cheap and self reliant way to live. This new attitude is about 180 degrees from the way she was a couple years ago.

He credits part of her attitude change to their summer visit at our house. She had a wonderful time out here in the woods. She swam in the lake. Paddled the canoe around a bit. We all went to the farmer's market together. After the market, everyone would get together for a campfire and some homemade music. Lots of family and friends around -smart, good people pulling together as a community.

She liked that and saw the value of our lifestyle.

It's encouraging. There's hope. People are figuring out that the conventional ways of living might not be the best -and certainly not the most fun.

-Sixbears

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sorry, no recovery here.

Last few days I've talked with a number of people who've been unemployed so long they've exhausted unemployment benefits. According to government statistics, these people don't exist.

Some guys are are only getting by because their wives are still working. Not that many years ago, these very same women were only working so they could get some nice extras: a camp, a big RV, snowmobiles, a boat, or to send the kids to college. Now they work to put food on the table. The ones I've met personally have stepped into the breach without much complaint, but let me tell you, they are getting sick of being the primary bread winner.

People who are still working are reporting reduced hours, pay cuts, and deteriorating working conditions. Companies are quick to tell workers they can easily be replaced.

Companies are much less willing to work with people. Late on a utility payment? Pay up or be cut off. At one time it was possible to work out agreements with some of these guys. No longer. Electric companies have cut off power to people with essential medical equipment. There are instances where people have died because of it. In America, no once cares if people are freezing in the dark.

So far few have made a fuss. The sleeping citizens just take it and endure.

However, that may be coming to an end. There are stirrings of people who've gone all the way from sad to mad. Some of that energy was diverted into the recent election. Time is short. If real relief isn't on the way soon, the sleeping sheep may turn into wolves.

Should conditions for the average Joe get even worse, he's going to strike out, and it won't be pretty.

-Sixbears

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sailboat photo




Finally got the camera working. Here's the Oday 19 sitting out by the solar panels.

The mast is still in travel position. That'll be coming off soon so I can work in the cabin. Just got in new navigation lights and a power control center. Doing the wiring soon. Putting in the VHS radio. A friend of mine just gave me a good marine compass. A new, more substantial anchor is in shipment. Not happy with the way the folding swim ladder is mounted, so plan on redoing that.

Still have yet to decide on which GPS to get, but I'm narrowing it down.

The plan is to have everything "ship shape," before February when we head south to Florida.

-Sixbears

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Man on a Journey

I can't help myself. When I see a funky looking vehicle, I've got to check it out. Today I saw an old VW camper van and it had a bizarre paint job. My buddy stayed back at the car, as he didn't have my curiosity.

As I was checking out the van, an old guy popped out from the other side. Before you know it, he was telling me all about the symbolism painted on the van. He told me his third eye opened and he had a vision. I know that sort of thing can freak some people, but who am I to judge his subjective experience?

He's a poet and a playwright, which might explain why he's been living out of his van since 1994. I believe that in America, if a guy wants to live out of his van and believe unusual things, that's his business.

As I was leaving, he told me that in some circles he's known as White Bear. I laughed and told him that in some circles I'm known as Sixbears. "Sixbears, huh. Well then, we must be brothers."

We both chuckled, shook hands then went our separate ways.

-Sixbears

Friday, November 5, 2010

Coffee with the engineer

I'm meeting with an old friend for coffee today. The guy's a mechanical engineer who's been out of work for almost a year. He's been willing to work well below his last pay grade at a lower position. Very few job interviews have come his way.

His old job is not coming back. The whole engineering department was fired and the work outsourced to another country. It happened with little warning. He and his wife were about to buy a new home and new car. Fortunately, they were taking their time and hadn't made the move yet.

They are better off than most. She's still making a decent income and their living expenses are reasonable. Still, it's got to be a blow. The guy worked all his life to become one of the top people in his field. There are patents in his name. That doesn't matter to the bean counters who can replace a whole department and maybe save a few bucks.

He has the sort of skills that everyone's been encouraged to train for. That only works if the jobs remain in the country.

I've faith that he'll either find a new job or make one for himself. Still, it's tough out there, when even the skilled experienced people have a hard time finding work.

-Sixbears

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cargo Planes

Looks like suspicious packages are still showing up in cargo planes. If a cargo plane had an in-flight explosion, what would have been the response? Would all cargo plane traffic come to a sudden halt? As it is, there have been disruptions and delays. So far as I can tell, minor problems.

How much of the world's cargo is transported by plane? How big a part of the economy is it? What would the economic ramifications be? Cargo is shipped by air when time is a factor. If a factory needs a critical piece of machinery, they don't want to wait weeks or months for it come in by ship. They'd have to, if cargo air was shut down. What would the ripples be in the larger economy? How about critical medical supplies? Emergency relief supplies?

The world would get much bigger again. With quick air travel, no one gets too upset if some critical item is only available from a handful of places or even a single source. Planes can haul it in a matter of hours. If that quick delivery was no longer guaranteed, would more diverse sources be developed? Is there time for that to happen? Maybe the disruptions could be one more destabilizing factor in an already wobbly global economy.

Perhaps the real target isn't who the packages are addressed to. That may be a red herring. The real target might be the cargo planes themselves.

In war, it makes sense to take out the supply lines. If the enemy is the western nations, then grounding cargo planes would make tactical sense.

Let's see if anything happens to shipping. That would be another logical target in asymmetrical warfare.

Just pondering.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post election report

Well, results are in.

Looks like about 2/3 of the people I voted for lost. The corrupt guy I hate so much got in once more.

On the bright side, some of my people very far down the food chain were elected. Since my main reason for voting was to at least do something on the local level, I shouldn't be too disappointed.

After all, I did have low expectations.

Now onto real stuff in life.


-Sixbears

There's no going back

There's this fantasy that the world can always go back to a simpler time. If things go badly, and oil runs low, we'll just regress to all being yeoman farmers. Everyone will just gently slip back to a lifestyle of 100 years ago or so.

Not gonna happen. Before the world started using oil, lighting and lubrication was provided by whale oil. In the early days of Nantucket whaling, they'd only use whales that had died naturally and washed up on the beach. Later, the men of Nantucket went out in small boats to kill a few whales themselves. Boats got bigger and headed further out. In the end, whaling ships would be gone for four long years as they were hunting whales in the far Pacific.

Fortunately, petroleum was able to replace whale oil. Industrial civilization moved onward.

Now petroleum has followed the same general path as whale oil. It used to just bubble out of the ground at easy to reach locations. Now oil companies are drilling in deep water and the arctic. Feels a lot like chasing the last whales in the Pacific.

We can't replace petroleum with whale oil. For that matter, biofuels have limited uses. There's not enough cultivated land on the planet to replace petroleum with biofuels. Sure, there are some limited uses. After all, I've been running my vehicles on waste vegetable oil for years. Here's the rub, in a town of 10,000 people, there's enough waste vegetable oil from restaurants to run maybe a dozen cars.

If there was something to replace petroleum as petroleum replaced whale oil, then things would move forward, building on what came before. Doesn't look like that will happen. Renewables can replace a few percentage points of the energy provided by fossil fuels. There never was the financial incentive to fully develop then. Once the need is apparent, the financial means will already have been destroyed. The observant person can see that happening right now.

So . . .

What happens next?

Interesting times.

It's apparent the current world model isn't working. I'm not singling out any one political system. All of the major systems, be they capitalist, communist, fascist, or socialist are dependent on cheap abundant energy.

When the energy proves insufficient, what happens next? That's the choose your own adventure part of the story. There are a number of paths I can envision, but I'm sure there are many more. The world could devolve into a "last man standing" situation where nations squabble for the last bitter dregs of usable oil. A new societal system that doesn't depend on infinite growth could develop. It's happened a time or two in Earth's past. There are highly sustainable agricultural systems, highly localized, that could theoretically feed everyone.

Here's an interesting thought. The energy problems give birth to a world wide major financial disaster. Picture money economies around the world failing at about the same time. If we are lucky, not too many people will panic and most lives, at least in the short term, are safe. There may be a brief window to do something useful and interesting. Human civilization has a tremendous amount of information at its fingertips. It also has good communications. During those initial days, weeks and months, many different solutions will be tried all over the world. With any luck, the successful ones will be copied around the planet.

Species and systems evolve when under stress. Energy depletion and the financial chaos that brings certainly will provide the stress. When the old ways fail completely, and disaster looms, then it only makes sense to try anything, no matter how risky.

In the doomer world, this makes me an optimist.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

To vote or not to vote?

That is the question. A sizable number of people believe voting is participating in a corrupt system. If they ignore it, it will just go away. Maybe it will and maybe it won't.

It's argued that there's really very little difference between the two major parties. They both work within a framework that neither has the will or incentive to depart from. I agree with that.

For a democracy to work; well informed, politically aware people are needed. Since education has been dumbed down so incredibly badly, we shouldn't be surprised by the results.

Remember back in school what kind of kid wanted to be class president? They grew up to run the country, the little snots. Is it any wonder things are so screwed up?

That being said, I'm going to vote. I've no illusions voting will change much on the macro level. However, on a very local level, my vote does make a difference. Voting for the guy who'll leave well enough alone is one of my guiding principals. For example, if a local selectman has a brilliant plan for increased zoning, I'm voting for the other guy. I doubt my vote will influence how the nation's foreign policy is conducted, but I can influence how the town picks up the trash.
It's worth me voting, even if only to keep from being hassled from some pocket Hitler in my small town.

So yeah, I'm voting, but with very very low expectations. Even so, I'll probably be disappointed.
There's one corrupt illegitimate son of a female dog whom I vote against every year, but the ill bred cur is still there. Hope this year it's different, but I won't be too surprised of he gets in again.

-Sixbears

Monday, November 1, 2010

Strange Desires

I must admit, I'm a news junkie. Not main stream media, as it's terribly slanted and full of half truths and lies. No, I get my news from all over the place. Not just from the Internet sources, but foreign short wave broadcasts. At some deep level, I really want to know what's going on.

Then there's the flip side of my personality, the part that wants to live like a hermit. Maybe a bit more of that is coming back into play. Lately I've had the strangest desire for good poetry. Nothing too recent. Perhaps some 17th century English poetry to start things off.

Why poetry, of all things? Well, journalism speaks to my analytical mind. Poetry speaks to more instinctual levels. Good poets knew something about the human condition and could speak to people's hearts. Maybe that's what I need lately -less mind and more heart.

-Sixbears