Sunday, December 16, 2007

Interesting quote I found...

"A pathological trance is a belief, a behavior, a mindset that acts in conjunction with other things like this to limit your choices"

"A huge amount of the control mechanisms in our society are pathological trance inducers through words. If someone can determine how you think about something, then they can determine how far you think about something."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rant against "capitalism"

The wealthiest people are deliberately creating a wealth divide. This divide is getting bigger and it grows faster every year... and they show no respect to those they are taking their wealth from. Through the use of lobbyists, corrupt politicians, subsidies and The Federal Reserve, they have turned the gun of the government onto the masses. Admittedly, in this period of fantastic wealth, they've had no need to use that gun other than metaphorically to keep the proles in their place. Hint that this is happening... "Land of the Free" my ass. Better lock up the disaffected before they have a chance to yell, "revolution!"

The issue I have with this subprime lender fallout? That I can GUARANTEE that every capitalist's hero, Greenspan, knew about and quite possibly encouraged the situation. The whole thing with mortgages being wrapped up into tradeable securities and creating a ~30x leveraged financial instrument is going to cause fallout that we may not be able to recover from for a long time ala The Great Depression. And please, don't even suggest that he didn't know how all of this was going to affect the economy (and the money supply) - if he didn't know then he is truly incompetent. But if he did know, god save his and his keepers' souls.

The wealthy know The Game is up and are trying to shake out every last penny from our pockets before everything falls apart. What pisses me off is that it wouldn't be heading this direction if they weren't so damn greedy and power hungry. The master tightwad himself, Henry Ford, even knew that minimally taking care of his workers made him far richer than squeezing every last penny from them.

Meh, but what else would happen with a system (The Market) that has greed and envy as it's lifeblood?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Autumn Memories

I love the fall... the crisp in the air not yet quite biting at my nose, the bright sun playing with the ominous gray clouds, but mostly... the leaves.

I remember, as a kid, putting on my jacket and gloves. They'll keep me toasty warm. The leaves crinkling under my feet, twhish thwash, as I run through them with complete abandon. I round the leaves up, pushing them into a little pile. And, as soon as it's big enough... JUMP! Over and over again, going deep, almost to the solidness of the earth.

And then, breathless from my simple joys, I just lie there on my back, arms and legs spread wide. The leaves warming me, protecting me from the wind. Breathing in the sweet, tangy smell of the leaves. Happy that I'm alive.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Random Thought

No one ever learned anything by only doing things they knew how to do right.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Diversity, Habitat Mimicry Key to Permaculture

A seeming contradiction for me is that industrial monoculture agriculture, focused on higher and higher profits from greater and greater yields, gives considerably less yields and requires more energy (effort) than biodiverse permaculture. From Biomimicry of native prairie yields more bioenergy than corn ethanol - December 7, 2006 we find that:

Diverse mixtures of plants that mimic the native prairie ecosystem are a better source of biofuels than corn grain ethanol or soybean biodiesel according to a new paper published in the Dec. 8 issue of the journal Science.


... the study "shows that degraded agricultural land planted with highly diverse mixtures of prairie grasses and other flowering plants produces 238 percent more bioenergy on average, than the same land planted with various single prairie plant species, including monocultures of switchgrass." The researchers estimate that the prairie would yield 51 percent more energy per acre than ethanol from corn grown on more fertile land and would require far less energy to grow.


"Fuels made from prairie biomass are 'carbon negative,' which means that producing and using them actually reduces the amount of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere. This is because prairie plants store more carbon in their roots and soil than is released by the fossil fuels needed to grow and convert them into biofuels," explains the University of Minnesota news release. "Using prairie biomass to make fuel would lead to the long-term removal and storage of from 1.2 to 1.8 U.S. tons of carbon dioxide per acre per year. This net removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide could continue for about 100 years, the researchers estimate. In contrast, corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel are 'carbon positive,' meaning they add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, although less than fossil fuels."

Is the problem that we're stuck on always doing things the old way because it "works"? Is it because biodiverse permaculture is not particularly suited to machine harvesting? Is it because current farming is too invested monetarily? We clearly know the consequences of factory monoculture agriculture -- loss of nutrients through topsoil erosion, nutrient "poisoning" of downstream (pun intended) systems, excessive use of petroleum byproducts, and a substantial negative input-to-output energy balance (10 calories of petroleum inputs result in 1 calorie of food energy).

Competition, only the strongest survive might work for capitalism but doesn't work in nature. Cooperation and diversity seems to be a key feature in all abundant, resilient systems.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Proper Boundaries

I learned long ago that when something doesn't go "my way," what's happening is the universe is telling me my perspective is flawed and I need to fix it. I have an unquenchable desire to figure things out. Insatiable.

How did I get there? I realized that what's going on outside of me is not a part of me. It's about having appropriate ego boundaries -- knowing where I End and others Begin. It's about being diligent with those boundaries by not letting others 'into' me and by not forcing me 'into' others.

As tiabin says very succinctly:

In other words, if I hear my internal monologue getting all inflamed and upset about something it puts up a red flag for my consciousness that something is off kilter.


I cannot control circumstance, but I can adjust my mindset. So I’ve gotten in the habit of identifying strong emotion I experience as an indicator that there is something wrong in my head, and NOT the circumstance.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Edible Forest Garden: Borage

One of my interests right now is in securing a sustainable food source for my family and local community. I think that Edible Forest Gardens are the way to go. More about that later...

Borage looks like a potential multi-use plant with greens, seed, oil, medicine, nectary, and predator insect shelter uses. It appears to be invasive, however, it's rated to Zone 7. For Zone 6, if it requires a cold frame or thick mulch to protect it from the winter, then I should be able to limit it's spread. Since the leaves are rich with potassium and calcium, should be able to cut the plant back when it does get vigorous and use it in a compost tea!

Here are some medicinal facts regarding borage:

Thanks tiabin!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Masonry Heaters

This old-world heating technology is extremely efficient without needing to use new-world technology. The gist is to take a large thermal mass (e.g., limestone blocks) and burn fuel at a very high temperature in a short time to get complete combustion (CO2, trace mineral ash, and trace incomplete combustion products). The thermal mass stays at a temperature that's warm to the touch and radiantly releases the heat over an entire day.

Radiant heat does not dry the air nor does it cause problems with dust circulation as does convection heat (furnaces). A properly designed masonry heater can heat a 2000 sq. ft. area for an entire day at comfortable temperatures with only six pounds of dry wood. These heaters produce very little soot and are significantly safer than pellet or wood stoves. With simple maintenance, these heaters can last for generations.

My own interest is partly in their sheer simplicity. The materials and tools are easy to acquire, and the construction should be straightforward with minimal masonry experience. My other interests are in using it effectively as a valued part of my non-waste home. I've been considering using the heater's CO2 output as input to algae tanks or a greenhouse. I'm also excited by the prospect of using excess glycerine from biodiesel production as a fuel input for the heater too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Building Community

I've been thinking about "community" recently and how I might be able to foster community here in Indiana. My specific interests are energy and food independence, however, I'd want to include anyone interested in starting a "Natural Enterprise".

I've always been a sort of 'loner'... not in the social sense, no problems making new friends being so loquacious and all, but in the sense of either having or learning the skills to get things done. My intense focus has been great for getting things done, but is not very inclusive.

As an example of what I want to aim for, the biodiesel workshop I recently attended was a collaborative effort between Solar Energy International and Piedmont Biofuels. The people at Piedmont (in particular the people I met, Rachel Burton, Matt Rudolf, and Lyle Estill) have created an excellent environment for people to live in while allowing everyone to explore what they love.

Monday, October 15, 2007


A couple weeks ago, I attended a workshop on making biodiesel. I particularly like that it's economically feasible to produce even for small, one-person setups. One question that they asked at the beginning was what we thought the impact of peak oil will be. I stated my very strong opinions, however, I ultimately agree that biodiesel is simply a 'technofix'. Currently, humans have no way of even coming close to extracting as much energy from live plants that we extract every year from fossil fuels. Hence, biodiesel doesn't solve the big problems of peak oil that are headed our way.

So why am I starting down this path?

I'm doing it for a couple of reasons... but mostly because it gives me energy independence. It is one less corporatist hook that I'll have stuck in me. If any of the gloomy predictions from peak oil come true, it will make the transition to a lower energy lifestyle much easier for me. And, if the particularly gloomy predictions come true, it means I'm in a better position to gain social power and to physically protect myself.

Making biodiesel does not solve The Problem, but it does solve some problems for me.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lover's Lyric

Making a memory of intimate knowledge of a lover.
Savoring the song that arises between flesh.

Skin to skin, touching sensitive ...tingly... spots.

A meeting of soft lips.
A caress of intimacy.

A moving melody resonating in the lovers' hearts.

A tune played before.
Yet always infinitely different as lovers unite.

Overtones of desire and undertones of that unspoken connection between them.
Beautiful improvisation.

Coming together in a beautiful aria until the final crescendo rises and falls.

Memories of their song still echoing between them.

Zero Waste

Many people have been thinking about what we can do as a species to stop destroying the very world we depend on. Some say "consume less" or "recycle". Underlying all of this is unspoken behaviors of extraction and waste. All systems should take inputs that are renewable with outputs that are fully utilized as an input to another system. If one system's output is noxious and cannot be fully utilized then that system should be shut down. Period. The ultimate objective should be to create a system that leaves the system's environment better, richer, more diverse than how it was found. Others have said this much more thoroughly than I...

Discarding the Idea of Waste: The Need for a Zero Waste Policy Now
Humans are the only species on the planet that don't live by zero waste principles. Zero waste is a "call to action" that aims to bring an end to the current "take, make and waste" mentality of human society.

The Oak Beams of New College, Oxford

by Gregory Bateson

I owe this story to a man who was I think a New College student and was head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, where he told it to me.

New College, Oxford, is of rather late foundation, hence the name. It was probably founded around the late 16th century. It has, like other colleges, a great dining hall with big oak beams across the top, yes? These might be eighteen inches square, twenty feet long.

Some five or ten years ago [as of 1980 -- ed.] so I am told, some busy entomologist went up into the roof of the dining hall with a penknife and poked at the beams and found they were full of beetles. This was reported to the College Council, who met in dismay, because where would they get beams of that caliber nowadays?

One of the Junior Fellows stuck his neck out and suggested there might be on College lands some oak. These colleges are endowed with pieces of land scattered across the country. So they called in the College Forester, who of course had not been near the college itself for some years, and asked him about oaks.

And he pulled his forelock and said, "Well sirs, we was wonderin' when you'd be askin'."

Upon further inquiry it was discovered that when the College was founded, a grove of oaks had been planted to replace the beams in the dining hall when they became beetly, because oak beams always become beetly in the end. This plan had been passed down from one Forester to the next for four hundred years. "You don't cut them oaks. Them's for the College hall."

A nice story. That's the way to run a culture.