A Century of Loss (or All the Dogs will Die!)

With Earth Day come and gone I am reminded at the path our species is taking. I went to the celebration downtown and left disappointed, more so than when I arrived, at what was really a party for middle-aged baby boomers to brag about their high mileage cars and the protest they have been attending over the decades. One doesn’t have to look hard to find that what they accomplished was little, if anything. There was a sense of nostalgia for the 60s as I looked at people with rainbow-colored shirts who had not bathed in days telling people how they were working to save the planet, while driving god knows how many miles to attend a mostly dead event. After a quick round through the park I was done.

Earlier in the week I read a story online about the end of Syrian tobacco and how it would no longer exist once the last of the blends were sold from the online retailers and brick and mortar stores. This may sound like whining to some and in one case i was called a white capitalist pig for bringing it up. “With all the death and destruction that happens over there you are complaining about tobacco?” Sure he had a point but what I was trying to point out is the loss of a species that may never be seen again. Sure, it is tobacco, not food, not a medicine, but still it represents something that is lost from our world. Over the coming years we will start to hear about crops being lost, species of insects and birds that will never been seen again, and lakes that disappear from the landscape. In the coming generations there will be animals and food that our descendents will only be able to read about.

I watched a documentary about a chef who was trying to reconstruct a recipe from a hundred year old cook book. many of the technics had been lost over the years but slowly they were able to piece together the ingredients and make what was close to the original meal. There is one difference between this story and what is happening in the world, the ingredients will be lost forever. I learned on earth day that the sugar maples that i grew up with in my yard and the syrup i savored on my pancakes will no longer grow in my home state of Michigan. Many of the birds I listened to outside my bedroom window will be gone. The insects I watched crawling on the plants in the garden will no longer exist. My daughter might be the last member of my family to experience these things that have been a staple of our life here, the end of an era with unknown repercussions in the future.

Many people were bragging about their electric cars at the Earth Day event, talking about the need to convert our power sources to renewable, their point was to boast about being ahead of the curve on climate change while they charged their cars on electricity produced by coal and natural gas. They didn’t consider the power it took to manufacture the car, the oil that went into the tires, the fuel to transport the materials for the batteries over the oceans so that they could enjoy a vehicle with less guilt associated with it.

While my city discusses how to waste a 30 million dollar gift given to it by donors the only things I have seen done with the money was provide free WIFI in the park and the planned removal of a racist fountain that is crumbling to pieces and should be destroyed since it provides no social or historical merit. There was one obvious use for the money that they could have done, one that would provide financial security for the city and helped the planet a little bit. The city has several large plots of land that were once the factories for paper and automotive manufacturing, contaminated land that they are constantly talking about “cleaning up” but instead sits there unused. Why they didn’t consider putting a solar farm on these lands is beyond me. providing the majority of the city’s power, reducing the tax burden on its citizens and providing jobs for locals, it is a win win all around and yet they are more concerned about a fountain crumbling in the park. Priorities are, needless to say, fucked up when it comes to our political appointees and I have to wonder why these people stay in these positions as long as they have.

With choices like these I hope you come to understand why my vision of the future is bleak at best. Instead of talking about climate change and pushing the agenda that we need to discuss we are preoccupied with where Donald Trump put his dick before the election. The last male white rhino died this year and more species are disappearing from the planet than we can talk about. Maybe if we changed the discussion to a different topic we can make a difference. My suggestion “all the dogs are going to die!” get the dog lovers involved, they tend to care more about their dogs than their own lives or the lives of other humans for that matter. So when talking about climate change start out with “all the dogs are going to die!” If you have a friend who smokes a pipe tell them “all the good blends will go extinct if we don’t solve climate change.” Those guys, myself included are already concerned about some of the big loses we ahve had in our hobby over the past year. Thanks FDA, you don’t know how to regulate opiates but you have become concerned about an ancient hobby that built this country? Again, messed up priorities.

I do my best when it comes to helping with the problem but then policy sometimes contradicts what is best for everyone. My place of employment offers a reimbursement for parking spaces downtown but no incentives for people who walk or ride their bikes. While I live less than a mile away I am told to use my parking money or lose it, weird right? In my garden I grow heirloom plants that may go extinct with the changing climate, saving the seeds each year in the hopes they will keep growing and not die out half way through the season like some of them have.

Today I ordered a can of the Syrian blend that will be no more. Yes, i know that by having it shipped I will have added to my carbon footprint for my own selfish desires. My goal is to sit down, open the can, smell the aroma, taste the flavor, and write the most accurate description i can muster so that those in the future will know what it was like to experience something that no longer exist. Think of it as cataloging a vintage of wine that has come and gone. It’s all I can do, document what this world was like and hope that people care in the future while blaming us for ruining everything.

Standard

Fail now so you won’t later

I have been gardening for several years now. I have played around with urban farming and I have had good years and bad. For those people who think that they can store some seeds away and put them in the ground when they really need to, I have some bad news for you. Gardening, like most things in life worth doing, is something you become better at over time. For a person to try living off of what they grow is almost suicidal that first year. If you don’t trust me look at Walden and see how well Thoreau did that first year.

I have played around with several styles of gardening, Square foot, Bio-intensive, traditional, victory garden, and the list goes on and on. I discovered a mix that worked well for me and the area I live in. This is something that will be different for everyone in their own areas. what works well in one place might not in another. The point I am making is that if a person is planning on gardening later for food then they better start now. It doesn’t take long. start with something small.

With a simple book like Square Foot Gardening a person can play with a four foot by four foot garden bed and learn some basics in a few hours a week. Start small and build up to something bigger.

There isn’t much to starting your first garden and if you are the type of person that doesn’t have the time or comes up with some other excuse this year than maybe you’re not cut out for surviving the apocalypse anyway.

 

Standard

Make what is old new again

While working on a project titled “The Climate Change Manifesto” I wrote a quick sectioned called make what is old new again. I thought I would share what I meant by that and hope that this idea might carry on into the near future. I have a side hobby of fixing up old typewriters and making them as close to new again as I can. Sometimes putting them back into working order means I have to have new parts made and for anything made after the 1950s that means using a 3D printer to make new keys or feet that have rotted out. The idea of using a 3D printer to create new parts for an old machine is nothing new, however there are a few people out there that have come up with ways of making typewriters a 21st century product. The USB typewriter is an open source product that can convert several styles of typewriters into a working keyboard for a computer. When connected to an Ipad or tablet the typewriter can mimic a laptop with a lit up screen sitting on the carriage of the typewriter. more about this product can be found at http://www.usbtypewriter.com

This isn’t the only piece of old equipment that is finding new life in the 21st century. Old vacuum tube AM radios are finding new life with blue tooth routers and mini-jack being added to century old technology. These old wooden radios are able to broadcast podcast and new music via cell phone without needing to plug anything in. For more about these old but new radios check out at ExceptionalRadios at http://www.etsy.com

With technology becoming more available and at a cheaper price there isn’t much that we couldn’t fix if we just put in the effort. Currently, my ability to fix things on typewriters is limited, however there is new material coming out that expands my ability to fix more typewriters. Rubber material is available now to create new rollers for carriages, new rubber feet for older pre-WWII models, or handles on older models like the Royal #10. New laser printers are available that could possibly replace those glass panels if they are broken.

Maybe I am being too much of an optimist, delaying the inevitable fate for technology that has seen its day come and go. At the local Michael’s store I saw the box for a Memory Keepers typewriter, brand new and produced in China. I don’t know what this says about typewriters in our culture these days, could the demand be so high that a new over priced option is a viable option? The new typewriters cost $175 and most collectors that have bought one to try it out only complain about the cheap parts and being over priced. the overall opinion i have seen is that anyone would do better to buy an older model at an antique booth and oil it up. I haven’t used the new machines even though I have been curious but when the going price could pay for three or four machines at a flea market i would rather save the older ones and let the new model sit on the shelf.

I hope this kind of behavior becomes the new normal, fixing and refurbishing older technology to fit into our new lifestyles. There is something missing from this digital age. Craftsmanship and quality have been sacrificed for the promise of a new and better model next year. There was a time when you could buy one product and it would be with you, loyal and reliable till the end, for have a century or more. What happened to that kind of quality? Why don’t we value our time or money like our grandparents did, instead choosing to stand in line for half a day trying to get a new Iphone? As a society, when do we start to realize that we have become disposable like the shitty products we have been fed to purchase?

Standard

The world is always ending for someone

April 15, 2018 and the world is covered in ice, at least where I live. An ice storm is rolling through and we are stuck in the house for the day after a busy couple of days. My fiance’s father died yesterday and the days leading up to it were busy with a lot of driving, finding babysitters, and losing several hours of sleep. fortunately the last on we are professionals at dealing with. As of today I am two episodes behind on my podcast and this is the first post for a while, I haven’t kept track.

While Sarah was spending her time with her dad, trying to maintain his care, I was busy with several projects. During the day I am the primary care giver for my daughter. While I have her I try to do some productive things while keeping her entertained. On Friday night i returned home from work to hear the news that we, as in the united states, had bombed parts of Syria. This had me worried and a few hours later i received the call that Sarah’s dad had passed away after a long fight with cancer. The next morning, while Sarah stayed in bed catching up on sleep, I took Zoey with me to the store and filled a cart with non-perishables to load into the pantry. This was more for my personal feeling of security than anything. Did i think we were heading for war, hopefully not, but I did worry that things would move into a direction I didn’t want to imagine. For the sake of my family and myself i loaded up the car and carried everything into the basement while Sarah slept. she still has no idea how much i bought or added to our stockpile.

On Friday, I took Zoey with me to my house and dug up a few Iris and Tulip bulbs. Sarah had been looking forward to her yard being cleaned up and I wanted her to have some flowers to look forward to. I planted the Iris and tulips in appropriate spots along with some sunflowers that I hope will fill the space along the fence in the backyard.

While I try to plan for the unexpected Saturday was a rough reminder of how things may not turn out as you expect. Sarah’s dad was a young guy, only 58 when he passed. While I can look at my family’s history and see the long lifespans that preceded me I can’t expect to be that lucky. Religion teaches us to look towards the end times while ignoring the day to day events that are in a sense a personal apocalypse. This will be the second funeral that I will be attending this year. My Grandmother passed away a few weeks ago and she was buried on St. Patrick’s Day, finally giving me a reason to drink on that day. I have been to plenty of funerals during my life. Many were the result of self inflicted ends of one kind or another, some natural causes, either way these should remind us that everyday life is a danger in itself and that the end could always be closer than we expect.

Standard

Today my cellphone died, I blame Russia

Unexpectedly, without a warning, my cellphone froze on me with one screen that said the data was damaged and I had to restart to factory settings. What it did not tell me was that I couldn’t reset the settings, or go past the screen that was showing, or do a hard reset and try to start over on my phone. No, my phone is dead. It wouldn’t even connect to my computer to pull off the hard drive the last photos i took of my daughter. I guess i should not be surprised. My phone has seen two administrations, the end of the Iraq War, several relationships, and three jobs. today, on April 8th 2018 my Samsung galaxy 3 died.

I don’t know where I will go from here. I told myself a while ago that when this phone died I would be done with cell phones. Having a child its not the best idea, but shit man what did people do before the cell phone was invented? Now I have to submit myself to the most vile form of predator, a festering hunk of bile that will descend on me as if I was the last meal of a dying man, the lowest of the low, the cellphone sales man. I will say “man” here because a woman should not want her title being lumped together with these vermin. I will be shown new plans, better rates, phones I don’t want, the latest swag I don’t need, insurance and services I will never use and if i did I would still find myself pulling money out of my pocket for one reason or another. I have been to this level of hell before. it was the one that Dante forgot about, the one that didn’t exist back then and would have made the final level of Brutus and Judas feel like an evening at a spa. The Secretary of State office has been demoted and no longer holds the reputation of a soul sucking institution as it once had. A part of me knows that some stupid kid sitting behind a computer screen saw that I was using a Samsung Galaxy S3 and decided it was time for me to get a new phone. The company hasn’t made any money on me in a few years and I will be herded to the nearest store to replace an item I can’t live without. Is this what the Unibomber was talking about? I deleted Facebook months ago, Twitter is a twat fest, and even YouTube is pissing me off with their latest policy of banning videos they don’t agree with. The last refuge of freedom in this country, the wild west of the internet, is coming to an end. what was once a place to bitch about movies and share pornography with others has become a leash, a voyeurs wet dream of internet stalking and corporations collecting and selling data to foreign parties. Maybe it is time to move on, step back a few feet and figure out where I want to go in this crazy world. Do I really want a leash attached to me at all times telling people I don’t know where I am? The adds are bad enough, just for once I would like to pick up a news paper, check the answering machine, type on my typewriter, or listen to the radio to keep from being bombarded with adds or waiting five minutes for a news webpage to load because it is crammed with so many adds the entire site shuts down or skipping the first ten minutes of a podcast because Joe Rogan has five companies paying for airtime. I’m tired of only getting two or three sentences of a story or having telemarketers calling me with fake names like Elizabeth trying to get me to switch service. For $90 a month nobody should have my number that I don’t want to have it.

My phone is dead. Maybe it should stay that way and keep the freedom of having my life to myself. For years companies like Facebook collected my information and sold it to companies for the sake of selling me things. Then it turned personal and they sold an election for a few thousand dollars. we don’t read the agreements, instead skipping to the end and clicking “Accept.” Our lives are not our own anymore. I want my life back. I want a company to have to pay me for the information they want from me. If they are going to be so careless as to give it away to whomever ask for it then we should not be so careless was to paying them to take it from us.

Standard