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.

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Can I get a Ramen? (or) Stocking up for the Apocalypse

My grandmother died on Tuesday. A morbid or uncomfortably personal announcement to start out with, but one to set the mood for the rest of this post. She was 79 years old and i was only able to meet her four times during my life. I found out her health had declined and that she might leave us soon just before the weekend. the next day i came down with the flu that had me out of commission for four days. On day number four, the one that i was finally starting to recover I received the call that she had passed. Times like this come as a reminder of how quickly our life can change. One moment we think about retirement and the years ahead for a goal that we may never reach. the next moment someone we know is hit by a bus and we say “fuck it, I’m eating this bacon and enjoying that beer because YOLO.” I don’t know where the balance is and this is something I have always struggled with. At the same time all of this crazy business is happening my girlfriend’s dad is in the final stages of colon cancer. The world is changing all around me. The polar vortex that keeps all the cold air at the north pole can no longer stay where it belongs because all the ice is gone. Russia is using chemical weapons in foreign lands. Trump is meeting with Kim Jong Un to discuss which country has the best porn stars. Congress is willing to vote on saving puppies in planes but not on gun control to save the lives of children. the list of crazy goes on and on.

I’m stocking up. I have my list ready. Canned goods and non perishables are on there of course. Ramen supplies to keep my hobby going during the apocalypse is on there as well. .45 APC ammo since my supply has dwindled from practicing. And baby food, lots and lots of baby food. I don’t know what the future is going to bring. I watched a documentary called LA 92 on netflix and the damn thing freaked me out. I kept thinking “well if that thing with trump…” “If a cop shoots a black kid here…” “If this global warming thing kills the crops this year…” Ya, I’m not too positive about the future. Having a child changed a few things. Now I worry about her having food. I think about the world that she will be growing up in. I live in a small city that thinks it’s a big city. We had the Uber shooter and the Cyclists that were run over by a drugged out douche bag. We had a giant oil spill in our river and the city’s response “let’s brew beer.” I know we are not immune here from the problems of the world. I know that whatever the future brings my daughter will have to face it. In the meantime I will keep the basement stocked, just in case, and when i’m not thinking about the end of the world you can find me in the kitchen making ramen. Maybe that is what the world needs. Momofuku Ando, the creator of instant ramen said “feeding the world will bring it peace.” So maybe, if we all try a little harder, and clean off our pots and pans, we could bring some peace to world by making some ramen and slurping away our problems.

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Self Authoring for the Apocalypse

The weekend didn’t start out how i wanted it to. Zoey wasn’t acting like herself on Friday with a long drive to the doctor’s office an hour away. The appointment started late and we were back in town by one o’clock. Zoey didn’t eat much that day and threw up all of her food that morning. I found out later she did the same thing that afternoon and slept most of the day.

That night was the usual for me. I left work at midnight and had to be back the next day at one in the afternoon for some overtime. all morning I didn’t feel right, my joints ached and my stomach felt funny. I finished my shift and closed the building. On my way home I called Sarah and told her that I didn’t feel good. A few hours later i was running to the rest room. My palms were sweaty and my weak arms were heavy, no I wasn’t in a rap battle, everything felt cold and my breathing was quick shallow breaths. At some point i found myself in the bedroom with my phone in hand, sending Sarah a text downstairs since i was unable to talk. I wrote “help” and a few minutes later she appeared in the doorway. “What the heck!” she said finding me half dressed and delusional. I thought about telling her to call an ambulance but being the cheap ass that I am I knew that dying would be cheaper, hey at least life insurance would pay out. That night was a long journey through hell. every movement hurt. all my muscles and joint ached. walking 20 feet to the bathroom felt like a Crossfit competition being performed by a morbidly obese man. There were a few moments i seriously thought I might die.

I woke up the next morning, still alive. My stomach hurt and I knew I was dehydrated. This time around Sarah came down with the bug and it was her turn to sleep for 14 hours. We were both scared that Zoey might catch whatever we had but looking back she might have been the first one to catch it.

The day that followed had me waking up at 4AM. I couldn’t sleep anymore. My body hurt from being in bed for too many hours to count. I went down stairs and turned on the Self Authoring Program. If there is one motivation to change your life it’s thinking that last night might have been your last. Remember that scene in Fightclub when Tyler robbed the store and asked the kid what he wanted to do with his life? That was how the flu felt to me. Already this year a nurse at the local hospital died after catching it, she was 40 years old. I finally sat my ass down and finished the Past Authoring program, long overdue by the way. Next came the hard part, the future authoring program.

This program changes everything, no longer able to wing it, or stumble through, you have to sit down and shut up to figure out what you want to do with your life. Saturday night i remember thinking about all that I had accomplished until then. I wrote a few books, had a daughter who’s life I wanted to see, and well, not really much else. What the hell had I been doing with my life? I sure as hell hadn’t been enjoying it.

For three hours I worked through Jordan Peterson’s program and figured out some things about myself and my life that i really wanted to accomplish. Some of the goals I wanted to start right away, feeling encouraged by the event, but the flu had other plans for me. It may take time for me to recover but when I do at least I have a layout of what I want to do in the near and distant future. Finally, the task is finished and I can move ahead to something worth bragging about when the boatman comes to pick me up at the river Styx.

So what is my plan you may ask. I will save that for another time. The flu is not done with me yet. Until next time, clean your room.

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A Day Late and a Dream Short

Two Days ago a friend of mine sent me a message stating that a spot had opened up on the downtown mall. The small walk up window has been a home to many businesses over the years. every summer something comes and goes. Sunday night i took a picture of the sign in the window with my phone, took a quick look around, and thought it over.

A dream that i have come to cherish is having the first Ramen shop in Kalamazoo. We have several Asian restaurants, sushi joints, and Chinese buffets. One thing that is missing for a town that is home to three college campuses is a Ramen place. I have poured over recipe books, raided the local Asian market for ingredients, spent countless hours cooking broth on the stove, and in the end I am still waiting. There was a spot attached to the State Theater i inquired about only to learn they were never renting the spot out again. Did i mention they said NEVER! I continued my search for great recipes and played around with new ideas.

Monday I tried to figure out how i would be able to cook the broth and noodles in such a small space. The toppings could be prepped easily. The noodles would need a boiling pot to cook in. The Broth would have to stay on a burner of some kind. there was the issue of using To Go containers for Ramen that is served hot and loses it’s freshness as the minutes tick by. By Monday night I had almost everything figured out and if not I would eventually figure it out. I called the number Tuesday morning only to learn that the spot had just been rented. I was crushed. Sure, i was having doubts about the whole thing. what to do with the baby? would i be working 12-16 hour days with my other full time job? What if my Ramen sucked?

Like i said, this spot opens up every year with a new business. maybe this year isn’t mine but that gives me another year to work on recipes and figure out how to make Ramen To GO with out making sucky ramen. Plus I have to buy T-shirts for work, something reading “the only men I like in me is Ramen” or “Send Noodz.” I still have a lot of work to do.

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Three Days of Hiking

One of my goals on this page was to start hiking at least once a week. Considering the weather and flooding that happened last week the hikes that I have been doing involve walking a few blocks from the house and up a large hill to a park that overlooks the city. I didn’t have the stroller so my daughter was harnessed to my chest and I climbed the hill 14 pounds heavier. the walk wasn’t as bad as it sounds. most of my job is spent on my feet and walking around the building finding things to clean or fix. The goal of these hikes is to become fit to some degree and lose some weight in the meantime. when the weather stays reliable and I’m able to travel further out of the city i would like to see Chipman Preserve again and bring a weighted pack. The preserve is covered in rolling hills and steep climbs. the scenery changes from prairie lands to hard wood forests. It’s common to see tree stands left from the hinting seasons. Deer or often seen in the middle of the day and during the mid summer months you can find all kinds of black and raspberries to pick for later use.

Cooking has become a hobby of mine this year. While it is not healthy, Ramen has caught me attention again, sending me to the local Asian market for supplies and trying out different recipes to see what I like. bags of fresh-cut noodles sit in the freezer and instant packs fill a box on the shelf waiting to face my judgement. My curiosity has taken me on YouTube binges lasting several hours watching cooks, reviewers, and vloggers eating ramen all over the world. I have come to appreciate the 7 minute egg and have come to see the major differences between instant and fresh noodles. the broth is the hardest part of this hobby, taking several hours and learning the subtle differences of certain ingredients.

My cheap hobbies have kept me from spending cash lately. Overtime is coming up and I plan to put that into savings where it belongs. Nine months after Zoey was born the insurance is starting to decline certain visits since it is the new year. already bills are coming to the house and I doubt the money I’m planning to save will stay there long. For more on Zoey visit The Proud Preemie Poppa on The Good Men Project website. For being 9 months old Zoey had a long journey already so i can’t complain when i have to pay out for something she needs at this point.

I worry about the world that will be left for her. the trash we walked past on the side of the road. the items i saw floating in the pond that supplies our drinking water to the city. the needle i walked over in the park today lead me to believe that humans, for all of our genius and technology, have not learned to keep the only planet we can live on. The city is a mess. There is a loss of pride that once came with life. Leave this place better than how you found it, is no longer a motto anybody believes in. temporary gains are better than seeking longer term solutions. why wait when i can have it now. that is the motto we live by these days. our kids, who cares? they can clean up our mess after we are gone.

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