Clean your room

To those of you that have been following the adventures of Jordan Peterson this phrase will sound familiar. For a man pushing forty, this was something i needed to hear. I originally started this blog a few years ago with the intent of learning and sharing various skills in the event of a world ending disaster. At some point before now it should have occurred to me that maybe the disaster is my life.
In May of last year I became a father. It happened later in life and circumstances lined up so that things would work out the best they could under the circumstances. My daughter was born premature and spent all summer in the NICU. For more on that story check out my other blog on The Good Men Project website under The Proud Preemie Poppa or buy the collected Ebook version (Hobbit Baby) for .99 cents on Amazon. Once you become a father and are responsible for someone other than yourself you realize how careless and irresponsible you can be. Granted I’m doing better than most but i still have my issues. My savings are almost non-existent, I can’t remember the last time i exercised, my writing career is a sad image of its former self, and I can’t remember the last time i sat down and read a book. It maybe a little late for a new year’s resolution but a change needs to happen.
A few weeks ago i purchased Peterson’s Self Authoring program, a three step guide to learning about oneself and planning a better future. two weekends in a row i worked on it and found myself half way through it and stuck. I completed the Present course then went onto the Past course. this was where i found myself in trouble. I had gone to a counselor for over a year and thought i had faced my demons, instead i found myself not wanting to write about the same things i had always dealt with since i was a teenager. Memories flooded back and i found myself saying “fuck it” just to get away from the computer. The last time i logged into the self authoring site was two weeks ago and i haven’t made plans to return to it. the last portion of the site is the future course, where you sit down and figure out the future you want and how to get there. This was the selling point for me, where am I going? How do I get there? what are my goals for myself? I have no answers for these questions and that was what had been bugging me for so long.
So why am I writing on this blog instead of finishing the damn program? While i was at work tonight i had a vision of what i wanted my future to be, at least for the next year. I need to save money, a nest egg in case something happens in the future. i need to get into shape so that i can enjoy watching my daughter grow up. I need to pay off my house and figure out what my goals in life are. there is a balance missing from my life and i need to find it. So Jordan Peterson says to start by cleaning your room. That is what this blog is going to be about. My efforts in cleaning up myself and my life to live the way i want to live. first lets set some goals.
1. Save $5000 in the bank for emergencies
2. Go hiking at least once a week with Zoey
3. Do not buy any big ticket items unless it is necessary.
4. do not eat out
5. cook at home as much as possible.
6. try to obtain as much food from gardening, hunting, and fishing as possible.
7. always pay over on the house payment.
8. white this blog once a week
9. work in the garden every weekend while in season
10. go camping at least once this year.

So those are my 10 goals for the year. i will have other things during the year to keep me occupied but this is a start. as for the self authoring program i am giving myself two weeks to finish it. other small goals will be added throughout the year when needed. this is the new collapse experiment, getting myself in order just in case the end of the world happens.

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Creating the Man of Tomorrow

The future doesn’t consist of a world where one can become anything they want just by pursuing it through hard work and really wanting it, although that was a myth. Instead we have a future where we have a very good idea of what is going to happen, the only catch is that we don’t know how soon it will happen. Currently the predictions of climate change are speeding up and what climate scientist originally thought was going to take decades to happen is now occurring at this present moment. The year (2017) has seen the second year that the arctic hasn’t frozen over and the current temperature (Feb 9, 2017) is fifty degrees higher than normal. Oklahoma reached 100 degrees today as well. The arctic hasn’t been free of ice since human kind started civilization 40,000 years ago.

I bring this up for several reasons. Our current administration denies that climate change exist. A witch hunt is underway for scientist and government employees who study the weather and its effects. As if silencing the scientific consensus will somehow change the fact that the human race as a whole is under the threat of extinction. The rate at which our climate is changing is happening faster than anybody anticipated. The release of methane from the arctic is expected to speed things up even faster. Methane is a more toxic greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and there are large amounts of it trapped under the frozen surface of the Siberian tundra and the waters of the arctic. When that methane is released temperatures will rise regardless of the carbon dioxide levels measured by our governments.

The earth is changing, and if mankind is going to survive he has to adapt to it or risk going extinct like so many species that came before. So, what do we do?

As I write this my girlfriend is 9 weeks along with our first child. If things go as planned it will be our only child. At 37 years of age there isn’t much room for anymore and I don’t want to run the risk of being mistaken as grandpa when they are in their 20s. Boy or girl there is a long list of things I will be teaching them along the way. Much of it should come as a normal part of life. A healthy curiosity for learning is key. Self confidence in themselves will hopefully be instilled. But beyond that there are simple skills that most people don’t have anymore. Fishing, hunting, gardening, respect for the earth and everything it provides. Enjoying your life. The part of the collapse I look forward to is the disappearance of the banks and the 40 hour a week bullshit of a thing called a job. Seriously, homesteading would be a permanent vacation for me. There are more skills that will be taught and with the way things are nose diving into the ocean I don’t know if there is enough time to get everything in. The reality of being a parent is knowing you won’t be around forever to take care of them. The natural way of things is that eventually the child replaces the parent.

It’s no secret I don’t like how things are going right now. Between climate change, the banks, a fascist president, internet surveillance, and war on the horizon how is one supposed to have confidence in anything other than their own ability? When the people you are supposed to trust let you down repeatedly at what point do you walk away from the mess and go about it on your own?

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The Times They Are A Changin’

For the second day in a row I was outside cleaning my yard. Racking leaves, cleaning out the garden, this was February 14 and it was almost 50 degrees in Michigan. This kind of thing has been a re-occurring trend in my state. Granted, the state is known for having all four seasons in a week, or sometimes a single day depending on its mood. For most of my adult life I cannot recall the last time we had a real winter, the type of season where kids could build snow forts and have snow ball fights while hiding behind snowmen. The last time we had an accumulation of snow and it stuck around all winter was 1999/ 2000. That was 17 years ago, in the early 2000s we had a snowless Christmas with 70-degree weather and I was outside wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

Again this year, the weather bureau stated this was the hottest summer on record and the warmest winter ever recorded. Last week the arctic was 50 degrees warmer than normal and was the highest temperature ever while humans have been on the planet. The arctic, for another year, never froze over.

I know that things change, the childhood that I had was not the world my parents had, and the world I grew up in was my version of normal. Every generation goes through that transition. When I was growing up war was a televised spectator sport, celebrities had live trials, and the president’s sex life was broadcast on television. That wasn’t my parent’s world. The one that we are moving into isn’t the world I grew up in either. Normal for my kid could look like snowless winters in Michigan. Animals I saw alive at zoos will no longer exist. If some people have their way, the National Parks might not be around either for them to enjoy. A think called privacy will become an odd habit for prudes. The world I grew up in, the one that currently exist will be gone and what comes next will be the new normal, the only one my child will ever know. The fast-changing world is a challenge for parents, seeing their kids with things they themselves do not understand and are too busy working several jobs to have the time to keep up with the times. It’s no wonder there is a disconnect between the generations.

The times they are a changin, and what the world will look like I can only guess. Winter has become a short one month event with bits of fall and spring dotting the calendar here and there. The bits of warm weather at the beginning of the year has caused havoc with the fruit trees, causing blooms too early for bees to pollinate and catching the flowers in early season frost to dry off, killing the chances of growing fruit. Hunting season has been thrown off as well with the rut taking place earlier in the fall so that it is done before gun season opens. The earth is changing and the rest of the planet is trying to catch up in its own way, but nobody knows how to do that. In a world that we depend on to remain normal I find myself questioning what exactly is normal?

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A Vision of the Future

When I imagine what the world will look like, specifically my area of Michigan, I see a drastic change from the world we have today. Some of the things we no longer have include supermarkets, a large number of cars, and less people. There will be some resemblance of our current normality. Local governments will have more power compared to state of federal. Roads will still be around. Electricity will be available to those that can figure out a power source. Libraries will be the main source of knowledge and entertainment.

Economically, the main stores will include reuse merchandise. Items that can stand the test of time and be fixed by a steady hand. This won’t be the electronics that we have today. Cell phones won’t be around. Home phones will return as the norm, for a while. The post office will send correspondence if it is still around after a republican administration. With a return of a reliance on the post office will come a return of earlier technology like the typewriter. Some people as about ribbon and how to get more? The bright side is that ribbon is a fairly easy product to make, also if the ribbon is still in good condition it can be reinked and used several times over. I can’t think of any modern technology that has that ability.

We will see a line in human history marking when humans stopped building tools that were reliable and sturdy. The quality of tools will mean more than how pretty they are.

Slate records and the hand crank Victrola will be items of luxury. The mechanically inclined will be the most valuable people to the general public. They will be the gateway to an easier life and a reminder of the world we once had. Communities will have to return for the sake of the population at large. Neighborhoods will no longer be boxes to hold your stuff, instead everyone will rely on sharing of goods and supplies to get by. Festivals will no longer be a place to sell and buy goods, instead a place to share and enjoy one another’s company.

Acoustic music will be the norm and making those instruments will become a new craft, revived from the local need. Old hand crank or foot pedal sewing machines will be a sign of luxury again. I don’t know if money will survive. People might think it was a nice idea and some will hold onto it thinking it is special while it is not edible and doesn’t serve any purpose besides existing. Festivals and local customs will be dictated by the seasons. Blueberries and other crops will become a focus point and become more than just a garnish in a salad. The first two R’s in reduce, reuse, recycle, will finally be used. While these items are saved and restored for future generations, life will be easier than if they had disappeared along with the rest of civilization. Mechanics will be the wizards of the future, speaking words like Metric and Inches as if it was a foreign language only they can understand. Life will become more simple while becoming more dangerous with people dying from diseases we consider a hindrance these days. In the end, everywhere will become a small town. Jobs will no longer be the concern on people’s minds. With the fall of banks and corporations the only job people will have is to survive. In order to survive people must work together, and hopefully remember the mistakes of the past and not repeat it in the distant future.

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Gardening in Modern Times

As I mark the borders for the garden I will be planting in the spring I take a few things into consideration. At the moment, my garden is directly in the ground with top soil and years of compost added over the years. A lack of ambition last year created a thick layer of weeds I will have to clean out as I clean out the compost piles as well. There will be a week or two of work before I can plant anything, the payoff afterwards will hopefully be a low maintenance garden that I can maintain.

On the side of my house I have three raised boxes for square foot gardening. The end goal for those boxes is to do herb gardening only a few feet outside of the kitchen. 8×4 ft per box gives me a lot of room for herbs I use and can store over the winter once they are dried out.

The back yard has two large plots that are being converted into square foot gardening beds. In previous years, I used intensive gardening technics, this involves turning the soil once, never stepping on the soil and adding compost at the beginning and end of each planting year. The upside is that the plots being converted are already fertile with dark soil that drains well while retaining water. With the square foot gardening, I will be able to use more of the available space for higher crop yield and preventing weeds throughout the season. The down side is that for any vines I grow I need a trellis to have them grow up. In square foot gardening plants grow up, not out. This can be a major benefit but it adds to the cost of the project.

Planning the garden is fairly basic. The higher plants per box need to be planted in the northern rows to prevent shading the smaller plants. If you plant corn they are in the northern squares. Plants like radishes, carrots, or beets would be in the southern squares. In the middle squares, you can plant medium sized plants like peppers and tomatoes. All of these plants can share the sun and soil if you let them. In the past I learned that using organic gardening technics can have far better results than those that use artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Every year I have a group of praying mantis that return to my yard and eat everything I don’t want to have there. Pest have never been a problem with my personal army of alien looking killers.

I don’t know what the spring will bring, or how hot the summer will become. What I do know is that with the rain barrel and compost system my crops in the past have never been effected by drought or intense heat. Some crops like heat including tomatoes and peppers. Beans and broccoli on the other hand you can forget it. grow those in the spring and enjoy them while you can. I tried to grow these in autumn and it never works out. By the time the temperature drops for them to thrive it is almost winter and I never get to harvest before the first frost.

My tomato seedlings are an inch tall now. Peppers haven’t sprouted yet and I don’t know if they will. The house is at a steady 62 degrees and I’m guessing they need more heat than that. I hope they start to show themselves, we will have to wait and see.

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Michigan Tunguska

Last night there was a green meteor spotted, streaking across the sky with a loud explosion heard in some areas. Buildings shook and the sight was captured on film in several states. I didn’t see it. it was reported to have happened around 1:30 am and I was in bed an hour before that, not that I would have been outside at 1:30 in the morning in the middle of winter. I did find video footage on Youtube after I heard about it. the images reminded me of the meteor that exploded over Russia in 2013. Those videos are also available on Youtube for those that are curious. The only reason I mention the Russian event is because of the explosion heard last night. In Russia, windows were blown out of buildings with car alarms hollering for miles around. People were injured from the broken glass, filling hospital emergency rooms in some cities. These things are rare events and while they can be destructive like the Tunguska incident in 1908, the odds of something like this happening to a major city are equivalent to the same person being struck by lightning, winning the lottery, and finding Jimmy Hoffa’s corpse. Still, it’s exciting to know that the universe might have it in for you at any random time.

My choice of books has changed this week, switching to David Sedaris and his older work, Me Talk Pretty One Day. The essays were easy to connect with as somebody who went to speech therapy as a kid. I knew exactly what Sedaris was referring to about the odd situation it is for a kid to be taken to the side like that and told you’re different, and not in a good way.

The fog is thick outside as I write this. The temperature is 45 degrees and the snow has been melting for two days. Tomorrow we are supposed to have thunderstorms. I can’t figure out if this is winter or not. It’s not the winters that I remember as a kid. We haven’t had enough snow in recent years to build a snow man if one was so inclined. Living in Michigan it is expected that we have harsh winters and yet the snow I remember seems to be north of us. It’s always north of us and continues to move higher on the map as the line for expected snow fall migrates. I won’t be surprised when they say it is another warmest winter on record.

My days have been busy organizing my books and figuring out what I will keep and what will be donated. The room empties out as I fill boxes with titles I know I will never get to. Even if I did they would be as an audiobook and not the physical thing. It is amazing to see the subjects I collected over the years, seeing how my thinking had changed and the things I once considered important. Titles on Buddhism and eastern mythology filled one box, spy novels from the cold war era filled several others. I couldn’t tell you how many times I found a book and asked myself what the hell was I thinking? While shopping for used books, I expected myself to be extremely bored for the majority of the rest of my life. That’s the only answer one could have for the number and type of books I have on hand. Almost have of the books I have will be donated this week, then comes some organization for the rest of the house. Things are shaping up and tomorrow comes mapping out the garden. Stay tuned.

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Unleash the Books

My reading list has grown over the years. When I finally think I’m putting a dent into find that the list has grown beyond where it was. Last year, according to Goodreads, I read 176 books. My reading list grew from about 250 to 500 books. That is a rough estimate considering my buying habits at the local second hand store in the basement of the public library. (insert shameless add for Friends of the Kalamazoo Public Library here)

The last two books I read were directly influenced by the recent election. Drift by Rachael Maddow and It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis.

Drift was published in 2012 when the world was supposed to end according to a dead culture and at the start of the second term for the Obama administration. Maddow discusses how the authority for starting war was transformed from Congress needing to declare it and the president doing whatever he wanted, thanks Reagan. Four years later I came across a first edition and picked it up curious about what she had to say about our military situation. It ended up being a warning that was never heard and now we have to face the repercussions of a system that was never fixed and a madman in office.

It Can’t Happen Here, was written in 1936 when people saw what was happening in Germany but nobody thought it would get to the point of ovens and world war. Lewis maps out how a fascist was able to win the hearts of the American public during the great depression with the promise of making life better by punishing the banks and politicians. Things start out that way until camps are started and people are forced to work more than they did before. Executions are common and often throughout the book much like the Nazi policies in Germany. Things don’t turn out well, once a dictator is in power its difficult to get them out of power.

A few weeks ago I read This Side of Paradise, F Scott Fitzgerald’s first book that made him famous had an interesting scene towards the end where two men are talking about the current political climate and the friction between the rich and poor. While listening to the conversation one can easily forget that what they are talking about is the early 1920s. a hundred years later it is easy to see that nothing has changed.

Some of my pepper seeds have started to sprout and I dug into my boxes of books to find all of my organic gardening material. I thinned out this section a few years ago by giving away books to close friends, I hope they still have them now.

I watch the protest and here the beats of war drums in the distance. The current climate has me wondering what life will be like in the spring. Will I still have a home? Will this still be a country? Will we still be here? With the increasing speed of technology and communication could the end of this country be sped up, what once took years could be crammed into a few months, or possibly weeks. I plant seeds with the hope of harvesting the food in the future and preserving it for next winter. Other people in this country have other plans. The current book list I am working through are things I read before. Gardening guides, how to grow herbs, composting, permaculture, square foot gardening, and much, much, more. The upside is that once the garden is going, the plants grow and do the majority of the work. That frees up time for other things. I’m not sure where this experiment is going. Adaptation is important for surviving in constantly changing circumstances. I have plans, but it feels like every day that goes buy something else is said or done by a certain person in power that might make that reality a fantasy.

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