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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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Retiring my pipe

Smoking a pipe has been an on again off again hobby/ habit for the last twenty years. granted the majority of those years I didn’t smoke. there were several years in between where a pipe was lost or willingly thrown out thinking it was done with it. a little over a year ago i picked up the hobby again. The big difference this time was that i had learned about the difference between pharmacy tobacco and higher quality tobacco. I was only familiar with Captain Black until that point and wasn’t well versed in the other pharmacy tobaccos. I thought Half and Half was the next best thing the first time i tried it, then I found a whole new world through YouTube. Companies i had never heard of before were selling styles and blends i had never heard of before. there were English, orientals, aromatics, and vapor tobaccos. I searched through reviews trying to find something that sounded good and a year later i have a cellar filled with all kinds of blends I am waiting to try, and wait i will.

Pipe smoking doesn’t fit into my life these days. Having a little one at home leaves little room to enjoy a few minutes in solitude. I tried using my lunch break to enjoy a smoke only to have people asking “who was smoking a cigar?” No, that wasn’t a good blend. Weekends i want to spend as much time with my family as I can therefore getting the pipe out is usually not on the list of things to do. Instead of getting frustrated I have decided that it is a good time for the pipe to join the rest of the cellar and age gracefully until they are dug up a few years from now. Maybe when the little one starts school? There isn’t going to be a big loss in taking a break, hell half of the tobacco in the cellar isn’t being made anymore. the only thing I really want to do in the meantime is make a last order for a few blends that might not be around when i take the old pipe back out again. Wild Hare by Lane Limited has become a personal favorite. Founding Fathers is an enjoyable blend that might find itself on the chopping block with the way things are going. I know there will be a few that I haven’t tried yet that i will wish i had more of later but such is life.

The pipe will be cleaned one last time and the rest of the opened tobacco will find itself in mason jars to spent a few years aging. This appears to be a repeating trend in my life. today i noticed that in the past two and a half weeks I have had one beer, one. I was sick with the flue two weeks ago and since then i had one drink on St. Patrick’s Day. i wasn’t that excited about it either. Who knows, maybe that will be tossed to the wayside as well. Couldn’t hurt, i could lose a few pounds.

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Tell the Truth or at least don’t lie

This weekend had me going to the store with a list of things that may come in handy in case the world decides to take a huge dump on itself and fling its poo into the ceiling fan. after hearing the news about the chemical attack in the UK and learning that Trump is planning to fire all of the people that talked him out of going to war with Iran, I decided to take a few things into my own hands and filled the trunk of my car with $120 of food. Granted, this is all in the moment and hopefully it will amount to nothing.

The other piece of news that had me concerned was regarding the lack of ice on the north pole on how the “polar vortex” has been out of whack, sending the north east into abnormal icy conditions while places like Alaska and the north pole saw temperatures above freezing. This is what concerns me most about having a child. what exactly do I tell her while she is growing up. “sorry kid, we tried our best but driving pick up trucks and dumping oil into rivers was just how we did things. good luck!” as the month progress and the news continues to flow in the time line for several things that were supposed to happen decades from now are already happening. We will see heat waves. Crops will fail and people will die. So yes, i bought a shit ton of canned goods (and a few hundred bullets) just in case one day the supermarket shelves are bare.

I have heard all kinds of advice on what to teach or tell children growing up in this world. Constantly move, be nomadic in how you live your life and move to where the resources are. Learn a trade to make yourself valuable. Invest in gold and silver in case the dollar collapses. then there is the crazy stuff. dig a bunker. Be prepared to marry your sister. find recipes for cat and dog.

I won’t lie to her. It would be nice to give her the bad news in a way that won’t make life feel pointless. Do I think the human race will go extinct? The way we currently live our lives not giving a shit about the debt that will be paid by future generations, sure. We are facing famines, heat waves, rising oceans, refugee problems, and diseases we have never seen before. Do I think the next generation may have a shot at changing things around? No, but i think they will be the crafty ones that learn how to adapt.

The start of Zoey’s life was tough and knowing that I can’t help but think that she will have a natural callus to tough it though the hard times. I can stock up the basement pantry and make sure that we are able to defend ourselves if needed but the real work comes when i start teaching Zoey how to thrives in the apocalypse.

 

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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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