Sunday, March 25, 2007


I find myself in the Little House (referred to by my current mother-in-law as the Tool Shed) partly as a matter of accidental voyaging, and partly, importantly, as a matter of very conscious choice.

I feel extremely lucky to be here- but it wasn't all luck that made it happen.

In the mid 70s, both my first spouse and I found ourselves becoming dis-enamored of the academic world. We were both in ecology oriented PhD programs, and had both completed all the course work required. And decided at that point, for very different reasons, that we really didn't want to become professors.

So what do you do? Having bailed out of grad school? What next?

We owned a piece of land; bought using wedding gift money as the down payment, with some tillable acres we rented out to make mortgage payments. It worked, back then.

We decided to take a few years and basically play. Finish building the log cabin we'd started, originally intending it just as a weekend escape. "Live off the land" - mostly for fun. We had no kids, good health. Why not?

Thoreau did indeed have a great deal to do with it, for me. I'd read Walden in high school, and was fascinated. Quite a lot of what he says makes sense to me. I was a biologist- had long been in love with the natural world. Here was a chance to get more closely acquainted.

So we cut aspen trees growing on the place, conned friends from grad school into coming down to help haul logs through the woods (I payed good attention to Mark Twain, too), and settled in to see what happened next; and to get time to think. What SHOULD happen next?

We had zip for money. So deciding against running electricity in (thousands) and building big water and septic systems (more thousands) was easy. We had to rough it, at first.

Later, however- there were chances, now and then, to put in "normal" water and electricity.

And there, philosophy stepped in. I voted no. Spouse #1 was not so sure, but went along; for a while.

Where we are, if we'd plugged in to the grid, more than 40% of the electrons zipping in the wires would have originated in nuclear power plants.

I'm absolutely, totally, flat, forever, against them.

As a biologist- and behaviorist- they are all Chernobyls waiting to happen. I can hear the engineers starting to squeal- I've had this argument with many of them. They keep saying "the probability of failure is tiny!"

Is it zero? No. Add it up. X number of reactors; Y number of years operating.... Z number of governments failing... The probability that failures will happen, somewhere, sometime - is 100%. I live on this planet. So do you. We cannot have more Chernobyls- actually, even from the most short-sighted economic standpoint- nuclear reactors do not pay. Google - "cost of Chernobyl", if you're not familiar. Yeah, yeah, France has lots of 'em- they haven't gotten the real bill yet.

Yup, you can wind my spring up with that topic. I will NOT have my family or business used as an excuse to build more nuclear power plants. I will never plug in to the grid.

There, decision made. A lot of the rest follows.

We'll get around to the whys for pretty much everything, sooner or later. This was the big one.

1 comment:

Beelar said...

Hey Pa,

Just thought I'd mention (partly for the benefit of the rest of the readership) that I remember pretty much always being given a reasonable explanation to the ever-present question "why", when growing up in the LIttle House. Both you and Ma were very good at this. It's something I mention when I discuss with people how great my childhood was, and why I'm so psychologically stable. It is something I deeply appreciate.

In reading this blog so far, I'm getting some of the deeper, more basic "why" behind a lot of the details of life there. Even after just six posts. These are things I basically know, but there are some details and philosophy that I haven't considered consciously, at least in recent years. It is humbling to realize this, but that probably makes it a better learning experience. I hope.

We do talk about these things, but often at an even more basic and philosophical level. This intermediate level of "why" is valuable discourse. I deeply appreciate it. I am and will be a loyal reader, though my comments are likely to be sparse for a while. Later on, though, I hope to offer another (if similar) perspective for some of the observations.

With love,