Friday, March 30, 2007

No Refrigerator- for 30 years...

The topic of green living is vast and variable. It would be quite easy to get lost in the details. I don't really want this blog to turn into a discussion of my lifestyle on a farm. Most of the people on the planet don't live on farms; and aren't going to, any time we can see in the future. We are now a city based species.

My life here is relevant to city life, however; I hope. I want to start one such conversation here today.

I live without a refrigerator. Have for 3 decades. If you live in a city- you do not need a refrigerator. AT ALL.

-->> It would be easier to do without one in the city than it is in the country.

A great deal of what's in your fridge absolutely does NOT need to be there. If you're interested in trying this, just start by taking all these things out of your fridge, and putting them in a pantry type situation:

Butter/margarine - shelf life about 2 weeks
Eggs -shelf life at least a week
Cheese - keep covered, shelf life variable- taste when unrefrigerated hugely better
ketchup/mustard - shelf life - forever
honey - shelf life - forever
onions/garlic - shelf life - 2 weeks
tomatoes - shelf life - 4 days
cabbage - shelf life - 1 week
cooking oil - shelf life - months
peanut butter - shelf life - months

Ok, long enough list for now, though of course there's more. Some of you are saying "he's crazy, I never keep cooking oil in the fridge!" True, I'm sure; but I know plenty of people who do; just to "be safe". And every time they take it out to cook dinner- the bottle warms up, the door is opened twice, and somewhere, some coal is burned to re-cool it when it goes back in.

What about meat? Milk?

Yeah, refrigeration is a good idea, if you have to keep it more than 6 hours or so.

So don't.

Here's what we do, out in the country; we buy a little meat when we go in to town, use it immediately. Sometimes, if it's a bigger cut like a pot roast, we keep it for 3 or 4 days- cooked on day one, and re-heated whenever eaten- then carefully simmered with the tight top on the pot. And we're very careful NEVER to open the pot- until ready to re-heat. It's just like sterilizing a petri-dish, or hospital equipment- heat it, keep it closed, it stays sterile. Soups- same thing.

Milk- we buy in town sometimes, or use powdered milk in cooking or for kids if they need it. No, it's not as tasty usually- but we all live through it. Can't tell the difference in cooking, I think.

Much of the rest of what folks use refrigerators for clearly comes under the category of "luxury". Ice cream; beer, pop.

Would you be better off if they weren't so handy? If you're like me, if the ice cream is there- I'll eat it. Then buy more. How much of our obesity epidemic is due to having a handy supply of treats in the fridge- all the time?

In a city- it's dead easy to "stop off" somewhere, and just buy - a little ice cream; a little meat; one cold beer.

On days when you aren't going out - do without. Won't kill ya to have potatoes and canned peas for dinner, or a cheese omelet.

This, potentially, is a big deal. Refrigerator lust is one of the things driving huge energy use increases in the developing world- everybody wants one; it proves you're modern.

If we start a movement here in the Overdeveloped World to get RID of them in homes (sure, the restaurants, the stores, need them) - some folks in the OverdevelopING World would pay attention- and perhaps put the brakes on their country's rush to refrigerate. Maybe.

I've worked in China- in places where the nearest refrigerator was probably 100 miles away. Guess what? They manage just fine- and don't "need" it, until you tell them they do.

It would be relatively easy for them to KEEP their healthy habits-rather than try to recover them, after a little romance with refrigerators.

More on this coming. Please send this around- and let me have your comments.

(OH, and true confession - I HAVE rented a locker at the "freezer plant" in town, from time to time. Not at the moment.)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Well, and Unthinkable phase 2

Two quick topics; the story of the lightning struck well, and a slight expansion on the immediately previous post.

The well is fixed - sort of. It turned into a classic "Good news/Bad news" routine. Probably just as easy to tell it that way;

The bad news is: the well is not working
The good news is: it happened during a lightning storm; maybe it's a fuse
bad news; it's not a fuse
good news; at least there aren't any big black melted pieces in the circuits; maybe the lightning burned a wire-
bad news is- can't find any problems above ground. Have to pull the pump. This means calling the well truck.
good news is; they can get here today, before lunch
bad news is; "gee, I've never HEARD of a DC well pump before..."
good news is; he's a good careful journeyman
bad news: having pulled the pump up 130 feet - there's nothing obviously wrong anywhere
good news; unhook the present pump- hook up the backup pump (old) - it works!!
bad news: get it permanently hooked up, ready to drop - it doesn't work.
good news; pull it off, totally open up the wires (20 minutes) - there's a broken wire, just touching- rewire it; it works!
bad news; drop it down the well, turn it on............. NO WATER
good news...... it just took forever to get going, flow normal.
bad news; there's no hugely obvious sign the insurance company will believe it was lightning-
good news- they believe us, after checking their weather map, and it showed a heavy storm-
bad news- it won't cover total costs, and there's a deductible-
good news - well, we got water, and some of it's covered.

But, the pump that's now working is old, and uncertain. Going to have to pull it again before long...

Hope that wasn't too irritating; but it does give you an idea of what I was living through, as the pump man and I worked through it. I really had to be there, to reassure him he was on the right track- off the grid stuff is non-standard for most workers, and kind of freaks them out.

Ok, topic two - in the previous post, I just tossed out this fabulous idea; "Let's outlaw airconditioning"

Actually, that kind of great idea, by itself, is not very helpful. When you THINK about it- of course there are people who NEED it - like hospitals, for example.

So very quickly; if this idea -ANY idea - is to be of use, it has to be moved into the real world.

That's not necessarily impossible. First thing to do is recognize that - any changes are going to involve people being unhappy about it. We're going to have to get used to that. Then the problem becomes, how do you do this fairly? Because "fair" is important. Unfair laws make people seriously unhappy, for a long time- and, they don't abide by them. They become unenforceable; and a source of societal friction and wastes of money that we can ill afford.

So, to start that process- and it would be a process - how about if we

a) TAX airconditoners - with variations on the tax depending on power consumption. In fact, many people who truly need a cool room (old folks, etc) might easily make do with just that - ONE ROOM that is airconditioned. Cooling a whole big house - ought to be more expensive. The tax money collected might go toward - renewable energy, or airconditioned shelters for the homeless, for heat wave protection.

b) LICENSE airconditioners. Make it so purchase is not a given- you'll have to show some actual need, before you can buy one at all.

There- for a start. My guess is, we would cut the power used by airconditioners quite a lot-

And yes, every watt counts.

I think it's terribly important to make suggestions that have SOME chance of working in the real world. And to have thought ahead enough to see what the objections will be; and what the answers might be. Kind of a waste of breath, otherwise.

The point I'm really trying to make is; I'm not saying we SHOULD outlaw/regulate airconditioners. I'm saying - suggestions have to work in the real world- and in the long term.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I started writing this as a comment, in answer to a comment, and it kind of started to grow.. so I'm putting it here.

Alina, I don't think you're off topic. One of the points I hope to make is that our lives are greatly more interconnected than we realize most of the time. Not all the connections are straight lines, or obvious, but they're real.

The growth of airconditioning is a prime example of how we find ourselves on a planet with so many problems. Nobody got the elders together and asked, "should we all get airconditioners?" It just grew up- because it became possible- then profitable.

NOBODY thought about it. We just let it happen.

Unintended, unexpected consequences are killing us. Notice I don't say "are going to kill us" - there are already people dying from global warming, have been for years now; we just hate saying that out loud.

This is also a fine example of "we have not yet begun to think."

All the furor about desperately needing to switch to sustainable, non-carbon based energy sources has folks running about like an ant hive stirred up by a bear.

But we don't really think- about ALL the possibilities.

If it's that urgent, why don't we outlaw airconditioning? (Among many other things.)

Ok, the thud you just heard was 4 CEO's of airconditioning corporations having strokes.

I doubt they're actually in any danger.

But. Why not? 50 years ago, almost no one in the world had a personal air conditioner. Could we live without them? Obviously, it's possible. It would be a huge societal dislocation at this point, but so will all the remedies we're talking about; at least the ones with some chance of not being pure fantasy. Folks in Florida and Arizona would scream bloody murder, of course.

But. Think about it- SHOULD we be building cities in the paths of hurricanes; and where there is no water?

My imaginary elders would be looking at us in amazement, I suspect. "What were you THINKING!? Nobody in their right mind would build cities there!!" We have been, of course, and continue to, and it seems an automatic assumption that therefore, we should rebuild them after hurricanes, pump water over mountains, and burn coal to run airconditioners, so we can maintain them. Maybe it's time to beat our airconditioners into sun shades.

We, as a culture, do a huge number of vastly wasteful things- that we COULD do without. If we were seriously worried.

Here's a calculation for someone to do, that I have not seen bandied about yet: what is the cost, in gallons of gasoline per day, of airconditioning in cars? In the USA? In the world? (I'd do it myself, should take about 6 hours to dig out the info, but I've got a well to fix.)

Of course it costs energy to run the airconditioner in the car. I'll guarantee you, the annual gasoline burned to run airconditioners will turn out to be a startling number.

There's an energy expenditure we all lived without; until fairly recently. Now it's unthinkable to live without it.

Unthinkable. So we don't.

I think we have to.

And the first thing that caught my eye after I finished this post was:

Cities at Risk

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lightning Strikes

I was intending this morning to launch today's post from Claudia's very nice comment talking about the outhouses of her childhood- loads to talk about there, for sure. Even more than you might think, since my father used to teach Sanitary Engineering, and I got to listen to his students' blunders at dinner. My head is just full of sanitation.

But then, coming back from a trip to town, the road started getting wet; while I was away from the farm for a couple hours, a small intense thunderstorm had passed over the farm. It was obvious from the ground that there had been a heavy rain- big puddles were still visibly running, draining into rills everywhere.

There'd been no sign of this storm when I left- so- I didn't have my rubber boots along. If I'd tried to walk home in my leather boots, they'd have gotten soaked through, and messed up. These boots are old, worn, the beeswax leather dressing is long gone; and very comfortable.

It's a good walk to the house- particularly if the ground is wet. We have 3 parking options; 100 yards away, 1/4 mile away, and 200 yards further than that. There's rock on the road only in to the 1/4 mile spot, beyond that, the road is grass sod, which means you must never never drive on it when it's too wet; you'll wreck it and it will never recover.

So I'm looking at a 1/4 mile walk on soaking ground, still muddy from the winter thaw- and cold - in my bare feet.

Cool! Have to write about THIS, now. See, I set it up this way, quite on purpose. This is one of the aspects of my situation where almost universally people look at me like I'm more than just a little bit nuts.

"You set up your house so you HAVE to walk at least 100 yards to get to your car?! On PURPOSE??! And the worse the weather, the farther you have to walk??!!!?"

Yes I did.


Because I'm lazy.

Seriously. I'd rather not walk that far, particularly in lousy weather. If I could avoid it, I wouldn't do it.

That, however, is something I see as an increasing problem in our world; our ever growing insulation from nature. In my lifetime, we've seen air-conditioning invented; then become an absolute necessity. There are loads of kids out there who cannot conceive of summer in the city without full air-conditioning.

Besides all the energy load of the machines, and the ozone destroying refrigerants; all the heat pumped out into the city so that meteorologists now see them as "heat islands" on their maps; these kids do not know what it is to be HOT. And to have to deal with it.

Or cold. In winter, we go from our heated houses into our attached garages, get into our pre-warmed cars; drive to the underground parking ramps, scurry to the elevators (heated) and shiver into the offices, complaining about how miserably cold it is, without actually having been outside more than 30 seconds at a time.

As a biologist, I can assure you, we can tolerate a lot of heat; and adapt to a lot of cold, and human skin does not melt in the rain. But more and more, kids are genuinely unaware of that.

I don't think that's a good idea. And I doubt it's good to be so comfortable, all the time, even for folks who DO know it. I really think humans are a part of nature. And I really think we need to stay in touch with the rest of it.

So, being lazy, I knew I would avoid having to cope with lousy weather just like everyone else- unless I absolutely couldn't escape it. So I have never made a good road in to the house.

My wives are/were kind of uniformly opposed to the idea; but I think secretly they like it, partly because it gives them irrefutable ammunition when explaining how much they put up with.

And, because, they both have experienced the undeniable joys of cold wet muddy feet, the moon slipping through clearing storm clouds, brilliant stars in the absolute silence of 10 below zero... once in a while. There are, of course, also the miseries of driving rain getting under the umbrella while you struggle with a huge soggy child in your arms, and biting winds with the authentic danger of frostbite.

It can be miserable. But the joy of reaching home, through it all; reaching safety, and warmth- I think more than makes up for it. You really APPRECIATE the house and the roof, believe me. I'm very much afraid most of us never even notice - either the house; or the rain.

Boy, we do. And today was pretty comfy, really; my feet got good and muddy, but it wasn't that cold, and the robins were hopping around in the apple trees I had to walk through. The dark sky was beautiful, with lightning showing still as the storm moved off. The air was crisply clear, the smells uniformly of earliest spring, with winter sludge washed away. Great. And when I got home, barefoot and pants rolled up to my knees, my 2 year old greeted me- "you're dirty!! I clean." And she went to get a paper towel, and got to work wiping my feet. This is not anything we've taught her; she just did it.


The triumph of philosophy.

After a little sit down, some dry socks and my rubber boots, I started the next chore, which was a visit to the greenhouse. The greenhouse is one of the ways we pretend to make a living; it's not a hobby, it's a business; has to be tended. Daughter in rubber boots too, off we two went. This is a hike, also; not quite a quarter mile. And also planned that way. Exercise is good for you, you know. Mine is enforced, which is good, because I'd avoid it otherwise.

One of the reasons I needed to tend the greenhouse right now was to turn the well off. The greenhouse is off the grid too- the well runs on solar power, and a battery bank; if you leave it run when you don't need it, it'll run the batteries down.

You have to pay attention to what you're doing, pretty much all the time. And, even when you do, sometimes lightning strikes, and messes up your plans.

That is exactly what happened. When I went to shut off the well, I found it was not, in fact, running.

Uh oh. Check the switches- hm. Everything is turned on. No water; and it was working when I left.

Not good. Greenhouse in production mode- no well.

And here is where we run into one of the realities of living off the grid- your safety net is pretty small- or non-existent. There's really no one handy I can call to come and fix the well; it's a 24 Volt DC pump, and it freaks the local well people right out. They won't touch it. Fixing it; and keeping the greenhouse electric system working, is my job. Nobody else.

So; life is on hold; the well MUST be fixed, as quickly as possible. I have to do it, can't delegate or hire. I have other things that are just as urgent. But this has now jumped to the top of the list.

Since I put in a new well pump just a couple years ago, it's not likely the pump has gone bad. The fact that the well died during an electrical storm strongly suggests it was a lightning strike somehow getting into the pump wiring. Sure, it's protected, but lightning will do whatever it wants, really. Checked the fuses- nothing visible on either end of the circuits (fused in 3 places, because of lightning storms...)

Going to have to wait til tomorrow, now; get out the multi-tester, find the fault- probably have to drive in to town for fuses. I HOPE.

Reality keeps intruding. Philosophy can be a pain in the neck, too.

My usual rationalization - "so, who wanted to be bored?"

Monday, March 26, 2007

Critics - and "The phone is a joke, right?!?"

Poor NoImpactMan! Really, my heart goes out; he talks today about the hate mail he's received as a result of the NYT article.

Uzis to you

I'm moderating the comments on this blog, and I'll save everybody some time- I'm totally not interested in the comments of whack-job tree and people haters, and I'll just delete them as they come in, so nobody else has to read that junk. Polite discussion, polite total disagreement- fine. Statements that add up to "eat compost and die" - right back atcha. Not here.

A couple of the comments from eco-nazis were outraged that NoImpactMan was using a (GASP) ... computer!!

Oh, horrors.

Look, you nazi morons, THIS WORLD - this one, right here- is the one we have to live in. There are computers all over the place, and they are never going away. They are, in fact, with a little care, a terrifically powerful tool. I own a chainsaw, too.

So- read my "green practices" on the sidebar here. I'm off the grid. Limited power. And I do (how can you tell?) use computers. Plural. They are all notebooks- because- guess what? they use less power than desktops. And their batteries are filled up each day by... sunlight.

One of the topics I said I'd write about is "The phone's a joke, right?" This looks like the right place for it.

After we'd been living in the Little House for about 5 years, without a phone, we decided that a) we liked this life quite a bit, and b) we wanted a child, right about now. So we got ourselves pregnant, and had the child.

We're isolated- it's a good 1/2 mile to the nearest neighbor, and no guarantee they'll be home if you go. For help. Pretty quick, with a baby, we discovered there were times when we really wanted to talk to a doctor, NOW.

Unlike the power companies, that charge an arm and a leg to hook up, the phone company here is a real co-op. It was inexpensive, and painless to get a line buried in here, and in fact our membership now pays dividends. And the doctor became a phone call away.

One of my grad school buddies came to visit, and saw the phone, hanging on the wall.

He totally cracked up. Thought it was the funniest bit of humor he'd ever seen. So sly, so droll of us to put in a fake phone. So to play up to the joke, he walked over, and picked up the phone.... and it was live, with a dial tone.

As amused as he had been before discovering the dial tone, he was that outraged after. Furious. "How can you be such hypocrites-!!" Really angry, because he'd admired us for "dropping out", and now we were "selling out."

We were never dropping out, is the thing. We still intend to be part of THIS world. Just on our terms, not stuffed in Little Boxes On The Hillside.

Lots of folks somehow get the idea that since we live in a log cabin, without grid electricity, etc, therefore we must DISAPPROVE of the rest of the world. And them. No, we don't.

The world is what it is. We are what we are. You should be what you want to be.

It's really that simple, but there are a bunch of folks who will never believe you mean it- because they, themselves do not approve of that kind of personal freedom. They believe you should be free to do what they tell you is the right thing.

Let them eat compost.

Yup, we live this way because it makes us unhappy to live in a fashion so wasteful that ten families in India could live for a month on one week of our trash.

That's wrong. And bad. Personally, I'd add "shameful" to the list of adjectives. But I personally have no expectation that everyone else will suddenly see things just as we do. We don't feel scorn for regular folks.

And no, you're not going to hear religious arguments here.

Some truths are just self evident.

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.

Green light- Slow Down.

Gimme the answers quick!

If you've been to a sustainable stuff meeting, that's kind of the underlying mood. Man, we've gotta do something NOW, or we're all going to die!

I understand the urge, and I even think it's mostly a positive thing. But it can far too easily lead us into New! Improved! disasters. This is true both for society, and for all of our own small personal choices. Sell the car! Sounds brave, bold, and fierce- but I'd think a long time, and maybe just park it for 2 months without selling, before actually doing it. It could be catastrophic for you, personally. We still have to live in this world. This one.

A sad, and disastrous, example we're struggling with right now: Ethanol - made from - food.

From the BBC, for a sort of outside opinion:

Biofuels Make Food Expensive

I realize I may immediately antagonize a lot of green folk here- but making fuel from food was always a bad idea. A few of us actually said so, right out loud. Nobody wanted to hear it.

At this point, even the people running huge distilleries and cranking out the subsidized ethanol profits admit, as quietly as possible, that ethanol from corn will not ever make any significant difference in our fuel supply.

Why do they admit it? Somebody finally did the math. How complicated was the math? No calculus required- if you ever got a B on a math exam in the 6th grade, you could have done these calculations. X amount of corn can be made into Y amount of ethanol; with Z amount of land available. If all the corn was used for fuel ethanol, it might supply a small fraction of US automotive fuel use. Leaving nothing for the chickens, pigs, etc - and the farmers who raise them. (Basic practice in this blog- I do not have time to dig out all the references for you- if you doubt something I say here, google it immediately- and don't bug me if I'm off by a couple of degrees.)

For years the few people doing arithmetic on corn were focused on "can you get more energy out of ethanol than you put in?" I'm not getting into that here- they're still fighting about it, and clearly the answer is "not much, if any".

The point here: that was not the only question we should have been asking, if we wanted to make sensible choices.

Now, the "push" for ethanol has gotten so far ahead of common sense that the folks in Iowa may have to IMPORT corn - NEXT YEAR- if they want to feed any pigs and chickens. (Not going to get into meat questions right now.)

The real farmers, as usual, are caught in a trap. They've been losing money growing corn for decades. Really. Little by little, the loans with the bank for production have gotten bigger and bigger. They can look prosperous- but usually, the bank owns most of the farm by now. The scoffers among you are saying "oh bosh, if it were that bad, there would be bankrupt farmers all over the place." There are. And suicides, and broken families. Look it up.

So the survivors are quietly desperate to make a few pennies, some day, so they can actually dream about getting out of debt. Ethanol looks like salvation. So they tend to get quite huffy if you say "well, but... wait a minute here..." Then you get painted as a farmer hater. And they quit listening. Or thinking. Very human.

But in reality, we're now spending a lot of resources and effort to develop what we know is ultimately a dead end. The apologists now say "Yes, but it's a useful bridge to better sustainability!"

Yes, but. Wouldn't it have been better to pick a non-dead end technology, and put all those resources into that direction? I think so. And the argument "we've got to take action now!" is one that often shuts down discussion.

Greenies are human too- and quite capable of hearing only what we want to. "Hey, I've got this figured out, quit bugging me about it!"

I am a scientist by training. One of the basic tenets is - never quit doubting; never quit thinking; never quit looking; even when you're 95% sure you know an answer.

Are you struggling with questions about how to live green? Should I give up my toilet paper? Should I sell my car?

My very first advice - take a deep breath, and slow down. You don't have to make these decisions instantly - in fact it will probably be far better if you don't.

Think about it. Close your eyes, and see yourself 5 years from now- doing or not doing. If you think, "maybe I could..." then- give it a try. Often you can get family members to go along if you do set a time limit on the experiment, like the Yw/oTP folks are doing. "Look, we'll try this for 2 months and then talk about it, ok?"

All the pieces have to fit together. And it just takes time to get there.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

NYT- "The Year Without Toilet Paper"...

As I write this, The New York Times is running an article online entitled "The Year Without Toilet Paper."


Pretty fun, but for me the most fascinating part is the huge interest it seems to be getting. Almost 400 comments at the moment, and today for the second day in a row it's the #1 most emailed article.

Man, that's a LOT of interest! As the blurb says, "The Conlin-Beavan family is four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment in environmentalism..."

I'm all in favor. But I gotta tell ya. I'm 30 years into that experiment. Things look kind of different from this perspective.

This article is pretty much what kicked me off my behind and into launching this blog. For 30 years, I've lived this life every day- and been almost totally quiet about it all. Largely, because I was quite sure no one wanted to hear what I had to say- I really expected the overwhelming reaction would be "you're just trying to make me feel guilty- you're being holier than thou - you're being an idiot- nobody needs to live this way."

It seems that Al Gore did indeed wake a bunch of folks up though. By far, most of the 400 comments on "TYw/oTP" are from folks either sharing their own smallish steps, or people very seriously searching for some way to live greener.

Ok, guys. Here I am. Almost everything you've ever heard of, as a "green" practice - I've done it.

Some of them make sense. Some are astonishingly dimwitted, once you try them out. (You can build your own backyard nuclear power plant! We did! Just harvest the radon in your basement!)

What I'm going to do here is talk about them- and how they really work, or don't - in the long run. The long run, incidentally, is all that counts. And who am I? Long story- read the profile. I'm qualified.

Some green ideas will make sense for some people- and not others.


That, my children, is the problem. In all this bustle to go green, the constant refrain is "just give me something simple I can do!" And in fact, the world is not a simple place.

That, however, does not have to be a bad thing, or a bad realization. Slow down. (That's Greenpa's 1st Commandment). Take the time to think about your own life; and your own needs. Think.

A favorite saying in our culture is "Life is short!" - and that's a big fat lie. Ask your elders- the one's who've been retired since 60, and are now 80. Life is LONG. You've got plenty of time to make changes, and figure out where you want to be.

So that's what this blog is going to be about- working through the complexities- taking time to find the fits. One size does NOT fit all; one size gives all fits.

Incidentally, we do use toilet paper. And- a little hope I think- after 30 years, We're still doing this experiment. It can be done. And yes, my first kids still come to visit, help- live.

I'm expecting to post daily, barring illness and the creek don't rise. I've got a list here of "Upcoming Posts" - no shortage of things to talk about. I'll also try to answer reader's questions when I can, and will often pull posts from today's news. Check back!

unstated assumptions
one size gives all fits
fat fat fat
spare time
30 years of quietly NOT holier
compact fluorescents - lead in Rome
teflon? antibiotics? RF?
fad fad fad
grab that toid and run
small wind turbines
thermodynamics and the waterwheel
the odyssey of communication
where have all the mammoths gone?
"the only way"
finger pointing
the phone is a joke, right?
how to talk to a normon
work/ time
the nature of wealth
the wealth of nature
the Religion of Science
genetic engineering
cultural senility
violence for kiddies
change- and barriers
predatory lenders; parasitic business
health and life
what's best for my kids?
such a promising species
unintended consequences
loopholes - Lost Horizons
does my lightbulb make a difference?
We Have Not Yet Begun To... think.
you DO live what you believe
The Walls Of The Erlenmeyer Flask
Toxic Growths
real "sustainability"
non-corrosive - culture