Saturday, February 28, 2009

Seven cent cotton; perspective

In case you haven't noticed, the "doomer" point of view has gone global, and is taking over the mainstream headlines.  Even La Crinchy has gone doomer today.

It's depressing.  :-)

Delighted as I am to have more people taking the future seriously, and actually doing some worrying about it- I also see some danger in burgeoning hopelessness.

I'm not without hope; and I've been seeing, talking about, and working on - exactly this horrifying future- for decades.  And living as if it all actually mattered.

Hopelessness is just not useful, though.  And pointless.  You dead, yet?  Well, then.

Something to keep firmly in mind - your ancestors survived bad times- yes, as bad as any coming.  Keep your wits about you- and your chances are fine.

A little example here- a song of hopelessness, which I first heard from Pete Seeger.  I like this version, a lot.  But notice- it's a song.  Hopeless - but still singing about it.  Hm.

Lew Dite with his "The Gibson" metal head banjo uke. A song Pete Seeger taught me to love. copyrighted by Bob Miller and Emma Dermer in 1929. Song was on Seeger's "American Industrial Ballads" album.

Much of the stuff in this song is exactly what folks are fearing for their future right now.  It was the reality for your grandparents and great grandparents- they lived it.  Suffered it.

And survived it; and sang about it- and raised their children, which is why you're here today.

So.  Take it all with that critical grain of salt.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Limbo - computers, electricity, weather, wood, health, economic...

Too much dangling going on around here.  Downright discombobulating.

So, last week, Spice's computer finally, really, died.  Since she handles orders and phone calls for our business, that's a problem.  Beelar being still here, before returning to grad school, where he has been computer SysAdmin for a whole department- he decided this was the time for a business-wide update.  Buy one new machine (which I'm working on now) - transfer info all around, get a new backup system; and get all workers using the same OS (Leopard, if you want to know.)

And it was all much more painful than necessary, starting with the fact we have a new FedEx driver- so our packages wind up wandering the earth, looking for a house.  (You can't see a building of any kind from our mailbox...)  Then, the transfer process; "migrating" my machine onto the new one- from PPC chip to Intel chip; with all my computer files since 1986 in there...  and I really miss my goddam "enter" key, thank you so goddam much, Apple.

Won't get into the details here; just- it took about 6 times longer, with 8 times more cussing, than Beelar anticipated.  He did get us here though!

It was also time, last week, to do a serious update on our electric system- once again Beelar's chore; partly because he's still flexible, and the electric components are in a dark cramped corner, of course.  This involved switching out back-up inverter #1, for a real replacement inverter; sine-wave, this time, instead of "modified sine".  We also removed the original inverter, an ancient square wave from Tripplite, forsooth, which had still been wired in as backup #2.  Main house inverter (modified) had died some months ago.)  And, repositioning the battery charger into the inside, permanent mount.

Main point being- for 4 days, the upstairs of the Little House was inside out, making sleep a little dicey.  Feels great having actual sine power, though, and knowing that the wiring is good for the next 20 years again.

Weather- 4 nights ago; it went to -10°F; real midwinter cold.  This morning, I woke up to the sound of rain; and overnight it didn't even freeze.  A little bare ground showing here and there on the south slopes.  But.  We've got a big late winter storm heading right at us; predicted to drop 6-10" on Thursday evening.  Right back to winter we go.  And we're low on firewood...

Which means getting out and cutting a bit before it really gets messy, using our "backup" trees; a few dead elms specifically not cut previously- because they're very close the house, and can be reached even if we're in foot deep mud, or meter deep snow.

That'll be fun because I'm still recovering from the cold of the century; and the tooth extraction... a bit wobbly on my feet just yet.   Smidgen is out of her cast- but still needs to be careful of the arm, since it's not totally healed yet.  Great fun for parents; with a big puppy who would out-bounce Tigger, desperate to play...

Oh, yeah, then there's the continuing drama of total world financial implosion.

Here we dangle.

Gonna go cut firewood.  That, I can do something about.

So, in the process of procrastinating, while pretending to check out the new computers, Spice's sis sent this: Haiku by cats

Should cheer you up; I laughed a couple times.


still procrastinating.  The Cat Haiku thing seems to be phenomenon; one I've been oblivious to.  More.  More.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Thanks for all the good wishes, folks.  Just a quick update here-

The vacant tooth area is progressing- though I spent a good week waiting for it to heal up and stop hurting - without antibiotics, on the dentist's say so.  It wasn't really getting better.  

So, I started doing a little irregular self treatment with leftover antibiotics (NOT something I recommend; but these are fresh).  And it's doing much better now.

But.  Of course.  Now we've all been hit by that scourge of humanity- the common cold.  Almost certainly transmitted via infectious agents in Smidgen's preschool.

And it's a doozy.  I don't remember dribbling and sneezing this much, in spite of all the over-the-counter remedies; in decades.

Cripes.  A little too close to brain-dead for good blogging just now.

Can't even nap, really.  Too much dribbling and exploding.

Never mind the basic theology behind "Why did God allow Hiroshima?"  I want to know why any god would allow the common cold.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

thar's gold in them thar molars

The bad molar is out.  Those of you who've had a molar pulled will know what that means.  It was badly infected, under an old crown; no way to save it.  

So, taking it easy today; doctors orders on day one; no spitting, no drinking through straws, no heavy work or lifting.  They don't want to take any chance on dislodging the blood clot in the hole left by the tooth.

The economic collapse played a role in the tooth pulling, as it does in everything.  We had to call all over the place to find a dentist who was willing to take an emergency, on our state medical insurance.  Only one.  60 miles away.  Over back roads- bumpy.

Spice got to drive me, of course; really was not capable of driving, either way; got a little shocky after the extraction, too.

But hey, I've got the gold crown!  I'm guessing it's about $100 worth of gold.


Still pretty achey both from the pulling and the infection, but at least the pain is decreasing now, instead of increasing.  And the brain is fuzzed from the painkillers.

Naptime, I think.  :-)

Friday, February 6, 2009


As I pointed out in comments over on Crunchy's; this "unplug your fridge" thing really seems to push people's buttons.

The NYT story from yesterday has been picked up by; so far, Scientific American; TreeHugger, and Consumer Reports.

As usual, the overwhelming reaction is "these guys are crazy!" - but you might want to note that so far- none of them have actually talked - to me.  And as far as I can tell, I'm the origin of this "movement", if it is one.  Sure, lots of people have done without refrigerators; but as far as I can tell the idea that it could make sense in the modern world, as a way to cut energy consumption, was first delineated here.

I will, I promise, get a post up here that serves as a summary, since much of the discussion is currently widely scattered and rather non-linear.  But it will take a few days.  For one thing; Smidgen's 4th birthday is this weekend, and we do have a party planned (with icecream!).  For another- a tooth I'd long considered healthy has chosen this moment to go bad; I've got to hie to a dentist pretty quick.

One quick point; for those folks brought here by this coverage- neither I, nor any of The Fridgeless, are suggesting that YOU "should" take this route.  Not a bit.

What we're saying is- this is possible.  It's not difficult, once you've learned.  And- it may lead to much healthier lifestyles; beyond the energy savings.

Ok, TWO quick points.  :-)

Pro-Fridgies will often say "the fridge is necessary in my climate."  And they mean it.  Never mind that most of the people living in the tropics - like Africa and India - live quite successfully without a fridge.  And no, it's not just those in poverty.  And never mind that all your ancestors, prior to 100 years ago or so- lived without them.  

A little more actual thinking is called for, perhaps.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Refrigerators Hit The Big Time!

If you're an expert at something, you're familiar with the "tuned eye" phenomenon; i.e., if you're an expert on raising chinchillas, the word, "chinchilla" will jump out at you from where ever it is hiding on a page full of print.

I've gotten that way about the word "fridge" nowadays; so when I was taking my morning stroll through the internet news, the word leaped out at me, from the New York Times.

Hey, guess what!  It's about us!  (That would be all of us here.)  (And, if you're here via that article, welcome!)

It's a pretty good article- but... there are several places where radical anti-anti-fridge statements are allowed to just stand, unrebutted; never mind that they are flat dumb.

Like: “It’s silly not to have one,” she said, “considering what the alternative is: drinking up a gallon of milk in one day so it doesn’t spoil.”

Those of us who are living without fridges know how astonishingly uniformed stuff like that is.  No; we don't let milk spoil.  AND, no, we don't drink gallons of milk to prevent it.  Duh.

This is not the first big time coverage we've had, though- ever hear of The Economist?  Well.  They have an online magazine, More Intelligent Life, that picked up on all this in 2007 - and very nicely, too.

After Cranky Chicken's ambush a bit ago, I did say I was going to write a new fridge post, re-addressing some of her misconceptions.  :-p.  I haven't managed to get to it, of course, what with 35 below Zero, and broken arms, and whatnot.  But I will.

Meanwhile; do read Deanna's stuff; and PARTICULARLY - read the comments.   They are enlightening.  In particular- most of those rabid anti-antis have done no homework- or thinking; while the fridge-less among the commenters are without exception highly intelligent, and exquisitely well informed.  :-) (I am, of course, pure and unbiased.)

And; here is my original post, which most (if not all)  of this fridge kerfuffle can be tracked back to: 

You'll notice, if you read it, that OF COURSE you are going to change how you eat, in order to do this.  The point being- the changes are very easy; and generally also more healthy, and less expensive.

This may also be the place to mention that many of us fridgeless folk own freezers.  Like me.  We're not wacky luddites.  We're not even anti-cold storage.  My usual metaphor is, it's like a bandsaw, and a chainsaw.  The fact that I own one, but not the other means I need one- but not the other.  They're very different tools.

There are more than a couple posts on this blog on this topic; if you use the search function, and look for "fridge", you'll find most of them; and or, "refrigerator".

Here, in any case, are several: Back, sort of;  Happiness is a warm house (this one has a long bunch of responses to comments and questions); Consequences (more answers, mostly for Deanna); Snownapped/Kippers; Urban Foxfire/Unplugging the Fridge (which links to Vanessa's blog- a doubter who became a convert!); and Deep Summer (a specific no-fridge meat-keeping process).

That will keep you busy for a while.  Right now- I gotta go feed and water the guineas...


Oh, and- for the oldtimers here, you might be interested to see that I've finally joined the modern blogging world; and added stuff on the sidebar so you can subscribe to the Little Blog, and or share via all the myriad ways- take a look!  (And thanks to Beelar, for getting that done!)  There's also a "share" button after each post now.  Neatest thing since sliced bread!


Casts have changed from the good old plaster-of-paris days.  

(click for bigger view)

Not only do they come in the color of your choice- with, or without glitter- but they weigh a small fraction of the old ones.  And they were insistent about fixing up the bear, too.  And Smidgen was insistent that the "I told you so!" had to go on the bear's cast as well as her own.

Winter sun makes for interesting photographs.

And, yeah; in case you were wondering, we're pretty sure Smidgen is the most beautiful child on the planet.

The doctor who put the cast on told her she was "awesome!" for the way she just took it all in stride.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Well, I have a new excuse for not posting here more often.

Smidgen; who is going to be 4 next weekend, is an extremely intelligent, joyful, and active little girl.  And she is also probably the most pig-headed of my 3 offspring (though Middle Child  was a close second...)  

So.  In spite of constant training; cautioning, remonstrating, and disciplining by every mode conceivable- on Friday she was being careless and silly on the stairs-  and lo and behold; she fell pretty much all the way down; and broke her right arm.

At first we thought it was just a really good sprained wrist.  But on Saturday it showed increasing swelling, so we zoomed in to the doctor.  Yup; both radius and ulna, just above the wrist.

At the moment she's in a half-cast; due to have a full hard cast put on tomorrow.

Meanwhile- it hurts, and she can't do many of her normal activities- so a few more hours a day are disappearing into a black hole somewhere.

Now; on day 4; the pain is decreasing, so she's getting more cheerful- and more...  active.

When Beelar broke his leg around age 12- sliding on his feet basically down a snowy cliff (I wasn't here) - I wrote "I told you so."  on his cast.  Very popular with the other kids in his class.

Smidgen has heard that story.  So in the mandatory interview with the cop to be sure this wasn't a case of child abuse, she told the cop with a big smile "My Daddy is going to write "I told you so" on my cast!"  Putting the surrounding doctors and nurses into paroxysms of smothered laughter, and puzzling the cop quite a bit.  (We passed the tests.)

We'll see.