Monday, July 1, 2019

In the Beginning Was the Hole, and the Hole Was Good (also...a moose)

Well, the hole wasn't really the beginning.  There was the planning, the paying, the paying more, the engineering, the permit, permit renewal, other permits...and before that buying land.  Before that saving for land and looking for land, and before that...  you get the idea.

So, here we are.  Last Tuesday evening the builder man (not an actual redneck Santa, but he could pass for one) staked out the location for the build.  It ended up further uphill than originally planned.   That will help with drainage, but I sacrifice a bit of water pressure because the cistern is also uphill, but less so now.

Then on Sunday morning "early" (9:14am isn't "early" in my's "10ish" in my book but I am widely known to have a stick up my butt about time) the equipment was delivered at the bottom of the hill and the trucks left.  I had a radio show to do at 2pm so at noon, after building a super rad rooster coop which may be featured in a later blog post, and a bunch of other stuff, I cleaned up, washed my incredibly sweaty filthy hair, and headed in to town for the show.  As I'm driving south, I see a builder truck heading my place.  Dang it.  But it's all staked out and what was I going to do anyway?  There was no back-up DJ for the show so off I went.

3 hours later, driving home, I meet 2 builder trucks heading back to town.  Damn!  But I am greeted with this at my place:

That's right, I am now the proud owner of a big ass hole.  Probably will be bigger and deeper by tonight.  I will try to run home mid-day and check it out.  It's right where the stakes are so, that's good.

And now...the moose!  It's a yearling male the must have been recently booted from his mom's place.  That happens about now as the new calves are being born.  The yearling males are idiots and make bad housing choices.  He and I about bumped noses by my driveway and creek...we were both occupied with other thoughts.

I looked up to see a moose, way too close headed straight toward me.  Not a tree to hide behind and in the creek which was close, he would be much more coordinated than me.  They don't see so well to the front so I figured that was my best bet.  I waved my arms around and screamed like a wee girl and it ran UPHILL away from cover, back toward the creek cover, back up hill...idiot.  A mature female or male would have just trotted over and stomped me to death. 
NOW I am not walking around my place texting.  I pay attention.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Builder Has Landed

Apparently, there will be some construction at my place this summer.

Stealth footage recorded a builder with his tiny minion placing stakes:

The minion is extra stealthy and wasn't caught on camera, but you can see his detritus...the paint can.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

If Only "TED" Were Indeed X

As in an ex-thing.  A thing which is no more.  Deceased.  Dead.  A thing of the past.

I LOATHE the TEDtalk style.  The lesser TEDtalk, the TED-X offshootery that happens in every venue that can host a bunch of pompous pseudo-intellectuals in a single room with theater seats and a stage, is even worse.

It isn't always the info.  Once in a while the information is fine.  But mostly it's crap.
Still, it's the signature TED style.  The late 1980s Janet Jackson/ Madonna face mounted microphone.  The faux set dressing:  fake living room, fake vintage PBS interview show complete with 2 chairs, coffee table and a fern, fake college lecture with a podium.  The giant ass screen for the sad power point presentation is truly the worst.

I've seen people speak in real life, like Joel Salatin, who are interesting and fun and very informative.  Then I've seen them on a TED, or worse TEDX, and they conform to the style and are crap.

When did bad meeting presentations become public infotainment?
There is no doubt a real answer but I don't care.  I want it to stop.

Here, in the order they occur to me, are things I find annoying:

1) Cramming exactly 1 soundbite of information into 6-11 minutes.  Apparently there is a rule that only one single tiny bit of info can be shared.  This has several bad consequences

2)  Fluffing the info with personal, or more likely fake personal, stories illustrating that one tiny point.  How your mother had too much TP around the house so now you buy it one square at a time.  How you had a dog which proved dogs are awesome.  Jesus.

3)  The shitty power point.  Also used to fill visual and temporal space.  The speaker stops for each slide so you can read it or look at it.  Or, worse, laugh at their lame lame lame visual joke.

4) S l o w  t a l k i n g.  To fill the time with a tiny tiny tiny individual bit of info, the speaker speaks so damn slowly I'm afraid my heart will stop.  Jesus.  Speak at your normal pace.

5) BROAD range of tone to show emotion and connect (say each word with special emphasis in your head while YOU rrreeeaaaddd this!).  Cripes.  I remember seeing a professional storyteller when I was about 4 years old, before I started school, at the local library.  I'm in my 50s now and I'm still pissed about wasting my time with that woman emphasizing and physically miming every thing she said.  You'll see the same style in TED/X talks.

6) The physical miming of anything remotely mime-able in the talk.  Using hands to show those piles of TP your mom had, and then crunching your whole body down like a clown college drop out to show the hilariously small amount of TP you now keep at the house.

7) Waiting for the laugh which often never comes.  The speakers are clearly over rehearsed and think they know when the laugh will come.  I still watch the occasional TED talk if someone recommends it and secretly, or openly, enjoy the moment where the talker realizes that they are not funny or their power point slid is not funny.

8) Walking around the stage/faux-set for no reason.  It's like they have the list of crap my 8th grade speech teacher handed out...or their pageant coach told them.   ...13--connect with each audience member individually by looking them in the eye.   Yeah, don't.  Mick Jagger and James Brown needed to use the whole stage, you don't.  Al Gore was a popularizer of this with his lift showing how the environment is dying.  Cute once...not very cute but I appreciated his effort...not cute now.  You are telling me how you buy a square of toilet paper and are therefore better than your mother and better than anyone who stupidly buys it by the roll.  You don't need to walk to the far corner of the stage and lean over and look down on me.  The metaphorical down looking is plenty.

9) Hubris.  I don't care that you buy a single square of toilet paper and I don't believe it makes you better than rollers, as those of us who buy it by the roll are called.  You still need to wipe your butt like the rest of us and we now suspect that we don't want to shake your hand.

10) Inventing labels.  TED talkers like to invent or promote labels.  They don't lead with them.  They lead with a question.  They sneak the label into the middle or end of the talk so that we, the stupider people in the listening audience, can come to the two most important conclusions:  1) the speaker is right; 2) the speaker is super smart and better than everyone else.

11) Leading with a question.  Why?  Do you think it makes you smart to set up a straw man and then very slowly knock it down one lame joke/slide/mime/walk/lean/label at a time with your own answer to the fake question that was on NO ONE's mind?  Because I think that.  Hence, I am smart and right and you are stupid.

12) Dressing the part.  Poor Joel Salatin had to wear a sports coat.  He's a farmer and part of his brand/schtick is to dress like one.  He has excellent voice projecting and is a naturally appealing and LOUD speaker.  On his TED talk he looked uncomfortable and stilted.  The minimalist I watched and am using as a model for the TP talker work a dress a bit too short and in one color with little black flats.  A "minimalist" formal look I suppose.  I was distracted by the obviously maximal hair product consumption.  I don't know if she and Joel were peer pressured into this or if there is a code to get on the stage and they don't let you out if you show up with actual farmer clothes or minimal hair products.  I wonder what would happen if someone refused the face-mic.

I want to get on a TED or even TEDX talk so I can go on stage and then NOT do the "style" and see what happens?

Would the audience risk wrinkling their khakis and sensible shoes to run up on the stage beat me?  Would they throw their brand name decaf lattes at me?
Would they get confused about what was going on and quietly slip out to see if the real talk with just a single digestible and currently fashionable bit of info was being given in the next auditorium over?

What if I gave 2 points of info or told an actually funny story?  Would chaos ensue?  The zombie apocalypse?  What if I kept talking while they actually laughed rather than courtesy laughed?
What if I didn't even TRY to act out what I was saying and what if I didn't wait for them to read the 3 (it's always 3) bullet points on the power point slide?  Oh MY GOD!  What if I didn't use power point?????  No.  I take it back.  Heresy.  I would be burned as a witch.

But at least I wouldn't have anyone email me another f'ing TED talk.

That said, I have looked up TED talkers and gotten their real information elsewhere.  I suspect it is a way to promote their real work.  I hope there is SOME legitimate reason for it.

In conclusion a HaiTED (Like a haiku, but TEDcentric)

All TED talks are bad.
Not all TED talkers are bad
TED makes you look bad

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Spork Is Dead. Long Live the Spork

There is a frugal method called "putting out the word."  If you are looking for something, you mention it to people. 

Recently it worked twice.  I'll blog about the inadvertent word putting outage here.

The post about my lost spork.  A friend (HI ANGELA!) read it and sent me a set of stainless steel sporks as a gift!   SO NICE!!!  I have used one for 2 meals a day every work day since I got them.  They are perfect.  Actually, it's a model I was looking at on line and thinking I would order them after I thought about it for a month (thrifty tip:  if you think you want something, wait a month and see if you still want it).  Part of the hesitation was that they came in a set of 6 rather than individual sporks and really...I've only got one gullet to shove food down, how many sporks do I need? 

But, there they were!   I love them.  Use them.  I passed 2 on to colleagues and one of those dudes is threatening to ditch his set of silverware and just get enough of these for his family to eat with. 

I didn't mean to put the word out, but rather was whining into the void.   But it worked and is much appreciated.

Having a nice spork makes me eat more meals in my office or at a picnic table in a park when I'm on a road trip.  It also cuts WAY down on the use of plastic utensils which I also much appreciate.

Here it is in action...

Monday, May 20, 2019

Super Food: The Food Formerly Known as Food

What is with labeling regular food as "super food"?  It's FOOD. Just FOOD.
What isn't food?  Doritos, anything at Dairy Queen, etc. 

Greens:  Just food, not a super food.  Not even kale.  It's just kale.  Just eat it.
Vegetables, fruit, grains, meat fish.  100 years ago, even 50, these were called "food" and you got them from the garden, market, or super market.  You can still do that.

It was best said on The Onion

It isn't designer.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  Just eat it. 
Even Weird Al knows. 

My dinner yesterday was EITHER crazy poor people red neck yokel food....OR crazy hipster wild crafted extreme local food.  Whatever, it was good and I had it so I ate it.

Any guesses on ingredients?



Coconut oil (not local)
6 guinea hen eggs 
lovage from the garden (stem and leaves because I have a ton of it)
sour sorrel  (AKA sheep sorel...aka, weeds from the garden and land)
nettle leaves (or maybe monkshood...pretty sure those were nettles)
dandelion leaves
horseradish leaves

Why did I eat that?   Because I had the eggs from a friend who traded them for a plastic pallet I found behind a thrift store...she also gave me ship shit.
I wanted something in the eggs.  Greens.  I had purple kale too but that's going to seed and I want to keep the seeds (the kale produced all winter with very little protection) so I didn't care to bother it.
So, I picked what I had and what was around.

Pretty sure the whole thing was made of "super foods" which are of course, just food.

Combined with the compost toilet...I may have achieved a new level of localization of my meal.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Alas Poor Spor(ic)k, I Knew Him.

I've lost my spork.  DAMMIT!  I loved that thing.  Used it every day for years.  I got it at a restaurant/deli thing in Washington DC called "The Silver Spork."  It was stainless steel, but silvery anyway. 

I finally gave up on finding it and went online to see if I could call the place and have them send me a new one.  THEY ARE CLOSED!!!  How dare they?  Where am I supposed to get one now?

I have real spoons and forks that I could carry around and use, but that's not as fun as the spork.

Oh well.  Another gadget/souvenir will come along someday.  It was good while lasted.

R.I.P Spork.

Saturday, May 4, 2019


2019 for me is all about reducing plastic coming into my home/life/whatever.  It's a bit rough.

Each evening, when I remember which is about 75% of the time, I write down my plastic use/acquisition whatever.  I don't count plastic I salvage specifically to pass on to another person.  That sounds odd, but so am I.  Yesterday I picked up a plastic pallet for a friend who is coming to till up my garden.  She uses them as the base for her duck house.  easier to scrap the poo off and easier on the duck feet than a wooden pallet or wire base.  I get these used sitting in alleys or where ever.  I figure at least they are getting used longer before they end up in that plastic island in the Pacific ocean.  They are also out of the sunlight which should mean they degrade more slowly.  She is tracking the effect on the ducks.

ANYWAY...since China decided they don't want our dirty plastic buggering up their country, we've been able to "recycle" fewer types at my local recycling place.  I realized before that some of what we were putting there wasn't really recycled but instead just put in landfills later or polluting somewhere else.  When it quit being accepted, that point got driven home, as discussed in a previous post.
This article at CNN reminded me to redouble my reduction efforts:


I'm not linking that because the link will die in days anyway.

So, 2019 is as good a time as any to cut back on plastic.  The first step in figuring out how to get to a new place, on the planet or in life, is to know where you area when you start.  I did this with money budgeting and dieting.  If you don't face facts about the current situation, you don't understand why things aren't working.  This is why I started paying attention to my current plastic usage in January 2019.  It was higher than I thought...same with money and food intake when I started cutting those back.  Better to be honest with oneself than to keep pretending you didn't eat an entire box of nutty buddies (damn you Little Debbie!) or buy an old hotel safe for a silverware drawer (damn you Craigslist!).

About a week in to tracking plastic use, I started where I seemed to have the most coming in...groceries.  Damn you convenience!   I now do better at remembering to bring my own bag or ask for paper or just carry arm loads of crap to the car.  I took empty jars and coffee cans with reasonably tight lids to the food co-op and wrote the tare weights on them empty.  Same with the produce bags I've been given over the years.

For solstice a favorite aunt sent me a new beeswax food wrap!  Thanks Marcie!  (other aunts are favorites too). Getting one of these per year would be ideal.  They last a long time but eventually get mungy and the wax flakes and things. She also wisely chose the one made on organic cotton and packaged in paper.  Some are hemp fabric and I am allergic so that I would have passed on to another person.  I looked up how to make my own wax wraps online and may try it.  We'll see.  I am nothing if not lazy.   So, using that for left overs or apples or whatever instead of cling wrap is another good way to cut back on the plastic, especially the thin plastic.

Cutting back on using plastic bags for my bulk foods purchases wasn't too hard, though when I forget a container or end up at a store where they don't let me use my own container or won't deduct the tare weight from the total weight...I have to start debating.  I have found that some places will let me re-use a paper bag for bulk foods (like nuts 'n such) but not a jar...I don't get it but I did start saving the paper bags that are in good shape and found some lunch sacks (in plastic dammit!) at a thrift store for super cheap and try to remember to throw a couple of those in the grocery basket Sherry (Hi Sherry!) got me years ago for Xmas and it's still good and I still use it almost every day.  It's made of plastic but more on durable plastic vs single use below.

Packaging on foods is a tough one.  I end up buying more bulk, more fresh fruit and veg, and precious little meat.  Sardines in tins and tuna in tins has less plastic than wrapped meats.  Getting my own meat, e.g. fishing or going to a friend's house when she butchers (Hi Cindy!) ducks and chickens works pretty well.  Cindy pressure cans the meat usually so only the lid liner on the re-used jars is new plastic. I think meat independence and canning, drying, and pickling meat will help me with this.  Also...beans.  But I'm taking yoga and lifting weights so I don't want to eat TOOO many beans and then be that lady in yoga who farts through the whole class.  When I lift at the gym, I'm usually alone, then I sneak out a toot and instantly someone else shows up and I don't even have a dog to blame it on.  So, easing beans into the diet.

The bit that should not have surprised me is how much healthier it is to eat when one avoids plastic.  I end up buying "super foods"  (formerly known as "food") like steel cut oats, apples, potatoes, carrots, lentils, rice, flour to make my own breads, and etc.  I'll do a "super foods" rant in a different blog.

When I'm traveling, and I end up REALLY wanting a coffee, having forgotten my plastic-free (or low plastic ) system of my travel french press (yay Planetary Design from a thrift store!) and an insulated stainless steel bottle of super hot water (yay thrift stores!), then I do a drive through.  I try to get the least plastic but alas and alack, those damn coffee lids.  I do get a lid when I forget my own mug because showing up to whatever meeting with a giant brown coffee stain from chin to knees is not super professional. Showing up without the proper level of caffeine in my blood stream results in other non-professional behavior.  I'm keeping an eye out for more of those french presses at thrift so I can keep one and a jar of coffee in the car. Hot water can be had at most gas stations and grocery stores.  I HAD 2 extras but passed them on to friends who were looking for ways to avoid the constant plastic waste from the keurig type coffee makers most offices at work went to.  (I did break down and use the keurig twice last avoid flaming out at a colleague who was getting on my last nerve).

I have also found that some restaurants with drive-thrus use less plastic than others and have targeted those. The one where they hand-patty their burgers and sell them in paper bags with paper wrappers closed...due to employee cash theft or something.  (Damn you underpaid fast food workers!)  A local cafe started a drive up window if you call ahead and I have used it a few times because they cook from scratch and do their best to use up food which will result in less food and plastic waste.  BUT they now put the meal in a styrofoam clamshell, in a thin plastic grocery bag.  If their BLTs weren't so damn good (at the lunch shift..the youngsters working in the evening use cold half cooked bacon fat blobs and yet somehow get the sandwich to sweat in clamshell...and once I had to tell them what the B, the L and the T stood for...and I ended up with a cold sweaty cheese burger in a plastic box.  That pretty well cured me of ordering there in the evening. (Thanks slightly dim cafe worker kid!) I could order an extra lunch and bring that sandwich wrap thing if I planned ahead and walked into the restaurant). 

The quest for the plastic free restaurant and to-go meal resulted in me using that as an excuse to eat at too many drive thrus and restaurants with resulted in 5lbs gained and quite a chunk of change lost.  I warned my new co-worker that May was all about NOT having delicious restaurant lunches when we are out of town.  I'm trying to keep and apple and container of nuts (bulk purchased) in my bag or car at all times to avoid this.  So far, remembering it about 50% of the time.

For non-food type plastic avoidance, things get more complicated still.  I have stopped buying anything but wood or metal stakes for my plants and tree starts.  More expensive than fiberglass and plastics, but also more re-usable.

Sometimes I cop to a durable plastic item that I will use and re-use.  And if I can get it used, all the better.  I still grab 5-gallon plastic buckets at the recycling center free bucket bin.  These are the corner stone of my composting toilet system.  They seem to last years.  A bucket starts as a storage unit for bee equipment or food, or seeds or whatever.  Or as a toilet buck (old crusty weak buckets that have been in the sun and the plastic is brittle are not a good option for toilets ...I don't want to risk a break down mid---well, you know).  Once a toilet bucket, it stays a toilet bucket until it might get weak and then it is an outside garbage bucket for when I have to pick up trucker bombs by the highway (with gloves) and haul those to a dumpster.  I'm afraid I'm not willing yet to pour out the trucker pee from the old plastic they peed in and threw on my property.  It goes in a well used bucket, into the back of the truck, and to the dumpster.  I'm not unwilling to have pee on my land, but god knows what the high levels of no-doze or painkillers would do to my flora and fauna.
Storage buckets move next to water hauling buckets, then to tool and trash hauling buckets before retirement to the recycling center or dumpster depending on the type of plastic and whether I can recycle it right now.

When I buy buckets to use on the property, I go for metal which is about double the cost of a plastic bucket and lasts, apparently, forever.  These don't have air-tight lids so aren't great for some storage needs.

Buying clothes...I buy mostly at thrift but undies need to be new.  I found some (at a 2nd run retail where old retail goes to die) new and on a plastic hangar rather than in a plastic bag.  I don't know which is better or worse. I looked in to buying online, but the packaging for shipping is usually a few layers of plastic bags, and the undies cost more. So...dear readers who know me....cotton undies size 6 hipster style would be excellent Xmas and Bday presents.

I try to avoid nylon, polyester...actually this will be shorter: I try to buy cotton and wool and leather/suede clothes rather than synthetics.   And almost all from thrift.  Sox and undies and some shoes/boots I buy new.  I look for durable and the highest natural fiber content I can get, then look at style and color.  I do have several fishing shirts with pit-zipper vents that are mostly synthetic.  I have yet to wear one of these out.  One was a gift and is at least 10 years old.  These qualify as a "durable" plastic to me.  I find that less offensive than one-off things like store bags.  I go for high quality so I can stitch up rips and tears an patch them and get maximum life out of them.  The synthetics still give off micro-trash in the washer and dryer that ends up in the streams and in the wind and harms the environment so I'm still trying to limit the number of these I own, minimize the washing/drying especially at the laundromat where the wear and tear sends more of the fabric downstream/wind.  Hand washing and hang drying tears them up less and they last longer.  People must be sick of seeing me in the same 10 shirts, but do I care?  I do not.

Buying thrift store stuff...Goodwill locally now bags things like candles, matches, office supplies and other smaller goods in PLASTIC!  Dammit! I use lots of candles as light spectrum correctives at my place because I use rechargable LED lights which are a bit blue and annoying.  Also, a candle is a nice minimal light and makes one feel warm.  But I don't want a big plastic bag on my cheap candles.  I'm re-melting candle nubbins and trying to make more candles with candle wicks I find at thrift.  The wicks have less plastic on them than the bagged candles.  So far, not a crashing success and I'm hoping to be able to make my own wicks some day.  I have bees so perhaps I will also have beeswax, but not enough for the next few years at least.

I may have to revert to new paper goods over thrift store office supplies or find alternative, grungier, thrift stores for paper because the plastic bags really annoy me.

When I do get plastic bags, I re-use them.  I have a high quality smallish plastic store bag that I call "the bag of bags" and rinse, dried plastic bags, and other bags, get stuffed in there.  Then when I'm casting about the wee shed for a bag to put something in (perhaps an apple and some nuts) I know where to find a reasonable clean one.  If I'm giving food away I find people like to see it in a zip-type bag.  I get those when people give me stuff, wash them out, and re-use. I tried giving stuff in an obviously re-used paper sack and some folks got grossed out.  I have many tin, steel and glass containers but stopped handing food out in those because only a small subset came back to me and it was pissing me off.

I have also been tracking plastic-coated paper.  Partly because I can't compost this or make it into paper fire bricks.  Coffee hut coffee cups ...usually plasticized.  Receipts from stores (which I take to track my budget) ...usually plasticized.  Junk mail, catalogs, etc etc etc...often plasticized.
I'm also finding plasticized stickers on my local organic apples!  GEEZ!!! Really food co-op?   If I can get a couple of root cellars going I hope to buy and grow basic vegetables and fruit to avoid more of those stupid stickers.

Then there is the plastic people give you.  I'm trying to do a number of plastic-free days per month, just like the "no spend" days that help my budget.  I will be going along well, not buying anything, not using the keurig coffee at work, drinking tap water rather than bottled, etc.  THEN someone will give me a gift or office supplies arrive at work.  In plastic or made of plastic. Dammit!  It is everywhere.   I'm lucky to get 5 or 6 days a month without plastic coming into my possession.  If I stay home, see no one, buy nothing, I can do it.  That is my preferred mode of living, but with a job and volunteering and people knowing where I live, it doesn't happen often.

Specific to me things...I went "foundationless" on my bees, though I'm using bits of plastic foundation I already had as comb guides in the hives. That wasn't "new" to me plastic and if it works, it will cut back on the apiary plastic consumption.  I got 2 packages of bees (more in another post) and those came not in the old wood and screen type packages but in STUPID plastic packages!  DAMMIT!!!  I don't know if they will take these at recycling and I'm looking for ways to re-use them.  Perhaps mouse traps?  Queen excluders?  Entrance reducers? Hive ventilation?

Any and all ideas on how to avoid, limit, reuse, recycle and otherwise reduce plastic in my life are welcome.