Sunday, October 26, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Um,

So some have commented on the black granite countertops in the photos. . .a bit excessive in the cabin, they say?

Well, maybe. I guess I could have used pig pat.

The fact is I like black granite, and at 5 bucks a square foot there's 150 bucks worth of it.

Or 30 six packs worth.

Or two tanks of gas.

Or 75 lbs of sweet potatoes.

And the truth is, the black granite will be the only thing still here in 50 years.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rocket Stove Kits

My neighbor who is a steel fabricator and does very fine work will supply rocket stove parts per order, or you can buy the basic kit which duplicates mine. If you have scrap steel that you'd like to use, I'm sure he would accommodate. His name is Shiloh and can be reached at 6405308. I'll help you put the thing together for free as a "build community" sort of thing.

You'll love it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It is interesting. . .


To see the flurry of thoughts and ideas bouncing around out there. More and more every day we seem to hear about the crisis of confidence we face as a society towards the trust we have in each other and our institutions. This crisis in confidence is clearly well founded. Unfortunately, the response seems to be the formation of large numbers of groups out there--all seemingly saying "Trust us! We're building new institutions!" Certainly I'm familiar with the Venus Project, all that Zeitgiest stuff, of course the Large Cap Seasteading guys, and all that. They are very fine at drawing all sorts of nice pictures about what they're going to build. I understand the temptation. When I was in 2cd grade or thereabouts, I was all caught up in UFO's and spaceships and must have drawn blueprints for hundreds. I would proudly show off my plan for a new spaceship with nice little drawing of people growing food in boxes and gymnasiums, and of course somewhere was a squigly device with pumps and smoke that was, the "fusion engine"--or so I'd sagely reply. In fact, they looked a lot like the stuff you will see over there at the Venus Project. In fact, they have one very critical characteristic that is identical. They were, stictly, daydreams. To suggest that such a thing could be built is a entirely differnet issue than will it. Of course anything can hypothetically be built. If we focus on, strictly that which will be built, or on lifestyles that will exist, suddenly the whole picture and the task at hand becomes immediate. We need to get started, immediately, on the immediately beneficial, and the immediately achievable. This is the sole way to a better future.

Of course, central to the issue as well is this. It is a complete waste of time to daydream about ways we personally could live. We must focus on what changes we will make. This and only this engenders progress. It is no good saying that I'm not being visionary enough, or whatever. Visionary thinkers we have no shortage of. We need heroes. We need people that act. Here is our crisis. There is simply no way to anticipate what sorts of options move from the hypothetical world of the possible to the world of the accessible once one has made real steps in that direction. Unfortunately, we have people planning what they will do upon arrival without even lacing up their boots.

Allow me to state the obvious: It isn't visionary in the slightest unless a wholesale attack and complete rejection of materialism as core social value is not central to the vision. It isn't a credible vision, in the slightest, unless real concrete steps towards that vision are evident.

. . .And lastly, none of this will mean a damn thing to you unless these visions and actions aren't personal. . .

Our new institutions will not be formed. They will arise. What they will arise from is the amalgam of each and all of our manifest values and actions. If you want to change the world, get started planting that garden.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Epiphany


Tonight, again raining lightly and chill. Certainly the weather has changed in the last week. I imagine we'll get a couple of weeks yet of good weather before it really comes on, but "summer" is clearly over.

Tonight, cooking on the rocket stove a curry of taro(out of the garden, lauloa ele'ele omao, and I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong on the variety!) with local onions and local beef. The rockets stove is happly sucking away buring construction scraps. It's very quiet. I type at the computer with the battery bank nicely full. Ran the generator today to power the wirefeed welder, and the whole house is powered up if the fuel gets burned.

Cool outside but toasty in the cabin, and dead silent except for the pop or two of a stick and the hard pat of rain on the roof and the softer hiss of the same on the ferns.

This, of course, is the simplicity we seek manifest.

Of course it wasn't simple in the slightest to achieve it. How soon we all forget that.

So the epiphany. Everybody wants to live a simple life. Everybody tries, according to their definition of it. No one wants a life full of drugery, stress, pain, worries, and confrontations. No one who isn't pathalogical, anyhow. The problem is simply this--people simply don't know how to go about it.

This is compounded, of course, by the fact that the majority of what is out there marketed with the idea of making life simpler is really just someting being sold for the sole purpose of enriching the seller--making HIS life simpler with a fatter account, but that's about it.

Certainly when you see people plowing away after the big house--a lot of it, at least hypothetically, is that more living space eases tensions in a family, and the house itself is an investment that will pay off with better living down the road. Really? When you see expensive cars it's that they are safer in a collision and are more reliable. Really? When you see people with acid refux and irritable bowel syndrom pulling their hair out trying to get ahead in a "career" the only the reason they do so is so that the income that they will achieve will allow them, at some point, at least, to take a step or two back and maybe a vacation in Bali. . .really. . .

Well, I'm sure most everyone in the developed world is questioning those assumptions at least a little bit at the moment.

With the exception of people who are stunted, and there are more than a handful of those, who can only function in environments with very high levels of stimulation--you've got a brute creature which is nothing more than a bit of human colored spray paint on a brain stem--one that simply has nothing in its head without the racket of roaring motors or the company of bouncing clowns. . .except for those. . .the sane among us only miss out on a life of simplicy and sanity not because of a lack of desire, but because of a lack of hope, skills, and honest guidence.

This is where the responsibility comes in. If you know something, share it. Give it away. We must achieve a critical mass of people who do live in this manner. Unfortunately, most who would desire to live so give it such a bad go that their lifestyles effectively are near indecernable from those who simply don't give a damn about anything but the next fix, whatever it is. This gives a disproportial sense of real values of society--and sells us short.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Moringa


When you start reading about this plant, its uses, and its qualities, you simply must stop for a moment and ask: can this really be true? It is really such a valuable plant that it's difficult to believe that the various claims can possibly be true.

Apparently, they are. I'm sold on the evidence and planted some today. I'll keep everyone posted on how it goes. I see no reason why it should not, and it's widely grown in Hawaii anyway.

This very useful website has a lot of information about moringa, its uses, and propagation methods. As far as I'm concerned anyone who could swing growing it ought to give it a whirl. At least look into it. It's very possibly the most nutritional plant on earth.

http://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa

This video is pretty good as well.

http://video.yahoo.com/watch/121059/904163

Friday, October 17, 2008

Something Else That Can Get In the Way of Simplicity


This sent to me today. God, so funny I near pee'd myself. Sigh. . .

I take it she thought moving out of the "cage" and back to the "Savannah" wasn't such a hot idea.

We need to work on this kind of getting along a bit too, I expect.

Homesteading meets Seasteading--the base of operations


Those out there living the lifestyle are going to need to sink or swim here. One is going to need to get that boat ready and be pretty creative, I expect, if things keep rolling in the manner they are.

Part of the reason that I came to Hawaii and the Hilo area in general is that Hilo bay is unquestionably the most important port in the Pacific for a Seasteading lifestyle. It is more or less undeveloped, with minimal congestion, and is a relatively easy more or less all weather entrance accessible for a windjammer, even a large one. As well, it's shaping up very rapidly that the Big Island is the only island in the mid Pacific that has the capacity to maintain sensible agriculture, and there's really only going to be one place to get real stores. If the climate models are correct, most of Mexico, especially the Sea of Cortez region may be more or less an ultra arid dead zone. Many of the smaller islands will be in the same place. The Big Island as well will suffer, but it's still big enough that there will remain productive patches in certain areas. While the Pacific Northwest looks good at the moment, the population density is simply too high, it's too expensive yet to make agriculture sensible, and drought in the Cascades, with snowless winters is going to be the norm.

At this point I'm missing only one of the traditional "canoe plants" that voyagers stocked their ships with, and I'm getting very close to being able to produce useful quantities for voyaging boats. Anyone who has their foot in the Pacific rim and are looking to a long term future take note!

The day of making a living in the Pacific as a small time trader is very nearly back. You've got a chance to get it all together here soon with a bad economy and cheap oil for the next couple of years. We have learned how expensive it can get and how fast. We also know what levels of costs it takes to break the economy's back--and that's about 150 bucks a barrel. Less than I would have expected, but it's a known now. Way too close for comfort!

Jerry Konanui


Had the amazing pleasure this morning of a visit by Jerry Konanui, perhaps the most knowledgeable taro expert in Hawaii. Jerry is Aloha incarnate. Certainly he is a very fine example of the fact that most people who really know what they're doing are invariably very gracious and generous with their knowledge. Needless to say, I learned a great deal about taro and canoe plants in general and was pleased to receive the affirmation that I was doing a good job with the whole project. Certainly his opinion matters more to me than many.

Looks like we'll be building a rocket stove down at his place pretty soon! I really need to put a class together on building these things, as everyone that sees it wants one. . .does someone want to put that together? Let me know. My neighbor is a very fine steel fabricator and has a couple of kids, and I try to kick all the work to him I can. I'll get a bid from him for what delivered components would cost in the next day or two. Elsewise it's my wirefeed welder and and a sawsall, but it works too.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Biggest Obstacle to Simple Living

Simple living isn't necessarily easy. At the moment the biggest problem for many is access to health care.

Many of you who know me know I suffer from psoriasisitic arthritis. Dealing with it has been an ongoing hassle for the last decade, and that issue hasn't gone away. Since I lost my health care coverage in a divorce a while back I now contend with the pre-existing condition issue, so independent health insurance simply isn't an option. Neither is paying for the treatment out of pocket. We're looking at a protocol that would cost better than 30000 dollars a year. The condition comes and goes, at times it's bad enough that it's painful to drive a car, so you can imagine single-handing a 34000 pound engineless gaff cutter was difficult. I became very concerned that I could easily find myself somewhere in the world with a flareup, unable to handle the boat, unable to get treatment, and I'd likely have to simply walk off and leave the boat, losing 9/10ths of all I owned in the process. If I hadn't sold the boat, I guess I would have stuck with it, as there wasn't really any other option, but I certainly decided it was in my best interest to, if I could, diversify a bit to protect myself. I was in pretty rough shape at the time. Better today, actually, and thanks--but it's a every day thing. And fortunately the opportunities presented themselves for me to more or less keep my lifestyle. Necessity is a Mother.

Living a simple life requires compromises. You will have to pick and choose what it is you can afford and what you can go without. You will have to go without something. You will have to make some sort of deal with the devil, especially if you're of the economic class that deals with this sort of issue--which you probably are, or would have very little interest in anything I've got to say. It's not all bad. Since for my condition one of the most effective treatment protocols is hanging out on a beach in the sunshine, you may well see why I live where I do. For 30000 bucks I can do a lot of that.

This may well change. The Federal insurance plan would be a godsend for sure, especially as it would not concern itself with the "pre-existing" condition. Elsewise at the moment my only option is to work some crappy place, full time, for miserable wages, for most of a year--if the company hangs in there that long, and keeps offering the plan--if I get into trouble. It's not a happy prospect, but it's the only one out there, and I rightly need to keep that ace in the hole. Not happy about that, but, well, whatever.

Life is happens before you get sick. No one gets out of here alive.

Q=MT/H2

Quality of life might be measured as one's sum "Means" of "bounty" times the amount of "Time" one has to enjoy it, divided by the square of the amount of "Hassle" it takes to maintain it.

I think very soon people are going to look at affluence not by what it affords, but the problems it forestalls. I think we're just shellshocked by the ongoing concussions of the collapses of the institutions around us, and becoming very gunshy as a result. Soon, though, once the dust settles, it may be very quiet indeed.

Still the transition is going to be pretty difficult for many of us, and there will be a lot of uncertainty. I of course am aware and sensitive to this fact.

If the little pathway to my house over the pond looks like the entrance to a shrine, it's because it mostly is. With the craziness out there one cannot avoid, one will need to ladle on the sanity heavily indeed to keep a little balance in things.

Simplicity at its core is a process of evolution in design. In sciences, as in engineering, as in sailing, as in an self-actualized or engineered life. . .simplicity is the ultimate net result of process. Simplicity is efficiency. Simplicity is reliability. Simplicity is elegance. Simplicity is economy. Simplicity is not simple to achieve, but rather demands a systematic and relentless effort to perpetually pare away unnecessary complications, and to seek the highest return on investment per energy or capital expended. Central to this task requires targeting a very specific goal--what is the point of all this? This question must be asked, and answered, with the utmost of rigor. The slightest vagaries here preclude success.

So, what is it that you want out of all this?

This isn't a rhetorical question.

A moment of silence. . .

Very very very quiet in the forest tonight. Soft rain falling, and it's chill. It feels a very long way away from a lot that is going on out there in the world on one hand, but oppressively close on another, as something vague and malevolent lurking out there in the darkness.

Checking the news one last time. Briefly looked at the debates, was nonplussed.

Checking the financial markets around the world--Tomorrow is going to suck for a lot of people.

We all feel a bit exhausted don't we? It seems everyone has a bit of a too much coffee up too late kind of twitch about them, that we were way too excited about something that didn't deserve it.

There is a real hunger for quiet simplicity of the like I've never seen, nor ever felt.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why real "communities" will indeed form.


There is a lot of pessimism about the potential success of "designed" community, or "eco-village" or that sort of thing. I don't share it. I not only believe that such communities will be built, I believe they will become inevitable. it is certainly happening in my neighborhood, and clearly happening among the Oar Club people in a manner unprecedented. Here's why.

Many believe that community spirit or a value of cooperation can only exist under very regimented strictures. Many believe that American people are too "individualistic" to operate under such control. Really? I think American "individuality" is a myth, and in most cases the "paraphernalia" of individuality is pretty generic, and is a response to the amazingly regimented manner in which our society works. You are defined by your job, and nothing else, and in the corporate world especially you are really just a brick in the wall. The "wall" itself is the greatest impediment to going it alone, as it's increasingly more difficult and litigious to make a living without participating in the corporate system. American society is very regimented--you can be only Republican or Democrat, and you must believe in a chain of ideals attached to each or your political power is utterly disenfranchised. You have to move in lockstep with the party line or you're not part of the group. Even in progressive groups it is very much the case. If you embrace ecological values but don't smoke pot you will find yourself often a pariah.

The biggest problem isn't individuality, it is simple greed. It has become a central cultural value to simply get for yourself whatever you can. Going against the community good for personal gain is wholly acceptable. In fact, even in marriages it's encouraged, at least for women, that no compromises need be, or should be, made in one's personal life--for the value of the marriage. You can have whatever you want, you deserve it. While I'm sure that was nice for some, necessity may be a bugger for this lifestyle very soon.

Human beings work together naturally, and enjoy it if the playing field is fair, and the team is pulling together for a common goal. This is all it takes--it doesn't require a hardcore ideology. Many people feel that being part of a sports team, or military experience, or part of a crew of a ship, or whatever, to be very valuable and rewarding experiences. We naturally long for this sort of experience. The obstacle is that one selfish interest screws up the works. But if you consider that a football team of 60 or so ego driven guys can pull together in very fine examples of cooperation, where "selfishness" is utterly intolerable, and the common goal of winning games is equally rewarding to all players--it only proves that it works.

So today communities aren't going to be a value, they are going to be a necessity. It isn't going to be a matter of feeling that you should pull for your neighbor, it's going to be a matter of knowing
that you must, as this will be the last and only remaining, however doubtful, adhesive keeping basic civility together. Once people understand that the reality is that being a good member of a group is highly in one's own self interest, suddenly things will change, and they likely will change rapidly. I really do believe that scarcity may well make mutual value and character a binding source of humanistic ideals potentially stronger than race, heritage, or sex, or even family. Am I saying there is only going to be cooperation in this Utopian future? No, rather there will be a lot of competition to be the best, most valued, and most respected member of a given society.

All it takes is for status within a community to be dependent on one's character and value to the community rather than one's bankroll. . .once the pretty girls chase after the guy with a good heart and skillful hands rather than the guy with a rich daddy and a new car. . .the world will change for the better in an instant.

This change is clearly happening right now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What I would have done with a grant of $500000


Look, let's quit talking about it, really, it is not constructive, and don't send me any more e-mails asking. Please. I'm serious. Figure it out. It won't take long. Just do a web search, see who cares and why, and the conspicuous omissions will inform the debate. Learn from it too, as you'll see that average people of average means are buggered.

Look, if you work in software you will be able to promote the hell out of anything if you have the means and time.If you do it for a living, for the right companies, it's only easier. You can buy yourself access, and buy yourself credibility, and create for yourself celebrity status without ever doing a damn thing. I, while doing my Seasteading research, and launched my first two boats, drove forklift. It's s a precious miracle that any of you know anything about it at all.

I'm NOT competing with anyone. Especially I'm not competing with the powerpoint guys. That's obvious. Don't take it that way. We who Seastead, for real, at the moment, have NO ONE to compete with.

Look, I saw a headline today suggesting that Oprah Winphrey and Angelina Jolie are the most respected women in the world. You are fucking kidding, right? Where is Jane Goodall in that, my favorite, and dozens if not hundreds of others? As for the cheap breastfeed shot, I had no idea that babies could digest silicone. Promotion is everything, and most people prefer the imitation to the real thing. Especially in boobies, apparently.

The fact is that people get paid to daydream when it greases the wheels of the super wealthy. Seasteading--as some define it--is interesting because of the micronation blah blah mostly tax evasion aspects. Isn't that obvious? Really, isn't that obvious? Really really, isn't that really really obvious? That's certainly the only thing that certain "philanthropists" really give a damn about, obviously. Don't have sour grapes about it. I don't. I'm serious. There is no commercial viability at all in anything I do. It doesn't bother me that the "moneied world" doesn't care or is outright hostile. It simply enforces my pirate ethic. Which of course, is the traditional response. Pirates were, of course, the paradigm seasteader, and in response, exactly, to the same kind of crap. And now, when those rich ass "philanthropists?!!?" are getting bailed out with your tax dollars, maybe a cannon or two seems very sensible.

Freedom of the seas? You must be fucking kidding. At sea the elements are a dictator of the oppressive sort that few have ever lived under. There's a whole lot of stuff that's legal, mostly, in the Now Sanctioned and Funded Capital of Seasteading--San Fransisco. . . that you couldn't even physically pull off at sea, unless your abdominal strength was utterly fantastic. I mean come on! What is it that you want to do, that you can't, in San Fransisco? You're repressed, seriously, in San Fransisco? Well, there's taxes. . .

But, what would I do, probably? I would take a long hard think, first, and probably get really drunk. . .honestly, since Seasteading is about self-sufficiency at it's core, at least to anyone who's ever actually ever done any of it-- it really makes a mockery of the the whole thing to run it on grant money. I actually heard a guy say "I'm going to get a grant to teach self-sufficiency. . ." Woody Allen couldn't pen anything better. Seasteading? It needs to be a profitable venture, and. . .drum roll, there is a chance I may well pull that off. Updates on that later. It may well be a godsend. No promises. But, you all know I'm a productive S.O.B.

And no, I'm not trying to get a grant for Blimpsteading, creating libertarian tax havens for the super rich in the skies. The fact that I know little about blimps and haven't ever been on a blimp or built one shouldn't be any reason to think I'm not expert! I expect the check is in the mail!

So what would I do with 500000 bucks? Probably rescue the Falls of Clyde, which is going to be sunk here very soon. Oh man, what a boat. Iron. And it's ironic in the extreme that one of the bitchen'est sailing boats ever built, in mothballs for years, will be sunk at the moment it becomes commercially viable again.

What I wouldn't give to captain an engineless oil tanker. . .jeezzzzz uzzzzzzz

It terrifies me to think I might be one of less than, what, 10?, in the world, that have the experience and could.

As I can see, you would make 3 times that in one run. It's better than tea.

So, when she goes down, learn something.

Invitation to a discussion II:

Interesting and thoughtful comments.

Clearly we agree that the symbolic meaning of the act of "simplicity" is equally if not more valuable than the practical. I thought Thomas' observation that that there is simply more personal steam to be had in, for example, planting a potato for a cause than merely planting a potato--very useful. As well, the magnitude of the cause is related to the magnitude of the psychic energy it engenders. So then, the progression--boating begets sailing, sailing begets sailing without engines and other aids, "real sailing" begets sailing with a purpose of rediscovering traditional lost skills, and this ultimately begets a realization of sailing to discover a lost ideal, a symbol, of a vehicle appropriate for seeking hope and freedom. Of course there's a lot of power to be found in this task.

So, trying to define "simplicity" in terms as well defined as one might with the sailboat, we may need to invent or discover terminology. Two observations: It is clearly fitting and noble to be a first order producer of one's self. This necessitates self-reliance. As well, self-reliance requires simplicity for success, and simplicity in many ways is simply a product of capability and efficiency in living--not so much an end in itself, but simplicity will certainly be indicative of capability, efficiency, and I might also say maturity and nobility--or as engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists might say, elegance.

I find this at the moment a very fruitful consideration. The main observation is that one cannot strive for simplicity--but one can strive for personal effectuality and elegance--and simplicity will be the inevitable result.

Concisely: You can't go live a "simple life." Rather, your life becomes "simple" because of the way you live.

Other thoughts? Agree?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Invitation to a discussion:

Is striving towards self-sufficiency and self-reliance largely a practical matter, or is it mostly a symbolic act of self-actualization? I mean symbolic in the Jungian "big" sense, such as I did in the past with the usage of the terms sailing and seasteading. . .

It's clearly both, but I'm more and more leaning towards the latter. If so, it is important that we keep that foremost in our minds.

What do you all think?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

If you've got a moment. . .

You may want to watch this presentation on "slowness."

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/carl_honore_praises_slowness.html

I don't think the presentation is particularly convincing, but I think it is interesting on a couple of levels. First, it is interesting that we are seeing a presentation of a "popular" idea of the jetset class, presented by a jetsetter himself. That's interesting, because it's indicative that there's a growing notion among the "alpha climbers" in society that their climbing isn't worth it. This was a notion held before our current economic problems became apparent to the average person. Of course the real "alphas" have always been idle, and they're not part of the discussion--my point is that among the priviledged "upwardly mobile" they're not satisfied that their progress is worth the cost. Of course this is pertinent to the conversation we've been having here.

Secondly, it's interesting that "slowness" doesn't necessarily equate "simplicity," but more so at this point "luxurious indulgence" in time. Which means to my mind that "slowness" is still a product of a consumer culture. This, I will believe will rapidly change into "simplicity" and "minimalism" by need, but, I find it constructive to see that the pumps of simple living have been culturally primed already.

A six month plan towards sustainability/survivability

And having this in place may engender a good deal of sanity.

First month--buy 500 dollars worth of groceries and pack it in plastic buckets. If you have access to a scuba tank it can be helpful to blow the dry air from the tank into the buckets to prevent mildew. A bit of dry ice can provide the same effect and ultimately fill the bucket with CO2 preventing bugs and other degradation. You will need 2 lbs of dry goods a day per person in your household. For me, the bulk of that will be rice. Lintels are another good staple. You must remember that rice isn't a particularly good storage food. In fact, nothing really is in this climate, so the point of the "grub stake" is to give you a fighting chance to get your garden up to speed. You will need every minute of six months.

If you're a poor and un-inventive cook, your lifestyle will suffer. Few cookbooks really teach cooking, they teach recipe following--and you're going to need to know how to make stuff pretty cleverly. You may consider finding good books dealing specifically with ethnic foods from climates similar to our own. Focus on the simple simple simple. Indian food expansive and is a good choice. So is most everything of Asian influence.

Plant sweet potatoes. As soon as the sweet potato cuttings are growing well enough to clip, cut them and plant more. Strive for 100 plants per person in the household. It will happen sooner than you think, but will take 6 months to get harvestable, and perhaps you'd need some potatoes early on.

Plant potatoes in general. They do nicely. Yukon golds are what I have mostly. Remember we're focusing on a survival garden, not growing salads. Once you're at your benchmark then you can start planting greens and other goodies. And, you'll have learned a great deal by then.

Month 2-Things will be growing, but not harvestable. Get a generator, a cheap one, and enough gasoline stored to be useful in emergencies. 50 gallons minimum. Store it safely. Think of it as an investment. It's a better one than gold.

Build a rocket stove so that if your utilites were off, you can still maintain a sensible living. Learn to cook with it--it's easy. Learn the art of using firewood. Stock up at least 100 cubic feet of fine dry firewood in small sizes, 2 inch diameter is ideal. Guava is ideal. It won't take long and you you'll get it for free.

Plumb coils in the rocket stove into your houses hot water system so that the house will function more or less normally. Have some sort of awning over the rocket stove so you can dry clothing near it if you need to do laundry sometime between December and March.

Month 3--Hopefully at this point you can wonder why you were so paniced about things 2 months ago. If so, have a cup of coffee and idly walk around looking at all the neat things you've done and think about how much less back pain you have now that you're in better shape. Have the satisfaction of neighbors looking with keen interest on the success of your projects. Feel just ducky; but keep at it.

Now it's time to get chickens, as they've place to forage and won't need feed. If you have some, they'll love you for it, but elsewise they'll pick incessently.

Get the garden going now, and plant stuff that compliments the staples you have and the things you might be running out of. Now you know more about the whole thing and will have more success. You'll need to fence the chickens out of the area of greens and things, but they can forage around it.

Bananas and Papayas!

Month 4--even if at this point you'll have discovered enough self-sufficiency that if things haven't gone all to hell you'll be mostly through acquiring new habits and will live in a new manner with new expectations. You won't need to go to the grocery store unless you want to, and if things are a little freaky in town you may not want to. As well, you may want to stay home and keep an eye on things, eh? Expand the garden and cut more firewood. Cram your lot wall to wall if you're in town, plant in containers, plant on your roof(hey! there's a lot of space up there!). People will think you're either nuts or you'll be the local guru. Those always come hand in hand anyhow.

Month 5--You'll beginning to harvest from the garden. Hopefully you'll have success and plenty. It's much more likely if you've had time to properly care for your plants, and with an economic meltdown you'll have the benefit of having time on your hands to do just that. Preserving extra before it goes bad is important. I've always used drying for everything but some enjoy canning.

Month 6--Take a look around! The least you'll have pulled off is moved from the personal realm of helpless victimization to a life of robust optimism, and that's hardly little.

Some quick thoughts waiting for the rain to clear.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meaningful Living

So what is purpose of existence? To fill one's existence with purpose.

I'm not kidding. I really believe that.

For the last 15 years sailing and "seasteading" have been the means for me to achieve that goal for myself, and certainly the lifestyle was an apt vehicle for purposeful living. Through the period, for myself, as skills increased the act of sailing gradually became less and less important to me than the symbolic meaning the act suggested. In few other activities is hope or freedom of the human spirit expressed as viscerally as is in the act of a sailboat leaving harbor. I was very aware of this process especially during the last few years of sailing "Macha," as the boat itself was very near an archetype, and in the act of launching and sailing that boat there was simply no way to evade the very personal knowledge that what I was fortunate enough to be doing was important, special, and meaningful. And not only to me, but to others as well. The most important skill I learned by sailing wasn't sailing. The most important thing I learned was how to keep my personal life embued with purpose.

As such, and as I've said before, I got into sailing in the first place as a means to find meaning in my existence. I understand purpose in living can be, at least for a lot of us, pretty illusive. But I've come to know it's not illusive because purpose is hard to find. It isn't. It's illusive because purpose is difficult to achieve--meaning that in order to get there, you will have to push yourself to the limits of your abilities, to that moment where you simply and quietly know--ok, that's as good as I can do. That's really all there is too it. If one is caught in the modern man's trap of existential pointlessness, as far as I can see there's really only one way out. Dream big, and do better. You have galactic karmic permission to have the audacity to take on whatever you need to do to find your purpose in existence. If you don't have the backbone to start, well, to yourself and to the rest of us as well, obviously you've got no purpose. If you've tried and got nowhere, you'll need to try again and do a better job. Maybe you'll never succeed, and you know this. Maybe the heroism of seeking purpose anyway while knowing you'll never find it is what will create purpose in your existence.

Right now, we as a culture really need people who will take up that heroic task of trying to find purpose in a world where it's going to be pretty difficult to find. We need to take this task on seriously and with integrity. Some might suggest a lot easier for romantics like myself to dabble with big archetypes such as sailboats to create a meaningful existence than it might hacking out a subsistence life eating millet in some poor village somewhere in the 3rd world. As such, in the future of scarcity we face some might suggest I'm a bit out of touch. Maybe, maybe not. Actually, I think not. It all depends on how one looks at the task at hand. Again, the key to a meaningful existence is simply doing what you do in a sincere manner and to the best of your ability--which will often need to mean with such success and excessive bounty that it has a measurable positive effect in one's environment and community.

In other words, it may prove most important to the survival of mankind that there remain a critical mass of those who, heroically, deliberately, get out of bed in the morning and go about their business cheerfully--in spite of the future we may soon face.

An interview with Paul Volcker:

This is an informed and interesting and well measured conversation, and it's well worth a listen.

http://calculatedrisk.blogspot.com/2008/10/charlie-rose-discussion-with-paul.html

You may wish to follow it up with this one.

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/nyus-roubini-sees-risk-of-severe-global-depression/1002794889

Friday, October 10, 2008

For the local people, I found this website very useful

http://www.canoeplants.com/index.html

He mai'a ke kanaka a ka la hua ai. . .

Now that speaks to my Haole heart.

Seasteading--and other kinds of "steading"

For some reason, likely the ongoing collapse of western civilization, there's been a real bump in the interest in Seasteading as a lifestyle, and I've been receiving e-mail like never before. GOOD! It's a wonderful life, I'm on vacation from it at the moment, but only barely, and like any sailor once the itch returns, and it will, it does so with a vengeance. I'd say to anyone--if in doubt, and short on cash, get yourself a 30 foot or so used boat and go find purpose in life. You can't miss. It's not a new story, nor a new concept--but for many its one of the very few remaining options in the world for a life of relative freedom.

You're all familiar with Libertatia, right? Sounds wonderful. And I'm sure it was until the British Navy sent half a dozen ships of the line around the Cape and shelled them into submission--or rather non existence. That would be the other part of that story that "wiki" omits.

I guess the lesson to be learned is this--beware of the systemic destruction of visionary ideas.

Sometimes the destruction comes in an overt manner--high altitude bombing or ships of the line. Sometimes it simply comes through regulating a lifestyle out of existence. Sometimes it comes in the form of crushing the idea with overpromoted "pseudovision"--safe for the masses, well endowed and financed, and utterly without "visionary" practicality or contents. It's getting harder to do the latter, as free information flows more freely than ever, at least for the moment--but certainly it happens. If for no other reason than on the "search engines" those with money and means can, if they so intend, simply bury fuctional practical ideas under a mass of self promoted and well funded drivel. It doesn't even need to be intentional, and I expect a lot of the time it mostly isn't, but dumbshits with money, connections, and too much time on their hands can be very damaging to important causes. The "ecologist" Kennedy and Rosanne come immediately to mind.

Be cautious, be aware. If I had, for example, hypothetically, recieved a 500000 dollar grant to study Seasteading, I would have launched with it an additional 30 or so working examples, in addition of course to the dozen or so I already have--and certainly others have too? Speaking of Wikipedia, why is it that the entry under "seasteading" retains only references to the power-point presentation "sailors?" That is, because, all references to myself, the Pardeys, Annie Hill, James Wharram, and many others, who have actually lived in a real manner that seasteading lifestyle--have been posted and hastily AND systemically deleted at least a dozen or so times by now. At least--as if I have time to keep up with all that. Of course, an example like Annie Hill makes the powerpoint boys look like friggin' asses. Jeez, those guys need to get a life. I'd suggest less time at the keyboard and more time on the water probably lead to some progress. Like, actually something. I mean anything. Maybe something really visionary like anchoring some object in Richardsons Bay. Gosh, now that would be visionary. If any of that project is reading this, don't think I'm being combative, I'd love to help. You can use my old mooring. I'm sure it's still there, not far from the ferry terminal. It says MACHA on it.

You must realize that if Paris Hilton offered her very astute opinions on Seasteading, and undoubtedly if prompted, she'd have one--she'd receive more press about it than the powerpoint boys and myself combined.

Otherwise, and more seriously, thank all of you very much for the fine and supportive comments that many of you have sent me recently. I assure you it's humbling, frankly, and I really appreciate it. I set out to write the books that I wished I could have read when I first started sailing. I know that information would have been very useful to me, as I was on a mission, frankly, and I know, even more than ever, many of you are too. Please, feel free to write, as in any way I can help I will. There is a ever growing community on the Oar Club forum as well, and it is now really finding critical mass.

And of course the same applies to the current project.

In one's natural habitat


Sometimes I just got to laugh--

A pretty typical moment: tools, sawdust flung everywhere, bad haircut and covered with glue. . .but that's the stuff of progress.

It's a trepidatious moment for sure.

It's interesting: I've been reading a great deal lately about encounters of ship captains with the Polynesian cultures a 100 or so years ago. Contrary to what is often asserted, loudly, many of these captains were very very sympathetic to the Polynesian people and their lifestyles, and how they obviously saw the cultures across the pacific where going to be destroyed by Western influence. Yes, of course there also was exploitation, but as it often the case, it was the acts of a small but powerful subset that created the future, and history. Of course, it still is.

One account in particular I found very interesting. It accounts the story of a captain visiting one or another island and how one of the locally more "affluent" native people was brought aboard one of the ships as part of a trade transaction, probably for copra, and for some reason witnessed the ship captain sitting in a chair. It's nearly unimaginable, but chairs didn't exist in this culture, and the chair was seen apparently as a totem of great authority and this fellow just had to have it. In the following months, a "chair" culture was created, and a social hierarchy where, people being people, there was a lot of status conveyed to people that had chairs as opposed to those who simply squatted in the dirt. This particular captain was dismayed at the development, and wrote at great length about his perceptions of the "loss of innocence." This was probably not so near the truth, but more to the point that western culture effectively introduced the many very sophisicated techniques we've devised over the centuries to insure other people of less means feel degraded.

In a further discussion about the topic with another captain, later in the writings, it was discussed how around the world it was so often that there was a trend and a longing of "primitive" peoples towards the material sophistication of western living, and while westerners in general and increasingly longed towards the "simplicity" of "primitive" living. Of course the grass is always greener, but the trend seemed established. One captain expressed disgust at the obvious cyclical rat race of always mankind always in frustration and need and grasping towards what wasn't had--the other was much more optimistic. To paraphrase:

"Yes, we might run that circle a number of times, but each time one goes around one comes back with more knowledge, and more self-awareness."

Yes, for sure, and that's worth thinking on.

As we return by need and necessity to a more simple way of living, this time we do bring with us the knowledge that materialism isn't all it's cracked up to be. And this is a very powerful knowledge if it's made conscious to the point of a maxim. It's much different than merely "reacting" in a countercultural way to a materialistic culture--it's what I like to call "extra-cultural" reaction--you bloody well know the "conventional" lifestyle doesn't work. You know this emperically and first hand. It doesn't supply happiness, nor security, nor quality of life. If you know this first hand, in a viceral manner, it will supply your efforts to your new future with a vigor that they would not have otherwise.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Listen.

This economic situation is getting very dangerous.

Cover yourselves.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Green Technology


I'm sure this is going to get someone's goat.

Look, we need to move beyond dogmatic horseshit and move to a better, more humane, more ecologically benign future. We need to think about how to do that. We need real answers and we need them now. We need to cook food, stay warm, wash our bodies, and stay sensibly comfortable. Burning wood, or biomass as it's fashionable to say, has been the means to do that for all but the last 100 years of human existence.

Has it been subject to abuses? Of course. Has it been sustainable? Not by any stretch: the forests of Europe and the UK were destroyed to build navies, and the in the United States, we more or less threw it all away for pennies on the dollar. Has it been efficient? Not really. Can it be? Yes, obviously, and the technology exists. It is at crime to cut a tree? Not any more than eating carrots, so far as I can see, if the net result is a healthier environment. IF. I'm sure it can be.

One must understand that dry wood, as fuel, has almost 50 percent of the energy of fossil fuels. That is a LOT, when you start doing the math, and will provide for you most of a home's energy needs, which consists of heat products directly, in a real and very efficient manner. There is no way, at all, that other biofuels can compete with this level of efficiency--especially for home use, where the primary needs are simply heat. Once you understand this, and you look out on a piece of property in Hawaii, for example my three acres, and you begin to quantify the tonnage of limbs and other stuff that can be used without ever cutting a tree--and it's worth per pound half of the value of propane--if I have the skills to use it--man, if a light bulb doesn't go on you've got a blown fuse.

When you consider that the single largest reason for forest destruction in the world is the cutting of rain forest to plan palm oil trees for biofuel you can see very quickly how far many have their head up their asses.

Modern technology, such as the rocket stove, can go a very long way to making biomass energy very efficent and very green--IF we cap consumption. Unfortuately there are always those who have the means and the desire to burn more than their fair share. While you can't run a jet airplane on wood, still abuses will occur. On an island like Hawaii, there needs to be some resistence to that, otherwise we face the real risk of denuding the place. It would be sensible, I expect, to make illegal(or Kapu, if you prefer) the sale of firewood. If you want to use it, that which grows on your property, it's your business. If you want to hire people to cut it, on your property, that's sensible too. But it does force one to live within their means--elsewise you'll just cut down every last tree on your place and you'll be done with.

And your property won't be worth, well, twigs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thoughts

You can't go it alone.

I think the need for building community is becoming very dire. Let's look in a real and honest manner of what we face.

1) The elderly and those about to retire at this moment have by and large lost their retirement incomes. At this moment, this morning, more or less all growth in real estate equity or more or less any instrument other than treasuries has lost all of the last 10 years returns. I don't believe these valueations will ever return, but even if one assumed they did, historically 10 years to get back to the break even point is certainly not an unreasonable time frame. At any rate, few will be in a position to retire as they had expect. Since even over the last period or relative wealth, the majority ended up on public assistence at some point, we need to realize that this overly burdened and underfunded system will be pushed to the breaking point.

Result: We must find ways of providing valuable and meaningful gainful employment for our elderly, and realize that the lion's share of the responsibility of caring for our own will fall into our own laps. Zoning, housing regulation as the rest need to respect the real need on the ground and flexibility needs to be written into the law, allowing people to take care of extended families in the manner that they are able, and in a permittable manner. For example, the debate about the whole "ohana" dwelling here needs to become a lot more humane, real quick.

2) Of those of working class age, we need to realize that wages will be stagnant and opportunities for growth few. Certainly those of "home buying" age at the moment are not going to be in the position of using the "capital" in their home as a de facto third income. As well, the last decade has enjoyed(ahem) historically low and unrealistic taxation. This will change. Working class families will earn less, and lose more of their earning to taxation. Health care and education costs will continue to rise disproportionally to the deflationary environment, and many families will just go without.

Result: Community will matter, in a emotional, social, and financial manner. Dollars will need to go further. When you purchase, or hire consider what that dollar will do and where it will go--and what sort of behaviors it encourages. Hire those who share your values and in a real and measurable manner do give to the community. Spending money on big foolish rims on your pickup is an anti-social act--and needs to be seen as such. Purchase little, but re-enforce ideas and ideology by seeking out and rewarding respectful and constructive behavior. Invest in those who invest in you. Your future depends on it.

3) Of those still young and in school, they will be condemned to facing an ever harder future with fewer skills, while school districts in general try to provide education with thinner and thinner budgets. Since the public school system is every bit as much a social services agency as well as education, if not more so, the climate of stress and poverty at home can only make the educational environment worse.

Result: Kids need all the help they can get, and they're not going to learn much at school. Realize that all of us need to be mentors and educators. Give a kid a job. Pay they too much. Teach them something.

Here is a place to start.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Confidence

Today, I said to myself, "Self, You're going to win on this game."

And I do believe so. I feel confident within 6 months I'll be in a position to declare my 3 acres and lifestyle "self-sufficient and THEN some" being in a position so if and when I go to work, those earnings either go to play money, pocket change, or means to re-invest in infrastructure. Thank God I've done this sort of thing before, and my boats operated as such--I've never done it with dirt before, but must say all in all it's a lot cheaper and easier, all in all.

That's really no small deal, I guess. It's only my hubris I suppose that makes me think I'm behind the game. I showed up with a sack of cordless tools and a machete not even a year ago and I'm striking distance within the status of a functional farm.

There are keys to playing this game, and I can emphasize a three big ones..

1) Owe no one anything. Money, or else wise. Pay your debts and expect the same.
2) Simplify in the extreme. It's a lot easier to pare one's style of living to a level of frugality, with skills and attitude, than it is to try to pump one's income to the level of one's indulgences.
3) Own nothing that doesn't earn its keep, whether tools, property, toys. . .etc.

Playing Leapfrog.

We're at this point certainly staring square into the face of the death of the capitalist business model. It's over with, and there is no going back. For those looking for "cyclical" effects, I'd suggest not wasting your time--the wheel is broken. There will be no "recovery" and a "normal" economy in the future isn't going to resemble the one we had for the last 12 or so years in any way form or fashion.

So what ahead? Scarcity. Scarcity of credit, and money, and jobs, and resources. Capital assets will be valued by their real implicit value rather than book value--the question will be asked, what will that asset do for me? I expect one will see high valuations, for example, of small houses, and low ones of large or speculatively placed houses. I expect to see "used" but serviceable vehicles to demand high prices, but new ones hardly able to be given away. I expect to see a similar effect in jobs--those who perform jobs that do real things will be in high demand--and consultation, sales and the rest will be fat out of luck. This effect will be magnified because in this "new" economy it's going to increasingly not pay to go to work. Jobs and wages won't keep up with transportation costs, or other expenses, and new and higher taxes are on their way--else wise government will cease to operate? Over the last 6 months the numbers of baby boomers who went from "retirement incomes" to public assistance, what, tripled? Once it makes more sense and one actually pockets more money by staying home, if you have the option, and growing potatoes where there once was lawn--you'll see productivity in the economy evaporate. On and on. It's worth looking hard and long at what's up especially in a "reflexive" ala Soros sort of way.

This is why this sort the sort of task I'm taking on here is so important--at least to my mind. We need very rapidly to find new--non dogmatically or fetish driven ways of living. Hey, I've got short clean hair, I eat beef, I don't smoke weed, I do drink, I think guns are as valuable on a homestead as screwdrivers, I believe in anthropogenic climate change, I don't believe in "alternative" energies like biodiesil or whatever--on and on--and I do all of the above for the damnedest of reasons, and the rarest, it seems: THE FACTS! Unfortunately, by and large, the "progressive counter culture movement" has simply not been any of that--it hasn't been either progressive or counter culture, it's simply been reactionary, simply a movement set in opposition to one type of materialism by positing another. Well, they've lost something to push against. . .and I expect will flounder a bit.

Whatever works, and provides the best, securest, and sanest quality of life--that's what I'm about.

So, its time for those of us who are up to speed, or mostly, to play a little leapfrog. Rather than our comrades who have more time on their hands--out there finishing degrees in ecology or sustainability or some such--with the idea that they're going to work in the "sustainable business industry"--we recognize that there isn't going to be any damn such thing as industry in the future! You're not going to be able to pull a "wage" in a "career." You're either going to have to produce something of real value, like potatoes--and from that productive ability comes your resume and expertise--or you're out of luck. In fact, the real product, unlike in the past, is likely to be more valuable than the knowledge simply because of scarcity. For those of us who understand that--to know that owning a farm is going to be akin to owning a printing press printing dollar bills, we'll be and remain ahead of the game.

I've thought a lot lately about how much easier it is at sea. . .part of that is an unjustified sentiment is simply that it's a lifestyle I've already mastered and I'm taking on something new. But, sea-steading is and remains a way to get a toe hold on very little capital. Unless you can come up with the cash to purchase 3 to 5 viable acres of land with a livable structure without payments of any sort you'd be better off with the boat. Payments will kill you. Unlike capital, debt is forever. . .

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rocket Stove II:


This has been one of the best projects I've ever pulled off, and everyone in Hawaii needs one of these.

Phase two: Got rained out from work today so I installed the magic. On boats with wood stoves I faced the issue that it was often a pain in the butt to get little fires started and drawing, and in a small space dealing with a cold stack not drawing was an exercise in desperation, especially when it was near freezing and the wind blowing 50 knots. So, eventually, I worked through installing a set of gas jets that would allow the woodstove to heat and ignite on clean propane, which used very little gas to get going, and then once hot the solid fuel took over. You didn't need to spend an hour lighting a fire to make a pot of tea, or heat the cabin up--you simply threw on the gas and let 'er rip. This would have been expensive and fuel intensive IF you didn't have a pile of driftwood in the cockpit, which you then stuck into the already hot stove. Tending a fire is no trouble. Lighting it can be a pain in the butt. So, the attempt was to live minimally but still save mostly modern convenience.

The gas eliminates the smoky start-up as well. I hate wood smoke, for I've done way too much camping past the point it was fun and exciting, so this is important to me.

So, I did the same thing with the rocket stove. Rather than piddle lighting sticks I throw the gas to it and I've got tea in 10 minutes, and a hot stove for pancakes. If I want to simmer all day, I'll run guava and sticks.

This is kind of thinking we need more of as we cross the hump from the modern world to the post-modern minimalist one. Simple near stone age reliability and costs with near modern turnkey functionality so you can still have time to go to work while you actually have a job.

This stove will be the heart of my home. There's no question it will do all the cooking, heat my hot water tanks and provide a very high level of comfort while burning sticks. This too, is a godsend.

I'll probably weld some 1/4 by 1 angle iron to the bottom the griddle top to keep the plate from warping up when it gets hot, but if you're less type A than me you'll likely not bother.

Undoubtedly the best steak you've ever eaten will be cooked on the top of this bugger.


Lucky us!

Pay attention, and keep notes! Not just everyone gets to see history in the making first hand. We're witnessing a moment of epic historic proportion, and there will be stories to be told about how it all unfolded. . .

as the timeless quote goes--

. . .this is the way the world ends
not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A little lesson in Economics and the Money Supply:

This brought to my attention: it's worth a watch. Informative and a fair treatment of a very rarely understood topic.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9050474362583451279

The Rocket Stove


Well this was a success.

I had been enjoying using the the little charcoal cooker so much I decided I'd just bump up the schedule and install the rocket stove with the griddle top that I had been planning to do. So, scavenging the parts and pieces, a bit of stove pipe here and there and the old cooker--60 bucks worth of bricks and mortar and a 24 x 24 piece of 1/4 steel from Hilo steel and I'm done for under 200 bucks. Half of that was the steel top.

It burns with nearly unbelievable efficiency, and once hot it burns very nearly smoke free. You may smell a bit of smoke odor but there will be no visible smoke. Certainly it burns as clean or cleaner than a charcoal BBQ, which is remarkable considering I'm burning not particularly well seasoned wood.

It works much like any other wood burning cook stove I've ever used. Heat is simple enough to adjust by placement of the pots or the feed rate of the sticks. A little stoking will fire up or damp down depending on what your needs are. Wood stoves have a tendency to be a little tweaky to get used to, but frankly this one presented very little trouble.

It would be simplicity itself to add hot water coils to heat a tank someplace, and I imagine this addition will be in the near future. Fpr ore discussion on rocket stoves and current designs and rocket stove plans: HERE!