Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Checking In

   Yesterday I brought home the guitar that I put on layaway last month. We did borrow some money through our credit union to make the purchase because, as we have learned, having no debt is actually bad for your credit. (WTF?!?) Yes, it turns out that if you are not beholden to anyone the lenders don't like you. They also don't like it if you pay things off early because they don't make as much interest so, while we could pay off the small sum we borrowed in short order, we are going to make the minimum payments and drag it out for a full year to help reestablish our credit. Blood sucking bastards!

   (A quick note on the guitar -- I have yet to take it to work, but I did do a small bit of recording with it and it blew me away. I do believe it will indeed be the last performance guitar I ever need!)

   I had made a deal with the wife that, if I get another guitar (yes, I have a few, but they all do something unique. I am not a collector, each has it's utility), she gets to book a trip she's been wanting to take for some time to visit a friend overseas. Our original plan was to pay off the first loan, then take out a second for the trip, thus establishing credit. It turns out it doesn't work that way. After talking with our person at the credit union we have decided to drag the first loan out, save for the trip then take a out a second loan secured by the money we saved. Effectively, we are paying our credit union to help us show lenders that we are good little consumers (what a crazy system!). Hopefully by doing this, though, a farm will not be out of future reach!

   I got my tracks back from the studio and the project I recorded almost 17 years ago is now in my studio program on my laptop. I have plans to meet with a co-producer for the redux to listen to them and make decisions about what to keep, what can be fixed, what to re-record, and anything else later this week. It's happening!

   The move out of the old house is more-or-less complete. There is a small amount of uncut firewood, a garden cart, the compost pile (hell yes we're taking it with us!), and the pen in which we kept the chickens (which we thought could be converted into a temporary/moveable greenhouse, but we're not sure if we can carry it over in the pickup truck) still at the old place. All evidence suggests that our old landlords have defaulted on the property, so we don't feel a particular hurry to have it all removed by any deadline. We will be collecting it all soon -- we need to get a garden started here and we need that compost! Now we need to sort and organize the boxes of stuff here at the new house...

   In sad news, we lost another chicken this week. Dumpling, one of our Ameraucanas, was acting like she was sneezing at first. Then she started opening her beak and stretching out her neck and I thought she maybe had something stuck in her craw. Then she began to cough up blood and we became very concerned. I tried to see if there was anything I could do but it soon became obvious that she wasn't going to make it. I ended up having to put her out of her misery. The whole thing was awful. My son and I patrolled the backyard the next day and hopefully removed anything that might be harmful. They are not the most selective when it comes to what they'll eat. I am guessing she found a piece of something she thought was food that was instead sharp and dangerous (I was surprised to find many things in the yard that matched that description).

   The pantry is going to be much more user-friendly at this new place. I am looking forward not just to stocking it, but actually looking forward to USING it. That's going to be huge!

   I still need to complete our taxes. The move really put a wrench in things there. Hopefully I can get that done over Easter weekend.

   Lots on the plate. It's all about finding balance right now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The True Cost of Gasoline

   Gas prices are high and I've been hearing a lot of bitching, boycott scheming, etc.

   Personally, I'm all for paying the true cost of gas at the pump. Until American consumers start paying closer to the true cost we are going to continue to put off seriously seeking alternatives.

Monday, March 19, 2012


   We've been pretty busy. Moving really makes one aware of just how many hobbies and activities one has. Each one takes it's own gear and I seem to have acquired a lot of it.

   I think it's fair to say I have gotten back into homebrewing full-bore. I have not been able to establish and maintain a single day of the week as "Brew Day" with the hectic moving schedule, but I have managed to brew five batches so far and keep a couple of yeast packs going.

   In my resolutions I mentioned an expensive guitar that I was hoping to acquire this year. The other day I got a call from a local music store to inform me that they had one of these rare guitars in. I have not been able to save enough money to buy it, but I did go play it, made a deal, and had enough to put it on layaway. Unbelievable. This will likely be the nicest instrument I ever own.

   The garden is going to be a challenge. We will be starting from scratch at the new house and we're already behind. We do have a lot more space to organize things and having a garage really makes a huge difference for me! Since the backyard is fenced, we have given the chickens free reign of that space. We are talking about possibly getting new chicks this spring and increasing the flock.

   In my resolutions I also talked about reworking an older recording project. Before I am able to do that I need to transfer the original tracks from their old, outdated format to a format I can work with. As I write this, the tapes are at a studio where (hopefully) they can do just that. Once that is done I will be able to load the tracks into my computer and then I have no excuses for not completing that project.

   I have teamed up with a like-minded person and started a social network page with the goal of promoting public discussion of electing citizens over professional politicians. I have not been very involved with that as I have been busy with other things, but I am thrilled that something is happening!

   I knew this year was going to be busy. I'm not sure I knew how time-consuming it was going to be. (heh)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...

   I'm not getting any better at posting regularly here, am I?

   Here's what's going on: I got the beer brewing kickstarted three weeks ago and have brewed a batch each week. I currently have three different batches at various stages of fermentation and will begin kegging and bottling next week.

   One of our chickens died just last week. Like Ginger, we have no idea of the cause, but Omelet was found dead in the hen house last Saturday. Omelet was a Rhode Island Red, a good layer, and an entertaining bird. We are down to four chickens no, which, in hindsight, would probably have been plenty to supply our family of three with eggs the first couple years. Now the girls are slowing down. I doubt we will get new chicks this year, but probably one or two next year.

   My career has also been keeping me busy. The company that I primarily work for is going through some changes (good things) and while I have not been directly involved in the majority of the work, it has occupied my time nonetheless.

   A potential move has been the main focus of my time and energy. Are we moving onto a farm?!? While that would be great, that hasn't happened just yet. We have been presented with an opportunity to move into a house that would be a small step up from where we are now in many ways. Things like a garage to keep our VW bus and various other things that are currently rusting outside or cluttering up our utility room/pantry, more storage inside for things like backpacking gear and crafty stuff, and lower rent are all motivators. The deal is a little unconventional, so there were many details to consider, but we are at the point now where it is time to pack up and move.

   I have had some other interesting developments in respect to this year's resolutions, but I will save that for another post. Right now, I need to pack.

Monday, February 20, 2012

HST 2.20.2012

   Strange vibrations on this night in the year of our Lord 2012. Seven years. Seven years of quiet. Seven years without the proper insanity to balance the evil insanity that are the powers that be. Idiots. Bastards. Swine. You are gone and there will not be another like you. Fear and loathing in the new millennium. Where ever you are now, I hope you have rid yourself from the pain of being a man.
   ...and that you have the regular satisfaction of stomping Richard Milhous Nixon.

Rest in peace, Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012: Here We Go

   One side effect of this blog for me has been a realization of the power of words. One of my New Year's resolutions a few years back was to start a blog and so one of the early posts was about my resolution for the year. I had not been historically big on resolutions, but now I had a forum and needed to write. As I wrote resolutions that first year I seemed to feel I needed to fill content and went a bit beyond what I would have considered "realistic". Nothing like having goals, I figured. As the year passed I posted updates. At the end of the year I was shocked to find that almost all of my resolutions had come to pass, one way or another.

   The next year I decided to push it a bit further to see what happened. Again, more happened than I would have expected.

   Last year my wife and I decided to try it on something big: our debt. I made one resolution. I later amended it with some smaller things that I "would like" to have happen, but I was afraid to take anything from the focus of reducing our debt. As the year went on I did not accomplish a lot, but we started to realize that the pace we had set with paying down our debt could have us completely paid off "before Thanksgiving". We kept that mindset and, despite car repairs and an emergency room visit, we were completely debt-free by Thanksgiving.

   I've decided this year to go for broke. I have a lot that I want to do this year and some of it is well beyond the scope of anything with which I have any real experience. Some of it just has to do with getting back on track after having only one primary focus last year. Let's get started:

   As I write this we are just coming out of a winter storm that brought record snow and ice and shut things down for a couple days. It makes me realize just how easy it is to let things slide and not be ready in time when something does happen. This past year we have been so focused on saving money to pay bills, when I did get a twinge that we were low on this or that I told myself we would be able to get back on track once we're out of debt. With the exception of having to scramble for firewood, we made it through this storm with little difficulty. Fortunately it was only a few days and we only lost power for a short time one night (which is more than about 300,000 homes in the area can say). Still, we need to be better prepared. My first resolution is to get back on track with our emergency preparedness.

   In line with that thought, I fully intend to continue gardening. The past couple years were disappointing in the garden. I would like to produce enough in the garden this year to have extra to can for winter. We did some canning this year, but the bulk of what we canned came from the local produce stand. I also want to can more this year -- meals like chili, soups, stews, and the like. Our pantry is well-stocked at the moment, especially considering the odd summer and fall we had. Again, though, I would like to get started canning earlier this year so we can put more away.

   I also want to get back into a brewing routine this year. As we got serious about canning it seems my beer brewing slowed and halted. I have rebuilt my bottle supply (rough work, that) and intend to bottle as well as keg. In addition, I really want to start all-grain brewing. This will require an investment into some equipment, but not a lot as I already have everything I need for extract brewing. I have just acquired a mash tun in the past few days -- that was the biggest hurdle. I now only need a propane cooker, a recipe, and the ingredients to get started. I will also need a new bottle capper to started bottling as mine was passed on a while back. This has already begun.

   I want to hunt deer and elk this year. It is my understanding that the bowhunting season for deer and elk overlap, so that is my plan. Mostly what I need to do this year is get out scouting a good hunting area. This past fall what really hurt my hunt was that the area I had scouted the season prior had been heavily logged and I failed to scout a better spot. It would be ideal to plan a camping trip before hunting season and really scout the area. Between the garden, canning, scouting, and hunting I need to expect my late summer and fall to be really busy.

   On a completely different tangent, I have a set of professional goals for this year's resolutions. I have one recording project -- a sort of reworking of an older recording project -- that I want to complete. My intent is to use this project as a learning tool that will set me up for another recording project. The second project will require me to start songwriting again, which I have already, albeit slowly, begun. There is some music and recording equipment I wish to acquire this year for various reasons that include a guitar that is quite expensive, but it should be the last performance guitar I will ever need. I also want to focus on drumming and percussion this year and have already set my drums back up n my music room/office and been working on rudiments.

   As long as I'm going for broke, I have two resolutions that are a bit out on a limb. First, my wife and I have been talking about owning a farm for several years now. Now that we are out of debt it seems we should stop talking about it and do it. I would like to own a farm this year.

   Also, it seems America is ready for a change. The corporations and politicians in power seem intent on selling out We The People and our futures for their own interests. I was with the Tea Party movement until it was hijacked by the right wing. The left seems intent on trying to hijack the Occupy movement. At the end of the day, it seems We The People are ready for change, we just need to stop playing the game. The United States of America is not about democrats or republicans. It is about a government of, for, and by the people. It's time to take it back. I resolve to do everything I can to remind people of that fact an encourage all U.S. citizens to take back our country. By the end of 2012 it should be evident that a revolution has taken place in the United States.

   If that's not enough, it is my intention to do all of this while maintaining my commitments to my wife, my son, homeschooling, and the balance of my own well-being. I also have a number of family-centric goals for this year that my wife and I have discussed (mostly things that involve more regular check-ups with doctors, dentists, and mechanics).

   Considering that I am posting this as February has just set upon us, I'd say it's time to get to work.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Voting with Our Farms and Forks against Climate Catastrophe

Voting with Our Farms and Forks against Climate Catastrophe

If we allow the infamous "one percent" to continue with business as usual, we will soon be arriving at civilization's last stop, climate hell. If we allow the U.S. and global fossil fuel/military industrial/corporate agribusiness economy to keep turning up the planet's delicately balanced thermostat, raising average global temperatures by two degrees Celsius or more, we will soon pass the point of no return, detonating runaway global warming. Among the catastrophic consequences of runaway global warming will be the release of a significant portion of the 1.7 trillion tons of deadly methane now sequestered in the shallow Arctic seabeds and permafrost (equivalent to twice the amount of total greenhouse gas pollution currently in the atmosphere). As the International Energy Agency warned on November 9, the world is accelerating toward irreversible climate change. We will lose the chance to avert catastrophic warming if we don't take bold action in the next five years to sharply reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; drastically increase energy efficiency in the food, transportation, utilities, and housing sectors; and safely sequester billions of tons of greenhouse gases in our soils, plants, and forests through organic soil management and permaculture practices. In other words we have approximately 1800 days left to avert catastrophe.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The End of the Consumerist Model

The End of the Consumerist Model

"I am writing these reflections in the midst of economic and political debates taking place throughout the world about the necessity of implementing stimulus plans to limit the destructive effects of the First planetary economic crisis of the capitalist world."

Thursday, November 24, 2011


(from Native Circle)

The Thanksgiving Myth
by John Two-Hawks

   Let me begin by stating that thousands of years before the 'official'
Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by Governor Winthrop of the
Massachussetts Bay Colony in 1637, North American Indigenous
people across the continent had celebrated seasons of Thanksgiving.
'Thanksgiving' is a very ancient concept to American Indian nations.
The big problem with the American Thanksgiving holiday is its false
association with American Indian people.  The infamous 'Indians and
pilgrims' myth.  It is good to celebrate Thanksgiving, to be thankful
for your blessings.  It is not good to distort history, to falsely portray
the origin of this holiday and lie about the truth of its actual inception.
Here are some accurate historical facts about the true origin of this
American holiday that may interest you...

   'Thanksgiving' did not begin as a great loving relationship between the
pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people.  In fact,
in October of 1621 when the 'pilgrim' survivors of their first winter in
Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial 'Thanksgiving' meal,
the Indians who were there were not even invited!  There was no turkey,
squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie.  A few days before this alleged
feast took place, a company of 'pilgrims' led by Miles Standish actively
sought the head of a local Indian leader, and an 11 foot high wall was
erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of
keeping Indians out!  Officially, the holiday we know as 'Thanksgiving'
actually came into existence in the year 1637. Governor Winthrop of the
Massachussetts Bay Colony proclaimed this first official day of Thanksgiving
and feasting to celebrate the return of the colony's men who had arrived
safely from what is now Mystic, Connecticut.  They had gone there to
participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children,
and Mr. Winthrop decided to dedicate an official day of thanksgiving
complete with a feast to 'give thanks' for their great 'victory'....

   As hard as it may be to conceive, this is the actual origin of our current
Thanksgiving Day holiday.  Many American Indian people these days do
not observe this holiday, for obvious reasons.  I see nothing wrong with
gathering with family to give thanks to our Creator for our blessings and
sharing a meal.  I do, however, hope that Americans as a whole will one
day acknowledge the true origin of this holiday, and remember the pain,
loss, and agony of the Indigenous people who suffered at the hands of
the so-called 'pilgrims'.  It is my hope that children's plays about 'the
first Thanksgiving', complete with Indians and pilgrims chumming at
the dinner table, will someday be a thing of the past.  Why perpetuate
a lie?  Let us face the truths of the past, and give thanks that we are
learning to love one another for the rich human diversity we share.

(Written by John Two-Hawks) 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Home-Made Tabasco!

   Back in June I posted about getting the food mill and making hot pepper sauce. Because we've been shopping at Costco quite a bit this year to cut expenses, the large bottle of Tabasco we had in the 'fridge lasted quite a while. I finally drained it the other night when we had burritos. I washed the bottle out and grabbed one of the pints from June and opened it, not knowing for sure if I would be filling the Tabasco bottle or pouring the jar down the drain.

   Great news! It turned out really good! It's almost identical to Tabasco except for the color which is more of a darker red as opposed to bright red (probably because I didn't use the chemicals). To be completely honest, my preference would have been something more like Frank's Red Hot (which is why I was generous with the garlic), but I am very happy with the results! One pint filled the Tabasco with a significant amount leftover. That bottle lasted several months, so the five pints I made in June should keep us covered for a good, long time.

   Now our pantry is stocked with home-made ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, salsa, and hot pepper sauce!

   Next I need to learn to make mustard!