Friday, January 29, 2010

Backstory Part III

The third and final installment of the "how I got here" story...

Before moving to the east coast I had taken an interest in archery and this lead me to bow hunting. While hunting I came face-to-face with the reality of meat and exactly how an animal becomes food. It was also around the time of this move that we started taking a look at the anti-Wal-Mart hype. While we had shopped at Wal-Mart from time to time, I frequently found myself aggravated with the experience. I decided to try and find out why.

While I found books on Wal-Mart and organic foods, my wife was looking into childbirth and the medical industry. When our son started having unexplained seizures at age six, the doctors at the hospital had absolutely no explanation and our motivation for answers grew. It turns out that the over-the-counter allergy medicine we were giving our son each spring causes seizures in a small percent of people; mostly children. None of the doctors to whom we are still paying bills had ever heard of such a thing. Money well spent.

Around this time I had made a complaint among my college friends about how difficult it is to reduce one's carbon footprint even when trying to do so. I was admonished by a vegan friend who suggested that I could do a lot more by simply not eating meat. I decided to really examine this perspective which lead me to more information about Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations, food transportation, and why eating locally is important. Now I was torn between local and organic and found it seemingly impossible to reconcile the two.

We never did find a local brew shop in Wilmington that could get us anything we couldn't find online from the same origin or closer. We never found a local butcher. Seriously. The local supermarkets would reluctantly hand-cut shipped-in raw meat but did not want to have to clean the slicer for a private order. I ended up buying a meat slicer online because no one in Wilmington that I could find sold such an item (I did not check Wal-Mart).

On top of all of this, we were appalled by both the school food and the local school system. One day we picked our son up from school when he was on the verge of tears. We had to pull from him that the school was having a "McDonald's Day" that Friday and that, while he didn't want to let his class down, he didn't want to eat McDonald's food. Now the school has made me a bad parent for teaching my kid to eat better. When I emailed the principal, I was informed it was not a school program, but a PTA fundraiser, never mind the giant banner in the school entryway and the competition between classrooms for participation. The PTA cashed my enclosed check for the "recommended contribution" plus what an average family might generously spend at McDonald's, but never responded to my letter. Still, that wasn’t the last straw.

My wife was reading articles by John Taylor Gatto and decided it would be a good idea to volunteer at the school library to help out. One afternoon the school went on “lock-down”, which means the lights went off, the shades were pulled, and the kids all got on the floor while police searched the school. Once the police cleared the building, the shades remained closed and no children were allowed outside without an adult escort for the rest of the day. It turns out someone down the street had been shot and the police were looking for the shooter. Now I don’t have a problem with the lock-down procedure, what I have a problem with is that the school did not tell any parents about it. The only reason we knew about it was because my wife happened to be there that day. How do you put kids through something like that and not mention it to the parents? After one year in the local, public school and three and a half months in the local magnet school, we removed our child from compulsory education and started a homeschool, but not without threat of litigation. Schools get money based on attendance now, so every child counts at least as far as the budget is concerned.

We were reading books like Crunchy Cons (Dreher), When Corporations Rule the World (Korten), Deep Economy (McKibben), The Ecology of Commerce (Hawken), The Great Turning (Korten), Choice (Bender & de Gramont), Conscious Conception (Baker & Baker), The Empty Cradle (Longman) (a disturbing book on several levels), and The Wal-Mart Effect (Fishman). We saw documentaries such as Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, Why We Fight, The Fog of War - Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, The Corporation, and Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. We began to really reconsider how we live and how to live better.

By the time I was able to secure work and move our family back to the northwest, we had become staunch anti-Wal-Mart, anti-industrial, organic-foods, homeschooling, label-reading shoppers. Once again, change seems to be easier when habits change. We now found ourselves closer to home, but in no context with which we were familiar as our habits and priorities had so dramatically shifted. We found that the neighborhood Fred Meyer's (now owned by Kroger) "natural" section closely resembled the co-op we belonged to on the east coast. We were relieved to find a supply of natural and organic products, but we soon discovered a local butcher and several local markets sprinkled about the area. It was as if we had stumbled into the perfect storm of local access and organic options. We were also able to gain access to a much more user-friendly library than we had been to in years. Instead of buying a few books a year I was now able to borrow a few books a week and learn much more about local and sustainable. The book Plan B 3.0 by Lester Brown shook my world all over again. We planted a vegetable garden, started raising chickens, learned canning, freezing, pickling and jam making. I continued homebrewing and making sausage and jerky.

Which brings the whole story up to speed. We are now several years into this journey and we are making progress, but we can always do better. Our worldview has changed some, but what has really changed is how we interact with the world and our environment. We are learning to consume less, produce more, and be more involved with our own lives.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trip Report

I returned with the family last night from a three-day, three-night trip to Portland to visit family and friends. We were all happy to find that the chickens seemed to have done just fine with their pen near the woods in the backyard, still having plenty of food and water. This was the longest stretch they have been left on their own and with recent incidents with neighborhood dogs we were a little concerned, but they did just fine. There were about a dozen eggs in the nesting boxes and only one was broken. Not being particular, chickens are happy to eat their own eggs so we’re going to have to be diligent about collecting eggs regularly for a while so they don’t get into a habit.

Our trip began as my son and I loaded up the car and picked up my wife from work Saturday evening. We stopped at Burgerville for dinner on our way down. Now, it is true that Burgerville is fast food, but we like to support them when we’re in the neighborhood because they do it better than any other fast food joint (save maybe In and Out Burger, which I’ve never been to personally, but I’ve read good things). They strive to offer local, sustainably produced food and seasonal menus, they offer healthcare to their employees, they utilize recycling and renewable energy programs, and generally do a better job of responsible business then many higher-end restaurants. We like that.

We made it to my mother-in-law’s around 9pm and had the run of the place as she was away until Sunday. We were all beat so we took the rare opportunity to watch The History Channel for a bit before retiring for the night. The next day we met a friend at the Wider Gasthaus for lunch. Widmer does their bit with renewable energy and recycling and offers incentives to employees who use “green means of transportation”, which is not too difficult in Portland. We stopped by my wife’s grandmother’s after lunch to visit and our son stayed there for the night.

That evening we had dinner with a large group of friends at the Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, a first for me that came recommended after looking into several sustainable eatery options. The Laurelwood was a great choice as they support local, sustainable, and organic options when they can. They also do a really good job of being kid-friendly and environmentally responsible. After that it was darts and beers at The Horse Brass Pub with more friends and then we staying up way too late geeking out Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Julia Nunes, and Beatles Rockband before crashing for the night at a friend’s in the Lloyd district.

The next day I was dropped off at the wife’s uncle’s place for a lesson in reloading. I brought along three boxes of random reloading gear from the wife’s grandmother’s late husband. We spent the afternoon reloading fifty rounds of .30-06 ammunition while he walked me through the process, showed me how to set up the various dies, and explained all of the charts and measurements. We did a few rounds of 9mm for comparison and then went through the boxes of random gear. Probably the greatest score was stacks of primers. I don’t know how old they were, but the price tag on a box of 100 was sixty-nine cents. There were some tools and gauges, lots of brass and bullets, and a few other random items that we divvyed up between the uncle and myself. We spent that night at the mother-in-law’s place and got to visit with her and my wife’s aunt who was in town from Illinois.

Day three it was time to pack up and head home. On our way out of town we stopped in to visit my grandmother and some of my wife’s ex-co-workers. We found a Chipotle and stopped there for lunch. We were not familiar with Chipotle, but heard about them on the special features of the DVD for Food, Inc. and decided to give ‘em a try. Hooray! Another restaurant trying to do business trying to work with nature instead of against it! Chipotle calls it “Food With Integrity”. I appreciate a business that wants it’s customers to know more about it’s food and where it comes from and I am happy to support that.

We made one last stop at Cablela’s to pick up an order that was in and a few more things I needed for reloading and made it home before dark.

Today I have all kinds of things to get caught up on, so it’s time to step away from the computer for a bit.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I should preface by saying that I'm not really big on New Year's resolutions, per se. I am a fan of self-examination, striving to do better, and having goals of some kind. The new year is as good a time as any to re-evaluate and set some goals and, since the tradition is already there, why not? I’ve also found that writing it down and revisiting it throughout the year helps. I am often amazed at how the act of writing something down can seem to affect it’s outcome. Something about putting things out into the quantum universe I suppose. Last year’s list included a few things I thought were highly unlikely that actually did come to pass, so this year I’m going to just put it all down and see how it goes.

The first resolution I’ll list is this blog. I pretty much covered that in the intro, so we’ll just have to stay tuned to see how I do there.

There are a couple carry-overs from last year. I wanted to see all of the AFI’s top ten films, which are actually twelve films because they did the original list in 1997 and then changed it in 2007. I missed On The Waterfront, Vertigo, and I only made it through half of Lawrence of Arabia, but I watched (or had already seen) the rest. This year I want to finish the top ten and start in on some of the seven that I haven’t already seen in the top twenty-five.

Another carry-over is to continue eating food, not too much, mostly plants. A resolution straight out of Pollan’s, In Defense of Food, I did a pretty good job eating better last year and I want to continue to get better. The gardening, canning, and freezing all help us do a better job of eating seasonally and locally and it is my intent to look for ways to improve there as well.

I had a resolution last year to be able to reload by the end of the year. I did acquire some of the tools, but not all and I still have yet to learn the actual process. However, my wife’s uncle has offered to teach me and we have made plans to do it while we are in Portland during the next few days. In an added bit of serendipity, my wife’s grandmother just told us she has a couple boxes of her late husband’s reloading gear and that I am welcome to it. So this one is just a little behind schedule, but should right on track this time next week. It’s kind of crazy how just putting it out there colluded and the pieces came together.

Not really a carry-over so much as an expansion of last year’s resolutions, we are planning to add another raised bed for the garden this year. I hope to pay closer attention to the planting-harvesting-replanting schedules to get a little more out of this year’s garden. I hope to have more canning and freezing to do next fall. We are still eating peas, green beans, pickles, and tomatoes from last summer’s garden and corn, jam, and jelly from other local sources, but I would like to be able to buy even less from the store next winter.

I’m going to put camping and hiking together here since our goal this year is to do some hike-in camping. Back when I was single my transportation was a motorcycle and I could strap everything I needed for a camping trip to the seat and handlebars. Now, with the wife and child and the VW bus, our camping gear has expanded quite a bit. During the last year we began picking up things like hiking packs, a small tent, lightweight sleeping bags, etc. By summer we hope to have everything we need to do at least two or three family hike-in camping trips. It would also be nice to do at least one big hiking trip like last fall’s Mt. Ellinor hike.

I made good on last year's goal to get out deer hunting. Since I am relatively new to the area my goal here was primarily to learn the state regulations and where the deer are. I did that and also found a really good elk spot. This year’s goal is to actually fill a deer or elk tag. Now that I better understand the seasons and where to go, I think this can be do-able.

I need to get more exercise this year. The first year we were here we did a pretty good job of getting out on the bikes or going for walks but this year we’ve been busy and regular physical activity has fallen by the wayside. I need to figure out a way to remedy that.

I have a good friend in North Carolina who is getting married in October. I resolve to make it to that wedding. Since our family lives on a pretty moderate budget, cross-country trips require planning and saving. We have already started, but we will need to keep everything on track to make it happen.

A couple things I would like to try this year are cheese making and homemade pectin. I’m not sure when we’ll find the time, but I’m going to put it out there anyway.

This past year I acquired a pick up truck and a chainsaw (thank you to my uncle who upgraded both!) and I would very much like to harvest some of my own firewood this year. There is no reason for me to pay to have some else cut and split it – I need the exercise!

Finally, I always need to do more with my son. Between our family’s schedules and homeschooling, we actually do spend quite a bit of time together as a family. Still, I feel that we always need to be striving to do more together. This is a constant goal.

…So, that’s it. I did actually leave a couple things off, but I think this is enough to keep me busy this year. Besides, I need to save something for next year, right?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Life

I haven't posted anything in a week because, well, it's been busy. My birthday is coming up so we're planning a trip south to Portland next week to visit some friends and family. My mother flew in from out of state and she and my grandmother are both currently here visiting. Add on daily life and I just haven't found the time to sit and post. The next installment of the backstory requires a bit of clean-up or I would have posted that. I also have a New Years resolution post coming together in my head that I hope to get out over the next week or so.

I do have a little story from the past week. Over the weekend I was carpooling into work with a co-worker and he asked what I had done during our days off (since we typically work on nights between Wednesday and Sunday, we tend to refer to "days off" rather than "weekends"). When I said I had gone for an overnight at a campground in the Olympic National Forest he questioned my sanity. Being from Nevada, this particular co-worker has no appreciation of the Pacific Northwest rain. I told him about the Skokomish river flooding over the road and admitted that I could have done without that part, but it was a great chance to check out a new area, do some reading, relax, and commune with nature, even if it was mostly from the shelter of our VW bus.

On our way home we were talking about work schedules and he asked how we deal with the school schedule which brought up homeschool. But his mind really blew when I told him we don't have TV. I have found this often the most difficult of our family's lifestyle for people to wrap their heads around.

"You don't have a TV?!?", is pretty common, followed by the explanation:

"No, we have a TV, we just don't have any television stations going into it. We have a VHS/DVD combo, a TV, and that's it."

To be fair, we do watch TV. With shows coming out on DVD we own a few series that we really enjoy like Northern Exposure, The X-Files, and most recently, The West Wing. We rent shows from the video store or, even cheaper, borrow them from the library like Lost, The Riches, Battlestar Galactica, and my son's favorite, Mythbusters. True, we aren't up to speed with what is going on until each season is over and then released, but we don't really mind. If we REALLY need to see something right away, though, if it's been broadcast it's probably online somewhere.

What we don't see, and what usually leads to the discussion above, is commercials. After seven or eight years without television I can not express the joy of life without commercials. Yeah, I know that TiVo makes it possible to skip over commercials and it's virtually impossible to find a DVD without some ad at the beginning. Plus I admit that there are some ads that are pretty entertaining. Someone turned me onto the MAC/PC ads with Justin Long a few months back and I was able to check several out on YouTube. That's pretty funny. Here is where I am on the subject, though. My son is nine and his brain is still developing. Eventually he is going to have to learn to deal with input overload because that is just the way our culture is and I get that. Personally, though, I just want his brain to have more time to develop before he is exposed. I've seen the difference between his "normal" life and how he is after watching commercial TV while visiting someone who has it and it's crazy how he will change. I blame the rise of ADD on television and video games, but that's a whole other discussion...

Also, I have tried to watch commercial television since giving it up and it just makes me tense. I find the interruptions jarring and annoying. I don't see any sense in paying $40-$60 a month for a load of programming that is on someone else's schedule and full of ads I don't want to see. Maybe if I could pick and choose channels like, say, The History Channel and Discovery and just pay per channel, I might go for it. But then the temptation is there to just flip the TV on and sit in front of it or run it as background noise and I start thinking "Kill Your Television".

We have found that it's better for us if we have to want to watch something and then seek it out and watch it on our schedule. Just one more way of taking our lives back, I suppose.

It seems fitting to wrap this up by mentioning that I bought the movie Food, Inc. yesterday and watched it last night with my mom. Well, it was late and my mom slept through most of it, but I was impressed that she volunteered at all. We (my wife, son, and I) saw the film when it was in theaters and I knew I wanted to buy it, even if for no other reason than to support the work. I wish more people could see this film. It does a really good job of introducing a lot of important information for anyone who eats food. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I just got back and mostly unpacked from my overnight trip to Brown Creek Campground. It was wet. Very wet. It rained the entire time I was there, which was fine and pretty much what I expected. It didn't get as cold as I had hoped, but I still got good use out of my new cold weather gear which also kept me pretty dry. Wool rocks.

The campground has only six spots open this time of year. The road up to spots 7-20 is gated shut. Since I was the only one there I had my pick. The campsites that are open year-round seem to be just spaced out alongside the forest service road. The road follows along the Skokomish River and then up and across Brown Creek. Both are in flood state at the moment. In fact, the Skokomish River is flowing across parts of Skokomish Valley Road -- THE route from Highway 101 into the forest. Getting in wasn't too bad, but coming home today after more than 24 hours of constant rain there were places where the river was winning. If I had not been fortunate to come across someone in a large 4x4 who was willing to go in ahead of me to clear a wake, I might still be out there. Of course, it took most of the trip home for the heater and the brakes to dry out...

So now I'm home. The bus is drying out (as best it can) and there is a fire in the wood stove. Hopefully the house will warm back up from 59 degrees soon. The chickens seemed to be doing okay and there were seven new eggs for us! Now I'm going to sit by the fire and watch The West Wing while I wait for my wife and son to come home from their trip south.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Backstory Part II

As I said in my first post, I started writing why I planned to start a blog before I actually had a blog and it quickly became more than a single introductory post. Here I present part two of that initial exercise:

We were watching more movies at that time because my wife and I had agreed that television was not just a waste of time, but a waste of money. We still had a TV, but the only signal coming in from from the DVD/VHS combo. I'm not sure we would have checked out Super-Size Me if we were buying cable television.

Some months after seeing Super-Size Me I found myself staying for a few weeks in a guest house while traveling on business. There were a few books and magazines about the house and one book that caught my eye was Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. I was contemplating a big life change which put me in the right frame of mind at a moment I had the free time to really dig into the book. My family had already been buying more meat from the local butcher and finding that it was generally better and I was learning to smoke my own jerky -- again, because I could do it better for less money. I called my wife while reading Fast Food Nation and discussed it with her. By the time I returned home we agreed to cut out fast food entirely.

It is common knowledge in psychology that, for a person to make a real change, they must change their habits. Smokers, for instance, often find it less difficult to quit smoking if they also avoid places and situations where they ritually smoke; i.e. bars. I hold no illusion that our next jump was propelled in part by moving 3000 miles away and having to learn all new ways to get every thing we needed. Yeah, sure, we could have gotten a Whopper or a Big Mac on just about any corner, but we had decided we did not want to support those businesses (it is very interesting to me the difference in thinking when one shifts focus from what one wants, to what one wants to support or wants not to support, but that's another blog). As a result having to seek out a place to shop, we found a co-op that focused on natural and organic foods. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of grocery stores, but none that we had any habits with, and that right there is my point. It is easier to change when change is a given.

So we shifted our diet to organic food where ever possible. We were able to find just about everything -- produce, soda pop, potato chips, cereal, ice cream, canned beans, beer & wine -- with USDA Organic labels. Yes, it did cost a bit more, but our move across the country landed us in a steady income to which the likes we had not previously been accustomed. It was win-win! We reveled in our success in feeding our family an easy, USDA-organic-sanctioned diet. Then we started reading the labels closer and asking questions.

More later...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Homeschool & Chickens

This evening my wife and son are heading south to visit her grandfather (my son's great grandfather). I wish I could go -- he's a great guy and I've always enjoyed visiting with him -- but I have to work tomorrow and can't afford to take the time off. It's just over 400 miles away, so they are driving to Portland tonight and making the rest of the drive in the morning. My wife has to work Wednesday, so it's going to be a short visit.

While they are away I am hoping to take the bus for an overnight camping excursion at Brown Creek Campground. We have a 1969 VW bus with a Westphalia pop-top just for such a trip and it hasn't been out for a while. My motivation, besides taking the bus out, is A) our NW Forest Pass expired January 1st so I need to get a new one, B) I have some new cold weather gear from Xmas I'm jonesing to try out, and C) I want to check out the campground. It will also be a good opportunity to finish one book and start into another I recently borrowed. The weather forecast is grim, so I haven't completely committed, but at this moment I'm planning to go.

In preparation for the trips, I wanted to wrap up my son's current math section and move the chickens to a piece of ground where they could spend a few days. Let me explain...

My wife and I homeschool our son, who is now nine years old. I've been told everything from, "Way to go!" to, "You are going to ruin his life", so, say what you will, I've probably already heard it. I'll save the full-on rant for a later post, but let me start by saying that I don't blame the teachers, I blame the system. Here is how we came to be homeschoolers: My wife grew up in a small town and went to the same school district from kindergarten through high school. I went to six different schools in my public education from very rural districts to middle-class suburban districts. Initially, we had thought about homeschooling because both my wife and I had miserable experiences in public school. When we moved the family cross-country to North Carolina, however, we didn't really know anybody at first and were persuaded to enroll our son in kindergarten primarily for social reasons. One year and two schools later (again, I'll get into details in another post), we went back to Plan A and started homeschooling.

When we moved back to the Northwest, we considered trying public schooling again, but opted out for three main reasons: 1) most importantly, homeschooling was working for us, 2) we knew from past experience that, once he is in the system it is very hard to get back out, and, 3) my work schedule. I usually have to explain that last one. I earn my income as a musician and entertainer which means I work nights, often on the weekends. My weekend tends to be Sunday through Wednesday or some lesser combination of those days. My wife went back to work recently and was able to work it so that her schedule is similar. My son's school schedule would not be so flexible were he in public school. In North Carolina, we even had a school councilor come to our door to let us know they would have to turn our case over to the court if our son missed any more days (I think he had been out five days so far that year). Our family likes to visit family in Portland, go camping and hiking, and the typical stuff people do on weekends. If our son were in public school, that would not be possible more than once or twice a year.

Sometime I will sit down and expand more on our ideas relating to homeschooling and the details of our experience. If you're not already familiar with the work of John Taylor Gatto, that might help to understand where we're coming from on the subject.

So today he finished his math section while I washed dishes. He'll get a few days off and we'll review the math section and our current spelling words.

The other task that needed to be done before they left was moving the chickens. We keep six hens that we raised from chicks this past year. We have two Buff Orpingtons (Lemon and Ginger), two Rhode Island Reds (Apple and Omelette), and two Americaunas (Dumpling and Little) who produce anywhere from two to six eggs a day. They live in a chicken tractor which consists of a 6'x8' pen and a 4'x4' hen house that is moved to a new spot every day. By moving them, they get fresh grass and bugs each day and therefore require less feed, their droppings don't pile up, and the ground has time to recover. Out of the deal we get fresh eggs, pest control, amazing compost, and the lawn mowed.

We did have an incident a week or so ago when my son woke me up to tell me, "there are dogs trying to eat our chickens!"

I threw on some clothes and, without looking to see what I was getting into, ran into the front yard where the chickens were residing. There I found two large, grey pit bulls that had worn a circle around the pen and tried to dig their way into the hen house. The smaller of the two dogs backed down after the second warning, but the alpha dog was determined to get a chicken. I was able to chase it to the street, but there it turned and barked and howled at me. The dog was trying to regain ground and I began to realize that I had no chance of getting back to the house without being taken down if I turned and ran. I finally raised my fist and stepped forward, telling the dog that I would most certainly kill it (not my exact words, but you get the idea) if it did not walk away. Fortunately and to my surprise, that worked and the dogs retreated. I had to open the hen house to find all six chickens alive and well, if not more than a bit spooked. The dogs had done a number on the lawn and the pen, but the pen did it's job and kept the predators out.

Today we needed to move them to a safer spot in the backyard and to a piece of ground they could tear up for a few days. Moving them one space over is not difficult and can actually be done by one person if need be. The girls are always happy to move with the pen to new grass and bugs. However, once they have the new grass and bugs, they may need a bit of encouragement to keep moving. Combine that with a bit of a steep hill that creates large spaces for chickens to easily exit the confines of the pen and the fact that the hen house is heavy with wheels much too small, and a big move like this is always a challenge. Normally then entire process takes two people about five to seven minutes, including raking up the bedding. Today it took all three of us almost half an hour, but the chickens are on a good spot behind the shed where they can tear it up and hopefully the neighborhood dogs won't intrude.

It's almost time for my wife and son to leave, so I'm going to see them off.

I also need to do some laundry and think about getting a fire going. Guess I better get to it!

Backstory Part I

My work schedule this month is a bit wacky, my mother is coming to visit, my wife needs to make a trip to south-west Oregon, and I'm trying to plan an overnight to Brown Creek Campground this week. Outside of an issue with some local dogs and our chickens (the chickens are okay, thanks for asking) it's only been generally busy. We did sample some frozen peas from last summer's harvest and they were WONDERFUL.

Here is an excerpt from my notepad blog a few months ago. It helps get the ball rolling...


I suppose the first question you might have is who the heck am I, but the next question is the one that kept me from blogging for many years -- why? To be fair, let's address the first question...

I am a husband, father, musician, and entertainer, among other things. I was born and raised all around the Portland-area of Oregon until I was 34 when my career took me and my family across the country to Wilmington, North Carolina. We have since returned to the northwest and are now living just west of Seattle on the Kitsap Peninsula. Other details will surface over time and who I am now will come out more when I get to the why.

I have long avoided blogging for the same reason I don't subscribe to most online communities; I am a private person. I have a pretty large circle of friends and have primarily used email to keep in touch with most of them since about '93 or '94. My journey this past several years has lead me to a path I never expected to follow. Many of my friends have tired of my emails on the subject. I find it discouraging that a group who collectively shuns complacency can't be bothered with such things, but that's the way it goes I guess. So it is that I have decided to join the blogging community to share my journey.

Where and when my journey began is difficult to pin-point. I would say it began when we rented and watched Super-Size Me, after which either my wife or I made a Taco Bell run and brought it back to the house. It was an interesting watch but had no real immediate impact on us.

That was some years ago, but I realize now that I had a jump on the game by being a homebrewer. At that point I had been homebrewing beer for a few years and, while I was still experimenting a little at that time, I was mostly brewing to save money and was brewing all my own beer. I find it curious the connection between homebrewing and self-sufficiency.

Then I go back to a time around first through third grade when we lived on several acres growing vegetables and raising goats and pigs. It's only now that I realize now how much I really learned during that time.

Growing up in the northwest, I already had an idea that something was wrong, but I found myself unable to put my finger on it or reasonably explain myself.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I started this blog some months back but never actually got started. As I set out, I felt I needed to fully explain the reasons I decided to put this out there, so I started writing out the back story. Initially I had about a one page introduction in my head, but as I explored the events that brought me to where I am now I uncovered details that had been lost along the way. Five pages and a week or so later I began to become overwhelmed and just stopped.

Then I realized that I needed to stop scribbling and start really blogging. It was time to stop playing around. I have not yet completed my list of resolutions for 2010, but one of them is to start this blog and put this stuff out there. My only prerequisite was to get a handle on this year's taxes before the last quarterly payment is due on January 15th and today (yesterday, really, it being 2am now) I did that.

So here I am. I have some issues with the way things are going and, hopefully, this will give me a voice and help me exercise a demon or two. Mostly I'm going to talk about food, how what we eat has changed and why, and try to find solutions. I am continually surprised to find just how much our diet overlaps into other issues. Maybe you will be as well. Perhaps you can help with the solutions.

Here we go...