Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hartmann should know better

Thom Hartmann’s stated aim in Rebooting the American Dream is to, “bring back a strong middle class and restore America to stability and prosperity without endangering future generations.” He ought to know better, and I’m certain he does.

Though he never defines the term, Hartmann’s idea of the American Dream seems to be straight out of the post World War II era, a period of unprecedented production, expansion and consumerism. Almost anyone with any gumption whatsoever qualified for a job with benefits and a pension; a house in the suburbs; two cars; a color TV, and nearly every imaginable gimcrack and geegaw his or her little heart was persuaded to desire.

That era effectively died about 1973, when America’s oil production hit its peak. Though the fiesta of consumerism has gone on for another 40 years, it has been financed by financial shenanigans; booms and busts; outright looting; non-stop wars; and various other diversions such as Monica Lewinsky, 9/11, and Nascar.

There will be no resurrection.

Peak Oil, to put it bluntly, puts the kibosh on the whole concept of economic growth as we’ve known it for about 300 years. Hartmann knows this. He wrote The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, way back in 1998, so he is hardly unaware of the phenomenon of Peak Oil, the maximum worldwide production of petroleum. It occurred in America about 1973 and worldwide in 2006, according to the International Energy Agency, so from now on until forever, we’ll be chasing diminishing supplies of oil with our insatiable demand; and we’ll have to do it in places that are massively hostile to us. At an oil price of about $80 a barrel, economic growth ceases, and we’re there now.

Ronald Reagan, or at least his advisors, knew of Peak Oil and its ultimate implications for a society based on neverending growth, fueled by abundant, cheap oil. So did Presidents Bush, Bush, Clinton and Cheney. Carter certainly knew it, hence his doctrine declaring the Middle East a theater of strategic importance to America. For all we know, Nixon understood Peak Oil, too.

The corporate oligarchy and uberwealthy kleptocrats behind both political parties and the presidency have engaged in an orgy of self-aggrandizement, knowing that the petro-industrial train was heading for a brick wall. America’s transition from self-sufficiency to import dependency in oil is the most significant reason behind the economic “devastation of 30 years of Reaganomics.” It isn’t a big secret, except to our willfully ignorant fellow citizens.

Yet Hartmann seems maddeningly oblivious to even the more obvious implications of Peak Oil. There’s not even an index entry for it. Even if it were desirable, which it’s not, we’re not going to “recover the industrial base we’ve lost.” An American Dream of outrageous energy consumption per person is no longer possible under any circumstances, Hartmann’s 11 Steps (12 being taken) notwithstanding.

If there were a shred of honesty in the political arena, which there isn’t, we’d be told to dig in, plant Victory Gardens, relocalize as many facets of production (craft, cottage and manufacturing) as possible, and virtualize everything else. Hartmann doesn’t deliver this message, either.

But it’s not that his ideas are, per se, bad. Hartmann is a serial entrepreneur and progressive author and talk radio host. He’s built businesses, put people to work, created value where there was none. He’d like to see an America like the post-WWII one he grew up in – made in America by Americans for Americans. He wants to reverse “the ‘free trade/flat earth’ idiocy” of the past 40 years. What Hartmann doesn’t say is that globalization is already a dinosaur. The 7,000-mile WalMart pipeline and the 3,000-mile salad are both artifacts of an era that’s rapidly passing.

The steps Hartmann suggests are worthwhile to take. But even if they are implemented, there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hades of their success in restoring the American Dream. I suspect Hartmann agrees.

The nation needs to be saved from the corporate oligarchs … absolutely. We need to educate ourselves and reward initiative and get basic medical care for everybody and abolish corporate personhood (see Hartmann’s excellent book, Unequal Protection). But we can’t count on the federal government for any of it. For better or worse, that bloated, all-intrusive Washington welfare state bureaucracy is another artifact of the upside of Hubbert’s Peak, where we could always do more of everything because we had the energetic capacity to do it.

No more. We have to do it ourselves.

You want to bring jobs home? Stop buying anything made outside the United States. Period. Buy local; make it yourself, or do without. If you must have an item that’s only made overseas, buy a used one so the money stays here. Stop exporting your dollars.

You want a healthier society? Stop eating crap and do some physical work. The overwhelming majority of medical problems are diet- and lifestyle-related, and the same companies that make you sick are profiting from treating the sickness.

You want to level the playing field with the corporations? Work to amend the Constitution, as Hartmann suggests, and nullify at the state level all unconstitutional acts of the federal government … now there’s a fertile field.

Fortunately, we still do have the US Constitution, written during and for a time of small, self-reliant communities and individuals, deeply mistrustful of self-serving power, whether in the form of the state or the corporation. The Constitution empowers us to take back control of our lives, and still remain a nation, strong where it counts.

Hartmann wants to do good things, but they won’t get us anywhere close to where he thinks they will; and he wants to do them on a scale that’s more a part of the problem than it is part of the solution; and I don’t think he trusts the language and vision of the Constitution, or the power of an aroused citizenry, to see us through the dark forest we’re heading into. Too bad.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No help for off-gridders

The back cover of Nick Rosen’s Off the Grid says the book is “essential reading for anyone who’s ever thought about going off the grid.” It’s not.

Instead, it’s a hodgepodge of anecdotes loosely hung together around the theme of utility-less living. I doubt that anybody in Off the Grid would have read, or benefited from, this book before they unplugged. What fails to come across in this featherweight book is the seriousness of the times and of the people whose response to today’s USA is, in part, to move off-grid.

This is supposed to be a layman’s guide based on the author’s conversations with various off-gridders met while he toured the US. Rosen seems a pleasant enough fellow, and the book reads like the collected scraps of a paid vacation, which it surely was. It skips around a lot, as the subjects – I’d hesitate to call them interviewees – are all over the place geographically, and they pop up seemingly at random. In the end, I wondered more how Rosen arranged, and afforded, all that travel, than I did about how or why folks live as they do.

Trouble is, people living off the grid, or contemplating it, already have the resources, and the support networks they need; they’re only a Google away. In these golden days of the information era, the survivalists have survivalist sites; the homeschoolers and the religious have places to congregate; pot-growers don’t Bogart their intel; enviros have Real Goods; and even the nomadic car dwellers have groups, such as the enormously busy Van Dwellers Yahoo Group, for advice and support. I’ll give out a shout here to “Hobo Stripper,” who successfully parlayed a web site written from her van while making her living as an itinerant sex worker, into an off-grid Alaskan retreat she now owns and calls home.

Off-gridders owe more to Stewart Brand, still living on his tugboat, and The Whole Earth Catalog, than they do to any other single source. Yet they don’t rate a mention in Off the Grid. Now there was a book that deserved the paper it was [ecologically] printed on. The Catalog, “Access to Tools,” sparked the off-grid, back to the land movement 40 years ago. Those myriad sparks of knowledge – including the Internet – still glow all around us, informing us and lighting our way.

Rosen does nothing to add to the conversation(s) the Catalog started, either by compiling source information or digging out obscure but useful sites. There are no notes, no bibliography, no index.

He clearly hasn’t done his homework when it comes to the political side of off-grid living, either. Perhaps it’s his British perspective, but on this side of the Atlantic, it’s easy to understand how intelligent, well-read, conscientious individuals are – at best – deeply distrustful of their government. I’m certainly no expert in any of the many government lies, conspiracies, and cover-ups of the past 60 years – my lifetime – nor do I want or need to be. But I’ve seen enough to understand that our government is essentially malign in many important aspects.

For example, it’s bizarre that Rosen only “vaguely remembered” a conversation with Larry Silverstein, owner of the World Trade Center, and recipient of something like $750 million in insurance money, about the rationale behind the pre-arranged, controlled demolition of Building 7 on 9/11 (p.268). And because this is not just some historical footnote to many people, including his subject of the moment, Allan Weisbecker, Rosen dismisses him – and them – as paranoid kooks in his chapter entitled “Fear.”

As for Peak Oil, Rosen betrays a lack of understanding that disserves both his subjects and the reading public. He makes an error of fact by mis-defining Peak Oil as “the point in history at which the amount of oil consumed each year exceeds the amount of new oil found each year” (p.273). Consumption has outpaced discovery for many years. Peak Oil is when worldwide oil production reaches its highest possible point, ever and for all time. It’s a basic, but critical distinction. According to the International Energy Agency, that point occurred in 2006, in line with what many others have predicted.

It’s important for this book because Peak Oil means that the whole 150-year era of petro-industrial growth – of which the grid is a big part – is over. The grid is almost certainly on its way out, whether through irreparable infrastructure deterioration, terrorism, copper- and aluminum “mining” vandalism, fuel shortages, financial shenanigans, or some mix of the above.

Rosen addresses none of this and condescends toward those of his subjects who take politics and energy seriously. It’s not just that there’s bad scholarship here, though there’s that, it’s that there’s no indication of any critical thinking or reading.

There’s no help here for people who are already off-grid and want to get better at it. Nor is there enough intellectual meat to help concerned readers make informed decisions about their place on- or off-grid.

If you must read Off the Grid, at least take it out of the library, as I did. And spend your hard-earned cash elsewhere – like on your utility bill.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy 80th b'day, Adam Purple

Adam Purple, an old friend and mentor, turned 80 recently, and the following post is my belated letter of congratulations to him. He is the creator of the Garden of Eden (NYC),, and a pioneer in urban homesteading and off-grid living. 

Dear Adam,

I hope this finds you and finds you well. Congratulations, belatedly, on your 80th birthday. I’m sorry I missed it; but then again, I’m sorry I missed your 79th, and 78th, and 77th, and, well, you get the idea. I’ve missed having you as a regular part of my life for a long time, and regret the loss. It’s just not enough to be on the receiving end of your email blasts; sitting around the woodstove smoking a joint and waiting for the tofu stew to cook is so far superior as to render the comparison ludicrous. Please send your recipe.

Eighty years on Planet Earth is a long time for anyone, I would think especially for one who’s so far away from his home on Uranus. But as your birthday comes at the end of the year in question, you’ve already done the time, so you might as well enjoy the party. I hope you had one.

Out here in New Mexico, we’re getting into rhythms that I suspect are similar to those of the Missouri farm of your youth, and not too different from life at the Garden of Eden. I’m getting into the swing of managing a wood furnace; ours is an early 20th century model from the Holland Furnace Co. of Michigan. It’s a big old monster that was either brought into the basement in pieces or the house was built around it.

It’s an octopus, with five heat ducts, two returns, and a chimney, and even at 6:30 on a four-degree F. morning, the house is in the mid-50s, if I’ve done my job properly. We don’t heat the second bedroom or the bath or the upstairs, ‘cause we don’t use ‘em much, but the layout of kitchen/dr/lr/br works fine for us. With nine-foot ceilings (8-1/2 … I just measured), there’s plenty of room.

I’m cutting up the deadwood piled around the ranch, and I suspect I’ll have to buy one more cord of wood before the winter’s out. I’ll buy as many as we can afford, if the price is right, and it’s on my list to check out the landfill when I get a vehicle. It’s lovely outside in the afternoon with the sun shining and the temp in the 40s, and it’s no problem staying warm. All the cats, except the oldest … and our Beagle, Lady … come out to help and wear their little cat asses out.

I’m planning my first garden here, and trying not to get too carried away, mentally or financially. We collect rainwater, and I hope to collect more, to supplement the 18 inches this area receives. I’m also working on swales and whatever else I can think of to trap and sink water. We have a lovely spring and pond, but I haven’t got an easy method of getting water from it to the gardens above. It’s a couple hundred yards away from the house, which is a bit far to haul buckets for an old American white-eyes unused to such work.

We also have deeded access to the Canadian River, in the amount of three acre feet, which would make for plentiful irrigation, if I went that route, but it’s a money thing, plus I don’t know what I’d do with all that water, plus I’m a bit uneasy about taking water from the river, on ethical grounds. We’ll see.

Meantime, my current thinking is to manage the place for bees, with lots of plantings and, initially, a couple of hives, built on the top-bar method. I have a set of plans for a top-bar hive, based on Golden Mean proportions, and I’m looking forward to my first build. The top-bar beekeeping method is said to be simpler and easier on the bees, and I’m all for that. As I learn what I’m doing, I may well be able to conservatively harvest 75 pounds of honey from each hive, and as it’s selling for $5 or so a pound, the economics, as well as the ecology, are good. If I can feed them enough, which means planting enough for them, I’d like as many hives as possible … 20 … 50 … 100?

Other than that, I plan Three Sisters plantings of dryland varieties, alternating with strips of alfalfa for nitrogen fixation and rainwater retention, on the large fenced yard; a small orchard and nut-tree plantings in the same area; and a medicine wheel of herbs in our front yard, facing the Sangre de Cristo mountains to our west. And chickens, a few layers of some endangered breed; no butchering, just pets with benefits.

At any rate, this is long enough for today. I’m going to post this letter on my new blog,, which I hope you’ll check out. If you’d like to take the train, it comes as close to us as Raton, where Andi works, and we’d love to have you here. The time for us to see each other again grows shorter; a visit would gladden my heart. Happy Birthday!



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chest freezer-to-fridge converter

I know, it’s pathetic that at age nearly-60, I know next to nothing about electricity. I do know that compact fluorescents use less than incandescent bulbs, though CFLs are no ecological picnic. So we’ve changed out most of the bulbs around Taylor Springs.

I also know about phantom electricity, the power that you’re using even when things, like the TV, are “off.” So, because I’m writing about this, I just got up and went around shutting down power strips, and the UPS the TV’s plugged into, and the overhead fan, and the power cord for the indoor satellite radio.
None of those appliances is in use during the day, when I’m home by myself, so why should they be pulling juice.

But the one appliance that’s on all the time, that runs when it wants to, and is the biggest energy gobbler and least efficient of all is – the refrigerator. We have an old Crosley, which predates the Energy Star ratings. We don’t have a Kill-a-Watt meter (available for $25 at Amazon), so we don’t know exactly how much electricity we’re using, but I’m sure it’s over $100 a year, maybe a lot over, and it’s stupid.

I have long known that refrigerators, by design, don’t work well. You’re making cold, venting the heat generated directly into the kitchen, then dumping all the cold air out of the unit every time you open the door, forcing it to run again. Insane.

So I had written on my to-do sheet, “chest refrigerator,” and started poking around the internet to see if I could find a cheap meter for converting a small chest freezer to a refrigeration unit, and save a bunch of energy.
And voila.

I hadn’t been over to the outstanding blog of Mikey Sklar and Wendy Jehanara Tremayne, Holy Scrap Hot Springs, “Digital homesteading & making all our stuff in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico,” for some time. But there, lo and behold, was Mikey’s latest gadget, a $49 plug-in controller unit for converting freezers to refrigerators, the YATC Temperature Controller. He says it’ll reduce energy consumption from $100/yr. to less than $10/yr., so the unit will pay for itself immediately. And with 200 million refrigerators in the US alone, the potential savings are mammoth, both in dollars and in costs to the environment. No household should be without one.

No, I didn’t buy his controller … yet. No money. But I will. There’s a used appliance store up in Raton that I’m going to check out for a low-cost, working chest freezer. Free would be good. And I understand it’ll work even better if it’s surrounded by extra insulation, which makes sense.

So today, I’ll talk to the landlord, and see what we come up with. Meanwhile, over at Holy Scrap, I’ve got my eye on one of Mikey’s earlier inventions, a low-cost battery desulfator for bringing batteries back to life. I think there’s a business there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The perils of reading

I’m requesting and reviewing books from a variety of publishers, then donating them to the library of Raton, NM, or to Springer, NM, or both, if I can get the publishers to send me two copies.

It seems to be a good plan, as it gives me a never-ending source of outstanding material, which I can then turn into reviews, articles, etc., and it also provides good books to the libraries, which are both strapped for cash. Last, it gets them out of our house, as accumulating a big library is not part of our game plan. That’ll work as long as I can read ‘em and review ‘em faster than they accumulate, but it’s easier to ask for books than it is to get ‘em read, and I can always find something new that looks interesting to read, and it only takes a couple of minutes to dash off an email request for a copy, so I’m falling a bit behind.

Not to mention those trips to the library. I picked up Off the Grid, by Nick Rosen; The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan; and The Contrary Farmer, by Gene Logsden in Raton the other day, so I’ll be reading those soon.

My early blogs and reviews have tended to whirl around the political arena. I’m reading the US Constitution, as well as histories of it and the founders, and of the individual amendments.

I think that returning to the language and spirit of the Constitution as written will be very important as we continue to relocalize and wind-down the petro-industrial age. I feel I’m becoming something of a strict constructionist in my dotage, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Nevertheless, I’ll try to keep that part of the discussion under control, and [mostly] confine my efforts to my intended areas: 21st Century homesteading and resilient communities. There’s plenty to cover there.

That’ll have to be it for today. I spent the day researching rainwater catchment ideas, and top-bar beekeeping plans, about which more anon.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book review: "Nullification"

I simply don’t think the US Constitution was written to be read and interpreted by any other than the average citizen of the 13 confederated States of America. Mind you, in the 18th Century that meant white male property holders, but those were the times, and the fact remains that estimates of literacy at the time of our war of independence range as high as 95% of the population. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, for example, sold over 100,000 copies in the first two months of its printing, an astonishing number that must have delighted and overwhelmed his publisher.

So when I read in the Constitution, Amendment X: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” I can understand it. It says that if the Constitution does not explicitly authorize the federal government (“the United States”) to do something, nor explicitly forbid the individual states (“the States”) from doing something, then those powers to do things belong to the states and, by extension, to their constituents (“the people”). If it’s not specifically given to the feds, or specifically denied to the states – in writing in the Constitution – then automatically and until such time as the Constitution is amended, the power belongs to the states and their people. States have lots of power; the federal government has much less power; and the powers belonging to the feds are spelled out in black and white. Is that so tough?

Fast forward a couple of centuries, and here we are. The federal government has grown to gargantuan proportions, and involved itself in every nook and cranny of our lives. Amazingly enough, this very development was anticipated by the architects of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was added to spell out in unambiguous language what was commonly understood to be true, and it was added to secure the ratification of the Constitution by several states, chief among them Virginia, which wouldn’t vote for it otherwise.

So now we’ve got a federal government that does pretty much anything it wants – all three branches. The question becomes: What can we do about it? Where can we go if, when, and because the government violates the Constitution. Here’s where Thomas E. Woods, Jr., comes in.

In Nullification, Woods has written a manual of, “How to resist federal tyranny in the 21st Century.” That’s clear enough, too.

It turns out that not only did the Constitution’s framers anticipate the federal government gradually usurping the rights of the states and their peoples, they also created ways to fight that usurpation. There’s secession, of course, which, despite the Civil War has never been proven illegal. There’s the route of constitutional amendment, which is both highly desirable and logistically arduous. And then there’s nullification, which means that should a state find an action by the federal government to be in violation of the Constitution, then it has a right, and a duty, to declare that act or law null and void within its borders, refuse to enforce it, and prohibit agents of the federal government from enforcing it, to the extent of its ability to do so.

Nullification has a long and honorable history dating from the earliest days of the Republic, and Woods covers that history thoroughly. Nullification was even used by Northern states to refuse to enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws. Today, nullification is being practiced in at least 14 states, which have declared the medical use of marijuana to be legal and acceptable within their borders, in defiance of federal laws. There is also a growing movement to amend the Constitution to reaffirm that it protects only the rights of living human beings, something the Founders thought too obvious to warrant mentioning, and nullification might prove fruitful here, too. The current Supreme Court has dramatically extended First Amendment rights to soulless corporations, in a way that struck the four dissenting justices as “misguided,” “dangerous,” “reckless” – almost certainly unconstitutional. Yes, the Supreme Court, just another branch of the federal government, must answer to the states and the people – the ultimate judges of constitutionality.

Woods argues that nullification is, and since the time of Jefferson and Madison has been seen as, the “rightful remedy” for unconstitutional acts on the part of the federal government, and that the states, which preceded and ratified the Constitution, are and should be the vehicle for the application of that remedy. The federal government, of which the Supreme Court is a part, cannot be the final judge of the legality and constitutionality of its own acts. That’s the ultimate example of the fox guarding the hen house. The states, individually if necessary, have the right to judge the constitutionality of federal acts, and the duty to act on that judgment. Nullification redresses constitutional grievances without a state leaving the Union (secession), and without amending the Constitution, which because of its understandable difficulty is easily blocked by other states whose interests the unconstitutional act may benefit.

This is powerful stuff. And it comes at the right time. The people are not powerless in the face of an unaccountable government run amok. It is the states wherein power resides. It says so in plain English, in the Constitution, and Thomas E. Woods, Jr., has done us all a great service by pointing that out.

Please read this book, and make its arguments your own. Buy an extra copy for your local library. And above all, read, discuss, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resilient communities

Killing as many birds with as few stones as possible, I’m introducing the concept of resilient communities by posting a couple of recent posts from John Robb’s excellent blog, Robb is the author of Brave New War, a look at the evolution of warfare into “open-source” conflicts.

His subtitle is “Networked tribes, systems disruption, and the emerging bazaar of violence. Resilient Communities, decentralized platforms, and self-organizing futures.” Fair enough.

Resilient communities, loosely defined, are the sorts of self-contained, locally oriented towns and regions that existed all over this country before about WWII, and have collapsed, disappeared and fragmented since, for a variety of reasons. Like many other areas around the country, northeastern New Mexico had a larger population 100 years ago than it does now.

Peak oil, more than anything [but certainly not exclusively], is rapidly moving life back the other way, away from WalMart and the 3,000-mile salad: accelerating relocalization in a computerized world. It’s fascinating, at least, and Robb is one of the thinkers worth paying attention to.

RC JOURNAL: Accelerating the Development of Resilient Communities

One of the major attributes of resilient communities is that can locally produce most of what they need (food, energy, and products).  Needless to say, the transition to local production won't happen overnight.  Let's explore this.

Most of the efforts to increase local production, to date, have been either:

The result of community action.  Efforts like the transition towns movement.  

Development driven.  Communities that have built from the ground up with resilience in mind, i.e. agricultural urbanism.

Unfortunately, these early efforts have been sporadic and the results haven't reached what's needed to become fully resilient.  Why?  The reason is that these efforts are being attempted early in the cycle, before the trends that make transition inevitable have fully matured.  

These trends include:
  • Expensive energy.  Energy costs are climbing (with occasionally spike), but they haven't reached a level that makes local production much more attractive than global production, yet.  They will.
  • Technology.  The costs of producing goods locally are rapidly decreasing due to new technologies.  For example, with desktop fabrication, we are right at the cusp of a rapid increase in efficiency/capability -- the equivalent of 1980 in the personal computer industry. 
  • Disruptions.  Shortages, panics, and cascading failures.  We had a taste of a big one in 2008 in the financial industry and lots of small ones.  More to come since the global system is only becoming more interconnected and unstable as time progresses.
  • Economic failure/D2 (the second global depression).  There's a strong argument that we are already in the midst of a second global depression. As economic failure intensifies on the global stage (debt, default, income stratification, fraud, etc.), the need for local economic activity will intensify.
  • Global guerrilla insurgencies. Low grade, crime fueled insurgencies that spread like the plague.  Think Mexico.  Shootings, kidnappings, hijackings, etc.

There's many more (political chaos, the inevitable global pandemic, sovereign default, the disappearing middle class, etc.), but these are some of the top ones.

Fortunately, there may be another way to get resilient communities off the ground faster than waiting for the trends driving their development to become inexorable (and in the process lose many, many people to the encroaching failure).  The fastest way I can think of is to use the Internet to build a system that fosters their development (what other method can go from scratch to 500 million participants in three years).  

The system I propose is a fully functional economy built as an Internet service.  I believe that almost all of the elements need to build this, launch it, and gain widespread adoption are already available today.  Further, there are people ready to build it.  The only limitation is the funding needed to exploit the opportunity.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010
EaaS (economy as a service) JOURNAL: Behavior Blocs

Here's a simple way to regularize demand and rationalize patterns of consumption (for rivalrous goods): behavior blocs.  

A behavior bloc:
  • Is an opt-in service.
  • Is a set of behaviors (things you do and buy) that are connected to a specific goal/objective that you aspire to.  i.e. Local food/production.  Efficient energy use.  
  • Uses MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) dynamics, social meta-currencies, and social networks to manage, measure, and reward activity that aligns with the goal.  Far, far beyond simple local currency and loyalty schemes.

The benefits of a behavior bloc within a commercial context include:
  • Regularization of demand (frequency, scale, duration, etc.).  Stable targets that can be planned against.
  • Can rapidly shift demand to specific goods/services that don't yet exist.
  • Can disrupt existing patterns of commerce.
An economy as a service (EaaS) provides the tools that make designing, launching, and growing a behavior bloc easy.

          We'll be exploring these concepts, both in principle as it applies to strategies for coping with Peak Oil and economic [let's call 'em] hard times; and in specific as it applies on the ground, here in Taylor Springs, NM, and, I hope, in your home community.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Breaking the ice

My wife and I moved to Springer, NM, in the northeast part of the state, in July. We ran away from Maryland, which had been home for over 20 years, leaving behind kids and grandkids, and tons of miscellaneous stuff left over from a life in suburbia. We’ve fallen in love with this place, so we’re staying. We live on a 35-acre ranch, which we rent, and Andi works 45 miles away as a nurse practitioner.

Part of the rationale behind the move was to give me time and space to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, after full-time wage slaving to get the five kids to adulthood in one piece, which Andi and I accomplished more or less successfully. 

The point of all this is to say that I’ve decided to become a writer/publisher; there simply aren’t any paying jobs here, so I have to invent my own, which is a good thing, though difficult. Something about old dogs and new tricks applies, I think.

I’m going to talk about and around the subjects of 21st century homesteading on the Santa Fe Trail, and on building resilient communities in post-Peak Oil America. I’ve done a ton of reading and thinking, without much in the way of feedback, which I gather isn’t all that unusual. Folks tend to get that glazed-over look when the conversation turns to TSHTF or TEOTWAWKI [if you know the acronyms, you know the look]. I don’t consider myself either a Doomer or a capital “S” survivalist, but these are serious times, and we’re heading for even rougher ones, and I’d like to succeed and help my friends and family do the same.
I picked up a Permaculture certification in 2009. I was on the road after leaving my wife and family and ran across the first ever two-week class at Pine Ridge, SD, so I went. I learned a bunch, mostly on how to start looking at land in order to make permanently productive settlements. I intend to get stuff out of my head and onto the ground here at Taylor Springs.

I also learned that I really loved and missed my wife. We got back together in October 2009, and now here we are, working on our relationship and just being with each other, for the first time since we were kids together in love in the mid-‘60s. It’s been said that addressing a midlife crisis by marrying your [junior] high school sweetheart is the height of folly, but that’s what we did, and I wouldn’t undo it, and I’m forever thankful that I haven’t managed to by my own selfishness and stupidity.

At any rate, this is Post #1 of, which I hearby dedicate to my wife, my family, and to you, dear reader. Let’s see where this vehicle takes us.