Monday, February 06, 2012

Moving Right Along!

As we mentioned awhile back, Em and I have been rethinking what we want to do with Primal Aspects and where we want to go with it from here on out. In that vein we have been revamping the website to make it more interactive, easier to expand and maintain. Well, as a result of these changes we've gone with a Wordpress powered format. So, we are integrating the Art of Emily Dewbre-Young and the Self Sufficient Living of Primal Troy. This blog will remain up for archival purposes but new entries will now be available on our new site. If you've been following posts here on Primal Troy then you will be able to follow similar content there under the categories and/or tags Troy, Self Sufficient and even more specific topics such as permaculture, gardening, etc. If you are interested in the artsy side of things then look for Emily, art, artwork etc.

With no further adieu, here is the new place to follow along. Hope to see you there!

Primal Aspects - The Art of Emily Dewbre Young meets the Self Sufficient Living of Primal Troy

Friday, February 03, 2012

What Do I Think?

People are asking me what I think about the announced 13,000 layoffs and major restructuring at my employer American Airlines. Well,our family has for several years lived a life within our means and stayed out of debt because we didn't see things staying the way they have been. Too many industries in the United States, not only the airlines, are farming out work to lower paying facilities elsewhere because people demand cheaper, better, faster.

Well, usually you end up only getting two out of the three in the end. I think the fate I and many of my co-workers are facing is the same fate that the American working middle class in general faces. As Americans, we have voted for this every single day and with every single dollar we choose to spend with companies who put profits before people. Eventually, in the interest of being competitive in the marketplace our children may well see the day when 13 year olds live in company owned dormitories to work 12 to 16 hour days to be roused out of bed and given a biscuit and cup of tea before being led to their workstations. If they are lucky enough to have a job. It is, after all, what we as a people seem to be voting for. Sure, there are a few weirdos like myself who read labels and pay attention to where things are made and what the companies who make them actually stand for but the vast, overwhelming majority of my countrymen and women shop by price alone. I'd say easily 80% or more never look any further than that. Don't think it can happen here? It has before and it can again if people let it.

In this world we are all interconnected. Whether or not you care about that impoverished wage slave in Bangladesh making the parts for your electronic gizmo for pennies a day and living in a hut. When all the jobs are gone here and people are hungry enough, and desperate enough, and the already bankrupt government can no longer provide unemployment insurance and social services because their tax base is mostly out of work. What then? Never mind the "official" unemployment rate where after you haven't found anything in two years you're magically no longer counted as unemployed. I mean the actual number of people who can't find a job that will actually support a family.

I am reminded only of this quote:


"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be very uncomfortable if you are one of the facts that needs altering." - Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor Who. 

This quote is from the 'Face of Evil'. He's describing the Tesh and Sevateem.

So what I think is this. Keep living as self sufficiently as possible. Build your life towards increased liberty. Stop trading your time and money for material things that will be obsolete before you're finished paying for them. Leave something worth inheriting behind for your children. A piece of land they can grow their own food on. Our previous generations should never have left their family farms behind and moved to the city. It only ended with the rich getting it all and the working people getting crumbs and self imposed slavery via massive consumer debt to pay for mountains of things that have no real value. Then when you're old and sick big pharmaceutical companies, medical insurance companies and other parts of the medical industrial complex pick over whatever things of value you might have had left leaving nothing behind for your kids but bills. It's not the way things used to be and it's not the way things should be now either.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Round Of Funnies


Our lager,
Which art in barrels,
Hallowed be thy drink.
Thy will be drunk, (I will be drunk),
At home as it is in the pub.
Give us this day our foamy head,
And forgive us our spillage's,
As we forgive those who spill against us.
And lead us not to incarceration,
But deliver us from hangovers.
For thine is the beer, The bitter, The lager.
BARMEN.


What's brown and sticky?

     A stick!

Wait...here's a better one...


What did the cat say after eating two robins lying in the sun?

     I just love baskin’ robins!


Five surgeons around a campfire........

        #1 The first says: "I like to see accountants on my operating table,
        because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered. "

        #2 The second responds: " Yeah, but you should try electricians. Everything
        inside of them is color coded. "

        #3 The third : " No, I really think librarians are the best, everything
        inside of them is in alphabetical order. "

        #4 The fourth chimes in: " You know, I like construction workers.... those
        guys always understand when you have a few parts left over. "

        #5 But, the fifth shut them all up when he observed: " You're all wrong.
        Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There's no guts, no heart, no
        testicles, no brains, and no spine, -- and the head and the butt are
        interchangeable.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Cleaning Out My Rant Box


HEY! Wake up! There's more to your life than football and comic books and video games right?

<<<----- What could possibly go wrong?


Monsanto - Eat more GMO animal scat FERTILIZED CROPS...from livestock feed GMO FEED, grown from GMO SEED! TRIPLE YOUR exposure...maybe your babies will be born with frog legs!

What got me on about this? Oh, maybe the fact that the USDA  has now forced Whole Foods to accept Monsanto. In other words, the government has now told Whole Foods, we don't give a damn whether you like it or not you will sell these frankenfood products or else! What?!? What country are we living in again. If a big company like Whole Foods can't decide for itself what it will and will not sell what chance does a little mom and pop business stand? Stories like this right here tell you exactly who is really running the country and all the people still running around yammering about Republican this and Democrat that, left wing, right wing, liberal, conservative, blah blah blah just don't get it. No matter what stripe mouthpiece you put into office the real powers that be, the real owners of this country, the real overlords are the gigantic megacorportations who are "TOO BIG TO FAIL" and will pass whatever regulations will benefit them and screw the little guys. If they gamble and lose with your money they will have their puppets in government force YOU to foot the bill. Remember that little thing called the American Dream? Where a little guy or gal could start up a small business, work hard and become successful. Yeah?! How is that supposed to happen in this environment? If you manage to carve out a nitch big enough to threaten one of these powerful entities they will crush you like a small, family owned grape farm under their feet.

Yeah, you can buy burgers made from ammoniated beef, which is exempt from USDA testing because the ammonia in the "meat" supposedly makes it safe; Which it doesn't, and the ammonia isn't listed as an ingredient because it is considered a "process". Google it! It will make you sick. So, yeah, you can go to store and buy this meat that has been sitting in a vat and then in a freezer for God only knows how long, but you can't buy a gallon of fresh milk that was in the dairy animal an hour ago from your neighbor without risking them going to jail. There have been some cases where judges made statements saying growing our own food/dairy is not a right. How scary is THAT?? More people per capita get sick each year from deli meat than raw milk, but I don't see them making it illegal to buy THAT.

How do you divide people up so you can get the control to do these things?

You rile people up about higher taxes without distinguishing between taxes on the rich, big business, small business, the middle class or the poor. Then you further insist that making such a distinction is class warfare. It's bullshit! The same technique is easy to use for regulations. Bad regulations (often dreamed up by the same interests that overall deregulation would benefit) can be used as examples to make people trust regulatory actions as a whole - and the baby goes out with the bathwater. In fact, the bathwater never goes out, 'cause you can bet those regulations that actually aren't good for society will be overlooked when the deregulating frenzy is in full swing.

My thing about extreme conservatives is this. The conservative movement is supposed to be about 'You don't affect me and I won't affect you. Live your life without intervention from the government or other citizens and you should do the same.' When Nixon and Reagan decided to bring the religious factor into the party, they took over. The problem is that they want to tell you what you can do in your bedroom, in your house, in your life because of what their concept of 'God' says. That's so not what the original idea was. It's not what 'conservative' is supposed to mean as a political movement.  I like the original idea of what conservative is supposed to mean. But I hate the idea of what they've become. Let me do what I want, went I want and how I want. If I tread on your rights, then call me on it. Otherwise, leave me alone. My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.

The reason the 1% are in power is because our government treats them like gods, bailing them out when their overall stupidity from bad business practices causes their corporations to fail financially. This practice is also destroying "Mom and Pop" businesses because if the large corporations continue to be resuscitated through bailouts, it doesn't allow new companies, who may possibly be better at conducting business, to replace the old ones.

Americas future is Chinas today, when regulations are totally out of the way our children will be free to enjoy the Chinese work week of 70 hours @$100 a week with no overtime.

‎"I Recognise the right of every American to use the resources of this great nation, I do not however recognise the right to deny those resources to this or future generations through squanderance or misuse." THEODORE ROOSEVELT

When you have government favoritism regulating most of an industry out of existence EXCEPT for the corporations that happen to have 2 or 3 congressmen on their board, then regulations only serve to unfairly limit competition and allow bad companies to grow huge (Monsanto) while the market they're engaged in (farming) gets decimated by their lawyers. Monsanto writes its own FDA policy, with a revolving door between their corporate board and the FDA. Another reason the Occupy Movement has a good point - Get corporate money out of the political process.

Corporate greed is also why you don't have an electric car, or a cure for diabetes. When its more profitable NOT to fix a problem, corporations DON'T.

Do you think Monsanto execs eat Monsanto products?

Resources:


SodaHead - USDA forces Whole Foods to accept Monsanto

Food Democracy Now! Stand up: Family Farmers vs. Monsanto

FDA Says Walnuts Are Drugs

Friday, January 27, 2012

Downward Class Migration

In this video Jack Spirko talks about the slippage that has occurred over the past several decades in what it means to be middle class in America. How it's not just that Joe Blow has fallen out of the upper middle class and into the lower middle class but that what it takes to stay in a class position has changed. What roles debt financing play in this and how you can insulate yourself to some degree from it. Well worth checking out!



Resources:


The Survival Podcast Episode 761 - Downward Class Migration - More discussion on this topic.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Joke Of The Day


A cop stops a Harley for traveling faster than the posted speed limit, so he asks the biker his name.

'Fred,' he replies.

'Fred what?' the officer asks.

'Just Fred,' the man responds.

The  officer is in a good mood and thinks he might just give the biker a break and, write him out a warning instead of a ticket. The officer then  presses him for the last name.

The man tells him that he used  to have a last name but lost it.  The officer thinks that he has a nut  case on his hands but plays along with it. 'Tell me, Fred, how did you  lose your last name?'

The biker replies, 'It's a long story, so stay with me.'  I was born Fred Johnson. I studied hard and got good grades. When  I got older, I realized that I wanted to be a doctor.  I went through college, medical school, internship, residency, and finally got my  degree, so I was Fred Johnson, MD..  After a while I got bored being a  doctor, so I decided to go back to school.

Dentistry was my dream!  Got all the way through School, got my degree, so then I was Fred Johnson, MD, DDS.  

Got  bored doing dentistry, so I started fooling around with my assistant and she gave me VD, so now I was Fred Johnson, MD, DDS, with VD.

Well, the ADA found out about the VD, so they took away my DDS.  

Then I was Fred Johnson, MD, with VD.  Then the AMA found out about the ADA taking away my  DDS  because of the VD, so they took away my MD leaving  me as Fred Johnson with VD.

Then the VD took away my Johnson, so now I am Just Fred.

The officer walked away in tears, laughing.


Ever wonder where the nickname "Johnson" came from? Of course you did. It's an old railroad term dating from the age of steam.

The Johnson lever, or Johnson bar, was connected to a gizmo that regulated the point at which steam stopped flowing into the cylinders. You could shut the steam off before the end of the stroke to allow for full expansion of steam by the time the cylinder hit bottom dead center and began the exhaust stroke. This made for more economical running. If you kept the steam on until BDC, you would get more power but at significantly greater fuel and water consumption.

The sign of a good engineer was his ability fiddle with his Johnson untill he got the proper balance of power and speed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Carrot, Egg and a Cup Of Coffee

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It
seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she
placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in
a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft.

The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she
tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity... boiling water. Each reacted differently. 


The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected it! s liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a
stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when
things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go
forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling........

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What To Do With Twiggy Yard Waste


This article was written by Paul Wheaton of Permies.com and originally posted on his blog. He has graciously given permission to reshare it. Thanks Paul!

Keep those branches, twigs, rotten logs and Christmas trees!

That stuff is gardener's gold!  Organic matter!

Winter is the season for pruning trees.  Sometimes taking out dangerous trees.   I am mystified when people haul the wood away and in the sping they spend money for mulch.    And equally mystified by people that rent an obnoxious, loud, smelly chipper.

here is a quick list of a dozen things that can be done with that wood, keeping it on your property and not having to fool with a chipper.

1.  Make your own mulch:   A huge branch can be reduced to flat mulch in about two minutes with a pruner.  I usually clip at the bends in the tigs and branches.  A huge pile of branches and twigs will become about 30 times smaller in 15 minutes.

raised garden beds

2.  Cover it in soil to make hugelkultur.   This is best with the logs (green logs work too) and thick branches.   This makes for a richer soil that needs less watering.  Some people have built tall raised garden beds with this technique and they have a normal garden that doesn't need water all summer.   This is an excellent use for a stump - no need to pull it or grind it, just cover it with soil.



3.  In Finland they use small branches and twigs between muddy spots and the house.   You can make a muddy spot less muddy, or you can create a place near the house to wipe your feet.



4.  Put the wood in a dry place for a while and then use it for firewood.  Rocket stove technology can heat a home with 90% less wood than a conventional wood stove.   So little, that many homes are heated with nothing but tree trimmings that come out of a small yard.

rocket stove

5.  If you keep chickens, nothing makes better deep chicken bedding than pine, fir or spruce boughs.



6.  Butterfly/bird/wildlife habitat:  Just make a big brushpile.  This provides habitat for butterflies to lay eggs, and a variety of beneficial insects and other critters.   Most permaculture practitioners keep a brushpile somewhere in their yard because they believe that it reduces pest damage for the rest of their garden.

6.1.  Snag or stump for wildlife

7.  Criss-crossing branches in a compost pile helps to aerate it.

8.  With a bit of jute, it's a snap to make a twig trellis or arbor for your garden.  Usually in about ten minutes.  And when they get old, you can mulch the branches and the jute together.

9.  If you have some wood shop skills, you can make chairs, furniture, name tags, coasters, bird houses, benches, planter box, tool handles, coat racks and so much, much more.    And if the wood is living black locust wood, whatever you do with that will last about ten times longer outdoors than cedar without a drop of paint or stain.

10. garden stakes

11.  Throwing branches and logs into ponds will usually reduce algae problems and give fish and amphibians a place to hide from predators.



12. marshmallow/hotdog sticks!

A lot of this stuff is effectively sequestering your own carbon!  It could be a massive step toward your own personal carbon neutrality.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Seeds To Start Indoors

If you plan to get some of your crops started indoors this year the time is coming up soon for those of us in the DFW area to get the following seeds planted according to Farmer's Almanac:
January 24th til February 7th:





  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes


So what are you waiting for?


WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE? GO!!! PLANT SOMETHING BEFORE I SIC MY TYRANNOSAURUS REX ON YA!

Resources:


Farmer's Almanac Best Planting Dates Calendar

Friday, January 20, 2012

Economic Policy

So, after reading this article yesterday  'If You Are A Blue Collar Worker In America You Are An Endangered Species' I began to ponder where the trends of the global economy are leading us and what kind of future we can expect for ourselves and, more importantly, our children and their children. The article's author mentioned that businesses would continue to replace people with machines and that's okay. But is it okay? In times past when machines made our work easier and made us therefore more productive that was one thing. Usually when jobs were replaced by machines new jobs were created and people who wanted to work found work of some sort. But in the past decade or more the so called recoveries from the economic recessions have been jobless ones as more and more people are outright replaced by machines and anemic job growth provides few opportunities for new jobs to move into. Remember the futuristic world portrayed by The Jetsons cartoon of the 1960s that depicted a world in which machines and automation would give us a future of 4 hour work days and more leisure time with friends and family? Yeahhhhhh, that didn't happen. Well, for most of us at least. Why not? Hmmm, that might be a topic to look into. ;-) Speaking of, I once again, highly recommend everyone read Marshall Brain's (the founder of How Stuff Works) story Manna at least once in their lives.

But, anyway,  when is the last time you saw a machine pay taxes to a government to fund government programs? Human beings with jobs do that, not machines! When is the last time you saw a machine buy a product or use a service from a business? I don't think my truck has ever rented a movie or bought a six pack of beer! By the same token, can the U.S. government collect taxes from workers in China or India? How long can the mega-corporation formula of build it cheap somewhere else and bring it back to the U.S. to sell at a hefty profit work until there are no longer enough gainfully employed people in the U.S. to buy their widgets? At some time or another a tipping point will have to be reached. Where will that point be and how prepared will you be to weather the storm? Can you compete with a worker who lives on 70 cents per hour working 16 hours per day and expect to keep a roof over your head and food on the table? I'm all for free trade as long as it's fair trade. But who benefits from the economic policies our leaders, both political and industrial, have been pursuing?

In the short term the big shot, fat cats at the mega-corporations might benefit but when those machines aren't buying their stuff, because, well, machines don't much give a rats ass about buying stuff and things,  and those low wage workers can't afford their stuff and most of the once mighty American middle class has been rendered unemployed or under-employed then whose left to sell to?

By the way, you might want to start growing some of your own food. You'll be glad you did some day. Just sayin'. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Little Philosophy

This one makes the rounds on the internet from time to time and is usually attributed to Charles Shultz, the creator of the popular Peanuts cartoon. But Snopes.com points out the quiz is not actually his creation. In any event, whoever really created it the point is quite valid and if I were the originator I would certainly take credit for such genius...

You don't actually have to take the quiz. Just read this straight through and you'll get the point.

Here's the first quiz:


  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.


How did you do?

The facts are, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:


  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.


Easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today ...... It's already tomorrow in Australia."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Tool School


DRILL PRESS:  A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light . Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh sh--!'

SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle... It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes , trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.

UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

SON-OF-A-BITCH TOOL: (A personal favorite!) Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'Son of a BITCH!' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Hope you found this informative.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Earth Club BBS

Once in awhile I reminisce about those early days of online socializing. I have pretty much always had a fascination with computers and the many things they could be programmed to do. Even in the early 1980's my best friend Layne and I spent many hours tinkering with a Commodore VIC-20 in my mom's garage which we converted to our hangout. In high school we took a Computer Maintenance course which I actually won an award for because in those days I believed I would someday become a computer repair technician but fate had other ideas. But what I wanted to write about today is a brief period in my mid 20s when I ran a little BBS initially started on a 386SX computer in 1992 called The Earth Club. It was located at FidoNet Node 1:130/507 and existed in Arlington, Texas with three phone lines at it's height on which people could dial in at the awesome speeds of, initially 2400bps and eventually 14400 and ultimately 56k by the time of the board's demise in 1995. I had a great time SysOping this board on Aki Antman's SuperBBS code in those wild west days of online life. We played door games like TradeWars, Legend of the Red Dragon, Usurper and many others. I think at the highest level I had 50 door games available to play, hundreds of FidoNet message boards and a files area with all sorts of freeware, shareware and other files for people to download. We had a chat system so up to 4 callers and myself could be online at one time to chat with each other in real time. All the graphics were ANSI back in those days until, toward's the end, some enterprising individuals came up with another graphics format caller RIP (Remote Imaging Protocol) graphics and a guy named Seth (last name escapes me at the moment) came up with another BBS format based on those vector graphics called RoboBBS which I also installed and gave to callers as an option when they first logged in. So they could call in and FrontDoor would ask if they wanted to use the ANSI format of the BBS (SuperBBS) or the awesome RIP Graphics (RoboBBS).

About that time though, suddenly this Internet thing which had, up until that point, mostly only been available to people who were at Universities or worked in some industry with access started becoming available to any everyday schmo like myself who could pony up $20 per month for access to log into an ISP and explore the amazing world of the internet. About that time a web browser called Netscape was allowing web pages to be viewed with formated text and (gasp) graphics! Boy oh boy! How were we ever going to keep them on the farm after this? My little BBS offered a file library of some 40 Megs of files. The internet had FTP sites with seemingly endless files available and more being added all the time. My little BBS had maybe 50 games but only a handful that were popular. The internet had a bunch of games called MUDs, MUSHes and MOOs with hundreds of players online at once. My little BBS had hundreds of message boards. The internet had thousands of UseNet newsgroups. My little BBS could host up to 4 people in chat. The internet could host unlimited chatrooms via IRC (Internet Relay Chat).

Yeah, I knew my goose was cooked so I put the BBS up for sale and a guy from my work answered the ad and came by to pick up the PC (I was buying a new one) with all the files, modems, etc. He ran the BBS for a little while longer before shutting it down too. In the meantime I dove heavily into learning all about this HTML stuff, then Javascript, later some C and Java as well because all of those developments were fascinating to me and I thought I could build so much cool stuff with them, and I did for awhile, but eventually moved on to other things. Where we have come to is indeed a fascinating place but sometimes I still miss the sound of those old modems logging in and jumping up to the computer to see who has logged in to the BBS so I could be available for chat, help them out, whatever. I know there are still a few BBSes around that you can TelNet into for that bit of nostalgia but somehow it's just not the same. Those were some wild times back then and the world was changing very rapidly and it was exciting. Now, it seems that the internet has grown to a point of maturity and more and more people are seeking to control it. Gone are those wild, shoot from the hip days when a guy in his garage, or basement or bedroom could throw together something new and become a huge sensation as people come to play with whatever new toy he has created. Or are they gone altogether? Maybe some of that pioneering spirit lives on but we have to fight ever harder against those people who are trying to crush the little guys and control the internet to suit only their own desires. It's a constant battle but one I see worth fighting because only in freedom can innovation flourish.

Resources:

An Old List of BBSes from the 817 Area Code

Friday, January 13, 2012

Replace The Monkeys!


 OMGs! Friday the 13th! What should we do today? Well....


If you start with a cage containing five monkeys and inside the cage,
  hang a banana on a string from the top and then you place a set of stairs
  under the banana, before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb
  toward the banana.

      As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray all the other monkeys
      with cold water. After a while another monkey makes an attempt with
      same result ... all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water.
      Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the
      other monkeys will try to prevent it.

      Now, put the cold water away.

      Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.
      The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs.
      To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him.
      After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb
      the stairs he will be assaulted.

      Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it
      with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked.
      The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment... with enthusiasm.

      Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by
      a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to
      the stairs he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him
      up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs.
      Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating
      of the newest monkey.

      Finally, having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of
      the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold
      water. Nevertheless, none of the monkeys will try to climb
      the stairway for the banana.

      Why, you ask? Because in their minds...
      that is the way it has always been!

      This, my friends, is how Congress operates... and is why,
      from time to time, all of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME!


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"It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grammes a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it." - 1984 George Orwell.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Can Your Employer Place A GPS Tracker On YOUR Vehicle Without Your Knowledge? Apparently Yes.


OK the employer has a right not to get ripped off by the employee skating on time. But how in the hell can the courts agree that an employer can GPS BUG MY PERSONAL VEHICLE and it be ok?
.

Though the case is headed to the Supreme Court in a few months, police currently have the legal right to place GPS tracking devices on the vehicles of suspected perps. But are employers able to do the same to their employees when they suspect foul play?

According to the NY Appeals Court and Magistrate David Noce, a Missouri federal judge, the answer appears to be “yes.” In both the New York and Missouri court cases, defendants were fired from their positions for forging time and expense sheet...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Social" Media and Short Attention Spans

Awhile back on Google Plus I remember someone was lamenting the fact that people these days seem to be just hit and run posters and commenters. In other words, he would take part in a conversation about a post that he or someone else had made and the comments were just starting to develope into a stimulating conversation then those who had posted stopped posting and moved on to the next big thing. I noticed that I myself pretty much had adopted that mode. It seems to be the nature of the social media sites. Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus all three have a scrolling update of statuses by whoever you are following so you are constantly being served with fresh new content to respond to. This is good in some ways but in others I can see where it leads to what this other guy was complaining about. The social media sites seem to be great tools for networking and building a breadth of social contacts but they aren't much good for depth. You can have hundreds or even thousands of "friends" but outside the ones you know in real life how well do you really get to "know" any of them.

You get to know someone over time by having conversations with them. Learning their likes, dislikes, views on particular topics, how they came to see the world in the way they did etc. Oh sure, you can go check out someone's Profile page and get an overview of things like this but that only goes so far. I think, what the guy was looking for was the long, engaging conversations that generally take place on the various Web Forums or back in the old days used to be carried out on UseNet. There, you can go back and see where a particular conversation started, sometimes even years ago, and developed to the point where it is today. You can see what has already been said and then, after catching up, you can jump in with your two cents and ad something relevant to the conversation. The comments, following a post on the social media sites can sometimes stretch into a pretty decent conversation but after awhile they become unwieldy and that particular post scrolls farther and farther down your feed so it gets to be too much hassle to go dig it back up and continue the discussion. I think, to some extent Facebook is trying to address this with their new Timeline view but I'm not really liking the looks of it. The idea behind it is that you can scroll back and see all the posts someone has made from their profile though and that reminded me of something.....something I started a long time ago....around 2004 I think. Yeah, I started one, did some stuff with it for awhile, got bored, moved on to other things, used it for a dumping ground to save news articles, jokes, quotes and things I liked for awhile. Then somebody on a podcast inspired me to start doing it again.... Oh yeah! My Blog! That's what the Timeline concept reminds me of. :)



If you jog in a jogging suit, lounge in lounging pajamas, and smoke in a smoking jacket, WHY would anyone want to wear a windbreaker??

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Who Is Supporting SOPA?

There are already laws that govern stolen, copyrighted material. The authorities need only find the culprit,  bring him/her to the relevant court and carry burden of proof. The trouble with SOPA is that it does what it does without anyone being found guilty in a court of law. Also, it tries to apply U.S. law to entities not under its jurisdiction. If someone in Peru, Bangladesh or wherever is stealing copyrighted material, then go to Peru, Bangladesh or wherever and fight the legal battle there. SOPA is all about control and being pushed by control freaks.


It's amazing that the only thing congress seems to be able to accomplish these days is to screw the American public. In all seriousness Citizens United has created a corporate congress whose only goal is to serve their sugar daddies.


The following representatives have supported this piece of ...... legislation. Let's fire them!




Rep Smith, Lamar [TX-21]
Rep Amodei, Mark E. [NV-2] - 11/3/2011
Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] - 12/7/2011
Rep Barrow, John [GA-12] - 11/14/2011
Rep Bass, Karen [CA-33] - 11/3/2011
Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] - 10/26/2011
Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] - 10/26/2011
Rep Bono Mack, Mary [CA-45] - 10/26/2011
Rep Carter, John R. [TX-31] - 11/3/2011
Rep Chabot, Steve [OH-1] - 10/26/2011
Rep Chu, Judy [CA-32] - 11/30/2011
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] - 10/26/2011
Rep Cooper, Jim [TN-5] - 12/12/2011
Rep Deutch, Theodore E. [FL-19] - 10/26/2011
Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] - 10/26/2011
Rep Goodlatte, Bob [VA-6] - 10/26/2011
Rep Griffin, Tim [AR-2] - 10/26/2011
Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] - 11/30/2011
Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] - 11/3/2011
Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] - 11/30/2011
Rep Lujan, Ben Ray [NM-3] - 11/14/2011
Rep Marino, Tom [PA-10] - 11/3/2011
Rep Nunnelee, Alan [MS-1] - 11/3/2011
Rep Owens, William L. [NY-23] - 11/14/2011
Rep Quayle, Benjamin [AZ-3] - 12/13/2011
Rep Ross, Dennis [FL-12] - 10/26/2011
Rep Scalise, Steve [LA-1] - 11/14/2011
Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] - 10/26/2011
Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] - 12/7/2011
Rep Terry, Lee [NE-2] - 10/26/2011
Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] - 11/3/2011
Rep Watt, Melvin L. [NC-12] - 11/3/2011

Monday, January 09, 2012

What's The Downside?

I've mentioned on previous posts that I have recently become an avid listener to Jack Spirko's show The Survival Podcast and have been learning a lot of things along the way. He started his podcast in June of 2008 from his car as he commuted from his home (then) in Arlington, Texas to his work in Frisco Texas Monday through Friday and although the sound quality is kind of bad on those early episodes it is sometimes amusing to hear him go into an auto-rant dealing with the many road hazards presented by the multitude of assclown drivers out there once in awhile. Anyway, I only stumbled upon his show early this past November so in addition to listening to his current broadcasts each weekday I have been working my way through his past episodes and have so far made it to episode number 301. As a point of reference he posted his 815th episode this past Friday. In addition, as he has stated, a virtual college education's worth of knowledge about self reliance and self sufficiency is available on the show's forums which has a very active community of folks from all walks of life and many particular areas of expertise actively participating and learning from one another.

So anyway, I got to thinking to myself the other day, self, how did you get started on all this anyway? What led you to this site and got you started listening to what this nutjob had to say as he was dodging his way through DFW traffic each day? Well, as near as I can remember the starting point for me was when I ran across a guy at work who was, in my opinion, kind of in the tinfoil hat brigade as we call the folks who seem a little too deep into the conspiracy theory, paranoid, "They're going to come round us up and put us in FEMA camps!" stuff. This guy might not have actually been the classic, media image of a modern surivalist. You know the stereotype, some guy hiding in a bunker with his guns, a pile of ammo and a bunch of MREs shaking his fist and yelling they're not going to get him! But he kinda struck me that way even if some of his concerns actually had merit. In our conversation, though, he mentioned a website that had good deals on bulk, storable, food. So I thought, well, you know, we do like to go camping and such and if there are some good prices on this stuff it might be worth checking out. Plus, I liked the idea of having some food around that doesn't require refrigeration in case we ever had a long term power outage from storms or whatever.

So, I got to looking at this stuff and a lot of the packages seemed kind of pricey to me and I got to thinking, there has to be a cost effective way to build your own storable food reserves a little at a time so you can spread the cost out. (I don't do credit card purchases and haven't carried a credit card since 2002 as I have always seen debt as a form of slavery. A view, that I later learned that Jack Spirko also holds by the way.) So I threw some search terms into the ol' Google along those lines and I think one of them came up with an episode of The Survival Podcast in which Jack was talking about that very subject on the show notes. I gave it a listen and found that a lot of what he was saying was stuff I already knew and some of it was stuff I have always wanted to learn more about. Some of it was stuff I didn't agree with too but how often do you 100% agree with anyone?

Well anyway, as he points out, what is the downside to being better prepared for dealing with whatever junk life might decide to throw your way? Not freaked out and paranoid, hiding out in a bunker somewhere but just taking sensible precautions. Don't fear the rain just carry an umbrella! It's a good thing to be prepared for a rainy day. They happen all the time. Sometimes we see them coming and other times they catch us by surprise. As his show's motto states, "Living a better life if times get tough and even if they don't." And sure enough, most of the things he recommends that people do will indeed make your life better even if nothing bad ever happens. But the bad things that can happen aren't all, end of the world, defecation hitting the rotating oscillator type scenarios that make great Hollywood movies. Something that happens all over the world, every single day can create a personal emergency for you and your family. The death of a loved one, a job loss, an extended hospital stay due to illness or injury. So, would being debt free, having extra food on hand so you don't have to worry about getting groceries for awhile as you deal with whatever situation you're in passes not help you out? Plus, when you have extra food (which you're going to eat eventually anyway) then you can take advantage of opportunity buys when there is a sale on something or when prices are too high on another item and you have extra at home you can skip buying it until the prices come back down. So, in the long run, you end up spending less money on groceries on a regular basis. These are just a couple of examples. There are also the advantages to be had from learning to preserve food for longer storage. Learning to grow some of your own food. Recovering some of those basic skills our grandparents and great grand parents had that make you more self reliant. Ways to save energy and lower your bills. Just a few things to think about...


Resources:

Episode 123 - There is No Downside To The Survival Lifestyle

The Survival Podcast Forums

Friday, January 06, 2012

What's Up With Em's Artwork?

Some of our close friends have asked lately why I'm not posting about art as much as I used to and sharing Emily's newest works. Well, the good news is Em' is still available to take commissions as an artist and Primal Aspects lives on as a business that can provide custom artwork for your home or business but after a series of abysmal shows this past fall Em decided it might be best to refocus the business. The model we were going for was just consuming too much time and money and not paying back enough to be sustainable. Oh don't get me wrong, people love Em's artwork and she has sold a few pieces here and there but by and large people just aren't buying much these days. It's not just us either, a lot of our friends have been experiencing the same things. We visited some friends at one of the handmade crafts shows over the holidays and they too have been seeing disappointing results except for a few who were actually doing exceptionally well with more practical items.

Over the past year or two we have seen several friends with small businesses close up shop and call it quits because the market just isn't there. Ironically, we also saw huge crowds at the big box stores and malls shopping this past holiday season. We even saw some news reports of fights breaking out and one lady spraying another with pepper spray over some goods shipped in from somewhere else. Yes, there is a movement underway to buy local, handmade goods but it is, at this point at least, too small a percentage of the population at large to sustain the business model we were going after. So, we've decided to take a step back and refocus, retool and rework things. In the meantime we are focusing on building our self sufficiency skillsets and spending more time with our kids, our family and our friends. We are thinking of how we would like to restructure the website and the business in general in the coming months. I'm thinking of trying my hand at building things like solar ovens, solar food dehydrators and growing some organic food. We are learning some of the skills my grandparents had that our generation kind of abandoned and somewhere in there I think we are finding ourselves. Somewhere in there I think we will find the new direction we want to head in and we'll take you along for the ride if you want to come with us.

- Better Living Through Art!: http://PrimalAspects.com

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Those NASA Boys According To A Navajo Elder


When NASA was preparing for the Apollo Project, it took the astronauts to a
Navajo reservation in Arizona for training.

One day, a Navajo elder and his son came across the space crew walking among
the rocks. The elder, who spoke only Navajo, asked a question. His son
translated for the NASA people: "What are these guys in the big suits doing?"

One of the astronauts said that they were practicing for a trip to the moon.
When his son relayed this comment the Navajo elder got all excited and asked
if it would be possible to give to the astronauts a message to deliver to the
moon.

Recognizing a promotional opportunity when he saw one, a NASA official
accompanying the astronauts said, "Why certainly!" and told an underling to
get a tape recorder. The Navajo elder's comments into the microphone were
brief.

The NASA official asked the son if he would translate what his father had
said. The son listened to the recording and laughed uproariously. But he
refused to translate. So the NASA people took the tape to a nearby Navajo
village and played it for other members of the tribe. They too laughed long
and loudly but also refused to translate the elder's message to the moon.

Finally, an official government translator was summoned. After he finally
stopped laughing the translator relayed the message: "Watch out for these
assholes - they have come to steal your land."

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My thanks to dudekrtr of the TSP Forums for sharing this one! - Troy

"What kind of recovery is this? We don't know, but if it continues much longer we'll all be unemployed."-Bill Bonner

"The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled and the pubic debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officialdom should be tempered and controlled. And the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest we become bankrupt.  - Cicero, 63 B.C. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Hooray For Montana!

The U.S Supreme Court decided in 2010 that corporations were people (never mind that you can't put one in jail for breaking the law) and that money was free speech in an abomination to the foundation of our country that the power of government is derived from the people. However the Supreme Court of the state of Montana says, Wait a minute here! Not in our neck of the woods! Good for them! Also, Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont has introduced a petition for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution aptly named the Saving American Democracy Amendment to nullify the Citizens United ruling. If you haven't already, please go sign it! Again that's the:

Saving American Democracy Amendment


I don't typically get much into the political debates these days because it seems that more and more anytime anyone takes one position or another on any particular issue you are automatically branded a this or a that and buried under a mountain of labels that may or may not apply and usually hurled a pile of personal insults or attacks. Robert Crandall, the retired chairman and CEO of American Airlines, a company I have worked for the past 22 years, said in a piece on his blog Bob Crandall Thinks entitled "Morons Or Something Better" that he remembers a time when things were different in America and although I am much younger than he, I too remember a different time. In his words:

"I remember political arguments too – Dewey and Truman, Kennedy and Nixon, Reagan and Carter, and other memorable contests. There were always conflicting opinions within the family and among friends, and there were lots of heated arguments – but politics was something widely and often discussed. Almost everyone read the newspapers, it wasn’t considered rude to bring up politics at a dinner party and everyone was expected to have an opinion – and some facts to support it. And though everyone felt strongly, most people wanted to be – and were -- polite. "


Therein lies the key, people used to be able to politely discuss their points of view with one another and believe me, I, like anyone else is, am much more likely to listen to an opposing view, and maybe even be persuaded to accept it, if it is presented politely and with strong arguments that are irrefutable. But as soon as someone starts in with personal attacks, name calling, etc. I, like most other people, immediately shut down and don't really care to hear any more that the person has to say because they have already insulted me, my intelligence and or my value as a human being. If you really feel strongly about an issue and you would like more of your fellow citizens to go to the polls and vote in favor of your particular viewpoint you would stand a much better chance of doing so if you can convince them of why your point of view is better for them and the nation as a whole than you will by insulting them.


Now granted, I personally believe that, unfortunately, ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 a great many pieces of legislation and policies were put into place that have undermined our constitution and democracy.  I, like many Americans, have to wonder if our votes even mean anything anymore when it seems that no matter who we put in office the agenda seems to be the same because someone else seems to be calling the shots. As some have pointed out, we have moved further from democracy (or Constitutional Republic if you prefer) and towards Fascism (No, not Nazism before that even starts). A system of government in which the powers of giant corporations and the powers of state combine to exploit the economic classes of people for the benefit of those in power. I do believe this decision in Montana and the Amendment proposed by Bernie Sanders is a step in the right direction though. Unfortunately, I am not sure if enough of the public can tear themselves away from their favorite T.V. programming and other distractions long enough to make a difference. Even among those who are paying attention and do realize there is something wrong that needs to be fixed, they are too focused on insulting one another to get together on those items they agree on to make a difference. The old, divide and conquer still works as effectively today as it did in the old Roman Empire.


I think the personal attacks and insults form of "political debate" probably started with talk radio in the 1990s. Sensationalism sells after all. But what are we buying?


Resources:


Alternet Article On Montana Supreme Court Ruling


The Raw Story article on Montana Court Decision


There are other news sources out there. I know those who are very partisan in their politics only accept news from "approved sources". Go see if your news source of choice also has an article. I know main stream media is, these days, pretty much owned and operated by a small handful of people so I take most news with a huge grain of salt and try to find sources from many points of view to try to deduce some kernel of truth hidden in the rhetoric. It's about all we are left with really until more people decide to demand better.


Saving American Democracy Amendment 


Morons Or Somethings Better by Bob Crandall