Monday, December 31, 2012

The Russians are not ten feet tall
       I've been through this drill, before. In my case it was back around two or three decades ago. My various military schools taught me how vaunted the Russian military was, and I believed it. But in the same time, I read a book by a Brit named Andrew Cockburn, and all he did was interview Russian military conscripts who had gotten out. Well, in both cases I got two different pictures.
            Now I read about a new Russian missile submarine of the Borei Class. And supposedly it is armed with the newly developed Buluva missiles. And the western articles tend to be by uninformed people, almost like they are just retransmissions of some earlier sales post by a company, maybe even a Country.
            As one who just wants to be informed, I think we lack for informed input these days.
            In my case I was in the artillery. And without boring you with geek talk, we all are taught there are 360 degrees in a circle, which is 6,280 mils in a circle. Well if you compare how countries work with this, then the Americans use 6,400 mils, the Russians 6,000 mils, and the Swedes 6,300 mils. All use round off rules which do introduce inaccuracies, but one does have to deal with education levels. And in this area, the Russians are not ten feet tall.
            And during Desert Storm we captured a lot of Russian military gear the Iraqi military had bought, and I was not too impressed with it. Now some of it had western gear in it, like British RACAL gear, and that got my attention.
            Now I suggest keeping all this in mind as you make up your mind. While the newest Russian gear may be pretty good, so is our Western gear. And our Western education and military training and maintenance is pretty good, too.
            So the Russians are not ten feet tall.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Returning to the old days
       It will never happen.
            Now something like our coming days may occur, and it will probably be some combination of the old days and the present days.  Our human ingenuity and willingness to suffer is simply astounding. So pat yourself on the back as you and your Family may have to suffer along the way.  And, thanks to our ancestors, we have learned a few tricks , too.
            What's a shame is that it may happen. After all, it did not have to happen.
            More good news!  If times get hard, then the new world USA is not a bad place to be for many reasons. Two include feeding yourself, and raising a Family. Now that is not to say it will be easy, but it is still much better than the alternatives, which will work, too.
            So are we to go back to something like "Little House on the Prairie".  I doubt it. It may be more like "Home in America", or something like that.
            And our future is something people will and can do.
            And it won't be the old days.

When New England Progressives Won't Tolerate Evangelicals
Once a center of 19th-century evangelism, Northfield, Mass., is unsettled by the prospect of a school with religious aims.
The small town of Northfield, Mass., was at the center of evangelical revivalism in the late 19th century. In 1879, the celebrated evangelist and publisher Dwight L. Moody returned to his birthplace to establish the Northfield Seminary for Girls. Thousands of visitors flocked to Moody's summer seminars to hear prominent preachers from around the world. A grand hotel was even built to accommodate them.
These days the school sits empty. There are no throngs of visitors to the sleepy town. Shopkeepers say they're struggling to stay in business, and there are no more gas stations.
Even so, the billionaire Oklahoma family that is trying to revive the town's evangelical presence is running into opposition.
Moody died in 1899. In later decades, the Northfield Seminary's evangelistic zeal grew cold, even as it became one of the Northeast's elite prep schools. In 1971, the seminary merged with its nearby brother school, Mount Hermon. Famous alumni of Northfield Mount Hermon now include White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, actress Uma Thurman and the late literature professor and pro-Palestinian activist Edward Said.
"Throughout the 20th century, a new Christian view stressing social justice and good works in place of personal salvation grew not only in the world, but also on the board of trustees," the school's website says, explaining why it abandoned the original vision of "creating generations of committed Christians who would continue [Moody's] evangelical efforts."
Unable to maintain its 217-acre campus and 43 buildings, the board of Northfield Mount Hermon tried to sell the campus for $20 million in 2005. With no takers and prohibitive annual upkeep costs, the school sold the property to the Green family of Oklahoma City, owners of the Hobby Lobby craft stores, for $100,000.
The Greens planned to give the property to the C.S. Lewis Foundation to launch a college with a Great Books curriculum. But the foundation's fundraising fell short by the end of 2011 and the Greens began soliciting new proposals. The family does insist that whoever ultimately takes over the school promote Christianity in "the tradition of Moody." That has people in Northfield worried about how well the new neighbors will fit in culturally.
More than 100 interested Christian groups toured the campus this year. When word got out that the contenders included Liberty University, founded by the fundamentalist Rev. Jerry Falwell, some school alumni launched a petition drive arguing that Liberty was a "homophobic and intellectually narrow institution" that would be "fundamentally incompatible" with the prep school's principles. Some residents of Northfield, home to 128 alumni and 60 employees of the school, held meetings to fight the transfer of the property to Liberty.
After Liberty was ruled out by the Green family, residents continued to worry. In April, at a meeting of the Northfield Campus Collaborative—established by the Northfield Board of Selectmen to improve communication between interested parties—resident Bruce Kahn "brought up the 'elephant in the room' which was the concern that an extremist Christian campus might polarize and upset the peace and tranquility of the town," according to meeting minutes. Resident Ted Thornton said it is a paradox that "we consider ourselves tolerant but we won't tolerate intolerance."
Jerry Pattengale, a college administrator and the Green family's representative tasked with finding a fitting recipient for the campus, attended the meeting. He suggested that fear of outsiders can be expressed by liberals as well as conservatives and should be discouraged by all communities.
By June, Mr. Pattengale narrowed down the finalists to Grand Canyon University and the domestic missions agency of the Southern Baptist Convention. Residents expressed concern about both Southern Baptist doctrines and the impact of the 5,000 students that Grand Canyon proposed to bring to Northfield.
In September, the Green family named Grand Canyon as the recipient of the campus. But five weeks later Grand Canyon walked away from the gift, citing millions in unanticipated infrastructure, environmental and other costs. Mr. Pattengale has said there is another candidate with the means to operate the campus, but "it's hard to get excited" because the mystery school is as big and conservative as Liberty University.
At another public meeting earlier this year—one that included questions about the contenders' views on creation and same-sex marriage—a Northfield resident argued that "the religious tradition of the area welcomes people of many faiths, belief or nonbelief. There is potential conflict with those who follow more restrictive teachings."
Of course, this is hardly the first time Northfield's status as an outpost of evangelical Christianity has roiled the town. Northfield had a "double character" by the end of the 19th century, newspaperman Herbert Collins Parsons wrote in 1937. Its "religious center for radiating the gospel to the world's far corners" was at odds with "the old New England town, quiet, orderly, self-reliant, moderately prosperous, cautiously progressive and consciously beautiful."
As the Green family moves forward with plans to find an organization to take over the campus, the town's character will be tested again. Does the progressive town's tolerance still extend to evangelicals?

Ms. Hemingway is a writer in Washington, D.C.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Eagle”

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.


It is the start of the school year, and my son's teacher taught the class a crucial lesson during their first week of school.

She gave the children a short poem ("The Eagle," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson) and a choice for homework: Memorize half of it for a 100% grade, or memorize half of it for a 75% grade.

I would have guessed that every single child would have chosen to memorize the whole poem. It is, after all, only six short lines. Who wouldn't want a 100% grade?

However, out of 18 students, 10 chose to memorize half and get the 75%, and only 8 memorized the whole poem for 100%.

The teacher used these results as an opportunity to teach a lesson about persistence and pushing hard in life. "Some of you need to push harder," she told the class.

I applaud her. Etiquette is about the behaviors and attitudes that lead to success. While we might not think that work ethic and persistence fall under etiquette skills, they certainly are among the many life skills that lead to success.

We all make choices in life, and there are consequences to our choices. We can do the whole job and get a great score, or do half a job and get a mediocre score. I appreciate my son's teacher for making this lesson clear to her students right at the beginning of the school year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Only in America over the Holidays

No Free Lunch
       The various headlines and my own observations over the last year or so suggest many of my fellow Americans think some things are free. Don't they know any better?
            Somebody is paying for all this "free" stuff, and often it is the taxpayer and consumer at all levels.  But whoever is paying, somebody is. There is no free lunch!
            The next big shoe to drop is when people quit loaning us money, and we have to live within our own means. In the case of federal taxes, these means are considerable. But for those used to "free" things, they may have a hard time going without, or so I think.
            And this adjustment period will probably drag us all down.
            What I fear brings up an old analogy about draining the well dry without allowing it to be replenished. Without water, we have a big problem, and without much future hope for water in the near term, like a year or so, then things begin to look really bleak. Think of the extended drought in the 1930's, or think of an extended financial adjustment to the real world. In both cases, times did and will get hard, again, or so I think. Like real hard, many people with be miserable, with some dying over the probably long haul during the adjustment period.
            Now all is not doom and gloom.  But many Americans may not adjust well to things like rolling electrical blackouts. Practically that means like having electricity for maybe 4 hours a day, and at unforecasted  times. Or the present times when cars can reasonably be expected to last 250,000 miles return to lasting maybe 80,000 miles. And maybe they will get higher mileages, but cost twice as much and be less safe in order to get these mileages. Maybe power steering for cars and trucks will become an orderable add-on for those who can afford it. Maybe the drugs we get in the mail go away for some other system that will probably cost more? And be less reliable. Well, you get the picture. All are examples of "no free lunch" and what the impacts might become as we drain the well of our present day prosperity and high quality of life. 

           For those who think or have been taught that capitalism is a bad thing, well it might be. But in the same vein, the alternatives look even worse, at least to me.  Imagine alternatives like developing and making medicines at a loss, and the probable end of such a system, and the making of the same medicines. In this case the alternative is probably to have some government do the same, and historically it will cost a lot more for the same thing. In this example, the well gets drained, too. And people will begin to die in higher numbers. Ah, the human factor in all this. That is where captialism shines.
            For those who favor "subsidizing" some good idea of theirs, think of that as a "free lunch" idea, too. Somebody is paying for that "subsidizing".
            Now nobody wants to return to living situations like fiefdoms, and warlords, and serfdom for ourselves and and our progeny. But the free lunch idea puts us on this path. And we have seemingly even voted for it. And it is already underway.
            Just how it all sorts out, only time will tell.
            In an earlier time, public policy and the laws and policies and regulations of elected politicians at all levels tended to "replenish" the well of water and life and prosperity.
            But for sure there is no free lunch.

Norman Schwarzkopf on Modern War

            From "It Doesn't Take a Hero" (1992), the autobiography of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who died Dec. 27:

I am often asked to comment on the nature of future conflicts and the size of our armed forces.
I feel that retired general officers should never miss an opportunity to remain silent concerning matters for which they are no longer responsible. Having said that, I believe a few general (no pun intended) comments are in order. I am quite confident that in the foreseeable future armed conflict will not take the form of huge land armies facing each other across extended battle lines, as they did in World War I and World War II or, for that matter, as they would have if NATO had faced the Warsaw Pact on the field of battle. Conflict in the future will be similar to that which we have seen in the recent past. Both of the military operations in which we were involved in the Middle East were the result of regional conflicts that grew to proportions that began to impact the rest of the world. The "tanker war" was a result of the Iran-Iraq war, and, of course, the Gulf War came about as a result of a dispute between Iraq and other oil-producing nations.
As I have earlier stated, when I took command of Central Command, there were thirteen such conflicts occurring in my area of responsibility alone. Since that time many have abated, but others far more troublesome have emerged to take their place. One need only look at the tragic events taking place in what we used to call Yugoslavia or the ethnic, religious and nationalistic clashes in the former Soviet Union to realize that such dangerous regional conflicts will be with us for years to come. Any one of them could lead us to war.
What does this tell us about the future size of our armed forces? First, it does tell us that reductions are possible. But it does not tell us that reductions by arbitrary amounts set solely on the basis of political or fiscal considerations are the answer. It frightens me when I hear someone propose a hundred-billion-dollar cut in our armed forces without any rationale other than that the money can be used elsewhere. The purpose of our armed forces is to protect our national interests and defend our country. Before we allow deep cuts in our forces we should be sure that we have made a thorough analysis of what our national interests will be for the next twenty years and where and how we might be required to commit our forces. Only then can we honestly assess what size our armed forces should be. Then cuts can be made. . . .
Finally, we must ensure that our forces remain flexible enough to handle unforeseen contingencies. The future is not always easy to predict and our record regarding where we will fight future wars is not the best. If someone had asked me on the day I graduated from West Point, in June 1956, where I would fight for my country during my years of service, I'm not sure what I would have said. But I'm damn sure I would not have said, "Vietnam, Grenada, and Iraq."
The day I left Riyadh to return to the United States, General Khalid made a statement in a speech that every American should think about. He said, "If the world is only going to have one superpower, thank God it is the United States of America." When I think about the nations in the past fifty years that could have emerged as the world's only superpower—Tojo's Japan, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Mao's China—and the darkness that would have descended on this world if they had, I appreciate the wisdom of Khalid's words. Because we have emerged as the only remaining superpower, we have awesome responsibility both to ourselves as a nation and to the rest of the world. I don't know what that responsibility will mean to the future of our great country, but I shall always remain confident of the American people's ability to rise to any challenge.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thoughts on bartering
            If things get so difficult that bartering becomes a main source of getting the things we need, then here are some thoughts to start the process.
            First don't barter for a while. Now whether that is one month or several months will depend on the situation, and especially the season. Said another way, there is usually no imagined way to enter the barter process early. Said another way, time is on the side of those who wait and see what is going on. Now just how much time will depend on the situation and the season, like the cold season or the hot season, or even in-between seasons.
            Second, is not to barter away things we truly need, like food and seeds to grow food from.  Add salt into this equation, too. And clothes appropriate to the season we should keep, including all rain gear. The same applies to implements we would use, like axes, garden tools, etc. The assumption is that the existing fresh water and waste water system here can be protected and maintained.
            Third is to keep all security gear. Now that will depend on what is here, but at least initially, don't barter it away without thinking it out.
            Fourth is to keep most medical gear and medicines, and the Hemlocks has a lot. Before any is bartered away, a good inventory must be done. And keep in mind perhaps one can barter away portions, vice all or nothing, like save some for us. The appointed doc will have a lot of say in this matter.
            Remember we can't eat money. And assume a more Little House on the Prairie type existence. Most type A personalities will find it difficult as life slows down because it has to.
            And food spices get their own category for thinking about things.  We people like spices in our food, and the Hemlocks has a lot of spices, but how we might barter with it is to be determined.
            Now bartering should have a head barter person, like someone suited and that enjoys it. And this person will have a Hemlocks boss. Face it, some of us are better than others at bartering, and that may become an important job. And they will have some equipment to help them. One is a bicycle, two is a wheel barrow, and three is an utility cart. All three of these are designed for going to Monterey, a 20 minute walk from the Hemlocks, probably with security. And some humans may come here to the Hemlocks, and in this case coordination with security will be needed, probably to include establishing a barter area to go to, and no further. I would suggest the Cliff Field Pond area and shelter as a start, with people from Monterey using the TVA right-of-way for access.
            Another thought is that barter can be for things, and also for skills. The barter person should keep that in mind. For example, the Hemlocks may have a Home School that accepts some outsiders, like for split wood or food. And one with midwife skills should keep barter in mind, like help with a pregnancy in exchange for food. The lay minister may be able to offer religious services, too, though Monterey is full of lay ministers. The sky's the limit in what skills can be bartered. Heck we even have a cemetery area if needed. Most relatives also have a college education, and that will help in so many surprising ways.
            My last thought is the Golden Rule, like treat others like we want to be treated. That idea may often play into the barter equation. A community usually does best when people help each other as best they can.  And this community is pretty good at that. And the Hemlocks is part of that community.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tough Trip Through Paradise
       As a now old guy, two principles come up. One is to never ever let the truth interfere with a good story.  Second is the corollary, which goes something like nothing screws up a good story like an eyewitness.
            I myself enjoyed one story about being around a campfire with one of his Indian wives. Well, in the story, a local bear was coming in, and the yard dogs ran between his legs getting away from the bear, and tried to hide behind him and his wife. Last, as the story goes, he pretty much just kissed his tail good bye.
            So here follows is a wiki article about a book from an old guy.

                    Tough Trip Through Paradise 1878-1879 is the autobiography of Andrew Garcia, a man of Hispanic descent who moved north to Montana in 1876 and became a mountain man. He wrote down his story in his later years, but was so afraid that it would be turned into a dime novel that he hid his papers in a dynamite box. The papers were discovered years after his death and edited by Bennett H Stein into Tough Trip Through Paradise. The book covers Garcia's time in Montana from 1878 through 1879.

Garcia served as a herder and packer for the U.S. Army in Montana, in the Yellowstone and Musselshell country, working for Colonel Samuel D. Sturgis' "Boys in Blue" out of Fort Ellis from 1876-1877. He was there during the Nez Perce War. In 1878, he left his job with the army to join a man named Beaver Tom, going into business with him, trapping and trading for beaver pelts. While trading with the Pend d'Oreilles tribe, Garcia met and married a Nez Perce woman, In-who-lise (White Feather), who had been with Chief Joseph's tribe when they ran from the U.S. Cavalry. The book gives her perspective on the final engagement with 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Bear Paw, as Garcia and she travel through the battleground area.

                        Andrew Garcia's sitting down to write out his story came out of his awareness that members of his family did not want to hear his story, but that others did. He met historian L.V. McWhorter, who was researching the Nez Perce Indians.The two corresponded by letter, and Garcia began to write out his story. He worked late at night, after working on his ranch all day. The manuscript which Garcia wrote was several thousand pages long. Andrew Garcia packed the pages away in dynamite boxes for safekeeping.

One of the biggest dangers to their survival was family. According to one of Andrew Garcia's great-grandsons, Doug Garcia, the manuscript telling his story was not welcomed by them. Andrew Garcia's wife did not want to know about who had come before her. There were objections to the course language Garcia used. Andrew's grandsons were punished for trying to sneak and read it. Doug himself has come to regret the loss of the papers to his generation. The papers were sold to Bennet H. Stein, who ultimately edited some of them into the book. The manuscript was kept by the Rock Foundation (founded by Stein to keep the papers safe), and then went to the Park County Museum after Stein's death. In 2004 a decision was made to transfer the papers to the Montana Historical Society in Helena, where Doug Garcia and others should be able to access them.

Online Article in Montana Pioneer magazine. The article's author read Garcia's original handwritten manuscripts and came to doubt Garcia's memoir. Discusses the man Andrew Garcia and the editing of his written manuscripts into a story with a strong element of love. He talks about the possibility that Garcia lied about the women in his life. He also talks about the quest for Garcia's Native American children and wives and brings up disturbing questions about what might really have happened to Garcia's first wife.

December 25th, 2012 - 3:34 am

By Dr. Helen Smith

Merry Christmas everyone.

And for you Dads out there, it’s nice to know that you are the 10th most requested gift from Santa according to an article at The Telegraph:

When it comes to Christmas, it might be safe to assume children will ask Santa for an extensive list of toys, games and treats.

But a survey of their typical lists for Father Christmas has shown many have more serious concerns, requesting “a dad” instead.

A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list, closely followed by a request for a real-life reindeer.

A “pet horse” was the third most popular choice, with a “car” making a bizarre entry at number four.

Despite their material requests, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a “Dad”.

The World Is Flat, Again

Published: August 18, 2012 from the New York Times 

I’LL never forget my first globe. It was a basketball-size sphere with textured mountains and shining cerulean seas, but its crowning inner glory was a light bulb. Suspended in the darkness of my bedroom for most of the nights of my childhood, it served first as a night light unto my world. But night after night and year after year, it showed me the makings of things like nights and years and a permanently marvelous truth: We live on a sphere, turning in the light of a star.
I plotted many things on that globe, including my career as a pilot. I have two globes today (a light-up model and a mind-wringing Japanese jigsaw sphere). But while stylized images of globes still appear occasionally on Web sites, newscasts and logos, actual globes are increasingly rare. When did you last see a globe in an office, or a living room? American schools, too, have seen a decline. Officials for major school systems — including Chicago and Seattle — report that most classrooms no longer have them. The last globe you saw was probably in a child’s bedroom — a high-minded toy.
Not that they haven’t had a good run. The first globes were “celestial” models of the heavens — what Atlas shoulders (it’s the sky, after all, that seems round). The first “terrestrial” globe was made around 150 B.C. (by Crates of Mallus, in case you’re ever in a barroom brawl over what the Stoic grammarians ever did for us). The oldest Earth globe that survives today is from 1492. It was spectacularly ill timed, though a colorful cast of saints, mermen and Sciapods make up for the absent Americas.
Just across the Columbian divide is the Hunt-Lenox globe, circa 1510, which features portions of the Americas, and the weighty term “New World.” The globe also bears cartography’s only known deployment of “here be dragons” (in Southeast Asia). Elizabethans, in particular, loved globes — “the whole earth, a present for a prince,” was Queen Elizabeth’s awe-struck response to a gift of a globe — and then there is the name of a certain theater. In “The Comedy of Errors,” Dromio rudely maps the portly kitchen wench: England on the chin, France on the forehead, and just you guess about the Netherlands.
Such glorious history makes the decline of globes only more perplexing. Perhaps no four-billion-year-old design can escape the occasional hiccup in brand maintenance. But there are more likely culprits. As reference tools, home globes can’t compete with detailed, up-to-date online resources (though note the Wikipedia logo, an incomplete globe). The decline of globes in schools, according to Robert Chisholm, program director for history and social studies in Boston’s public schools, is also because of the squeeze of standardized math and English testing on subjects like geography.
It is the absence of globes in most professional environments, though, that reveals the most about us. Don Draper of “Mad Men” has an office globe. But none of the dozen or so executives I contacted could remember when they last saw one. The more global their work, the more they found the idea of a globe unappealing. Globalization is the alleged triumph of travel, trade and connectivity over the planet’s bricks-and-mortar (or rocks-and-water) limitations. It’s a measure of globalization’s success — and hubris, perhaps — that its original icon appears literal and unsophisticated.
What’s lost when we lose sight of globes? An accurate sense of home, to start. The view of a Roman street on Google Maps is wonderful — but only after a globe has shown you Italy. And no online or paper map has yet succeeded in stretching a round planet onto a flat surface. Choose your complicated failure: Mercator? Sinusoidal equal area? Equidistant conic? Only a globe is both simple and right — simple because it’s right.
Globes show why maps are imperfect — but also what maps even are. Susan Heffron, an education specialist with the Association of American Geographers, argues that online tools should never entirely displace school globes, particularly given the increasingly recognized importance of tactile, hands-on learning. Even for complex phenomena, like seasons and the length of days, a globe and flashlight work better than computer animations.
Indeed, whatever the irony of globalization’s making globes unworldly, it’s arguably made them more necessary. Dr. Heffron emphasizes that many environmental and geopolitical issues (thawing Arctic Sea routes, for instance) are more easily grasped on a globe. Mr. Chisholm, the Boston teacher, describes various lessons — students tracing the life cycle of a sneaker across the globalized modern economy, say — as hugely more effective when actual spheres turn under small fingers.
Every kid deserves a globe to ponder (and touch). What about adults — hunting, gathering and car-pooling in a world that most days looks flat? The best reason for adults to rediscover globes is that, for all but the most silicon-hearted among us, nothing so easily and beautifully conjures our small place in a big scheme. After all, we live not in but on a world, one so achingly beautiful that we can hardly imagine we are free to gaze or sit down upon it anytime we like. Your family and your living room deserve a convenient, all-in-one incarnation of the transcendence of the Earthrise image, the grammar of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and “The Tree of Life,” the forgotten romance of our common home and of all travel.
A home globe doesn’t have to look old-fashioned. There are clean, modern designs now. Find one you like, and put it where you’re likely to stand up and touch it, to feel under your fingers what’s under your feet. Spin it slowly around and think of Marilynne Robinson’s reminder in “Gilead,” that the sun’s “light is constant” — that there’s only ever been one day. Or, as my 7-year-old goddaughter sees it, “I like that there’s just one ocean.” A globe shows us that there’s only one of a lot of things — and that we’re all in it, and on it, together.
Mark Vanhoenacker is a writer and airline pilot based in New York.

Monday, December 24, 2012

From an email to my relatives

New wood cooking stove for the Hemlocks

            Only 50 are coming to the USA, and the Hemlocks gets one of them. Most go to Mexico.

In the cold season the heat off of the exhaust pipe will generate needed room heat. I think it might get moved to a covered porch in the warm season. In the end, all exhaust must end up outside for human health reasons.

Supposedly it uses 70% less wood, and the seasoned tree tops are already in the large compound yard here to provide the small wood needed. After that is used up, deadfall in the yard and nearby woods should work just fine.

My deployed time in the Marines has accommodated me to the lower standards than most of us are used to. Of course in good times, I just use public electricity for the usual reasons.

This stove uses two zoom versa rocket stoves, and the Hemlocks already has one of them, too. In theory I can even use my pressure cookers on it (like for putting up food). I say in theory, because I still use my electric stove to put up food. Here’s a YouTube video on how to cook with a zoom versa rocket stove:

It can also use coal, and the Hemlocks has a high quality anthracite coal seam about 1/4 mile away from the Compound. Here’s one review on cooking with charcoal:

The Hemlocks has two fold out Coleman “camp” ovens for baking, either on this stove or any of the other wood stoves. The design goes back over a half century, and I know it works because I have used it.

Add in the solar oven, and we can bake OK, I think.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Just a story from our past
       What prompts this story is two things.
            One is that I watched my grandfather, who I lived with at the time, watch TV religiously just to get the weather forecast. He was a farmer, though he lived in the small city when I watched him while I lived with him. We were in the Nashville Tennessee area circa late 1950's. The small city was Franklin, TN. And he was my grandfather through my mother's side. In other words, he was my mother's father. And the TV was a Dumont TV, or so I think.
            Second is that I know about a Dumont TV in the attic, and I was doing an estate settlement circa 2002. Well, the TV didn't work, and I decided to can it as part of the estate settlement.
            So I started doing some homework as part of the estate settlement. And this is what I found. Like I said, this is just a story from our past.
            Here's a Wikipedia link about Dumont TV back then:

The importance of music at the Hemlocks
            In the front room in the main house at the Hemlocks is a large four legged wood box with a small vernier dial on the front. This "thing" is just an old fashioned AM (amplitude modulation) radio (now defunct, though the guts are still in it) which connected  to a folded dipole antenna that was on the porch. There are even grooves in one window seal for the antenna to go through. I imagine, though I don't know really, that that is how important a radio was to the old time people here, like our ancestors. I can imagine them listening to the WSM Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights, too, just to listen to local music.
            Now days, we can use a small radio to do about the same thing. And the batteries for this are rechargeable so we should be able to sustain all this using existing local water power and even solar power.
            The point of this post is to emphasize how important I think it is for whoever is here to be able to listen on the radio to news, weather, and music. And in a hard times scenario, one may have to find the "channels", but that is something we humans are pretty good at. And remember the idea of radio "skip" and the "ionosphere", which basically means radio reception is better during the night time than the day time. This idea applies to FM (frequency modulation), also. Basically, the ionosphere rises during the dark time which enhances radio.
            Now the Hemlocks also has a pretty good reading library for entertainment and instruction. But, as the old time expression goes, variety is the spice of life, so the radio and music will probably be invaluable in their own right. And we don't need electricity to listen to the radio. A little firelight will work just fine.
            And don't forget about singing in its' own right, too. That can be pretty good entertainment, too. So can reading and telling stories to the listener.
            Last, the Hemlocks also has a large selection of music that takes public electricity to run. So we may go without some of this if times get hard. That's what a radio can provide that the Hemlocks can't provide, if times get hard.  Said another way, others may still provide music, or so I hope, and expect. We just have to find it.
            And it all may not be from the USA, and it all may not be in English, but by golly it will be music, and probably enjoyable. And again it will work best during our night time when radio waves skip best, wherever we live. What a good time for music.
            And that is how important music and the news and weather forecasts will be, and always is, or so I think.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus


I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
She didn't see me creep
Down the stairs to have a peek
She thought I was tucked
Up in my bedroom fast asleep.

Then, I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white.
Oh, what a laugh it would have been,
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night!



The need for leadership is crying out
       The situation is obvious to me.
            A lot of low-life American people are all too often rioting and fighting over things like impressive shoes.  What a sad state of affairs, if my proposition is on mark.
            And I do buy the argument that the problem is more economic than racial, since Negroes, Blacks, African-Americans, whatever, get most of the blame. But have you noticed how poor most of these people are. Heck, I might even riot, too. And many of these people I suspect are dependent on government to live, which in the end depends on tax payers providing the funding for them to live.
            Hence the argument for some political leadership, which these days does not seem to be happening at any level. Perhaps it is just too politically incorrect.
            But in the same vein, the whole system may collapse, too.
            So what to do? Vote I would say.
            And provide some leadership along the way.
            For example, have laws, programs, policies, practices, whatever, that promote a two parent home.  Now that is my example of leadership.
            And I suspect those hired American bureaucrats who implement the aforementioned will do a pretty good job at it, if they just get some leadership.

Things to be thankful for
       The idea is often reserved for the Thanksgiving time in the USA. If you think about it, about anytime will do. I often use the Christmas time to be thankful for what I do have. And I have a lot for an old man of 64 living in rural east Tennessee, USA. And some old ideas apply, like if you are divorced, probably one person's trash is another person's  gold mine.  Or if times seem hard, and they may be, things probably could be worse. Said another way, our human ingenuity and willingness to suffer sure do help in many situations, and I need to remind myself now and then about what I do have and to be thankful for it.

            So here goes my I am sure your list is probably different.

·       I have food, shelter, and clothing.

·       I have clean water, and a waste water system, all gravity powered.

·       I have yard dogs that help my security, and a way to keep feeding them.

·       I have a lot of land for the future.

·       I have a lot of training and experience from my past times, including the Explorer Scouts, the USMC, and even my time helping run a large Plantation in SC. For example my Scout training even helped save a drowning person's life.

·       I have heat in the cold season.

·       My standards are low.

·       I know how to cook, and the gear to do it with.

·       I can educate my grandchildren if I have to.

·       I have a lot of infrastructure, like a 3-sided shelter, a large barn, and several storage sheds, plus other stuff.

·       I have two cottages.

·       I have several ways to make electricity, and to recharge rechargeable batteries.

·       I have OK medical first aid type training and experience, and the supplies to help me.

·       I have seeds and land to grow future food on.

·       I am knowledgeable enough to be dangerous.

·       I respect people more religious than me, and plan for it.

            Now if this sounds like work, well, it is. What's new?

            And of course there is a down side, too. But this is Christmas time, and a time for me to count my blessings.