Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The perfect human storm
Well, it happened to me, too.

All this post is being written from my backup computer, by the way.

I watch the terrible storm damage on TV about part of the eastern USA as I also work on trying to save my data from a failing computer hard drive. It never fails, both things hit about the same time. Thank goodness, locally I have a backup for most of my important things to me, data. But still I wonder just how much I covered for backup, probably like the people who suffered the storm damage to include the fires that simply burned up their homes and all the things important to the residents of these homes. That's a big deal to them.

Now I suspect the home areas that burned down is small percentage percentage wise, but a big deal for those that suffered the consequences.

In other words, back up things important to you where you live. Usually that means storing in another place from your home, like a relatives house or an outside barn where I live. Anything but my abode, which might burn down sometime.

And, of course, and in the end, then we may just lose heirlooms, and other such important things to us.

But we do have our memories, and as long as we survive, and can tell our Family stories to our descendents, then things will probably sort out OK.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Classical things keep happening
       Usually it is a matter of when, not if.
            Bad weather still happens, like the recent "perfect" storm in the USA, but also tornadoes, terrible thunder and wind storms, cyclones, typhoons, tsunamis, monsoon weather, floods, droughts, wild fires, freak ocean waves, winter cold and blizzards, etc, etc.
            The human population keeps growing.
            One group of humans still tries to dominate other groups of humans in too many places.
            Megalomaniacs still strive to gain power, whatever that is.
            Boys and girls want to get together and have their own families.
            People love their Family members.
            Electricity and its benefits keep expanding.
            Wars keep happening.  The classical saying that wars are extensions of politics by another means has validity.
            The physical world keeps changing. The classical example is the movement of the continents.  But don't forget other things like pole shifts, and magnetic reversal, and sun events like major magnetic storms, plus volcanoes and earthquakes.
            Humans pursue being warm, dry, and fed.
            The sun comes up, and the sun goes down.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Solar at the Hemlocks is not all it is cracked up to be
            Bottom line, where I live, it's just not that great. I have better alternatives.
            Now here's my requirement. If the main source of electricity fails, like public electricity, and my backup fails, which is mostly water turbine powered, and then if that fails (like a fuse blows*) and I have to go to solar, so be it.
            Now to add to my requirement, it is mostly industrial kind of things, like to power my freezer compressor to preserve my grains and seeds. That is where public electricity works well, and I like it. God bless the Americans that make that all happen. But water turbine stuff is pretty good, too, and solar comes in a poor third.
            Let me say it another way where I live. By the way it is at 36 north latitude in the USA, at about 2,000 feet of altitude, and full of trees. And the local weather is often not favorable to solar things.
            Said even another way, bad weather reduces electricity production. Said even another way, if all else fails then I have to make plans, and I have. Mostly I have plastic containers to protect the freezer ingredients from local vermin, and of course shelf life will be reduced. Lord knows that doesn't happen, and probably won't. But who knows?
            Now for those who choose solar, consider this. Just what is your objective?
            For me where I live, solar is fine for things like battery charging and other such lower demands.  It's the keeping my local freezer working that is up for grabs. And, by the way, I have a pretty good setup for solar and battery storage.
            Anyway, just a report for you to decide on.

* Now I have backup fuses, but have never tested it all, so I don't know for sure. So worse case, I will just use aluminum foil strips to keep it running. Now I have aluminum foil.

Weather affects us all
       The present forecasts for the storms affecting the NE USA coast and many  affected eastern inland areas of the USA prompt this post. Heck all this may affect me, too, in the end. For example, the local electrical maintenance people may travel to repair all this forecasted electrical power damage, and leave the local populace also vulnerable. Heck, I have even had Hemlocks branches already fall on my roof where I live.
            The usual global warming things that blame humans for most of the problem sure get the attention of so many, until a storm like this one comes along.
            Now I live (in east Tennessee), which is west of the east coast USA mountains so it is just cold and damp around here (kinda like the late fall here), but no snow is happening or forecasted, thank goodness, and the temperature should stay above freezing. I am trying to grow fall tomatoes after all, and the cooler temperatures are slowing my effort down. I am beginning to think I will have to can green tomatoes, but I guess I can do that, too.
            So when I think about being small, like the effect of the weather on me and the many others being affected by the coming "perfect" storm in the USA, then my first thoughts are the attaboys and attagirls to those who already live, prepare, and suffer through hurricanes, tornadoes, terrible thunder storms, typhoons, monsoon rains, bitter cold winter winds and weather, and bone dry summer droughts, where ever you live. Good on ya!
            So for the global warming types who blame humans, just keep in mind all the other weather that goes on, and affects us all, and has for thousands of years.
            Last, where I live (latitude 36 north and 2,000 feet in altitude) and full of trees, even I have already begun wearing long johns. After all, the traditional winter is coming, and I had better prepare for it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Selecting the best people
       The intent of this post is to question the process for selecting the best people for a position, be it a job or a even student slot at a school.
            I think to even ask such a question is probably politically incorrect to many people. Said another way, why question a policy and practice that has been going on for decades now.
            Now I understand, or at least think I understand, the intent of policies like affirmative action, and that is along the ideas of the diamond in the rough where people suppressed by past prejudice can blossom in higher positions of responsibility and judgment. And in theory, the community and the nation is better off for it.  Said another way, such policies are for the good of us all.
            Obvious positions that affect us all are positions like fireman, policeman, law student, and medical student; and up to federal positions like the military, CIA, and even elected positions.
            And I have personally observed the bitterness and frustration of people put in positions that are simply over their head. To me good health and self-respect are more important goals for my children than some nifty job.
            But I also recognize the need for the community and the nation to gain a benefit, too.
            So I question, using a connect the dots method, if we, as communities and a nation, are actually hurting ourselves in pursuit of these wonderful and often idealistic goals.  There's plenty of evidence to suggest this, as politically incorrect as it may be to even bring this question up.
            So like the intent of a mission statement, is the intent the individual, or the community and nation as a whole when we try select the best people? 

            Let me conclude with one personal story. I used to teach at an all black college in Atlanta, so I do know students desiring to improve themselves had good alternatives. Said another way, in this wonderful land I call the new world USA, we have many alternatives (schools in my example) to improve ourselves and prepare ourselves for professional growth, if we want to.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Contentious issues
       Everybody knows about the subject. The classical example is when our kids fight, and just what to believe and how to react on the fly when we parents get involved? That dilemma is as old as humanity, itself.
            So when Americans assigned to do work in overseas places get murdered, like what happened in Benghazi, then that gets my attention.
            I guess some people are more casual about murder than I am. I am an old man, but still prefer life for now. I suspect most mothers and fathers, wives, kids, and siblings probably think this way, too.
            So like a parent, especially if I can observe the events real time, then I have a dilemma. Like what to do, both short term, and even long term.
            But for sure, at least to me, I would not let my kid die.
            Only time will tell how it all sorts out, but for sure these are contentious issues. And those we both elect and they appoint have a lot of review coming, I both suspect and really hope for. Now I do believe it will sort out in the end, and will take time, for all the reasons guessed at. Said another way, I sure hope whoever is responsible for what happened can be reviewed by people with integrity, and their judgments acted on.
            As contentious as things may be, we all want our relatives to live, I also think.

We Have Not Lost a Generation to Liberalism
King syrup and mom's homemade biscuits for dinner. We five Marcus kids, of which I am the oldest, loved it. It never dawned on us that our great dinner was due to Mom and Dad being low on funds. When we moved out of the government projects in Baltimore City to our home in Pumphery, a black suburban community, it was like moving to Disney World. I was around ten years old.
I met David and Charles, who taught me how to make a bow and arrows. Nobody's eye got poked out. We fished in Patapsco River. On Sunday afternoons, a majority of the community swam "down the river." Years later, I learned that the river was supposedly polluted. But I never heard of anyone suffering ill effects from swimming and eating the fish.
We played baseball a lot -- two bats, one ball, and various old gloves. There was always the threat of Michael Avery hitting the ball into the woods. Then we'd lose it, and no more baseball.
On Wednesday nights, Dad drove us (Mom and five kids) to Bible study at his storefront church in Baltimore City. Heading back home, there was a tiny doughnut shop just before the Hanover Street Bridge. On occasion, without warning, Dad would push the brakes. Then we knew we were in for a treat. Best I can remember, he purchased a dozen assorted doughnuts. Let me tell you, we were happy.
So why am I rambling about such nostalgia? My point is that in the past, it took far less to make children happy and appreciative.
I am on the Rebuild America Defeat Obama bus tour. At breakfast in a Michigan hotel, Mary and I were discussing the final Romney/Obama debate. A twenty-something waiter, while pouring our coffee, enthusiastically chimed in. What a great kid!
This bright young go-getter said that what struck him most during the debate was Obama saying the rich should pay more. He thought, "Why? Why should people be punished for working harder?" My waiter went on to say, "The problem with my generation is that too many of them think they are entitled. 'Entitled' should be erased from their vocabulary."
Folks, I wanted to give that kid a bear hug right there in the middle of the restaurant. Instead, I was extremely generous with my gratuity. Upon handing him cash, I said, "Thank you for not being a liberal." This young man gave me hope for our future. I would not be surprised to meet him years later and learn that he had grown to own a chain of hotels or restaurants. But such a scenario is possible only by firing Obama in November.
While my conservative waiter was quite refreshing, I do not believe him to be unique. I do not subscribe to the theory that liberalism has successfully infected a majority of our youths with EMD (Entitlement Mindset Disease). Liberalism is incompatible with the human spirit.
Despite liberal teachers' stealth attempts to indoctrinate/infect our kids, beginning in kindergarten and continuing through college, most humans are instinctively conservative. Liberalism may seduce youths for a season. But upon hearing the truth, seasoned with experience, most will eventually embrace conservatism.
Churchill said, "If you are young and not liberal, then you have no heart; but if you are old and not conservative, then you have no brain."
Obama is really counting on his ability to "play" our youths -- exploiting the uninformed, idealistic, and emotion-driven college voter. This is why he shows up at so many colleges. Obama promises cheap tuition while killing the machine (private sector business) that would provide jobs when these students graduate.
In typical Democrat fashion, Obama deals with youths as one of his numerous idiot voting blocs. He manipulates each group by creating an imaginary enemy out to get them. Then he vows to protect them from the conservative/Republican monster supposedly attacking their group.
This is admittedly anecdotal, but I am increasingly hearing from youths who are "thinkers" who realize that Obama is merely a con man peddling socialism. And they ain't buyin' it.
I am telling you, folks, youth turnout for Obama is not going to be anywhere near what it was in '08. Obama-mania is over. I keep hearing the B.B. King song in my head: "The thrill is gone! The thrill is gone away from you!"
So yes, kids today seem to need more stuff than we did in my day to make them happy. Still, certain truths regarding the human spirit are universal and timeless. For example: self-esteem does not come from people giving you stuff. True self-esteem comes from individual personal achievement. And that, my friends, is a foundational principle of conservatism.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The nature of change
       I often wonder how well my relatives will change if times get hard.
            I suspect many will not take it well, and others will do quite well. I guess it is a personality kind of thing.
            Now let me describe well, like having running clean water, and waste water treatment 24/7, like not having to live in soiled land, like in Haiti after the last earthquake there.  Add in the ability to have heat during the cold season, and even grow and store and eat food year round, and even harvest local animals to eat for protein and fat, and that is well enough to me. Plus I think I can defend it, too. I sure hope so, at least.
            None of this is Little House on the Prairie stuff, but something better. Nobody has to live off the land, which is a tough way to go. Now it is also not like turning on the thermostat and paying the bill at the end of the month, or even going to the grocery store, but is still better than Little House on the Prairie stuff, like a new future that will be different from today.
            So I suspect the future will be unique wherever we live, and different of course from today, especially depending on where we live and our own circumstances. We humans are pretty ingenious, and also willing to change, if we have to.
            So hope springs eternal.

Home solar reports to my Family
Bottom line, it was pretty much as I thought. Direct sunlight works a lot better than indirect sunlight. For example, indirect light makes maybe 0.1 volts in my local setup, but direct sunlight makes like 4 and 5 amps of voltage.
So I put out the solar oven out at around 0945 during an indirect solar time, and things were pretty much dead “baking cookies wise”. So I just “nibbled” on the raw cooking dough. Basically, the Hemlocks is good at most things, but the solar orientation sucks, like the front porch only gets direct sunlight in the afternoon. Heck, by then I may have nibbled more cookie dough.

More to come later, especially when the Hemlocks gets direct sun on the front porch and the oven picks up.

Bottom line, the solar oven works OK as long as it gets direct sun. I ended up making sugar cookies yesterday using the solar oven.

Like our cars which need fuel to run, the solar oven needs sunshine to run. So it doesn’t work at night, nor very well with only indirect sunlight.

As a practical matter, here at the Hemlocks it is best used if I can use the sun to get direct sunlight, which I can do after the sun comes up. I call it chasing the sun, which best case means moving it once or twice every hour.

Now if you have a better place than the Hemlocks front porch, then one can put it out in the AM, and have it slow cook during the day, and have a nice meal in the PM, or so is advertised. I haven’t tried that yet.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hemlocks Fall Color leaf report as of 10/22/12 

This year’s fall color leaf change is around 50% right now.

Said another way, around half of the leaves are turning colors, but most leaves are still on the trees.

Remember we also have a lot conifers around here, like Hemlocks (also called spruce locally)  and mostly Virginia Pines, that stay green year round. Now there are also some Yellow Pines and many White Pines around, too. Many Virginia Pines tend to grow around the cliff edges along with Chestnut Oaks, too. And lord knows, this place has a lot of cliff edges, being at the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau.

My guess is that this year’s color change will be average to below average, with lots of brown colored leaves mixed in with all the prettier yellow and red colors.

For those trying to plan a best time to visit to see the leaves around here, my guess is around November 1st around here, maybe a week earlier. When the leaves fall, it generally happens in a few days and is weather related, of course.

Of course I live here, so it is always a pretty time for me, whenever it happens.

Home health care
       Bottom line, don't get sick.
            But we all know it does happen, like we all get sick sometime, and we should plan for it, too.
            Now having been a Marine, I know I am supposed to tough it out, but that is silly when I think about it.  In other words, if one gets hurt, like an abrasion, just clean it as best you can with what you have, and do it right away, like within an hour or so, and protect it, and let the body heal itself. Our bodies are pretty neat in that regards. I call these situations preventive medicine.
            There was a time less than a century ago and before antibiotics where I read a tennis pro had a blister pop, and it got infected, and the infection killed him. Now with antibiotics, one can probably treat the same infection OK, but the point of this post is don't let it get to that state, including the expense of treatment and extra time lost if the treatment is successful. Now there are other old fashioned ways to treat these infections (like powdered sulfur or 3% hydrogen peroxide or taking zinc), but I think antibiotics work pretty good if one can use them.  I call these situations corrective medicine, and we all know they do happen.
            Of course, in hard times situations, then access to routine antibiotics may be limited, and then preventive medicine becomes a bigger deal. And of course, the more exotic diseases and special antibiotics to try treat them are something else, too. So some may die, as sad as that might be for those affected.
            So in a silly sort of way, feed your Family as best you can to keep them healthy, have them clean and protect their boo boos if and when they get them, and in so doing I think you are helping the preventive medicine part of home health care.
            And of course for those affected by older relatives, old people do and will die, as will you when you get older, too.  But that is another discussion.
            Last, I believe all I am saying is probably already routine for many Moms and Dads in their way of taking care of their Family, and good on 'em for doing it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Universal ideas
       Given the long existence of we humans on the earth, new ideas are often more rehashes of old ideas.
            Here's a passage from an almost century old book by Theodore Roosevelt (USA President from 1901 to 1909) that provides an example.  By the way, the book is entitled Through the Brazilian Wilderness.
                        Here's the passage:
                                    There must be absolute religious liberty, for tyranny and intolerance are as abhorrent in matters intellectual and spiritual as in matters political and material; and more and more we must all realize that conduct is of infinitely greater importance than dogma. But no democracy can afford to overlook the vital importance of the ethical and spiritual, the truly religious, element in life; and in practice the average good man grows clearly to understand this, and to express the need in concrete form by saying that no community can make much headway if it does not contain both a church and a school.
                        Now the book is more a trip report, with lots of zoology and observations. It is probably not for most readers. It even has words in it that are passé these days. But it is the ideas that count, and got my attention that have me choosing to share some of them with others, who can make up their own mind.
                        And for those who enjoy reading about ways of life in remote parts of the world in the early nineteen teens, it is a nifty book, too.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cooking with oils, both vegetable and animal fat, at the Hemlocks and during hard times
       Bottom line, we humans can do it if we have to. In the meantime there is plenty of cooking oil stocked up, but what happens when and if we run out?
            Now for animal fat cooking, I still don't know the best way to collect and store animal fat, so I will just have to figure it out if the time comes. I figure most animals I eat will be low on fat, too; at least during hard times. Said another way, vegetable type oil is maybe a better option in the long run? Who knows?  As always, it will depend on the situation.
            The best animal fat guess right now is to collect the liquid version as best you can, and pour it in some container, and use it before it goes rancid. If that sounds inefficient, I think it is, too.  Maybe we can get some fat oil out of boiling carcasses, too. Since the Hemlocks has locally made electricity, consider putting some of it in a refrigerated or frozen mode, if you can get it a priority over the other things that need refrigeration or freezing, too. After that, one can even store it in the underground overhang areas, around 54 F.
            Now for vegetable oils, humans have been using them for thousands of years. The more recent vegetable oils one gets at the grocery store are more high tech produced, but there are older more low tech production options, too; and are what the future Hemlocks' people will probably have to do, again if times get hard. There are several posts on these subjects, too; and are included for one to best figure things out. (Sorry, just these posts are local, but the ideas are all in this post.)
            Now for vegetable oil info. Generally, one gets it out of garden seeds.  At the Hemlocks one just harvests the locally grown seeds, crushes them (like with the mortar and pestle, the manual grinder, or even a hammer or rock), then boils this mash with water (we have plenty of solar power if we need to use it, plus there is plenty of wood), and then one skims off the oil floating on the top, and uses it. Now the remaining mash should go to a fertilizer use or even growing worms for fishing bait. While it sounds easy, it is still a lot of work.
            And then there is always barter, which is always a two way street. Maybe you have a person who is good at this?
            Last, I looked at the shelf life of seed sources for vegetable oil, like peanuts (around 3 to 6 months shelf life for raw peanuts), and decided on all the aforementioned in this discussion as a better way to go, if times get hard. Like I will just stockpile already made cooking oil, which has a longer shelf life than the peanut seed sources, in general. And then, again, if times get hard, then I will just make it from my local seeds.  That nobody grows peanuts around here suggests this might be a good decision.
            And as to the shelf life of already processed and stored vegetable oil, ignore the shelf life suggestions and use your own nose and eyes during hard time situations. Obviously, if it smells bad, don't use it I would say. And if you choose to discard it, consider using it for other things, like lubrication, or fertilizer, worm beds, etc.
            And there are many more garden seeds that can be used besides peanuts, if we choose to do so. Now keep in mind, some of these seeds are also needed for the garden, too, like future growth.
            Hope does spring eternal.
            And things will sort out, in the end. And thanks to human efforts, I also think.

Friday, October 19, 2012

All this from an email to my relatives, modified for other readers.

Gardening at the Hemlocks

As a lead in, I’ll do some Fall Planting, which is minimal, but even that prompts this post. I hate to assume anything. By the way, the Hemlocks is in east Tennessee and on the Cumberland Plateau and around 36 degrees north latitude.
I’ll be doing some planting of garlic cloves tomorrow, or later today, in large cups to transplant to the ground in early spring 2013.  I like garlic in my cooked meals since I like its believed medicinal qualities. By the way, most garlic and potatoes one buys at the USA grocery store have been treated to tamp down reproduction, kind of like the shots mothers can get to tamp down breast milk production after birth of a child. Most of my plantings have not been treated, I think.
I’ve got a lot of clear plastic and tons of staples and a manual staple gun to turn the kitchen porch for the second cottage into a poor man’s green house, and even some shelving to use inside it. Heck, I will probably use some duct tape, too. So don’t be surprised or embarrassed if you see some kind of jury rig green house on the porch next door. Hopefully it will be stronger than most commercial green house stuff I can buy these days.
Now there are two obvious locations to plant a future garden at the Hemlocks. Both areas have been limed and fertilized in the recent past.
By the way, I read that during WWII most of the vegetables grown on USA farms went to feed our soldiers overseas so local Americans that could, grew 2/3 of their own vegetables in their own gardens. That’s the Hemlocks approach right now, like grow my own to eat. Plus take multi-vitamins and minerals, too.  Or so says my doc. Now I don’t have a green thumb, but figure I can grow food if I have to. Now if I have a choice, even with inflation, I generally choose to go to the local grocery store for my vegetables. Plus I will grow and can some of my own, too, mostly to prove I can, and see if I live, to boot. Right I think I will live. My trials/tests to date suggest so, at least. Heck I will even try some "Tattler" infinately reusaable can lids very soon to see if it really works. After all, what is the worse thing that happens, like I die, though I obviously don't think so.
The obvious choice number one is the garden area behind the barn (like several acres), and it has been used as a garden in the past. It is large, well sunlit, and been disked once this summer. It is where I have had past gardens, most of which failed because of lack of summer showers. Now the potatoes did well, but we did periodically irrigate them with local spring water. Now it was an open area in the distant past, planted in white pine in the 1950's past, so one can assume once I cleared it and sold the timber, the soil was probably acidic just from the pine straw.
The less obvious choice number two is more micro, and is the side yard between the compound and the driveway. As the one who mows it, there are large swaths that would do quite well for a garden, I think (like the grass likes it a lot). And I already have an apple tree and budding blueberry patch located there. In particular is the area closer to the Hemlocks tree line, believe it or not. Also the far front yard would be good for a fruit orchard area, I think. Already one peach tree is growing in it and doing quite well. Right now it just feeds the local critters.
A couple of generalizations follow. When I limed and fertilized all these areas, especially in the yard areas, the amount of wild violets that came out in the spring in the yard area were astounding, and pretty. I always assumed the seeds had just been dormant, and all it took to get them to grow and bloom was some lime and fertilizer and spring rains in this otherwise acidic and poor soil. And, second, there is evidence that the Indians had gardens here, too; so I figure I am as smart as they were.
Heck, I might even put in a bird and squirrel net over my blueberry patch just to protect the blueberries for human consumption . The netting is here. Plus the sticks to hold it up are all around.
PS The Hemlocks probably has around a couple thousand seeds of various vegetables, all either frozen or refrigerated, usually by locally made electricity. Sounds good, but one still has to grow the seeds to plant; hence one purpose of the green house. Now the Hemlocks does have lot of cups (like 500) and starter peat plugs, but it will still be work.
PPS Anyway, that is the gardening setup right now.

Starting a War
       The reason I ask the question about the wisdom of embargoes is because I don't see anyone else asking the question.
            Now I think I know the logic, like an embargo will induce the intended to comply with my demands, usually my country's demands. Now whether the "intended" is either the population, or the government's leaders, is something I  cannot get a satisfactory answer on. And some of Iran's leaders are pretty poor leaders, I think.
            Even the USA embargoed oil from going to Japan before WWII began, and the result was Japan starting a regional war to gain oil from the Dutch East Indies. They did not get out of China, for example. And they did need oil.
            The main reason I ask for a shred of evidence that the present embargoes on Iran by many countries will do the deed is because one obvious alternative is that Iran instead may start a regional war to better survive, vice comply with the embargo's demands.
            So where is the shred of evidence that embargoes work without starting a war? Now I know we do it, and the academic logic makes sense, but the practical effects are what I question. After all, as in the case of Iran, the embargoes are apparently causing great distress to the people, but what is the leadership going to do?
            Anyway, I wonder? Maybe you do, too.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Five Reflections
The five reflections, or “Gosei” in Japanese, were given to the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy at Etajima in 1932 by Rear Admiral Matsushita, then superintendent of the school. The five reflections are often borrowed by organizations that teach and practice Budo because of their applicability to the practice of martial arts and to spiritual and physical refinement/endeavor.
Japanese Translation:

Hitotsu, shisei ni motoru, nakarishika (Have I compromised my sincerity?)

Hitotsu, genkou ni hazuru, nakarishika (Have I spoken or acted shamefully?)

Hitotsu, kiryoku ni kakuru, nakarishika (Have I been lacking in spiritual vigor?)

Hitotsu, doryoku ni urami, nakarishika (Must I regret the level of my effort?)

Hitotsu, bushou ni wataru, nakarishika (Have I lapsed into laziness?)  

Each of the reflections begins with the word “One.” In Japanese, mottos and proclamations follow this form, rather than listing elements “one, two, three,…” The significance of this point is to understand that all of these precepts are equally important. None are subordinated to another.
Each reflection ends with the expression, “nakarishika,” a classical Japanese expression meaning “have I not?,” which is close in flavor to the English, “hast thou not?” 
Shisei ni motoru - Compromised sincerity
Have there been times when I thought, “I must do such and such,” but allowed the feeling of responsibility pass without following through?
Genkou ni hazuru - Shame of words and actions
Am I guilty of making statements that are inconsistent with my actions?
Do I practice what I preach? Have I reneged on verbal commitments?
Kiryoku ni kakuru – Lacking Spiritual Vigor
Has my spiritual strength been adequate? Have I treated any of my endeavors as being of less than primary importance?
Doryoku ni urami – Regret effort level
Have I tried hard enough? Are there cases in which I have decided ahead of time that I cannot be successful, and hence not applied myself and given up?
Bushou ni wataru – Lapse into laziness
Have I given 100% effort until the very end in all my endeavors? Have I decided “what I have done so far is good enough,” and left important things un-addressed? 

Use of the Five Reflections in One's Practice:
At the completion of mokusou at the end of practice, one will recite the Gosei in Japanese. As one recites the reflections, one should think about one's practice that day, and think about whether one can sincerely answer no to each of the questions the reflections address.
Mokuso (黙想, mokusō?) is a Japanese term for meditation, especially when practiced in the traditional Japanese martial arts. Mokuso (pronounced "moh-kso") is performed before beginning a training session in order to "clear one's mind", very similar to the zen concept of mushin. This term is more formally known to mean, "Warming up the mind for training hard."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Simply Amazing
            This is just a quick list of things that simply amaze me these days.
·        People not even in the government (like drawing a check), like Axelrod and Gibbs, speak for the government; and the government and media go along with it.
·        Spin, lying, and even propaganda are being used to rule. At best this is a short term way to rule. It's embarrassing to me to see it happening much more than normal.
·        The federal executive can send us to war, as in Libya, without consulting with Congress as the law requires. And the Congress seems to have gone along.
·        Census group quotas in public education, really racial quotas, have been announced in Florida. That really amazes me, plus the reaction has been minimal. As a parent, I am outraged. And also there is no apparent personal accountability...but I suspect the long term vote will change things to correct this injustice. After all, it is about our children and their future. And I am not poltically correct, so I believe in each kids potential; and also the need for their Mom's and Dad's to grow them.
·        The tolerance of mob rule, the occupy movement if you will, seems to also be promoted these days.  Now I read many people threaten to riot if their candidate is not elected.  I myself don't want to be ruled that way, though if many rioters die during rioting, I probably won't shed a tear. I do live in a rural area, by the way, and I assume most riots would be in urban areas.
·        Poor education has consequences. Even I won't eat at a McDonalds where the employee can't even use the teller machine to make change. Not only is the employee a loser in life (and has been set up, too), but the franchise owner will probably go out of business.
·        People are more casual about death through politics than I am. Death because of politics and ideology and incompetency  is not casual to me, and I suspect their parents, and spouses, and children, and peers (and siblings) will probably agree.
·        People can be attacked, and not recognize it for what is, like what is happening to them. This could be war like acts, or even murderous weekends in Chicago. None of this is normal, to me. I always remember some gal calling the attacks on 911 a tragedy on NPTV on 912, and moderator Jim Lehrer being astounded, and said so.
·        Many people's votes are apparently being stolen, or ignored, and it has gotten out of hand, like the Mayor of some town in Connecticut can even joke about it; or many USA local governments fail to mail absentee ballots to overseas Americans in time (and as legally mandated) to count, or Senator Franken can win the vote weeks later.

            Now I suspect many readers may have their own amazing stories, too.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yeast Info

Taken from the Survival Blog

I did some research on the storage life of yeast. I started with this article: Red Star Yeast which states:

"Each package and jar of dry yeast is stamped with a 'Best if Used by' date. This date is two years from the date the yeast was packaged. The month and year reflect when you should use your yeast by. The last 4 digits are for manufacturing purposes and have nothing to do with when to use the yeast by.

"Example of code: FEB 2010 08 09 - Use by February 2010

"Unopened packages and jars should be stored in a cool, dry place such as a cupboard; and can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Yeast is very perishable when exposed to air, moisture and/or heat. Once your package or jar is opened the yeast must be refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container (see storage tips below). Under these conditions, we recommend using the Dry Yeast within 4 months after opening if refrigerated, or within 6 months after opening if frozen.

"Dry Yeast should be at room temperature before using . When you are ready to bake, take out only the amount of yeast needed for your recipe and let it sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before using. Immediately put remaining yeast back into storage, following the storage tips below.
Yeast is a living organism, and will lose activity over time - even if the package is unopened. If you are unsure of your yeast's activity, perform the Yeast Freshness Test before using."

SAF Yeast

"We offer SAF yeast in vacuum sealed 1 lb. packages. The yeast is granulated and until the package is opened it feels almost like a solid brick because of the airtight vacuum seal. The packages are printed with the date of production as well as a "best if used by" date. The "best if used by" date is set 1 year from the date of production, and in doing this, SAF assumes that you open the package as soon as you get it and keep the entire opened package at room temperature. Instead, we recommend that you open the original container and pour a portion of it into a small resealable container to keep in your cupboard (not out in the light) for daily use (a baby food jar works fine.) Then roll the top of the SAF container down, clip it so it doesn't unroll, and store it in your freezer. Kept this way, the yeast in the cupboard will be good for a least 1 year and the remaining yeast in the freezer will remain good for a minimum of 5 years. We know from experience that SAF yeast, stored frozen in a re-closed container, retains its potency for several years. If you have a small airtight container for the frozen yeast, that can be used in place of rolling and clipping the foil pouch. When you transfer more yeast to your cupboard container, that yeast will remain good for another year in the cupboard. Unopened, vacuum-sealed containers of SAF yeast stored in the freezer actually remain potent for 10 years or more."

More On SAF Yeast:

This article says frozen shelf life is 10-15 years and one pound of yeast makes 96 loaves of bread. One of the comments says it works using it straight from the freezer, it doesn't have to be brought up to room temperature.

This article says this yeast reduces the amount of yeast needed in a recipe by 25% and that it is GMO free. That means a one-pound package will make more than 96 loaves.

SAF Instant Dry Yeast for Baking

King Arthur Flour's yeast article-- Excellent article!
More on the differences between Instant and Active yeast. Are Active and Dry yeast interchangeable? Difference between SAF red label and SAF gold label yeast. "A vacuum-sealed bag of yeast stored at room temperature will remain fresh indefinitely. Once the seal is broken, it should go into the freezer for optimum shelf life." Use glass or acrylic air-tight containers to store in freezer. Also concurs that you need not defrost yeast and can use it straight from the freezer. If you double your bread recipe, do you double the yeast?
And FAQs from the manufacturer.

The Difference Between Instant Yeast & Active Yeast

"Both active dry yeast and instant yeast are designed to be used in recipes for breads and other yeast doughs. Instant dry yeast has the additional function of multiplying quickly, causing dough to rise in a shorter time.

"Both types of yeast are sold in individual packets and in larger jars by many different companies. Instant dry yeast is also sold under the names of bread machine yeast and Fleischmann's RapidRise yeast.

"When mixing dough, active dry yeast should be combined with warm water before being added to other ingredients. Instant dry yeast, on the other hand, should be mixed directly into dry ingredients, and then the liquids should be heated to 120 degrees F and added.

Time Frame
"Active dry yeast requires about two hours to cause the dough to double in size. Instant dry yeast only takes ten minutes to multiply enough for the dough to double in size.

"Bread made with instant dry yeast may not have as good of a flavor as bread made with active dry yeast. To improve the flavor, allow bread to rise more slowly in the refrigerator overnight.

Regards, - Cheryl N