Monday, January 31, 2011

Doing My Thing

Here is a picture of Ann dancing and me playing the fiddle---maybe forty years from now! We are old but not yet coots, not shrives, maybe duffers and not one foot in the grave. I see a few new names on my readers list, made up mostly of yahoos we have known through the years and still know, I guess. Just thought I would say howdy-howdy and I don't want none of your stinking money 'cause we're just friends, if you know what I mean.

Also wanted to let you'al know that this writin' is full of errors because it is not really proofed, usually because it is too late at night and I don't know no better. So I am lookin' for a little toleration and imagination, along with intensification. Also keep in mind that a person can make a comment if'n your so inclined. Some of you I just don't see that much due to distance which makes it hard to yell that far, unlike the ones around here that I can yell at just 'cross the holler.

This photo is actually the one I used on my most recent wine project. Made a nice label and set off Wright's Road Killed Specialities. "We find it we use it, dead or alive." I think the picture is Paul a member of our band. Oh, just remebered he plays the banjo---if you can call that an musical instrument.

Today is another day we are not being flooded, we re not rioting because of a food price increase, the county is not being invaded and I am very warm next to a toasty fire. Life is good.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Native Food Groups--Future Possibilities

I've always wondered how native folks got by without having Twinkies, ring baloney, taco chips and ice cream---oh ya, cheese doodles, or for that matter plastic lettuce spinners. You know, all the really good things that make up our diets today. Seriously, your hanging out in the streams and woodlands of Wisconsin in, say, 1650, just cruising, doing your own thing getting by with the family and you have to come up with a couple of thousands calories a day per person.

I don't think we would be opening the day with a bowl of cereal, a warmed bagel, maybe a nice yogurt with berries from Honduras. Rather, one might have to settle for a few fresh river clams on the whole shell. They are huge, they were edible before pollution, but having dissected a few as a kid and smelled them, I don't recall pinning for a robust serving-- just not considered delectable fare. Maybe boiled in bear grease with a side of Lambs Quarters (the plant) topped off with some ground maze. Actually, that doesn't sound too bad. I could do it. The wife?

Well, the thoughts could go on and I am sure we could actually find some possibilities, not possibilities that would be seen as a culinary delight but still food. We might have to have a few new skills, but still there is hope.
When it comes to winter, I'm not so sure just what one would do when things got nippy. There would be no little bracer from Mr. Jack Daniels for sure and just maybe I would have to live off my accumulated summer fat. Dried stuff?

Anyway, above is a food pyramid put out by what I believe is the school system from Nelson Island in the Arctic where live the Yu'pick Eskimos. It does shed a little light on how things worked. There was no milk so they ate the bones of fish for calcium. Most interestingly, they consumed huge amounts of fat and had no know heart disease.

The bread part on the bottom was only for modern natives and didn't exist prior to white men. Take it in and go figure. Not my idea of fun but then I am a white dude from Europe. When my people were Neanderthals this would probably make our list as well. Just doesn't seem possible now.

Finding Oil, Produciing Oil--Missionary Position

This posting could actually be a "Revolution Watch" but I reckon I will take a position. It isn't really revolutionary because this has been known for a long time, it just is that no one really likes talking about it and that is my bitch.

This graph may be a bit hard to see, so you might have to blow it up. What you see here are graphs showing the rate of discovery of oil, noticing that the lighter batch is on land and the darker is in water. The height determines the amount of the discoveries found at that given time. As can be seen the discovery rate, no matter where we are looking land or sea, is declining at a rather ferocious rate and the production curve is going up. The reason for the production curve going up is that all of the finds of the past are still being drawn from.

The catch is that many of the older wells, the monsters, like Ghawar in S. Arabia and the Cantarell in Mexico, Texas, and the North Sea off England are all declining in production and there are no big wells to replace them. It turns out that no matter what Ms. Palin says no one is having any luck finding more of the stuff (even at close to $100 per barrel).

Oh ya, they find nature's one time gift (that would be oil) but the discoveries are smaller and frequently in some very remote and dangerous places. Think five miles down in hurricane alley or off in the frozen arctic. And while they make lots of blabber about the finds, one has to note they are generally not that big. Like, "8 billion barrels found off Brazil!" Like whoopee dudes. The USA alone uses one billion in less than a month. To see grown men soiling themselves because somebody found a few billion barrels oil half way to the middle of the earth is clear indication they have no sense of scale. Where do they think they will get the magic straws to suck that stuff up from under a layer of molten salt. And, like, at what price, I might add. That little old production line on the graph has been flat since may of '05. It is expected to turn down soon.

Considering that virtually every ounce of economic development in this country is based on having more energy, it is probably a good idea that we begin having a public discussion. My bitch is and my Missionary position is, "WE NEED TO START, NOW!" and it can't be just losers like me. It has to be the big boys.

Don't even dream that the "alternatives" can replace this black gold, because they can not.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Power of the Nose, a Dog's Nose

Every dog has a bigger nose than the average human. Oh, I suppose those little ankle biters have smallish noses but they still probably work fairly well. Then again, maybe not. I don't think they were bred for smelling or much else for that matter. They just hang.

Well, real dogs have big noses. In fact, when observed closely they really have big noses, like most of their faces are noses, huge things that stick way out. Obviously, they were made to aid them in the hunt just like their teeth were made to kill and chew the dead animals. Rather like humans having real big brains so they could think really well---even though there is some indications we don't really think as well as we think, so to speak. Yes, there are some bad indications on that issue, but today, I am admiring dog noses.

Now Buddy here is a bit of a loaf-about-the-fort but the monster of a nose is a thing of wonder. I have seen him run off in the woods only to return soon, but in doing so never once lifts his head from the ground to just look for us. Instead, he runs through the woods until he hits our trail and then zig-zags across it a few times until he is on it. Then he simply runs to us. The entire time we were completely visible but he never bothers with his eyes. Had we walked in circles, he would have run the circles to us.

One day I thought I would test him, thinking that a trail of a number of people was easy, after all we are smelly. I was about to go bow hunting and had before departure done all the real special scent killing things commonly done, including washing my cloths in a special scentless soap, bathed in a scentless shower and really worked hard at not smelling like a human dude.

I slapped on my camo and drifted carefully into the forest for a few hundred yards trying to not touch things, nor scuff my feet. I selected a very hidden spot and stood motionless and scentless. After being there for a few minutes Buddy was let out of the house to do a walk. I knew he was coming in my direction with his master/associate.

Like always, I could see he had dropped his nose to the ground as he headed for the woods and into my general direction. It was not possible to see if he had picked me up because he may have found a mole more interesting. Soon he headed in my more immediate direction but I lost sight of him. I thought he had headed off for other olfactory pleasures but as I turned and looked down, there he was looking up at me wanting a little attention.

We have to be talking molecules of scent. That is all it took. It is then that one realizes that as this dog moves through the forest he must have an entire picture in front of him all of it based on smell and nothing else. A highly detailed picture, there in front of his brain. We will never know.

Here is a group of dogs having an exchange of personal history, or maybe a discussion on the day's activities. Family gossip? "Oh, you should not have eaten that!"

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Mighty Cabbage

Last October in a fit of jubilation, I secured a gunny bag full of giant cabbages for the paltry price of one dollar each. My initial intention was to make a nice go around of kraut but sloth took over and the cabbages were stored in the upstairs bed room where it is dry and seldom above 45 degrees.

They were in the company of squash, fat onions and some dandy potatoes from the garden. All of them rest comfortably there and cause no problems even for the occasional guest who has mentioned that it was like a root cellar---mostly they didn't like the cold. The visitors simply have to toughen up and embrace the brisk fresh air.

Today, a fat cabbage came out of hiding and found its way into cold slaw. A very pleasant surprise to say the least. While the resting cabbage had some dried and slightly discolored outer leaves, there under the rather natural plastic wrap was a crisp, sassy head well suited to grace any table. Not one leaf eating worm was found. After the two and one half months of storage we still have a locally grown, very fresh vegetable right here in the bed room.

Couple the cabbage with a hardy side of squash, a crisp onion, mashed garden potatoes next to a nice venison steak and we eating local and fresh right in the middle of winter, and it looks like it will go subzero in a day or two. Dude, for the day we are almost sustainable by our own efforts. This appears to be the rage so I am feeling good while drinking Stevens Point brew. Reckon I could have had one of my own home concoctioned beers but I didn't want to close on a bad note. One can only be so sustainable.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Missionary's Position---Population

So National Geographic comes out with a front cover article on the great news of 7 billion people being on the earth. It is not to say they were excited in glee, because like anybody who has ever thought about this never-ending-exponentially-expanding population issue, they are obviously beginning to have some questions about its feasibility.

While they didn't mention it in these terms, the earths population every four years is growing at an amount that is equivalent of the US population today! ----all of our population in good old America, that would be close to 320 million. One just has to wonder, is this really a good idea?

What can interestingly be seen on the cover of the issue is not a photo of some seething mass of humanity, but instead a photo of some monster city (Shanghai 14 million) with all its lights blazing. My first thought is, why this picture and not one of some God-forsaken slum in India where people are starving in the streets or beggars in Pakistan, or dead bodies in Haiti?

But the more I looked at the photo, I realized it was showing a massive consumption of energy, blurring autos, lights on everything blazing away, just a throbbing mega city hell bent on consumption of a resource that is definitely finite. What does this mean for all the striving masses, those hell-bent on living like Americans? Can they too dream of having all this stuff, this energy driven economy, this movement of people and goods? 80 million more on the earth every year all wanting this? To top it off there are 3 million or more Americans every year, these are the same Americans that consume 25% of the world's resources. No wonder Nat. Geo is going to have an article a month on this issue.

Have we been dumb, or what?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

White Elephant---Choking the Chicken

Shortly after Christmas, on what I believe is King's Day, (named after the three kings from the orient that brought gifts to the manger) some locals, (as in loco) assemble to whoop it up by bringing gifts to bare. The gifts are not for the Lord, but for the assembled desperadoes.

There was no myrrh, nor frankincense, certainly not gold, nor anything of real value. Well, I take that back because this year I got a bottle of wine apparently left over from the time of Christ or shortly after. It was found at the bottom of the Mediterranean in an intact amphora and tasted like it---very dry, if not sediment like, well aged, no resemblance to wine what so ever and much like sea water. Maybe it was a home brew. The best part of it was that it was presented in a leopard-skinned cozy with soft black fur on the top-- a very tasteless item but well suited to my world view. I was pleased.

The receiving of gifts was determined by draw, but individuals could pilfer others gift if they found them to be desirable and of some faintly possible value---value is a fleeting thing and subject to an individuals fancy or perversion. While most gifts appeared to be less than worthless, others generated real interest. In other words, the peace symbol made in the macrame area was seen as being dated and bordered on being virtually useless even in the company of the ancient hippies. I mean, like, this is so 60s, dude.

The items that received the greatest interest were the plastic chickens that when squeezed made noises like a choked chicken. While choking ones chicken must be a popular activity, these gifts went the next step and emanated numerous noises depending on the degree of choking. The hanging dead chicken had a death rattle sound as the air returned to the deflated bird. The chicken sitting on the chair was battery operated and had a selection of squawks depending on how hard it was choked.

It was a jewel and was garnered at every opportunity. While some individuals went into great speech as to the need for the babbling hen for some sick child, the final victor appeared to have other more devious intentions of using it for surprising some unsuspecting yahoo who needed surprising. Frankly, it took the expression "Choking your chicken" to a new level. Most thought there wasn't another level.

The joy of giving is a wonder. I noticed some gifts were left, but it was the thought.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hunting Possibilities for Old Dudes

One way to secure clean lean meat is to do a bit of hunting. Now hunting is, of course, not just hunting. It is also time spent in the woods taking in all the activities that go on there, learning the ways of the flora and fauna.

Now, I know many folks don't just don't fancy stepping into the woods to begin with and find harvesting a living, sorta-cute deer rather unacceptable. Many of these same individuals are willing to gobble up an Argentine produced hamburger from Micky Ds knowing full well just what might be in that so-called meat and how it was produced in a land with fewer regulations.

Me, I figure here is this deer, corn feed, running free, not endangered and tasty, so why not put one in the freezer and make a year long feed of it. This is the same freezer that is now solar powered. What I am getting at is, there is a system out there where a crafty person can get good things at a reasonable price. The harvesting is sustainable if not abused.

Hunting with a gun is fine but it seems to me that prowling around in the woods with something more primitive is more challenging, more demanding and in a way more rewarding. But with many of my joints somewhat trashed due to youthful abuse, coupled with unavoidable, creeping chronological advancement, the bow had to be retired for a crossbow. Sure, this is not something left over from King Arthur, but still it gives me a chance. I don't do atlatals.

Ya, I hear the bleeding hearts saying, "That damn thing has a scope, pulley wheels, the velocity of a 30-30 and you call that cool." I still have to crawl in the tick infested forest, sit in the snow and get a deer closer than 35 yards. The odd truth is, I like living close to the land and knowing where my food comes from---including my vegetables. I might even be sustainable even if I don't look all that good. I know some people who look real good but aren't sustainable. But then "It is better to look good than to feel good."

Life is difficult when we are primitive humanoids living in technologically advanced world.

Solar Power---It is Coming Back

One of the things about solar power in Wisconsin is that it really sucks in the winter. It is a good idea and all, and very well intended. After all it is free---except for the cost of producing the gear, which by the size of the bill for the equipment, would seem that to really offset the gains the panels and inverter would have to make a multitude of watts.

In fact, today I learned that the panels never in their lives will produce enough energy to equal the amount that was used to produce them. Oh wow! Just what does that say?

Anyway, for us rich guys who have the setup, today's sunshine was a pleasant reminder that the mother sun is very nice, but there is a gap there of about one month each side of solstice where, between nature's preference for clouds and the steep incline of the sun, there is very little power produced. The freezer was taken off a few weeks ago and won't go on for another 2 weeks. We are down to running the sound system and say four lights.

I suppose if it was 1910 that would still be significant, but 2010? What it comes down to is that there are limits to these no fangled alternative energies---particularly when the grid power is dirt cheep.

Still, the sun was out today and the inclination of the sun is up, the days are longer. We did a bit of a walkabout as the batteries charged.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wine Making---Progress

Eight days ago a batch of wine was started. One would think that some time next year I would be able to sample the concoction and make a determination if there had been anything close to success. Luck would have it that I can already report initial accomplishments (better than my Wisconsin football team). It would seem that all fermentation was done in those initial eight days. I mean, it is like done and clearing up in the big jars.

Thus, after only a little over a week, I was able to test it and Woweee, it is tasting good, so much so that even if it was a touch cloudy, it called for a one glass sampling---not three-sheets-to-the wind sampling, or skidding-on-my-head sampling, just that one.

The first batch tested was the one that had the skins, stems and bugs left in for 5 days while it bubbled. Today, before racking to the carboy, the taste was of a nice Merlot with a touch of Concord, quit dry, nice flowery nose, pleasant back-of-the-mouth follow. Sassy but not pretentious. Sweet Jesus, life is good.

The next, larger mix, proved to be sweeter, had a touch of sulfide still lingering, was a smidgen cloudier but still reminiscent of a fine Rose that I used to experience while in the monastery where we (fellow monks) drank robust flagons of the stuff every night before prayers. I did a nice glass in testing and I am no worse off for it. Stay in touch on this one and maybe I will share if you should stop at the rectory.

Just think, eight days and there is drinkable wine for a total cost of $7 for seven gallons! Church is in session.

Revolution Watch, Graphs of Trends

Here are three lovely graphs. They seem to be telling an uncomfortable message. One has to wonder where this is going. Do world leaders get this message or is it just me worrying about nothing? Seems to point to a revolution of some sort, but I live in America.