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struggles, hurdles, challenges and observation  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Things happened. Yesterday and today. I struggled to express myself. So I write. Writing helps me. Maybe this writing will be of some small value to somebody.


the tree

When I was about 12 I read a book where there was a father and son living in a simple house with a simple yard and a big tree behind the house. Somehow things were such that the father could spend all day, every day under that tree. He would read books. He would visit with friends that came by. He would tinker with things and maybe dabble in a bit of art. And napping seemed to be a part too. The son would go to school. The son told the father that he was embarrassed that the father didn't work like the other fathers. So the father got a job and became miserable. The boy liked his father from before more than the working father, so he asked his father to go back to his old life. And they lived happily ever after.

The big tree, the books, the puttering ... that is the part that I remember. I think about that quite a lot.

I suppose a few years ago I was at a point that I could do that. But I traveled another path. Maybe I can still get to that path, but it seems there are so many things I still want to do. Maybe, in a way, I am sorta doing it now. I am doing a bunch of things I want to do rather than having a workee-job. So it is a bit like the puttering part of the story.



observation

But here is another part of the same story. Something that isn't discussed in the story. Why is it that the main dad doesn't have to work, but it would seem that all the other dads do have to work?

So we activate permaculture observation and see that there are people who "have to work" and we see people that seem to work in order to fill their days. We also see people that are retired and we see people that don't need to work at all even though they are not of retirement age.

I'm not yet of retirement age, but I suppose I could say that I am retired .... from being a software engineer. Sorta.

We could explore the fictitious path of the characters in this story or other stories. Another possibility is to observe my path and compare it to the paths of those that are still working. Or those that feel that they "have to work".


a challenge

On January 2, 1989 I started a new job as a software engineer. I was handed a huge gob of code and told to make this program work within four weeks. There is no slip in this date, because the company has a million dollar bond on the project. If the project is not done on time, then the bond must be paid. The program was written in C - a language I had never used. The program had been getting worked on for 18 months. Over the first week, I learned that seven other engineers had, one by one, worked on the project and quit the company. What I was handed wouldn't even compile. I looked through the code and I could see the many different styles of writing. I learned C and got the program done on time by working very long hours. I ended up pretty much rewriting the whole thing. Today I calculated that I earned $3.78 per hour on that project.

I built a reputation within that company for being a freaky awesome developer despite my youth. I added excellent resume material. I learned a lot about the C programming language, which then became the language I worked in for the next 11 years. I got paid while building my skills, which I would later leverage into a lot of money.

So I did not benefit directly. But I did benefit indirectly.

I can only speculate about the seven developers that came before me. Through the decades of my career I met lots of engineers, so, in hindsight, speculation is pretty easy.

Some things we know for sure: They had 18 months. I had four weeks. They all knew C already. I didn't.

Now for the speculation: They had oodles of meetings. For each concern or problem they had more meetings. When an obvious solution did not present itself, they would need to ask others, do research, etc. They worked no more than 40 hours per week and when they went home they did not refine their craft or build their knowledge - they .... relaxed. Maybe even at the foot of a tree.

Further speculation: they feel that their job is to show up and gently move software forward. Business needs are generally "unrealistic". Basically, they want a job where they are paid a professional wage, but the part where you do the professional work is "unrealistic." So they work to find a job where they can get maximum pay for least effort. And then they are baffled that other developers are earning ten times as much.


what does that make you?

Sometime around 1999 there was a software product out called "EJB". What it does or how it works is not important. But it broke all software engineers down into two groups: "long hair developers and short hair developers." A "short hair developer" worked 40 hours per week and was mediocre at best. A "long hair developer" worked 100+ hours per week ... so many hours that they usually just slept at the office. These were the superstar programmers. The promise of EJB was that the long hair programmers developed the EJB engine and then if the short hair programmers wrote code to the EJB specs, the resulting program would have super powers.

The superstars would do epic shit and some would collect epic coin. The short hair programmers accomplished little things for little coin. One could argue that most of them led little gray lives in little gray houses. They would read books and articles. They would sometimes attend a conference or a training seminar. In their 60s they would humbly retire.

Taking a moment to forget about the tree and forget about the money. How does it feel to know that seven people tried and quit, but you were given the same project with more hurdles and you got it done? How do YOU feel based on YOUR standards? How do you feel when you've been put to the test and YOU found YOU to be a champion by YOUR standards?

A life champion. A superstar by your own standards. No one else needs to know. You know.


good luck comes from hard work

The company sold that software for years. Unmodified. I never touched it again. The company gave me no recognition. I was given more tasks. After about eight months I got a healthy raise. My work life was easier, despite my youth, because I had accomplished so much.

I had a lot of philosophies about programming that were contrary to the norm. So I started to flesh those out, on my own time, in C. And, later, in C++. I don't think I would have learned C or C++ if it wasn't for that job. But even more than that, I proved to myself that I had become relatively competent. I rapidly built a lot of software, both at work and at home. The quality and quantity grew exponentially. I racked up lists of stories like this. Most of them were of little value as resume fodder. They were mostly of value to me and some of my peers online.

As I made things and shared them, opportunities kept popping up. And my own ideas kept me busy which would lead to more and more notoriety/opportunities. In time I became something of an authority. The struggles I took on during that four weeks played an important part in rapidly expanding the new word in which I would become something awesome by my own standards.



struggles, hurdles, challenges

I suppose there is a certain level of comfort in following a normal path. Your income is predictable. Your retirement is predictable. You have your evenings and weekends to relax and enjoy life. Maybe a nice restaurant and/or a fun movie. Bowling. Rooting for the home team. Parades. Bars, parties, barbecues, video games, concerts ...

And when presented with problems ... the solution sought is for finding "normal" or "average" or "good enough". Which, of course, is "good enough". Sometimes the solution is to change your job, or maybe even your career. This path is fine. It works. You still get paid and life is ... calm.

But if you take on a large problem and don't just solve it, but create an EXCELLENT solution (maybe even the best ever), you build a great deal of knowledge and skill. You are now able to take on a larger problem. And then, by the time you are old, who are you by your standards? What have you done? What is your mark on the world?

So you take on bigger problems and bigger problems. Each preparing you for something bigger than you thought possible. Each solution so excellent that you are an authority on these problems (or you could be). This is not a life of "good enough" this is the life of FUCKING AWESOME! This is the life of being a superhero by your own standards! Do epic shit!

Permaculture, as a whole, has a lot more hurdles to overcome. Thousands?

Homesteading, in general, is going to be a long list of hurdles.

When it comes to rocket mass heater innovation there have been oodles of hurdles. I debate a lot with ernie and erica about this stuff. For big issues there have been things where they were right and there have been things where I was right. And there have been accidental discoveries too.





Without the challenges, you can never be fucking awesome!




And that is what I should have said yesterday.

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
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I have learned the most from my challenges in life. The easy parts are pleasant and relaxing, and the hard parts are where I get stronger. Sometimes it feels like an option- grow cold and hard, angry and harsh, or become stronger and more resilient, flexible and wiser.

I can't imagine the gray life. My free form homesteading/farming/homeschooling/writing/preaching life is very colorful. Working at home with a pack of kids is rhythmic but never boring. I feel wealthy, even without excessive cash-on-hand.

Do you remember what the book was? The one with the boy and his dad? We read a lot of kid's books.

 
Wyatt Barnes
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The exquisite solution, the aha moment, that moment when you look at the problem and suddenly know what the answer is. I love those moments.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
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Well written Paul.

You have described the struggles and challenges of many people's work situations.

I have had similar challenges, and similar responses. There is meaning in one's manner of responding to challenges. It can become an art form or even develop into culture. When we look at our lives, this is essentially what we see and get. As Nietsche said, " THe greatest art that you should create is your own life."

John S
PDX OR
 
Corey Schmidt
Posts: 155
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Thanks for the message! awesome. Makes me wish i had worked 9 hours today instead of 8. i have problems to solve at home anyway...there is definitely a sort of great satisfaction in solving ever more complex problems
 
Rob Arnold
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Paul, well written and inspiring, but the most interesting part of this post to me was the one word: "Sorta". Does this mean you still need to develop software to keep the permies labs alive? Desire to write software because it fills an intellectual need that you clearly have an affinity for? You see that there are interesting problems to solve and so have an intellectual itch that you want to scratch? Or is developing software simply a hammer in which you have nails?

Your post closes on the rocket mass heaters. Both wofatis and rocket mass heaters, while very interesting, will forever be relagated to the "purple" bench in the eyes of the masses, no matter how many revisions yield incremental improvements to efficiency. The hurdle is, and for the foreseeable future, will be insurance permitting. Increase the RMHs efficency by 10s of percentage, and you help a dozens to a few hundreds (or thousands?) of people reduce their carbon footprint. Achieve WETT (In Canada)/EPA (and whatever else in the USA) certification of a RMH, and you'll open the technology up to literally hundreds of millions and will change the world.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Yeah, it's the insurance thing that's stopping me with rocket mass heaters. It's a challenge!
 
Berry Chechy
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Without the challenges, you can never be fucking awesome!




Well Said!
 
Julia Winter
steward
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The City of Portland (Oregon) will permit a rocket mass heater, thanks to the work of Ernie and Erica.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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My husband is now on the town council (politics=challenges, hurdles) so I have hope for the future of our ordinances.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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This is interesting to me, since I have never really derived any of my self image or self worth from the professional sphere (and indeed have tried to avoid the professional sphere in general as much as possible), and I am also pretty low-key in terms of my home(steading) life.

To me the idea of working 100 hour weeks sounds like it would suck all the time and energy from the truly rich and important parts of my life, but of course that would probably change if I derived a great deal of satisfaction from whatever I was devoting 100 hours a week to or thought that it was highly valuable (in fact, I have often devoted that much time to self-directed projects or studies for no pay, albeit never in a way that I found particularly challenging or draining--if I'm that enthused, it's not draining, and if I feel drained, I cut back or go do something else). To me, working 100 hours a week on software sounds like a much smaller, greyer life than working 40 hours a week and going home to a warm family, a small garden, and a nice tree for the other 60 hours! But obviously you didn't experience it that way.

I suppose what I derive the most satisfaction from in life are slower, more organic and cumulative processes, and not time-limited or competitive challenges. Some of the things I most enjoy can still require a great deal of creativity, ingenuity, and effort, but the process is still gentle. I have never enjoyed the "balls to the wall" bragging-rights sort of challenges you seem to be talking about...maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree, but I have the idea that there's something kind of "macho" about them, or that maybe they appeal to people who feel like they have something to prove? By the way, I just want to say up front that I'm not trying to criticize you by implication with that supposition, so I hope you won't take it that way--I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with trying to prove things to yourself or others, a lot of innovation happens that way and for a lot of people it leads to personal satisfaction and growth--I'm just not one of those people, by and large. For instance, you have done a lot more to advance permaculture as I field than I have or almost certainly ever will. On the other hand, and I could be totally wrong, but I feel like from reading some of your posts and listening to some of your podcasts that you undergo a lot more stress and conflict than I generally do, and that maybe there's a trade off in terms of time to really enjoy the fruits of your labor and the beauty and bounty of the land, in exchange for what seems to me a fairly brutal pace of work, innovation, and social experimentation at the Lab.

IDK, I guess I'm just not a very driven person, for better or for worse. But I think it sounds a lot healthier and more beneficial to be driven by a desire to do incredible things and meet (or even exceed) your own high standards, than to be driven by wealth or mere worldly ambition, or the sort of blindly conforming status-seeking that seems to occupy a large portion of contemporary Americans and people who share those values. Someone like you, Paul, who is driven and has directed that drive into a really important field like permaculture, strikes me as a very valuable resource. If I can stray into metaphor for a moment, I think in some ways you're a pioneer species that grows very vigorously and is creating the conditions for us slower-growing folks to thrive in our own quiet ways, with less turnover of resources physical, financial, intellectual, emotional, etc...I am reminded of K-selected and R-selected species...

I think there is room for people of all sorts in permaculture, no matter what our "species" or sere, and the kind of thing (including challenge) that rings one person's bell may leave others cold. After all, the yields are greatest in a mixed ecosystem with lots of edge, not in one composed entirely of pioneer species or entirely of old growth climax species, and the edges where the two interact can be the most productive and fascinating of all...
 
Jake Parkhurst
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I heard the music crescendoing in the back round! Thanks for the pep talk Paul!
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Quote: "How do you feel when you've been put to the test and YOU found YOU to be a champion by YOUR standards? A life champion. A superstar by your own standards. No one else needs to know. You know."
No more words to add ... This is IT!
 
John Derry
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Smooth seas do not make skilled sailors.
 
Rose Pinder
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Jennifer Richardson wrote:. To me, working 100 hours a week on software sounds like a much smaller, greyer life than working 40 hours a week and going home to a warm family, a small garden, and a nice tree for the other 60 hours! But obviously you didn't experience it that way.


I have a foot in both camps. By nature I'm driven and I've achieved some amazing things given the natural limitations of my life (and things that are way less visible to most than Paul's achievements, which is another whole story). But I am also incredibly grateful for all the 40 hour a week, slow, smaller life people who have made my life possible. The times when I am driven and putting myself in the path of challenges, I am mindful of the people who grow my food, pump the petrol for my car, write the s/w for my laptop etc, because my life and what I achieve simply wouldn't be possible without those people and the quieter lives they lead. I'm also much more appreciative now of the times in my life when I can slow down and live a smaller life.
 
Eva Taylor
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If I can stray into metaphor for a moment, I think in some ways you're a pioneer species that grows very vigorously and is creating the conditions for us slower-growing folks to thrive in our own quiet ways, with less turnover of resources physical, financial, intellectual, emotional, etc...I am reminded of K-selected and R-selected species...

Awesome! I think it is when we plug this world into metaphors like this that we harvest an understanding of the benefits diversity brings. Well said!
I have the most profound "aha" moments when I find the right perspective to hold while observing a problem.
I can only nod in agreement that the most challenging parts of my life were some of the most valuable learning times of my life, the rest came with permaculture.
Love all you guys!
 
                      
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Quote: "How do you feel when you've been put to the test and YOU found YOU to be a champion by YOUR standards? A life champion. A superstar by your own standards. No one else needs to know. You know."
No more words to add ... This is IT!


During my years of not sitting under the tree I managed to pull off a short series of very sweet victories that shot heroin into my ego and convinced me that I was special somehow. Then I sold my company and plunked myself down under the tree in order to reflect, recharge and redirect my energies. As I reviewed my life, my perspective was gradually elevated to an adequate height for me to see the absurdity and arrogance of my pride and how irrelevant, meaningless and fleeting my 'victories' were. I did nothing truly important in terms of my individual growth, I just honed and polished the surface of one tooth on one cog in one giant machine in order for our society to continue toward destruction. Humility, if embraced, is wonderful.

Paul, I thought of you last night while watching a mike oehler video posted recently and I saw the difference between you and other pioneers. What Mike did was brilliant and beautiful but it was of limited effect in terms of broad impact. Watching the video tour of his various creations, I imagined having not read his book or researched his ideas and could see that there was a lack of clarity, trial data and consistent fine-tuning. You though, have built a machine/army that can take an idea and run it through an evaluation process that produces answers to people's questions and concerns. If it succeeds in converting people's desires from mega-mansions to modest, low-impact living then I'd call that relevant, meaningful and lasting.
 
Charli Wilson
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I am most definitely a 'short hair developer' (I am actually a software developer as well!). I'm not a very good developer, I like to go home on time, I like my challenges to be nothing to do with work! My challenges are trying to grow a healthy portion of my food on 1/10th of an acre, working out how to grow potatoes that aren't full of slug-holes, making aquaponics environmental monitoring systems, etc. I don't think you could convince me to work 100 hour weeks at my actual job!
 
Rufus Laggren
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So right, Charli.

There's one little thing, though... The "regular" job covers a huge gob of your life regardless. be nice to find something to hammer good and hard there just so's not to "waste" that big slice, maybe raise your actual "take home" w/some intangibles. I mean, why not? You're "stuck" there anyway.


Cheers

Rufus
 
Len Ovens
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paul wheaton wrote:

Taking a moment to forget about the tree and forget about the money. How does it feel to know that seven people tried and quit, but you were given the same project with more hurdles and you got it done? How do YOU feel based on YOUR standards? How do you feel when you've been put to the test and YOU found YOU to be a champion by YOUR standards?

A life champion. A superstar by your own standards. No one else needs to know. You know.


Some times no one needs to know, but somewhere along the road recognition is important.


The company sold that software for years. Unmodified. I never touched it again. The company gave me no recognition. I was given more tasks. After about eight months I got a healthy raise. My work life was easier, despite my youth, because I had accomplished so much.


A "healthy raise" is recognition. I spent 22 years pulling off fixes none of the other 50-100 other people I worked with could. Every time the higher pay position came up... the position got removed rather than filled. Yet people from that position would come to me for help. It made it really easy to transfer out. On the up side, I did get to do more interesting work because I was willing to run towards trouble rather than away.

The plus side:
I am now working on some open projects where I get paid nothing at all. But because they are things I have chosen to work on, I get more out of it than pay. On the work side, instead of working 10hours (travel included) for 8 hours pay, I work 6.5 hours or so for 8 hours pay because I get paid by the activity rather than by the hour. I can stack all of my breaks at the end. It gives me more time for things that matter...


Without the challenges, you can never be fucking awesome!


I would change that to "Without accepting the challenges" or "Without welcoming the challenges". Those who avoid challenges when they come don't grow well. Or "a company run by accountants is dying".
 
Jason Machin
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Without the challenges, I can't f#cking breath.
I live of them,
they nourish me,
I have a powerful need to get to that level.
 
Boris Forkel
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Nice writing, good post. My thoughts on that: It's good to work hard, if you're convinced of and stand behind projects you do. I personally have a kind of (doomer)-ethic, that everything i do and work on must accomplish something (as objectively as possible) good for the planet. I think about the problems we're all facing; does what i to help to build new soils, in times of rapid topsoil-loss? does what i to help to mitigate the impacts of climate change, or does it even reduce carbondioxide in the atmosphere? Is what i'm doing helping to improve relationships between living elements on planet earth? Unfortunately, taking such criteria as a measure, most of the conventional jobs fail to do good, many are even harmful.
Applying Permaculture and therefore trying to make the world permanently inhabitable for humans and nonhumans alike seems to be the most challenging job one could imagine nowadays. It was a noble and wise decision to switch from programming to permaculture. You can't work hard enough here, the whole world is at stake. Sorry if i'm a bit dramatic, i read Derrick Jensen not long time ago...
All the best & keep on the good work!
Boris
 
Mike Schroer
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Interesting post Paul. Having just turned 67 and retiring four months ago from a software engineering profession since 1978 which included C, C++ and many other programming languages I would like to share some observations. I have managed to save a little money for retirement and have been able to own my 22 acre permaculture experiment free and clear. As I look back on that career though I have to wonder if those long hours, absurd schedules, pulling all nighters was really worth it. Some employers rewarded better than others. You can only speculate about how things could have been. Looking back, the personal satisfaction and peer recognition feels a little shallow.

In the past few years I have come to realize that when you are working for someone else you are making them money. If your aren't, you will not have the job. To look at it another way, look at time. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. If someone can get some of someone else's time they get ahead. That is what the whole Capitalism system is about, time and surplus – given to the capitalist. Capitalism is structured for you to give some of your time and surplus to them for the opportunity for you to survive. Levels of survival vary.

Remember the three ethics of Permaculture – Care of Earth, Care of People, Return of surplus to earth and people. This is one of the most appealing parts of the permaculture movement. I get so upset these days when I hear about the productivity gains that we here in America have performed and yet the average or median wage has stood still since some time in the 70s. With these productivity gains why aren't we working about 20 hours a week and sitting out there under that tree the rest of the time? Or at least tending to our homestead. But instead we are debt slaves and still putting in that 40 – 100 hours a week.

So Paul I think you are doing some retrospective thinking, as I have, and having some regrets about putting so much time in and doing a little rationalizing by claiming a passion for the work. I know the feeling, the capitalist use that passion for their gain. And you can't suppress the passion, when you have it. I think we all have to determine how much time we are willing to give to an employer and how much time we want for ourselves. I only wish I had figured it out sooner. I think you have found the right solution, you are putting that passion into a cause that is enduring.
 
Corey Schmidt
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Boris Forkel wrote:Nice writing, good post. My thoughts on that: It's good to work hard, if you're convinced of and stand behind projects you do. I personally have a kind of (doomer)-ethic, that everything i do and work on must accomplish something (as objectively as possible) good for the planet. I think about the problems we're all facing; does what i to help to build new soils, in times of rapid topsoil-loss? does what i to help to mitigate the impacts of climate change, or does it even reduce carbondioxide in the atmosphere? Is what i'm doing helping to improve relationships between living elements on planet earth? Unfortunately, taking such criteria as a measure, most of the conventional jobs fail to do good, many are even harmful.
Applying Permaculture and therefore trying to make the world permanently inhabitable for humans and nonhumans alike seems to be the most challenging job one could imagine nowadays. It was a noble and wise decision to switch from programming to permaculture. You can't work hard enough here, the whole world is at stake. Sorry if i'm a bit dramatic, i read Derrick Jensen not long time ago...
All the best & keep on the good work!
Boris


i always have felt the same way, yet my path in life has had me work for a long time as a quasi conventional construction worker in a rural alaskan seaside retreat for wealthy ones. but a strange thing is slowly happening (after about 10 years) now i'm in charge of jobs and i get to do them my way. that means instead of burning waste wood and trash i take the wood home for firewood and the trash to the dump, and lots of other small choices that are nicer for the environment. but because of the conventional skills i acquired, i also got the opportunity to build and live in a cabin. of course i built it passive solar and word has got out about how little extra heat i need to add. and of course i put in a rainwater catchment system that meets all the needs (except laundry, which we do elsewhere) of my wife and daughter and I, and now, after a public well crisis, 3 people want me to put in rainwater catchment systems for them, too. so I feel i have been a sort of permie 'sleeper cell' in the 'conventional world' I don't know what the future will hold, but i will definitely continue to leverage the trust i have earned to shift things on every level toward a more sustainable world. Idealism is commendable and shows deep vision, but until that grand dream comes to fruition, we have to be permies in the place we're stuck, and not use our idealism as an excuse for doing nothing. Get some real skills, make money in the conventional world if you can't get a permie job right away. Permaculture requires a lot of the same skills anyway, just the design and sometimes materials are different. by working in the conventional world, we learn how that world works and are in a better position to help it shift in big or small ways that are of benefit to all. When the permie dream job comes (most likely you create your own), drop what you're doing and jump on it, but don't just sit around smoking doobies waiting for it. To be successful in permaculture takes all that it takes to be successful in anything else. these words are not necessarily for any particular person but to whom they apply may they be of service.
 
paul wheaton
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Rob Arnold wrote:Paul, well written and inspiring, but the most interesting part of this post to me was the one word: "Sorta". Does this mean you still need to develop software


See my larger web site: http://coderanch.com

 
paul wheaton
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Jennifer Richardson wrote:To me, working 100 hours a week on software sounds like a much smaller, greyer life than working 40 hours a week and going home to a warm family, a small garden, and a nice tree for the other 60 hours!


And now I focus my time on permaculture.

I have massive lifetime accomplishments. I am now some sort of permaculture authority and I only learned of the word in 2001. I think this is my third time at "being famous". Maybe my sixth time if we lower the bar a bit. I have at least a dozen stories like the one I told above - nobody really cares about them all that much except me.

I have been asked, in the past, what does it take to ... accomplish something that I have accomplished. And I think this thread is a feeble attempt to convey possibly the most important component.

I got an email from geoff lawton yesterday. He asked me about what do we need to do get permaculture into more brains. I think it is this. The stuff in this thread. Permies ramping up to be uber-permies. Uber-mega-super-permies. The leaders of our future. Maybe somebody can demonstrate 4 different kinds of hugelkultur. Then 40. Then document 400. Maybe somebody can take the study of companion planting deep into the world of polycultures with dozens of species. Maybe somebody can demonstrate huge income from permaculture growies.

I could have posted this to my forums at coderanch.com. But I posted it here because I want to see permaculture to become the obvious path for our future.

I saw this quote this morning:

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. -- Theodore Roosevelt

I'm going to keep on doing what I do. If my writing this somehow plays a small part in two people getting to the point that their permaculture fame far exceeds my own, then this was worth writing.

I am obsessed with permaculture evolving to be better than it is. And I am equally obsessed with more people learning about permaculture.


but I feel like from reading some of your posts and listening to some of your podcasts that you undergo a lot more stress and conflict than I generally do


It comes with the territory. If you want to do epic shit, you will have detractors. If you want to avoid having detractors, you cannot do epic shit. Of course, some people are able to do epic shit with fewer detractors than others. Now we start to get into the space of "be yourself."


 
paul wheaton
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John Derry wrote:Smooth seas do not make skilled sailors.


Fuck. I wrote all that stuff and now I wish that I had just written that. You win the brevity award. Apple for you.
 
paul wheaton
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Len Ovens wrote:
Some times no one needs to know, but somewhere along the road recognition is important.


So, I mention above how shortly after the four week project I started to push my thoughts into a C/C++ library. In 1995, my program, BananaCom (built with these philosophies) became #1 out of 50 apps in that field. And then I was contacted by a recruiter and asked to lead a team of software engineers for library development for a new language due to that c/c++ library I put out years earlier. Later that language was named "Java".

I got oodles of recognition from peers that I respected.
 
paul wheaton
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Mike Schroer wrote:In the past few years I have come to realize that when you are working for someone else you are making them money. If your aren't, you will not have the job. To look at it another way, look at time. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. If someone can get some of someone else's time they get ahead. That is what the whole Capitalism system is about, time and surplus – given to the capitalist.


Which is good business. They get something and I get something.

What they offer is money in exchange for something useful for them to make money. A fair trade. Of course, while I am there, I can harvest so much more if I want to. Can I turn this into fodder for a book? For a presentation? For an article? Is there something happening here where I can now be a global expert? Did I make something that was mediocre, or did I make something that was beyond their expectations? Did I outperform other engineers at the same organization?

I led my glorious life *and* got paid! It may be true that they were using me. But I was also using them. Mutually beneficial. A symbiotic relationship.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Nothing wrong with a symbiotic relationship, it is when it shifts to parasitic that problems ensue.
 
Justin Rhodes
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Great word man. I'm feelin it. The struggle ends up making us a better man (or woman). Like the tree needs the wind (to be strong) we need our own difficulties to thrive.
 
Herman Franke
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Some projects require wattage. You can't drive a telephone pole into the ground by hitting it with a hammer no matter how much time you devote to the effort.

Take a young man who isn't sure but suspects he might be capable of big things, give him a project that others with more experience and authority than himself have failed at, with a near impossible deadline of one month, with a cartoonishly tangible outcome (one MEEEEELLION dollars, bwa hah hah hah), and the chance to be a hero = MAJOR WATTAGE!

It is possible that with a deadline of 18 months you would have lacked the wattage to tackle the project as well (but not all that likely I'd say).

But you still have to have the analytical and creative qualities required to accomplish that task, which you have, which is cool. There are a lot of software developers and only some of them have those qualities as you know.

It may also have nothing to do with wattage, just that you were the first one assigned that task who had the analytical and other qualities necessary to achieve it.
 
Mike Schroer
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I am obsessed with permaculture evolving to be better than it is. And I am equally obsessed with more people learning about permaculture.


I'm obsessed with that too, but the other side of the coin is the ugly reality we might be facing without choosing the path of permaculture; how can i advocate Permaculture as the right way without pointing at everything that's going wrong, with (Industrial) Capitalism being one of those things?


I share that feeling.

Nothing wrong with a symbiotic relationship, it is when it shifts to parasitic that problems ensue.


I think the relationship is parasitic for many people.

I have been impressed with some of Gar Alperovitz work with coops. I think that could work well with Permaculture. People can share their surplus within the coop and also pool their surplus and market that outside the coop. I have been looking at the Mondragon Corporation in Spain and can't seem to get a handle on how it works.

I think Permaculture suffers from an image of being on the fringe and not taken seriously in many cases. Paul has talked about that some, the phrase “blowing rainbows out my ass” comes to mind. Equating Permaculture with subsistence farming is a common perception.

I keep thinking that if we could get local clusters of Permaculture practitioners operating in a coop that the image and acceptability of permaculture could be improved.

There have been discussions on these forums about the farmers market that make a good point. You can't be setting at the farmers market all day waiting on customers to come by at their convenience and still operate your homestead. You just can't be in two places at once. Joel Salatin recognized this problem early on and markets to Chefs and directly from his farm. We have farmers markets in our area that operate 2-3 hours in the evenings on certain days and that works much better for the producers and apparently is not too inconvenient for the consumer judging by the results. A coop would be ideal for this type of marketing. The egg seller, the cheese maker, the yogurt maker, the vegetable grower can all trade and sell their wares at the “swap meet”.

To get back to the beginning of this thread. Maybe if we get to keep more of the results of our labor and we get off the corporate capitalism treadmill “working for the man” we could spend more time under that tree that Paul talked about at the beginning of this thread.
 
Dave Burton
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I think this song illustrates the point that Paul is making that struggles and hurdles make us fucking awesome!

 
paul wheaton
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Matu Collins
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I was introduced to the "fixed vs growth" mindset model a few years ago by my daughter's charter high school. I am pleased with the psychological aspects of the school, they teach this to the kids and try to design their systems with mindset in mind.

I like that bit about learning from criticism, it reminds me of one of my favorite permaculture principles "accept feedback"
 
William James
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The son and the father and the tree sound a lot like Possum Living.


She went on to get a GED, go to Univ, and work as a NASA aerospace engineer, among other things.
http://www.resilience.org/stories/2010-04-04/possum-living-author-steps-out-shadows

Talk about being awesome.
William
 
paul wheaton
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Len Ovens wrote:Some times no one needs to know, but somewhere along the road recognition is important.


Oh, and somewhere along the way, I won three jolt awards.  Kinda like oscars for geeks.

 
paul wheaton
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Looking at this today for other reasons.

Since I wrote this, I have talked to people about coming here to do some big part of something and make some coin.  The way that they talk is like "what would be my responsibilities?  How much will I be paid?"  It just now occurred to me that I wish to say back to those people "what are my responsibilities?  How much will I be paid?" 

I suppose that the seven people that worked on that coding project for the 18 months before I arrived asked about responsibilities and pay.  

I have too much experience with people that insist on getting paid while doing nearly nothing.   And they complain that they are not getting paid more.   Nobody is guaranteeing income for me for attendance.  Nobody is paying Sepp for doing the work he does on his property.  

Mark Shepard won't let people move onto his land without a business plan. 

Getting paid by the hour is what I did for years when I was harvesting serious coin.  But I have grown past that. 
 
We noticed he had no friends. So we gave him this tiny ad:
Mike Oehler's Low-Cost Underground House Workshop & Survival Shelter Seminar - 3 DVD+2 Books Deal
https://permies.com/wiki/48625/digital-market/digital-market/Mike-Oehler-Cost-Underground-House
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