Mick Fisch

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since Jun 24, 2013
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Recent posts by Mick Fisch

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

1 week ago

give them a piece of pipe (4-6" diameter) on the ground

I've known folks who took all the nuts, but replaced them with dried corn.  Seems a pretty fair trade.
3 weeks ago
We finally settled on putting the baby on his side, with a rolled little blanket behind and in front (chest high and down for the front blanket).  If they barf, it doesn't drown them an the blankets don't cover their face.  Of course, pretty soon they get active enough so that they will move around anyway.
3 weeks ago
Truth is compatible with truth.  We don't need to fear new information because the more truth you find, the better it will fit together, in any field of knowledge.  Sometimes new truth shows that your previous understanding wasn't quite right, maybe it was a little too simplistic.  Sometimes what appears to be new truth, turns out to be not so true.  All of our 'judges of truth' (media, science, religious leaders) are humans.  As such they have biases and are not always honest.  People use the word 'science' to mean fact.  In truth it ain't necessarily so.  The scientific method is a method of learning by test and observation.

There is always a theory du jour that everyone is all hot on.  It usually ends up being adjusted.  The latest scientific theory is built on the wreckage of the previous theory.  Eventually it may get turned on it's head.  We need to look at the data and make our own conclusions.  That is often hard to do, because it's the conclusions that are trumpeted not the raw data and control system.  Sometimes the raw data is 'tweeked'.  Scientists are just educated people and people have biases and can be influenced by other people.  For decades 'science' said that margarine was healthier than butter until a few years back it came out that it was all based on biased studies that were designed to promote margarine sales.  We raised 9 kids, during which time the 'research based consensus of the proper way to put a small sleeping baby down' shifted several times from on their back, to side, to belly, etc.  (Come on people, it's not like we had baby 2.0 come out or anything, the basic model is unchanged).  Until a few years ago, there was a maximum age date that any archaeological sites involving people could be dated to in the western hemisphere without commiting professional suicide.  When a site was found that was firm enough to get rid of that limit several other sites were revealed within a year.  Some of them had been found years before, but the scientists wanted to stay employed so they buried their data until the professional climate changed.

I think it's silly for people to try to come up with a 'rational' or 'scientific' basis for morality.  Right and wrong are religious concepts, pure and simple, although not tied to any particular religion.  (I am not arguing whether these rules are man made or come from heaven, just that there is a difference between legal/illegal and right/wrong).  These rules do often make society work better, but we have many instances where they are ignored to the perpetrators benefit.  If they ignore them on a large scale the people may become heros i.e. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar.  We also have examples where the religious rules benefit some members but hurt other members (i.e. slavery is ok, which until a couple hundred years ago was a pretty universal concept in most religions, and still is in some places).  I have a favorite scene near the end of the 'Guardians of the Galaxy" movie where a policeman is trying to explain to the 'racoon guy' that you can't just take stuff that isn't yours.  He then tries to explain to the big muscular 'knife guy' that you shouldn't kill people who annoy you.  They are both a little puzzled and are obviously unconvinced by his explanations.  Why?  Because they haven't been taught those 'religious' concepts and they conflict with their observed reality.  The racoon guy knows that stealing gets him stuff he likes.  You might believe that a lion is immoral for eating the gazelle, but the lion doesn't have to agree with you.  He has a mouthful of juicy meat that tells him that eating gazelles is right and proper behavior.  
3 weeks ago
My mom told me that when she was young she got hooked on some soap operas.  Over time she got really depressed.  She felt that everything was going wrong in her life.  Finally one of her friends asked her exactly what was bad in her life.  When my mom tried to articulate what was bad, she realized that her life was actually pretty good, it was the characters in the soap operas whose lives were terrible.  From that point on she quit watching soap operas and her depression cleared up almost immediately.  The news has become our national (maybe international) soap opera!

I have a brother-in-law who is an economist.  He told me once that if you are an economist or a weatherman and you're right 50% of the time, you are hailed as a genius.  He's probably right way more often than the major news networks and their fear porn.  The number of times there is a breathless panic with attending 'flashing lights and blaring alarms' that later proves to be entirely or mostly bullshit is why people are no longer believing what the news reports.

When I was in martial arts, one of the things I was taught was 'defend the box'.  Anything outside of the box was going to miss me and was essentially out of my control.  If I shifted to pursue it, I lost my center and my balance.  Realize most of this stuff is not in your box and ignore it.  A large part of it is just flashing lights and noise, like the distractions in a pinball game.

One of the great things about print is I can look at the title and decide if I'm interested.  I refuse to be the prisoner of some speaker while I wait to figure out what he's going to say.  A human voice is much better at ramping up emotions than printed word.

Every morning I bring up the web page, look at the headlines of the articles and ignore 90% of the articles (I can generally figure out from headlines whether I am interested in going there), read the few articles I am interested in and leave.  If I get on an article that is sensational, I just jump out as soon as I realize it.  I don't watch news programs, I listen to news on the radio when I'm in the car only in small bites (there is always some music, or maybe even blissful, thought provoking silence as an alternative).  If the speaker is winding me up, I switch channels.  If I'm feeling fragile, I don't go the the web site that day.  

There is no need to be part of the 24/7 news cycle.  95% of it is just manufactured hysteria that will shortly be proven wrong anyway.  About 10 minutes a day gives me a pretty good handle on what's going on.  

3 weeks ago
I hurt my back a couple of days ago and picked up my copy of the Permaculture Handbook by Mollison in an attempt to do something worthwhile while flat on my back.  I haven't read it since I took my permaculture course from Geoff Lawton a few years ago.  I was amazed again at the basic simplicity and common sense of permaculture, and the complexity of implementing it well.  I'm seeing errors I've made and errors I was contemplating before I reread the book.

Getting refocused, getting regrounded in the basics is a recurring pattern in my spritual life and now, in my permaculture life.  Life has a way of distracting us, getting us either too focused on the minutia at the expense of the overall plan or distracted by theory and overlooking the minutia.  As the old joke says, when your up to your ass in alligators it's sometimes hard to remember you initial objective was draining the swamp (which might be a permaculture no-no).  We need to periodically step back, return to basics and spend a little time pondering and examining ourselves and our actions.
3 weeks ago
I'm in the U.S.  Being of a slightly more conservative bent (I hate that we have to resort to a 'us or them' sorting), I am kind of enjoying listening to Glen Beck.  He is a fairly gentle soul with a firm grasp of sarcasm.  He gets beat up by the conservatives for not being conservative enough and beat up by the liberals as 'one of those conservatives'.  His focus is more based on what is right from a moral point of view and what is possible from a practical view.  You probably won't always agree with him, but he's pretty funny and likes to deflate the balloons of stupidity that get floated out there every day by both sides.

I have started to take my news in smaller doses.  It's better for my blood pressure.  Most of the news sources on both sides are doing their best to pump up emotions and talk about the same 5 minutes of news for a couple of hours.  You need to watch both sides because each side reports only the news that will help their narrative and ignores news that goes against their narrative.  

At the risk of being crucified, Fox news tends to be more middle of the road.  During the last election someone did a study of how many positive and negative articles were published about Trump and Hillary.  Fox was fairly middle of the road (slightly biased towards Trump) while the other major sources were about 95% slanted against him and for Hillary.  Of course most of the conservative talk show hosts were about 95% pro Trump and against Hillary.  I saw something similar during the Obama years.

The current polarization is not too extreme compared with some of the 19th century stuff.  (deaths from fights between groups of men trying to keep each other from the voting areas were considered normal and an expression of a vigorous democracy.  One of the arguments against giving women the vote was that it would inhibit the 'manly expression of political opinion'.)  What is different is how one sided the news is.  You could fit the owners of most of the news sources in the U.S. in a van pretty comfortably.  That tends to swing things one way, since they are all similar ages (grew up in the 60's) and run in the same crowd.

As was noted above, historically, this is one of the best times in history to live.  Famine, pestilence, war and epidemics are for most of the world, at historic lows.  There remain major problems to be faced, but given what we have to work with (shaved monkeys with a tendency to greed, laziness and short sighted behavior) we are doing pretty well.  We still have pollution, (but the Ohio river hasn't caught fire in decades).  We have corruption in high places (but the army isn't auctioning off the rule to the highest bidder as they did at one point in Rome), we still have warfare, (but no one is exterminating 2 million people in 3 days and building pyramids of the heads like in Mongol times).  We get upset when we loose a 8 or 10 people in a thousand to a disease when that would level would have been a point to celebrate during most of history.  

It's funny when you realize that prior to the 19th century, all cultures had slaves (and saw nothing wrong with it).  It's pretty rare in the western world for a child to die in childbirth and almost unheard of for the mother to die.  We are in a historical sweet spot.  Enjoy it.  

1 month ago

If I filled my property with native plants that grew well around here 100 years ago a large proportion of them would die. My valley used to be comprised of wetlands; it's dried out significantly due to warmer summers causing the water table to drop. Even the domesticated non-native apples that people planted here 100 years ago are no longer thriving, even when young specimens are planting. Things have changed. If I tried to fill my land with natives only I would end up with less biodiversity than the way that I manage it now due to all the losses.

I drove through that area in the early 80's and thought it was lush and beautiful, a veritable garden of eden.  

The climate is shifting, as it seems it has throughout recorded (and unrecorded, according to tree rings and other clues) history.  

A quick look on the internet seemed to show no great drop in rainfall in your area over the last few decades.  The lowest year I saw was several years ago with 33 inches, which is about 10 inches lower than the next several years.  I wonder if part of the problem is not climate change, but rather lots of water being pulled out of the water table for human agricultural, domestic and industrial consumption?  As was noted in another thread, the regional population increase has been huge, and people suck up lots of water for a wide variety of reasons.  Could it be that the water table is dropping partly due to water mining?  (I realize this is the wet side of Oregon and there is quite a bit of rain so it's not like Tucson, AZ, but I think my question is reasonable).  

My uncles home in AZ had all kinds of water in the aquafer, until a water company moved in nearby and started pumping all day, 5 days a week to haul water to a growing town down the mountain that didn't have as good of an aquafer.  Soon, my uncle and his neighbors had to get any water they wanted early in the morning before the company started pumping or else their wells were dry.  In his case, it was easy to identify the culprit because of the companies habit of not pumping at night or on weekends, and because it's effects happened so soon after they moved in and started pumping.  If it had happened 5 years after they moved in, they would have blamed climate change.  unfortunately, in his case, because of the local laws, identifying the culprit didn't stop the theft of common resources and they are still pumping.

We have a tendency to find a favorite boogyman that we blame for all our problems in a knee jerk type reaction.  (It changes from time to time, ranging from the communists, the capitalists, immigrants, global cooling (in the 70's)).  Currently it seems to be climate change.

I am not in your area, and I can't see the long term local conditions, so I am simply seeking clarification.  Rather than blame climate change, which is hard to get a handle on, there may be a major water thief in the area.
1 month ago

I like what I'm hearing with regards to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal, including the 70% income tax over whatever amount earned in a year,

I'm not a great fan of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, but in her defense, my dad has mentioned to me that her top bracket 70% income tax is actually lower than the top tax brackets they had in place in the 40's and 50's.  He told me that one year Clark Gable (a big movie star and someone my dad really followed) made millions, but only ended up with $50,000 after paying his taxes.  (Of course, back then, $50,000 was a hell of a lot more money than now, average income in the US in 1950 was $3,300 annually).  

The real problem I see is that we are relying on the political class to fix the problem of corruption in the political class.  That's a good example of asking the fox to watch the henhouse.  They normally either exempt themselves from laws and create loopholes for themselves.  For example, they have a govt. fund just for paying off sexual harrassment claims made against members of congress (they've had it for a couple of decades, it's paid out millions and is used every year, many times).  They, of course, made sure that the govt paid for their health care cost increases from Obamacare.  They are exempt from any insider trading laws.  There are a lot more examples.

This is just a more visible example of what I was talking about.  People tend to adjust the rules to favor their own interests.  The more powerful and more entitled they are (as in they've been in positions of power for a long time) the more likely they are to feel it is just and proper behavior.
1 month ago

- Dwarf Checkerbloom: Has edible leaves and flowers with a mild flavor - can be cooked or eaten raw.
- Early Blue Violet: Has edible leaves and flowers with a mild flavor - can be cooked, or eaten raw and used in teas.
- Miner's Lettuce: Has edible leaves, stems and flowers. Very good for salads. Very shade tolerant.
- Nodding Onion: Strong onion taste but can be used like a regular onion. Greens can be harvested like chives or green onions.
- Oregon Stonecrop: Nice crunchy edible leaves with a nice flavor. Can be cooked or eaten raw.
- Pacific Waterleaf: Edible leaves with nice mild flavor that can be eaten raw or cooked. Also, has edible rhizomes that taste similar to Chinese bean sprouts. Very shade tolerant.
- Redwood Sorrel: Edible leaves/stems raw or cooked with a tangy lemony flavor. Very shade tolerant.

This is one of the big reasons I like to read permies posts.  Filling holes in my data base.  A couple of new edible species I didn't know about!  Party!!!  Bonus!!!  A couple more arrows in the quiver.  I may never use the info, but then again I might have the opportunity.
1 month ago