Cold Snap

Like large portions of the US, we are about to have a deep cold snap after a bit of warmth, relatively speaking.  ie – warmth is above 32 and raining instead of snowing.

The problem, of course is that this will be followed by subzero weather – so ice.  Lots of cold and ice.

I work for a transportation company, so weather and road conditions are of paramount importance to us

But I find that our company’s obsession is nothing to a woman whose blog I follow.  She’s a farmer.  When it’s cold the water freezes.  She ends up carrying 100 gallons of water to her animals.  And because her farm, not unlike many farms, extends over quite an acreage with many buildings, it means she is hauling water over quite a damn distance in sub zero weather, plus wind, plus that icy layer caused by the warm rain today.  She is constantly in a worry that all the animals will be able find sufficient shelter and warmth in these conditions.  Because animals often die these conditions.

My maternal family is deeply farm embedded.  Even today people I am related to own thousands of acres in Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.  That blood is clear in me that I cannot help but follow farm blogs despite it having only the remotest relationship to my actual lived life.

So I find that rather than worrying about my drive to work, I’m worrying about whether her pigs, or ducks, or cows are going to be OK.  They probably will be.  She’s very focused on planning for their benefit.  But what is heartbreaking for everyone is that sometimes, planning and effort aren’t enough.  Sometimes the weather is just bigger than your efforts.  And farmers face this all winter.  Indeed, all year.

 

 

It was a woman.

Yesterdays post was about a shooting in the pony keg next to my building.  It assumed, wrongly, that the shooter was a man.

But it was a woman.

I’m grappling with that.  My first impulse is all the cultural bias I own about women.  Then I have to re-calibrate.  I assumed without consideration that man did this.  Why?

More to the point was my assumption about her post shooting reaction.  I assumed the man MIGHT have regret at killing a man over money.

But I more  than assume it for a woman and then back it off because she actually did it.

The reality is that some people live, explain and justify their lives through overarching principle rather than outcomes.

So if you live by overarching principle – the person robbing is wrong, the person shooting is right. Then the death of a human being for a few hundred dollar seems worthy.

If you live by outcome – the person killing is wrong.  No amount of money will equal a human life.

If you look at that duality you see the complexity.  I will probably always land on the preserve life side, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t fully get how this happened.

We want to simplify.  And I was all about simplifying until a small tendril of recognition hit my brains.

It was a woman.  How ridiculous and how fortuitous.  It made me realize.  Humans all act in a moment.  We act on all the accumulated beliefs and values that led us that place.  We rarely have the luxury of considering that moment and it’s consequences.

My boss, one of the kindest people I have known, first said “Good”.  He had been robbed many times as a Taxi dispatcher.  His drivers had been robbed and beaten.  He has no sympathy for the robber’s  viewpoint.  This is one of the kindest men I know.  He offered me a job when I was homeless.  He recognizes the hardship of being poor.  As well as the injustice of being robbed.  When I pointed out the absolute values of death vs money he immediately got it.

But. He also got why this robber was shot.  We cannot let the robber rule us.  On the other hand we cannot become the robber – willing to kill for their objective.

That mean ALL OF THE INPUTS WE RECEIVE are crucial to the moment of truth.  Think about them.  Pay attention when the stakes are low.

 

Indoor Hunting Feeder – A Review

I bought this hunter feeder for my cats.

indoor feeder

So.  I got it because I was concerned that the Kitten, whose not a kitten anymore, was bored and starting to act odd as a result.

First you try to show the cats that their food is in the toy by using the little plastic trainer with too many holes.  The trainer has so many holes that any movement will knock out food.

Then you put fill mice up and put them in the place of their food dish.  Then when they figure out how to extract the food, you start to move the mice to other places in the house.  So they have to hunt and play to get it.

Concerns:  Feeding Time is no longer an easy scoop and pour on the dish process.  Putting Food into the mice is annoying at best.  The provide an absolutely useless scoop that appears to be purpose made for the process but make it worse.  I got more food on the counter and floor filling mice than in the mice.  I have finally given up on their scoop.  I used my old scoop, keep the mouse just slightly inside the food bag while I pour into the mouse.   It solves the mess but it’s still more time consuming and involved.

Food is on the floor.  If they don’t eat all of the food they knock out, you may well step in it.  Also you have food on the floor when you don’t step in it.  Which bothers me.  It makes my apartment feel dirty.

I’ve stepped on mice in the middle of the night, twice now.  Not enjoyable.

I’ve been woken up by mice hitting the hardwood floor from the desktop at least once.

My cats are apparently lazy and/or smart.  I put out mice and they yowl like they are starving.  They know the food is in the mice, I have not started hiding the mice although I have been putting them around the house to give them the idea that food is no longer just in one place.  I do it with them following me, so I’m not sure “hiding” will ever be possible.

At least one of them is fully aware of how to manage the mice to get food because yesterday when I came home from work and today when i woke up the mice were empty and the food eaten.  But I don’t know if it’s both of them or just one.  They will not eat from the mice if I’m home and awake.  Apparently hoping I will offer up the buffet style they prefer.

Because I don’t know if both of them know how to use the mice I have a bit of food anxiety for them.

Positives:

Nearly all of the above are concerns from my human perspective.  I bought these for a purpose.  To keep a bored cat more interested in his daily life.  It’s hard to say if it’s working.  He’s not been acting out in obsessive ways, which was the thing that triggered my concern.

I intend to keep using them until or unless it becomes a problem from the cat’s perspective.  Beyond their lazy preference for buffet food.

Why does Indonesia get kicked around so much by Natural Disasters?

It feels like they can’t win for losing.

They had a landslide that killed 15 people on New Years Eve.

On average, a natural disaster has occurred in Indonesia every year since the 2004 tsunami, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and climate change fueled events.

It’s so unfair.  I know they are sitting in a hotbed of earth movement, add in climate change and bad infrastructure and you just can’t find a good outcome.

What is amazing is how they just keep trucking.  It gives me hope that we can all manage the future of climate change causing too many natural disasters.  Humans are resilient.

But that’s just a simplification.  Many aren’t trucking along.  Many are drowning in the consequences of the disaster, without sufficient help.

And in a future world where everyone is experiencing a disaster, will we be able to step up and help each other?  Now we all chip in and send aid.  But at what point does that implode under the weight of the need vs those who can support it?

I wonder how we will respond to the new world of constant upheaval?  Will we be our best selves or our most selfish selves?  I hope we will be our best.  I hope we will always be a community in local and a helping hand globally.

But it’s impossible to tell.  We ought, at minimum, to setting up infrastructure standards that will support the inevitable natural disaster that will hit all of us.  Soon it won’t just be those poor people in Indonesia.  It will be everyone, regardless of the geo-active area we live in.

 

Shower Thoughts

I very much support the work being done in extending healthy old age.  I even think finding a cure for death is probably a good idea.

However.  What about the Ears and Nose Problem.   Our noses and ears keep growing all of our life.  You may have noticed.  Or not.

fs-old-young-gif-aging

But you will notice if we are able to extend life dramatically.  Another 100 years of nose and ear growth will turn us into veritable elephants.

Everyone focuses on wrinkles, but honestly – the nose – ear issue is interesting.   If no one dies eventually the vast majority of the population will be older than 70.

Will giant noses and ears be the new beautiful?   Will ears that hit your shoulders be considered a sign of sexual vitality?

Or will we sensibly give up sexual obsession upon discovering that we can pick our nose with our tongues?

I have to say, I’m in favor of the latter, not the former.  I’m an old fashioned girl I guess.  I can’t imagine finding elephant faces to be sexually attractive.  But what do I know.  Maybe time will change that.

Eh.  Probably Plastic Surgery Shops will be as common as Starbucks.  It will be done by anyone who is willing to get the certificate from the local e-college.  39.99 for the nose and 59.99 for the ears.

There will be a whole group of people who think leaving noses and ears natural is the only honest and right thing and they will be known as Elephants.

 

 

So many Bad Ideas come so easily…

I am addicted to gardening channels although the most I can muster is a few pots on a balcony.  One of the channels is a permaculture nursery that started raising chickens on compost. He gathers food scraps from a couple of restaurants he trusts.  Dumps it into the coop.  They eat it, poop on it and it degrades into compost over time.  He adds wood chips and leaves and a bit of bio char.  And his interesting addition is a bit of seed so the chickens will kick around for sprouts.    It’s amazing.  The chickens kick around the compost, helping it develop.  They poop, helping it.  And he gets nearly free chicken feed and eggs.

Winter was a bit of a problem for him.  He lives in upper NY.  It gets really cold.  Chickens don’t love cold.   So his compost system, while a pile of warmness didn’t always work in the winter months for chickens who refused to leave the warmth of the coop.  So he built a polytunnel and began dispersing his compost in the polytunnel.  The hot compost heats the tunnel and the chickens are VERY HAPPY.

happy chickens

His only downside is it’s not comfortable for him.  He has to turn the compost for the chickens daily.  And it’s tight and awkward.  A batch of  viewers think he created this tunnel to keep his chickens warm and have come up with several creative fire hazards for him to try instead of his successful tunnel.  They haven’t been watching since the beginning.  I know those chickens have a lovely warm coop with a heated water dish.  They aren’t needing a warm home.

He has chicken workers creating compost.  And he needs the workers to show up at work when it’s cold.  So he created a comfortable place for them to work.  They could refuse to participate and he would still give them grain in their coop, just as he has in previous winters.

What is interesting is that suggestion brigade is so oblivious.  The entire video shows extremely contented chickens kicking about in the leaf litter and compost while it’s 20 degrees outside.  They LOVE the new poly-tunnel.  The only one suffering is it’s creator and he already said during the video that the awkwardness is worth it to have content and working chickens.   He called them his workers at least 3 times.

There are of course several practical suggestions from people who listened and know the situation.  Those suggestions are the reason the internet is such a boon to society.  He can get suggestions from people in Russia or Canada or China.  Chickens are everywhere.  In fact I believe they out number us by a factor or two.

So many people have ideas.  And the internet makes it so easy to spew them.  Sometimes this is a great thing.  People are helped.  Sometimes it’s just the garbage of an uninformed mind.  I think the problem is in the person receiving the ideas.  Can they discern the garbage from the practical advice?  Sometimes that is hard. Int his case, I think it’s going to be obvious.

I’ve been all of the above. The person spewing a random but informed idea that entered my head.  I’ve been the person with experience and knowledge who offered advice.  I’ve been the person receiving the barrage of good and terrible suggestions.  I think I have learned to curb my desire to share whatever uninformed thought enters my head.  But probably I will do it again.  I do think I’m pretty good at distinguishing the seed from the chaff on the advice that comes at me.

The internet is a marvel.  But with marvel came a lot of garbage.  I am sorry that it works that way, but it is inevitable considering humans.  So it seems to me the only solution is to teach people how to sift the good seed from the chaff.

 

 

If only you spoke Hovitos.

It’s the classic Indiana Jones Evil Villain Wins line.

But it’s also shorthand for: if only you knew the terrain and the culture better. ie – if only you studied a bit harder.  It’s a brutal own.

It’s also real.  If you know more, you can leverage it better.  It’s the same strategy that gets Jones out of Egypt when the Nazis are chasing him.  He knows more.  He has more connections.

But it’s real in life too.  Most of us just know whatever is necessary for us to cope with our job.  We don’t try to know more.  We don’t want to know what other people in our company do.  We don’t want to know what happens before and after us in the work flow.  We don’t question why we have to do things the way we do.

But the way I have done well in jobs is to know more.  To work hard and understand how what I do matters.  To understand the bigger context.  I ask a lot of questions.  Sometimes that gets perceived as a judgement by the people I’m asking.  But if you ask outside of problem situations or ask people not responsible for the problem, mostly people want to talk about what they do and what they know.  Asking them is just easy.  Listening and Learning and recognizing the pattern in the knowledge is what is helpful.

The next time you wonder why things aren’t going well at work.  Ask yourself – Do you speak Hovitos?

Admittedly, it requires patience. Don’t be afraid to ask – even if you don’t know the knowledge holder. It also requires effort at proving you are somebody worthy of respect.  If they think you slack all day they will not be as forthcoming with anything but gripes.  Which also have value but don’t teach as much.  You have to earn respect by working.  Doing small extra things that make another person’s job easier, is also helpful at making them want to share knowledge when asked.

But once you speak Hovitos, it helps in so many ways.  And the absolutely PRIMARY one is that it makes the job feel more meaningful.  It makes what you do matter more.  I used to get satisfaction from feeling like I was helping people with a fundamental need in their life, financial security.

Now I work for a transportation company.  It feels far less important.  At first I wondered how I would feel that was meaningful beyond keeping me from being homeless.   But it turns out, it’s almost easier.

A)  Travel is a direct impact experience.  How well I do my job directly affects how well someone’s day is going to be.  And if you’ve ever missed a plane, you know exactly how meaningful that impact is.

B) How I do my job affects other people at the company.  And I think we don’t emphasize that enough.  Skipping a thing you think is small and unimportant can cause a great deal of undue frustration to someone downstream in the workflow.  Doing your job well makes a huge difference to someone else’s job / day going well. Often the things that seem oddly silly and useless are designed to make someone’s job downstream far easier.  Both of those things have direct impacts on the lives of people. Doing them right is important. Those things make my job meaningful.

But I only am aware of that because I speak Hovitos.  ie. I took the time to think and ask about it.

It matters.  Speak Hovitos.  Not just because your career will be better. MOSTLY because how you feel about your job and therefore your life will improve by magnitudes.  SPEAK HOVITOS.

The life I live in my imagination

It varies.

Sometimes I have a snug little homestead of 3-10 acres.  It has an orchard with apples, pears, peaches and maples.

It has a small bit of land for wheat – because I’m insane and dream of growing my own bread.

It has a magnificent vegetable and herb garden.

And naturally it has chickens.  They are content chickens doing chicken sorts of things and helping me make compost.

But sometimes, I dream of living aboard a boat.  This is nearly the antithesis of a homestead.  I want to wander about the world on my boat.  Perhaps I will have a fairly anemic tomato or a small effort at herbs.  But that sort of thing really doesn’t work on a boat.

My ideal boat doesn’t exist.  I want the boat to be able to navigate rivers and canals as well as oceans.  In case you didn’t know those are things that require different sorts of boats.  Sometimes just because humans have built bridges too low and mostly because a boat safe at ocean should have a minimum draft so it doesn’t capsize in high seas.  That doesn’t always work in inland waterways.

I want it all.  I want to have a boat with a garden that can cross the pacific and travel up the Yangtze or the Danube or the Thames.  And then I want it to be able to cross into those fabulous man made waterways that are left from a bygone era but that show you the insides of a country in ways that natural rivers don’t dream of.

Sadly most of the man made canals are no longer navigable.  Few countries invested money in their maintenance after their commercial value was nil.   But some still exist and call the boater to the interior of a country, where the fields and wilderness border the canal.

It’s my dream.  To travel indefinitely around the world by water.

Of course, neither plan is practical to my lived life.  I don’t have the money and will never be forced to decide between boats and homesteading.  And the imaginary boat that can cross oceans and glide easily in narrow shallow canals is sadly mythical.

But let’s assume all options are available.  And I’m suddenly the winner of a lottery.  I wonder if I would choose the boat.  It’s risk.  It’s constant unending change.  The homestead is safe and warm and if not utterly predictable, it has more stability than the the boating life.  I fear that given all my dreams, I might easily choose the safest option.

I’m a creature of tradition and safety.  I would choose practical reality.

But at night, as I’m falling asleep, I imagine my trip through the Grand Canal of China or the winding relaxation of a trip through Great Britain’s canals or the gorgeous views from Europe’s waterways.

Image result for uk canals

But don’t discount the homestead.  It’s a satisfying and good life.

It may not be gorgeous lights and locales but there is something deeply satisfying in working with natural rhythm of things to make food.

Image result for chicken yard making compost edible acres

I could be happy either way.  However unbrave I may be, either option is worthy in it’s own right.

Sharing your Mother with the internet

Over on tumblr everyone is sharing stories about their mom.  Most of them are affectionate and grateful.

Some are justifiable not.

It brings to mind the fact that being a mother is not a sanctifying event.  Any one with the working organs and a sperm donor can be one.  Indeed, anyone who adopts or fosters can be one.  For millennia it has been a role given by default rather than intent as though parenting isn’t one of the most important roles a human can have.

One of the more inane defenses of Huckabee Sanders is “She’s a mother.”  As though that has ANYTHING AT ALL to do with criticism aimed at her.  As though being a mother is get of out a mess free card.

But of course it’s not.  Nor are women naturally predisposed to be great mothers.  Motherhood is a daunting, exhausting, psychologically and emotionally scarring role and there is little preparation given to the VAST MAJORITY of women who become mothers.  The fact that so many of them do it well enough to continue the species and for that species to have achieved what it has to date, is the greatest achievement of women as a whole.  But it is NOT the only thing any individual woman is.

It’s daunting to be handed the responsibility for another life when your own feels out of control.  And many face motherhood on those terms.

It’s daunting to raise a contributing member of society when no one did the same for you and you struggle merely to make it through a day.  There is no escape from motherhood except in death.  You mostly can’t quit unless you do it up front.

I’m not a mother.  I was raised by one who faced the daunting task under the burden of alcoholism.  It did not always go well.  But she managed it.   And she taught me a great many things that I still hold inside me as foundations of who I am.  And in the end, she managed to dry out and I met my mother at age 21, someone different than I had lived with in childhood.   The person who overcame addiction and redirected her life was not just a mother.  She was a woman.  Who had children and did her best with them.

I worry when we reduce women to motherhood.  To some unattainable sainthood that has little depth and no soul.  A woman, can also be a mother.  But motherhood is only part of who she is.  She is a complexity of things and sometimes those things make motherhood a mess. Sometimes they make it wonderful.

Some of us aren’t mothers.  But we are assumed to be.  I got wished Happy Mothers Day 3 times today.  I’m a middle aged woman.  It is assumed that I must be a mother.

People assume this because we have reduced women to a monostate that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of her.   We have raised motherhood to a state of sanctity that no woman could achieve and quite a number dismally fail.  We would be better off as a civilization if we treated motherhood as a hard role, that requires training and support.  Instead we pretend they are born with the knowledge. No one can see the souls and hearts and the dreams of the women raising our species because the reflection off the shiny MOTHER ideal dazzles us.

 

 

How many people does it take to stop the fire alarm from beeping every minute?

Today I got to work and the fire alarm was beeping in that “my battery is dead” beep.  I told the dispatcher and said that if he could change the battery it would probably save the life of the person I would kill if I ended up listening to it all morning.

He and company’s general dogsbody guy went in and opened up the alarm.  No battery.  It’s hooked up directly to the electric.  There was no button to push to turn it off.  It just continued to beep.

So they called the owner.  He came in and was sure he knew the solution.  But couldn’t figure it out.  One of the general managers showed up and spent sometime in there with the owner, at one point falling off a ladder but not getting hurt.  Several drivers gave pointless commentary.

So the owner called the fire alarm company.   Turning off the electricity was tried on multiple occasions.  He even went so far as to turn off the electricity in the entire building.  That fucking thing just kept beeping in the dark.    The fire alarm company told him it couldn’t be beeping if they turned off the electricity, despite the very reality that it was in fact beeping.

He called in an electrician.  He and the electrician spent 2 hours searching for a sensor that could be beeping.  Finally the electrician gave up and left.  It was still beeping.

You know – in the old days this beeping would have been competently handled by the dogsbody.  He would have replaced the battery.  The owner would not even have been aware that the dogsbody did it until Monday morning, if then.  It would have been that trivial.

Instead highly paid people spent 6+ hours trying to fix it and failing.  And I’m not really sure we have that much greater advantage to this fire alarm system than the old independent battery operated units being set up every so many per number of square feet.

When I left it was still beeping.  Tomorrow the fire alarm people will show up and attempt to fix it.  I don’t hold out much hope.  I think the building could burn down and that fucker would still be beeping every minute.