Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Who Ees Thees Cahl-vin?

"The problem with people is that they're only human."
- Hobbes (a very wise tiger)

Somewhere around grade 8 or 9, I was introduced to something which has remained important to me ever since; the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes *. I devoured the few collections already published, and was lucky enough to have new releases bought for me. I still count myself lucky for that, although I doubt I recognized it at the time. At that age, something about the 6 year old reminded me of myself a few years earlier; rather imaginative and often in trouble because of it. Even at that age, I could recognize the simple wisdom in Bill Watterson's brilliant strip. And, like so many others, I was crushed when the strip was retired in '95.

When I stumbled across those old soft cover collections after I moved away from home, I would still thumb through them and giggle myself silly, once again easily pulled into the simple but enchanting world of Calvin and his best friend/tiger Hobbes, the spunky but rather lonely seeming Susie Derkins, Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff, various ferocious and ravenous aliens and dinosaurs and not to mention the poor, poor parents. It turns out that it's not such a big deal that the strip ended when it did. I am able to read them over and over and over again and they make me grin, laugh out loud, smile wistfully, and even tear up a little, just as with the first reading. Now I am very thankful that the author ended the strip when he did, so its real lovers (not like that, sheesh!) did not have to go through the horribly lengthy and torturous descent of so many other strips like Garfield, Charlie Brown and Archie.

A few years back, a hardcover and stunning new box set collection of the entire Calvin and Hobbes history was released. I noticed it in a mom-and-pop book store downtown and nearly dropped the $150 for it right then. Thankfully I decided not to, as I got the joyful surprise of receiving it as a Christmas present from my brother later that year. Evidently my love of the strip had not gone unnoticed. It remains one of the favorite gifts I have ever received.

Inspiring this post is the fact that I picked up the second volume of this collection recently, and am once again ensconced in wonder. I absolutely love how how much laughter and simple wisdom is contained on those pages. I really believe that they may have been a big part of developing my current consciousness, of becoming who and what I am.

I sincerely hope that parents are still sharing this strip with their children, and enjoying it themselves.

And thank you so very much, Mr. Watterson. I wish I could give you something as important in return.

*Having read through most of the wikipedia contents now, I would suggest that even those who are already fans of C and H go have a look at the link provided. I liked it anyway.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baby, Its Cold Outside

Much of the Canadian Prairies got a good blast of winter over the last week or so, with record low temperatures being set in various places. The -45C that we hit over night a few times was unseasonal for this area at this time of year, but certainly not unheard of. It seemed to make people forget that just prior to this cold snap, many places were posting some unseasonably high temperatures as well. But most interesting to me was the fact that this was the first time I have ever heard such a cold snap cause news stories which warned of strain to the electrical grid due to such a cold spell. I wonder what this means for January and February when we often get several weeks of such low temperatures. Although, I suppose it should be noted that the cold snaps do not usually cover such large areas.

Still, it seems to me that if certain parties had their way, much of Canada would be uninhabitable for 4-6 months of the year. The only thing that makes large portions of Canada inhabitable during a typically long winter, is the consumption of energy that is primarily available only from the burning of biomass or fossil fuel. Certainly there are ways to maximize use of wind or solar energy but this would require a MASSIVE redesigning and rebuilding of our homes, food production, business and infrastructure. I certainly feel that we should be moving toward this goal with all haste, but I do not think it makes much sense to blindly limit the potential for success in the endeavor by intensely limiting the resources which may be used.

I TOTALLY sympathize with frustration towards those unwilling to budge from the status quo but to those who are crying out for someone to come along who is strong enough to MAKE people do what is necessary, I ask you:

What will you do when you're told where to live, what to do with your time at all times, how many children you may or may not have, what you may wear, etc etc, in the name of preserving the future?

That is what is being asked for when one demands the right to inflict their will on another. At that point, the only hope is that the chosen dictator is able to do the seemingly remain totally benevolent.

So do I then support the absolute right of the individual over the society, or the whole?
Well, of course I do not, but surely we can find a way to balance the individual and the society. That is not to deny the fact that this is an intensely complex situation. We MUST figure it out though. We're at such an important crossroad, both for Mother Earth and for humankind. I can't help but feel that simple survival just isn't enough. I can't help but feel that we must live for something.

I live for peace and comfort, for myself and for all. Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas, if I am not back before then.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Worm Warning

Well I have stumbled across one of the few pitfalls in keeping an indoor worm bin. Seeing as I go on about the benefits of keeping a vermicompost bin, I thought I should likely pass on a warning as well.

The organic waste that feeds composting worms so well, can also attract pests like gnats and fruit flies. In my case, I had gotten a bit lax with some non-bin garbage in the kitchen. This led to a minor fruit fly infestation. Now, I know how to build a fruit fly trap, and did so. But some of the flies made it into one worm bin, in which I had placed some old grapes that I neglected to properly cover in bedding for just one day. Since fruit flies propagate so quickly, the next time I opened the box I was greeted by a host of exiting flies. I immediately added cardboard and chopped straw but it was too late. Evidently many eggs were already laid and juvenile fruit flies have been crawling out from the straw like so many zombies erupting from fresh graves.

I have added another trap right inside the worm bin, and have placed some dark plastic over the lid. This should keep the young flies from being drawn to the light through the ventilation holes. All I can really do now is leave the bin this way until all the decomposing vegetable matter has been processed and the feeding/breeding cycle of the flies has been interrupted. We'll see how that goes.

As far as avoiding this situation in the future, the key is ensuring that added food is always covered in bedding. This is a good idea anyway, since it also cuts down on odors and provides a better Carbon to Nitrogen ration. But it DOES make it harder to watch the worms cluster to feed, which is a priority for many...especially before the novelty of keeping worms wears off.

Hopefully this warning doesn't turn people away from vermiculture.

Peace and comfort.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Warning: This post may contain the odd "naughty" word. Sometimes its just necessary.

I am sure others are noticing as well, but it seems to be a good time for nonsense and bullshit again these days. I know this is always going on but it seems like its been particularly bad over the past few weeks.

Some examples:

A) Last week, good ol' Prince Chuck and Camille paid Eastern Canada a visit, landing in Newfoundland and touring all the way to Ottawa. This visit cost we Canadians more than $2.5 million! They live in a fucking palace (more than one actually) and WE have to pay for them to come visit us???

I, for one, am not proud of Canada's formation as a British colony, nor am I proud of the fact that we remain one, even if Her "Majesty" is kind enough to refrain from interfering in MOST of our lawmaking and governance. It infuriates me to hear people talk about the grand history that we "get to be part of", in reference to the British Monarchy. As far as I am concerned, "royalty" is nothing more than polished vulgarity and a WHOLE lot of waste.

B) This should, and may become, a post all of its own. Sometimes I am absolutely astounded at the ease with which people can LIE through their teeth nowadays. I know this was always the case to some extent as well, but it is so bad now that its almost impossible to know what the truth really is, on most any given subject. Last night, for example, New York Times journalist Tom Friedman was on The Daily Show and he became the most recent talking head to claim that the Taliban is partially funding their efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by growing opium in northern Afghanistan. Well, here is just one article from February of 2001 stating the the ultra-religious Taliban had banned opium poppy cultivation and heroin production. A small research effort will reveal many other such articles. So is it a different, less dogmatically rigid Taliban that is currently active, or is someone else growing all this opium in northern Afghanistan now? Of the countries actively struggling over that area right now, which is the most linked to the international narcotics trade over the past 50-odd years?

This is an admittedly debatable example but I am confidant that most readers know what I mean. So many of our politicians, media and business leaders...all feeding us lies and bullshit (sometimes by omission only, but still...) in order to get themselves ahead. And we do it to each other too. I would be lying even worse if I tried to claim that I do not let out the odd defensive lie. But I am also not exaggerating when I say that I very definitely came to realize just how personally damaging it is to do so. Even though this often puts me at a disadvantage socially or in business, I maintain that it is the best and healthiest personal policy over the long haul.

C) The constant shoving of a left-right paradigm onto the population of North America (if not most of the "democratic" world) continues to increase in intensity. And most of us seem stupid enough to buy it, to accept that every issue has a liberal answer or a conservative answer (or that its all the New World Order's fault). I do not understand why we have not rejected this corporate media and political structure which is so obviously detrimental to all but those striving to accumulate more and more wealth and/or power over others. Some would label this phenomena as Memetics and pronounce us to be as much to the mercy of these "memes" as we are to genes and genetics. I can accept the label but I cannot accept the argument that we are at their mercy. We CAN be at their mercy when we do not recognize them, but we can also deny their control when we DO recognize them. I do not deny that there are power-hungry "elites" or "powers that be", who have more access to mass control of memes...but we little regular folk can still deny them. Doing so might hurt a LOT sometimes, but it is possible.

D) I can`t help but wonder when the argument over anthropogenic climate change will get violent. It certainly seems headed that way. The new Climategate intrigue has only intensified the argument. This is another subject I have been meaning to post on for months now, but I find it hard to clearly state my thoughts. Kept simply and briefly, it is obvious to me that industrialization and expansion of the human population is causing significant damage to our planet in many, many areas...likely in many ways we do not even know yet. But I also find it very interesting that we so often lay the specific fault/solution on things we cannot easily see, and many people cannot easily understand. We are all in a frenzy over carbon dioxide and other gases as being the main fault in all the destruction and loss of diversity that is becoming more and more difficult to deny. Well it seems to me that proponents of both sides are overly stressing some facts and totally omitting others, both for rather personal seeming reasons.

For me, as I have said many times, it is obvious that we are causing significant damage to our planet, not the least of which is sucking, scraping, scooping or tunneling every last bit of natural resources out of it that we can manage. Much of this is done only to accumulate more crap that serves primarily to display as high a social standing as possible and/or to gain more control over others. But I also despair to see so much energy being put into a fault and solution that seems suspect on many levels, when we should probably be finding ways to discuss the real issues resulting from so many humans having so many different expectations of a finite world containing finite energy and resources. And I despair to see so many willing to accept living under authoritarianism, even to DEMAND it, in order to achieve what is somehow seen to be "social justice". But I also despair to see so very many individuals disdaining any social controls whatsoever, in the name of freedom.

Its all enough to give a guy a bad headache. Luckily I have a beautiful lake side farm to work at (eyesore of a landfill and all...), and those little bits of technology that help to broaden my mind while keeping it busy as I work away at mindless but necessary tasks. I think I would be a very very frustrated and cynical individual if I was still living in a large city. And I`d be a hell of a lot more worried about the day the store runs out of food.

That`s enough ranting for now I think. I will go back to being thankful for living somewhere that I have the time and full belly to consider such things, where simple survival is not yet a concern.

Peace and comfort, all.