Tuapte Semper Ingredere Via

Community, People, Localization – a return to a human scale

Archive for June 2011

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

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Lots of phone work with contractors lately. Permit still outstanding for the sceptic tank which needs to be done first.  Crossing my fingers that its done this week and the sceptic tank and driveway go in.   Once that is done the plans are submitted for the house and work starts once that permit arrives for doing the foundation.

Spent time talking to the foundation contractor the end of last week.  On the final pour they can provide colouring to the concrete which is great.  I just have to figure out what colour to stain the concrete.

Working on the footings, insulation to go below the slab and how high above the footings for the walls above grade to put the posts and strawbales next week.

 

After digging in the sheep manure

 

Sunday I went down and dug in sheep dung in to a 13 foot by 6 foot vegetable bed.  Planted 6 tomato plants, 2 eggplants, 2 bell pepper plants, a couple types of basil, oregano, parsley, beans, kale, beets, parsnips and carrots.  Arrived a bit late around 11 am so it was a wee bit hot out there although overcast.  Crossing my fingers a light shower of rain after I left.

Planted and time to get a few cold beers

Sure is far more self gratifying doing all this and achieving my goals slowly then it ever was doing what I was told to do in an office building.   Perhaps it me but making the opportunity for myself to take control of my life is far more rewarding than chasing a career in what I think will soon be an unsustainable place.   It often seem to be far more a game to me, chasing a career.  Providing what was asked of me, knowing it was in all likelihood something of little value seemed of little concern to those asking.  Trading one’s sense of living in order to exist in a make believe world.

With a world increasingly changing faster to we know not what its often hard to know what is real and what is make believe.   With companies raiding their pension funds to keep their business going and countries now doing the same (Ireland being one) what seems to be make believe is what we are told to do and told how to behave.   Play the game and keep the narrative off the past 40 years going and everything will be ok.  Just don’t peel back wallpaper and see what is real.

 

 

 

Written by dcveale13

June 27, 2011 at 1:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.”

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Spent the day digging under a hot sun.

Checked what was growing first though.  Potatoes are starting to grow well.  As are the onions, lettuce and a bunch of other stuff.  Not quite sure what the other stuff is as I forgot to make notes of what I had planted.   (Note to self, pay attention and make a list) Think there are parsnips and carrots coming up but I haven’t learnt yet to pick out what is what. Astounding how little I do know !

Pretty sure these are potatoes

Using a shovel to cut off 60 square feet of sod where the grass is about 3 feet high seems to take a good 2 hours of work.  And the damn stuff is heavy as hell.   Once the sod is off one has to dig down a couple of feet and turn over the soil to loosen it up.

Growing pile of sod

Can use a tiller rented from Home Depot but generally a tiller will only get down about 5 or 6 inches and churn up that soil.  Looks great but my prize winning future parsnips need to be able to push through the soil.

Bloody hard work though.  After working 5.5 hrs non stop and chucking out rocks I think every muscle was aching.  Ready though to enter an arm wrestling contest against 10 yrs and win !

Prize winning parsnips to be grown here

Great doing this kind of work though.  Gives one a chance to mull over what is happening.  Mark Carney the current Bank of Canada CEO has recently had a few chats with senior financial officals from major banks on the status quo.  Seems the general consensus is Greece will fall over and likely bring down a good chunk of European banks if not the Euro itself. Problem then becomes who owes who on the derivative markets which total approximately 600 trillion (vs a global GDP of around 55 trillion).   If liquidity seizes up as happened in 2008 everything stops and banks go down.

Also starting to come out is that all is not well with pensions around the globe.  Increasingly becoming certain – and acknowledged but not talked about by senior CDN, US, UK etc etc gov’ts – that anyone under 40 is likely to see little if any of a pension income from private or public funds.   Decling tax income.  Anemic global economic growth.  Rising cost of inputs to create that growth seem to be leading towards the downside of the Industrial Revolution.

Pension gap in the UK

Japan pension seeks returns in hedge funds

US Social Security.  Bend over if you are over 47

Change seems to be a common thread of human history and earth history.  How we adapt to change has been an interesting study of the past and will be a more interesting challenge going forward.  We as a race seem to have reached the point where we need to deal with a predicament we cannot change.

A local farmer was telling  me that the honey we buy in the grocery stores now is mostly from China.  Bees there are restricted from collecting pollen and fed sugar.  Honey is then shipped to Canada and stuck in plastic containers with “Made in Canada” on them.  I think the time is coming where you want to know your local food producers, learn how to grow what you can locally and most important get to know someone who love to cook and can teach you !

 

Written by dcveale13

June 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Planting, Uncategorized

Fixing a barn and entertaining the livestock

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Waiting on permits still.  Who would have thought bureacracy would move so slow !!  I’m sure they are loaded with processes and have to dot their eyes and cross their t’s.  Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that day to day anymore.

In the meantime I took on a job with my brother framing in the gable side of a barn.  Both of us hale from the measure twice , cut once and then head to Home Depot for more wood as the scrap pile builds.  However after lots of tinkering, cursing, we got that framed up.   next we had to figure out how to get 4×8 foot boards of plywood up 40 feet using a 20 foot ladder.   After a day of trying that we realized a 20 foot ladder was not going to work.   However we came up with many interesting ideas, although the horses on the farm tended to wander by and snicker at us every hour or so.  Actually they snickered then turned their hind quarters towards and weren’t very polite.

Ended up tossing on some scaffolding which was erected on a rather large pile of horse dung.  After watching the scaffolding legs sink a foot or down in the pile we decided some sort of platform under the scaffolding was needed or we would end up jumping 40 feet into the pile of dung, which was at least somewhere soft to land.  This done, while the horses grouped around in disbelief then quickly left once we started to climb up.

Fixing a leaking barn before the hay comes

Once to the top we realized we had forgotten the plywood so back down I went to lug that up.  Finally managed to finish that off and end the entertainment for the livestock by midafternoon earlier this week.   Owner came by and asked us to help immediately help loading up 900 bales of hay into the loft we had just finished fixing around 4ish that afternoon.   Bales of hay had been arriving all day on 5 wagon loads.

At about 50 pounds a bale that was a lot of hay to sling up there and stack in the hayloft.  I think I handled almost every bale so that is lifting and slinging about 45,000 pounds in an evening.  Fun times.  At least the horses were content to get their year’s worth of food.

I think the next day I just sat around and rested as I found it rather hard to get out of a chair let alone tie my shoes.  All this work on my property and here and there I think I have finally lost my beer gut.  Same weight but it all seems to be going to my swelled head now.  What I do find interesting is the aches and pains from living on a keyboard all day have long since disappeared.  Those annoying arm pains, neck aches and back aches from sitting all day in front of a PC have all gone.

Will have to get down and see how my first crop is coming along.  Hopefully the potatoes and onions are starting to grow.   I should also start a second larger bed for a second planting and grap a few few cherry, plum, pear trees to start this weekend.  More time to work on my farmer’s tan.

Written by dcveale13

June 24, 2011 at 1:14 am

Posted in Other work

Thinking during a rainy weekend

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Not much done the past few days.  Lots of rain and waiting on contractors to return my calls.  Fits and starts.  Project management at its finests.  At least I am not dealing with time zones, and internal politics !

Back to reading about economics which seems to consume as I read more about global finances and the problems we are in. Lots of obvious trigger points to cause another slowdown and lots of not so obvious ones.

me thinking really hard

Far too much of the news we are bombarded with seems to proclaim better things are coming and the corner has been turned.   One has to dig a bit to find out what is happening as we witness global structural changes that will and are affecting our economies, our cities and our lifes.

The real threats to our economy and society over the coming few years are from these things we have little control over. Even were the global economy in the greatest of health, it could still face ruin. That is because we are dependent upon, and interwoven with, the globalised economy. And the globalised economy cannot stand the convergence in real time of constraints in its primary enabling energy resource-oil; its primary human constraint-food, and loss of trust in the credit that makes economic life possible. This convergence marks the end of economic growth, and
initiates powerful destabilising shocks and stresses to the globalised economy.

Because of this, across the political spectrum, people are claiming solutions for a predicament that cannot be solved. They are claiming a level of insight and control over systems they can barely grasp and over which they have little and declining control. The electorate assumes there must be a solution to get us out of a global recession, a way to reverse what we have come to call ‘austerity’ or increased gov’t spending. More than that, we demand the right to the realisation of their expectations- our pensions and purchasing power, jobs and savings, health and education services.

Through these assumptions we enter our collective narrative about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Part of the reason for this is a world-view maladapted to the conditions in which we now find ourselves. World-views comprise the meanings and assumptions through which our lives are understood; they embody the myths, stories and emotional attachments that frame our place in a complex world. They are social, and also define how we become socialised.

A common global narrative formed in the context of our past experience, and in particular, that of economic growth and the profound influence it brought to the human experience. We have become accustomed to the reassuring thought that at the end of every recession, no matter how deep or long, growth and prosperity will again take off. There is a sense that economic growth, though sometimes wayward, is the natural order of things. It is a powerful idea both redemptive and optimistic.

Growth is part of the glue that holds together the social contract between the rich and poor, and between citizen and state. It stands behind our expectations of technology, the rise of China, population growth, and pensions. Growth shaped the specialisation of our occupational roles and
the forms of social relations. It acclimatised us to increasing wealth, both personal and in the goods and services we expect from society and the state. We are now claiming as rights, services that only fifty years ago would have been considered miracles. It shaped our identity as the tormented consumer and the anxious lover.

Growth is very recent, two hundred years or so, and resilient, bouncing back from world wars and a great depression. It’s been the driving dynamic of the integrated, de-localised system that has tied our welfare to trillions of transactions across the world. It has been so stable, and we have become so habituated to it that we barely notice what has transpired, the inherent complexity obscured by attenuation in simple things and services-my phone rings, I take a bus, my money works to buy my bread. Bread was once hard won from our local environs and required a large share of our time or income. Now it is of slight cost, accessible with trivial effort, but requires the integrated dance of complex transport, IT, banking, electric grid infrastructure; factories supplying factories, supplying factories; and the economies of scale and supply-chains that depend
upon a globalised world.

ot only have our dependencies become more and more de-localised and complex, they have also become more dependent on high speed flows of good and services. The real-time flow of deliveries is an integral part of modern production processes. If deliveries are halted, for example, by a
large-scale systemic banking collapse, the flow can be arrested, and economic production halted. The longer production is halted, the deeper the supply-chain failure extends, and the greater the entropic decay, from rust, for example. And the longer the down time, the harder it would be to
re-boot the economy, and the greater the risk of a terminal systemic collapse in the global economy. Indeed internationalised production flows are as important for the viability of our complex economy as energy flows, they are two of a number of co-dependent systems that integrate the globalised economy. If spare parts for our national grid could not be replaced due to some supply chain failure, having plenty of fuel may not matter, electricity might not be delivered. And electricity failure would compromise other critical infrastructure such as banking infrastructure, IT systems, sewage and water.

As our self-regard has grown, our real dependencies-on soil and bees, forests, natural gas, rivers and rain, worms and sticky hydro-carbons, beasts and ferrous oxides-have been largely framed as issues of managerial utility. Our welfare is assumed to depend upon politicians, entrepreneurs,
competitiveness, the knowledge economy, our innate inventiveness, and so on. Outside of utility, the environment has been sentimentalised or used as a signifier of higher feeling.

A fiield for tomorrow

Yet we ignore that our economy and civilisation exist only by virtue of resource flows from our environment. The only laws in economics are the laws of physics, everything else is contingent, supposition or vanity. An economy, growing in size and complexity, is firstly a thermodynamic
system requiring increasing energy flows to grow and avoid decay. Waste, be it greenhouse gasses or landfill is also a natural outcome of such a thermodynamic process.

The reality is that we are locked into an economy adapted to growth, and that means rising energy and resource flows and waste. By lock-in, we mean that our ability to change major systems we depend upon is limited by the complexity of interdependencies, and the risk that the change will
undermine other systems upon which we depend. So we might wish to change the banking or monetary system, but if the real and dynamic consequences lead to a major bank freeze lasting more than a couple of days we will have major food security risks, massive drops in economic production, and risks to infrastructure. And if we want to make our food production and distribution more resilient to such shocks, production will fall and food prices will need to be higher, which will in the short-to-medium term drive up unemployment, lead to greater poverty, and pose even greater risks to the banking system.

The driving force of this failure is likely to be the fastest and most unstable process-the impact of energy and food constrained economic growth, and an already vulnerable monetary and financial system dependent upon continuing growth. What everybody wants and needs is a sudden and explosive increase in the production of real goods and services (GDP) to make their continual debt requirements serviceable. But that, even were it
remotely possible, would require a big increase in oil flows through the global economy, just as global oil production has peaked and begins its decline. It cannot happen. This means that the global financial system is essentially insolvent now.

The only choice is default or inflation on a global scale. It mean banks are insolvent, because their assets (loans) cannot be repaid; or they can be solvent (assuming appropriate action taken) but their depositors cannot redeem their deposits at anything like their real value. It means the vast overhang of stocks and bonds, including pensions, and insurance cannot be realised in real goods. It means our monetary systems, dependent on fiat money, fractional reserve banking, and interest can only collapse.

A localised economy will no longer be something environmentalists aspire to develop; rather it will be forced upon us as bank failures, monetary uncertainty, and lost purchasing power sever links in the web of the global economy. But we no longer have indigenous economies to fall back
upon.

Get to know your local food producer

***************************************************************************

An excerpt from the Bundeswehr (german military) Report on oil

Medium-term collapse
Such contagion is precisely what the Bundeswehr analysts warn against in the second part of their scenario. In bold type, they assert, “In the medium term, the global economic system and every market-based economy would collapse.”

This is a shocking assertion which the analysts justify by explaining both the likely causes and the potential consequences of such a collapse. They point to the importance of certain psycho-social factors such as awareness and trust. As people become aware that the contraction in global oil supply and economic activity is likely to be a prolonged, indefinite reality, there could be an increasing (and to some degree, self-fulfilling) loss of faith in markets, currencies, financial institutions, and the ability of governments to maintain economic and social order.

A series of interrelated potential consequences is then outlined:
– Collapse of the banking system, the stock & financial markets.
– Loss of confidence in currencies.
– Collapse of value-added chains.
– Collapse of monetary systems and international supply chains.
– Extreme increase in unemployment in all modern societies.
– State bankruptcy.
– Collapse of critical infrastructure.
– Famine.

The authors further warn:
The outlined chain of events demonstrates that the energy supply of the economic cycle must be secured and sufficient to facilitate economic growth. A shrinking economy over an indeterminate period presents a highly unstable situation, which would lead to system collapse. The security risks of such a development can hardly be assessed (p. 65).

 

Written by dcveale13

June 14, 2011 at 3:00 am

Posted in First things

Hot Spring Day

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Wednesday I drove to the as of yet unnamed property to do some work, stop in the local town for some information and have a quick look around for the farmer’s daughter if I had time.

The local town is not too big with a population of about 700 during the winter which then swells to a few thosand as the local cottage season starts up.   I dropped by the local post office to try and figure out my new address.  The staff there already had heard of me as the fellow who had bought so and so’s property and was in the process of building a strawbale house.  Not quite sure how they found out, but I suspect a good portion of the town now knows of me.   Reminds me a lot of my Bermuda days on a small island.

Time to start working

I had a bunch of stuff in the back of the pick up to lug up a small hill and then across the crest of that to dump off by the treeline.   Blazing hot with a humidex around 41 so unloading the back of a pick up truck in the late morning was not looking like a lot of fun.  Grass is about 3 feet high now which is ok to walk through only if not lugging stuff.   Can’t wait for the driveway to get in so I can dump stuff pretty much where I need to.

Apparently I was right.  The pallets were easy, only about 50 pounds each. The 200 pound package containing a shed was a bit of a bugge to get on my own however after a bit of sweating and loosing 10 pounds it was done.

I had to walk the back 4 acres to figure out the survey lines and markers for putting in fencing later.  Either wire or some kind of hedge to demarcate the property line.   Haven’t quite figured out what would be best yet.  Sure was hot back there though.  Eventually chased out by a persistent fly which kept buzzing me and driving me away !   A big brown heron sleeping the afternoon away seemed a little ticked off when I wandered by his roost and he took off for the lake.  I was hoping he would chase off the persistent fly but no such luck.

Mulched a few trees and at which point I decided it was time to find some water and get out of the sun for a bit before heading back to Ottawa via Perth.   Once I get the first shed up I can start organizing tools, a water supply, shade, generator and a few places to sit.  A bit of progress on a hot day.

Never going back to a cubicle

Written by dcveale13

June 9, 2011 at 2:05 am

Posted in First things

Some boat work in Toronto

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Spent a weekend back in Toronto finishing off some work on an 11 foot dinghy I built last summer. Weather this spring has been un cooperative at best but finally the last coat of paint on the outside is done and its in the water. Rows quite well and room for a family ! Well a small family !

Launched and floating

Working on the sailboat always starts me thinking about energy, how we have used it and how we we will use it. I’m seeing more and more mainstream articles stating cheap and readily available oil is not in the cards going forward. Since much of western society has been built on cheap and readily available energy it suggests an interesting future.

Much of our economic growth and productivity has been built upon that cheap and readily available energy allowing those of us in the West to have a great lifestyle and carry debt fairly easy in a growing economy. I read somewhere recently that the energy it takes for a plane load of passengers to fly from NYC to Cairo is the energy equivalent it took to build the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

Nowadays we seem to have the faulty assumption that energy is substitutable in quantity and quality and debt is a neutral transfer between parties. Humans have always lived off solar energy. The crops we grow and in times of surplus this could sometimes be stored in items of value such as gold and silver. The huge temporary source of fossil fuels – which is stored solar energy that took millions of years to produce – has given us a temporary burst in lifestyle – at least in the West – , food growth and population.

No one quite knows how that will unwind.

Private/public debt additions made up for limits to growth from the 1970s until 2008. Since then government has created over 20% of GDP “out of thin air” (large budget deficits and growth of FED balance sheet). Now, with fiscal stimulus a dead end, central banks have two choices: watch the economy collapse to a state far worse than its pre-QE1 outset, or continue on the path of QE…to the nth. This will end badly and with consequences not well understood or prepared for.

The risks point to a large shrinkage of financial claims (what we think we own on paper), either via increased government involvement squeezing out functioning markets, or by markets abandoning currencies in a terminus of faith in an abstraction. The resulting supply chain disruptions to a world now used to globalized just-in-time inventory input/component replacements are something that will require focused top down response in combination with individuals psychologically preparing for less, potentially significantly less.

Basically, though it’s counter-intuitive, we don’t have an energy shortage but a longage of expectations. This is actually good news, but it requires a shift in perception, objectives, and actions. Therefore, before we are able to create and implement what a better future looks like, we likely first have an appointment with the digital, financial reaper, and will have to deal with the social stability and logistical issues that accompany a large reduction in what we thought we had.

Sunset after a bbq and wine

Written by dcveale13

June 7, 2011 at 2:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Planting vegetables and Narratives

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Just at the entrance to the property I have a cedar split rail entrance way on either side of where the driveway will go.  A few cedar trees are planted right there.  A year or so and they will be noticeable.  I still haven’t figured out a name for the place.  Gilligan’s Island is already taken and Cam’s Crib is just not me.  Maybe it will come to me this week !

Driveway entrance and cedar fencing

Met with the contractor on putting in the driveway, sceptic tank, culver and footings for the foundation.   More permits to be obtained in order to start that.   Still waiting for the street address following the submission of the permit for a civic address.   Last with the fire chief I heard !

A bit further back a couple of planted trees are in bloom.  Can’t remember what they are called but I know they are not grape vines for wine ! However that two is coming.

A flowering shrub, one of two at the entrance. What are they?

The other day I was cutting off about 50 square feet of sod and then turning over the soil about four feet down in order to start a small plot to grow some vegetables.   Over the remaining part of the spring and summer I will expand this in order to get a full garden bed ready for the following year.    A nearby area will also be have the grass removed and soil turned over to plant some corn next spring.

Hard work in the hot sun but mentally relaxing.  Thinking of how many people for thousands of years have been doing the same thing.  Stories dating back all those years talk about planting, harvesting and life.  Narratives in our religions and culture become our cognitive signposts for what tomorrow may bring as we add and build upon what we started thousands of years ago.

We use narratives to describe out position in society.  Usually when we meet someone a narrative is provided of their lifes to this point.  The narrative often portrays not just personal values but cultural values.  Narratives seem to provide strucutre and definition for us day to day but do not seem to help when things go astray.

We humans have wiring so geared towards sharply valuing the present over the future (what your economists call `steep discount rates’), it is not surprising we use what we find as quickly as possible.   Food, booze, resources.  Take the easiest and cheapest first and don’t worry too much about tomorrow.

Satisfaction, for all life is generating a neuro-endocrine-hormonal balance that feels right to them. Evolution has shaped brains (through a relentless fitness filter) to maximize copies of genes sent to the next generation, and to help those genes (in the form of offspring) survive. Humans are born equipped to learn certain behaviours easily and other things with difficulty or not at all. Humans cannot take down wildebeests with their fingernails. Squirrels cannot type HTML code. Prepared learning does not suggest your paths are predestined. A squirrel does not automatically know how to crack a nut, but once he tries it several times, he is better at it than most species could ever be.

Every day we attempt to attain the same total brain cocktail (and this is simplified) that caused your ancestors to meet with evolutionary success (have offspring). While this may not be your conscious goal, in a world full of high energy fuels, the competition instinct manifests in planetary consumption. Such may or may not move you up the human mating ladder but is clearly a bad thing for some. As a species, we would be well served to select activities that give us the same ‘total brain cocktails’ as we were designed to experience, but cognitively choose them from lower energy footprint options. Humans get this cocktail from activities such as sharing, eating, solving problems, novelty seeking, sex, competition, love, cooperation, playing games, etc.

Our narratives tell us this behaviour is correct which just reinforces that behaviour.

It is extremely difficult for any culture to accept any possibility that fall outside the accepted narratives and myths.  I think this is very understandable.

Looking down the property line about 150 feet back to the road

 

Written by dcveale13

June 7, 2011 at 2:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized