Monthly Archives: September 2007

The admission of the century

I couldn’t get this video embedded, but check out this video, with a transcript.

And we fasted…

My wife and I just completed a 3 day fast.  It was a strange experience.

Honestly, it wasn’t that hard.  We juiced fruits and vegetables (mostly fruits.  there aren’t enough apples in the world to make cabbage and beets taste good when juiced) for 4 “meals” a day and enjoyed a lot of water and tea.  I thought I would be absolutely starving when I did it, but I wasn’t.  I was a little, and felt the hunger pains, but I was able to use my mind to ignore them and control them.  Reflecting on the experience more today, I think maybe it changed me more than I thought it would.  I was expecting physical changes, but my changes were mostly mental.  The only physically change I can pinpoint was that my plantar faciitis pain went away.  I didn’t feel like I detoxed like they talk about in the books at all.  I had a dull headache (which I have frequently anyway) but that was all.  My wife had a migraine and spent some time in the bathroom so maybe she was detoxing more than me?  I don’t know. 

Sunday afternoon I felt more pull to eat than I had on Friday or Sat.  (I started at dinner on Thursday)  We finally quit for a few reasons; we weren’t being very pleasant to our children so that’s not good; it’s very hard to take care of two kids when both parents are fasting; I wasn’t feeling any changes, ill effects or difference from doing it; and it was killing me to prepare meals for the kids and not be able to eat.  So we quit.  Our smallest goal was three days, but we were hoping for 7.  We didn’t make it.  I did drop 6 lbs so that’s something, although I’m sure it’s mostly food not being in my digestive system.

Some good did come of it though.  My stomach shrank which should make it easier to maintain my weight (weight is always an issue for me), a few aches and pains went away, I learned that I control my hunger not the other way around and that eating is more mental than physical.  I don’t NEED to eat right now or to have that cookie, I WANT to have that cookie.  I think that will help me in the future.  Today I feel more rested and energetic than I do normally.  Perhaps it’s because we spent the weekend sleeping when the kids slept and not running around?  But even with the fast we were able to do things. 

We both went to work on Friday.  We watched two kids over the weekend.  I cooked meals and managed to not eat any of them.  I went to the dentist and amazed the hygienist when I told her I hadn’t eaten for almost two days.  We went to a farm for a combine ride.  We still made it to church and got a ton of things around the house done.  So even though we didn’t eat, we were able to get plenty done.

What I missed most about the experience wasn’t the food, but the time in the kitchen cooking and creating the meals.  I missed enjoying the fruits of my labors to create a tasty, healthy meal.

It’s an interesting experience.  I’m not sure if I would want to do it again or not.  Maybe I didn’t give it enough time to work it’s magic?  I don’t know.  I’ll have to see how things go in the future.  If my body, physically and mentally, goes back to how it was perhaps I’ll do this again and see if that jump starts it.

I’m sick of the Ped

 Well the Fed cut their rate and delayed the inevitable correction of the economy. Actually, depending on what all you read they may not have even done anything that will even have an effect on the economy. Ka-Bar has a good write up on his site.

Cutting rates or not cutting rates doesn’t really make a difference. All the rate change does is potentially bail out some Wall Streeters and people who took on stupid mortgages, maybe. The real test will be to see if the money supply opens up. Even if rates are super low if you can’t find anyone to lend you money it doesn’t really do you much good now does it? I wonder when people will realize that the ups and downs of the Dow have no actual impact on the economy. Sure it impacts the wealth effect that people feel, but it doesn’t affect the meat and potatoes of the real world.

The real underlying problem with our economy is the dismal job creation situation. Sure the stats say there are plenty of jobs being created, but most of these jobs are not well paying jobs. They are lower tier jobs that deny the employee a chance at a middle class lifestyle. Hell, even “good” jobs are suffering from wage stagnation and offering yearly raises that, from what I can tell, are at best 30% of the true inflation rate.

Of course all of this is coming up in the face of Peak Oil and a situation where the cost structures of businesses will be thrown all out of whack. In job creation terms, Peak Oil MAY actually create jobs as manufacturing is brought back to America from all those other countries. However, there will be many less jobs in other areas so the net effect could still be negative.

I wonder if we should talk about the jobs/industries that will be in serious jeopardy once Peak Oil really sets in. I think we’ll do that in a later story. The list is quite extensive.

Another huge issue that is overhanging our country is the massive amounts of debt that we all carry. Does anyone know anybody under 30 who doesn’t have a loan from college? And then also a car loan and maybe a house loan? What about credit cards? The average college graduate has $7500 in credit card debt when they graduate. Granted a lot of this is from people not being able to say no, but it’s also a societal thing. The point is that 70% (or more) of the economy is predicated on consumer spending and you have to wonder when they will run out of steam. They never seem to, but it seems increasingly that the consumer is tapped out.

Either way, at least this action by the Fed shows what their real role in the world is. They bail out Wall Street. They are supposed to “manage” the economy, but it would seem to me that we’d be better off if we let things float without their intervention. They created this mortgage mess (to a certain extent) by dramatically lowering rates in the first place, and now they aren’t willing to clean it up. They’re like a 3 year old kid.

Gah! I’m out. I can’t talk about it anymore.

P.S. The title is an inside joke with my friend Tom about an economics professor we had in college who always referred to the Federal Reserve as The Ped because of his accent/speech pattern.

For more info you can click here.

Soccer moms

As I mentioned recently my son has taken up soccer. While I’m at the “games” I partake in the art of observation frequently to look over other people and think about them. I do sometimes watch his games, but come on, it’s 5 year old playing soccer! It’s soccer!

Anyway, I can’t help but notice how many of the people there drive in a very nice minivan. A lot of them arrive in two cars (presumably because one came straight from work while one herded children and brought them to the event) . I can’t help but see how many of them are talking on the phone, seeming to work based on the animations of the conversations and the use of headset thingies.

I wonder how these people will cope with Peak Oil. We all know it’s coming. We know the world has already peaked. Hell, CNN ran an article on it recently, so it’s getting more mainstream. But when I see these people so wrapped up in their little worlds I wonder how they will deal with the fact that very soon their gasoline will be twice or more what it currently is per gallon. Or that their food prices will rise even more.  I wonder how they will cope when their identities, their work, is stripped away from them and they have to make human connections with people.

I look at them and seriously wonder how many of those moms (or dads) would be able to cook a meal from basic ingredients.  I even saw a kid at the store recently looking at packet of information on how to make mashed potatoes.  The packet was a packet full of spices so he could make buttered mashed potatoes!  Not even special flavored potatoes.  Luckily I was there to set him straight on how to do it without the $2 packet he was buying, but isn’t that concerning?  That a kid (he was probably 16 or 18) can know so little about how to cook that he can’t even make mashed potatoes?

How many would be able to grow something to eat? It makes me scared for them. During the Depression there were plenty of people in food lines, and even then the percentage of people on farms was way higher than it is now, and the people who lived in the city had worked on farms growing up, for the most part.  The people in the cities had the past knowledge of how to farm so they could produce their food if they had the space and inclination.  Today most people have only seen plants when their landscaper planted their lone front yard tree and a couple bushes. It’s kind of scary when we think about it.  We’re all responsible for this.  Not just some of us.  All of us.  Every single one of us can grow some food in our yards, but we are choosing not to.  Choosing to outsource this vital resource to China and Chile and New Zealand because we can get the product for 10 cents less a pound.

I’ve talked to my Memaw (grandmother in law) about the Depression since I’ve become Peak Oil aware, and the biggest impact she’s left on me from those times is that while her family wasn’t rich, by any means, during the Depression they were because they had food. Since they had a farm they had food. I wonder if that will be the same in the future. Will people have food? Will people have farms? Or land to farm? It’s less than 2% of our population today that currently live on a farm.  What will the other 98% of us do for our food?  If we can’t buy it what then?  I’m in the same boat you are.  I can’t an anyway meet the needs of my family from my given plot of land.  But I can certainly try to produce as much as I can.

Will you measure your worth in the future in how many potatoes you have in your cellar?  The friends you have?  The family you have?  The reputation of your handshake?  The respect you’ve earned by proving your worth to others?

Maybe we should.  Maybe that would be a better way to measure your worth than the latest Dow Industrial quote or home values.  Maybe that should happen now.

More bread stuff

I was messing around with the no knead recipe again this weekend and developed a version that we like better.  It turns out the bench proof is quite important to getting a nice textured result.  What I did differently this time was to put a dish of water in the oven while the oven was heating up.  Then I threw the dough on a hot pizza stone for 45 minutes.  I ended up with a loaf that was much chewer in the crust and not hard and the insides were still very moist and delicious.

I let the flour mixture sit in the bowl for about 18 hours and then kneaded it about 5 times and them it bench proofed for about an hour.  Turned out well.

In other news, I cooked Osso Buco for dinner.  It was quite good.  My recipe called for a can of italian tomatoes, which I didn’t have on hand so I improvised with tomatoes and then added italian seasonings.  According to the link you should use a bouquet garni, which I’ll try next time.  I cooked chicken in our version.

I used one of my new cast iron pots for this. I haven’t talked about these yet, but I was able to get them for half off normal price at a local kitchen store.  They are enameled and really easy to clean.  I’m actually surprised how much I like to use them.  I ended up getting 1 pan and 2 dutch oven type pots for less than $50, which is a shock to me because I was looking at spending around $50 or just one used dutch oven that isn’t enameled.  Apparently people collect cast iron pots for decorations so used ones have antique value???  Compared to the type of pots I could normally get in that price range they are way, way better.  I’m quite excited about these things.

A little trip

This past weekend we visited the Amana Colonies here in Middle America.  It was an interesting trip.  Not so much in what we learned (which was mostly not taking kids to places with breakables and don’t forget to sample as much wine and beer as you can) but in the things we brought home.

When we there we purchased some locally made wines.  We have a number of wineries around here that make local wine, but the differance with the Amana wines is that they weren’t grape based.  They are based on fermenting fruits.  THey had a ton of flavors, but the most pugnent were rhubarb, dandelion, cantawba, along with cherry, raspberry and other berries.   Now, things have changed since the times 150 years ago, so not all the fruits are local, but they still make them right there.

I just found it interesting how wine was such an integral part of their lives that over time recipes were developed for things it’s not customary to turn into wine.  Maybe in the past it was customary for people to turn these fruits into wines, but I think, now, it offers an interesting look at wines and how to obtain these types of beverages without having to have a huge stockpile of grapes.

I wish some of our local wineries would look into this instead of producing the same red and white wines that everyone else does.

We sampled a glass of the catawba we brought home last night with some cheese and crackers.  It’s very nice.  It’s a little sweet so you couldn’t drink a lot of it, but I liked the taste well enough.  We’ll be opening the other soon.  It’s too bad they don’t wholesale the wines.  You can only get them by ordering for the stores in town.

By the way, they also have a fantastic brewery there in town, Millstream Brewery.  Their new Octoberfest flavor for the fall is fantastic.

He’s a scholar and a gentleman

A friend sent me this story written for a paper in Vermont about the war in Iraq. The story was written by a law professor and the Vermont Law School.

Read it here.

It certainly raises some interesting questions about the emotional decisions that seem to be driving the decision making. The ironic thing is that when you stop back a little you can see the reality of the story he tells about the $1 every day.

It’s interesting.