Recent Pics/Happenings

I haven’t felt like blogging just lately.  I have been feeling a little p’d off with the world and the way it doesn’t seem to care about where it is headed, and thinking, well, people collectively will get what they deserve one way or another, and determining to keep on living as simply as I possibly can and preparing for as many eventualities as I am able.

This doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening here.  On the contrary, there is so much to tell that I probably won’t find the time or space to record it:

  • Spring has sprung, or at least my garden thinks it has.
  • I have been cleaning up areas where I feared to tread last Summer because they were so overgrown (determined to get some peaches this year as last year I couldn’t get to them).
  • After a total failure last year to grow any seedlings in my cold frame, it is bursting with young plants to relocate this year.
  • My swales got a good workout, completely filling to overflow state for the first time last week.
  • My new food dehydrator has arrived.  Dried some apples with Cinnamon to test it.
  • I have bought some timber to build a frame to turn an old cast-iron bathtub into an overflow storage (for the garden) from my main water storage tank.
  • I have made progress on my transportable off-grid PV system, almost to the point where I am willing to publish pictures of it.  Will probably do a separate article on that later.
  • I have planted more fruiting trees/shrubs and have more yet to do.

Here are some pictures.

There will come soft rains…

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

A poem by Sara Teasdale, first published 1920.

Thirty years later, in 1950, a short story was published, by Ray Bradbury science fiction author.  The story was loosely based on the Sara Teasdale poem of the same title but of course she, in her time (she took her own life in 1933), would have had no knowledge of the intimated cause of the situation depicted in the Bradbury story.  Interestingly, or perhaps I should say sadly, Ray Bradbury passed on on 5 June 2012 at age 91, only around ten weeks before I write this. There are other links in this chain of related works…

Four years ago, in 2008, a young Scot, Peter Cotter, produced an animated video based on the Ray Bradbury story, based in turn on the Sara Teasdale poem.  Cotter is a young photographer and animator who from 2006-2008 studied at the Glascow School of Art. According to his resume of 2008 he was awarded The Motion Graphics Award for outstanding achievement in animation and time-based media, presumably for this dramatic, poignant and beautiful animated video.

This chain of links goes one step further in that, although the poem on which all of this is based is a very well known work, I first read of it today in a blog post by Damien Perrotin. Here is an article that explores our reluctance to accept the likely fate of our civilisation, as all civilisations do in time pass away, yet we are fascinated with the idea of joyfully continuing to trash the biosphere on which we depend for life.

Of course, though I claim no artistic merit or input into the process, this, my own post, is the final link in this current web of connections on the subject.  Or is it?

The Fight of Our Time

There is one question which people alive today should be asking themselves.

Do you want the world to stay at least a little bit like the one you were born into?

If the answer is yes, but you don’t know what to do about it, then watch this video:

Personally, I don’t think enough people will find that they care enough one way or the other to make the difference that would prevent the worst from happening.  I hope I am wrong.

If not, the best that can happen is that nature finds a way to get rid of most or all of us in order to protect the planet from the consequences of our actions.  Nature has many, many ways to do that and it is not beyond reason to think that some or all of them wouldn’t be used to restore the balance.

Assuming that our actions do not first unintentionally but inevitably bring about our own destruction anyway.

It Was About This Time Last Year…

It was about this time last year that I really got stuck into building my first real garden project, more or less ever.  I remember helping my father in the garden at home.  That was back in the post-war days of the late 40’s and into the fifties when food was scarce in UK and most people would supplement what they could buy with home grown produce. How times have changed. My gardening experience, with mostly reluctant participation if I remember, lasted up until my mid-teens.  It was never very ‘cool’ to do that sort of thing in the years that followed, and that was pretty much it for me as far as gardening went, until one year ago.

So, what kick-started my new interest in gardening?

I can’t remember exactly when, but it must have been around the time of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008 or within a few years prior to that, when the effects of climate change began to become more widely known.  In that period I became aware of various possible futures for mankind, many of which were not very comforting.  I had first been made aware that something was going to radically change how we live and interact with our world at some stage, and most likely in the early part of this century, when back in 1972 I read the book ‘The Limits to Growth’.  This book was ridiculed by many when first published but has more recently become a common theme behind much of the thinking about what we know of how future years will unroll, mainly because of the accuracy of its predictions to date about the times we are presently living in.  These thoughts were also taken into consideration in my decision to migrate from United Kingdom to Australia in the early eighties of last century.

With that background knowledge, after the turn of the century I began to become interested in how to personally prepare in order to have the best possible chance to survive what was likely to ensue.  I began to read Survivalist literature and websites but quickly decided that these were associated with people that I would not feel comfortable in teaming up with but that they would be better left alone in their own crazy little world.  I came across (I tend to use that phrase quite a lot because my studies and research are not very self-directed, which is also, some might say, how my whole life has proceeded so far.  I have always believed, rightly or wrongly,  that because my intentions are pure, in the sense of not being harmful, the universe or whatever you want to call it will bring to me the information and the breaks that I need in life as long as I make the effort to willingly but consciously accept the opportunities and openings that present themselves.  That is a great philosophy, for me at least.)   …as I said, I came across… a book titled ‘Move Up In The World: Reverse Your Thinking’ by Simon Beer, which at the time was available as a web download.    The book was stated to be a guide to the psychological changes that would be necessary to survive when current systems collapsed.  I can’t say that I was overly impressed with the overall flow of much of the content which seemed quite laboured and repetitive, but it did leave me with one piece of advice from among the good practical parts of the book, for which I am grateful.  Incidentally, I think the book has since devolved into merely a much more concise article on an Australian survivalist website run by the author, which by the way does contain some really good information and references if you are just beginning to think along these lines.  Sadly I think the author went off on some strange religious bent, which is probably why his book never progressed further.  Sad, because there is so much good stuff hidden in there.

The advice that I took on board from that book was to learn Permaculture as an aid to survival (was this another example of my previously mentioned philosophy in action?) and so the next year, 2010, I enrolled myself in a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course.  I consider myself fortunate to have been able to make that investment in my future.  Obtaining my PDC also coincided with my decision to retire early, well… after normal retirement age but before my usefulness as a very well paid IT Specialist expired.  I had become ethically disillusioned with the whole corporate/consumerist way of life and wanted out.

Since then I have documented my move to the country and the work that I put into my first real garden last year.  I feel that I should also unearth for this post, a presentation that I made last year about how my garden was initially constructed, in the hope that the information may be of benefit to someone else.

I actually did much more than is shown in those pictures and in recent weeks I have been preparing the garden for this years growing, extending it in size.  I will take more pictures and post them soon.  While I planted mostly annuals last year, some vegetables like Spinach, Kale and Celery have remained over winter, supplementing my diet along with a surprising result from a single Yacón plant.  Other than this I didn’t do any further growing of winter crops but I have in recent weeks planted some potatoes in special grow-bags and also in the Hugelkultur that I made last Autumn, not primarily for potatoes but at least it is in use until further decisions are made.

I have also had pleasing success in raising plants from seed this year in my cold frame and it is time for me to plant some of them out or at least put them in single pots until after the frost season.  Not a single seed germinated or made it past the slugs’n’snails in there last year.  There are also eleven new strawberry plants in there being brought on from bare root stock.  While I produced quite a number of fruit last year from four plants, hopefully with these extra ones there will be enough harvest for both the birds and me this year.

A Brief Flare of Anger

I got outside to do some land clearing today even though it was quite cold and windy.

Cold, you can dress for but wind is quite unhealthy to be exposed to.  I didn’t stay outside for long.  Just long enough to fill one wheel barrow full of unwanted grass and weed clippings for the compost pile.

But that is not primarily what I want to talk about today.

Back inside, over a welcome cup of tea, I got to thinking about my deceased son Steven. Personally, I think it quite unhealthy to dwell too much in the past, although occasional reminiscing about good times and personal qualities can be quite helpful.  I think on this occasion my thoughts were triggered by a welcomed comment yesterday about my son’s passing.

So, wandering through my thoughts about this part of my life, I remembered reading something about the trend which has been for each succeeding generation, at least among western cultures, to gradually live longer than the previous ones.  The expectation then, is for children to outlive their parents. This is something that when one reaches my sort of age is very welcoming news, realising that not too many generations back, life expectancy was dramatically shorter than it is today and finding as I do that there is so much more that I want to do in life, the longer one can actively live, the better.

My mother of course is an exception to the succeeding generation longevity rule.  She has outlived all of her many brothers and sisters and now aged at 98 is still going strong and, though lately beginning to fade, has outlived many of my generation as well.

This increasing longevity trend is however in danger of reversal.  You won’t find this in any government statistics or other official information which tends to focus only on the effects of obesity in terms of consequent illnesses, the perils of a more sedentary lifestyle and the costs of dealing with such problems.  Governments are already beginning to view longevity as a threat to state financial stability due to the burden of the extra costs associated with the care of an ageing population.  I expect that this is part of the reason that governments, in spite of the many obvious trends to the contrary, continue to press for ongoing economic growth.  That is their only possible hope, tenuous as it is, to be able to retain any form of stability in the management of their national affairs.  Without growth the whole shaky edifice of modern society will crumble and fall.  Perhaps this is also why they are championing the introduction of GM foods into the diets of ordinary people.  There is enough information out there for anyone to know that such practices are detrimental to life and health.  Are they trying to kill us off quicker?  Exposure to genetically modified food sources and other noxious chemicals, not to mention the deprivations of poverty, starvation and conflict that are likely to overtake modern civilisation in the near future as a result of decisions taken in the past, and especially not to mention the vagaries of increasingly violent climate events, life expectancy for the most recent and future generations is looking anything but rosy and will most likely begin declining.

Why is that?  What caused it?  Who is to blame?

The consensus thinking and also my personal opinion seems to lay the blame for this outrage fairly and squarely at the feet of twentieth century society.  And who makes up this society?  Well, we do of course.  The older generation now living, or at least that part of it that was born, if I am to hazard a guess, somewhere between the late thirties to the late sixties of the previous century.  Although there was some sort of awakening towards the end of this period to the fact that change was needed, resulting in the sixties revolution of love and peace and a move towards simple living, but it all got too hard and they took to mind altering drugs instead.

What was it about that generation of people, of which I am one?

  • The generation that invented the Green Revolution in agriculture that has become the most diabolically harmful practice known to man outside of nuclear physics through the distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers .
  • The generation that invented Big Pharmaceuticals and medical practices that are designed to keep the population sick and dependant on their products.
  • The generation that invented or perfected the financial manipulations of Stock Exchanges, Central Banks, Derivatives and other twisted methods of taking the money from the 99% of the population (you and me) and giving it to the 1% (elite speculators and criminal Banksters) in an orgy of greed and avarice.
  • The generation that allowed business corporations to become legally recognised and have the same rights as ‘persons’.
  • The generation that allowed the corruption of governments and the death of democracy by these same business corporation ‘personalities’.
  • The generation that has meekly accepted the imperceptibly gradual loss of its freedoms and human rights in the run-up to the imposition of totalitarian regimes ‘in the best interests of the people’.
  • The generation responsible for producing the mountains of debt that are continuing to be used as ‘real’ money in a giant Ponzi scheme bubble which will very soon burst, bringing about the collapse of debt based human society, and life-long debt slavery for most people (those that survive that is).
  • The generation that continues to believe in the necessity for economic growth in a desperate attempt to cling on to the way of life that they have come to expect.
  • The generation that even now continues to rape the Earth of even the hardest to retrieve of its precious mineral and carbon based resources in order to prolong business as usual.

Any person still living who was born earlier than my ‘blame era’ is mostly faultless.  They were the factory fodder and cannon fodder for the powers of their day.  They were the ones who suffered the poverty of the between wars depression era, brought on by the beginnings of the age of financial greed and technological progress.  They knew nothing of, and I expect cannot even now fully comprehend, the sort of affluence that their children have gotten used to expecting as a right of existence.

Any person born after my ‘blame era’ is also mostly faultless for the situation they find themselves in, though complicit in the continuance of the crimes of greed and avarice. They have known no other way from the teachings and actions of their parents for their whole lives so far.  These are the ones who are currently being most affected by the situation that we have collectively conjured.  These are the ones who are now becoming sick and dying early, as a direct result of living in this age, from diseases that have become prevalent only in that time period.  They are also killing themselves in record numbers from unfulfilled expectations of modern living.

And what of the generation that caused all this?  Should they (we) be jailed? Exterminated?  Enslaved?  Nuked?  They (we) have put at peril the whole human species. They (we) have caused ourselves and our children to become sick, die early, gain a world view that sees ‘fun’ as a full time pursuit and a definition of happiness, and to become dependant, to the point of slavery, on technology.

Doesn’t that make you feel bad?  It does me.

Doesn’t that make you feel angry?  It does me.  It would make me feel even angrier were I one of those young people today.

Doesn’t that make you feel that you should be doing something about it?  It does me.

They say ‘Don’t get angry, get even’.  Bullshit!  That will just get you into even deeper shit.

Get angry (about the situation).

Get aware (learn the truth of what is going on).

Get active (in doing something to change the way things are).

Get thinking (about how you might live if the shit hits the fan and your current life supports disappear for ever from tomorrow).

Get moving (towards simplifying your life to be in harmony with the natural world).

Get out (of this sick society and find your own better way).

Get advice (from people who are already doing that, but be judicious in your choice of advisors and always, always, always, listen to your own inner voice about what is good and right).




Well, my anger has flared once more and I seem to be over it, for now.  Actually I managed to maintain the rage for several hours while I put this post together.   I know that it won’t go away for long, and I hope that it never does.  If it does, I will know that it is time for me to go away too.  My wish is that this may ignite some anger, and passion, and hope, and action, in others, before it is too late.

Fortunately there are some of my generation who are part of a new awakening.  They have seen the peril that our folly has led to and are doing the best they can to make others aware, to wake up to reality, to free themselves from the bonds of modern life, to live simply in close harmony with natural systems.  I don’t believe that any of those people think, I certainly don’t, that they can alter the trajectory that we have collectively set in motion for our future.  We can only hope that enough of us survive what is coming, with enough useful knowledge for our species to continue to exist.

Question Everything

My mind is always full of questions.  So when I came upon a link on Cassandra’s Legacy to another blog named named ‘Question Everything‘ I had to investigate further.  It turns out that this is the blogspot of George Mobus, an academic at the University of Washington.  He seems to think the same way that I do based on what I have read so far, or perhaps I should defer to his excellent credentials and say that I seem to think on things the same way he does.  Either way I have decided to follow his blog.

I found one of his posts from June this year to be very interesting, putting a new light for me on a favourite subject – the imminent collapse of human civilisation.  More particularly on how people are likely to react to that and why.

The full text of the article by George Mobus can be found here:  How Will People React To A Collapsing Civilization?

I have taken the liberty of extracting parts of the article below, with the hope that it may inspire someone to read further.


How Will People React to a Collapsing Civilization?

Even Before a Real Bottleneck Event

The first truly major event that will unfold as we near the bottleneck event will be the collapse of global civilization with concomitant losses of socially provided services such as food and water deliveries. How people in general react to this collapse will largely provide the forces shaping the way in which the bottleneck will be experienced.

In reality we can expect a wide array of reactions but what likely interests us is which kind of reaction will predominate. How will the average human react and what will they do as the significance of this predicament takes hold.

Instincts and Basic Drives

Let’s start with some basic biology. We are, after all, animals. And as animals we have inherited the basic instincts and drives that motivate all animal life. Fundamental is the drive to persist, to survive at all costs. So deep in the nature of living systems is this drive that except under the most extreme cases of threat, what I have studied as extreme information overload (the definition of stress), the animal will take any action, some of which may actually be randomly selected, to avoid death. The mandate of life is in the very nature of the process of living. It is biochemical, homeostatic, in origin and, truthfully, is part of what differentiates living systems from non-living ones[1].

Modulation by Higher Brain Functions

Humans evolved a mental capability that, while biological in origin, goes far beyond the ordinary dictates of biology. … That competency is sapience. It is what defines us as biological creatures with a difference.

Sapience and a New Dimension to the Biological Mandate

We humans appear to be the first creatures on Earth to exhibit this new capability. And as evolution tends to be a process of incremental progress, our capabilities in this new dimension are merely emergent and not very well developed. We are a first, hesitant step into a new framework of evolution. We represent evolution becoming aware of itself, but only haltingly. Much more must surely be possible.

Sapience comes in a range of levels distributed throughout the population just as other traits are. The majority of people have the barely visible level mentioned above.  Most people acquire a rudimentary capacity for wisdom if they live a longish and full life. But it is wisdom that is generally circumscribed within a short distance from home and family.  It is fairly local in time and space.  And this accounts for why the majority of mature people still cannot comprehend what is going on in the world.  The normal level of sapience in the world is just barely above threshold, so to speak.

Like the fly that buzzes around searching first for food, not understanding that it is trapped in a closed space, it will have used up a significant amount of its reserve energy before it can switch to the escape search mode. Right now you can see our civilization doing this exact same thing. We are blindly trying to keep the business as usual model going and failing to have noticed the switch from realizable growth mode to a contracting net energy mode. We will overshoot the consumption of resources before anybody realizes what has happened (excluding, of course, those few people who did recognize the situation and tried mightily to warn everyone else). Indeed I believe we have already passed that point. Our frenetic attempts to find usable oil in rocks and under the deep sea beds shows that we are starting to get desperate. Unlike the fly, that cannot experience an emotion like desperation, we have the mental capacity to be conscious of our plight.

The fly that does not succeed in escaping and go on to reproduce, is taking itself out of the gene pool unwittingly. We see individual humans that seem to do dumb things all the time that cause them to take themselves out of the gene pool. We even give those individuals special recognition, called the Darwin Awards. I trust the conferrers of that award will have about seven and a half billion certificates printed up soon, or maybe just one big one for the species as a whole.

In truth, I think the sense of something being fundamentally different has already started building in the general population. Not many can articulate what the problem is, let alone what might be the cause.

Watch What People Do

To conclude, keep an eye on what the majority of people are doing. Don’t just look at the surface symptoms. Occupy Wall Street was a symptomatic response. So was the Arab Spring. So is the financial debacle that is the Eurozone. So is the jobs situation and wealth loss (on paper) in the US. All of these are mere symptoms. The constellation of symptoms taken together are placing a heavy mental burden on everyone. And they are already reacting. Pay close attention to how this evolves. Cultural differences will tend to mask any similarities initially. Middle Easterners will react differently than Europeans and those from the Far East. Americans will likely start to act like cowboys!

Eventually, however, all people will converge toward the same self-centered mode of survival and life will be extremely dangerous for all. I fully expect that much of the dying that will ensue in the bottleneck will actually be from humans competing with other humans for scarce and diminishing resources. Starvation and slaughter will become the predominant modes, with epidemics taking out the rest as public health systems fail. It won’t be pretty.

Each and every person will be responsible for their own decisions and actions. That includes decisions on when to try to avoid the trap, and how to go about it. The only cues you will have are the observations of how the majority of people are reacting. Be sensitive. Be alert. Be wise.