Books On My
Bedside Table…

Dateline: 28 August 2014

I used to read blogs where the author would have information on the sidebar like, "What I'm making for  dinner," or "Books on my bedside table."  This was back before Facebook became so popular. I think that kind of running daily commentary has now migrated to Facebook. 

I don't do Facebook. Never have. Probably never will. But "Books on my bedside table" has always been something I've wanted to write about.

It seems to me that the usual "Books on my bedside table" list contains one or two titles. And when someone mentions the books on their bedside table (usually a woman) I envision a very neat and tidy bedside table, perhaps with a white starched doily under the books. 

Well, I'm here to tell you that my bedside table does not have a doily (and it doesn't have a book about doilies). 

My bedside table has the usual lamp, flashlight, 9mm handgun, a couple pens, Whizbang Pocket Notebooks, etc. etc., and a pile of books. When the book pile gets higher than the lamp, I start stacking books on the floor next to the bedside table. I could have a listing titled, "Books piled on the floor next to my bedside table."

My problem is manifold. I like books. I have a lot of books. I like to read books in bed. And my house is small with not enough room for enough bookcases to house my books.

I keep my books in boxes and a few bookshelves in a little room I added onto the back of my workshop years ago. When I want a book, I go out to my shop, find it, bring it in the house, then upstairs to the bedroom, and it usually stays there until the piles really annoy my wife, Marlene (who happens to love old doilies and actually does have one on her bedside table). 

Every four to six months I spend a couple hours boxing up the books, hauling them back to my workshop, and making my side of the bed all neat and tidy (for a little while).

One box of bedside books on the way back to my workshop.

In my dreams I will someday have a library room in my house. It will be a simple, cozy, man cave, with bookcases from floor to ceiling on a couple walls. An Eric Slaone print. Some family pictures. A writing desk. A comfortable stuffed chair. An ottoman to put my feet up on. A good lamp stand. A side table. It will be a relaxing space for quiet reading (and falling asleep). And every book will have its place. Yeah, I'm a dreamer.

If you click on the box of books picture above, you might be able to read some of the titles, and you'll discover that there is only one novel in there. I never finished reading it. I rarely finish novels. I'm just not much of a novel reader. I'm more interested in learning how to do something, or in better understanding concepts, issues and historical events.

So that's my "Books on my bedside table" blog post. Maybe someday I'll get around to the "What I'm making for dinner" blog post. I'm not much of a cook, so that ought to be interesting.

A Coming Jubilee?

Dateline: 27 August 2015

Few Americans realize that America’s famous Liberty Bell, made in 1752, is cast with the following verse from Leviticus (25:10):

“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

It was, of course, not unusual to put Bible verses on government monuments and buildings back in the early years of America. We were, after all, a Christian nation. The evidence of this is overwhelming. Nevertheless, there are modern revisionists who totally ignore (or even dispute) America’s solid Christian foundations.

This is to be expected in the post-Christian America we now live in. Our nation no longer fears God. America no longer accepts God’s standards of righteousness as good. We are an apostate nation. Which brings to mind another Bible verse....

"Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. How blessed are all those who take refuge in Him!”
Psalm 2:11-12

And that brings to mind Revelation, chapter 18, where an angel of the Lord laments the destruction of Babylon...

“Woe! Woe to you great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come.”

Personally. I’m inclined to think that the modern, industrialized, technocratic, city-based world system we all live in is the great Babylon spoken of in Revelation 18. I might be wrong, but that’s what I think.

Anyway, back to the Liberty Bell verse...

Leviticus 25:10 is about the Year of Jubilee that God instructed the Israelites to observe in the Old Testament. The Year of Jubilee was to occur every 50 years. On the Year of Jubilee all debts were forgiven, all slaves were set free, and all land reverted back to the families it was originally given to.  

The Year of Jubilee came to my mind a couple days ago when I listened to This YouTube Interview with Bix Weir at USA Watchdog. At around 19 minutes into the interview Bix starts to talk about the derivatives market and the banking system and the incredible mess that a derivatives bubble is creating. The bottom line is that a big crash is coming. That’s nothing new. Plenty of other economic prognosticators are saying the same thing. But Bix Weir thinks the coming crash will result in the erasure of all debt.

Bix Weir doesn’t use the word, Jubilee, but what he envisions is, in part, a Jubilee event of epic proportions. All debt will be forgiven. Greg Hunter, who is interviewing Bix, expresses some doubt about this ever happening but Bix explains his reasons for thinking the way he does.

One of the reasons is that banks don’t hold mortgages like was once the case. Mortgages are sold and bundled into securities, which people invest in. Bix says these mortgages and stocks are sold multiple times and there is no one owner. He says most of the mortgages and stock certificates in the world are held by the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC). What Bix says about the DTCC is kind of incredible. If you are into conventional paper investments, like stocks, you might want to listen to the interview.

So, Bix thinks the major banks of the world have created such a confusing mess that they will have to start all over. I’ve listened to a lot of different ideas about where different economists think the economy is going, but the erasure of all debt is new to me.

Bix might be right. I sure don’t know. If nothing else, it’s something to ponder. 

If Bix is right, should we all go borrow a lot of money to buy a lot of stuff, so that when the banking system implodes, and all debt is erased, we will still at least have more stuff? After all, if the value of fiat money goes to zero (which Bix also says), material goods (stuff) will still retain a degree of worth.

Well, you can go borrow a lot of money, but not me. 

I still maintain that debt is the worst kind of poverty. And borrowing without paying back or, worse yet, borrowing with no intention of ever paying back, is not ethical. It brings to mind  the biblical admonition given in Psalm 37:21....

"The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives."

More than ever, I contend that my Agrarian-Style Economic Self-Defense Plan is the best course of action for people who want to be best prepared for the collapse of modern Babylon.

What many people don't fully realize is that the collapse is now in progress. The foundations of the world economic system are cracking as you read this. The Vested Interests are frantically trying to shore up the edifice.

Woe, woe to you Babylon.

A Family Sorghum Business

Dateline: 25 August 2015

My sorghum crop in August
(click to see a larger view)

I've never seen a field of sorghum growing in New York state, but I'm pretty sure it will grow just fine here, and I decided to grow a small patch this year in my garden. So far, so good. 

I'm excited to harvest the seeds and try cooking with them. I may even try juicing the stalks in my Whizbang apple grinder (made from a kitchen garbage disposal).

Sorghum is, of course, a common crop in the more southern states. While doing some research on sorghum, I came across Muddy Pond Sorghum in Middle Tennesee. If you live down that way, I'm sure you must know about Muddy Pond sorghum.

Muddy Pond is well worth mentioning on this blog because it is a multigenerational, agri-preneurial business. It is also a business in a predominately Mennonite rural community. The folks who own and work the business are Christian agrarians.

As more and more Christians are looking to get back to the land and establish multigenerational, agriculture-based family enterprises, they are finding it is not an easy thing to do. But the Guenther family at Muddy Pond appears to be doing it, and it's nice to see.

This Article explains the Muddy Pond story very well, and the following three YouTube videos provide some insights into the business. I found these videos to be a delight to watch.

If you have an interest in growing sorghum, check out this web site: American Sorghum

Four-Day Carrots
Part 2

Dateline: 24 August 2014

"Four-day" carrots, at 46 days old

My very first YouTube video, Four-Day Carrots, is getting a lot of views. So I've made a follow-up video, and I uploaded it to the internet a few minutes ago. Here's the link…  Four-Day Carrots, Part 2

Part 2 shows the progress of the tri-grown bed of carrots from 6 days to 46 days. I show how I scissors-thin the carrots, answer a couple of questions, and give some concluding remarks.

I don't know if I will make a Part 3. Perhaps this winter I will dig some carrots out of the bed and make a glass of carrot juice. That would be a good conclusion to the story.

An Internet Crisis

Dateline: 23 August 2014

My mail-order home business, Planet Whizbang, is 100% internet dependent. All the information about my products is on the internet, almost all product orders come through the internet, almost all payments are made through the internet, all customer correspondence is through the internet, and all shipping labels are bought & printed via the internet. If the internet stops working, my business is akin to Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff.

That said, it was a crisis here last Wednesday morning when, first thing, I sat in front of my computer screen and discovered that my internet was no longer working. At first, I wasn't concerned because it has a tendency to go off for short periods of time. But it was off like never before.

I did nothing for the first day of outage, except check every few minutes to see if the internet was finally working. I assumed Verizon was having some kind of widespread internet issue and they were fixing it.

The next morning, still without an internet connection, Marlene went to a friend's house to use their internet. She was there for several hours getting orders and printing postage. I put in a call to Verizon.

After communicating with a robot and answering a series of questions, I got through to a real person. He spoke English well enough for me to understand (barely) and was very polite. The man spent a long time with me asking about how my router/modem was hooked up and he had me do a variety of things, unhooking and re-hooking cords, while he ran some tests from his end. It was all to no avail and he said they would have to send a technician out to fix the problem. That was good news. The problem was going to get fixed!

Then he informed me that the earliest time a technician could get to my house would be in eight days. That was not good news. Not at all. 

I explained to the Verizon man that my business is 100% dependent on the internet and the prospect of waiting eight days to get it fixed was a nightmare. I told him that it was critically important that someone got here much faster. I was emphatic about this (without being an angry customer). 

The man sympathized with me and said he would do what he could to get a technician here sooner. He said he would call me back when he had arranged the appointment.

Fifteen minutes later, the guy called back with good news. He had done everything he could to get a technician here sooner, and the absolute earliest appointment he could get was in six days. I thanked him for his help and hung up the phone, wondering what I could possibly do to work around this problem. Our friends were being very gracious with their internet, but using someone else's internet, computer, and printer for several hours a day to run our business was not something we felt right about.

Then someone told me that for around $80 I could buy a device at WalMart that would give me a temporary internet connection, using cell tower connections, and no contract was required. I could buy the thing and have internet until Verizon got here to fix my connection. Perfect solution, I decided that I would go to WalMart the next morning. 

Then my oldest son stopped by. He started fiddling with the wires and the modem. A few minutes later, the internet was working. Problem totally solved.

It turns out that when he was in the Army, stationed in Korea for a year, he had gathered quite a bit of internet connection experience. When I asked what he did to fix my internet, he said he pushed the reset button on the router. I told him I did that twice. He informed me that the reset button needs to be pushed in for 30 seconds. That's what did it.

Next time the internet goes out, I won't call Verizon. I'll call my son. 

My internet now works better than it has in years. The problem I had with the internet connection shutting off every time the phone rings is now fixed.

As I've noted here in the past, vulnerability comes with complexity. We live in a technologically complex, interconnected world. I fully expect the electrical grid to go down for an extended period of time someday and, of course, the internet with it. When that happens, I will mourn briefly and turn my attention to the post-grid realities of life, which I am mentally and physically (to a great degree) prepared to deal with.

But when I lose my electricity (with internet) and the rest of the world is still chugging along like normal, that's a real bummer.

I've Got a Lotta Hay Down

Dateline: 18 August 2014

photo link

Yesterday, after church, Marlene and I attended a surprise 50th birthday party for an old friend. It was at Fillmore Glen State Park, which is just outside the closest town to us. I don't get out much so it was something special.

My friend's name is Steve Bossard. He and I worked together for many years in the building trades. We worked for a local contractor for a few of those years, then started our own business, which we named, Bestbuilt Construction

Steve and I worked very hard back in the day. We had a lot of drive. We were organized, efficient and productive. In retrospect, it was a remarkable working relationship. 

So we have a  lot of good memories, but I haven't been in contact with Steve for close to 20 years. It was good to reconnect after so long, and he was truly surprised by the surprise party. His wife did a wonderful job putting it together.

I was speaking to Steve's mother at the party and asked about her other son, Randy, who I supposed would be at the party too. I wanted to talk with him about building a road across my creek and gully. He does that kind of work, and he's good at it. But when I asked, his mom said, "He's got a lot of hay down."

I never knew Randy to be a farmer, so I asked about the hay. His mother explained that he's not doing farming, he's just "got a lot of hay down." It turns out that's Randy's way of saying he's busy.

Awhile later I said to Steve that it was too bad his brother wasn't at the party. He immediately replied: "He's got a lot of hay down."

I like that phrase. It brings back memories. And I think I'll use it…

I've got a lot of hay down. 

I need to put blogging on the back burner for awhile. I'll get back to y'all this weekend.

Us Now

The picture above shows my old friend and business partner (the birthday boy), Steve Bossard, in the middle. The guy on the left is Dan Gibson. Dan worked awhile for Steve and me when he got out of the military. Dan now works in nuclear medicine. Steve is a project manager for a high-end contractor in Ithaca. Me, I'm in the chicken plucker business.

That's a fine picture except for the fact that I look so short. All three of us are actually about the same height, but we're standing on an inclined walkway. Just so you know.