26 June 2008

On Growing Up: Random Thoughts

You become an adult when you realize you DON'T know everything. Perhaps you become wise when you realize you don't know ANYTHING.

You can do anything, but you can't do EVERYTHING.

The acquisition of infinite knowledge requires infinite time.

Since you can't do everything, you must have others DO for you. Since you can't KNOW everything, you must rely on the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the race.


Only an adult who knows he doesn't know everything can begin to learn enough to know when a culture's entire accumulation of knowledge and wisdom is WRONG.

Many people NEVER become adults. You must be an adult to join the community, to participate in the culture, to profit from the commerce.

Since the child doesn't have the tools to delve deep enough into the bedrock laid beneath the culture, they do not have the ability to challenge the rule of law. Only an adult CAN do that, and they will have to face the judgment of the culture.

Adulthood is not a matter of age, directly. Being 18 or 21 doesn't make an adult, but it helps because you MAY have accumulated enough experience to THINK about your experiences.

The next step is to put the good of others before self. This builds community. Community IS self-sacrifice.

23 June 2008

Dreams of Homesteading

My earliest inclination to homesteading I inherited from my mother. She had the Reader's Digest "Back to Basics" book, and I would look at it for HOURS. Also on her shelf were the Foxfire books.

But not until my parents retired did she get her place in the country, near her childhood home in Parker's Prairie, MN. And by the time she turned 70, she was wheelchair-bound, and never has really enjoyed her dream.

I don't want that.

I want to get away from cities and asphalt and Code Red air. I want to get away from prostitutes and tourists. I want to get away from contracts and clearances. I want to get away from Congresscritters and bureaucrats.

In short, I live near Washington, DC.

I live in an upstairs piggyback condo with effectively NO attached property. And until recently, I liked it that way. I don't have any lawn to mow, and that was the way I wanted it.

On the other hand, I have the dream of standing on my wrap-around porch and looking out to the horizon, saying smugly, "Yep. That's mine."

All I want is MY 300 square miles! What's wrong with that? ;-)

The problem is, I have lots of things I'm trying to get away FROM--but what am I running TO? I can picture myself PLANNING the perfect homestead, but I never seem to picture myself in a garden. I can say, "Yes, goats would seem to be an ideal small stock for milk or meat," but I never imagine myself actually getting up to do the milking.

Not that I have a problem with getting up early--my alarm goes off at 4:30 AM now.

I plan, I dream, I ponder, but I never DO what it will take. And I'm afraid to find out that I won't enjoy eating from my own garden, won't enjoy the simple, frugal life as much as I think I will.

When I come down to it, I'm lazy. I only want to do a job once, and make it so I never have to do it again. That's one of the requirements for being a good engineer, and I think in many ways I am. But lazy don't get the crops in, and even though I like to go camping, I have to say I hate getting caught in the rain.

I'm not so much attracted to country living as I am despairing of life in the city. Gas has hit $4/gallon. Electricity has nearly doubled in the last 3 years. Federal energy policy is mandating ethanol from corn for biofuel, ignoring the facts that corn is not the best source, that the transfer of corn from feedstock to fermentation vat is driving up the price of meat and milk, and the transfer of land from raising other crops to raising corn is creating a corporate farming monoculture and driving up the cost of other foods, like bread and vegetables.

And then there's NAIS, and Monsanto, and GM crops, and petroleum fertilizers, and pesticides, and cancer, and, and, and...

I'm not predicting the imminent end of the world. I'm just convinced that being able to do for myself is good insurance--Simple Prudence, to coin a phrase--against almost anything but Doomsday.

But I'm still running FROM, not TO.

And then my "reason" kicks in. "You can't go off and become a subsistence farmer in Rural America! Your daughter is starting college in 440 DAYS, and your sons are following in 4 and 8 years! You can't just Tune Out, Turn Off, and Drop In--you've got bills! You've got responsibilities! YOU'VE GOT A JOB!"

I wish I could shut me up. But I make some good points--I have a responsibility to my kids, and I need to fulfill it.

TALK, TALK, TALK. I'm shutting up now. I'm too depressing.

22 June 2008


Before I go any further, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Steven, and my canine companion in the picture is Sadie. If you click through to my profile, you'll be able to see my interests. The first entry below reflects my interest in medieval history and the Society for Creative Anachronism (www.sca.org).

Posts are coming on my desire to begin homesteading, my philosopical rantings, and my political opinions (best stated by Douglas Adams: "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.") Anything that twits my interest is fair game, including your comments.

If you read carefully and are interested, you will soon find enough clues to search out any public information about me. So I'm not going to bother with any of my other email addresses, my last name, my home address and phone number, or where I work. Comment on my blog, send me email at simple.prudence@gmail.com, but don't just drop by the house. It's a mess.

Kingdom Archery Championship

I just got back from the Atlantian Kingdom Archery Championship, in which I did NOT compete. Instead, I and my friends spent lots of time playing music for the entertainment of the masses, and providing atmosphere for the event.

I was in my campsite, after the end of the archery competition and before the feast, when I decided I ought to walk down and see what was happening in court. Good thing--before I had been there 10 minutes, I was called before the Baroness and given the baronial Shell and Crescent award, in part for providing atmosphere by playing music.

One of the pieces I played this weekend was NOT from the Middle Ages. It was the song, "Still Alive," by Jonathan Coulter, as arranged by myself for flute. As I was playing, I caught the puzzled expression on the face of one young man (who went by the name Bubba, of all things). He leaned over to his girlfriend and whispered, "That's the song from the end of Portal!"

Afterward, I congratulated him. I had wondered if anyone would notice.