May 5, 2021

My fat bike, a few weeks ago, when I cleaned it and upgraded the drivetrain to a Microshift 1×9. Thanks to spring rains it’s been dirty every day since. I’ve ridden 3,750 miles on this bike in the last 12 months. 😀


April 30, 2021

Atlantic camas, a native, wild hyacinth. I walk or ride this trail a few times a day and am really familiar with everything growing here. This is the only plant of this species I’ve found – very nice to see it pop up here!


April 27, 2021

My daily trail ride takes me along this very pretty little creek where I’m often treated to a brief sighting of a pair of wood ducks (not pictured).


April 10, 2021

The woods have come alive with a carpet of small white, pink and purple wildflowers.

False Rue Anemone
Dutchman’s Breeches
Spring Beauty

Learning to walk in the woods

So, file this under “Living here for most of the past 10 years and still get to see something new!” On my trail walk a couple days ago I had my first extended viewing of an owl. I’ve caught sight of them several times while walking but usually it’s when they leave one tree and fly to another and are then out of sight. But on this particular walk I saw one fly and it landed in a tree further down in the direction I was headed. I kept an eye on it and found it in the tree as I got closer. I was able to look for a full minute or so. I could have stayed longer as it didn’t fly away but it was up high enough that I couldn’t see details without binoculars. But still, had a good look. My immediate thoughts were that I need to remember to look up more often rather than my usual focus on the path in front of me.

Yesterday while walking after a lot of rain I was stopping often to photograph and video the streams and little water falls. It got me into a more observational mode. While I had to watch the path for slippery spots I was walking more slowly and just generally being in a more observational mode rather than walking for exercise mode. I stopped and just stood still looking off through the woods. With the trees and lower level foliage still bare it’s possible to see a much longer distance. Within just a minute of stopping and looking deeper into the woods, at about the limit of my eyesight, I caught sight of a fox. I should note that I’m not 100% certain given the distance but given the size, shape and movement of the animal I’m fairly certain it was a fox. It was only a glimpse but still, exciting!

Again, I was reminded what a poor observer I often am. My habit when walking is to be walking. Even if I do rememer to look up I’m usually still moving. So, another lesson learned is that not only do I need to look up more often but that I need to stop and stand still more often. I think that act, of being still for at least a few minutes is what will really allow for much deeper observation of the landscape and what is happening around me. Not only that but were I to carry a small sitting stool or be willing to stop and sit on the ground for say, ten or twenty minutes, that extended stillness would also allow for my becoming less visible to other animals, notably those I rarely see such as fox.

Really it’s an obvious thing I’m stating here but I suspect it’s also something others might forget to do while in the woods. It’s an easy thing to forget to do, especially when provided nice walking paths, to just stop and hold. Also, I’ll note that when I go for walks it is for the purpose of exercise. To walk for observation is a different thing and I’ll need to remember that and find a balance between the two.

Spring is here and all around green buds are popping. In the next few weeks the open understory of the woods will fill with foliage and the long view I’m enjoying now will shrink to a much smaller distance. I plan to practice a more active observation with more frequent stopping and suspect that will be beneficial but it will likely be in the winter months that such a practice will really prove helpful both in terms of wildlife observation as well as developing a better understanding of the topography of the land.

How we move forward

My group of local friends share a Slack group. This morning one of them asked:

(What the is the matter with the @$&-“.! Democrats)

No doubt a response to the recent maneuverings in regards to legislation for Covid relief and raising the minimum wage.

Here’s the response I posted and upon posting decided it should be a blog post here.

Oh, I’d say nothing is the matter. They seem to be doing EXACTLY what they always do. There’s absolutely nothing out of the norm with this.

This is who they are. On the whole are just a slightly less fucked up version of the Republicans. Add to that the politics of getting reelected, blah, blah, blah and all the other garbage of this filthy fucked up system and this is exactly what we have had for decades.

While the Trumper folks are unhinged and racist and seeping in conspiracy, the anger and rage and frustration seems to be a fairly common trait amongst much of the population… hence Occupy Wall Street. The 99% – which is why the whole system really does need to be uprooted

All we’ve accomplished is temporary removal of an idiot, arrogant, fascist wannabe dictator.

The dysfunction of the 2 party system is still in place. It will function well enough for the 1% as it has for decades. And that’s all that matters.

I’d guess that the democrats will remain split, progressives and establishment… they’ll fumble around for 2 years then 2 more years. Meanwhile, the republicans will do what they can to suppress the vote in future elections. It’s a clusterfuck that won’t end until the polite liberals of the U.S., step out of their apathy and get a bit angrier, more agitated and more willing to engage. That said, seeing the lunacy of the angry right, I don’t know what an energized liberal population would really look like. How would it, could it, actually engaged with the “other half” of the 99%?

It would seem to me that the way forward, if there is a way, is to chart some new social territory.

Which is to say, the structure has to be rebuilt. And, which is to ask, are the people that would need to work together to do this capable of doing it? Can common ground be found and trust established so that the 99% can figure out a way forward? Personally, trying to not veer into pessimism but to remain honest, and I don’t know what it would take in this current culture for people to begin that move. Is it possible for us to just be neighbors, to view one another as people and step past the labels, emotions, distrust, fear, etc?

Which brings me to the way forward. I’ve spent the past couple weeks dwelling again in thoughts of Social Ecology and Murray Bookchin’s ideas for how humans might organize society more democratically, more rationally. In short, building local, community based democracy as the foundation and working up from there. It would mean turning everything we know about government and economy on it’s head.

So, what’s possible? Is this kind of radical change possible in the U.S.? It’s interesting that we, as a nation, have become so pessimistic about the possibility of change. And yet, we can look elsewhere on the planet and see such examples. Most recently and very inspiring is Rojava. Why would this not be possible here? Of course it would be possible.

Thinking about what is possible or not possible. Somewhere along the way we, as a national culture, fell into a deep rut of pessimism. The idea that we might turn things on their head seems an impossibility! Why, why, we couldn’t do that! We just can’t! Direct, participatory democracy?? No, it’s simply not possible! We collectively seem to have lost (or given up) our ability, our will, to experiment, to problem solve and to really work towards solutions.

Tumbling and Exploring

First, a couple weeks ago I fell down a rabbit hole. It was chance really but the kind of thing that happens when you’re in the right mental mode for it to happen. I visited an Apple oriented forum that I used to frequent but rarely visit these days. Not sure why I decided to pay it a visit but by chance found a thread that led me to a wiki-style information management application, Obsidian, which was just the thing I needed to begin a tumble into a new project. I think I’d already been considering something, I just had not allowed it to condense into anything solid.

So, I tumbled and the cloud began to condense. The idea is to write more, primarily for my own personal wiki. About what? Well, mostly, just a chronicle of sorts. A daily log about life. An exploration of my life lived. Ideas, people, events… life up till now. The idea being to reinforce memories and perhaps rekindle interests of my past. Or at the very least to revisit them.

Tumble, tumble. As I began putting this project into place I began writing which is, of course, the point. Writing and remembering. Writing and reflecting. Writing and exploring. And on and on.

I’m not sure how often my posts there will cross over to here as that’s not really the goal. But I suspect it might happen. Or it might be that a post there will turn into a post for here. But I have to say, it’s been rewarding to spend more time writing. Nothing fancy as nothing that I write ever is. But just taking time to mull things over via the written word. And to make it a daily routine. I’m not sure how long the practice will last.

The first big tumble this first couple of weeks has been a revisit to social ecology. I’ve enjoyed it and am just beginning that re-exploration really. Social ecology is not the sort of thing that is explored casually. Developed by Murray Bookchin over several decades, it’s a broad and deep exploration of human history, specifically the human development from nature into human culture based upon hierarchical social systems of command and control, of domination. Bookchin offered analysis of this historical development, he explored it with great depth and from this he developed the beginnings of a movement for pushing beyond what we have today. I’m not prepared yet to write at great length because this will require more time. I’m starting with a re-read of his foundational work, The Ecology of Freedom which is one of several of his books that I read in the late 1990s while working on my Masters thesis via the Institute for Social Ecology.

So, the past few weeks have been the beginning of delving back into these books and ideas. Not that I ever left them but having them stew in the depths of mind is not the same as active consideration. So, there’s that and for now it’s enough for this post. More soon and more on a regular basis I hope.

Climate Change and Personal Responsibility

It seems that once a year I end up writing a post about climate change and personal responsibility. It’s a repeating thread based on a long running frustration that I have with this notion that we humans are somehow incapable of affecting change.

We act as though the government that we all consider broke, the government that has, thus far, refused to address the problem of our time in any meaningful way, is suddenly going to fix it. It doesn’t and so things get worse. Year after year the climate reports keep coming and they always report that the situation is more dire than previously thought. Our response is to throw our hands up in the air. We gnash our teeth and rend our garments in despair (some anyway) but we keep on keeping on. We keep driving. Keep buying. Keep heating and cooling to our comfort. Keep flying. Keep doing everything and anything. As if we need the government to force us to behave better.

We say to ourselves that it’s really industry that is the problem as if global capitalism operates in a vacuum and for no reason. Somehow we conveniently forget that capitalism operates to feed our manufactured desires (and of course, for their profit).

In the absence of meaningful action for 20 years taken by government, industry or citizens, we now find ourselves here and now. And we still insist that we are powerless to make changes. I think we can and should do better.

So, here we are, February 2021. A new president, a Congress controlled by Democrats and we will see if any progress is made. It’s clear that Biden wants to push hard to not only undo the backward steps by the previous administration and go even further than Obama did. That’s great. But we can see that, as expected, there will be obstructions and the interests of energy producers, particularly those based on coal, will fight back. So, we can expect, as usual, a few steps forward but it won’t be enough. And when power swings back the other way progress will again stop and possibly push back the other way.

All that said, when I look around at the U.S. in 2021 I see a lot of confusion about basic truth and reality. In a world of delusion, when half the population seems guided by conspiracy theories, it’s increasingly difficult to have much hope in rational, science-based thinking and decision making be it in personal life or any level of government.