Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

adventure can be inspiring

Its a hot day outside and enjoying some rare ac at home “relaxing and enjoying the work of justin verlander” to use the commentary without the expressed written consent of major league baseball. Its a slow game though and with only evenings and weekends for entropy control and to advance projects it seemed a good time to blog. as i said a post or two ago i am committed to blogging weekly if for nothing else to give the computer enough time online to do updates. i feel like my last couple read like that too.

Overall, i’ve been a little low energy which is not unexpected but inconvenient as the world expects me to jam, all day almost every day. i’ve been on top of that but not much else, personal life items i’ve left without the attention to detail and positive effort they require. but today i am tired but a good kind of tired. not as tired as verlander, its 98 in KC and he’s over the century mark and a fast hurler. in his defense he’s in much better shape, which sort of relates to what i’m going to be blogging about. adventure can be inspiring.

friday i lit out of work right on time and threw some things together for a float trip with eric and trevor. we were going to go camp somewhere close and then float the grand, conditions permitting. [verlander’s getting some rest after an inge error cost him his shut out, there’s bases loaded with a 1 run lead] i loaded a lot of stuff since i had the space and time and wasn’t exactly sure what the camping would be like. i also gave everything a good solid drink in the garden because it was supposed to be hot and stuff was thirsty. i also found this ginormous tomato horned worm and squished him. he’d done some damage and i feel like there’s at least another one but i can’t find him. maybe tonight when its in the shade.

at close to 6 i decided i would see if i could load the boat. if you’re  not a regular reader i have short and stubby plastic canoe that slides nicely into the back of the popster’s f 250, one strap and its secure. its really growing on me. my brother got it for a float with smokey down the big muddy and its both short and has a huge keel which makes it maneuverable for a solo boater. also makes it convenient not to have to strap it on top. plus people are always impressed with all the cup holders. john calls it “the Cadillac of cheap canoes”.

but i never got to see if i could load it myself because mark, who i knew was a possible drove up and helped me load it and ably strapped it down. i have a thing about scraps and am majorly inept for having been dealing with them my whole life. its probably a complex but i’m almost 500 words into this post and haven’t even left yet so i got to pick up the pace. mark followed me over to trevor’s and we had a PBR in the front yard and strategized. the grand was flooded and there was no nearby camping so we decided to do locust creek through pershing state park. [the royals announcer gave a nice run down on victor martinez, he came to the tigers not up to potential, got in ‘short stop shape’ and this year he’s an all star. cabrerra has also dropped some pounds (but he was a monster last year big as a house)]

mark rode up with me and it was nice to reconnect as we both have been through some stuff and could relate and we had a good talk about grief. we stopped in macon for mexican food. i got alleged tamales which were either these little deep fried things which were pretty good or a mass of corn meal with an array of chicken and hamburger. not bad but not tamales. i also realized i forgot fido’s bowl, remembering i had let it be when i thought to pack it in case he wanted to eat before the treat. i walked over to walmart and got some iam’s little dog cereal and a couple of other things.

so with all that we rolled into pershing state park pretty late. it was an rv kind of park but the entrance was empty so we were off by ourselves and they have showers. not bad really for $11 i think for a nonelectric site. i didn’t want to chance setting up the tent not really knowing if its mine. john and i both had Marmots and he had packed up the camping stuff conflating our things and i couldn’t remember what model i have. so i decided to just sleep on the cot which was a bad idea from the start because of the mosquitoes and not packing a sheet. plus the raccoons were persistent and fido was barking and facing off and i didn’t get to sleep until they called it a night at sunrise, except for the four stuck in the dumpster. [valverde holds the lead and the tiges go into the all star break in first beating out the hated cleveland racists] so maybe 2 hours sleep tops.

but i woke up a little groggy but feeling good. eric makes this coffee concentrate and i mixed it strong and everyone enjoyed the can of condensed milk i broke out. a camping trick i learned from the popster who liked to live large. it was also good with the oatmeal mark made with lots of chopped almonds as it sweetened it up a little. i read the paper and drank my coffee and felt human enough to do the dishes. we drove south to find a pull out, checked out a little iron bridge and talked to a local who didn’t know anything about floating conditions. we drove south and found a spot and left the red truck.

we drove up to 36 i think and went west to the first pull off and found a good put in place. this is norther missouri bottom land. flat and rich mostly agricultural. there’s a nicely maintained riparian zone down the creek and it was muddy but of a goodly size. trevor saw a flat turtle and we both encountered a snake at the first log jam. it looks like he was fishing were everything just suddenly comes to a halt. we looked around and he disappeared. we ended up with a fairly lengthy portage which we did with good sport and a lot of gratitude as we ran into some really great wooded wetland with some really big old beach trees that certainly predated settlement. they didn’t look as big as the biggies in the spot of alleged old growth in Houston Woods in Ohio but they were really good sized and it was a mature forest.

we pushed through both poison ivy and stinging nettles to get back to the creek and were glad to get in the water and ended with no ill effects of either except from some nettle-itch at the time which is invigorating if you can look at it right. we ended up having 2 more portages and saving a third one by lifting the canoe over a fallen log at the third obstruction. nonetheless we all had fun and the portages made it more of an adventure, our own voyage of discovery and a good time was had by all.

especially fido who enjoyed his first float. he enjoyed being off leash as we scouted pull outs and put ins and had been on a swim and was reluctant for me to grab him up and throw him on the canoe. He jumped out once preferring to swim or run along side but he got used to it. we stopped to pick a couple of ripe blackberries (in a week or 2 it will be an excellent float with a lot of berries pickable by boat. I had fido on a leash when we picked berries or he would have abandoned the expedition.

I bet he’s glad he stayed though cuz we hiked in out of the way places, swam when we got hot. one nice place had a shady log and there was one of the few bluffs and the creek had carved out a nice deep swimming hole. fido swam across even though it was wide and deep with a strong current. he is a doughty sailor dog just like bichon frise’ are supposed to be. we had lunch really great cheese and avocado on black bear bakery bread which were very yummy. i wish i would have brought my first tomato though, although we may have that for dinner tonight. kevin made hummus and tabbouleh.

at our lunch stop i really struggled. i sank into the mud up to my knees and lost a shoe and was really stuck for a minute. had to have help to scramble up the muddy bank to the luncheon log. it really struck home my desire to get into better shape and the need to be way more on it now that i am getting older. i’ve been cutting myself to much slack for having a hard life and still need exercise more and eat better. i was more convinced when i was the only one that was completely done in (except for fido) at the end of the day. eric was kind enough to drag my boat out and carry it up to the truck.

but the adventure was fun. it could have been an ordeal which that uncertainty is a prerequisite of adventure. we were all resourceful, flexible and laid back so we would have rolled with whatever and made it work but it was big enough to be a challenge but doable enough to be pure fun. we all enjoyed some country cooking and had the buffet and i ate good. but not so good as has been my habit of late.

been pretty on it today too. slept hard and good and woke up refreshed and feeling like i’d done something. drank coffee and read the paper. roasted my first batch of beans, an ultra-light Guatemalan that looks awesome and i’m eager to try. i’ll let you know in a day or two how it is. then i mowed the back yard before it got to hot, got some laundry hung and made it to the wabash farmers/art market. got some sweet corn, cucumber for the humus, and some peaches (pricy but good). decided to skip malick’s new one but saw it was playing through thursday so i might still catch it. been thinking about asking someone out. haven’t done that in many years.

the good life

I haven’t blogged for a while and felt like I should put something up. I have been a little emotionally drained for the last couple-few weeks and motivation has been a little harder to come by. I am certainly meeting expectations and even advancing some projects but sometimes come short up against what I would like to do. Two months since The Popster passed so I guess I’m right where I should be. I had a week or two with just the dogs when coincidentally john and kevin both went back to california to get there stuff. John’s things are here now and tonight’s after work project is to help kevin move his things. They have cleaned the garage which is looking better then it has for a long time. I opted out of that process to spend the time in the garden. John moved up some book shelves into the living room and am looking forward to seeing his library join mine for a time. He also has two paintings by Gonzalez Gonzalez a London painter Dr. Tod was into in the 80s. Having not even finished painting I have not got onto getting things for the walls. He paints faces that look like abstract water colors at first glance. There’s one with a little yellow that we’re hanging in the living room as that really pulls the face out, and there’s a blue and violet one, that I’m not sure I see the face in yet, that we’re putting up in john’s room.

We’ve had our first string of hot, unrelentingly hot for better than a week. Its slowed me down a  bit as I get used to it. Mowed the lawn, back on saturday and front on sunday. Had to find the sweet spot between the evaporation of the dew and before it became to damn hot. My neighbor John broke out an old push reel mower yesterday. We both agreed it was quite a work out. I hope he sticks with it. Its a chore but so is going to the gym and that costs money. It makes me think how much all these time saving devices really cost us more. With the introduction of vacuum cleaners and dish washers and the like they’ve just increased the standard of what a clean house is, not to mention the rise of square footage of the average home, and how much time do we save if labor saving devices take out the physical effort so we have another chore of having to go to they gym. simpler is better and the old ways have their wisdom. I could have a bigger garden if i used a rotor tiller but you can’t dig down 2 feet any way but a shovel. My 2 feet of top soil tells me its been worth the effort.

Yesterday I mostly rehabbed the big garden bed. I weeded, harvested a nice little jar of radishes and planted my black plum tomato. The compost is coming along and I have a lot to use. i also jazzed up some of the extra soil from the tree planting and added some more soil around the peach tree. John looked up Belle of Georgia and its a red skinned white stoneless peach that comes due in August. I’ll let you know how they turn out. I also swapped the hose onto the rain barrels and watered that way rather then by 2 1/2 gallon can. That was so much easier and I am going to use so much more rain water which takes more out of the fall on the roof and run madly into bear creek process. i can see adding multiple barrels if I keep using goodly amounts of water. last year was wet, but still I only got to the bottom of the barrel once.

I also picked strawberries and made round two of strawberry pancakes. This time I used Jiffy Mix and I am definitely sticking to scratch from now on. Its hardly any harder and its quite a bit cheaper and way better. I almost stirred in a little extra baking powder after the first cake came off the grill but just stuck with it. They were good nonetheless with the stanton boy’s local eggs over medium and real maple syrup and organic butter.That led to a lively discussion on if that means anything. I bought it because butter was $4 and organic was $5. When i can get regular for 2-3$ then the price differential doesn’t seem worth it. John’s proposition is that corporate cows making corporate butter is so off that organic practice becomes meaningless. My argument is that cows eat a lot of corn, unfortunately and my understanding is that organic animals are fed organic feed and that makes a lot more acreage of organic corn a slight improvement over our normal monoculture nightmare food production system. It also increases the chance that our milk cows are grass fed by changing those relative economies.

Dinner was altogether much better as we were well over 90% local and 20% from the backyard and all agreed that it was good. I roasted my first beer can chicken. I brined it with salt, brown sugar, and some unfiltered apple cider vinegar. then I stuck an open can of budweiser up its yahoo and sat it on the grill. For the grill I had a big fire on one side and added a lot of soaked hickory chips which provided the bulk of the flavor. It was yummy with a crispy brown skin. I also made a packet with the first of the new potatoes (reds and whites) and a couple of baby turnips, with half a garlic snape, some fresh fennel root, & oregano. kevin put together the asparagus packets. sarah brought some trout and a pasta salad (our pasta is where we lowered our local percentage besides incidentals like butter & salt).

Its been really fantastic and again I thought that no one was eating a better meal no matter how much money they had. I like living the ‘good life’ and showing it can be done with just a little bit of labor and gumption. alright well maybe a bit more than a little but we can all take steps down a path of sustainability.

a little knowledge…

Eschatology fascinated me as a teenager. It suited my imaginative fantasy driven outlook on life from reading a lot of science fiction, fantasy, mythology, all that stuff. end of times just faded right in. i was rooted in all kinds of books 666, hal lindsey, that weird anti-catholic guy who did the Chic Tracts and bunches more. Then I plunged into the original sources. i had read it all when i plowed through the bible in eighth grade but i went back to the prophets and tried to make since of all that stuff. revelations it was mind blowing. It was also all a little bit scary. i remember in middle school during gym there was a fire drill and there was an impending storm with black roiling clouds and the feeling of electricity in the air. I wondered if if was the end. I don’t have to tell you it wasn’t, it was a storm.

I read more and more for a few more years and was always scrounging books at garage sales. i read some of the older ones and they were dated and the world was supposed to have ended. i found them all the way back to the fifties decade by decade wrong after wrong. i found one in the library from the fourties. it seemed more real, more to fit. I read some history and the millenialists of the year 1000, of the 19th century, in fact every generation has thought they were likely the last generation.

I thought the restoration of the state of israel and man’s new power to destroy the earth made our generation special. israel has been here for 63 years and the ability of man to destroy the earth 66 and it hasn’t happened yet. i looked into one of the books and checked back to their scripture on the israel thing. its a verse about figs. Vague fear mongering seems more likely to sell books, draw attention, and baffle the young and gullible and perhaps the mentally ill. and yet the prophets mean something don’t they?

In some sense they serve as a warning to make the most of every day. to treat it like it could be your last even if you are young and healthy. the promise of the return is part of what makes jesus jesus. but if i know jesus at all the return won’t be like anything anyone in the established church is saying, or how else will they all miss it, and i guarantee they will. they always do or we wouldn’t need divine intervention.

i think talk of an antichrist and a mark and such reminds us of the continual threat of totalitarianism. when one man controls all power to buy and sell there is total control and it is indeed time to flee to the mountains and prepare for the rivers to run with blood. i believe there will be a narrowing and consequences for our misbehavior, my god we’ve broken the weather. spurned the gift of a functioning biosphere and poisoned what we’ve given. katrina, might have been a warning, did we heed its warning. not some simplistic anti voodoo and drunkenness nonsense, i am talking about the sin of destruction. i can see seeds of the apocalypse, but also seeds of the beauty that is to come when we come to our senses and start living right. we’ll get sustainable or we will die by definition. my vote is for life and i choose every day to look for the signs of hope so that i can nurture them. that i can light a fire or provide a little air, a little fuel so it burns brighter and it spreads and throws its light and its warmth and its cleansing.

nuclear power and me (part 2)

March 31, 2011 2 comments

The police arrived on the scene rather quickly. Traffic was backed up and I and 5 or so others were handcuffed to the cement barrels. We were chanting: “One, two, three, four, don’t pollute our lake no more, five, six, seven, eight, shut down fermi smash the state”. The crowd of protesters strung all over the countryside realized where the action was and started to arrive. The police came with bolt cutters and we were clipped out relatively easily. (We couldn’t raise the $100 for stove pipe to complete the barrels according to design, otherwise they would have had to bust through all the concrete.) We got bailed out though because it took long enough for the cop cars batteries to die from running all the lights. the road was still blocked for better than an hour.

I hit jail with such an incredible since of relief. i was so tired and stressed from organizing this monster event jail was a blessing. I wondered about what my life had become. The police had taken to putting us in a separate holding cell where the phone was “broken”. This had been their policy since an activist, john i think, did a tv interview over the jail phone. I heard reports of the tripods, the police just pushed them over and maced people when they hit the street. john whose plan had been to handcuff himself to the first cop car filled with protesters had been preemptively maced and arrested just because and the cops were intrigued by the handcuffs.

The cops were pissed. taken off guard and outside their experience. They are not used to having people say “no”.  They were not used to detroit anarchists pelting them first with doughnuts later with stones. They were not used to photographers catching them being rough. They arrested a couple, real professional journalists. My friend Roger yelled out “don’t mace her pig!” A cop came over and yelled in his face that if he stepped in the road he would be arrested. Roger yelled back “ok I won’t” and the cop pulled back and hit him. six cops beat him down with sticks while Roger lay on the ground yelling I am not resisting, I am not resisting. They squirt mace, lots of it in his eyes up his nose in his ears down his throat until he vomited. then they arrested him and charged him with felony assault. I kid you not. i saw the video. roger was convicted at trial for assault. crazy world. they say spittle left his lips when he yelled ok i won’t.

We all chanted bad cop no doughnut when they brought roger in. we chanted and sang all night. we did a hed hum that was transcedent. we slept in a big pile like puppies when they wouldn’t give us blankets. we all refused bail because it wasn’t offered to Roger and a photographer who was beaten and also charged with assault. if you didn’t know it if the cops beat you up they charge you with assault to justify your injuries. pricks.

there’s more to the story but little about nuclear power. i was disillusioned by the whole thing. mostly roger. i realized my policy of creating conflict situations to radicalize people was reckless and costly. i didn’t think i had it in me anymore. constant court support plus my own legal involvement long after the cameras went away made me think. the plant opened largely without incident. on christmas we got santa (Terry Carpenter) arrested with an elf (Marie Mason) and an indian (Jesse Deerinwater). my mom and both my brothers. that’s where you had to be if you wanted to see the trapps on christmas.

the following summer other activists picked up the torch for another big action and i felt i had to carry on though my passion was gone. spent the summer in detroit organizing and we brought together a similar coalition. we again did multiple arrest events. our big finale was a full on non-violent assault on the plant. we had two ladders hidden and planned on going over the fence. one was a cooling tower sculpture with a ladder and a long ladder swathed in paper with slogan written on it. both of these were feints to draw the security so two of us could throw blankets over the barbwire scale the fence and climb the power towers with handcuffs and a banner. Our cooling tower ladder was pegged right away and seized by the cops. the other fooled them and we got three over the fence but it didn’t draw off the security. rather than get pulled off the fence i went around to the camera crews and said there would be an action at the custer statue in 15 minutes. Me and a kid from kansas drove down there, climbed the custer statue and handcuffed ourselves to his stirrup. Oh and I forgot to mention the guy who showed up with scuba gear who was coming in from the beach to climb the reactor building and plant an earthfirst! banner on the roof. we were all scared when he never showed. violating a nuclear security zone is a federal felony. he was a strange guy with a crew cut, no activist credentials and a trunk full of high tech gear. everyone thought he was a plant so i palled up to him. i did with all the suspected infiltrators. put em to work, take em under my wing, embrace them watch them. when we got out of jail i called his emergency number in chicago and he answered. he said he was picked up by “federal authorities” and questioned. “don’t worry they’re not interested in you” he said. they’re after squatter and the greenpeace bigwigs. speaking of greenpeace it was hiroshima day and no greenpeace parallel action. but on nagasaki day they dropped giant banners down the cooling towers. hadn’t told us which was good on them because we had likely been seriously infiltrated.

It was sweet. more arrests, probation, lack of money and i ultimately drifted out of full time radical environmental activism. i saw where it was heading. i was getting tired. the chronic poverty and constant travel, the stress. mostly i was tired. tired of hitting my head against a brick wall.

I did some other stuff, small protests, conferences, teach ins and such. when davis besse in Oregon Ohio had their incidents 3/4″ of stainless steel all that was left in their corroded containment vessel. so close. all i did was put it in my chap book. i might have went to one protest.

When I had my manic breakdown I even questioned my antinuke stance. I had apocalyptic visions of the breakdown of transportation, the end of coal, and cried for those hospital people without electricity. my mom told me to snap out of it and remember who i was. she was right. its insane. japan proves this if ever there was a doubt. if the smoking hell hole of chernobyl hadn’t already told us what we need to know. shut em down. watch the waste forever. teach our children to do the same. everything else is an unspeakable crime that we all bear guilt from as the lights burn.

Categories: environment, friends, politics

nuclear power and me (part 1)

The recent events in Japan have had me engaged in thinking about nuclear power in a way that I have not for many years. I have had an intimate connection with nuclear power for pretty much as long as I can remember growing up in fermi country on the eastern shores of lake erie. My earliest memories of nuclear power is the propaganda comics we would get once a year in science class when detroit edison covered the education.

the fermi 2 nuclear power plant went from planning to construction to trying to come online when i was in high school. having had it be a presence for as long as i could remember i never thought to ask why it was called fermi 2. i mostly remember the coloring book with mickey mouse riding in goofy’s jalopy and telling him to air up his tires to save energy. goofy preferred the smooth ride of under inflation. i also learned about background radiation and the unreasonable fear ignorant country people have of things that are new. nuclear power was the promise of the future. even my hot wheels went nuclear. tired of having to go to the imaginary gas station every so often the cars switched to nuclear fuel. a handful of powder and they’d run for life. aircraft carriers ran on it. silly scared people who don’t know nothing.

In 7th grade science class Mr Lowney organic asparagus farmer did his own bit on nuclear. He presented its dangers and promises (fermi 2 was running into billions over budget and years behind schedule at this point) and told us about fermi 1, the day we almost lost detroit. when we moved to debate i was the only proponent. fermi 1 was an experimental fast breeder reactor not the really cool GE Mark 2 reactor we were gonna get. sure there is risk from radioactivity but there is risks in not having electricity too. try running your hospital without it and see who loses more lives. sure waste is a problem but gosh darn it we’re just getting smarter every day. I already knew you couldn’t win debates with teachers but i felt i held my own. the voice of reason.

In 11th grade i had technical writing and we did a speech to persuade. I was eager to do nuclear power because i already knew the material and had already waded through a lot of science for an english class. the pro nuclear position was already taken so i was forced into taking anti-nuke or having to learn something. I prided myself for the easy way out and the little as possible model of formal education. I was crushing a novel a day in that era so i can see how school work was an obstruction. I was also hanging out with scott woodward at the macomb branch library and decided to do some research, bone up on what’s happening since 7th grade (fermi 2 is still over budget and still under construction).

I am horrified by the facts because i had not yet come to understand the sublime in the face of nuclear horror. I read the Monroe Evening News article from the day after the near meltdown of fermi 1 after perusing the day we almost lost detroit and learned about the china syndrome. It was one paragraph long from the second page and said plant operators handled an incident in an admirable fashion according to training. Kudos to them.

Mostly though it was the waste. I learned that spent fuel means that it has become so highly radiated that it can no longer be used. That with its half life it would be two hundred thousand years until it was safe and we have no idea how to safely store this shit for any where of even a fraction of that. I learned there was enough low level radiation waste to pave  a coast to coast highway and that every nuclear waste storage facility radiation had migrated into the ground water. I was horrified and convinced. I was anti-nuclear. the first brick had popped out of the right wing wall i had built my political ideals.

Ultimately I would question a system that would devise such a monstrously fiendish boondoggle on us country folk with a taste for walleye. Why did we need a nuclear power plant when we already had the third biggest coal fired plant in the world? How were we selected to be the environmental sacrifice zone? jesus pushed me over the edge with his words “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. bam, like a stroke of lightning i knew war was wrong and i was off to the races. from right wing republican to anarchist within days as i followed the obvious implications of being anti-war. I rejected anarchy as naive and ultimately evolved into a democratic socialist type until my ultimate embrace of decentralization and participatory democracy and that i was really back to being an anarchist. having been everything now i don’t see it changing.

Fermi 2 ultimately got close to opening. in my research i found out about nuclear protesters as not just historical relic but as happening now. Well sort of. I went to some 1o people protests mostly old nuns. I bought some buttons and told them i wanted to help. I waved a sign or two. Wow 12 people with signs or the finishing touches on your 6 billion dollar investment. the plant opened with fits and starts and the 10 people went away. I went to college.

The first gulf war changed my brother john and me. John wanted to hang a banner when i got home from the psych unit afternoon shift he had painted “wage peace” on a sheet and wanted to climb a power tower and hang it the night the bombing started. “high voltage message” and peace was on the front page along with the war. never doubt a small group of dedicated people could change the media message in a small town paper. we went to protests and were part of a million people saying no to war. it was life changing.

After the war we drove down to east liver pool ohio and protested a toxic waste incinerator coming on line with martin sheen and all. Discovered SEAC, the student environmental action coalition and started organizing anti-statist pro-planet radical environmental events. it was great. changed my life. we were all in.At Frankies, this club in east toledo a door man said he was gonna jump off the martin luther king bridge for the anniversary of steven biko’s death. He said he jumped all the time and just swam to the docks, once he did it 7 times in a row. I remembered i’d seen one of his early ones in the paper. We jumped that night and it was cool. my brother was there and thought since it hadn’t been in the paper for awhile we could probably put anything we wanted in the paper with a little planning.

We looked in the calendar and the anniversary of fermi 1 was coming up. we sent press releases and organized a march from international park to the center of the bridge. Joe Mold and I got up and held a banner gave a short speech and took off our shirts and jumped in. no tv, the trucks were late and we felt we risked arrest if we waited. We swam to a sail boat to avoid the cops and sailed away drinking grog and glad we didn’t die in the cold maumee in october.

After I got my masters i was aimless and ended up being a full time field organizer for SEAC, hitching around Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri teaching kids how to cause trouble for a good cause. Jousted with NAFTA, the wise use movement, made a lot of connections, and got my first death threats. the woods is a dangerous place to be antilogging and lead country does not want anti-lead activists cleaning up flood damage. they’ll shoot you for wanting to pick up garbage if you don’t agree with him.

Fermi 2 ran on until christmas day 1993 the turbine threw a blade (a big un) and it ripped around the containment building. shut it down and some water got contaminated. i was home for christmas and john was still in town. better coverage then fermi 1. we both thought they would dilute it and dump it in the lake. really, what else are you gonna do with that stuff??? John was on it. organized some protests and a public hearing and 700 people turned out. started blockading the plant with bodies, people getting arrested.

I was field organizing in the ozarks as things heated up that summer when they wanted to dump the water in the lake. I came home early and called in debts from all the kids whose backyards I had been busting my hump to save and finagled SEAC to sponsor an event The Grassroots National Action Festival, we got the local coalition (CRAFT -Citizens Resistance At Fermi Two, great acronymn), the radical version we had spun off when CRAFT wanted to say no to stupid stuff we wanted to do (Zebra Mussel Alliance), and Green Peace and Earthfirst! who never worked together. we had a lot of energy and we had ruled the local media for months. My mom never really respected our choice to be radical activists until people she watched on tv started to call the house to find out what’s going on. it was beautiful.

I had gotten arrested in a blockade get dragged off scenario. There were two gates and we could only force arrests by blocking both. It got routine. Fermi was getting ready to come back on line so we decided to throw everything we had at it. In the woods we cut down 6 30′ trees and made tripods. We made three barrels filled with cement with pipe through the center big enough for an arm intersecting a piece of rebar. We bought handcuffs, steve merrix got an employee discount at the adult bookstore. we used the tools we had, could borrow, or steal.

The event came. three big protests in three days. we hit detroit edison headquarters with a handful of high profile arrests. We covered the statue of general custer (unfortunate favorite son of monroe michigan) with yarn weaving a web of peace over the nuclear war machine. (fermi 1 was a fast breeder to make bomb stuff and was defended by the Nike nuclear missile base which became a park which we reserved to camp our protesters [it really is all connected]. We brought up as guest speaker a native activist who was opposing a consortium of power companies trying to site a dump on her land. (detroit edison dropped out shortly later). On day 3 we borrowed Mark and Mike’s anti-nuke bus (no we won’t use it for anything illegal, its cool). we loaded up our team, the tripods and the barrels. We had announced we would blockade the plant at 2:00 pm on a sunday afternoon. the police were out in force and lined up by the gates with the media ready for a nice but big typical thing like we’d been doing.

We stopped in the road leading up to the plant and threw up three tripods with activists chained to the top within two minutes while the police looked on in disbelief. We drove the bus up the road pulled on to the main one dixie highway and pulled the bus across both lanes and stopped traffic. We pulled out our barrels  and started to block the road, “roads closed folks”. One lady said her son had a little league game so we waved her through. a dude in a truck said he was going to work. “sorry the roads closed”. “I’ve got a tire iron that says its open”. “Hey get a camera on that guy he says he’s gonna hit me” as i handcuffed up to the barrels. The road was closed, the plant was blockaded as promised over a month ago at 2:00 on a sunday afternoon.

to be continued….

Low Car Challenge

Every September Columbia has a No Car Challenge where participants agree not to drive or ride in motorized transport that is not the bus. I’ve wanted to do it since I got here and this year I was able to do the Low Car version where I still I still got to drive for a weekend. I didn’t think it would be much of an issue as I ‘ve been car-less almost half my adult life, i live a block from my work, and Columbia is a very bikable city.

I didn’t decide to do it until the night of September 30 so I couldn’t stock up on stuff ahead of time. Right off the bat I wanted to get some stuff for my Labor Day trip to Detroit but couldn’t rustle up the energy to ride my bike across town. I put it off once after a hard day at work, was rushed the night before and wanted to mow the lawn before leaving as well. I decided I’d stop by there on my way to pick up Trevor to go to the airport but it wasn’t open yet. Couldn’t lay hands on a 3 oz or less tube of toothpaste and so was forced to throw away a brand new 4 oz tube on the flight back. It really set the stage for the month with a lot more going without, a little bit more of doing things in a wasteful way, and very little actual bike riding.

On the way home from the airport on the final leg of the trip the truck crapped out on me on the highway and I had to leave it a foreign auto repair place in Wentzville and have Dad pick me up. That forced me to later go pick up the truck (the alternative of paying storage for a month seemed ridiculous so i considered it an extension of my original weekend allowed driving). We didn’t deduce what was wrong until me, the mechanic and the truck were all in the same place. Alternator brushes were shot leaving to come and go electrical problems. It was too late for him to fix it so i had to limp home hoping it would make it and driving through dusk with no headlights. it was all good and the mostly inoperable truck would be less of a temptation to drive.

The Challenge got me to break out my bicycle for the first time in 2010. It was good to ride and Sarah rode her bike over for our usual Farmers Market trip. It was fun to ride and we noticed we spent about twice as much time and were much more social because neither of us were eager to  get back on our bikes to ride home. On the bad side I only bought about half as much stuff. No mum this year and I missed the  last two weeks of sweet corn. All of my purchases were made with a lot more consideration for weight and volume since I only had what I could put in my backpack. I also wanted to get a lot of food because I couldn’t easily run by the store. I ended up only getting half as much as normal which was my first clue that not driving might not be an unmitigated good anymore.

I did some bike riding for fun rode to the market and the bank a couple of times. I was getting into it a bit but it was also making my back sore. One of my physical therapists had ID’d long distance bike riding of how I’d bulged my C-6 & 7 in my misspent youth when i was biking 150 miles a week. Mostly I skipped going to the store so there was less groceries. So we started walking to the Country Kitchen a lot and even resorted to eating at Bandanas.

Dad’s truck crapped out and still won’t start (hope its just batteries) so we were without a reliable vehicle. I couldn’t externalize my driving to the popster as I’d hoped he’d pick up the slack on the grocery shopping but instead stopped being able to do it all. I broke out the bike to go to the market and the tire was flat. So no farmers market at all. We needed stuff: food, ensure, booze. So I walked down to Mosers got a back pack and some bags worth and humped it all back. That was cool, nostalgic from when I was living in Berkeley and shopping by back pack.

I was bushed though and couldn’t muster up the energy to walk across town to get to Trevor and Lisa’s potluck. I decided to try to get my rewards card for the free flat tire fix rumored to be on it rather than walk down to Klunks. I also got to skip the bank by using the cash back option at the grocery store.

At this point a bit of a depression set in, short on stuff, dad rationing his ensures cuz he can’t drive and get more. fretting on him on how he’s going to get to walmart when his blood  pressure pills run out. I tried to walk to the PedNet office to get my rewards card after the most difficult morning of my professional career but couldn’t make it down in time on my lunch hour and they close early. I got some taco bell instead and decided, fuck it, I’ll wait until i can drive.

I gutted it out but not with a lot of joy. Mostly I learned my truck is pretty decent. I get good mileage bundle my trips, don’t routinely drive and maybe put on 5K a year these days. I would’ve used it to go camping, build some trails in the Overland Bottoms, perhaps go to the EcoArt Fest down on the river. I would have bought three times as much market products in the month. I would have eaten out less and not at the soulless chains that are by my house. On the plus, it got me riding, it set an example, it focused me on my own locale. It showed me what driving means to me. Next year I expect to do it again.

Categories: environment, friends, health

sublime detroit part 1 – getting there

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

I am glad I took the extra day on the mini-vaca, it was nice to get ahead of the game instead of jumping right back into it tired and coming home beat down on my first day back. Things started out last friday way too early. i had lost my watch and didn’t own an alarm (i like to get up naturally instead of jarred awake at a set time [picked it up from O’ Henry]) so i slept poorly afraid of over sleeping. I got up, packed and drank almost the last of the coffee (sorry dad), tried to go to Wal-Mart for a couple of essentials but they weren’t open yet (i didn’t know they closed), went to Hi-V instead for amongst things a 3 oz or less toothpaste. Hi-V has about 14o square feet of toothpaste on display. All of it a variation on 4 brands none of them less than 4 oz. wtf. Hi-V customers don’t fly, or they know you’ll have to throw it away and buy another one. I hate that our society is organized that everyone is potentially planning to rip you off, makes me paranoid. I pass on the 2 oz training toothpaste because its fluoride free. I love fluoride, i’m 42 and still got all my teeth. I got the age defying brand for the liquid calcium. calcium carbonate has been shown to fill in microcavities, its worth the extra bit when you can find it. starbucks wasn’t open yet but trevor had coffee waiting. we drove to the airport like a couple of kids way early on christmas morning. we had been waiting and we were ready to have fun. the flight was pleasant, trevor let me have the window and i could see the exurban sprawl and farms sprawl and farms sprawl and farms across the midwest. we got a budget rental car, never have i turned down so many offers for the add on sale, extra insurance, nope, no deductible, nope, insurance rephrase, still nope, gps, nope (but now you don’t give me the map i was counting on, jerks), sattelite radio five dollar, nope, car upgrade nope, come on now not even one class for 5 dollars, nope. It got ritualistic and quick. I hate dehumanizing as a survival skill. Why do we set up the world where its peoples job to rip you off? Boom, off to Monroe. Flying is weird. I woke up in Missouri and I was having lunch in Monroe Michigan. Went to Pete’s Garage, but didn’t sit in a car. Both my sisters came and the one with the husband and kid brought there’s. It was nice to see everyone even though we’d just seen each other a month ago, still. We ate way too much bar food because we had already had coney island (gyro and fries, not the greatest but better than you can get in CoMo) at the airport. We drove up 275. I reminisced about riding the bike trail in its entirety when i was 19 (15o miles or so). I remembered riding with dad in the truck and him telling me about it and me saying some day i would ride it and i did, my last big ride before i bought my first car, when i seriously rode (when i likely bulged my 2 bulging discs). hardly any of its open now. they let it go to shit because they didn’t want to pay for the upkeep. looking back on it now that was the theme of the trip. decline, loss, frenetic remnants. then it was just appreciating the glory days. this makes me want to get a recumbent and really get back into riding. I am on the low car challenge this september, pledged to only one car trip this month which is completed. Tomorrow i’m forced to take my first bike ride of the season riding my bike to the bank, hopefully at lunch. I think I will pay myself a dollar a mile to ride my bike and put it towards a recumbent. that’d be fun and might work exercise back into my life. that’s part of what vacations are for me, to give me some space to step out of my life and see where it needs changing. Then though we were just driving and bullshitting. we pulled into farmington 15 minutes late. we saw jeff and becky and rosie leaving the bakery and followed them into the burger basement. nice place. the owner came out and said howdy, make your own combo on a check off sheet. I had 8 oz beef with jalapenos, olives, tomato, mixed greens, grilled pineapple, and swiss with barbecue sauce. nice. though mayo might have been better. It was great getting caught up with the burns-pavliks. rosie had turned into quite a prepossessed little 8 year old. she took us on the scenic way to their home in farmington hills and was quite the tour guide. She called us Uncle Mike and Uncle Trevor. I used to be Uncle Mike Trapp because she has a real Uncle Mike whose a bit of a character. I told her I was glad we were still fictional kin. Jeff picked up some first class local brews. Detroit Dwarf stands out as yummy and an interesting tale. Look it up its too late for me to regale you with it but its a tale worth telling. also had a smores beer, syrupy and over the top but a little glass was good. Both jeff and i dozed contentedly after we got caught up. It was one of those 20 hour days where you really suck the marrow out of your daily bone. I slept the sleep of the just. I was in Michigan. I was home.

Categories: environment, friends, health, travel

they paved the road to sutton’s bluff

This week found Harry, Dad, myself and Oni making a brief Ozarks excursion. We delayed a day to have an extra one to prepare and severe weather had been threatening and left on Tuesday. We set out around 9:30 and had an enjoyable drive down. The Black Eyed Susan was striking and it was nice to get out into the woods. Going gluten free and wanting shade for the dog kept us out of restaurants and it made me nostalgic for road trips past when we had made sandwiches on the road because we couldn’t afford to eat in restaurants. In 94 I had helped organize a summer long volunteer/protest/environmental education/camp out. We were a roving band of 8-60+ folks who met and did projects and hung out and camped and gave workshops and talked to locals. We worked on trails, repaired a dam, dumped saw dust at a national forest office, publicly threatened to disrupt an ATV race, got death threats, and were almost set up for a marijuana cultivation case we did not commit by a crooked sheriff in a small town. All in all it was a grand old time camping and hiking in beautiful country, learning about the natural world and how to live together and make it better.  A lot of skinny dipping and a lot of driving. One of the places we liked to go was Sutton’s Bluff and I planned to check it out/camp near it and check out some tourist sites I gave short shift to back in the day, namely the recently re-opened Johnson’s Shut Ins.

We had a little trouble finding our road as forest service 2233 was being paved and was renamed county rd 917. We drove up it a few miles weaving around the paving crew then traveled down a forest service road for a couple of miles until we found an established camp site at a trail head for the Ozark Trail. It was a pretty site with some clearing, lots of shade, and some black eyed susans. We pitched our tents then drove to the shut ins but we didn’t have a lot of time and we were tired and the visitor center was closed so we never figured out how it worked.

Camp was nice though, made spaghetti and we had a smoky fire to keep away insects. Got up early made coffee. Thought our Kaldis Bolivian in the French Press quite likely the best cup of coffee in Reynolds County. Hiked the OT up from camp, nice. Found some fresh boar scat which i thought i had heard them snuffleupagussing in the night.

We headed out and drove up to Taumsauk and climbed the tower. Oni was game for it even though she wasn’t quite as tall as the step, but she climbed it like a champ. Beautiful 360 view. We also checked out an overlook than headed down to Elephant Rocks. I’ve seen bigger rock fields but it was cool for the Midwest, getting to scramble around on boulders. We checked out the ruins of an old engine house made of the granite pieces. I learned about Reg Granite which can can come from Missouri and Dad talked about how granite got going (black granite first used as ship ballast to even out loads until they had a surplus and decided to slice em up and sell them) and how they work it (1/4 mile long wires to give it time to cool). Elephant Rocks are the world’s preeminent place to see weathered red granite and it was pretty cool. There were some cliffs you could jump off into a quarry but i wasn’t quite hot enough and wanted to get back to dad and oni.

We then went to Johnson’s Shut Ins which were very cool and Harry and I slid/scrambled our way through that. Rock climbing in a waterfall, just a lot of fun in the water. Went back to camp and cooked again, i made an apple and ham wild rice dish that was impressive let alone for camp food.

Today we packed up, did out OT hike and cruised back. Caught a diner for lunch on the way home, they did a nice hamburger steak and we all made it home happy. Oni enjoyed camping, just thrilled to be living outside and loved the off leash hiking.

Today back in time to mow the front yard and get cleaned up for Batterer’s Group. The guys were rockin’ and we graduated a cool dude, biker type who teared up when I praised his progress. life is good, vacation is fun even when you’re working. Harry and I are both excited to be seeing mewithoutyou tomorrow night in Springfield. I remembered when I was hoping to leave work an hour early to make the show on time and now i’ve had all week off. Surely god works in mysterious ways.

In Praise of the Push Reel Mower

I am up early drinking coffee and looking for that balanced time when the dew has dried but the heat of the day has not kicked in. Today is the day I get to mow my lawn. When I bought my house a couple years ago and needed to get a mower it was a pretty easy selection. My biggest factor was my carbon footprint and the push reel mower rocks on that front. Two stroke engines are terribly polluting and the noise and the gas and oil and the space just made it not seem worth it. My yard is of some size so I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a chore at times. My 73 year old pappy rues the choice cuz he likes mowing lawn, likes doing his share, but the push reel is too tough. He also likes to point out that he’s done his share on the push reel back in his childhood and still remembers fondly when his parents upgraded to a motorized mower. Having seen the size of my grandma’s yard I can’t hardly blame him. But I figure I need the exercise. I don’t go to the gym which seems artificial and strange. There is so much physical work that needs to be done and by doing everything by hand I get the opportunity to work out. Mostly its biggest drawback is the time. Its a strange balancing act of matching weather, schedule and personal energy to get ‘er done. The trick to good push reel mowing is to stay ahead of it. When the grass gets tall or is too damp the mower just pushes it over. I also like to go back over it with a weed whip and hit the grass stalks and heavy stems. The end result looks as good as anyone’s. I’ve also come to enjoy the quiet. When Amee and I lived in Toledo I used to call the guy down the street using his leaf blower excessively “manscaping”. Why do by hand which you can do with noisy power tools seems to be the ethic. I am just the opposite. I dig my garden, double dig in fact, by hand, rake my leaves, push reel the lawn, for the quiet and the clean and it just feels more serene. Machines have always made me nervous. I was a natural Luddite and I organize my life to that effect. Sure I have my ’92 pick up but when the timing belt chews its way through the engine block I may not replace it. I enjoy not driving. I’ll bike more, stay closer to home, start walking to the store. Its where we all need to go if we believe in justice or enjoy living on the planet earth. Everyone can’t drive a combustion car and a living planet. We all can have a bike, a place to call home, the internet, and maybe even a push reel mower.

bread and circuses

June 7, 2010 4 comments

Maybe a road trip is the ideal time to remember that not only is BP responsible for the oil spill catastrophe but I am as well. I drive they drill ducks get oily. I wish I could get mad like so many of my peers but I don’t feel holy enough to point my finger at anyone at BP. Maybe if I knew more I could know they’re more guilty than me. I know I feel bad because I allow it to happen, and go to baseball games. There’s this whole level of engagement in professional sports that i have gone from experiencing and taking a critical eye. I can easily understand how Marx would consider it an opiate for the masses, some piece of false consciousness to distract us from the oily ducks and the exploitation of man by man. Nonetheless I was thrilled to see Tommy Brookins, whom i listed along with Larry Norman as people I thought were self actualized in my high school psych class. I loved Tommy Brookins, and Kirk Gibson, and Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammel, and all those guys who won the pennant with Sparky. At the game there was a child like joy, mostly in the children. A toddler stood on her mom’s lap and when i would cheer for the Tigers she would too. I told her mom she was raising a little Tiger’s fan. It was fun, engaging, we all shared something. I ran into my friend Isaiah who I thought was a Cubs fan, when I asked him he said, “no, i’m a baseball fan”. If you’ve ever read George Will with an open mind you can’t believe baseball is only false consciousness. A perfect world might need baseball, as well as clean oceans and beaches. My dad has that same childlike spirit about baseball. He knows it all, every Tiger and what they’ve been doing, what their stories are, what pitches they throw and then. Who swings at the first pitch and how quickly they take between pitches. It keeps him engaged in this world. It may be the most important thing in his life. If its not shedding crocodile tears over the fucked up gulf and plotting with his class peers for the dictatorship of the proletariot then fuck Marx and his judgemental bullshit. But nonetheless I drove a gulf oil eating machine halfway across the state to see millionaires play baseball. I am not doing nor planning on doing a damn thing for the oily ducks and all that other bullshit even though I think I am cognizant of how truly awful it all is and that i am personally responsible. A client asked me how bad it really was because he doesn’t trust the news. I told him second cup bad. What? The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died (Revelations 16:3). I refuse the simple comfort of anger at BP and put faith that how i live my life justifies my part in this horrible piece of evil filth our works have created. It will remind me to step up my game, to work smarter if not harder to disengage from the madness. Engage more in the solution.