Decadent

Another quiet day here in the bush. Soon it will be time to throw open the windows and hear the wind in the pines; the birds singing and the whine of traffic on the weekends. Funny how one can almost completely tune out the drone of traffic!

It is a beautiful sunny day today. It was chilly last night, around -8C, perhaps colder. The house is coolish this morning, so that Attila will burn a noon fire in the masonry heater to get things warmed up. That should do it, if the weather forecast is even remotely accurate. By the weekend temperatures should stay well above freezing at night, and go up as high as 20C during the day.

My research is going well, although I find that some of the work done at the end of the day, after 12 or more hours at the keyboard, can be a little dubious. Yesterday’s work on the project is reviewed before moving forward each day with further research.

Our company, Em and Henry, did not arrive yesterday, which wasn’t a problem. The only drawback was that I had baked a coffee cake to serve with tea during their visit. Since they didn’t show up, Attila and I decided to eat the coffee cake ourselves. Decadent. There will be no more baking for the promise of company!

Terra and Luna are off with a few friends on a “girls holiday”, shopping of course. I think they will have a lot of fun. Janus has the grand-babies all to himself for four whole days, hand on to your hat Dad. It sounds like everyone is going to be having fun!

Things aren’t this wonderful everywhere in the world. Right now I am feeling very lucky to be in the here and now.

Japan Nuclear Catastrophe

History is being made in Japan. Eventually we will all be affected by the nuclear catastrophe there, in one way or another; some of us directly as a result of radiation, some others will be affected economically, directly and indirectly. Eventually we will cease to associate these changes with the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, or in Chernobyl or at other nuclear sites; if we ever made the connection in the first place.

The long-term effects will not occur in one lifetime. When we are gone, it won’t matter who was responsible for what, or who became rich as a result of what… those who suffer the future consequences of this catastrophe will likely have no recourse; will probably enjoy no acknowledgement or support in dealing with the issues that arise at an individual level.

My world has a long history of industry and science and government failing public safety and playing down the processes that led to human suffering; Walkerton (water supply), Thalidomide (health issues for babies in utero), asbestos (cancer), these immediately come to mind with no effort. These things are not acceptable just because they “didn’t happen to me”. “Who knew!”, isn’t a good enough public stance on such issues.

“TOKYO | Thu Apr 7, 2011 11:06am EDT
(Reuters) – A strong earthquake of magnitude 7.4 shook northeast and eastern Japan late on Thursday, and a tsunami warning was issued for the northeastern coast of Japan, an area badly hit by the March 11 earthquake.

Japan’s NHK public television repeatedly said those in areas where the tsunami warnings were issued should evacuate to higher ground.”

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/07/us-japan-quake-idUSTRE73642T20110407?feedType=RSS&feedName=japan&virtualBrandChannel=10464&WT.tsrc=Social%20Media&WT.z_smid=twtr-japan_reuters&WT.z_smid_dest=Twitter

“Some South Korean schools close over radioactive rain concerns,
By Jack Kim
SEOUL | Wed Apr 6, 2011 11:12pm EDT
Concerns about radiation fallout from Japan’s nuclear disaster prompted some schools in South Korea to shut on Thursday as rain fell over most of the country, but the nuclear safety agency played down immediate health risks.”
Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/07/us-japan-quake-korea-idUSTRE7360KL20110407?feedType=RSS&feedName=japan&virtualBrandChannel=10464&WT.tsrc=Social%20Media&WT.z_smid=twtr-japan_reuters&WT.z_smid_dest=Twitter

Worldly Distractions

Weather

3 °C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 3.0°C
Dewpoint: -6.4°C
Humidity: 50 %
Wind: 4 km/hr

Quote

“”I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.””
Richard Buckminster Fuller
1895 – 1983

Notes

Richard Buckminster Fuller

“Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983)[1] was an American engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist.
Fuller published more than 30 books, inventing and popularizing terms such as “Spaceship Earth”, ephemeralization, and synergetics. He also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, the best known of which is the geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes were later named by scientists for their resemblance to geodesic spheres…

Biography
Fuller was born on July 12, 1895, in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Buckminster Fuller and Caroline Wolcott Andrews, and also the grandnephew of the American Transcendentalist Margaret Fuller. He attended Froebelian Kindergarten. Spending much of his youth on Bear Island, in Penobscot Bay off the coast of Maine, he had trouble with geometry, being unable to understand the abstraction necessary to imagine that a chalk dot on the blackboard represented a mathematical point, or that an imperfectly drawn line with an arrow on the end was meant to stretch off to infinity. He often made items from materials he brought home from the woods, and sometimes made his own tools. He experimented with designing a new apparatus for human propulsion of small boats.
Years later, he decided that this sort of experience had provided him with not only an interest in design, but also a habit of being familiar with and knowledgeable about the materials that his later projects would require. Fuller earned a machinist’s certification, and knew how to use the press brake, stretch press, and other tools and equipment used in the sheet metal trade.

Academia
Fuller was sent to Milton Academy, in Massachusetts, and after that, began studying at Harvard. He was expelled from Harvard twice: first for spending all his money partying with a vaudeville troupe, and then, after having been readmitted, for his “irresponsibility and lack of interest.” By his own appraisal, he was a non-conforming misfit in the fraternity environment. It was to be many years before he received a Sc.D. from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Wartime experience
Between his sessions at Harvard, Fuller worked in Canada as a mechanic in a textile mill, and later as a laborer for the meat-packing industry. He also served in the U.S. Navy in World War I, as a shipboard radio operator, as an editor of a publication, and as a crash-boat commander. After discharge, he worked again for the meat packing industry, thereby acquiring management experience. In 1917, he married Anne Hewlett. During the early 1920s, he and his father-in-law developed the Stockade Building System for producing light-weight, weatherproof, and fireproof housing — although the company would ultimately fail.

Bankruptcy and depression
By age 32, Fuller was bankrupt and jobless, living in public, low-income housing in Chicago, Illinois. In 1922, Fuller’s young daughter Alexandra died from complications from polio and spinal meningitis. Allegedly, he felt responsible and this caused him to drink frequently and to contemplate suicide for a while. He finally chose to embark on “an experiment, to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity”…

Fuller was concerned about sustainability and about human survival under the existing socio-economic system, yet remained optimistic about humanity’s future. Defining wealth in terms of knowledge, as the “technological ability to protect, nurture, support, and accommodate all growth needs of life,” his analysis of the condition of “Spaceship Earth” caused him to conclude that at a certain time during the 1970s, humanity had attained an unprecedented state. He was convinced that the accumulation of relevant knowledge, combined with the quantities of major recyclable resources that had already been extracted from the earth, had attained a critical level, such that competition for necessities was not necessary anymore. Cooperation had become the optimum survival strategy. “Selfishness,” he declared, “is unnecessary and hence-forth unrationalizable…. War is obsolete.” He criticized previous utopian schemes as too exclusive, and thought this was a major source of their failure. To work, he thought that a utopia needed to include everyone.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckminster_Fuller

Visitors

Three inches of snow! That is what greeted us this morning as light crept across the landscape. A few hours later, the snow is beginning to slide off the roof, to land on the deck and gardens with great loud thumps. Music to my ears!

I am coping with the visitation of white by keeping the blinds closed, and the full spectrum light by my desk burning bright. I am hoping that out-of-sight-out-of-mind will result in the complete disappearance of the unwanted frozen white stuff. I’ll have a peek again tomorrow morning to see how things are going out there!

I’ve just had a message from Annie. I’ve been worried about her, as she hasn’t been in touch since January. With good reason, as it happens. Her father passed away in February, and her mother and mother-in-law are all in need of her attentions as they cope with loss and ill health, one in Canada, the other in England. Annie seems to be holding up well, although her sense of humour isn’t quite as sharp as is usual, just at the moment.

Henry and Em are going to pop in tonight to pick up some bulk food supplies I ordered for them, and had delivered here yesterday. They will be our first visitors since last autumn, the first in 2011. I confess to being very much out of touch with the art of welcoming visitors to our home; I find myself “making-strange”. Funny old world. Isolation exacts its own price. Life is what it is.

Our most recent visitors were Luna and family, last October. Luna is quite a photographer, and she took some lovely photos of an outing we took to a local park. Here is one of me.

Maggie at the park, 2010

Maggie at the park, 2010

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -1.0°C
Dewpoint: -1.0°C
Humidity: 100 %
Wind: W 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -4

Quote

“She learned to give them the benefit of the doubt but not be surprised at anything involving them. This alone probably added decades to her life.”
The Warmth of Other Suns
by Isabel Wilkerson

Blank Pages

The key to consistency for me, is occasional interruption. Routines are great, as long as they can be set aside at will, to be taken up again later.

For a while, each morning, this blog page sat open and blank on the screen at startup. That became an open invitation for shared misery during the month of March, so the window was only opened occasionally for the sake of avoiding unhealthy obsession. Now it is April, the blank page has returned to the morning routine.

The snow is melting fast now. The large brown patches of earth that slowly emerged over the last two weeks are spreading, reaching to touch one another in celebration of the sun. Then, it began to rain the night before last. Yesterday was cloud covered and windy. This morning clouds blanket the sky; it is snowing. Even so, it is warm enough to melt snow. Attila and I watch white’s departure with fascination and delight.

Yesterday I signed on the dotted line for one month of World service at ancestry.com. Since, I’ve referred to, and transcribed information from, 126 documents. Distant relatives who emigrated to the USA during the 1800s are coming into focus. This work is very intense, so I’ve installed software to force myself to take a 10 minute break every hour; otherwise I’d sit for hours one end without moving, which isn’t healthy.

Years ago I entertained the idea of busking for change on Bloor Street in Toronto. That never came to fruition; there were too many other things, like single parenting, graduate school, and stuff like that, to keep me more than busy. It all came back to me though, when I saw this little video!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1 °C
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 99.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 1.0°C
Dewpoint: 0.4°C
Humidity: 96 %
Wind: WNW 18 gust 30 km/h

Quote

“Never part without loving words to think of during your absence. It may be that you will not meet again in life.”
Jean Paul Richter
1763 – 1825

Will Melt

Transition: “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another”. So says my computer’s dictionary.

That is definitely what I am experiencing today, transition. I was numb, my feelings buried deep so as not to be evident in any way, so as not to set off the hostility and retaliation of my former coworker. I was tormented, and helplessly watched others being tormented, for much of the month of March. Now the feelings generated by that experience are slowly rising to the surface, they are not pretty. And how are they manifesting? The kitchen tap is dripping, it infuriates me! There is a small smudge, left when an insect was killed with a fly-swatter, on the wall, near the ceiling, in the bathroom; I can’t see it, sitting at the computer. But I know it is there, and it is irritating me no end! This isn’t easy, all this fury and irritation aimed at my immediate environment. Keeping busy is very important at this point in the process of recuperation. Attila, so far, has not come under fire, so you could say things are going rather well!

Having written all this, I just glanced out the window and a robin hopped onto a branch just outside the window; reminding me that there is beauty everywhere. Attila says he heard a robin two evenings ago, while he was splitting wood for the evening fire. Spring is arriving.

It is sunny this morning, so I took myself out of doors to collect kindling. It is a good time of year to be walking about in the bush, the snow has melted and frozen into a thick hard crust, which bears my weight. The snow will melt under the hot sun in the very near future. I found all sorts of smallish branches that had fallen over the last few weeks. Dead wood, that will make excellent kindling. My small contribution to the daily firings of the masonry fireplace. We are still quite comfortable, the sun is warm and helps to heat the living area.

Today the spring cleaning takes the form of vacuuming, a job much hated; at least I hate it. Attila has it well in hand. He is also baking an apple crisp, and frying up some bacon bits to freeze, as a topping for pizza. I have collected kindling from the bush, folded the laundry that dried overnight on racks in the living room, where I had draped it the night before and later I will try to bake bread for Attila’s lunches next week. A very quiet day at the homestead.

Now that I have very few hours of work scheduled, my attention is wandering back to genealogy, and the book that needs a little more research in the US records before it is ready for publication. This will involve further investment in an account at Ancestry.com, but there is no other option if I am to proceed with the work; research costs money. I’ve invested decades of my time, and some little cash, into this book, and would like to get it completed. Books like these are priceless, there is no profit to be made on them, but one hopes to recoup a bit of the cost of research and publication.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2 °C
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 2.0°C
Dewpoint: -0.4°C
Humidity: 84 %
Wind: WSW 11 km/h

Quote 

“I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.”
Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955

On the Screen

Så som i himmelen / As in Heaven
Cast: Michael Nyqvist, Frida Hallgren, Lennart Jahkel, Helen Sjoholm
Director:Kay Pollak
Swedish with English subtitles.

All Gone

Dead Pine Bird Feeder, April 2, 2011

Dead Pine Bird Feeder, April 2, 2011

Complete, over, water under the bridge, old news… my last hours at the old office, with the negative coworker, came, and are now gone. All gone.

I am blank.

The sun is shining, guiding me back to composure and balance.

We are now officially out of firewood. All gone. It was a long, cold winter. Attila took his chainsaw, hiked through the snow, through the bush, found a small dead tree standing, felled the dead tree, sectioned it, loaded it onto a sled and pulled the load of wood home. That will provide heat for a few more days. We will have to purchase more firewood this spring, to stack and dry for next winter. The purchased wood is delivered by truck, it is dumped out the back of the truck onto the yard. Attila then carries the wood by wheelbarrow, back to the wood shed to be stacked. It is a very big job, moving all that wood.

I’ve done little in the way of domestic maintenance over the last few weeks. Today spring cleaning will begin, slowly. I’ve stared with filing, which is always a satisfying and quick way to reduce visual clutter.

Shopping is a challenge here in the bush. When we lived in the city, we belonged to a food co-op, where we ordered local and organic food in bulk. We found a small co-op here, but the orders were so intermittent that it wasn’t working out for us. So, I setup a company to purchase bulk food. We don’t sell much, and the orders have to be quite substantial to avoid high shipping charges. However, several orders a year of bulk items keeps the supplies well stocked, for us and our customers. We were to receive an order on Friday, but that didn’t work out due to a series of small miscommunications. The order will arrive Tuesday, which works out very well. We have ordered things like an 11 kg bag of red lentils, things you just cannot pick up at the local grocery store. We do not buy pre-processed foods, just ingredients. Buying ingredients is such an “old fashioned” way to handle the daily preparation and consumption of food. Old is better I think, at least in this instance.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8 °C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 100.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 8.0°C
Dewpoint: -6.2°C
Humidity: 36 %
Wind: W 21 gust 35 km/h

Quote 

“My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.”
P. J. Plauger

Notes

P. J. Plauger

“P. J. Plauger is an author and entrepreneur. He has written and co-written articles and books about programming style, software tools, and the C programming language.
He founded Whitesmiths, the first company to sell a C compiler and Unix-like operating system (Idris). He has since been involved in C and C++ standardization and is now the president of Dinkumware. In January 2009 he became the convener of the ISO C++ standards committee, but in October 2009 he tendered his resignation after failing to pass a resolution to stop processing any new features in order to facilitate the promised shipping date for the C++0x standard.
Plauger wrote a science fiction short story, “Child of All Ages”, first published in Analog in the March 1975 issue, whose hero was granted immortality before attaining puberty and finds that being a child who never grows up is far removed from an idyllic Peter Pan-like existence. The story was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1975 and a Hugo Award in 1976. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1975, notably beating John Varley for the award.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._J._Plauger