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Wildlands and Woodlands

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On Friday I attended an event at Harvard Forest called “Merging Conservation and Agriculture in New England.”  It was quite excellent.  Farmers can’t afford land [without a lot of debt or gift], and yet we have a huge amount of conserved land in New England.  People are starting to put these two things together.  This event is further discussed and illustrated at the link above.

While I was there, I picked up a lot of free literature:

Definitions

Wildlands: undisturbed, unmanaged wilderness

Woodlands: managed forests

Highlights from the Massachusetts Vision

Massachusetts is approximately five million acres in size.

Vision for 2050:

  • 5% Wildlands
  • 45% Woodlands

Questions:

  • How did they come up with those numbers?
  • Why not include more farmland?
  • What about agroforestry?
  • What enterprise ecology would be necessary for the productive use of that much timber harvest?

Highlights from the New England Vision

There are approximately 46 million acres in New England.

Vision for 2060:

  • 7% Wildlands
  • 63% Woodlands
  • Up to 15% Farmland
  • Up to 15% Developed

Questions:

  • The document seems to prioritize conserving forests above farmland; why?

Quotes:

  • “History underscores the need for healthy skepticism concerning the human ability to protect, repair, or improve upon nature.” p21

Achieving the Vision:

I. Woodland Councils and Regional Partnerships

II. Thinking Big: conservation Models for Wildlands and Woodlands

  • Conservation aggregation: from parcels to landscapes
  • Large-scale conservation

III. Expanding Conservation Funding & Financing Strategies

  • Public budgets and bonds: increase bonding authority with dedicated revenues for conservation; enhance federal funding for land conservation.
  • Tax incentives: enhance income tax incentives and make them permanent; promote property tax incentive programs.
  • Philanthropic initiatives: target philanthropic investment.
  • Ecosystem markets and legal settlement funds: expand mitigation programs; align settlement funds with conservation priorities; develop carbon sequestration markets.
  • Forest-based economies: explore forest banks; expand marketing cooperatives; develop portfolios of incentives for forestland owners.

IV. Policy and Planning Approaches

  • Strategically placed acquisitions and easements could be used to redirect growth to less sensitive areas and to complement zoning to create more permanent urban growth boundaries.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m very excited by the work that Harvard Forest is doing.  I’d prefer to see them cutting less forest; I do a lot of mountain biking, and I’d say that about half the acreage I ride has been heavily logged within the past five years.  And what I’d really like would be for someone like Harvard to begin large-scale research projects in permaculture, agroforestry, and silvopasture.  Such work could make the difference between dependency on a global food supply and food sovereignty.  And these documents as they stand can already accommodate projects along these lines, as 63% of New England’s land area are to be managed forests.

The craftsman himself, can always, if allowed to, draw the delicate distinction between the machine and the tool. The carpet loom is a tool, a contrivance for holding warp threads at a stretch for the pile to be woven round them by the craftsmen’s fingers; but the power loom is a machine, and its significance as a destroyer of culture lies in the fact that it does the essentially human part of the work.
Ananda Coomaraswamy, quoted by E. F. Schumacher, in a piece in “Resurgence” titled “Buddhist Economics,” quoted on page 399 of “A Pattern Language: Towns, Building, Construction,” by Christofer Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, With Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel, published by Oxford in1977

Long Pilgrimage

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A review of J. G. Bennett’s book, “Long Pilgrimage: The Life and Teachings of the Shivapuri Baba,” copyrighted in 1965 and published by the Dawn Horse Press in 1983.

About the Shivapuri Baba

The Shivapuri Baba [SB] was born in India in 1826.  At the age of eighteen he denounced worldly life [an acceptable path in his culture at the time] to join his grandfather as a traditional forest hermit.  He remained in perfect solitude in the jungle for twenty-five years after his grandfather’s death, and returned “liberated yet embodied,” according to Jivanmukta.

Crossing the oceans was considered a cardinal sin in Hindu, then dominant, yet he ignored this, and took on what he considered to be his duty, a thirty-five-year transglobal pilgrimage.  He was not a guru.  He preferred to work with the influential.  He lived and taught in a simple fashion.

He died in his small hut in the forest near Kathmandu, Nepal, at the age of 137.

J. G. Bennett wrote this book under the direction of SB.

Key Notes from the Book

Man’s Three Duties:

  • Physical and social [livelihood]
  • Personal and moral [Truth]
  • Spiritual [worship]

The Four Charities:

  1. Think only good thoughts of others
  2. Speak only good words of others
  3. Do only good deeds to others
  4. Give of your substance to help others

The Twenty-Six Divine Endowments:

  1. Fearlessness
  2. Purity of Mind
  3. Stability of Character
  4. Charitableness
  5. Self-Mastery
  6. Readiness to make Sacrifices
  7. Studiousness
  8. Ability to make Efforts
  9. Straightforwardness
  10. Non-Violence
  11. Truthfulness
  12. Freedom from Wrath
  13. Renunciation (of the fruits of action)
  14. Tranquility
  15. Aversion to Slander
  16. Compassion towards Living Beings
  17. Non-Covetousness
  18. Gentleness
  19. Sense of Shame in doing evil actions
  20. Strength of Mind
  21. Energy
  22. Forgiveness
  23. Endurance
  24. Chastity
  25. Absence of Malice
  26. Aversion to Praise

The Six Demonic Endowments:

  1. Ostentation
  2. Arrogance
  3. Excessive Pride
  4. Anger
  5. Hardness of Heart
  6. Ignorance

These endowments are contents of the mind and can be altered.

The Three Stages of Meditation:

  1. Steadiness [dharana]
  2. Concentration [dhyana]
  3. Diffuse contemplation [samadhi]

Reception

The key aspects of the book is the Shivapuri Baba’s emphasis on what he called the Three Disciplines - essentially: the self-care, care for one’s community, and striving to know God.  This is Right Life.  It’s reassuring in it’s simplicity, but daunting in the discipline demanded.

The second half of the book get’s pretty technical [into the details of India spiritual tradition], and wasn’t as useful for me.  Although on takeaway from this section is that the Shivapuri Baba considers the “Bhagavad Gita” to contain everything we need to know about living in this world.

I liked the book, but I think that Zen Buddhist and Bill Plotkin’s Soulcraft approaches are more useful for me at this point in my life.

Excerpts

On the cycles of civilization

Everything we build must be discharged and rebuilt. This is a periodical process. Every 100 years some change takes place. Every 1,000 years some great change. Every 2,000 years the end of an epoch. Every 6,000 years a major disaster to civilization. Every 12,000 years a complete change. We are now at the end of a 6,000 years cycle.
The Shivapuri Baba [an Indian saint of the 19th and 20th centuries who lived to the age of 137] on page 162 of J. G. Bennett’s “Long Pilgrimage”

More on Bill

The following captures a Facebook post of mine in reaction to a recent interview given by Bill Gates to the Rolling Stone, and the following exchange.

This is a terrible interview. I wish more people would start coming out against Gates’ insanity rather than just letting him keep talking and working. Bill might be good at technology, but he’s an utter failure when it comes to global issues. If something isn’t done about this guy soon, we’ll be regretting his actions for the next hundred generations.

A friend’s response:

Really? I’d say he has a fairly realistic (and perhaps optimistic view) of what humanity can achieve over time to improve the human condition. Perhaps his greatest strength based on this interview is his desire to pursue multiple avenues to bettering ourselves, reducing emissions, etc.. I think one of the things holding progress back is to take a “there is only one solution to the problem” approach, like saying that electric cars or fuel cells are the only way to improve transportation, and not pursuing things like improving fuel economy or incentivizing diesel cars.

And my rebuttal:

There are some good things about Bill. But overall I feel he lacks a certain nuance and systems perspective. To look at specific issues, his backing of nuclear power, genetically modified organisms, and geoengineering are all unethical. I think his primary flaw is that he’s trying to solve global problems with centralized solutions. I think global problems can only have decentralized solutions.

Bill’s approach shows hallmark indicators of the psychology utilized in the Great Leap Forward - which resulted in tens of millions of short-term deaths. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if fifty years down the road we’re seeing problems like that a magnitude larger due to the kinds of things Bill thinks are good ideas.

Not to say that Bill’s a bad person; I’d love to be his friend. I think he’s just misguided in his approaches concerning global issues. He’s certainly an adept technologist.

Secrets of the Temple

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This post is a review of William Greider’s book, “Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country.”  It was published in 1987 by Simon and Schuster.

Summary

An amazing yet lengthy history of banking and money in the United States up to 1987.  Especially the Federal Reserve, the Reagan/Volker era, and the political climate during this time. 

Background

The Federal Reserve has a few primary ways of influence currency:

  1. Open Market Operations: purchase and sale of securities from the open market
  2. The Discount Rate: as modern banks primarily use a “managed liabilities” approach, where they make loans then find the deposits, rather than than the other way around, on a nightly basis, they sometimes need to borrow massive sums of short-term money to meet their reserve requirements.  This lending comes from their regional Federal Reserve bank.
  3. The Federal Funds Rate [indicator]: the interbank lending rate, serving a similar purpose to the discount rate, but funds held by the Fed traded between individual commercial banks.  The Fed doesn’t set this rate, but instead sets a target, which it manages with it’s two aforementioned tools.
  4. Policy and direct intervention: the Fed practically doesn’t use these controls.  This includes reserve requirements, which the Fed does regulate.  But it also includes the right to directly intervene in the operations of any major bank.  For example, they can refuse to lend to a bank that’s been behaving irresponsibly, highly increasing their chance of default, to teach other bank a lesson about risky lending.  The can also directly impose maximum interest spread, limiting bank profits.  They can pretty much do anything they want, but almost never do.  Think of their legal relationship with commercial banks as comparably to the role the judicial branch serves for the legislature; checks and balances.

The Federal Reserve operates as public-private hybrid.  The President [the executive branch] appoints the Chairman of the Fed and the Federal Reserve Governors.  Then there’s an advisory counsel to the Fed, the Open Market Committee [with public and private representation], which influences Open Market Operations.  And then there are the twelve Federal Reserve Banks, which are private, and serve as a conduit between the Fed and commercial banks.  A key point to remember is that the Fed is not a democratic institution, as it’s officials are appointed rather than elected.  Technically congress could redefine their role, but historically, has overall declined to exercise this right.

If all of this sounds very confusing, it is.  Even more confusing than the structure of the Fed is the question of what is money and what is it for.  A lot of the power of the Fed and the financial markets is that they’ve given some serious thought to these questions [although their answers are very homogenous], when the vast majority elected officials and citizens have not.

Key Points

There has never been a long [decade-plus] period of “stable” money in the history of the United States.  And yet, for some reason, this seems to be an American ideal.  The Federal Reserve was created in 1913, partially inspired by the panic of 1907.  And yet the Great Depression of the 1930s, one of the most severe financial disasters in our history, happened under the direct oversight of the Fed.  But if you think the 20th century had it rough, look back to the greenback era and the Great Deflation following the Civil War, where currency in circulation was cut in half over the course of a couple decades.

Ironically, the populist era of the 1890s and their call for a move away from the gold standard [a non-dynamic money supply] helped to sew the seeds for the creation of the Fed, an anti-populist institution.  One of the reasons for this perversion was that the rural farmers [populists] called for the creation of a land-backed currency [linking value directly to our food supply and natural resources], yet the Fed dropped this aspect of their proposal.

The New Deal created the era of centralization and consumerism.  Following the Crash of 1929, we had a decision - small economy and decentralization, or big economy and centralization.  Obviously, we chose the latter.  If we had gone the other way, the world would be a very different place.  Rural communities in the US would be thriving.  We’d have robust local food systems and local economies.  Our technology would likely be less developed, and our GDP would be much smaller.  Global population would be smaller.  Most of the world would be less “developed.”  We wouldn’t have the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.  And we wouldn’t have massive multinationals, or banks that are “too big to fail.”  Both Democrats and Republicans nowadays seem to praise the New Deal, but ultimately, the adoption of this mentality has put us into a global sustainability bottleneck, and we might not be coming out the other side.

The top global economists have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

Fed Governor J. Charles Partee, commenting about the early 1980s:

Interest rates are the device by which you ration the demand for credit so it won’t be excessive.  Yet if you look at the demand for credit now, it’s extraordinarily large - it’s huge.  Government debt is going up, household debt, corporate debt.  How can you look at that and conclude that interest rates are too high.  I’d say interest rates aren’t high enough.  Yet I have to admit the economy isn’t doing very well.  It’s a conundrum - extraordinary.

Chairman of the Fed, Paul Volker, commenting about the early 1980s:

This tremendous debt creation worries me.  Why are people making all these bad loans?  People can say interest rates are too high and I might agree with that, certainly by historic standards and by the conditions in the economy.  But if interest rates are too high, why is debt expanding so fast?  Why is debt growing at a record rate relative to GNP?  Apparently somebody out there doesn’t think interest rates are too high.

This general confusion about the fundamentals of economic forces isn’t an exception, but the norm.  For example, two of the iconic economic theories of the twentieth century, Keynes and Friedman, were both wrong.  The issue isn’t in the details, it’s in the concept of economics itself.  The concept that the sum of human relations in the social agreements we call the economy could be behave in any predictable manner isn’t just absurd; it’s dangerous:

The war against inflation is paid for in the lives of the less well off; 45,900 died prematurely in the recession of ’74-‘75.

And that was just a small recession.

To make matters worse, the controls we’re set up for our global economy are extremely imprecise.  For example, if the Fed wants to slow inflation, it raises interest rates with the objective of “liquidating” labor [increasing unemployment].  And yet this process of raising rates and increasing unemployment directly increases wealth inequality.  And yet wealth inequality has been proven to decrease economic productivity.  The whole system is a mess.  We don’t understand what we’re doing, and even if we did, our controls don’t allow us to isolate any one variable in the economy.  All of our controls have cascading impacts.

Another example: another impact of slowing inflation in the early ’80s [“shoring-up” the economy] was that US bank loans to third world countries started coming concerningly close to default, as we’d raised their rates.  Luckily the shoring-up process and the higher rates increased the international investment in the US, strengthening the dollar.  This moved productivity from the US to the developing countries, giving them more revenue and increasing their ability to repay.  Yet all of the economic benefits in these third world countries was poured into the repayment of interest, as they’d had to go through refinancing.  And because of the strong dollar, the US economy lost headway in the global economy.  At the end of the day, was the US, or any other nation for that matter, better off because we’d slowed inflation?  Not really.

A systems thinking perspective is fundamental to beginning to understand the way that the global economy functions.  But don’t ever think you’ve figured it out; that’s when you’ll go wrong.

Greider set an interesting undertone of faith and religion throughout the book.  Money, unlike the laws of physics, is a social agreement, or a social technology.  This agreement is much more flexible than we might think, and built on trust.  Greider points out that anyone who becomes intimately familiar with and buys into the way our money systems work is a religious person.  In other words, they put their trust in systems beyond their comprehension or control.

The book is an invaluable history, but Greider’s tone is a little disjointed and rambling.  He seemed to be trying to prove a point, and there’s definitely some opinions I’ve formed from becoming more familiar with the history of our financial system, but I don’t think he drove home one unified thesis.  This means that the book isn’t much of a page turner, but again, certainly worth reading.

Questions

As a tribute to it’s value, the book has left me with more questions than answers:

Excerpts

Further Reading

  • "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" by David Graeber
  • "Sacred Economics" by Charles Eisenstein
  • "Thinking in Systems" by Donella Meadows
  • "Barbarians at the Gate" by Bryan Burrough, John Helyar
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info
I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.
They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.
There were numerous steps:
Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit
All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.
Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.
One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.
Zoom Info

I’ve just finished a project that I’ve been slowly working on since October.  I’ve been building stairs - about 45 of them.  My job was to do the pine risers and oak treads.

They’re for the “Girl’s Dorm” at Camp Caravan.  They did some clearing over there a few years ago, so they have a lot of rough-sawn wood, which is how I sourced the material.  I did the work at my friend Stefan’s organ building shop.

There were numerous steps:

  1. Using a circular saw on site, cut rough-sawn twelve-foot boards into lengths slightly over three feet, while keeping an eye on thickness and width, and estimating total board-footage
  2. Using a table saw with a rip-cut blade, cut out junky sections of boards, yielding all usable material with square edges
  3. Using the jointer, flatten the sides that will be glued
  4. Glue and clamp boards together in three- to four-foot-wide sections using wood glue
  5. On the table saw, cut the boards to width [a little over a foot for the oak and around eight inches for the pine]
  6. Using the planer, plane boards to thickness [about four-fifths of an inch for the pine and a little over an inch for the oak]
  7. Using the table saw with a cross-cut blade, cutting the unusable ends off
  8. Using belt sander, smooth the nice edge of the oak
  9. Using the router, put a bullnose on the nice edge of the oak
  10. Using the rotary sander, sanding table, and vacuum cleaner, sanding down the nice side with 120-grit.
  11. Using 120-grit by hand, sanding the bullnose
  12. Using a paint brush and interior paint, putting two coats on the risers
  13. Using the spray room, the spray gun, an air compressor, and the acid-catalyzed sealer, putting three coats of sealer on the top and front of the tread, and one coat on the back and bottom, sanding the top and front between coats with 220 grit

All together, my shop time added up to sixty-five hours.

Stefan was my mentor in this project.  At each stage he’d take a few minutes to show me what was next.  I’d then spend a few hours doing it, and then he’d help me again with the following.  I’ve done simple carpentry projects in the past, but learned all kind of new skills on this job.

One constant challenge was the wood.  I was always making compromises: not cutting out a knot because I might not have enough material, not planing it that last few times to make it really smooth so as not to lose too much thickness.  On the other hand, somebody else brought in some pre-fabricated stairs he was varnishing, and they just had no character whatsoever.  In a hand-made sort of way, my stairs certainly have a lot of character.

The Eight Principles of Uncivilization

An excerpt from the Dark Mountain Manifesto

1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.

2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.

3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.

4. W
e will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.

5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.

6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.

7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.

8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.

Life After Village School

I was invited to a panel discussion called “Life After Village School,” in which I participated last night.  Village School is the alternative grade school that I attended and a place with which I’m still engaged.

Where did you go to school after the Village School (please list all)?


How was your transition from the Village School to 7th grade? Please include comments: academic or social challenges, how long it took you to adjust, and what could have been done differently.

I’ve never adjusted, and don’t plan on it.

I’ve always both felt as though I need to try harder than my peers to keep up, and have had the curiosity to explore much deeper than them.  For example, in my first semester at NCCES, I had to stay after in math class to learn the relationship between graphs and algebraic equations.  But I was a math tutor in ninth grade.  I had a math tutor during my senior year at PVPA.  But I taught math to an advanced group of Chicken Coopers when I was at Maggie’s.  This is still true today; I’m a slow reader, but I read more than most of my contemporaries, and do a lot of writing about what I read.

Maybe an underlying assumption we have is that success lies in following the things we’re good at.  Sometimes, success is met through preserving in an area that remains perpetually challenging.  This keeps us on top of our game.

Did you feel well prepared for 7th grade?  If not, what could the Village School have done differently?

I’m not sure how to address this question.  I’ve never become competent at “studying” but when it comes to research a topic, writing an essay, or creating something, I excel.

What was it like for you to go from a small academic setting to a larger academic setting?  What was hardest for you/your child, what was easiest?

A little like vacation at first.  Narragansett didn’t really have anything to do with learning in my experience - it was all about social things and politics.  This was new and different for me.

I was more at home at NCCES, a pioneering school, just like Village School.

I felt phenomenally at home at Maggie’s which was just like Village School - tight-knit, immersive community experience focused on aesthetics other than just knowledge.

UMass was probably the most displaced I’ve ever felt, and with a student body of almost thirty-thousand, it’s understandable.  I spent the bare minimum amount of time possible on campus - down to two days a week by second semester, although I was living in the dorms.  My main friends were those from PVPA, upperclassmen, and graduate or post-grad students.

Gaia - again, same as Maggie’s and the Village.


Words of wisdom

If you’re going to spend money on your child’s education, spend it inversely proportional to their years.  The younger they are, the more formative they are.  Grade school is vital, and middle school is very important.  Returns start decreasing after that with high school and college.  Most people spend the most money on college or other forms of higher education, when at that point, it’s not really necessary.  People can get the most messed up as kids.

Village School isn’t a place parents send their children to create normal humans.  We send our children to Village School because we believe they are special, and that they are intended for special work.  They might not do as well as some in traditional settings, but I doubt that you value this kind of success if you feel at home with the Village School.

Village School was a place of magic and wonder for me.  I once was in a teacher-training program [for permaculture].  In this program we reflection on our educational experiences, and out of the thirty-or-so participants, I was the only one there that would describe my educational experience as perfect.  Before this I’d assumed that most people loved their educations; it was eye-opening for me that this was not the case.  I think this illustrates what a great time my friend and I had at Village School.

Two of my closest friends were in Village School with me, and I’m still good friends with a number of other Village School.

Principles

A review of Ray Dalio's 2011 publication, “Principles.”  I read the first 55 pages; the second half of the document is like a principles appendix.

Summary

Three Parts:

  1. The Importance of Principles
  2. My Most Fundamental Life Principles
  3. My Management Principles

Principles, a definition:

Your values are what you consider important, literally what you “value.”  Principles are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values.  Principles connect your values to your actions; they are beacons that guide your actions, and help you successfully deal with the laws of reality.  It is to your principles that you turn when you face hard choices.

Risks with adopting principles:

Adopting pre-packaged principles without much thought exposes you to the risk of inconsistency with your true values.

Design Process:

  1. Set Goals
  2. Identify and don’t tolerate problems
  3. Diagnose the problems to the root causes
  4. Design a plan for eliminating the problems
  5. Do what is set out in the plan

Two most important aspects of a successful enterprise:

  • Culture
  • People

Interpretation

I like what Ray’s put together here.  I see it as the businessman’s approach to Holistic Goal Setting.

Dave Jacke says that events are teachers, not people; this is mirrored in Ray’s principles.

The Gurdjieff Work has an emphasis on conscious labor and intentional suffering, as well self observation, and that we’re somewhere in the middle of a greater energetic food chain.  These ideas are mirrored in Ray’s values of progress, pain, and objectivity.

I feel that Ray has underestimated the importance of emotion and intuition, but then again, he has different goals.

I also think that Ray’s interpretation of money - that how much money someone is able to earn is roughly correspondent to their ability to fulfill the needs of the world.  Ray can feel that there’s a hole in his logic here as well, in his later comparison of wants versus desires.  One of our issues is that money tends to feed desire above all else, and the world isn’t composed of progression-oriented people like Ray.

I  appreciate that Ray turns to nature for insight.

Overall, I think it’s a great and useful document, although Ray’s time in the world of finance has led him to a worldview that lacks a certain nuance and aesthetic.

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