29 January 2010

Peak Certainty

I've been reading some scary stuff lately. Books about how we're fucked, excuse my French, unless we make some serious, drastic changes starting yesterday. Culture Change, by Alexis Zeigler explains how society as it is currently structured will make it almost impossible to carry out the changes that are necessary. The End of the Long Summer, Why We Must Remake our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth, by Dianne Dumanoski explains why we can expect sudden climate change instead of gradual warming and how the odds are against us managing very well. I'm currently working on An Illustrated Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. It's a look at 10,000 years of failed civilizations and surprise, we're on a familiar trajectory. To top off my doomfest, I found the documentary Collapse online and wallowed in that. The movie features Mike Ruppert of From the Wilderness explaining how peak oil and economic failure are going to cause the collapse of western civilization without even mentioning climate change. Mike sounds like he's full of it, but as much as I wanted to write him off as a crank, especially when he talks about being a CIA target, I wasn't able to.

So imagine my surprise every morning when I get up and the sun still rises, the electricity is still on, my bank balance is roughly the same as it was yesterday - and worth the same, every institution save the Canadian parliament is still operational, stores are still full of cheap crap, the weather is mostly tolerable, and my birdfeeder is crowded with a variety of birds. No wonder it's hard to convince folks that there's a problem, let alone a problem for which the solution, if there is one at all, is to radically reduce consumption of fossil fuels. I hardly believe it myself and I think about this stuff a lot.

The one thing I'm sure of, is that the future is not going to be like today only richer and more comfortable. I also know that beyond a pretty basic level, wealth and comfort don't make you happier. Other than that, I don't know. I think I crested my Hubbert's curve of certainty sometime last year.

27 January 2010

Taking the air

We had our annual January thaw this week. It rained hard as it always does when it rains here in January, but it eventually cleared and the girls took advantage of the warm weather to get some fresh air outdoors. They don't like standing in snow, especially wet snow, so they found some branches to hang out on and made lots of happy chicken sounds. Sadly for them, winter is back and they're back in the coop until the next fine day.

03 January 2010

What the world needs now is... more possums

I just re-read the book Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With (almost) No Money again this morning and I think I will do it every year or so until I have it memorized and then I will read it just for fun. Dolly Freed, who was in her late teens when she wrote the book in 1976 or so, seems to have an amazing knack for distilling (literally and figuratively) the essence of what is necessary for a good and reasonable life. And the secret is: just have a little stuff and be happy with it, be suspicious of experts, feel secure based on your own abilities rather than your bank balance and have some moonshine if you wish. I've made it sound rather dry, but Dolly's version is smart and funny and I encourage you to read it yourself.

Dolly left school in grade 7 long before there were homeschoolers or unschoolers on every block. She doesn't seem to suffer from the angst that most teen unschoolers I know experience. The feeling that they should be doing more or accomplishing something or becoming Somebody. I would strongly recommend this book to any teenager, in school or not.

If you've ever snuck a peak at my site meter at the bottom of the page, you'll find that visitors to the Shack are a very select group of web surfers. Recently, more than half of them are here because they did a google search for Dolly Freed or Possum Living or some combination thereof. I'm not sure if there has been some media attention given to Dolly recently because of the re-release of her book this month, but my old post "I Love You Dolly Freed" is the most popular post on my blog. I've got links there to a couple of videos and the answer to whatever became of Dolly Freed (it's probably not what you think). It's encouraging to see that there are so many aspiring possums out there.

Members of the Dolly Freed fan club should check out possumliving.net for book excerpts, a couple of old newspaper clippings, the documentary and even an email address. A blog is promised.

* Update Jan. 8 - I know what became of Dolly Freed! There's a wonderful article about her which you should definitely read at www.paige-williams.com.

* Update Jan. 28 - Another interesting interview with Dolly is here. Thanks to Sara for that link.


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