Way back in March I began a tiny garden experiment after watching a documentary called Food Inc. I was literally horrified to see the state of industrial food production here in the United States and took the advice of the producers when they suggested we should all begin to break away from monster that apathy, corporate greed, and consumer convenience created. Hey, I know it's tiny but the title of this post should explain everything.
As the picture clearly shows it consisted of a small prefabricated raised bed, and garden soil bought at the local mega-hardware. Not shown is the thick plastic tarp separating the clean garden soil from the possibly contaminated soil in my yard. The reason I did that is because if the previous occupants of the house I live are anything like the other soulless pod people of the neighborhood, my backyard is probably awash in artificial lawn fertilizers and pesticides. Again the whole point is to try and eat a little healthier and if my garden plants soaked up all the crap in the soil because the former occupant loved his living green carpet I might as well just continue buying the stuff from the local grocery store.
Initially I planted lettuce seeds directly into the soil, some broccoli plants and one cherry tomato plant bought from the hardware store. The lettuce was a huge success, to the point I began growing fur and developing longer ears. The broccoli plants went straight to seed and had to be pulled. The biggest, and strangest failure, was the cherry tomato plant that while never actually dying refused to grow. A few months later, I bought another tomato plant, this time the Roma variety, and while it grew it has been a partial failure since I have only been able to harvest about three tomatoes from it. I'm not exactly sure what happened or what I did that might have screwed up something as simple as tomato plants when the lettuce and other items did so well.
Another huge success are my pepper plants, they are even now still producing. They have been used in things like homemade salads, omelets, and fajitas. These too were store bought plants and yes, it is safe to say they have more than paid for themselves. A few months after the garden was started my wife planted some basil and parsley which did great for a while, until one of our dogs decided to dig them up.
A surprising success is my one okra plant that I bought on a whim.We never exactly had enough to fry up a "mess of okra" as my grandmother would say but we did add it to the omelets and fajitas for a rather curious taste.
The biggest and utter failure of this experiment was the seed starter kit. My wife and I bought the kit off Amazon and while the instructions seemed idiot-proof, out of the fifty small sections where a seed was supposed to be planted none of them germinated. I don't blame the kit or the soil, I probably screwed up with the amount of water I used or the location I kept the seed bed. I have this half-assed idea of trying hydroponics during the fall and winter months since I already had a grow light--from one of my wife's projects a few years back--along with plans on my computer.
What is certain is that we are going to buy another raised bed for the coming spring. We're going to move the location of the garden over next the shed since it will provide a great deal more light during the day except for the late afternoon. All things considered, I'd have call the garden an overall success even though the tomatoes and the seed starter kit were total crash and burn failures. While I didn't make a dent in the fight against agribusiness monsters I had fun.
A few days ago one of my buddies, a guy
named Marty, asked me if I was eager to see the new season of “The
Walking Dead” zombie apocalypse series. For the first couple of
seasons of The Walking Dead both Marty and I would examine every episode in detail as the characters struggled to survive
both the zombies and the surviving humans who were often far more
dangerous. After the conclusion of the third season though, I
realized that I had lost nearly all interest in the show. Marty and I did
continue to talk during and after the third season but, quite
frankly, I was just trying to be sociable.
Part of the problem was the show
itself, while the whole point was to explore how the characters would
react and adapt to the end of the world, to me the episodes seemed to
just be rewrites of the same nightmarish situation. Generally
speaking, every episode would have the main characters fleeing a
zombie horde while dealing with treachery from within their group or
an external threat from another. Yeah, there lots of room to maneuver
in such a fictional environment but, speaking strictly for myself, I
need something that suggests the characters will do more than just
narrowly survive each episode. If I invest time and emotion in
fictional characters I need to see some chance that they will
eventually reach an endgame in their struggles, whether that be
tragic or happy.
The other reason I stopped watching
“The Walking Dead” had to do with the general situation of the
world. While I can deal with the idea that zombies symbolize mindless
American consumers who will literally trample each other in an insane
rush to save a few bucks on mass produced crap I have difficult time
when the level of anarchy in the real world begins to rival that of
Honestly, I don't know which is more
terrifying and dangerous. Hordes of undead zombies looking to eat the
flesh of the living or religious fanatics who believe their path to
eternal paradise requires the death of anyone who believes something
different. Officially, I'm agnostic and find religious matters
incredibly tiresome since most of the people running around claiming
a direct link to the Almighty have a horrible track record when it
comes showing compassion and love to their fellow humans. In other
words, if all faiths preach peace and understanding why aren't
religious extremists the most peaceful? Yes, I am generally talking
about the insanity of the ISIS movement. But I would be hypocritical
if I did not mention American Christians screaming at buses loaded
with children from Central American fleeing poverty and murderous
gangs. The propaganda coming from American religious conservatives
about how these children are invaders intent on talking over the
United States defies even the most basic tenets of commonsense and
Another aspect of modern life that
seems like a bit of The Walking Dead spilling over into real life is
seeing adults walking around American cities and towns with assault
rifles. It would actually be a little funny if those people weren't
deadly serious in their belief that they only feel safe in the United
States carrying a weapons specifically designed for a high rate of
fire and to more shred human tissue than kill.
The final thing that killed all my
interest in zombies and most other end of the world scenarios is the
Ebola plague ravaging west Africa even now. The last thing I want to
do is seem like Chicken Little running around screaming about the sky
falling but that is one nasty virus. I've read some decent news
reports that scientists have determined the Ebola virus is evolving
almost in real time. These reports suggest that this rapid evolution
could mean the virus becomes less lethal, which would be a good
thing, or easier to pass around like catching the common cold from
someone's sneezing in a crowded room.
So I will happily be skipping The
Walking Dead this season. Through religious inspired stupidity and
civilians harboring a deluded dependence on military weapons fearful
of an evil boogeyman lurking in the shadows, many seem to be wishing
for some apocalypse. I have better things to do, plus we real-life
humans don't seem to be much better than television zombies hungering for the flesh of the living.
"I think the problem is that we don't really understand what we are.
In essence we're just a conceited, naked ape. But in our minds we're
some sort of "divine legend", and we see ourselves as some sort of god.
That we can walk around the earth deciding who will live and who will
die and what will be destroyed and what will be saved. But the fact is
we're just a bunch of primates out of control."
For reasons that are difficult to
define at best, I have lacked just about all motivation to write
anything whether it be my usual crappy and derivative fiction or some
barely coherent political rant. This all consuming lethargy extends
even to getting stuff done around the house or yard. Okay, that is
nothing unusual for me, I find neither activity existentially
redeeming. Nonetheless, I seem to be pushing the envelope on suburban
slackerism with the domestic chores I am purposely and contemptuously
There are a few plausible reasons for
my condition. The first being the time of the year. The entire month
of August and most of September in South Carolina are ungodly in
their combination of excessive humidity and high temperatures. You
spend anytime outdoors and you can feel those twin leeches sucking
the life out of you. At least from the latter half of September
cooler weather will begin to be the general rule. The second reason
is that work is kicking my ass, I come home and pretty much collapse
on the couch after eating breakfast. Not a pretty existence, but some
have it far worse. The third possible reason is that when I watch the
news, in an effort to be an informed citizen, it is a smorgasbord of
potential and building global disasters.
Unfortunately unlike the first two
there is no easy way come to grips with depressing nature of global
affairs. I could ignore the news, but that would be push me closer to
the, and I know this is a cruel opinion, the mindless masses who
wander around these days and do stupid things like vote Republican.
As a bit of backhanded olive branch to these people caught up in a
semi-Orwellian bliss I will say that the major news outlets make it
hard to stay informed. The world is on extremely shaky ground these
days and they spend considerable time on stories best left to the
likes of Entertainment Tonight, the National Enquirer or even worse,
National Review magazine.
With my ubiquitous cultural and
political insult out of the way I will say that during my morning
downtime after I get off work and before I go to bed I have been
indulging in an old habit of watching documentaries on Netflix. This
is how I got a chance to see “Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul
I first heard of Paul Watson when the
Animal Planet cable network aired the show “Whale Wars.” Captain
Watson and the group he founded, Sea Shepard Conversation Society,
have played hell with whaling ships, both illegal and those flying
national flags for decades. When I first ran across the Whale Wars
series I was instantly sympathetic to their cause even though Captain
Watson didn't seem to have all the screws in his head properly
tightened. In fact, and pardon another abused reference, but he often
seemed like some alternate reality version of the insane Captain
Ahab, just this time out to save the whales instead in killing them.
Before anyone explodes let me come out
and say that after seeing Eco-Pirate I realize I had grossly
misjudged Captain Watson. Eco-Pirate is both a biography of Captain
Watson and a detailed explanation of the reasons why conservation
groups like Greenpeace are woefully inadequate in facing the
monstrous destruction of the oceans and the animals, including
humans, that depend on it.
What really struck me hard was the
story Captain Watson related during a failed attempt to prevent a
Soviet whaling ship from harpooning a sperm whale back in the 1970's.
Paraphrasing, Watson related how he was able to bring his small
rubber boat right next the dying mammal. With the water turned red
with blood, Watson looked into the cetacean's eye and somehow knew
the creature understood that his group was trying to save it. Watson
then went to relate how he realized that the Soviets were killing
these remarkable and beautiful creatures for their oil that would be
used as lubrication in nuclear missiles, which of course, would allow
human to sterilize the planet. He said then that it was at the moment
he knew humans were insane. Before anyone accuses me of overt
favoritism, Eco-Pirate does let you know that Captain Watson is human
with all the failings associated with that condition.
Despite his all to normal warts, Watson
is just the shock to the dominate global system --capitalism-- of
unrestrained exploitation of the oceans this planet needs. Over the years I have seen
how “Free Market Capitalism” can excuse all manner of crimes and
destruction. For just a couple of quick examples, I clearly remember
a blowhard on one of the American business news channel lamenting how
polluting water could be justified as long as there were jobs and
money involved. Everyone should also remember how back in 2007-2008
insane banking practices nearly sent the country and the world into
another great depression. Now did these irresponsible bankers and
investment types ever go to jail? The only time I can
recall a capitalist ever going to prison was Bernie Madoff who made the
mistake cheating far too many of his own kind. On a side note, throw
in ever present excuse of nationalism and religious beliefs and you
pretty much have set the human race on a course to extinction.
Getting back on topic, can Captain Paul
Watson be an egotistical blowhard with hints of a latent messianic
complex? Yeah, but being completely honest, in the face of lying
politicians and business types who I find far more similar to Nazi or
religious cult types I would say we need at least a thousand more
people just like Paul Watson who clearly care more about the planet
than power or making a buck. In fact ten-thousand would be a far more
ideal number. If you have the chance try and watch, Eco-Pirate: The
Story of Paul Watson.
"We're now in the midst of a 3rd World War, but this time the enemy is
ourselves, and the objective is to save the planet FROM ourselves.
There's no hope for masses of humanity to do anything — they never have,
they never will. All social change comes from the passion and
intervention of individuals or small groups of individuals. Slavery
wasn't ended by any government or any institution. Women got the right
to vote not because of any government. The civil rights movement, the
same thing. India with Mahatma Gandhi, South Africa with Nelson Mandela.
Again, it's always individuals. You need those individuals with the
passion and the energy to get involved. In fact, I don't know of any
government or any institutions that are doing anything to solve any of
these problems. All over the world, all I am seeing is individuals and
non-government organizations that are passionately involved in
protecting ecosystems and species, and that's where I see some optimism.
That's where I see results are happening."
that I normally work nights, I don't get to sleep with my wife during
the workweek. It is only on Friday and Saturday nights that I am able
to sleep like a normal person beside my wife. This has not hurt our
relationship, we're both adults and realize we have to do it to keep
the family financially afloat in these strange and difficult times.
That being said, my absence has caused some strain with the two
canine members of the family.
my spouse, Dragonwife, lets the two dogs sleep with her during the
week. Once again this isn't a problem except on the weekend when I
rightfully reclaim my spot in our king's sized bed. Ideally, this
shouldn't be an issue since the two dogs are rather small. However,
anyone who lets their dogs sleep with them knows that just isn't the
my sleeping habits screwed sixteen ways to Sunday because of my job I
tend to call it quits early on Friday nights. When I write early I
generally mean around nine o'clock, which would send shivers of
indignation down the spine of my younger self. I have always been a
bit of a night owl with the strange alternating tendency of getting
up early in the morning. I guess I have to take this as evidence that
my advancing age has exceeded my bodily rhythms. My wife and the dogs
stay up a little later, so I am asleep when they finally come to bed.
The newest dog, Dixie, immediately goes under the covers and takes a
position at the foot between my wife and I. The other dog, Sparky,
scoots close to me for a few hours before moving over to sleep next
the size of the bed there is room enough for everyone to be
comfortable. The problem comes when I have to go to the bathroom or
get some water during the night. As soon as I get up, the dogs
decided to redraw the territorial map leaving me without any space. I
then have the options of either retreating to the sofa or forcefully
carving out some space. Needless to say, the easiest option is just
to give up and go to the couch. After dealing with this situation for
years, I finally decided to take a picture of this strange situation
after discovering the cartoon above. I find a great deal of comfort
knowing that apparently I am not the only one dealing with such a
scenario. Below is a picture taken last Sunday morning, please note I
had to get special clearance from Dragonwife because she had long
forbid me from publishing any photographs of her on the internet.