Nature Is A Mother

The other day Dan and I found ourselves in a buffet line behind two college students who each outweighed me by double – and I need to lose sixty pounds or so.  They were talking about how no matter what, they couldn’t seem to lose weight.

Being born-again-thin my husband had to share what worked for him, of course.  (It’s the Gary Taubes method.  I hasten to point out it doesn’t work for EVERYONE.  It’s possible in the future, if we don’t destroy our medical industry, we could get our diet prescribed according to our genetics.  I once had a friend who ate only carbs and at a prodigious rate [and we’re talking fries and nachos, not healthy stuff] and was incredibly svelte.  But for a lot of us that’s the kiss of death.)

These two young women looked at him, not as if they resented the intrusion, but as though they had no clue what he was saying.  And then they nodded sagely and said “We must avoid processed foods.”  From then on, no matter what he said, that’s what they heard.

I shouldn’t laugh, truly.  I was once like them, and bought my sugar “in the raw” and my rice brown and…

To our purpose nothing.  If you don’t process carbs well, then eating honey or eating white sugar (or eating some of the fruits that have more sugar, like bananas) comes to exactly the same.  Your body does not have your prejudices.  It has not clue if it’s “natural.”  If it can use it, it does and it doesn’t much care how it came in.  (Now fiber might be an admirable thing, but it turns out we don’t need nearly as much of it as people used to think, and besides whatever else it does it does NOT slow down the absorption of calories or what have you.  At most it makes you feel full longer.)

But to these girls, “not processed” had become sort of a magical quality.  Their body was supposed to know that they bought it from the expensive organic grocery store and not their corner store.  Which probably explained their weight.  When you think “virtuous calories” don’t make you fat, you are bound to expand.

It’s the same thing as people who buy all their meds from the “natural” or “herb” store, and know they’re fine, because “it’s natural.”

The sad thing, of course, is that there is enough “natural” stuff that can kill you.  I mean, apple seeds contain cyanide, if you take them in enough quantity.  And as Friar Lawrence goes on at length in Romeo and Juliet, almost every “natural” fruit or flower has components that can cure in one concentration and kill in another?

So, whence this fetish made of “natural?”

As far as I can tell it started with the Romantics.  (I shall be beating up on the Romantics and their myths at MGC too.   And I might be doing it for the next several days. At least when it comes to writing.)

Round about the eighteenth century, society had advanced enough that most people thought they were losing something.  Now, I want you to take in account that, unlike shown in the wretched Pride and Prejudice movie, most manor houses might not have chickens living in the house  (Actually during the peninsular war, the strange closeness between Portuguese and their livestock was one of the permanent complaints of English soldiers) but they had a home farm.  And while the daughter of the house wouldn’t go barefoot (what were the filmmakers thinking?  That England in the Regency was the middle ages?  Heck, the daughter of well-to-do merchants or even middling ones wouldn’t go barefoot and the daughter of a prosperous farmer probably wore something like clogs.  Going barefoot was a sign of extreme destitution) she probably was acquainted, at least to walk by, with beast and fowl and their ways.

Some of the more sheltered and really wealthy girls might not know that oh, dear little lambs grew into ill-tempered rams, and that all creation puts out massive quantities of manure.  But the average person was close enough to nature to smell it, every day of their lives.

Which makes us chuckle at the idea that they considered themselves so far removed from nature that nature became something magical and almost sacred.

But then look at it the other way.  Turn it around.  Compared to how people lived just a couple hundred years before their time, they were removed from nature in the most important sense of all: for the first time society had a significant surplus, so that there were no famines.  For the first time, it was possible for a farm to produce more than it needed to provide a bare livelihood.  For the first time, even poor people could have two suits (though probably both bought very used.)  For the first time things like the Black Plague didn’t rage through killing massive numbers.  And while their child mortality seems appalling to us, if you birthed 10 children, you had a good chance of raising five.  More if you were relatively wealthy.  (This led to a population explosion.)

So from their point of view they were getting dangerously refined, and needed a little nature.

All of which would be fine, if the leaders of this movement weren’t also the sort of people who ARE far from nature and who romanticized everything in nature.

I don’t fully understand this, unless they had excuses like “but that’s not really nature because the chickens are penned and that’s why their sh*t stinks” or whatever.  They probably did.  The communists are convinced the only reason for sin is “capitalism,” and not just “human nature” and blame capitalism even in times when there was none.

But anyway, they imagined what it must have been like to live in harmony with nature, and put all the virtues in the past.  They rejected Christianity (except when they decided there had been a “primitive” Christianity which suited their tastes – by which we mean was sort of like paganism with crosses) and embraced the ancient religions, but of course without what really went with paganism: the fear of the quasi-understood gods and the constant “bribery” of said gods.  They embraced “natural” diets, which mostly consisted of eating stuff they imagined had “just growed”, they liked ruins because they spoke of an older, more natural time.  They preferred the affectation of poverty over the ostentatiousness that signified wealth in their society.

It’s very easy to laugh at the romantics.  What’s really hard is to see they are still with us.  Yeah, yeah, okay, very few people these days build ruins.  At least on purpose.  However, in my region, people build “authentic adobe houses” – with all the modern conveniences, of course.  And they haven’t given up on the idea that “closer to nature” is better.

I will confess I’m one of the world’s born non-campers.  No, seriously.  I can see it as part of military or survival training, where it serves a purpose, but having lived a significant portion of my life without an indoor bathroom (grandma wouldn’t have the bathroom indoors.  It was a BATHROOM mind, not an outhouse – mom’s family had an outhouse and I have myself urinary track infections holding it in rather than use the thing when we visited every Sunday afternoon – with shower and everything, but to her mind it was “dirty” having it indoors.) I will not voluntarily subject myself to it again.  As with roller coasters, where I find my ears giving me issues and halfway through the ride I go “I’m paying for THIS?” I don’t see any point leaving my house and going somewhere to be uncomfortable.

Your mileage may vary.  And yes, there’s a lot to be said for going some place quiet now and then (most camping sites don’t qualify.)  But the craze for camping relies on the idea that even if you are in a bunch, being close to nature has its own peculiar virtue.

Camping, though, annoys me (particularly when people try to convince me I’d really, really like it if I just look at it another way) but not markedly.  Like drugs and roller coasters it falls under “uh… you’re odd, but carry on and be your crazy self.  Just don’t drag me into it.”

HOWEVER… the… ah… ethos of camping (not the Athos of camping, which involves sharp pointy things) has invaded how we think of life.  The idea that all you need is a tent – or cabin – a bottle of wine and your true love has become sort of what to aim for in society.

Only not really, because, well, we’re humans and even the people who camp for fun would rather not do it in the dead of winter, under a blizzard.  (Or under a lizard, if you’re camping in the Jurassic.  – yes, I AM very silly.)

So what we have is this schizophrenic mentality where the most conspicuous consumption aims to make things look simple and unadorned.  And don’t go and tell me that’s just “good taste” – according to whom?  This sort of thing used to change every so often until the Romantics.

And you know, people who are advocates for nature, and who think that the human race should leave no mark on the Earth live in 5000 square feet homes.

We are divorced from nature, in the sense that even my kids – whom I take time to shove into the hardships of life now and then – except for Portugal have never seen a chicken outside a petting zoo (and even in Portugal, Marshall was so taken with a baby duck that a vendor offered to give it to him.  I had to explain to the then 14 year old the mess it would be to bring a pet duck to the US.)

So people take a lot of things for granted that just ain’t so, and have made nature sort of a goddess and the Earth a sentient thing that must be “served” and “preserved” and who knows what else.  And they think their bodies react differently to “natural” things.  And they think that even if they eliminated all those factories, that terribly unaesthetic work thing, the world would go on humming.

This is how we get to the wonderful point that an intrusive and counterproductive healthcare bill can be sold as “giving you the freedom to pursue your art or craft” – because in the future, food (unprocessed of course) just magically appears, while we’re all happily writing novels, creating sculpture, or simply painting seashells.  (With Recuerdo de Espana, of course.  Because by that time it will be ironic and … never mind.)

Worse is projecting this fetishization (I’m sure using that word a lot) backward and outward.  This leads to the idea that other humans, who live in ways different – and often more brutal and primitive – than ours, must have some virtue, because they’re “closer to nature.”

This is what accounts for both the love affair with brutal tyrants (the natural man!), wanting distant places to remain poor and quaint (as much as I like Bollywood’s Bride and Prejudice, their entire idea that India should stay poor and unsullied is gag-worthy) and PREFERING the most dysfunctional cultures (like most forms of Islam) to our own – because they’re poorer, they’re closer to nature and therefore “better.”  It also accounts for a good deal of not just human hatred but Western hatred.

And all the time these poseurs are shamming it.  Not just to us, no, to themselves.  However, take one of these “the little brown people have the right way” and dump them in Portugal, outside touristic areas, in an unheated stone farmhouse in the mountains in the middle of January (and Portugal has a temperate climate) and see how fast they start ranting and raving and longing for central heating, and hating everyone and everything around them.

Or watch them try to grow and harvest their own food and see how quickly they give it up (like most of the back-to-the-earth people in the sixties.)

Do you know when I’ll believe their sincere about their “natural” and “voluntary poverty” fetish?  Not when they’re living in 300 sq feet, perfectly designed to maximize utility houses, set in scenic regions where they can live outside a great part of the time, no.

I’ll know they’re serious when they do what Dave Freer does and move to a rural/more primitive (by which I mean early twentieth century not tenth) community and live as a member, not lording it over people.  (I know why Dave did it, and respect his choice, but I’m sure he also wouldn’t mind a few more creature comforts.  I also know most eco-fluffs in this area would have a nervous breakdown after a month living as he does.)

Or easier – I’ll know they’re serious when they move to a rural community here in the US (which is still miles more comfortable than anywhere in the world) and integrate without patronizing the locals (who, from those I met, are just smart as anyone else, even if they don’t read the stuff I do – but then not many people do that.  They usually go higher brow…)

Until then, I wish they’d leave me alone and stop shoving their “unprocessed”, their “natural” and their “unspoiled” in my face.

I’m the product of five thousand years of civilization.  I’ve EARNED the right not to go back to nature.

Related post on nature vs. nurture — “I’m a Genius” at Mad Genius club.  (And yes, that declaration implies tongue is pressing so hard against cheek it will eventually perforate.)

Also, if you are inclined to do so, consider Raygun Chronicles fundraiser.  It would be good to see a totally indie anthology with pro writers, etc.  And trust me, they’re doing it on shoe string as is.  This model pays pro rates while avoiding big publishers.  Give it a try.

504 thoughts on “Nature Is A Mother

  1. In my mind there’s some value in “un-processed” only in the sense that buying mostly premade stuff is generally worse for your health than it is to cook things from scratch, with the added caveat that it quite obviously depends on what you cook. A giant cake is not suddenly healthy because you made it all the way from scratch (and yeah, people who swear white sugar is the devil while pouring honey or agave into their drinks, which is primarily fructose and arguably *worse* than sucrose drive me bonkers). But most premade meals do have more crap in them, generally speaking. They’re still an awesome value as they make it possible for very busy people to eat, but generally you’re better off cooking your own meals if you can spare the time/energy. It’s cheaper, too, and in my mind a very worthwhile investment 🙂

    1. Oh. Pfui, I cook from scratch because it tastes better and it’s way cheaper. But even then, you know, I buy oil, not olives to press. You know what I mean. What is “processed”?

      1. I buy olive oil too. 😉 I everything now for high fructose sugar– I have even found it in products that shouldn’t use sugar. UGH

        1. I once posted a spaghetti sauce recipe online, and someone else posted that she would try it because it looked like the only way to get sauce without HFCS.

            1. I don’t have a recipe, but I do know that if you start with the right varieties of tomato, there’s absolutely no need for ANY sweetener. I’m going to be growing a ton of tomatoes this year, and at least dehydrating them, if not canning as well.

              1. I like mine sweet. So I often double up the tomato paste in the recipe given below. Can be interesting keeping it from burning.

              2. I read somewhere that in the quest to breed tomatos for even overall redness, they bred the original sweetness out of them, so varieties that don’t ripen evenly may be sweeter than the ones that turn red evenly.

                1. I collect, among things, cookbooks, including historical ones. Colonial tomatoes were not considered sweet. Tomatoes have always had a somewhat acidic component, although some people find the yellow varieties less so.

                    1. You are a dangerous lady. (You know that when I read the one book I have read eletronically it was on The Spouse’s Kindle.)

            2. ‘K. The reason why the amounts are all approximate is that you can vary them a lot.

              I recommend a stock pot — it’s big. Also lots of little freezer containers. Cottage cheese containers are good.

              Two of the large cans of crushed tomatoes.
              Two of the large cans of tomato puree
              Four little cans of tomato paste — this will control how sweet it is without HFCS, so more or less to taste.
              Other spices as you like
              A medium sized onion
              Mushrooms if you like
              sausage or other meat if you like.

              Chop up and sauteed the onion until translucent.
              Sautee the mushrooms.
              Cook the meat thoroughly
              In your stock pot put all the tomato stuff. Rinse out the cans with water and pour it as well — somewhere between adding half as much again, to doubling it. Stir it all together. Put on the heat and bring to a simmer. Until the tomato paste is thoroughly dissolved, there’s a danger that it will stick to the bottom and burn; stir often. Add your onions and meat and mushrooms. Add oregano and salt and spice — note that once you stir them in you can taste the stuff and get a good idea how it will finally taste, so you can add more as you please.

              Simmer. One to three hours. How thick it gets depends on how long you simmer it and how much water you added. The water also helps dissolve the paste and keep it from burning — and the thicker you make it, the more you need to stir to keep it from burning.

              When it’s done, divvy up into the freeze containers, and freeze all that you aren’t using at once. The supply can last for months.

              1. That’s pretty much my mother’s spaghetti sauce recipe, though since we were a family of four and didn’t have that much freezer space she usually halved those quantities so as to not end up with too many leftovers.

              2. The simplest classic Italian summer fresh tomato sauce I know:

                A bunch of very ripe tomatoes chopped. (If you want you can peel and seed them but it is not necessary.)
                Some mozzarella, cut in cubes.
                A large hand full of fresh basil leaves, shredded.
                A good fruity extra virgin olive oil.
                Some minced garlic. (optional)
                Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

                Place all the above ingredients in a bowl. Add cooked and drained pasta. Toss and serve.

        1. We check everything too. Robert is allergic to fructose. Yes, I know that’s weird, but even fruit can cause allergic reactions. So … we read EVERYTHING.

          1. I suspect that fructose is an actual trigger in a lot of auto-immune diseases that we are seeing today. Yes, even diabetes. My personal opinion only– however the correlation could probably be proved. I don’t have the time or inclination. I do know that we advise young Vasculitis patients to stay away from anything with high fructose at the minimum. I don’t know if it is an allergy. So I don’t think is weird. BTW I only like blueberries, apples, and strawberries. Sometimes peaches. I think that the fruits have been gm’d to be sweeter so I can’t eat much. The hubby is so lucky in that he doesn’t have any food allergies. At least I don’t see any. He won’t eat anything that tastes like sawdust and tofu has been banned in our house.

            Since I have some weird reactions to whey and soy, we only have soy sauce for the Asian concoctions that I make (not like the real thing at all). I rarely let it cross my lips though. 😉

            1. Before I became a diabetic, I had hyperinsulinism (“hypoglycemia”). Jean read every label in the store to try to reduce the amount of sugar in our diet. She was appalled by the amount of high fructose corn syrup in products you would never suspect having it. Why on earth would canned green beans have hfcs in it? It seems to be getting worse. Yet with the US turning as much as a third of its corn crop into ethanol, you’d expect that most “processed” foods would CUT the corn syrup, not increase it. BTW, most primitive societies would be absolutely in awe of our ability TO process and preserve foods. The time between the last snow and the first edible fruits of the ground was a time of death from starvation, even into the 14th century.

              I don’t think enough people in today’s society have been introduced to the maxim that “Nature is red, in tooth and claw.”, otherwise they’d be much less enthused with returning to “nature”. I’d love to go back to the kind of life my parents had once they had enough money to live comfortably. Unfortunately, my body just won’t hack it. I’ll stay here, or move to some nearby area, where I can still have access to doctors and also allow Timmy to grow up in a semi-rural environment.

              1. BTW, most primitive societies would be absolutely in awe of our ability TO process and preserve foods.

                Oh, definitely. Remember not too long ago, when the “pink slime” thing was all the rage to hate? I explained what it was to my dad, and he said they would have used it when he was growing up, no question about it.

                  1. We *still* boil bones to make soup stock.

                    As a firm believer in the Medean hypothesis, not the Gaian one, you’ll find no romanticizing nature here! Nature is where the parasites live. More parasites than non-parasites. Eww.

              2. Once, while handling the supply run, I saw a loaf of bread labeled in huge letters “No High-Fructose Corn Syrup”.

                I then spent several minutes explaining to various store employees and Law Enforcement Types that: No, I was not legally insane; and yes, I had just screamed loud enough to be heard throughout the store “HOW THE F*** DID F***ING HIGH F***ING FRUCTOSE F***ING CORN F***ING SYRUP F***ING END THE F*** UP IN F***ING BREAD!?”

                I was promptly released. 🙂

                1. Did it end up in bread? Note the comment below on fat-free labels. Marketing at times labels food as being free- of whatever the latest health fad considers unhealthy, regardless of whether such food has ever contianed that item or not. It is a remarkably effective marketing ploy for selling food to health-concious idiots.

                  1. ALMOST all baked products have corn syrup. Because Robert is very allergic, we cut that out before we went low carb. I was baking all my bread/cakes. (I prefer that, anyway.)

                    1. I had a friend who did all her own baking and even made her noodles from scratch. Her son could have no dairy or eggs. Along with HFS, you would be amazed how many products on the market shelves contain milk or milk by-products.

                    2. It’s not that hard, but I cannot stress this enough: GET A PASTA PRESS BEFORE YOU TRY!

                      Your hands and your back may STILL not appreciate you (generally they are ungrateful b*stards – at least mine are), but at least they will be less likely to try to kill you in your sleep afterwards.

                      Seriously, I made my own pasta a few weeks ago, without a press. I might try again, but I’ll be making a ravioli of some sort, and NOT noodles.

                    3. It’s not that the act of making them is hard, although it takes practice to roll the dough out evenly if you don’t have a set of guides to keep your roller at the right height. It’s that if you make noodles without the press (with the attachment that cuts the noodles for you), it takes so damn long to slice them that you want to run screaming off into the night before you’re done.

                  2. chuckle – I recall FAT FREE proudly emblazoned on packages of candy corn. But they were probably laden with high fructose corn syrup.

                2. Had that realization in the early 90s when I saw it in the sausage and orange juice (back then they called it the “caveman diet,” rather derisively, I might add, but I’m like Mr. Hoyt and do well on paleo, which as a schlub who could barely afford *shoes* at the time, was financially almost impossible.

      2. “Processed” is like “Truth” and “Authentic”: values according to a self-assigned sliding scale. I see a lot of people buying “natural” foods as performing some sort of ostentatious wasting to show how much better they are than the people who eat Spam and iceberg lettuce (or non-craft gardened endive) and since it is expensive you get the right to brag about it like you just bought another BMW. ( the term I want to use is Potlatch, but that was more community binding, really.)
        But no-one can tell you how it is actually better, it is just the sort of thing you do to buy yourself status and self-esteem.

        Now, I’ve been known to grind my own flour and cornmeal, but then I have sources for grain and I’ve been known to make killer cornbread too. But I do it because of the flavor and cost, not because it makes me any cosmic brownie points.

          1. And I’m grateful for it, especially the “denaturization” process to get all that lovely “organic fertilizer” (and corresponding fecal bacteria) off of it…

    2. I found that I had to control my diet and I couldn’t if I used a large amount of preprocessed food. So I cook. I try to use mostly natural ingredients, but there are certain foods I buy canned like tomatoes. If I eat fresh cooked tomatoes, I get severe GERD. The big thing about processed food is that there is so much sodium and high fructose corn sugars in it. The high amount of sugars (all kinds) causes inflammation. My disease is mostly inflammatory. I also take Omega-3s. So the combination helps to keep my inflammation in check. I wonder how much of the chronic diseases in our society are exacerbated by the modern processed food.

      1. Cyn,
        When I meant “processed” I’m not talking about cooking from scratch. Like I can AFFORD pre-made. What I — and obviously these twits at the restaurant — meant was more, you know “sugar vs. honey” or that sort of thing.

        1. Oh yea– that makes me laugh that some of these people think that honey isn’t the same as sugar in calories. Also, that the newest stuvia (or whatever it is) is not a sugar. *snort I don’t even think people know or remember that much of the sugar in the States came from sugar beets.

          1. found that the sugar /not sugar stuff like Splenda are akin to eating poison for me. Had a case of what I and my sis thought was food poisoning and to stay hydrated was drinking some fruit juice she was buying. spending the day miserable and unable to leave the house, I spent a good bit of time between trips to the toilet reading online. Found the label of the juice and looked into the stuff. “May cause intestinal distress” was one of the listed possible side effects of the stuff. “Processed” is not good in this situation for me.

            On the other end of the spectrum, I know of people who hate the new “No Trans-fats” foods. The fries, chips and other foods fried in non-trans-fat grease cause the same reaction in them. The new “Healthier, less processed” stuff is not an improvement to them.
            The only “natural” oil that they can handle is lard.

            1. Funny– I have the same problem with the baked potato chip products. It was quit funny in a sad way. Also I can’t eat any artificial sugars because they cause the same kind of problems for me. I take honey or sugar and remember “in moderation” if I need sweeteners. My great-grandma used to use molasses a lot.

            2. My sister hates “New — Enriched!” because it means they added soy. She’s allergic to soy. Two decades of avoiding it mean that she no longer reacts on the skin test, but that’s just the reassurance that one slip up probably will not get a systemic reaction, then.

            3. For those things that just require sugar, such as hot medicinal tea, try some of the products using stevia. It is a natural plant-derived product which looks like sugar and dissolves in tea with the same effect as sugar, creating a syrupy throat-soothing balm.

              I would not rely on it performing well as a sugar substitute in cooking, baking, rubbing all over yourself or other uses.

              Some interesting things here — — on the derivation and history of the product (note: “When natural foods companies petitioned the FDA to allow stevia to be called a sweetener, they were denied, … But somehow, when Coke and Pepsi petitioned the FDA, then it was okay for stevia to be called a sweetener.”)

      2. Hmm… I don’t know if you would want to test it, but adding some baking soda to fresh tomatoes to neutralize the acid might help.

          1. Haven’t tried it with tomatoes, that’s just an off-the-top-of-the-head kitchen chemistry thought. I doubt it would change the taste much, except for taking away some of the tanginess. My dad used to put some baking soda in green beans when he cooked them, and I never noticed a real change in taste there.

            1. I just looked it up and some cooks do recommend using baking soda to cut the acidity. They say to start with a small amount (less than 1/8 tsp) and taste. If there is too much in it, the sauce will taste soapy.

            2. I use it in my homemade tomato soup to keep the milk from curdling. I usually have some reflux issues a few hours later, but that might be due to the sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches I usually eat with it. Still worth it.

              1. Know what you mean. My lunch yesterday was prime comfort food for me, tomato bisque and a grilled sandwich of extra-sharp cheddar cheese. Sigh, it were loverly. The Spouse, silly man, doesn’t appreciate tomato bisque.

                1. I’m glad you said “tomato bisque” and not the cheddar. Anyone who doesn’t like cheddar cheese (we mostly eat the medium sharp – Timmy loves it) is a barbarian! Note I said “like”, not “won’t eat”. Some people can’t handle milk products. I forgive, them, poor creatures. They miss so much goodness!

                  1. I like a cheddar sharp enough you could cut yourself, especially if jalapenos are in the mix.

                    I have no problem with dairy products, it is the non-dairy product cheeses which come burbling back up my craw. Processed cheese food isn’t.

                    1. “I have no problem with dairy products, it is the non-dairy product cheeses which come burbling back up my craw. Processed cheese food isn’t.”


                      My tastes run to extra-sharp and XXtra sharp cheddar, but my wallet runs to medium. So that is what I generally eat, unless I am treating myself. About a year ago a guy gave me a 30# block of cheese that was underweight* that was very strong and very good. I’m not sure what kind of cheese it was, but it sure was good, unfortunately I’ve used it all up and am back to buying cheese again now, so it is back to medium cheddar.

                      *cheese is tested on weight per volume, and this guy would get all the cheese that failed testing still in the large blocks before it was cut down to bricks.

  2. John Barnes’ novel “Directive 51” ( ) was amazing. There’s a deeper plot that I won’t go into, but in the first half of the book you see radical greens crash technological society and return us all to a state of nature.

    …at which point, the mega-deaths begin (and soon escalate into giga-deaths).

    #include several different Heinlein rants here.

    Nature is mud and cold and disease and early death.

    1. Never forget that the mega- and giga-deaths are not bugs but features of much of the eco-weenies’ agenda. They’ll tell you so themselves, albeit not with such candor that they’ll accept your “OK: you first” invitation. Oh, no. Never THAT!


      1. Then out of simple politeness one must insist. Turn that invitation into a requirement, don’t you know.

        1. Yeah, well… Knowing you, I kinda figured. ::grin:: That was more for the groundlings. If there are any in this venue.


                1. Especially for a bivalve.

                  In terms of backbone, it’s been fun to watch a few folks in Congress shame the rest over the Unhanged Wretch Holder’s suggestion that the presidency could order drone strikes on Americans on American soil. Even more fun to see the support (albeit grudging) they’ve been getting.

      2. Heck, they won’t even accept a “you first” invitation on cutting their “carbon footprint”, why would anyone expect they would take THAT invitation?

  3. I’ve thought that the current “natural is good” movement is an overreaction to the previous “science is good” movement, which had people believing that “margarine is better for you than butter”, “formula is better than breast milk”, etc.

    1. You’ve got a point – I grew up with my Baby Boomer teachers/media telling me that our ancestors were all stupid and silly compared to all our modern thinking. Sort of a bloodless cultural revolution. And there were some reasons for this – there were a lot of old superstitions that we’re well free of, but a lot of good stuff was thrown out as well.

      As a friend put it, the pendulum always swings too far, we push back too much in response and go way too far in the opposite direction.

      1. My teachers ranged from one or two very young to so ancient you wonder how they parked their pterodactyls in the Faculty parking lot. There was no mush or gray goo in their teaching, however. I received a much better education than any of my children did, even when we home-schooled the younger daughter. I have two or three of the school books I learned from. I wish I had a complete set, so I could teach Timmy from them. Jean and I are looking for learning software we can get that will help him through some of his problems, but the kinds of things we need are difficult to find. Yes, we do seem to swing back and forth, but this time, I think the swing is going to occur at the same time as a massive technological shift, and a lot of people are going to be blind-sided by it.

  4. When I told my Dad (I’m visiting my folks in Mexico City) that there hasn’t been a time I’ve come home (since 1969) in which either electricity or water (we haven’t had any for almost a week now) hadn’t been a problem, at least once, he pooh-poohed the idea – but then realized I was right. And they live at a country club.

    The climate is worth it – but I can’t see myself moving back. I LIKE nature reasonably well controlled. Even in NJ after Sandy services were mostly restored in a week.

    I like that my children survived infancy – all of them. I know perfectly well I’m spoiled – thank you, God.

    I happen to like camping – and used about 2 Gal. of water both for a shower yesterday and flushing (you have to save your shower water in a bucket – no point in wasting it).

    Keep ‘Nature’ under control – and unfortunately I agree with you on carbs, too.

  5. I always found it somewhat amusing that in the early 20th century, there was almost a reverse tendency towards food and progress that was parallel to the Romantics.

    Rather than holding up nature as an ideal, (I’m sure people just off the farm in 1900 had had all the nature they could handle in their childhoods), one fashion was to sell certain products as “scientifically improved!”. Take Spam. It’s not just vaguely pork like meat, it’s engineered meat. Pasteurized, homogenized. In a can! You don’t just get some raw pork of variable quality. You get a guaranteed uniform statistical distribution of all the pigs involved! 😛

    Ah, yes. I see Jasini has referred to the “science is good” movement.

    (Personally, I think science *is* good wrt food processing. Not necessarily all the marketing fads that attend it though.)

    1. One particular food processing trick I wish they would make more use of is food irradiation. Here is a process that, with absolutely no chemical additives, can kill off all the then-present bacteria/microbial activity in a given fruit/vegetable, thereby prolonging it’s shelf life by a significant margin.

      Everyone is certain that this is somehow bad for you. Because it is unnatural. Nevermind that irradiation is not the same thing as inducing radioactivity (via neutrons or something). You’d have a hard time of that with light elements anyway, even if you were using neutrons instead of X-rays/gammas. But it’s unnatural, therefore we have to forgo having food with safe shelf-lives of a month or two prior to spoiling.

        1. In “Night of the Living Dead” the reanimating radiation was something that an orbital probe could bring back and spread all over the world. I don’t think most people GET what radiation is.

          1. I work in satellite communications, a field with some rather bright people in it, and it always amazes me to see the deer in the headlights looks it get when I point out to my coworkers that electromagnetic radiation, specifically radio waves, is actually light…

            1. If I wanted to “nit-pick”, I’d said that “light” is one type of electromagnetic radiation just as “radio” is a type of electromagnetic radiation.

              But I won’t be a nit-picker. [Wink]

              1. I use EMR = light for illustrative purposes only. Getting too into the weeds with my coworkers can be dangerous. One infamous argument raged on for a week over whether 1 was a prime number… (I work with a ton of Odds.)

                    1. No wonder most of these people do not like camping.

                      Momma always provided the natural solution — plain unbuttered white rice. 😉

                    2. BRAT– was what I was told for kidney problems to get nausea, vomiting, and the runs under control. Means bread, rice, apples, toast–

                    3. Oh, I am glad I read that through completely. I feared I had crossed some line and had commited a serious offence. 😉

          2. And what brought back Gojiria (Godzilla)? And what raised the giant tomato that threatened Chicago and Steve McQueen? Even when science was still good radiation was already considered bad. Something about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            1. I liked Godzilla. Totally bad science, check, totally unrealistic, check, hilarious and entertaining storyline, check.

        2. I love to point out to people that the biggest source of radiation of all sorts is the sun. That thing is nothing but a huge fusion factory! If they don’t like radiation, they’ve got to move somewhere there isn’t sun. They also will have to give up any possibility that little Johnny will have children that are better prepared to survive in their environment, since most genetic changes are caused by radiation. Most of the people I tell that to look at me with a blank stare, then walk off. They don’t have enough scientific knowledge to understand what I’m saying. That’s pathetic!

        3. Radiation is BAD MAGIC! Radiation comes from Newkoolars, which are SUPER BAD MAGIC!! Only Green Happy Magic that Honors the Earth Mother Goddess Gaia, as espoused (but not practiced) by the Most Holy Ones in Hollywood, like Wind and Solar and Algae, can save us all from the Newkoolars, only you can’t put one of those wind thingees in my backyard because it’s noisy and ugly and kills all the birds.

          I honestly think the level of STEM knowledge combined with all the bogus green “education” in the general population puts us behind the level of understanding in Europe in the middle ages. Anyone with half a brain would agree that not killing off >500 people annually due to contaminated ground beef, which ground beef could be made frigging STERILE by a quick shot of ionizing radiation, would be a Good Thing, but NO, it has been SULLIED by the evil RADIATION MAGIC!!! BURN THE WITCH!!!!

          Note that the high end mail order beef places (i.e. – not an endorsement, though we received an assortment pack once as a gift, and those cow chunks was yummy), they only sell irradiated ground beef. There’s just too many ways for bacteria to get worked into ground meat, and since as a corporate policy they don’t want to kill anyone, they zap all of it.

          1. My “>500 deaths” number was off the top of my head, and that bothered me a bit in this august company, so I looked it up: Per the CDC, the top five food borne illness pathogens cause “3.5 million infections, 33,000 hospitalizations, and 1600 deaths each year”.

            But we can’t possibly gamma ray belt that ground chuck – look what happened to Doc. Bruce Banner!

            1. if you read into the food recalls when there is an outbreak, most of the time it is “Organic” foods that are causing the illness.
              “But it’s All Natural!!”
              yeah? so is arsenic

              1. All Natural is WHY there is an outbreak most times. Those unnatural chemicals, pesticides, etc; they’re added to KILL the stuff that causes outbreaks. Not to mention that chemical fertilizers don’t carry the kajillion different bacteria that ‘natural’ fertilizer does.

                This is not to say such food is healthier than the all natural food, it is SAFER however. (for general pop. obviously not for the individuals that don’t react well to various chemicals and additives)

        4. Our two girls were out of homeschooling into a local elementary school for two years. The first year was fine, we still have contact with their teacher, a delightful woman and excellent teacher. Then came the next year…

          During which the teacher explained to the girls that sunlight (electromagnetic *radiation*) bathed the grass, which was eaten by cows, which resulted in radioactively-contaminated milk, cheese, and meat.

          Seriously. Even spent some time personally trying to straighten out the guy’s misconceptions. There was more, but that was nature’s warning sign for us.

          1. My 9th grader got told the problem was that he ate food that could be digested — that’s why he gained weight. His health teacher told him he needed to eat more fiber, because it gets in your veins and cleans them up. (I swear I’m not joking) Also, it’s not digested, so you can’t get fat from it.

            My little (then) biology geek came home laughing his head off at the sheer ignorance. He CLAIMS he promised her he intended to eat a Buick, which, being entirely inorganic, should be good for him.

            1. The Daughtorial Unit got in trouble for contradicting her 2nd Grade teacher’s claim that “snakes are invertebrate.”

              In her defense, the teacher pointed out that she was the teacher. The D.U. found that argument notably unpersuasive. Or rather, persuasive in a manner wholly unintended by the teacher.

              1. Way back in prehistory, when I was a kid I got my first inkling that teachers don’t know everything when one of mine referred to whales as fish – seriously. He was a substitute and was not teaching biology but anyway… well, I suppose it was good. Gave me the habit of checking things I got told from other sources, if possible.

                About the only time I got in bit of trouble with a teacher was later when one complained to me, in class, that I had looked at her as if she was a, well, the direct translation is ‘cheap sausage’. I was a very well behaved child, and I never argued against anything they said, but I guess I don’t have much of a poker face.

                1. And to clarify, back then, 60’s and 70’s, most of the teachers were fairly decent, at least they usually knew their own subjects, but there was also, already, some under the table part of the time but noticeable at times socialist indoctrination going on in schools, at least ours. You know, Soviet Union, pretty good place even if they had attacked our country a few decades earlier but it had been at least partly our fault because we had not presented ourselves as not dangerous to them clearly enough or something along those lines, and America, you know, Nixon! Watergate! Vietnam war! so lets all sing kumbaya together and be nice to each other and feed the starving children in Biafra and we will get a perfect world with no class or race or income divisions. (I kind of halfway bought it all back then, just because everyone else seemed to think that way I supposed that maybe I just wasn’t smart enough to see how smart that worldview was).

                    1. When my cousin Natalia sent pictures of herself and her boyfriend both fashionably slim to her parents in Venezuela, we got back a letter from my uncle saying “They look like children from Biafra.”

                    2. This group is different, but not one in ten people really know where Biafra was, or why there was anything going on there. The lack of knowledge of geography and history in the United States totally amazes me.

                    3. Before this song:

                      I didn’t even know JFK was in the military.
                      It wasn’t ever mentioned.
                      Just like Lincoln wasn’t mentioned as being a Republican.

                      You can’t stop folks from learning, but you can guide the questions they ask by what topics you utterly avoid even allowing implications of; for JFK, he was just always called “young,” implying that he hadn’t had time for anything, and for Lincoln there weren’t any political parties mentioned.

                    4. Oh well– as the hubby said– only JFK could get his boat sunk by being run over by a Japanese destroyer and still come out a hero. 😉

                  1. When I did something or believed something dumb– I just tell people I was “young and dumb, then.” You can use that too. 😉 At any age 😀

            2. I’m almost speechless, I realize intestines and veins are both tubular internal body parts, but that is about where the similarity ends.

              Now the health teacher did have one thing right, if you don’t eat food that can be digested, you won’t get fat. Ask an Ethiopan about this, they will verify it for you.

                  1. Yup. I esp. like to combine this with one of the effects of “protein poisoning” (Not sure of the technical term), which is “you eat, and eat, and are still hungry”, and to Kuru (comes from cannibals eating human brains — results in madness); and then couple to an old Eskimo belief “if you eat something which has human blood or flesh on or in it, you develop an insatiable hunger for human flesh”.

                    That’s pretty-much a Zombie Apocalypse, right there, ain’t it? >:)

                    1. Cyn, that was my thought, too — then I decided it was probably best to not reveal that I get most of my scientific knowledge from old Marvel* comic books.

                      *DC comics, which popularized the concept of multiple universes are clearly a more reliable source of scientific knowledge.

                    2. I haven’t read a comic book in years– I got that one from a myth and it is a very very scary story. It was one of those stories my Navajo foster sister told us about when I was in grade school. Scared the living daylights out of me. I re-read it when I was older and I still get the shivers. You should look the myth up.

                    3. It has been years since I read a comic book, but those authors mined all sorts of legends and myths to fill their pages. As I recall, Wendigo was introduced as a character in the Hulk comic in the Seventies (along with the more successful Wolverine character) as a foe for the Hulk.

                      They were never very clear on why an insatiable hunger for human flesh would turn a person into a monster able to trade punches with the Hulk, but then they weren’t especially clear on how Gamma irradiation would cause you to turn green with purple pants.

                    4. Depending on which story you hear, the Wendigo was a warrior who gave his soul to a demon (or spirit or something) so that he could defend his tribe from a terrible danger. However, he could never go back to his tribe– The story my foster sister told was what happened when the warrior came back. He slaughtered the entire tribe and ate them. He went from tribe to tribe killing whole families and eating them. The more he ate the hungrier he became.

                      A council came together to hunt the creature– and now my memory fails me– I don’t know if they killed him (the Wendigo was almost impossible to kill) or they drove him away. But this particular Wendigo did not bother that area again.

                      Other myths say that if a person ate human flesh that they would become a Wendigo– maybe that is what happened to Jeffery Dahmer.

                    5. The Hulk would not have a change against the W… myth. I think I have invoke that name enough. 😉 The W… was a perfect night hunter, fast, strong, and intelligent. It liked to play with its food.

                    6. And, of course, they never explained how the essential parts of those purple pants never shred with the rest of his clothes.

                    7. Sigh. Do I have to explain? They’re bio engineered. Organic. They transform along with him. (Runs, because she thinks that CACS has throwing fish or battle biscuits or something.)

                    8. Well, I’ve heard (but never read) that there was an Avenger comic where Hulk was fighting a super villain and (among other things) lost his pants. It was said that the female Avengers got an eye full (and approved of what they saw). [Evil Grin]

                    9. My first encounter with Lovecraft was his story about the Wendigo. *shivers* Someone included it in a set of anthropology papers about the Wendigo in First Nations traditions.

                    10. It is a cautionary tale against cannibalism– and yes, it makes me shiver and I have never read Lovecraft’s story. My foster sister was a particularly good storyteller and she told it better than I wrote it there.

                    11. well… I have fed human blood to various groups I cooked for, usually in the form of “accidental cutting and cannibal rice” though minute enough it’s neither seen nor tasted. Um…

                    12. Human blood will not trigger the change, only human flesh. It occurs to me this myth is actually rather well established and widespread, presenting in less Northerly cultures as ghouls.

                      I could probably compose a treatise on the loss of status by ghouls as a consequence of being less attractive for adaptation in film and television … but that would entail effort.

                    13. Moan. I just checked the wiki on ghoul:

                      A ghoul is a (folkloric) monster associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh, … By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger.
                      In ancient Arabian folklore, the ghūl (Arabic: literally demon) dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The ghul is a fiendish type of jinn believed to be sired by Iblis.

                      A ghul is also a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting, evil demon that … lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead, then taking the form of the person most recently eaten.

                      Now, I ask you, how, HOW can I take from that without going into a rant about politicians????

                    14. Wendigo… “Oh, my burning feet of fire.”
                      Algernon Blackwood, 1910.

                      “A sort of windy, crying voice,” he calls it, “as of something lonely and untamed, wild and of abominable power….”

                      And, even before it ceased, dropping back into the great gulfs of silence, the guide beside him had sprung to his feet with an answering though unintelligible cry. He blundered against the tent pole with violence, shaking the whole structure, spreading his arms out frantically for more room, and kicking his legs impetuously free of the clinging blankets. For a second, perhaps two, he stood upright by the door, his outline dark against the pallor of the dawn; then, with a furious, rushing speed, before his companion could move a hand to stop him, he shot with a plunge through the flaps of canvas—and was gone. And as he went—so astonishingly fast that the voice could actually be heard dying in the distance—he called aloud in tones of anguished terror that at the same time held something strangely like the frenzied exultation of delight—

                      “Oh! oh! My feet of fire! My burning feet of fire! Oh! oh! This height and fiery speed!”

                      And then the distance quickly buried it, and the deep silence of very early morning descended upon the forest as before.

          2. My boys have been told some incorrect things, but I would have melted the school with the burning heat of the outrage that I would have had over that one.

            1. The Daughter’s teacher called me in for a conference to discuss the matter. She told me that she had been teaching and that The Daughter had contradicted her. I asked what had been said. She told me what she had taught. Then that she told me that The Daughter had declared that, ‘Snakes do have vertebre. If you want to see it there is a lovely snake skeleton on display at the North Carolina Zoo.’ I noted that there is, indeed, a lovely skeleton on display at the state Zoo. I further mentioned that we would all get a chance to see it the following month when on the class trip. I asked what, exactly, the problem was. It was then that I was told that the woman was the teacher and The Daughter was only eight.

              1. Oh, yeah. The teacher who said Robert was learning disabled… when we went to the principal we were told she had been teaching there FOURTEEN YEARS. (We later found out every year she picked a kid she perceived of another race to make his/her life miserable. But that was okay iwth this very liberal school in a very liberal town, provided NO ONE MADE TROUBLE.) We made trouble…

          3. Ok, finally inspired to respond to something here…
            Back before time was time (1986) I was in Earth Science. We’d finally hit Astronomy (which was my hobby) and we were glossing over thigns really fast because the state of VA didnt require it to be covered… we’d spent three monthe on meteorology, three months on geology, etc etc, and were spending A WEEK on Astronomy.
            The teacher asks if anyone knows why our sun won’t go nova. I Answer (raising my hand and everything, wasn’t I a polite li’l suthun boy?) “Our sun isn’t massive enough.”
            She then CORRECTS ME “No, its too massive”.
            Corrects me. In front of the whole class.
            Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but this particular Odd was socially awkward, and most of the teachers knew about my social problems, and knew that the ^%&^%&%^& standardized tests they were using at the time said my English and science skills were “12-9” or “PHD” starting in about sixth grade. (12-9 meaning they were the equivalent of someone in the 9th month, 12th year of school, i.e. someone graduating.. PHS being Post High School….)
            So, the class laughs at me. Me, known for having a short temper and getting into fights.
            I go home and report it to my parents (divorced, told dad by phone call) and my dad said “Very calmly, prove her wrong. Tell her you want her to point out that you were correct to the class. If she won’t, then we’ll talk to the principal.” (Lets just say the principal knew me on sight… not a good thing for a ninth grader…)
            So the next day at school, I walk around all day carrying my copy of The Cambridge University Encyclopedia of Astronomy. Thump the large heavy book on her desk, flip to the appropriate page, and point out the appropriate paragraph….
            And lo and behold, she did, at the very beginning of the class, correct herself and admit I was right.
            Last time I saw her was about five years later. She obviously remembered the incident because *she* made the joke in reference to it.

      1. On those rare occasions when I’m willing to spend the time to mess with the poor greenie’s heads I am wont to point out that sun dried anything is in precise fact irradiated food. The if they haven’t run screaming I will expound on the fact that all energy is nuclear in nature whether it be from material mined from the earth or extracted from that big bright thermonuclear reactor up there in the sky.
        Never does much good, but I have at least gotten a few of them to stick their fingers in their ears and go lah lah lah on more than one occasion.

      2. I do remember grocery foods (tomatoes and so forth) had a longer shelf life in the 80s. And, in Germany the vegetables had a longer shelf life too… irradiation? possibly? Now, I am happy if the vegetables last a week in my fridge. We used to preserve vegetables (covered the cabbage in newspaper) and put potatoes in the cellars and it would last until spring. (carrots in the cellar too). So I am not impressed with the rate of decay in store vegetables.

        1. Potatoes and onions (and carrots to an extent) have a huge difference in shelf life depending on variety. The right varieties of potatoes and onions will easily last from one growing season to the next stored in a cool dry place. Growing up we stored them in the pump house (no cellar, and those aren’t dry on the coast anyways) but they actually do better if they don’t freeze, so now I store them in the spare room in my house.

          Carrots growing up we left in the ground, they would last half the winter in the garden, and you just went out and dug them up as you needed them, not sure how that would work here, but I’m not digging through three feet of snow to get enough of a vegetable I don’t particularly like, for dinner.

            1. We are supposed to get most of our vegetables from CA– but, you know how that is actually going. They are know saying that they don’t have enough water to grow food– (they do have enough to water those liberals though)–

                    1. Why bother? Just send them up in a leaky capsule and let vacuum leech out the water. They’ll be preserved for thousands of years, but they’ll at least be quiet.

                    2. Ah, see – you think I’m joking, but these… “people” …turn me from a sometimes sarcastic, yet relatively even-tempered guy, into a complete bastard.

                    3. I can produce testimony that I am quite even-tempered. I am uniformly dyspeptic (2. gloomy, pessimistic, and irritable. noun.)

                1. I drive up and down I5 about once every 6-9 months and in fact did the return trip (silicon valley to San Diego) just last Saturday. There are a lot of signs up on the side of I5 about the “Democrat inspired desert” and similar. I have to say if I were made unemployed in the Central valley I’d be looking at the water sources of Sacramento and the Bay Area and thinking of ways to, umm, impact them. From what I recall of how these places get their water it would be quite easy to do so.

                  1. It would be very easy to do. There are a few critical choke points that could be relatively easily removed, and guess what? The Bay Area needs a desalinization plant if it wants potable water. That’s assuming the Hayward Fault doesn’t shift, which will also leave the Bay Area (and parts of southern CA) without drinking water.

                  1. You can do so at a considerable distance if they have been sunbathing for a day or two.

              1. Well, if all those liberals would go back to their 60’s hippy roots and not take showers they would have plenty of water.

          1. In colder regions it is suggested that you spread a thick layer of mulch over the carrots to over winter them. Or at least that is what I learned from The Victory Garden. I have never tried it.

            1. Now that you mention it we did occasionally spread old straw over them, this was spread over large areas of the garden, not just the carrots, so I don’t recall if it was intentional or not.

            2. It works– however in one area we lived in — the snow was so deep that dad decided the next year we would have to pull the carrots and keep them another way–

      3. it’s so bad that I’ve had people point me to articles claiming that Microwaves were bad because of the radiation. I looked and realized that I couldn’t possibly make a dent in the disconnect, because they were using real descriptions of the actual way in which microwaves heat things as their arguments that it was bad.

        1. A recent issue of Vegetarian Times had a letter from an irate writer who wanted to know how they could publish recipes that used the microwave. Didn’t they know that on top of everything else, every time you micro-waved food it had an adverse impact on the available nutrition? The answer was precious, citing research that had indicated the exact opposite.

    2. What seems to have been lost in the mists of history, precious little of which seems to be taught these days, is that in the early days of the industrial revolution, say post Civil War to WWI, folks flocked to the cities and factories to take jobs of ten or twelve hours a day six days a week simply because they were so much easier and safer than what they’d known down on the farm.
      On a somewhat similar note, the automobile was hailed as a great solution to the serious pollution problem in the cities caused by the natural byproducts of horses and oxen.
      Just goes to show that most things are relative and it often helps to step back and take the long view.

        1. I heard a report that China is trying to make it hard for the farmer class (insert serf) to get off the farm because they are leaving in massive numbers.

      1. The other part of that was that most farmers couldn’t make a living farming at the turn of the 20th Century. Even today, few farms actually make a profit unless they’re huge, and extremely mechanized.

  6. Well said!

    I spend quite a bit of time camping, I have not, however camped strictly for fun since I was a kid. I like having a hot shower and being able to kick back in the easy chair by a toasty fire, in a well insulated house where you don’t have to set the milk by the woodstove when you go to bed at night so that it isn’t frozen solid when you get up in the morning. I camp because it is cheaper and more feasible to camp out for the night, than to drive four hours home and then turn around and drive four hours back in the morning, not because I want to get ‘closer to nature.’ I do have to laugh at the people that go out on Memorial Day weekend to be ‘close to nature’ in a 33′ fifth wheel with a satellite dish and AC. Not because I think there is anything wrong with staying in comfort, but because those people actually believe they are ‘roughing it’ and getting ‘close to nature.’

    1. I enjoy camping. For short periods. But living in a tent for two and a half months in a row (those Lapland summers I talk about, geological mapping) really did make me appreciate things like plumbing. Try washing your hair in a lake for a few weeks, and Lapland is north enough that even during summers it can sometimes snow, most of the time it was cold.

      Although I did also learn that you can get fully immersed and stay for a while in nearly freezing cold water with no ill effects, and it can even be enjoyable, which is something I would probably have never tried except it was the only way there to get fully clean and I hated feeling dirty more than I hated the cold water (soap and shampoo can be kind of hard to wash off when you only have cold water, faster to do it by getting into the lake than by bailing water from it).

      And those holes dug in the ground for food scraps and as a toilet, no bears in that area so the midden hole was left open for long periods, nice smells from both of them (plus the whole midden hole was one seething mass of insect larvae at times).

      Getting warm could also be a problem. Feeling cold days on end is no fun. Fortunately we got a tent sauna there after about a month the first summer, sooner the other times. Bliss.

      I’m also quite familiar with outhouses, my uncle never installed indoor plumbing in his farm house and after my parents bought their house when I was about four it took a couple of years before they got that done. Not sure which is worse, hot summer or freezing cold winter when it comes to them, even the well maintained ones stink when it gets hot, but freezing your butt off isn’t much fun either.

      Yep. Anybody who voluntarily considers giving up the benefits of modern plumbing permanently is nuts. A few days, or a few weeks (but then preferably not in the same spot the whole time), not so bad, can be fun, but permanently… no way.

      1. In regards to living with outhouses, the introduction to The Dillards version of Old Blue:

      2. You, then, will certainly understand why I turned down an offer to live and work in the Alaskan bush. Beautiful, deadly country, and I love it with every fibre of my soul – but I smiled, shook my head, and said “I’m afraid I have a deep and abiding addiction to hot running water. And indoor plumbing.”

        The man, whose wife lived in the big city of Kotzebue (It’s so big it has septic instead of honeybucket trucks), didn’t argue further.

  7. My earliest memories are of sidehill farms in eastern KY No plumbing, no electricity, wood stove for cooking, coal stove for heat. Backbreaking labor for anyone ever the age of 5 from morning til night. School a thing need, maybe, to be able to read,write, and do sums.
    Thank you, I like hot and cold running water. A heat source that won’t die in the middle of the night is a blessing from the heavens. I love having light at the flick of a finger ,and access to more information than I can absorb just by sitting at the computer.
    Screw back to nature the last 50 years have been the greatest time in history to live in. Poor people today live lives that the kings of old would have slaughtered thousands to have. Hell the kings of not that old.

    1. I remember vividly taking cold baths in winter in San Antonio as a school kid. I think of that every time I turn on the HOT water for a shower now – and usually stay in an extra minute of two just because it feels so good!
      The Romans were civilized in my book because of their advances in plumbing. (Well, maybe not so much for the materials they used, tho.)

  8. “I’m the product of five thousand years of civilization. I’ve EARNED the right not to go back to nature.”

    Now where have I read that line? [Wink]

  9. As someone who can’t *look* at a dessert in a magazine without adding poundage, I long for a time when technology finally starts making actual sense. And I don’t mean the politicized “Let’s get moving!” pseudoscience usually proposed.

    But I do also like to garden, am an excellent cook, and will use ‘natural’ or organic if it adds to the flavor. I’ve told my wife numerous times that I don’t have an issue with eating healthy – so long as it doesn’t taste like sawdust and cardboard. Which most of it does.

    I do think the less processing the better, and the less ingredients the better. (And my Almond Roca has only 4 ingredients, and never needs preservatives ’cause it never lasts long.)

    But I’m surrounded by a wife who drinks soured milk (kefir) and likes ground up chick peas (hummus). And have a daughter who is a naturopathic doctor, with another daughter who has started looking into eating healthy for herself and husband. (of course, she’s pregnant, so that plays a part)

    I buy store tomatoes, but like to grow them, since they taste better and I can control what goes into them.
    I don’t buy corn, because nearly every type now is gmo (and when should I believe a government paid scientist when he/she says it’s ‘perfectly fine’?)
    And I’m rambling, and not even getting paid by the word for it.

    1. “when should I believe a government paid scientist when he/she says it’s ‘perfectly fine’?”

      When others have honestly reviewed their work and found it reliable?

      (BTW, *ALL* maize is “GMO”. As is all wheat, barley, fruit, and any meat not taken by hunting or fishing. And I’m not sure about that last…)

      1. Gen-mod seeds are not necessarily a bad thing, the bad part about them is that most are sterile, or at least have a low fertility. Also many that are fertile are hybrids and when replanted do not reproduce the same product as the original. They are however gen-modded for various reasons, resistance to disease and pests, higher yield, better flavor, more cold-hearty or shorter grow time for use in a wider variety of climates, etc. While they are not what you want to store in case of the apocylapse (because of fertility issues) I don’t have a problem with eating them, and would be much more concerned with the chemicals put on them after they are planted than any genetic tampering done beforehand. Most of those chemicals are actually preferable to growing without them however, especially for producing commercial quantities. I worked on an ‘organic’ farm as a teenager, and saw what went on there, much like the ‘eco-friendly’ label, when I see the ‘organic’ label I have a knee-jerk reaction to grab the other product.

        1. For a good explanation of this in a fictional format, try John Ringo’s The Last Centurion.

        2. Fertility is more a hybrid issue than genetically modified.

          People shrieked about the “unnatural” act of grafting fruit trees and vines, but without it there wouldn’t be a European grape left in the world.

  10. As for the unprocessed foods thing, I do eat mostly unprocessed food, but when I go to the grocery store I am like you and have a kneejerk reaction when I see something with an eco-friendly label, to automatically grab the one next to it without the label. It is kind of like the ‘low-fat’ and fat-free’ fads that came around a few years ago (and are still around to an extent) eating fat isn’t what makes you gain weight, eating calories is. Many of the things labelled ‘low-fat’ have just as many calories if not more, than the’normal-fat’ foods. Of course there are the enterprising entreprenuers who sell ‘fat-free’ refried beans also 🙂 (for those of you unaware of it, ALL refried beans are fat free) I had to laugh one day watching a couple of people shop, one a woman with a cart full of ‘low-fat’ food carefully studied the shelves and then picked out the cans of refried beans labelled ‘fat-free’. The next was a man coming through grabbing stuff and putting in his cart, he grabbed a couple cans of beans, then seeing the ‘fat-free’ labelled started muttering about this fat-free garbage never tasting as good and put them back on the shelf, grabbing the cans not labelled ‘fat-free. If you look at the ingredients and nutritional information, both types are identical, just one label says ‘fat-free’ and one doesn’t.

    1. Fat-free or low-fat are both warning label for me. If you look at the sodium level of the fat-free products (besides refried beans), it is extremely higher than the normal products. Excessive salt is really bad for my kidneys.

      1. Fat carries flavor; when they reduce the fat, they have to increase either the sugar or the salt content to compensate.

    2. A certain amount of fat is necessary for the body to properly process and use some vitamins and minerals. Eating a totally fat-free menu would eventually result in hospitalization. At the same time, eating too much fat will send your weight looking to match the moon. “All things in moderation” is just as good an idea in diet as it is in other things.

      The other MAJOR problem I have with a lot of the “back to nature” crowd is the attack on bananas. Bananas are GOOD for you, but again, in moderation. Yes, they have more calories than many other fruit, but they also have twice to six times as much potassium. When I don’t get enough potassium, I get MASSIVE muscle cramps. That triggers other reactions, mainly from my arthritis. I try to eat a banana every other day to keep from getting muscle cramps. My weight remains between 215 and 230, and my body density is still greater than 1.

      1. Yes, bananas are highly advocated for those doing extreme physical exercise, to prevent muscle cramps. One thing I am very happy I never inherited from my fathers side of the family is a propensity for muscle cramps.

        A cure for cramps once you already have them is to drink vinegar, most people can’t drink much straight vinegar, so either cut it with water, or drink pickle juice, which is mostly vinegar, but has a flavor most people can stomach without gagging.

          1. Interesting– that must be why the hubby enjoys his bananas and pork. I can’t keep bananas in the house. I might eat one and he’ll eat five. He can get some incredible cramps too. Mine are from low sodium– (because I have to be careful with the sodium intake so sometimes I have to take sodium if I get too little). The hubby must have a potassium problem. I didn’t think of that– 😉

              1. I keep a liter of gatorade in the fridge when we don’t have either. He ends up drinking huge glass of it at night. I had to introduce him to gatorade in Panama because of the cramps.

              2. You do realize you’ve just made an argument for Holistic Healing.

                Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is just that people tend to take a small truth and magnify it beyond reason.

                1. GAH. It works for SOME things — I mean, afawct the reason I passed out and gave myself concussion in the bathroom years ago was my potassium levels being so low. At the time Dave F. yelled at me about “weird diets” but at the time I was not even low-carb, just eating normally. But my body somehow gets rid of potassium. Go figure.

                  1. Well my inflammatory disease was out of control an the chemo wasn’t helping. Then, my friend who also had the disease suggested I take three omega-3 pills a day (called fish oil to some if you can’t afford the fancy kind). In three months the doctor was changing my meds to a gentler chemo and I have kept the disease at this level for about five years. So — I am not against holistic healing… it is like anything– in moderation.

                    1. No idea– they were trying to say that it helps the heart except it doesn’t help the heart in the way they wanted it to– but it still is really good for all kinds of internal inflammation. It does not clear cholesterol (it may bring up the LDL a little– possibly) so now it’s considered a short “fad.” 😉

                    2. Anybody who thinks scientists come anywhere near fully understanding the human body needs to think again.

                      Fish oil may be a “fad”, it may be a placebo, but here’s the thing: if a placebo gives relief from a chronic condition it isn’t a placebo. The effect may be psychosomatic, but for most of us Life is psychosomatic.

                    3. They weren’t looking at the inflammatory properties which was of course not wise. Of course they didn’t ask the alternative health community because the info is handed down. 😉 They had their own ideas– and then they were wrong. It makes the scientists human, I guess.

                    4. Blood thinner? Ooh, I’ll have to try some of the ones we have. They’re big enough to choke a horse, though…

                    5. Mega Red is a much smaller pill (I think they use krill oil) and has the same amount of Omega-3. I finally went that way– but it is more expensive.

                    6. My dad takes fish oil*, for cholesterol. I have no idea if it works, he has always had way high cholesterol, but his old doctor always told him not to worry about, because his good cholesterol levels were through the roof, so his ratio was really great. (his old doctor also said that the medical field doesn’t know enough about cholesterol to really back up all their claims about it being bad, there are too many factors involved to prove that high cholesterol actually causes many of the things it is blamed for) When his old doctor retired and the new one saw his cholesterol levels dad claimed he thought the DOCTOR was going to have a heart attack.

                      *I actually have made sun-rendered fish oil, I would have a difficult time swallowing it myself.

                    7. Well – his old doctor was right– I have been talking to my docs and the new research is saying that the ratio is more important than the actual numbers. It is not getting out yet because of the Statin question. For me I use niacin because I have a very high ldl to hdl ratio. It is genetic actually. Anyway, niacin has helped me with cholesterol and high blood pressure.

                      My problems started when my disease damaged my kidneys. So I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have this problem normally if my disease hadn’t triggered.

                    8. I bought fish oil as gummies from iherb. I think the brand was Country Life, and the name Omega something. No idea if they are a good way to get the oil, I bought them because they were on offer at that time and very cheap, but they were quite a bit easier to take than something you have to swallow whole. Flavored with lemon, the taste of fish oil was still there a bit but not too bad. Relatively new product, I think, might be a good idea to search for reviews, I have to admit I am a bit doubtful as how well the oil survives the process of making them.

                    9. There are Omega-6 and 9, which are also needed in the diet, but in the American diet, we get enough of it. We just don’t get much of the Omega-3s which are found in places like fish and flaxseed. I don’t know about the Omega gummie– sounds interesting though. But, in your case– you probably get a greater amount of Omega 3s if you are still eating pretty traditional. Course I am just guessing about your eating habits. 🙂

                    10. I eat cheap, but stuff I can make from scratch. Too many food sensitivities to risk much ready made, for one thing most of it contains wheat which is among the foodstuffs I better stay away from unless I want to spend half of my time sitting in the toilet.

                      So eggs, chicken legs and some pork for protein, + veggies and apples. Butter and olive oil + occasionally lard, which I like but have to render myself since it’s not sold here ready made. Lots of leek, I like that, bone broths since I like them too as a base for soups. But not much fish, except those times of the year when you can get Baltic herring cheaply (plus one has to be a bit careful eating them, some mercury load), so I should probably try to get more Omega 3.

                    11. Yea– I would think so– my mother used to give us cod liver oil every spring (it acted like a laxative) then she seemed to forget that one when we got older. Anyway, you can take it by spoon if you can get cod liver oil (or other fish oil). It might be cheaper. The pills though are the best for me– and if I use the krill oil pills I have less burping up fish oil. 😉

                    12. The way to bring your high cholesterol levels down is with fiber supplements — if you’re like me. I started as an experiment because of hearing of someone who had good luck with them for weight loss. When I came back for a doctor’s appointment, he told me he had never seen someone’s cholesterol go down so far from diet alone.

                      I use the supplements with both soluble and insoluble. Build up slowly. I took a month to get to my three doses a day, and I think it was a little too fast. Your digestion will be happier with you if you do it slowly.

                    13. Mary– it depends on your genetic composition. Fiber didn’t help me much. In fact I have to be careful of certain fiber (except vegetables). Even with my immune system so suppressed I was told NOT to eat raw vegetables very often (some type of fungi). Anyway, niacin is for a certain genetic type and doesn’t work for every person.–

                      I found this with people who have my same disease. Some meds work better than others. Some people can’t even use some meds. I found that I was usually different in my reactions than others. For instance, if I am on very high prednisone for a long time, then I will start showing symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Yep– that was fun–

                      So there is not a one thing fits all people– even in food and meds.

                    14. Niacin was what kids used to take when I was in high school to ‘clean out’ their system, so they could pass a drug test. Supposedly it cleaned a lot of chemicals, and unhealthy junk out of your system. This would probably make it very beneficial to someone with your health problems.

                    15. When I was in High School kids thought you could get high by smoking dried banana peels. We won’t even touch what they believed about matters sexual. DO NOT base your life on what kids believed when you were in High School*.

                      The niacin thing probably derived from the “niacin flush” and the idea that it must be a “good” thing.

                      *Does not apply in all situations, for example, if you are writing Archie comics…

                    16. “Anyway, you can take it by spoon if you can get cod liver oil (or other fish oil). It might be cheaper.”

                      Like I mentioned earlier, I have made fish oil.* I would have a hard time swallowing it in, if I need it someday I’ll take pills thank you very much.

                      *How to make sun-rendered fish oil: Take some fish, preferably fatty fish (trout works well) chop into chunks approximately one inch square. Place in large glass container and cover the top with cheese cloth, place in a warm sunny area. As the fish decomposes the oil will be rendered out of it and rise to the top, making a nice layer of clear liquid oil. Skim this oil off being very careful not to pick up any particulates. strain the skimmed oil through another cheesecloth to remove any particulates you might not have seen. This oil if properly skimmed and pure will kindefinitelyitly withrefrigerationtion.

                    17. ARGGHHH! I HATE WP’s SPELLCHECK!

                      Will keep indefinetly without refrigeration.

                      This is why I never use the spellcheck feature, it does this to me at least half the time I use it.

                    18. LOL well– it took me a second, but I realized it was a sentence instead of a word. Unless you have been learning one of those clicking languages from Southern Africa.

                    19. Well, I can recall watching kids smoke banana peels to get high when I was in high school, so apparently that belief is long-lived.

                  2. The key, of course, is to know what those some things be. I suspect there are few Holistic Health advocates standing up for use of maggot and leach, for example, although the first is an excellent way to address serious burns and the latter, as I recall, was proving effective as therapy for reattached fingers and the like.

                    1. I suspect the advocates of fecal transplants are few and far between, too… (and yes, that’s proving effective in people who have serious digestive issues)

                    2. My parents used a number of holistic remedies handed down through the family for who knows how long. A poultice made of wet tobacco will pull the poison from a bad bee or wasp sting, or a scorpion sting. There’s a shiny black beetle that lives in rotting vegetation that can be broken in half, and the body fluids dropped into the ear, to effectively end an ear infection or earache. Popcorn (if you can eat it) is great for ending diarrhea. Sour cream will “put out the fire” of capsicum from hot peppers. There are dozens of others, but I can’t remember them all. Maybe that’s where I got the link between bananas and muscle cramps — I honestly don’t remember.

                    3. We need to write them down. I know that comfrey (almost powdered) mixed with a little water makes a great plaster and draws out infection. (Heals too). Butterfly band-aids (I have four brothers and they were always getting hurt). Other stuff– oh, alum is really good if sprinkled over silted water, helps the silt go to the bottom better. Also– rosehips (take the rosehips and dry them) then eat them for Vit. C. They taste good. Pumpkin seeds taste good and cleans up the digestive system– I think, I am not sure– that they can also clean out some parasites. All that I know off the top of my head.

                      My grandmother used to tell us a few things from her grandfather who was an herbalist. At the time she was starting the slow decline to senility (she had mini-strokes) so then she was already forgetting the good stuff.

        1. There is a drink they’d take out to the haying crews (way long ago) made of Vinegar, molasses, and water. Basically vinegar-ade. It cuts the dust, and is surpisingly refreshing when it is really hot.

          1. Roman “posca” — vinegar, honey, herbs, and water. According to Wikipedia (yeah, yeah…):

            “An approximate recreation of the beverage can be made by combining 1½ cups of vinegar with ½ cup of honey, 1 tablespoon of crushed coriander seed and 4 cups of water.” Boil, cool, strain, and serve.

            I wonder if whoever thought of serving it to haying crews knew about its history…

            1. I bet its one of those things that was always done. From when they were using a sickle to right up til they bought a baler and a stackwagon.
              “Granma always makes it and the baby always brings it” that sort of transmission is facinating to me. Probably because I didn’t learn this stuff that way.

              1. In Portugal you can buy poured-concrete statues from the same families who were making them out of plaster in Roman times. Using the “descendants” of the same molds. And I’ve found out — in shock — that a lot of the recipes I grew up with WERE Roman.

              1. I have this love of old cookbooks, like the Williamsburg cookbook, or Moxon’s or the Yankee Cookbook. Most of those have Shrub as being a rum drink, but one has a raspberry and vinegar and sugar recipe.
                One day I’m going to do a “pompion, forcemeat and posset” dinner. With a side of indian pudding or succotash.

                  1. The indians’ succotash was whole boiled corn, the settlers turned it into corn and beans – I remember it being cut corn and lima beans as a kid.
                    The Pilgrims’ version is said to be soaked pea beans, cooked and mashed, shelled corn, potatoes and turnip stewed in broth made from simmering up corned beef and a chicken. It is served as a side-dish to the corned beef and chicken. I’ve never had that, but I bet it is tastier than corn and lima beans.

                    1. It sounds better tasting anyway– Have you seen the taste of the food is going down in quality? You almost have to go to a five star restaurant to get the same tasting food that grandma made. My mother couldn’t cook– I mean we used to eat pasta and butter when my dad was a traveling salesman (I was about 6-7 years old). But I did eat some good cooking– in the family.

                    2. Cyn, I ‘ve had other people tell me this as well, but I only notice it in store bread. Then again I smoked for 20+ years so my taste and smell and mellow tenor voice are all
                      A lot of store veggies are bred for transport over taste, and even regular veggies tend to get overwatered so they loose a lot of flavor. I think that is part of it.
                      I think the other part is that things are cooked differently today. First speed is considered a premium so you have to take shortcuts that detract from mixing flavors. Also, ingredients have changed. If you mention pie crusts with lard or salt pork in a friccaseed chicken your diners will act like you hocked in the soup. It is no longer fashionable to cook stews with multiple meats, and mixing butter and wine in with gravy isn’t done so they just use grease.
                      We’ve scrificed a lot in the name of good-eating, I’m afraid.
                      I like to cook, and really enjoy making food that tastes good. Can you tell?

                    3. I can tell– my mother cooked with margarine and the other stuff that is yuck. It was my hubby who got me interested in using butter and sometimes lard. I need to learn how to render my own lard someday because the stuff you get here at the store is NOT lard. 🙂

                      Yes– I like good food too. Plus I never smoked so I have all my taste buds. Plus I have really good smell which doesn’t do me much good except for telling if the food is getting ready to spoil. (I can tell a day before — anyone else can smell it)

                      The smeller can be a disadvantage though– I am not good with anything that smells: sulphur, composting, fecal matter. lol

                    4. Just a quick comment brought to mind by the smoking reference.

                      Pre-DEET and other such products, tobacco smoke was just about the most effective insect repellent easily available. Given the number of illnesses communicable via mosquito bite, a risk of dying from cancer or other tobacco related illness in 20 – 30 years was a fair trade-off against dying from skeeter-borne illness in the next year or two.

                      Evolution does a very bad job of weeding out characteristics that kill you well after child-bearing years.

                    5. Well, I don’t know about his restaurants, but Emeril still teaches to put butter and wine in the sauce/gravy.

            2. The fact that a Roman soldier offered Jesus a sponge soaked in vinegar when he is on the cross is commonly misconstrued these days. Rather than a cruel jest as it is often represented nowadays, it was actually a sign of respect. Vinegar is what the roman legionnares drank, in effect by offering it to Jesus he was accepting him as an equal, not some pansy civilian.

      1. Just to repeat what someone else said– you need a certain amount of fat to digest certain foods and vitamins. 😉 Lard is another vitamin, I guess.

        1. Ha! That is going to be my argument from now on. That and “salt pork brings the flavors out more”

      2. Refried beans is actually a misnomer, they are boiled and then mashed up, not fried. The refried part comes from the fact that originally the traditional way to reheat them was in a skillet.

      1. Hence, the once. I was a kid and we camped in Arizona and the wildlife ate all our 1962 processed food.

        1. you know the worst part? I didn’t ever camp with my dad, but if I had he’d have GIVEN our food to the wildlife. He likes animals. Animals like him. Going for walks in the woods with him is great, because not only will animals not run away, they COME to him. It’s like a weird superpower. The reverse? He has no resistance. If mom hadn’t put her foot down we’d have been a shelter not just for every starving cat and dog, but also for birds, hedgehogs, turtles, hares, ad infinitum.

          Oh, the second bad thing is that I wasn’t born for most of 1962… (sigh. Briefly you made me feel young.)

          1. I’m that way. It drives Jean crazy. I’ve had birds land on my fingers, butterflies land on my shoulders, animals come up to me. Even here in Colorado Springs, the squirrels in our back yard will take peanuts from my hand, but not hers (at least, not most of the time). I was fishing up at Shadow Mountain Reservoir one summer, and one of the ospreys that nest up there came down and landed beside me. I’ve never been that close to a major raptor before or since, not even in a zoo.

            I’ll make you feel young, Sarah: I was a sophomore/junior in high school in 1962… 8^) Jean turned 20 that year…

      2. I love camping, as do 2/3 of our kids. Backpacking, hammock, tent, all good.

        For up to a week or so, after that it begins to lose its charm. We do have an advantage in knowing that it can stop as soon as we want it to.

    1. We camped a lot when I was a kid (under 12). Then we lived in what I call a camping situation for another seven years (not fun at all).

      I do remember a time that some of my Navy girlfriends wanted to go camping. They never camped before. I was the only one with any experience. We went one weekend during a typhoon. We made it to the camping site (Japan) around midnight and tried to set up the tent. My two friends brought everything except a hammer. I put up the tent and hammered the stakes with a rock. (No I was not consulted on what we would need– one of the girls had gone to MWR and some guy advised her.) It was one of those old canvas tents.

      By the time I got the tent up, one of the girls was in the car, crying that she wouldn’t come out. The other was trying to find a dry place in the tent. The car had its lights on with the car off. So when we decided to leave, the car wouldn’t start. I got the girls in the tent. We fell asleep. The next day was beautiful. I went down to the hotsprings that was run by some Japanese company and talked to the clerk. She laughed when she realized that the battery was dead in our car. They jumpstarted us and gave us free vouchers for the hotsprings. I guess we were really dirty.

      We could over a can — and were hungry all the time. After the third day, we were happy to get back. The tent btw was so full of mud that the girl who rented it paid a cleaning deposit because she didn’t want to get muddy again.

      One of the girls asked me if this was camping. I said pretty much except there was an outside toilet and a hotsprings. We were in luxury compared to some places I have been to. 😉 So that is my camping story in Japan. They both swore off camping forever.

      Oh yea– for the practical stuff like putting up a tent, or starting a fire, or making food, they had NO clue.

          1. My brother took his newly minted wife on a camping trip. She walked in the desert/woods in sandals cause she had huge blisters from her new shoes. Yes, she is a city city girl. They even had a run-in with a bear (trying to go for their food). My brother, an experienced camper, had hung the food high away from the camp. Scare the bejesus out of her. They have not been camping since. LOL She wanted to go– he warned her.

            1. By the way you will seldom have problems with Black Bears (grizzlies may be a different story) in the actual wild, where hunting pressure gives them a fear of humans. In a National Park or other area where they are protected? Well you better hang your food and garbage (garbage is what people usually forget to hang) away from camp, and absolutely do not keep any food in your tent. Some people even advocate hanging your toothpaste and sunscreen, but personally I have never seen that be an issue.

          2. There used to be, I knew a guy who was hired in the 60’s or 70’s to go over there and hunt the ones that were killing rice farmers. (I believe they may have even been classified as endangered by the US then) He talked about taking dogs in and starting the bears off the bodies of dead Japanese that the bears had killed and partially eaten.

            1. The Akita is the descendent of the Matagi, a dog used in hunting wild boar, deer and the Asian black bear. The range of the Asian black bear includes the islands of Honshu and Shikoku.

          3. There are bears in Japan actually. But the bigger problem is likely to be the raccoons and wild boar

            1. I chanced across a documentary about the use of dogs with troublesome bears in Japan once. American handlers with dogs of the Karelian bear dog breed, teaching some Japanese about the method if I remember correctly, they didn’t kill the bears but used the dogs to chase them away from where they were getting too close to humans.

              1. I have seen documentaries and articles about using the Karelian bear dogs for that in other areas. The guy I knew (now long dead) used Plotts and most definitly did kill the bears. He later got a bad name at least locally, because he would go around and buy up any brindle dogs that looked Plott that he could get cheap, and then sell them to the Japanese for big dollars as ‘trained bear dogs.’

                1. Karelian bear dogs are a popular breed here, and since that coloring and the generic look seems to be something pretty persistent a good percentage of the mixed breed dogs also look like that. If you want a purebred you better buy only one with good documentation.

            2. I was in Northern Hanshu Island (Misawa) and never met or saw a bear or boar. Doesn’t mean there weren’t any there (1990-1992). Just I didn’t see them. 🙂 And I traveled around the northern part of the island when ever I had days off.

              1. I’ve got more experience of Western Japan but I too have never seen either. I have seen the fences the farmers put up to stop the boar and I’ve very occasionally seen TV news reports or similar about bears. The fact that bear sightings make the news and boar ones result in significant amounts of sturdy fencing gives you an idea how common the two are.

                The only (relatively) large wildlife I’ve actually seen in Japan are snakes, monkeys and raccoons (and possibly a hare).

                1. Yea– monkeys and racoons– not fish though– I found that the fish around the coastal areas are all fished out. Lots and lots of seagulls and birds (I had an unfortunate incident with a raven there). The raven just didn’t like me. lol

    2. I loved camping as a kid, but now, not so much. Nature is lovely to visit as long as I can have hot running water, an indoor toilet and air conditioning. (OTOH, I love roller coasters. ^_^)

          1. Are you my brother and just haven’t admitted it to me? Because that sounds like his wife.

              1. Nah. My SIL is of French extraction. And she wouldn’t hang out here. Too weird for her.

      1. My wife’s not a camper. She feels a lot like you do, Laurie. She also has a fear of heights, so roller coasters are also out. I like camping, but not so much any more since I cannot sleep flat, and if I sleep on my side, the arm on that side is numb half the next day. I grew up in a house with no indoor plumbing (the only water we had was a spigot over the kitchen sink). My parents put in a bathroom when I got married, because I’d married a ‘city girl’.

        1. I have no problem with roller coasters, or most other carnival rides, I just fail to see how they are fun. Strap in and let something perfectly controlled (but not by me) go around and up and down a track in a relatively small area? Or sit down and be strapped in something that whips me around in circles until I’m dizzy? Woohoo, if I want to get dizzy I can spin around in circles and not have to pay anyone for it.

        2. Camping can be fun in good weather, not too hot, not too cold, not raining the whole time. I think I hate the ‘raining the whole time’ experiences I have had the most.

          1. And yes, preferably in an area with no huge population of creepy crawlies. Finding something living you didn’t invite invading your sleeping bag can be an unpleasant experience too.

            1. You are lucky. You don’t have poison oak. Personally I don’t catch it any more, but it does get old listening to other people complain.
              Its a plant like sumac that has toxic oils. If you are really allergic it can make horrible weeping rashes, and if you eat it or breath the smoke it can swell your airways closed. Normally it just makes a rash studded with wheals, and itches and looks terrible.
              Ahh, the wonderful outdoors. At least we don’t have rattlers.

              1. Yes, this is, in some ways, a good place in the world for camping. No very poisonous animals – one somewhat poisonous snake, but their bite rarely kills unless you are allergic or something, a few maybe cases when it comes to spiders (there is debate how dangerous a few species found here actually are, but in any case those species are fairly rare), no plants worse than nettles (unless you eat them, plenty that can kill you then). Bears in some areas, now, but they are still somewhat rare. The worst obstacle to an enjoyable camping experience is usually weather.

                1. Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are everywhere. Even when they don’t bite, their constant drone and landing everywhere is enough to drive you to distraction. Even Colorado has mosquitoes.

                  1. Oh, those. Lots, yes. You get used to them after a while. Deer keds less so, them I hate, even if they can’t use humans they land on you, crawl into your hair and under your clothes and can bite, a bit like having flying fleas around.

              2. I grew up in Louisiana. One of the state’s claims to fame is that it’s home to all four species of poisonous snakes that live in the continental US. We also have little things like alligators, scorpions, more different kinds of stinging insects than I could ever possibly name, PLENTY of poison oak and poison ivy, PLUS poison sumac, centipedes, millipedes, and Lord knows what other kinds of nasties. Yet, I camped a lot as a kid, and never had a single problem with ANY of those while camping. Most of the time, you have to go looking for trouble to really find it. Of course, I was a kid, and I could find dozens of ways to get into trouble, or to find it.

              3. Poison oak is fairly rare here, and where I grew up, both places there are areas where it is common, but they will be part of one county and you might have to travel a hundred miles to another area where it is found. I have worked in it, and have a very mild reaction, many times won’t get anything while those I worked with would. When I did react I never would get anything worse than half a dozen bumps like mosquito bites, except they would stay around for a couple weeks. A couple of guys I worked with were very allergic, and would have to go to the doctor and get steriods when they got into it.

                I live right on the edge of a major habitat change, timbered, cooler, damper climate with no posion oak, rattlers, etc. here. I can travel one direction and be in that climate for a long, long ways, in the other direction in just a few miles I can be in a dryer hotter climate, with little timber, poison oak, rattlesnakes, mule deer instead of whitetails, etc.

                1. I was mighty impressed by the islands in the upper Mississippi River where poison ivy grows into waist-high bushes. Good reason not to camp there.

                  1. I have seen poison oak growing into ‘shrubs’ taller than I am both in Kalama, WA and SW oregon. Very impressive, but not so much if you have to cut a line through it for surveying.

                    1. Those are prime poison oak areas. I’ve always wished it had some commercial value, we’d be rich.
                      Bearcat, ever have to cut through a stand of devil’s club? (the linnean name, Olopanax horridus, says it well, it is like Rhubarb mixed with nettle and looks evil – and it grows a good 8 foot tall)

                    2. Devil’s club? Oh yeah lots of it, but if you are familiar with it it isn’t that big a deal, it cuts fairly easily and the large ones (wrist sized bases) don’t have many spines on the base. If you aren’t paying attention and grab ahold of one though… well lets just say the thorns are flesh colored and almost microscopic, as well as there being a few hundred of them per square inch. The only feasable way to remove them is to wait until they fester and then squeeze each festered spot like you are popping a zit.

        3. Mike, you might find a hammock, like a Hennessey, would fix the numbness issues. No back pain, mosquitoes or bugs, either.

          1. I actually sleep in a recliner. It keeps me from lying flat (low back issues), and doesn’t allow me to roll over on my side. I cut my underlying pain in half when I started sleeping in our recliner.

  11. Well, I make my food more natural by chasing it down and pouncing on it. It’s amazing how easy it is to outrun a cheese danish. Bagels, you have to lay snares for.

    1. NOTHING like the fiendish jelly doughnut, though. They skulk in corners.
      (I wish I COULD eat a jelly doughnut. Yesterday I had two squares of chocolate, and today my eczema has flared up. Sigh. Proof that nature is not benign: my body.)

  12. Yes the Romantics and their love of nature. This is why the wealthy consulted the likes of Humphry Repton and spent much time and effort managing their grounds so that the land around their home would be properly natural.

  13. The anti-humanity of the Romantics, especially the modern flavor, amazes me. Not that I care for people in large groups all that much myself, but the neuvoRomantics’ willingness to watch hundreds of thousands of people die in culturally pure misery horrifies me. If you want hair-curling reading, look at the Indian ecofeminists and environmentalists who want the Green Revolution reversed. Granted, the Indian socialist government and bureaucracy have messed up agriculture there, but “millions dead in famine” is no longer a common headline.

    1. Eh — it’s not like the Enlightenment they were reacting to was a marvelous life-giving wonder. It was the one that gave birth to the Reign of Terror, and its love of carefully constructed perfect societies may be among the biggest killers in history.

  14. I’m a city girl. I’ve never lived in a town of fewer than 1000 people, nor attended a school with fewer than 50 students in my grade at any level. I grew up back-country camping. I like camping. Part of it’s because that’s where I could see scenic wonders (TM) and have all kinds of very tasty stuff on the cheap. (Trout, quarts of berries, breakfast of nothing but sunfish – yum!, etc.) But I’d been carefully taught about backcountry camping, and had bought gear so that I can be pretty darned comfortable in all kinds of climates. None of this “a simple wool blanket and the stars” for me. And our daughter can’t stand it. She doesn’t like bugs, spiders, or dust. No accounting for or quarreling with tastes, so we don’t camp right now.
    On the other hand, we had teachers and parents who believed in making sure that we weren’t romantics about “the good old days.” In eighth grade in early September, (fat of the land time) first part of the day, we were taken out of town about five miles to a camp, and divided into groups of six students. Each group was given a pile of wood, a live, clucking chicken, a small bit of honeycomb, some tomatoes, onions, potatoes, green beans, green peppers, eggs, nuts, some flour, some cornmeal, some whole, pasteurized (our teachers weren’t nuts!) unhomogenized milk, some buckets, spoons, a whisk, basins, cast iron pans, a dutch oven, a stew pot, an axe, and one match. We were also told that the fruit trees were thataway, the pump was a quarter mile thisaway, and that we should have lunch ready in four hours. No recipes or further directions, other than that if the teachers thought our food wasn’t safe to eat, we wouldn’t be eating it.
    We had an edible chicken dinner in three-and-half hours, complete with a buttered potato “crust” to the chicken-and-vegetable filling, baked apples with nuts and honey, and a sliced tomato-and-onion salad with nuts. Ours was the only group that did – us city kids surprised our teachers. But that’s because we had a boy who already knew how to wring the necks of chickens, and a girl who already knew how to scald and pluck a chicken. We already had a girl who knew how to skim milk and do a brisk whisk-churn to get butter. We already had a girl (that one was me) who knew how to make an good fire with a hot area and a simmer area, and who knew some edible wild plants, and who could tell which apples were ripe on the tree. And we had a couple of boys who had already cleaned and dressed game, and so could do the chopping, hauling, and cleaning and dressing of the chicken. But by then, I was already a fan of agriculture – camping’s fine for a weekend or a week, but not more. After the meal, every child was a huge fan of agriculture and a stable and productive farm-to-market system. I can do dutch oven gourmet. I’ve done fieldwork for weeks at a time. I like living where I know that my children will live, even with a compound fracture, or with bad eyesight. “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we were meant to rise above.”

    1. “None of this “a simple wool blanket and the stars” for me.”

      I distinctly remember spending a night hovered over a fire, in 5′ of snow, with temperatures around 0F, and pulling a couple of dogs up next to me for extra warmth. I only recommend such an experience for those who wish to ‘get back to nature.’ I was well dressed for the weather, and carrying all the emergency supplies needed to spend the night safely (as well as the knowledge on how to use said supplies) but comfortable would not be the word I used to describe that night.

        1. LOL, actually had three dogs with me (which made that comment twice as funny) but one was a pup who wouldn’t sit still.

                1. As am I, and so my choices mirror his. But as my lovely bride likes to say, my preferences are strictly tuned to “female.”

      1. I may still have a photo somewhere, in which I’m looking like I’m trying to hug the tent stove it in the half platoon military tent we had in our camp. I was cold and it had a fire inside so I was trying to get in a position where I was as close to it as possible without burning myself. Of course one of my coworkers had to take a picture. 😀

        1. A friend would tell stories about working on his dad’s fishing boat on the Oregon coast. He said that sometimes he would get so soaked and cold he’d go “hug” the exhaust stack of the engine, but he couldn’t touch it or he’d burn his raingear.

            1. Oh, if you can find Silisjohka and Gisttatbeljohka (rivers) on that map, Silisjohka runs from the southern end of Stuorat Golmmesjavri, the area between them is one place where I have intimate knowledge of every single rock outcrop. 😀

              1. To make that a bit easier, start from the northernmost tip on the Finnish side, the village of Nuorgam, and move east along the border. Stuorat Golmmesjavri is right across the border between Norway and Finland, most of it on the Finnish side, and the next bigger lake after Lake Pulmanki.

            2. Wow, thanks for that link. I am in the middle of some Winter War and Continuation War history reading and that map site is perfect.

      2. “a simple wool blanket and the stars”


        On a re-enactor’s trek, windy and high 30s the first night. Amazing how much difference a bit of canvas folded over you, and moved to a low spot with lots of fir needles can be.

        I was 58 when I did that; thought I’d have got over it after my teens.

        1. A mother and two sisters first re-enactor’s trip to Williamsburg, VA ended when they fled a hurricane that took an unexpected turn during the night. It is one of those things that is best in past tense.

  15. My I complain. Sitting next to me is a book and on the cover is a hunk of a man standing amidst carnage and wreckage holding a tattered American flag in one hand and a weapon in the other. The picture of the book under the listing: The Latest Book doesn’t look a bit like this. Sarah, please update your self promotion so the good people who might be unaware will know that A Few Good Men is now available.

      1. There’s your problem. Instead of slinking off to bed in shame you should slink off to bed in a chemise. That increases the likelihood Dan will join with you and keep things warm.

    1. Also, for whatever reason, at least on my computer, the picture of Darkship Thieves is cut off, with only about 2/3’s of the cover showing.

            1. The sound one makes when putting one’s tongue near one’s teeth. Not quite as rude as a raspberry. Infantile… I use it when I feel infantile.

              1. Cosidering the high level of discussion on this blog, I’m surprised I haven’t seen it more often then.

                    1. You know, I really thought the article tried to come at things from all directions and so say nothing in particular*, then I read the comments and realized exactly which ignorant, imbecilic, *sshats you were talking about.

                      *Because it quoted people with varying and opposing, even if ignorant, viewpoints. Other than the provocative title to attract readers it was remarkably unopinionated, primarily because it was so incoherent.

  16. “…can be sold as “giving you the freedom to pursue your art or craft” – because in the future, food (unprocessed of course) just magically appears, while we’re all happily writing novels, creating sculpture, or simply painting seashells.”

    Sounds like something right out of the Star Trek universe. Pie in the sky economics.

  17. People living closer to nature had a pretty clear sense of what was poverty and what was living with nature. Remember the term “on the dung heap”. That was poverty not nature though the dung was quite naturally produced.

  18. All of which would be fine, if the leaders of this movement weren’t also the sort of people who ARE far from nature and who romanticized everything in nature.

    I think distance may be a requirement for all romanticizing. Uncle Screwtape said something about keeping reality far away from the idealist, because one afternoon’s genuine tooth-ache would destroy a lot of silly ideas.

    Baby ducks are the cutest thing on the planet and I don’t blame Marshall for coveting one. A duck or a goose is high on my list of critters I would have if I had the time – along with a house chicken (hey, I already have pet birds, it’s not that big a stretch. ^_^)

    1. The funny thing is we didn’t know it at the time, but it might have killed me. I’m DEATHLY allergic to feathers. (Otherwise I’d have adopted a house chicken from Craigslist the other day. I mean… it wore diapers.. and liked sitting on your shoulder while you typed.) The duckling was adorable, yellow and fuzzy and was trying to follow Marshall.

      1. I’m sorry, but animals in diapers give me an instant WTF! response.

        On the plus side, you wouldn’t have to search around the house for the eggs 😉

        1. Well, I understand chickens can’t be potty trained. We considered a diaper for Pixie when he was senile, but we had no hope of his not tearing it off. As for why we considered it, he peed on floor vents. A LOT. Yeah, I know. I think the vet was surprised we didn’t put him down and spent a small fortune to keep him alive the last six months. You’d have to meet Pixel to understand. He was almost a person. No. he WAS a person. He was almost a hooman.

          1. Almost a hooman and pees on floor vents.
            Goes a long way to explain why you put up with most of us here.

            1. well, he was 20 and 21. In human years that’s 120 or so… I kept telling Robert “when I’m over a hundred and pee on floor vents, remember my kindness to the cat.”

        2. People do make jokes about diapers and the bottom of the bird cage, but I figure it’s easier than, say, carrying little plastic bags with you when the dog goes out. And dogs are bigger and produce more. I think the animals are all worth it. They are people (or I’m an odd-looking flock member, which is what my birds think).

          1. Ever seen what comes out of the south end of a goose? I’ll take a 200-lb mastiff any day of the week. It might be larger, but not 1/10th as nasty.

            1. Yes — at the apt. complex we used to live in, I used it to great effect to make sure the bratlings would do their screaming and thundering around like ironshod ogres at the end of the complex furthest from where I was. >:)

            2. For some inexplicable reason our city fathers thought it would be a great idea to declare our city a bird sanctuary. They eventually had to do something about this when Canadian geese (no fools they, they choose to stay year round in our inviting clime) took over the county park. Along with the mess, which was prodigious, think about this: geese have been used like guard dogs and they do not share territory well.

      2. WSJ’s front page interest article of several years ago was about a group that had been able to successfully rehabilitate fighting roosters. They first had to get them off the drugs they’re pumped up with, and they’d carry the rooster around constantly for a couple of weeks, holding him against their chests to hear the heart beat. They said once the roosters realized they weren’t going to die, that they were safe, they became the friendliest, sweetest-natured birds they had. (Rescue critters make wonderful pets because they’re grateful.)

        1. True of ours. Though Euclid is NUTS which means we can’t break him of things like peeing on fabric on the floor. So if your shirt falls, it’s had it. (In his defense his former owner trained him to fabric, which ARGH. Once you wash the old towels or whatever, it’s not cheaper than litter and it certainly isn’t eco-friendly.)

        2. I used to know a number of people who raised fighting cocks (most of them old men that are dead now) some of them just because they had had them their whole lives, and others that actually still went to cockfights (another example of the fact that outlawing something doesn’t stop people from doing it). None of them, at least to my knowledge, used drugs on their birds, and much like steriods to my understanding it wasn’t acceptable to have drugged birds at cockfights. If someone was found to be drugging their birds they were booted out and not allowed to bring any more to the fights. Also the fighting cocks were as friendly towards people as any other barnyard chicken (in otherwards it varied wildly 😉 ) but were either kept in seperate pens, or tied out to their own house like dogs on a chain; because you couldn’t put fighting cocks in a pen together or… well, you would have a cockfight.

          1. Please note, I am NOT advocating cockfighting, just pointing out that not everything you read in the news is universally true. (and the WSJ is one of the better and more reliable traditional news sources in my opinion)

            I did know a number of Tarheels that moved west during or after the great depression, and brought their culture with them. Cockfighting was part of that culture.

            1. All I know about cock-fighting I learned from Animal Cops Houston, so make of that what you will, but according to them, they use drugs down here. Hypos and vials are pretty visible among confiscated stuff, for both cocks and dogs.

            2. Depends, too, bearcat. I think yours were traditional cockfighters. I think some of the new (more illegal) leagues might drug the animals. I think everything that is illegal goes darker and worse. Maybe it’s just me.

              And guys, SERIOUSLY, compared to our ancestors we’re milky-gentle. Bear baiting? Dog fights? ANYTHING that could be put up to fight. And if you couldn’t, you’d take an old animal and whip him till he bled because somehow that was fun…

              We have been self-taming for centuries. Whether that would have happened without Judaism and Christianity is up for grabs. (shrug.)

              1. It’s stuff like that that makes me wonder just how historically accurate I want to be with my fiction – because the truth is pretty gruesome, and because these are things being done, not just by outsider villains, but by normal regular people. Though I do recall plenty of contemporary writers who criticized as much as we do.

                1. Yep but not so much contemporary if you go back to oh, Elizabethan England. They might deplore “dens of sin” but because there was drinking and debauchery going on, not cruelty to animals who were considered “things.”

                  It’s really hard to write in Elizabethan England and give JUST enough of the flavor. But it’s why it’s possible to make an ambiguous figure (like Marlowe) a black hearted villain or a misunderstood soul, just depending on what you highlight.

                  1. Yes, and the animals-as-things, I know a lot of that is because animals were largely food, but even then, baiting is a huge change from, say, animal sacrifice, which seemed like a way to deal with the guilt of killing and eating a fellow living creature.

              2. A bit late to the party here, but I couldn’t resist mentioning fox-tossing (favorite leisure-time activity of Holy Roman Emperors everywhere).

                The basic premise was to have two people at each end of a long cloth sling. Foxes (and other animals) were sewn into the sling, which was flung as high into the air as possible. The object was to get the sling higher than any other team, and then to batter the animal to death on the reverse in a minimum of tosses.

                Another variation was to have teams of people with slings in an enclosed courtyard, and then release the animals and toss them into the air as they ran panicked over the slings. At the end of the competition, any remaining live but injured animals were clubbed to death by the Emperor and his courtiers (this was seen as an opportunity for happy cameraderie and relaxation away from the rigors of court life).


                Makes cockfighting (legal or illegal) look positively charming and genteel.

          2. According to this article, the ex-fighters could be let loose into the general chicken population with no trouble, but again, they had to be convinced it wasn’t going to be a life-and-death situation for them anymore. The group said the ex-fighters became extremely peaceful and didn’t want to fight at all.

        3. Chickens are the one animal I’d only have around if I had no other choice. They’re stupid, aggressive, and stupid. One of my sisters, when she was little, was on the tree swing and one of the chickens stood right at the base of the swing and pecked her leg every time she went by. Drew blood.

          1. I want goats– I wonder if I can convince the landlady that the goat was a dog. Milk, cheese, and meat– I have eaten it all. I have digestive problems with goat products. Sheep– I can eat it, but still don’t have the taste for it.

            1. I mean I don’t have digestive probs with goat products… I do have many many problems with regular cheese and milk– I can eat sour cream and maybe cottage cheese, but that is all… 😉

              1. Goats are cross-grained, stubborn and wrong headed cusses that look at you levelly with their slotted eyes and seem to say, “and so, what are you going to do again?” I love them. I also adopt feral cats, so I’m probably deeply flawed.

                1. My dad’s pets when he was growing up were a goat and a raven. He says he can neither confirm nor deny that he’s Odin’s Avatar. On the reassuring side, he has both eyes.

    2. Ducks are great critters, we had them when I was a kid. They love to eat slugs and snails, and they trailed me around when I was digging over the compost heaps, begging for worms.

      1. Yes, my grandmother had them when I was kid, to eat slugs and so we had eggs.

        Geese on the other hand, the less said the better. 😉

        1. Geese are the best warning system EVER. We had a flock of geese when I was growing up. They loved to chase one of my brothers, but didn’t bother anyone else.

          1. Guinea hens. Smaller, just as good a warning system, and won’t chase anyone.

  19. Meant to point this out earlier, but you forgot to add the last word to the title of this post.

  20. So the old rule of “everything in moderation” would seem to apply.

    I mean processed food (where processing = washing and maybe cutting/pureeing/making oil from ) is good but over-processed food (i.e. adding sugar, salt, vitamins, removing fat etc. etc.) is generally not so good.

    Ditto with the locavores, organic lovers etc. (note the only inorganic foods are salt and water). I’m in favor of locally produced food simply because it is likely to be fresher. I’m in favor of fewer additives (particuarly to meats) which tend to be a part of the organic thing, but I’m all in favor of artificial fertilizers – the planet would be starving without them – and mostly in favor of GM veggies because GM veggies need less pesticides and many pesticides are harmful to humans.

    And so on.

    [BTW this article on eggs is interesting – – I’m now curious what the rules are in Japan because in Japan everyone eats raw eggs without any worry of getting food poisoning ]

    I’m OK with the camping thing. I quite enjoy it, but haven’t done it for years (the wife is of the same school as our hostess regarding things like baths and toilets). I think everyone should camp a few times as a child just so as they appreciate houses, reliable cooking, running-water and working sewage systems but I see no reason to force people to do it all the time instead of using an RV to get back to nature.

    While I think cities are a great thing in almost all respects, I do think they lead people to be disconnected from nature in critical ways. City people like nature when it has been cleaned up and gentrified, and they don’t understand that nature in the park (or urban demonstration farm) has been cleaned up. At least they mostly don’t. They also have no idea where food comes from, how it is grown/processesed/transported etc. and have no idea why peasants voluntarily move to slums and barios all over the developing world. This disconnect is undoubtedly a major cause of bad policies.

    1. I would love to have an RV — it’s sort of a goal…. if (sigh) the kids ever move out and if (sigh) I ever make enough from writing for the RV and the gas, I’d like to get one and see a bit of the country.

      1. Fascinating place, but Yellowstone stinks, literally. It’s almost impossible to escape a strong pungent odor of sulfur from the hot springs and geysers. Still worth the trip, but be forewarned.

        1. Gary, Indiana is like that, too, but I don’t think they have hot springs.

          (And the smell of Peoria, Illinois, back in the early ’90s was… unique. I think it was rotting corn being kiln-dried.)

          1. Oddly, no one wants to make a national park out of Peoria nor Gary. (Side question: why do so many perfectly good towns feel a need to name a street after Peoria?)

      1. It’s not dinosaurs, but close by here we have Big Bone Lick (Stop laughing. They found bones of Mammoth, Giant Bison, and other large mammals in a salt lick. It’s right down the road from the Beaver Lick Baptist Church… Oh, pfui. Laugh away.)

        1. OMG. We once turned around in front of that church while lost and at a con. Wayne, were we near you?

          My husband — sigh — took a picture of the sign. Because he IS a guy.

          1. Not far from the High School I (and Mitt Romney, Michael Kinsley and Michael Barone — clearly their admissions standards skipped) attended in a Detroit suburb was a road named Big Beaver. This was a source of much amusement for the less mature boys (which is to say, all of them.)

            1. One of my favorite place names is in Wyoming. Crazy Woman Creek, which gave its name to Crazy Woman VOR (navigation beacon.) Not too far east of that is Killpecker Creek, so named because of the effects of the chemicals in the water. Or so the geology and place name books swear.

              1. Have you been to Crazy Woman Creek? There is a natural oil seep on the other side of the knoll from the cabin at the mouth of the canyon. (north side if I recall correctly) The only one I have ever just happened across. Not familiar will Killpecker Creek, but I have drank water out of Poison Creek with no ill effects. (out of the headwaters, I believe lower down it becomes very alkaline, hence the name)

          2. It’s about 10 miles up the road. Unless there’s a different one. This is in Northern Kentucky, about 20 miles south of Cincinnati, Oh.

            Too bad you didn’t know about the Park then. They raise Bison now, for the tourists, in the field next to the museum.

            1. And they’re all just a few miles from one of the biggest marketing flukes in history, the Florence Y’All water tower:


              People came from all over the country in the first few years after it was put up, just because they had heard of the sign on the water tower.

              1. Speaking of interesting signs, in a nearby town here there is an S & M Mini Storage. No, I’m not joking, I’m not sure if the owners were or not.

        2. There is spot not far from here known as Bone Lick Saddle, no idea where the name originated from but it is always good for a doubletake look when giving directions to somebody unfamiliar with it. “Take that road there up through Bone Lick Saddle, then…”

        3. Arkansas has a Frog Lick State Park. Don’t know the explaination behind that one.

          1. I think a LICK in that case is a mineral deposit (or salt deposit) ergo someone saw a frog licking a rock? maybe? otherwise you could turn it into a music lick– Frog playing a banjo– umm.. 😉

            1. Well, if we’re going to actually speculate on origins, instead of just pointing and giggling, I’d suggest it was a salt lick where there was an abundance of frogs nearby. Or, possibly, a salt lick (think spring which has an abundance of minerals in the water – they usually smell bad) which made a sound similar to a frog sometimes.

              1. Wayne, if you’re going to live inside my head would you please open a window and let some fresh air through? It’s been getting kinda musty and the danger of mildew has me concerned.

                1. Besides that, I have to decide whether I’m going to inhabit your head, or Sarah’s…

                  1. Or perhaps Sarah and I are inhabiting your head.

                    My father having been in the Navy, I must now go apply mental floss.

                    1. You are making me think about Arthur Upfield Australian aborigine detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, in one of the early volumes of the series is a graphic description of a rabbit stampede. Oy!

            2. Probably a mineral deposit or seep that was, for whatever reason, especially fecund of frogs.

                  1. I need to read at least one of his books– Shame on me– but I hadn’t actually looked at the sci-fi area for so long that I don’t know the current writers (except Hoyt, Smith, and Rusch). Can you recommend a first book to start with?

                    1. Start with MHI (Monster Hunters International) and work out from there. Or maybe Grimnoir book I… two completely different series, just depends on which way you want to go.

                    2. It is always dangerous to recommend books without already having a good understanding of what the reader likes … and, more importantly, dislikes. While a very different writer, I would guess if you like/dislike L’Amour you would similarly like/dislike Correia.

                      Monster Hunter grew out of his enjoyment of B-movie monster flicks and wondering what would happen if monsters ran into people who truly know how to kick a** and notify the next of kin. The first several books are available from Baen in a tidy omnibus edition, highly recommended for people who think that is the sort of thing they would like. The only grey goo involved in these novels is the ichor trail of the wounded. The banjo-playing frog is a unit patch for one of the Monster Hunter teams.

                      Hard Magic is a different sort of series, set in an alt-hist world in the Thirties, a nod to Raymond Chandler in a world in which magic happens. Something triggered changes in reality so that (some) humans develop powers and abilities beyond those of ordinary men (or women.) How these powers manifest and how the characters employ them is part of the fun in these books. I believe Larry Correia’s gaming habit is expressed more profoundly in this series than in MHI. Hard Magic and Spellbound are the first and second (respectively) novels in an opening trilogy (true trilogy: three independent but related novels, as opposed to modern trilogy: one novel in three parts.)

                      Warning: these are books which are hard to put down and easy to pick up again.Action is fast-paced and the people who spend time pondering their inner conflicts tend to be the first eaten. If you like/dislike that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you are likely to like/dislike. We aren’t talking Pride and Prejudice or Lord Peter Wimsey here.

                      N.B. Be aware that Baen has Sarah and Larry yoked to produce a joint novel. Only Sarah and Larry can tell you how that is working out.

                    3. Actually no movement has been made towards that joint novel and I don’t know if it’s still on the books. I should poke Larry one of these days.

                      A quibble. L’Amour is one of those authors I CAN’T read — don’t kill me. It’s the way he puts words together. It rubs me wrong. It might change. For years I couldn’t read Turtledove and then it changed.It’s nothing the author does wrong, it’s just at that time I can’t take the word choice. Sometimes it changes in the other direction. I loved Farmer’s World of Tiers, and bought a shiny new edition for the kids. Can’t read it. The words feel ‘wrong” — HOWEVER I have no problems with Monster Hunter.

                      BTW, no wonder Larry and I get along. He loves B movies, I love B literature, like Dumas. The epic daring do and the picaresque style is the same.

                    4. Louis La’mour’s words are comforting to me– because they remind me of the old grandparents in the small town grew up in– It is the Old West in his words.

                    5. Is it too late to note that L’Amour varied the narrative voice across the series? His early Sackett novels start in Elizabethan England (circa 1600) and the narrative voice is of that era. It is only when his Tennessee descendants head across the Plains following the Civil War that L’Amour’s narrative voice becomes the one so familiar.

                      I recommend Ride the River as a good read for the ladies (and gents, of course.) It tells of Echo Sackett’s 1820s trip from the Tennessee hollows to Philadelphia to collect an inheritance bequeathed to her and her success in spite of all the helpful men she meets along the way. Not L’Amour’s usual stoic male narrator and just a nub of a thing, Echo proves herself every inch a Sackett. Why Jodie Foster or some other actress didn’t snap this up for a starring vehicle is a puzzle.

                    6. It took me some time to learn that there are some writers I just don’t like, and that it has nothing to do with the author or me. Arthur C. Clarke, for example, is one of the Deans of SF whose novels I simply cannot finish.

                      I chose L’Amour as a popular author who excels at action and scenery but spends little time on character motivation – a classification I think applies to Larry’s work as well. This does not mean character is neglected, but that it is depicted through action.

                      On Farmer’s World of Tiers … like his Riverworld (or, if I understand correctly, Jordan’s Wheel of Time) this has long struck me as an author getting a grand idea and, in the process of developing it, getting so busy chasing bunnies that he loses sight of the trail through the novel. Maybe it is lack of authorial (editorial?) discipline, maybe I am missing the point of the novel/series. Whatever. At some point it becomes much easier to put down, much harder to pick back up. Great idea, so-so execution … for my purposes. I had the same reaction to ERB’s Barsoom series, finally quitting after the fifth or sixth book but devoured all of his Tarzan & Pellucidar novels.

                    7. A nod to Chandler; people will probably disagree over how well handled it is. I would not want to mislead you, and may have (relying on faulty and undiscriminating memories) have used Chandler when the proper reference is ‘Thirties pulp detective stories.

                      OTOH, given your familiarity with Japan, there are elements there which you should definitely enjoy.

                      As always, YMMV. I have had more than one dinner where I liked all of the ingredients but not the meal.

                    8. Chief Justice Roberts (whatever else you may think of him) wrote the opening of a the dissenting opinion to Pennsylvania v. Dunlap in the style of Raymond Chandler…

                      BLOCKQUOTE>North Philly, May 4, 2001. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three­-dollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He’d made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood. Devlin spotted him: a lone man on the corner. Another approached. Quick exchange of words. Cash handed over; small objects handed back. Each man then quickly on his own way. Devlin knew the guy wasn’t buying bus tokens. He radioed a description and Officer Stein picked up the buyer. Sure enough: three bags of crack in the guy’s pocket. Head downtown and book him. Just another day at the office…

                      There is some controversy surrounding his choice of style. See:


                    9. I’ll try MHI first– I do a lot of fantasy reading– all types. My favorite are the cross-genre hardboiled characters. Although mil fantasy if I can find it is a close second.

                    10. I haven’t read his grimnoire books (don’t know why, I really like everything else he has written). I would suggest you start with MHI as probably most to your taste, but my favorite is Dead Six, cowritten with Mike Kupari. No SF or fantasy, just awesome mil/merc-fic thriller; picture Rambo meets Robert Ludlum. Also it is written in first person with dual main/viewpoint characters, which just plain WORKS for this novel.

      2. Dinosaur National Park? The one that is in both Colorado and Utah and has the bone wall in the Utah section?

        1. I lived around the Utah side of Dinosaur National Parks. If anyone has ever been there and bought a stuffed dinosaur or rock dinosaur, our family had that business from 75-late 80s (maybe longer). Mom sold the business finally when her girls left home.

    2. How many of you eat raw cookie dough or chocolate cake mix? How many of you have gotten sick from it? It contains raw eggs. Raw eggs, whether home-grown or bought out of a store are remarkably safe, it is another one of those myths perpetuated in our society that if you eat raw eggs you are going to get salmonella. Other than cookie dough I haven’t eaten a raw egg in years, but when I was taking body building in high school my normal breakfast for two years consisted of whatever I was normally having for breakfast, and instead of a glass of milk, a protien shake with 2-3 raw eggs cracked in it. I never had any ill effects from it, and my body building teacher used to recommend everyone have at least 2 eggs for breakfast every morning as an excellent source of protien. He stated that you got more out of them raw, and it was easier for your body to process, but he had to recommend you cook them for liability reasons.

      1. Whatever you do don’t eat the duck eggs with the red stamp from the asian store.
        I mean you can if you want to, but it probably won’t make you happy.

        1. Not familiar with them, and I have a cousin with a wife from Laos that lived with me for a time. She was a very traditional (and good) cook, but she went in for quail eggs, not duck.

          1. Older son can be bribed with quail eggs and chicken hearts. Weird, but true, should any girl ever try to persuade him to run away with her… Quail eggs and broiled chicken hearts with lime juice.

            1. My weakness foods are salmon, shrimp, blueberries, and dark chocolate. If you get my blueberries dipped in chocolate, I will love you for life. 😉

            1. Oh. Those. Indeed. Very ick. Never been my misfortune to experience such, but I have had Thousand Year Egg. Also to be avoided, in my not-so-humble opinion, though tea eggs are said to be pleasant to the American palette.

            2. When I was at university in Germany there was a big scandal because a company got caught using those eggs in egg noodles (no one noticed) and in a cheap brand of egg liqueur that the alkies favored.

      2. I’ve been eating raw eggs my whole life. I use them in shakes. Also raw meat, for some reason I have developed a taste for it and it is a struggle for me to get especially the damn beef as far as the frying pan because I really, really prefer it raw (I try, though, I don’t worry about the eggs, much, but raw meat is a bit more scary proposition when it comes to health concerns, it’s just that flesh is weak).

        1. I was going to say I draw the line at raw meat, but some would consider the way I prefer a beefsteak (as opposed to wild game) raw, I do prefer my red meat warmed however. I’ve ate sushi, not bad but a little chewy, I prefer it cooked, and raw oysters, there is no bad way to eat an oyster, but again there are other ways I like them better.

          1. I have actually never tried oysters, there aren’t that many places where you can get them here. As for the meat, that has to be fresh, even slightly old and it’s going to go on the frying pan and stay there until it’s very well done, but when it’s fresh I have this temptation to not even warm it. Game I also always get well done, more of a risk of getting something from it, although I do sometimes eat wild fish raw even with the risk of getting parasites. Been lucky, so far. And nowadays you can get rid most of them if you get them…

            1. Fish are not a high risk for parasites, as long as you don’t eat the skin. Shellfish, however, are rather more risky, so I would never eat raw shrimp or lobster.

              I don’t like oysters, so I won’t eat them raw, either.

              1. Well, when I was a kid we were scared with tapeworm when it came to eating fish, but yes, I guess that’s the only major risk. According to the old people I knew when I was a kid a good percentage of people used to have them (and then we’d get some disgusting story about somebody doing something like trying to pull a big live one out, so I suppose one reason may have been just the age old game of gross out the kids).

              2. Shrimp are served raw on a lot of salads, and I have eaten them that way, but I absolutely love shrimp battered and deep fried, so consider it a waste to make them any other way.
                Any good seafood is hard to get here, it is the one thing I miss since moving here. Oysters are one of those love’em or hate’em foods, seems like people either love them or can’t stand them; and I land at far end of the love’em spectrum, so I’ve never had them fixed a way I didn’t like them. But still some ways are better than others.

                1. Never seen a raw shrimp on a salad. The salad shrimp are usually chilled, but completely cooked.

                    1. These would be white, often fresh from the shrimp pots, some would be taken out and put on the salad that was stuck in the fridge to cool, while the deep fryer heated up to cook the others. Maybe it’s a coastal thing, haven’t seen it here, but then you can’t get fresh shrimp here.

                    2. Except for two years in Florida– I haven’t been on the coast– we get the cooked stuff– either canned or frozen. Yep, not fresh.

    3. By the way, speaking of local, if you follow the link to my farm blog you’ll sometimes see my tagline of Eat Good, Eat Local… well *shifty eyes* that’s a marketing ploy 🙂 Seriously, I enjoy a strawberry in February as much as the next person. But we have a little farmstand and it seemed to be the thing to pull people in off the road with.

  21. I love hiking but camping is just too much work. Cooking, cleaning, dish washing … everything takes at least twice as long as it would at home.

      1. I’m on the flip side of that: I like to camp out, but not really to hike. I love the scenery, but if I’m going to walk that far, I ought be getting paid for it. Working foot patrol security only exacerbated that sentiment.

        1. I used to hike BC (before chemo). Now I am happy to walk to the mail box and back, which is a very short walk. I miss that actually.

    1. For me those two, hiking and camping (even if I do hate doing the dishes too), pretty much go together. I like the idea of going far enough that it gets quiet, no car noises, or other of the sounds of civilization, and minimum of light pollution if it’s that part of the year it gets dark enough to see the stars here, but since even though I like hiking I don’t like doing it fast that usually meant spending enough time that you’d better, or you’d have to, spend the night. And after you have gotten that far why not spend a couple of nights there?

      I do have, however, always hated carrying too much stuff with me so not too many nights. But if somebody else does it for me that’s a different proposition again. 😉

      When I did more camping it took about a week or so before my desire for modern amenities started to become serious (when it was work and I couldn’t leave, well, you adjust when you have to, and when we are talking about months there will be periods when you love it and periods when you hate it and everything in between – but you will really, really love civilization once you get back to it). I haven’t done camping seriously for quite a while now, though, and I suspect I would not last that long nowadays.

      1. Again, since the daughter doesn’t like camping, it’ll be a few more years before that’s a possibility. I like it. My daughter and sister-in-law hate it. Taste doesn’t make either one of us superior to the other. That’s what really bugs me about romanticizing something. It’s inherently saying, “This thing that I know nothing about is superior to this thing that I do know something about.” Not, “I think I’ll like it better.” Not, “I like the idea.” Not even, “I think better because of this immutable good served.” Nope, better because of ignorance. Ummmmm. Just no.

  22. Cobra venom and botulism endotoxin are 100% natural. Would you like a double helping, its “organic” ya know? Btw, organic in chemistry means contains carbon. ANYTHING you can possibly eat is organic. Hell, even Teflon, motor oil, and a woman’s nylon panties are organic.

      1. You know they make edible ones, you could probably even find chocolate flavored.

          1. Right, I see a marketing opportunity, low-carb* edible underwear. 😉

            *WP spellcheck doesn’t recognize carb as a word and wants to change it to crab. Somehow I don’t think low-crab edible underwear would sell that good.

  23. (It’s the Gary Taubes method. I hasten to point out it doesn’t work for EVERYONE. It’s possible in the future, if we don’t destroy our medical industry, we could get our diet prescribed according to our genetics. I once had a friend who ate only carbs and at a prodigious rate [and we’re talking fries and nachos, not healthy stuff] and was incredibly svelte. But for a lot of us that’s the kiss of death.)

    There’s been some evidence found that your gut bacteria changes how well a diet works for you, too– which would mimic genetics, since you get ’em from your folks most of the time.

  24. Related to the “‘natural’ (meaning cruddy) is better” theory, ever notice that a lot of “hand crafted” stuff is DELIBERATELY made to look horrible?

    My mom’s had folks refuse to buy her stuff because, and I quote, it’s too well made, you can’t tell it’s hand-made.

  25. Re: Louis L’Amour, I got hooked on him after listening to a audiobook short story collection with various country and western singers doing the readings. (Part of Willie Nelson’s taxpaying enterprises, I think.) It helped a lot, because they knew how to pronounce the unusual (to me) Western words and work the pacing.

    1. At least one of his audiobooks I ‘read’ years ago was produced like the old-timey radio shows, complete with sound effects, clopping horse hooves, gunshots, etc. That really made it something special.

  26. My husband (then fiance) was completely shellshocked the first time I dragged him to an Alaskan hippie festival. It was only after we’d gotten past the lines of art, clothes, photovoltaic and windmill rigs, electrical wiring classes and demonstrations, gold nugget jewelry, septic systems, blacksmithing, mining supplies, soaps, heirloom herd breeds and seeds for subarctic and arctic households, and glassblowing booths to the main stage where a great bluegrass band was finishing and my friends were starting their Sea Chanty set that he realized why Alaskans get on fine with our Old Hippies. They’re the people who actually put their money where their mouth is, and moved off the grid to make their best go at living with nature. They’re fantastically well-armed, practical, hardworking and thoughtful, and more than half a bubble off level. Good neighbors, given enough land for privacy between you and ’em.

    When I ran into hippies in the lower 48 after moving down here, it was a shock to the system. I can’t stand these people, they’re foul-mouthed, they stink, an’ they don’t think!

    1. We have a few of the Old Hippies around here also, (and about half of them came from Alaska) but the others give them a bad name.

  27. I had a dream last night where I picked up Organic Rabbit Wipes. I blame you all.
    I don’t even have an Organic Rabbit.

      1. You beat me to it. I was going to ask if she had inorganic rabbits. Then again, I know some people who have cement rabbits, so I guess they would count.

        1. I used to have a glass rabbit.

          Then there are the stuffed bunnies the kids used to play with.

          On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 8:22 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

          > ** > Wayne Blackburn commented: “You beat me to it. I was going to ask if > she had inorganic rabbits. Then again, I know some people who have cement > rabbits, so I guess they would count.” >

  28. Until I retired I was a chemist, and when I see something labeled “organic” I generally make rude jokes. I’ve never seen an inorganic egg, or inorganic milk, or produce. Besides most inorganic stuff is either really gritty or breaks teeth whilst being chewed. My wife usually shoots me a dirty look at these times.

    The folks who want all natural, and blah, blah, blah either view bathing as the work of the devil, or are wealthy hypocrites living as mentioned in 5000 sq ft or larger homes. They drive gas guzzling vehicles while preaching to the rest of us about global warming, and are generally disgusting.

    That’s just my opinion, and I’m sure it will be disagreed with by many. Too bad.

Comments are closed.