July 29, 2020

Anti-Shopping Bliss

Like many people, I haven't been out shopping in a long while. Unlike many people, I do not miss it one little bit.

For me, someone that has been writing a blog called Not Buying Anything for over a decade, not setting foot in a shop for almost half a year has been bliss. 

Not that I shopped much before, but I get to do even less now. That is what I call moving in the right direction. 

I have never enjoyed shopping. It is something I do when I have exhausted all other options. 

Anti-Shopping Options

Live without it.

Use something else you have instead. 

Borrow it.

Find the item for free. 

Grow it.

Swap for it.


Only after having exhausted these alternatives will I:

Buy the item second hand. 

Failing that, I check to make sure I can't live without it again, and then if I can't I:

Buy the item brand new.

If you are patient you may rarely have to proceed to the last 2 options. 

In my experience, one can find a lot of things for free, because let's face it - there is an overabundance of stuff filling groaning closets, basements and garages all over this consumerland of plenty.

This shutdown, while tragic in so many ways, has been beneficial overall for me, and I guess a lot of other anti-shoppers, too. It is the closest I have ever got to achieving a lifelong dream of never having to go shopping again. 

After an extended period of being at home and on the land I find I am going feral, and I love it.

All nature all the time. No going to town, no shopping.

It has been 5 months straight of uninterrupted blissful moments of sun and rain and frogs and grouse and garden and flowers and hikes and bike rides and stars and fresh air.

This is the life for me.

How has the pandemic been good for you? Any silver linings?

July 27, 2020

Children Don't Know The Value Of Things

Children are dumb. 

If you give them an expensive present they will unwrap it, ignore the brightly coloured toy inside, and play with the box for hours. 

We laugh at their silliness. Foolish children don't know the real value of things. That toy cost a lot of money. 

It is obvious to any normal person that a free cardboard box is valueless compared to an expensive toy. 

Therefore, one must grow up, learn to covet the toy, and throw the empty box of childish things aside.

Children are dumb.

If you take a kid to an elaborate park play structure, they are just as likely to play on it as to wander off, find a stick and some pebbles, and play contentedly with them for hours.

We laugh at their silliness. Foolish children don't know the real value of things. That play structure cost a ton of money.

It is obvious to any normal person that free sticks and pebbles have no value at all, whereas the expensive play structure took many bake sales for the community to be able to plan, design, and build.

It's not their fault that children are dumb. They don't know the real value of things. But they will most certainly learn, sooner rather than later. 

In the process, something wonderful will be lost.

Remember what it was like to be a child dumb enough to find joy in small, "valueless" things? 

That is simple living in a nutshell.

July 24, 2020

Super Simple Summer Snack

Summers around these parts are a melt-inducing blend of heat and humidity. To survive one must operate at about half speed. In the shade. With lots of breaks.

Usually by the end of June or start of July we are altering our cooking and eating habits. Taking it easy and staying cool are the goals, in addition to growing what we can, and making dishes that are tasty and nutritious.

For months in the summer we do not use our oven, except on the coolest days. We don't even like to use the stovetop if that can be avoided. And it can.

We love super simple no-cook meals, like todays lunch.

I began by harvesting some fresh basil and leaf lettuce from our garden. Any other veggies can be added, and what we had available today was red bell pepper and carrots (from the store).

To the veggies we add tofu that has been cut in strips, marinated in a blend of soy sauce and sesame oil, then sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

To enjoy this wholesome food, we grab a leaf of lettuce, then fill it with a piece of marinated tofu, plus a slice of red pepper and carrot. We complete it by laying in a whole leaf of fresh basil.

If the lettuce leaf is large enough it can be folded up like a wrap, then devoured in a semi-controlled manner with as little drooling as possible. 

But they are tasty, and that is hard to do. 

I would recommend distancing if you eat these around other people.

Stay cool, everyone. It's getting hot out there, in more ways than one. 

And try not to drool. Much.

So hot...

July 23, 2020

7 Simple Living Tips For The Next Great Depression

Even when all we had was a porch, we still grew as much food as we could.

If this is the worst economic meltdown since the last Great Depression, that means today is the best possible time to be living simply since the 1930s. Look at that - I found something to celebrate!

Will there be a repeat Great Depression in the 2020s? Some think so, by mid-decade or sooner.

I am an optimist, but I also want to be prepared for the worst possible pessimistic scenario. 

Any way we go, it looks like the near future will be bad for expensive, debt-dependant, complicated and extravagant ways of living.

So how does one prepare for an impending economic depression? Simplify as much as possible starting right now. 

Keeping life lean and efficient is an age old method to get by, used to great advantage by our ancestors for millions of years. If it wasn't as effective as it is, we might not be here today. 

And if we don't adopt it now, we might not be here in the distant future.

The less baggage you have stacked on your travois, the more manageable traveling through this will be.

In that regard, here are a few suggestions that have worked for us over the years.

7 Simple Living Tips For the Next Great Depression

1) Possess only useful things. Get rid of as much of the other stuff as you can. Be ruthless - you will be surprised at how little stuff one needs to live a simple and enjoyable life.

2) Grow as much food as possible where you are at - roof tops, vacant lots, back yards, side yards, front yards, other people's yards, balconies, patios, window boxes, guerrilla gardening public spaces...

3) Cook for yourself, using basic, nutritious and economical whole ingredients. Learn to love beans, peas, lentils, rice, and other cheap protein sources that store well.

4) Do not take on more debt, and if possible, pay off debt already accumulated.

5) Use free morale boosters to transcend mere survival and provide respite from the challenges of the times. Things like singing and making music, or walking in the park.

6) Make what you can, repair what you can, do it yourself if you can, and do without it if you can. Cut out all waste, and learn new skills to improve self-sufficiency.

7) Help and love one another. Strong communities are resilient communities that thrive in all conditions. 

Simplicity works in good times. But the great thing is, it works even better in challenging ones.

There probably has never been a better time to adopt the simple life than right now at this very moment.

Carpe simplicitism.

July 16, 2020

Electrified Waste Is Still Waste

Could there be a better symbol of the futility of a mandatory car-based transportation system than the latest "big idea" out of the vehicle industrial complex? How desperate, or out of touch are they?

Yes, here is their answer to the ongoing ecocide brought on partly by powerful interests limiting our transportation alternatives in order to sell more of their killer product.

No, there will not be a resurgence of trains, or improved public transportation, or more bicycles, or staying home more often, or working closer to where you live. Or working from home permanently. 

Those are all bad, dumb ideas that will "wreck our economy", which by the way, is more important than the climate, and recently, even more important than people's lives.

The manufactured for profit mandatory car culture will try to push the inevitable implementation of those ideas down the road another few decades, because the real solution is almost here. 

Yes, the real solution coming from the private mobility/ego-stroking industry is... wait for it...

- an electric Hummer!

It will have a 1000 horsepower motor, and goes from 0 to stupid in 3 seconds.

Buyers will be able to choose a one, two, or three motor unit, because you can't have too many motors on hand when you go to pick up your groceries, or the kids from school (if the kids ever go back to school).

You can even take the roof panels off to "let the world in". 

"Look kids, it's the world!" 

"The coal-stained air is stinging my eyes, daddy, please put the panels back on."

Wow! The world is crumbling before our very eyes - but roof panels on an electric hummer! I'm forgetting about pollution and the pandemic already.

But the best part is yet to come. This electrified hunk of wastefulness on steroids starts at "only" $70,000 dollars. A bargain!

Who doesn't have 70 grand to throw around these days, speaking of waste? 

Where I live, that kind of money, if anyone actually had it, could buy a piece of land and old house. I guess one could live in the truck, but where would you put the garden?

I wouldn't be surprised if a halo and green monks robe was included with each electric big truck purchase because the more you drive your new glorified shopping cart, the more you're saving the Earth.

Because it's green! 

Like baby poop, except green baby poop isn't a sign that anything is wrong, and a hummer definitely is, electric or not.

July 13, 2020

Preppers Learn From The Lockdown

If you got to the store and it looked like this, you waited too long to prepare.

In a piece I read over the weekend, a group of particularly prepared people known as preppers were asked about how the pandemic lockdown made them feel about their readiness. As it turns out, not all of them were prepped as much as they would have liked.

These planners observations can be useful for what is likely to be further disruption, because what isn't being disrupted these days? People are predicting a Greater Depression by mid-decade, not to be depressing.

Something we will need to get used to is the fact that we are all preppers now, Greater Depression or not.

We usually prepare for things that we don't want to happen, rather than for things we do. That is why it's called emergency preparedness and not recreational preparedness. It is essential if one wishes to survive, which in nature, is never a sure thing. 

We can improve our odds of surviving, and even thriving, by learning from each other. The following are are a few observations that 75 "official" preppers interviewed shared about what they learned during the lockdown.

Things Preppers Learned From The Pandemic Lockdown

"I was very surprised at how strongly the isolation hit me." 

"I learned my plan of being stocked up and shopping only for replacements is a great system. For example I have 3 jars of mayo on the shelf, when I open one I put it on the list to purchase next time and replenish." 

"I underestimated how short in supply durable consumer goods would be."

"Desiccants, oxygen absorbers, Mylar bags, food grade buckets, canning lids, canning jars, and food saver bags are all likely to become harder to obtain as food prices rise and more people become aware of how to grow and preserve foods."

"I learned that my preparations allowed me some measure of peace and calm that others didn’t have. It allowed me to enjoy family time at home." 

"Mental and emotional resilience is what got us through when we realized this was a marathon and not a sprint."

The most important ones I read were probably:

"That things happen really fast. If you act when things happen it is too late. Act now."
"I learned not to ignore that nagging little feeling of “Something’s coming”. 

And the one I related to most was:

"It was surprising to learn how few times I truly need to go anywhere ever."

In our house, the thing we learned is that we have a long way to go in our preparedness program. Having said that, we have also celebrated the steps we have taken over the years that have made riding out this pandemic comparatively painless.

We have changed how we buy our food and how we stock our pantry, something I hope to share in another post on this topic.

What have you learned over the past few months about your emergency preparedness? 

How are you doing things differently now that you are officially a prepper?

July 8, 2020

Be A Love Activist

It seems like there is a lot of anti-love going around, and it appears to be growing. But so is the anti-anti-love. 

Loving acts are equality in action, responses that can stand up to their opposites, and unite us all. 

That is how Nature works.

Love, love, love. It is all you need.

Be A Love Activist

1. Administer love liberally to create tolerance and acceptance.

2. Recognize that love optimizes community health, then maximize!

3. Love grows wherever it is planted, so plant freely at all times.

4. Promote love in all you think, say, and do.

5. Work together to spread the benefits of love to all, especially the vulnerable, the oppressed, and those who are missing love in their lives.

6. Involve children - if they not have learned hate yet (something that can start immediately after birth), they will share their natural and inspiring message of love and inclusion.

7. Speak out wherever the love is gone. Ignoring its absence will only make the problem fester and grow.

8. Always direct attention toward the goal - Unity. A united community is a loving community.

9. Use love like a strong light, and send its beam into the dark corners of life. It is a potent disinfectant against the virus of anti-love. 

10. Be a Love Activist. First, root out your biases and stereotypes, and take responsibility for your own ignorance and fear. Then, meet every act of anti-love with an equal and opposite act of love and unity.

We love you. 

All of you. 

Yes, even you.

Compassion For All.

July 7, 2020

Simple Solution For The Promotion Of Sanity

Click on image to make larger. Or get your glasses.

It has been a weird year that has become weirder with each passing day. It looks like the feel of the 2020s is going to be insanity - the decade we finally lost our collective minds.

If insanity is the problem, a good dose of sanity is the solution. 

Where does one find sanity these days? Luckily, lots of places (especially in nature, my favourite), and I have been drawing on them more since the Insane Era began.

Here is one of them where I establish right at home, a small space in which to feel focused, centred, and sane. 

It is simple.

I put on Suburbs of Goa, an internet radio station that plays "Desi-influenced Asian world beats and beyond" with no commercials or interruptions. 

Then I lay out my yoga mat in the corner of our living room.

For half an hour I do Sun Salutations. Not as a warm up for yoga, but as the main event. 

I said it was simple, and it is, but even salutations can be challenging if you are not familiar with them. There are many excellent videos on the web to help you perfect your technique.

If I really exert my self and/or need an extra dose of sanity I do a Corpse pose at the end for a few more meditative minutes.

I repeat this every day. 

Try it yourself. After 30 days you will have a new stress busting, sanity promoting habit. 

Just because the Era is insane doesn't mean you have to feel like you are, too. 

July 3, 2020

RePurposing Our Van As A Bird Feeder

We haven't driven our van for months. It's been great - we don't miss it. Is it possible that this tired hunk of ancient metal, glass and rubber can still be useful?

Certainly not as a mobility device. It can not be driven as it is not registered or insured, and at the moment it won't even start. Currently it is as useful as having a large anchor in the driveway.

Until I repurposed it. 

As a bird feeder. 

A big, big bird feeder.

"Peanuts in mirror are closer than they appear."

A while back I thought that I might be insulting the crows intelligence by being boring and throwing peanuts on to the lawn for them. I thought for such an smart bird that was not challenging enough, so I looked for situations that might be more cognitively appropriate. 

I started hiding peanuts around the yard, but without any close trees or shrubs or much of anything, the options were limited. So I looked to the van.
I found places on our inert internal combustion conveyance to stash a few peanuts. Door handles, top of window, mirrors - anywhere they would stick on.

Then I watched and waited.

A customer waits patiently.

It didn't take long till I was watching crows flying up and deftly picking peanuts from all the spots. It appeared that this was more... fun?... for them than strolling across the lawn and eating peanuts carelessly tossed there by the peanut dispenser (me).

Now the crows have an opportunity to exercise their intelligence and problem solving skills plucking peanuts from the nooks and crannies of the van bird feeder, and I get to watch their amazing antics. 

Also, I have the satisfaction of making our van useful once again - this time without spewing toxic tailpipe gases. It is also infinitely safer at 0 km per hour than any speed faster than that. Let's not forget that driving remains a very dangerous activity that kills and injures hundreds of thousands or people every year.

Save the world (and possibly yourself) - park your motor vehicle and turn it into a bird feeder. It's an all around winning idea.

1) Escape the tyranny of the complicated and expensive personal mobility device, 

2) the birds will love it, and 

3) the atmosphere won't complain either. 

We cal that there a win-win-win situation. We need more of those in the world right now.