Monday, April 10, 2017

Natural growth

I spend some time today pruning back pea vines, burying potato plants with homemade compost, and giving plants I want to have a bit more space to expand into. There's still some dirt under my fingernails, as I don't wear gloves, not sure how much I'm affected by leaves of a datura plant rubbing my sweaty skin.

Officially, autumn has begun here. Yet Melbourne has its own seasons, frost not happening and causing trouble. While the days are getting shorter, and nights cold enough for a good night's sleep, no rain means only the strongest plants survive without care.

Geraniums and Vietnamese Mint seem most thirsty, happy to give the tomatoes some special treatment. I slowly get a hang of the variety of ways plants grow, which parts we use, how to train them, how to prune them. I hardly ever used compost from our plastic compost bins, instead harvested the bottom layer of our green manure box for dark, worm crawling soil.

My houso build some trellis for our tomatoes in the back yard, the front yard ones got some height from one of my sculptures, and then used the neighbouring rosemary as support. The first time I harvested tomatoes from the back yard I had ample supply for weeks (low demand still), but the vigorous way of its growth demands good guidance for plenty of harvest.

The patterns of growth vary. The shrubs, pineapple sage, rosemary, yarrow, grow strong once established. I had dozens of parsleys plants, competing and going to seed prematurely. The mustard grew too dense and attracted fungus. The mint captured some edges, competing with the succulents. I cut them back in favour of the mint.

The succulents show an amazing resilience. The gifted pallet planter box/ bench combination didn't really work for any herbs, the succulents are thriving. Some of weedy ones even flower, and would provide a simple low maintenance green cover for neglected patches of soil. Anyone can propagate succulents, especially those tending to grow fast.

The creepy-crawler kind of plants pose a different problem. We have an amazing green cover for our front fence made of some peas. Plants using support by the environment instead of growing a strong support don't always treat their mates nicely. Ivy conquers slow and steady. Peas seem unstoppable in strangling whichever plant their tentacles reach.

'My' side of the fence looks a bit bare after I cut back the peas, yet the smaller brugmansia plant showed an abundance of pink flowers after being disentangled. Fighting back survivalists like grasses, vines and prickly plants like raspberry takes some effort, but without 'natural selection' by human hand evolution goes in different directions.

I feel inspired by the idea of permaculture. Using compatible diversity to create low-maintenance, high yield patches. Honestly, I feel like lightyears away. I still feel like I learned an awful lot within two years of tending a tiny patch, maybe about 4 square metres.

Leafy greens totally outpaced my knowledge how to keep them healthy, productive and not seeding prematurely. While I missed out on parsley, swiss chard and mustard, at least compared to my ambitious expectations, I learned a valuable lesson how less is more. Mustard and parsley produce a prolific amount of seeds, which I spread deliberately and generously. Overcrowding happened, plants went into seeding mood, others went as food for fungi.

Some parts of the patch seem to be thriving enough to stay for good. Comfrey and mint seem hard to get rid of, but might need some water to establish for good. Rosemary seems indestructible once established, even with little to none additional watering. Yarrow and peppino thrive on warmth and watering, although yarrow seems happily to wait a while to grow strong once it has good view to the sun.

I introduced the most persistent weed myself: a native raspberry. It's root system has captured a decent spot in the patch. I'm well aware that whenever I pull its obvious growth above the surface its roots live on. It would be tempting to train it along one of my sculptures, but it takes plenty of attention to keep it where it should be.

Potatoes blow my mind. Last year, the yield wasn't too good (maybe the best plant was harvested by neighbours). So I found out that burying the plant in soil should produce more tubers. I planted some gone off potatoes from the pantry, as deep as possible. Once the green parts grew out, I buried them in soil, mulch and/or compost.

They share the planter box with some hot chillies. So far, only four out of eight of them survived in there, at least two of them flowering. They are not really companion plants, so I have to wait and see whether I'll get some chilli and some potatoes. If I pile more soil on the potatoes, it will bury the chillies, one plant is already half submerged.

Some of the soil came from the green manure compost, started about two years ago. About 5 to 10 cm of rich, black compost, thriving with worms has collected at the very bottom of the box used for it. Every now and then I use a shovel to break down the dried plant matter a bit more to ease decomposition.

I didn't fertilise the patch much. Besides maybe 2 litres of worm juice, and the same amount of carp fertiliser, only the comfrey leaves contributed to keep the soil rich. Plus a few mouse corpses. And random things like tea, hibiscus flowers, coffee sludge and other foods. In other words, I have no idea why the plants continue thriving.

It's hard to tell how much work this patch needs to stay healthy and somehow productive. Pruning tomatoes kept me busy in the last weeks, and during the long hot summer watering was essential. It feels mostly relaxing, and the details I encounter reward me lots. The variety of shades of green, the elegant scarlet pineapple sage flowers and the passion flower vine trained around the wooden arch provide me with simple entertainment and peace of mind in times of stress.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Solar food dryer

Gardening has become my new hobby since I found a nice place to reside in. My housemate loves gardening, too, and organises our backyard a bit more systematically than I do with my own patch in front of a warehouse.

Last year we had more tomatoes than we could eat, and the herbs from the front yard might be harvested much more if I had a decent option to dry them. When I saw clips for building solar dryer, I got hooked on the idea, as it utilises some clever principles, and needs to energy input.

A solar dryer consists of a well insulated heating element, a drying compartment and a chimney as air outlet. The heating element consists of stacks of connected cans, painted black and fitted into a small box with a glass or perspex pane. The suns heats the cans, which hopefully start air convection inside, the heated air rises, holes in the bottom allow cold air to be sucked in. The heating element connects to the top of the drying compartment.

If there's material to dry, the warm air sucks the moisture out of it, gets heavier and sinks to the bottom. The outlet on the bottom connects to a chimney on the back, where the temperature differential should allow it to rise again, permitting constant airflow through the drying section.

I found some window panes today, potentially the most expensive part when bought instead of reused. In a household which loves a drink or to, empty cans will naturally accumulate, which means all I need to find/source is some timber and some MDF maybe.

My first draft for the can stack is pretty simple, I removed the bottoms of the cans, made little winglets with a tin snip on the top, used duct tape to keep it together and spray painted the lot in black. I can fit 6, maybe even 7 of those stacks behind the pane, and luckily the height fits 6 can on top of each other nicely.

At the moment, the first stack bakes in the noon sun. I want to test whether duct tape suffices a tight, durable seal. Besides heat, there will be no physical stresses once the heating element is put together.
However, if the tape comes loose after a while, it would mean disassembling a box potentially tightly sealed with silicone to fix it.

While the first stack is constructed a bit sloppy, the air gains about 10-12ª celsius while passing through it. No idea whether this will increase or decrease when I have 6 or 7 of them in parallel, or how much this depends on the outside temperature.

I'm a bit torn whether I want to have a go at the downward draft design, which might need the chimney part going quite far up to pull the moist air out. Which means I have to continue building this thing to figure out whether adding moisture to air will facilitate the airflow. Doh.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Happy days

A new week started. I forgot/forgave the confrontations of last week, cured the hangover from a nice party and the frustration about being snubbed by the last tram by lazing out. Inspired by listening about Whole Body Intelligence I promised myself to manifest an abundant week.

Keizo the cat woke me up around 6am. He hasn't spend many nights in my room, so I let him in and went back to sleep. Unlike many other days, I felt energised and happy to get up and find out what surprises the day holds. I focussed my intention on compassion, honesty and openness.

Despite the lousy weather, I went on a walk to check out a bizarre piece of street art for myself. (In case you wonder, it's a dildo and bottle of tomato sauce hanging over a power line in the manner of a pair of shoes).

On my way back home, I found out that some paid work is waiting for me. Despite the slow business, the working week starts usually at least half a day later than in most places trying to make money. If my boss wouldn't complain so much about financial problems, I wouldn't mind a slow start. I just don't think that neglecting business works to increase sales.

The kitchen had deteriorated into a mess, and despite not really liking cleaning it, my surprising happiness helped to offer doing it. After all, I probably would get paid, and it makes the work space more inviting. After an event this weekend, main priority was to get the prepping area back into a state which allows us to sell our goods.

I must have done this dozens of times, creating order out of chaos, transforming an obstacle course into open work spaces where it's easy and safe to move around. It wouldn't be rocket science to keep the place in working order, but after events it looks often like a bomb exploded and spread everything randomly around.

It took a while to get it back into shape, but I also noticed my boss being in one of his angry moods. 90s rock music often acts as reliable indicator for potential conflict. Dismayed by the unnecessary chaos, which subverts our idea of sustainability and being part of the solution, my balance on a high declined slowly.

Many clashes happened between me and my mate acting as boss, so I can easily analyse some of the skewed perceptions which allow for easy escalation. Like a well set mouse trap, he is triggered easily. One main trigger is miscommunication, mainly my inability to read his thoughts. Anger goes together with impatience, creating quite a vicious circle. If I don't react straight away, anger escalation happens. 

As an empath, I try to avoid hanging around people emanating anger or hate. In a state of openness, my chemistry synchronises with the people around me. This makes hanging out with supportive, loving and caring people extremely pleasurable. It's much less fun when people lose their shit and direct it towards me.

I carried lots of anger with me, until I started working more on myself and noticed many undesirable pattern in me. My body remembers enough angry confrontations to provide me with some default reactions. I learned to walk away from confrontation, but I can run with my rage as well. Whenever I do, I notice quite acute how toxic anger is. Depending on the intensity of conflict, it can easily take some hours or up to a good night's sleep to breath this detrimental cocktail out of my system.

So when I couldn't keep up with a change of my bosses mind, which happened in less than 15 minutes and wasn't communicated, I got shouted at and returned it in the same coin. I still feel the chemicals going together with anger reverberating in me. Being aware that empathy primed me to reactivate old, bad habits could have prevented escalation. 

What started as an unusual nice day turned into another day wasted in useless fights with my boss. At the moment, I can't just walk away from the job, unless I find a way to successfully promote my own business. I'm just more determined to listen more to my body not to lose my grounding the next time with a similar constellation. 

While my intention to convert the game of life into a fun game didn't manifest today, I will continue this process for at a week, before I file it as 'learning experience'. 





Friday, July 08, 2016

Prison of abstraction

Buckminster Fuller once stated: "I seem to be a verb". Indeed, human existence seems more like a process than anything static. Reducing anyone to a label doesn't do justice to the many aspects of actions, expressions and interactions happening on a daily basis. While extremely popular in our attention deficient time, I consider it an extremely bad habit.

One class of labels linked to this detrimental habit describe races. So far, talking about races contributed a lot to division, hatred and interspecies violence. From a biological point of view only one human race exists. While genetics indicate certain heritages, our common genetic similarity doesn't allow meaningful statements about 'race'.

Something banal and rather unimportant, the colour of skin, is traditionally used to distinguish races, but just like phrenology, it looks like a pretty useless attempt in understanding human diversity. On a social level, however, arbitrarily defining races has proven to maintain systems of domination and oppression easily.

Since a determined group of pink-skinned people started conquering the world new shades of skin colour emerged. Nevertheless, there's still many millions of pink humans around. No other group of non pink skinned people was so successful in destroying other ethnicities, and to assume positions of power around the globe. The sun never set in the former British Empire, not too long ago we had a largely 'white' planet.

In Australia, the disdain for the non-pink skinned part of the human species went so far to define the indigenous population as part of the native flora and fauna. During most parts of the 20th century the 'White Australia' policy took care that non pink skinned wouldn't come here, and crimes against the original population were dealt with as property damage, if it all.

So basically Australia could serve as perfect example for a 'white' culture, as she had the longest exposure to a systematic approach to maintain 'whiteness'. As I grew up in Europe, I have a bias towards cultural snobism, and often smiled at the idea of fledgling nations like US or Australia of having an original culture at all.

We always soak up the culture we grow up in, a natural survival mechanism for any social being. Rules, values and norms of our culture seem natural, those of other cultures often bizarre, absurd and threatening. Media and travel allow for easier exposure to different cultural standards than our own, but usually don't offer insights useful for someone migrating into a different culture as adults.

I spend my formative years of cultural programming in a german culture. We have quite a history of 'whiteness' and racial discrimination, and this idea became again popular in my early 20s. Neonazis defined themselves by hating everyone not adapting to their idea of 'german culture', and spend a lot of time inventing stories about groups of people they most likely had little to no personal experience with.

The main quarrel neonazis had with foreigners was their lack of adapting/assimilating to being german. Yet they couldn't really explain what this 'being german' entails. If their behaviour indicated what they expected to assimilate to, I didn't want to have any of it. Germany itself has quite a variety of distinct cultural regions itself, diverging to a degree of speaking so different dialects of the same language that communication could be cumbersome.

Nazis usually claim that their national culture represents 'white' culture, no matter whether they are British, Ukrainian, German or Australian. Only tiny remnants of indigenous Europe have survived the imperial and colonial ambitions of the past. While parts of it may have become part of the national culture which replaced indigenous culture, European cultures seem imposed opposed to mutually evolved.

The same applies actually for 'black cultures' or 'asian cultures'. In Australia, the more than 500 cultures which existed prior to the British invasion, share some bits while differing drastically in others. Luckily, a live and let live attitude seems a commonality among most cultures, which allows for a constructive exchange of useful ideas across abstract cultural borders, and prevent them from violently enforcing their way of life unto others.

Every living thing changes, on an individual as well as on a collective level. 'Cultural stability' exists only as concept, the speed and amount of change determine how obvious this process becomes. People oblivious to the essential fact of life in this universe tend to take the short-cut in defining their own culture mainly as 'not them', instead of finding a positive definition.

Yet especially the cultures of pink skinned people encompass the meme of being 'better' more than others, the British Empire, Nazi Germany and the US empire serve as relatively recent examples. The global reach of these imperial ambition might have easily infected other cultures. Interspecies violence happens rarely on this planet, the human race certainly excels in it.

The genocide of the original people of Australia, for example, affected not one culture, but hundreds. The utter lack of empathy and respect for human life becomes apparent by the simple fact that the 'white' culture as perpetrators didn't even bother much to distinguish between the many cultures being destroyed.

Of course, with the intention to take over the land of others, enslave, rape or kill them comes no obligation to take exact records of your victims or their culture. It sounds less horrifying if one people was subjected to genocide, if it's hundreds the evil spirit of the invasion becomes blatantly apparent. The same applies for the take over of the North American continent, which in nationalistic view of history created the myth of preemptive warfare.

In a way, while many different people in the North America or Australia were subjected to genocide, it wasn't a genocide towards "native Americans" or "Aborigines". What happened in the Americas, in Africa, large parts of Asia and Australia was a multigenocide. English people happily summarised a variety of divergent culture into an umbrella term like "Aboriginal" to disguise their mass killings of many, many cultures.

Empires want to dominate - that's what the Romans did, what the Ottomans, what the English did and currently the Americans do. Empires violently unite formerly different culture under the imperial umbrella, and lose count of the cultures eradicated and assimilated. It doesn't matter how many culture existed on a territory, once the empire claims it, it dictates its history.

While it's easy for an empire to incite the local population to do their bidding to commit genocide by hijacking mass media to spread their poisonous ideas, it's hard if not impossible to find a successful grass root movement wanting to kill their neighbours and former friends. The majority of people I know have never killed anyone, out of thousands of people I met there's probably less than a handful which actually took another human's life. It's just not in our nature to be an in-species killer. How many people do you personally know which took another human's life?

So it takes someone/something to unite a specific culture behind the idea to get rid of a specific group of people (like the Israeli government promoting the Palestinian genocide), and to kill them. The good old times, when empires could declare entire continents like America, Africa and Australia free for the taking are over by now.

The 30 or so European nations have already quenched most semblance of the hundreds of cultures which existed on the European continent a millennium or two ago. The 'white cultures' in Australia or in the North America have never been indigenous. There's neither a singular 'white culture' existing right now (although Disney worked hard to create this illusion), nor any 'non-white' empire with the might to take on all the countries pink-skinned people have taken command of.

While the idea of 'white genocide' isn't the biggest bullshit I ever witnessed, it's pretty close to the Flat Earth meme. It just makes only little sense if you want to connect observable facts in a coherent manner. There's no unified 'white culture' around on this planet, there's no empire militarily empire capable of taking on all pale-skinned people living, especially in their European homelands.

In the meantime, I'd rather take side with Chechnyans, Kurdish, Palestinian, Papuan people, with indigenous people in North America, Australia, Africa and Asia currently endangered of being wiped out. There are some 'white' cultures endangered, Roma, Sinti and Sami represent some ancient 'white' cultures on the brink of genocide in their homelands.

I appreciate cultural diversity, especially as I haven't encountered any culture yet which insisted in harming me for visiting it. Even those identifying with other cultural backgrounds than my own have treated me respectfully (besides maybe those wearing uniforms belonging to the British/US empire, and the small of amount of dickheads existing among the human race). I totally accept that some people with different cultural background and skin colour might put me in the box of 'white male', yet I totally fail to identify as potential victim of 'white genocide'.

Despite the fact that our genetic heritage unites us as human race, I'm more than happy to discuss the meme of 'white genocide' with anyone who considers this rant as much bullshit as I consider this meme. I consider myself human in first place, feel free to convince me that my skin colour is more important.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Where's the conscious evolution of society?

I've been on this planet for nearly half a century, always curious about learning new things and connecting to people in all kind of life circumstances. I spend a significant amount of time exploring consciousness, and embarked on the challenging path to find out who and what I am.

Just like everyone and everything around us, I'm an expression of universal consciousness, a crystal in Indra's net. I learned that intentions have the power to change situations for the better, and also that intentions and actions can go into entirely different directions.

I agree with Douglas Adams, and consider the population of this planet as mostly harmless. I met some less harmless people, but much less of them roam the streets, offices, shopping centres, factories and homes than the average harmless human. The existence of violent, harmful people reminds the majority of the choice each of us can make in life: To strive for peaceful cooperation or to 'win' the competition among false egos.

Our current society shows little interest in raising self-determined, cooperative individuals capable of making their own choices. Education systems prefer obedient conformists, easily controllable by fear and victimisation. Once we get sufficiently inculcated with the big lie 'us vs them', we get numbed to our own nature.

If we allow ourself to let go of our cultural programming, it becomes easy to experience that "We're all in it together". The age of global communication shrunk our planet and raised awareness about the interconnectedness of the diverse cultures, and all life on Earth. We wake up the fact that the destruction of Amazon rain forests, overfishing, monoculture, pollution and war endanger the survival of our entire species. The war waged against nature will see nature as winner, while many species, including our own, will lose.

As every human came out of nature, giving our species a special status in it sounds utterly ridiculous. Everything changes, yet the scale of change imposed on this planet by humanity in the last century alone feels like 'modern civilisation' has pushed the self-destruct button. Modern society sacrifices human life, eco-systems and other species for the sake of the 'economic system'.

While our planet offers abundant resources to feed and shelter everyone to high standards, our economic system bases on the misconception of scarcity. Our economic system thrives on scarcity, and thus needs to creates it systematically. The idea of 'eternal growth' makes up the second elementary misconception of the economic system.

In essence, we could easily say that the economic system intents an eternal growth of scarcity for optimal performance. The meme of egalitarianism doesn't exist in economic theory, only winner and losers. The promise that everyone can win the economic game distracts from the embedded injustice in it.

The global economic system didn't develop organically or spontaneously. A cabal of interested parties spreads it around the globe, utilising genocide towards indigenous people where ever they find them. Societies outside the global economic paradigm mean no market opportunity, so stealing their land and killing them for profit means acting in the interest of 'shareholder values'.

The biggest promoters of the economic system belong to the minority of winners in it. They don't win because the play better, but because they can and do rig the game in their favour. The bank bailout in 2008 poses a brilliant example for this, which got copied plenty of times since then.

Sorry for bothering you with the 'economy'. Many people still believe that government shapes society and directs it, and has some control over banks and corporations. Modern governments have degenerated to mere PR agencies selling corporate interests disguised with empty promises or general fear mongering.

The Australian government spends about $3 billion for its unjust treatment of refugees in its offshore camps. This money comes from the taxpayer (mere individuals, mainly from the non-game rigging part of the population), and goes to multinational corporations like Serco and G4S, and to other corrupt governments.

Who wins, who loses this match of the economic game with the government as referee? The usual suspects. The old game of redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top grows scarcity among larger and larger parts of the population. Unprofitable human life can be warehoused for a profit, the economic system happily demonstrates its psychopathic nature.

Meanwhile, governments start more openly to defend corporate interests against the mandate of their population. The Queensland government considers 'environmental activism' a crime punishable more severe than owning an unregistered gun. Does it really act in the interest of its people?

Mandating governments to reign in corporations is like telling a dog what its owner should do. Politicians can't be held accountable even for crimes against humanity, which crudely hide beyond a veil of 'national security'. While governments act more and more paranoid and in secret, business secrets seem guarded even more.

The winners of economic game and their confederates in government act out of self-interest, and have taken environmental destruction to a threatening level. If society hangs on to the need to keep the current systems of economy and governance alive, despite them having failed to provide a fair share of the abundant bounty of our planet, then a collapse of civilisation, much worse than the fall of the Roman Empire, seems inevitable.

The oceans overfished, old growth forests cleared, coral reefs declining, increased weather extremes indicate that 'doing what's good for the economy' yields terrible consequences for life on this planet. The cleanup of the mess created by clinging to a system of destruction will keep humanity busy for a while.

We can co-inhabit this planet without sacrificing ethics or destroying our resources in the process. Many people have explored sustainable ways to generate energy, build houses, grow food, utilise water and deal with human waste.

We need a shift of consciousness. Do we want to continue to support a system which grows scarcity, or do we want a build a system which shares the abundance of this planet with everyone?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Serendipity

While I'm walking through life, wondering how I get where I'm now, wondering why certain things happen to me, I do my best to stay equanimous. After all, what I experience might be just the right thing for me to learn, so is it really worth it to lament my fate?

A long, long time ago, when I met my first 'true love', I managed to totally freak her out by telling a story. Coming from an average, maybe even sub-average socio-economic background, calling a tiny rented subterranean apartment home, I fantasised about about being a writer.

I didn't deliberately call myself poor, and being able to rent a space, own an ancient beetle as car as a student indicated somehow I wasn't probably the wealthy provider for a potential family. I might have been charming, good-looking and interesting, someone to have fun with, but certainly would have failed to provide the prospect for a prosperous, care-free family life to come.

Aware of all the stories of the disowned heirs of noble blood, I reframed my meagre existence as research. You know, sweetheart, living in this tiny place, cash-strapped, optimistic yet limited is nothing but research for a book about average Joe. Coming from an enormously wealthy background, how could I ever write about 'common people' without immersing myself to a low-life existence?

I really loved her, still I probably hurt her a lot by making up a story about myself which was convincing, but still total fantasy. The only truth in it was my aspiration not to repeat the fate of my family, being an insignificant cog in the machine of society, subject to the whims of those who really ran the show.

My father, who died before I really got to know him, just so managed to feed his family as a labourer, got me into the strange idea to earn a living by virtue of my brain, instead of my hands. He probably realised that honest work in a dishonest society imposes limits of what you can achieve.

So instead of learning a 'real' trade, I embarked on IT work, at a time when it was booming and breaking boundaries. Being more of an introvert, programming and maintaining computers and networks allowed me to prosper for a while. I became financially independent, to an extent where money piled up, because coming from a frugal background, I didn't know how to spend it as fast as it came in.

I achieved what the norms of society define as 'success', making lots of money, but it came with a price. It just didn't make me happy, as I noticed how arbitrary the relation between work and payment was. At some point, while making about $150 an hour, sitting in front of a computer screen, seeing the cleaners sorting out the office, I wondered whether I deserve all that money while seeing someone doing 'real' work for probably less per day than I made for an hour.

The story I had told my first big love at the time had turned into reality, I became a commercially successful entity in a thoroughly corrupt society, no need to worry about my spending capacity. It didn't make me happy, though.

I felt like an impostor. While I loved the challenges of my job, I hated the circumstances of it. I turned from a tiny cog to a bigger cog in the machinery of doom, using my talents to prosper and maintain a system which needs lots of victims to function.

The system is a vampire, just like Shapeshifter stated. The bigger system though, the system of life in this universe, might as well support me, as the system of doom did before. Transforming the system of society has become my aim now, albeit all the strange experiences I went through since them.

We all have to make the choice, playing the game for our own pleasure, or changing it for our own fulfillment. As I've seen both sides of it, I'm determined not to go back to play the rotten game just to keep it alive. If this attitudes kill me, so be it.