It is easy for those of us who would reap the benefits of nuclear energy and the (supposive) benefits of genetic modification to herald these as today’s “technological cures.”  However, I suspect that the people of Fukishma, Nine Mile Island, Chernobyl, the Native Americans whose land is mined, our great-grandchildren, and the very land itself shall decry our foolish egoism.  Much the way we decry our grandparents and great-grandparents who saw it fit to strip us of old growth forests, rivers flowing with fish, mercury-free oceans, an ozone layer, and the very stability of the global climate.      

Most opponents of genetic modification (GM) and nuclear energy feel they must argue on the grounds of science. This is nonsense.  Too long we have bowed before the Priests of Science.  Too long we have let them hold the keys to reality, to morality, and even to the meaning of life.  And: see how they define it!  (And I say see, not listen, for words are the illusion they spin.)  The meaning of life has become: live as well as possible right now, regardless of past or future implications.  The definition of “living well?”  It is, of course, strictly materialistic: nice car, nice house, nice clothes, good looking spouse, and money (to buy more stuff: material).

Oh, no doubt science cloaks itself, time and again, in morality.  Nuclear will save us from global warming.  Monsanto’s GM foods are saving the world from starvation.  But, these worldviews, (while, oh so conveniently, bring great wealth to the hands of a few) are little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or if you prefer the sheeple metaphor of today: a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

The advocates of “Science” most closely match, in habit of mind, those we call “Christian Fundamentalists.”  By this I mean a group whose worldview has strict limits set by authority figures (Stephen Hawkins and Darwin or the Bible).  Today, it is science fundamentalists who lead both cultural thought and behavior.  Not, necessarily, the scientists themselves.  They are often acutely aware of the limits of science, much as a good minister or Christian is aware of the limits of her/his religion.  Due to this leadership in thought and actions, it is vital to understand the Religion of Science, of Science Fundamentalists, the adherents of the materialistic worldview.  The unspoken foundation is that progress is good and technology holds the keys to the future good.  The Religion of Science exists in the land of strict rationalism and logic, for the historical pendulum has swung from the land of the emotional and superstitious to its other extreme. 


            If history has anything to teach us, it is humans’ capacity (a tendency?) to reach for the power of the gods.  And even science itself must admit that atoms and genetics are the building blocks of creation.  To reach for the power of the gods is to bring their wrath.  It is to build the tower of Babel, that shall be –inevitably- destroyed and the people scattered.  As merely one species among billions, we have no right to play with that which contains the power to harm so many.

            I plea that we recognize the very strict limits of Science to explain and control the world.  I plea that we recognize, the limits of human nature, which uses the brilliant tools of error and mistake to learn (historically we also used story and myth, but these are largely tools of distraction or propaganda today).  For when the tools of error and mistake, over-reach the boundaries of morality, they become (quite literally) weapons of mass destruction.  They become Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  Legacies that live on in mutated genes and radioactivity long after the original perpetrators and victims are dead.  Live on, not as in the Holocaust, which lives on in memory and story, a place that seeks redemption, a lesson to dredge out of the horror.  No, these weapons, which we now play with, live on in the hard, unforgiving chemical reality.  A reality in which there is no redemption. 


Let’s Occupy!

Occupy Denver has asked for everyones top three priorities for the Occupy Movement.  This inspired three things, as well as a shout out about why Occupy Camps are absolutely essential.

My Top Three Priorities For the Occupy Movement:

  1. Re-Create the American Culture:  I believe our culture needs a fundamental shift.  (Please recognize that this is a very brief summary of some of the changes I see necessary in order to create a healthier culture and society):
  • Values need to come into alignment with behavior.
  • We need to be a reflective people so that we are aware of when our values and behavior are not in alignment.
  • We must educate ourselves continually so that we are not duped by talking heads, media misinformation, and our own personal biases.
  • Become drastically less materialistic: Rather than prioritizing having the “right” clothes, cars, houses, etc, we should be valuing the relationships we have with others.  This will probably mean being willing to work less hours (and being willing to drive an old beater and wear used clothes so to save money) in order to have more time for family, friends, volunteering, educating, down time,  prayer, reflection, etc.
  1. Money out of Politics!!!
  2. Take back our civil liberties.


To Occupy or Not to Occupy?  OCCUPY!!!

Part of achieving the goals of Occupy is actually having real physical spaces that are occupied.  There are a wide variety of reasons for the importance of the Occupy Camps.  Reason number one has already been demonstrated by the huge success Occupy Wall Street has had in spreading nationally  (not to mention globally).  The Occupy Camps are not done.  This is just the beginning.  This is the tip of the iceberg of discontent, and the physical camps still have an important role.

The role of Camps is centered on providing a concrete physical space people can come to at any time.  This allows all people within traveling distance to a camp to participate should they so desire.  Work schedules, kid schedules can all be worked around when the Occupy Camp is always there.  Many people do not have time for, or are not ready to, participate in G.A.s or working groups.  Having a Camp for people to come to and learn what Occupy is about is essential.  This provides a pressure free setting for people of all persuasions to come to and see Occupy for themselves, rather than depend on media reporting.

The Occupy Camps are a tool for maintaining, focusing, and directing the energy of the movement.  They do this by providing activities during the “down time.”  Most of the time marches, GAs, or meetings are  not occurring.  With a Camp different opportunities are continually offered: teach-ins, yoga, non-violent communication, “what the heck is the Federal Reserve?”, etc.  A library can be created and the setting is such that everyone becomes both the librarian and the seeker of knowledge.  The Camps incubate the movement by taking care of the protesters, by providing a setting for educating, and allowing ideas to be shared.

The Occupy Camps are in the face of the public, their refusal to be swept under the rug and morph into a collection of moveon.org style meetings is their power.  The violent treatment of the protestors, illustrates just how powerful the movement is and just how weak and fragile the current power system is.  The more violent the suppression is against Occupy, the more people understand the corrupt nature of our entire political system.  We must be willing to risk arrest, physical harm, and even death (Scott Olsen came way too close to that!).  Unfortunately, the bumper sticker “Freedom Isn’t Free” is true.  However, the cost of freedom is rarely standing up to a foreign invader.  It is standing up against those in power who are attempting to tell us how to live life.  We do not have to accept their terms, but fighting for our values does have a cost…

Part of the disease of our culture has been discarding everyone who cannot function in this economic system.  People who, for whatever reason, are not able to earn and spend money are tossed aside as useless.  These are the disabled, the elderly, the homeless, the mentally ill, and to a large degree even children.  Observe how kids are tossed into daycare and school until they are old enough to become part of the “real world” (A.K.A. The world in which earning and spending money is God).  Occupy Camps have welcome these, the “least of our people.”  They have been fed, listened too, talked with and have become part of the Occupy Movement.  When I visited Occupy Seattle, I saw more people in wheelchairs in one spot than I ever have in my life.  I saw well dressed “normal” people in deep conversation with scruffy homeless people.  I saw enough other parents with children that we could have started a stroller brigade.  What I saw there is what people are seeing all over the world in Occupy Camps: Real Life.  All ages, colors, abilities, mental states.  All the problems that our culture pushes under the rug are dragged out in Occupy Camps.  People are learning to live with ALL people… this is not easy.  We do not know how to do it; we have never seen it done, so it sometimes fails.  But when that failure is judged as failure; do not forget this: It is better to try and fail than never to have tried.  Anyway, it’s not really “failure,” it is called Learning.  When you learn to ride a bike or horse, you do not give up because you fall off!  You get back on.

The last reason that I shall discuss for why the Occupy Camps are essential is this: they let people know they are not alone.  Many of us appear to be functional in our sick culture; we have a job, kids… maybe even a house, however we feel isolated in our disgust at common culture.  We pull back in revulsion at the violent shoppers on Black Friday and the obscene behavior around Nike’s new shoes.  We think we are alone in being fed-up with the behavior of politicians and corporations.  The existence of Occupy Camps yell out into the spiritual void of our culture: “You are not alone.  The world has gone crazy; it has become incredibly immoral and greedy!  Come with us and learn what it really means to be the change you wish to see in the world.  Take that bumper sticker off your car and feel the exhilaration of living its meaning.  Welcome Home.  Here, people matter simply because they exist, not for how hard they can work, or how much money they spend.  People matter simply because they Are.  They are imbued with the worth by the simple miracle of their existence: the miracle of creation, however it has come about.”

So let’s Occupy.  You all, camping out in the cold, being arrested: you are the candles in the night.  You are the lanterns in the window, guiding us home through the blizzard of our own ignorance.  Stay strong.  Keep the flame lit.  The storm will pass and together we will create the Spring.

How to Make Yogurt

For high quality, cheap yogurt you cannot beat making  your own.  A quart of yogurt can cost as much as four dollars, you can spend that much on a gallon of organic milk and make FOUR quarts of organic yogurt for the same price as one quart store-bought.

It’s really easy and you do not need a “yogurt maker.”  In fact, my yogurt got better once I quit using the stupid thing.

Do not try this with goat’s milk.  For whatever reason, goat’s milk makes a very runny yogurt, you need a different recipe for that.

Here is what you need:

1. Pot (to boil milk)

2. Pot (to boil water to sanitize jars, utensils)

3. Mason Jars (glass with metal lids so they can be sanitized in boiling water)

4. Thermometer

5. Metal mesh colander

6. Metal stirring utensil (I use a table knife)

7. Tablespoon (preferably metal, since plastic does not like to be boiled…)

8. Yogurt starter (I use my favorite type of PLAIN yogurt as the starter.  I prefer Stoneyfield or Brown Cow, but it is totally up to your taste preference.  You can buy official yogurt starter pills, but I have never done it that way.  If you are using raw milk, you may want to use the pills.)

9. Optional: One of those mason jar grabbers, it makes it a lot easier to sanitize.

10. A cooler, like the kind you would use to bring on a picnic.

11. A lot of dish towels.



I make 6-8 quarts of yogurt at a time (one quart = 4 cups, one gallon = 4 quarts).  So my instructions will be set to make 6 quarts.  They keep for at least 45 days unopened.

Step One:

Heat 1.5 gallons of milk to the boiling point.  Careful, it will boil over and make a big mess if you don’t catch it right as it reaches the boiling point.

1. Heat milk to 212F







Step Two:

(Optional, do this for better results)  Sanitize mason jars and other equipment.  I boil the jars in my large canning pot, but if you have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, this should work as well.  I also boil the thermometer, stirring utensil, mesh colander, and tablespoon by dipping them briefly in boiling water.

2. Sanitize







Step Three:

Let hot milk cool down to about 120F.

Step Four:

Put two tablespoons of yogurt in each quart sized mason jar.

Jars ready for warm milk.






Step Five:

Pour warm milk into jars, through the colander.  I place the colander on top of each jar and pour.  This removes any “skin” formed on the milk from boiling it.

Step Six:

Put on lids.  Wrap each jar in a dish towel.

Step Seven:

Place all mason jars in a cooler.  Add two mason jars filled with very hot water.  These jars keep the milk warm.  I cover all the jars with an additional towel to help insulate.  The goal is to keep the milk at about 120F for the whole time it cultures.

Cooler ready for the milk. It has two jars of very hot water.






Step Eight:

Leave milk to culture for four hours.  If you prefer your yogurt to have a more sour taste, you can leave it in for a couple more hours.

All ready to culture for four hours.






Step Nine:

Remove from cooler, immediately place in fridge.  Eat and enjoy!  I like to add fruit or fruit syrups for sweet treats and to make flavored yogurt.

When profit is no longer seen as the goal of business.  When money is no longer God.

Quimper Community Credit Union: Not For Profit.

Our Thanksgiving Tree

With Ida almost 2.5 years old, I’m really starting to feel the urge to start our own family holiday traditions.  The type that I always wanted to have as a kid, but didn’t have the courage to get my family to start.  So now, in my own little (but growing!) family we are planting the seeds of meaningful tradition.  Or at least attempting too!

This year we have started the tradition of a Thanksgiving Tree.  Combo of practicing gratitude and arts and crafts… Can’t get better than that!

Ida, Alden and I went for a walk to find the perfect branch.  I had my heart set on Madrona, since the bark is so pretty.  We found a little one about three feet long, with lots of little branches to hang our “thank yous” on.

Then the whole family (well, Alden napped the whole time) sat at the table and made two sided ornaments.  One side a collage of pictures we felt represented us this year and the other our list of things we are thankful for.

Here are the results!

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Employers valuing families: No stores open on Thanksgiving Day.

When the “little things” are  no longer seen as “little things.”

Spilled Baking Soda…

Letting Ida play with the contents of the kitchen cupboards allows for chunks of less interrupted cooking time.  Of course there is clean-up involved afterwards.

Today, the cupboard play ended when I turned around to Ida emptying the contents of a box of baking soda.  Reluctantly, I swept it up and prepared to throw it in the garbage.  Right before I dumped it, it occurred to me that Ida could have a lot of fun playing with it.

So I put the baking soda in a flat pan, filled two sippy cups (minus the spill preventers thingy) with vinegar.  I put a couple drops of food coloring in each one, just for excitement.

I showed her how to make bubbles with it, handed her the sippy cups and a spoon and she had a blast!

Ida making bubbles with soda and colored vinegar.

Hey folks, finally getting some numbers in about how many people moved their accounts to credit unions. This does not include small/local banks and is still the eary numbers:

Here is the report from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA):

WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 3:30 P.M. ET, 11/8/11)–Credit unions brought in 40,000 in new members, and added $80 million in new savings account funds, on last Saturday’s Bank Transfer Day, capping a month that resulted in nearly 700,000 new credit union members joining the movement.

A Credit Union National Association (CUNA) survey of 1,100 credit unions found that around 80% of larger credit unions said they signed up new members on Bank Transfer Day, and many credit unions opened on Saturday, or extended their usual Saturday hours, to deal with the rush of new members. Credit unions surveyed said they made $90 million in new loans on Saturday.

As I get more info, I’ll post…

Making Ida Shoes

What to do with a child who will not wear hard soled shoes?!  At almost 2.5 years, Ida still refuses to wear shoes unless they have a soft sole.  As in, won’t even stand up in them, she just sits on the floor crying her eyes out sobbing, “No, no, no.”  It seems like a silly battle to fight, so she wears soft soled shoes. 

Ida in her homemade shoes.

These are hard to come by at an affordable price.  There are plenty of second-hand hard soled shoes, but the soft ones wear out quickly and kids as old as she do not usually wear them.

I have solved this problem by making her shoes myself.  I have a wonderful old Belvedere sewing machine that can sew through multiple layers of canvas, jeans, and leather (also fingers, but that is another story…). 

I buy old leather pants at thrift stores, rarely paying more than $15 for a pair of pants.  Pants are better than jackets because they are cheaper and have more usable material.

Leather purses make wonderful soles, they are thicker than pants and she has yet to wear through soles made with purse leather.  She out grows them first.

Leather Shoes

I use a jeans sewing needle on my machine and regular thread. 

I include a fleece liner for the entire shoe, to keep her little feet warm.  I use fleece because it dries quickly, and unfortunately leather is not waterproof and Washington tends to be wet 10 out of 12 months.

I put little cat faces on her latest pair. I glued them on with spray elmers.  I embroidered the face with embroidery thread. 

Kitty Faces

I make entirely cloth shoes with the same pattern for slippers.  The pattern is pretty easy to adjust up as she grows.  I am thinking about making myself a pair!

Abalone buttons from an old sweater.