Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The bottom line is TRANSFORMATION

As Naomi Klein says, frequently "There are no solution options left on the table that are not radical." I've found myself having to make this case rather forcefully with a number of people lately who are very much inclined to be "sustainable" but they have great difficulty letting go of the idea that sustainability CAN NOT/DOES NOT mean "greening up" stuff that we do now. They don't get that "going green" wasn't probably EVER a functional response but that it's just not even in the solution window now. Recycling all your cans and using helical light bulbs is so far short of the mark that it almost doesn't move the needle onto the scale. Change really HAS to be  T-R-A-N-S-F-O-R-M-A-T-I-O-N-A-L!! Don't take a page from the "Amish book" - Buy The Book!!!

Further more, it's worth noting that in the same period of the last 6 months I have seen a huge number of folks who have the same romantic notions about "being sustainable" that some white folks here (in the US) had about "being indigenous" about 100 years ago. "The noble red man, aligned with nature, continues to live... blah, blah, blah" and while said "noble red men" have never completely lost track of their culture and heritage, they will be the first to tell you that it wasn't about nobility. It was about doing the best you can under varying circumstances, and it was about a lot of hard work, pretty much all the time. It was also about community that worked together and had not lost its ever present sense of what community means.

These "nouveau natural" people (same genetic lines as the pseudo-indigenous, I'm pretty sure) think they've gotten sustainability religion and what they've gotten is a romantic image of Grandma canning peaches with the scent of the rich peach-ness floating on the air, mingled with cinnamon and clove. The aroma therapy is great, but the vision lacks substance. These folks have not/are not thinking about planting and growing the trees that the peaches came from, protecting the saplings against "too cold" conditions, or "too hot" conditions, recognizing that you will be sharing some of the crop with the birds, and insects (or badgers as the case may be) and so you do what is realistic to make sure that you grow enough for everybody AND you bust a hump when they are ripe to get them off the tree and into the house.

Being ready to light the fire and spin into action on short notice for the canning requirements of the moment as various thinks hit their optimum ripeness and you have to can them before they get past prime, the cleanup and spin-up again, hot on the heals of cleanup if necessary. Getting all the jars ready to rock, with fastidious attention to detail, because slack in the canning department is poison in the winter - Hell, HAVING enough jars to handle the load - most people have NO idea how many jars it takes to can up a winter's worth of food (or more), or for that matter how productive the garden has to be.  Quite obviously, the list goes on...

So, while we are busy engineering the transition I think it is CRITICAL that we remain clear about what we are transitioning to. If it's not transformational relative to now, it's not the right place. How to recover the baby we threw out with the bathwater... that is not a pretty picture to contemplate but if that baby is still alive we NEED to recover it, not just try to make a new one.

Prepare yourself - we are getting ready for the "great reveal" when we discover how much no-shit real work was being done that tempted Western culture to use human slavery first and then hydro-carbon chemical energy slaves and then in a (potentially final) burst of market capitalism excess, newly re-enslaved people as wage slaves to ride herd on the energy slaves for them. Witness the rise and fall of the oligarch supreme. TRANSFORMATION - because hanging on to the tattered remnants of the greatest fail in human history is our death warrant. TRANSFORMATION - because the fundamental survival of life relies on evolution, and the rule of evolution is that when conditions become unsustainable, you change locations, you change your way of being, or you die!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Essential Bottom Line - The Human Goldilocks Zone

Basic human survival needs define the human Goldilocks Zone:
These needs are summarized here -

1. Oxygen (usually as a component of air) - People can begin to experience brain damage after as few as five minutes without oxygen. For humans and many animals to sustain normal functions, the percentage of oxygen in the breathing environment must be within a relatively small range. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, determined the optimal breathing range to be between 19.5 and 23.5 percent oxygen in air.
            A. Several things may prevent you from getting the oxygen you need. Environmental risks such as high altitude, dense smoke, or carbon monoxide can prevent you from getting enough oxygen.
            B. Some medical issues may prevent your body from receiving oxygen like cardiac arrest, stroke, drowning and others.
            C. Without a consistent supply of oxygen, you can experience a condition called cerebral hypoxia which affects our brains.
                1. At levels at or below 17 percent, your mental abilities become impaired.
                2. When levels drop to 16 percent or below, noticeable changes to your behavior will occur
                3. Levels under 14 percent will cause extreme exhaustion from physical activity.
                4. Once levels drop below 10 percent, you may become very nauseous or lose consciousness.
                5. Humans won't survive with levels at 6 percent or lower. After 10 minutes without oxygen, the brain damage can be so severe that most people will die.
            D. Higher-than-normal oxygen levels in air aren't as harmful to life, however there is an increased fire or explosion risk. With extremely high concentrations of oxygen in the breathing zone, humans can experience harmful side effects. Very high levels of oxygen causes oxidizing free radicals to form. These free radicals will attack the tissues and cells of the body and cause muscle twitching. The effects from short exposure can usually be reversed, however lengthy exposure can cause death.

2. Water - Other than the air we breathe (and it's approximately 21% oxygen), water is the most essential component for human survival. The body’s functional chemicals are dissolved and transported in water, and the chemical reactions of life take place in water.
            A. It is estimated that an average person cannot survive for more than 3-4 days without water. The daily requirement is about 3 liters (approx. 3.2 quarts). Ideal drinking, sanitation, and hygiene needs can be met with approx. 50 liters (13.2 gallons)/day
            B. During hot weather it is recommended that the average person consume more, if available, to replace the amount lost due to sweating, respiration and excretion to maintain a balance of body fluids. In moderate climates you may be able to get by on less.
            C. When the hydration balance is unable to be maintained the body will start to go through the dehydration process.
                1. A 2.5 percent loss in water volume in a person leads to a 25 percent reduction in blood volume. This means the blood gets thicker and the heart has to work harder to pump nutrients throughout the body.
                2. This lower blood volume also reduces flow to the extremities, leading to numbness in the fingers and toes.
                3. The thicker blood also has a harder time making its way through the small capillaries in the brain. The lack of oxygen to parts of the brain can make it impossible to concentrate or focus for any period of time.
                4. The length of time one can survive without water depends on activity level and environmental temperature. Higher activity will invariably reduce life span, as will higher temperatures.
                5. With no water, the maximum length of time a person can survive is 10 days. Starting at 80 degrees Fahrenheit life expectancy is reduced to 9 days. With every five-degree increase in temperature, the life span decreases a day.

3. Food - sustenance, a source of biological "fuel", or what we call food, is the next most important factor after oxygen and water.
            A. A body that does not have food can survive for quite a long time by subsisting on the fat reserves in the body and the glycogen reserves in the liver and, eventually, the proteins in the muscles.
            B. The first two to three days without food, the body will depend solely on the fat reserves to run the muscles of the body. These fatty acids can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. The body can survive for as much as two weeks without intake of energy rich foods (fats & carbohydrates) 
            C. The brain relies on the glycogen reserves to send glucose to the brain. After day three, the liver begins to synthesize ketones (short strand fatty acids) that can cross the blood-brain barrier. The ketone stage can last for up to two weeks.
            D. Once the fat reserves are used up, the body will begin breaking down the musculature into proteins that can be converted into amino acids that are then transformed into glucose. Muscles break down quickly, within one week.
            E. Once this process has completed there is no other internal source of energy and the body dies. Signs of starvation include apathy, listlessness, withdrawal, changes in hair color, flaky skin, and massive edema in the abdomen and lower limbs, all of which lead to a higher chance of infection.
            F. Most individuals who experience starvation don’t die directly from it. Most die due to infectious diseases that attack the body as it consumes its own defenses.
            G. Virtually every food resource of humans is another form of animal or plant life... which also has a Goldilocks Zone!

4. Shelter (Protection From temp and moisture extremes… or the frequently cited "elements") - A shelter that helps to keep your body at a constant temperature and stable water content - temperature and humidity being the key components of climate - is also a necessity. This could include appropriate clothing.
            A. When a person is exposed to "the elements", water loss is increased and core temperature can increase or decrease beyond the survival range.
            B. Cold temperatures and high winds can strip away valuable moisture as quickly as high temperatures can cause sweat related loss.
            C. A shelter should consist of a place to make fire to create heat as well as protection from the wind and rain.
            D. Without the ability to keep a constant temperature and hydration, a person runs the risk of hypothermia or heat stroke.
            E. A person’s normal temperature in 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit. If the core temperature drops to 91.4, a body will go unconscious. At 86.0 degrees, the body loses the ability to control internal temperature. At 82.4 degrees, there is complete muscle failure.
            F. On the other end of the spectrum, a temperature of 107.6 degrees results in a breakdown of the central nervous system. At slightly over 111 degrees, the brain overheats and causes death.
            G. Extreme temperature fluctuations can cause hallucinations and illogical behavior, which can cause a person to fail to take the proper steps to keep himself alive.

5. Rest/Sleep - For a long time sleep was not considered a basic human need. Studies on sleep deprivation helped to change this in the 20th century. In terms of human need, sleep is one of the five most important elements.
            A. Sleep deprivation can cause a myriad of problems ranging from decreased body temperature to cognitive impairment and hallucination.
            B. Although the mechanisms of sleep are not well understood, the problems associated with lack of sleep are.
                1. Headaches can begin as soon as 24 hours after missing sleep.
                2. 72 hours in, memory is impaired and temporal and spatial distortion start to occur.
                3. After 96 hours without sleep, cognition is markedly impaired.
                4. After 144 hours, hallucinations ensue and there is a considerable loss of attention and manual dexterity.
            C. The longer a person goes without sleep the less coherent thought patterns become.
            D. This lack of clear thinking can be detrimental on its own, if coupled with a lack in any of the other basic needs areas it could be life threatening.

NOTE: There are other things you could add to this list like sex, mobility, emotional connection, sense of belonging, etc. The difference is that although sex is needed for the species to survive an individual can live without it. Mobility is an important function and improving one's mobility usually improves one's survivability but humans are essentially mobile as they are created so this is not a basic external need. Emotional connection and a sense of belonging are group needs, not individual survival needs. The truth is, there are only five basic needs; Air, Water, Nutrients, Shelter, and Sleep.

How Does This Stack Up For Us?
1. Our Goldilocks Zone -
        A. Air has to have 19.5 and 23.5 percent oxygen, fairly clean, and fairly constant (no longer than
5 minutes without) - preferred intake = 12-20 breaths / minute.
        B. Water has to be fairly clean, freshwater, and ABSOLUTELY no longer than 9 days without @ 80 F (on average) - preferred intake = periodically during the day @ 3 liters/day
        C. Food has to be fairly fresh (NOT decomposing), provide critical nutrients, and be at least every two weeks (to prevent serious damage and loss of faculties). This means having the ability to either access fresh foods on a very regular basis or to access preserved foods in lieu of fresh on an even MORE regular basis. Preferred intake - several times per day @ approx. 2 lb./day mixed nutrient food (fats, carbohydrates, sugars, protein, salts, trace minerals, & vitamins) and 2400 calories. If the Goldilocks Zones of your food sources are being exceeded...
        D. Shelter is primarily to ensure stable body temperatures and moisture levels, as well as basic security from harms. It must be able to prevent extreme exposure to "the elements" and protect us from extremes of condition or environment. This may be as little as good clothing or as much as a fixed location dwelling. Preferred availability = full protection as needed, with a minimum of nightly for functional rest, while maintaining core body temperatures between 91.4 and 104 degrees F at all times, and providing protection from temperature extremes or other harms to skin surface and extremities.
        E. Rest is a key biological factor, and completely within our control. No greater than 72 hours of sleep deprivation before critical functional loss, and preferred intake = daily for at least 8 hours.

2. Conditional Status
        A. Our air is frequently out of our control. We rely upon what could be called "the commons" - the sense that the air belongs to everybody, and as a result we have significant increases in health problems due to poor quality air, caused by a variety of issues - mostly man-made - like factory exhausts, car exhausts, chemical pollution, etc. Much air in high human populated areas has the oxygen we need... but a lot of other gunk we don't need - smog, smoke, gaseous pollution, particulate pollution, etc. For many people the answer is - we don't handle our air well. Global warming makes air warmer, and climate change means air becomes more of a threat because of increased movement and violence of movement.
        B. Our water availability is excellent - at the higher socio-economic levels of the developed world! Everybody else has problems to varying degrees. We have VERY low levels of freshwater world wide, compared to the vast amounts of salt water, and much of that is frozen at the poles. We, collectively, don't get, use, or handle our water well. Climate change radically changes the distribution and availability of fresh water supplies in any given biome and increases the risk of poor consistency and/or quality of water availability.
        C. Most of our food comes from, and is dependent upon, plant and animal propagation - what we call agriculture - and ALL of that food production is dependent upon the same kind of conditions (the Goldilocks Zone) as we are, with varying specific requirements - but outside the Goldilocks Zone, they die… just like we do. This is where our critical problem really lies - the fact that climate change threatens the entire food supply both directly and indirectly.
        D. Our available shelter is directly dependent upon the health and functionality of our environment, and thus available shelter components/options, as well as our functional ability to easily attain the first three critical needs above. The more difficult it is to acquire the first three, the more time in a day acquiring them takes up. The more time it takes the less time there is for acquiring and applying the components of effective shelter. The critical needs is the ability to maintain core body temperatures but extremities can take a hit if conditions get too hot or cold.
        E. Our rest opportunities are largely dependent upon our degree of rest deprivation and the degree to which the other four have been attained. Any shortfalls in the other four mean we are closer to critical survival issues and may be less able or inclined to rest. That said, at some point the body will almost force a rest state, and that could be at exactly the wrong time from a life sustaining standpoint, so, better to chose the time earlier. Abrupt climate change increases the probability that routine periods of rest will not be available or will be disrupted, unless substantial accomplishment exists in the first four.

Think about it! Be prepared! Keep your powder dry and your candles lit!

The Smokemaster

Friday, June 30, 2017

On the "Problem" of Climate Change in the West

The unfortunate news is that the western half of the present United States has a long history of dryness and bleak conditions that well and thoroughly predates white occupation. We are just getting to see one of it’s major shifts as it happens. In the map provided below, you see the major desert ecoregions that we recognize today in North America. They are, by number,
Cold Deserts   
1. Thompson-Okanagan Plateau
2. Columbia Basin
3. Northern Basin and Range
4. Wyoming Basin
5. Central Basin and Range
6. Colorado Plateaus
7. Arizona/New Mexico Plateau
8. Snake River Plain
Hot deserts:
9. Mojave Basin and Range
10. Sonoran Desert
11. Baja Californian Desert
12. Chihuahuan Desert

Notice that they take up a sizable chuck of what we think of as the Rocky Mountain west. What we do NOT recognize as desert today is the area (that is encircled by an aqua line) to the east of the Rocky Mountains, more formally referred to as the high plains (the western part of the so called Great Plains west of the Mississippi). Notice that this area exceeds the boundaries of the present United States. This area was a desert 6 thousand years ago. As we were driving across this area last year I told my wife to look for any area where the soil might have been thinned by wind or rain, like the base of a rock outcropping, and notice the composition of the soil. It was very pale and tan colored. This is because we were seeing that desert exposed. It takes about 1000 years for 3 centimeters of soil to form. That’s more than an inch but not by much. That means that about 18 centimeters of soil (or 6-10 inches) of soil have formed in the intervening time. Not much when it gets right down to it. That desert is still there and it will be coming back over the next 10-20 years as global warming and climate change really hit with full force.

6000 years ago, the western part of the present United States was much more inhospitable to human life than it is now. A period of relative increase in moisture and decrease in regional temperatures (hold that thought for later) resulted in increased forests, increased ecological opportunity for everything we have come to know and love about those mountains during this life time. All that is about to change. What I am describing, is, unfortunately the direct impact, on a continental scale, of “average global temperatures” rising by 1-2 degrees Centigrade. Ecological zones change. Land ecosystems gain heat and lose moisture. Most of the entire ecosystem has to adapt, move, or die because that much of a change (which seems like “so little” to so many) takes most of the life in an ecosystem out of the narrow ranges we call their “Goldilocks Zone” - that space where everything is “just right” for them to thrive.

Mankind is an amazingly adaptive animal - but when will we be outside of OUR Goldilocks Zone? We rely on our technology to maintain the processes of adaptation that we apply in every climate zone of Earth. What will happen when massive human migration - on the North American continent alone, not counting anywhere else - cause a complete restructuring of society and our way of life as we know it. Will that technology be available? What of “localized” agriculture, in the form of permaculture and the like? How localized can your agriculture be when the heat and the sun and the wind don’t really support the growth of typical moderate zone perennials and annuals that we rely on for our staple food supply? The so called growing zones of the United States have already shifted north by one whole zone worth in the last twenty years. Was no one paying attention?

I have been saying, for some time now, that if you want a rule of thumb draw a line from the n.e. corner of the state of Washington down to about the city of Charleston S.C. I call that line the line of progressive depopulation. Everything south west of that line will become progressively more inhospitable to humans as we proceed into the century with pockets of habitability and vast areas uninhabitable by humans by the end of the century and we’ll be well on the way to that by mid-century. The human population of the current United States will have suffered a relatively HUGE area of habitat loss. Remember that habitat loss isn’t just about living conditions for humans, it’s about living conditions for EVERY OTHER LIVING THING we depend upon for functional human life. That doesn’t just mean crops that won’t grow, fruit trees that will die, and a relative sudden lack of fresh water supplies, that means every form of ecological service that Nature provides today that will change our world as the ecological conditions change, as well as the availability of food, water, and shelter.

We turned the rudder on the human ship of civilization over 150 years ago, and we’re baffled that the ship is starting to turn. Had we known the intricacies of ecological inter-relationship then that we are just beginning to understand now, things might have been different… but I doubt it. We are a greedy and lazy animal at the baseline. We have a minimum of 40 more years of continuing offense to the natural world, based on the aggregation of effect for greenhouse gases over a forty year period. The effects we are feeling today are the cumulative effects of the last 40 years of our offensive and egregious behavior with greenhouse gases and the last 150 years of human disregard for the natural world. If we stopped doing EVERYTHING offensive - and unsustainable - to our way of life TODAY we’d STILL have another 40 years minimum to ride out. There you have it. Read it and weep.

Thanks for being there and being you. Keep up the good work.

Keep the candles lit, and your powder dry.

The Smokemaster

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It's About OUR Personal Consumption and the Energy Behind It... REALLY!!

I've been preaching for some time now - some would say "preaching to the choir" except the choir isn't getting religion either - that the absolute and ultimate bottom line of our current environmental, climate, and global warming problem is the personal energy consumption IN TOTAL of EACH & EVERY ONE OF US. YES - Particularly Americans!! That means EVERYTHING we do on a daily basis - WHERE does the energy for that come from? EVERYTHING!!

The further back from YOU that you have to go to find the source and the more energy that is expended between the source and you, the worse the problem is. Water? Pumped from your own well? Food? Grown on your own property or traded with other growers? Seeds? Saved from your own produce, traded with another grower, or bought from a catalog? Your clothing? Made from fiber grown, harvested, spun, and woven locally? Or ??? Where did your toilet paper come from??

The following article, reposted here (just in case problems with reaching anything from NPR emerge in the Trump maligned future) speaks to the difficulties of trying to return to a life of personal responsibility for ALL energy expended for one's own benefit on a daily basis -

Food For Thought

By Returning To Farming's Roots, He Found His American Dream

(all photographic credits to Dan Charles/NPR) 

Eighteen years ago, on New Year's Eve, David Fisher visited an old farm in western Massachusetts, near the small town of Conway. No one was farming there at the time, and that's what had drawn Fisher to the place. He was scouting for farmland.

"I remember walking out [to the fallow fields] at some point," Fisher recalls. "And in the moonlight – it was all snowy – it was like a blank canvas."

On that blank canvas, Fisher's mind painted a picture of what could be there alongside the South River. He could see horses tilling the land – no tractors, no big machineryand vegetable fields, and children running around.

This is David Fisher's American Dream. It may not be the conventional American Dream of upward economic mobility. But dreams like his have a long tradition in this country. Think of the Puritans and the Shakers and the Amish. These American dreams are the uncompromising pursuit of a difficult ideal.

The scene that David Fisher imagined, on the New Year's Eve almost two decades ago, has turned into reality. It's called Natural Roots Farm.


To get to the farm, you have to leave the motorized world behind. Cross the South River on a swinging footbridge, and there in front of you are seven acres of growing vegetables, neatly laid out in rows.

It's early in the fall, on this day; the hillside beyond the fields is glowing with red and yellow leaves. It's idyllic, almost magical.

Anna Maclay is out checking on the fields.

"I came originally as an apprentice in 2002," she tells me. "Totally fell in love with the land. I just thought, 'I want to live here!"

Her wish came true in a way she hadn't expected. She and David Fisher fell in love and got married. They now have two school-age children: Leora and Gabriel.

It's a harvest day on the farm and David and Anna have some help. They're joined by Emmet Van Driesche, who lives nearby on his own farm, and two apprentices, Kyle Farr and Calixta Killander, who are living and working on the farm for a year. Together, they'll need to fill a wagon with spinach, beets, broccoli and a host of other vegetables and herbs.

About two hundred customers have bought shares in the farm's harvest. Among them is Maggie Potter. She arrives with her children to pick up her produce. "It's not only having the vegetables – the nourishment for our own bodies. It's creating community, making friends along the way," she says.

If this all sounds like a vision of peace and contentment, take a closer look. Watch David Fisher at work. While the apprentices stick together in the fields, chatting as they work, Fisher works by himself, cutting greens off just above the soil, hacking out heads of broccoli. He moves quickly, with purpose in every step, almost never stopping, from daybreak until dusk. And when you talk with him, it becomes even clearer: He's a very driven man. He's driven, in fact, by a kind of desperation. And to understand it, you need to know his life story.

David Fisher grew up in the suburbs north of New York City, in the village of Pleasantville, in Westchester County. He spent summers at a rustic camp in the Adirondacks. "You could only get there by boat, you couldn't drive there," Fisher says. "No electricity, bathe in the lake, live all summer in a tent."

Then, at the end of every summer, he'd get on a train back to Grand Central Station and it would hit him. "Noise, steel and concrete and lights everywhere," he recalls. It was an overwhelming sensory experience, and for young David, it wasn't a pleasant one.

When he was 15, that end-of-summer paradigm shift was more than he could take. He was overtaken by despair over the environmental fate of the earth. "I was like - this is craziness. The whole thing. Civilization as I'm seeing it is absurd. The way that humans are living on, consuming, destroying the earth is absurd," he says. "The only thing I could see to do was pack up and flee."

He determined to drop out of high school; his parents forced him to get a diploma, graduating early. Then, Fisher got as far as he possibly could from houses and highways and smokestacks. He hung out in the west, skiing and backpacking, immersing himself in nature to "soothe his soul," as he puts it. He loved it, but he still knew, in the back of his mind, that it was just an escape. It wasn't an enduring path out of his despair about the world.

One day, when Fisher was 20 years old, he was back on the East Coast, visiting a friend at Hampshire College, here in western Massachusetts, and he wandered into the college's small organic farm. It was another overwhelming sensory experience, but the opposite of Grand Central Station: "Autumn leaves raining down, and the lush fields of vegetables and cover crops. Open the barn door, and the tables are lined with this abundance of earthy, healthy, vital produce. And I was like, 'Wow!'"

He felt like he was seeing, for the first time, a way to live immersed in the natural world, and also be productive. To make a living.

He started learning to farm, from other farmers. And then he found this land near the town of Conway.

You can call this farm utopian, if utopia is the kind of place where you work extra hard and live very frugally so that you can grow food in a way that's more in harmony with nature.

For instance: Half of the land on this farm is always devoted to "cover crops" that don't produce any food that customers will buy. The purpose of these crops is simply to protect and nourish the soil.

His most defining choice, though, is to rely on horses as the primary source of power on the farm.

Two of them, Pat and Lady, pull a wagon full of vegetables from the fields across the river and up a hill to a small barn beside the road where families come to pick up their produce. Kyle Farr, one of the apprentices, holds the reins and directs the horses with cryptic words and sucking sounds.

David Fisher is committed to horses partly because it makes the farm more self-sufficient. "It's so direct," he says. He doesn't have to rely on fossil fuels. "The fuel is there in the grass. The power is right there, in the form of these live animals." Also, he says, horses force you to work at a more natural rhythm.

But there's a cost, in the form of time. Horses need care and feeding every day, whether they're pulling a wagon that day or not.

Fisher learned this past year that two former apprentices at Natural Roots Farm who had learned to work with horses here and then adopted this method on their own farms, recently went back to farming with tractors.

It bothers him. But he's not giving up. Because for him, working with horses is one small answer to the despair that led him here. "The environmental crisis is heavy. It's a heavy, heavy situation. And to find any hope of effecting some sort of change, or examples [of change] is critical to my emotional, psychological well-being," he says.

Over breakfast that day, I ask David, "Are you a perfectionist?" He starts to deny it, but Anna cuts in. "Yes!" she says.

He and Anna both tell me that David's driving ambition to build a better farm — constantly working, always starting some new project — has led to conflict between them. "This is the long-standing disagreement," Anna says softly. "I always think that we need to take on less, you know?"

They've managed to keep this farm afloat for almost two decades now, but "it's still a serious struggle to make the economics of it work out," David says. And apart from worries about money, they have to manage the logistics of a complicated life — 200 families depending on a steady supply of produce from their farm, children in school and playing soccer, and their car parked on the other side of the river, a quarter-mile walk from their rustic home.

"There's not a lot that's easy about living this way," she says. "But most of it feels pretty right. And I guess that's turned out to be more important, for me."

Those are the words they often use, talking about their choices. This small, alternative American Dream, for them, just feels right.
( http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/12/31/505729436/by-returning-to-farmings-roots-he-found-his-american-dream - retrieved Jan 10, 2017)

This is where we need to be heading... again! Back To The Future! If we are to feed ourselves and make our lives sustainable, then the basic requirement is taking personal responsibility for the expenditure of ALL energy that is used for our comfort and well being - it's THAT simple! If more of us were doing this as community, it wouldn't be so hard for those few who do now. Many hands make light work.

If you need a model to think about very much akin to what David & Anna have done here then look to the Amish. They still do the large bulk of their farming with a heavy dependence upon animal labor, and relatively minor use of anything derived from fossil hydro-carbons. They don't make use of any exotic electronics or electricity and they rely on family labor first, community labor second before thinking beyond that scale - which means they usually don't get beyond that scale.

IT'S A CHANGE, people, no getting around it. But that scenario IS where we each can take responsibility for our use of energy - our own, our animal friends, or human neighbors - on a daily basis, for our own well being. That IS sustainability! Think back - it wasn't that long ago when much of the country was sustainable, meaning that we truly didn't make our world or the environment any worse than we found it and, with extra effort, we left it a little better. It's not the ONLY scenario that works but it's right in the middle of ALL scenarios that DO work, so we need to embrace the reality and join David & Anna making the world functional for human habitation again. It's well and truly up to us!

Meanwhile, while your wrapping your tender 21st century sensibilities around these concepts - take your money out of any bank that's invested in anti-environmental projects (like DAPL) and put it in a local credit union. Get off of that white sugar, white flour dependence.  Buy local. Farmer's markets are MUCH more fun! Make your own environmentally friendly clothes washing soap (it's actually quite easy). Remember the goal isn't home buyer-ship, but home ownership. You don't have to mortgage your soul for a decent home. Think about getting rid of the heavy lift vehicle and getting a Volt... or a horse!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Thanks for being there and being you,

The Smokemaster

Thursday, September 29, 2016

On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs

Normally I post my own thoughts in this space, but I have come across a fundamental explanation of the stratification of people that really connects the dots and I want to share it with those who read my blog without having them click of to somewhere else, or worse, not find it at the end of an outdated or discontinued link, so here it is - By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman, author of "On Killing".

"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always,even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?" - William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the U.S. Naval Academy November 24, 1997

"One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:

"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful.? For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke
Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church.? They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs.? Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in "Fear Less", his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth"

Reading this was truly an epiphany for me. It explained my life, my attitude, my very "way of being" in ways I had never "grocked" before. As you might have guessed, I'm a sheepdog. Full on, always ready. I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've almost compulsively moved INTO "the action" instead of away from it in my life, both as a civilian and in the service of the nation with two branches of the military.  When the "ugly duckling", the outsider, the misfit turns out to be a sheepdog - well, I wouldn't have it any other way! Now you know too. :-)

Thanks for being there and being you :-)

The Smokemaster

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On "Common Sense" Gun Regulations - Let's use some actual common sense!

I just posted this on Facebook, but wanted it to be more referable for the consuming public over time, so here it is -

I posted this comment with it -
I am a proud gun owner and user. I believe in the Second Amendment AS WRITTEN, not as freely interpreted by the gun nut lobby aka the NRA. I do NOT belong to the NRA because they don't represent or support common sense gun laws in this country and by not doing so they make every mass shooting a more divisive issue than the one before.

Here's the real BEEF!!! - The willingness of lawmakers to jump on any buzzword that comes down the hall and HAIL IT as the immediate gratification solution! Example - BAN ASSAULT RIFLES! What utter bullshit! I have an AR-15 platform rifle - the so called "assault weapon" - of general focus. I also have a British Enfield .303 cal. Mark 1 Mod III bolt action rifle made in 1916 - other than the US Springfield, probably the longest serving and most commonly deployed military weapon throughout the British empire for over 100 years. Probably EVERY rancher in Australia has a British Enfield as their "goto" gun. REports from the battle front in several wars state that "A well trained British infrantryman can lay down so much fire so quickly with the bolt-action Enfield that there have been occasions that someone though a .30 cal machine gun had been deployed. Been used in more actual assaults than almost any other weapon on earth, but NOBODY thinks of it as an assault weapon. So lets get real about what constitutes the REAL problem, and deal with that part of the bigger picture, not just label a whole class of guns or type of technology and then demonize it with absolutely no justification.

The problem is PEOPLE who want to come into a SOCIAL VENUE, and shoot a bunch of people rapidly. That requires that people who aren't stable being able to get a firearm easily and quickly - the current background check system would detect only the most egregious repeat offender across a range of public space... and by the way, the national military security system doesn't do a very good job of detecting potential traitors either. It requires that the future perpetrator be able to get as much ammunition as they can carry of afford, which ever is the limiting factor. That's a no brainer. The only limit in most cases is age. It requires that they be able to feed that ammunition to the receiver of the gun as quickly as possible - which means semi-automatic weapons with large capacity clips are optimum, but by NO MEANS, the only way to do this! As previously noted, a good bolt action handled by someone with reasonable skill can do the same thing BUT you have to have available ammunition, so clips matter - ANY CLIP SIZE MATTERS. Why? Because it's more than a single shot and changing clips doesn't slow down the activity that much. Sure, I have to haul around three ten shot clips for every 30 round clip but the 30 round clip is bigger and heavier too.

If we can drop 6 store security people on an alleged shoplifter in 10 second or less, because they walked through the ubiquitous RFID detector at the door, why in God's name can't we put an RFID on every gun, new or old, as part of a national gun registration process, and detect not only the presence of a gun, but, in milli-seconds, the type of gun, and have public venue security all over it, the same way every major retail outlet in the nation protects the integrity of it's profits, all day every day - think WalMart . There was a policeman on site at Orlando who returned fire. Imagine the benefit to him, and many others, if he'd known within two second of the guy approaching the place that he was armed, and with what. He could have taken away the element of surprise. Just imagine! That's what holding the perpetrator responsible means. That's COMMON SENSE GUN REGULATION. If we put saving lives and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions on an equal footing with preventing theft and protecting profits, we could have this problem solved yesterday and put the argument to rest that the government is trying to take everyone's guns away. They aren't or it would be done already.

Thanks for being there and being you.

The Smokemaster

Sunday, June 5, 2016

An Examination of "The Good Life"

Possibly the MOST contentious or dynamic (and subject to constant change) aspect of human culture is the definition of "the good life" and what makes a life "good", no matter the situation.

Unfortunately, over time, many definitions of "the good life" (TGL) have become closely associated with a life of ease or comfort. The reason that this is unfortunate is that life, for the most part is not easy or, for that matter, comfortable (with a nod to The Road Less Traveled by Dr. M. Scott Peck). It would seem to make more sense to define TGL in terms of reality and the likelihood of certain things happening, rather than things that are unlikely or even rare. 

So… maybe we need to take a close look at what "good" means… or should mean.

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of good (see APPENDIX A below - yes go look at it! This essay originally included it here, but it seriously detracted from the reading flow of the essay, none the less you NEED a sense of it if not a detailed understanding of it, so go look at it and come back here) provides an exhaustive and effective sense of this very useful and flexible word. The dictionary provides 3a - pleasant, pleasing, or enjoyable as one of a number of choices, and then provides a clue in "see also good life".

For the "Good Life" the dictionary provides us with -

GOOD LIFE (noun)
Learner's definition of GOOD LIFE

1  US : the kind of life that people with a lot of money are able to have
She grew up poor, but now she's living the good life.
His idea of the good life includes owning several luxury cars.
2 : a happy and enjoyable life
She gave up a good job in the city to move to the country in search of the good life.

which explicitly moves us in what can only be seen as a bad direction, if we have any sense of what is sustainable in our world, and what is not, based on the simple notion that its "the kind of life that people with a lot of money are able to have". Given our well understood distribution of wealth in the U.S. as depicted for 2015 in this Washington Post graphic -
that would mean that only the top 5% have any realistic actuality of TGL. However, this also implies that there MUST be more to this or it would be seen as "beyond the pale" or unachievable for the masses, and people keep thinking that TGL is achievable, so...  The U.S. Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." (WikiPedia) which provides us with three specific instances of "inalienable rights" endowed by "man's Creator" that it is the intrinsic role of government to protect and enable, as well as a high altitude sense of TGL in the words "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". This, in other words, means to be alive, to have the freedom to live as one chooses, and to pursue whatever makes one happy.

With this in mind, it immediately becomes a subjective determination for each and every person alive on the planet, relative to their education, their perspectives, their personality, their maturity, their ethical sensibilities, their intrinsic and developed values, and their general state of balance as a human on a finite planet, in a very large cosmos.
 Therein lies the rub…

For humanity to share a common sense of TGL, then, would require that everyone have a credible and roughly equivalent education and life experience, as well as a common understanding and perspective about how life works on a finite planet, which one would hope would lead to a common set of values, ethics, and beliefs. This may be the original "hopium" because, for the most part, they (humanity) do not. There is a substantial probability of being able to identify large generalized groupings of common perspective and belief and thus common sense of TGL, but there would be MANY such groups within any culture or other human organizational framework, which might or might not align with other groups of similar culture but alternative geography.

That said, there are generally understood expressions of TGL such as the term "the American Dream" generally defined as "a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, and Equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers." In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth." (WikiPedia)

These views would be specifically 20th century views held primarily by Americans and yet the very same America is much closer to meeting, and supporting, the definition of "good life" presented in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (see above). There are, obviously, inherent linkages to a way of life that was perhaps most strongly developed in America - what started as industrial capitalism, morphed into predatory industrial capitalism, and has finally ended up taking the ultimately fatal form of parasitic industrial capitalism. It serves the oligarchy well to have the majority of the population actually think they can achieve the "good life" based on lots of money, because that's the only thing that the oligarchy can give them is money - never a lot, just "enough".

Those who use excesses of hopium are the ones who continue the fiction that "we can beat this addiction by just changing 'what's wrong' " or who say "What addiction?" without being willing to acknowledge that there is one, and that the entire human ecology is based on "wrong" that sustains that addiction. It is not desparium to recognize the nature and scope of the problem and to try to get others to do so as well. As is well known in addiction treatment circles, you can't solve the problem if you fail to understand and acknowledge that there is one.

This IS an addiction problem. Wealth addiction for the few, energy addiction for the many. Until we all take personal responsibility for our own energy use and consumption every day in every way, then you better believe in "desparium" stories, because you're in one. So as not to support either side of what I see as extremes, I think there will be (or maybe not, in which case we die) opportunities to do better than "walk and scratch out a living with your fingers" in this troubled and possibly deeply challenged future, although that's a rather extreme view of a perfectly normal condition for half of the world's current population.

This points up that fully half of the "problem" aka the lack, or insufficiency, of TGL opportunities, is rapid over-population - but we will NOT be able to continue "parasitic industrial capitalism" like we have been for over 200 years. Thus much of what has been defined as "the good life" is based on a dream of a human ecology that is essentially rooted in, and utterly dependent upon, endless and egregious exploitation, consumption, and excess, driven by exponential growth. That means that, when closely examined, The Good Life in the developed world is based on a rather wretched life for many others in the developing or undeveloped world. This is, quite obviously, the very epitome of unsustainable. We're going to need a new definition of The Good Life... for all of us.

The people on this earth who are best adapted to what's coming (as a result of centuries of our over-indulgence) are not our luxuriant, entitled, self-indulgent Global North attitudes in any case. It's the Australian aboriginal cultures and the Kalahari bushman culture, among others who haven't lost (though damn near) the ways of surviving extreme climate change and inhospitable conditions - which does seem to be, despite so many "developed world" people's utter abhorrence of the idea, predominantly "walk and scratch out a living with your fingers". I prefer to think of it as taking personal responsibility for your daily energy generation and resource consumption, whatever form that has to take for you. There is a good life to be had by taking that responsibility and working with one's own hands to create what is needed. Before the current tribulations are over we may need to see "the good life" as ANY life at all, where humanity is concerned, given the conditions we face.

Merriam -Webster Online

Definition of


1 a (1) :  of a favorable character or tendency (2) :  bountiful, fertile (3) :  handsome, attractive
b (1) :  suitable, fit (2) :  free from injury or disease (3) :  not depreciated (4) :  commercially sound (5) :  that can be relied on (6) :  profitable, advantageous  
c (1) :  agreeable, pleasant (2) :  salutary, wholesome (3) :  amusing, clever  
d (1) :  of a noticeably large size or quantity :  considerable (2) :  full (3) —used as an intensive  
e (1) :  well-founded, cogent (2) :  true (3) :  deserving of respect :  honorable (4) :  legally valid or effectual
f (1) :  adequate, satisfactory —often used in faint praise (2) :  conforming to a standard (3) :  choice, discriminating (4) :  containing less fat and being less tender than higher grades —used of meat and especially of beef

2 a (1) :  virtuous, right, commendable (2) :  kind, benevolent  
b :  upper-class  
c :  competent, skillful  
d (1) :  loyal (2) :  close e :  free from infirmity or sorrow

goodish play \ˈgu̇-dish\ adjective
as good as
:  in effect :  virtually as good as gold
1 :  of the highest worth or reliability
2 :  well-behaved
:  very, entirely

GOOD (for learners of English)
1 good /ˈgʊd/ adjective   in the context of better /ˈbɛtɚ/ ; best /ˈbɛst/

1 a  : of high quality
The food was good. = It was good food.
You'll need better tools for this job.
The car is in good condition/shape.
[+] more examples
b  : of somewhat high but not excellent quality
The food was good but not great.
He has done good but not outstanding work.

2 : correct or proper
good manners
good grammar
She speaks very good English. [=she uses correct pronunciation, grammar, etc.]

3 a  : pleasant, pleasing, or enjoyable
Did you have a good time at the party?
We're expecting good weather for the weekend.
The soup tastes/smells good.
[+] more examples
— see also good life, good-looking
b  : not having, marked by, or relating to problems, troubles, etc.
good and bad news
They've been together in good times and bad.
I had a good feeling about the meeting.
[+] more examples
— see also good luck at 1luck
c  : adequate or suitable
It's a good day for a sail.
We need to have a meeting. Is tomorrow good [=convenient] for you?
He's a good person to contact if you're ever in trouble.
[+] more examples
d  : sensible or reasonable
She has a very good reason for being angry.
He showed good judgment in buying a small car.
She gave us some good advice.
[+] more examples
e  : producing or likely to produce a pleasant or favorable result
a good deal/plan
a good risk/investment
a lot of good marketing ideas
[+] more examples
f  : having a desired quality
We paid a good price [=a low price] for the tickets.
The painting should fetch/bring a good price [=a high price] when it's sold.
Did you get good [=high] grades in school?
[+] more examples
g  : expressing approval or praise
a movie that has been getting good reviews
I've heard a lot of good things about you.
h  — used in speech as a response
“I'm ready to go when you are.” “Good. Let's get going.”
“I passed the exam!” “(Very) Good!”
“I passed the exam!” “Good for you!” = (chiefly Australia) “Good on you!” [=well done]

4 a  : not marked or affected by injury or disease : healthy
I went home early because I wasn't feeling too/very good. [=I wasn't feeling well; I was feeling sick]
Her health is pretty good. = She's in pretty good health.
The patient was reported to be in good condition following surgery.
[+] more examples
b  : not causing harm or trouble : causing something desired
a good [=healthy, healthful] diet
good nutrition
You've been a good influence on the kids.
[+] more examples
— often + for
Regular exercise is good for you. [=regular exercise makes you healthier]
Hot soup is good for a cold. [=hot soup makes you feel better when you have a cold]
Being with friends is especially good for him right now.

5 a  : not morally bad or wrong : morally proper or correct
a good person
good conduct/behavior
a woman/man of good character
[+] more examples
— see also good life
b  : kind or helpful
You've always been so good to me.
It was good of you to answer my request so quickly.
— sometimes used to formally make a request
Would you be good enough to show me the way? = Would you be so good as to show me the way? [=would you please show me the way?]
c  : behaving properly : not causing trouble
a good dog
The children were very good today.

6 a  : having or showing talent or skill : doing or able to do something well
She's a very good golfer.
a good musician/doctor/cook
He was really good in his last movie. [=he acted very well]
[+] more examples
— often + at
She's very good at (playing) golf.
He's not very/any good at expressing his feelings. = He's no good at expressing his feelings.
— sometimes used in a joking way
I'm very/really good at saying the wrong thing. [=I often say things that make people uncomfortable, unhappy, etc.]
— see also no good, not any good at 2good
b  : able to use something or to deal with something or someone well — + with
He's very good with his hands. [=he can easily make/do things with his hands]
She's good with children. [=she manages and interacts with children well; children like her and behave well when they are with her]
c  : having a tendency to do something — + about
He's good about writing everything down. [=he usually writes everything down]
I'm trying to be better about exercising. [=I'm trying to exercise more often]

7 a  : happy or pleased
I feel good about what happened. [=I'm pleased by what happened]
She felt good that she had remembered his birthday. = She felt good about remembering his birthday.
Helping other people makes me feel good.
She didn't feel good about having to fire her secretary.
b  : cheerful or calm
She's in a good mood. [=a happy mood]
He has a good temper. [=he is good-tempered; he doesn't become angry easily]
Everyone was in good spirits.

8 not used before a noun
a  — used to say how long something will continue or be valid
This offer is good only until the end of the month.
This offer is good for the remainder of the month.
Our old car should be good for a few more years. [=it should last a few more years; it should continue to operate for a few more years]
b  : still suitable to eat or drink : not spoiled
Is the milk still good or has it gone bad?

9 — used in phrases like good heavens and good God to express surprise or anger or to make a statement or question more forceful
Good heavens! You startled me!
“Do you agree with him?” “Good God, no!”
(somewhat old-fashioned) Good gracious, I completely forgot!
— see also good grief at grief

10 : causing laughter : funny
I heard a good joke the other day.
“He says he's never met her.” “That's a good one. [=that's amusing because it isn't true] I saw them together last week.”
She's always good for a laugh. [=she is always funny]

11 a  : large in size, amount, or quantity
The store has a good selection of products.
She won the election by a good [=considerable] margin.
He makes good money as a lawyer. = He makes a good living as a lawyer. [=he earns a lot of money]
[+] more examples
b  : not less or fewer than a particular amount : at least — used in the phrase a good
He weighs a good 200 pounds.
We waited a good hour. [=we waited at least an hour]
There are a good 80 people here.

12  always used before a noun : forceful or thorough
If you give the machine a good kick, it might start working again.
Give the bottle a good shake before you open it.
Take a good look at this.
[+] more examples

13 : having a high social position or status
He comes from a good family.
She thinks her son is too good for me.
It's a good neighborhood.

14 always used before a noun
a  — used to describe people who know each other well and care about each other very much
She's a good [=close] friend of mine. = She and I are good friends.
my good friend/pal/buddy Joe
b  : showing true and constant support for someone
He's been a good friend to me.
I'm trying to be a better sister.
c  : belonging to and having loyalty to a group or organization
a good party member
a good Catholic

15 not used before a noun - sports
a  of a serve or shot : landing in the proper area of the court in tennis and similar games
I thought the ball/serve was good but my opponent said it was out.
b  of a shot or kick : successfully done
(basketball) The first foul shot was good, but he missed the second one.
(American football) The field goal was good.
(American football) The field goal was no good. [=the field goal was missed]

16 not used before a noun, informal : not wanting or needing anything more
“Would you like more coffee?” “No, thanks. I'm good.”
“Here's the money I owed you. So we're good now, right?” “Yeah, we're good.” [=we have settled our business; there is no longer any problem between us]
all in good time
— see
all well and good
— see
as good as
: almost or nearly
The plan is as good as dead.
Those people as good as ruined the school with their foolish ideas!
(as) good as gold
— see
1 gold
as good as it gets
1 — used to say that nothing better is possible or available
It's not a great restaurant, but in this part of the city, it's as good as it gets.
2 — used to say that something is very good and cannot be improved
There's nothing I enjoy more than spending time at home with my family. That's as good as it gets.
as good as new
— see 1new
fight the good fight
— see 1fight
for good measure
— see 1measure
give as good as you get
— see 1give
good and
chiefly US, informal /ˌgʊdn̩/

1 : very
I hit him good and hard.
He was good and angry.
I like my coffee good and hot.

2 : completely or entirely
We'll leave when I'm good and ready.
good egg
— see 1 egg
good for
somewhat informal
: able to provide or produce (something)
I'm good for a hundred dollars if you need a loan.
— see also 1good 4b, 8a (above)
good for it
: able to pay back a loan
Why won't you lend me the money? You know I'm good for it. [=you can trust me to pay it back]
good graces
— see 1 grace
good old
— used before a noun to describe a familiar person or thing with affection or approval
Good old John: you can always count on him to help.
I don't need fancy shoes. I prefer good old sneakers.
They were talking about the good old days. [=happy times in the past]
— see also good old boy
good riddance
— see riddance
good to go
US, informal
: ready to leave or to start doing something
We have all the tools and supplies we need, so we're good to go.
good word
— see 1word
have it good
: to be in a favorable position or situation
There's no reason for her to be so unhappy. She really has it (pretty) good.
He's never had it so good. [=he has never been in such a favorable situation]
have the good grace
— see 1grace
hold good
: to be true
The advice she gave us 10 years ago still holds good [=(more commonly) holds true] today.
if you know what's good for you
: if you want to avoid trouble, problems, etc.
You'll take my advice if you know what's good for you.
She'll forget about the whole thing if she knows what's good for her.
in good company
— see company
in good part
— see 1part
make good

1 : to become successful
It's a story about a kid from a small town trying to make good in the big city.
◊ If you make good your escape, you escape successfully.
The prisoners dug a tunnel under the fence and made good their escape.

2 : to do something that you have promised or threatened to do
He made good his promise.
— usually + on in U.S. English
He made good on his promise.
They made good on their threat and forced the company to go out of business.

3 a  : to pay for (something) — usually + on
The insurance company was required to make good on the loss.
b  chiefly British : to repair (something)
The contract obliges you to make good any damaged windows.
so far, so good
— see 1far
too good to be true
— used to say that something cannot be as good as it seems to be
The price of the car is too good to be true. There must be something wrong with it.
If it looks/seems too good to be true, it probably is. [=there is probably some cost or bad part you do not know about]
very good
— used as a response to say you will do something that you have been told or asked to do
“Show the ambassador in.” “Very good, sir.”
what's good for the goose is good for the gander
— see 1goose
with (a) good grace
— see 1grace
2 good /ˈgʊd/ noun
plural goods

Learner's definition of GOOD

1 a  [noncount] : morally good forces or influences
the battle of good versus evil
Teachers can be a strong force for good.
the difference between good and bad
b  [count] : something that is right or good
They had to sacrifice lesser goods for greater ones.
What is life's highest/greatest good?

2 the good
a  [singular] : the pleasant things that happen to people
You have to take the good with the bad. [=you have to accept both the good things and the bad things that happen to you]
b  [singular] : things that are morally proper or correct
Parents must teach their children the difference between the good and the bad.
c  [plural] : morally good people
She believes that the good go to heaven when they die and the bad go to hell.
Only the good die young.

3 [noncount] : the part of someone that is kind, honest, generous, helpful, etc.
They cherished the good [=goodness] in him, overlooking the bad.
She believes there is some good in everyone.

4 [noncount]
a  : something that helps someone or something to be better, stronger, etc.
She did it for the good of the community. [=to help the community]
citizens working together for the common/public good [=to help or benefit everyone]
I know you don't want to do this, but it's for your own good. [=it will make you stronger, better, etc.]
They talk too much for their own good. [=they hurt themselves by talking too much]
b  : a useful or favorable result
What good can possibly come of that?
No good came of our efforts. = Our efforts came to no good. [=our efforts did not produce a good or useful result]
— see also no good (below)

5 goods [plural]
a  : products that are made or grown in order to be sold : things for sale
The store sells a variety of goods.
baked/canned goods
leather/paper goods
[+] more examples
— see also damaged goods, dry goods, durable goods, white goods
b  : things that are owned by a person
He sold all of his worldly goods. [=all of his possessions]
c  British : products carried by trains, trucks, etc. : freight — used before another noun
a goods lorry
— see also goods train
be any good
: to be useful or helpful
Would an apology be any good? [=any use]
deliver the goods
informal or chiefly British come up with the goods
: to produce the desired or promised results : to do what is wanted or expected
We knew we could count on him to deliver the goods. [=get the job done]
do good
1 : to do kind or helpful things : to do things that help other people
She tried to make the community better by doing good.
She has done a lot of good in the community.
— see also do-gooder

2 a  : to be useful or helpful — used with any, much, some, etc.
I tried to convince him to change his mind, but it didn't do any good. [=I was unable to convince him]
He's been exercising more and it seems to be doing some good.
You can try, but it probably won't do much good.
It might do a little good.
b  : to be useful to or helpful for someone or something
You should exercise more. It might do you (some) good.
Weeding regularly will do your garden good. [=will improve your garden]
The visit with her grandchildren did her a world/lot of good. = (Brit) The visit with her grandchildren did her a power of good. [=it was very good for her; it made her feel much better and happier]
◊ If you do not think that something is helpful, useful, or worth doing, you can ask What good does it do?, What good is it?, What's the good of it?, etc.
What good does it to do to bring an umbrella along [=why bring an umbrella along] if you are only going to leave it in the car?
What good is a college education when you can't get a job after you graduate?
What's the good of working hard if your boss doesn't give you any credit for it?
I could try talking to him, but what good would that do/be? He has already made up his mind.
for good
also for good and all
: forever
“When is she coming back?” “She's not coming back. She's gone for good.”
have/get the goods on
◊ To have/get the goods on someone is to have/get evidence showing that someone has done something wrong.
We can't arrest her until we get the goods on her.
in good with
US, informal
: in a favored position with (someone)
She's in good with the boss. [=the boss likes her]
it's an ill wind that blows no good
— see 1ill
no good
or not any good
: not effective or useful
I tried to convince him to change his mind, but it was no good, he wouldn't listen to me.
It's no good [=no use] talking to him. = It isn't any good talking to him.
— see also be any good (above)
not much good
: not very effective or useful
I tried to convince him to change his mind, but it wasn't much good.
to the good
— used to say that a particular result or effect is good or would be good — usually used after all
If the new policy requires the government to keep more accurate records, that's all to the good. [=that's a good thing; that's desirable]
— used to indicate an amount of gain or profit
In the end, we were $100 to the good. [=we gained $100]
up to no good
: doing bad things or planning to do bad things
If you ask me, that woman's up to no good.
3 good /ˈgʊd/ adverb

Learner's definition of GOOD
1  chiefly US : 1well 1
Things have been going good lately.
The team is doing good this year.
“How did you hit the ball today?” “Good.”
◊ The use of good to mean “well” is considered wrong by many people. It occurs mainly in very informal speech.
2  chiefly US : completely and thoroughly
The other team whipped us good.
That was a funny joke you played on him. You really got him good. [=he was completely fooled by the joke]
“They sure soaked you with that bucket of water.” “Yeah, they really got me good.” [=I got completely soaked with water]
(Brit) Clean it up good and proper.
3 — used for emphasis before words like long and many
I haven't seen her for a good long time. [=a very long time]
There were a good many people [=a lot of people] at the meeting.
(chiefly Brit) Not all our students go on to university, but a good few [=quite a few] of them do.

Thanks for being there and being you,

The Smokemaster