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The End.

The Waxing Mind has served me well over the past years as I questioned and ranted without any clear direction. I knew something was churning inside of me yet I wasn’t able to find a way to clearly communicate what that was. I wrote, thought and wrote some more as I tried to find a way to pinpoint what exactly it was that was on my mind. When I reflect back on previous posts now the pattern emerges and it all just makes sense now.

 

With that said, my mind has a clear direction and it just seems like this blog just no longer made much sense to me. This will be my last post on this blog and if you’ve enjoyed the reading, please migrate over to my new blog, Intrepid Pioneer, and give it a follow.

 

Intrepid Pioneer is about navigating through the technological noise while reuniting with simpler and more honest way of life. This site is not about anti-technology, but its more about modern homesteading principals. Intrepid Pioneer is not about claiming to be an expert, in fact it’s quite the opposite. I’m relentlessly searching out my own answers to try new things, to live a homesteading lifestyle in a city on 1/11th of an acre with which I rent. This site will be a source of experiences both the good and then bad while covering topics the relate to the mission of an Intrepid Pioneer:

Grow. Ferment. Fish. Forage. Hunt. Preserve.

Those are the foundations of this blog and sometimes there may be supportive stories that align well with one of those 6 foundations. You may find food recipes or an article on fitness but these common threads will relate to the holistic approach of the pioneer spirit.

Check out the Intrepid Pioneer

Ethics of Eating Meat

Recently the New York Times posted an essay contest that revolved around the ethics of eating meat. According to their website:

 

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume “Animal Liberation” galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller “Eating Animals,” those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks.

In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order. Some of the more conscientious carnivores have devoted themselves to enhancing the lives of livestock, by improving what those animals eat, how they live and how they are killed. But few have tried to answer the fundamental ethical issue: Whether it is right to eat animals in the first place, at least when human survival is not at stake.

So today we announce a nationwide contest for the omnivorous readers of The New York Times. We invite you to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices.

 

I wanted to share, now that I’ve submitted, my essay and thoughts on the ethics of eating meat:

The ecology of the animal environment is cyclical in nature. A predator versus prey relationship exists in our world whether humans participate or not. Humans are animals just with a higher level of reasoning. Regardless of the human’s ability for higher-level cognition or emotions, we all must eat and some choose to eat meat. Further complicating the decision homo sapiens make about food is that they battle a physiological conundrum of being omnivores.

 

Meat, not only as a source of food, but also the process for which it becomes food, has been demonized. Eating meat is not wrong and the delicate ecosystem of meat as food needs to be nurtured just as mindfully as how small family farm produce is grown. The ethos of how and why we choose to eat meat, in my mind, hinges on responsibility. Ethically speaking, it is not wrong for us, as a species to eat meat, just as it is not wrong for any other animal in the animal kingdom to choose to do so.

 

The death of animals in the great American Foodscape is inevitable in the practice of our current food production model, even for vegetables. As field mice get ground up in a combine, or an organic farmer kills a deer for eating his/her produce — it’s just a fact of farming that animals die. If Americans would understand and realize the true cost of their meal then it’s plausible that a moral high ground could be achieved on how meat is tended to in the animal’s life and how the animal is slaughtered. Additionally, if there is consciousness put into the process of raising those animals that will eventually become food, then their death becomes just as important as their life. Better yet, if just once in a person’s life they had to actually go out into the woods and hunt their own food, the resulting understanding for how an animal becomes meat would establish a karmic value for that meal and the ceremony around the dinner table would reflect that gift and sacrifice of food.

 

The battle of eating meat and the ethics that surround it are solely based on the fact that we as a species of animals have the mental aptitude to decipher right from wrong. There are many reasons why one chooses to eat meat, but whatever those decisions are it shouldn’t mean the omnivores are wrong. All living beings die, either by the grace of nature or by the hands of a predator, so grab a fork and a steak knife and dig in.

Sustainable Renting

I rent. Therefore managing my homesteading projects for maximum sustainability initiatives means I’ve got to find creative solutions that will also allow me to get my deposit back when the time comes for me to vacate this property. As a tenant I’ve often searched for resources for projects that I can do given that I don’t own. My head is filled with vast ideas. Many of the projects either require landlord permission or that I own. With the current status of the real estate market combined with some poor decisions in my 20’s I’m just not ready yet to purchase.  I struggle with moving forward to reduce my footprint on this planet while also aiming for some sustainability as a tenant.

I believe that through sustainability we can achieve independence and with independence comes true freedom.

My Quest for Meat

The long downward demise of our food system is not only a disgrace, but also rather alarming. Catastrophic decisions have been made in how our nation farms both for produce and meat. The nutritional value of produce has dramatically decreased over the years due to pesticide usage. Produce and meat recalls no longer shock society and are becoming more and more normal. Hormone’s, such as RBsT, are changing how our children develop and obesity/diabetes among Americans is now reaching critical levels. None of this should be new news, I believe we are all ‘aware’ of it. Authors such as Upton Sinclair, Rachel Carson, Steven Rinella, Hank Shaw, Tovar Cerulli, Novella Carpenter and Michael Pollan have lamented on this subject over the years. The question I ask myself, is how can I affect change in my life and with my family to eat healthier and more sustainably — not just organic?

 

My thoughts on this subject have been caught in a mental wave pool since 2005. These thoughts are always near the forefront of my mind but they fluctuate back and forth and there really is no escape or outlet. The more I contemplate the status quo the greater I find a massive internal paradigm shift. I want to be mindful about what I put into my body and how I care for my body so that I can live a long healthy life with those that I love.

 

In this light, I am choosing to start bow hunting. There are numerous reasons that I’ve arrived at this decision. Those mentioned previously, but more specifically I want to be completely honest with myself as to where my meat comes from. Wild game is truly free range, and grass fed lean meat. Can I look the animal in the eyes, take his life, and then later serve him on my dinner table? I will choose which animal to harvest, and I will be responsible for placing my kill shot as merciful as possible. This is a great responsibility that I will take seriously. In bow hunting the great challenge is achieving close proximity to your target. Typically bow range is less than 50 yards requiring great skill and patience, therefore in my mind leveling the playing field. It is not the ‘thrill of the kill’ that I look forward too, if it was all about the ‘thrill of the kill’ then I probably would have a job at a slaughterhouse where I could fulfill that thrill. People may wonder how can you kill a defenseless animal? They are not defenseless, the environment of the wild and laws of nature are based on a lifecycle of predator vs prey. Comments regarding how hunting is bad seem like an oxymoron — especially if said from those who choose to get their meat from a supermarket. Those animals are defenseless; they live in jam-packed fenced pens and are force fed grains with growth hormones so they can get fat and ready for slaughter. Ultimately, the large agra-business model, puts value on getting to market as fast as possible and less on quality. Equality in the wild does not exist, as man is only king of the food chain in the supermarket.

 

Hunting provides an opportunity for humans to face mortality and realize that death is not an abstraction, but rather a condition of living. Urban life has separated us from wild places, numbed our senses to death and further distancing our understanding of food sources. Therefore, our emotional awareness and our own actions of sourcing food have been anesthetized even though the end product still supports death. The cognitive disconnect between cellophane wrapped choices at the butcher counter and the process it took for that meat to arrive to that counter should be a considered by anyone who choose to eat meat. I am choosing to have a visceral participation in the wild, not just as a tourist, but as a way to provide food for my family.

 

In this day and age, our food cost will only continue to rise. The current large agricultural model is based on food miles and with the skyrocketing price of oil it is just a given that we will be paying more for the continued decline of quality food down the road. I’m looking to try and break free from the current model and institute a sense of independence. As a man who was raised in a non-hunting household, I have not taken this decision lightly. It’s been almost 2 years of investigating, thinking and processing emotions on the ideology of hunting that I’ve come to this. I say all of this as I’m not necessarily looking for approval, maybe a bit of understanding, but more importantly I deeply believe that we should all examine and question our sources of food both individually and collectively and make thoughtful decisions on how we choose to fuel our lives and our families.

 

Breath of Fresh Thinking

I’ve strayed from my writing. This activity has actually been a period further clarification and direction for this blog. In this long stretch, I’ve moved across country, expanded my family by one (the first), transitioned jobs and have recently worked to managed the news that I am a recently diagnosed type 1 diabetic. Through the culmination of these events and continued reading on my part I feel like i’ve got some clairvoyance on some of the repeated periodic posts about some vague notion of more mindful living.

It is with this new knowledge that I feel I have found a bearing for this blog. My revised new aim will be to focus my energy on living a sustainable mindful living in our rapid technology based world. As I explore my own how-to’s I will share through this publishing vehicle my thoughts, processes and rants accordingly. It may range of food recipes, brewing techniques, canning/perserving, fishing/hunting, gardening, or?

So this is where I’m at right now. Stay tuned.

The Meading of Life

“Mead is the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage, known since Babylonian times. Wine made from fermented honey, rather than grapes, mead was the nectar of the gods on Mt. Olympus, the celebrated drink of poets, lovers and kings. It has long been touted as an elixir of health, fertility and longevity. The Scandinavian word for honeymoon is derived, in part, from an ancient Northern European custom in which newlyweds, for the first month of their married life, drank a daily cup of honeyed wine called mead. But despite its rich history, mead is not well known in modern times. Many people assume that mead must be very sweet, but this is not necessarily the case. Like any other wine, the flavor is determined by a variety of factors, from the quality of the initial ingredients to the handling at every step along the way. The honey base makes mead a natural for blending with a variety of fruits and other wines.” (www.honeymoonmead.net)

If one’s never tasted mead or fermented anything, then I encourage you all to give it a try. Watching the activity of an active fermentation is very cool and exciting. Your first 1 gallon batch will run you about $25 and each batch there after will be the cost of honey, yeast and water or about $10. Mead, I believe, pairs well with a light salad, fish or chicken, not all mead is sweet and can be served up dry. Of course it also goes well as a compliment to deserts or just as an after dinner aperitif.

Equipment can be found at any local homebrew shop (LHBS) or online, to find you nearest LHBS, check out the Beer Fly directory by clicking on your state and then navigating to homebrew shops.

Here’s the list:
1 gal jug $4.95
Airlock $1.10 (go 3 piece easier to clean)
Beer Bottle Brush $2.95
Iodophor $4 (no rinse sanitizer)
1 stopper that fits jug with a hole in it $1

As for your ingredient list:
D47 Yeast $1.10
Honey (3lbs) $8 (this should put you in the neighborhood of 9% ABV)
1 gal spring water $1

Here’s the process (takes about an hour, not including cleanup).
1. Wash and rinse all equipment that will ever come in contact with your must (mead before fermentation), use the iodophor to sanitize everything. THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT! if you don’t you could get off flavors from bacteria. You will mix up iodophor  (per the instructions) and water in a bucket and use this as your sanitizer solution for this batch.
2. Warm the honey using a double boiler concept. Put the entire jar of honey into a pot of water and bring up the temp. DO NOT boil. Your goal is to make it easy to blend and soften the honey.
3. While waiting on step 2, follow the instructions on the yeast package to re-hydrate the yeast.
4. In a larger pot or plastic bucket, mix 3/4 gallon of water with your 3lbs of honey and mix well with a sanitized metal spoon.
5. Check temp on the must if under 83ºF then pitch your yeast slurry
6. Stir it all up but don’t be super aggressive this time. Our goal is to aerate the must creating an environment for the yeast to grow.
7. Dump the bucket contents into your 1 gal glass jug
8. Fill your airlock to the line on the side with sanitized water solution, attach airlock to the rubber stopper and then attach to your jug.
9. Place jug in a dark spot/corner that is in the neighborhood of 68-70ºF. A basement closet usually is the best.
10. Wait 2 weeks. Then siphon the mead into a clean sanitize bucket, leave behind the stuff on the bottom of the jug post primary fermentation, clean & sanitize your 1 gal jug and then siphon mead back into jug, reattach clean & sanitized airlock/stopper and age the mead for at least a month, longer is better. When you’ve aged it and are ready to bottle I suggest you use swing top Grolsch style beer bottles. Mead can age anywhere from 3 months to 10 years. Then Enjoy!

For more information on this topic check out the following websites:
Hightest’s Honey Haven
Got Mead
Home Brew Talk | Mead Forum

For an all around great book on the subject, purchase:
The Compleat Meadmaker

Happy Fermenting!

Yslexdia

Well, I thought I’d briefly share a Friday funny, if you’ve got some time there are more to be found here: Snorg Tees. Dyslexics_Fullpic_1

Today is the Day

In probably one of the first times in my adult life the amount of pride and honor I feel to be an American is today. I given much thought to trying to remember the last time I’ve ever been truly moved by something we as a nation have done. Again, today is the day. I’m not some flag waving nationalist either. This was my sixth election to participate in and I never thought that in my life I’d ever participate in such a historically memorable election. The right to vote as a democracy, is part of what being an American is all about and for the longest time I believed that my vote didn’t really count. Especially the last two elections and the shadiness that surrounded the outcome. I admit it and nor did I think I was alone. To endure the last eight years, with major advances in the reduction of civil liberties, a war that has torn and divided this country into two separatist ideologies, and left it in one of the greatest financial crises of historical proportions, means that we need a new direction. Today is the day that we begin down that path.

Recently, I’ve really begun to reevaluate it means to be to be American. I’ve discussed the lack of voice in our country mostly through the means of art. Where is  the music and visual arts of this generation, who, if not, should be angry? Myself included. Dissonance brings about the revolution of change. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution define the intent of our Founding Fathers, yet the verbose leaves room for interpretation by all. I believe that the ability to speak your mind free from condementation, equality from race, sex and sexuality, and the freedom to dream and create your own destiny without interference are the basis for all things American. I might even treat myself to a hot dog today too.

Many may think that we all “drank the Koolaid,” but in acutality the work has just begun. The integrity of the President is one that I’ve never thought such a politician could possess. Today is the day that the work begins, turning this Nation around into a direction that works for all is a major undertaking. I honestly believe that Change has Come.

 

Pura Vida.

Palin Joke

Sarah Palin was seated next to a little girl on an airplane. She turned to her and said, ‘Let’s talk. I’ve heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.’

The little girl, who had just opened her book, closed it slowly and said to Sarah, ‘What would you like to talk about?’

‘Oh, I don’t know,’ said Sarah. ‘How about What Changes I Should Make To America and she smiles.

‘OK, ‘ she said. ‘That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?’

Sarah, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, ‘Hmmm, I have no idea.’

To which the little girl replies, ‘Do you really feel qualified to change America when you don’t know shit?’

A Roadblock To My Art

As an artist the need to create is a need. It’s not a want, or an i’d like to, its something that has to happen. Now with that said, just like anything in life, there are roadblocks, that come and go. Mostly all are self afflicted, it’s the overcoming that helps to take the work to a new level. I find myself in this matrix of confusion. I haven’t shot anything really in months. There’s excuses I can make, that are probably quasi valid, but in the end, there’s no excuse for not making an image. This dark period in my work depicts a feeling of a plateau and a complete lack of direction. Of course my head is filled with numerous ideas, but none of them are ‘local’. Therefore I keep creating these scenarios in my head to only drive myself more crazy. I feel inadequate as a shooter right now, and my eyes are not ‘seeing’ much of anything these days. I feel like i’ve let myself down and my compass is spinning out of control. Here’s what I do know. I’m a storyteller and always have been, that’s a trait, yet working as a photojournalist is working for peanuts. I now have a mountain of student debt and I couldn’t even work as a photojournalist because it won’t even cover the bills. Maybe I’m just being down right now. As a human and as an artist I believe this is my dukka. Based on a Buddhist ideology: “The first noble truth of the Buddha is that people experience dukka, a feeling of dissatisfaction or suffering, a feeling that something is wrong. We feel this dissatisfaction because we’re not in tune with our true nature, our basic goodness. And we aren’t going to be fundamentally, spiritually content until we get in tune” (The Sun, 01/2005, issue 349, Pg 7). I can sit here, try to extrapolate what in the hell is going on, or I can pick up a camera and take a walk.