How Can We Make 2009 a Better Year? - Open thread

It is pretty clear that 2009 will not be a great year. At best, we are likely to see a continuation of what we have seen in the recent past--lots of bankruptcies, more foreclosures, lots of layoffs. At worst, the situation could suddenly become much worse--a major oil exporter could suddenly collapse; the US may experience hyperinflation or deflation; or the US could experience a major hurricane and not be able to recover from it because of credit/import problems.

What can we do to make the year a better one for ourselves, our families, and our communities? We can perhaps plant a garden. We can learn to be more thankful for what we do have. We can let jobless relatives (children, parents) move in with us. Are there any good books that people have read that they would recommend? What are people doing now to cope?

How Can We Make 2009 a Better Year?

More exercise. It has even more positive impacts on the brain than on the body. Reduces cravings (even of internet variety), increased neuronal connections, more creativity, etc.

Of course if that improved creativity results in the building of a larger, more energy intensive shopping mall, then perhaps it may not have made it a better year..

Yes, turn off the doomer porn and go snowshoeing, or if you are not stuck in WI, ride your bike. Stave off those expensive health issues that result from a sedentary consumer lifestyle!

Hey, you know what TOD needs? "TOD Library", a comprehensive list of books/dvd's etc that are recommended by the experts that contribute to this site. Catorize them, (fiction, gardening, PO,Oil and Gas industry stuff, localization, etc etc) maybe have short reviews.....

My favorite movie this year (OK, it was done in 07 but I only saw it this year) was King Corn. PBS has a nice writeup and link to a trailer.

There are several places I can point you to. The first is my post below on book kits that is a start. It doesn't have book reviews yet (but will soon).

Also, Dr. Mills is setting up a preparation page here:

He's creating something like what I did with The Guide to Post Peak Living.

From my conversation with him, I think he'll have book recommendations, too, if he doesn't already by now.

And if you haven't read his page on Evolutionary Psychology and Peak Oil, I strongly recommend it:

I think Matt has done some good work picking books, too (look down the left side):

And his forums are always edifying.

The secret to doing more exercise is wanting to, and one key to that is to get sugar (sucrose, fructose) out of your diet: see for a compelling case. Worked for me, and that might be the reason rsi/shoulder/neck problems have gone.

I try to buy food in pretty much its original form--mostly from the produce department and fish department, but also goods liked dried beans and rice. I don't eat a whole lot of meat. If I buy canned goods, like beans and tomatoes, I try to buy them without added ingredients. I drink coffee, tea, water, and occasional wine. I also get a moderate amount of exercise. So far my health seems to be quite a bit better than that of my contemporaries, but there are no guarantees. I have a cousin in her early 40s who is a vegetarian and a runner, but recently was diagnosed with breast cancer that has metastasized.

"but there are no guarantees. I have a cousin in her early 40s who is a vegetarian and a runner, but recently was diagnosed with breast cancer that has metastasized."

First, let me say I am sorry to hear that, I don't know about you but for me my cousins are like adopted to sisters to me, we are very close.

I think a great deal of health is genetic. We can improve the quality of life with lifestyle changes but I doubt we can do much to change the issue of cancers, heart issues and other genetic based problems with diet and exercise.

I have gone completely off sugar and reduced portions of everything else, especially white flour, and moved to a more vegetable based diet (I love veggies anyway). I have gone from 169 pounds down to 142 and lost 6 inches around the waist (hopefully giving an old guy some appeal with opposite gender ;-) putting my self near the bottom of the suggested wieght table for a guy my height. However I must say that it has had no effect on blood pressure or the way I feel, except perhaps a bit more confident in my clothes! Now if I could just find some way to make myself taller...

One thing I am trying to do: Reduce stress. In all honest, I have tried to reduce my visits to TOD, because I feel many folks are trying to "carry the world on their shoulders". There is much in the world about which the individual can do nothing, and the U.S. is becoming a smaller factor in the world anyway, what we do as a nation has less and less of an effect. I am trying to do things that I needed to do anyway, cut debt, cut waste, save more, etc. At 49 years old however I realize that I am closer to the finish that to the beginning...if there is anything I wanted to do, now is the time to do it, and allowing myself to be worried into ill health won't help me.


but I doubt we can do much to change the issue of cancers, heart issues and other genetic based problems with diet and exercise.

This is completely and utterly wrong. Study after study links lifestyle and diet to health. It is just the opposite: many illnesses - including many cancers - have a very strong behavioral/environmental component.

Asian women, for example, on their traditional diets have a lower incidence of breast cancer than "western" women. When they immigrate? Their numbers match the "weigooks."

I'd find you a link, but this is so very well known I think you need to google it yourself.


Thanks for the link. I knew most of it already, but it makes a nice summary to hector people in my circle.

I can testify that merely by cutting out sugar and non-wholegrain flour from your diet (I snack on fruit and nuts when I get hungry though), you will lose weigth unless you eat lots and lots of fatty food. Slowly and steadily though; after two years of cutting over 3/4 of my regular sugar intake, I started eating more junkfood on purpose because I was getting skinny, and my plates are usually beyond full.

You could check out books by french dietician Montignac on some of the theory behind why 'easy carbohydrates' can cause increased fat uptake and risk of diabetes.

More exercise.

When I realized there was likely going to be more physical work in my future, I decided to get in better shape. The route I chose was to take Kempo, a form of karate. That way I'm getting fit while learning how to handle myself in self-defense situations. I recently took my yellow belt test (I am at the very beginning, after all) and now I'm no longer a complete beginner. The dojo I've been training at has emphasized a lot more aerobic exercise for the last two months in the group lessons and although at first I couldn't do the full hour, now I can (although I'm sweating profusely by the end); in the private lessons I'm still being taught new moves, which is very fun and actually intellectually stimulating.

For $175/month I receive a half-hour private lesson every week plus unlimited attendance at the group lessons for my skill level, which is currently five per week, including Friday night sparring, which my new yellow belt now allows me to attend.

I'm 38 years old and there are many other students my age and older, in case anyone is wondering.

There are lots of dojos out there and I've had a good experience with mine:

If this is interesting to anyone, I would recommend looking for a dojo that will not advance you until you have demonstrated mastery of the skills. Some dojos will tell you up front when you will achieve each belt, which is, in my view, more consistent with marketing/profit motives rather than making sure the student is truly learning the material.

I also recommend karate. The style I'm involved with is Shotokan. Karate isn't for everybody, and Shotokan is even less for everybody. But I love it even though I'm not good at it -- my memory is terrible in general and worse still for physical movement. I always like to say I've killed more people dancing and during kata than during kumite (sparring). Attack when people least expect it. :) I love the sparring -- keeps the reflexes sharp. Less memory needed, because a jab to the face is a clear reminder to block.

Shotokan is very, very strict, and my sensei also. He'll give you a whack or put you on the floor doing push ups if your screw up. During breaks he's a pussy cat. Some people, a lot maybe, won't like it, but it's done wonders for me, and I see what it's doing for the kids that stick it out.

I'll be 68 in a week or so. I started 10 years ago, but there were breaks.

IMO, perhaps the least of the reasons to take karate is for self-defense. It's for health, discipline, reflexes, stretching, fun, sociability. The chances of your ever using it for self-defense are extremely slim, and the idea of wanting to use it outside the dojo is very dangerous. When we spar the adrenaline is high, the alertness is high, but there is zero hostility or aggression. When either of you gets a good shot in, you're both happy.

But never mind -- karate or whatever -- yes, exercise is very good for body, mind and soul -- though not the sole, it wears out. Hiking and just walking are also great.

Yes, it's been very good so far to me for all the reasons you cited. I don't know if I'll ever use what I'm learning in a real-life situation. Lord knows I'm not going to bars to pick fights. But still there is the confidence factor that plays a role, too, I think. I don't quite feel like I could handle myself in any situation, but I can see glimpses of it, and that's a benefit I was told about beforehand but never really "got" until I started training.

I also have fun teaching my wife some of what I'm learning. It's quite hilarious because she adds a lot of sound effects from the movies.

Good to see someone recommending martial arts. I have been involved with Kempo (Okinawan) and related Chinese arts for over 20 years. Martial arts are not the sort of thing you do to lose 10 lbs in 10 weeks, but our society is too focused on short term goals and immediate results - and that is part of the reason we are digging ourselves deeper into this whole resource and financial mess. If you are willing to commit to training however, martial arts is an excellent path, both physically and mentally.

I recommend walking or biking - and edit - making your own lunch for work. You will save money, feel more energetic and be healthier overall.

Martial arts are good, but tend to cost money and also require quite some commitment - you can't just do them, you have to try to do them well.

I like to recommend simple and low or zero-cost things like walking and biking. Popular in Australia is the 10,000 steps programme. You hook a little pedometer onto your belt, and it counts your steps. Good ones will allow you to note your stride length and bodyweight, and thus calculate distance travelled and calories spent, too.

This works well for some people, though not all. Some people respond well to having a constant number reminder near them. "Only 3,241? Bugger, I guess I better walk home from work today."

The "10,000" is a common goal number of steps, making up an hour or more's walking, and six or so miles. In my experience, just pottering around doing housework will give you 1,000-2,000 steps, if the shops or train station are something like half a mile away that'll add a few thousand, so it leaves only one dedicated walk you need to do each day - say half an hour with the dogs in the morning, or after dinner to help you digest.

At a friend's workplace there's a man who does about 20,000 steps a day, except that once a week he walks home from work... which is about 12 miles. He's 60 years old.

By walking or biking a lot, you save money on commuting - whether by car or public transport - you lose excess weight in a slow way that you can keep up (unlike a fad diet), and usually become physically healthier, which also saves you money in a country without a good free public healthcare system.

I find that you save money on food, too. Fast food generally leaves you feeling sluggish and without energy, making it harder to go for walks. But after exercise you don't usually want a big greasy feed. So between fast food and exercise, one of them will gradually be given up. Assuming it's the junk food you give up, this makes your food bill cheaper.

My woman's also just made the point that one thing people can do to save money and be healthier is to take their lunch to work. Lots of people, especially professionals rather than working class, buy stuff at lunch, which is usually more expensive and fattier. Of course lots of people are busy in the mornings - so, just make some extra dinner the night before, then set some aside in a container for the lunch next day.

If you have time to comment on blogs or watch Everybody Loves Raymond then you have time to cook your dinner or go for a walk :)

More exercise - but not just at the gym! A good workout/weights program will benefit anyone, and I highly recommend it, but we should also commit to a "car-last" approach (for those of us who still own them) to daily life, which will benefit personal health and the planet simultaneously.

For many people, to do this may mean some pretty substantial changes in one's life - but we'd better start practicing now while it's our choice rather than due to external circumstances, as this readership well knows.

Three years ago I left my (dream) job that unfortunately also required 2 hours of commuting by car, and opted for one that is located less than 2 miles away - the 30% pay cut, I figured, would be amply compensated by getting 10+ hours/wk of my life back, plus commuting expenses reduced (including big ones like needing to replace the rapidly aging '95 subaru). Five years before that, we had left our beloved (and totally car-dependent) mountain town for a dense urban center, the first of our big re-localizing choices.

The new job came with a system-wide transit pass, as well as the option to walk/bike/telecommute. So it was a pretty easy switch in commuting habits. It's just snowballed from there; with a transit pass and new commuter bike, I now plan my travels based on walk- or bikeability, or transit schedules. I often choose not to go somewhere if it's inaccessible - its a good excuse to avoid lots of those things you probably didn't want to do in the first place, like go to the big box store in the suburban mall. Indeed, it tends to mean we patronize local businesses or the downtown business district, as our historic neighborhood still retains many small shops. We can't manage to ditch the car yet for various reasons, but once the subaru finally dies, maybe we'll be ready.

So for a better 2009, pledge to reduce your private-vehicle miles traveled and get more exercise in day-to-day living as a wonderful side benefit! If you live in the US, the 2 mile Challenge, is a good place to start.

But we must remember that it's also not just about personal choices - the system within which we live really dictates our options. And though we may tend to "other" it as something outside our realm of control, the "system" is designed by people and can be changed. So the second pledge must be to step up our level of civic engagement to help build the kind of world that removes the barriers that keep people from making healthier and lower-carbon choices - its not just lack of personal motivation, commitment, or knowledge.

I'd rather be working collectively for a survivable future than be stock-piling ammunition, whiskey, and vitamins, quite frankly. The pioneers who settled this valley, and the native peoples they displaced, did not survive and thrive on rugged self-reliance, but on strong community ties, values, and interdependence.

So pledge to get more active in the civic realm, too - help get a good candidate get elected, if only to the local school board or community council. Consider becoming a candidate yourself! Go to community meetings and speak up. Contact your elected officials on a regular basis - local officials are particularly approachable and a lot of the most interesting action in the sustainability realm is at the city and county level right now. Learn to be an effective grassroots organizer. Network. Form an eco-team - see - with your neighbors. Demand better public services - like transit and intercity rail. Advocate publically for a carbon tax (raising the gas tax is a good first step). And then remember to celebrate the successes along the way - despite the inevitable setbacks. For a bit of inspiration, pick up Paul Hawken's book Blessed Unrest from the library or a locally owned bookshop and give it a read.

Building strong, positive social networks is also demonstrably good for one's health, and will add to the benefits from more exercise.

Excellent...My NYR is to put more miles on my bike than my car. I just need a good odometer for the bike...

Building strong, positive social networks is also demonstrably good for one's health, and will add to the benefits from more exercise.

One hundred and fifty percent true. Try to never lose friends, especially as you get older. You can't afford it because, attrition starts taking a toll (unless you get attritted first, in which case there's no problem). Argue with those that like to argue, don't argue with those that don't. Never let politics or religion or anything like that interfere with a relationship. Humor is also important, starting with oneself. Try to never take offense. One can have intense discussions about anything between friends as long as there is a sense of humor to let out the steam if it starts getting hot.

What good advice!


I am just waiting for the temperature to come above minus 10 Centigrades before I head for the woods for more cross-country skiing.

WRT malls, would it be possible to introduce shopping free zones within them? ;-)

Use the 1-Mile Solution. One or two times a week walk or bike to an errand that is within a mile of your home (or other starting point). It's an easy way to get started and you'll feel better and better.

The slogan for this year is Shine in '09!
Here is my plan for '09 -
Focus on things in my circle of influence (Like ELP):
1. Family - Quality time with spouse and kids, Cub Scout activities, Parties with neighbors, game night, backyard garden with tomatoes, okra, squash, beans, and peppers, improve the neighborhood, help friends and neighbors with painting.
2. Community - Church activities, volunteer work, Toastmasters club, speaking on topics of good news.
3. Personal Improvement - Career development, professional training, organizations, new skills, work on certificates. Health - workout at gym, eat whole grains, hike, bike, swim, enjoy life. Hobbies - take time to enjoy music at free concerts in the local area.
4. Plans - Purchase an electric car in 2010, recycle more, conserve more resources. Practice camping, outdoor cooking skills. Go to local farmers markets. Study roof top wind turbines, and build a test version. Convert paper assets to hard assets - real estate, gold, food.
5. 50 mile rule - If it is not within 50 miles of my home, do not worry about it, for example - Wall Street, Washington DC, Iraq, Iran, Saudi, Mexico, Venezuela.

For the holidays I sent my parents, brother and sister a box of my home made canned goods and a copy of Dmitry Orlov's book Reinventing Collapse. I want them all to be as mentally prepared as possible for what's coming. In case things go from bad to worse and they show up at my doorstep we are getting the house set up to accomodate some of them. Other than that I will continue to work on my farm and make it as productive as possible.

We gave out homemade bread as holidays gifts this year, and the family agreed to limit storebought gifts to $10 or less. Most complied. We are interested in starting a garden in 2009 and have purchased Jeavons book on biointensive gardening. Will continue gradually stocking up on storable food items "just in case." Agree with Nate's suggestion to exercise; try yoga if you get a chance.

"We can perhaps plant a garden."

Try growing grains and calorie crops in that garden instead of the usual tomatoes, peppers etc...
Truly an eye opening and humbling experience.

Here is a good place to start:

Truly an eye opening and humbling experience.

Yes, indeed. Hint: the benefit of grains is their long storage times - NOT the amount you can grow in a given space. We tried wheat and oats in our garden plots. We're talking cups. However, potatoes are a completely different story. They won't keep more than one winter, but you can get a lot of calories per square foot. In the same plot we could grow a few cups of wheat, we could grow a bushel or so of potatoes. The potatoes keep well in our root cellar for no more than a few months. The wheat has been sitting in a plastic tub for two-four years now, and it still sprouts just fine.

... And the birds are more than happy to help you harvest your grain crop, but nothing but wireworms go after our potato crops. OTOH, nothing but a rabbit went after the plant portion of our grain crops, but there were a few different beetles that helped themselves to potato leaves.

It is simply amazing what amount of time, land and resources goes into growing grain for a single loaf of bread!
Yet nothing prepares soil for potatoes as well as rotating cereal rye between plantings.
I have been having good results with grain amaranth and quinoa in terms of yield and they are simple to prepare, like rice.
Quinoas added benefit is that its seeds are coated with saponins, which deter birds from feasting on them.

Slugs are a major problem with my potatoes.
I attempt to control them with diatomacaeous earth and beer traps but they always cause significant damage.
Potato leafhoppers, absent this last year, have previously resulted in total potato crop failures for me.
For such an often quoted "easy" crop to grow, potatoes have sure challenged my skill set.

For a slug or snail problem I recommend a few ducks. They love them and represent a good source of protein. Moscovy ducks, though somewhat ugly in my eye, are almost completely self sufficient. Wonderful little creatures.

Or get some laying hens and free range them from time to time in the garden to control the slugs when they get bad.


here used to not let anyone grow potatoes in community gardens because of bugs they attracted.

is the cereal rye ,amaranth and quinoa fairly easy to grow/harvest. easier than wheat?

Hi Creg,

I think it really depends upon your scale, expectations and threshing/winnowing equipment. I'm assuming you'll hand harvest your crop.

I haven't grown cereal rye but I have grown quinoa, amaranth, spring wheat and winter wheat. I hated amaranth because the seed is small with lots of crap from the seed head. Quinoa is sort of in between as far as seed size goes. I grow a little bit as a survival ration. Its advantage is that it has a full compliment of proteins so you don't have to combine like corn and beans. Its disadvantage is that it's really bland and can't be used by itself in breads. It's also a pain to thresh and winnow but not as bad as amaranth.

I prefer winter wheat (spring wheat isn't a good crop for me - little heads. Ok, I've been developing my own OP strain for about 10 years. I only grow several hundred square feet of it so I can't claim to be a "real" grower. So, why do I like it? First, wheat can be used in many ways including bread. In my area, pests are not a problem but they can be serious in other areas (The insect escapes me at the moment. Not army fly. Ugh! Ah, yes, Hessian Fly.) Anyway, it is easy to thresh and winnow. I use as Leaf Eater to thresh (I have a TOD post on this some place.). I winnow in the wind and it's easy.

My best objective yield was equal 72 bushels/Ac.

Finally, it adds tons of organic matter to the soil.


PS Oats are a good crop too but they are hell to get the seed covering off without special equipment. I grow them as a cover crop in one area.


thanks. i remember u'r posting about winnowing grain but didn't take in the details.

i think winter wheat is what grows best here too. i'm thinking maybe do a crop every few yrs. of this- i met someone with a small pull behind type combine that combines wheat & maybe we'll grow an acre or 2 together every few yrs. he has done it one yr. & doesn't need more this yr.

thanks again for the info on the other grains as i don't have energy/time with our impending problems to do pure experimenting.

For others who might be interested in raising grains, I'd suggest finding a copy of Small-Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon, 1977, ISBN 0-87857-147-7. It's really a great book covering a number of grains. It covers growing, fertilization, diseases, storage, etc. for each grain.

It also has plans for a hand-fed thresher that would be capable of handling a significant quantity of hand-harvested grain.


I'm going to be trying Teff. We'll see how it grows without tilling.

I would add sweet potatoes as they have better viamin and catotene levels. Some feel that the sweet potatoe is a meal in itself.

sweet potatoes & cornmeal type corn has been my biggest successes.sweet potatoes need/utilize fairly poor soil, bug resistant here & store well/easy thru winter & was poorfolks staple. also butternut/acorn squash are easy so far. calories & storage + tastes we like.fairly reliable crops so far.

Creg, how do you store your sweet potatoes? I have had no success storing them.



i have no trouble in an unheated basement, & have seen an unheated garage. i think ideal is cool, & dry; not moist. drying at harvest is important. i've seen them left in ground a ways into winter- deep south, cutting all tops off , w/o freeze & dry i think is most important.

I store my sweet potatoes in a big basket on the kitchen floor, covered with a dish towel to dim the light a bit. I have read that they are best stored at about 60 degrees f, with some humidity, in the dark, and that cold storage (like for Irish-type potatoes) will damage them. They will still look okay, but they won't soften all the way through when cooked. My method provides similar enough conditions to work.

I also read that, before storing, sweet potatoes should not be washed, just laid out in a warm place to fully dry for a few days. The skins are very thin, and washing causes damage that allows rot to set in. I spread mine out to dry on the dining room table with a small space heater stationed nearby on cold days, since harvest time for me is in October, when the temperature has begun to drop. It's not a beautiful sight unless you are a gardener, but everyone here seems to put up with the temporary mess just fine. Any damaged sweet potatoes are eaten soon rather than stored.

If I grew more than 12 square feet worth of potatoes--which amounts to 35-45 pounds each year, depending on which part of the garden they are in--then I might have to rethink my storage (maybe get an additional basket?).

Hope that info is helpful.


If you are real serious about raising your own calories ... meaning grains ... try "grain corn" .. easiest to grow , harvest ,prepare ,store etc.

approx 400 plants/person/year

i've been growing a little edamame soybeans that can also be dried & for adding protein to dishes/feeds. ok so far, hope to ramp up this year to have enough to store & feed chickens too. open to ideas.

I recommend to people to begin growing just a single tomato or bean plant, and work up from there.

When you do some growing of things, and eating them, it gives you a better appreciation of natural processes and their limits, of both the fragility and the resiliency of nature. You also develop patience and a keen eye for detail, or else you develop nothing but dried weeds :)

I have had problems with getting tomatoes to set with only one plant (or one each of a couple of varieties). I don't recall ever having that problem with larger numbers of plants in the past. Maybe it was an odd weather event instead?

Probably you were too kind to your plant. Tomatoes are like people: rich ones have few children, poor ones have lots. When they have rich soil and a stable climate and plenty of water they put out few fruit. If you starve the poor buggers for a few days they panic and put out fruit to make sure they get lots of offspring.

Just before Christmas my several tomato plants were growing lushly but with no fruit. We went away for a week and judging by the shrivelled deaths of all my lettuces and spinach, despite the forecast it didn't rain once. But the tomato plants were going strong and had all put out several fruit!

Don't be so nice to your tomatoes. When they're growing lushly, thirst them for a bit.

Two general sources of information and supplies that I would recommend are:

Lehman's Non Electric Catalog

and Countryside and Small Stock Journal

Lehman's is a great source for gardening, canning and non electric devices. Countryside is an eclectic combination of homesteaders and would be homesteaders from across the socio-political spectrum. I have been gradually replacing electric items w/ non electric ones from Lehman's and also got a wonderful wood cook stove that is currently cooking black eyed peas, kale and cornbread for New Year's dinner.

Cool suggestions, dude!

I tried the links, but they got me nowhere.

I'll google these resources, though.


I have not had any trouble growing maize, peas and potatoes in my humble English garden.

One of my resolutions is to learn more about the Great Depression and the means by which people got by in those times. There were also a large number of policy experiments undertaken in what were considered to be unprecedented circumstances; we now have several decades of hindsight to help us learn which policies were helpful and which were not. To this end, I have picked up a couple of books that discuss the personal, political, and policy aspects of the 30's in the US.

I also plan to redouble my efforts on the "local food" front- from more plantings on my own land, starting a plot in our city's new community gardens, and furthering pro-food policy in our local governments.

Happy New Year!

My grandfather got married in 1932, and they survived by living with their parents and grandparents for a while. They had a large garden, and livestock too. They worked for 50 cents per day. Kids had to work too in order to earn things like a bike.
After WWII he went to school and became a barber, then opened his own barber shop, which he kept open for 30 years and then retired. He had the garden until he was 80 years old.
He always shared with family and neighbors, and gave much to his four children and twelve grandchildren.

I think one of the keys to a successful 2009 is psychological adaptation; specifically that BAU is dying and that relying upon the past to project the future is a losers game. By BAU, I mean more than just economics but also governance, personal relationships, skill sets, one's philosophy of life and so in toto as we know it.

They will have no Plan B,C or D that is thought out and, where possible, prepared for. Having a plan provides some peace of mind and, at the least, buys some time so that snap decisions do not have to be made.

Those who have not adapted will be blindsided from every direction as nothing seems to "work" like it used to. They will probably go into panic mode and make irrational decisions with little chance for success.

Take producing some of one's own food. Food production requires a lot of skill sets and a person who believes all they have to do is dig up some ground and stick in some seeds is unlikely to produce much. Further, they will probably not grow the correct crops since they have not considered what they need for a proper diet, what grows well in their climate, etc.

2009 will only shine for those that have followed the Boy Scouts motto: Be Prepared.


"one of the keys to a successful 2009 is psychological adaptation"
Very important observation.
Even though I have been aware of the approaching turmoil, no amount of PHYSICAL preparation seems adequate.
At least I don't feel so totally blindsided by recent events as do most of my acquaintances.

Put a lot of money into this: The cement that eats carbon dioxide.

My latest project for '09 is what I call, FARM-ON-ASTERY.

Nothing religious about it except the experience one gets from putting your hands in the dirt and watching things grow as you nurture them. Material austerity is an element but I think it is becoming more self imposed anyway

Heres how it works;

We buy up all these single wide modular homes that are stacking up around here, place them on the north side of plots of arable land, Separate each unit into 2 or 3 Superinsulated rooms, each with a bed, a desk with internet, a sink. Some communal space too.

The deal is free room and board in exchange for 4 or 5 hours of work, 4 or 5 days a week.

No, this is not a prison work farm.

The farm has everything going on, greenhouses, aquaponics, fruit trees, vegetable, legumes, shop space for mechanicals, carpentry, etc.

The number of units will vary depending on acerage but basically accommodates large numbers.

The goal is to produce as much as possible to support the Farmonastery and hopefully produce extra for the community that the Farmonasteries are attached to.

A roof over your head, food, friends & community.

I know that it's fraught with complications but I AM going to start nudging things in this direction.


This is a great idea, Jeff. Perfect to share about on a Wednesday night campfire. Looking forward to hearing more about it!

Excellent original thinking Soup.

Grow some mushrooms underneath mobile homes

Use parabolic mirrors [ old satellite dishes with mylar lining ] to create intense heating element in greenhouse.

Use old mattresses sealed in plastic to insulate
Put up pigeon coops for fertilizer

Dig a pond for aqua culture

Breed lady bugs and praying mantises

Take old sailboat sails to create very durable wind mill for grinding grain or covering mattresses. Sails can also be used for collecting morning dew for drip feed.

Create slingshots for pest control. Good competiton sport also.

Old aluminum glass doors can be used for green houses, See your local window and door replacement shop for freebies. It will save them the recycling dumpster costs and there you go for green houses. Be prepared for more than you can use. Transport vertically.

Carpe Diem, Dave

I would think the main reason for putting up a pidgeon coop would be the easy access to near-free self-feeding bundles of protein and fat, not necessarily the manure :)
This is something someone in the inner city could do to get 'free' eggs and poultry meat.

I believe that medieval dovecote were built for manure and squab was only a fringe benefit.

In 2009 we can begin the software development project I have been writing about at .

A community of professionals dedicated to optimizing the performance and profitability of innovative oil and gas producers. We are focused on developing IT systems based on the Joint Operating Committee. Which is the legal, financial, operational decision making, cultural and communication frameworks of all producers.

A community of people open to new ideas, who know that energy is the life blood of our global economy. People of action who demand more from IT, please join us.

I highly recommend that everyone here makes a sincere effort to drive less and bicycle more. I've become a bicycle commuter, and it is absolutely fantastic. Best lifestyle change I've ever made. Others have mentioned getting more exercise - well here's a great way to do it that kills two birds with one stone as thus a very efficient way to live (not exercising just for the sake of exercising, in other words). Doing this has given me a real sense that I can do something considerable about Peak Oil, and I'm bettering my health, well-being, finances, and environment all the while. There's truly no beating around the bush here. I know it can be daunting to ride when there are so many cars around, but check out - it's a great resource and was a great help to me in learning how to ride, what to wear, etc. And consider this: the more folks there are on bikes, the fewer cars there are to compete with! Stand out from the crowd, set a good example, and let's kill car-craziness once and for all before it kills us.

I live near Chicago and now ride at least 90% of the time, and that includes the winters. I am confident that I can ride in any temperature I will face here - I've ridden in temperatures from 0 degress to 100 degrees F. All it takes is proper preparation, and you'll be snug as a bug in a rug. Really. Your body will produce all the heat you need to stay warm. Mankind roamed the Earth without any of our modern-day conveniences, so there's no reason whatsoever that we can't roam the Earth on bicycles now. You'll feel better than you ever have before.

Happy New Year. May America begin this year a new age of responsibility. Please stay positive - even if you believe we are doomed, our actions today can at least make us less doomed.

And for those people interested in a bit of assistance for long distances or hills between one's home and the store, the Cyclone electric bicycle kit seems to be the best I've found so far:

Instead of replacing the rear wheel with a hub motor, you keep all the gearing and the motor is mounted near the front big ring. And with 500W it can handle hills easily. Note: I haven't bought it yet so I'm only going by its design and a test ride I took.

Every dealer I talk to says to avoid the Bionx electric motor kit because when it breaks down the company does not stand behind the product. Here is their website:

My vote for elec assist is .....

We got an iZip from the local guy here in Portland, the only ebike vendor left in town. Man, what a tough bidness: When times are good, everybody wants an SUV, and when they're bad, nobady can afford a thousand-dollar electric bike.
The bike carries the batteries internal to the down tube, so it hardly even looks like an electric. It's equivalent to ten NiMH D cells, which is pretty modest, even for the small 250W motor it has. Still, it's plenty to help me up the hills, and that's all I need it for.
On sale for $925, regularly around $1200.
My only gripe with it is that it doesn't have regenerative braking like the Bionx.

Thanks for the link. They use a similar system to the Cyclone but seem to need their own recumbent bike. But of course there are advantages to that, too...

...make us less doomed.

That's it!!! Strive to make us less doomed. That's how to make 2009 a better year. Gail, close down the thread -- you got your answer. :)

If Alan Drake were to run for public office, has motto would be "Vote for me and things will not be as bad as they would otherwise have been." Of course, that is generally not what voters want to hear.

Don't forget his 'gut the rest of the nation to save New Orleans, San Francisco and New York' portion of his platform.

Not gut the rest of the countyr, just put us first in line for Obama's infrastructure stimulus package :-)

All #s quoted for New Orleans post-K pale in comparison to the interest on the current bailout.


You know, these get on your bike recommendations are fine but I live in Vermont and I'm just not going to bike to work when its 20 degrees, dark and snowing. By the time I am forced to do that there won't be any more "job" to go to.

I guess the way I looked at it was that if you don't mind going out for cross-country skiing, then riding a bicycle in the winter isn't really that much different. It is really just a matter of dressing properly so you don't get too cold and don't overheat.

Where I grew up in Minneapolis, there is a hard-core group that rides year-round. Up there snow tires are required - where I live now I don't bother as we don't get enough snow to make it worthwhile. Besides, they don't make snow tires to fit my bicycle. I do have headlights which work quite well..

From age 12 to 16 I delivered 60-70 newspapers everyday including the Detroit winters, using a bicycle whose tires were generally worn smooth from summer riding.
Saturday mornings the comic sections with their huge ads would easily add 50 lbs mostly balanced on the handlebars. Somehow I managed.

The thought of riding in the snow and on ice prompted me to write a scathing reply to your post since I am now just recovering from a nasty spill (suffered in Sept. to avoid a yield sign-blowing, texting, young lady driving a Prius no less, she never saw me and I didn't hear her coming) when this memory floated back to me.
As pissed as I am at her and her damn Jap car I'm moreso at the stupid design of these so called mountain and racing bikes that have you hunched over the handlebars taking all the shock right through your shoulders. Add to this that I might have seen her sooner had my head been held erect instead hanging over the front wheel so that you have to crane it up to see where you're going.
I'd take my old Schwinn with the front shock absorber, banana seat and balloon tires back anyday.

...and her damn Jap car...

I haven't heard that term for a long time. Thanks for the uplifting comment.

I have one of those "girly" type cruiser bikes - the brand escapes me at the moment (I'm not going into the unheated garage at -31 to check it out - LOL) It has 5 speeds and you are pretty much erect when riding. Big fat tires and a nice comfy seat. I love riding it to work (50 min each way). And one of the biggest advantages is that, unlike my previous mountain bikes, my boys would rather die than touch it so I never have to adjust a seat or handlebar before riding.

Like you - I am recovering from a spill. Got caught in a rainsquall and wiped out on a grease slick. Two months off work. Yikes! But only myself to yell at about it all :^)

Happy riding (can't wait til spring)


I'm proud that I can now call myself part of that "hardcore group." Granted, I can now take the light rail for party of my ride but 6 miles/day but when it is -20º not including windchill and I see numerous tracks through fresh snow or see other bikes on the train I know I am not alone. I suppose we are simply trying to challenge Portland, OR for that biggest cycle commuting population =)

Here is a nice article from Minnesota Public Radio on TC cyclists' commutes through wintertime: Winter Bicycle Commuting. It reports that bicycle commuting is up even though the cost of gas is down.

I think a good new years resolution for people to make would be a limit of "VMT." I'd like to set mine at 5,000 miles driven in a car for all of 2009. I think I can easily beat that! Same goes for number of flights, etc.

True, riding in the cold is less fun. Ice is dangerous, too. Here's a link for studded tires for bikes for wintry conditions:

Biking doesn't have to be all or nothing. If everyone who could would only ride their bikes for trips of 3 miles or less, on days when the weather is, say, between 45 and 80 degrees with no precipitation, it would make a huge difference in overall VMT. After all, people still put decks on their homes in places with long winters and lots of rain. They just don't use them at those times. The other thing is, if you start with that, pretty soon you find yourself saying, "well 45 is okay, and it's only 40 degrees today, I think I'll give it a try," or "3 miles is so easy, I'll try that 5 mile trip."

Good thinking and well said.

Since Gail called for suggested books, I recommend our Essential Books kit:

For just food books, there is the Essential Food Books kit, which is a subset of the kit above:

If you are interested in exploring all the books we think are relevant, visit the store and look under the Books and Video category. I think we've got about 200 books selected now and more on the way (particularly for health). I don't think every book is required, but if one wants to learn how to weld, for instance, there is a book for that (or sewing or small engine repair, etc.).

And there is the free Six Week UnCrash Course, which will send you an email each week for six weeks and give you homework to prepare.

You gave me an idea about Outreach and building community links around PO and 'Depression-Living'..

Assemble and present one's collection of books as a neighborhood Library for Post-Peak, or Sensible, Resilient' living, so others can make good use of your collection (if you want to extend that trust).. and they don't initially have to get over the threshhold of investing dollars to start getting this information and thinking seriously about the issues you (we) hope to share.

This could also work along with a kind of Reading Group that reads a title together and has dinner/discussions and finally projects together (like building grow-boxes, etc..) towards these ends.

I just think of how many great books are on people's shelves, unread and unknown to anyone outside that house, and probably rarely read in that house, as well.


A neighborhood library is an excellent idea. Hadn't thought of that. The chances are that there won't be enough copies of key books around and possibly even less money (at some point) for everyone to purchase their own copy.

As for getting together for specific projects and discussing particular books, that's also a great idea and I've had conversations about that with our relocalization/transition town people here. Post Carbon Marin spent most of 2008 doing a lot of public talks and we started The 10,000 Garden Project, which is a project to teach a lot of people how to garden relatively quickly. This year I think we'll see a lot more individual projects in our community since we're formally starting the Transition Town process on January 14.

As an aside, it was interesting in one of our first Post Carbon Marin meetings how some of the old school environmentalists resisted the idea of projects that focussed on the individual or the family preparing for Energy Descent. I think they were stuck in the groove that everything has to be about "the community." I don't see the two in conflict at all and an excellent way to help the community is to be more self-reliant. For instance, I have lots of food and water in the event of an earthquake (living in CA after all) but I happen to know that my neighbors do not. I certainly do not have enough for my whole street, though.

When The Big One(tm) hits, I'd rather have 90% of the people on my street with fully stocked earthquake kits than some nebulous idea of "community preparation." I do a lot of volunteer work, so I'm in no way "against" community. I just think that in many areas "community preparation" actually means being individually prepared. And a disaster kit/earthquake kit is one of those areas. FEMA is going to have loads of trouble helping people post peak.

On the 14th I'll have a half-hour to run through a Personal Preparation Checklist and I'll definitely mention the idea of people forming groups to get ready. It will be more fun that way, too.

I also hope to have a course to offer in 2009 that people could take to get ready. I've already begun creating the curriculum and I'm looking for a partner to help bring it to market; I'm in conversation with a well-known group about a possible partnership.

Were all the above what you were thinking of, Bob?

You must be reading my mail, Andre'..

I know what you are saying about community. My own community efforts are simply to know people around here, and look for excuses to have some level of contact and relationship with whoever I can. I don't evangelize energy stuff when I think it's going to put up a barrier.. but I do drop some hints, so the topic can emerge if the person is ready to go there.

Otherwise, I have been slowly prepping my own household, insulating, developing some original notions, and getting a better stockpile of certain materials (Canning Jars, Glass, Mirrors, Copper and PEX Pipe, lots of fasteners and building material, PV, dry food goods, seeds, tools, spare blades, saving internet tutorials for various things to learn)

I really liked the Far-Monastery idea on this thread. I've had similar thoughts, brought up on a couple previous Campfires, where it could be very valuable to have a quick solution for additional bunkspace and a list of jobs that could be 'given' to the family members that show up on the door, or that can be offered to the locally unemployed.. to be ready to use any available surplus labor that turns up.. food prep (and dishes) would be the first jobs to fill, along with maximising any growing space that can be developed in one's Acreage.

That's all well and good, while I go back to designing my robot.. guess I'd better teach him to Hoe and Harvest! (He's a shop-droid, but maybe he could freelance as a scarecrow.. set him up with some Polka MP3's and a big Loudspeaker.


I've begun seriously tightening up and insulating our old house in the Central Neighborhood of Minneapolis.

I will continue also insulating my detached garage and converting it into a year-round workshop.

I bought an electric vehicle last year: a Zap Xebra PK. I will continue modifications on that to make it even more efficient and effective this year. I contemplate making a lighter truck bed, as I do not haul more than 400 pounds of tools and supplies. I've already removed the sides to make it a flatbed. I can strap down my tool boxes and supplies.

I need to plant some hazelnuts and some fruit trees in the yard, in addition to some raised-bed and container gardening.

I struggle with depression and anxiety -- a lifelong struggle for me. At 50, many of the concerns I've had for a lifetime seem to be playing out much as I'd thought they would: too many people competing for too few resources amidst a rapidly deteriorating habitat. I accept depression and anxiety as a part of who I am -- a kind of canary in the coal mine.

My ideas about the environmental Bottleneck we are entering have met mostly with shrugs and scoffing, as well as with sympathy and even empathy. But most folks do not know enough to care or care enough to know.

I grew up among those who believe that Jesus will Rapture them out of all this. "This world is not my home..." My siblings have mostly chosen the passive indifference to the environment that is cultivated by Corporatism. "I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go." Rinse and repeat. I find that attitude all around me and sometimes more a part of me than I like.

Exercise seems to be my biggest challenge in wintertime. I do work that is fairly active, but do not like the super-cold and icy weather here. Spring-through-fall, I love to ride my bicycle. I need to dance and sing during the winter -- something like that!

I continue to talk to folks that I know about Peak Oil and Global Climate Change. I am honest but pretty gentle with folks. Most of us will not make it through the next 20 years, IMHO, no matter what strategies or techno-magic we try to employ. We will make war while we promise peace, and then maybe some remnant of humanity will survive.

I read the novel "The Road" this last year. I hope to see the movie this year. And exercise. :)

beggar, your post could've been written by me. From the raised beds and hazelnuts to the electric bike, from the Fundie youth to confronting the imminent Bottleneck, I'm down with ya, guy.

I have to laugh so i don't cry. Here we are, at the very precipice of the greatest abyss that humanity has faced since the eruption of Toba in 72000 BCE, and my solution is - buying Spam?

Well, in 2008 I got my well, and it works well. There's no pressure tank in this design; it uses a variable-speed soft-start three-phase motor that switches on with every hand-wash and toilet flush, but it's still supposed to last for many decades with no maintenance. So the water stays underground until it's needed, with no stagnant tank going stale during trips away from home.

I may as well go get a few more nut trees this month - there's no reason to wait for Spring here in Portland. I tend to get them at around 6', in a 10-gallon pot. Chestnuts do especially well here.

My greenhouse collapsed in the 100-year snowstorm we just had here, despite my efforts to clear the ice as it accumulated. Those "ponding failures" will creep up on you as soon as you turn your back. Okay, so now I get to learn about greenhouse repair! Sleeving the broken PVC pipe, tape selection for patching the film, and placing extra internal bracing to forestall a repeat disaster.

But the trees and veggies are a minor hobby - my biggest gardening project is amending the soil. Today I can still buy food, after all, but when the time comes that I have to plant to eat, it'll be too late to think about composting. And with a half-acre to work, I get all the exercise I can handle with just a shovel and a cultivator. The biggest gardening expense is now the gloves, which only last a few months!

Sounds like you have some very practical peak preparations projects underway!

Best of luck with the Greenhouse repairs, by the way. I hope to build one, but am still thinking about design and materials. I'd like to dig down six feet or so and put a strong dome over the top.

If so, I'd use some lights as well for part of the season in order to extend my growing seasons as much as possible. The long cold season here presents a problem to address.

Thanks for the empathy as well. I lived in Oregon as a young child -- born in The Dalles, lived in Wolf Creek and then near Albany. Moved to Issaquah WA, and then to the Midwest as a young teen. I miss the West Coast, but have some strong ties keeping me in the Midwest.

Post Peak we will perhaps not move around so much once we have settled somewhere?

So far there is little understanding or interest in Peak Oil in my neighborhood here. Most folks are working hard to stay financially afloat, and afraid of losing whatever job(s) they have.

Preparation for Peak Oil and Climate Change is not much on their minds. Paying this month's mortgage or rent seems to push other things aside for many, and it is too hard to add the stress of thinking about preparing for big changes.

As I noted, my Peak Oil conversations are pretty gentle, because people cannot seem to handle much of the unvarnished reality.

I'm in Minneapolis too, and I also find that it is really tough to talk about it around here. This seems like the epicenter of cornucopianism.

Hi Beggar. I saw a Zap truck driving down 38th or 35th street in south Minneapolis the other month (early November?) and am thinking that may have been you? There aren't too many of those out on the streets if I recall...

I would also like to do some of the same things as you gardening wise. Know anything about grafting apple trees?

I have found this book very helpful in my life: When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön.

Chödrön is a Buddhist Nun and the book offers a toolbox of wisdom for dealing with life - especially in times such as these.

I will second that recommendation.

Buy a new flat screen TV, so I can watch the end of the world in CNN ...

They will probably cut out that programming because of budget restrictions. They are already cutting back on science and environment related programming.

Remember that old CNN add from some years ago? They were making fun of other channels, and they had a couple of perky anchors who would say something like "Breaking news overseas. But first, is your pet psychic?".

And yet today they have become that which they were parodying.

You saying the 'Situation Room' doesn't make you feel like you're on the front lines of world events?

Their graphics, frowns and sound effects are very compelling..

LOL. But I got there first -- already bought mine in time for the Bear Stearns meltdown.

You dog!

Whaddid they show, rich dudes jumping out of high rise windows, en mass?

This will sound very minor but I recently learned how to darn socks (on the internet actually). I hope I will save a lot of money because our house lacks central heating: we need thick socks and now I plan to keep them going indefinitely instead of tossing them in the garbage after a few years. I'm trying to fix things by myself more even if I don't know how at first.

Not minor at all. All the little things add up and will in fact be necessary.


My goal for the winter is to learn how to knit socks. Once I can knit them I guess I should learn how to fix them.

Thanks for the reminder


because our house lacks central heating:

pi, do consider a mini-split heat pump if you haven't already. They may not be easy to get in a a few more years and they now work down to 20 degrees F and lower. I chose the Sanyo but there are several high-quality manufacturers:

Hi André,

My new Sanyo is rated to -18C/0F and I'm told will continue to operate down to -20C/-4F, although I haven't been able to verify this as yet. I can tell you that our temperatures over the past few days have been hovering between -10C and -12C and this little puppy is still throwing out oodles of heat (it runs circles around my older Friedrich when temperatures fall much below -5C/23F).


Do they make standard split systems that do as well? The local reps here all push Lennox or Trane. Sounds like I might need to do my own research?

Hi Paleocon,

They do offer larger systems geared to the commercial market, but nothing along the lines of a standard residential split as far as I know. RBM will correct me if I'm wrong, but my general sense is that the big North American manufacturers are still flogging more or less the same systems they sold back in the 70's (if we were comparing cars, the Sanyo would be a Prius and Lennox a 1976 Ford LTD... ** barf **).

This is the model I selected:

I paid $1,350.00 CDN, plus another $220.00 for misc. hardware and $500.00 for a buddy of mine to install it, so my total, out-of-pocket cost was just under $2,100.00 CDN (US$1,700.00).


Paul: I bought my Sanyo before they changed to the newer does the job (mostly, I undersized it by mistake) and it's been a great machine. Has more than paid for itself in the three years we've had it.

Paleocon: Here is one company that makes larger units using the new design:

I have no personal experience with it but they claimed to have sold >5,000 when I spoke to the sales rep about a year ago.

Thanks for the info, HIH, and aangel.

I wonder what the costs are for the Hallowell? I've rough-priced Lennox units at 2, 3, and 5 tons for a couple of properties (which all will need new units in the next couple years). Installed, I've gotten quotes from a little under $4K to $5K for "good" and "better" 2-ton conventional units, up to over $8K for a 5-ton high-eff heat pump. I think Lennox and others may all use the same dual-stage scroll compressor (Copeland made?).

I can go through the specs and compare units, and compare costs for heat pump vs AC plus gas heat - the reps I've spoken to say AC plus gas is cheaper where gas is available (most of the properties). But the heat pumps seem to be higher-tech and higher-eff, and most of my cost is electricity in the summer, so it's not a simple trade-off.

IIRC, some Lennox units have de-superheat DHW options and such as well (good primarily for the summer, I assume). I briefly looked at GSHP, which has definite advantages but the costs per bore-hole are high ($2K per ton, more or less -- doubling the cost).

Rent houses are hardest to cost-justify of all -- I pay for the upgrades but not for the monthly bills. I have a really hard time buying the lowest-eff units though. But justifying more money for HVAC really also justifies doing other eff enhancements.....and I can only spend so much per month on upgrades.

Hi Paleocon,

This is not any easy decision and I'm pleased to see it's not being driven solely on the basis of cost. I'm not familiar with these systems (again, maybe RBM is the one to tap), but I would read through the comments at; if nothing else, it might help confirm what you already know. Good luck!


Hi André,

I suspect your Sanyo is similar to my Friedrich in basic design (i.e. single stage scroll compressor with R22 refrigerant) and in terms of its operating efficiency and cold weather performance. This particular Friedrich (née Fujitsu) has a HSPF of 7.2 and a low-temperature cut-off of about -10C/14F; depending upon the price of oil, I save anywhere from $500.00 to $600.00 a year on my space heating costs, which results in a 25 to 30 per cent ROI. However, these new DC inverter drive units perform so much better -- they're 30 to 40 per cent more energy efficient and can displace a larger percentage of my remaining oil heat, in that they operate at much lower temperatures and produce far more heat at the low-end of the temperature band.


Hi, Paul. Just letting you know I saw this...thanks.

First of all I wish everyone a happy New Year. Mind you that hapiness cannot be expressed in material well being.

I am presently on a family visit in the Czech Republic where no one seems to care about anything really. BAU and all going well for now. They are slightly concerned about Russia cutting of gas to Ukraine.

I am reading Soros latest book The new paragdigm for financial markets. He has got a real good point about abondoning the prevailing paradigm in economics, and proposes instead his concept of what he calls flexitivity. I recommend it, not from an investing point of view. He doesnt get peak oil appearently but it is an interesting approach none the less.

I do not offer anything different this year. Just hope we all can keep feeding TOD with the revolutionary input as usual. Because that s just what it is, revolutionary. My feeling is now that TOD will play an important role, and growing, in shaping future policy, like the concept of biophysical economics will eventually become influental.

Please keep it coming. Thanks.

I completely disagree with the negative sentiment of this short article. The past does not necessarily dictate the future.

At the end of presidential terms, there is often a downturn in the economy due to uncertainty in the market. It happened at the end of Clinton's 2nd term. In this case the whole world economy tanked due to unregulated loan practices coupled with high fuel prices.

As we enter into a new Obama administration, confidence in world markets will increase along with world opinion of the US. Fuel prices are low which always helps the economy recover. We can already see evidence of recovery from recent increases in the stock market. Confidence is building back in, with bad news having less effect on price fluctuations.

I think we are entering a golden era of renewable energy deployment, and part of that vision will include a new electric infrastructure. By the new year of 2010 the whole picture will be reversed. People will be emboldened - wind and solar arrays will be sprining up from Texas to North Dakota and from Texas to California. A new mandate will require solar on the roof of every new home and business.

Reliance on imported oil will be reduced and carbon emissions will be down by billions of pounds. Wipe the sleep from your eyes America, its time to wake up and smell the roses. Here's to 2009!

"...will increase along with world opinion of the US"

The optimist in me says that world opinion can only increase - the USA has been an international embarrassment for 8 years now, if you don't count Grenada, Vietnam, Iran, Afghanistan, Panama, Bhopal, Valdez and the inaction of the Balkans, Somalia & Rwanda. It is as if no living US resident has read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. I thought the whole justification for the citizenry (the 'consumers'?) being armed excessively was to depose tyrants - or was Bush the government 'the people' wanted? And a judicial system that gives corporations more rights than humans?

Oh well, the popular vote has swung what, 6% in the other direction now? Once you've paid off a few bucks owed - for the Iraq war, the excellent disaster plan implementation of New Orleans, supporting crappy car companies & corrupt financial markets, and to keep a few more bridges from collapsing - it will be back to small government Republicanism again, I'm sure.

As Ms. Palin would say, 'I can see the USA from my house'. But it has been a long time since I've had any interest in visiting what I used to think was the greatest country on earth.

Good Luck. Really. You'll Need It.

If only the Republicans were for small government ...


Indeed I think people will be surprised by the turnaround when it comes, but 2009 may be a little quick to expect it. I am thinking 2010, maybe not until 2011.

What interests me more is this, let's call it the "Honey the kids are watching" problem.

I heard a young cashier being interviewed on the news the other day who said the retail store she worked at (one aimed at the young, like Aeropastele) had done pretty well during the holidays.

Now what was amazing was the reason she gave as to why the youth were still buying: "They don't have financial liabilities like real estate and stocks." !!!!!!!!

If the youth of America are drawing the lesson from this crisis that investments and real estate are liabilities, we have a HUGE problem coming to us in the long haul.


Now what was amazing was the reason she gave as to why the youth were still buying: "They don't have financial liabilities like real estate and stocks." !!!!!!!!

Perfectly logical reason I would have thought. What I find interesting is your reaction to it. The stock and property markets have been exposed for what they are: GAMBLING HOUSES! Why would the youth of today not see that? Why would you expect them to follow a failed model of economic corruption that has attempted to steal their future from them?

I would expect young people today to avoid as much debt as they possibly can. Many Boomers and Xers are going to be unpleasantly surprised to find that the value of their businesses, homes and paper assets are virtually worthless because younger generations will not be forced into debt servitude to purchase them. I think generational conflict is about to get a whole new meaning.

I made up the folowing flyer for who ever wants to post it .......



A local community based cooperative dedicated to:


Sustainable Production / Cultivation
Nutritional Analysis
Seed Storage


Locally adaptable and sustainably grown foods

Herbs … etc.

Contact - ----------- for information and date/time of next meeting

I think we're headed into a full blown depression.

Be kind to neighbors and strangers. Invest in people--if you have an excess--don't hoarde. You will discover that friends and relationships are more important than material goods.

Goods rot, rust, decompose and must be replaced and replenished. A time will come when man-power becomes vital once again--and machines are idled due to energy shortages. Maybe this year, maybe next, but we're headed that way and fast.

You will need friends and workers. And they will need you.

I'm active in local Democratic politics and today was the annual swearing in of council/ committee namings etc. While there our republican mayor made a 10 minute speech extolling localization/ biking and walking/ getting to know your neighbors etc- I was astounded- she sounded much like a good progressive democrat. Afterwards came the mostly Democratic party at a councilpersons house- and I asked why and where did this green/localization impetus come from?:

The answer was quickly voiced by several of the older pros in the room: budget constraints would force the borough to spend next to nothing next year( best case, deep cuts are worst case)- so the suggested social and environmental advances were put forward in lieu of programs that cost something. So that is what we have to work with- economic reality will force good localization and environmental initiatives. Acknowledging thus the 30 knot tailwind at our back already and the good suggestions already in the blog- get active physically, minimize your dietary indescretions( fats/meats/dairy),. join your local political committees, participate in local politics and let's steer the decisions in a responsible way.
For those that ride a bike here's a little food for thought:

happy New Year!

"How Can We Make 2009 a Better Year?"

Hot Mulled Wine

Heat up some jug-o-red with an orange half studed with a few cloves. Toss in a cinnamon stick, splash of hot water, and some honey to taste. Don't boil. drink piping hot.


My recipe calls for all that plus lots of cardamom seeds and brandy...pear brandy from the Willamette is very nice!

Oddly enough, one of my New Year's resolutions is to drink more red wine 'cause I keep hearing it's-good-for-ya. Un instant s'il vous plaît, while I crack open another bottle of this here Chateau Puyfromage....

And what better way to enjoy a good French wine than to listen to a great French Canadian artist -- this one takes me back to Montréal, the summer of '79 and my rather sorry misspent youth:

More Daniel Lavoie can be found at:

Salute ! **hick**

All kidding aside, I am in the process of learning the ins and outs of distillation.

Hardware fabrication, recipes, techniques, the works plus learning about essential oils.

I think that this not-so-lost art will prove to be very useful for fuel and barter.

I think having a Plan B is a good idea, even if it is flawed.

So here's a flawed Plan B: autarky or a condition of economic self-sufficiency. What do we need to do so that the United States can sail on through the future without any trade whatsoever.

Impractical? Sure. Why not North America or the OECD? That's a possibility. But autarky seems to me to be a workable minimum.

But the advantage of having a Plan, even a flawed plan, is that what we need to do as a people, as a nation, is now finite and can be defined.

And "we" -- probably foundations, Bill Gates, are you listening -- would have to fund all the studies that would be needed. But to avoid paralysis-by-analysis, one way you could start is to put on export duties and import taxes -- small at first, then ramping up to be truly humongous.

Would it work? Maybe not, but at least you have a plan, a goal, a set of outcomes to work toward, and if something better comes along, you can modify or subsitute as needed.

Hoping for clear thoughts, especially my own, in 2009.

Hilary Smith

It is pretty clear that the year 2009 will have some major bad things happening as will the following years, so our focus should be to do something NOW, not just 'plan for the future'.

You should prepare yourself, prepare your family and friends and organize your community groups (those of us who have a community with which to organize) to make changes to the way you live: think how you acquire food, heat, water, income, services etc. A lot has been written about these, but for those of us who are new to these ideas: this does not have to mean total self-sufficiency (although ideal) but being able to supplement them in the worsening conditions we are facing. This way, as we face hardship, social cohesion should not brake up into anarchy and looting but instead strengthen the community to find a common goal and purpose. Small things that can be achieved and enjoyed together that will light the way though there dark times.

Now this is all I have to say about local level and individual level. Much has been written about these.

But let me now test some waters here, perhaps making myself look foolish.

There is a possibility that all this low level activity wont be enough. That we should think BIG! Like walking up to the next President and saying.. "Look here..."

Why should we do this? TOD isn't even 'anything', just a forum with people of varying views. Sure we keep ourselves informed and create discussion, even research. But is it enough? Could we do more? Should we do more, now that it seems we are indeed on the precipice of both a great disaster and an opportunity?

But we don't even agree on what should be done? Surely there is some common ground to be found? For example to pursue a policy of rail-based infrastructure investment instead of roads?

But most importantly, give him the facts as they are today: depletion rates, export land model, the consequences of oil depletion, or NG depletion during his presidency. The next president is an educated man. What would it take to get him to say the words 'Peak Oil' in public? That would be BIG and change a lot of things.

But we don't have any allies, no organization, no Washington lobby? But we do have allies: Congressman Bartlett for one. And we just have to create all these things. They don't create themselves just by us sitting here. We don't have a lot of money, but we have ourselves, a lot of knowledge and the internet to do it.

I know we don't have any great leaders, outstanding personalities or professional campaigners among us and we don't even hold very high opinions of politicians or the whole process in general. But surely we do recognize the moment here? Nobody else is gonna try to do this if we don't. We just have a bit of a learning curve, but that should something we are used to?

What is it that is holding us back? Are we serious or is this all just a hobby for us? Do we have the courage to try and very possibly fail at this? Or has all this just been academic...

- Thoughts for the year 2009 from Ransu

You raise good points Ransu. My constant ongoing experience though, is that people who are not ready to accept the truth will not be convinced. I think it is better to prepare with those few who are ready, and consider how to accommodate others as they arrive at an understanding.

I think I know what you're saying, Ransu.. but I tend to think of TOD as a Deliberative, not a Legislative body. I know many members here are active 'out there', and I hope all of us are.

I just haven't seen a way to use this collection of people, many of whom seem truly remarkable to me, as a lobbying group any more than it already is. I'm sure there are other ways to reinvent the online environment and assumptions which could expand the reach and influence of these efforts.

One, which noone will want to do, cause it's really hard (and underdefined) and takes a lot of trust.. is that TOD might develop projects that require volumes of research, homework, graphics, phonecalling, programming.. etc.. that can be doled out among a great many of us, sort of in the SETI model, where many Hands (and CPUs) makes lighter work. I mean, looking at just the Drumbeats, how much thought and online scouring of resources is invested by this whole *(unfocused) group every day!

I really don't know how one would establish the skills available and delegate out the work.. (delegating and skills evaluation would be significant jobs to be part of the whole process, of course) but think of the range of experience, education, talents, geographies and perspectives represented here! What could we do to focus all these smart and concerned minds like so many CSP Heliostats onto ONE POINT, all at the same time, and really create some heat? Even the fact that we have people who are coming from opposing positions can be made into a plus, I'd think, if we could see the leverage available in it. ("No" is just yes to a different question, after all)

Bob Fiske

(SETI is the 'Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence', where people would volunteer their computers to be used online during any CPU availability to help decipher any possible ET signals from radio-telescope data streams.)

What can we do to make the year a better one...

Write letters to your pollies about what you want to be done in your city or State to prepare for declining oil production and how to reduce CO2 emissions: e.g. bike-paths around schools, light rail to city centres, renewable energy projects etc. Most critical will be how to organise food supplies to cities. We can all have our veggie patch in our backyards but that will not be enough.

Just asking them "what will you do about peak oil?" will not help. They will answer they are blending 5% ethanol in government cars. Write about specific projects which are currently debated in your area and say that if these projects are not underway at the next election you will not vote for them.

Many countries will try to use employment creation programs to build additional freeways etc. because they have not understood the links between the financial/economic crisis and peak oil (May 2005 - July 2008). The business-as-usual mindset in government departments is deep-rooted. They are all waiting for an economic upturn in 2010, a sales boom in electric cars and other perpetual growth dreams. Even if there is no funding right now for their pet highway projects they are preparing the plans.

If you do not write letters to politicians they will assume you agree with what they are doing. Example in Australia. "Environment" Minister Peter Garrett (ex Midnight Oil) approved a new coal terminal on Wiggins Island (in Queensland on the East coast). Phase 1 is + 25 Mt pa of coal. No one protested. Result: 7 months later the PM himself increased the stakes 4-fold: AU$ 580 million of government funding for new coal trains to carry 100 Mt pa of extra coal to the port of Newcastle (in New South Wales, also on the East coast). A (too) small crowd of around 100 protested in front of the Commonwealth office. It is easy to calculate that this wipes out 10 times a proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme. We can all abandon our cars and bike, but we'll never reduce emissions if this type of policy continues.

So also write letters to the effect that business-as-usual is stopped.

The world has now split into three distinct power centers.
1. The OECD countries who though strong are like ageing lions not being prepared to face the fact that their muscle power is going down!

2. The emerging powers which are flexing their muscles thanks to their potential wealth in terms of resources. China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela and Brazil are some prime examples.

and 3. The developing economies which are trying their level best to come out of the lowly status. Their main strength is that their population is dominated by young people in an ageing world.

There is a dire need for these distint groups to come together and work out a viable common global agenda. Unfortunately such an agrnda is still not coming through due to sectorial interests. WTO talks failure is a typical example.

Barack Obama is possibly the right person who can bring these groups together since after a long time US has a leader whom the rest of the world does not hate!

Won't take long.

What is going on with that super volcano in Yellowstone? Is it getting ready to blow with the earthquake swarms going on? What I am going to do is learn more about volcanos so I can understand this event. As I get older I really find myself becoming able to appreciate the power and the beauty of the earth.

Since there is very little I can have an effect on in the "outside" world, I tend to focus on what I can do here. I'm pretty much in a cat bird seat already, for the last 25 years I have lived like so many would like to start now. Everything I own, I built, no credit involved, never had a mortgage.

Another wind storm here, with wind chills to 20 below, 7 degrees now, and I just toss another log on, 76 inside the house. Dog and cats, all splayed out by the wood stove. Since the last ice storm we had we've probably been off grid for close to 60 hours. No big deal, lights, heat, are all working just fine. Had to use the hand pump a couple of times to flush the loo, no big deal carrying a bucket of water upstairs.

So this year, I think is the year I get some PV. not going to dent our power use much and actually will most likely build an independent system, just focused on charging my battery banks. Insolation sucks up here, it will just provide diversity to existing systems. Probably never see payback. But anytime they generate power that can be stored is a bonus. To hell with EROI. I'll go with 600 watts stored as opposed to none any day.

I'm worrying some about global warming and gardening. To that end I'm expanding our potatoe, onion, carrot growing areas. The ground crops like that should take more of the volatile weather in stride. I suspect volatile weather could raise havoc with food production.

Other than that, not much, just chart the signs, watch, listen. Observe.

The new toy I want is a new compound bow, as you get to geezer hood you loose upper body strength, it just happens even with exercise. Having some trouble drawing the one I have.

Happy New Year, may you all be as blessed as I am, with the stars at night and the wind in the trees.

Don in Maine

I'm worrying some about global warming and gardening.

Hey Don,

With the Gulf Stream moving north, more temperate weather should be the long-term effect. As for the variability, well, hold on...


This is one reason I would REALLY like to have some 'Hard Weather WindTurbines' available, and why the Windside design continues to appeal to me. ( ) Durable construction, Low windspeed startups and High Windspeed tolerance, turbulence tolerant.. etc.

I'll go for durable and eclectic over high-efficiency in this category..

(I just attached the Treadmill Generator to my 'poorman's Savonius' rig yesterday. Made my 'New Years Revolutions' in the shop. But I will need to re-gear it, since hand-spinning the 4' drum only came up to 2-3 volts, and I'd need 20-30 at least..)


hug someone (but not if they're all sweaty, ick!)

Get plenty of exercise by working the vegetable garden manually. Harvest water from every possible source, from roof, sink and shower stall. Use this gray water for irrigation. A few solar PV panels, charge controller and battery bank will provide the security of having power when the grid fails. Recycle everything possible and cut way back on consumption. This will be a good start for a new year!

Along the do-good self improvement line, I recommend learning to cook. Really learning to cook in any conditions. Also, of course cooking one’s own food and giving up the fast food stuff, weight loss guaranteed. One can also save a lot of money. Short topic list:

Cooking methods. Wood stove and solar. Stir-fry is extremely energy efficient. Pots and pans. A few good ones will save energy, time and trouble. Did you know that if you go to bed with a hot water bottle you can also cook a bag of rice? (I haven’t tried this yet.) Cooling methods.

Preservation and storage. Drying, curing, smoking. Pest control.

Spices. These are essential for frugal / local food / emergency / limited food cooking. A good store of spices is a must investment. What do you do with three turnips, two potatoes, two glasses of milk? For 3 people? The spice bubble arose for a reason..

Feeding infants and toddlers. Even today, and in plentiful food conditions, some die or have stunted growth/development because not properly fed.

Alcohol, oil, cheese.

It is an easy topic, because there aren’t any mysteries, and the documentation is available. It is fun, because of the hands-on aspect; yet, purely theoretical knowledge is useful as well. Drying fish or making a cooler out of clay pots and sand or cooking nettles will all work if one has a rough idea about how to do it.

Some here may like this site: “Cooking for Engineers. Have an analytical mind? Like to cook? This is the site to read!”

Similar plans.

Late January / Early February installing a wood stove which I hope will displace 5000-6000kwh of gas consumption annually. This will be using waste wood that would either be burned or landfilled.

Installing a water recovery system to collect winter rainfall and store in 2x1000 IBC's (good bit of recycling)

Cultivating 130m2 of land at allotment - hope to avoid use of any inorganic NPK

I've tried using pallets and lumber scraps in my cast iron wood stove only to find that, due to their thin dimensions(large surface area) they tend to flare and burn intensly hot, too hot for safe operation.
Other than kindling and fuel for my charcoal making retorts, IMO pallet and scraps can't be relied upon for serious heating.
Incidentally, a pallet holding imported goods from China was thought to contain the asian ash borer arrived to a distributor near my home in Canton, MI that is exterminating all the ash trees in the upper midwest.
I've been burning ash wood almost exclusively from deadfalls the last 10 years or so.

Here'something I'm working on with our area foodshelf. In 2008 the foodshelf gave out $30 vouchers for every child in our rural (3 small towns and farmers) school district to buy healthy summer snacks at the small town grocers. (this area is rural and isolate enough to count as a "food desert" even though it is the heart of farm country in the northern Great Plains).

For the same amount, we could buy fruit trees to be planted at each childs house. So we managed to get a Horticultural student from our land-grant University to help us do a pilot project to plant fruit trees at the homes of all 150 kids in the K-6. Our climate allows us to plant cold hearty apples, plums, cherries, apricots, and pears. We're working with the local nursery and hopefully the Master Gardeners as well. In addition, we're incorporating horticultural sciences into some of the k-12 curriculum around soils, pests, horticulture, etc...

This is my gentle way to help introduce some food security into our community through the positive vehicle of our kids.

What a positive project!

A recommended regime for most of us:

1. Do more - talk less
2. Less Internet (incl. TOD) - more meetings w/ meetings, more outdoors
3. Don't fret, do something about it or accept it 'as is' and move on

Happy New Year 2009 to all TOD readers.

For 2009 to be better than 2008?

A Giant Asteroid comes to earth, unknown, from behind the sun so we cannot prepare for it, and it hits Washington DC before it can evac....

The only thing to do in 09 is Power Down.

Powerdown is great, really. It's huge. But there are a LOT of things to be doing. Your mantra is becoming offensive, merely because you wield it like a hammer. The points your post came in response to are great points.. BOTH/AND not EITHER/OR, we have room in our minds for a good number of BB's here.

Easy, Baby!

So sorry, but the "Hammer" of AGW, among many other things, will come down on you, as well as everyone else, like it or not. It is a Monster, that has been waiting quietly, and has now run out of patience.

You are probably correct though, I guess I should not post such a direct statement such as "Power Down" here in the land of the politically correct. Too many BAU types read these words, and need their momma's to protect them from the Monster under their beds. Trouble is J., that Monster is them (you). If it is "offensive" to you, or anyone else, so be it. Death, hunger, disease, war, waste, pollution are offensive to me, to name just a few things I am forced to live with every day.

A time will come, and in a not too distant a future, when it WILL be either/or. We are probably past that point already. You will see it, as will so many others. Your government will TELL you, either /or, your stomach will tell you either/or, and you WILL have to choose. Problem is J., if you do not, rest assured someone (me?) will choose for you. I, like so many, will choose what is in MY best interest. The choice is yours, either power down, or it will be done for you and it is never pretty when choice is taken away from someone that thinks the world revolves around them.

“Through control of the universe of discourse, including the media, the professions, the universities, the publishing industry, many of the churches, the consumer society, the job market, and even the very socialization of our children and the prefiguring of our own perceptions, the ruling interests are able to exercise a prevailing ideological control that excludes any reasoned critique of the dominant paradigm.”

-- Michael Parenti

How can we make 2009 better?

Stop listening to the politicians, economists, scientists, technologists, corporate shills, et al.

Why? Because they're schooled and conditioned into the received wisdom of the failing system. Their every response will accelerate the failure, as the problem cannot be solved using the same thinking that caused it. They're potentially the biggest threat to our future and our survival.

We're on our own and must take responsibility and think for ourselves. We must disconnect from the failing system, salvaging what we can from the sinking ship to create our own lifeboat. Those that cannot cut the lifeline to the ship have to be abandoned to their fate. We must assume BAU will cease to function and those that depend upon it will become its victims.

No person is an island.

Have you ever watched one of those survivor-man shows on the Discovery Channel (on the hated TV tube)? Surviving on your own is pretty tough even for those who know what they're doing. Human beings are not evolved to survive on their own. We are herd animals. Are best chance is by sticking with the herd. The only question is, which herd?

"Just do it." With all due apologies to, IIRC, Nike, of course.

After many years of plodding along, I have gotten more involved in the Oklahoma Sustainability Network (OSN), which is itself involved in some productive efforts. OSN participated in getting Demand Side Management rules adopted by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission which should provide, in part, funding for low income, fixed income and retired people to reduce their energy consumption. The program is to be directed at both homeowners and renters, with incentives for absentee landlords to participate. We are now working to be ready to help with the implementation of the programs developed by the utilities as they are rolled out over the next year. Of course, there are incentives for other consumers as well, but low and fixed income folks have the hardest time adapting and adopting.

I should say that if Oklahoma, ranking at the lowest levels in many public areas, can get such a program adopted, other states should be able to do so as well. The effort in Colorado touted in the Drumbeat recently is such an example. Of course, many of the Northeastern states have had innovative programs over a long period of time, but Oklahoma was about the reddest of Red States in the 2008 elections, yet this is even being supported by a new and very conservative Corporation Commissioner, the three member panel which regulates utilities and the oil and gas industry, among its other responsibilities.

Our local group in Bartlesville started a farmer's market - a real one with vendors who have grown their goods locally. Local support has been good from residents who get up early, since everything sells out pretty quickly. We have good local support from the Master Gardeners group as well. (Other locales already had farmer's markets, just not B'ville. 6 fm's in tulsa, for example.) We had great support to get involved in the Buy Fresh, Buy Local program, which will be expanded into other areas of the State in 2009.

Other projects in the works include efforts involving rail (both for transit and freight) and getting people involved in the regulatory and legislative issues, without jeopardizing OSN's tax exempt status. Take a look at (sorry, I do not know how to do a link - I am just an old oil producer.) Oh yeah, and OSN is presently an all volunteer organization.

"Just do it."

Hey Woodychuck,
I took a gander at the OSN website. I'd like to get more involved in the sustainability movement in the Tulsa area. Are you a coordinator, or can you point me to the right person to contact?

I'd like to find the local farmers market, butchers, and some small-time gardening/hobby farm operations.


I've got a book entitled "Five Acres and Independance" by M.G. Kains ISBN 0-486-20974-1
This book although first published in 1935 covers self sufficiency in buckets. Just start breading work horses; we're going to need them and like Nuclear power it takes a long time to develop new facilities and blood lines, so start sooner rather than later, 'cos there's only a bit of sooner left!

I cant seem to start a new thread... help please???

I would like to make a comment that I did not want to post of the EROI Essay Post of today.

I am not a tuned in 'oilhead' and so this may sound a bit 'rural'.

My take on the oil/energy debate and the EROI/EROEI and its effects on the future(making this a better year) is this:

The reality is that the INPUT costs of the OUTPUT energy in petrochemicals has NOT yet been calculated for this very reason:

Incalculable costs will be in the huge number of dead people who will perish as a result of what is considered "Cheap Oil"...and IMO the fact is that it definitely lead us down this merry path to the upcoming future of death and destruction and starvation.

Those 'costs' cannot be calculated and will not be inserted into any part of the equation.

I realized this as an epiphany as I just read the EROI essay of today and the debates and arguments of obtaining the TRUE cost.

So I say its incalculable but its enormous. Its the probable death of the most powerful Superpower nation the world has ever seen.

I believe that already deaths have begun in diverse ways that is not reported as suh,,deaths due to stress,loss of jobs, no future, giving up , asking to go to prison, and on and on.

The pain and agony of finally realizing that you can no longer support yourself, or you and your wife or you and your wife and children must be devastating. I would assume that already suicides are on the increase, maybe not reported as such.But there.

So costs that are not monetary? Means little to me. Death of someone I know means a lot to me. People stealing to eat?

I stole to eat and I begged in some many ways. Me and my brother in St. Louis down on Choteau Ave during WWII, in sqalid housing and a mother who was too busy with other things to feed her children. No father around.

My brother watched his playmate get run over and dragged by a car as they sat on a curb. My brother pushed out of a two story window to land on concrete,pushed into a hot stove,bearing the mental and physical scars his whole life. I forget the crying and tears and was happy to go back to the country and get away from that ugliness.Back to my grandparents and a good life. I go to their graves many times and pray over them.

So I know what hunger and pain is. The cost is devastating to one. To the young its worse. My brother later committed a type of suicide when he was denied a new form of cancer treatment. My brother who as an EE wrote a lot of the Bios code for a new startup known as Sun Microsystems and became almost a millionare but lost it in the market of what I call the EgoGreed market of finance. He never married due to our upbringing.He did far too many drugs to erase his memories I think.

Around here we are starting to see some of the coming events already.

This cost must and will be paid.

I am fortunate that the land I live on is paid off. I cut wood at the age of 70 to heat with and am happy doing so. I have food so far.
I can live on far less. I have known hunger. I have been slapped silly for only eating half a piece of bread back following the near end of he depression.

Airdale-the cost is staggering for that 'cheap' oil after all and won't be part of the equation but to me it will be real, I see nothing on the horizon that will come close to being the solution.

Those 'costs' cannot be calculated


Well said. Thank you for your insights.
(Also please accept sorrow for loss of your brother.)

We humans delude ourselves into thinking we are "rational" when we use numbers.

Now mind you, I am not against use of mathematics and have been guilty of using them to perhaps an excessive amount. However, we need to appreciate that most of us have been brainwashed into "feeling" that every time someone runs "the numbers" past us, they are the ones who are being rational and totally truthful.

The truth is that no one can "account" for everything. We can't account for costs we can't see or refuse to see. We can't put a number on every loss or every gain.

EROEI is useful for exploring certain concepts. But it is neither the first word nor last for coming to grips with our current predicaments.

Oil is both a wonderful gift from Mother Nature and a horrid curse.
Money is both a wonderful invention of humankind and an addictive illusion.
Accounting is both truth and lies.
Everything is a double edged sword.

Left click on image at top right to read about runs and truthful numbers.

Thanks for the reply.


I'm currently reading "The Brain that changes itself" by Norman Doidge MD. It's the most fascinating book I've ever read and is helping me to link together a range of concepts about society, and the way we learn and behave (and our true potential). This will be my second year high school teaching and I'm excited because I will be responsible for teaching a new course on sustainability and multistrand science to year 10 students.

Also seen some good movies lately (I'm really not a movie buff, so excuse me if you've already seen them)
"Into the Wild" is a very interesting true story about a recent graduate who leaves his family and travels to Alaska to connect with the wild. It has a very strong message about happiness, life and materialism. Quite a sad ending to the film, but plenty to think about.
"The mysterious case of Benjamin Button" for once Hollywood has produced a very thoughtful film about life, love and the way things are. It drags on a bit, but it is quite thought provoking about how we see things on the surface and how all things have a time and place.

There are also plenty of good documentaries around at the moment..oh too many to list. SBS has been excellent, for those in Australia.

My back is currently killing me as I am on day 8 of my new exercise program. Still waiting for those endorphins to kick in. I vow to reduce my intake of rushed lunches comprised of takeaway crap this year. And I've picked up the acoustic guitar for the first time in 12 months. Entertainment is going to be a critical mental health skill after the powerdown.

Too bad they don't have a course in high school about the human brain, how it was put together by the random acts of evolution and how it deludes itself into believing all sorts of irrational things.

More dark chocolate.