Category Archives: cultural

teach a man to fish

Teach a man to fish.

I have been following a lot of the “Prepper” sites for a while. I was a big fan of the homestead movement back in the 70’s and 80’s. In those days the reasoning was more a rejection of the modern industrial society and a longing for a life style more in tune with nature. What I am seeing now is a lot of fear and uncertainty. People see many different risks and wish to exercise some measure of control over their lives if one of these risks becomes a reality. When I two years old America went through the Cuban missile crisis. I risk of someone using a atomic weapon was very real. People stored food and prepared for possible radiation fallout. I still remember when I was young we still had duck and cover drills in school. Well the cold war ended and the drills stopped. Well all felt secure and global trade became the means for people to live in harmony. However, not a day went by in my life when there was not a day of conflict in the world someplace. But in America things worked, we had a number of national disasters and times of localized civil unrest but on the whole things worked. During this same time the culture of America was also changing, in fact the whole world was changing. With the birth of the Internet information was now at our finger tips. We could connect with people who shared our ideas and beliefs. Things that were only discussed on late night talks shows such as Art Bell became mainstream.  More people became aware of risks. As more people became aware of risks people offered solutions for sale to address these risks. In many cases people are preparing for a event that will impact their lives temporarily. They wish to minimize the impact so they can resume their normal lives more quickly. It falls into the same category as having home and auto insurance or having medical coverage. But for a few the risk event is such that it may not be possible to go back to their old lives. It is sort of like long term care coverage. After the event life will never be the same. Many of these people are “Preppers” people preparing for Black Swan events that will change life as we know it in America. They generally make preparations for surviving the actual risk event. But what many of them fail to grasp is that according to their scenario they also have to design a new lifestyle that will work in the post event environment. In many ways this new life style has many similar components that the back to nature life style of the 60’s and 70’s had. We take the best of the old and apply modern understanding and technology to improve it. Unfortunately, this lifestyle requires learning and living it to really be prepared. There is only so much you can learn from YouTube and books. Some parts of it have to be lived to really appreciate it. It is sort of like teaching a man to fish compared to giving a man a fish.


We can increase our risk of happiness!!!

Plan to increase your risk of happiness.


The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.

Benjamin Franklin

Genetics determines just 50% of our level of happiness while a mere 10% can be attributed to differences in people’s life circumstances – that is, whether they are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, married or divorced, etc.

So that leaves 40% of happiness level that we may have some level of control over. Good things and bad things happen in life and we have to put these in perspective. Can we learn to deal with frustrations of life in a new way, experiencing it as an interested observer instead of an aggrieved victim? The article below outlines one possible way to do this. Because we will never eliminate all the frustrations in life, in fact many of the factors leading to frustrations are out of our control. What we can do is learn to control our perspective.

This type of thinking allows us to reach our happiness baseline faster after dealing with a minor or major frustration in life. The baseline happiness being our average level of happiness. But there are other areas we and work on to increase our moments of happiness for happiness is not a constant state.

  1. The need for Self-actualization: According to Maslow is “intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately of what is the organism itself…self-actualization is growth-motivated rather than deficiency-motivated.” Humans need to learn, grow, and accomplish things. In America this seems to have taken the form of competition or competition threw a sports team. When our team wins we feel good, we have a moment of happiness. It goes beyond everyone gets a ribbon to true personnel growth and real individual or group accomplishment.
  2. Interactions with Friends, Family, and pets in a positive manner. We are social creatures by nature. We are designed to interact and have human contact. From personnel experience I have seen many instances where a person was starting over in a new place with no friends and family. What you see is the person building a new network of friends that fill in for the missing family. In other cases you find pets helping to fill in the gap. As we become more isolated in America pets become more important in our lives.
  3. Helping others, we get into relationships not because of how others feel about use but because of how others make us feel about ourselves. When we help others it makes us feel good about ourselves. We are social creatures, if we did not have this hard wiring we would only think of ourselves. It is a means for a group of social creatures to increase the chances of the vulnerable members within the group of surviving.

Each of the three things mentioned above can be influenced by us. We can decide to help others. We can seek out situations where we can make friends. We can develop plans to achieve personnel growth. We can plan to increase any of these. Or we can do nothing and just accept what fate the winds blow our way. We can increase our risk of happiness!!!

Are you limiting you tastes in food?

Are your tastes in food limited?

I have found that many people tend to eat only certain types of food. They never take the time to expand their tastes. In our current world of cheap food and large varieties this becomes easier to do. However, this can be a risk factor. Let’s look at a personnel example. My uncles and grandfathers on both sides of my family are no longer alive. However, in the old country the males live long lives if they did not die in accidents or war. One factor is that we do not eat the same foods. We learned to limit our diet to high fat and simple carbs. When my children were born I lived in Anchorage, Alaska. It is culinary wise an international city. So I made sure my children learned to eat many types of foods. One of the foods we rediscovered was fermented foods. Even with food allergies we found fermented foods we could eat. I learned that I could find miso without soybeans made from chickpeas, barley, etc. from South River Miso Company. We found yogurts made from rice, almonds, and coconut.  We learned about the world of kimchi, pickles, Japanese vegetables, etc. There were also health benefits to this. It also allowed them to share food form different cultures. It is sad that we Americans limit our foods when there is such variety today. I even find this limitation in areas I would not expect it. I have watched all of season one for “Doomsday Preppers” since is provides some good material for blogging. What I did not find was any discussion on fermented foods. In much of the world fermented foods were survival foods. They are foods that can last in some cases for years. It was also an important way to make vegetables last the whole year. But our culture is so limiting that even people preparing for the end of the world as we know it do not think to include foods that are common in much of the world.

Some useful information on fermented food is below:  

The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World, by Sandor Ellix Katz.

Quick & Easy Tsukemono: Japanese Pickling Recipes, by Ikuko Hisamatsu.

Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen, by Alex Lewin.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods, by Wardeh Harmon.

Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home: Creative Recipes for Lactic Fermented Food to Improve Your Health, by Klaus Kaufmann.

The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Market, by Linda Ziedrich.

The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi, by Lauryn Chun.

The Miso Book: The Art of Cooking With Miso, by John Belleme, John and Jan Belleme.

The Book of Miso (Savory Soy Seasoning), by William Shurtleff.

Homemade Living: Home Dairy with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Cheese, Yogurt, Butter & More, by Ashley English.

Pickle-Pro vegetable Fermenting Lid

Vegetable Starter Culture by Caldwell

TSM Products Fermentation Pot, 10 Liter capacity

Ohio Stoneware 1GC Crock 7-34/”x8-1/4″ – 1 Gallon

TSM Products 20 Liter Stone Weight

Weston Cabbage Shredder

Euro Cuisine YM80 Yogurt Maker



Being prepared is influenced by moral and cultural values.

Being prepared is influenced by moral and cultural values.

Just look at a recommendation that was published November of 2012.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Monday called on the nation’s pediatricians to counsel all of their adolescent patients about emergency contraception and make advance prescriptions for it available to girls under 17.

In the presidential election of 2012 contraception, etc. were made a major subject. How one deals with reproductive issues defined ones moral and cultural values. This was directly related to how one deals with the risk of pregnancy. It is one of the most extreme examples where cultural and moral values will define how one deals with risk.

In the case of teen pregnancies the moral and cultural issues can become extremely divided. But what is interesting is that the cultural and moral divide focuses only on the choices for the teen mom.

Throughout the U.S., statistical studies show that the average age of the father of a child is inversely related to the age of the mother, if the mother is less than 16 years of age. Formula: m 16 – 1 / fo m- , where m = mother’s age and f = father’s age.

In a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study of US teenagers, 29% of teens reported feeling pressure to have sex, 33% of sexually active teens reported “being in a relationship where they felt things were moving too fast sexually”, and 24% had “done something sexual they didn’t really want to do”.

Studies by the Population Reference Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics found that about two-thirds of children born to teenage girls in the United States are fathered by adult men age 20 or older.

What the two references above point out is that most teenage mothers are in relationships with men much older than they are. With acceptance of single moms, abortion, birth control, etc. these men have had an easier time preying on young girls. But the cultural and moral fight seldom if ever touches these men. Yet they account for two thirds of the teen pregnancies.

Many time when culture and moral values are involved it is not uncommon for important factors related to a risk to be ignored and the focus put on the key moral and/or cultural conflicts.

Do you really understand what risk is?

You know when I talk to young adults about risks in life and being prepared for them they always think of gloom and doom events. First a risk event can be positive or it can be negative. It is something that has a probability of happening it may or may not actually happen or it may happen but we do not know when. These are events that can impact our lives and/or those we care about. Using this definition a job interview comes under a risk event. For our jobs have a great deal of influence on how we live our lives. We cannot predict everything that can happen at a given interview. However, we can determine those items that are most likely to increase our chances or to lower our chances of getting the job. We can choose to be prepared for the interview or we can go in blind. We can learn from others how to prepare for the interview. With the internet we can learn a great deal about the company. Sometimes we can even learn about the people who will be interview us. We can put together a interview plan and act on that plan. We can increase the risk of successfully getting the job. Unfortunately, many young adults do not understand this and go from interview to interview until someone decides to hire them. Instead of getting the career they dream of they are likely to get a paycheck and resent what they could have had.

Life is about risk versus reward.

Life is about risk versus reward.

Every year on Black Friday we hear about people behaving badly. They want the special deals that retailers are offering only a few of. So they line up and storm the doors when they open.
Are the saving worth the camping in line and the storming of the crowds? For the many who make Black Friday an annual event the answer must be yes.

Were the good old days really so good

Were the good old days really so good?

It seems as we grow older we reach a stage in life where we miss the good old days. Just in the fact we are human we tend to better remember the good times. When we are young we see movies based in another time and gain a wrong impression of that era. PBS has done a number of shows where people attempt to live the lives of their ancestors. What one quickly finds is that the good old days really were not so good. One thing I have noted on most of these types of shows is that the teen age girls complain the most, and for very good reason. For the average woman in the past life was extremely hard compared to today. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. were physically demanding tasks. Families were large, so there was a lot of work to do. If you were a girl you were expected to help with the domestic chores. Having used a wash board once or twice while roughing it, I can see how two days a week could be consumed just doing the family laundry. We talk of modern conveniences such as washing machines. But these were major labor saving devices that we just take for granted today.

Cooking was another area that was no joy. My family has food allergies so we cook a lot from scratch. My friends consider this a lot of work. But I have a freezer, refrigerator, bread maker, electric oven, a hot water heater, dishwashing machine, etc. Cooking in the old days involved canned goods, dried goods, and fresh foods. There was no such thing as the 15 minute meal. To feed a large family several meals a day took a lot of effort. The term slaving over a hot stove was a reality in the past. Just think of living in a time before electric fans and air conditioning. In areas where the summer got hot the kitchen got hotter. I have seen some old century houses where they have outdoor kitchens that were used in the summer for this very reason. Safety was another factor in the kitchen. Kitchens are one of the most dangerous places in the modern home. There were even more unsafe in the past. You may have had a wood stove with a water heater. If it did not work properly it could explode. The stove tended to be wood or coal feed. Having cooked using a wood stove I can tell you there is an art to cooking with them. They were hot all over so getting burned was much easier than in today’s kitchen. In fact catching ones clothing on fire did happen. If you had a fire you did not have a fire extinguisher. So if you could not smother a grease fire it was a major problem.

Another area of life that took a lot of work was the garden. It was common in many areas to supplement ones food supplies with food from a garden. Now I like gardening, but I do not go hungry if my plants die. I try to grow organic but organic today mean I can still buy organic fertilizer, insecticides, etc. Back in the old days you were likely to save your own seeds or trade them. So you started your own plants. The culture you lived in tended to determine the methods you used to raise your plants and what plants you raised. They did not have the selection of plants I have access to today. They tended to grow plants that their parents and grandparents had grown successfully. There were not tillers and not everyone had a horse and plow. The kitchen garden was generally hand tilled and organic matter was worked into the soil. Now there were no herbicides, weed barriers, etc. so all weeding had to be done by hand. When I was a teenager I work on a berry farm. We got paid to hoe weeds from strawberry fields at certain times of the year. Even using a hoe can be a lot of work and many times the weeds have to be removed by hand. There was also likely to be not running water. You had to fetch the water and use a watering can when the plants were dry. Food from the garden was important for many. We forget that before World War II malnutrition and starvation were happening in America. There was no social safety net. During World War II over a hundred thousand men were rejected from military service due to the health effects of malnutrition.

So yes life for many women was no joy in the past when you compare it to the life in modern America. Much of the good old days were really not so good. But millions women in the world still live as their ancestors lived.