A Quick Trip

1 August 2014

Grizzly store at the Lycoming Mall

Last Friday, about 4:30 in the afternoon, Marlene and I headed south. Our destination was the Grizzly outlet store , which is right next to the Lycoming Mall in Muncy, Pennsylvania. Muncy is three and a half hours from where we live. It was pretty much a spur of the moment decision. 

I was on a mission to buy a shaper to use for making my Classic American clothespins. Last year I used router tables. They did the job, but I am hoping to make use of a power feeder, and a lightweight router table won't support the power feeder. A shaper has a solid, cast iron work surface. It also has a motor that is more suited to running for hours at a time.

Marlene likes to take trips. She doesn't have to deal with making meals and housework when she is away from home. And with the kids all grown up, vacations are less work for her than they used to be. Me, I'm not big on traveling. It's a hassle, especially with a mail order business. As Marlene tells people, I don't get out much. So driving anywhere that requires an overnight stay is unusual for me. 

We drove as far as Corning, New York on Friday afternoon. Marlene made reservations at the Quality Inn Comfort Inn (see comments). She likes the Quality Inn Comfort Inn because the beds are comfortable, and they have really nice pillows. They also have a continental breakfast, which is important. We had dinner that night at a restaurant that makes pizza in a wood-fired oven. It was a good meal.

Next morning we got our continental breakfast. I ate some sort of pseudo omelet, with a strip of faux bacon, Dannon yogurt, like-orange juice, and a sad little blueberry muffin, while being entertained by FOX news on a big screen TV. I don't watch television, and I rarely eat fake food, so that was kind of different.

The weather was good and we got to the Lycoming Mall with no problem. We checked out the Mall for awhile. I bought a couple of summer shirts on sale, then waited patiently while Marlene shopped at some women's clothing stores. I don't think she actually bought anything.

For lunch we went to a Cracker Barrel. I like Cracker Barrel. The food is good and they have an abundance of old agrarian artifacts hanging all over the place. The restaurant is akin to an agrarian-themed museum. 

I had trout, turnip greens, cole slaw, and a couple corn muffins. I haven't had trout in years. I wonder where Cracker Barrel trout comes from? Maybe I don't want to know.

It occurred to me that the last time I ate at a Cracker Barrel was with Michael Bunker in Binghamton, New York. I checked my old blog posts to find out that was way back in June of 2006—long before Michael became a famous sci-fi indie author. 

It also occurred to me that I probably have enough old agrarian artifacts to outfit a small Cracker Barrel restaurant.

We finally got to the Grizzly store. It's a big place. I liked it. I got the tool I went there to get, and a few others besides.

We stopped at a Panera restaurant in Ithaca for dinner and got home just about exactly 24 hours after we left. 

Mission accomplished.

Marlene and I had a good time. She thinks I'm more relaxed and fun when I get away from home. She might be right. And she's already thinking about our next mini vacation.

Ash & Providence
(2014 Clothespin Update)

Dateline: 31 August 2014

$1,200 worth of ash lumber for this year's first production run of Classic American clothespins.

My goal to bring the manufacture of high-quality, traditional-style, wood-and-spring clothespins back to America is progressing (see ClassicAmericanClothespins). Last year's first two production runs of clothespins sold out pretty fast. 

There is clearly an enormous market for good clothespins, and many people are willing to pay a premium for them. The only problem is that I can't begin to meet the demand, especially since I am trying to make clothespins and operate an otherwise busy mail-order business selling how-to books and things like chicken plucker parts.

So I'm faced with the conundrum of trying to pursue what may be my best entrepreneurial idea ever by working at it part time. If I were the kind of person who put all his eggs in one basket, I'd drop everything else and just make clothespins. But I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to plug away at trying to make as many clothespins as I can, when I can, while making specifications and springs available to other wood crafters so they can have their own clothespin-making home businesses.

I have sold specifications and springs to several woodworkers, but not as many as I expected I would. There is opportunity in this idea. But it does require some professional skills and tools, as well as a lot of initiative to get the business going. Thus far, I only know of one person who is  making and selling their own handcrafted clothespins, and one other is about to.

It was my plan to start making clothespins for this year a month ago, but it hasn't happened (I've had a lot of hay down, if you know what I mean). So I'm scrambling to get on with it before the cold and wet weather of autumn arrives. 

Like last year, I'm making my clothespins outdoors, under a 10' x 10' tent. My little wood-frame workshop is crammed full of other Planet Whizbang business stuff. I am severely space challenged. When Marlene and I drive somewhere, I'm always checking out different barns along the way… "Look at that barn, Marlene! That would be perfect for the Planet Whizbang business."

If you're a long-time reader here you know that I will not borrow money to build a workshop-production-storage-shipping-retail building for my business. And you know that there is no room on the rural lot where my house sets to put up a such a building. And you know that I would not consider having my business location anywhere other than next to my house.

So I'm making do, and that's what I'll continue to do, until something else, in time, Providentially falls into place, or not. That's pretty much the story of my life.

I often get e-mails (or actual letters) from people who read this blog and lament that they do not have land, or enough land, or the right land, to live a simple, more self-reliant lifestyle. My advice over the years to such people is always the same: Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are, and be content with that.

It is another way of saying, "be faithful with small things." That is a biblical admonition, and it is one of the foundational precepts of the Foundations For Farming ministry that I have written about here a few times in the past. But I digress.

Day before yesterday I finally got some clothespin wood (pictured above). That is 300+ square feet of beautiful ash hardwood. It will make thousands of Classic American clothespins. But they don't come easy. I'll put 80+ hours into making precise little clothespin halves out of those boards. And I'll do it all under that tent in the background. If all goes well, I'll get another load of ash and get a second production run in before the weather turns too cold.

Then, after the cold comes, with thousands of halves safely stored in bins, I'll turn my attention to tumbling, sorting, oiling, assembling and packaging the clothespins.

To help facilitate the production of these clothespins, I'm trying to make a saw that will do in one pass what I have done previously in three passes. That will save a LOT of time. But I'm having a problem with blade wobble. A machinist is helping me to fine-tune the tool. Hopefully that will come together very soon.

So I'm narrowing my focus to clothespins for awhile. Bear with me. I'll probably be writing more on this subject over the next couple of months.

The Finished Product

Books On My
Bedside Table…

Dateline: 28 August 2014

I used to read blogs where the author would have information on the sidebar like, "What I'm making for  dinner," or "Books on my bedside table."  This was back before Facebook became so popular. I think that kind of running daily commentary has now migrated to Facebook. 

I don't do Facebook. Never have. Probably never will. But "Books on my bedside table" has always been something I've wanted to write about.

It seems to me that the usual "Books on my bedside table" list contains one or two titles. And when someone mentions the books on their bedside table (usually a woman) I envision a very neat and tidy bedside table, perhaps with a white starched doily under the books. 

Well, I'm here to tell you that my bedside table does not have a doily (and it doesn't have a book about doilies). 

My bedside table has the usual lamp, flashlight, a couple pens, Whizbang Pocket Notebooks, etc. etc., and a pile of books. When the book pile gets higher than the lamp, I start stacking books on the floor next to the bedside table. I could have a listing titled, "Books piled on the floor next to my bedside table."

My problem is manifold. I like books. I have a lot of books. I like to read books in bed. And my house is small with not enough room for enough bookcases to house my books.

I keep my books in boxes and a few bookshelves in a little room I added onto the back of my workshop years ago. When I want a book, I go out to my shop, find it, bring it in the house, then upstairs to the bedroom, and it usually stays there until the piles really annoy my wife, Marlene (who happens to love old doilies and actually does have one on her bedside table). 

Every four to six months I spend a couple hours boxing up the books, hauling them back to my workshop, and making my side of the bed all neat and tidy (for a little while).

One box of bedside books on the way back to my workshop.

In my dreams I will someday have a library room in my house. It will be a simple, cozy, man cave, with bookcases from floor to ceiling on a couple walls. An Eric Slaone print. Some family pictures. A writing desk. A comfortable stuffed chair. An ottoman to put my feet up on. A good lamp stand. A side table. It will be a relaxing space for quiet reading (and falling asleep). And every book will have its place. Yeah, I'm a dreamer.

If you click on the box of books picture above, you might be able to read some of the titles, and you'll discover that there is only one novel in there. I never finished reading it. I rarely finish novels. I'm just not much of a novel reader. I'm more interested in learning how to do something, or in better understanding concepts, issues and historical events.

So that's my "Books on my bedside table" blog post. Maybe someday I'll get around to the "What I'm making for dinner" blog post. I'm not much of a cook, so that ought to be interesting.

A Coming Jubilee?

Dateline: 27 August 2015

Few Americans realize that America’s famous Liberty Bell, made in 1752, is cast with the following verse from Leviticus (25:10):

“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

It was, of course, not unusual to put Bible verses on government monuments and buildings back in the early years of America. We were, after all, a Christian nation. The evidence of this is overwhelming. Nevertheless, there are modern revisionists who totally ignore (or even dispute) America’s solid Christian foundations.

This is to be expected in the post-Christian America we now live in. Our nation no longer fears God. America no longer accepts God’s standards of righteousness as good. We are an apostate nation. Which brings to mind another Bible verse....

"Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. How blessed are all those who take refuge in Him!”
Psalm 2:11-12

And that brings to mind Revelation, chapter 18, where an angel of the Lord laments the destruction of Babylon...

“Woe! Woe to you great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come.”

Personally. I’m inclined to think that the modern, industrialized, technocratic, city-based world system we all live in is the great Babylon spoken of in Revelation 18. I might be wrong, but that’s what I think.

Anyway, back to the Liberty Bell verse...

Leviticus 25:10 is about the Year of Jubilee that God instructed the Israelites to observe in the Old Testament. The Year of Jubilee was to occur every 50 years. On the Year of Jubilee all debts were forgiven, all slaves were set free, and all land reverted back to the families it was originally given to.  

The Year of Jubilee came to my mind a couple days ago when I listened to This YouTube Interview with Bix Weir at USA Watchdog. At around 19 minutes into the interview Bix starts to talk about the derivatives market and the banking system and the incredible mess that a derivatives bubble is creating. The bottom line is that a big crash is coming. That’s nothing new. Plenty of other economic prognosticators are saying the same thing. But Bix Weir thinks the coming crash will result in the erasure of all debt.

Bix Weir doesn’t use the word, Jubilee, but what he envisions is, in part, a Jubilee event of epic proportions. All debt will be forgiven. Greg Hunter, who is interviewing Bix, expresses some doubt about this ever happening but Bix explains his reasons for thinking the way he does.

One of the reasons is that banks don’t hold mortgages like was once the case. Mortgages are sold and bundled into securities, which people invest in. Bix says these mortgages and stocks are sold multiple times and there is no one owner. He says most of the mortgages and stock certificates in the world are held by the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC). What Bix says about the DTCC is kind of incredible. If you are into conventional paper investments, like stocks, you might want to listen to the interview.

So, Bix thinks the major banks of the world have created such a confusing mess that they will have to start all over. I’ve listened to a lot of different ideas about where different economists think the economy is going, but the erasure of all debt is new to me.

Bix might be right. I sure don’t know. If nothing else, it’s something to ponder. 

If Bix is right, should we all go borrow a lot of money to buy a lot of stuff, so that when the banking system implodes, and all debt is erased, we will still at least have more stuff? After all, if the value of fiat money goes to zero (which Bix also says), material goods (stuff) will still retain a degree of worth.

Well, you can go borrow a lot of money, but not me. 

I still maintain that debt is the worst kind of poverty. And borrowing without paying back or, worse yet, borrowing with no intention of ever paying back, is not ethical. It brings to mind  the biblical admonition given in Psalm 37:21....

"The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives."

More than ever, I contend that my Agrarian-Style Economic Self-Defense Plan is the best course of action for people who want to be best prepared for the collapse of modern Babylon.

What many people don't fully realize is that the collapse is now in progress. The foundations of the world economic system are cracking as you read this. The Vested Interests are frantically trying to shore up the edifice.

Woe, woe to you Babylon.

A Family Sorghum Business

Dateline: 25 August 2015

My sorghum crop in August
(click to see a larger view)

I've never seen a field of sorghum growing in New York state, but I'm pretty sure it will grow just fine here, and I decided to grow a small patch this year in my garden. So far, so good. 

I'm excited to harvest the seeds and try cooking with them. I may even try juicing the stalks in my Whizbang apple grinder (made from a kitchen garbage disposal).

Sorghum is, of course, a common crop in the more southern states. While doing some research on sorghum, I came across Muddy Pond Sorghum in Middle Tennesee. If you live down that way, I'm sure you must know about Muddy Pond sorghum.

Muddy Pond is well worth mentioning on this blog because it is a multigenerational, agri-preneurial business. It is also a business in a predominately Mennonite rural community. The folks who own and work the business are Christian agrarians.

As more and more Christians are looking to get back to the land and establish multigenerational, agriculture-based family enterprises, they are finding it is not an easy thing to do. But the Guenther family at Muddy Pond appears to be doing it, and it's nice to see.

This Article explains the Muddy Pond story very well, and the following three YouTube videos provide some insights into the business. I found these videos to be a delight to watch.

If you have an interest in growing sorghum, check out this web site: American Sorghum

Four-Day Carrots
Part 2

Dateline: 24 August 2014

"Four-day" carrots, at 46 days old

My very first YouTube video, Four-Day Carrots, is getting a lot of views. So I've made a follow-up video, and I uploaded it to the internet a few minutes ago. Here's the link…  Four-Day Carrots, Part 2

Part 2 shows the progress of the tri-grown bed of carrots from 6 days to 46 days. I show how I scissors-thin the carrots, answer a couple of questions, and give some concluding remarks.

I don't know if I will make a Part 3. Perhaps this winter I will dig some carrots out of the bed and make a glass of carrot juice. That would be a good conclusion to the story.

An Internet Crisis

Dateline: 23 August 2014

My mail-order home business, Planet Whizbang, is 100% internet dependent. All the information about my products is on the internet, almost all product orders come through the internet, almost all payments are made through the internet, all customer correspondence is through the internet, and all shipping labels are bought & printed via the internet. If the internet stops working, my business is akin to Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff.

That said, it was a crisis here last Wednesday morning when, first thing, I sat in front of my computer screen and discovered that my internet was no longer working. At first, I wasn't concerned because it has a tendency to go off for short periods of time. But it was off like never before.

I did nothing for the first day of outage, except check every few minutes to see if the internet was finally working. I assumed Verizon was having some kind of widespread internet issue and they were fixing it.

The next morning, still without an internet connection, Marlene went to a friend's house to use their internet. She was there for several hours getting orders and printing postage. I put in a call to Verizon.

After communicating with a robot and answering a series of questions, I got through to a real person. He spoke English well enough for me to understand (barely) and was very polite. The man spent a long time with me asking about how my router/modem was hooked up and he had me do a variety of things, unhooking and re-hooking cords, while he ran some tests from his end. It was all to no avail and he said they would have to send a technician out to fix the problem. That was good news. The problem was going to get fixed!

Then he informed me that the earliest time a technician could get to my house would be in eight days. That was not good news. Not at all. 

I explained to the Verizon man that my business is 100% dependent on the internet and the prospect of waiting eight days to get it fixed was a nightmare. I told him that it was critically important that someone got here much faster. I was emphatic about this (without being an angry customer). 

The man sympathized with me and said he would do what he could to get a technician here sooner. He said he would call me back when he had arranged the appointment.

Fifteen minutes later, the guy called back with good news. He had done everything he could to get a technician here sooner, and the absolute earliest appointment he could get was in six days. I thanked him for his help and hung up the phone, wondering what I could possibly do to work around this problem. Our friends were being very gracious with their internet, but using someone else's internet, computer, and printer for several hours a day to run our business was not something we felt right about.

Then someone told me that for around $80 I could buy a device at WalMart that would give me a temporary internet connection, using cell tower connections, and no contract was required. I could buy the thing and have internet until Verizon got here to fix my connection. Perfect solution, I decided that I would go to WalMart the next morning. 

Then my oldest son stopped by. He started fiddling with the wires and the modem. A few minutes later, the internet was working. Problem totally solved.

It turns out that when he was in the Army, stationed in Korea for a year, he had gathered quite a bit of internet connection experience. When I asked what he did to fix my internet, he said he pushed the reset button on the router. I told him I did that twice. He informed me that the reset button needs to be pushed in for 30 seconds. That's what did it.

Next time the internet goes out, I won't call Verizon. I'll call my son. 

My internet now works better than it has in years. The problem I had with the internet connection shutting off every time the phone rings is now fixed.

As I've noted here in the past, vulnerability comes with complexity. We live in a technologically complex, interconnected world. I fully expect the electrical grid to go down for an extended period of time someday and, of course, the internet with it. When that happens, I will mourn briefly and turn my attention to the post-grid realities of life, which I am mentally and physically (to a great degree) prepared to deal with.

But when I lose my electricity (with internet) and the rest of the world is still chugging along like normal, that's a real bummer.

I've Got a Lotta Hay Down

Dateline: 18 August 2014

photo link

Yesterday, after church, Marlene and I attended a surprise 50th birthday party for an old friend. It was at Fillmore Glen State Park, which is just outside the closest town to us. I don't get out much so it was something special.

My friend's name is Steve Bossard. He and I worked together for many years in the building trades. We worked for a local contractor for a few of those years, then started our own business, which we named, Bestbuilt Construction

Steve and I worked very hard back in the day. We had a lot of drive. We were organized, efficient and productive. In retrospect, it was a remarkable working relationship. 

So we have a  lot of good memories, but I haven't been in contact with Steve for close to 20 years. It was good to reconnect after so long, and he was truly surprised by the surprise party. His wife did a wonderful job putting it together.

I was speaking to Steve's mother at the party and asked about her other son, Randy, who I supposed would be at the party too. I wanted to talk with him about building a road across my creek and gully. He does that kind of work, and he's good at it. But when I asked, his mom said, "He's got a lot of hay down."

I never knew Randy to be a farmer, so I asked about the hay. His mother explained that he's not doing farming, he's just "got a lot of hay down." It turns out that's Randy's way of saying he's busy.

Awhile later I said to Steve that it was too bad his brother wasn't at the party. He immediately replied: "He's got a lot of hay down."

I like that phrase. It brings back memories. And I think I'll use it…

I've got a lot of hay down. 

I need to put blogging on the back burner for awhile. I'll get back to y'all this weekend.

Us Now

The picture above shows my old friend and business partner (the birthday boy), Steve Bossard, in the middle. The guy on the left is Dan Gibson. Dan worked awhile for Steve and me when he got out of the military. Dan now works in nuclear medicine. Steve is a project manager for a high-end contractor in Ithaca. Me, I'm in the chicken plucker business.

That's a fine picture except for the fact that I look so short. All three of us are actually about the same height, but we're standing on an inclined walkway. Just so you know.

Herrick's 3-Second
Garden Tour
(Another YouTube Video)

Dateline: 15 August 2014

Lovely courgette and blossom in my garden. 
Click the picture to see a larger view.

Yes, it's true…. I've managed to crank out another video at YouTube. This is mini movie #3 for me. Making these things is now less of a mystery, and they are fun to do. 

The discouraging part is uploading the finished product to YouTube. I don't have the ability to upload the highest clarity, and it took well over an hour to upload this particular clip. 

It also took 19 upload attempts before it finally went through.  Part of the problem is that if my phone rings, my internet disconnects for a few minutes. I don't know why that is, but it can be discouraging, especially when I've got a movie almost-but-not-quite uploaded. If the phone rings, I have to start all over. 

You can go take a tour of my garden at this link... Herrick's 3-Second Garden Tour

P.S. I think this little tour of my garden will be particularly fun to watch this winter, when we are all thinking and dreaming about next year's garden.

A Fond Farewell
To BackHome Magazine

Dateline: 13 August 2014

Today I received a copy of Permaculture magazine in the mail, along with a letter from BackHome magazine. The letter informed me that BackHome magazine will no longer be published, and my BackHome subscription will be filled by issues of Permaculture.

BackHome magazine has always been special to me because they were the first to review my chicken plucker plan book many years ago. I sent them one of the very first 100 comb-bound copies (with photocopied pages) that I had printed at a quick-print shop. 

Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker was a very humble, totally amateur self-publishing effort on my part, but BackHome saw value in the book and reviewed it. And they even sold it.

I’ve lost track how many copies of the plucker plan book I’ve sold since then but I’m sure it has hit the 30,000 mark. And, amazingly, it still sells better than any other book I’ve published.

BackHome also reviewed my other books and they published an article I wrote about how to make garlic powder. I always dealt with editor Richard Freudenberger, who was very good at his job. BackHome was a class act. 

I’m sorry to see BackHome go, but after 24 years and 131 issues, and with the world of publishing going through so many changes, I can understand it.

The issue of Permaculture (a UK publication) that came today looks very good.

A Beloved Book

Dateline: 12 August 2014

(click picture for enlarged view)

When it comes to garage sales, I always check out the books. The above book was an odd find. As you can see, Jane Carley, the apparent owner, re-read the book eight times in 26 years, and made note of each reading inside the cover. Clearly, this was a beloved book.

My guess is that Jane Carley has passed on. Were she still alive she surely would not have sold this book!

I showed it to Marlene and she told me to go ahead and buy it. She figured that if another woman enjoyed the book that much, there is a good chance she would like it too. 

So I paid a dollar for it. I probably could have offered the person fifty cents and got it for that, but I didn't bother. Here is the title of the book…

You are probably aware of the book, Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maude Montgomery. Anne of Ingleside is one of at least six sequels to Anne of Green Gables.

I grew up with a copy of Anne of Green Gables in my family's bookshelf. It was my mothers. She read it as a young girl and kept it. I remember her telling me she really liked the book. So I endeavored to read it, but I didn't get far. I think it's a story more geared for the opposite sex.

Nevertheless, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Anne of Green Gables series made by Sullivan Entertainment.

More than that, Marlene and I have really enjoyed the Road to Avonlea series by Sullivan Entertainment. Road to Avonlea is a take off on Anne of Green Gables. It is something like a Canadian version of Little House on the Prairie.

I have a feeling that most of you who read this are already aware of the Road to Avonlea series. But if not, check it out. You're in for a pleasant surprise.

Dr. Joy's
Bee Sting Rx

Dateline: 11 August 2014

Dr. Joy is nine years old. She's not really a doctor, of course. She's just a dear girl who attends the same church Marlene and I go to. She has one younger sister, two younger brothers, and another sibling on the way. Joy is blessed with godly parents who I admire because they take their Christian faith seriously, live frugally in a simple rural home, and have taken on the responsibility of educating their children themselves. Joy's father is a capable man who works hard to provide for his family. They are my kind of people. It has been a great pleasure to know this family, to see the children be born and grow up, and to interact with them.

It was a few weeks ago, after church, that Joy told me about plantain for bug bites and bee stings. She told me that if you get a bee sting, you just chew a plantain leaf, and put it on the sting, and it won't hurt anymore. In case you don't know, plantain is a ubiquitous weed. Joy told me that the leaf tastes terrible, but it really works to cure a bee sting. She knows this from experience.

I was impressed with this useful little bit of medical advice, especially coming from a 9-year-old girl. So impressed, in fact, that I told Marlene about it on the way home from church. And I have since bestowed the honor of the medical prefix: Dr. Joy 

It has a nice sound to it, don't you think?

But there is more to this story…..

Yesterday afternoon, Marlene walked into the house with a plantain leaf in her hand.  She told me she had just gotten a bee sting on her finger. I took the leaf and quickly mashed it to a pulp in my little mortar & pestle (pictured above, with some young plantain leaves). 

I could have chewed it. Marlene wouldn't mind. But I like using the mortar & pestle. I've used it to mash comfrey leaves for a small poultice in the past. It mashed up the plantain leaf just fine. I added a couple drops of water to make the job a little easier.

Less than 3 minutes after getting stung I had put a dab of the plantain mash on the bee sting, and taped it in place...

Marlene said the pain of the sting subsided quickly. After an hour or so, she removed the plantain mash and everything was fine. 

It really works.

YouTube Movie…

Dateline: 9 August 2014

I am working on a Part 2 to my first YouTube video… Four Day Carrots. But, in the meantime, I decided to try making a YouTube clip of me reading a chapter from my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian

This movie is not a how-to. It's a sit-back-and-relax-while-I-read-you-a-story movie. It's ten minutes long. If there is sufficient interest, I will do three more. If not, I'll cross book readings off my list of YouTube ideas. 

Here's the link:  An Episode of Garden Repose

Paul Craig Roberts
The Problem With Ukraine

Dateline: 8 August 2014

Back in March I blogged here about the unrest in Ukraine. I provided a link to the insightful geopolitical analysis of Dr. Paul Craig Roberts regarding what was really happening over there. Dr. Roberts was very concerned. He pointed to America's involvement with the violence, destabilization, and regime change in that country. He warned of much worse things to come. And he was right.

This Ukrainian situation boggles my mind. I can see no legitimate purpose for Washington to be leading America into a war with Russia over the Ukraine. Not only are we messing with the national security interests of Russia, we have initiated round after round of economic sanctions. There is a new "cold war," and America has started it.

They say that one of the first casualties of war is the truth. My government has given me no reason to believe anything it says these days. I no longer believe that Washington has the best interests of the American people in mind. This country appears to be self-destructing on multiple fronts. It's powerfully disturbing.

I respect Paul Craig Roberts, and I believe his analysis of this Ukraine situation is as close to the truth as  it gets. He is a former Washington insider. He has experience in academia. He is a former Wall Street Journal editor.  He comes across as an apolitical, independent-minded American patriot. Maybe he has me fooled, but I think this man has a degree of credibility and gravitas that few other analysts have.

With that in mind, I recently listened to a radio interview in which Dr. Roberts pretty much explained the whole sorry story about this Ukrainian situation. If you want to hear his perspective on how this war-in-the making has come about, and what to expect in the future, please listen to this Interview With Paul Craig Roberts. (the 2nd half of the interview is particularly informative)

Colloidal Silver
For Ebola?

Dateline: 7 August 2014

I'm not getting myself in a lather about ebola…. yet.  But I am looking at my supply of colloidal silver and thinking that I might better get a few more bottles.

Marlene and I have been taking colloidal silver for several years, primarily in the winter months, and I typically stock up on some bottles in the fall.

I'm persuaded that colloidal silver is a very effective medicine for all kinds of ailments involving bacteria, viruses and the like.

One winter a few years ago I felt myself coming down with a seasonal virus. My body had that ache that portends worse to come. I took a hot bath, went to bed and sipped down a whole 4-ounce bottle of 18-ppm colloidal silver. The next morning I felt good. The silver killed the virus before it had a chance to get me. 

You can read plenty of more dramatic testimonials from colloidal silver users on the internet.

With that in mind, and based on my understanding of how silver works, I'm pretty sure a good dose of quality colloidal silver will help prevent ebola from getting a foothold in a body, and maybe even help cure the dreaded disease.

But colloidal silver can be a very confusing subject to understand. The big question being, which colloidal silver on the market is the best quality for the money. 

I don't have a well-researched and educated answer to that question. I tend to think that the silver from Nature's Sunshine and American Biotech Labs (pictured above) is of trustworthy quality. 

I also have a very basic silver generator for making my own colloidal silver, but I haven't used it in years. There are numerous devices out there and I'm really uncertain about which of them is the best.

I have a feeling that many of you who read this blog also use colloidal silver. I'm wondering what your experiences are with it? What product do you use? Do you make your own? Please share any information that you can on this subject in the comments section below.


Summer Vacation

6 August 2014

This is the time of year when my Planet Whizbang business starts to overwhelm me. I'm putting in 14 hour days and it's all I can do to keep orders shipped promptly. I don't just package and mail the things I sell. There is fabrication and preparation that has to happen before the goods are ready to ship. 

Marlene says to me, "Your livin' the dream, Herrick," and she's right. As I've mentioned here before, I've wanted a home-based, mail-order business since I was 16 years old. 

The fact is, I love what I'm doing, but a sustained high volume of orders, like I typically get in the summer months, eventually wears me down. 

So today I took a break. 

Marlene, me, and Futureman (our grandson) headed out to the 54th annual Pageant of Steam in Canandaigua, New York. 

The show is pretty much the same from year to year. I've blogged about it in the past (with pictures) Here, and Hereand Here.

The part of the pageant I like best is the big flea market. I'm always on the lookout for old agrarian artifacts.

Today I bought the sickle pictured at the top of the page. I got it for three dollars. What a beautiful tool. They don't make sickles like that any more. If I can get it sharpened in time I'll use it to harvest my little patch of wheat.

So that's what I did today. It was something different. It was a change of scenery. It was good to get away for a few hours. 

Esther Stermer
Was A
Conspiracy Theorist

Dateline: 5 August 2014

Esther Stermer (seated 2nd from left) was a "conspiracy theorist."
She didn't believe the German government. 

I have friends who are holocaust deniers. They assert that six million Jews did not die in WW2. They say the  number was much lower. Furthermore, they are adamant that Jews were not gassed to death by Zyklon B pesticide. 

I have listened to them. I have read some of their literature. I think they might be right in many of their claims. HOWEVER, there is no question that a great many innocent people (primarily Jews) were severely persecuted, put in concentration camps, and died at the hands of the German government. How many died and how they died is beside the point in my mind. What the German government of that day did was an atrocity. It was reprehensible. And it should never be forgotten.

Those sentiments are in my mind after watching No Place On Earth last night. It is a documentary about how a Jewish family in rural Western Ukraine managed to survive the Nazi persecution. 

I also have The Secret of Priest's Grotto, a 2007 book that I acquired a couple of years ago. The book (and the movie) tells not only the amazing story of this family's survival, but how the story was brought to light by a man in New York City (Christos Nicola) who was exploring a "newly discovered" cave in Western Ukraine (in 1993) and came upon several evidences of human habitation.

Nicola was intrigued by the discovery. He asked some of the old-timers in the village near the cave if they knew who had lived in the cave. He learned that some Jews had hid there during the war. That was it. No more information could be found.

Christos Nicola looks at the names written on the ceiling of Priest's Grotto in 1942 by the Jews who hid there.

Back in New York, Nicola started a web site to try and learn more about the story of these Jewish survivors. Four years later, he got an e-mail. It was from the son-in-law of a man who, as a young boy, had lived in the cave with his family. That e-mail led Christos Nicola to a discovery of human survival that, when you learn the details, and imagine yourself in the same situation, is absolutely amazing.

38 Jews hid in the cave for over a year. They ranged in age from two to seventy-five. It was not a pleasant existence. They barely survived. 

The heroine of the story is Esther Sterner. Esther, the mother of six, was a well-read woman who, in our day and time might be considered a "conspiracy theorist."  She was skeptical of the government and mainstream propaganda. The German government wanted the Jews to move into the ghettoes, which, for those who don't know, are densely populated areas of cities.

In the book, Esther's son says this of his mother…

"My mother never trusted authority." Shulim continued. "The Germans, Russians, the Ukranians. It didn't matter. She taught us early on that no matter who it was, if they told you to do one thing, you always did the opposite. If the Germans said go to the ghettoes, you'll be safe there, you went to the forest or the mountains…. You went as far away from the ghettoes as you could go."

Another quote…

"My mother always said 'We are not going to the ghetto. We are not going to go to the slaughterhouse." She said to my brother Nissel, 'Go into the forest, find a hole, any place. But we are not going there."

Nissel found a cave and the family lived there for several months, until the Germans found them. All but two of the Jews managed to escape the discovery. They regrouped and found another cave—a cave that almost no one else knew about.

How could 38 people survive in a muddy, cold, dark cave for over a year? Well, you'll have to watch the movie, and get a copy of the book too. 

One aspect of their survival that is not discussed much is that they had a few non-Jewish friends who helped them... for awhile. If  I understand the story correctly, most of the villagers turned against them, and the few friends they had stopped helping them, except one man. 

The one man lived in the woods and it was he who told Nissel of the second cave. When the Germans were finally driven away by the Russian army (the battle raged for awhile on land above the cave), their single friend dropped a note on a string down into the cave entrance (a hole in the ground), letting the Jews know that it was safe to come out.

The entrance hole to Priest's Grotto.  It is in a sink hole in the Western Ukranian countryside