Humble and Kind

Corny maybe, but I really like the message in this song.

Humble and Kind

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key is under the mat
Childhood stars shine, always stay humble and kind
Go to church ’cause your momma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be a waste of time
Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got moutains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind

Don’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why
Bitterness keeps you from flying
Always stay humble and kind
Know the difference between sleeping with someone
And sleeping with someone you love
I love you ain’t no pick up line so
Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got moutains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind

When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
Let that summer sun shine
Always stay humble and kind
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin’
Turn right back around
Help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

Rightful Liberty

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Thomas Jefferson

Commencement

We’re off to a good start, I think. My (admittedly unscientific)  planting schedule calls for our spring vegetables to be planted “March 1–as soon thereafter as the ground can be worked.” Some years that qualifier carries us all the way into April. But yesterday conditions were perfect. On another record-high day I shaped up the beds and planted. Beets, English peas, arugula, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, spinach and bok choy–all direct-seeded.

The transplants aren’t ready yet, of course. Those were started weeks ago and because there’s no way to predict then when the soil will be ready, we aimed for mid-March. So we’ll be adding collards, broccoli, romaine lettuce, Chinese cabbage and more kale a few weeks from now (hopefully). In about a week we’ll sow lettuce mix and tatsoi in the raised beds.

In the past we’ve had large 3 spring gardens. This year we have only one. I’m excited to see how the experiment works out.

We’re reducing to one large summer garden as well, although we will have a separate watermelon patch and a large garden devoted to eggplant and acorn squash. Likewise we’re shrinking our usual 3 fall gardens down to one. Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes and purple hull peas will continue to have gardens of their own, as will garlic and onions beginning next year.

In some cases we’re reducing the number of varieties we grow. Too often in the past we grew things that we not much more than novelty items. There wasn’t much interest in them either here or at the market. We used to grow a yellow-fleshed Moon and Stars watermelon for example. They were pretty, and there were a few people who seemed to prefer them, but we preferred the taste of Crimson Sweet as did the vast majority of our customers. So why waste space on the Moon and Stars anymore? Besides, if we grow only one variety then we can save seeds. Growing more than one results in cross-pollination and makes that impossible. And for you Moon and Stars fans, hold your fire. I’m glad someone is growing them. They’re a great old melon. But there’s no reason we all have to grow them and, as I said, for seed-savers it’s necessary to just pick one melon and go with it. Whereas in the past we usually grew over 100 different varieties of things, this year my guess is that we’re going to be down to about half that (but I haven’t counted).

So it feels good to be underway. Within a hour or so of me finishing the planting a soft steady rain commenced. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.

Don’t Do It

I have to keep telling myself–just because you can grow it, that doesn’t mean you should.

This winter has been almost unbelievably mild. The fruit trees are already blooming and budding. Cherie picked a big asparagus spear a few days ago (!). And all this warm sunny weather has me itching to start planting.

I’ve got the spring garden prepped and ready to go. I intend to beginning planting tomorrow, unless rained out. It’s the earliest possible date in my mind and it’s very rare to hit it.

But I keep looking at those big garden plots, in which I’ve invested so much time over the years, that we’ve decided to leave fallow this year. I find myself thinking maybe I should plant something in them. It’s been a bit of a struggle to stay disciplined.

img_2976

All the way to the woods is being retired this year

img_2975

The ground is whispering, “Seeds. Give me seeds.”

This morning as I was pondering the notion of planting them after all, I started thinking about hot peppers, because there’s a lesson in them.

I love hot peppers. They’re fairly easy to grow and the deer leave them alone. I used to grow them every year. Lots of them. But over time I learned my lesson. It’s foolish to grow more than you need.

Hot peppers are very prolific. One plant produces an abundance of peppers and they keep coming right up till the first frost.

But I’ve got enough hot sauce and dried pepper flakes put away now to last me the rest of my life. When the peppers are coming in you can hardly give them away at the market. Pigs and chickens won’t eat them. And taking a big sack of cayenne peppers to the food bank doesn’t do anything to relieve food insecurity. The reality is that just because I can grow hot peppers, doesn’t mean I should.

So as look out at those empty fields, I remind myself that this farm’s labor force consists of me alone,  that sometimes less is more, and that I am determined to run this place more more sensibly and pragmatically.

But, dang those gardens look inviting.

Decentralized

Here’s an interesting piece reviewing a book that addresses how China “escaped the poverty trap.”

What has happened in China over the last few decades is truly extraordinary. In 1981 almost 90% of China’s population lived in poverty, making less than $2/day. By 2012 that number had plummeted to less than 7%. From 1990 to 2000 per capita income in China increased by 500%. From 2000 to 2010 it increased another 500%. In only 20 years China went from being extremely impoverished, to being a “middle income” nation, fast approaching “First World” status. This may be the most amazing economic turnaround in world history (even as it has come with a lot of growing pains).

I found it interesting that this analyst attributes China’s success in part to “a highly decentralized system where local government officials have a fair degree of autonomy to choose their strategies.”

The main argument for decentralized governance is that it creates opportunities for competent individuals to pursue political leadership, for societal groups to invest in building political parties, or for existing subnational governments to adopt innovative policy solutions.

This won’t come as a surprise to the economists who have long argued that organic economies are too complex to be centrally managed and that economic plans are best made by the many, not by the few.

What I Think About Before Chores

Listening to an interview of a physicist recently, I was struck by his remark that 99% of scientists believe there is no human free will–that what we perceive as free will is just an illusion or mind-trick. Everything, including everything that happens inside the human brain, necessarily obeys the laws of physics. So, being the nerd that I am, I’ve been researching this, and it seems that among physicists and neuroscientists at least, he’s right.

But because the implications of this are so potentially disruptive to society, it’s not talked about much. As one piece I read put it, “there is no free will, but we’re better off believing in it anyway.”

So the philosopher Saul Smilansky:

advocates a view he calls illusionism—the belief that free will is indeed an illusion, but one that society must defend. The idea of determinism, and the facts supporting it, must be kept confined within the ivory tower. Only the initiated, behind those walls, should dare to, as he put it to me, “look the dark truth in the face.” Smilansky says he realizes that there is something drastic, even terrible, about this idea—but if the choice is between the true and the good, then for the sake of society, the true must go.

Think about that: “If the choice is between the true and the good, then for the sake of society, the true must go.”

About a hundred or so years ago, I took a course on free will and determinism. And I’ve studied philosophy on and off in the years since then. So I’ve long known about hard determinists–I just didn’t realize how completely they seem to have carried the day. As the physicist put it, to believe in human free will you have to believe in miracles–that is, that the laws of physics are sometimes violated or suspended. Scientists don’t believe in miracles, ergo they don’t believe in human free will.

Which brings me to something I read this morning to the effect that stereotypically the right concerns itself with freedom and the left concerns itself with equality. And I imagine the world’s scientists watching as the two camps argue, shaking their heads with the knowledge that both are building their claims on premises that are nothing more than illusions.

 

Stand On

A song I’ve been noodling around with.

Capo 2
strum pattern: dduudu

D
There are things that I have
Em
That I never earned
G
There are things that I know
A
That I never learned
D
There is ground that I’ve plowed
Em
That I’ve never turned
G
There are fires I’ve desired
A
That have never burned

(Bridge)
C–>E
C–>Am

D
Freed from the illusion
Em
of pretending to own
G
the things I possess
A
that are only on loan
D
Cleansed by dirty hands
Em
I have been shown
G
That what I stand for
A
Is what I stand on

 

(After typing this I chuckled when I realized the last bit will only rhyme in our particular variety of  southern accent, where “on” rhymes with “shown”)