2012 New Year's Resolutions

Well, it’s that time again.  2012 is here, and I’m doing my usual “New Year’s Resolutions”.  Fin noted that my resolutions are really more goals – and I’m ok with that.  I’d rather have goals to accomplish than vague notions of things I’d like to do.

Anyway, here goes.

1. Pay-off 2 more major debts
Continuing with the “Dave Ramsey” plan here.  At some point, I’ll chronicle the travails of Fin and I working our way out of debt.  It’s been a long road, but the end, while a ways off, is finally coming into view across the horizon.

2. Make liquid soap and write some tutorials on Soaping
Mostly, this will be a challenge in obtaining potassium hydroxide.  Sodium hydroxide is fairly available at a few local hardware stores.  I’ll also need to do a little bit of research into the differences between the saponification processes. I’d also like to write some tutorials on how to make soap, for other curious people.

3. Perfect 3 Chopin pieces
Right now, I’m considering Prelude in E minor Op. 28 No. 4, Prelude in B minor Op. 28 No. 6, and Nocturne in Eb Major Op. 9 No. 2.  I’m also experimenting with a webcam and mic setup, hopefully I’ll be able to record and post some playing. We’ll see how that goes.

4. Make Time-Lapse Garden Video
I’ve been discussing this one substantially with Fin.  The idea is to record a video of the garden over the course of a year, and post it to online.  Hopefully, with a soundtrack I’ve create myself as well.  This is going to be a rather involved project.  I’ve begun looking for materials / equipment / camera angles and ideas.

5. Play in a recital or public forum
Not entirely sure where / when this will happen, but I hope to work more on playing in public for 2012.  Since the start of 2011, I’ve gotten a lot better about dealing with performance anxiety and public playing. Hoping to continue this progress into 2012 and hopefully start looking at doing gigs the year after.

6. Take a few days off this Summer for some local vacationing
This is largely dependent on 2012 not sucking like 2011.  In 2011, many of my vacation days were used visiting sick family.  Still, I have a fairly good balance at the end of the year, even after taking several days off to see a wedding across country.  In the ‘vacation time is meant to be used’ vein, I’m hoping to actually take some time off this spring/summer to do local stuff in KC.   Current ideas:  Apple/Berry picking, helping Fin do garden stuff, Lake trail biking, maybe finally visit local museums.

7. Take a trip to CA. 
Fin isn’t the only one that wants to see friends in CA – so if she goes I go (provided we can afford the tickets).  I’ll be keeping an eye out for deals through the year, and hopefully we can figure out how to swing it without spending boatloads of cash.

8. Responsibly add meat back into my diet
After some considerable discussion, Fin and I have decided that we’ll be moving away from a vegetarian diet.  The reasons and thoughts behind this will likely involve an entire dedicated blog post, but the summation is that being vegetarian doesn’t fit well with our goals of being self-sufficient and sustainable. Fin will likely start before me, as I’ve decided to get a couple blood panels done before and after to see the effects of changing on my blood chemistry.

9. Eat out lunch only 1x a week and on special occasions
I must admit to a bit of an addiction to fast-food and eating out for lunch.  I think a lot of this has to do with being vegetarian and having difficulty packing decent, non-repetitive lunches.  Usually, Fin helps keep frozen lunches in the freezer, quiet often pastas and rice-heavy dishes.  At lunch, I generally look at these and find them relatively unappetizing – wanting something heavier / different.

10. Martial Arts / Gym / Park?
Maybe I’m kidding myself about this.  There’s a lot I’m trying to figure out in what this meant to me earlier, what it means now, and why I haven’t gone back.  I think the reality is basically the 45 minute drive across the city is too much for a class I can’t afford financially anyway.  I do know there’s some Tai Chi and Yoga classes about that are free/cheap.  There’s also a few other martial arts studios much closer to home.  I’m also considering perhaps other forms of exercise now.  I do know there was a spiritual component to MA that was important to me.

I would add an “honorary” 11th, but that didn’t make it in the list.  This year, I’d like to actually write about how these goals progress a little bit more.  However, I’m striving to make this list realistic and writing on this blog generally happens when I feel a need to broadcast something versus everyday events.

Happy New Year everyone and may your resolutions end up working out. 🙂

The Folly of Modern Convenience

For over two years now I’ve been comitted to an every other week meat pickup that consists of the trashed meat from a major retail chain.  This is a twice weekly pickup, of which I only participate in twice a month.  The average size of the pickup is in the 1500lb range….every time.

Did you realize that those clean, tidy, non bloody, sterile, styrofoamed bottom plastic wrapped chunks of meat in the grocery store were once a living animal that had to die so you could have the convenience of popping in to your one stop shoping experience so far removed from the place that meat comes from that there are actually people out there that have no idea what meat really is?  I wish I was kidding.

We were a society with a farm on every corner, a garden in every back yard, milk delivered fresh from the cow in glass reusealbe bottles , a society that knew the person who raised their food and the location of where it came from.  These days if you ask somene where food comes from they are likely to say “the store.” When asked where the store gets it from they probably don’t even know. If you ask the store where the food on their shelves comes from they are likely to name off one of only a few conglomerate food distribution companies…and have no knowledge of where those companies get that food from.

Every time I turn around these days it seems like there has been another recall on some form of food that has been tainted in some way or another with bacteria of one sort or another.  Back when I started to keep track of all of this, back when I went vegetarian, it was only meat of one kind or another that was involved in these recalls.  These days it seems to be a little of everything.  Within the last couple of weeks a local man died from tainted cantelope.   Tainted cantelope.  Tainted….cantelope?  This just blows my mind.

I’ve seen first hand in the last 2+ years how much food gets thrown away by just one major retail store here in the metro area.   This is just meat and processed meat products.  From there I can extrapolate easily the amount of fresh produce, bread, dairy and so called shelf stable foods get trashed as well.  Let me tell you that the shear amount of waste that goes on from each and every retail store around the states will absolutely blow your mind.  You truly have to see it to even imagine the scope of it.  This was, before it passed its “use by” date, perfectly edible food for human consumption.  I’m not even talking about the millions of pounds of food included in the recalls for one reason or another that is destroyed.  I’m just talking about the food that was shipped in from all over the globe so the average consumer could have the convenience of one stop shopping.  This is the food that gets too old to be either “pretty” or “safely eaten.”

I have little to no sympathy or patience for the talk I hear about people starving either here in the states or around the world.  It’s not that I’m not a compasionate person, that’s not it at all. My heart goes out, it truly does.  However let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that there isn’t enough food in this world to go around.  I’m not even including the food each and every one of us lets go bad in our pantry, freezer, or fridge here.  I’m sure that adds up as well.  I’m simply talking about the food that every day ends up in the landfills feeding no one due to our cultures insistance upon “convenience.”

So, for the last 2+ years, I’ve been picking through the meat only garbage of a typical major retailer for food for my cats and dogs.  99% of this food is either on the day of expiration or only 1 day past it.  Perfectly edible for even human consumption.  Yet, its trash.  Don’t talk to me about people starving in this country, I’ve seen the reason.

This meat pickup that I’ve been doing for 2+ years is at an end, I won’t be seeing the folly of modern convenience anymore going forward but you better believe that I will never forget it.

– Fin