Everybody, we need to start blogging again.

And it has been a while, too. It’s been a busy few weeks, the last ones before spring break, resulting in oogobs of work piling up. Actually, it wasn’t all that bad, because most of my professors seemed to think we were probably being overloaded by our other professors, and so they compensated by giving me a lightish workload. There was only one class that had a whole bunch due – my sociology class, for which I had to do a 4-page paper and a take-home exam within a week of each other. So there was only one night where I stayed up really late. I ended up going to bed at 6:15 AM that night. So I got about one REM cycle, which is better than zero. The good thing is that I get two weeks of spring break, but the bad thing is that I have a 7-page paper to write sometime before I get back in town. I’m going to make a sincere effort to get that done before this weekend, so I don’t have to think about it later.

What other stuff happened before I left? Oh, here’s one. I got accepted to live in EcoHouse for my second semester next year. EcoHouse is a college-owned project house whose residents strive to make as little impact on the environment as they can while being college students also. This isn’t Trendy Green stuff, like “Put in compact fluorescents!” and “Recycle a little more!”. It’s well-considered actions that do more than just make the residents look Green. For example, EcoHouse is big about buying local foods to as great an extent as possible. A couple people last year actually went on a 100-mile diet, where everything they ate came from within a 100-mile radius (except for a few little things like coffee and sugar). I don’t know what they ate (corn, corn byproducts, corn derivatives, corn extracts), but they didn’t ship in every meal from halfway across the globe. Relatedly, there’s a garden out back, which we’re expanding 44% for next year, and which will grow tomatoes, squash, various spices, pumpkins, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, and all sortsa other good stuff. The garden is fed with compost from the house’s meals, which the EcoHouse people cook themselves a good deal. There’s one meal every week, Sunday evenings, where the whole house gets together and cooks a meal and then has a meeting to talk about how the week went for everyone, and what chores still need to be done, and what debts need to be settled, and so on. The house has been renovated to be more water- and energy-efficient: low-flow toilets, sinks, and showerheads; an energy monitoring system and soon some window quilts to keep warm (or cold) air in. I think I’m really going to like living there.

Press has started working on its projects for this semester. We have three: a set of postcards from around the college, a book of photography of subtropical animals (the photographer went to Costa Rica and Florida for a college thing), and a fantasy novel that takes place in the land of Insanity, and whose protagonists are two kids who were a little bit too crazy for Reason, so the elves snatched them away. I’ll be sure to bring everyone copies. They’re all fun.

I visited the Amana Colonies with my intentional communities class. Our professor is pretty much the premier scholar on the Amanas – in one of the pieces he gave us to read, a guy wrote about them, and cited Professor Andelson almost exclusively, except for a newspaper columnist from the 1800s. So we had a good and informative tour, especially since Professor Andelson teamed up with Lanny Watts of the Amana Heritage Society. (I just looked up how to spell Watts, and in the Amana Heritage Society I only found references to Lanny Haldy, so I don’t know exactly Watts up with that.) I bought some Millstream root beer, and it was very tasty. At first I didn’t think it was all that great, but it grew on me. I like that it uses real sugar, not corn syrup.

I worked at CERA a few times. Once, our manager Larissa (“our” being mine and Jacob’s – he’s an EcoHouse guy who works there too this semester with me) had an owlet with her, because someone she knew had found it on his farm, injured. Larissa was keeping it at CERA for a while because it was closer to where she was going to take it eventually, a raptor rehabilitation place. It was a very cute owlet. Owlet! If you’re ever depressed, Google for pictures of owlets. I just did it, and I think they’re even cuter than kittens.

I also worked at Bob’s. One night, there was a big party in the lounge next door. One very drunk guy came in while I was playing 碁1 with a friend in the dining area, and he asked if he could get some water from the tap. I said sure, so he went over to the sink. After a few moments, he called over to me, “It’s not working.” “You’re maybe turning it the wrong way?” I told him, and went over to look. It transpired that he had been trying to use the soap dispenser.

I’ve also started training to be a leader for GOOP next year. You may recall that I applied to be a GOOP leader last year, but I didn’t get in. This year they kind of couldn’t refuse me, since I worked at Manito-wish last summer. It looks like it’ll be fun. I’m definitely looking forward to it. We’ve only had one training session so far, where we talked about blisters and sunburn and CPR and such. Unfortunately for my Spain trip, the two don’t look like they can both happen next year, and I have to say that I’m probably going to side with GOOP. However, Aunt Irene, I did appreciate you sending me that letter that you wrote for Leah. I do hope to go overseas sometime, but it looks like I might not do it for a college semester. I guess that’ll leave me room to do something a little more unstructured, which may well give me a better opportunity to experience the culture anyhow. Maybe I’ll even do the stereotypical college-student thing and go backpacking around Europe for a while after I graduate – who knows.

And, I’m going to be turning twenty in six days. That, to me, is really weird. I wrote something about it in my journal a couple days ago:

Speaking of which, that’s something it’s hard for me to reconcile myself with. In eight days, I’m going to be twenty. Teenagedness will be behind me forever. I suppose I won’t have actually changed, since life is continuous and not broken up into discrete decades – “The Growing Up Decade”, “The Rebellion Decade”, and now “The Forming-Your-Life-and-Career Decade”[^2] – but it still feels mighty weird to be coming up on a new tens-place digit. Twenty! I know I’m not allowed to yet, but I feel old! If all goes typically, I’ve already lived a quarter, maybe a fifth of my life! Holy hell, I only get to do this three or four more times before I keel over and croak! I should probably stop that now, all the morbidity, since I’m only turning twenty. But it feels really weird, and I wanted that on the record. It feels alarming, too. That’s a word I needed.

I haven’t done much with my spring break yet. I’ll put up bulletins as it goes by. A few fun things are definitely going to happen. Meanwhile, since I was looking at my journal, I’ll put out something else I found in there:

I dreamt that I was going to do something dangerous on my bike, and that I knew I might lose a leg doing it, but I did it anyhow. I did lose a leg, the right one. So did a woman named Ida Mose, and a guy I didn’t know. We commiserated.

  1. Followed by “The Parenthood Decade”, “The Mid-Life Crisis Decade”, “The Working a Lot Decade”, “The End-of-Work and Free-Time Decade”, “The Last Hurrah Decade”, “The Rest Home Decade”, the “Extra Innings Decade”, and any following decades would be part of “The Your-Days-Are-Numbered Era”. This is purposely a very pessimistic classification system. I’m sure things look much better from down the road a ways. 

File under: college, communal living, new world


Anonymous

History

Take it from someone whose next birthday will put me into the “Last Hurrah Decade”–the only way NOT to feel pessimistic when you get there is to have lived the life you wanted and to have done the things you really wanted to and needed to do. So, since you have all that great time ahead of you, don’t waste a minute of it, because it just goes faster and faster like a rocket blasting to the moon. Before you turn around you will be looking back at most of it. And while I’m lecturing you, let’s hope you don’t really go riding a bike and have a bad accident. Be careful! Grandma

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Anonymous

History

Much research in Bio, Chem, and Biochem is being done on aging and methods to delay it. Study science and you could contribute and perhaps find the ultimate discovery, i.e., “How to live to a thousand” Do it quick because I am getting old. G,Pa

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Oxtrox

History

I bet one thing they will make you do in the Ecohouse is to close and latch your windows in the winter months. I know you need to be taught this because I had to close and latch the windows in your bedroom at home while I was measuring for the new ones you’ll be getting in a week or so. So plant that in your garden and grow it Mr. Green Jeans! Incidentally, if the weather holds out without raining for 4 or 5 more days, I will be tilling and planting my garden. Maybe you can come up here and I’ll put you to work in trade for teaching you some tricks of the trade.

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Chuck

History

Sounds fun, but keep in mind that I’ll be hunting poor defenseless groundhogs this Wednesday and Thursday. Any other time should be fine for gardening.

I thought I closed those windows!

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Chuck

History

Also, Grandma, I like that idea: to avoid pessimism, have an awesome past. That’s what I’m planning on. I want to have no regrets and nothing I wish I would’ve done. Mainly I want to do everything I can in these decades I get.

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Oxtrox

History

Well, It’s all weather dependent, right now the garden is to wet to till. I just got my rototiller back from getting fixed last night and am ready to garden. I suspect Grandpa would be happy to come help as well.

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Anonymous

History

One of the big “green” eco jokes is the flourescent lightbulbs. Each one of those things is loaded with Mercury. If one happens to shatter on your carpet, you have a small be real little toxic mess. If you read the labels, they are supposed to be disposed of as any other toxic material, such as car batteries.

In 20 years the Eco junkies will be lamenting the spread of toxic mercury. They do save energy, but I am not sure it is worth the cost.

Dave

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Chuck

History

I hadn’t considered the environmental ramifications of mercury before - I know there was mercury, but I only thought about it to think, “Don’t break these bulbs.” I looked up the problem on Wikipedia, and they say it’s not so big a problem.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_fluorescent_lamp#Mercury_Emissions
Apparently, if your electricity comes from coal, the electricity you save actually offsets the amount of mercury you put in the environment later. If you don’t live in a coal area, it’s not a whole lot of mercury, although it’s definitely true that it is some.
Also, coal provides about 50% of the electricity consumed in America, which itself is a scary statistic.

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