My View from the Ramparts: Farmhack: My latest attempt at temporary animal fencing

I’ve spent quite a bit of the past decade trying to figure out how to create portable temporary animal fencing. My previous attempts were mostly focused on cattle because that’s what we had, but now that we have sheep and goats instead, the durability needs of the solution has changed.

My latest attempt uses 3/4in EMT conduit to build a frame to support 10ft sections of sheep fencing held on by 16 gauge wire. The secret to this assembly is the handy fittings from MakerPipe that allow me to assemble the frames with little more than cutting the pipe to length and wiring on the fence.

These panels are very lightweight but strong enough to resist rubbing by our sheep and goats and our livestock guardian dogs leaning on them. Once I get enough built to show them in use, I’ll post an update. –DLH

Read more at my My View from the Ramparts site...

Science and Technology: Can we talk about pocket computers for a bit?

So, here’s the thing… I know most of us think of that digital leash we carry as being a “phone”, and I guess, in some way, because of how it was manufactured, it is in some way a phone. Except, really, it’s not.

I know some people still talk on it, but if you look at the vast majority of what most people do with that thing we call a phone, the fact is it’s really a pocket computer hamstrung by the fact we keep thinking of it as a phone.

We need to stop that.

I know it’s a radical transformation in thinking, but we have these incredibly capable devices, connected to the entire world in multiple ways, yet we insist on continuing to think of it mostly as a more sophisticated version of the thing we had hanging on the wall in the 80s.

It’s not.

In fact, it is so much more than just a phone that calling it that refers to the function that is almost an afterthought compared to all the things it can do. It’s a camera. It’s a GPS. It’s a wireless messaging device. It’s a word processor, game console. video conferencing device, shopping portal…

In fact, it’s a computer. One you carry in your pocket.

If we stopped thinking of this device as a phone and started thinking of it as a computer, I suspect the way the technology would develop would be freed from the fetters of when it was only a phone and become a companion, or maybe even a replacement, for the thing sitting on our desktop or in our backpack; a device geared toward connecting us to the world and allowing us to create in ways we can only imagine right now.

Can we do that? Because I’m ready for it? Are you?

DLH

Read more at my Science and Technology site...

Education: More on rethinking education.

The last time I posted to this blog, I opined that I believed it was time for us to rethink the purpose of education. More than two years later, I am more convinced than ever that premise is true.

From my view, the modern education system is a weird chimera of the classical notion of creating a well-rounded person by versing them in most or all of what was known at the time and the industrial notion of creating a class of workers with an interchangeable skill set. While there are arguments for both of those notions, the extremes to which we have taken them in the last few decades has left an education system that is broken and rotting from within.

I believe the fundamental purpose of modern education should be to equip every learner to be able to understand, use, and manipulate the vast store of information freely available to anyone who wants to access it. What that kind of education will look like will be different for every person based on their unique strengths and weaknesses.

As a result, I also believe the notion of massed group education by age and grade is also obsolete and needs to be replaced by a system that focuses on developing a student’s strengths and buttressing their weaknesses.

Yes, that means, in order to do what I am suggesting, we would have to replace vast swaths of the education system as we know it. Likely, that would mean reimagining teachers as managers for students who are, to a great degree, educating themselves with guidance. It would mean focusing the money part of education on developing coherent guidance for each student. It would mean dismantling the mass industrial model in favor of a focused individualized one.

Further, this new model would have to focus on all the things currently lacking from the industrial model. It would get kids outside as much as possible. It would emphasize physical and emotional development as much as it would academic and social development. It would focus on making students lifelong learners and thinkers over making them complaint workers.

I understand this is a pipe dream in the current climate, but the radical reform of education in some form is almost inevitable. If we start thinking about it now, maybe when the time comes, we’ll be able to make something good happen.

DLH

Read more at my Education site...

Worldview: Walking along the narrow road: Pondering what’s next

I established this blog with the intent of it being many things. Along the way, I’ve doubted every one of those things and, as a result, have not moved forward on any of them.

I return to ponder what I meant and mean to do and come to this conclusion: I am a faithful layman eagerly walking my path to higher things. I don’t speak with the authority of a pastor. I am not an expert. That, however, does not mean I don’t have thoughts I wish to share.

My hope moving forward is to cast what I write here in that light: an individual Christian’s journey toward heaven. I want to share what I experience so that, perhaps, others can be encouraged by it or, if need be, encourage or correct me where I am going wrong.

The goal is heaven, and we are all part of the same body. I am a writer, and I believe writing can be my contribution to the whole. God grant me the wisdom to do exactly that.

Amen

DLH

Read more at my Walking along the narrow road weblog...

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Food: Our love affair with food

I’m sure you’ve heard some version of the old adage, “eat to live; don’t live to eat,” and while it’s a great sentiment, it doesn’t help us at all with our modern love affair with food. It’s easy to bemoan the realities that have lead to that end, but what we really need is a fix.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, food is too often an entertainment and a salve. What I have discovered is the bulwark against that behavior is keeping it simple in the kitchen.

When I say keeping it simple, I mean exactly that. Most of the time, if I go into the kitchen to make something complex, I get discouraged or bored, and default back to the kinds of foods that make me sick in the long run.

What I’ve been doing over the past couple of years is collecting a goto list of simple, direct dishes that I can prepare in a short amount of time and that satisfy my need to eat. I hope to document those dishes here in future posts.

DLH

Read more at my Food site...

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Creativecraft: Inspiration

Fire it up!

I hate inspiration.

There, I said it.

Inspiration is an infuriating creature. It’s capricious. Fickle. Unpredictable. Unreliable. It rarely gets work done and is notorious for abandoning me right in the middle of something that needs done.

And it is indispensable to my creative process.

The fact is that every idea I’ve ever had, no matter what it is, is a child of inspiration. That relationship may be subtle, like a whisper carried on a breeze, or it may be unmistakable, like a lightning strike. Either way, inspiration births ideas and everything that comes from it.

Nevertheless, I hate it because I can’t control it. I want it to obey me and to produce on command. It laughs and disappears for days and months and years, only to return with no apparent prompting to dump a pile of ill-begotten offspring on me and disappear again.

So, it is a surprise when inspiration appears with the true intent of showing me a new thing, opening up a vista of possibility to me that had been heretofore obscured and impossible to get to.

This time, inspiration showed up in the form of an internet article about a dumpster fire toy. I know, right?

But that’s what it was. A spark that, pun intended, caught fire and burned away the dead wood that was obscuring my path to something I’ve been trying to find my way to for decades without success. Suddenly, there it is, the thing I’ve been looking for in all its glory.

A dumpster fire.

Yeah, inspiration. I hate it. And I love it.

Please don’t leave. Please come back.

DLH

Read more at my Creativecraft site...

Gaming for the Rest of Us: It turns out, I haven’t really been gaming…

I know, gasp, horror.

That’s not entirely true. I’m playing in a Legends of the Five Rings Role Playing Game campaign once a month. I play Realm Grinder and Forge of Empires as a sometimes diversion. And I play Seaport on my phone. But for the most part, that’s minutes a day, and I just haven’t had the focus or the energy to do more. It happens… Eventually, it will change and I’ll get back into the business of writing about the games I play.

DLH

Read more at my Gaming for the Rest of Us site...

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Brickcraft: Things have been quiet

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, life has intervened in building. While that means I haven’t been producing new work, it does not mean I have not been thinking about things to build, and if my schedule should clear, I have some strong new ideas about how to progress with my building projects.

Also on the table is a complete redesign of this site. 

Stay tuned. More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my Brickcraft site...

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Worldview: The Rambling Road: You’re not finished until you’re done, or understanding tired

I recently read a quote from a personal trainer that said, “You’re not finished when you’re tired; you’re finished when you’re done.”

While I appreciate the sentiment of not quitting until you get to your goal, as someone with a chronic illness, I also understand it’s not always that easy.

What do I mean? Well, it seems cliché, but there’s tired and then there’s tired. There are times when I want to quit because, frankly, I’m just to lazy. I think that’s the kind of tired the trainer is talking about, and in that case, they’re right. No one can advance if they quit because it’s hard.

On the other hand, there are times when I want to quit because my body can’t. I tend to describe that as being tired too, but the reality is that it’s more unable than tired. Something has happened inside that means I don’t have the energy to expend, and pushing at that point can create disastrous consequences.

One of the most important parts of managing the complexity of a chronic illness is learning the difference and knowing when to quit. Further, there’s the task of knowing how to tell the people around you who care why you have to quit this time when, maybe, you didn’t have to the last time.

This isn’t an argument for quitting altogether. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that, sometimes, the path isn’t a straight line toward the destination. Sometimes, we have to know when to quit so we can get ahead.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

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Readiness: Run to where? Taking an honest look at getting out of Dodge.

One of the central themes of a lot of readiness thinking and training is the notion of bugging out when a disaster strikes. There are a lot of reasons for that fact, mostly driven by people living in urban and suburban areas that are critically unsustainable in a crisis situation. That said, one of my major misgivings about the notion of getting out of dodge, and I think one of the major failings of that kind of readiness, is that it often ignores where someone will run to if they run away.

This isn’t a question of standing your ground, but rather it is one of figuring out how not to be a refugee. Why is avoiding that state so important? Because, as a refugee in a crisis situation, you become dependent on whatever aid someone else can provide, and in the worst cases, those providing that aid triage it just like medical care. Unless you have a plan for how to get somewhere that can support you and alternative plans for what happens if you cannot get there, it may prove to be the case that it’s a better call to stay where you are, even in a worst case scenario.

Consider the standard planning for a so-called bug-out kit. A single kit usually contains enough supplies to support one person for three to five days, and with proper care, rationing, and a little luck, could probably last two weeks. What happens after that? Keep in mind that, if you’re in a situation where there is a crisis bad enough to warrant leaving home, it’s likely there are going to be many other people, often far less prepared, doing the same exact thing. If the refugee crises of the past few decades have shown us anything, mass migrations of people fleeing a crisis usually end badly for everyone, even for people who were prepared for short term fleeing.

So, again, what happens after that? If you want to avoid finding yourself in the middle of exactly the kind of secondary disaster a large-scale crisis is likely to create, the only real answer is to have a known destination that you know will be well-supplied and, unfortunately, well defended, along with secondary options for how to get to that location if the primary way is blocked and places to go, at least temporarily, if you cannot get there at all.

Of course, this kind of planning becomes very unique and depends on all sorts of variables, making it far more complex than stocking a backpack with three days of supplies, but the fact is that readiness is a state of mind and a constant practice. The best bet is to add the, “Run to where?’ question to your readiness planning so that you don’t find yourself just trading one disaster for another.

DLH

Read more at my Readiness site...