31 March 2018


Farewell To
Howard's Gouges





Two years ago I had an e-mail exchange with Howard King. In the course of our discussion, he sent me a photo of a wood dough bowl he had carved. I was impressed, and I told him I had always wanted to carve a dough bowl myself. Howard replied that he had most of the tools I needed and was looking to sell them. I said I would buy them. 

Howard told me exactly what tools he had to sell and the price he wanted to get. I hadn't really looked into the price of such tools and was surprised at how expensive they were. But when I did an internet search, I found that the price he wanted was not out of line. I ended up paying $600 for seven different carving tools.

After acquiring those implements, the only tool I lacked for carving my own dough bowl was an appropriate broad hatchet. For another $150 (or so) I could buy a decent hatchet online. Two or three times that would get me a more serious, top-shelf carving hatchet. But, considering what I had already spent, I decided to hold off on the hatchet. I didn't have the time to be carving a bowl then anyway. It would be a future project. So, Howard's carving tools went up on a shelf in my shop, and they have been there ever since.

That is, they were on the shelf until last week. That's when I reasoned with myself that I would probably never get around to carving a dough bowl, and I might better sell those tools. It's a lean time of year, and I really do need to do some purging in order to to better organize my small workshop.

Among Howards's tools were three unique, and somewhat rare gouges (pictured at the top of this page). When I first got them, I noticed that they had my initials on them. It hadn't occurred to me that Howard and I have the same initials of HK. But the initials were actually forged into the metal of the tools, and they were the maker's mark of Hans Karlsson, a man from Sweden. 

The HK

Hans Karlsson is famous for making the finest carving tools in the world. Karlsson's hand-forged tools are so famous, and in such short supply, that you can't buy them. 

In the US, you have to get on a waiting list to buy Karlsson's tools from a single seller, and the list is no longer taking names. Evidently,  there are more people who want to purchase Karlsson's tools than there will ever be tools to sell. Even the online European sellers of HK carving tools are all sold out. 

So, I listed all of Howard's tools on Ebay, hoping that I might recoup my initial cost, as well as the Ebay fees and PayPal transaction fees. The three HK gouges were listed in the auction format.

There was a lot of interest in the gouges. Over 40 watchers on each one. The auction ended last night. Those three hand tools fetched enough to recoup my original cost, along with selling fees. And there was some extra left over. So, in the end, spending $600 on the tools a couple years ago wasn't as crazy and fiscally foolish of me as I had thought it was at the time.

I'm relieved at the outcome of this story, and I'm perfectly okay with not making a dough bowl. But I have also long wanted to make a twig coffee table. The nice thing about twig furniture is that it requires only basic (and cheap) tools. A hand saw. A knife. A drill. 

Stay tuned for the HK twig coffee table. Someday...

And, in the meantime, keep watch for HK tools. Perhaps someday you will see a Hans Karlsson chisel for sale at a flea market. Wouldn't that be something!




30 March 2018


The Philbrick Farm Today


I woke up today to find that my Aunt Carolyn shared the above photo to my Facebook page. I have a Facebook presence only for maintaining contact with family and local friends. I don't like much of what Facebook does, but I stay for things like the picture above.

I need to mention that the photo was taken by Paul Cyr. Click his name to see his Facebook page, and his amazing photos from northern Maine.

That farm in the picture is on Forrest Avenue Road in Fort Fairfield, Maine, near the town of Easton border. My grandparents, Percy and Gertrude Philbrick, lived there. My grandfather was a potato farmer his whole life. Not a prosperous one, but he managed to keep the farm and support his family, which was no small thing. 

I don't think Percy ever travelled outside the state of Maine, except to Canada, which was only a few miles from his farm. Perhaps my own penchant to stay put is inherited from him.

My mother, Mary, born in 1936, was the youngest in a family of... maybe nine. Or was it eleven? I just can't remember offhand.

The Philbrick farm was bought by an Amish family years ago. It was the first Amish family to settle in that area. They have put a large addition on the house, and greatly expanded the outbuildings. The only outbuilding that was there back in the day was the red-roofed barn.

I mentioned this farm in my old Deliberate Agrarian blog a few times. I think it was Lynn Bartlett who commented back then that her grandparent's farm had been replaced with a casino. Ugh! 

But isn't that an apt metaphor for the decline of America... From small, hard-working family farms to big casinos, with all their artificiality, and the allure of easy money, not to mention increasing spiritual poverty.

Well, I'm thankful that I was able to know my grandparents and that place. Such good memories are there. I think back on some of those memories in a couple chapters in this book...




That is my grandfather and me, circa 1960. The book is available as a paperback or inexpensive e-book at Amazon.



29 March 2018


Solzhenitsyn


Jordan Peterson frequently recommends that people read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. Many people consider the book to be the most significant piece of literature produced in the 20th century. 

The Gulag Archipelago was published in 1973, against the efforts of the Soviets to prevent it. They arrested and tortured Solzhenitsyn's typist (an elderly woman) until she revealed where the manuscript was. After they released her, she committed suicide. At one point the KGB  attempted to assassinate Solzhenitsyn.

The book was a bombshell when it was published. It laid bare the human atrocities of Soviet Communism. It told the truth about millions of Russians who were murdered or enslaved, and died in the prison camps. 

Solzhenitsyn wrote from his own experience and from the experiences of other innocents who were falsely accused of crimes, forced to sign confessions, and sent into the archipelago of gulags throughout Russia.

The Gulag Archipelago stopped all the European and American communist efforts dead in their tracks (but didn't kill them for good). It exposed Marxism as the morally depraved and dangerous ideology it is. It soon led to the downfall of the Soviet Union and its grip on Russia. The book was that powerful, and Solzhenitsyn was a remarkably brave man.

I am reading The Gulag Archipelago now. The writing is not hard to understand, but the realities of the gulag system are hard to deal with. The depravity of human psychopathy taken to its extreme is always hard to digest. I do not read fiction horror, and this book is non-fiction horror. As such, it is worse. But I feel compelled to read this book because it tells the truth.

I am also reading the biography, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile. I am enjoying the book very much (almost done with it) because it not only tells the life story of Solzhenitsyn, it reveals his journey from Soviet-indoctrinated atheist to Christian, and it is the Christian Solzhenitsyn that stands resolutely against the brutal Soviet empire. Many of his closest friends desert him when he reveals his deep Christian faith, but still he stands.

Solzhenitsyn is the ultimate example of speaking truth to power. 

The biography also explains Solzhenitsyn's disdain for the West. He recognized that the West was morally weak, and socially vulnerable. He resisted the political ideology of Right and Left politics. He didn't toe the line in either camp. Both the Right and Left despised him. 

Solzhenitsyn's political beliefs were surprisingly Jeffersonian. He rejected the economic and social fruit of materialism and industrialization. He believed in decentralized government. He advocated private land ownership, and a return to some form of Russian peasantry, like the Soviet system had so effectively destroyed. He advocated responsible stewardship of the land and natural resources. I dare say he was very much a Christian agrarian.

The media almost always misrepresented what he said. They reported his comments out of context. They twisted his words to mean things that he never meant them to mean. He eventually stopped talking to the media. He would speak to the world through his books.

I hope to say more about Alexander Solzhenitsyn in future blog posts here. He was a truly remarkable man. Jordan Peterson is correct in recommending The Gulag Archipelago. Solzhenitsyn has much to teach us—lessons he learned the hard way.



28 March 2018


"The Windshield Phenomenon"

The hover fly is one insect I'm always glad to see in my garden. 

There isn't a doubt in my mind that far more bugs of all kinds ended up getting stuck to the windshields, headlights and front grills of automobiles when I was a kid. This Article discusses the loss of insects, and begins as follows...

Entomologists call it the windshield phenomenon. "If you talk to people, they have a gut feeling. They remember how insects used to smash on your windscreen," says Wolfgang W├Ągele, director of the Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity in Bonn, Germany. Today, drivers spend less time scraping and scrubbing. "I'm a very data-driven person," says Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Oregon. "But it is a visceral reaction when you realize you don't see that mess anymore."
Some people argue that cars today are more aerodynamic and therefore less deadly to insects. But Black says his pride and joy as a teenager in Nebraska was his 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1—with some pretty sleek lines. "I used to have to wash my car all the time. It was always covered with insects." Lately, Martin Sorg, an entomologist here, has seen the opposite: "I drive a Land Rover, with the aerodynamics of a refrigerator, and these days it stays clean."

Have you noticed the windshield phenomenon? 


27 March 2018


Back Into Public Service



I was an elected councilman in my town (Sempronius, New York) for 18 years. Last November I decided not to run for re-election. But last night the Board asked me if I would serve out the term of another board member who recently passed away. I said yes, of course. 

The man I replaced was a retired dairy farmer who had been on the Board more years than me. He was a great guy. But four months to the day after being diagnosed with cancer, he was gone. Our monthly Board meetings won't be the same without him.

So, I was officially "retired" from public service for a little less than three months. Truth be told, I'm glad to be back. But I'm sorry it had to be under such circumstances.

The picture above is of Marlene and me last year. We're sitting where the town board sits for their meetings. But that's not in my town. We're in the board room for the town of Clay, New York, which is a suburb of Syracuse.

Under the table directly in front of us, within easy reach, is a red "panic button." Press the button and the police will be there in no time flat. Such things have become prudent in the culture we live in.

In my small, relatively poor, rural town, the Board sits around an inexpensive, six-foot-long table, in second-hand chairs, in a very plain room, and there is no panic button. We keep it real simple.

Last summer I was at the gas station in town and saw our County Legislator, who I've known for years. He told me he was going to retire, and he asked me if I would be interested in taking his place. He told me he thought I would be a good person for the job. That was nice of him.

But I have no interest in serving in any higher capacity than my local town. Then I would be thought of more as a politician, and I wouldn't want that. The best politics is local, and on the local level, it's really more "public service" than it is politics. 





25 March 2018


The Wisdom Prayer





The world we live in is a veritable minefield of foolishness. There are so many foolish ideas and foolish choices that are like explosive devices on a battlefield. 

But, unlike with a common explosive mine, we are often inclined to willingly step into foolishness, not fully realizing the ramifications of our actions. The damage to oneself (not to mention the effect on those beyond us) is so often not experienced immediately. 

In Matthew 10:16 Jesus uses another analogy (explosive mines were not yet invented). He told his apostles that he was sending them out into the world "as sheep in the midst of wolves." He instructed them to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." That admonition was surely not just for 12 apostles, but for all followers of Jesus Christ. 

Foolish ideas are like hungry wolves, looking for another meal.



That being the case, the Apostle James, instructs Believers as follows (James 1:5-6):

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

It's a simple thing to ask God for wisdom. I do it daily. The following prayer (by anonymous) resonates with my theological beliefs and my own pursuit of wisdom. 

Lord God Almighty, 
Creator of heaven and earth,
I come before you now, as your child, 
Seeking your guidance and direction.  
Your Word says that if anyone lacks wisdom, 
Let him ask of you, and you will freely give it.
So I'm asking you now for wisdom.
Not wisdom to feed my pride. 
Not wisdom to feed my selfish desires.
Not wisdom to feed my bank account.
Not wisdom to earn the praises of men.
But wisdom to understand what is right, and true,
And pleasing in your sight.
Then I ask for the courage and conviction
To act on that wisdom, and to glorify you in so doing.
In Jesus' name I ask this, believing. 
And I thank you.
Amen.



24 March 2018


The Problem With
Micro Farms



Centralized food production does not equate to food security for a nation, and micro farms, producing relatively expensive, high-quality foods do not either. 

Don't misunderstand me. I love the current renaissance of small-scale, localized agriculture. But micro farms do not feed most people in America, and they will never feed the dependent masses crammed into the urban centers of the nation. 

I've been thinking about this since I read This Blog Post at Two Sparrows Farm & Dairy. Here's the paragraph that got me...


This week, Dean Foods gave notice to 140 small family dairy farms in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio that after May 31 of this year, there will be no truck to pick up their milk. Walmart, the largest buyer of Dean’s milk in the region, has vertically integrated and will now be processing their own milk. But not from those farms. Those farms are too small for Walmart to waste their time with. And now, Dean has no avenue to sell those farms’ milk. After years of low prices, it is, likely, the final nail in the coffin for those farms.

Family dairy farms have been going out of business in America for decades. Most of these farms are (or were) operated by the same family for several generations. But I think we might be experiencing a new wave of farm losses.

After reading the above blog post I found my way to a 2016 documentary about dairy farming in New England. Here is the trailer for Forgotten Farms...




I couldn't find that film on Netflix or Amazon. So I paid $5 to watch it online at the film's website. If you have any interest in dairy agriculture, you'll appreciate the movie. It's well made, with an important message.

I especially liked the fact that one of the farms featured in the movie is Herrick Farm (a fine name!). It has been in the same family for 300 years. They milk 100 cows. They own 140 acres and rent another 200. 

100 cows is an average-size family dairy in the New England states. Fewer than 2,000 such farms remain in New England. 50 years ago, there were 10,000 dairy farms.

The movie explains that 75% of New England's pasture and crop land (that which hasn't yet been swallowed up by urban sprawl) is managed by dairy farmers. These farmers are taking care of the land, and keeping it out of development. 

Dairy farms are the economic backbone of agriculture in the New England states. They produce enough milk to supply the needs of people in that region, and more.

Meanwhile, diversified microfarms connected to the burgeoning local food movement produce about 3% of the food consumed in the New England states. According to the movie, New England imports 90% of its food.

One problem that Forgotten Farms points out is that family dairy farms (in New England) are not recognized for their important contributions to the agricultural economy. The new breed of micro farms are better with their marketing and public relations, so they get the recognition. 

Since such a small portion of the American population is involved in dairy agriculture (compared to in the past) few people are aware of, or care about the difficulties that small dairy farms are experiencing; their main difficulty being the ability to make enough money to stay in business. 

All most people know about conventional dairy farms is that they stink. And dairy farmers are looked upon as a lower class. The deck is stacked against family-scale dairy farms.  

I worked on a small dairy farm (around 75 cows) for a year after high school. The work was hard, and there was no end to it. I have a lot of respect for any small dairy farm trying to make a go of it in America today, and I grieve the loss of these farms.

How can conventional dairy farms manage to survive in a centralized agricultural system that is squeezing their profits and driving them to either get very big, or get out of business?

Well, they're going to have to do what the aforementioned Herrick Farm in Rowlee, Massachusetts is currently doing. They are augmenting the loss of income from their dairy (hoping the price they get for their milk will eventually rise) by tapping into the local-food and micro farm movement.

With the enthusiasm and energy of the younger generation of Herricks, the family dairy farm is now raising and marketing their own beef, eggs, poultry, produce, and so on.

Judging from the demographic information for Rowlee, they have the high family income and population density needed to buy the higher-priced Herrick Farm products.

So, Herrick Farm will probably survive this crisis (as long as people in their area continue to have the money to pay the higher prices), but a lot of other small dairy farms will go out of business.

My point here is that micro farms do not feed the majority of Americans, and the continuing loss of conventional small farms (most of them being dairy farms) does not bode well for the future of this country. It's just a crying shame.


UPDATE
A few hours after posting this, I became aware of this article in the NY Times: When The Death of a Family Farm Leads to Suicide. It is about the impossible struggle that some dairy farmers in my state (New York) are facing.


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23 March 2018


How To Drive A Nail




As mentioned in My Previous Blog Post, I wrote a weekly column in my local newspaper back in 1994, and that is where the following story first appeared.  I have taken some poetic license with the character descriptions, but the story is true.

How To Drive A Nail

Most 18-year-old kids figure they know it all. I was no exception. The only thing I didn't know back then was what to do with my life. So, after high school I enrolled in an alternative educational program called The Grassroots Project. 

Tucked away on a mountain in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, me and 74 other kids from all over the country spent a year learning about small-scale farming, forestry, and wilderness skills. I also learned a lot about people, and how appearances can be deceiving. And, coincidentally, I learned how to drive a nail.

It's not that I had never driven a nail before, because I had, plenty of times. I was, after all, a country boy and country boys know how to drive nails. It's about as natural as spittin'.

But a lot of my fellow students were city kids, like Harry. Even with a flannel shirt, green wool pants and a Buck knife on his hip (our standard uniform), he didn't look too tough. Maybe it was his slight build and gold rimmed John-Denver-style granny glasses. Maybe it was that I knew Harry was a Choate graduate and, for him, Grassroots was a year vacation before going to someplace like Yale or Princeton.

I liked Harry well enough, but he was a bit too cultured for me to take seriously. That is, until one day.

It so happened that a bunch of us Grassroots kids signed up for a working field trip to a local dairy farm. The idea was that for a few hours we would all help build stalls in a new barn addition. There weren't enough hammers for everyone so the farmer eyed us up and handed hammers to the ones he thought looked most capable. I reckon I stood out as a naturally capable country boy, and I got a hammer.

My job was to nail thick, roughsawn maple boards horizontally down the length of one side of the barn. With a couple of students holding the first long board in position, I commenced to pound a stout, 20-penny spike through the board. 

About half way in, the nail bent. There was no saving it, so I started another nail next to it. With great care, I drove it about as far as the first and, once again, it bent.

I was downright befuddled with the way those nails were reacting to my hammering prowess, because I knew I was connecting with the heads dead on. It was like the nails had a stubborn will and refused to go any further.

I started another spike and was extremely careful about how I hit it, but the same thing happened. Well, country boys don't give in easy, but after a half dozen similar failures, I was frustrated. A small crowd was gathering. Then Harry stopped by.

"What's wrong?" He asked, his face showing concern.

"This wood is hard as a rock. I can't get a nail through it," I replied.

"Here, let me try," he said, reaching for my hammer.

I handed it to him, relieved to be off the hook, and confident that if I couldn't get a nail through the blasted board, nobody could.

Harry gave the nail a few moderate hits to get it started. Then he grit his teeth and hauled off and beat on that cold piece of steel with everything he had. It slid through the board like magic. Everyone cheered. Harry was a hero. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Harry took another spike and delivered an encore performance.

"How did you do that, Harry?" I asked.

He looked me square in the eye and said, "You've got to hit it like a man, with everything you've got. Don't give it any second choices."

"Let me try that," said Mary, a husky girl from Milwaukee. 

And she slammed it home.

The happy procession moved on down the wall, everyone taking a turn. I stared at my bent nails.

Later, Harry told me he had once worked on a farm in Iceland. He had the same problem trying to drive a nail through a hunk of hardwood. The farmer explained to him that you'll never pound a spike through a sizable piece of hardwood like you can a piece of pine. You've got to hit it like a man, with everything you've got. Don't give it any second choices.

I never forgot that lesson and two years later it paid off. I was a building trades student at the State University of New York at Alfred. I was the only trade student on my dormitory floor. Everyone else was in business, or nursing, or some other academic degree program.

Part way through the school year, my floor was planning to have an epic weekend wild college party in the central gathering area, which we called the lounge. A couple days before the event, I walked into the lounge to find a bunch of guys and girls gathered around a pile of hardwood slab lumber. They looked discouraged, but perked up when they saw me.

"Hey, want to help us build a bar?" Asked Cathy, who was one of the coeds on my floor.

I've never been a party animal and I had better things to be doing, so I said, "No, not really."

"Oh, come on," she said. "We're having problems."

"Oh?" I replied, as I looked over their pitiful collection of half-driven and bent-over nails. "What seems to be the problem?"

Tony, an oversized jock stood there, hammer in hand, and whined, "I can't get a nail to go through this wood!"

"Here, let me try," I said as I gently took his hammer. 

I proceeded to slam-dunk a few nails through the hardwood in front of the astonished assembly.

"How did you do that?" Asked Tony.

I replied, "You gotta hit those nails like a man, Tony. With everything you got. Don't give 'em any second choices."

I handed him the hammer and turned to go. The crowd parted silently, and I walked away.

Behind me I heard Cathy: "Hey Tony, let me try that!"


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22 March 2018


Writing For The Newspaper,
Marketing With A Blog,
And A Possible New Book



The definition of a professional writer is someone who gets paid for their writing. I became a professional writer back in 1992, when an article I wrote was published in Fine Homebuilding magazine, Issue #75. The picture above is from that article (notice I once had black hair).

That article was a watershed event in my life. Seeing that I had the ability to earn money by logically arranging words and ideas on paper  was a powerful incentive to write more. 

So, I did what I always do when I want to learn something.... I bought books. There are lots of books about writing.

Then, in addition to writing more for Fine Homebuilding, I decided to hone my skills (and promote my remodeling business) by writing a column for the local newspaper.

Newspapers are always looking for local content, especially if it's freely offered. I sent several short, sample articles to the Features Editor. That's all there was to it. 

My weekly column ran for 4 months before I ran out of time to keep pursuing that idea. But it was fun while it lasted. It was definitely good marketing for my remodeling business.


My first article for the local paper.
(click the picture for a larger view)

These days, with the internet now being the primary go-to source for news, hardly anyone reads newspapers anymore. I know I don't. I wouldn't bother to write a column for any newspaper. I would, instead, write my own blog. And that is, in fact, what I ended up doing back in 2005 when I created The Deliberate Agrarian 1.0

Only after I had written that blog for a few months did I realize that it could help to promote the sales of my Whizbang chicken plucker plan book (and other products).  I ended up utilizing the blog for marketing, as well as for sharing my "ruminations" on all kinds of other things. 


That blog was like a funnel. Google search engines would direct people to different blog posts. Some who came to the blog clicked on links to my products, and I made sales. It was (and continues to be) a low-key way of indirect marketing.


There is now a whole business model built around the "click-funnel" approach to marketing. But, from what I've read, it's more direct and intentional than I care to be.  

I'm content to just blog away, discussing the things that interest me, and occasionally plugging my own products, instead of monetizing my blogs (or my YouTube channel) with outside advertising. People have told me I should monetize, but I'm just not interested in "going commercial." 

If marketing was my primary reason for blogging, I would, of course, avoid revealing my opinion on any contentious issue or person. For example, I wouldn't have mentioned "The War of Northern Aggression" in reference to the Civil War in a recent blog post here. 

Likewise, in my Deliberate Agrarian 1.0 blog, I wouldn't have posted my opinions of people like Noam Chomsky, or Phil Robertson. Or, more recently, Professor Jordan Peterson, who I've become a great admirer of. Some people just don't like the Professor.

Also, if business promotion were my reason for blogging,  I sure wouldn't mention my firmly rooted Christian beliefs. Sorry to say, the anti-Christian culture we now live in does not look favorably of those who identify as Christians. 

It's best to keep one's Christianity to oneself if you want to succeed in this economy. Funny thing... there was once a time (and not all that long ago) when Christians and Christian beliefs were held in high esteem. 

So, as is usual for me, I'm swimming upstream. It is, in large part, the story of my life.

My point in recounting all of this is to encourage any aspiring writers who might be readers here. Every professional writer's journey is a little different, and can be instructional to others who want to achieve their own measure of success at the craft.

With entrepreneurial how-to writers in mind, I've been thinking that I should write a book about how I've written and self-published how-to plan books. I've learned a few things along the way. My somewhat contrarian approach has worked.

I've yet to find a book on the subject of self-publishing a plan book. Nonfiction writing books are out there, but not nonfiction focused on how-to plans. The market for such a book might be too small to justify publishing an actual, old-fashioned style of book It might have to be a PDF book. 

Whatever the case, before leaving this subject of writing (my early writing efforts in particular), my next blog post I will regale you with one of my newspaper articles from 1994 titled, How To Drive A Nail

You won't want to miss that.


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21 March 2018


Why Writing Is Important
By Jordan Peterson


As I've mentioned in previous posts here, I enjoy listening to Professor Jordan B. Peterson on YouTube. His perspective is thoughtful and thought provoking. I'm currently reading his book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos (I'm not sure yet if I like it enough to recommend).

In the above YouTube video (less than 3 minutes in length), Peterson talks about the importance of learning to write. He says there is a connection between critical thinking and writing. 

Professor Peterson says that no one ever tells students why they should learn to write, and then he explains the reason ...

"If you can think, and speak, and write, you are absolutely deadly. Nothing can get in your way. It's the most powerful weapon that you can possibly provide someone with."

He is not saying this to encourage malevolence (a word he uses often), but to help make the world a better place, starting with oneself. Personal opportunities and influence for good naturally come to people who have the ability to write clearly. There is also the ability, when needed, to protect oneself (or others) from malevolent forces.

Lamenting the lack of emphasis on writing in higher education, Professor Peterson says : 

"It's like there's a conspiracy to bring people into the educational system to make them weaker."

(That quote is not in the above YouTube clip, but it is in other videos of the same presentation.)

Personally, I can relate to everything Peterson says. The ability to write is the most useful skill I have learned in life. I'm relieved that he doesn't say the same thing about math skills.

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20 March 2018


My Gobble Popper Dream



I've had a lot of moneymaking ideas in my life. Most of them All of them were Walter-Mitty-like dreams. All, that is, until I finally succeeded to some degree with a chicken plucker plan book in 2002. 

For example, in the early 1980s I dreamed of being a toy and game maker. It was a few years after I invented Granola Bars.

One of my toy/game ideas was the Gobble Popper you see above. That Gobble Popper is now a relic. But it might make a good display in the future Planet Whizbang museum.  The museum will show many of the crazy ideas I had before I came up with the chicken plucker. And some after. 

For now, I keep that Gobble Popper in a box with a bunch of other old junk.

The back story is that I bought a lathe and some tools from an old guy here in Moravia. Paid $100 (and sold it for $100 a few years later). What could I make and sell with a lathe? That's how my mind works. I came up with the concept of a well-crafted ball and cup toy. Heirloom quality, don't ya know?

So I made a lot of dust, and a few gobble poppers. It was fun. 

The trick to getting the ball into the cup is not to swing it, but to pop it up. Thus the Popper part of the name. As for the Gobble (or Goble, which is just an ignorant spelling of Gobble), I have no idea how I came up with that. But I liked it then, and I like it now. It's kind of catchy.

The big challenge with the Gobble Popper is not to get it into the cup once, but to pocket the ball as many consecutive times as possible. I've consecutively pocketed the ball 47 times. But that was years ago, when I was in the prime of my Gobble Popping career.

I envisioned, as I was making all that dust, that there would one day be worldwide Gobble Popper competitions. Hey, why not!

I even printed up Gobble Popper instructions. I recently came across the instructions, and reading them after all these years was a real hoot. I've posted pictures below. Click on the pictures and you should be able to see a larger version that you can read.

I never sold a single Gobble Popper. I didn't even try. Selling is always the hardest part. 

It is, of course, much easier to sell things like Gobble Poppers these days because we all have access to the internet. If the internet was around when I invented Gobble Poppers..... well, I can only imagine how amazing that would have been.







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