Wednesday, August 16, 2017

All (good) things come to an end.....

After 2 wonderful weeks we had to say farewell to our friends again. They are a family we befriended at our kids' first school and we remained friends ever since. They visited us 3 years ago and unfortunately we were not able to return that gesture so far. Now they came back. That goodbye was harder than I had anticipated. The friendship we once again experienced after being apart for years we have yet to find here. Nothing so far comes even close. It really was nourishment for the heart, mind and soul.
However their visit had a profound impact. It brought to light that change was yet to come again....

They brought us a large package of delicacies from "home"... 

And of course we had to show them that Sweden too is developing a beer-culture....

He has Wile E. Coyote as a mascot (and nickname).....
and this stuffed animal is present pretty much wherever he goes..

He made us one of my/our absolute favorite local dishes.
It was heavenly to taste it again after these years!!!

We will leave this place. That is for sure. Our time here is coming to an end. The solitude, loneliness and social isolation are no longer tolerable. Last weekend, when we all gathered for a barbecue, I half jokingly remarked that we might just consider moving to Switzerland (I had been balling ideas back and forth with a contact of mine, but looking it up it proved to be a no-go scenario. Far to expensive and crowded), but there was no objection. Far from!!
The next day our oldest daughter broke down and confessed she could not take it anymore. She hated living out here, where there is nothing but forest and lakes. And that, for us, did it. That was the final straw. The decision is made final now. Which is too bad really, since this little village has everything to be a small paradise. Things I mentioned before; forests, lakes, fields, space.... but a socially totally impaired population. Everyone seems to be living by themselves for themselves. No positive, meaningful social interaction I am aware of. After 5 years we're still on our own mostly.

We need to find a place where especially our kids have more easy access to social activities and friends, a place that does have buslines for instance. A place that is more welcoming to others or at least more tolerating. That place needs to be an affordable home which suits our family and which is near to jobs, schools and everything that would enhance life socially.
This brings about a complete change of plans. All the planned projects for this place are scrapped and new ones are being thought out. I need to find more work in order to pay for a move, but also to increase our possibilities to find another house. Furthermore we need to touch up the house in order to make it more attractive to potential buyers. That means no big redoing or rebuilding, but painting, cleaning and fixing.
Decluttering the house has risen substantially on the to-do-list now, too.

We will need to get ready for that change and hope that everything falls into place once again as it did when we moved here. Given the fact that I feel that our friends were steered toward us to achieve that change, I have no doubt it will somehow.

And summer is leaving too.
Autumn's knocking at the door.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Tribal Identity - Paradigm for the Next Generation


This is a socioeconomic experiment. You can be an observer, or an active participant. One way or another the venue is the real world.
As a species we are approaching a window of danger and opportunity; a time of upheaval which will shatter nations and superstates along fault-lines of geography, language, and group identity.
A socioeconomic reset is in order and in the works. The stakes are high. Positive outcomes are possible, but are by no means guaranteed.
We have a very limited time table to influence the outcome. We cannot afford to squander our efforts and resources on ethical anesthetics (artificial solutions).
We don’t control the system and we need to stop pretending that we do. It is counterproductive to debate over how to use power and resources that we do not have.
Voting the bums out doesn’t work. This is not just a question of a few bad apples, or a broken system. We have a paradigm problem. Those who haven’t come to terms with these realities, are behind the curve.
This is not the time to start fighting over what the ideal civilization might look like. Perfection is not on the table. The question is this: Can we do better? If so, we must try.
Take a deep breath. No seriously. Science tells us that the mere act of slowing down our breathing calms the mind measurably. The mind works better when calm, and we’re going to need the extra bandwidth, so take a deep breath and reset for a moment. Press pause if you need more time.
Alright, feeling better? Let’s take this to the next level.


Systems are more stable, and easier to repair and update when they are built using simple, compact and minimally bundled components. In systems design this principle is referred to as modularity.
Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” to represent these minimal clusters in the realm of ideas. Ideas replicate with greater fidelity when they are simple, compact and minimally bundled. A meme is a modular component.
For an idea to survive it must be adapted to its environment. Ideological habitat dictates selective pressures. Modularity facilitates hybrid systems, and rapid adaptation. Applied to culture, it facilitates choice, and peaceful evolution.
Small clusters of ideas can bypass ideological gatekeepers (and avoid triggering cognitive dissonance) in ways that monolithic belief systems cannot. Once in the mind, new memes combine with existing memes and emotions transforming the overall system. This process can be positive, like an awakening, or it can be poisonous, like the metastasis race nationalism within a previously diverse group.
A virus of perception can begin with one person. However to spread, the meme has a replication imperative.


Modern humans are completely dependent on the flow of goods and resources from afar. Transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and medicine are all tied to fossil fuels. Cities and highways are designed with automobiles in mind. Food production, industry and office complexes moved farther and farther away from suburban sprawl. And all of it at the mercy of a debt based monetary system whose ebbs and flows we do not control, a system predicated on infinite growth on a finite planet.
Rebuilding local resilience is imperative.
We must transition NOW towards local systems of production, exchange, and decision making. We must maximize efficiency, reduce inputs, waste and distance traveled. We must start with small, testable solutions that can be implemented right now without the sanction or assistance of those in power.
Local Resilience is a modular component (meme). It resonates. It is compatible with most world views. It is simple, self evident yet fundamentally transformative if applied.
But how would it be applied? How would we get from point A to point B?


When attempting to design, or redesign a complex system, humans have the tendency to start by formulating a detailed master plan, convincing a majority of the stakeholders to sign on to the plan, then implementing (or attempting to implement), the whole product in a linear fashion, like a car being assembled on the factory floor, leaving as a finished product, ready to be driven off the lot.
This approach is sometimes referred to as the “Waterfall Model”. It was termed “waterfall” because the design process was linear, it only moved in one direction. Teams would complete one phase, fully, before moving on to the next. The product wasn’t testable until the final phase. There was no provision for a fundamental redesign once implementation had begun. Water doesn’t flow uphill.
The waterfall model is well adapted to projects where all the variables are clearly defined and unlikely to change (such as the manufacture of a car, or the construction of a simple house), but is has a high failure rate on large, dynamic projects with changing requirements, limited resources, and unforeseen obstacles.
In the early 1990s the software industry faced what is often referred to as “the application development crisis” or the “application delivery lag”. On average it took three years to deliver a usable app. In some industries the process took decades. Within that time frame, requirements, systems, and entire business models had usually evolved. This caused many projects to be cancelled before they were finished, and since the linear model put off testing until the final product was ready, in the end the client was not often not happy with the result, even if it delivered precisely what had been requested.
Software developers attempted to protect themselves in this situation through comprehensive contracts. But projects were chronically behind schedule, over budget and buggy. Contracts provided legal protection, but not a happy customer.
Disillusioned by the status quo, a contingent of the development community gathered in 2001. They decided to radically adjust, and they put their intent into a manifesto.Though the ideas that they drew together had existed in other forms for some time, no one had yet unified those ideas with a sense purpose and mission. They did.
The ideas were simple: Rather than try to build according to a master plan that accounts for everything in the beginning, they would take an adaptive approach (aka iterative or non-linear).
They would first establish their abstract goal: describe what the product needed to accomplish in the broadest sense. They would then prioritize functionality, and build a minimal, stable, and USEFUL first version quickly. Test. Get stakeholder feedback. Reprioritize and adjust immediately. The process was non-linear.
Because of the focus on adapting quickly, the contingent decided to name the sense of purpose that they were bringing to existing adaptive, iterative non-linear processes “Agile”.
Their sense of purpose gave that word an identity. That identity caught on and was copied because it resonated. It was logical. It was an idea worth spreading. Their vision persisted because it worked: it provided tangible and immediate benefits.
This approach to project management improves outcomes in a wide variety of fields. For example, adaptive logic applied to food production, when the abstract goals are to increase efficiency, reduce inputs, waste, and distance traveled is Permaculture.


Any idea worth holding must be worth testing. Unproven models must be tested at the smallest possible scale. Some will merit replication. Others will serve as cautionary tales.

More than one model can and will succeed. This should be embraced. At a macro-systemic level, diversity is inherently more stable than monoculture. This principle holds true in ecology, agriculture, economics and geopolitics.


In the early 1970s social psychologist Henri Tajfel set out to study the minimal conditions required for discrimination to occur between groups of humans. In his tests he discovered that group identity could be easily formed in a very short time using trivial criteria (such as one’s musical preferences or the results of a coin toss), and that groups divided by such trivia would immediately display prejudice against those on the other side,and favor those in the same arbitrary category. He referred to this principle as The Minimal Group Paradigm. It’s the psychological root of tribal identity.
Homo Sapiens Sapiens is a social animal. Tribe the human analogue of a pack.
This instinct pre-dates humanity, and will persist. Failure to account for it, invites tragedy.
The pack instinct is a survival adaptation. It is triggered by physical insecurity. Those who are able to coordinate their efforts with those around them are able to accomplish exponentially more than those who attempt to go it alone.
Groups which define and maintain a strong shared identity are more stable than those which do not. This provides a selective pressure which will always come into play during times of upheaval.
The sense of belonging is a vital need, and modern civilization is in in throes of an identity crisis. This is the window of danger and opportunity.
Where there is opportunity there are always opportunists. Those willing to tell an angry crowd exactly what they want to hear, weaving stories that gives meaning to their pain redefining in-group against an out-group to be saddled with the blame.
When national identity becomes too weak to provide that sense of tribe, new group identities emerge to fill the void.
Identity vacuums cannot be ignored, or rationalized away. They will be filled, the only question is by who, and with what.
Either we fill that void with a positive vision, or demagogues, and prophets of hate will slice and dice, pitting us against each other over trivia.


The next generation needs paradigm and code of identity that bind with a sense of purpose, community, and mission: An idea and a feeling that transcend superficial characteristics (like skin color, gender and orientation).
This vision must resonate, and inspire action; action towards concrete goals, minimal starting points that provide immediate and tangible benefits.
The code must be synchronized with reality. It must adapt to logic and evidence (the scientific method applied to the way humans learn, organize and live).
The code must be open source. It must be simple, modular (meme level), and compatible with a broad spectrum of existing ideologies. It must work with (rather than against) our instinctual psychology. It must be adapted to human biochemistry.
We don’t have time to reinvent the wheel.
We must learn from the lessons of history, and the innovations of the modern age. Take the best of the old and the new. Integrate what works and discard what doesn’t.
You’re never going to get every culture and subculture on this planet to agree on every aspect of the proper way to live, as such we will never eliminate in-group and out-group, or erase all borders of us and them. This understanding precludes one-size-fits-all, global solutions.
Grand socioeconomic designs defined in detail, to be imposed on all by the barrel of a gun, end in war and atrocities committed for the common good.


The ability to maintain peace and security within a group, and in relation to neighboring groups is vital. This duty is, and has always been our responsibility. However for generations we have outsourced these functions to other groups of humans, often thousands of miles away, who claim the monopoly on violence, money and truth within a given region. As the current system weakens, this responsibility must be picked up again on a community level. The transition must be guided by principle.
Most would agree that it’s “not right” to punch the neighborhood kid in the face and take his toy. But where does that feeling of “NOT RIGHT!” or “That’s NOT OK!” come from?
Some frame the concept of non-aggression as a moral principle, but moral principles could also be described as expressions of the tribal instinct. Such principles resonate deeply in the human psyche, and are easily reawakened because for eons they have facilitated the stability (and therefore survival) of groups which hold to them.
This assertion can be tested. Game theory has established that the most successful strategy in experiments modeled around conflict, is tit for tat: never attack, retaliate in kind.
Tit for tat was a mathematically consistent selective pressure. Instincts are adapted to that pressure. This is why every human culture has some concept of the right to self defense. It’s also why most societies condemn aggression, and why states always claim to be attacked when they want to start a war.
The retaliation instinct is counter balanced by empathy. Conflict resolution and consensus building improve outcomes by preventing long cycles of retaliation, and averting escalations before they start.


Diversity and pluralism within a strong code of identity is a sign of strength, not weakness. However an inclusive identity can only be maintained if it is protected. For example: a single member attacking another tribe puts everyone in danger. As such, lines of inclusion must be clearly defined, and violators held to account.
Social validation is a biochemical incentive. If you incentivize something, you typically get more of it.
A code of identity which values conflict resolution, and consensus building, honors those who master those skills, and condemns those who initiate of violence, or call for wars of aggression, gives cultures which hold to it a much better chance of peaceful continuity.


We’ve collected the dots. Let’s connect them.
We can do better. It is imperative that we try.
The time is now. The next generation needs the path to be cleared, pragmatic examples to emulate, and an idea to spread like a virus of perception.
Local resilience, non-aggression, conflict resolution, consensus building, and adaptive action are logical starting points. These are modular components. They are simple, self evident, useful at the smallest possible scale. They are compatible with any sane ideology, yet fundamentally transformative if applied.
Local Resilience implies converging, forming coalitions, and teams, getting our local community involved. Non-aggression, conflict resolution, and consensus building will make the transition more peaceful. The adaptive approach will make us more effective.
Identity can form around any idea (humans can divide themselves on any characteristic they focus their attention on), but what holds it together is a feeling. The feeling of belonging. The tribal identity. This we can cultivate, reawaken. The code is written in our DNA.
Start small, work with what you have, set realistic goals, and take steps to achieve them. The evolution might begin with a gathering of friends, or garden in your front yard.


The following message is for those who get it. You see the stakes. You’ve connected the dots. You’re motivated to take action. You’re looking for some minimal starting points.

The key is to start with the right questions: Press pause and go get a pen and paper.

Ready. Write the following at the top of your page: “What can I do”
Each of you have different skills, assets, liabilities, time and geographic constraints.
Press pause and make a list.
Now write the next question: “What am I willing to do?” How much time and energy are you willing to invest into changing the world? What are you willing to sacrifice?
Press pause and write an honest answer.
As you are writing that answer, consider this: If you aren’t willing to make radical changes in your own way of life, how can you expect others to?
When you’re done write the next question: “Who do I know locally or online who would might resonate with the local resilience meme?”
Press pause and make a list. Next to each name take notes on when and how to initiate contact. You’ll find tools for working with contacts in our activism section.
Now let’s formulate some concrete goals. The specific variables will change, but the abstracts will apply across the board.
To make a difference, we must build local and online networks guided by principle. This is an abstract goal. The concrete goals will be adapted to the context.


We can define local as the maximum distance that humans in a particular region can coordinate and meet physically without the use of fossil fuels. Geography will influence this distance significantly.
To establish your concrete goals you must to assess your radius.
Food, water, community and security dynamics must be accounted for.
If such resources and networks are few or non-existent in your area, it is up to you to either plant the seeds, make them grow, or migrate to a point of convergence that you resonate with.
For local resilience kits, visit our local activism section.
Some of you have technical skills (translators, programmers, graphic designers, animators/video editors ), and or time to contribute. To volunteer online or onsite visit our volunteer section.


The next generation will need radically different skill sets. They will need new strains of intelligence. They will need to adapt and innovate in ways that most can’t even imagine.
Those who want to get ahead of the curve and help others do the same; those who really want to change the world, have their homework cut out for them.
There’s a lot to absorb. Some of what you need to learn isn’t taught in school. Some realities are impossible to fully integrate just by reading a book. Study cannot replace experience.


To apply the scientific method to the way humans learn, organize and live will require the socioeconomic equivalent of laboratories; physical testing grounds where theories stand, or are buried by results (Tribal R & D).
To impact the world beyond our local sphere, results must be open sourced to public domain. We must use the internet to disseminate these ideas while we still can.
It’s an extreme proposition, so to get the ball rolling we’re launching a prototype; a socioeconomic experiment. You can be an observer, or an active participant.
The experiment has a physical base of operations: a piece of land. You could also think of it as a laboratory.
Working with, and transmitting alternative approaches to production, exchange and social dynamics (while transitioning off of fossil fuels, debt based money, and vertical collectivism), are abstract goals. Each of these must broken down into sub-modules to be addressed in concrete terms onsite and online.
In the first iteration we built a shared kitchen, living area, bathroom and campground. Mountains had to be terraced, swamps transformed into ponds, permaculture everywhere.
This was our minimal starting point, the first deliverable: an off-grid adaptive learning center to host visitors, volunteers, and resident teachers.
We’ve beta tested. Participants are onsite. We’re going live.
Whether this project serves as an example to replicate, or a cautionary tale, is yet to be seen. What we can guarantee, is that it’s going to be interesting.
For more information, or to participate in the next iteration, look up the pongovi experiment.
All of the content produced by this project are creative commons. You have permission to download and distribute by any and all means.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

An update on the homestead.

After all the heavy stuff I figured it was time for some down to earth writing.
Summer's coming to an end and the first smells of autumn are in the air. Not that it has been much of a summer to begin with, but still. The wind is swirling the first yellow leaves through the air, the first flock of geese came over yesterday, sailing the wind as they turned and headed out toward the lake.

These last few days have been rich in rain, making it easier to work the soil.
I have begun to change the layout of the vegetable garden. Out with the wooden lining, which, while being aesthetically pleasing, were in the way when working the land and quite so. No more long beds, but 4 large(r) pieces. The aspen tree will mark the middle of the crossing paths for now, but all the rest needs to go. That tree looks nice, creating a patch of shade, but also lots of roots just beneath the surface and plenty of new shoots as well.

Last week I finally managed to make a (temporary) woodshed, which together with the storage next to the house should hold at least a year's supply of wood; all in all more than 10m3. For that I used 6 large pallets, which I got last year, tore off the metal roof sheets from the shed, that will be torn down anyway, and used that as roof. Feels good to have plenty of room, since there not only is a good deal of wood to be sawn, split and stacked, but we also ordered wood; dry, right length and about 10m3 of it.

A beginning has been made with the installation of a watering system. Step one means collecting water. We acquired 2 1000L-tanks and as a test I connected one of them to the rainpipe of the south facing roof. That tank filled up real quick! We had 3 days with copious amounts of rain and just that one half of the roof was enough to more than fill that one tank! When ready we will have access to 2000L of water in 2 separate, but interconnected tanks. But I also need to think of a overflow, that much became clear too.

As for our crops..... I can be pretty short on that subject. There aren't any. Well..... next to none. The continuing drought combined with the rockhard clay soil meant that the garlic remained small, the sown root vegetables are still tiny or nonexistent as I write this. Somehow we need to drastically increase the amount of compost in the soil, just to loosen it up. That means at least 1-2 truckloads.....
Besides that this year is a very bad year for berries and fruit in general. The berry bushes bear very little fruit and what they do bear, is small. And that is not just so in our garden. The same goes for the fruit trees. No cherries, no plumbs and only a minute amount of apples, which are very small. The brambles however look very promising!! They are full! Even the forest berries are not plentiful this year.
The only thing growing so far is the kale and cabbages, but the latter are a feast for caterpillars, since we did not manage to cover them in time. We did get netting, but thought we had steelwire to make the supports. Turns out we probably used it all up when making the chicken coop. Oh well, lesson learned.

Our chickens have been cause for some concern too. This year we only had one (!) hatchling, despite a handful of hens sitting on dozens of eggs. The vast majority did not hatch, we found a few with cracked shells, containing hatchlings, but nothing alive. Maybe that was due to the laying boxes being too big, so that more than one hen could get in and maybe trample the eggs? We found quite some eggs that were broken. The hen that did get the chick, Hermione, turned out to be excellent mummy-material. The chick is growing good, is very lively and very well protected!!
Anyway the lessons we learned were that we need to make smaller boxes and keep a very close eye on the eggs. We lost track of which ones got laid when, which ones broke and which ones were laid later.
We also decided to reduce our flock. Instead of the intended 2x1+9 (2 flocks of one cock and 9 hens) we will be settling for 1 cock and 10-15 hens. One reason is that the large flow of eggs we have now would only increase and we have to many eggs as it is and the other one is that our current topcock Sirius has turned into an annoying brute. He has become very audible (noisy!!) and he is anything but a gentle lover towards the hens. We also noted that Lucius, the second cock, is much more watchful and protective of hens and henhouse, chasing away magpies, where Sirius is doing nothing.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bushcraftfestival 2017 Sweden

Well, only a few more weeks and then I will be attending Sweden's own bushcraftfestival!
Can't wait to see what it's like and meet people known and unknown. They even have the Swedish Friction Fire Championship!
It is a private venture, but with a lot of professional show & tell.

The site's in both Swedish and English!!

I copied the program from their site;

Here is this year's festival program, changes may occur

Friday, August 25th
A day without speakers, workshops or exhibitors. The Festival Team together with the Exhibitors and Workshoppers prepare the booths. Visitors have the opportunity to check in at the camping area during the afternoon.  In the evening an festival kick-off mingle, including live music will be held.

10.00-18.00  Exhibitors and Workshoppers prepair their booths
14.00-18.00  Visitors staying over the night check in at the Information tent
18.00-22.00  Bushcraft mingel
20.00-21.00  Live music from Mika Olavi 

Saturday, August 26th
A full day of Speakers, workshops and Exhibitors. In the afternoon the Swedish Friction Fire Championship will take place and in the evening; a mingle including live music.

10.00-10.45  Speech - The history of hunting tools with Partic Fälldin
10.00-11.45  Workshop - Spoon carving with Jonas Als
10.00-18.00  Free carving in the Whittling Corner
10.00-18.00  Exhibition booths open (see list of Exhibitors by clicking HERE)
10.00-18.00  Workshop - Tanning hide with Mikael Åkerman
10.00-18.30  Workshop - Soap making with the Estonian Survival Guild
10.00-20.00  Knife exhibition by the Estonian Survival Guild
10.30-11.00  Workshop - Survival skills for kids with Harry Sepp
10.30-12.15  Workshop - Fire with Paul Kirtley

11.00-11.45  Speech - Tracking with Clive G. Swombow
11.00-12.45  Workshop - Wilderness painting basics with Ric Nagualero
11.00-13.00  Workshop - Carving with a knife with Johan Forsberg
11.00-13.00  Workshop - Tar making with the Estonian Survival Guild
11.30-12.00  Workshop - Survival skills for kids with Harry Sepp

12.00-12.45  Speech - The body and survival with Magnus de Besche and Jonas Marjamaa (SÖS)
12.00-13.45  Workshop - Spoon carving with Jonas Als
12.00-13.45  Workshop - Tracking with Linus Övringe
12.00-13.45  Workshop - Forging metal with Patric Fälldin

13.00-13.45  Speech - Be prepared for 72 hours with Jan Alsander
13.00-15.00  Workshop - Whisk making with the Estonian Survival Guild

14.00-15.30  The Swedish Friction Fire Championship, feel free to enlist at the Information Tent

15.00-17.00  Workshop - Leather bird ribbons with the Estonian Survival Guild
15.30-17.15  Workshop - Spoon carving with Jonas Als

16.00-16.45  Speech - Edge tools with Jonas Landolsi
16.00-16.45  Speech - Integration and diversity with Babek Toloe
16.00-17.45  Workshop - Plant walk with Mattias Norberg
16.00-17.45  Workshop - Wilderness painting basics with Ric Nagualero

17.00-18.00  Speech - SERE building in Estland with the Estonian Survival Guild
17.00-18.45  Workshop - Tracking with Linus Övringe
17.00-19.00  Speech - Bushcraft: A history of ideas with a modern relevance with Dr. Lisa Fenton

18.00-22.00  Evening mingle
18.30-22.00  Workshop - Bushcraft sauna with the Estonian Survival Guild

20.00-22.00  Live music from Ellinor Fritz and Johan Syrén with friends

Sunday, August 27th
A day with Speakers, workshops and Exhibitors. The evening is finishes off with a short ceremony summarizing this year´s festival.

10.00-10.45  Speech - The history of hunting tools with Patric Fälldin
10.00-11.45  Workshop - Spoon carving with Jonas Als
10.00-12.00  Workshop - Bushcraft sauna with the Estonian Survival Guild
10.00-12.00  Knife exhibition by the Estonian Survival Guild
10.00-16.00  Workshop - Cooking in a fire pit with Dr. Sven Isaksson
10.00-16.00  Free carving in the Whittling Corner
10.00-16.00  Exhibition booths open (see list of Exhibitors by clicking HERE)
10.00-16.00  Workshop - Tanning hide with Mikael Åkerman
10.30-12.15  Workshop - Fire with Paul Kirtley
10.30-11.00  Workshop - Survival skills for kids with Harry Sepp

11.00-11.45  Speech - Tracking with Clive G. Swombow
11.00-11.45  Speech - Integration and diversity with Babek Toloe
11.30-12.00  Workshop - Survival skills for kids with Harry Sepp

12.00-12.45  Speech - Edge tools with Jonas Landolsi
12.00-12.45  Speech - The body and survival with Magnus de Besche and Jonas Marjamaa (SÖS)
12.00-13.45  Workshop - Forging metal with Patric Fälldin
12.00-13.45  Workshop - Carving with a knife with Johan Forsberg
12.00-13.45  Workshop - Tracking with Linus Övringe
12.00-13.45  Workshop - Wilderness painting basics with Ric Nagualero

13.00-13.45  Speech - Be prepared for 72 hours with Jan Alsander
13.00-14.45  Workshop - Plant walk with Mattias Norberg

14.00-15.45  Workshop - Spoon carving with Jonas Als
14.00-16.00  Speech - Bushcraft: A history of ideas with a modern relevance with Dr. Lisa Fenton

16.00-16.30  Closing ceremony

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Running the dogs

Recently I have gotten an introduction into the world of sled dogging. I met with some people from a local club (Södra Dalarnas Draghundsklubb), who run their dogs, mostly in front of the (kick)bikes and much to my surprise it was a motley crew of dogs! Not just dogs traditionally used for pulling and running, but dogs associated  with very different things too. I talked to those folks and got a good deal of advice on gear and how to run my dogs. Now I need to see to it that I/we do get that gear; harnesses, lines, but above all cages for the car! Without those we are not allowed to transport our dogs. And that would be really handy if we need to go and get harnesses for our overdynamic duo or if we want to go and meet the other members of the club to socialise them.
At that meeting we also talked about the dogs' willingness to pull, but I do not think that that will be an issue! Keeping them in line will be more of an issue.
However I have seen to it that I have become mobile. I have bought a used bicycle, so as soon as we have harnesses and lines, I can start. Come to think of it.... a helmet and some gloves might be a good idea too.

In the meantime I did get a suggestion on a book on the subject of mushing (using dogs to pull sleds) and everything related from Jeremias and/or Hannah from the A wandering life-blog; titled "The dog driver; a guide for the serious musher by Miki and Juli Collins.

So that one went on the "to get"-list and you can expect a review, when it shows up here.
See Jeremias/Hannah's bookreview here

Monday, August 7, 2017

Highly sensitive men - Tom Falkenstein's book

In a month Tom Falkenstein's book on highly sensitive men will be coming out. A book to which I was able to contribute, since I am one of the case studies. I must say that I am quite curious as to how it turned out, so despite very limited funds I preordered one. When it arrives, you can expect a review of course. For now it will be available only in German, but as I understood it an English version should become available too. Would only make sense.
I simply copied what it says on the page, so you get Tom's message;

Highly Sensitive Men: Finding Strength in Your Sensitivity

The first book for highly sensitive men written by a practicing psychotherapist. With a foreword and an exclusive interview with Elaine Aron, author of "The Highly Sensitive Person". 
After many years of having worked with highly sensitive clients, Tom Falkenstein realised that there was a lack of books that address the particular issues many highly sensitive men face in our society. Being emotional and feeling quickly overstimulated often doesn't mach what society perceives as being "ideal" in a man. This means that many men who are highly sensitive not only have to deal with living with a particularly sensitive nervous system, but also have to deal with questions around masculinity, identity and self-acceptance.

In this book, Tom Falkenstein, the first psychotherapist to address the very specific issues highly sensitive men face, offers a plethora of practical tools and techniques to address issues around emotional regulationoverstimulationself-care and self-acceptance. The book also includes several interviews with highly sensitive men who share their own personal experiences and stories as well as their knowledge on how to live well as a highly sensitive man. The book includes a foreword and exclusive interview with Elaine Aron in which she addresses her view on highly sensitive men. 
Here's a link that describes high sensitivitywhat is high sensitivity?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

20 years ago.....

I came to Sweden for the first time.... and right then in my soul I knew I had come home and that I would live here one day. That became my dream, our dream. First my wife's and mine, then our family's and today we are living that dream. Realising that dream was not easy, leaving everything and everyone we knew behind. Taking the Big Step (or Plunge or running away and abandoning it all as some called it) was huge and life changing, but we did it nevertheless. Living that dream however became a struggle on its own. When dreaming one tends to turn a blind eye to reality, but we were also misinformed and had underestimated certain conditions in our new home environment. At times (many times) the dream was a nightmare, but at others it really was a good dream.
But as dreams have a tendency to do, they change. At first it was just to live and work here, getting away from the ratrace, with nature near to retreat in or to, but the dream changed into doing more than that; into a life far less dependent on and supportive of this system, which we deem wrong, abusive and destructive. Self sufficiency came into play. We found a place out in the country with a little patch of land to grow our food and have some animals; bees and chickens.
But this year/summer I sort of gave up.... or gave in, is more to the point. I lost the energy, the momentum and the will to continue the struggle, sort of threw the towel into the ring. Constantly swimming upstream, trying to make ends meet, staying afloat..... It took its toll. It feels as if 6 years in Sweden has made me 10 years older.
My marriage almost ended. We came very close and that did leave its mark. Having 2 teens and a pre-teen does to. No blame on the kids, they are going through that teen-hell-phase, but it brought the lack of parental guidance in my youth painfully to light. As an additional bonus I got word that my father was not doing well, losing one leg, maybe even both, double hip fracture, but too weak to undergo surgery, maybe even close to death. Now there is no relation between him and me, aside from a biological bond, but the realisation that when he passes I am the next in line, the eldest in the line of male descendants gave me another shock as did the realisation that we will never reconcile. I would never travel home, even if I did have the means to do so. And that did leave a bitter taste. It once again drove home the fact that my children will continue to grow up without family. They missed their grandparents from my side, no uncles or aunts... nothing. They also missed the family on my wife's side and with her mother having moved back to the Netherlands that gap got enlarged even more so.
My income dried up once again and we fell back onto a teacher's (my wife's) salary, which is just enough to live on. We have done with less, true, but that really was survival-mode. Now we are on barely living-mode. We are not really getting anywhere with our homestead and the garden is showing the lack of drive. The fact that it has been a cool and very dry summer did the rest. We have not had the possibility to create a properly working watering system yet, so....
I also gave in with the food. Eating too much junk, having a few beers too many, not really paying attention to my health. Which of course did nothing to improve the situation.
All in all I have to say that I feel like I got stuck in my annual spring depression, which was deeper due to a negative thinking spiral during winter, and have not yet come out of it completely. It mostly is physical fatigue these days as the brain and mood are on their way up. Breaking such a cycle requires tremendous amounts of energy and that takes its toll.

Ahhh not all is doom and gloom!
The fact that the garden is not producing optimally makes for good experimentation possibilities and lessons. For instance we learned that we have to cover the beds not just against butterflies, when it comes to cabbages, but also against cats and chickens after sowing! As soon as the plants are established these two no longer wreak havoc as much, but before that......
I also learned that my aesthetically pleasing design with the long narrow beds and wooden borders are not just impractical, but they also waste many a square meter of usable surface area. So the wooden borders come out again. Instead of many separate beds the area will be divided into 4 large growing areas.
Lesson nr. 3 is that we placed our greenhouse in the wrong spot. Seedlings do grow, but the light is not optimal, causing long, thin seedlings. But also the greenhouse is in an almost forgotten corner and we regularly forgot to water the seedlings. A lot of waste of potential plants and food was the result. So we have to move the greenhouse to another location next year, which means moving the compost bin, organising our parking lot/wood processing area. That in itself means building new wood storages and optimising available space.
Speaking of wood processing; that required a lot more time and effort then anticipated. Which in itself caused me to fall behind from the get go.

And there are some exciting prospects ahead as well!!
For one is that we will be having guests from the Netherlands all through august. A couple of friends and their daughters from the old school our kids went to as well and who have visited us three years a go too plus the couple that came and visited us last year. It will be wonderful to have folks around to talk to and hang around with. I must admit the loneliness I experienced these last few months had been getting to me.
But I also managed to come into contact with people who own and use sled dogs and they are willing to show me how things are done! I am actually going to learn how to train the dogs and myself, how to use the gear and how to operate as a dog team. I am excited!!!

I have to admit that after reading Dawkins' books, and attempting Darwin's, my view on things has certainly changed. For one Dawkins put into words the things I have always felt; that religion is delusional, a huge hoax and scam. Doesn't matter which one of the major religions you pick. Putting your faith into a god, based on presumably made up stories, that are proven to be false.... Using those "holy" scripts as guidelines or even taking them literally, while they contain many horrible and inhumane acts by both gods and humans.... In my view a bad choice. Dismissing reality, while that is based on proven facts, just because "ancient" tellings dictate otherwise; a sure sign of narrow mindedness and shortsightedness.
Slaughtering one another, because your religion is more peace loving and true.... Pick a word from the dictionary under the category of sheer madness and hypocrisy.
To me religion has never been anything but a tool used to subdue the slow of mind in order to do the ruler's bidding. It was and is a tool of huge power, wielded by ruthless members of the clergy, responsible for suffering and death on a massive scale over the centuries. It feeds the feud between the main religions to this very day, still at each other's throats.
A rootcause of evil!
These books opened my eyes to the more physical world around me and I have even more begun to see the sheer wonder it contains. I have begun to look upon plant and animal with renewed curiosity, having fed my wanting to look at them even more closely to see all the intricate details they possess. I am truly amazed at how this all came to be.
I have also begun to understand that I need not worry about our world, about nature and all the living things that are part of it. There will always be life, in whatever form, going on and filling the empty places we humans have created. No matter how much we pollute, destroy, pillage and ransack the world around us, plants and animals eventually will adapt and fill the gaps. What we really need to worry about is ourselves! We might not have that capability!
Even if we kill of everything in our area it will only be a matter of time, before something living returns. It might take 100, 1000 or 100000 years, a mere blink of an eye on the geological timescale, but some form of life will return, adapt and flourish.

But it also made me reflect on my life as it is now and how that came to be. It made me wonder who I am, what I am, what I stand for and believe in.
Am I an atheist?
Am I an anarchist?
Nonconformist maybe?
Am I antisocial?
Am I a rebel or simply a pessimist?
Or am I an idealist?
A dreamer?

To be truthful I am a mixture of all of the above. How could I not be. No one is one label or another. And besides that, I hate all those ist-labels. I am me. With all my faults and merits.
But what is me? And what are my faults and merits? The one can be the other given certain circumstances.
One of the things I have struggled with for as long as I can remember is authority. Demanding authority wielded by my father, by teachers, by bosses and superiors. By any and all who thought they could demand authority, because they wanted to or felt entitled to. That became clear during puberty, as it is supposed to be, but continued all through my adult life up till now. And will continue to do so, no doubt about that. Which is strange, since I have a bit of a hard time, when my children, especially my daughters, show me that very same feat.
I struggle with imposed authority, not only by individuals, but also groups, systems or even society at large. I will not accept group rules or behaviour, simply because it is expected or even obligatory. I will always ask "why" or rebel, when forced to comply. That has caused numerous problems at the places I worked. All but one. During my army days I accepted the imposed authority. It was inherent to the job. But I still used my brain and asked why to come up with alternative solutions. And I was lucky enough to have superiors that appreciated my thinking. The Dutch army in those days was known for that flexibility. I would not have fared well in any other, to me known, army, I suppose.

Am I an atheist?
That is for certain. I renounce any and all ruling deities. I do not believe in all seeing, all knowing and all ruling gods in whatever form or guise.
However I do not deny that I do think that, despite ruling out the beliefs of the main religions, there is something more out there. Something we have yet not come to understand, natural laws not yet discovered, let alone explained. For instance things like a or the soul. The current scientific explanation that it is nothing more than electric currents, chemical reactions and proteins is not sufficient. What makes every individual unique? What makes me me and you you? How do we explain certain qualities, talents, feats or passions? Why are those processes described, if it is all there is, so very different in me than they are in you?

I often wonder how much of this all is inherited character and how much of it is taught/learned....
In my new found realisations I started to look around for others, who might think or feel like me. The isolation I often experience drove me to seek out people online, due to non existent contacts in the real world.

I ended up exploring sites and forums where atheists meet..... and once again I was not being let down in getting disappointed in humans in general. Some of those people, assumingly a relatively small, but disproportionately loud mouthed group, it seems not only have renounced the gods and religions, but along with it everything we can not scientifically explain by today's standards. In my eyes completely missing the point, by putting their complete faith (here we go again) in today's science, totally disregarding how limited, shortsighted or corrupted it was, is or has become.
Gone are the possible existence of non-physical entities, energies or otherwise yet not explained phenomenon.
And in their belief these atheists have become exactly the same as those they shun or ridicule. They attack anyone proposing otherwise, with the same shortsightedness, biases and bullyish attitude that deeply religious people tend to show these days. The same unwillingness to accept someone else's views, shouting people down with the argument that there is nothing else out there, besides that which current science cannot explain. My way or the highway. Today's science has become their bible or qur'an.
We truly are a limited species. We have evolved technically over the past millennia, but mentally and emotionally we have fallen behind that technical evolution, retaining our caveman mentality. if anything I feel we even have devolved!! We keep going in circles. Societies and civilisations come into existence, grow, fade and die, but we have yet make that leap into real enlightenment, where we truly learn and understand that we are all one. All interconnected and interdependent.
There are no gods, no heaven and no hell.
But we think we are gods, behave as devils, creating a hell on earth in instead of taking care of this heavenly place we should call home; our blue planet.