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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



Archive for the ‘Practical Freedom’ Category

Claire Wolfe

The tiny house movement …

Friday, September 12th, 2014

… has definitely jumped the shark.

Claire Wolfe

In and out of competence

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

I’m less competent when men are around. It’s kind of annoying, and it’s definitely one reason I prefer living solo. But there it is.

This usually shows around cars (where I’m genuinely befuddled) and construction work (where I have some practical knowledge). It’s not a matter of playing dumb. Not my style, that. Nor is it a matter of actually being dumb. It’s more as if an old “I’m no good” switch flips and I become fumble-fingered at things I can do perfectly well when I’m on my own.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Sunny day ramble

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

It was one o’ them days today. But it was sunny. It was Stress, Incorporated. But Sol was beaming down on blazing green grass. And you know, that springtime green, it does blaze. So I drove the dogs out to a place in the woods where a landowner has set a picnic table in a grassy clearing beside a beaver pond. And I enjoyed a sandwich made to order at the grocery store down the road, which has a fine little deli.

Ah. That helped.

Driving home, two teenagers with shovels scooted out of my way. They were on the road with a very unofficial looking truck, and as I slowed down I saw that they were filling potholes. Looking farther, I saw they were with a man who co-owns a local school.

The school is way back in the woods, and although it’s a religious, family-run operation, they also have a contract to take in kids who would otherwise flunk out or drop out of local high schools. Really remarkable place. Wish there’d have been something like that when I was a kid. Life would have been so different.

One thing they do is put all the kids to work in the afternoon, usually some type of charitable physical labor. Today it was filling potholes. In the county road.

This benefits them, too, because their school is way back out there off that road, beyond the rest of civilization. But it’s also for the many people who drive up there.

Dana commented about people putting up their own road signs. That’s an interesting development in the long and honorable history of people turning their backs on government, but of course could be negative or positive, depending on signage.

Pothole-filling? A plus for all. I wonder if they got the county’s permission first or just went out and did it?

—–

I came home, followed up on some (late) email, then sat in the backyard with a Bloody Mary. More stress therapy.

I was preoccupied when I made the thing, though, and put in waaaay too much Worchestershire sauce. It was puckering me up something awful to take a sip of it. But I was in this way-comfortable chair and couldn’t bring myself to get up and go inside to dilute the thing with more V8 juice. Not as long as the sun was shining.

I kept wincing with each sip and waiting for a cloud to cross the sun so I could go inside and remove some of the fire.

—–

Lately, I’ve worked with some very nice people. Some very difficult ones, too. Sort of a package deal. I wonder if anyone has ever calculated the ratio: how many nice people does it take to overcome the impact of one nasty?

I’m choosing to emphasize the good. And the good is prevailing. But my little body and brain can only take so much restorative vodka.

Claire Wolfe

Monday links

Monday, April 21st, 2014
  • Alas, one (normally) educated community didn’t get its Eastertime passion play this year. Because some gov-o-crat thought a passion play was a sex show.
  • But keeping everything equal, religious folks apparently dished out some maltreatment of their own.
  • Today’s good news. Cop tries to shoot harmless dog. Shoots self instead. (As you can imagine several people sent links to this.)
  • Anybody seen a Leveraxe? Now, that looks like one cool tool, if it works as advertised. Funny how even a tool nearly as old as civilization can get a major makeover when the moment’s right. Unfortunately the Leveraxe isn’t on Amazon yet. But keep your eyes peeled.
  • The dumbization and wimpization of American government schooling goes on unhindered. Don’t even think of taking your Leveraxe — or even a wrench! — to school. (H/T H.)
Claire Wolfe

Flowerpot space heater. Experiment two. The engineers were right.

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

When last we spoke (or at least when last we spoke about flowerpot-n-candle space heaters) I reported dismal failure.

Attempting to use one of the devices in a uninsulated 8 x 10 room with big windows produced zero results. In fact, the temperature dropped half a degree while the “heater” was running despite outside temperatures not appreciably changing.

So today I tried again, moving the heater into a 7 x 7 windowless room with decent insulation. The room was 58 degrees when I started. And …

12:00 noon — 58 degrees
1:00 p.m. — 58 degrees
2:00 p.m. — 58 degrees
3:00 p.m. — 58 degrees

So that’s that. I’m not going to try Bear’s suggested experiment of candle-heater vs plain candle (in comments on the earlier post) because there’s nothing to compare. The engineers were right.

Also. During the first experiment I discovered that the roof was leaking. During the second a frozen pipe thawed and began spraying water all over the place. So I think Someone (Coyote, Loki, and Murphy are all suspects here) is trying to tell me Something. Like STOP doing this.

The only observable result — other than weather-and-house-related chaos — is that in the smaller, tighter room, I definitely felt the warmth of the heater while standing within 18 inches of it. If I were, say, tinkering at a work bench with the candle contraption next to me, I might say it worked. I might appreciate the extra warmth. But three feet away, where the thermometer sat — nada.

I’ve been using the three-pot version with the metal inside. I may still fiddle with the two-pot tea-light version. Later. Not until I’m sure that the house won’t fall down around my shoulders if I try.

Claire Wolfe

Space heaters. Made from candles and flowerpots.

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

I’m going to try these. This week.

The simple one. With tea lights.

The slightly more complicated one. With one candle and metal.

Anybody hereabouts done anything like these?

Will report further after I hit the hardware store — assuming they still have flower pots hiding in the back room after having stuck all those Christmas ornaments in the flowerpots’ usual place.

Claire Wolfe

Good causes for the holidays (UPDATED)

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

As mentioned earlier, I’m not holding a fundraiser or hoping for Christmas gifts this year.

I do hope you’ll my Amazon links for all your online Christmas shopping.

—–

Beyond that, I hope you’ll consider sending holiday bounty to EDITED Joel’s Eyeball Fund. Use the bolded link, scroll down, then click the donation button on the right. Our entertaining hermit buddy is managing his glaucoma, but he’s going to need expensive cataract surgery. And right now he can’t even afford his winter’s oatmeal.

I’ve removed two other donation recommendations, one because its campaign is over, the other because it has met, and more than met, its fundraising goal.

—–

If you’re still inclined to send something my way, I won’t turn it down and I’ll be grateful. But please think of me only if you have extra.

Here’s the PayPal button. It gives options for both one-time and recurring contributions:





If you want to snail something, you’ll need my new snailing address; last year’s won’t do.

Claire Wolfe

Where to go for OFFSHORE email and VPNs?

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

I’ve been using the U.S.-based company Cotse.net for email and proxy services for many years, ever since I learned about it from S. Cotse gives good service at a good price. I’ve been a happy customer. There’s nothing at all wrong with Cotse.

Except that it’s based in this increasingly thuggish surveillance state.

Which has already driven more than one privacy-protecting company to shut its doors.

I’m seeking a back-up service. I’ll keep Cotse, but I want to be using a Plan B if the feds drive them out of business, too. So I’ve been reading articles like this one. But online reviews are no substitute for personal knowledge.

What can you tell me — from personal experience and/or knowledge of a company’s location, management, and services — about other reliable services?

Here are the requirements

* MUST BE BASED OUTSIDE THE U.S. — MUST!
* Will preferably be based in a jurisdiction where its owners feel no need to kowtow to every illegal demand of some UberGovernment.
* Provides services including email and VPN
* Has reasonable rates
* And shows no sign whatsoever of just being some phony front for the surveillance state.

Anybody …?

Claire Wolfe

Friday freedom question: Would you quit the Internet?

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Ever since Pamela Jones shut down Groklaw and announced she was not only abandoning the site but quitting the Internet entirely in light of the Edward Snowden revelations, I’ve been thinking about this.

At the time, though I found her reasons poignant and pertinent, I thought she was overreacting. Now, I don’t know.

Personally, I’m not on the verge of quitting. A big part of my life is here. And all of my career (such as it is) is here. That’s been true since 1986 when a client bought me my first 300-baud modem and set it up so I could electronically submit stories to him. It was certainly true in 1993 when I met my Significant Sweetie (now ex, but still friend) on a FIDOnet gun-rights bulletin board. It’s definitely true now when I’d likely starve to death and blow away without the ‘Net.

Still, I think most of us (and most notably a lot of tech types hereabouts) feel the temptation.

We’ve always been independent sorts around here. We avoid being messed with by power trippers. If we can’t avoid, we “mess back.” But right now, there’s nothing we can do to counter the electronic offenses being committed against us and against freedom by the UberGoverment whose all-probing eye peers out from Mordor on the Potomac.

Oh, sure, we can play the old “keyword” game with our emails. (There’s even a new Firefox/Chrome browser add-on to let us do the same thing with URLs and HTTP headers now.) That’s fun. And it’s always true that irritating and misdirecting the bastards is worthwile, even (or perhaps especially) as tyranny grows. We can also use GPG, dump Windows for Linux, use TOR, etc. etc. etc. And eventually heroic tech wizards may save us — and the Internet — from NSAuron.

But now …? Now …? Now we seem to be faced with using dodges that may or may not help or simply shrugging and going on because, realistically, there’s not much else to do. So …

Would you quit the Internet? If so, what would you do instead? If not, how do you adapt to knowing that everything you do online (or on the phone) is probably recorded and analyzed, even if it then disappears into the maw of a datacenter’s godzillabyte storage capacity, never to be seen again?

—–

Now, that said, I’m “quitting the Internet” for the next three days. I may pop in to post some cute dog pictures tomorrow, and I’ll check in to moderate comments at least once a day. Otherwise, I’m away for a bit from the Bad News Net.

Claire Wolfe

And speaking of drones …

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

I’m lucky enough to have several friends who keep bees. At one apiary, they strive each year to come up with a clever label.

In 2012 (which, as you recall, was the year the world ended), they had the Bee of Doom descending:

HoneyLabel2012

But this year they outdid themselves. Their most productive hive was also the most protective hive. Although the humans eventually “won” and took the honey, the bees put up a battle worthy of … well, see for yourself:

HoneyLabel2013

Note the extra “stingers” on those bees.

—–

I’ve blurred the name and location of their apiary for privacy (I hope without too much botching of their wonderful designs), even though they assured me they’re probably already on so many lists that it really doesn’t matter.

Claire Wolfe

Walden on Wheels: terrific book

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

I just finished a really terrific new book: Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas (a young man I suspect we’ll be hearing more of over the years).

I had heard somewhere that it was the memoir of a kid who got freaked out by his student debt and went debt-free by living in a van.

Sounded interesting enough. But it turns out that’s only about 1/10th what this book is about. It’s about a young, coddled, clueless suburban slacker who decides to grow himself up. It’s about the insanity of starting adult life so burdened with debt that you feel too constrained to make interesting choices. It’s about self discovery and hopeful possibilities in the “Screwed Generation.” It’s a bit of social commentary ala Thoreau with a large bit of self-deprecating humor thrown in.

Ilgunas writes well and colorfully and never hesitates to lay out his own youthful delusions of grandeur, juvenile habits, screwups, and lack of motivation. But as the best Amazon reviewer points out, this bored young slacker works harder and accomplishes more than a lot of workaholics.

The book is about how Ilgunas worked his way through his student debt (“only” $32,000, but a sum he saw as crushing, especially because he stumbled his way through school with no goals and came out with no career skills), then made it through a prestigious grad school on cash alone. That’s where the van finally comes in.

But before that, he tells a story of working in Alaska, hitchhiking across two countries, and trying to do good in a government program in the Deep South — all the while going from child to man.

Ilgunas self-identifies as a liberal and an environmentalist. But I perceive a young man on the freedomista road. Many of his observations hardly toe the PC line. And though he sometimes mocks the redneck views of his backwoods neighbors, he also admires many of them fiercely and learns eagerly from them. And when given a chance to try out some serious firepower, he doesn’t hesitate for a second (though his mention of the price of the gun made me wonder whether he was really shooting full-auto or just an UBR with a Hellfire trigger or some such.)

He does go “full Walden” in some of the latter parts of the book, giving social commentary that seems a mite pretentious for one so young. On the other hand, if any 20-something has earned the right to comment so sweepingly on life, society, and the hopes and troubles of his generation, Ilgunas is the guy.

Loved this book — and was both entertained and encouraged — from page one to the very end.

Walden on Wheels: On The Open Road from Debt to Freedom
By Ken Ilgunas
320 pages
New Harvest paperback, May 14, 2013
Just $9.57 paperback and $3.99 for Kindle.

Claire Wolfe

Friday freedom question

Friday, March 29th, 2013

The question for today: Where does your state rank on the 50 States Freedom Index — and do you care?

(Readers from Wales and South Africa and Germany, et al — if you want to play, you could use the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom, the Fraser Institute’s Index (.pdf) or some other index that rates countries.)

Some states, like NY, CA, and IL are so generally hellish that it seems the rankings mean a lot. Others, like WY and WA (that have oddball tax structures or something else non-standard about them), tend to produce rankings that don’t mean as much from an individual perspective.

And of course the crappiest state or country can have great pockets of political freedom. And half a dozen members of the Commentariat will rush to declare (rightly) that “freedom is a state of mind.”

Still, do the rankings mean anything at all to you? Would you use them even as a datapoint when deciding to move or advising a friend on making a move?

—–

If you don’t want to ID your state’s rank for privacy reasons, just say “it falls in the middle” or “it’s near the top” or whatever.

H/T J.G. for the idea.

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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