Tag Archives: enviroment

Home, part 1

Recently we drove down to Seattle so that my wife could do a photo shoot at a favorite old park of ours (it’s the one I proposed to her at…). It’s been 4 years since we lived in Seattle. The dozen or so times we’ve been back since moving away, it always feels like a piece of my heart was ripped out when we left, and that going back puts it all back together, if even for a moment.

The bench that I proposed to Alex on. On the ground there is a plaque there that reads: "A respite for those who see beauty in all things"

The particular neighborhood we were in was Queen Anne. It is a very wealthy, beautiful neighborhood just North of downtown. On the street we were on, I could almost smell the money along with the cherry blossoms and dogwoods that lined the sidewalks. I don’t know that any of those houses were worth less than $800,000; many of them were worth more than 5 million. Part of this comes from the view many of the homes there enjoy. The homes also enjoy relative security from passersby such as myself. Many of them had gates in front of the driveways, or even in front of the walkways that led up to their front doors. Some are on a steep enough incline that you wouldn’t even bother looking for a way in. The separation was plain as day. I was welcome to look, but not to touch.

Walking down this street with the kids in tow in their double stroller, I ran a gambit of emotions.

Anger that people could live like this, so secluded from the rest of the world.

Jealousy because a part of me wanted to know what that type of life would feel like, to not have to worry about finances, to be able to enjoy the finer things in life and send my kids to a nice safe little private school.

Despair that I’ll never be able to provide that type of life for our children.

And then I turned that stroller East up a hill and huffed and puffed the three of us to the top. All those churning emotions just kind of faded away. Corbin got to see a fire truck with it’s lights on parked on the street to provide support to an EMT team that had arrived in at some public gathering for a medical emergency. We sat there, eating PB&J and talking about the hoses and lights and everything else that made his face light up.

Then we headed back down toward the park as Alex was finishing up her shoot. This time though, I didn’t feel jealousy or anger. No resentment. I’d rather be there on the street, talking to the passersby about the flowers along the road, the weather, the kids in prom outfits walking around getting their pictures taken. I realized then that it wasn’t the houses and the economic situation that had made me upset. I didn’t want to live so isolated as these people seemed to.

What had really been bothering me was that I was homesick. Deeply, desperately homesick. If you’ve followed this little blog at all, you’ll know that I lived the first 20 years of my life in Michigan, then moved to Seattle where I met Alex and we lived for 5 years. When I say I’m homesick, it isn’t for Michigan, but for Seattle.

In Seattle I could walk down the street and breathe in the city. There is life there, but more than that is a feeling of being alive. Seattle fits like my favorite hoodie. Comfortable and warm, but loose with enough breathing room that I’m never really restricted. When we go back there to visit, it feels like I never left. Seattle feels like home. If home is where the heart is, I’ve been missing a piece of my heart for the last 4 years.

At the same time, I feel right at home out in the middle of nowhere. Places where the only sounds are from the birds chirping and cedars creaking. Places where bon fires are encouraged and where a babbling stream serves as a sink and shower.

These two places share one thing in common; when I’m there, I feel alive, I feel surrounded by life. Out here in the suburbs, I’ve only ever felt like I’m living in a way. There isn’t much magic to be had in the ‘burbs. And where there is magic and life, that is where home is. In finding “home”, I look to something other than a place. It is something ethereal that can’t be touched, yet I also find it linked inextricably to my environment. I’m starting to find more and more that this great spiritual quest has everything to do with finding “home”.

I’ll have part 2 up in the next week or so. It will examine a bit about a connection to “home” and Zen.

Cheers.

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The steeper bill to pay

The bill that House Republicans are proposing that will set the budget through the end of the fiscal year (Sept ’11) “loads up every piece of the far-right social agenda in one bill, from restricting a woman’s right to choose to preventing government from protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink.” – quote from as Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. in Huff Post today. While I find many of the proposals distasteful, it is the ones concerning the environment that I would like to draw your attention to. As some of you reading this know, I’m currently in school, pursuing a degree in Environmental Policy and Planning. These issues are important to me, and often I’m shocked that there is so little regard paid to them.

I found a list of the environmental riders on the budget bill at the Sietch Blog. You can read them here, and there is a pdf version here. My thanks to the writers there for posting this. I’ll list just a couple of the ones that I found particularly appalling:

Section 1746: Taking Away EPA’s Authority to Enforce the Clean Air Act – states that zero funds may be used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce or promulgate any regulation related to the emissions of greenhouse gases due to concerns regarding climate change. This far reaching legislation prevents EPA from regulating carbon pollution and protecting Americans from the impacts of climate change. This section stops EPA from requiring new power plants, oil refineries, and other major new sources of carbon pollution to begin reducing their carbon emissions. It also prevents EPA from setting minimum federal standards for power plants and oil refineries, and severely interferes with EPA’s permitting process for new or expanded facilities. In addition, this section prevents the public from learning how much carbon pollution is actually being emitted by the largest polluters. This legislation ties EPA’s hands and allows carbon pollution to continue or even increase unabated – endangering public health, food and water supplies, wildlife habitat, species, forests and coastlines throughout our nation.

Section 1747: Blocking EPA Efforts to Clarify the Scope of the Clean Water Act – halts the EPA’s ongoing effort to make clear which waters remain protected by the Clean Water Act in the wake of confusing court decisions and subsequent Bush administration policy. This provision leaves millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams without clear Clean Water Act protection. These streams provide at least part of the drinking water for 117 million Americans. It jeopardizes EPA’s ability to enforce the law against oil spills and waste dumping in these waters.

 Section 4008: Limiting Enforcement of the Cement Kiln Air Toxics Standard – EPA is prohibited from using any funds to implement or enforce a health standard to control mercury and other pollutants from cement plants. Cement plants are the third leading source of man-made mercury emissions and have evaded controls prescribed under the Clean Air Act for over 13 years. EPA finalized these life-saving standards in September 2010 with a compliance deadline of September 2014. These overdue standards will save 2,500 lives, prevent 1,000 heart attacks, and reduce 130,000 missed days of school and work each year, according to EPA estimates. EPA also projects that this rule would save $18 billion in health costs just from reductions of fine particulate matter. Defunding implementation of this critical reduction of mercury, lead, particulate matter and other hazardous pollutants will not remove any regulatory obligations. In fact, this amendment deprives states and cement manufacturers from getting technical assistance and support in developing compliance plans. Barring EPA from providing critical guidance for this protective health standard puts the public at risk and leaves industry without critical compliance input.

 Section 4015: Blocking EPA from Regulating Emissions from Stationary Sources – issues a “stop-work” order to the EPA for any regulation of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, or perfluorocarbons from stationary sources for any reason, including their impacts on ozone, climate change, or any other public health threat. The broad impacts of this amendment, therefore, include blocking work underway to address dangerous carbon dioxide pollution; a de facto construction ban on power plants and factories; interference with the

Renewable Fuel Standard; preventing EPA from implementing a three-year study of biomass greenhouse gas emissions; interference with the EPA’s acid rain program; preventing enforcement of rules covering emissions of HFCs and perfluorocarbons from refrigeration and other equipment.

This stop-work order would accomplish nothing other than to ensure that more dangerous pollution is dumped into the air and that U.S. companies fall behind in the global competition for clean energy markets.

The rest of the list is just as disgusting. Everything from defunding NOAA to gutting funding for important studies and our involvement in the IPCC. Many of these measures will not only create conditions of unparalleled environmental destruction, but cost thousands of jobs, and directly (and indirectly) impact the health of tens of thousands (or more), and the potential to contaminate the drinking water of hundreds of millions.

 

This is all being done in the name of controlling the deficit. But I doubt that the motivation behind such actions is really just fiscal responsibility. For whatever reason, it has become the party line of the Republicans that any government proposals that are aimed at benefiting the environment are somehow inherently evil. While I don’t doubt that this meme was started in the interests of businesses not wanting to spend a few extra bucks complying with environmental standards that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, I believe this new round of cuts is born out of something else entirely. It’s almost as if the new partly line is simply “fuck the liberals, let’s pass reactionary legislation that will drum up hysteria and unite our base”. They’re even bringing back styrofoam into the congressional lunchroom. Yeah, styrofoam, that substance that has been banned in several cities and is toxic throughout its entire millennial life span. Oh, and there is that state rep in Montana that is introducing legislation that would declare global warming beneficial to the welfare and and business climate of his state. The Republicans are basically taking their ideological positions to the extreme, in an effort to gut government of any type of power to protect its citizens from the dangers that industry can impose upon us.

Unfortunately, Republicans are living in the delusion of “now”. All of their proposed cuts to environmental spending are looking at the short-term deficit impact. None of these cuts address the long-term economic impact (hint: it isn’t good) nor do they address the long-term health-effects, or the long-term environmental impacts (which will impact the other two). Republicans love talking about how we can’t pass the deficit bill on to our children and grandchildren, but when we craft policies that demonstrate a total disregard for the environment, we leave them with a much steeper bill to pay.

Some like to claim that the green/lib crowd is trying to scare people with doomsday-type scenarios about climate change and other environmental issues. But the facts remain:

We are running out of fresh water

We are affecting global climate change, and the Earth is getting hotter

We are running out of arable land

We are dumping hazardous chemicals into the land, air and water that are screwing with our health and depleting the amazing amount of biodiversity found on this wonderful planet of ours.

These facts should be of grave concern to everyone, regardless of political persuasion. But they aren’t. Because in the culture of capitalism we currently find ourselves in, there are those that value the future balance sheets of our children’s bank accounts more than we do their health and livelihoods.

That’s all for now. Cheers.

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"We aren't feeling enough as a culture right now"

Just happend upon this video that is well worth watching. TED has some great talks and videos, but this one just stood out for some reason and really resonated with me. I hope you enjoy.

Cheers.

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Earth Day Post: Blue Dharma

Today is Earth Day. Now, I know that the Buddha never lectured on water conservation, solar energy, or global climate change. But he did talk at length about compassion. He did speak of karma.

What we need  is more awareness of the far-reaching effects of our actions. Armed with this information, we are then able to make choices in our lives that lead to more skillful outcomes. We can live more compassionately, and create a more compassionate world. Earth Day is a great day to take a moment to contemplate the inter-connectedness of life on this planet.

One thing that connects all of us is water. The Earth is covered in it. Every species depends on some form of it. Nations have built themselves upon proximity to this natural resource. It is used in holy rituals throughout many (if not all) of the world’s religions. And just as it brings us together, it can cause a great divide. It comes in bottles and hurricanes, hail and hot springs. But of the potable variety, we are running out.

Pilchuck River near Darrington, WA

I could go on and on about how precious it is. How we need to manage our water usage better. How many people will die this year because they couldn’t get clean drinking water. How your life style and mine are ruining this planet. How a vegetarian lifestyle requires 60% less water consumption than one that is meat-based. How in the next 50 years, we’ll see nations go to war over not oil, but water. How you should do x, y, and z to help change things.

Instead, I’m going to leave you with some facts*. If you really take the time to let these facts soak in, you’ll know what to do. If you actually care about cultivating compassion, you’ll know what to do, and what types of companies/projects to consider supporting in the future. Though, I will jump on my soapbox for a minute, and ask you to please, please, please, NEVER BUY BOTTLED WATER. It is one of the most wasteful and irresponsible choices you could make as a consumer.

By 2025, 1.8 Billion people will live where water is scarce.

On average, 2 Billion gallons of water are used every day to irrigate golf courses in the U.S. In Florida, 3,000 gallons of water are used to water the grass for each golf game played.

U.S. swimming pools loose 150 billion gallons to evaporation every year.

Only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh. About 2/3 of that is frozen. Most of the rest is in aquifers that we’re draining much more quickly than the natural recharge rate.

The Great Lakes contain roughly 22% of the world’s fresh surface water.

2/3 of our water is used to grow food.

Americans use about 100 gallons of water at home each day. Millions of the world’s poorest make due with less than 5.

46% of people on earth do not have water piped into their homes. Women in these developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get water.

The Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called the Third Pole because of all the frozen water it holds. It supplies fresh water to nearly a 1/3 of the world’s population. The glaciers there are melting.

One out of eight people in the world lack access to clean water.

3.3 million people die from water-related illness each year.

The weight of China’s Three Gorges Reservoir will tilt the earth’s axis by nearly an inch.

The longest water tunnel, which supplies New York City, leaks up to 35 million gallons a day.

Dam projects have displaced up to 80 million people worldwide.

Fish caught downstream from sewage treatment plants in five U.S. cities contained traces of pharmaceuticals like Dilitiazem, Norfluoxetine, and Carbamazepine as well as other toiletries.

The following is a list of items, with how many gallons of water it takes to produce each item (from scratch to your shopping cart/mouth)

2,900 – One pair of blue jeans

1,857 – One pound of beef

766 – One cotton T-shirt

84 – One pound of apples

20 – One glass of beer

37 – One cup of coffee

816,600 = gallons used during the lifetime of a typical cow destined for human consumption

Cheers.

             *most of these were pulled from the February 2010 special edition of National Geographic

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SnOMG!!!!

Having grown up in Michigan, I can remember regularly having feet of snow lasting all winter. And it was fun. We had snowmobiles to ride, snowmen to make, and snow forts to build. And when the day was over we could go back inside the house to warm up with some hot cocoa. Pretty fun for a kid.

Of course, some snow storms aren’t all snow angels and snow ball fights. Right now, there are millions of people and livestock that have it much, much worse. I’m not talking about the people on the East Coast though. I’m talking about the people of Mongolia in the midst of a dzud. For those that are unfamiliar with that term, it’s the word that the Mongolians use for “the worst f*ng weather conditions you could ever imagine”. If you know anything about Mongolians, you know that “the worst f*ng weather conditions you could ever imagine” is something not to be taken lightly. Livestock is freezing to death at incredible rates. People are surviving on tiny amounts of food. It’s like the quake in Haiti, but -20 degrees and covered in 10 feet of ice. Not to mention that due to the unusually dry summer, there wasn’t much food then either.

Bitteroot Badger has blogged about this a bit lately, and I felt compelled to let everyone know that there are (very, very, few) people out there helping that need your support. Head to his site here and take a look at some of the ways you can help. Or check out CAMDA who is working on relief efforts as we speak. There is so much suffering happening there now, and will continue to happen even after the dzud has passed. Please help if you are at all able. Thank you.

Cheers.

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Goodbye China!

After the Brit Hume thing, Marcus from Marcus’ Journal wrote:

If you joined the letter-writing campaign to Fox News, if you condemned them on your blog or even just left a comment on a blog elsewhere, now consider doing at least double the amount of writing in the case of Buddhists who are being imprisoned and tortured on a near daily basis. Read the links below, find out what’s been going on, and write a letter condemning the use of torture and unfair trials in China against Buddhists. Post it up on your blog as a model for others to copy, and then sign it and send it. I’ll be doing the same.”

Well, I didn’t write Fox News. I didn’t write them because I knew it would only make Rupert Murdoch and the powers that be at Fox “News” smile. They would probably get a kick out of all the letters. I can imagine them printing each angry letter on rolls of toilet paper with which Bill O’liely would then wipe his ass with. I didn’t want any part of that. I felt like the biggest impact I could make was to do what I’ve always done with Fox News, not watch it. Not watch it on TV (which I don’t have) and not watch it on the web. I then blogged about my reaction to the mess, but didn’t link to any videos because I didn’t want to promote Fox anymore. I think that was about the biggest contribution that I as an individual with no real influence or power in the world could make.

I attempt to make similar choices when I buy food. I try to buy local and organic (but sometimes I’m broke so Kellog’s it is). It’s my way of “voting” about what products and practices I want to succeed. Well, I’m going to do the same with China. Their list of human rights violations is getting longer than Ron Jeremy at a Victoria’s Secret by the minute. Their record on the enviroment is just as glamorous. So, I’m not going to follow Marcus’ sample letter. Instead, I’ve created my own. It might be more abrasive, and it might be just as easily dismissed as any of the other letters that may or may not make their way to someone who may or may not care; but I’m going to follow through on the action. I’m boycotting products made in China as well as other countries with serious human rights issues (to the best of my financial ability).

On a side note, it appears that Google is also contemplating pulling out of China for similar reasons. Check it out here.

I find that this approach might have more of an effect than just a letter. Or maybe not. Either way, I’m doing a small thing that may lessen the suffering of others, and that’s the point. And I think this approach will “hit ’em where it hurts”. Here is a copy of my letter:

Dear Ambassador Mr Zhou Wenzhoung,

          It has come to my attention that your government has sentenced Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche and Dhondup Wangchen on trumped-up charges and without legal counsel. China’s continued violations of basic human rights has left me with one choice: a boycott. I will not buy any more products that were constructed, assembled, or otherwise “made” in your country. I will encourage my family, friends, and those that read my blog to do the same. I cannot in good conscious support a country that does not support even the most basic of human rights, and acts with such reckless regard to the enviroment. Until China decides to release Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche and Dhondup Wangchen as well as any other prisoners who’s rights have been clearly violated, until your country takes a progressive stance on worker’s rights, until you reverse your blatant disregard for the enviroment, I refuse to support your government financially. The opportunity is yours to lead the world, yet you do nothing but hinder peace, progress, and liberty for your people and the world. It’s time for a change China.

Sincerely,

               Adam L. Johnson

 

To:
President Hu Jintao
Guojia Zhuxi
Beijing
People’s Republic of China

Premier Wen Jiabao
Guowuyuan
No. 9 Xihuang-chenggen Beijie
Beijingshi 100032
People’s Republic of China

Wu Aiying
Minister of Justice
No. 10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Chaoyangqu
Beijingshi 100020
People’s Republic of China
TEL: (86) 10 6520 6706
TEL: (86) 10 8313 9065
Email: pfmaster@legalinfo.gov.ch
Email: minister@legalinfo.gov.cn

UK
Madame Fu-Ying
The Chinese Embassy
49-51 Portland Place
London, W1B 1JL
TEL: 020 72994049

US
Ambassador Mr Zhou Wenzhoung
The Chinese Embassy
3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel Operator: +1-202-4952000
E-mail: chinaembassy_us@fmprc.gov.cn

 

gān bēi (cheers).

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Blog Action Day – Climate Change

So Blogger has this “Blog Action Day” thing going on, where they want as many bloggers as possible to blog on the same day about the same topic – the climate crisis. So, here we go…….

 The Science behind climate change is sound. We are currently screwing up the planet. If you doubt this, read some Scientific articles (the peer reviewed really boring stuff, not just someone’s commentary) and make your own decision based on the evidence. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on.

 When making beer, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. Let’s start with the recipe. The Amber Ale I just bottled was a pretty straight forward recipe. But you have to know how the different ingredients are going to interact when formulating the recipe, or you’ll end up with a palate full of mess. Too complex, and all the flavors will be muddled and unappealing. Too simple, and you’ll end up with a flat beer that isn’t worth it’s weight in mud. So my grain bill was a little on the complex side, but the flavors mixed well, and none of the grains were overwhelming. They provided just the right flavor along with the maltiness of the extract to achieve a flavorfull and balanced mouth feel and flavor. When adding the hops, I had to be careful not to add to much at the beginning, or the bitterness would have overpowered the fruity and malty flavors. Too little, and it would have been flat, malty, and unbalanced.

 Next, there are a number of precautions one must take. If you let the grains get too hot, you’ll have astringent beer. If you don’t sanitize your equipment properly, you could contaminate your beer and you’ll end up with 5 gallons of crap. Same thing if you slosh the fermenting wort around after the yeast is pitched. And if you fill your bottles too low or too high, the carbonation will be off, which could also ruin your beer. “Adam – this was supposed to be about the climate crisis, not beer.” – I’m getting to it.

 So, what’s the common theme here? Balance. In every step of the process, care must be taken to maintain a proper level of balance. Too much or too little of any one thing or process will ruin the entire batch. It happens to all of us from time to time. Which is why mindfulness is so important when going through the brewing process. When one can achieve the proper state of mind, one can give full attention to the task at hand and brew quality beer.

 The same focus needs to be directed toward the climate crisis. You’ll see a lot of the global warming skeptics talk about how water vapor is the leading cause of global warming, and that man isn’t the culprit. But they fail to realize that it is through our actions that we have raised the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, which leads to an increase in water vapor, which increases the temperature, which leads to more water vapor…… get the picture? We’ve unbalanced the delicate dance that the earth’s climate has been waltzing for thousands of years.

 And it’s not just our “carbon emissions” either. It’s our deforestation. It’s our dumping millions of gallons of chemicals into our lakes and oceans from runoff and sewage. Here in the Puget Sound, a few days after Thanksgiving there is noticeable amounts of vanilla and other spices in the water due to all the pumpkin pie and other holiday foods that are produced. So yes, what you eat and clean your home with does have an effect on the environment.

 In Buddhism, we learn that we are all interconnected. It’s a core teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. And not just the “we are the world” type of connected. When you pour Drano down the sink and flush it into the ocean, you’re flushing it into yourself. You’re flushing it into your grandmother, your dog, your unborn child. When you drive the 5 blocks to the Post Office in your Hummer rather than walk, you’re polluting your own air, your family’s air, the air in Yellowstone. Your actions have far-reaching effects. Knowing this, will you change your mind about the way you act in this world?

 This is why I believe the teachings of the Buddha are so vitally important to humanity. When we are able to fully realize our interconnectedness, will we continue to devour this planet, realizing that we are really devouring ourselves? How could we?

 I encourage you to change your way of thinking. I encourage you to look at how unbalanced your actions are. I’m trying to do the same, succeeding and failing every day. Think about the products you buy. How were they sourced? What ingredients/components were used? What will you do with it when you are finished with it? Do you really need a GMC Yukon, or could you get along just fine with a more efficient Prius or Suburu or smaller SUV? Why not use a CFL bulb, or reuseable grocery bag? Could your company do more confrencing on the web rather than fly people across the country?

 The time for talk is over. Action is the only solution to the problems we’ve created. There are a million resources out there for living a “greener” life. Just be wary of the ones that are only trying to cash in on your good intentions. If Al Gore really cared about more than just making a buck, he’d have covered his costs on the movie and invested in wind power with the rest of the cash. And he’d have found alternative packaging for it. While the message was right, the delivery was simply terrible. But I digress.

 This was the Home Brew Dharma take on the Climate Crisis/environmental issues. I’m sure I’ll blog more about it, as it is a very important topic, especially as it deals with interconnectedness. But that’s my contribution to the Blog Action Day, and I hope I at least made you pause to consider your actions and intentions. Cheers.

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Stuck Fermentation

 

 I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately. No reason that I can find. Mostly the subject material has escaped me. Then I realized that in itself was a subject worthy of print. I started this blog a few months ago with the hope that it would simply inspire me to write and explore my own mind and understanding. It has done just that. I’m not hoping to get anything on this blog published at any point, ever. This isn’t the subject material that I’d really enjoy writing an entire novel about. I don’t know how I’d make it last that long. But the subject of “writers block” made me curious. Can I approach it the same way I approach any other type of “block” in my life? Why is writer’s block seen as so much more impossible to overcome than say a mechanic’s block, or a architect’s block? We don’t ever hear of bus driver’s block. Is there a potter’s block? More importantly (and pertinent to this blog) is home brewer’s block.

 Sometimes, you’ll finish brewing a batch, pitch the yeast, wake up the next morning and……..nothing. No bubbles in the airlock. You wait another day. No activity. No fermentation. All that time/energy/money you spent looks like it’s circling the toilet right about now. Shitty. You’ve encountered what Pirsig would refer to as a “value trap”. If you don’t approach this trap in the correct way, you just made 5 gallons of terrible drain cleaner. So we need to look at the causes of “stuck fermentation.”

 First, your wort sucks. The environment that the yeast is in is inhospitable. You may have added too many adjuncts or sugar (rice syrup comes to mind here – people use that to make American Light Lagers. piss water. don’t waste your time). So the yeast doesn’t have enough nutrients to survive. You’ll need to feed the yeast if this is the case. Add some sterile wort to the mix. This will give it a kick in the right direction, and dilute all those adjuncts you’ve added.

 In life, this happens frequently. We have a particular goal in mind, but in getting there, we accumulate so much “baggage” and attachments that we end up too weighed down to reach that goal. In writing, we get too many ideas about what the end result should be. Or we get to reading another author and think “I’ll add that in”. Or we get caught up in another task or project. Or we become obsessive compulsive about using the thesaurus for every third word we use. If you want to write, you need to write. Just focus, and do it. No distractions. Set aside a time to write if you need to and stick to it.

This doesn’t apply to writing only. Any goal you have in life, it’s easy to get bogged down by all the non-nutritious crap you’ve added to your life. You want to have a great, prosperous life, filled with joy and ease. But what do you do instead? You leave the TV running. You let your friends drain you emotionally day after day. You eat shit for lunch and dinner (because chances are, you aren’t eating breakfast). Your home is cluttered. Your finances are a mess. In short, you’ve made a bad environment for yourself. It’s at this point where you need to get rid of all the adjuncts in your life that are getting in the way of you living your truth. You can’t even begin to see your truth, let alone live it, if your life has become a cornucopia of poisons. Get rid of them. Have a garage sale. Quit smoking. Take your phone off the hook for awhile. Find some alone time. Take up insight meditation. Unplug and minimize. Then you can start to take a look at who you are, without all the excess flotsam and jetsam that have clogged the river of you.

 Sometimes, your yeast sucks. For whatever reason, it’s become apathetic about making beer in your fermenter. Maybe it’s old. Maybe the temperature wasnt’ right. Maybe it just doesn’t like what you’ve given it to eat. Maybe it was damaged in transportation. There’s a lot of reasons. But what you should do here is feed it. Yeast nutrients work well, and this is an easy fix. This will give your yeast life, and remind it that it’s purpose is to make beer.

 In life it’s difficult; no, damn near impossible to see what the problem with ourselves is. Hell, all of our family and friends will clue us in, but we just don’t see it. We don’t want to see it. We love being perfect just as we are. Our misery has become our comfort blanket. Because sometimes, we become walking zombies. You wake up. Get dressed. Commute to work. Work. Lunch. More work. Commute home. Dinner. Conan. Bed. Rinse Lather Repeat. Enter apathy, followed shortly by indifference. Next comes depression. And it doesn’t usually hit you at once. It’s gradual. It’s also enveloping. So much so that you don’t see that it’s happened until way too late. So then we take pills to make us not feel the depression. But it’s still there. The pills just cover it up. In fact they feed the lethargy. It’s like putting a towel around your fermenter and thinking that will solve your stuck fermentation. Buzzz. Wrong answer.

 What do you need to do? I already told you. It’s an easy fix. You need a soul nutrient. Something that will make you feel alive again. Try Yoga, home brewing, archery, karaoke, whatever. Anything that feeds your soul, and not the routine that got you into this mess. The problem with most of us is that once we start down the path of monotony or depression we just keep feeding it and feeding it. We either become apathetic about the situation, or we deny it, or more commonly we add fuel to the fire. What you need to do is see the fire for what it is. It is a destructive force that will decimate who you are physically and mentally. You must extinguish this fire by jumping in the lake. You can’t stop drop and roll depression. You can’t end the flatness with subtlety. Drastic measures are in order. But they are easy. It takes only a new hobby. A new friend. An old lover. Go see a show. Anything. But you must act fast. Your soul has a short window of availability for you to reignite the process. Too long, and you’ll have been your own vampire. Drained yourself of all signs of energy, life, essence. You won’t be able to see yourself in the mirror anymore. You’ll only see a package. A package that you used to be able to open to see something extraordinary inside. Now, only a package.

 There are other ways to get stuck. I won’t list them all. You’ll need to figure them out. I’m still trying to figure this all out myself. I get stuck often. The biggest problem is realizing that you are stuck. That life isn’t supposed to be this way. It’s hard, but it’s the first step, and you’ve gotta do it. You have to be honest with yourself. Too often our mind and ego have told us how great we are and how everything is stupendous and the future looks bright and bla bla bla bla…. so why is it that something doesn’t feel right? If everything is going according to plan, why is that panic light flashing in the background?

 It’s because we’ve settled. Rather than explore the world of home brewing, we’ve decided to settle on whoever sponsers the Super Bowl this year. It’s easy. That’ll be the go-to favorite. Always. Sure, everytime you go to the store and buy a six-pack, in the back of your mind you’re thinking “hmmm… I wonder what that Amber Lager tastes like….” but you decide not to risk it. What if you didn’t like it? Then you’d be disappointed. And we can’t have that. Let’s just grab our usual and our expectations will be met. I say no more. I say from now on, listen to that voice in your head. Grab the Amber Lager. See the Indie Documentary you read about in the weekly. Bike to work tomorrow. That voice that tells you to do these things? That’s you. The voice of your soul crying out for nourishment. You’ve just been locked up in the basement by your ego and your mind. They are formidable advisaries. But you must stand up to them.

 Embrace that which feeds your soul. I guarantee you’ll find disappointment. You’ll start to write a blog and have some really great ideas, and then bam. You’ll just stare at your screen and not know what to write. You’ll brew a batch of beer and it will taste like piss. You’ll ask out that clerk at the grocery store, and you’ll get turned down. Big deal. It was your result-oriented/future-mindset that got you into that mode of depression and stuckness in the first place. Life isn’t a result. Life is getting the result, getting to your destination, not arriving at it. Because when you arrive, then what? If you can find that which feeds your soul, and enjoy that process for what it is, and the joy it brings you, you’ll never have to worry about stuck fermentation for too long.

 So for now, this blog is my nutrient. It’s what is feeding my writer’s soul, and freeing my writer’s block. I’m not concerned with the end result, but the process of writing itself. If I get too caught up in the goal, I’ll get stuck and miss out on the entire process. Cheers.

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