Paxus's blog

My First Day at Twin Oaks

i currently live in an interesting place. It is a place where people live together cooperatively, we share things and we basically trust each other. It is a kind of place which the media likes to claim is impossible. i promise it is not.

My first day

i woke up to the sun shining fairly high in the window
i have not gotten a clock for my room
i have mixed feelings about acquiring one
but i have nothing schedule for this morning

does anyone really know what time it is?

does anyone really know what time it is?

Tycho mailed me a color xerox picture
of my head D-locked to the bottom of a bus at a Berlin action
i stuck it up on my wall along with a poem
she wrote about the real Heisenburg principals
and i wonder a bit when i will be a full-time activist again

i threw my wallet into a sticky drawer in my dresser
we don’t use money here
my left pocket felt empty

don't worry, we don't use these here

don’t worry, we don’t use these here

going thru bags and boxes for other pictures to decorate my new room
(last night, i removed the puppy pictures on my wall -
the previous resident was 6)
i found a key ring with a few keys
i threw that in the sticky drawer
another antique – no locks here

My cell and i dont agree on what is smart

i will confess, i have been acculturated to believe in science.  i start from a place of believing that my cell phone is doing what it is programmed to.  My experience says somethings else is happening.

it is for you

With my Android it was clearly the machine.  It always replaced Abigail with Gail Black, the phone number was Abigail’s but the picture, name and email were all Gail’s.  I would try to edit, the phone would toggle back.  At one point it had some strange soft ring going on. It would not stop, i turned off everything, including the phone itself.  The ringing continued.  I unplugged the battery and it finally stopped. Simply there was a ghost in that machine.

Even Fairies have cell phones these days

Even Fairies have cell phones these days

So i have gone to the dark side.  i got an iPhone.  Actually the hammocks business got me an iPhone as an upgrade to the Droid so that i could use the iPhone credit card slider for fairs.  Aubby cleverly (or perhaps obviously) got me a bumper car case for it, which has already saved my butt several times.  And i am pained to admit it, but it is a better phone.

Closed system wins

Closed system wins

Stop Shaming Black Friday Shoppers

Reblogged from Disrupting Dinner Parties:


  • Click to visit the original post

Stop shaming people who participate in Black Friday. Just stop.

Stop making jokes about the fights, the carnage, the people camped in the parking lots. Stop making comments about how you beat out "a woman with a bowl cut AND a rat tail" on your race to the boots. For the love of Cat, stop posting that fucking Onion article…

Read more… 375 more words

Instant Adventure

Karin wrote:  I am starting to feel like a person who works too much and has become no fun whatsoever… I need an adventure! A really inexpensive one… One where I won’t be too cold for too long… Anyone?

Karin as borg

Karin as borg

Lots of people wrote her back, because she is exceptionally lovely company, but my offer swayed her.

i wrote: “We would scoop you up in Boston on Friday, take you to North Hampton, Saturday NYC (and sleep no more if we can get you in), Sunday in Death City and Monday at the commune.”

And it almost went like that, except traffic and other distractions kept us out of North Hampton and we did not arrive at Acorn until after midnight on Monday.

We were collectively hypnotized by the two tiny kids.

We were collectively hypnotized by the two tiny kids.

Sleep No More sparked several communications about what the next generation of theatre.  Can we attain a high level interactivity between clients and ensemble staff.   In fact the causal dinner might have been the best part of the performance.  More soon.

Thankful for

The middle history of Thanksgiving is curious.  i am not talking about the poorly documented 1621 encounter between natives and colonists.

Sarah Josepha Hale 1788 - 1879 Relentless, prolific, infle

Sarah Josepha Hale 1788 – 1879 Relentless, prolific, infle

Thanksgiving as the holiday we know can be credited to the Christian feminist Sarah Josepha Hale.  Hale has largely been vanished by the history books, but was an editor, activist, author, autodidact and lyricist.  She helped discover and was an early promoter of several great writers including Oliver Wendall Holmes and Edgar Allen Poe.  She wrote the lyrics to Mary had a Little Lamb.  She edited a highly influence magazine at the time for 40 years (an unusual occupation for a woman at the time).  She also lobbied 5 presidents to create Thanksgiving, ultimately succeeding with Lincoln.  Her intention was to create a Christian holiday that was recognized nationally, in this she failed despite Lincoln’s highly pious speech announcing the holiday.

In light of this and a couple of days late, i wanted to laundry list a few things that i am highly thankful for.

The World Bank Says “no” to nukes. Again

As much as i don’t like them, sometimes the World Bank has it right.  In the early days of fighting reactors we often quoted the WB analysis on why reactors (especially for small countries) don’t make sense.

“Nuclear plants are thus uneconomic because at present and projected costs they are unlikely to be the least-cost alternative. There is also evidence that the cost figures usually cited by suppliers are substantially underestimated and often fail to take adequately into account waste disposal, decommissioning and other environmental costs. Furthermore, the large size of many nuclear plants relative to developing country systems leads to risk of substantial excess capacity should demand fail to increase as predicted. A nuclear investment strategy lacks flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. The higher costs would require large increases in tariffs and could threaten the financial viability of the systems if nuclear power were a significant part of the total…”

“Operating costs must be added to capital costs to obtain final electricity costs. Even with low operating costs, the high capital costs of nuclear preclude their being selected as the least cost alternative under any reasonable assumptions concerning prices of coal and oil. “

White Elephant is a flattering description

White Elephant is a flattering description

Squatting 2.0 – Freedonia and beyond

We have lots of different types of radical friends.  And some of them are fully public in all the things they do and others have to operate slightly below the radar so they can keep doing what they do.  In my travels over the last few months i have had the good fortune to visit a couple of inspiring places i have not been before.  There exact locations are not important, what is critical is what they have learned and what they can teach others who are interested in some aspects of their work.

This mural was partial payment by a band for use of the space

This mural was partial payment by a band for use of the space

Let’s call my comrades place Freedonia.  Imagine it in anyone of the urban centers which have seen hundreds to thousands of houses abandoned over the last couple of decades.  The precise location does not matter.

Squatting 1.0, which i learned in Am*dam and Barcelona goes something like this:  You find a group of friends who need housing.  It is great if at least a couple of the friends are local to the area you are trying to move into.  Then you search – you look for the right place to move into.  The right place is one which is abandoned, unlikely to be used for residential or commercial purposes soon (perhaps because it is run down), but not in such bad shape that parts of it can not be heated (if you are in a climate that requires heat in the winter).

How to blog a lot

My friend Lotus has a blog.  She wrote recently about writing more and i gave he some advice from my experience.  Below is what i wrote.

Dearest Lotus:

Yeah! more blogging. So here are my hints.

1) Run a constant low level thread in your mind “what would be interesting about this circumstance which would make a good blog post” When you think of soemthing send yourself some type of message – write on your hand, text yourself, put it in the cloud somewhere.


2) Create a queue of topics – separate blog ideas from full blog posts and keep a list of things you want to write about. Arguments are rich for materials, things that you see which can be made better, strongly held beliefs you see around you that are inspiring.

engaged, compelling, rich

engaged, compelling, rich

3) Dont be seduced by long. Short blog post are not only acceptable, but often exactly what your reader wants.

4) Dont be seduced by text only. What your readers may well want are interesting images from your life. I am starting a “commune snapshot” series once a month where i just put up a handful of pictures, somethings without even captions.

Penthouse and basement

It is my last couple of weeks as planner and i have quite enjoyed the communities highest executive position.  One of the last things i will be doing is running (with a great group of advisers) the communities overall budgeting process.  There are lots of different budget lines and some knowledge about almost all of them (some from the area manager, some from the member survey we have taken, and some from the significant knowledge of the perhaps 10 people in the room).

We look at whether we can raise population to cover the requests for sabbaticals and if this will create a room crunch or a labor problem from doing this fix.  We speculate on whether good managers will return or poor ones will drop the job and perhaps the community.  Are we budgeting or are we forecasting?  We need to cut $17K, we need to cut 7K hours.  It is a lively, complex and high impact discussion.

At Acorn the painters are nearly finished.  We just need to move some boxes and bookcases and we can clear the last hall for cleaning and priming.  i try to do this with a guest who is struggling with mental health problems and they are unable to follow the simplest instruction for more than 30 seconds.  Tim (pictured below) stepped in and took their place.

Guest Tim with fire and pattern

Guest Tim with fire and pattern

Seducing the boss’ secretary

My father was an unusually honorable man.  He tried to steer me this way.  He explained to me once that he would not go out and eat lunch with his secretary unescorted.  The reason was not that he was concerned any romantic or otherwise inappropriate activity might take place, but rather that someone else seeing them together might think this was happening. In the summer of 2000 i wanted to get closer to my father so i took an internship job for his architecture firm in Boston.  i did some analysis of the company website, wrote a report and was overpaid for this work (the money actually went to Twin Oaks – which was easy to do because i was living with my parents with very few costs).

Over the summer i got involved with my dad’s part-time secretary, Jaz Tupelo.  She came to visit me a few times at Twin Oaks.  And one day while she was walking through the woods to a work shift on a crisp morning, she said to herself,  ”I can go back to Boston rush-hour traffic or walking down this beautiful path could be my alternative commute.  I think i will move here.”

Paxus and Jaz circa 2001

Paxus and Jaz circa 2001

She did not arrive with the name Jaz.  It was selected at a naming party.  And as these parties sometimes go, the person who is being named does not have the same first choice as the group.  Both Jaz and i were vying for Emma, there was even a tug of war in the hammock shop between the last two names – Emma and Jaz.  We lost.

Outreach is fun!

Reblogged from Running in ZK:

One of the jobs I forget that I do is outreach/recruitment. I forget it because I do it so infrequently.  I love the energy I get from talking to folks about community though. It's always so much fun!

This past weekend, Nina and I got to speak at the first annual Jewish Intentional Communities Conference just outside of Baltimore. The folks organizing this event are trying to help kickstart the Jewish intentional communities movement in the US, and they asked Twin Oaks to send a leader/founder to speak since we've been around for a while.

Read more… 367 more words

Another view of our efforts to network for the communities movement. By Jess of Running In ZK blog

Hunting Season

Pod from East Wind and i drive down the gravel road of Indian Creek Road (where Acorn is) there are hunters lining the road, some are in their early teens.  Usually wearing camouflage and bright orange hats.

We are not like the other people on our road.   i quip

Haven’t you ever been hunting? Pod says in his best good old boy accent

i have hunted ideologues and princesses and poets and thieves here. i reply

mind bicycle

what are you looking for?

What about deer?! Pod asks

No deer

The Acorn Arson Appeal

This Acorn’s first crowd source fund raising exercise.  We started not long after the fire, but it has been hard to prioritize working on it with everything else going on.  i enjoyed working with Belladonna Took, Irena and Ira on pulling this together.  It is the first appeal i have worked on with premiums (presents you get or donating money to your cause).  And while i did almost nothing with these premiums, it is perhaps the most interesting part of the application (especially if you read this blog already and know about the fire).

you could find yourself owning so strange and exotic art.

you could find yourself owning some strange and exotic art.

Our current guests Tamer and Armand shot and edited the video which is included in the crowd source appeal.  So here it is:

Acorn’s Post Arson Appeal

So here is what would be good.  Think for a few moments about someone who really likes the idea of community, but is perhaps not very well connected to them.  Especially if this person is financially successful, you should send them this link and encourage them to check it out.

Commune Slideshow

Guests defy gravity and enjoy trampoline

Guests defy gravity and enjoy trampoline

Drywall guys pause briefly for picture

Drywall guys pause briefly for picture

Willow on way to dress up murder mystery party for Jonah

Willow on way to dress up murder mystery party for Jonah

This is part of the new seed packing robot

This is part of the new seed packing robot

Samantha with harp

Samantha with harp





Nicole’s question

Some of the folks who come through the communities conference have incredible energy.  Nicole was this years hard charger.  Working principally thru social media she is building up a network of representatives from the communities which she calls Hybrid RBE for Hybrid Resource Based Economy.

Clever enough for me

Clever enough for me

She drives her members through hooking people up and asking what she hopes are penetrating questions.   She posted this recently:

Which would you rather have? A. Your current wage with no guarantee of it covering all your basic needs rather long being able to afford your wants. or B. Basic needs guaranteed to be covered, with the possibility of your wants being met as well, and no wage at all.

Most of her hybrid RBE folks think they want choice B.  Some feel that this is just a government handout, which it certainly is not in our case (tho we did get some Obama stimulus money at Twin Oaks to put up solar panels).  Nicole wants me to explain what we do for money,

At Twin Oaks we currently have 7 business areas:

7 Inspiring Renewables News Stories

For decades being an anti-nuclear activist has meant the endless reading of bad news.  Despite years of warning that accidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl were possible or even likely, the better funded and more experienced media making machines on the pro-nuclear side dominated the conversation and media coverage.  This is finally starting to change (though we are still tremendously outspent by the likes of the NEI).

This months good news comes again from the Sustainable Energy News Summaries.  These are my picks (from the 70 mostly encouraging stories) for the month.  The format here is that i have quoted the story summary and then afterwards in italics i have added my commentary and in some cases graphics.

13.) Installed Base of Smart Meters Will Surpass 1 Billion by 2022:

Navigant Research, November 11, 2013

Although the direct operational and societal benefits of smart meters and the broader benefits of smart grids that are enabled by smart meters continue to be debated among policymakers, utilities, regulators, and consumers, penetration rates continue to climb, reaching nearly 39 percent in North America in 2012. According to a recent report, “Smart Meters,” the worldwide installed base of smart meters will grow from 313 million in 2013 to nearly 1.1 billion in 2022. In North America, the growth in installed base will come primarily from medium-sized and smaller utilities that will shift to smart meters as they build business cases for upgrading their metering infrastructure.

The Midden

“Looks for the place with the canoe in the front yard.” It is pretty safe to assume that another canoe was not going to make it into another yard in downtown Columbus OH on Halloween. And we were already warned that this was not going to be a “normal” visit. 

the dog is named bugler and all Midden pets are working pets

the dog is named bugler and all Midden pets are working pets

By most measures the Midden is a fantastically successful community.  And one key to their success is in their name.

A midden is an intriguing or marvelous rubbish heap. Pack rats and octopi make middens—so do ocean currents and human civilizations. We call our house The Midden because we make use of the artifacts (groceries, furniture, shoes) thrown away or overlooked by mainstream society. And all the while, we’re using this stuff to build more whole and meaningful systems to provide for ourselves. [All quotes from the Midden website]

We arrive in time for dinner. Much of the house is not here this evening. Some doing their political works, others touring, still others will be back later. The house is a lived in construction site, but most of the bed rooms look well lived in and are decorated with political posters and exotic art. We have arrived with the intention of working with them on our way back from NASCO, and we can already see that we will be working on blown cellulose insulation. I have a long love affair with insulation materials.

Straw Bale Progress and more Disaster Porn

Straw bale started on Saturday

Straw bale started on Saturday

East Winders and others nearly complete the first outside coat in one day

East Winders and others nearly complete the first outside coat in one day

Old seed office after tremendous clean up effort

Old seed office after tremendous clean up effort

Fortunately, almost all the clean up of Heartwood is done

Fortunately, almost all the clean up of Heartwood is done

Meanwhile in the seed building we are blowing in insulation.

Meanwhile in the new seed building we are blowing in insulation.

Hawina’s memories of Pipers passing and funeral

Hawina and Pipers grave

Hawina at Pipers grave – she wrote all the following text

Here are three of my favorite moments in Piper’s passing and our funeral/memorial service:

-I got to see Piper’s body when she came back onto the farm and was already lying in her coffin. She was wearing her purple glittery party dress, which she last had on at the Halloween party, when we danced together. She looked very peaceful, her face had a slight smile, she seemed both very much like herself and very different at the same time. The body really does not look the same when the spirit/soul is no longer in it.

Then I noticed that Piper still had her hearing aids in. Back in the late spring when I first got involved in conversations with Piper and others about her maybe dying soon, I was told that her hearing aids had been very expensive and were meant to be re-fitted and used again by other members after her. So I knew I shouldn’t let them go into the grave with her. It felt a little scary to be touching her ears and trying to pull them out, she was so cold from having been kept on ice at the funeral home for 2 days. The hearing aids didn’t give or budge at all when I gave them a light tug, and I worried about how frozen or stiff Piper might be on the inside.

Not stressed, not busy, rather engaged

Augie was part of the Piper funeral planning crew.  We decided to have the funeral just two days after she died, which made everything about this event a rush job.  Augie is also one of the people who does lice checks with our fancy new sci-fi goggles that provide both light and magnification to make this job easier and more precise.

power tools for collective protection.

Power tools for collective protection

I had been checked for lice three times before and had not had any.  The community was going through one of its occasional bouts with parasites.  One of the down sides of collective life, certainly.  I asked Augie to check me one more time, now that the outbreak seemed basically past.  During the midst of Augie’s check of me, his cell phone rang about the Piper funeral preparation and he felt like he had to take it.  He was apologetic about the interruption.  When he returned to checking my hair he said,

“This is what is it like to be you everyday isn’t it?”

i';m told multitasking is a myth

I’m told effective multitasking is a myth.

Some false modest part of me was about to deny it, but then i realized that i had been up since 4 AM going basically full blast the entire time (it was then after 4 in the afternoon) and i confessed that it was.

“I don’t want this job all the time, you can have it.”

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