Category Archives: Keeping It Local

Résumé Updating

TakingNoteIt’s been a while since I took any time to update the old résumé, though I must admit not a lot has changed, it’s just time to polish things up a bit. I have a LinkedIn account and I do make minor changes there every so often, but I haven’t done much with the hardcopy. *shudder… hardcopy*

While going through my LI profile something in the “Interests” caught my eye…

“movies, music, writing, flying, aircraft (design/construction/restoration), amateur radio, history, anthropology, archaeology, genealogy, archive, preservation (document/book/photograph), blacksmithing, silversmithing, metal fabrication, woodworking, sustainable living (building, power, farming, food), alternative building technologies, primitive technology, self reliance, resiliency (personal, local, community, regional, national)”

I’m pretty sure I have gone down this road before at some point, but it bares repeating. It’s the resiliency line personal, community, local, regional, national, (and by extension international). With all of the hullabaloo about Brexit people are thinking about how it will affect them. Really, it shouldn’t.

Before anyone starts screaming “Exclusionist!” or “Nationalist!” like somehow nationalism is automatically a bad thing like the bought-and-paid-for media would have you think, participating in worldwide commerce is not bad, far from it. Depending on a centralized global economy is bad, very bad. Even centralized national economies are bad. We keep having example after example of what happens when centralized economies have sector hiccoughs. The whole thing is affected.

When the US economy crashed in 2008, due to our own internal centralized economy and the managers of that system doing bad things, it was felt around the world. When the Greek economy tanked it was directly due to the EU centralized economy, and it affected all of the EU and beyond. The Brexit issue has been felt all over the globe as well. These effects are all because of the idea that the world is somehow better off when we all have our eggs in the same basket. It is absurd.

Why Jon, when you say it that way it sounds so obviously bad, but surly global economics aren’t that simplistic. Actually, yes. Yes they are. At least from the notion that centralization is a good thing. So in this case it really is that simple.

Centralization, in any system, creates more sub-systems and moving parts that are all interdependent. The level of complexity is exponentially increased, and much of the energy that goes into the system goes towards minimizing losses and damage the system itself creates, and of course the administration of the system. Not to mention that the resulting product is generally of lower quality by the time it gets to the consumer/user. Worst of all, with all of the interdependence even a small hiccough produces problematic ripples throughout the system and may even halt it all together.

A simple example is the spinach crisis a few years ago in the US. Much of spinach supplied to restaurants and some grocery stores was recalled because a pig got loose on one farm. There was an outbreak of e.coli, not an epidemic, but large enough and wide enough spread to panic a lot of people, cost farmers millions, destroy a large portion of the nations spinach crop, and waste millions in resources throughout the centralized food system. Absolutely none of it was necessary. To top it all off, it further set in motion more restrictive regulations shutting out some small farms due to the onerous regulations and cost.

So what does all of this have to do with resiliency? Any engineer will tell you eliminate single-point-failures, and provide redundancy if you want a resilient system. You cannot design a resilient system from the top down, it just wont work it, more to the point it can’t work. It must be designed and built from the bottom up. That’s why the order I use is so important personal, community, local, regional, national, (and by extension international).

To avoid collapse of any of the centralized systems we currently have, start with yourself and your family. Have plans and preparations in place so you are more resilient. Help family and neighbors to be more resilient. All of you can start working on getting your community more resilient.

Slowly but surely people are waking up to the simple facts. As the understanding of how theses system interrelate and how wasteful they are, how the systems only care about the system and not the end user, how the user is cheated out of high quality goods and is forced pay a premium for the privilege, people are beginning to put all of the pieces together.

No amount of railing on and on about how simple this all is will convince those who choose to stay the course. They must see the light in their own time. This is something that I am coming to terms with myself. It seems so clear, and I want the people I care about to be resilient and not suffer when those hiccoughs occur. All I can do is walk the walk and demonstrate by example.

All of the Brexit panic, anger, frustration, division, and the eventual blow back all come from not understanding what great-granny always said “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Smart old broad that.


Something about lumber

We Can Do ItIv’e spent some time sourcing materials the last two months and I found out a few things; the most important of which is that it is good to look for local suppliers of wood products. Having said that, I am going to be buying my lumber from Aircraft Spruce. “What the what?” you may be thinking, well here’s the thing, I have been poking around for spruce and doug fir as well as marine plywood. The 1/16″ plywood is a flat out no-go any where else locally. The 1/4″ and 1/8″ plywood can be found locally but the quality varies widely as does the price. I thought I had a supplier for a really low price, turns out the quality matched the price.

I had much better results in the Lumber search in that I could find good quality doug fir. The price for it matched or in some cases exceeded the cost of spruce, which I could not find locally, at least not in quantity or quality. So I am back to Aircraft Spruce, not that this is a bad thing mind you. The main reason I was looking to buy locally is I try to do that with everything. Buying locally improves the local economy, and buying from small business helps revitalize the vanishing middle class. At least I can say in this case that I will be buying regionally from a small/mid-sized company. Aircraft Spruce has a store down in southern California, it’s a seven plus hour drive from San Jose, but paying for gas is considerably cheaper than the freight costs having it shipped up to me. I plan on buying stock sizes and milling myself to keep the costs down and ensure ready availability.

Now that I am back to were I was last month as far as the materials quest goes, I am more prepared and knowledgeable in the area of aircraft lumber. I know what I can get and where to get it, as well as what substitutions I can make for specific applications. It looks like the plywood is going to come in just shy of $1,000 (materials and tax). I need to calculate the lumber requirements, that is this weeks project, but I am estimating that to be about $500. I will need a few odds and ends to have on hand, basic airframe materials, so I am planning on a $2,000 trip including the round trip fuel for the van and me. It’ll be a long day but a fun one I am sure.

The only tool I need to look into at this stage is a plainer which I am sure I can find at Harbor Freight in Newark. I also need to make a router table top and several jigs for cutting precisely duplicated wing ribs, all of the materials for this stuff I ether have or can find locally on the cheap. All-in-all I think I am getting really close to making a lot of saw dust.

Until next time, blue skies and tailwinds,

A win for Keeping It Local!

Today was a good day. I went to Walmart, not to buy anything, but to pay off the last of our credit account. Actually, this was a double win for us and a win for Keeping It Local (a not yet existing organization / movement.) With out credit account paid off we can now close that account for good.

Why close it? Let’s go down the list. First off we have chosen to not support Walmart anymore. Second, it closes an account with a credit card company that charges outrageous fees, which is good for our budget. Third, it is one more step towards moving away from all of the big corporate companies that have bought, traded, and crushed by any means possible, American small business.

Yes, I know it’s a rant. But I am okay with that. I have been fighting to keep small businesses alive and well for years and it just seems to get harder and harder. Locally, at least here in San Jose, California, the city government seems to have a blood thirsty revenue generating attitude. Unless you are a big player or a non-profit, you just don’t count. Small businesses are swamped with municipal, county, state and federal regulations and fees to the point that some people find it much easier to conduct business illegally and stay off the grid while others do everything they can to stay afloat in the current economy while complying with all of the taxes, fees, and regulations.

What happened to encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit that Silicon Valley was so famous for? Sure, tech and bio-tech companies can still start up, and other companies can find incubators to grow them for acquisition, but what about the neighborhood mom-and-pop stores? It takes some work to find locals to buy from these days. Here in a major metropolitan area some of them have survived, but what about the small towns across the country that were basically shut down? Those company towns that lost it all when the company moved production overseas?

I am having a conversation with a friend online as I am writing this article and what I am getting at is unfolding in that conversation. Her son commented on something I had written on Facebook. He posted a comment about buying bike parts at his local bike shop. This is great and it makes me happy to see that. I asked if he knew about the bike shops supply chain. Do they by form U.S. manufacturers or overseas? I have no idea myself. I have plans to build a bike-truck at some point but I haven’t gotten in to it so I am actually a bit curious.

This is where we can make the difference in our economy. Let’s run with this local bike shop. If I go in to my local shop and ask “Where do the parts come from?” I am opening that supply-line dialog. If I get a response that they sell parts from overseas and some made in the good old USA, I’m going to chose the ones made here, and I am going to tell the owner of the bike shop that I prefer to by local, that’s why I am here in his shop instead of buying online or at some mega-store. I am also going to tell him that if he is willing to stock more U.S. manufactured parts I will go out of my way to promote him and his store.

Now lets take a different track. Lets say that all of the parts are made overseas. This is where we start another supply-line dialog, one that begins with asking: Are there any U.S. suppliers? Why don’t you carry them? I want to support your business because it is a local business but if you buy all of your parts directly from an overseas supplier, that is only keeping a small percentage on my money in the local economy.

We have to take the time to get to know who we buy from and how they operate, and it has to be a dialog. We can’t say, “Oh, you buy overseas, never mind.” We as consumers have to express why we are asking and how important it is to us that we support the local economy.

There are things that will be outside the “buy local” ideal. We are most likely not going to find pharmaceuticals produced in out town and they will have to come from somewhere else, but we can control where and who we buy products from. For me it has become a matter of conscience, a personal decision that I am committing to. Keep It Local is an ideal that I am aspiring to. Won’t you join me?