Greetings Bloggers and Bloggettes,

Today I am going to share with you my secret super-hero identity.

I am known by some as simply "The Gatekeeper." By "some" I mean about 2,000 chickens. And by "chickens" I mean....


To the left is a G. Gallus Domesticus. This one, we'll call her Penny, lived a happy life at Schacht Farms on the south side of Bloomington. I say "lived" because she is now in a freezer waiting to be sold at the market this Saturday. You could be the lucky one to eat Penny.

Now, to get back to my superhero status. You see, Penny lives on a big pasture, with lots of grass and bugs and worms to eat. She has lots of room to run around with her friends. All Penny and her friends want to do is live a good life under the sun and the stars, and then pass on her nutrients and goodness to other creatures that can benefit from her protein. However, Penny is dumb as a box of rocks. So when it is time to be "processed" she has a bit of trouble finding her way into the crate in which she will be transported to the processor. That's where I come in!

With the help of my cohorts, the "Wranglers," I assist Penny into the crates. I am in charge of opening the gates to the crates, counting the chickens that are being deposited into them, making sure they are not upside down, or being crushed by their neighbor's claw, and closing the gate once the appropriate number are enclosed. It is a very important duty, and is not without it's fair share of battle wounds. (Penny was a scratcher.)

Some of you may not eat meat because you do not like the idea of our friend, Penny, dying for us humans to have a balanced diet. To you, I say, to each his/her own. However, for the rest of us meat eaters, if you are going to eat chicken, you should only eat chickens like Penny. I'll tell you why.

First, Penny had a good life.

The top picture is of an industrial chicken farm.

The bottom is a picture from Schacht Farms.

Enough said.*

Second, Penny is good for you. At Schacht Farm, Penny not only got to run around, but at least 30% of her diet was from the grass and scavenging in the dirt, the rest of her diet was made of organic grain feed. Most industrial birds are all grain fed, made mostly of corn. This means, Penny will not only taste better than her industrially raised counterparts, but she will be better for our bodies too!

As much as I think Penny should live a good life, and as much as I want her be healthy to eat, the main reason I buy chicken from Schacht Farm is because the money I spend is going to local farmers (who happen to be really great friends!), instead of huge agribusiness.

Remember last summer, when food prices skyrocketed, pushing many people around the world into poverty (or deeper into it)? Did you know that agribusiness corporations profited obscenely from the food crisis? Here is an excerpt from an article in Sojourners magazine from July 2008,

"Monsanto’s net income for the three months ending in February was $1.12 billion, more than double the year before. Cargill’s profits in the first quarter of 2008 were more than $1 billion, up 86 percent from a year earlier. Bunge, a big soybean processor, had quarterly net earnings up 1,964 percent."

I would rather support my friends who are neither exploiting their animals nor their consumers. Also, who wouldn't want to eat chicken that they caught with their own hands?

In conclusion, please go to the Bloomington Farmer's Market every Saturday morning and buy meat and eggs from Schacht Farms. Tell them Carrie sent you.

P.S. You can also toss the frozen chickens around like a football.

* Many chickens sold at the grocery store are now marked "free-range." "Free-range" means that the chickens have access to a door leading out of the huge industrial cages that you saw above. This door could lead to a concrete slab. It does not ensure that the animals have room to roam, or plenty of grass and bugs to eat.


Where do you think we are? The future?

Hey hey BlogStars,

Today's blog is about the FUTURE. In a way, I feel like we are already living in the future. I mean, we live in a world where anything is possible....literally. How often do we find ourselves in some inconvenient or irritating situation and say to ourselves, "Man! If only someone would invent a machine that would ___________!"? Nowadays, a passerby might very well reply, "Oh, they are working on prototypes for that in Japan right now."


Just take a look at this mobile home that you can buy now. It is called the "I-House" and it looks like the future. It has all sorts of green bells and whistles like a water catchment system, dual flushing toilets, tank-less waterheater, etc. The coolest part is that you can add this extra part onto it called a "flex" room. You can add as many of these on as you want and make a giant I-house complex.

You can take a virtual tour and check out all its fancy features in detail here.

Although I think the I-House is very futuristic, it is small potatoes compared to what Joachim Mitchell is cookin' up with his uber smart brainiac buddies at his "ecological design collaborative" - Terrefuge.

Mitchell was on the Colbert Report the other day, and he seems....wAcKy(2). He has a head full of dirty dreads cascading down his back like a tribal warrior, was clad in a sport coat, and had an intensity in his eyes that implied, "You'll see, Stephen, someday we really will be living in houses made of meat, and traveling in nerf cars, and children will laugh again, and there will be NO MORE WAR OR HUNGER OR SADNESS!!!"

Here is a picture of what Joachim thinks our public transportation system should be someday:
As you can see, it is a large blimp that would be constantly moving at about 10-15 mph, and people would have to hop in the little seats that are dangling below and then hop off when they got to their destination. Pretty PHAT, huh?

To the left is a picture of what we could be living in someday - if we are lucky.

This is a meat house. It is made out of fabricated "3D printed extruded pig cells."(3)
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To give you an idea of the large scale of Mitchell's innovation, here is a depiction of what we could see in urban centers around the world someday:

It is a Peristaltic City. I couldn't understand the description enough to paraphrase, so I'll let Mitchell explain in his own words.

"Peristalcity" is a tall building made of a cluster of shifting pod spaces. The pod skins alter the volume locations within. This soft, pliable, sealed, and non-mechanical innovation encapsulates volumetric structures. Textile reinforced hoses execute a peristaltic action. Thus, the modules are enabled to create an articulated motion that is symbiotically connected to an urban armature.

By employing a dynamic spatial application against the traditional organization of core and space, we dissolved the dichotomy between circulation and habitable environments. We have eliminated typological stacking where experiences are vapidly suggested to be diversified by simply designating floors to particular social practices. Instead, we propose a spatial layout that establishes heterogeneous movements, and not just assorted practices, as the criteria for a dynamic assemblage.

Sounds pretty sweet, overall, doesn't it?

Since we are on the topic of sweet ideas about the future, I feel the need to comment that I also enjoyed Pixar's idea of future as depicted in the animated motion picture, Wall-E. I mean, sure our brains and muscles will atrophy, but we won't need them with those sweet floating pod things(4). Also, I love Joss Whedon's future, after Earth is pillaged, and space cowboys roam the new frontier on the edges of the known universe.

But let's bring it back to the present future for my closing remarks.

How awesome is it that I can communicate with all of you everyday via blog/facebook/g-chat/twitter, watch TV on the interwebs whenever I want, heat up food in mere seconds in the microwave, and control the weather with my psychic powers(5)?

Here's to tomorrow!


(1) Check out Maggie Paino's innovative idea.
(2) Mixed Capitalization used for "wacky" emphasis.
(3) Meat home is a "victimless shelter" because no sentient being was harmed in the laboratory growth of the skin.

(4) Also, training for a marathon would be so much easier.
(5) No, I don't have a device that allows me to control the weather with my mind......yet.


Discography '09

For those of you who didn't already know, I am a pretty supremo disc golf player. My disc of choice is an Innovo "Champion Beast" distance driver signed by Barry Schultz, translucent yellow for optimal visibility.

My dear friend, Joshua K. Milligan, introduced me to the fine sport of disc golf awhile back, and I have gradually (very gradually) grown fond of it. Josh decided it was only logical to organize a weekly disc golf game throughout the summer, so we kicked it off yesterday at Karst Farm Park.

I must say that I played the best 9 holes of disc golf ever: +6/9 holes. Yes, that is a plus sign before that number 6, as in 6 over par, but compared to my average +12/9, this is a vast improvement. My personal goal was +9/9, which I crushed. Usually, I play with boys who are stronger, more experienced, and generally more athletic than I am, and so playing disc golf can be a bit of an ego bruiser. However, I found out today that playing with people who are better than me is the fastest way to improve my game long-term (just ask Mark Ellis of Discraft Discs)!

So now I am super pumped to improve, and I think you should come play with me!

For those of you who are considering taking up the sport, I have compiled a list of pros and cons:

  • It is cheap. You can pick up a new disc for about $4-10 and you can usually borrow a friend's. Most importantly, disc golf courses are free! You do not have to pay or have some fancy membership to play - unlike its upperclass counterpart.
  • It is pretty easy. If you have ever thrown a standard beach frisbee, it doesn't take much to adjust to the smaller denser versions.
  • It is social. While playing, you enjoy plenty of time to goof around with your buds, catch up with an old friend, or test the waters with your awkward match.com date.
  • It is exercise-ish. This is relative, of course, but compared to sitting at home watching 30 rock, a round of disc golf can seem rigorous. My arm is usually sore the next day, and there is plenty of walking. If you wanted to optimize your cardio, you could jog to your disc and between holes.
  • It is accessible. In Bloomington there are 3 disc golf courses: Karst Farm Park, Crestmont, and Sherwood Oaks.
  • If you are a fun-hater, you might find the activity offensive.
  • Also, if you have no arms, you might have some difficulty (unless you are this guy)
  • That's all I can think of...
Finally, if you are still not convinced, try watching this video of a bro with big muscles throwing discs in slow motion to the Chariots of Fire song. Totally inspiring.


p.s. We are playing at Sherwood Oaks this Sunday at 2:00pm if you want to join.


"wait...isn't hawaii next to alaska?"

Yo blogstaz!

So, I was just checkin' my tweets and noticed all these links that start with "tinyurl..." and until today I thought this was some new fangled website with a growing cult following. Then I figured out that its just an abbreviated version of longass urls. I felt a bit foolish, but the embarrassment was short lived because it reminded me of one of my favorite phenomena.

Childhood logic - rediscovered.

Let me explain. I heard a podcast of This American Life awhile back titled "A Little Bit of Knowledge." This episode is about "the pitfalls of knowing just a little bit too little." The entire episode was pretty good, but my favorite part was the first Act. Producer Alex Blumberg explores the common experience of discovering that a basic fact of life that you had worked out with your elementary mind, is actually....not quite accurate.


In the show, Alex interviews a woman who remembers growing up and seeing signs indicating railroad crossings or school crossings that were all marked with the same abbreviation "Xing." She decided that "Xing" was obviously a word and she pronounced it "Zing." When she was in her twenties, she was walking into work with a co-worker, when she noticed a bunch of geese lingering near the road. She turned to her co-worker and said, "They really should put a Zing sign there for the geese." Her co-worker paused for a long time before replying, "You know.....'zing' isn't a word."

Another girl on the show describes the moment when she realized unicorns weren't real. She was having a conversation at a party. She was in her twenties.

Listening to the radio show made me think back to experiences like this in my own life. I couldn't remember any moments as publically humiliating as the ones in the show, but I did remember the time I saw a rare species of oversized birds inhabiting my front yard.

I was about 7 or 8 and I remember being terrified of these birds that were about half as tall as me. They were enormous, black and scary. As I grew up, I developed a debilitating fear of birds. I would often explain to people that as a child I had a number of traumatizing experiences with birds, one of which was walking home from the bus to discover these strange black birds all over my yard. I remember thinking to myself as an adult, "I wonder what kind of birds those were? They looked like crows....but they couldn't have been crows because they were SO big!" It wasn't until after I had told the story many times that I realized that the birds must have seemed so large in my mind because I was only about 3 1/2 feet tall when I first saw them.

One of my good friends from college once told me that for a very long time she thought that Alaska was located next to Hawaii because they are always featured next to each other on maps.

Another friend recently told me that she grew up thinking that the word "pedestrian" was a curse word. When riding in the car with her father, her father would often shout at the annoying people traveling on foot that got in his way, "Pedestrian!" (usually in a strained, frustrated tone - probably trying to avoid using actual curse words). My friend, however, assumed that the word was, in fact, a naughty word. So you can imagine her shock when her elementary school teacher used the word in class one day. When she got home she confided in her mother, "Mom....the teacher said 'pedestrian'."

I am now convinced that everyone has a story like this. Come on, admit it! You should go ahead and share your story in the comment section. And you should listen the the podcast.




dr. horrible's sing-along blog

i may behind the times, but i just discovered this. i love it.