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Showing posts from September, 2015

In defense of bad ethical decisions

Eating meat. Abortion. GMO crops. Animals in zoos. These are all hot topics in the news lately--mostly because they present ethical challenges. But here's the thing...sometimes, something can be totally 100% unethical but completely outweighed by positives. As I sat watching the Planned Parenthood drama yesterday the thought kept entering my head that people on the "defund Planned Parenthood" side don't understand the basic fact that just because something is, yes, in fact horribly unethical doesn't mean it should 1) be illegal or 2) doesn't have a fair value in some other way. It's nasty, disgusting business to end the life of a fetus. But I'm 100% pro-choice because there are issues in play that far outweigh that terrible thing. Like, you know, the human rights of an already-existing person. Medical privacy. The black market. Botched procedures. Our complete lack of cradle-to-grave care in the United States.

When I was a little younger, I once wrote…

Just a little bit mad


My son looked at me from across the living room while I was doing the daily ritual of going through his backpack after school. We pick him up at the corner bus stop and he refuses to talk school until we get inside the house where he gets a snack and opens up about his day.

"I'm a little bit upset with you, Dad," he said. "Just a little."

"Oh, really?" I asked trying to figure out what he could possibly mean. It was a very calculated tone to his voice. Determined. He'd contemplated things and ruled that whatever happened it was decidedly my responsibility.

"You forgot to send my library book to school and it was book day."

Never mind that just that morning we'd had a conversation before school about whether or not he wanted to put the book in his bag--just in case.

(By the way, it's a book about a firetruck in question here. I'm Brave by McMullan and we highly recommend anything by the pair. Picture books abo…

3 things to look for from your local farmer

Ever since we turned in our farm proposal, we've been thinking carefully about how we want to present ourselves to the public. From developing a formal farm visit policy to what kind of signs are on the property to wording on the website. And how we interact with social media. That's huge.

Combined with a few conversations with others about how a consumer can decide about the ethics of their food, I decided to write up a quick little 3 part guide to help with communication. Does your producer pass the basic "sniff" test?

--The farm should have a way to contact them. Obviously, if you're speaking to your local farmer at the weekly farmer's market it's a little easier to ask questions. But it's 2015. Most good farms will have a website, e-mail address, Twitter handle, Facebook page, some way to contact them. Chances are a farm you can't reach with questions isn't a farm covering all the bases in other areas. And not a farm you want to buy from.…

Life renovations

We've been doing some home improvement lately. Or, as we like to call it, "what did we forget at Lowe's today?" (Note to ourselves, we still need a smoke detector in the living room to replace the one that malfunctioned and needed to be ripped off the ceiling.) Over the past month--give or take for my triathlon weekend--we've slowly been making the condo more inhabitable. When I mention it, people have been asking, "oh, are you going to sell?"


There's that farm lease proposal in a different state we'll hear back on later this fall. We'd either rent our current place or, more likely, put it up for sale. But even aside from that we met with a real estate expert and decided the time wasn't right yet, market-wise, if we just want a move. Of course, that doesn't mean we can't put ourselves in a better place in terms of remodeling for when we revisit the topic down the road. Even if we end up deciding to stay, it's nice to j…

The 3 dumb reasons people think Hillary is in trouble

As a political geek, it's been hard to read the political news lately. Not because it's been bad. It's been absurd in a funny-but-not-actually-funny way as the real Republican race gets bogged down in the Trump sideshow. Trump leads a pack of mostly "also ran" candidates and gets attention by saying ridiculous things as everyone else struggles to stay above water. Eventually, the GOP establishment will congeal around somebody...who that is, I have no idea. As with my own party, I'm guessing it's someone within the established party structure, with fundraising and moderate appeal. Kasich? Jeb? Scott Walker's chances appear to be slipping away. But, rest assured, the primary process will not lead to Donald Trump. What to make of his current popularity is confusing...he's hurting the legit radical, weird candidates most of all probably. Your Rubio. Your Huckabee. Your Rand Paul. Trump is essentially sucking the air out of the race that they could hav…

Our school is awesome

This post comes with two disclaimers that are fairly significant. 1) We pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation with the largest chunk of them going to two school districts (K-8 and then a high school district shared with another community) so if I didn't have glowing things to say about the experience we'd have a problem. Not every elementary school is as lucky...just look to our neighbors in Chicago who have neighborhood school closings, teacher layoffs, and a budget shortfall. 2) I'm not sure the Kindergarten experience can stand in for all of elementary or middle school. We have an ongoing educational battle over testing, the academic climate, the role of technology, discipline philosophies, etc.. As students age, the school day changes and gaps develop.

Last night, we got a chance to attend our elementary school's Open House and visit our son's classroom, meet with his teacher, and learn about what he does all day. I have to admit, what I saw give…

On that farm there was a....

As many of you may know (or may have read on the blog), we've submitted a competitive proposal to farm 12 acres of land in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio (near Cleveland). The Request For Proposals went out this summer for two farms--our choice has a barn, more acreage, and is more secluded--and are due mid-September of 2015. The initial review process will take 30-60 days after that with possible interviews, a lease negotiation, and several formal steps before the winners can occupy the property.

For those not familiar, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a 20,000 acre national park (the only one in Ohio), located between Cleveland and Akron, and established by the National Park Service to preserve and reclaim the rural landscape near the Cuyahoga River. This includes the Ohio and Erie Canal, prehistoric and Native American artifacts, waterfalls, biking/hiking trails, marshland, historical buildings, and mills. Over 900 plant species are found in the park, as well as 194 spec…