“It's easy to build knowledge and experience in good times. In good times, leaning and such things is a matter of enjoybale adventuring.”
Carole Deppe

The Resilient Gardener



There is a common courtesy greeting used here in Romania to greet women pronounced something like “serumuna”. It’s a politeness-enhanced version of the American “ma’am ” and it means I kiss your hand. Elderly men not only use it but will also take a woman’s hand and kiss it. It is deeply ingrained in Romanian social culture to this day so that even children are brought up to use it. Yet to much of the younger generation it carries no internal meaning … it’s just something you say. So much so that I’ve witnessed it used with contempt bordering on an outright attitude of “fuck you”. It has never been my intention to kiss a woman’s hand as a greeting so I never use this word (even when it’s socially called for).

Yesterday I got called “sir” with the same kind of vibe:

@iamronen grow up and think before you comment, or just please don’t bother, sir. blog.grantblakeman.com/2012/10/quotes…

— Grant Blakeman (@gblakeman) October 10, 2012

It was a response to a comment I left on Grant’s blog (see link above) on what he found to be an inspiring vision statement from Apple. In retrospect my response may have been poorly delivered given that I was responding to something that inspired him but it was not a knee-jerk response. Grant used the word “sir” but it really struck me, given its context, more as “asshole”. The word “sir” is assigned a superficial meaning of respect though that wasn’t the way Grant was using it. I would say that it was used in an opposite direction. Instead of offering respect, it was used to take respect away.

Ironically it it this very superficiality that I was responding to on Apple’s vision. I really had no issue with it except for the words “significant contribution to society”. It is a good vision, clearly written and aligned with Apple’s excellence in design and engineering.

However when it comes to society Apple’s contribution is indeed significant, but destructive:

  • Its business ethics and their effects on workers people in China (the suicides are just one obvious aspect, the deeper ones are a culture corruption amongst those who “benefit” from partnership with Apple) are worthy of contempt.
  • It’s systemic infringement of people’s (customers and participants in its ecosystems) freedoms is morally corrupt. It’s aspirations for centralized control is indicative of primitive social norms (and probably what is considered by its stakeholders as advanced business practices).
  • It’s vicious upgrade cycles are disastrous in terms of precious, natural resource consumption and the inevitable wastes that come out the other end of unchecked consumption.
  • There have also been stories of similar control-freakishness towards its own employees.
  • And I am confident that if there was more transparency in Apple’s doings this list would grow very long.

So when it comes to society I believe that Apple is not a contributor but a force of destruction. I am sure some people have done some great things with Apple products. I am sure there are people who benefitted from Apple products and from things other made with them. I am also sure the history of technology and civilization would have been just fine if Apple was not a part of it and I am for one am looking forward to a world without it.

Yes Apple makes fantastic products and Yes, I am proud to have never owned or used one. Almost everything that comes to the surface about their culture and their relationship to society feels alienating and destructive. Apple is a fantastic expression of a superficiality of values that has come to dominate western culture (hence it’s success?). Therefore it bothers me when I see someone creative whom I respect like Grant fall for their pitch. and I speak out (of my heart not my knee) against it.

Apple is a social contributor much like Grant’s “sir” is respectful. Cultivating that superficiality may be the deepest contribution social/cultural wound in Apple’s legacy.

UPDATE: October 14, 2012

I didn’t put in any links to Apple’s social atrocities in the post because I was too lazy to search for them. But then Raymond came to my rescue with this news link comparing Apple and Nike … which comes with that extra twist I didn’t bring up … Apple’s partners in social crime are it’s customers:

In recent weeks, we’ve heard news of riots and strikes at some Foxconn plants in China that are making Apple products. Earlier in the year, the New York Times ran a massive feature story detailing working conditions at Foxconn, which left readers with the impression that Foxconn’s plants, while not exactly “sweat shops,” reflect the vast and often troubling differences in workplace standards between China and the U.S.
According to a survey by Hunch.com, the typical Apple consumer is a little more affluent than average. They tend to be college educated (67%) and lean more to the left of center politically (58% characterize themselves as liberal). In other words, the kind of people that – if you’ll pardon the generalization – would seem to concern themselves with the working conditions in second and third-world countries.

And it seems we’ve made our peace that, because we’re unwilling to effect change with the most powerful tool available to all of us: our wallets. Between 1994 and 1998 – arguably the height of the Nike sweatshop scandal – the company’s sales went from $3.8 billion to $9.6 billion. And Apple? Potential disruptions to the iPhone 5 supply chain notwithstanding, the most valuable company in history grows larger by the day.

The level of hypocrisy displayed by a company that behaves this way AND claims a social role is met by the hypocrisy of those who applaud it.

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Coming from inside, taking me by the hand and leading me back inside


I came across this video of a Shakuhachi performance after sending a link to another recording to a friend. There is something about this instrument like no other … maybe because of its meditational heritage?

It seems that no matter what is played on it, regardless of intensity (it has an amazing range) … if it is played with presence (I have witnessed one live performance by a Shakuhachi master that was not present and therefore didn’t touch me) it seems as if it comes from somewhere deep inside me, reaches out into my consciousness and invites it back inside. This video is also beautifully shot in a beautiful stage setting.

The video includes three pieces … the first and last are Shakuhachi. The first one sent … warm chills down my spine 🙂 Stop what you are doing, click play, close your eyes and … enjoy 🙂


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Emotionally Winter


Having lived most of my life (though working on changing that) in Israel I was used to clear seasons and weather patterns. Summer is hot and there is no such thing as a summer rain. Winter in Israel isn’t really winter by Romanian standards – temperatures go down but not near freezing (though there are places in Israel that are colder) and there is no where nearly as much rain as there is here in Romania.

Here in Romanian though there is a huge difference between winter and summer, the summer is not always as clear cut as it was in Israel. There are summer days here that can seem winter-ish by Israeli standards. A summer (and surely a fall day like today) day can start cloudy, cool, windy and wet and end with clear skies and a hot burning sun … and such transitions can occur more than once during a day.

I am still getting used to such weather swings. In my mind I understand better this behavior and what to expect of it. But in my heart there is a different story – and I am surprised time and again by my emotional response to weather changes. In my heart when winter-ish weather comes something comes to an end, something closes … the ease and lightness of summer existence and in its place comes a more demanding and burdensome existence (for me … going outside is less obvious when it is windy, wet and muddy).

I never really noticed this emotional shift until it started happening more often here in Romania. My emotional understanding is lagging behind my mindful understanding. Emotions seems more deeply rooted then mind, more subtle, more sensitive, more fragile and more volatile. The weather here has shed a fascinating light on an existence and dynamic of an emotional body that has a rhythm and wisdom of its own.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-10-07

  • @raymondpirouz there is quite a bit of impressive modular out there if u look 4it, but prices at "abusive" rather then "practical" levels #
  • @raymondpirouz that goes to the heart of it doesn't it? pro-abuse is still at the heart of western economies #
  • @raymondpirouz indeed a restructuring of business itself is required. #
  • @raymondpirouz I think it'll b easier 4 individual managers 2 take a stance as old structures crumble & thought innovation becomes critical #
  • sometimes … I feel … there is need for less passion and more action #
  • mocking greatness: http://t.co/pLZ5UgjA attn: @gblakeman #
  • the remote control works so much better with charged batteries! #
  • permaculture reality check: http://t.co/eVE8TpR5 #
  • today was a gumption-trap day #
  • @raymondpirouz I wonder with a sense of sad irony if this is the guy responsible for worker suicides at Foxconn? rewarding achievement! #
  • @raymondpirouz pay him a lot less? u r too kind! I would put him in jail … or let him jump off a roof (without a safety net) #
  • a systemic organization of practices: asana (physical),pranayama (breath) & dhyanam (concentration): http://t.co/J8gLgyJy via @YogaStudies #
  • an Italian restaurant where produce can be bartered for a meal … social energy is moving: http://t.co/1xvu01BB #

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More Charles Eisenstein – July 2012 – London


I continue to draw joy, inspiration and insight from every talk he gives and is made available online. There is of course repetition, but every talk brings something more with it. This is a recording (audio only) – but a relatively recent one … so it comes with freshness 🙂

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And the times they are a changing


An Italian restaurant where produce can be bartered for a mealt.

I see a movement where local energy is consolidated and focused and that feels great. However what is even more interesting to me are the economic waves this will send out and their effect on the national system and beyond. Less exchange of money means less revenue … means less taxes … means less power to government (national and local). I am extremely curious to witness such power shifts. I believe that in most places this shift will be met with stubborn opposition from social organizations that are unwilling to change. I also believe that those few places that will embrace this change will give birth to new ideas of governance and social organization … there we will witness innovation of future social constructs.


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Mocking Greatness


I think that this time Grant, and almost everyone else who has chimed in on this mocking/acknowledging conversation is missing the point (I didn’t see it until Grant mentioned it). It isn’t Nathan that is being mocked in this commercial. It is greatness that is being mocked. This is no different then using the word “Yoga” to sell … anything and everything. In both cases it is immoral behavior – subverting moral high ground to business. The semi-intellectual debate around it and any potential it may have for inspiration or raising awareness of obesity is another example of intellect run-amok:


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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-09-30

  • crafts: http://t.co/p2pLoLgJ #
  • @raymondpirouz great news 🙂 the only way to make better soup with real ingredients is to cook it at home not in a factory 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz unless your life is arranged so that food preparation is always right around the corner … ready and easy #
  • @raymondpirouz and keep peeling the onion … and we will arrive at better eating in the 1st place as health-inducing #
  • @raymondpirouz and that will spell bad news for many more food-vested corporations 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz indeed there are SO MANY MORE DIMENSIONS to food, buying a pot is shopping, learning to feed yourself is life-changing #

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Sacred Economy: Bringing an End to Strip-Mining of Community


This isn’t the first post in which I’ve mentioned or pointed to Charles Eisenstein … however … this is another one 🙂

Today we finished making another batch of Zakuska (cooked vegetable mash prepared as a winter preserve). We started working outside and got most of the cooking done before a welcome fall-rain arrived. So we had to move inside to do the packing and final cooking. The following video of Charle’s giving a presentation played in the background. The experience felt whole … so I got a camera out to make a note of it.

We used money from our last “available batch” to move to Bhudeva and to become stewards of its lands. This has been our second summer here and we are preparing to move into our second winter. The produce we used to make our garden is not yet ours since most of our garden did not survive this years difficult drought. Instead we (again) purchased this produce from our neighbors Ildi and Levente. However this year the money we used to pay them for the produce was money they had given us over recent months in return for helping them sell their produce with Cutia Taranului. They also loaned us the large pot in which we did our cooking. The pot (when it was outside) was sitting on top of a simple rocket stove which we learned about by knowledge used on the other side of the planet made freely available on the Internet. The stove was fueled by a small quantity of scrap wood (due to the amazing efficiency of the rocket stove). The cooking work was fueled by our satisfaction from experiencing that we can provide for ourselves an abundant, healthy and pleasant life … all with a diminished and diminishing depdence on money.

I came to Romania feeling like an outcast, seeking sanctuary. I wanted nothing to do with people. I wanted to find a corner of the world where I could supply my own needs and never need to interact with people again. Yet as times goes by I find myself immersed in a passionate effort to build and be part of … something … the word community is most appropriate … though I use it with hesitation since I am just beginning a process of giving it life and meaning.

Within this context I invite you to view this presentation by Charles Eisenstein’s presentation:

If you’ve enjoyed this I also invite you to a recent interview with him (and a strange, charming, amusing interviewer) here.





Posted in AltEco, Business, Enjoy, Expanding, inside, Intake, outside, Quality, Romania | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

What if Apple were Microsoft?


Powerful predictions from the past about Apple:

But what if Apple were Microsoft? What if Apple had won the battle of the PC and was the largest company in the world? People would hate them. Why? Because they would be using the same tactics as Microsoft to stay ahead and keep every bit of that advantage in anyway that they could. Apple is the way it is because they are the underdog.

I’ll even argue that life would be worse under Apple’s rein. Apple controls the OS *and* the hardware: if we were under Apple’s boot instead of Microsoft’s, we’d be paying too much for hardware as well as the software.

It took a few years but I managed and am happier for having completely removed Microsoft from my life (until it recently purchased Skype … bummer). I am proud to have never owned or used anything from Apple (though I had a short stint with iTunes and thought about an iPod).


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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-09-23

  • 11 hours of cooking winter preserves … alone … andreea is away helping a soul be born into this world … pooped and satisfied 🙂 #
  • crashing heroes seems to be recurring theme in my intake stream: http://t.co/W8JaCgB1 #

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Shape of My Heart: Magic


via Dominic Miller

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Diaspora and Breathing


Like many others I was happy when Diaspora launched but almost from the beginning doubtful about their ability to deliver. I didn’t back the project. I did two things to show my support:

  1. I wrote and dedicated a post to them in an attempt to outline a design problem they, as engineers, were bound (and did) crash into.
  2. I wrote them and offered to support their effort by teaching them to breathe (I did ask for one thing in return – that they publicly share any observations about the effects of this on their work and lives).

I have only occassionaly visited their work only to find my suspicions confirmed. I didn’t know though that (a) they completely aborted the project and that (b) one of their founders committed suicide.

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When More Heroes Crash


I just recently noted about heroes crashing into the ground … and then today this came across me. Paul Graham is indeed a startup-hero and most definitely needs to come crashing down to a more proper “person” level … for the benefit of many. For me, thankfully, came crashing down a long time ago when he spoke out about art.

Paul Graham invented and operates a formula … it may sometimes work for some people in some contexts. It is a mistake though to view his as “the formula” it’s just “a formula”. It’s also a mistake to condone him for preaching a lousy lifestyle. He didn’t invent a lifestyle … he invented a money making machine. Sacrificing lifestyle is practically inherent to his invention. A more efficient target would be his purpose, not his tool.



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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-09-16

  • @YogaStudies that is one of the only questions that supports me, gives me peace and keeps me sane #
  • a special morning report from Bhudeva: Joy & Jam http://t.co/sqy8ticA #
  • Debt Collectors Cashing In on Student Loans – Has modern-day-western-society really become so self-defeating? http://t.co/cPs1U6iD #
  • without shared intention and context wishing me a "happy new jewish [or any other] year" is an empty gesture #
  • @TheBabarazzi reminded me of women walking-balancing-stumbling-along in high heels #
  • at least the dogs know something is wrong: http://t.co/Jjah4pez #
  • I've hit what is, to me, the most challenging and important part of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance … time for a dinner break 🙂 #
  • white rice, cooked lentils, a freshly chopped tomato and a pickle … one of my all-time favorite meals #
  • completed reading and extracting from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance … phase 2 begins … #

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Dogs and Shoes … and Women


This hillarious video arrived in my Twitter feed (complements of the Babarazzi):

As I was watching it I thought of women walking stumbling shakily on high heels. I searched for a video of this but couldn’t find one … I did however come across this in depth video on the subject:

As I see it, the dogs are better off then the women … the dogs know that something is wrong …. very wrong:

I also came across this women-related video … and was amazed at the durability of the human body:

… and I have spent more time on this topic then I should have.

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Fuck Math


I got a kick from reading this before-last sentence from this post as Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance sits next to my laptop and thoughts on Quality are flowing through my mind:

“Innovation always beats math, eventually.”

Yet I didn’t enjoy nor do I agree with the short and last sentence that followed:

“That, you can take to the bank.”

I agree that Apple does innovation really well but I don’t think that accounts for their business success (though it surely contributes to it). Their business success, I believe, is due to their compromises and not their excellence.

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Debt Collectors Cashing In on Student Loans


This article is not a very interesting read but this paragraph captures so much in so few words:

“With an outstanding balance of more than $1 trillion, student loans have become a silver lining for the debt collection industry at a time when its once-thriving business of credit card collection has diminished and the unemployment rate has made collection a challenge.”

Has modern-day-western-society really become so self-defeating? It seems to me that ideas like society or community are now empty shells … on the upside … this is an opportunity to refill them with new and better ideas and contexts.

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Smart-bombs and really stupid children

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-09-09

  • what if negative [economic growth] is a good thing? http://t.co/LT3eR9Pk #
  • @iandstewart calling it conversation is a weird thing 🙂 #
  • @ceisenstein and as long as there is breath #
  • design for outcomes http://t.co/7UMcHDXi cc :: @raymondpirouz mondpirouz #
  • long overdue daily http://t.co/IgVpcDb3 report: abundance via tomatoes #
  • the fact that Nokia is counting on Microsoft to save itself is … oh so very sad #
  • hmmm … blocking and/or reporting a promoted tweet as spam doesn't remove it from the timeline … stubborn fuckers! #
  • just a reminder from magical Daniel Johnston – true love will find you in the end: http://t.co/i3oOorl9 #

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