I was born into a very domesticated life. I wasn't taught to use tools or do anything much for myself beyond cooking. As a young and testy punk rocker I slowly came to realize that without knowing how to take care of my own needs, I was essentially something like a slave or a farm animal. I wanted out of that cage! At about 16 I started looking for information on homesteading and such, but I couldn't find much.
Just after getting out of highschool, I discovered paleotechnology and the budding primitive or ancestral skills movement. I became deeply immersed in learning those skills and was fascinated by the idea that I could make something from just what was laying around in natural environments. Within a short time I was teaching that kind of stuff. I met my now ex partner, Tamara Wilder and we moved into a small spot in the woods and did that stuff full time just scraping by on what we could make selling braintanned buckskin and dumpster diving. We were too busy learning and living to stop and make money! We eventually started a business called paleotechnics teaching ancestral skills and self published our book Buckskin, the Ancient Art of Braintanning. After I became ill with lyme disease, Tamara continued teaching and developing that into something much more. I'm less involved now having broader interests than Paleotechnics can contain. Visit that project @ www.paleotechnics.com for class lists and such.
I also became obsessed with gardening and fruit trees and such pretty early on. I have had gardens at least on a small scale ever since, and usually on a large scale relative to most people.
I'm very much a polymath, someone who is interested in, and pursuing, many things. Mostly I'm interested in things that have potential to make us all more self reliant. I often do things "the hard way" just to learn new tools and skills, or to keep in practice. I tend to obsesses over one or a few things at a time My personality is intense and focused. I'm good at figuring out problems and I see the world largely as a collection of problems to be solved, which is great if you're solving physical problems, but not always great when relating to people or in personal relationships. Seriously, someone will make a joke and I'll be all off on some earnest commentary and they'll be like "um, hello, I was joking...". Oh well, being super geeky/intellectual and having great social skills are not too often found well developed in the same person.
I tend to learn fast and have a practical understanding of what I'm working on. You'll notice that I almost always describe problems or processes in an attempt to communicate the underlying principals. That is both because it's the way I view the world, and because I believe that type of insight is the most important part of learning anything because it allows us to adapt and come up with new ideas and solutions. Some people just want a series of how to steps, but it's hard to squeeze that out of me. This isn't ehow y'all.
Education... or lack of
I barely graduated from a small high school for delinquents and round pegs. I was more like a multifaceted and ever growing crystal, let alone a square peg, but then we probably all are at heart. School in general was a shock for me being raised in a learning environment at home and without much in the way of training in social appropriateness. I was taught basic stuff at home before I ever started school. They gave me the option to skip a grade from pre-school into first grade, which I was allowed to decide and turned down, a decision I would regret through the rest of my school career! Being dumped into the dumbed down, meat grinder that is the public school system is one of the worst things that ever happened to me. I was rarely engaged and could probably have condensed what I learned that was actually useful into about a year or two. I tried to go to college for a minute, but I wasn't that interested in anything there either and never went to classes. I actually prefer to learn things in semi-isolation or with minimal input, so that I don't make too many assumptions based on other people's authority or ideas. Most of what passes for education is actually just indoctrination into a set of existing beliefs. When my parents taught me to think for myself, or at least as best they could, they opened, or rather failed to lock, a pandora's box which society and its most powerful training ground, school, were not able to shut. Ha ha, fuck you, I win! :D
While I do think about philosophy, and believe that our basic philosophies affect everything we do and believe in very important ways, purely intellectual philosophy and debate generally bores me. If I can't fit it into my life in a way that's basically practical, then I don't really care too much. On a more subjective, relational level, I tend to favor rational logical thinking over faith, mythical and story thinking. These are two different ways of perceiving and trying to understand the world. Aside from their other merits and demerits, I find the former better for problem solving and getting by in the physical world, and I like that. It resonates with me. However, I believe there are ways to think and relate in symbols or intuitively beyond logic and language that can be very powerful and practical, if hard to control and tap into. Dogma, ritual and literal acceptance of mythology I can do without.
One of my several core philosophic assumptions is that everyone is wrong in numerous ways and many, if not most, of our beliefs are more in the realm of assumption and repeated sound bytes than they are fact. If people could only embrace that single idea and stop repeating and accepting things on someone else's authority... Question authority. Most of us don't even really know what that means. It has taken me a lifetime of stubborn effort to start to approach a reasonable degree of free thinking, and I was raised in a relatively free thinking environment.
I play the guitar and am a very musical person. I grew up listening the American hardocore punk of the 80's and now listen mostly to extreme heavy metal, and I mean extreme! :) I got into restoring vintage vacuum tube hi-fi gear for a while, but was never very good at it. That is still all I listen to though. I like to cook and eat. Not a lot else! The stuff I put on this site is pretty much my life and what I do and think about.
For the most part I like my life and the way I am. I should, since I have set out to be, think and live in particular ways that are very important to me. It is no accident that I am what and where I am today, but rather the result of steady intent and a lifetime of swimming against the social current. My future probably isn't that bright, but it never was, and making choices based on security or safety is not very appealing to me. As far as I'm concerned, my life is a war and it almost always has been. It doesn't seem unlikely that I'll end up as a casualty of that war eventually, but too many things that I value and have striven to embody are in opposition to the dominant paradigm and general social trends. I don't do what I do because I think it will "make a real difference", but because it seems like the right thing to do, consequences be damned.