The Decorah (Bald) Eagles Livestream

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By: Crane-Station Wednesday May 11, 2011 6:02 am
Decorah Eagles 031 by lostntym

From lostntym

[Decorah Bald Eagle parent via flickr]

I do not know if you guys have seen this, but it is fascinating. The Raptor Research Project has a 24-hour ‘live-streaming’ camera on a Bald Eagle nest in Decorah, Iowa (northeast Iowa).

Live Streaming by Ustream.TV

Mom and Dad eagle were ‘married’ in 2007. The unbanded pair raised three groups of chicks prior to this brood, and all eight are now on the wing.

This year’s group of three hatched about a month ago, a few days apart.

The family lives on private property about eighty feet above the ground, near a fish hatchery and a stream. They love sushi.

The nest is six feet across, four feet deep, and weighs about a thousand pounds, so it is about the size of a small, uh…dumpster.

Here is a close-up video of the third egg hatch:

On a different topic, my son said:

“…I typically don´t like using the word “amazing” when describing somewhere that I’ve visited, mainly because I think it´s cheesy and usually an over exaggeration…”

My apologies. The Decorah Eagles are…amazing.

Oh, and you guys will love this. It is embarrassing, but true. Just before hitting “Publish,” I ran this post by the Editor-in-Chief, Masoninblue. Turns out I had typed, “Rapture Research Project” instead of “Raptor Research Project.”

He said, “Is that some fundy Christian organization?”

[cross-posted at, where moderator/editor helped with images, thank you FDL]

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His Hogs Were Still Dead

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His Hogs Were Still Dead

By: Crane-Station Friday May 6, 2011 6:35 pm

Back when I was trying to quit drinking and stay stopped, a man told me a helpful story.

“I had a friend once, lived in Tennessee. And he was a hog farmer. He had maybe four hundred head of hogs. One day, he opened his door and looked outside…and his hogs were all dead.”

“So, my friend went back inside and he shut the door and he got drunk.”

“Next morning, he got up and opened the door and looked outside.”

“And, you know what? His hogs were still dead!”

This story reminds me that when my hogs are dead I need to get more creative. And that brings me to the power company dumpster. With the storms, other dumpsters were lean, and in our ten-minute half life of poverty, we were cut off from the phone and the internet for about a month. Without TV, we relied on air raid sirens and radio to issue tornado warnings.

Our hogs were dead.

But, I reasoned, the storms may also bring a good deal of infrastructure to the dumpsters. Several visits to the power company dumpster later, we were back on line. With no need for an interlock device on the “send” button.

The power company has two boxes. One is off-limits to divers. It contains aluminum wire. The larger box is diver friendly as long as we are polite and well-intentioned (we are, of course). It contains cast and clean aluminum freeway lamps, complete with scrap posts, wire and breakage. Today, we were especially blessed with about five hundred pounds of this stuff, which we loaded and drove to recycle, where we parked and spent a couple of hours disassembling what looked like a robbed utility company.

We had this stuff all in the parking lot and in pulls a truck. Out comes an enormous man, about the size of Mount Everest if it were a fire hydrant. He scanned our load and identified us as fellow divers, I guess, and he says, “Man, I was diving this dumpster today and I noticed a bag, and it was moving.”

I stopped unscrewing screws and listened.

“And, I opened the bag. Turns out this business owner had stuffed three baby robins into a bag and thrown them into the dumpster. So I rescued the birds and I walked up to the man and told him that if he had the energy to stuff the birds into the bag, at least he could have had the common decency to release them to the street and give them a fifty-fifty chance at survival.”

“What did he say?”

“He told me to calm down.  So I took my shirt off and picked up a two-by-four and said, I am a grown man and I have been to the penitentiary and I will kick your ass for this. And also, I will dive your dumpster until I am good and done.”

We simultaneously decide that we love this man. We engage in street level dumpster etiquette. I give him brass in exchange for diving tips. He gives us hats in exchange for diving tips. His character was too good to be true, more stylized than anything Joel and Ethan Coen could ever script.

As our huge bird lover left he said, “You guys are blessed today. You just don’t know how much yet.”

After he left I said, “We need this guy. We need him everywhere. At every demonstration. Where everything is wrong, we need people with this kind of passion. The rich won’t have our backs, but a guy like this will.”

Our hogs may be dead but we are not.

cross-posted at


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Be Sure to Update Your Tetanus Booster

Attention, scrappers, dumpster divers, recyclers, and ‘junkmen:’

Please be sure your tetanus booster is up to date.

Here is a statement from the CDC:

“As an adult, do I need this vaccine?”

“Everyone needs protection from tetanus. If you have not had a booster shot in 10 years or more, you should receive a tetanus shot. If you never had the initial childhood tetanus vaccines, you should receive a series of three tetanus shots.”

Here is the CDC link with more information:

Also, here is some more information about tetanus, from Wikipedia:

Even if you do not collect scrap or recycle, please be aware of the information. We have been advised to tell folks to check with their local health department, for low-cost booster shots. If you have had stitches in the recent past, chances are excellent that you are current. But please check with your doctor or nurse practitioner, just to be sure.

Thank you!

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Taking Suggestions, Self-Sustainability Festival Heads Up

In case you thought I was kidding about the food you can find in dumpsters, take a look at this:

Everything in the photo is from dumpsters, including the chair that the fruit is sitting on and the drape behind the display. The blueberries, strawberries and bananas are not pictured, nor are the five or so other packages of grapes.

I am looking for suggestions. We are going to take excess fresh produce to our local excellent cooperative food bank. They keep a shopping cart in the hallway, and donors put fresh fruits and vegetables in the cart for customers to take home. Many food bank customers are children. As we see it, this is one way to get nutritious food to children. As you probably already know, food banks need donations now (ours has a two-visit emergency limit per calendar year), and they are not set up to handle fresh stuff in their inventory area. Community members give fresh items by way of the shopping cart method I describe above.

Does anyone have other suggestions? The name of the game is to keep nutritious foods out of the landfill and into the hands of folks who are hungry and struggling.

Next, I would like to mention a workshop coming up in June, in Kentucky:

“This is Dave Cooper in Lexington.  Im organizing a festival near Berea the weekend of June 16-19 called The Whippoorwil Festival – Skills for Earth-Friendly Living.   -snip-  You can read more about our fest at:
But basically its workshops on things like raising backyard chickens, how to make sandals out of car tires, how to make mead and ferment sauerkraut, how to convert your car to veggie oil. etc.  Plus we have music and speakers in the evening (Gatewood Galbraith, Joel Pett etc.)”
Please visit this link, even if you do not live in the area.
Absolutely fantastic ideas. Thank you, Dave Cooper, for bringing our attention to this. I hope to see more and more like it.
I am off to eat a nutritious breakfast, straight from the dumpster: bacon, eggs, toast, fresh fruit. The only thing we actually purchased is the coffee.

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Dumpster Diving And The Dream Of The Dolphin

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By: Crane-Station Monday March 21, 2011 5:38 pm

Here is a short piece of music by Enigma, called, ” Dream of the Dolphin,” that I would like to share with you as you read this.

The lyrics:

In every color there’s the light.

In every stone, sleeps a crystal.

Remember the Shaman, when he used to say, “Man is the dream of the dolphin.”

The recycle center today was much busier than usual. At our second visit, two hours prior to closing, the center reported a thirty percent increase in traffic for the day.

This morning, we waited in a long line of trucks, cars and semis. Lamenting about the wait to my husband, I was suddenly stopped short. An elderly and frail woman was pushing a shopping cart over the debris-strewn drive, toward the office. She had already dropped off some recycle. I could not imagine what. A shopping cart full of cans, perhaps. Forty cans  make a pound, and a pound pays sixty cents. Surely her cart had held no more than a couple of pounds of cans, at the most.

She held her yellow ticket in one hand, and navigated the cart, patiently, as it lurched over the rubble. She leaned on the cart for support, such that it doubled as sort of a walker.

My door flew open, and I tumbled out. “We have to help her,” I told my husband.

“Ma’am, do you need some help? Do you need a ride?”

“Oh, no. Thank you. I’m fine. God bless you.” Her face wrinkled, her grin toothless.

I monitored her progress. She made her way out of the recycle center. Over the railroad tracks. Back toward town. Several miles to go. She navigated her cart to somewhere, alone, and kindly turned down any offer for help. Where was she going?  I do not know.

‘I’m fine. God bless you.’

This was someone’s mother,  or grandmother, or wife.

Is this the sort of thing the GOP wants to see? The elderly wandering the streets, alone, pushing carts several miles to obtain a dollar or two? Sometimes I wonder how we can call ourselves human beings any more.

So the music and this post is for the woman we saw today. And the many that we did not see. And never will.

And also, this is for the dolphins.

While the ‘powers that be’ continue to manipulate numbers and convince each other that things are getting so much better economically, and lying and conniving to convince a passing public that will never be convinced, because they think the passing public is stupid, only it isn’t, that life is just peachy, some of us in the ‘field’ see things in a different light.

-Dumpster diving is becoming not only commonplace. It is very nearly a movement. I no longer hide any more. I dive in the light of day now.   And that’s good because I was not even sure we had the gas money to get our parked load from the weekend to recycle in the first place, but then I got antsy waiting on my husband, so I quickie-hit a few dumpsters within walking distance, and picked up a new keyboard, some more lamps, another 10-pound bag of oranges, and bingo! A wallet with just enough loose change to get us there. Coincidence?

-People are dumping their trash into public dumpsters because they cannot afford roll-off service, now more than ever.

-More people are eating out of dumpsters than I have seen in the past. Today we went ‘shopping.’ We picked up 5 packages of stew beef, grapefruit, enough grapes to sink a ship, oranges, lemons, blueberries, strawberries, celery, broccoli, potatoes, bread, and cheese. We were not the first visitors. We now limit the amount of food we bring in, so that others can eat also.

-I continue to apply for local minimum wage jobs and continue to get nowhere. I am not alone.  The good news:  our tiny garage/yard cleaning/junk hauling business is picking up and we are booked for the rest of this week. We hope that it will grow from here.

-I see a lot of underemployment, part-time employment and ‘employed but scared’ employment.

-Nobody has benefits any more. Do they?

-I cannot remember the last time we actually filled the truck with gas. The trick is to know just how far below reserve the needle can actually get before we go to the pump. Then we reset the odometer. We are not alone.

-We can never completely fix our truck. The grill fell off, so I reattached it with zip ties. And then that, that thing stuck to the tailgate kept coming loose, and the duct tape quit holding it on, so I peeled the whole goddamned fucking thing off and threw it into the back of the truck with the rest of the recycle.  When we visit clients, we slide cardboard underneath the truck to catch the drops of dripping oil.

Anyone else in the ‘field?’  Can anyone relate? I do not think things are better at all.

[moderator: I tried to embed this video/music, but could not get that nice picture with the ‘play’ arrow that every poster but me seems to get. Can you help?]***The good folks at Firedoglake helped me with this***


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Unemployed: The New Forgotten Underclass (Updated)

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By: Crane-Station Saturday March 19, 2011 7:14 am

[This post has been updated with a link to the full text of Mr. Krugman’s column, “The Forgotten Millions.” I did not realize I had not provided this initially. I apologize.]

Yesterday, New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman wrote a column entitled “The Forgotten Millions.” Here is a link to the article:

Yesterday, New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman wrote a column entitled “The Forgotten Millions.” He states that,

“More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed.”

Mr. Krugman discussed this in an interview nine days ago. ( I believe Jay Rosen interviewed him; it was LiveStream aired, but I am having difficulty finding a link. Perhaps someone has it. Update 3/20/2011. I am told that it was Andy Rosenthal that conducted the interview. Here is the link. and thank you to Jay Rosen and Firedoglake commenter newtonusr for clarification):

Krugman continues to express specific concern for two groups of people: recent college graduates or young people entering a recessive workforce and older (50 y/o+) people who previously had jobs, worked hard, are now unemployed…and hoping that they do not get sick any time in the next fifteen years. That Washington is apparently ‘writing off’ two generations is like flipping the finger to twenty-eight-and-a-half million people, and that is shocking.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Paul Krugman

Krugman reminds us that there are no job creation bills in the making, and states:

“So one-sixth of America’s workers — all those who can’t find any job or are stuck with part-time work when they want a full-time job — have, in effect, been abandoned.”

“It might not be so bad if the jobless could expect to find new employment fairly soon. But unemployment has become a trap, one that’s very difficult to escape. There are almost five times as many unemployed workers as there are job openings; the average unemployed worker has been jobless for 37 weeks, a post-World War II record.”

“In short, we’re well on the way to creating a permanent underclass of the jobless. Why doesn’t Washington care?”

Right now, a huge number of people, including ‘ninety-niners,’ are uncounted in any employment rolls. This makes numbers easier to manipulate, creating the illusion that things are getting better. Firing and layoffs are decreasing. Well of course they are. There are no jobs to begin with.

Well, here is a slice of daily life for a ‘forgotten million.’ My husband and I have always worked. I alternate between job application sprees where I get nowhere because I have no recent work experience, yet am overqualified (I guess) for minimum wage work, and weeks of bone-crushing, shame-filled depression that requires medical attention that I cannot afford. We live a very isolated life. Although I am still trying, at this point, there are logistics problems: no haircut, few clean clothes, no real presentable shoes, difficulty finding viable recommendation.  Thank goodness for dumpsters or we would have no food. With gas prices, job applications must be within a couple of miles. I last applied at a local drive-in, three days ago, but got the “we’ll call you,” with no call.

I am not whining. We are a lot better off than many, and for that we are truly thankful. But I wanted to bring some reality into the discussion- what day to day life is really like for a ‘forgotten million.’

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The Bank of Time and Time Banking

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The Bank of Time and Time Banking

By: Crane-Station Friday March 18, 2011 12:13 pm

While some of us started the day with a lot of money and others started with no money, we can all agree that we each started the day with the same amount of  ‘ time’ in our ‘bank.’  For those of us who do not have the money or resources to involve ourselves in other projects, can we be involved with social change through something like time banking? I do not know, but I am putting the idea up for discussion.

What is time banking?

Time banking is a social change movement that is not new. Several sites on the internet describe time banking:

“Time Banks Weave Community One Hour at a Time

For every hour you spend doing something for someone in your community, you earn one Time Dollar. Then you have a Time Dollar to spend on having someone do something for you. It’s that simple. Yet it also has profound effects. Time Banks change neighborhoods and whole communities. Time Banking is a social change movement in 22 countries and six continents.”

Let’s say your lawn needs mowing. But someone else needs child care for a job interview. Or a meal delivered. Or a ride to the courthouse. Or maybe just an hour of company. You provide the ride, the hour, the ride, or the babysitting. You have an hour in the bank. You then withdraw that hour. And you get your lawn mowed.

To my way of thinking, time banking is so simple that it is pure genius, like most simple ideas are.

Wikipedia discusses time-based currency:

“Time Dollars

Main article: Time Banking

Time Dollars are created via mutual credit: Each transaction is recorded as a corresponding credit and debit in the accounts of the participants. In a Time Dollars system, or Time Bank, each participant’s time is valued equally, whether he/she is a novice or an extensively trained expert. Time Dollars thus recognize and encourage reciprocal community service, resist inflation without encouraging hoarding, and are in sufficient supply, which enables trade and cooperation among participants. It has been implemented in a wide variety of settings – rural Appalachia, urban St. Louis, in Youth Court, and in retirement communities, to name a few.[citation needed]

[edit] Time banks

Edgar Cahn came up with Time Dollars as “a new currency to provide a solution to massive cuts in government spending on social welfare. If there was not going to be enough of the old money to fix all the problems facing our country and our society”, Edgar argued, “Why not make a new kind of money to pay people for what needs to be done? Time Dollars value everyone’s contributions equally. One hour equals one service credit.”[citation needed] Cahn wrote two books, Our Brother’s Keeper and No More Throw-Away People.

The largest and most active Time Bank in the United States is the Dane County TimeBank in Madison, Wisconsin with over 1,000 members, a Youth Court and connections to Community Supported Agriculture. The Dane County TimeBank co-hosted “TimeBanking in Action,” the TimeBanking International Conference in 2007, and will be co-hosting the TimeBanking Conference, “Time For Justice, A Wealth of Opportunity” in June 2009. TimeBanks USA is the hub of a nationwide network of TimeBanks offering training and support to timebanks around the country. It developed Community Weaver software now widely used with over 11,000 participants. In the US there are now 101 TimeBanks listed on TimeBanking has spread to over 37 nations and six continents. In England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, TimeBanking has spread rapidly. In Wales there has been a particular focus on the development of ‘Agency Timebanks’ to engage local people as contributors to public service and community Agency Timebanking in Wales There are 116 in operation and another 87 under development; the government and national volunteer organizations have been particularly supportive. They are promoted as a tool in community regeneration.

[edit] Criticisms

Some criticisms of Time Banking have focused on the Time Dollar’s inadequacies as a form of currency and as a market information mechanism. Frank Fisher of MIT predicted in the 80s that such a currency “would lead to the kind of distortion of market forces which had crippled Russia’s economy.”[1] To this day, Time Banks in the U.S. must avoid setting any monetary worth on their Time Dollars, lest it become taxable income to the IRS.”

Here is the link to Wikipedia for more discussion:

What do you think of time banking? Could it go sideways? I need surgery and my surgeon needs a root canal…you see where I am going. In many ways I hope it does go sideways.

I have decided to craft a series of posts on various forms of bartering. With all of the cuts and no safety net we must get creative.

In the next post I will speak about yard trading as a variation of yard sales. My goal is to collect and share ideas and experiences.

And finally, here are some updates on dumpster diving:

-We have been successfully diving for food since mid-winter. We are beginning to watch our perishables.

-Granted, our sample size is small, but our direct observations of the trash indicate no economic upswing. People are dumping trash into public dumpsters because they cannot afford roll off service, now more than ever.

-Recycle center will dock you now if you leave the bulbs on Christmas lights, however, I do not think that is the case for all those little bitty ones.

-Competition for recycle is increasing, not decreasing. For example, we arrived at the car wash to get cans, and were met by a man. We thought he was there to dump trash. He thought we were there to dump trash. He wanted our cans. We wanted his cans. We both ended up laughing. He had been posted up at the car wash since 2 AM, collecting cans.

-Dumpster diving is becoming more mainstream. Almost a given that the dumpster we visit has already had company.

cross-posted at

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Dumpster Food Divers: Watch the Perishables

Warmer weather puts perishable food, and you, at risk. If you are diving for food, I would suggest close monitoring of one to three dumpsters that have delivered for you in the past. Know the dumpster pick-up day and make note of  the empty container or the new trash. This will be your baseline. This way, when you return to the dumpster, you will know the time frame for perishable food arrival.

We picked up five packages of uncooked meat from a favorite dumpster a couple of days ago: two large packages of chicken, a package of hamburger, and two packages of pork chops. We did not know when they had arrived. Unfortunately, only the pork chops survived the smell test; the rest had begun to ‘turn.’ We enjoyed the pork chops, and made a decision, with the changing weather, to keep a very close eye on timing.

We retrieved some delicious barbecue using the timing technique.

That said, we also picked up five heads of lettuce, broccoli, red and green grapes, three heads of cauliflower, eight pears, several pounds of oranges, two dozen eggs, and more tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. We have begun to limit the amount of food we bring home because there is so much of it. Fruit and vegetable-wise, this is the healthiest diet I have ever eaten.

A trend we have noticed is that people dump their personal household trash into public dumpsters, presumably because people cannot afford roll off service, an indicator of the struggling economy.

I saw so much clothing in a dumpster today that I only retrieved a blanket and left the rest. We are hoping to yard sale our many finds. But we know that many people cannot even afford yard sale prices, so we are considering yard-trading. This is a type of bartering. People bring us junk. We give them merchandise. Then we take the junk to recycle. Any thoughts? Has anyone done something similar?

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The Difference Between Jail and Prison

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By: Crane-Station Thursday March 17, 2011 9:17 am

Even for many of those whose loved ones are incarcerated, the terms ‘jail’ and ‘prison’ are one-in-the-same, and this is far from the truth.

Even Wikipedia has this wrong:

A prison (from Old French prisoun)[1] is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime. Other terms are penitentiary, correctional facility, remand center, detention center and gaol (or jail).

A State penitentiary is not a jail. However, unfortunately, for the many thousands of non-violent State inmates being held for years at a time in harsh and crippling county jail conditions, with no hope of transfer to prison, jails are being used as prisons. They were not initially intended as such. Jails  are supposed to be temporary holding facilities. This is no longer true.

Can you imagine being in a situation where you beg, each and every day, just to get to prison?

Take a look at this chilling special report by Greg Belzley:

His list of horrors is not comprehensive. For example, pregnant women, and their babies, have died or nearly died, in county jails. And while he states that “Mentally disturbed inmates are denied medication and counseling, and are simply locked away in solitary confinement,”  he  left out this:…where they are left to sit in their own urine or feces, fired upon with pepper spray, and left alone screaming for help day after day, without ever being out of solitary for even one of twenty-four hours, because that one hour rec thing that everyone assumes inmates get, is bullshit… And the part where we are quietly locking up the mentally ill, so that prisons are not prisons any more. They are assisted living for the mentally ill, only the ‘assistance’ is coming from other inmates. Inmates push the wheelchairs. Inmates clean the urine. Inmates offer the verbal comfort. Correct me if I am wrong anyone? Is Willard in upstate New York a prison now? Willard, a huge facility, used to be a mental institution. Now it is a prison (google).

Professor Robert Lawson (University of Kentucky Law Professor, textbook author (subject of evidence), author of many articles on jail and prison conditions, NACDL member and expert says (quoted in summary form, source above):

“Most chilling is [Professor Lawson’s] description of the life of state inmates in county jails that were never intended to be long-term incarceration facilities. They lack privacy, natural light, exercise, access to the outdoors…”  -snip-  “With little more personal space than the square footage of their bedding, inmates spend their days playing cards, watching TV, or lying on mat- either in a bunk or on the floor.”

Why are hundreds of thousands of Class D non-violent offenders (most are drug war casualties) doing the hardest time imaginable for anyone to do: county jail time? What possible chance do these inmates ever have upon release? (Bear in mind that all education programs for Class Ds in Kentucky have been de-funded. Even GED prep. That’s right).

If I say any more I will go off the rails. My intention was to clarify for everyone that jails and prisons are vastly different, and that jail time is orders of magnitude more harsh than prison time, yet, since jail is where more and more non-violent offenders languish, and since jails are becoming prisons now, people misunderstand the terms.

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Just Be Careful When Handling Scrap…

Folks, this just in, from source that I trust:

Just be careful when handling scrap. especially electronics.  They can contain heavy metals and chemicals that are harmful.  They are not meant to be salvaged by unprotected people….just be careful, ok?


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