the state

-of advice by jgrimsrud
Tuesday, 28 April 2009, 13:42
Filed under: -of jgrimsrud, -of sound

another brother’s time-ly/less words:

thank you, youtube.


-of the evidence by jgrimsrud
Saturday, 25 April 2009, 12:37
Filed under: -of jgrimsrud, -of politik, -of the outside world

we’re concerned about pig flu; we’re concerned about right wing extremist groups; we’re worried about declining bee & other pollinator populations

turns out, one movie tied it all together–back in the ’80s!  thank you david byrne:

– of space berries. by vastate
Thursday, 23 April 2009, 9:20
Filed under: -of funny, -of jhumphrey, -of the outside world

in other-worldly garden news:

Galaxy’s centre tastes of raspberries and smells of rum, say astronomers

The hunt for chemicals in deep space that could seed life on other planets has yielded a large, fruity molecule.

and this may be my all-time favorite quote from an international publication (such as our beloved guardian):

Astronomers searching for the building blocks of life in a giant dust cloud at the heart of the Milky Way have concluded that it tastes vaguely of raspberries.

yessir.  of rum and raspberries does heaven taste.


– of your green minds or not. by vastate
Wednesday, 22 April 2009, 18:33
Filed under: -of green, -of jhumphrey, -of reads

oh.  i just figured out what our problem is.  or at least the new york times magazine did.  thinks they did.


here’s the blurb:

Decision scientists are trying to figure out why it’s so hard for us to get into a green mind-set. Their answers may be more crucial than any technological advance in combating environmental challenges.

and more:

In analytical mode, we are not always adept at long-term thinking; experiments have shown a frequent dislike for delayed benefits, so we undervalue promised future outcomes. (Given a choice, we usually take $10 now as opposed to, say, $20 two years from now.) Environmentally speaking, this means we are far less likely to make lifestyle changes in order to ensure a safer future climate. Letting emotions determine how we assess risk presents its own problems. Almost certainly, we underestimate the danger of rising sea levels or epic droughts or other events that we’ve never experienced and seem far away in time and place. Worse, Weber’s research seems to help establish that we have a “finite pool of worry,” which means we’re unable to maintain our fear of climate change when a different problem — a plunging stock market, a personal emergency — comes along. We simply move one fear into the worry bin and one fear out. And even if we could remain persistently concerned about a warmer world? Weber described what she calls a “single-action bias.” Prompted by a distressing emotional signal, we buy a more efficient furnace or insulate our attic or vote for a green candidate — a single action that effectively diminishes global warming as a motivating factor. And that leaves us where we started.

– of chicken myths. by vastate
Wednesday, 22 April 2009, 18:21
Filed under: -of green, -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey, -of localism, -of politik

i was curious about what’s going on around town, chicken-wise.


i knew that there was some recent city council activity, but wasn’t sure of the details.  so i got the skinny.

and here is the chicken update, courtesy of harrisonburg backyard chicken project participant, nicholas detweiler-stoddard:

Good Evening Jill and Happy Earth Day!

At the April 14th council meeting we were only able to briefly introduce who we are as a group (we were not on the official agenda). Our official presentation will be at the upcoming council this Tuesday the 28th at 7pm. While it does not appear that there will be space for public comment at this meeting, we are hoping to have a large number of supporters turn out to show their support by their presence.

At this upcoming meeting, the Harrisonburg Backyard Chicken Project will simply present its case for an ordince change and the council will vote whether or not to send this on to the planning commision to draft such a change. Once such an ammendment is put together, it would then be taken before another city council meeting (along with a time for public comment) to be approved.

We are expecting continued opposition from the Virginia Poultry Federation (on the 14th, Pres. Hobey Bauhan stood to express his deep concerns about the biosecurity risk our chickens will pose), but we hope to have Tad Williams, a poultry/CAFO inspector for the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), speak to the relatively inconsequential disease risk that backyard flocks pose. We will present our reasons for keeping backyard hens, address some of the main concerns that have come up (public nuisance fears, biosecurity risks, and increased burden to city resources), and offer some specifics we think should be included in a pro-chicken ordinance.

If this does go through, HBCP hopes to offer itself as an active public resource for those interested in engaging in urban chicken keeping as a more sustainable means of connecting to their food sources.

See the attached document for some of the benefits of urban hens as well as a few of our suggested ordiance specifics. Also attached is a study by John Hopkins School of Public Health essentially debunking the claim that backyard flocks spread avian flu. The other is a study put out by GRAIN studying some of the real causes behind AI outbreaks in poultry flocks.

Thanks for your interest. If you haven’t already, check out the handful of comments on the mayor’s blog and leave some of your own! (

Peace be with you,
Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard
Harrisonburg Backyard Chicken Project participant

you heard the man!  go post your opinions for kai’s reading pleasure.

also, in case you get involved in any backyard chicken debates around the water cooler,  check out this great link from the aforementioned tucson chicken guru.


it neatly outlines four of the most popular anti-urban chicken stances (including those proposed by Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Federation in the recent rocktown weekly article), and offers these myth-busting talking points:

  1. Chickens produce too much poop – the fact of the matter is that dogs and cats produce way more excrement in a week than a flock of four hens. And while the chicken manure can be converted easily into fertilizer to help your garden grow, for health reasons, you cannot do the same with dog and cat poop.
  2. It’ll cost too much to enforce an urban chicken law – the kind of people who want to raise chickens in their backyards for eggs are doing so (mostly) out of a sense responsibility for taking control of their food sourcing and reducing their carbon footprint. These are not the kinds of folks who’ll be requiring animal control to come out and bust chicken owners for too many animals making too much noise (see: dogs).
  3. Owning chickens means hosting salmonella in your backyard – the food safety folks have done a great job sensitizing the public to take care in handling chicken so as to avoid salmonella. The simpletons spreading salmonella fears as an argument against urban chickens don’t seem to understand that salmonella is a problem of safe food handling, not of responsible pet ownership.
  4. Backyard chickens will spread the bird flu – the fact is, it’s through backyard flocks that we might insulate ourselves from the spread of the H5N1 virus and the like that tear through the million-bird in-bred flocks of large-scale agribusiness. But, of all the arguments against urban chickens, this is the point most often deployed as an end-of-discussion “so there.”

– of jack brown’s comments. by vastate
Tuesday, 21 April 2009, 16:48
Filed under: -of eats, -of green, -of harrisonburg, -of health, -of jhumphrey

i just have to flex my editor muscles and respond to the numerous comments regarding jack brown’s in full post format.


so, what is all the resistance to excellence around here?

i am really surprised that you all are actively protesting AGAINST fueling our local economy and encouraging our community businesses to be something special instead of “what it already is.”  i don’t know.  but i think that energy spent preserving the status quo is usually wasted energy.

for example,

I don’t think Jack Brown’s should try to be more of restaurant than it already is – I like Jack Brown’s because I can go get fries with a burger and booze after midnight – and it is downtown! So please, keep being a beer and burger joint and you will keep me coming back…

and, in response to reader request for a veggie option,

jbs is going to do just fine doing things like they’re doing them. if you’d like to comment on downtown endeavours that are not destined for success, i think there are better targets. if you’d like to make what is or isn’t on a menu into an issue of diversity (or the lack thereof) (which for the record is kind of crazy), it might behoove you to consider what the word means before stating that the other restaurants all have very similar veg options and jbs should toe that line.

there were some good points about working a small menu and the reality of a small space.  and i will have to disagree with johan regarding the rotating veg course idea because of these restrictions.

but, people, would you turn your nose at buns made across the street at shank’s bakery, and beef from T&E’s meat market?  would those simple but excellent changes make you too uncomfortable?

how about some green inspiration?  take a look at our neighboring towns – staunton is THRIVING because of numerous businesses with a local economy focus.  charlottesville too.  one of the best things i did all winter was stop at this guy’s little trailer near the downtown mall and buy fair trade hot chocolate and organic donuts from him on a very cold december day.  short menu.  small space.  big ideas.  inspired customers.


green. local. sustainable. community.

these are not words restricted to the bourgeois elite as some seem to insinuate.  these are the future.  the necessary future.  for farmers.  for the poor.  for the rich.  none of us will exsist long if we continue to believe that supporting and INSISTING on local, sustainable business is somehow elitist.

if you think this, you should meet some of the most vicious supporters of gardens, farms, and small business.  they are far from rich.  far from higher education.  far from whole foods market luxury.  they are all about survival.  the appalachian tobacco farmers turning to organic micro-greens, potatoes, and peppers as a matter of blunt survival.


these people probably like a good, non-fancy, simple burger and fries as much as you.  but if the product supports sustainable practices – and their livelihood – the farmers would probably be grateful.

i stopped off at the h’burg farmer’s market this morning on my way home from work.


the scene was not of trust fund hipsters, be-clogged former hippies, and the upper crust.  it was of working families.  of mom’s chasing grumpy toddlers while trying to sell flowers. of old farmers with dirt encrusted fingers.  of trying to make a living.  of realizing that while costco and walmart are all about numbers, the farmer’s market is all about faces.  and food.  the nutrition we all need.

some of you commenters began rolling your eyes a long time ago.  i know.  you think i’m being dramatic.  you think you know my type.

why not leave well enough alone?  why use a new, innocent, pretty good burger place as a soapbox?

because i have a little guy at my house.  he’s almost three.


and i know for a fact that i must fight and insist every step of the way on sustainability for his sake.  sustainabiliy as a practicality.  not just a neat hobby for do-gooders.  literal sustainability.  recession-proof sustainability.

so that beer, burgers, and fries in a locally-owned downtown establishment will still be an option for him when he wants to go out for a good time at 1 a.m. in twenty years.

– of spring in a mag. by vastate
Tuesday, 21 April 2009, 15:33
Filed under: -of eats, -of green, -of harrisonburg, -of jhumphrey, -of localism

i just received an email reminder from edible blue ridge editor, natalie, that the new SPRING edition is out and about around town.



i have been found on recent early mornings, bleary-eyed from night shift, poking a finger around in my spinach patch (planted a bit late).  just making sure that those tiny seeds truly are working they way the package (and my friend, daniel – who said, in his eloquent way, “stop worrying.  shit grows.”)  said they would.


so far, so good.  but as someone who has always just gone to the nursery, bought transplants, and popped them into the garden, i am finding myself crazily skeptical of the whole seed business.  my practical side and my histrionic side are in a battle.

over spinach.

i’ll let you know who wins.

meanwhile, get yourself down to one of these fine local establishments:

Artful Dodger Coffeehouse and Cocktail Lounge
Cally’s Brewing Company
Court Square Theater
Downtown Wine & Gourmet
Earth & Tea Cafe
Harrisonburg Visitors Center
Joshua Wilton House Inn & Restaurant
Little Grill Collective
Shenandoah Bicycle Company
T&E Meats

and pick up your new copy – full of spring-ness – of edible blue ridge.