Sometimes the thought of peak oil gets a little overwhelming. You try to wrap your brain around the whole concept, and what it means for you, your nice car, your "small" mortgage for the house in the hills. But it's too much... One day - you think about starting your own farm to be able to provide food for your family, the next - you want to build a pantry in your basement and stock up on all the things you'll want to have if things go bad. Somedays you just want to go back and "take the blue pill" instead of the red and forget that you even knew it was coming.

What can you do with all of this nervous energy and worry? What can take your mind off of it?

[Besides red wine and sex?]

Try doing something from scratch. I don't know why, but I have found it very therapeutic lately. Something about getting your hands dirty, or your creative section of your brain re-awakened, or learning how to do something that will help you out in the future, that eases stress.

Just some ideas for you, I know not all apply to every individual, but maybe it will spark another idea in your head, or maybe you'll end up liking something you never thought you would.

Cook something:
Bake a loaf of bread (from scratch): knead the dough, get the bread to rise, bake it and savor your creation. Who cares if it doesn't taste like wonder bread, and looks slightly lopsided.

Or consider making pizza dough, and bake a pizza from scratch.

Bake a batch of toll house cookies. Not from the tube, from the recipe on the back of the semi-sweet morsels. Share them with friends and family.

Get in touch with your masculine side:
Pound a few nails - build something with wood, nails a hammer and a saw. Make your own shelf, make a bird house, whatever floats your boat. Learn how to use a level, and how to cut a square corner. Get good at measuring twice and cutting once. (my dad's carpentry mantra)

Split a few logs. Make a fire. (not for you city folk- but there are many state parks near the big cities, get out and do a little camping.) Grab your iron skillet, put it on the red coals and cook something up.

Relearn how to catch a fish. If your a carnivore, learn how to clean it, and have a fish fry. If you're veggie, then catch and release - no harm no foul.

Get in touch with your feminine side:
Learn how to sew a button, sew a patch, hem a pair of pants. Learn how to knit a scarf to keep you warm in the winter.

Make candles - all you need is some paraffin wax, string for wick, scented oil if desired and a double boiler. My wife has made some great candles over the past several years. Economical, and could come in handy in power outages.

Be creative:
I know that I loved a brand new spiral notebook when I was a kid. It was a blank slate and endless opportunity. I would write fantastic stories in it, let my mind imagine anything that it wanted to. I don't write stories any more, sadly the TV writes my stories for me. Most of the time the TV doesn't have anything I want to watch on it now (except Lost). Maybe I'll pick up a new spiral notebook at CVS this week.

Play with your kids, nieces/nephews, etc. Make up a new game. Make a play with your kids stuffed animals.

Paint a picture. Ahem, I mean paint a picture.

Make your own music. I prefer harmonica, and do a lot of drum solos with my pen... But I did attend a 'jam session' once and messed around with a mandolin, while others played guitar and sang, it was one of my fondest memories of NYC.

Write a letter. By hand. On paper. Grandma would love to hear from you. So would your mom and dad, or your best friend from college. Everybody loves to get mail that isn't a bill, or credit card solicitation.

Be a farmer:
Grow some food.

Grow something, anything from a seed. Sunflowers work quickly, and never fail to amaze me - such a huge flower from a tiny seed.

Learn how to compost. Use it around your flower beds and veggie gardens for rich soil.

Final Thoughts -
It takes a lot longer to do something from scratch. It takes a lot of effort and some know-how. Sometimes it doesn't come out like you planned. Sometimes that the beauty of it. You learn from your mistakes. It feels good to make something out of raw materials and to use what you've created. Sure it costs 99 cents for a loaf of white bread in the supermarket, but as they say, knowing how to bake your own bread, is priceless.

Knowing how to do many of these things, even at a basic level will help you to become more independent and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
This entry was posted on 7/11/2005 09:22:00 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


On 12:07 AM , Matt said...

Nice points. I find going fora bike ride helps too. We'll have to get used to that in the post peak oil future.

On 12:41 AM , Martin said...

I like riding my bike to. Since I live only about 2 blocks away from work I would save a ton of money on gas if I had a car.

On 9:35 PM , Anonymous said...

If oil is realing keeping you up at night, go to, and join the Virtual March to Stop Global Warming. This thing is blowing up...

On 11:20 AM , NYCO said...

Great stuff. Thank you, again. I love doing stuff from scratch. (I make my own jewelry - not completely from scratch, as I don't mine the metal and blow the beads myself - because I can't find anything I like in stores.)

On 5:44 PM , Roger, Gone Green said...

I dropped by and see we have a similar thoughts here. I hope we can trade ideas along the way -- and thanks for the comments on my "Red Tag" post.

Meanwhile, I think it is interesting that the people who will be most stressed by the idea of peak oil are people who can't do such things for themselves. It is comforting to know carrots from the store get too expensive or scarce due to the cost of air freight and petrochemical farming, you can grow a relatively clean organic one at home.

Isn't it interesting that so many progressives -- and those with computer communication skills -- take up hobbies like spinning wool, food gardening, blacksmithing, winemaking, breadmaking, and the like? Not sure what it means, but I have noticed it!


On 7:26 PM , tkn said...

Baloghblog, I believe we are of similar mind, based on the little I've seen of your blog. How's this for dealing with peak oil: In the same line of thought as your post here, which is brilliant, by the way, I took leave of absence from grad school and found a job as a construction worker. I've been talking about it on my blog, timsbloggo.blogspot anyways. I'm encouraged to see that there are like minded people out there.

On 5:22 PM , reason said...

If "peak oil" has you down, just relax in the recognition of the fact that we are nowhere near "peak oil." Peak cheap oil, maybe, but there are trillions of barrels yet to be pumped out of the ground (existing reserves, tar sands, and shale oils included).

On 5:26 PM , Ennis said...

Roger, while you are patting "progressives" on the backs for taking up such hobbies, recognize that the actual farmers tend by a wide margin to be conservatives. Not sure what it means, but I imagine it has something to do with the differnce between authenticity and posing.

On 11:41 PM , Anonymous said...

uh, "Reason"?'s all about energy return on energy investment. First, oil companies drill the most easily accessible, best quality oil. Next, they drill the next most accessible, next best quality oil. Always optimizing for the most energy return for energy invested. It takes a lot of cranes and other machinery running on oil products to drill for oil.

Canadian oil sands are at about 1.5 return on 1 investment, shale is much much worse. I want to say our current average oil investment is more like 30:1 and falling? Used to be more like 100:1 before the most accessible oil was... accessed.

Imagine if it cost 20 times as much to drive around, or for trucks to bring bread to your local supermarket, or for the bakers to bake it for you, or for the farmer to grow the grain for you? You've just said in effect: "in the future, we'll use oil reserves that cost 20 times as much as they do now. See? Plenty of oil left.

So you are missing the basic point of Peak Oil when you tout shale and tar sands. If you are trying to get your oil from shale, tar sands, or from 5 miles beneath the ocean, a picture of you doing so would be in the dictionary as an illustration of "A Clear Sign That You Are Already In Big and Increasing Amounts of Trouble."

In a nutshell, Peak Oil means: NO MORE CHEAP ENERGY. Yes, there are trillions of barrels of oil in the earth. But it will, unfortunately, cost you trillions of oil to get it, unlike the oil we had up until now.

On 9:16 AM , Anonymous said...

Bajno. Try it. You'll like it.