Taking Off the Harness

… The injustice men feel is leading to lower motivation, and maybe that’s good.
(c) 2017, Davd

As i published Men’s Lives Neglected, i noticed that that a remark about society suffering for the injustice men feel, could be taken as a threat; but i didn’t change it because that’s not what i meant—and i thought the explanation might better be a separate ‘post’.

I wrote, “The more ‘Society’ pretends men’s lives don’t matter, the more ‘society’ will suffer for the injustice we feel; and also for lack of what we could contribute.”

The now-famous “Misandry Bubble” essay stated rather well, the motivation that ordinary men acquired with marriage:

To provide ‘beta’ men an incentive to produce far more economic output than needed just to support themselves while simultaneously controlling the hypergamy of women that would deprive children of interaction with their biological fathers, all major religions constructed an institution to force constructive conduct out of both genders while penalizing the natural primate tendencies of each. This institution was known as ‘marriage’. Societies that enforced monogamous marriage made sure all beta men had wives, thus unlocking productive output out of these men who in pre-modern times would have had no incentive to be productive. Women, in turn, received a provider, a protector, and higher social status than unmarried women, who often were trapped in poverty. When applied over an entire population of humans, this system was known as ‘civilization’.

Elsewhere, the author observes, and again i agree, that “Most single men could eke out a comfortable existence by working for two months out of the year.” The very fact that the phrase “marriage strike” is now familiar, indicates that many men have decided against marriage. Relative to a misandric civil marriage and divorce regime (Brown, 2013; Nathanson and Young, 2006) that decision is rational.

Who suffers? If willing, productive workers are good for ‘Society’, then when many men, who would have been such workers had they been given the choice of lifetime faithful marriage, instead become sporadic less motivated workers because they are single rather than risk present day civil marriage; ‘Society’ suffers for lack of their extra labour.

Who suffers? Women who do not find a good, willing bridegroom given Feminist civil marriage, but could commit to traditional lifetime faithful marriage, and could have married had they been able to—those women suffer.

The men who decline to marry, given that civil marriage is biased against them, are not suffering1; they are prudent. Feminist lobbying has made marriage a poorer choice for men, and fewer men are choosing it.

(Some, perhaps many men do suffer, who choose Feminist civil marriage thinking it is traditional lifetime faithful marriage.)

Feminist marriage has hurt ‘Society’ by reducing the motivation of millions of men, to work. It has hurt women who want legitimate children and a committed husband-father to help rear them, by tempting so many women in recent decades, to exploit good men.

Fifty-five years ago, and earlier, marriage was a good choice for the man who had a willing, compatible bride, as well as for the woman who had a willing, compatible bridegroom. Today, the woman has a burden of proof to bear, imposed by pernicious changes in civil marriage—a burden to prove that she will treat the man decently so long as they both shall live, despite legal incentives to exploit him.

Many ‘bad’ women have benefited because exploitation of men has been made so easy. Many good women have suffered because the law no longer supports and confirms their goodness. The women whose morality is somewhat selfish, have been tempted to go bad. And men have been discouraged from marriage and from working full time.

It’s not difficult to imagine how women who don’t bother to take thought, might see short term ‘benefit’ in marriage and divorce law being changed to favour them; but enough decades have now passed, for many intelligent women to recognize that the short term gain is being followed by long term pain. Older workers and employers are becoming aware that younger men—and many younger women—are not as diligent, disciplined workers as their elders were. That is not all there is to my assessment, that society now suffers from neglecting the value of men; but it is enough to demonstrate that society does indeed suffer, and that present-day women suffer.

So there was and is no threat intended—rather, a report of lowered motivation among many younger workers, of fewer marriage opportunities for young women, and a forecast that both these consequences of biasing civil marriage against the men involved, will get more-so rather than less-so. Reduced work incentive and the Marriage Strike are so natural they are simply to be expected, and thus, are already widespread2. Men are taking off the harnesses, and going free, and it’s only natural that more and more men will do so.

I cannot promise you, readers, nor can i promise “society”, that no men will ever get angry and “lash out”. Very possibly some will; and if they lash out at actual injustice, there’s a moral case such men could make, that “society deserves it.” My Christian teachings forbid vengeance, but not all men follow them.

What ought to be done? Offer, at least offer as a legally supported option, traditional lifetime faithful marriage. (cf. e.g. Crane, 2006, Zelinsky, 2006.)3 How many men do you suppose would choose today’s Feminist ‘marriage’ if legally supported fidelity were also available and the difference made clear?

Now suppose, as makes common sense, that divorce from a lifetime covenant marriage were allowed only for grievous fault [as was true of marriage law in the 1950s and in most of North America, the 1960s]; and further, that a spouse at fault could be awarded neither economic support payments from the wronged spouse, nor custody of children of the marriage.

A marriage alternative like that, might bring millions of men back to seriously considering marriage for themselves. It might be preferred by millions more who, in ignorance, have considered entering a civil marriage biased against them.

A marriage alternative like that, might improve the average mental health of children and reduce the crime rate! .. by way of more children being reared in homes with their fathers present.

(I’ll leave as “an exercise for the reader”, the task of describing what kind of men, if any, would prefer today’s civil marriage to covenant marriage, given both alternatives.)

The mid-20th Century may have seen the highest rates of marriage ever, for Europe and North America. We shouldn’t expect marriage rates to return to those levels, especially not given growing ecological scarcity. We could expect a significant fraction of men who now have taken off the harnesses, to put them on again when assured they will be harnessed equally with good wives.

It’s really sad how long Canada has failed to appreciate how socially toxic the loss of covenant marriage has been.

some References:

Brown, Grant A. 2004 “Gender as a Factor in the Response of the Law-Enforcement System to Violence Against Partners,” Sexuality and Culture, v. 8, Issues 3 & 4, pp. 3-139.

Brown, Grant A., 2013. Ideology And Dysfunction In Family Law: How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers. Calgary and Winnipeg: Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre For Public Policy

Corry, Charles E. and David W. Stockburger, 2013. “Analysis of Veteran Arrests – El Paso County, Colorado“. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Equal Justice Foundation.

Crane,Daniel A. 2006. “A ‘Judeo-Christian’ Argument for Privatizing Marriage”.Cardozo Law Review. 27:3 [January] 1221-1260.

Daniels, Anthony M.D., 2014. “The Worldview that Makes the Underclass”. Speech delivered on May 20, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dearborn, Michigan, and published in Imprimis,

“Futurist”, 2010. The Misandry Bubble . January 1.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Zelinsky, Edward A. 2006. “Deregulating Marriage: The Pro-Marriage Case For Abolishing Civil Marriage”. Cardozo Law Review. 27:3 January, 1161-1220.


1… that is, are not suffering given what choices they have. It would also be accurate to say many are denied the happiness that traditional marriage might have given, because such traditional marriage isn’t an available choice.

2. The degradation of marriage from covenant to biased civil contract, it seems fair to say, is not the only reason marriage rates have declined. In the mid-20th Century, wages and benefits were good enough to enable most skilled men to support a family; today they are not. Ecological scarcity is an important reason: The cheap raw materials that fed the Industrial Revolution are mostly exhausted; and population growth has naturally entailed greater demand for the more expensive to extract raw materials that remain. Many men in this decade, whose counterparts two generations ago could readily support a family with their jobs, cannot do likewise now.

3. Crane’s and Zelinsky’s articles are published in the Cardozo Law Review, a publication associated with the Jewish faith. Christian marriage is a lifetime faithful covenant, to call an easily broken contract, marriage, is in conflict with Jesus Christ’s own teachings [Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-8; cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11]. With two major faiths in support of covenant, it is shocking that Canadian law insists “marriage” must be a mere contract.

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Home Care and Feminist Economics

… a Reflection for International Women’s Day
(c) 2017, Davd

CBC News reports today with some sympathy, demands that U.S. women refuse to work today, for pay or at home. “We are the backbone, the lifeblood of what makes our economy and our political system function,” Rahna Epting, chief of staff of a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, is quoted as saying. “Without us, these things would stop and life stops.”

Pregnancy would stop, yes—and it is ironic that the “right” to abortion on demand is one of the main Feminist goals. But home care, in the personal and in the “housework” sense—no. Paradoxically, home care might cost less in this Feminist century, if men did all or most of it.

In an “Analysis” column on the CBC News website, business writer Don Pittis stated: “Unlike banking and gold mining, child-rearing and looking after grandpa are dismissed by conventional economics as completely different from money-making services.”


Child rearing, “care” provided to children who will never grow up, and senior “care”, are paid work for hundreds of thousands of people, imaginably millions; and the vast majority of them are women.

Hundreds of thousands of others, a larger fraction of them men, provide similar, unpaid care to relatives, friends, and occasionally strangers.

Among those who i have known personally, my father comes first. During my boyhood he went to his mother’s house, about three miles from his own [where i also lived, then] at least twice a week to help her with household tasks she no longer had the strength to do herself. During the growing season, i often bicycled there to mow her lawn and tend her gardens. I don’t recall either of us ever being paid; often i got some kind of treat, such as ice cream and a jam-like topping, when the work was done.

My mother, when her father became unable to live alone without help, in the house where he had reared her, “put him in a facility”. When my father was dying of stomach cancer, it was my sister, with my backing, who had to apply moral pressure to get her to care for him so he could die at home rather than among strangers.

My late sister’s husband and son provided many hours of “home care” during the months when she was dying. The priest of the church i usually attend, did likewise for his wife… all three of them unpaid.

Two of the happiest old men i’ve met this century, were Benedictine monks. They were cared for by the Brothers in their cloister—in the sense that the younger and stronger Brothers did all the heavier work. One of the two, aged 91 if i recall correctly, sat at the reception desk in the monastery’s guest house: It was light work, offering him plenty of time for prayer and reflection; but it was contributory work, and his presence there freed a younger Brother for more active tasks.

A friend i met last autumn cares for his elder sister, sometimes for the sister’s daughter [his niece], and volunteers at a care facility in town, spending some 20 hours per week serving mostly women. He is past 70 himself. Another new friend is chef of the kitchen at a seniors’ clubhouse, putting in about the same amount of time, also unpaid.

One woman in particular, wife of a friend in the ecoforestry movement in Atlantic Canada, cared for her aged father for many months, unpaid, and also worked as a Practical Nurse. My sister cared for a handicapped child until his teens. Women are involved in caring for those who cannot care fully for themselves; the difference in my observations and experience, is that a clear majority of the women are paid1; a greater majority of the men—all those i know personally—are not paid.

That’s Feminist economics from where i sit: Pay the women, expect the men to volunteer. It represents one man’s observations (and experience, including as a single father) and those of other men might be different. What my observations and experience say, what should stand until others provide better facts to refine and correct them, include:
‣ Men do nurturing, more often than we get credit for doing, and usually we do it well;
‣ More women do nurturing for pay; fewer as volunteers2;
‣ Volunteers of both sexes do better nurturing, because we know our beneficiaries better and we like them better.

“Blog” is short for “web log,” and “log” represents notes like a ship’s steersmen write in its journal, not raw material for sawmilling. (I’ve done a little work of both kinds.) This blog is very much in line with that definition: Notes from my observations of and experience with home care, shining some light on questions of gender equality and who does the necessary work of subsistence.

This little light of mine shows me that men can and do cook, clean and nurture. We might more often cook for pay, than women, but definitely more often nurture as volunteers. Some important ecological stewardship work demands physical strengths that are vanishingly rare among women but fortunately for hopes of ecological stewardship, much commoner among men. Pregnancy is
entirely women’s work; and with baby formulas well developed, the only entirely women’s work left.

Feminist economics has succeeded to such extent already, that women are more rewarded relative to work done, than we men. A morally superior Women’s Day action, would be to follow Susan Pinker’s lead and advocate for equal opportunity. My estimate is that men and boys would have more catch-up support coming, than women and girls.

Truth before emotion…


1. In preparation for cataract surgery this year, i was directed to purchase expensive “eye drop” medication and, counting both before and after surgery, to administer a total of approximately 250 “drops” to my eyes over approximately 60 days time. When i heard this directive, i could not recall having administered “eye drops” to myself in the past 40 years—perhaps never. As an ecoforestry worker, i had developed a strong avoidance reaction to anything approaching either eye—in a forest, something approaching an eye is most likely a branch or an insect, both of which are to be avoided!

One week before surgery, four days before the first medication was to be “dropped”, i went to the “Alberta Health Services” front desk and said, “I’m due for cataract surgery in a week and need to be taught how to apply eye drops to myself five times a day.” Then i did what the women running the office told me to do. I called a telephone number where another woman asked me questions which i answered until she told me that a Home Care worker would contact me that week. Not to go to extremes of detail, i was expected to wait for aides to administer the drops, from one half hour before scheduled times to one hour afterward, which was something like House Arrest given they were to be administered at 4-hour intervals.

Of 8-10 different Government “home care aides” and nurses, all were women. (I did not meet nor speak to any men during my experience with Government “home care.”)  An older nurse stated that the usual drop droppers are “Home Care aides”; and most recipients are shut-ins.

Within a week, i was administering the drops to myself. Of those who administered them to me, the best was probably a tie between one nurse and my [unpaid] son who had been a Canadian Forces Reserve “medic”.

The “care” i experienced showed a tendency to treat all patients as if they were incompetent, especially by those “with some rank”. The surgeon’s front desk assistant, who i would guess has a nursing credential, was a very helpful exception; she told me in less than one minute, criteria for whether a drop was sufficient, that were adequate and clear.

Many of the paid “Home Care aides” and nurses, do good work and treat the patients they assist humanely. A few, as news stories occasionally report, are cruel, callous, more rarely murderous.

2. This statement is ambiguous and i realize that it is. Definitely, more women than men do nurturing for pay. “Obviously”, more women do nurturing for pay than nurture relative strangers, as volunteers, while more men nurture relative strangers, as volunteers, than are paid for it. Whether more women or more men nurture relative strangers, as volunteers, i shouldn’t say for sure; because a majority of my friends and close kin, are men.


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The Usual Breakfast

… in recent years of my life1
(c) 2017, Davd

Make breakfast the best meal of the day, is advice i have read and heard from several sources that seem to me to be nutritionally “savvy”. I do not always follow this advice strictly; my very best meals, like roast beef with fresh baked homemade bread, are usually dinners. Breakfast is not a meal to take hours preparing, so my breakfast standard combines quality with speed; the dinner standard can be more tolerant of long preparation time.

My usual breakfast these days, and for some years now, is a pork chop, fried in a minimum of fat, with chopped onion and oat porridge. Usually i have an apple, or half of a really big apple, as the fruit, and some coffee. The technique is fairly easy to learn, “man food” that is hearty and enjoyable day after day. Most men who read this, i forecast, will like this “usual breakfast” better than something sweeter, and find it gets you going for a day’s work.

When i was a boy, a popular children’s radio show defined a good breakfast as “Fruit, cereal, milk, bread, and butter.” That formula is much better than coffee or tea and pastry; but it’s long on grain and today, many experts still discourage eating large amounts of saturated fats. What’s more, milk allergies and prohibitions are commoner now than then2.

Jet-lag research which came out years after my childhood ended, recommended a high protein breakfast, and while it was more for vegetarians than meat eaters, the famous book Diet for a Small Planet, made the concept of “protein completeness”, the availability of protein in food for body building and repair, widely known.

Neither meat nor grain [nor milk] offers complete protein, “which means” that not all the protein in a portion of meat, grain, or milk, can be used by the body as protein to grow and repair muscle, skin, and all the other “body tissues”. Combining proteins from two different sources—grain and meat, grain and pulses, potatoes and cheese, etc., etc., etc., etc. can make the protein in both, more valuable.

Meat and grain eaten together “balance each other” better than meat and potatoes; potatoes balance better with dairy—milk and cheeses, mainly—than they do with meat. Eat a pork chop with about twice its volume in oat porridge, barley pilaf, or bread, and you’ll get more of the protein for building and maintaining your body than if you had the pork chop with potatoes and the grain with eggs.

I’ve had pork chops for breakfast more than any other meat, the past few years, because i haven’t been catching trout, or fish that size, and beef has been a good deal more expensive. Steak for breakfast is mighty good; pork chops cost about half as much on special, and in my ‘umble opinion, go better with oat porridge3.

To repeat, this is not the only high quality “usual breakfast” i can name: Fried trout or codfish with potatoes is another i often ate when i lived near the Pacific. This pork chop and porridge combination is probably the most available, at a relatively low cost, across Canada [and the US, i expect].

The best way i’ve found to stock my freezer with [future] pork chops, is to buy half or whole boneless pork loin at about $2 per pound. I cut the chops in my kitchen, and have done for years. Pork chops, i believe, fry best if they are about 2 cm [¾ inch] thick. (Like beefsteak, they can benefit from being thicker if grilled over a wood fire.)

As my recent steak blog detailed, cutting steaks and chops from frozen roast sized and larger pieces calls for a serious, rather heavy chef’s knife, a good cutting board, and meat that’s not frozen but very cold, so its texture is stiff and parallel cuts are relatively easy to make. Since the technique is described there, i’ll let you go to that previous blog if you aren’t familiar with it.

Even a half pork loin yields more chops than one man will eat in a week; and when i cut them, the meat is half frozen; so i typically keep 3-8 chops in the fridge proper, and put the others back in the freezer4.

Cooking for myself, i use a stainless steel or cast-iron frying pan that will hold one chop and twice its volume in porridge, with a little room to spare; and that has a well fitting lid—my lids are both stainless steel. Even if the pan is stainless steel rather than cast iron—I season it with fat, (preferably pork fat, but cooking oil will do5.) It can be put away seasoned in the drawer that most stoves have near floor level, underneath the oven.

Come morning, i take out that frying pan, put it on a stove element that it can completely cover but with only a little overhang on all sides; and heat it to sizzling—to where a bit of meat or fat put in it will sizzle right away. That’s when i add the pork chop, meat edge first, and then when the meat edge has seared, i lay it flat to sear one side. (Searing holds in the moisture in the meat, so it cooks but doesn’t dry out.)

While the first side of the chop is searing, or before, i chop enough onion to make about one teaspoonful. (You may decide you want more or less onion for your own liking.) I also get the water boiling for the porridge, unless i have porridge waiting in the fridge.

Rolled oat [or rye] porridge is made from two volumes of water and one of grain. I measure my oats with a big coffee mug, and pour the dry rolled oats into a clean bowl. Then i measure two fills of the same mug, of water, into the cooking pot where i make the porridge, and get that water on the stove—high heat, if electric, hot spot, if on a woodstove.

The mug has now been rinsed and can be turned upside down in the dish rack, to dry. It never really got dirty.

When the meat has been seared on one side—which doesn’t take long—turn it over, add the onion to the pan, and drop the heat to low. On one of those cute glass top stoves, i turn the power right off; the stove top holds enough heat to sear the second side and usually, cook the chop “well done.”

When the porridge water begins to boil (let it reach “a rolling boil”) the oats should be added gradually, stirring as they pour into the water. The heat should stay high just until the water-oats mixture is definitely boiling, and then dropped to a setting [or the pot moved to a part of the woodstove top] where it will continue to boil gently.

Check how the meat and onions are cooking—they should be OK—and then stir the porridge briefly. You’ll probably want coffee with breakfast, so any waiting time that comes next can be spent making coffee (if you haven’t done that already) getting out an apple, or tidying the kitchen. Stir the porridge a few times when you have a few idle seconds, until you see it’s ready.

Porridge cooks quickly. Soon, it will be ready, and the pork chop should be ready about the same time. You can cut through it to be sure there’s no bright pink or red meat inside—pork should be cooked “well done”—and then add twice the volume of porridge, as there is of pork. A little more than twice is OK… the idea is to have pork and onion flavour in that porridge rather than sugar and milk.

Spiced apple porridge also goes well with pork chops, if you want a change of taste, don’t like onions much, or have apples in cooked or frozen form but not fresh. I usually make plain porridge, adding onion to the frying pan, and have a fresh apple (or half of a really big one6.)

There it is: Pork chop, porridge flavoured by the meat and some onion, and i suggest, an apple and some coffee. Heartier and more nourishing than most breakfasts, a meal you can eat daily for weeks without getting bored, and economical.


Castleman, Michael, 1991. The Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.

Lappé, Frances Moore, 1975. Diet for a Small Planet, 2nd ed. NY: Ballantine.


1. I eat pork, as do most agnostics, atheists, Christians, and adherents to several smaller ‘religions’. Jews and Muslims abstain from pork, and many Buddhists abstain from meat, as [i have read on a monastery website] do Orthodox monks. Looking at how much pork is offered for sale in ordinary Canadian food stores, i’ll guess that a large majority of Canadians eat pork. This technique, plainly, is for those of us who do.

2. Personally, i can’t follow the formula because i take a thyroid supplement whose directions forbid me to have milk within four hours after the pill. One of my sons is lactose intolerant. He and i can both eat pork chops.

3. If you have an economical source of steak or trout or salmon, i recommend rye porridge with them, or barley pilaf, or whole wheat bread, even pasta. I do eat beef, and salmon—but usually for dinner, not breakfast.

4. Often i buy these pork loins frozen; nearly always, they come already wrapped by the meat packing firm in heavier, stronger plastic than that of which “food bags” are made. Cooking and eating mostly ‘alone’, i often take a pork loin, cut the heavy wrapping at the middle of its length, and work back the plastic far enough to cut 3-4 chops. Then when the chops have been cut from that half of the loin, i pull the plastic back over the remaining meat of that end, and fold it tight against my last cut. I put the still half-frozen pork in the freezer section of the refrigerator, with the folded plastic against a wall or held down by something small. Result: About one third of the original pork loin, never thawed, is back in freezer storage waiting to be cut when the centre chops have been eaten.I then repeat that cut chops, fold plastic, and put back process with the other half… so about two thirds of a whole pork loin, is back waiting to be cut into chops later.

There is nothing wrong with cutting the whole loin into chops and freezing most of them; but the heavy food-grade plastic in which the loins are sold seems to me to be the best plastic wrapping in which to hold the meat until i am ready to thaw it for cooking.

5. Pork fat can be used to season pans for frying beef; bacon fat for frying beef or chicken, and for some kinds of fish. The reverse doesn’t work: Don’t fry pork or chicken in beef fat, nor beef or pork in chicken fat.

6. To hold the other half of an apple, cut the apple straight across, as nearly as you can. Choose the side whose face is “dished in” rather than bulging out, and lay it on a big jar lid, or a small plate. You can put it in the fridge for the next morning, or have it later in the day.

I read in a Rodale Press book, (Castleman, 1991) that apples help keep saturated fats from clogging your arteries.


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Winter Frying-Pan Steak

…with celery-onion sauce and pasta:
(c) 2017, Davd

In Canada, the barbecue season is months away in both directions. It’s a good time for another way to enjoy the occasional steak, one that you can cook up when it’s raining or even snowing outside, enjoying the warmth of a kitchen and the convenience of tables and counter tops to work on. It won’t have the special pleasure of smoke grilling, and if you really want to go outdoors and make a hardwood fire to cook you and a friend or two some steaks, pick a day without wind and rain, and enjoy.

Most dinners between now and May or June, most men will be cooking indoors.

As forecast, beef prices are edging down in the stores, months after they fell in the livestock markets. Last autumn i bought a piece of “eye of round” for less than $7 per kilo, and it cooked up tender, between medium and medium rare, in my good 8-inch cast iron frying pan. In the process i confirmed the adaptation of the SCOP formula for seasoning meat sauces.

Usually, being cut into steaks raises the price of a piece of meat—so usually, i buy larger pieces and cut them myself. There is a simple, reliable trick to cutting steaks that are the same thickness all the way across: Not quite freezing the meat. I put that round, as i had put a piece of sirloin in August, into the freezer.

The round, which was about four inches across the long way, a bit less the short way, and nearly a foot long, sat in the freezer for a few hours, checked occasionally; and when it was quite stiff but not quite frozen, out came the meat and out came the heavy chef’s knife. (The same cutting technique works if a frozen piece is allowed to not quite thaw, in a fridge or camp cooler; and it works on pork, even chicken and turkey ‘breast’.)

Serious tradesman cooks care about their knives. When a chef interviews anyone who wants a job in his kitchen, the first thing he asks is “Show me your knives.” The pots and pans belong to the restaurant, but each cook has his own knives (sometimes hers, but commercial kitchens are almost as much men’s territory as welding; women can be found in the trade but they are rare.)

A good main chef’s knive should have weight, balance, a comfortable handle, and steel that will sharpen to a fine edge and hold that edge. For vegetables and fileting fish, lighter weight is fine, but the other qualities apply. Paring and bread knives should have weight, and balance, but not be massive like that main knife. I believe it’s also good to have a same shaped knife about half the size of your big one, for lighter work of the same character.

So get yourself a good chef’s knife for cutting steaks; and if you are not sure you know how to choose, take along a man who does. You’ll save the cost in a few months if you like steak and pork chops. .. and you’ll finally enjoy many detail cutting chores in the kitchen when your knives work with you instead of against you.

Under that piece of meat and that knife, you need a cutting board. My good ones are made of red oak. White oak should do, and i use red or white cedar for seafood. Plastic cutting boards were once popular, but some serious professional cooks told me that the cuts that form in them with use, are hiding places for bacteria. Oak and cedar, they said, contain resins that kill bacteria. (Larch and Douglas fir do also, to some extent. I myself wouldn’t use birch, beech, other fir, maple, poplar, spruce, even pine.) Oak takes cutting longer and better; so for cutting steaks and for chopping, i much prefer oak.

Fish takes less force to cut and much of the time you will be cutting parallel to the board, not down into it… so in my humble opinion, cedar will do.

With the meat not quite freezing and thus quite stiff, you’ll find it easy to hold still and cut with parallel slices. The “grain” of the meat should run the long way of the piece (watch for this when shopping) so that you cut the steaks across [perpendicular to] the grain. That will make them more tender than if cut parallel to the grain.

(The work of cutting almost frozen meat with clean, parallel strokes takes muscle; it is not for petite women. My sister and grandmother were not petite; they could do it.)

I cut my steaks between 2 cm [¾ inch] and 1 inch [2,5 cm] thick for winter pan cooking; maybe a little thicker for summer grilling. The winter thickness will sear well and still have more pink to red meat in the middle, than seared edge… and it will take less time to cook. In the summer, extra cooking time is not such an issue; everyone but the chef, and maybe he too, will be sipping and nibbling while the steaks cook, and in no hurry; and the meat should be absorbing smoke from the hardwood coals that are cooking it.. (What wood to grill on is a story for another time.)

From that piece of round, the 2 cm steaks i cut were probably 5-6+ ounces in weight, which is enough for a serving of meat but is not a big serving for steak. Several were wrapped tightly in plastic bags from the produce i had bought and brought to the kitchen, with almost no air in those bags, and put back to freeze and keep for later. Three stayed in the fridge.

The first steak i cooked, was seared in just a little vegetable oil*, on fairly high heat but before the oil could begin to smoke, a minute or two on the first side, which made it a rich brown colour; then when i turned the meat i dropped the heat on the stove switch and soon after, added chopped onion so the onion could brown just a little, itself. The cast iron pan stayed hot long enough to sear the second side of the steak, and then the steak and onion cooked on low heat while i cut up two [regular cultivated Agaricus bisporus] mushrooms, added them, and in a few minutes, cut into the steak to see how the inside looked. Meanwhile, i chopped maybe two ounces—a quarter cup—of celery*, an eighth of an inch or slightly thinner (cutting across the grain, as with the meat].

You should know what color of the meat inside, represents the degree of rare, medium, or “well done” you like. When the inside is that color, or almost, take out the steak and put it on a plate with a lid over it; and add the celery* and some stock. (I make and use vegetable stock). If you add water instead, add some boullion powder or a half cube. Sprinkle on some pepper, and with mushrooms, i suggest oregano. Let that come to a gentle boil and simmer until the mushrooms and celery are cooked.

Notice a familiar seasoning pattern? With pork, poultry and many kinds of fish, including in chowders, the standard seasonings are Sage, Celery, Onion, and Pepper. They can be your seasoning check-list for turkey stuffing, for instance … as well as for chicken or turkey soup, chowders and fish soups. They are good with pork chops and in pork stew.

The more general check-list is Strong, Celery, Onion, and Pepper; where the Strong herb can be oregano, thyme, sometimes tarragon, instead of sage. With mushrooms, oregano is usually the best Strong herb. With beef but no mushrooms, i usually choose thyme. And of course, you might want to add salt, depending partly on whether and how much stock powder or boullion cube you add.

Back to the cast iron pan: When the celery and mushrooms were cooked, i added cooked fettucine [broad pasta] a little more than twice the amount of the steak, stirred things together, turned off the power, and put the steak back in to warm up, in case it had cooled below ideal eating temperature. As bachelors often do when eating alone, i then ate the meal from that pan.** It was excellent.

The second and third pieces of steak, i cooked the same way, but without mushrooms, using a half slice of fairly fat bacon for the pan seasoning and crumbling it into the sauce when i added the stock. The strong herb was oregano one time and thyme the next. Both were delicious. So if mushrooms are available for a good price, get some; and if not, use bacon; either way it will be a meal worthy of a glass or two of red wine.


* Liveche, as i’ve mentioned a few times in earlier food blogs, is a good, rich flavour alternative to celery, and i’ve now seen it growing, obviously perennial, in two Central Alberta gardens.. In this technique, the celery may add texture to the sauce that makes it preferable—what texture you prefer is for you to choose.

** In addition to saving on dish washing, i often give the pan to Fritz to lick, when i’ve emptied it in human terms. Frying pans operate above boiling temperature, even while being seasoned, so that’s safer than letting him lick plates.


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Life is Cheap in 2017:

… Ecological Scarcity and Human Worth
(c) 2017, Davd

When i was a small boy, 60 years ago and earlier, my Mother used to say, “Life is cheap in Asia.” Exactly what she meant, i will not know in this life; it seemed to indicate that wages were lower, that health care was less available and less effective, that human rights were fewer.

So here we are at the beginning of 2017: Wages are lower than they were when i was a boy, “relative to the cost of living.” Job security is much lower, and “fringe benefits” are poorer. Health care is less available than it was in the early days of the government paid system, though there do exist medical techniques that can cure or repair conditions that were untreatable then.

Bureaucratic restrictions are much more severe, and costly, than they were 60 years ago and earlier. Clam digging and food fishing in the Pacific Ocean and its bays was something any Canadian could do without any permits; now licenses must be bought. Fishing in Northern Ontario’s fresh waters, same story. Parking was free in hundreds of places where now, fees must be paid. Driving with 0.09% blood alcohol wasn’t even illegal in 1957; now it is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment. “Gun control” is too complicated to try to summarize it briefly; most of it was imposed in the past 50 years. Cigarette smoking was something one could freely do anywhere; now it is forbidden in most public places and in cars where children ride.

Homosexuality, abortion, and divorce are commoner and more permissively treated than “back then”—but bureaucracy is more involved than before, not less.

Less wealth for ordinary workers, and stricter control of ordinary citizens, go together. Both are aspects of ecological scarcity. To quote a blog i published in 2013:

Raw materials cost more because more work is required to get them from poorer sources, and because as more countries industrialize, more factory demand drives up the price. They cost more work to get because the best stocks have been exploited: From “fracking” for oil and ‘natural gas’ to mining lower-percentage ores of iron, gold, copper, and other minerals; to having no more old-growth forests to log or untouched fisheries to net; the costs of extracting raw materials and providing energy to transport and process them, is far higher than it was during the glory days of the job, back in the third quarter of the 20th Century.

The high pay of those mid-20th Century jobs came from raiding the storehouses of the Earth.

When raw materials are abundant, when farm land is abundant, the cause is usually either the colonization of new territory, or the development of new technology. Lenski, Lenski and Nolan (1991) refer to societies that enjoy new territory as frontier societies. Once there are ways to exploit them, resources tend to be exploited, and become scarce. Frontier societies tend to become agrarian
societies, in which most workers are poor and a few, the elite, are wealthy, or to industrialize.

It is only recently—for a few decades of time—that ecological scarcity has begun to strongly limit industrial development. We cannot be sure the same social class structure will develop in industrial societies when they experience ecological scarcity, as does when frontier societies become crowded agrarian societies. We can be practically, indeed logically certain that wealth per person will decline, indeed has declined in real terms during this century and the last years of the 20th.

Commenting on the election of Donald Trump, John Cruickshank observed that “for almost half of the American population, they haven’t had a raise in 40 years.” Prices have gone up, wages haven’t. The lives of those workers are not valued, are not rewarded, the way they were in 19761.

In that same interview, Cruickshank said things have been better for ordinary workers in Canada, but the trend has been in the same direction.

Life is cheap in much of the United States in 2017, and getting cheaper in Canada. Ecological scarcity cannot be wished away: The quality of available raw materials really is poorer than it was. Basically, there are two things men can do about it, and one of the two, men can do much more than women.

I’ll name first, frugality and efficiency. We can live well on less money, with less resources consumed, if we waste less, or to repeat that in different words, if we make our land, tools, and labor more productive, and make more use of what we produce.

Second, we can improve the quality of our renewable resources, three of whose names begin with F: Farmland, fisheries, and forests. The basic way we can improve them is by doing more work by hand. I went into some detail about this in a 2012 book review, from which i’ll quote briefly here:

As true energy efficiency comes back into prominence, as ecological health becomes a serious and not merely a dilettante concern, which it has since 1980; men working hard and accurately with our muscles will be, for a greater and greater part of the work of subsistence and of well-being, the best way to do the job.

Follow the link to see a more detailed statement of why.

An Alberta farmer i met this past autumn [of 2016] assures me that grain can be grown with few to no chemicals—it will cost more per tonne to grow than grain grown with the largest machinery, but its value as healthier food can attract prices higher than commodity prices, and by now, there are many customers who would buy it direct from the farmers. More labor will go into each tonne of grain, less into marketing; the food will be better.

In the case of ecoforestry, the quality of the timber and the beauty of the forests are apparent to almost anyone; in the case of eco-farming, the customers need to know about the farming practices (which they can appreciate if they visit the farm, but not from looking at a bag of the crop.)

It is practically possible to start up farming sustainably, with much less “money up front”—but much more skilled hand labor per tonne of crop—than is required to do mass production, chemically intensive farming2. We need more men on the land, to restore it.

As an example i enjoy doing myself, growing quality timber requires a lot of hand labour: Choosing trees to thin and trees to leave, in crowded clusters; pruning the lower branches from conifers so that decades later, the best logs will be largely “clear wood”; pruning deciduous trees for form; all contribute to the growth of healthier, more valuable forests. None can be done en-masse by huge machines.

Suppose that large areas of damaged Canadian forest were granted, as tenures large enough to support a large family if well managed, tenures that could never be sold but held in perpetuity subject to good stewardship, to families and co-operatives to improve, harvest, and live from. The initial production would be mostly firewood, fence rails, and other relatively low value timber; as the stands improve, so will the harvests. Here is work that genuinely improves ecological abundance; some can be done by young children and ordinary women; much is inherently men’s work. We need more men in the woods, to restore them.

Our ecological predicament comes, in large part, from too much mechanization. We cannot prevent ecological scarcity by good stewardship if the human population of the earth continues to grow; human life, to that extent, seems to follow “the law of supply and demand.” We can restore the quality of ecosystems degraded by mechanization and chemical abuse—by replacing them with skilled hand labor.

And while i cannot prove this thesis yet, i am convinced that those who restore farms and forests by skilled hand labor, will find their lives are satisfying. If overpopulation and mechanization have made human lives cheap, returning to skilled hand labor will make the lives of the men whose hands they are, valued.


Angus, Karl, 2000. Personal interviews in which Mr. Angus, President of the Port Alberni Métis Association and a historian of Québec as well as Prairie Métis subsistence practices, described his mother’s family’s land holdings and work .

Anonymous, 1965. The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. United States Government Printing Office. ..this centimetre-thick paperback book was written (as acknowledged by the US Department of Labor website, 2010) by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, previously co-author with respected American sociologists and later US Senator from New York

Boulding, Keneth 1973 “The shadow of the stationary state” Daedalus (Fall) 89-101.

Catton, William R., Jr. 1980 Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. Urbana, London, and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Paperback 1982

Djilas, Milovan 1957, The New Class. NY: Praeger.

Ehrlich, Paul R. 1968 The Population Bomb. NY: Ballantine

Ehrlich, Paul; Anne H. Ehrlich, and John P Holdren 1973 Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions. SFO: Freeman

Eichenberger, Bob, 200? L’Écoforesterie, une science, un art, un projet de société Printed by Olivert Eco-Design

Komarov, Boris, 1980. The Destruction of Nature in the Soviet Union. White Plains, NY: M. E. Sharpe

Lenski, Gerhard, Jean Lenski, and Patrick Nolan, 1991. Human Societies< : An Introduction to Macrosociology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Pimentel, David; E.C.Terhune; R. Dyson-Hudson; S. Rochereau; R. Samis; E.A. Smith; D.Denman; D. Reifschneider; M.Shepard (1976) “Land degradation: Effects on food and Energy resources.” Science 194(8 October) 149-155

Rifkin, Jeremy, with Ted Howard, 1980. Entropy: A New World View. NY: Viking. Bantam paperback 1981

Spelt, Jakob (1972) Urban Development in South-Central Ontario. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart (“Carleton Library” #57) The bulk of the text is about the rural settlement that made later urbamization possible.

Sumner, William G. (1913) Earth Hunger and Other Essays. Yale University Press.

Webb, Walter P. (1952) The Great Frontier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


1. which happens to have been the 200th anniversary of their Declaration of Independence.

2. The farmers who already have huge areas under cultivation by huge machines, could not manage those huge areas this new [or some would say old, traditional] way, without far more workers; it is easier for newcomers to farming to adopt ecological stewardship than for those already farming on a big scale.

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Men’s Lives Neglected

… relatively by charities and especially by Government?
(c) 2016, Davd

This is not the first time I’ve written on the importance of men—regular men of average and higher ability and willingness to contribute. It ought not be the last; men have been much less valued than women this century, and our ecological problems are worse because men’s skilled labour is too often replaced by crude heavy machinery. “Society” needs to value men, old as well as young, “for everyone’s good”, and men need to value ourselves until society smartens up.

This particular piece is published now because the the US Election is over and the Canadian Government Inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is “back in the news”. The lives of women and girls are important, i agree—my point is that the lives of boys and men are equally important.

It’s published on Christmas Eve partly because the CBC News website posted the story of a “really nice”, 5x year old man dying in an alley in Vancouver, apparently of cold. There’s no mention of Mike Illing being aboriginal, the name isn’t one i associate with Native or Metis people—but I don’t know one way or the other. He was just a man, not a hard drug user, discarded by “society”; and if he’d been a woman his chances of survival would have been better1.

Justin Trudeau has declared that he is a Feminist; and his Government’s relative lack of attention to indigenous men who are victims of crime, seems to confirm that he is. The Canadian Government weather forecast website had a link to his Government’s planned inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, for several weeks shortly after he became Prime Minister. An alien from another solar system, reading that weather site to learn more about Planet Earth, could readily have believed that many more Aboriginal women than men were murdered in the recent past.

What recent evidence I’ve seen indicates that the reverse is true; and that’s consistent with the criminology i learned and taught 3-5 decades ago. Ontario data reported by the CBC, an organization i read to be Feminist rather than androcentric, show that many more Aboriginal men than women were missing and murdered during
1978-2014, according to an Ontario Provincial Police report
2; but the headline of the CBC story was “8 of 54 murders of aboriginal women remain unsolved, …”.

It’s not precisely a false headline, but it could be misleading, since the text of the story states that 126 Aboriginal men were murdered within OPP jurisdiction. 39 Aboriginal men and 8 women were missing, according to the same report. More than twice as many men as women were murdered, nearly five times as many men were missing, but the women are the focus of the media attention and the Government inquiry.

If that doesn’t manage to be “glaring,” that sex difference in concern about murder and violence more generally—the reason is some kind of tolerated gender inequality.

Applying the Genders-Reversed test—If missing and murdered men were getting the attention and many more women were missing and murdered?—would that be glaring? Would Feminists yawn? or shrug?

The question is rhetorical. The answer is obvious. Indeed, decades of Feminist lobbying and centuries of chivalry are why an inquiry into the less victimized sex, but not into the plight of men, is in the news.

It may be chivalrous, it may represent the success of Feminist lobbying—but equality, it’s not.

Men are human beings. If more indigenous men are murdered and missing—and missing and murdered indigenous women get the attention—the treatment we get is less human than we are. If even a few men die of cold trying to sleep outdoors in December, and all the women get sheltered; the treatment we get is less human.

As a moral assessment: We and our well-being (or lack of it) are being neglected, and have been for years.

As a question: Why don’t men’s lives matter as much politically and culturally, as women’s?

I intend to address that question, “why” as well as “what”, this winter…

… and if i have a rather sombre Christmas this year, it’s partly in sympathy with Mike Illling, and with Earl Silverman, and with thousands of others. Jesus, whose birthday is being remembered, said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my [fellow men], ye have done it unto me.” It’s customary, is it not, to give gifts to the birthday person first and foremost?

Those who revere the Bible can read the OPP report and the CBC’s stories, about indigenous men and about Mike Illing3, as saying Jesus Christ is being neglected this December. Muslims can consider whether Islam’s call to give alms, is being well enough heeded. Buddhists can reflect on their faith’s injunction not to harm another human being, nor put him in harm’s way.

Those worried about the ecological condition of Planet Earth, could think about what Mike Illing and men like him, what unemployed Indigenous men, might have been able to do to help, and why their capabilities haven’t been respected, put to work, and rewarded. That neglect is something that could change, any time.

Men’s lives matter. The more “Society” pretends they don’t matter, the more “society” will suffer for the injustice we feel; and also for lack of what we could contribute.


1. For instance, the Red Cross and UN World Food Program distribute food only to women.

2. The link in the story, to the OPP report which was its main source, produced an error message indicating the address no longer exists. A successor report was found by the everyman webmaster; it stated:
• Between 1957 and 2014, there were eight (8) missing Indigenous females reported to the OPP who remain missing.
• Presently, there are 40 cases that involve missing Indigenous males, since 1956.
• For the period of 1964 to December 2014, inclusive, in OPP jurisdiction:
— • There were 54 homicides involving Indigenous females
— • Eight of which remain unsolved for a clearance rate of 85.2 percent.
• For the period of 1978 to December 2014, inclusive, in OPP jurisdiction:
— • There were 126 homicides of Indigenous males
— • One of which remains unsolved for a clearance rate of 99.2 percent.
• From January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2014, inclusive, the OPP CIB overall homicide clearance rate was 92.3 percent (155 homicides, 12 unsolved).

Note that while the time span from which the missing men and missing women were last seen, is the same; the 126 homicides of indigenous men represent a shorter time span [37 years] than the 54 homicides of indigenous women [51 years]. Adjusting for time span, indigenous men in OPP territory suffered 34.1 homicides per decade, over three times the women’s 10.6.

3… and many other men will die on Canadian and US streets this winter, with no hard drugs involved (something the CBC story specifically reported about Illing.)

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The Movember After:

… you might be feeling better, but you’re not “cured” yet:
(c) 2016, Davd

Last Movember i was a selectively frail old man, going to Radiation Treatment over half the days of the month1, and getting more rather than less weak as the month went on. Though modern radiation machines aim the deadly rays more accurately than earlier machinery did, there is damage to the parts of the body near the target tumour, and “cleaning up that damage” puts stress on the body. Until radiation treatment ends, you get weaker, not stronger; and after it ends, your weakness gradually decreases.

Do you get back to where you were before treatment? I probably won’t, because i’m past 70 and was in good physical condition when i was diagnosed. I may get back to being in better than average physical condition for my age—by the time that age is 3-5 years older than when i was diagnosed. For a man in his 70s, that’s not likely to be as good condition as he enjoyed 3-5 years earlier. A man who is in poorer condition when diagnosed, might take up eating and fitness habits that bring him above his condition on the day of diagnosis—but being in poor condition when diagnosed is not hopeful for response to treatment. I’d rather be expecting to get back to something not quite as fit as i was in 2014, than facing the greater risks and lesser hopes of a man who was badly out of shape when diagnosed.)

In Movember 2014, i walked long and fast, most days, and sometimes ran. In Movember 2015, i had the strength to walk Fritz around a block or two, to “relieve himself”. This Movember 2016, i’m walking at a speed, and for distances, intermediate between those two. It’s partly aging, partly being in a town compared to a rural acreage in 2014 and a large city in 2015.

In Movember 2015, Lent began—for me.

The Long, Long Lent:
I got austere advice 13 months ago, when my Radiation Treatment was well begun but far from over; it was not clear to me if i should abstain totally from beer, coffee, and wine, or limit them to less than most people take at one social sitting. The implications for food were even more vague.

I did not have a normal social life, not even for a monk2, last Christmas season.

This advice despite blood tests indicating my liver was OK, my cholesterol count better than the norms, …. I was told, vaguely, that for the remainder of radiation treatment and about three months after it ended, i should consider myself “frail”

By three months after treatment ended, it was officially Lent. I did not keep that Lent with Orthodox strictness, but by Western Church standards, it was Lenten discipline3. It lasted five months, compared to six and a half weeks with Sundays off, for regular Lent4.

It is customary for people to get together with coffee and food. Suddenly, i was to strictly limit both. (I won’t go into detail, because i don’t practice medicine, and my discipline was shaped partly by such facts as an ability to eat one grain-and-legume “meatless meal”, but not three and seldom two, without indigestion.)

I did eat much less beef, more chicken, more beans, and about as much fish as when I lived near the ocean (meaning much more fish than is customary in Alberta.) I ate more beans, peas, and lentils than is usual here, but about the same amount as i’d eaten for years, “for the sake of dietary fibre and variety.”

I also socialized less. I did go food shopping, but not often. I carried nose masks to wear when i was in crowds. I avoided Christmas dinner at my son’s house because one of the household got sick the week before. The purpose wasn’t to pray, study and meditate, as it is for Christian Lent, but the austerity was very similar, and having so much time by myself, i did spend more of it writing, studying, and at prayer, than i likely would have if i’d been free to go about the city.

It would be a good idea to provide men in, and after, Radiation Treatment, with somewhere like a cloister to live; somewhere they could have a quiet social life and a minimal risk of infection while they are frail.

PTSD and Canine Support:
Three GPs have accepted that i did have PTSD (it was treated in 1990-91, back when Movember wasn’t even a word); and have advised that i should take some precautions to protect myself from relapse. Canine Fritz’ company is an important part of those precautions: I was “right” and prudent to being him with me, and would have been even if there were someone in NB who could have given him a good home and who he knew and liked.

Perhaps you nave read, or seen on TV, about the training of dogs to be emotional support for PTSD survivors. I am not the only “PTSD veteran” to have a support dog who he raised himself rather than acquiring from a bureaucracy. (I think it will be more proper if i not name one such man, who got his PTSD in Afghanistan, who i got to know somewhat in N.B.)

I’ve learned that some places will refuse Fritz, and those places are less healthy for me than if he were accepted. I do intend to continue to have Fritz’ beneficial presence in most of my life; and to give him my reciprocal support. Not only do i care about his well-being; it’s also true that the greater his well-being, the more beneficial his effect on me.

PTSD is not rare, and as Afghanistan and Croatia and Rwanda veterans reach middle and old age, there will be many thousands of them coming to places like Cross Cancer Institute for day treatment. I have paid a few thousand dollars more during the past two years, to have him with me—as if he were a luxury rather than a health enhancement. Those men should not have to pay premium rents and other costs to have their support and service dogs with them.

For that matter, PTSD is not the only condition for which canine support is valuable.

It would be a valuable work of charity, to establish a household with several guest rooms, where men coming to a city with support dogs, for treatment, could stay with those dogs in a canine-friendly home5. I doubt a government bureaucracy could do it half as efficiently as a church or men’s charity. Anyone interested?

Recovery and Prognosis:
I walk faster and more comfortably this month, than i did a year ago. I think i can eat a bit more varied diet than i could then; but that’s difficult to assess, because my eating habits are biased toward healthy foods and have been for years. I am convinced i can tolerate more exposure to colds and ‘flu; but again, i don’t go out in crowds much anyway, i’m spending this winter in a town rather than a big city, and i’ve had the ‘flu vaccination.

I’m not as fit as i was in Movember 2014; and very possibly never will be again. Aging entails weakening, and after 70, we weaken more rapidly than before 60. Exercise can help, but “getting back to where i was when i was 40” is a goal that’s probably impossible for men who were in good shape at 40. Even “getting back to where i was when i was 60” or “…70” might well be impossible.

The rule i learned decades ago, in school, was that medicine will say that a cancer is cured if there’s no sign of its return five years after treatment. I haven’t heard nor read of any new rule replacing it. Five years after treatment ended will be early December 2020, and if i’m alive then, i will be 78 years old. That’s neither a very short nor a very long lifespan for a Canadian man born in 1942… nor “American”, Australian, Austrian, British, … Finnish, French, German, Greek, … basically, for a man born in a modern country, who survived World War II.

“All men are mortal” is a slogan that’s thousands of years old. If cancer doesn’t kill me, and plausibly i might survive those criterial five years, then before two more decades are past, something else probably will.

Movember can remind us to look after our health and be regularly checked for silent illness. It can remind us of ways specifically to reduce our risk of cancer. It can’t empower us to live forever.

Not all Christian men look at life as a story. I do; and my story has run much longer by now, than it has left to go. Whether or not my prostate cancer was cured last autumn, I’m in better shape this Movember than last, which seems to indicate the treatment did some good.

Now, cured or not, i have a far shorter time left than i’ve lived so far, to finish the story.


1. In addition to weekends, there was no treatment on legal holidays and a few days when the radiation machines were “down for maintenance”.

2. I’ve never been a monk, but for three weeks in 2005, i lived in a monastery “cell”, keeping the same routines and eating the same diet as one.

3. It has been my custom for more than a year—more than three years, as best i recall—to begin the day with the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer, slowly and reflectively. Many Roman Catholics have additional Lenten disciplines, but many do not.

4, Lent is “40 days long” an old Anglican priest explained to me, but Sundays are always feast days, so the 40 days take over six weeks to count off.

5. There should be such a household in every large city whose hospitals have day patients.


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Remembrance Day, Trump’s Election, and the Status of Men

… a Reflection:
(1st draft Nov. 11) 2016, Davd

As i begin writing this reflection, it is only minutes before a parade will march through the centre of town to the Cenotaph, where hundreds of people will stand in the cold wind to honour soldiers long dead, and perhaps a few surviving and recently dead.

It is less than three days since one President-elect Donald Trump surprised the “mainstream” media, most pollsters, and the veteran politician Hillary Clinton, by defeating her in electoral college delegate count and thus becoming President-elect1. We might be wise to keep in mind, in Canada, the USA, and elsewhere, that Clinton seems to have won a tiny fraction more popular votes than Trump and that neither got a majority of the votes over-all,

Trump won a close contest, and we might be wise to take the comments on the potentially sweeping consequences of his narrow victory, as a reminder that Canada—and the USA—are subject to political instability in the form of dramatic changes in government and policy caused by quite small changes in the vote distribution among parties. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a majority government with a decided minority of the votes cast—a smaller minority than Trump’s and the Republican Party’s.

Is this a good way to change government? Not “on the face of it”. Certainly, neither the writers who view Trump and his success with alarm, nor the relatively ordinary Alberta voters who have told me of their anger and disappointment with Justin Trudeau and his Government, are calling it good.

Electoral reform, toward election rules that make the elected more representative of the voters, would be one sensible response to the Trump Republican—and the Trudeau Liberal—victories. Political stability is good. Representative legislatures are good.

Governments send men off to war. That fact, at least, connects the ill feelings about the US Government-elect and the current Canadian government, the ceremonies today, and the falsity of notions that men are privileged. Suffering in combat, dying in combat, are not privileges. They are burdens, and more severe burdens than Canadian or US women suffer today or this century—or suffered in the last—by law or social convention such as sent those men to war.

For dying and risking death in service to King [more recently Queen], and country [earlier, colony], the fallen and the old soldiers are honoured, and far more than 90% of them men. They are honoured for accepting hardship and death in a cause few of them fully understood2, and indeed some of the speeches are almost certain to refer to their “sacrifice”. They were “dutiful,” in doing what their rulers told them to do; and those most explicitly honoured were unlucky, in dying.

In honouring these unlucky, obedient men, we attest, whether we notice it or not, to the falsity of “historic oppression of women.” The World Wars are history; and all their North American (including Canadian) combat soldiers were male. Some women died in them (as non-combat “civilian3 casualties”) Far more men died, and far more men suffered while living as soldiers, than women.

“Historic oppression of women” is a legal fiction. It is deemed to have occurred, but the facts of war we remember today, contract the notion—as do the labouring conditions of ordinary working class men since 1900, or since 1500 or even earlier, for that matter. As do working class folk sayings like “Ain’t Momma happy, ain’t nobody happy” and “Mother is always right.”

Nathanson and Young, (2006, summary review here; cf. Brown, 2004, 2013, Corry and Stockburger, 2013) detail some of the misandric biases in Canadian and US law, and some of the deemings that treat men as privileged when women actually are. The now famous Misandry Bubble blog, almost seven years ago, reminded readers that ordinary men “had had it worse” than ordinary women, for a long time indeed.

The average man was forced to risk death on the battlefield, at sea, or in mines, while most women stayed indoors tending to children and household duties. Male life expectancy was always significantly lower than that of females, and still is. … Most of [the oppression] narrative stems from ‘feminists’ comparing the plight of average women to the topmost men (the monarch and other aristocrats), rather than to the average man. This practice is known as apex fallacy, and whether accidental or deliberate, entirely misrepresents reality.

I’ve written one blog on the Apex Fallacy’s general existence and psychological basis, which might be worth reading if you doubt, or want to understand better, that and how the fallacy exists.

It was men more than women who elected Donald Trump. His campaign style made much of resentment of the elites—and men have more to resent. Military veterans especially have much to resent, according to research from the (US based) Equal Justice Foundation (e.g. Corry and Stockburger, 2013.) The modern war-veteran successors of the men honoured today as surviving World War veterans, have been victims of Feminism, and Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton represented more Feminism, not less, had she been elected.

(The “groping” question [including, it seems, the sexual conduct of former US President William Clinton] should be addressed separately. As a hint of how i might address it in a subsequent blog, let me ask: How many modest women “get groped”? Traditional Roman Catholic nuns’ habits are a fairly extreme example of modest dress. In Central Alberta, many Mennonite and Hutterite women wear long sleeved dresses with long skirts (reaching well below their knees.) Some of those dresses can fairly be called “pretty”; i have not noticed any i would call erotic. Modesty ought to be high in priority among those, including myself, who oppose erotic behaviour directed toward strangers. Indeed, much immodesty is erotic behaviour.)

As the sex (or gender if you prefer that word) from whom those “sacrificed” soldiers we briefly honour today, came;
.. as the sex [or gender] who does the great majority of the dirty jobs, and does them with much less complaint than a similar number of women would make if they had to do them4;
.. as the sex deemed guilty of domestic violence when women are a little more likely to instigate it (Nathanson, and Young, 2006: ch 9, e.g. 239-40, Appendix 3; Brown, 2004);

men have been second class citizens, as Nathanson and Young, Brown, and many others have documented during the first fifteen years of this young century. If a Trump presidency brings the sexes nearer to equality, that’s good for “America”. If a Trump presidency shrinks the U.S. bureaucracy and makes its demands more consistent and gender equal, that too is good for “America”.

It seems to me, on a few days reflection, that while the status of men was not a visible issue during the Trump, much less the Clinton campaign, it was an issue in the minds of many voters, and millions of American men, plus rather many American women, decided the crudity of some of Trump’s style was the lesser of two evils.

Public scrutiny and public support of what follows, methinks, can refine the crudity, if indeed Trump himself has not done much of that already. Congressional powers can moderate extremes that prove foolish. Already, methinks, androcentric discourse has become more legitimate in the U.S. than it was a year ago, even last winter.

Now how do we import androcentric legitimacy to Canada? and shrink the bureaucracies here?

a few References:

Brown, Grant A. 2004 “Gender as a Factor in the Response of the Law-Enforcement System to Violence Against Partners,” Sexuality and Culture, v. 8, Issues 3 & 4, pp. 3-139.

Brown, Grant A., 2013. Ideology And Dysfunction In Family Law: How Courts Disenfranchise Fathers. Calgary and Winnipeg: Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre For Public Policy

Corry, Charles E. and David W. Stockburger, 2013. “Analysis of Veteran Arrests – El Paso County, Colorado“. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Equal Justice Foundation.

Daniels, Anthony M.D., 2014. “The Worldview that Makes the Underclass”. Speech delivered on May 20, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dearborn, Michigan, and published in Imprimis,

“Futurist”, 2010. The Misandry Bubble . January 1.

Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006. Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Notes: follow in most html displays

Perhaps a few others than me, will question whether the wars in which those soldiers died, whose battles were horrific in contrast to the peaceful years that began the previous, “Twentieth” Century, were necessary. That, like the “groping question” is worth examining but peripheral to this blog.

1. Canadian and other non-US readers probably do not understood the somewhat complicated fules by which each state is allocated “electors”; i certainly do not understood how votes are translated into elector selection, state by state.

2. The Second World War may have been understood somewhat better by those soldiers who regarded it as a response to aggression by the Hitler Nazi regine, or to ill-treatment of Jews and later Christians by the Nazis. (The Holocaust was not fully recognized by the public until near or after the end of the war.) Ths US entered both wars later than did Canada, in response to aggression {the sinking of ships in the case of the First World War, and the attack on Pearl Harbor in the case of the second.)

3. To forestall quibbling: There were a few Russian combat units including women. There were Canadian and US non-combat military units including women, who suffered much less than the combat soldiers both in risk of death and while living.

4. (One might also ask if most women could do many dirty jobs such as garbage collection, logging, and hauling crab and black cod traps.)


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Beer!–part 2

..bottling and cycling:
(c) 2016, Davd

If you took my reminder to have bottles enough ready, to hold the 23 litres (about 5 US gallons, for those readers who live there) that you started a week ago…
… and if your wort has fermented and is clear or well along in clearing1, then it’s time to bottle. (If it’s not ready, copy the url of this “food blog” for later reference, and expect it’s likely to be in front position for the rest of September.)

You don’t have to bottle beer the first day it’s ready—it can sit in the carboy for a week or two, maybe three weeks, without harm, as long as it’s isolated from the bacteria in the air.. (which isolation is what that fermentation lock does.)

In addition to the beer and the bottles, you’ll need some bleach, a little more sugar, a siphon, funnels, and at least as many caps as you have bottles. With a little bit of luck, you’ll have more caps than bottles, just by saving [and if need be, washing] screw caps from pop bottles. (You can also save empty pop bottles, wash them, and use them for beer. Myself, i think that’s fine if the bottles are plain shaped and made to take pressure2; but cute shapes, i use only for the last bottle or two that have dregs in them—you’ll read more about dregs further down.)

I recommend you also have another beer kit and a spare kilo of sugar on hand, as well, so you can start another batch in your carboy the same day. Having just fermented a good batch of beer, a carboy is obviously in good state to ferment another.

The bottling process begins with sterilization.

I put “a few tablespoons”—maybe 100 ml [3+ ounces] at most–of bleach through a tiny funnel inserted in the top of the siphon hose, and thus through the siphon hose also, into a heavy glass beer bottle—I use one of those European type bottles3 with its own ceramic cam-action cap, but any heavy bottle will do. The bleach, should cover the bottom of the bottle 1-1,5 centimetres [a half inch or slightly less] deep. I follow the bleach with at least twice as much water, making sure the bleach and then the water pass along the whole siphon. That way the siphon is sterilized, and also rinsed so the first bottle of beer is fit to drink. The bleach-water mixture should cover the bottom of the bottle about 5 cm [two inches] deep.

This bleach-water [the sterilizing solution] is then passed through all the bottles I will be using [and generally one or two spares since I cannot be sure exactly how much beer I will get before hitting the sediment]. I use a medium-size funnel: Each time I take a bottle, I immediately put the funnel into its neck. Then I take a cap, and put it on the bottle that contains the sterilizing solution. (If you are cycling, the bottles and caps were rinsed soon after emptying, so in dishwashing terms, they are already clean, as are new bottles4.) I shake the bottle for 2-3 seconds, being sure the neck and the inside of the cap get well wetted; and then I take the cap off, put it in a clean container, and pour the solution through the funnel into the next bottle.

By taking a new cap for each new bottle, I wind up with enough sterilized caps in the same operation that sterilizes the bottles. To be sure, i shake the first plastic bottle i sterilize, 2-3 times, with a different cap each time.

(With a little practice, you can co-ordinate your hands so that one hand moves the funnel and the other caps the bottle that has the sterilizing solution. The only problem is your workspace filling up with a crowd of bleachy-smelling pint bottles, making it hard to position the new and sterilizing solution bottles for smooth co-ordination. Nothing’s perfect… i often put two dozen of the sterilized bottles in a box.)

I could probably fill the bottles as they are, but I rinse them first to minimize the bleach. I think that helps the carbonation start and proceed quickly. Rinsing takes less than half as long per bottle, partly because the bottles are coming off the worktable into a box, and partly because you don’t have to screw a cap on and then unscrew it–just pour the plain water from one bottle to the next, through the funnel, with a good swirl to cover the inside of the bottle you’re rinsing and then pouring.

No question about it, this sterilizing is tedious, and it is equally tedious if you use sulphite solution to sterilize. (I prefer bleach because it is available at far more stores and it leaves far less of a smell and taste. A tiny bit of bleach becomes a tiny bit of salt by the time you drink the beer.)

Two-litre bottles are less trouble to sterilize because you need about a quarter as many. To me, flat beer is more tedious, so I go ahead and use pints [and half litres]; and spoiled beer is worse than tedious–so I go along with the tedium of sterilizing.

When the bottles are sterilized and rinsed, i proceed quickly to fill them with beer and then “prime” them with sugar. I have usually done this work alone, but there’s no harm and some useful “backup”, in cycling beer with a friend.

My siphon is wrapped with a rubber band at the point where the short end will just reach the bottom of the carboy from the top of the neck. I’ve passed a big paper clip through the rubber band. To start siphoning, I put the short end into the carboy, clip the paper clip onto the top, and take a quick “draw” on the other end. The beer never reaches my mouth, because once it’s started, I put the delivery end of the siphon into a waiting mug.

Into the mug goes a sample–two or three ounces–and then the siphon goes into the first pint bottle. The sample will tell me for sure that the beer is OK. I taste it immediately and as long as it tastes like flat beer, I proceed to fill the bottles.5

Filling the first few bottles–like the second or third day of fermentation–is fast-and-furious. The higher the “head” of liquid, the faster the siphon action, and pint bottles will fill so quickly you had better have a dozen or two on your worktable, ready for you to pass the siphon from one to the next.

It is easier to tilt an empty bottle than a full one, so tilt the neck of the empty bottle next to the one that is filling. Then you can move the siphon across with little or no spillage. When the height of the beer in the carboy is lower than the top of a bottle, you’ll need to lower the level of that bottle when it’s full, to move the siphon to another bottle. (If your workspace is fancy enough that the carboy can stand 3-6 inches higher than the bottles, that might be something to do.)

I find with my plastic “carboy”, that after 15-20 pints have been filled, a tall heavy European bottle3 will be just taller than the “stack” of beer remaining in the fermenter. So I have at least 16 bottles in a box, waiting to be taken out and filled, and a space which will hold them all, before I start the siphon.

If there’s room to siphon 2-3 dozen bottles before pausing, that’s probably better than stopping at 15-20; i usually siphon either 25-30 bottles before i pause, or with plenty of work space, i may continue until only 2-3 inches of beer remain in the carboy6. Then i put the siphon into a tall, heavy glass bottle, so both ends are “under water”, stand it next to the carboy, and finish my sample. Then I’ll prime the bottles i’ve filled.

(If you haven’t that much work space for siphoning, stop when the height of the beer in the carboy is below the bottom of the neck of one of your heavy glass bottles, and park the siphon in the heavy bottle.)

Priming amounts to adding a bit of white sugar to each bottle of beer. The yeast will ferment that sugar in the capped bottle; and because the carbon dioxide produced can’t escape into the air, it will stay and give fizz to the beer.

How much sugar to add depends on the size of the bottle. Cooper’s says it’s safe to add up to 4 grams [a level tablespoon, equalling three teaspoons, is about 15 grams; so this could be up to 4/5 teaspoon] to a pint. I use a half teaspoon or a little more, and I get enough fizz for me. You can calculate the amount if it isn’t pints you’re using. .. and adjust after tasting some of your first batches.

I take the sugar from the sugar bowl with a narrow “grapefruit spoon”, because that spoon will insert the sugar into the neck of a plastic bottle with little or no spillage. If i have a tapered rather than bowl bottomed funnel that’s dry, and the right size, i put the sugar in the bottles through that dry funnel—less fuss, less spillage. If i don’t hava a dry funnel handy, though, a grapefruit spoon will do the job if used with care.

Refined sugar is such a “water grabber” that bacteria basically can’t live in it; I have never sterilized my priming sugar and there’s been no problem. (Knock wood–try red cedar or oak because it’s antibacterial itself. But unsterilized white priming sugar is pretty safe, partly because the beer it goes into is already 5% alcohol.)

Once you know how much your usual amount of sugar looks like in your usual spoon, this step will be easy.

If the beer is just ending its ferment, and the yeast is still active, there will be some foaming when the priming sugar goes into the bottle. You’ll have 1-3 seconds to get the cap on before the foam might possibly jump out of the bottle.

If the beer has waited for a while to be bottled, the yeast will be inactive–having run out of sugar–and the beer won’t foam, or very little. However much it foams, I tip the bottle upside down a couple of times after capping, so as to mix the sugar into the beer and get the carbonation started as soon as possible.

This “secondary fermentation” after priming will take up to two weeks; but I find that after 5-8 days the beer is usually fizzy enough to seem normal. If your friends (and you) have not used up all your previously-made beer two weeks after bottling day, put the batch into a cellar or other cool place. There it will improve for another two months, perhaps three.

When there’s less than three inches [7,5 cm] of beer left in the fermenter, (“the last pause”, which with luck might also be the first pause) I tilt it, blocking it up with a short piece of two-inch lumber (a book will also do if you have one that thickness), so that the siphon-end is at the low side. Then I resume siphoning, and continue until the beer runs out.

The last bottle often gets a good deal of yeast sediment from the bottom of the fermenter–because it’s tipped, the sediment slides down as it nears empty–so mark it “dregs” [a twist-tie or rubber band will do, or pencil “D” on the cap]. Don’t worry too much about this, since the secondary fermentation will put a bit of sediment in the bottom of every bottle.

When the last bottle is full or the stuff coming up the siphon is ugly, I lift the bottle and siphon above the carboy table, [maintaining an air gap so the beer won’t go back out of the last bottle] and then lift the siphon high so the sediment returns to the fermenter. I normally slip both ends of the syphon into the neck of the fermenter [=carboy] to wait while I prime the rest of the beer.

Then I take the carboy to a laundry tub or bathtub, or outdoors in warm weather, and rinse it out thoroughly. If I have enough bottles empty, I start another batch right away7.

If you can take that empty fermenter, rinse out the dregs8, have some malt syrup already heated from the next kit, and begin the next batch of beer straight away, that’s best. The empty carboy has the right conditions for making beer—as you know from the fact it just made beer—and you can get the next batch off to a good start without having to park or sterilize the fermenter.

I usually start the can of wort heating slowly in clean water, on its side (with the yeast packet removed, and the label removed also if that’s easy) about the time i start priming. It will take several minutes for the heat of the water to conduct itself to the inside of that can–the wort concentrate temperature will be behind the water temperature until the water has been hot for a while.  If the water around the wort can starts to boil, or threatens to boil, i turn off the heat under it.

Every kitchen is a little different, and the timing of when you heat the can of wort for cycling is something i can’t get exact for someone else’s kitchen. Once your bottles are all capped, that can of wort is hot enough to pour, and the carboy is rinsed clean, put your kilo of sugar in the carboy, add a little cool to warm water, open the can of wort, and proceed as with a new batch.

May you find at least one kit type that pleases you, a good place to ferment and a good cooler place to age your beer, and the sense of your own enjoyment, to drink until the next bottle wouldn’t be quite as pleasant now as tomorrow—then have that one wait for tomorrow. (Oh, and remember that the law’s notion of intoxicated is much stricter than it used to be. The prudent thing to do is make the beer drinking wait until the day’s driving is all done.)


1. Once the fermentation lock is down to bubbling once every 10 seconds, or less often, you can safely quit heating the carboy; when it’s down to once every 5 seconds or longer, you can let the temperature ease down to 18-20 C [65-68 F]. If it’s warmer than that, no harm, though it’s wise to keep it below 30C [85 F]

2. Bottles for drinks that don’t have pressure [fizz], often will lose their shape when the beer carbonates and pressure develops.

3. Mostly, i’ve found Fischer beer from France and Grolsch from Holland, in these bottles; there is also at least one German beer that comes in heavy glass. The Fischer bottles have the widest bases, and so have been the best for holding a siphon without tipping… until my son Erik gave me two litre sized “Aroma Borealis” herbal ale bottles from the Yukon. They have a very wide base, and are best for parking the siphon (but can be a little awkward to fit into some fridge doors,.)

4. In general, care of beermaking equipment is a lot like for pickling and canning. Just as you’d rinse out a canning jar soon after emptying it, so as to make the next use easier; so you should rinse out a beer bottle soon after emptying it. Run 1-2 inches of water into it, put your thumb or a finger or two over the opening, turn it upside down, and shake vigorously until you can’t see any yeast sediment in the bottom. Then pour out the water, run in a little more, shake a few seconds, and pour out. I stand my beer bottles upside down in the dish rack to dry, put them in their boxes [capped or upside down]; and they’re ready for an easy sterilizing, and more beer.

5. If it tastes bad, there are two basic alternatives—try to make malt vinegar of it, or down the sewer… and in either case, a serious sterilizing of that carboy before you try making beer in it again. If your sterilizing follows these techniques, including a fermentation lock with a few drops of bleach in the water it holds, bad batches should be somebody else’s problem.

6. It’s a good idea to have at least two glass bottles, too heavy and wide at the base to tip easily, for “parking the siphon.” I have seldom been interrupted while siphoning—knock wood—but it’s a good idea to be prepared.

7. A batch of beer fills 45-50 pint bottles, so if i have more than 40 waiting, i can expect to have 50 by the time the wort is fermented, and go ahead. It’s quite OK to start a next batch with 10-20 bottles waiting, and simply leave it in the carboy until you have bottles enough to put it in. If there are two of you drinking the beer regularly, 20 bottles when you cycle to a new batch of wort, might be plenty.

If not, I put the bleach solution I used to sterilize the bottles, into the carboy after i’ve emptied and rinsed it, put the stopper [without fermentation lock] into the top, and cover with a clean plastic bag held with a rubber band [string or twine will also do]. This will pretty well assure that the carboy is “sterilized” when it is time to make more beer.

8. If it’s summer or late spring, and slugs bother your garden, save the dregs for slug traps. I used empty tuna cans, back in Acadie, because they’re small and shallow, put in beer dregs, maybe thinned with water, and drowned a lot of slugs. It seems that in dry summer areas, gardeners seldom need much slug bait, so saving a litre or two should be plenty in Alberta as it was on Vancouver Island.


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..from kits, for beginners:
(c) 2016, Davd

The one alcoholic beverage we can fairly call nourishing. The one we are most attracted to after an active day’s work or play. The one we can drink, not sip, without getting disabled. The one that goes with smoked salmon sandwiches or pretzels, ham and salad on a mellow Saturday afternoon.

Martin Luther once wrote that a pastor’s wife should know how to make beer. Apparently, the pastor himself was likely to be called away to a sickbed, choir rehearsal, wedding, or whatever; and the wife (at least in Luther’s time and place) more certain to be home when the beer needed tending. Plainly, the founder of Protestant Christianity did not consider beer drinking sinful; rather a normal companion to a good meal, and an important part of hospitality.

I agree—and I’m fortunate not to need to know how to make beer. I can buy a kit whose directions are simple, set aside some out-of-the-way space for the beer to ferment and then to age, spend less than five minutes per bottle doing work which is as pleasant as knitting or fly-tying, and wind up with better beer than the best-selling brands you find in stores.

A kit which makes 40-45 pints [equal to 55-60 12-ounce beer bottles] costs me C$15-18 [about U$ 14-$15] and to bring the alcohol to the Canadian standard of 5.5% takes a kilo of added sugar, which costs me about $1. For less than $20 [U$ 13-16] I get an amount of beer that would cost me $75 or more for average beer or well more than $100 for the quality the better kits make.

In this first beer-kit blog, i’ll cover the starting of a first batch; aiming to give you a good sense of what to expect as you start 23 litres [5 US gallons] of kit beer.  After a week to ten days, i plan to post a second blog on bottling the beer, priming it so it will carbonate, and starting another batch the same day.

The brewing and bottling takes me 2-4 hours, and I’d spend at least half that amount of time going to the store, taking back the empties, and so-forth if I bought my beer. So for an hour or two of work I save $45-85 on beer. The last time I got pay that good I had to pay over a third of it to the Government… a penny saved is at least equal to a cent and a half, earned, because there’s no tax on work done for yourself.

The key to making beer, even more than when making wine, is starting at the right temperature and holding that temperature until your fermentation is going fast-and-furious. I found that out reading the directions to a Cooper’s beer kit [from Australia] and since my beer had been reliably good with their kits, I nearly always used Cooper’s until i came to Alberta1. I especially liked their Stout, amber [“real”] and dark ales. Other folks may prefer a different brand of kits; it is, after all, a matter of taste.

The directions in three brands of kit I’ve liked are clear and simple: Heat the malt syrup, pour it into a clean sterilized fermenter, add sugar [the directions will say how much] to make the final alcohol level meet your taste; and water to make a total volume of [usually, 23 litres, or 5 US gallons]. The kits contain hop extract already mixed into the malt syrup; so all that’s left to do is add the yeast the kit also contains, and stir gently.  Once you get used to things, that is; read on and it should help you get used to things.

The concentrated malt syrup in the kit is at least as thick as molasses, so to pour it, you need to heat it. I take the label off the container, lay it on its side in a big cooking pot, and cover it with water; then heat the pot on the stove.

While heating the malt syrup, clean the carboy2 if it’s not clean already, and sterilize it with bleach and water—one fifth bleach is plenty and one tenth ought to do in a clean container.  Swirl the solution around so it touches all the inside surfaces of the huge bottle, and then leave it in the bottom, with a stopper in the bottle’s neck or a clean plastic bag held over the top with a rubber band [a small drinking glass upside down over the top, etc.. will do.].

When the bleach solution has been worked all over the inside of the carboy, and has sat there for ten minutes or longer, then pour it into a jar, even an old plastic food container, and cover with a lid. It can still be used to soak a rag, usually a dishrag, to sterile-clean surfaces such as where you just sliced a piece of meat or butchered a fish.

Just before you start filling the carboy, when the malt is getting hot enough to pour, get a really clean glass jar [the ones that commercial pasta sauce come in, do fine, or one-litre pickle jars] fill it maybe half full with clean water that’s just warm, not hot, to your little finger or your cheek; sprinkle the yeast on top of that, and cover. The yeast will “wake up” while you’re putting the malt and water into the carboy.

I start by putting the sugar [1 kg with most kits] into the carboy, dry; then i add some cool to warm water, so that when the hot syrup hits the bottom of the carboy it gets cooled some, to reduce heat shock to the carboy. An inch deep seems to be enough; two inches, plenty for sure.

Then pour the syrup in, through the funnel with the largest bottom opening, that will sit well in the neck of the carboy. (Rubber gloves or a ‘pot holder’ will help protect your hand from the heat.)  It will be a slow process, and probably seem even slower than it is. When the can of syrup is empty except for what clings to the metal, fill that can with warm to hot water, swirl gently [or it will spill some of the water], and pour that water-syrup mixture through the funnel into the carboy. Two rinsings of the can should get it and the funnel not totally clean of syrup, but close.

Pick up the carboy and swirl it around so the syrup, sugar, and water mix together. You don’t need to get them perfectly mixed, but try to get close. Then when you fill the carboy, you’ll be filling it with wort ready for the yeast, not water with over-concentrated sugar and malt at the bottom.

If you use a 23-litre fermenter, as I have done lately, don’t fill it full right at the start. Allow two inches or more of airspace for when your fermentation is going fast-and-furious; because when it is, that airspace can fill with bubbles.

As you’re filling the fermenter with water, keep track of the temperature. I simply tape a thermometer to the outside of the vessel — duct tape works, clear office tape should let you read the thermometer through it — and add more or less hot water according to what it reads. The syrup will be fairly hot when you pour it in (if it’s not hot it won’t pour); and you’ll probably use pretty hot water to rinse out the last of the syrup from the can—and into the fermenter. So your first several litres or quarts of water after rinsing should be “Cold”. It’s worth waiting a couple minutes when you’re past half full, to check the temperature and figure out how much cold and hot to put in to get a full temperature of 21-27 [70-80F]. (Cover the carboy top while waiting, with something clean. You don’t want flies of any size or species to get inside!)

When the fermenter is almost up to 23 litres [or a decent airspace less if its capacity is 23] and the temperature is between 21-27 [70-80 Fahrenheit], add the yeast that has been softening in warm water3 and let it gradually mix with the wort.

When the yeast has been added, put on a fermentation-lock and set the fermenter in a relatively clean place with the right temperature. In the winter I cover the fermenter with a “tent” of fabric [a clean bedsheet, light window curtain or  light blanket will do] and put a bit of heating cable inside [wrapped around the carboy or the edges of a short piece of 2×3 lumber]. A lightbulb in a metal bowl, pie pan, or steaming basket inside the tent will also work. Turn the heat on when the temperature dips near 21/[70 F].

In the summer, if a room’s temperature can go above 27/[80 F] for more than a few hours of the day, put the brew in a different room. The most important rules for making good kit beer are STERILIZING and HOLD THAT TEMPERATURE.

So when you’ve started that first batch of beer, and the fermentation lock is protecting the sterilizing you’ve done—keep it at or above 20C [68F] and below 30C, preferably at or below 28. If you let your dwelling cool below 18C at night, and cool room temperature is good for your sleep, you probably should cover the carboy with something that makes a tent shape with the fermentation lock at the top. Inside that, you can heat with an old fashioned 25-40 watt light bulb in a metal or ceramic cup or bowl, a piece of heating cable such as is used to keep water pipes from freezing—something that puts out mild electric heat.

A week or two later the airlock will stop working and the wort will be beer, ready to bottle. By that time you should have enough bottles ready, to put it in.

I bottle most of my beer in plastic “pint” bottles made for home brewing. They take the same screw-on caps that fit plastic pop bottles, which means you can use caps from pop bottles if you find “topless” ones at a garage sale—which is where I found mine. I like to have at least nine dozen pint bottles. Nine dozen hold about two-and-a-half batches of beer, which allows you to have a batch fermenting, a batch carbonating, a batch ageing, and a batch you’re drinking. When the batch I’m drinking is half gone I should bottle the batch that has been fermenting and start a new batch brewing… the combination of which two tasks i call “cycling the beer.”

If you like to have two or more kinds of beer to choose from, you’ll want to have more bottles.

(In theory, I’d like to put up all my beer in those heavy glass European bottles with cam-action ceramic-and-rubber stoppers. I usually include at least two one litre bottles like that, and one smaller one, when i bottle—you’ll see why in the next post. Meanwhile, it is a real improvement on going to the beer store, to have a case or two of pints right home, and another batch

Plastic pints fit neatly into boxes holding 18 or 24 pints; and when I refer to boxes further on, these are the boxes I mean. If you get your bottles without boxes, take the trouble to find some kind of cardboard or wooden boxes that will hold [any number between about 10 and 40] of your bottles. Then you can make a neat stack of beers where they sit to carbonate, and in the cellar or other cool place where they age; and the handling will be less bother than with store beer.]

The cam-action stoppers on glass bottles, and screw-cap plastic pints, are handiest. If i only want half a pint of beer, I can re-cap the bottle and put it in the ‘fridge; and it will keep a day or two. Usually I finish the pint before I finish the day. When I first started making kit beer, I filled several two-litre pop bottles each batch. This worked, and for having guests over the size was OK, but for one or two people, there’s a serious risk of letting some beer go flat. Now, unless I plan to give some of a batch to guests on a known coming occasion, I bottle entirely to pints, or to mostly pints and a few 1-litre bottles. The pints sit neatly in their 18- or 24-bottle cases and are easier to handle than 2-litres, except for the actual filling and priming.

One way or another, have enough bottles, capable of holding pressure, ready to hold that beer you’ve started to make. I plan to post the bottling technique, and the benefits of “cycling” a next batch of beer into the carboy that same day, in a week or ten days.


1. In Alberta, the water is harder than in Coastal BC, Northern Ontario, or New Brunswick; and i’ve found that “Beer Maker” kits whose labels say they are manufactured in the UK to the specifications of a Calgary firm, produce quite good beer, especially Pilsener of those i’ve tried, Cooper’s “real ale”, which performed well in those other locations, didn’t seem quite as good “on the Prairies”. Cooper’s Stout made up fine—i don’t know the chemistry involved well enough to say why.

2. the word “carboy” denotes a honkin’ big bottle with a neck say, between one and two inches in diameter. I’ll use the word interchangeably with “fermenter” in this text. How it came to mean neither a car nor a boy but a very large bottle?—ask a librarian, if you’re that curious.

3. You can sprinkle the powdered yeast on top of the “wort”, as the solution is called when the water has mixed with the malt syrup and sugar, and let it soften and settle through the wort, without pre-softening. Pre-softening makes the fermentation start a little faster, and more certainly.

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