A Bifurcation Cascade

Turning Over a New Leaf While Walking
into the Future in an Ocean on an Owl’s Head

Author: Alder Stone

Original draft posted on home page: Sunday, May 03, 2015
Latest draft with typo corrections & updates: Saturday, May 9
written in Owl’s Head, Maine, 200 yards from the ocean.

Abstract: Topics in this post, to developed further in later posts on two sites:

  • My bifurcation point, coming June 1: a decision about whether to stay in Maine — that I love and consider home — or move back to Oregon for an unspecified period so that I can earn a proper living and get out of poverty for the first time in five long, hard years, unequivocally by far THE most challenging years of my adult life, more challenging than my doctoral studies (including an oral exam from hell), a college teaching job also from hell (ABQ), and the extended deaths of both parents.   All of which were relative cake walks compared to my last five years.  (What a long strange trip it’s been.)  Update: that bifurcation point came earlier than expected — such is common with complex, dynamical systems. I’m leaving for Portland Oregon May 20, and plan to return to Maine around Spring Equinox, 2016.
  • Musings on the concepts of “home” and challenges of a quasi-nomadic, free-lance educator seeking a home base for my work, and a group advanced students.
  • The insanity of “the system” {tm} and the idiots that too frequently infest it.
  • Ermah Ge’s new web site, online forum and video site, which will free this one for personal posts of a blog-ish nature like this one.
  • A glimpse at my next steps in deciding whether to stay in Maine through summer and fall or leaving for Oregon in June — that involve multiple factors: attracting commitments from at least 30 AST students (see below) into the Earth 101 Experience (see Ermah Ge’s web site), buying my first motorized vehicle in 5 years, a new Mac Air (for mobile presentations) and iMac (for video production), and paying rent — which is now 18 days late … plus some other conditions to be specified.

Note: This is an uncharacteristically long post, even for me.  So save the read until you’ve got some time, and can read with a cup or glass of your favorite beverage.  Send comments to me via this contact page.   I may even post  your comments, anonymously if you wish.


On June 01, 2015, based on what happens during May, I will make a decision at a bifurcation point.  There are two main choices (attractor states):

  1. Remain in Maine until December, then travel to the Portland, Oregon area to teach winter term classes, returning to Maine around Spring Equinox, 2016.
  2. Almost immediately pack up my belongings, put some in storage in Maine (or give them away), and travel to Portland Oregon, where I will remain and teach for an unspecified period of time.

My preference is #1.   Even though I’m eager to return to Oregon to see friends, and teach some advanced courses, I’d prefer to remain to get our learning communities in Rockland and nearby cities on firm footing, and be here for summer and fall vacations — I’ve earned that after the last few winters.  (Holy mother of god.)

But I’m at the end of my rope. <insert mostly insane emoticon that explodes>  After five years in Maine (as of next July 18), offering uncountable free public lectures seeking students for courses; an equal number of emails and web pages about my work here and on places like Faceplant; failed fundraising drives; being too often labeled “Dr. Doom” or “survivalist” because of my views on climate and a failure of many to understand the true nature and focus of my work (not word as my original typo read) and educational program (it’s first and foremost about nature, Earth and life) — and some other factors, I’m still very poor.

That feels unfair to me, because I felt from the start in July, 2010– no, wait, I knew then, and even more strongly now — that what I have to offer is a very good product and service, a crucial part of humanity’s next steps if we are to re-invent civilization to live on a volatile Earth, available no where else in the US (and probably the world), worthy of support at a level that will allow me to live a modest but comfortable existence.

Evidence of that lies with about two dozen people — colleagues, students, and true friends, some of whom you’ll find in the Ermah Ge web site About pages with bios and greetings — who have supported me and my work during the last five years through very hard times, with everything from money — in some cases with donations totaling in the thousands of dollars — to transportation, places to live, and food.

The most recent example came yesterday in the form of a check for $250 from a kind, generous man living in a nearby town — Waldoboro, just west of Rockland — who I don’t know, but saw one of my public lectures about Gaia theory recently.  He knew that I had to rent a car for $100 to get to Waterville to try to start a class.  I was expecting a check for $100, and was pleasantly stunned and joyful to see it for $250.  His comment: “Keep up your good work, Alder.”  That indeed motivates me to keep swimming upstream.  I know there are pools up there where I can rest for a while.

Yet, my rent is still 18 days past due — again.  It was a matter of paying rent versus eating, buying a license for the software needed for Ermah Ge’s new Learning Community Forum, paying for our new video hosting service, renting cars twice over the last two weeks to get to Waterville, and other business related costs.  I chose the latter.  I’m taking the plunge one more time.  It’s all or nothing.

Further, for the record, I have owned no motorized vehicle since leaving Oregon in July 2010.  Imagine for a minute — no, really, I mean please just stop for a minute or two and imagine being in your early 60’s in Maine “cities” (towns) that have zero mass transit (other than taxies), and having to run all your errands — including grocery shopping, trips to the hardware, doctor visits, etc, either on your bicycle or on foot with a backpack.  (My 35 liter day pack will carry about 3 – 4 days worth of food.  My 70 liter expedition pack hauls a week’s worth, but that sucker is heavy when filled with cans and bottles.)

Further, imagine doing that in winter, with snow and ice on the ground, bitterly cold (last winter was brutal).   Everyone else but you has a car to do those tasks, and as they drive by, they splash you with melt water.  <Insert thoughts of homicidal actions that cross your mind after a few years of that.  🙁 >

To add insult to injury, I have moved 15 times in 5 years, and have lived in 10 cities, 8 in Maine plus Eugene and Portland Oregon.  Most of my “homes” — <cough> er, I mean camps — were in other people’s places with other people’s things, rules and issues.

And move #16 is coming up in mid-June, regardless of whether I stay in Maine or head for Oregon immediately, because my (truly kind, patient) landlords who let me stay here without a lease — because I wasn’t sure if I could pay rent for a year — need their apartment for family visits this summer.  I guess it could be good timing, especially if I’m going to Oregon.  But it’s still a drag to have to pack everything up and move again.  🙁

Like now, moving has usually not been my choice.  I have had to move many times simply because I could not pay rent — or because I couldn’t deal with my hosts, their issues, their neighbors — etc.  Or because  the city/town I was in simply wasn’t interested in what I had to offer — my educational program which IS my day job — and thus would not support me at a level sufficient to meet my financial needs for shelter, food, transportation, medical and dental care, etc.  Hrrrmmfff.

For a while, I had state supported medical care — “Maine care” — until Maine’s Tea Party Governor LePage, whom I’m hard pressed to believe ever completed middle school, dismantled the program.  I also had state food support (“food stamps” ***) until I forgot to change my address after my 12th move.  Sorry, I was a little insane by that time and not paying attention to “the system” {tm}.

[*** When I registered for that support in November, 2010, I intended and fully expected to withdraw from the program within months because I thought I’d be able to sell my educational program and support myself at a modest but comfortable level.  That proved very difficult.  Several times during the last few years, a few people said to me, “Why don’t you just get a real job, and teach on the side as an avocation.”  My consistent response: “You obviously don’t understand my work and its importance to our communities and future.  This IS my day job, and I’ll either earn a living doing it or die trying.”  Many — in fact, most — of those people are no longer in my life.]

So, back to “the system”.  You know, “the system”, right?   <wink wink>  That network of governments — local, state, federal, all of which contain too many idiots who can’t critically think their way out of a paper bag — and corporations that are in bed with said governments, who tell us if we want to live, we’d damn well better do as they tell us, fill out all the forms, keep all the numbers and passwords, pay our taxes, get all the appropriate permits, dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and be polite about it.  Otherwise, with a fake smile, they’ll politely tell you to fuck off, go live in a slum or in the woods, and die quietly, regardless of how hard you’re willing to work and how much you have to contribute to a better world.

So, I’ve tried to use this site to both express my anger at “that system”  — which is not really a “system”, but a large network; but that’s a technical point dealt with in Systems 101 — and to serve as a virtual base for a very mobile Ermah Ge (which since 2001, has had various names: ProtoTista, Euglena Academy, DBA Alder Stone, and now Ermah Ge).

But the mixture of professional and personal aspects on one site wasn’t a good mixture.  One cannot put forth a professional face to sell one’s services in the same virtual place where one is ranting about “the system”, and posting punk rants in general.

Thus, this site is in transition from its former attractor state — doing double duty for me and Ermah Ge, the educational collective of which I am the founder.  This site is becoming my personal blog, where I can be myself, and Ermah Ge is moving to its own web site.

Starting a few weeks ago, with the help of Ermah Ge associates and advisors, I started building Ermah Ge’s web site.   It is still a construction zone, and will be for some time.  It has come far, but still has far to go.  It is functional, but it’s evolution will require months more work.  And even after it’s “finished”, it will continue to evolve with new content … to the end of my days.

And as noted above, we are about to launch our learning community forum (not public; accessible only to Ermah Ge associates, advisors and students), and our new video web site to host all the videos that I will produce this year, including all of my introductory lectures.  The first are up there already, and available for public viewing.  More will come very soon, including a Systems 101 introductory lecture, and a video about our fundraising, student enrollment drive.

This site — alderstone3.com — will now revert to my personal web site and blog, where I can be part of Ermah Ge without being all of Ermah Ge.  Ermah Ge is a ‘collective’.  In a later post, I’ll explore the meaning of that, versus cooperative or corporation.  But for now, let’s just say its the closest “business-related” word to the idea of an educational network.

So that’s what we call it: a collective of people, interacting as a network with links — some strong, some weak — that lead to circularity, thus feedback – both positive and negative – and self-organization with emergent properties.  And it operates at the edge of chaos (Wolfram’s class 4, like his rule 110), where sensitivity to initial conditions (aka butterfly effect) rule the dynamics.  Like any network or system, it can reach critical thresholds (aka tipping points) at which phase transitions to new attractor states occur.  Those new attractor states may be stable, unstable or metastable.  The latter is most desirable to produce functionality while allowing for continued existence in the face of perturbations, like, say, the collapse of civilization in the face of large-scale, abrupt climate change.  Importantly, even though it is self-organizing, it is not autopoietic.

All the bold terms above are topics explained in Systems 101, the first course in Ermah Ge’s Earth 101 Experience, portal to Earth Studies Program (ESP).  Ermah Ge is seeking 30 – 50 new students for our Advanced Studies Track (AST) to add to the same number — mas o menos — of existing AST students, mostly in Oregon.

So, again, this site — alderstone3 — is where I  will post essays, poetry, images, and rants, music preferences (electronica, including my friend, Phutureprimitive), film preference and reviews (current obsession: Game of Thrones), and in general, to just be me.  And that’s not always the same person.   Sometimes I wear a teacher’s hat — the talking head teacher;  I’ll do that mostly on Ermah Ge’s web site.  At other times I’m a slightly (?) mad, punk poet percussionist with an attitude — that comes out especially strong when people project a punk attitude in my direction, and especially when they get up in my face.

That especially applies to a few people in Maine who, since 2010, have been responsible four times (!) for throwing me back into poverty pits again and again from a ledge called “making it professionally” — after climbing diligently, with perseverance, heart and mind while living on the edge of poverty without the means to fully realize my potential.

And while I sacrificed and suffered, those people had their needs met in terms of stable shelter (including some obnoxiously large homes), motorized vehicles — and usually really nice ones — medical and dental care, an ability to travel (even out of the US), etc, etc, etc.

And that is not just me being paranoid, or blaming others.  I have witnesses in several of my current Ermah Ge associates and advisors.  My mistake?  Trusting too much, assuming that others wanted to support my work instead of inserting agendas of their own.  Meh.

Sometimes I’ve just want to send primal screams into the universe to alleviate the utter frustration that I feel — and have felt for 5 years — about being dirt poor while offering such a valuable product and service available no where else in the US.  And I want to send those primal screams in the form of words on my own blog, notably this one.  But again, that doesn’t mix well with the talking head teacher/writer trying to earn a living teaching what I do.

To give you a sense of that, here is a blog post that I wrote in early 2013 after being flung into the pit in late 2012.  Something similar happened back in 2010, again in April 2012, and yet again in December 2014.

Head’s up: I’m done with that! I won’t go back into the poverty pit again.  Anyone who has any notion of trying to send me into it again should strongly reconsider.  I can smell those types now, and see their agendas through their thin veneer of smiles, pseudo-kindness and promises.   People should either get on board and come along for the ride, or get out of the way.  It’s that simple.

So, Ermah Ge now has its own home, where I can wear my professional teacher’s hat, be a cordial (until some asshat tries to punk me), professional experienced master teacher (so say some), and teach as many people as possible — especially other educators — about some of the coolest, most awesome, crucially-important (for our species survival) science and mathematics in the history of our species.

And this site becomes my personal virtual home, where I can be me — a personality chimera of Carl Sagan (the scientist, not the man, husband and father), George Carlin, Ani DiFranco, and Jim Bridger, my ancestor.

^  There’s a future blog post.

So, in closing, here is ErmahGe.com.

Y’all come.  ~~a’~


More posts coming … in no particular order …

  • My needs list if I am to realize my potential beginning in June,
    and still be able to continue working in Maine until next winter.
  • How I — with the help of Ermah Ge associates, advisors and students —
    will earn commitments to meet my needs by June.
  • An explanation of Alder Stone & Ermah Ge’s fee system, with video.
  • My simple rule sets (see Wolfram’s New Kind of Science)
    for personal and professional interactions, including class rules.
  • Walking in the Ocean on an Owl’s Head: A Video Essay
  • The Late, Great Jim Murphy: My Belated Homage to a True Friend
  • EDM, ITC & GoT:  My Favorite Music, Books & Films
  • Sagan, Carlin, DiFranco, Carano & Bridger: Who is Alder Stone?
  • Boots, Blades & Backpacks: An Everyday Kit for Day Hikes & Overnighters
  • On Walking, Backpacking & Bikepacking: Why I Will Buy a Surly ECR,
    and a Subaru Outback to carry it to trailheads into wild places
  • What Does the Edge of Chaos Sound Like? Exploration Using a Roland HPD-15
  • A Tiny House on Wheels: My Dream Home
  • The Death of BAU or Extinction: It’s Our Choice … But Not For Long
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