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A FEW YEARS LATER:

The Youth Committee has broken up again, this time over the discussion of plans for the upcoming Summer Festival. (Would somebody please remind me whose idea it was to let the Youth Committee handle the Summer Festival? Oh, wait, that's right - it was my idea, unanimously approved as "a great way to get the kids involved in the community". Kick me next time I have an idea, wouldja?) NoderX and BatmanBeyondBeyond got upset about their plan for a Kansas version of Burning Man getting vetoed, called the rest of the council a bunch of weak-kneed old farts, said that the youth of Everything has no more real representation than anywhere else in the world, and left the committee. The three remaining council members, who admittedly ARE a bunch of weak-kneed old farts because nobody else wanted to be on the Youth Committee, seem to be leaning towards a traditional Fourth of July celebration "so that everyone can get back in touch with their roots". I'll be sitting out this Summer Festival, of course.

JackalGrrl has started another slowdown. She says she doesn't get decent compensation for her hours, which are longer than anyone else's, and she needs an assistant. Until she gets at least one of these demands, she's just going to work as fast as she can, which suddenly seems to be a rate of one busted toilet per day. The Secretariat (yes, I'm still in it, until we can find some new suckers) called her in and explained that none of our young people want to train as plumbers, and that we had all agreed that equal pay was the fairest deal. Some jobs take more time than others, but they all have to get equal compensation. Fair is fair, as she agreed when she originally signed the membership papers. So she stormed out of the secretariat's offices and went down to half a busted toilet per day. I knew we should have stuck with communal showers and composting toilets. Seriously, what are we going to do? JG is the only plumber we've got. Sometimes I wish we weren't all artistically motivated free spirits and 1337 hackers. (NOTE - same kind of slowdown happening with the repairs to the heat - we have GOT to get TheOtherDeadGuy an assistant. This is critical!)

We had to uproot an entire orchard of four-year-old apple trees because of fireblight. AppleMan was in tears, and there's not much chance the orchards will be turning a profit this year or the next. Them's the breaks, I guess. You can't fight nature.

In other agricultural news, our tiny dairy is understaffed again after three of the newbies, all big-city kids, simultaneously discovered that cowstink never really washes off completely. I don't know where we can put these guys. We can't all be games designers. Maybe one of them has always secretly dreamed of being a plumber?

Another fight broke out in the pub last night. As usual, it was a bunch of drunken townies telling some drunken Everythingites that we were a bunch of hippy geek perverts, and Everythingites responding that the townies are a bunch of inbred lusers. We may have to reconsider keeping the pub open to townies. Our kids are sure to complain that they need the new faces. I'm damn sure we need the cash, too. Thanks mostly to townie cash, the pub has actually turned out to be one of our most steadily profitable ventures. Must remember to congratulate Barfly and thank him for volunteering so many hours, even though I'm sure he drinks his fair share of free beer while he's there. NOTE - do we need oversight on pub expenditures? No, it would probably alienate Barfly unnecessarily, and he's doing a really good job so far. Let him drink.

Speaking of oversight, it turns out that MisterGreenThumb made good on what we all thought was a joke, and planted marijuana all through the gardens outside Building Seven. I can't believe he found so many plants, and I'm even more shocked that nobody noticed until the day before the inspector from the Sheriff's Department arrived to check on our deputies. I'm not looking forward to next Saturday's general meeting. It's always ugly when we vote on disciplinary measures.

Another thing that will make this meeting less than joyful - we are going to have to settle the religious issue once and for all. the Culture Committee has made zero progress towards resolving the matter, and our atheists are getting completely pissed off by what they call discrimination in the seasonal celebrations. I never thought this would be an issue until last year, when ThereIsNoGod torched the Christmas tree/Menorah/cubistic sculpture thing in the dining hall. Nobody complained when we got rid of the sick troll, but now it seems that some of the other atheists think he was oppressed or something, and they're making it an issue again. This is SO fucked up. We have complete freedom of religion, but people still find things to fight over.

What else is going on? Education - for some reason, nobody was getting it on in '06, so we don't have a classgroup for new arrival JuanDRico. He's spent the last few months with our second-graders, but there are signs that he could be having trouble there. He's the smallest one in the class, of course, and the seven native kids in that class are our most tightly integrated classgroup ever. Their teacher thinks we should pull Johnny out. But we can't send a kid that smart back to kindergarten. I'll have to ask his parents how they feel, maybe ask Johnny about it if I can catch him alone.

Financial - a disaster. Worst year yet. In addition to the orchard problems, we've got three so-called novelists who won't produce and say that the Muse will not be forced (funny how they find the energy to write all those whiny daylogs, eh?), an FPS that's already four months behind schedule (dear, departed, psychotic ThereIsNoGod was the head programmer), a couple of painters whose work no longer sells, Fandango's FX shop that spent far more than they should have on what they claim is the hot new digital FX hardware even though I have yet to see it mentioned in any movie's credits, and the B and B which has yet to show a profit (perhaps we overestimated our geek appeal just a bit). All of these things have cut into our profits, making for one hell of a tight year. Thank the Goddess for Inovata's organic honey venture, Barfly's pub, and the translators - without them, we would all be back in The New York City Noder Compound or our parents' houses. At this rate, we just might find ourselves there anyway by next summer.

Screw this. I'm going to go hang out with Barfly. I hear the brewers did a fantastic job this year. I wonder if the heat is working in the pub.


(This fun-filled tale has been a selectively edited version of twelve years of life on a kibbutz. Almost all of these events actually happened in slightly different forms. Of course, I picked out a bunch of disasters on purpose, just to make a point. I'm not trying to shoot anybody down, and I don't think Everything, Kansas is a bad idea. In fact, I'd love to get in on it if anybody is actually working to make it happen. But I think we need to remember there are serious obstacles and real problems involved. It's not just a matter of getting the ball started. It's not just a battle with narrowminded locals. That's the least of our problems. Most of the really hard work comes later, when you're trying to make a community full of artistic, free-thinking individualists actually work as a community. Communities aren't just cultural exchanges. They're also busted toilets and heat, educational problems, and police or police-like figures.)