This was originally posted at JMB.mx.


My long-time friends will likely laugh to see that I’m starting yet another blog! But I think I have a good reason for it, as I’ll explain.

I have written personal websites for myself since 1995 and started an online journal (before blogs were commonly called blogs) back in 1999 after being inspired to start one thanks to a NY Times article on the blog lemonyellow by Heather Anne Halbert (also see this story about her 2009 return to the twitterverse), followed by a more consistent blog presence starting in 2001.

Over the years my blog has been an odd mishmash of stuff. Lots of political/activist ranting with a steady input of quirky input of my nerdy interests and of course a lot of TMI-style personal expressions of my emotional state, and also just a bunch of random links I didn’t want to forget.

After social media took off (especially facebook), I blogged less. I appreciated the privacy of facebook (where I could selectively choose who could read my stuff) and of course the immediacy of it, but I can now see that I miss the blog.

The problem is that the blog has a lot of baggage… a huge amount of baggage. I have rightly spent a lot of my e-ink on denouncing the evils of the world around me, but I lost sight of the things that bring me joy. So, since getting married (NYE of 2011), I’ve blogged less and less. I still do a lot of activism and blog about it sometimes, but don’t have enough space/time to explore my creative/nerdy/joyful interests.

So… I’m going to split the difference. I’m going to write my new blog posts here at JMB.mx (for no good reason really, I just like the domain name. Very lucky to get a domain name with a total of five characters!) but then as time permits cross-post them on my old blog (Jmbzine.com)  for the sake of my historical archive.

As far as the stuff I’m thinking about writing about, here’s my starting list..

  1. Written/visual accounts of events I go to, especially minor league baseball games and concerts.
  2. Photos
  3. Art of my own creation
  4. Accounts of what I’m listening to on Shortwave Radio and discussion of my work on getting licensed as a Ham Radio (Amateur Radio) operator.
  5. Stamp collecting
  6. Baseball card collecting
  7. Scanning an old set of encyclopedias (copyright 1896) that I got from my late grandfather, with discussion.
  8. Gardening updates
  9. Bicycling updates
  10. Recipes
  11. My explorations of my own quirks, especially my growing understanding of myself as an Aspergistic/Autistic person.

As for politics and activism, I probably will save that for JMBzine.com. I can’t avoid writing about those topics (to begin with the state of Oklahoma is going to execute an innocent person next week), but I do need this space to be for other stuff, mostly for the sake of my own mental health and happiness.

I’m going to shoot to post every day, or at least maybe 5 days a week, so stay tuned. New posts will go up here right away but won’t get cross-posted at JMBzine.com until later so look for new posts here.

This is my response to the National Lawyers Guild’s recently released NLG Food Justice Guidelines. I wrote an earlier version of it for some of the NLG email discussion groups but thought it might be helpful to rewrite it a bit and share it more widely.


With all due respect for my comrades who hold to different convictions on these issues, I would argue that two of the planks in this statement contradict themselves in our local context in Oklahoma and for many other parts of the USA.

The two planks in question are:

1. “That all the food served at all of our National Conventions be entirely vegan, free of any animal products such as meat, dairy, including eggs and other animal byproducts;”

2. “Encouraging the National Conventions strive to use locally sourced, organic food when possible and to purchase from businesses owned or run by marginalized communities and which have good labor practices;;”

In the prairie regions of the USA, the most sustainable form of agriculture is raising 100% grass-fed animals, since it enables for food to be produced without plowing the ground (with its resulting issues of erosion), and instead transforming grass (which humans can’t eat thanks to our inability to digest cellulose) into meat. Certainly other forms of agriculture can be done (including growing fruits and veggies, as well as grains) but these other forms of agriculture are fairly seasonal in nature and require tilling the earth which has environmental costs.

A healthy vegan diet by definition is difficult to pull off but is doable. I have several friends locally who are vegan and I know they do well at it. But they can’t eat vegan, healthy and local at the same time for all of the year. My vegan friends probably see this as a trade-off but one that is worthwhile to avoid the abuse of animals.

I believe that the current NLG Food Justice Guidelines is out of touch with local reality. A vegan diet might be both sustainable and local in coastal areas with mild climates, but it can’t be both sustainable and local in our local context. And given this reality, why weren’t the local chapters of the Guild consulted on these guidelines?

And why is veganism now the stated no-compromises position of the Guild at the national level, while “locally sourced, organic food…from businesses owned or run by marginalized communities and which have good labor practices” only an encouraged position?

All of this said… I am very encouraged to see these issues coming to the forefront of discussion in the Guild. How we eat is of critical importance. I’m just not sure that dictates from the NEC is going to further this conversation, but rather is more likely to stop the conversation and move towards outright hostility.

James M. Branum
Oklahoma NLG Local chapter Chair
MLTF Co-Chair

I don’t know if all blog authors do this, but I know I mostly write for myself. Certainly having an audience is a part of the equation, but part of it is also just writing for my future self to look back on, and also sometimes to solidify the personal commitments that I am making.

So in that spirit, I want to share a bit about some of the changes happening in my life.

Positively I am trying to focus more on my life at home, spending more time and energy on my family, growing garden and staying healthy. And also focusing more of my energy and life on my church community. And I especially want to find as many excuses possible to incorporate riding my bicycle into my life.

Negatively, I am trying to cut back on those parts of my life that are zapping energy away from those most important priorities. Many of the things I am trying to cut back or out are good things, but too much of a good thing is still too much.

Some specific areas include…

1. Seminary – I have been studying half-time at AMBS in their MDiv Connect program (a mix of online classes and in-person short courses mixed with online programming), but it is just too much. I will only be taking one class this summer and then will take a leave of absence for the fall. After that I will decide if I want to stay in the MDiv program at a slower pace or whether I will instead graduate after the Spring ’16 semester with a Certificate (I will 37 hours at that point). This decision isn’t easy, but I think it may be for the best. I either need to find a way to do my seminary classes in a more sane and manageable way or I need to reach a good breaking point to end this season of my life (I of course won’t be ending my education either way, but the education would take a different direction if done in a more informal manner).

2. Law Practice – I’ve been trying to pare back my legal work since getting married 3+ years ago but haven’t done well at it. So I need to stick with it this time, wrapping up my older cases well, and then taking no new cases except for a limited number of conscientious objector claims.

3. Activism – Another tough area to cut, but I think I’m going to use the next few months to end some of my areas of activist involvement and then chose to focus my energy on just a very things that are dear to me and that are sustainable.

So, I’m writing this for me but also for those dear to me (friends and family), so hopefully you can help encourage me to stick to what I need to do.

This was originally posted at: http://health.jmbranum.com/2015/02/09/day-1-the-weigh-in/

Disclaimer: This post is part of my participation in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest Challenge. #Ad http://t.co/JcWNs8HuyX


The Kwest is now officially underway as I did my first weigh in. Relatively painless but I didn’t like what the scale said (my home scale shows much lower —  of course I normally weigh after getting out of the shower in the morning so this must be a factor). But that is why I’m in this contest.

So here’s my checklist of tasks for the rest of today in Kwest for good health…

  • Eat a healthy bowl at Genghis Grill for supper
  • Get an hour of exercise in
  • Spend some time in prayer and meditation
  • Kiss my wife!
day1photo - James M Branum, Genghis Grill HealthKwest 2015
day1photo – James M Branum, Genghis Grill HealthKwest 2015