What would you do?

Ollie, the Australian cuddle dog (who occasionally pretends to be an Australian cattle dog) earned his breakfast this week. The editor and I, as well as Toothy and Ollie were walking around the lower part of the farm, when all of a sudden a magpie (a family of birds that live on the farm) swooped me.

People in Melbourne are probably quite used to being swooped by magpies, but I thought that I was on good terms with birds, so to me the bird’s behaviour was bizarre. But then at the last second, rather than making contact with my head, the bird swerved away and towards where another magpie was attacking a fox.

Clearly, the birds know that us humans and the canines can assist the magpies with their ongoing battles with the foxes. And the birds probably realise they have to be a bit blunt with us dull witted mammals, given that the fox was less than 30m (100ft) from us and was slowly ambling away from the chicken enclosure – and we hadn’t even noticed.

The moment I understood the magpies intentions, I ran at the fox, and yelled to my trusty side kick, Ollie: “Ollie, Kill!” Fortunately for me, Ollie is a smart dog who understands the English language (or at least he pretends to), so he too raced off after the fox.

Ollie the Australian cattle dog at rest with his much smaller (and former) boss dog Scritchy

The fox displayed a debonair attitude to the attacking magpies, but not so when it realised that Ollie and I were on the chase. The fox took off at high speed into the forest, with Ollie closing on its heels. Once Ollie was on the chase, I could stop running and take a breath if only because he is a much faster runner than I am.

Australian cattle dogs have some unusual traits. Ollie would make a very poor hunting dog, because despite my instructions regarding the fox, and his excellent command of the English language, he is far more interested in herding than killing. And he knows exactly where his boundaries are, and he will not explore past those. Ollie returned from his fox chase into the depths of the forest within minutes.

I’m not sure why Ollie and Toothy failed to notice the fox. At least the editor and I had an excuse for our dull wits: We’d been to the pub the previous night for a pint and a feed.

It would have been nice if we’d over-indulged at the pub, but alas, that was not to be our lot. In the public bar of the pub was a mother with her very young infant. And the baby screamed for the hour it took for us to consume our pint and feed. The public bar had emptied and the staff looked vaguely uncomfortable. Despite the pint of very excellent porter, the tasty meal, and the pavlova for dessert, I felt rattled. Although that may have been a result of the huge quantity of sugar in the dessert, but probably not.

For once in my life I was at a genuine loss as to what to do, because I felt that there was nothing that I could do because the circumstances were so uncomfortable that, well, everyone was uncomfortable. And most of the customers who had finished their meals and drinks had abruptly left. With virtually no customers, the business would surely have been operating at a loss.

My mother used to take me to public bars as a young child, and she had a very sneaky strategy to ensure that I was ‘seen but not heard’. She gave me a few coins to play the arcade game machines in order to keep myself entertained. I was very good at playing the arcade game machines and a few coins kept me entertained for longer than you would expect. The machines always won though. If the Space Invaders defeated me prematurely, then I would be allowed to consume some of the froth on her ale on the condition that I kept quiet. I’m unsure why I have had a lifelong love of arcade games and beer!

The editor as a youth was as mercenary as I was. As a teenager, she used to advertise in the local newspaper for baby sitting services. Parents used to pay her to supervise their kids whilst they went out to the pub. As far as I can understand things, the editor got paid to watch a lot of television and movies, although watching horror films such as ‘When a stranger calls’ takes on a whole new meaning in such circumstances.

The difference between our experiences was clearly the arcade game machines, which realistically took more of my hard earned cash than the editors. The editor has no skill or interest in such pastimes. Also whilst I was at the pub, the editor was assisting other people to go to the pub without bored children, which on reflection of my recent experience, is probably the right way to go.

Thursday and Friday were very hot

Thursday and Friday were very hot. On both days the outside temperature in the shade reached to about 38’C / 100’F, and by Friday night the temperature inside the house (we have no air conditioning) reached 26’C / 79’F. And then stayed at that temperature both inside and outside the house for most of the night. Here is the weather station readings at 11pm:

The weather station at 11pm. 26’C / 79’F inside and outside the house

The next day (Saturday) it stayed about that temperature for most of the day. As the evening wore on, rain began to fall, and the air cooled. On the other hand, the humidity increased. The next day the entire southern side of the mountain range was covered in a thick blanket of fog:

Fog blanketed the southern side of the mountain range
The sunset was awesome looking

The weather meant that we were mostly confined to projects inside the house, although I did do another half a day’s mowing earlier in the week before the heat and rain kicked in.

Long term readers will recall that during October I completely rewired the battery room for the off grid solar power system that provides electricity for the household. The remote data monitor for the system that I have installed inside the house also had to be relocated as part of that job.

Moving the remote data monitor for the solar power system left a big hole in the wall

Moving the data monitor left a big hole in the wall, which has begun to be repaired this week. To repair the hole, I begin by screwing a chunk of plywood into the cavity.

A chunk of plaster was screwed into the cavity in the wall

Once the plywood was firmly in place, we began to fill the hole with successive layers of plaster repair bog.

Layers of plaster repair bog were placed into the hole in the wall. This was after the first layer
So far, four layers of plaster have been added. In a couple of days we will sand the plaster surface and then paint it, and you’d never know that there had even been a hole in the wall!

I also changed the hinges for one of our laundry doors. When I first installed the laundry doors, about nine years ago, I used hinges that opened the door at a 90 degree angle from its closed position. It would have been much smarter to have used hinges that opened at much wider angle. In the next photo you can see that the left hand door now opens much wider than its companion on the right hand side:

The left hand door now opens far wider than the right hand door

Of course, nothing is ever simple, and the laundry arrangement was custom made by us from scratch, and so the new door hinges caused all manner of complications. We eventually had to add a small sliver of plywood under the hinges just so that the doors sat correctly when closed – which they now do.

Observant readers will note in the photo above our sake (rice wine) production as well as the bag of soap nuts which we use for clothes washing.

And just to keep out of the heat and rain, I decided to modify my electric log splitter. I love this tool, as it uses the solar power to split logs. And I haven’t yet come across any timber that it couldn’t split. However the wheels supplied with the unit are rubbish and very occasionally the machine feels as if it might topple over (which it has) during transport. Easily fixed, just add larger tyres!

The electric log splitter with the original wheels which are about to be replaced

The axle that the original wheels are attached was too small for the new wheels and tyres, and needed replacing. It was at that point that I was both horrified and dismayed to see how rubbish the steel was in the replacement axle, as the new axle bent alarmingly. I thought to myself, I can fix this. I added the original axle as a sleeve over the replacement axle! It took a bit of work though:

I used the original (black) axle as a support for the replacement larger axle

With a bit more work, the job was soon done and the machine is now much easier to move around, and no longer feels as if it might topple over without warning.

The log splitter was successfully modified

Lemons are best picked during the winter and up to late spring. It had become time to juice up all of the lemons.

The author juices many buckets of lemons

We now have 15 jars of lemon which we keep frozen in the freezer.

We have a lot of frozen lemon juice which we keep in the freezer

Observant readers will note that we mark the different lemon varieties on the side of the jars. The varieties taste differently and are suitable for different purposes. The crushed lemon skins were thrown into the garden beds where they will eventually break down into soil.

Just some things that we’ve noticed around the farm:

Asparagus seedlings are beginning to turn up in unusual locations
Bogon moths are making an appearance again. These moths are considered a delicacy by the first nations folk

In berry exciting news!

This looks like a marion-berry or a logan-berry
The first of this seasons raspberries
Red currants are a crowd pleaser, although they’re more savoury than sweet

Onto the flowers:

Roses are just beginning to bloom
More roses and this one is a stunner
This small bush rose climbs through one of the garden beds
Geraniums produce a huge number of flowers
The differently shaped leaves give you an idea about what sort of flowers geraniums will have
Pyrethrum en masse! No flies on us.
Penstemon also produce a prolific number flowers
Salvia’s are very tolerant of heat and drought
How bright are these succulent flowers?
This is a native callistemon (aka bottle brush)

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 856.4mm (33.7 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 853.6mm (33.6 inches).

73 thoughts on “What would you do?”

  1. @pam

    That makes a lot of sense. I got the feeling that a lot of cities in that area were based around retirees and/or tourism (Vegas is an extreme example of that). Cheap land, at least as long as the water and power infrastructure is already paid for..


  2. Hi Chris,

    The child situation is unfortunate, no one is happy in that situation, including the parent I suspect. My feeling is that if you can’t keep the little people under control, then you shouldn’t take them out in public and inflict your poor parenting on everyone else 🙂

    Probably the best you can do is a supportive email to the pub owner. The situation is awkward, but their business is providing quiet, delicious meals for people to unwind at the end of a work day. If some customers ruin that for everyone, you either politely move them on, or eventually go out of business.

    Condolences on the hot days – that is very uncivilised indeed. It is a top of 15 degrees here the next few days – I had to wear some thick clothes to go out into the garden a few minutes ago 🙂 Good news, tomatoes are still going well, despite the lack of warmth. There are flowers everywhere – hopefully this cold weather doesn’t hinder the fruit growth too much..


  3. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, the Asimov characters are a bit inconsistent. Surely the space faring folk had some decent ray guns? All aliens worth their salt have decent ray guns. And now that I ponder the matter a bit more, wasn’t superman an alien, so where is his ray gun? Douglas Adams was more sensible in that he gave his characters towels because they are the true survivors in a harsh and uncaring outer space universe.

    This may interest you: Survey finds fast-food workers spat on, abused and threatened. I once saw a utube video of a person attacking a fast food outlet, and the creepiest thing was when the person proclaimed: “Don’t make me take my ultimate form”. When I heard that, I was going cool, are we about to see a vampire? But given the person’s predilection for nuggets, I’d vote for zombie as the most likely outcome of that threat.

    It will be interesting to see how the experiment plays out. Just roughly, when do you expect to distribute the leaves? They may need a small amount of moisture in the bags to give the fungi and bacteria (and other life forms) a bit of a leg up, so if it is too dry, then not much will happen until spring.



  4. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for considering the matter. I’ve been quite interested to note how diverse the observations are on this topic, which is a good thing because it would be awful if we all thought and felt the same things. And I also note that there are differing cultural practices in different parts of the world on this matter. I feel that down here culturally maybe quite close to the response of people within your community, in that nobody says anything and everyone just looks elsewhere – whilst there is an undertone of people trying to be cool, whilst being uncomfortable at the same time. It is complex. Is this what it means to be polite? Maybe?



  5. Hi Inge,

    You probably enjoy one of the nicest climates in the UK. Some years there is no snow fall here either. If the world suddenly toppled upside down, the month with the highest chance of snow fall for me would be February (my August). A bloke that used to work as a scientist explained to me that the coldest and hottest weather occurred after the solstices due to thermal inertia.

    I could see rats chewing on leeks, but they have had plenty of opportunity here to do so and have not done so. I can confirm that rats enjoy the chickens grains and eggs, which is hardly surprising.

    Out of curiosity, I’ve always understood that a Wight is a spirit or some other supernatural being, but I also noticed that the archaic definition can refer to a “a person of a specified kind”. Is there a story regarding the origin of the name of your island? And is it a short story?



  6. Hi Damo,

    Mate, even a pint of quality porter could not fade my senses away enough to ignore the screams. But we’re made of tough stuff, and despite being rattled, we toughed it out until the very last spoonful of pavlova with raspberry coulis and cream. The pavlova is an excellent dessert too, but sometimes I feel that the size of the beast is too great and I’m not up for the challenge due to the sugar mother lode (hope you enjoy my working in of an industry specific, I dunno, buzz word or technical thingamajig!) Hehe!

    The bar completely cleared that night, and I reckon maybe the casual staff were sent home early as they began cleaning up around us. Being both accountants we looked around and could fairly easily estimate the losses. People have a mistaken belief that just because a business has its doors open for trade, that clearly they must be making money. The pub sat empty and destitute until only a few years ago – when someone must have taken over the license – so my take is if you like local business get off the couch and support them. At a guess, I doubt the mum was drinking anything heavier than water, which is provided free of charge.

    Hehe! 15! Very amusing, I remember those temperatures but at night… It looks like your folks are now making up for the lost rain of the past winter. If you want a bit of a ‘Far Out Dude’ moment, check out the forecast rainfall map for Friday, as the entire east coast is set to cop a huge dump of rainfall.



  7. Hi Lewis,

    I may have mentioned in the past about my enjoyment of the celebrity chef – Gordon Ramsay – series called Kitchen Nightmares. I bought the series on DVD. Anyway, I’m mentioning the UK version of the series rather than the US version, only because in the US, the celebrity chef had to spend most of each episode ‘out alpha-ing’ the chefs, which really tired me out, and so I went off and did something else with my time rather than watch that particular version of the show. In the UK version he’d spend a week in a failing restaurant and try and get the people to play to their strengths and turn their businesses around. The show was inevitably about people and how they run their lives, and it is very instructional and full of good common sense. But your library story reminds me of many of the businesses that have lost their way and fail to understand why they are even there in the first place. Chasing growth can produce such unusual outcomes. Your library story is a bit like that. I mean: What is the core purpose of a (and in particular, your) library? It is not as easy a question to answer as you might at first think. Sometimes, businesses and other entities, lose their way, and where they end up is anybody’s guess. But it happens, that’s for sure!

    I too enjoy peace, quiet and time, but other people feel very differently. They are some of few things that are not being traded at the moment, although the powers that be sure do look like they’re working on the problem.

    Well, I had to look up the definition of what exactly is a ‘toff’? Oh, a toff appears to be a “a rich or upper-class person”, or a person who is “smartly dressed”. I can’t say that I’m either of those! 🙂 People have such bad attitudes when it comes to the skivvies and jeans combination. It is as hated as the socks and sandals look – which is very practical, but not cool. Still, good manners must begin somewhere, I guess and if not us, then whom? Was that not a quote from some long past group of protestors?

    I’m looking out the window right now and the sunset is superb. The sky is a very rich dark blue with gradients of colour from yellow to burnt orange, and all just on the edge of the horizon. And the moon is hanging low in the sky to the west. Actually the sunset was so good that I attempted to capture it on camera and we’ll see whether the image turns out. Hopefully the photo does work out and the image makes the grade for the calendar?

    Exactly! And I enjoyed your reference to the master detective. The next time that I’m in the city, I may stop past the bookshop and see whether they have a collected works of the master detective as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I do hope so. Ah, book shops, such a temptation… Have you read those stories about Sherlock? I’m seriously enjoying Prof. Tolkien’s insights into the poem of Beowulf. It is like looking into a world of the deep past – and did the bloke know something about that gear or what? I can see shades of Lord of the Rings all over his thoughts.

    Oh, almost forgot to mention about Greenland. One thing that I took notice of in the article was that as the ice melts, the ice mountains (which can be three kilometres thick or 1.86 miles in your language) reduce in altitude. As they reduce in altitude, they are exposed to ever warmer air (because the air is cooler at higher altitudes). I’d call that a positive feedback event. Now, I took note of that because I live at altitude, and as such I enjoy cooler air than say, near to the coast, which is significantly hotter than here. Greenland has the same problem but in reverse.

    7 metres is quite a huge increase, I for one would not want to face a 7 metre wave – as some tsunami’s appear to be so sized. Although I did note that there has been some recent arguments in France about kilograms (something about a block of metal or something along those lines), so perhaps that is what all the rioting over there is about? Everyone knows that all around the world today the kilo is a measure. A kilo is a thousand grams, it’s easy to remember (a very subtle nod to the readers of Mr Greer, although they may not get my little joke). 😉 They do riots properly over there.

    OMG! The local cherry farm which recently sold appears to be open for business!!!! Far out, fresh local cherries. Yum and double and triple yummo! They’ll be wanting to pick them pretty quickly too because this Thursday and Friday the rainfall looks set to be epic, and that may cause the fruit to split (which I don’t care about, but other people seem to get all troubled about).

    I suspect that the impact on the ocean currents won’t get much of a look in until they go extremely haywire. And I’d never considered Panama getting swamped. Not good.

    Yabbies are extraordinarily tasty, and they’re quite amazing at how far they can travel in search of water. The need for such a survival element in a species is not lost on me. Incidentally 60km works out to be 24.85 miles. Not bad for a crustacean – and did I mention that they taste good? Incidentally, they’re the bane of dams (farm ponds) in this corner of the planet because their burrows tend to cause leaks!

    The first time I saw one up this way was in the very hot and dry year of 2009 when there was far less moisture in the ground, and far less top soil than at present. And all that was left was the shell of the very tasty morsel. The shells have a nice blue colour too. It is not lost on me that the crustacean chose to burrow a hole near to the recently planted out fern gully. A wise move on its part.

    Are you tempted by the offer – as it is all a bit unexpected? Are there any work arounds for bringing your auction booty (and other stuff) back to your abode? That sounds a bit pirate life doesn’t it?

    Picked the first batch of ripe raspberries tonight, and they are very good indeed!



  8. Hello Chris
    I never went out with babies and once they were toddlers, my children behaved themselves. They tell me now that I had a look which could quell. I would leave if I had a screaming baby as it is most unkind to wreck other peoples outings. Surely the babies parents cannot have been enjoying themselves under the circumstances? I feel sorry for the owner of the place and perhaps he should have asked them to leave.

    I don’t think that anyone knows why the Isle of Wight is so called though I doubt that it has anything to do with wights. The Romans called it Vectis and that name is still used in various ways.

    The leek carnage is odd as it only began last year before that nothing touched them. Last year only the white part was eaten but now the green parts are being excavated leaving the outside leaves alone.


  9. Yo, Chris – Dogs (and cats … cats are very much into perceiving movement) see differently, than we do. But, off hand, I don’t remember what the difference is. And I think dogs are very much about sound. Princess goes bonkers over a guy walking his dog, at night, two blocks away. But didn’t seem to see a raccoon waddling across the parking lot, or two deer directly across the street. LOL. What drives me crazy is when you point at something and the dog looks at your finger.

    The whole “screaming child in public” thing is a real can of worms. Some people (usually parents) just write it off to “life’s little irritations.” It’s one of those gray areas of the social contract. I don’t go to quit a few social functions, at The Club, as there are always children running around. Sometimes I wonder (and, I’m not the only one) what did these people do when they were out drinkin’ and drugin’? When I first moved here, I remember stating to my friends, back in the city, that the people of Lewis County hadn’t seemed to have quit grasped the concept of “babysitter.” Things weren’t quit so bad when there were more extended families (and, there still are a few) where you could park the little darlings for an evening or a shopping expedition. Grandma’s got her own life and is off busy playing bingo or the slots at the local casino.

    The sunset pic is really something. I think I see the Mother Ship, hovering off on the horizon. 🙂

    That’s a good looking patch job. The hinges, the axle. Looks like you put your weather induced “down time” to good use. If life gives you lemons, make lemonaid.

    There are so many varieties of berries. A lot of our raspberries are long, rather than round. At least the old varieties. We have one current bush, here at the Home, but it’s the sole property of one of the Garden Goddesses. And, she guards it. She usually makes jelly out of it, and sells it at the fall bazaar. I bought a jar. Quit good. Cont.

  10. Cont. Superman didn’t need a ray gun. He had that built in heat vision. Handy. One less thing to pack around.

    Libraries core purpose? Seems to be entertainment, these days. All singing, all dancing. Social media hubs. It would be interesting to track the American Library Association’s mission statement, over the years. One shtick they’ve pretty much beaten to death is Life Long Learning. Wonder what the next one, will be?

    Oh, I read all the Sherlock Holmes, years (decades) ago. Of course, I’ve seen a lot of the iterations, on film, over the years. Was there ever a better “classic” Holmes than Basil Rathbone? But, I quit like some of the new, updated Holmes. Such as, Cumberbatch’s “Sherlock.”

    And, I quit like “Elementary.” I’m deep into season 6. But, I wonder if it’s maybe jumped the shark. They’ve trotted back Moriarty (again), who is an old flame of Holmes. And Watson is contemplating adopting a child. I mean, if the whole thing is going to descend into domestic squalor, I’m not going along for the ride. There was a very funny scene in one of the episodes I watched, last night. Holmes and Watson are entering a Comic Con to interview a witness. All these people are on line, in fantastic costumes. They walk right past a couple who are dressed as the classic Holmes and Watson. Don’t even give them a glance. It was so funny, but so subtle.

    Greenland will also suffer a lot of earthquakes. As the weight of the ice decreases, there’s a certain amount of “rebound.” For hundreds of years. England had serious quakes, right through the middle ages. The land shrugging off the weight of the last ice age. I just generally multiply meters by three, in my head, and it gets me somewhere in the neighborhood of foot measurements.

    I’ve been to at least one craw dad feed, in my life. Not that much different than a lobster feed. And just as tasty. Wikipedia had a picture of a blue yabbie. Said that color was developed for the aquarium trade. Nice to know they’re found in nature. Wikipedia isn’t right, all the time. Care must be exercised. Lew

  11. Hi Inge,

    I was exceptionally well behaved in public, if only for fear of sudden and immediate chastisement. And certainly I never would have considered annoying other adults as that would have incurred the wrath of my mum. You two probably shared the same eye warning technique – and were also alert for potential mischief.

    I can’t really fathom the mum’s motivations, but someone once expressed the thought that there was a sense of relief to be found in sharing such a burden – which was a thought that was anathema to my sense of community. We toughed it out, but that reaction was not shared by the other patrons who promptly left. Businesses in hospitality can’t really survive if that happens too often because they fail due to lack of patronage. It wasn’t lost on me that the person in question was probably only drinking tap water which is provided free.

    Names can get lost in time can’t they? But still the name persists! I looked up the Latin definition of Vectis, and it apparently refers to a crowbar or a lever. Does that definition shed any light on the name of your island?

    The leeks are an interesting problem, because the same thing happens here too. I know who the culprit is here. It is the wallabies, and I reckon they’re looking for some mineral rich greens, and leeks continue growing well into late winter. Incidentally, I’ve noted that the leeks come back stronger each year, and I’m very impressed with the plant, although mine has a strong garlic flavour nowadays but without the odour.

    I’m planning on setting aside a large area of the garden next year for onions.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    I’ve known both cats and dogs and they sure are different! But then Ollie and Scritchy are very different creatures too. When Ollie caught a parrot, he wanted to play with it and refused to kill it, but when Scritchy encountered a dying parrot, she dealt with it in a most perfunctory manner. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell too. Before the visitors arrived last Saturday, we picked up all of the bones and dumped them in an area, and the dogs knew exactly what we had done with them, and then began fishing them out and chewing on them.

    Sometimes I feel that the dogs have learned to studiously avoid encounters with the larger wildlife that roams at will through the farm. Thought you might enjoy this: Roger the ripped kangaroo dies aged 12 after ‘lovely long life’. The kangaroos don’t get quite that large here, but Big Daddy the lone bull grey forest kangaroo is taller and heavier than I am, and not to be messed with.

    The social contract is rather frayed these days, but you make a good case as it is a grey area. I was reminded that I encountered someone recently who did a lot of complaining at me, when they frankly had not enough social credits with which to do so. It was not a good look for them. I do wonder whether that state of mind is a lifestyle choice for them? Dunno, but I have noticed that that person also has an unusual grasp on what is commonly known as the ‘truth’, and that is not a state of mind that I am at all comfortable with. Wasn’t the devil also known as the ‘father of lies’? From time to time I’ve encountered people who have that trait, and I note that they generally also have a world view that sees other people as lesser than themselves. It is such a strange quality in the people who are afflicted with that – but it is a minority trait, which is a good thing for all of us. I had a house mate many years ago who displayed that trait and all manner of strangeness ensued – including going through all my stuff and assuming my identity – it never even occurred to me that anyone would do that – until that person did. I put an abrupt end to that. Have you ever encountered such folk?

    I’ll bet they used a moog synthesiser in Close Encounters of the Third Kind right at the end of the film? You don’t hear much about aliens and UFO’s these days. I suspect that it is a sign of the decline of our civilisation.

    Thanks! It is best not to work in the rain. Hey, and totally far out: Stormy end to the week in southeastern Australia. I’m looking at the rainfall forecasts across the eastern part of the continent and it looks epic on Friday. Another ‘cut off’ low from Antarctica but this time in a twist it is combining with an ex-tropical cyclone from the north. It’s big!

    As a suggestion, if you can take a semi-hardwood cutting of the currant, and then plonk it in the ground, you’ll get a clone of the plant. They are that easy. Such plants make us all look like we know what we are doing!

    I ran some stainless steel wire today for the grapes to espalier upon, and then ran some twine down for that to each of the grape vines to climb up. I felt a bit: Chris and the Vine Stalk (as in Jack and the bean stalk). It constantly amazes me to discover the unbelievable products that can be had for a song (such as stainless steel wire rope). It should not be possible, but it is!

    It is a nice idea to pack some serious superman heat vision. Needless to say I’d only use it for good. Promise… Maybe… Hehe! Batman on the other hand had to carry around a lot of stuff which would have been cumbersome. I wonder if any of it broke from time to time?

    Life long learning seems like a big call to me, and it is perhaps a bit wide of the mark. Now you’ve got me wondering as to what exactly is the purpose of a library from a long term perspective? I note that you nicely avoided that topic too (I should call you Mr Teflon for such evasiveness!) It is a curious topic because the more I dwell upon it, the less clear my mind is. As a side issue libraries don’t teach, only actions and will, do that trick, whilst libraries can facilitate that, but of themselves – probably not.

    Hehe! A nice touch with the series. Once I’ve gotten stuck into the book…

    Not good. Not good at all. Antarctica has active volcanoes. That would not be good. I distinctly recall when an Air New Zealand flight crashed into one of those: Air New Zealand Flight 901. I was very young at the time and for some reason the thought of crashing at such a remote place was even more horrid a concept than simply crashing.

    Definitely, they have got that entry wrong – because the one I saw, despite being half eaten, had blue on its ex-skeleton. I don’t worry too much about them because it is an open source thing and comes with all the good and bad of that idea. To me it is like a tool which can be useful for some things but not others.



  13. Hello again
    No, the meaning of ‘vectis’ doesn’t suggest anything to me re the Island.

    I have just discovered that leeks are a lethal poison to dogs. Son didn’t know this when I told him. This seemed important as Son is making sausages and he puts leeks into some of them. There might have been spoilt ones given to the dogs.

    I have other looks for children apart from the dire warning one. I often use these others in supermarkets when children are whinging at their mothers. These work very well. One is a look of amusement, another is a ‘come on, I don’t believe a word of it’. All these are done with affection and work surprisingly well.

    I remember picking up one of my own who lay on the floor screaming (at home). I just laughed my head off and the child never did it again.
    I also multiply a metre by 3 to get approximate feet. Works very well if I want a visual idea.


  14. @Pam
    Yes, there certainly are a lot of squirrels. I enjoy just watching them play. Salve and Leo have finally gotten used to them and no longer spend all day either looking up trees or crying at the window. We had an abundance of acorns and hickory nuts so they should be well fed this year.

    Did the storm impact you at all?


  15. Hi Chris,

    No coup here. The only out building was sort of a very large garage which doubles as a nice workshop. The 2nd building cannot house livestock per our new county’s regulations. We would have had to site the building much further from the property line which would have caused many headaches. It’ll be pretty easy to brood the meat chicks in a corner of the original building and then they’ll go out into the chicken tractor.

    Here in Illinois it is illegal to leave a child alone until the age of 14. I started babysitting for all my siblings at age 12. I would not like to be a parent now for many reasons.

    When Doug and I were first married he ended up transferred for a year to New Jersey. My oldest daughter was six at the time (from my first marriage and Doug legally adopted her). Being only in our late twenties we did like to go to the local dive on Friday’s after work. Unfortunately with no family around and being new to the area finding a babysitter wasn’t easy so she ended up going with us. She was always well behaved and as she spent quite a bit of time with adults she had no problem conversing with them so the owners of the bar nor the regular patrons had no issue with her being there. Once while traveling with my sister and BIL we were in a hotel lounge and my daughter ended up on stage with the band by invite. We did end up moving back to Illinois in a year so getting a sitter (usually one of my sisters) was pretty easy and they were cheap too.

    The night before last it was quite foggy out and as the temperature was 16F (8.9C) there was a heavy frost on all the trees. It was quite beautiful especially as the sun came up. The frost was so heavy that it appeared to be snowing as the day warmed a bit. It’s still cold but at least no storms and mostly sunny.

    Are you noticing a decline in insects? We used to have a wide and numerous variety of moths hovering around the porch lights in the summer but the last couple summers not so much.

    It does seem like Ollie is working out quite well for you.


  16. Yo, Chris – I had seen a headline, or two, about Roger the Kangaroo. But, I read the article you linked to. I was surprised that kangaroos are so short lived. No one seemed surprised that Roger had only lived to be 12, which to me, seems like a short time. Especially since he was living in a protected, and I suppose, well fed environment.

    The social contract seems to have a lot of gray areas. Ever changing. (See subparagraph 24, section B). “Values shape what’s considered normal and expected in a culture. And what’s normal and expected in a culture shapes our daily behavior.” That’s from a book I’m reading, now. “Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies – How What We Eat Defines Who We Are.” (Egan, 2016). (Eagan is the “director of programs and culinary nutrition for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America.” An organization I feel fairly good about. And, she’s funny.)

    I think some mother’s also have a sense of entitlement. “I’m a Mother. I can do no wrong.” :-).

    As an aside, I’m also reading “Renoir’s Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon.” (Hewitt, 2018). She was a well known model for several of the French Impressionists. She also became an artist. But given the times, her sex and social class, she pretty much kept that to herself. A good read.

    Sounds like you’re in for a bit of weather. Batten down the hatches! Stay safe. It’s been pouring buckets, here, today.

    Well, off the top of my head, I’d say the purpose of libraries is to be a repository of knowledge. In many forms. Just out of curiosity, I Googled “What is the purpose of libraries.” No consensus. But, I ran across this ….


    And, just to lure you into checking out the link, I’ll tell you that it’s got video games! :-). You’ll get the joke, later. Comments are interesting, but, about 10 years old. Cont.

  17. Cont. Well, I told you about the hoop-la over possibly closing a few rural branches in our library system. One of the aspects of that is, in the media, it’s always brought out that there are other purposes for libraries. Especially in small rural places. They’re focal points for small communities. Social hubs. Sometimes, about the last bit of physical identity for a small place. The same arguments are trotted out when attempts are made to close small rural post offices.

    Depending on what I’m looking at, I can be a bit skeptical about Wikipedia. Especially anything even remotely political. Wikipedia is group sourced, and groups are made up of individuals. Individuals who may have their own agendas and hobby horses to ride.

    Maybe the yabbie shell you saw was an escapee from an aquarium? :-). Poor thing. Probably didn’t know how to cope in the wild. Lew

  18. Hi Inge, Margaret, and Lewis,

    My brain is a bit fried – and I stopped making any sort of sense about an hour ago. It was 36’C / 97’F today and it wasn’t overly hot where I was working, but as the day wore on I could feel it more and more – and I had to keep my wits about me with the work that I was doing. Not an easy thing to do, but mustn’t grumble and all that. Will speak tomorrow.

    Lewis – Mate, my brain is fried (I almost typed that my brian is fried – which makes little sense). After working, the editor and I stopped off for a traditional Greek Souvlaki with proper charcoal roasted lamb spit on a rotisserie. Unsurprisingly, we sat outside to consume dinner, and despite the heat today it felt cooler away from the kitchen. Mate, respect to anyone who can work in a commercial kitchen. 😉 And they sure did deliver a tasty meal. Yum.

    We had to cut short any walk this evening as the beginning of the epic storm started to blow through – and at least the temperature dropped (a lot!) and has started to cool down.

    It looks like the two storms will meet tomorrow over this corner of the planet, which should be exciting – hopefully not in an interesting sort of a way: Extreme weather on the way as tropical cyclone, southern low pressure system develop in the east. Love the colour graphics depicting the extent of the storm, and I’m impressed that they stated that the storm was very difficult to forecast as it was so unstable. Just checked the radar – it looks like a direct hit in a couple of hours which will be the middle of the night…

    Hehe! You might be right about the yabby, poor unfortunate escapee walking its way across the forest floor. We could write a film about its escapades called: Finding Crawee. Our fortunes may be made.

    I’m a bit sceptical about that lot too, because it works like a group peer review process and that can be a good tool for some things, but not others, especially if a leader of the group held an uncompromising opinion on certain topics and who knows what their agenda is? I’m not a fan of such techniques as I like to run my own race.

    That is a complex story about the closures, because on one hand the argument is basically a sob story, but on the other hand there is a grain of truth to the story and somewhere in between is reality. It is complicated indeed. You know, at some point in the past, governments of all shapes and sizes forgot that they are there to provide services to the community. This involves costs not for profit services such as libraries. That change was inserted into the public discourse in my lifetime. Have you seen that in your part of the world?

    Bed time!



  19. @ Margaret
    Far fewer insects here too. I may have mentioned before that when I was young I could lie in a field and listen to all the sounds around me in the grass. Now the land is silent.
    I think that the age to be alone at home is 12 here but I am not sure. This is all completely illogical. Can you send a 13 year old out to do some shopping for you? Why is home more dangerous than the outdoors? Our societies seem to be quite demented. I had a friend who ran away to sea when he was 12 and never went back home. Imagine that nowadays!


  20. Yo, Chris – That is a colorful map. All that green smoshing (a highly scientific and technical term) into all that orange. Squeezing the yellow, in between. Just like you smoshing your lemons. :-).

    There are some who’d like to privatize ALL not for profit services. I’ve seen an article or two about privatizing libraries. Of course, a lot of early libraries (I’m thinking the 1800s) were private and “by subscription.”

    I’m so excited I could just plotz. :-). The first season of Orville is winging it’s way, to me. Should be waiting at my library, today.

    Stay safe and keep your wits about you. Hmmm. A bit more convenient firewood, may be at hand. Lew

  21. Hi, Chris!

    What would I do? I would eat my meal quickly and leave; I can’t stand that sort of thing. I don’t think it would even be worth giving the parents a dirty look; they are obviously impervious to the fact that they disturb other people. Perhaps they think it is the baby’s responsibility to control himself? I think that, sadly, might be the case.

    Hi, Freckles! Hi, Dame Scritchy! Well, done, Ollie. I think that you have found your calling in life.

    We had a baby blizzard on Sunday, with about 8 inches (20cm) of snow. Right now my feet are cold, but I would not trade them for 100F weather right now. The flowers look so bright in the fog.

    How nice is that to have a remote data monitor inside?

    It is so satisfying to repair a hole. First there is a hole – then there is no hole. It is so easy to see the results of one’s work; not always true of everything. Did you use any mesh on that wallboard repair?

    You have such a lovely laundry set up. It was very wise to change those hinges. Why does your sake live in there?

    Your log splitter looks like our gas-powered log splitter, except that yours is 2000% cleaner.

    Sunday dinner will be – Bogon moths!

    You must not have fruit flies, your raspberries look so perfect. They often lay eggs in ours so that you have to open each raspberry and look inside for larvae.

    The roses are perfection. I wish I could knick some cuttings from your geraniums, especially the wine-colored ones. I’ll bet the succulents are enjoying the heat.


  22. Hi Lew,

    Enjoy the orville!

    The library rant from 2006 you posted was a good read as well. I think it is very easy for institutions to lose sight of why they exist in the first place. This was very evident in the comments as well. If the librarians cannot agree on their purpose…..

    I have often thought a good project for a very wealthy fan of JMG would be to start up a network of more traditional-style libraries. Perhaps even subscription based to keep out the riff-raff :-p


  23. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for considering the matter – and I couldn’t understand the Latin reference either. Maybe the coastline looked differently two millennia ago and it was suggestive of such a tool or the way the island sat next to the mainland was suggestive of the use of such a tool? That was the best I could come up with… ?-)

    Oh yeah, onions are apparently toxic as to our canine friends. Mind you, the canines here have been known to gobble up cooked onions that were part of food scraps being fed to them, and I’ve never really noticed any ill effects. I suspect that it is a case of: Much depends upon something or other. A lot of things are like that, and too much onion is probably bad for them, but I’m not sure really. I suppose it is like apple cores, in that you’d have to consume an awful lot of them to exhibit ill effects. What do you think about that comparison?

    You are more skilled in these matters than myself! I pull faces at kids when they’re playing up, I mean most of the time the kids are testing boundaries and sometimes all they need is for someone to say the magic word: No. An underused word for sure.

    Multiplying by 3 is an excellent approximation. It rained two inches today, with more to come tomorrow. The garden is appreciating the rain.



  24. Hi Margaret,

    Two inches of rain so far today. At one stage a creek had formed in front of the house (as it is meant to) and I was out in the rain checking on systems and watching the water flow down into the swale right at the bottom of the water tank system. And all of the water tanks are now full up to their eyeballs. A notable achievement for this time of year.

    A workshop is a nice thing to have, especially with the winters you experience. Seriously? I’m really trying hard to understand how a shed / barn could be either good or bad for livestock over the winter. Are the new regulations particularly onerous? A few months back I was reading a Gene Logsdon book about what they did in the old days, and apparently cattle used to over winter on a layer of seriously thick bedding straw, which was then used as fertiliser in the spring when the cattle could head back into the fields again. It seemed rather sensible.

    Oh! I can’t make a valid comparison due to lack of information and experience, but that doesn’t really describe my childhood situation and it didn’t kill me. People leave kids in cars on hot days which seems a bit bonkers to me. Apparently there is a bit of public outrage about that, and also impromptu rescues which is not a bad idea on a number of fronts.

    Different times huh? I recall attending the Lygon St festival (which is a major restaurant strip) as a young kid and my mum just sent me and my older sisters off to wonder around and check things out and experience the festival. Of course things could go wrong, but the editor was almost wiped out the other day by someone who was most recklessly driving a stolen car – so life can be pretty precarious.

    Frost is beautiful isn’t it? The whole area goes all black and white tones as the colour gets washed out.

    Yes and no. In Melbourne I see virtually no insects. It is bonkers and nobody notices. Up here, there are insects all over the place. It is one of the things I notice as the contrast is very stark. Also the bird life in the big smoke is not so good and you are lucky to see more than a few species that have adapted to living in the city. Blind Freddy could tell the difference it is so marked nowadays.



  25. Hi Lewis,

    I was surprised to learn that kangaroos were so short lived too. It was not at all what I expected. Mind you, larger dogs live shorter life spans that smaller statured dogs. Scritchy can potentially live twice as long as Ollie, but then Ollie probably wouldn’t live as long as Roger the massive kangaroo.

    No way! I thought you were mucking around at first with the quote from the book: “Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies…” I liked the quote too, but Values is such a shifty concept because who’s values are we discussing? There was a bit of a political hoo-haa down here a while back about ‘values’ and the thing I noticed about the argument was that everyone was so vague about defining what they meant by the term. And then because the definition was vague, I felt that the values couldn’t be practically applied, because I had no idea what they were talking about and then people got funny about inclusiveness or whatever that means (the guy I buy ‘The Big Issue’ from probably has an opinion on that matter). There is often talk about ‘mate-ship’ as a core value, but who do you extend that concept too? Foreign powers often have their own agendas, so I probably wouldn’t extend it that far. And then what about folks who can’t relate to the term at all? I know a lot of people that spurn friendships. Are they suddenly persona-non-grata? It seems like a fishy sort of concept to me, although I suspect the author is onto something, but the application is difficult and may shift from locality to locality. Interestingly, I read recently an ironic article – and I wasn’t entirely sure that the author realised the implicit irony – but he was writing about eating microwaved re-heated pre-packaged food whilst watching cooking programs. Nobody does this do they? See my values are different as I wouldn’t watch the cooking show in the first place. Hopefully the value spooks don’t come and get me?

    I had a bit of a read about The Culinary Institute of America. Interesting. Please excuse me if I am uncomfortable about the size of the student debts that were mentioned as it would take a lot of shifts in kitchens over a lot of years to pay those back. The problem with such debts is that administration of institutions can pay themselves very well, whilst at the same time exploiting less secure employees. Ouch!

    Exactly, there is a lot of the sense of entitlement. I’m beginning to see the outcomes of the social experiments of permissive parenting, and I’m uncomfortable with that too. I must be getting old and cranky (my member number is…) 😉

    Thanks for the book reference as it sounds intriguing!

    Bet you didn’t get the two inches of rain I did! Far out… The photos are awesome:
    Print Email Facebook Twitter More
    Wangaratta flood warning issued as wild weather dumps rain across Victoria

    I’ll tell you a strange story. I dreamed last night that the tree dudes would turn up today – a truly attrocious day to work outside. And they did turn up this morning, which was fortunate because a large bifurcated tree split in the rain – fortunately it didn’t take anything out. The tree dudes work around the rain – and enjoyed cups of tea and a lunch break in between downpours. Freaky huh?



  26. Hi, Chris

    Congratulations on the two inches of rain, and I’m glad you and the farm didn’t slide gently down the hill to lower altitudes! For once, we’ve matched you, with 70mm (nearly 3 inches) in the last day and a half. It’s glorious, and we have some more predicted for tomorrow.

    Re your conversation above with Margaret about insects, I noticed how bug-free Melbourne was last time I visited. Most people seem to regard it as a plus, which goes to show how disconnected urban people can be . If there is one thing Canberra has aplenty ( apart from politicians!) it is insects, though we have noticed that the annual swarms of Christmas beetles have disappeared, no one seems to know why. But there are still lots of bees and other pollinators, including native bees. Possibly, we have escaped the sterility of the big city, mostly because we aren’t!

    The situation with the mother and baby in the pub is a difficult one. If the child was older, you could reasonably expect some parental control, but babies are a law to themselves. And while it seems selfish of her to inflict her baby’s screams on the patrons, she may have been going stir-crazy at home, and needed some time out with others. It is also difficult to leave a baby with a sitter when you are still breastfeeding. I’ve been there, and can sympathise with both sides of the experience. Anyway, it could have been worse – you could have been stuck on a trans-Pacific flight!

    Your flowers, as usual, look wonderful, and I covet your geraniums. And your ability to fix things. And your fruit crusher. And Ollie.



  27. Hello again
    I don’t doubt that too much of anything is not good. However it appears that leeks are lethal to dogs and cats; quantity was not mentioned.


  28. Yo, Chris – “…eating micro-waved reheated pre-packaged food…” while watching cooking shows. Oh, it gets better. Alone. Alone. :-). Oh, the horror :-).

    Hmm. Like art, there’s just so much I could say about food. How to attack it? How to get a handle. I guess to start with the cooking shows. We have entire cable tv channels devoted to food. Three of them? Of course, I don’t have cable. But when I was hanging out with Chef John, he’d kick them on, every once in awhile. I found the whole thing really boring. I was really excited about that “Great British Bake Off” series, and when my library finally got it, only managed to get through an episode or two. Boring.

    But on the other hand, I actually bought the entire DVD series of “Two Fat Ladies.” And, I’ve got at least three DVD series from the Culinary Institute of America. I do like a good movie that revolves around food. Oh, and documentaries. I’m toying with the idea of buying the whole “Duchess of Duke Street” series. I think the little bit of business about how to save a broken mayo is almost worth the price of admission. Plus, it’s an interesting story.

    Another quote from the book is, “One of the fundamental themes of eating behavior is that there is a difference between what people say they want and what they actually eat. It’s often the difference between intention and action, between goals and reality.”

    The cooking shows, cook books, magazines … it’s all often referred to as “food porn.” Anyway, I’m enjoying “Devoured” and it’s full of interesting statistics and “takes” on how we approach or think about food.

    I do have mixed feelings about the Culinary Institute of America. As I mentioned, I quit like the couple of instructional DVDs I picked up from them. And, I’ve got a few of their books. And, books about the experience of attending. Yes, I’m also disturbed by the student debt aspect. But, I’m more disturbed by the “gate keeping” aspect. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that to get a good job in the restaurant industry, these days, one needs a “degree.” That that seems to be the only path to success, unless one is lucky. Another path to employment that used to be a apprenticeship kind of situation, which now isn’t. Cont.

  29. Cont. Oh, no thanks needed for the book reference. You know I can’t help myself :-). “Orville” didn’t show up at the library, yesterday. I guess the wind wasn’t blowing the right direction :-). But a book, “Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain (Aldhouse-Green, 2018) did show up. I took a look at it, last night, and it looks like it might be a good read. So, yes, I’ve got three books on the go, now.

    The floods look pretty bad. And why do people drive into flood waters? What was so important … Well, that might be a good deal of it. Self importance, entitlement. The idea that the laws of nature don’t apply to them. Or the laws of physics.

    Well, that is odd about dreaming about the Tree Dudes, and then they show up. I dreamed about aliens (a first, I think) yesterday. Should I be concerned? :-). Lew

  30. Chris:

    Thanks for Roger the Kangaroo, and the Wangaratta photos.
    Supposedly our white tailed deer – your kangaroos always remind me of deer, though I know you do have deer – only live, if no-one shoots them, about 10 years in the wild.


  31. Chris,

    On the leaf project…there is moisture in the bags, so it should work okay. I hope. Probably start digging them in once the ground has thawed in March. The ground is not frozen yet.

    Libraries…I love the library, as does my wife. However, there are fewer and fewer books. The shelves are maybe 60% full now. There was just a measure on the ballot to upgrade several libraries, including the closest one. Basically, they want to turn it into a social center, complete with a coffee shop and snack area, but no additions to the books. For the first time ever, I voted against the library. The measure passed overwhelmingly, though.

    This has been a bad week. The short version is that one of my wife’s brothers has a serious heart issue that recently became known. He was supposed to have major surgery on Monday, so I got time off work and drove the 300 km, to find that they decided to do more testing. So, lesser procedure Friday or Saturday. It was a good thing to be there for a few days, as my wife needed the support, plus it gave her another person who could speak “doctor” and ask serious questions then translate into layman terms.

    Naturally, it snowed 5cm or so before I woke up Monday. Shovel the driveway and walks is what I did, then left. Once on the road, I discovered that the windshield washer fluid motor quit working, although the one for the rear window worked. I stopped at every rest area and threw snow on the windscreen. That worked. But the windscreen got a bunch of little pits in it when one vehicle passed me and kicked up sand. Arggghhh! I can get those repaired this weekend.

    So, with this situation and other “stuff” ongoing, I may be erratic through New Year’s or later.

    You got it right about the Douglas Adams characters. Survival as a space traveler requires a towel, definitely. His list of uses for the towel was humorous, too.


  32. Hi Chris,

    Glad to hear you toughed it out and made it through to dessert! Speaking of desserts, Mrs Damo and I have noticed a disturbing trend of restaurants now doing Creme Brulees in a wide and shallow dish, instead of the traditional, and far superior, narrow and deep pot.

    As a rule, if a restaurant has Creme Brulee on the menu, we are forced to try it. Unfortunately, very few do it to the high standard it deserves. What are your thoughts on this crucial and pertinent issue?

    Interested readers can avail themselves of this link:
    Notice the disturbing trend, nearly half of those photos show the wide and shallow dish. How do you get any cool custard at the bottom of the dish in such a setup? And you will end up with far too much glazing for the amount of custard. It is all wrong I tell you!


  33. Hi Lewis,

    Ouch! Just read the outraged librarian link. Thanks for that. Give a man a key performance indicator, make it very difficult to achieve, and then watch them game (excuse the pun) it. I feel that neither the author nor many of the commenters offered a way forward out of the mire. Perhaps the best solution was Bush Kangaroo’s “Yes, libraries need to provide multimedia research tools, but they are and should remain limited to a repository of resources available to the community. Unless specifically mandated to be a rec center or such, a library does not need to “market” itself any more than a public water utility… “ That response resonated with me, merely because it set a hard limit on the possible goals and objectives of the institution. Failure to do so, means that they can be pulled in any direction whatsoever. And who wants that? Given you have more experience in these matters than I, what is your take on the situation?

    As an interesting difference, down here, most rural towns worth their salt have a Mechanics Hall, or a Neighbourhood centre which provides spaces for local community groups etc.

    And yes, I’d like to believe that the yabby was an escapee from an aquarium!

    I reckon the state copped a smooshing (!) yesterday and also today with all of the rain. It is belting down outside right now, and I just had to go and rescue the hapless former boss dog Scritchy ,because she was out in the rain and refused to give up munching upon her beef bone – despite ending up quite wet. How the mighty have fallen. I threw her onto the verandah out of the rain and chucked the bone up there too so she could enjoy it (postscript: She is now asleep on the green couch behind me). After that unceremonious throwing, she just looked at me as if to say: Cool! Anyway, folks up in the far north of the continent have more to worry about than I, because Cyclone Owen has been sitting over the Gulf of Carpentaria for a few days and has been picking up moisture and energy. Interestingly, this cyclone looks set to head in a SE direction, and it is one of only three to have done so. There was an interesting article about how cyclones form: As Tropical Cyclone Owen approaches Queensland, here’s everything you need to know.

    Never heard of the word ‘plotz’ before. Like it! And yes, who hasn’t felt that way? 🙂

    I’m not a fan of cooking shows, if only because cooking is learned in the kitchen, and not by watching other people cook on the small screen. And I have to confess to being partial to a form of cooking that involves taking a wander through the garden, seeing what can be eaten, and then working out how to cook it so that it is enjoyable to the senses. This perhaps is a peasant sensibility, but far out, you can grow a wide diversity of plants which are grown in rich soils, then the outcome is far better than some dish that takes 91 steps (as a I recently heard an account of). That sort of complicated cooking (of 91 steps) is done because the chef feels that the process is more important than the outcome – and I beg to differ. Rant. Rant. Rant! The lunch that we put on for the recent Green Wizards meetup was mostly vegetarian and mostly sourced from the garden. A lovely person paid us the highest compliment, by asking which parts of the meal were vegetarian – how nice was that? We did provide some cabana slices (a processed dried sausage which is quite tasty) but mostly people ate the salads and other food stuffs in preference and the dogs and chickens enjoyed the cabana. I hadn’t tasted cabana for a while and thought that the quality had declined since last I’d tasted it.

    You know, you’d be far better off doing an apprenticeship under a chef who knew what they were doing and were also happy to teach their skills, than go and get a degree.

    ‘Food porn’ is an excellent way to describe the mismatch between people’s culinary ambitions and their more earthy culinary desires. 😉

    And whilst I’m at it ranting away, not all cooking shows are to be ignored, but I’ve often suspected that the ones that reinforce the message that cooking from scratch is an inordinately complicated and hard task are a form of a giant act of “Negging” from insecure chefs.

    Gate keeping has become a way of life in that it is a positive reinforcement loop. I see that in my profession and the barriers to entry become tighter as time goes on. Yet, we ignore our past because these skills were once taught as an apprenticeship. And to be honest, I do worry that the churning out of vast numbers of graduates may be of benefit to some outside of the profession, but it also does have the practical consequence of driving down wages. I see that happening and have to face the consequences of that strategy. Like everything, the strategy of huge numbers of graduates has diminishing returns, not that the folks promoting it have realised that inconvenient truth.

    I enjoy your book referrals even when I don’t see eye to eye with you. I’m currently reading Prof. Tolkien’s learned commentary upon the ancient story of Beowulf, and despite having read his translation, I can now see that the text was far richer and deeper than I could ever have comprehend. Plus it is a delightful insight into a culture which throws its shadow upon us, but yet at the same time the social niceties were entirely lost upon me. I read today about the character ‘Unferth’ and noted that there were shades of Tolkien’s fictional character ‘Grima Worm-tounge’ but also I have felt Beowulf’s reaction to such slurs upon his character from such a person as that. Anyway, that was entirely lost upon me until I read the commentary.

    You may want to keep an eye out for pesky alien’s (and perhaps keep a Moog – or an old Casio keyboard – handy just in case). You never know. The dream about the tree dudes was just weird, but they do tend to turn up out of the blue during the worst of weather. I don’t call them, they seek me. I’ve long since realised that they use me as patron who will provide work when there is none else to be had, and so yesterday was about as unlikely a day as you would find due to the inclement weather – and there they were unasked for, but also very useful (as I guess I am to them).

    Oh no, I had to go and grab a naughty Sake just to fortify my shattered nerves after reading the link to the article about the treatment of Cliff Mass. Incidentally, I did notice in the photo of said Prof. that his left eye was open wider than his right and so despite the smile I could tell that the bloke was under enormous emotional stress. Now that I’ve recovered slightly, I’m reaching for a term at the back of my brain: Kangaroo Court. You know, it is not that the Prof. spoke the simple truth, it is perhaps that he threatened funding by raising a picture that was unpleasant to look upon. Mate, all I can say is that I live 24/7 – 365 by means of renewable solar energy sources and yesterday given the extraordinary weather, I dug about 10% into the batteries just to make up for the lack of available energy from the environment. But, you know, I doubt the kids understand what it means to do that and would be very uncomfortable if they came face to face with that reality, because they want to have their cake and eat it too (a solid return to the cooking story too!) Mr Kunstler went through a similar story, and the activists know not what they do or want. It makes me feel sad.

    Cheers (I think)


  34. Hi Pam,

    I’m very pleased at the diverse responses that I received to the story this week! The social fabric has frayed in all sorts of complicated ways and the story was merely meant to be one example of that. 🙂 The purpose of social fabric and mores is that it stops us all from going bonkers – or from any one person gaming the system to their own advantage. The really sad thing about the story was that the mum was most likely drinking tap water which is provided free of charge, and so the establishment probably profited not one iota from the persons presence.

    Gangle freckles and Dame Scritchy (Thanks for that and I will switch to that notable title in future!) likewise send their greetings!

    You call that a baby blizzard? Far out, that is a huge amount of snow. Out of curiosity, what constitutes a grumpy old codger blizzard? Hehe! My gut feeling says that it would be a formidable thing to behold? But yeah, 100’F is not so pleasant. The rain is belting down right now and it is a very pleasant 59’F, but very humid. We are ever so slowly turning into a jungle planet with all the problems that that brings. The ferns are enjoying it though!

    The remote monitor is quite handy, and I have to keep an eye on the power system at least once per day. It would be nice if it were a set and forget, but unfortunately reality kicks in… Mind you, I stuck my head into the battery room the other day and discovered to my horror that with the panels in the paddock below the house I’d thought that 5 + 5 = 10. So I put a 10 amp fuse in on each pair of panels only to discover that occasionally on very rare circumstances, 5 can actually be 6 or 7, and so 10amp fuses were a bad idea because they’d all blown… This renewable energy stuff is incredibly complicated – despite it seeming simple.

    Thanks! Yeah, the laundry is pretty nifty isn’t it? The house is reasonably small and so there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Mind you we have a lot of sheds! The clothes dry on washing horses either out in the sun, inside, or during winter in front of the wood fire so there is no need for a dryer which is conspicuously absent from the laundry.

    The sake lives in there because it is warm and out of the sun – sake requires both circumstances so as to avoid the dreaded acetobacteria taking over the brew. If you’ve ever smelled acetone – and I’m sure you would have – you’ll know that sake tasting of acetone is not good.

    Hehe! Electric log splitter. Who’d have thunk it? It does require heavy duty extension cables when I take it down below the house. And it is quiet too. 12 tonne load and it can split most timbers.

    My understanding is that roasted Bogong moths taste a bit like roasted moths. 🙂 But they’re full of protein and fat and that is probably a good thing.

    No, not yet. Fruit flies have been discovered about 75km (46 miles) north of here in orchards where it is both warmer and drier. It is only a matter of time.

    After the rain of the past few days, the place is turning into a jungle. It even smells differently outside…

    Roger the kangaroo was a true force of nature. Reading the article I thought to myself that I’d better take Ollie with me the next time a mob of kangaroos turn up! The kangaroos are cool because they only eat the grass. The wallabies tend to eat the trees and garden because they fit the same ecological niche as deer. Oh dear! Sorry for the bad pun… I reckon wallabies would taste exactly like deer. I’ve eaten kangaroo meat and it is quite good, but very lean and not to be over cooked.



  35. Hi Hazel,

    Thanks and I was thinking of your part of the world when I looked at the rainfall forecast maps over the past few days. I have a soft spot for your part of the world courtesy of the editor who used to spend her summers in Canberra as a teenager. Your part of the world really needed the rain so it has been such a good thing. It is still raining here right now and strangely the rain is coming in waves from the east, which is not the norm at all. I hope you garden is responding well? The pumpkins and melons here are putting on huge amounts of growth with all of the rain.

    Melbourne is very bug-free, and it is a real worry – and nobody (other than a few observant souls like ourselves) seems to have noticed it, and like you say, when they do notice it, they express the opinion that it is a good thing. Canberra is surrounded by paddocks and forest and so it is a bit more alive than huge urban cities like Melbourne.

    And thanks for sharing your point of view, because as you rightly point out, it is a difficult one – which is why I wrote the story in the first place. I have sympathy and compassion, no doubts about that, and the cabin-fever that you mentioned is a mental health side effect of the current arrangements for that task, which is a bit sad and wasn’t always that way. Ah ha! You may have discovered my real reason for not flying anywhere these days… 😉 That is technically known as a Flight-mare.

    Hope the rain continues over the next few days and weeks for you and I.



  36. Hi Inge,

    Exactly! Us humans tend towards the ‘flight to the extremes’, for some strange reason. I had a read about the onion family and toxicity with pets. Interesting. On the face of it cats are not up for the plants. On the other hand some breeds of dogs are more sensitive to the toxins from the plants than other dog breeds. Japanese dogs appear to be more intolerant than others. Incidentally, when I read about the symptoms, I have never seen them in the dogs here.



  37. Hi Dj,

    The leaf experiment continues, and it will be interesting to see how it all turns out in the spring. I’m surprised that your ground has not frozen yet, especially given the weather in other parts of your country. Mind you the hottest weather here usually begins from New Year’s day until sometime in mid-March, so perhaps the coldest weather is yet to come for you?

    Was there a profit motive with setting up a coffee shop and kiosk at the local library? It sounds that way to me, but I don’t know any other details and am only guessing. Do you get to vote on specific issues at local government elections?

    Mate, I’m so sorry for you, as that sounds like an awful week to get through. Some weeks are like that. Best wishes for the procedure – and I’m assuming you’ll get this comment before the procedure takes place. How is he holding up?

    Arggh! is the correct word. Did you manage to find anyone (or obtain the parts) to get the wiper washer motor replaced? The motors that run those pumps are only very small and are usually integrated, and hopefully the manufacturer didn’t go all overboard and produce a custom design so that no generic pumps can be used?

    No worries at all, and I hope that things go smoothly for you and your family.

    The towels were a neat touch (as was the beer and peanuts before teleporting). 😉 It would certainly assist with the poetry.



  38. Hi Damo,

    Oh yeah, we’re made of tough stuff here and dessert is always a worthwhile goal! And interestingly the editor shares a similar love of pavlova as I do of tiramisu. It’s complicated! 🙂

    What a decision I’m faced with here.

    Do I:
    a) go with the shallow Creme Brulee; or
    b) delve into the traditional, and far superior, narrow and deep pot Creme Brulee.

    I’m feeling the pressure, and so need to investigate the opinion of an accomplished chef: Stephanie Alexander and her weighty and most excellent tome: The Cook’s Companion. The book is extensive and if thrown at someone, it could possibly seriously injure them…

    Well, there you go. I always thought that it was a French dessert, but it is indeed an “English dessert said to have originated at Trinity College Cambridge, where it was once known as ‘burn’t cream'”. Just shows how little I know on the subject, although I too enjoy the dessert. Well, well, well, it looks as though the b) option may get the nod because the text refers to a “rich and luscious custard and crunchy caramel topping.”

    That settles that, clearly the answer must be a)! Hehe! Just kidding, your good self and Mrs Damo have the right of the matter! 🙂

    That settles that. Venture ye forth upon new rich custard Creme Brulee adventures!

    Mate, the past few days it has rained cats and dogs. I even saw a photo in the newspaper of the tracks at what looks like Flinders St Station had turned into a canal: Melbourne weather brings flash flooding to CBD and eastern suburbs as deluge dumped on city. How is it going over there?



  39. @ DJSpo:

    I am so sorry to hear about your wife’s brother and all that the two of you have to deal with. It does sound promising that they will be doing a less invasive procedure.


  40. @ Lew:

    I am worried about Cliff Mass. Some of these people that he works with sound to be unhinged and yet they are being taken seriously. I wonder if there is any place that we can respond to help him out, besides just a vote-of-confidence comment on his blog?


  41. Chris:

    Blimey – who would have figured that 5 = 6/7? I’d like to see that equation. There is something there that is not a matter of mathematics – or physics. You did your best and who could do more?

    Hee, hee! Somewhere I have heard that you have lots of sheds . . .

    I noticed the conspicuously absent dryer. I would say that living without a dryer here with four people in the house and very wet winters would make that impossible for me (though I do choose to take that view . . .), but I know well that people managed thusly here in the past. Probably some do even now.


  42. Hi Chris,

    I am presently on a short trip with two of my sister’s so only have my little tablet. As I mentioned before it’s a pain to type on. We’ve just gone to Galena, a small town near the border of Illinois and Iowa,close to the Mississippi River. Good to hear about the rain though maybe more than you need?

    One doesn’t see many insects in Chicago either except for honey bees in some areas. There are quite a few roof top hives now in some areas of the city.

    One of my sisters I’m with now is a PharmD. When she first warned that degree it wasn’t required to be a pharmacist and she was one of a few with it. Subsequently she landed a very good paying job at a hospital. A pharmD is now a requirement so the field is flooded with them. She’s afraid that she’ll be pushed out by the younger staff. She’s also required to do a lot of continuing education and it gets more expensive all the time.


  43. Hello again
    Like you, I cook around what is ready from the garden or has just been brought to me by Son. That seems only common sense if one is producing food.
    Son has a question:- Do people eat wallaby? I wonder also. I have eaten kangaroo which is superb but have not heard of wallaby eating. Son queried the different diets of kangaroo and wallaby as mentioned by you and that this might affect the tastes of the two meats.


  44. Yo, Chris – Back in Ye Olden Days, when libraries were libraries (c.1900) and the whole “City Beautiful” movement was underway, towns, I think, were more concerned with drawing population by stressing their cultural atmosphere. Even tiny towns had their “opera” house. There was, I think, more of a balance between “culture” (libraries) and business. They went hand in hand.

    Now we’re in an era of diminishing resources, and something’s got to give. Back in the day (pre 1980s) every State had one accredited library school. They began to close. Somewhere along the way (when I was taking those library classes?) that was talked about. When campus revenue began to shrink (or, when sports programs needed more money) the library schools were a soft target as they hadn’t made friends in high places and had a bit of a time proving “relevance.”

    As resources shrink, and towns and counties struggle to keep their utilities, roads and justice departments (from cops to courts) going, libraries provide a “soft” target for cuts. Libraries do close. The whole hoop-la (on going) about closing rural branches in our system … I think I mentioned, quit by accident, I ran into someone who’s involved in that process at the Retreat I went on. I had a bit of inside information before the poop hit the fan. When your resources are stretched, how can you get around the fact that library use has been falling, in those branches, for more than 10 years? Cont.

  45. Cont. I read the articles about your weather and even watched some of the attached video. I noticed that Cyclone Owen had “stalled.” We’re seeing that with the storms, over here. I noticed it, awhile back. But I really don’t know if slow moving and stalled storms are a new thing (or, that it happens more often) or is that just another media “angle” on weather? Stalled and slow moving does a lot more damage.

    Plotz is a Yiddish word, I think. Back in the day, many comics were Jewish and would throw in a Yiddish word from time to time, to get a laugh. And, they did. English being a great borrower language, they moved into common usage. You still here them, from time to time. But, I suppose if your not Jewish and use them, you could leave yourself open for charges of “cultural appropriation.” :-). Bring on the Kangaroo Court.

    I also tend to steer clear of recipes that have to many steps …. or, too many exotic ingredients. Or use ingredients that are pre-prepared processed food. Another thing I thought about was that the whole cooking “industry” always claims to be “aspirational.” All well and good, as long as some of those aspirations take some kind of concrete form. A few months ago I read a book about simplifying your life. Getting rid of the clutter. One thing that stuck with me was, when considering what to toss, was the question “Does this item reflect who you are, or who you want to be … someday?” Something I try and keep in mind when tempted to buy something or am agonizing over tossing something.

    I think gatekeeping is about regulation and control. With money to be made along the way by industry or State. And the whole idea of being professional (thus accruing status). And belonging to a club of insiders. I once cornered a young new librarian about the importance of accredited library degrees. And, when all the nonsense was stripped away, it boiled down to, she had put in the time and money, therefore, if you wanted to be considered a “real” librarian, so should you.

    I wonder how Tolkien’s commentary would compare to the Cliff Notes :-). For awhile, there was kind of a craze for books that were “The Annotated …. ” whatever. I think one of the first was a two volume “The Annotated Sherlock Homes.” The other one that comes to mind was “Alice in Wonderland.” I’m sure there were more. Somewhere, I’ve got that Sherlock Holmes set. Why? Because they’re worth a few bucks, and I aspire to flog them on Amazon … someday. :-).

    Maybe it was a bit of Magic that made the Tree Dudes appear? A bit of sympathetic magic? A summoning?

    Oh, I’m sure most of those clueless advocates of solar power imagine it (if they think about it, at all. Probably not.) as not something they get their hands dirty with, but more as a public utility. Just flip the switch. And, free. Sunlight is free, isn’t it? :-). Lew

  46. @ Damo & Chris – Well, I watched a few episodes of “Orville.” Hmmm. Not as funny as I thought it would be, but it’s early days yet. I do appreciate that they throw in “human” quirks and foibles that you would not have seen on Star Trek. It makes it seem more “real.” Like the character who is unpacking his suitcase and gives his shoes a quick sniff test. Just a fleeting, throw away bit of business, but just soooo typical of real life. The Jury (of one) is still out. Lew

  47. Hi Chris,

    It took three weeks (!), but I finally got the computer back. No more one-finger typing on a Kindle screen; that gets old fast. The computer seems to be working correctly now, as it accepted a security update two days ago. Its not accepting the previous one is the symptom that left it at the shop. I don’t know why it took so long to get it back. Perhaps the shop personnel forgot to call me to come pick it up. They’d already been paid, so no hurry from their standpoint (the fix didn’t require more than the diagnostic fee I’d paid). I finally emailed them to ask for an update, and they told me it was ready for pickup.

    I don’t have anything more to add on the dilemma you mentioned as everyone else has already said anything I might have.

    Despite getting nearer to the coldest time of the year (January for us), it’s actually warmer now than it’s been for the past three or four weeks. The soil, which had begun to freeze, has thawed. Good thing as we had rain yesterday and will get more tonight. Not enough rain for any flooding here, though southern Missouri may not be so lucky.

    We decided that this was a good time to get contractors in to fix some annoyances. I was astounded by how much it cost to remove and replace a leaking bathroom sink. We’d wanted the leak fixed, but the sink is 90 years old, original to the house, and we were told by two different plumbers that the needed part is no longer available. I suppose after 90 years, I’ve no right to complain about that. But I would tell any person looking for an occupation to take up plumbing, given the price we paid compared to the time the job required. And we had purchased the replacement sink ourselves!


  48. Hi Lew,

    I think of the orville as TNG with a smattering of family guy humour. What surprised me was it had some genuinely good old school scifi in it that would not have being out of place in TNG or the original star trek. Hope you enjoy it!


  49. @ Pam,

    Many thanks. He went through the procedure very well. If all works out, he can go home Saturday.


  50. Chris,

    Thanks for the sympathetic comments. It helps.

    Some years with above average snow start with the ground not freezing until after Christmas. The epic winter of 1968-1969 was one such. That January was a $@#&*. Dunno if I mentioned it once, but that was the year that the snow on the ground peaked at 107cm in early February, which coincided with my height. Bizarre walking around in the “snow trenches”.

    That said, I expect this el nino winter to be mostly mild. Heck, when I left the town my brother in law is in, it was 13C, which is quite out of character for this time of year.

    The library system loses money, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the profit motive was the real reason for the coffee shop. Since I work at a bureaucracy, I can decipher what the talking heads are really saying. 95% chance that you hit the nail on the head. And yes, as this was a deal that would raise taxes above the legal amount o raise them without a public vote, there was a public vote. It passed overwhelmingly.

    I’m sure that my regular mechanic shop can get the motor. Or the console or whatever it is. Dadgummed cars! At least when your horse died you could eat it or make glue out of it or compost it or something useful.

    So my wife called and her brother made it through the procedure just fine. He was Mr. Grumpypants all day until they took him to the operating room mid afternoon. Doing better, and if he does well enough tomorrow, he can go home tomorrow.

    Ahhhh, yes, the beer and peanuts! Makes a lot of sense. Not partaking of peanuts and beer could explain why the Vogons were such horrid poets?

    That reminds me of my university days. Every Friday afternoon the physics department professors would take us to a local tavern and buy the beer. One of the students always brought two 10kg bags of peanuts, one salted, one unsalted. While we went through a lot of peanuts and beer, we missed out on teleporting and rarely did we wax poetic.


  51. Hi Pam,

    I know, it’s awful isn’t it? How indeed could 5 actually be 6 or even 7? This stuff is very complicated and who would have thunk it that very cold air and very bright sunlight with the panels facing the sun dead on would produce far more than the panels rated outputs? And on Friday the cloud was so thick, the house systems used everything that the solar panels produced and I had to extract about 15% of the charge from the batteries just to do some minor things. I always get a little bit worried when I hear people making claims about a renewable energy future because they are of course correct, although they may not realise that plants harvest the renewable energy of sunlight, and also firewood is a source of renewable energy. It is not lost on me that they might not be so excited about the finer details of having to produce those two. 😉 We processed some firewood today in between the epic rain. I’ll tell the story this week.

    Actually, the failures are really good because there is plenty of time to learn from them and adapt. I upgraded the fuses with those panels and it all seems to be working fine now until the next thing goes amiss. I won’t mention that this problem has occurred in a different array of panels but for entirely different reasons. One day, the system may be finished! Anyway, I’m down to rats and mice changes now.

    Shed’s are good and I need no encouragement for more sheds! 😉 There may be another shed down the track…

    Yeah, most people feel the same way about clothes dryers down here too, but we do OK on that front, although it takes a wood heater. It does make a person wonder what they used to do in your part of the world before the days of the dryer?



  52. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by! Hey, the main street of Galena looks really attractive. Hopefully it is not too cold there? They get a good spread of rainfall in that town across the year, which would make it very good for agriculture especially with the temperature range during the growing season. Rain is on my mind, because this morning’s storm was heavier than I can recall.

    Yeah, it is interesting to hear about the bees in Chicago. There are also hives located throughout Melbourne too, but people spray and so the bees do it tough. Up here it is insect central and the hum from the garden beds is audible, which is why I notice the extreme contrast of the quiet in the big smoke. And it is not as if I can’t smell the floral scents from peoples gardens in the big smoke whenever I travel there. I’ve noticed that as insects have reduced, allergies appear to be on the increase and I suspect that the two are related.

    Nice one, and respect to her. The continuing education requirements are a burden and expense for us too. In a surprising move a year or two back the rules were changed and somehow (just for example) a 4 hour course provided only 2 hours towards the educational requirements. My math is not so good and such stratagems are beyond my ken. One part of my mind tells me that the course must have less intrinsic value, but that part is prone to bouts of cynicism!

    Enjoy your travels, the main street looked as though it may have had some outdoor eateries (although it is winter for you).



  53. Hi Inge,

    Exactly! I reckon to cook, is to know what is in season, and then what to do with that produce. You are lucky to live in a corner of your part of the world that has a longer growing season than your northern neighbours. Hey, we produced some strawberry jam and a batch of strawberry wine today. Both are excellent when the dark clouds of winter hang low in the sky and the fire is just asking to be used to produce some freshly baked bread. I have not forgotten the pleasures of a wood fired oven when it is winter cold outside.

    I was forced to learn how to cook at about the age of 12, and from then onwards I was part of the regular cooking roster. Meals were made from scratch and somehow I never quite progressed onto the ready-made meal, and so gardening for me has been an extension of those skills. I know a few people who are extraordinary cooks (far better than myself or the editor), but they are rare, and of those only one or two have any exposure to fresh garden produce. I have a dark suspicion that not that far into the future people will be like the hapless explorers ‘Burke and Wills’ who starved, ignoring any assistance, in a land of plenty.

    Your son asks an excellent question. Yes, wallaby is edible, and quite tasty from my understanding, although like deer whose niche they share, I suspect the meat would be a bit gamey. Kangaroo’s tend to graze upon grass and so the meat is far more palatable to the western diet. I have known (in the past) somebody who has consumed wallaby and it was unfortunate that we just failed to make a good enough social connection because they had some good skills.

    As an interesting side note, and this relates to the island of Sark, the environment is not set up well enough to hunt and survive from consuming wild meat. To do that on a long term basis and with a sustainable supply, you need to have a mix of thick forest, open forest, and grass land – and the entire ecosystem needs to be set up so that it is easy – but also not too easy – to bag the herbivores. It is a complicated problem, but not beyond the human ability to resolve.



  54. Hi Lewis,

    I haven’t watched the Orville yet, but I appreciated yours and Damo’s thoughts on the subject. Expectations would have been high for such a venture. You know, sometimes I feel that the Star Trek franchise could benefit from just getting back to its core and basically tell a good story. I sometimes suspect that artists worry overly about the details, but as you quite rightly pointed out to me, most stories have a long and rich history and nobody seems to notice the repetition (or they’re too polite to tell tales). On Friday I was awake at an ungodly hour and I heard an English band with an Australian name: “The Wombats” on the radio. Now I’m quite a fan of the band and their work is excellent. They did a good live rendition of Bing Crosby: The Wombats cover Bing Crosby for Like A Version. There is even a touching moment in the clip with a person in a wombat suit! Anyway, the band mentioned that they’d brought in the string section because they’d done acoustic versions of their songs a bit much, and I thought to myself that perhaps they had not understood that the audience may be much bigger than their day to day experience – and thus the repetition would be entirely lost on the audience? Dunno. Reading through Tolkien’s commentary on ‘Beowulf’, I’m starting to get the impression that the legend of Beowulf was around well before the poet took quill to parchment…

    My mind is upon music so I will add in an earworm in the form of: How did Toto’s ‘Africa’ become a millennial anthem? Don’t ask the band. Yes, who could forget a synth-pop anthem like that one? Actually I always enjoyed that song and they are playing a festival down here on New Year’s Eve!

    The rain this morning was again quite epic. Quite epic is not exactly epic, but it is close enough to be thought of as being epic. Certainly it was as heavy as I can recall. An inch of rain fell in under 20 minutes, and there was water everywhere. A few drainage systems failed here, most notably the lower drive leading down to the paddock below the house and so the editor and I had some discussions about that matter. It might be a job for next winter given it fails most years (not a good scorecard by any means).

    The pendulum sure has swung the way of business nowadays… Far out, the graceless apartment blocks I see being erected in the big smoke defy my darkest thoughts. But then the outer suburban estates have a terrible sameness about them that I find quite chilling to behold. Mind you, my views are probably quite unpopular. I would prefer to see smaller houses, more green spaces, and more local amenities and local engagement. That isn’t too much to ask for is it?

    Cost centres have a way of being an easy target in a time of declining resources. I found that out the hard way during the recession of the early 90’s when I got the ass from my cushy state government job. A sad day, and from what great heights did I fall that day. No job has ever been its equal.

    Relevance is a nice word, but you could also substitute the word: “status” and the meaning of the sentence would read the same.

    It is interesting that you mention ‘justice departments’ because there have been accounts about such things down here: Inside Victoria’s courts as magistrates’ ‘oppressive’ caseloads pile up. I have heard rumours of suicides which was also mentioned in the article.

    Yeah, the cyclone stalled over the Gulf of Carpentaria, and then it just picked up energy and moisture. It looks like the cyclone which made landfall this morning and has dissipated its energy has now been downgraded to a tropical low – which frankly I would be uncomfortable to see. The rain this morning here was unbelievable enough.

    Mate, I’m not even sure what cultural appropriation means, because we all borrow from the past and we’re not somehow separate from those events or places. Of course, some people will believe otherwise, but you know, down here, no matter how you talk it up, we used to be a penal outpost for the UK, and during that time we somehow managed to inadvertently kill off 90% of the first nations folks through communicable diseases. History is replete with ugliness, but to ignore it or dwell in the past? I dunno, somehow that doesn’t seem right to me.

    It is funny that you mention aspirations, because the editor and I were discussing that today (after having done a hard morning out in the rain harvesting firewood, cleaning up, and stump grinding). I’m personally dubious about what people are aspiring towards? I mean who’s goals are they, and how did they get into the general thought sphere? We reckon my granddad had the right of it when he quipped that: ‘those that look ahead, get ahead’. Now of course I thought that he was referring to driving because that was what he was doing at the time and I was an impressionable young passenger, but I suspect now that he took a much larger picture. So taking that thought, if a whole bunch of people are aspirational in a time of decline then perhaps it is not a bad idea to do something else unpopular such as setting self defined limits upon yourself? It might just work?

    Items reflecting a message reminds me of a sci-fi story I once read by the most excellent author Jack Vance, who wrote something about someone holding a tribal fetish and commanding perquisites because of that fetish. There may have been talk about mojo attached to the fetish in the story too, which didn’t work out so well. Your young librarian may have earned a tribal fetish?

    Hehe! Well time pressed folks may want to enjoy an annotated work of literature. I tell ya a funny thing – Prof. Tolkien’s notes are far longer than the story itself, by a factor of about three (at a guess).

    Yeah, that is what I worry about with the whole move to renewable energy sources meme. The stuff can scale, but it just doesn’t work in the same way that people are used to and whether they can adapt their lives and employment to that, is a subject that is beyond me, but at a wild guess I’d have to suggest the answer is no. Interestingly, someone was talking to me the other week about France’s play into nuclear energy and that they were in the process of considering shutting down some of the reactors. Not good, as those babies provide base load when renewables are no good. But such facilities have finite life spans.



  55. Hi Claire,

    Your computer has clearly been on an epic journey! But where exactly did it go and what things did it see on the way is the question… 😉 Glad that you got your computer fixed as the old timers used to say to: “Re-use, Repair, and Recycle” and I reckon they were onto something, although I did have to replace the dirt mouse recently because the repairs bills had become astronomical. So you were very lucky that the repair was done quite cheaply and locally.

    No worries at all, and I am very pleased to have received the full spectrum of responses to the question.

    Oh, freezing and thawing of the soil would be very complicated for the plants (and rocks which may split in those circumstances). I have no experience with that, but I am noticing that some plants are displaying spring like behaviour during autumn. I hope that no plants have sprouted during this slightly warmer time for you? The past three days have brought an inch of rain each day, and this morning the rain was feral heavy. I saw a lot of damage here, but no flooding. In Melbourne there was quite a bit of flooding: Victoria’s freak floods prompt 1,400 calls for help, more storms hit Melbourne suburbs. There are updated photos of the most recent floods. I had a look for articles on possible flooding in Southern Missouri, and couldn’t find any, but I noted that at this time of year it has occurred in previous years…

    Oh yeah, the plumbers did an outstanding job on this place as it is very complicated and so we agreed upon an hourly rate. It was the most expensive component of the house. Engineers have this saying about: Good, Fast, Cheap – pick any two. It is funny that you mention that, but I was talking to someone last week and offering an opinion on university versus apprenticeship.



  56. Hi DJ,

    The words were meant genuinely and I’m glad to read that they were well received.

    Far out, that would have been an epic amount of snow, and how day to day things could have gone on during such a snowfall is way beyond my understanding. We’ve had an inch of rain each day for the past three days, and whilst I’ve seen ten inches in five days here, it is the rate at which the rain has fallen that has thrown me. I’m going to have to rethink and redo one or two drainage systems to accommodate such heavy falls.

    Mate, that sort of winter weather would also be a warm winters day here. Don’t speak too soon though!

    Ah! Thanks for the explanation. That makes sense. Down here, local council property taxes were recently limited to a maximum of 5% per annum increase by the state government. It was just too easy to squeeze local property tax rate payers. I tell ya, I notice that they change the local branding every couple of years – and that drives me bonkers, because I ask why does such a local government entity even need branding in the first place. They can’t seem to manage recycling and I would have thought that that might have been important…

    Hehe! I’d never thought about those options with horses? You might be onto something. And don’t forget the exhaust was an input for the garden. Horse meat has a dodgy reputation because I recall my history lessons about Napoleon’s army retreating from the failed north western adventures… As someone who enjoys food, such stories are memorable. Still I guess it was better than the dog meat that Douglas Mawson survived on during their ill fated Antarctic expedition.

    Excellent news – except for the Mr Grumpypants bit, but still it may be forgiven in the circumstances.

    Possibly so, we may need to test your Vogon poetry theory? I’ll let you know how it goes, and I suggest you undertake the experiment yourself. 🙂

    Hehe! It is a bit of a shame that a physics department failed to notice the ‘brownian motion’ in the beer and thus failed to develop a working teleporter!



  57. Hi Chris,
    Back home – we were only gone for two days. Galena is quite a tourist destination especially during warmer weather. It had been decades since I’d been there. Yes there were plenty of eateries but quite a few didn’t open until 4 PM or were only open on the weekend at this time of year. My sister, the pharmacist, enjoys shopping and there were plenty of shops for her to peruse. She really belabors over all the gifts much to my dismay as I pretty much hate shopping. The other sister doesn’t do Christmas gifts at all and am I ever jealous though I manage to wheedle the list down more and more. At any rate the purpose of the trip was mainly to just hang out and spend a little time together. We were at an AirBNB above a leather shop so it had a faint smell of leather.

    Perhaps the new way of accounting for your CE hours is an example of “new math”.

    We live in an area that most would consider pretty rural. Our library isn’t very big so never had a lot of books but there are only about a half dozen public computers and no tv screens. They recently remodeled a fairly unused large room and turned it into a teen meeting place. I stopped in to pick up something yesterday at 4:30 on a Friday and there were about a half dozen kids there but most were playing, you guessed it, video games. I do think it’s an important community meeting place and they do a pretty good job with a limited budget trying to provide a good variety of programs for all ages. I joined the “Friends of the Library” group about six months ago. I’m still trying to figure out all they’re trying to do though mostly it seems they are working to improve the visibility of the library and it’s programs and raise funds for those programs and things like furniture replacement. Amazingly a referendum was recently passed to replace the roof. Frankly I was pleasantly surprised.

    The sons of two different friends went to Kendall College of Culinary Arts (graduated). After a few years of working in their field one is now working in his father’s small construction business and the other owns and drives a limo. The tuition wasn’t cheap.


  58. @Claire

    Recently we had someone in to diagnose why
    the griddle on our stove wasn’t working (which is over 20 years old). The thermostat needed replacement but he said they couldn’t get the part. When Doug asked him if he could do a search online and the guy said there were only certain approved places they were allowed to order from. Anyway, Doug found the part, ordered it and replaced it himself. Now it took six or seven hours and much going back and forth to the computer to look at youtubes but he did get the job done. Of course it wasn’t 90 years old as in your case.


  59. @ Pam – I dug this out of Cliff Mass’s last posting, from the comments section. As far as his blog goes, he seems to be just “staying above it all.”

    It shows the deplorable academic bullying by the Chair of Atmospheric Sciences, the reprehensible groupthink behavior of faculty and the appalling and irresponsible behavior of the staff of Dean Graumich of the College of Environment, specifically the Assistant Dean of Diversity. That UW is allowing this to happen is not simply embarrassing, it is the reason to question whether there is any academic integrity and ethical values that the faculty in At Sci and in the Dean’s Office can advance.

    I ask you to do two things:

    Read Judith Curry’s article and form your own opinion

    Then write to Provost@uw.edu and president@uw.edu and graumlich@uw.edu


  60. Chris,

    “The words were meant genuinely and I’m glad to read that they were well received.” I observed that caring attitude among your community here before my first post. It’s nice to see this type of caring and interaction. Just found out that Mr. Grumpypants is no longer grumpy, is feeling good, looks good, and is going home this afternoon.

    Good luck with the drain system. Design it for a “30 year event” and you’ll get a “100 year event”. Redesign for a “100 year event” and you’ll get a “1,000 year event”. Redesign for that and you get Noah’s Flood. This is the 2nd Law of Drainage and Stormwater Design, which is also the 5th Corollary to Murphy’s Law.

    Ah yes, eating dog meat. That happened in the Yukon and Alaska to dog teams, also.

    The windshield person came by and said that the damage is “pits and chips” which are on the surface. Because they are surface only, there should be no further problem with them. So it’s more good news.

    The poetry theory? Yes, that needs experimentation. Soon.

    In one of our physics drinking sessions, I nearly had a working teleporter. But the only girl threatened to do a strip tease, and her ex boyfriend began pounding the table while chanting “Take it off, take it off!” He sloshed my beery experiment onto the floor and I never achieved the proper rate of Brownian motion thereafter. At least that’s my story today.


  61. Yo, Chris – Well, now that I’m further into “Orville”, I’m enjoying it. Now that I’ve adjusted my expectations to actuality. It’s pretty much a space opera. With light comic bits thrown in. It’s hard not to compare it to Star Trek. What, no transporters? No, “beam me up?”

    As far as Beowulf goes, it’s usually oral stories, lost primary source manuscript, existing manuscript(s). I’m often surprised by how “late” in time (as compared to the source) the oldest surviving manuscripts are. And, when we get to the “surviving manuscripts” stage, there are often variations between them. As a purely made up example, say, Pliny the Youngers letters to Emperor Titus. Say they were written around 100 CE. Then I run across something like “earliest fragments date to 1210 CE with the first entire manuscript dating from 1425 CE.” That’s a heck of a long time for something to maintain it’s content integrity.

    Epic rainfall is when an old guy in a boat, with lots of animals on board, sails by. :-).

    Amenities cost money. And, usually require ongoing maintenance. But I agree, buildings and houses can be pretty ugly, these days. You get what you pay for and pretty costs a lot? There used to be a blog. I don’t know if it’s still around. “Ugly Condos”, or, something like that. I think it might have been based in Seattle, as a lot of the pictures seem to have come from there.

    I seem to remember I saw a breakdown of our county budget and was shocked by how much of a percentage went to law enforcement. Officers, courts, jails. I can’t remember what the exact percentage was, but I think it was somewhere between 50 and 75%. Can’t people behave? The comic(?) saying, “this is why we can’t have nice things,” comes to mind. Some of our small cities in this county, have done away with their individual police departments, and contract to either the county sheriffs department, or to neighboring towns. Coverage and response time may not be as good. Cont.

  62. Cont. Oh, “cultural appropriation” is just another recent addition to the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) arsenal of virtue signaling. Anything to boost their ego, and deflate yours. Sure. Other cultures should be approached with respect. Just because I’m going through a stage of slopping a lot of Mexican hot sauce on different dishes, doesn’t make me a Mexican cook, or, the dish Mexican. SJWs are all about keeping those around them “on the wrong foot.” Off balance. Once again, it’s all about power and control.

    Oh, I think a lot of aspirations are created by media and advertising. Maybe I should ask myself where does this aspiration come from and why is it important, to me? I watched some of the DVD extras of “Orville”, last night, and the director/captain was throwing around the word “aspiration” a lot. As in, “this is a possible future we should aspire, to.” Guess he didn’t get the memo. Not going to happen.

    I guess there are annotations, and then there’s Annotations. :-). Some of the one’s I’ve seen, are whole text. With footnotes, or margin notes explaining or defining words that are now obscure or have changed. The really lavish one’s have contemporary illustrations, to illustrate some point. Or, even whole essays on some cultural point.

    Well, I’m off to the library. Stuff to take back, stuff to pick up. Lew

  63. Hi Margaret,

    Apologies, but I have to be less verbose than my usual self tonight as I haven’t yet thought about what to write about… Nice pictures though!

    That makes sense about it being a tourist destination. It reminded me of the strip shops in the tourist areas here, and they’re very appealing places to dine at, or just enjoy a coffee and cake. The perils of travelling in the off season, still it also neatly avoids the crowds and you can have some quality catch up time.

    Shopping can be a bit of trial, I hear you, but I’m of a temperament that I would take a book to a cafe and enjoy a cake and coffee instead and suggest that we meet up after they got the shopping out of their system! Not very sociable of course, but more pleasant all around. 🙂 Imagine if opinions were sought regarding gifts and the constant response was: Oh, that’s nice. People are onto that gear! You are made of sterner stuff than I for enduring the shopping, and coffee and cake is certainly not to be lightly dismissed.

    The CE hours thing is a bit dodgy isn’t it?

    Roofs over libraries are important things to maintain. Books certainly wouldn’t enjoy the sort of weather we’ve had over the past few days. I’m a bit ambivalent about computer games, if only because I lost a group of friends to World of Warcraft many years ago (3 years tested my patience), but you know on a positive note, the kids are at least out of the house and in the same room as other kids, so that is probably not a bad thing! Good on you joining the friends group too as it is a worthwhile cause.

    Ouch. Yes, I’m very uncomfortable with student debt and know quite a few people labouring under that burden. It wasn’t always that way. I began Uni on the first year fees were reintroduced.



  64. Hi DJ,

    Thanks, I’d like to think of it as a breath of fresh civilised air!

    Congrats to Mr Grumpypants and may he transform into the very paragon of civilised gentlemanliness – or maybe he could just stop being grumpy for a bit! 😉

    I always thought that Noah’s flood was some sort of referral to the flooding of the Mediterranean basin towards the end of the last Ice Age. You wouldn’t want to have been there that day, huh?

    Imagine having to make the decision to slow down the trek through the ice by consuming one of the dogs. And then it makes you wonder how the remaining dogs felt about their own impending longevity? There was a story about a convict cannibal back in the early 19th century, and apparently the story goes that his compatriots had trouble sleeping…

    Excellent. The glass in vehicles is quite hardy. And if you ever have to break a window in a car, go for the front windshield as it is the cheapest to replace. You heard that first here!

    Compete bummer. I can understand how such things happen. Not good.



  65. Hi Lewis,

    Gotta write tonight, and haven’t yet considered the story… Oh well, something will appear on the computer screen before too long. Maybe I might just go all pictorial one week and tell everyone that it is all just an art experiment and then act all mysterious. Except that you’d know that I’d completely run out of ideas… Hehe! Just kidding, I have plenty of story ideas on the whiteboard in front of me and I just have to pick one, but which one is calling… I saw a strange thing at the petrol station the other day… 😉

    What, no transporters? Even ‘Enterprise’ had transporters, although the crew were a bit dubious about using the technology. They may well have seen ‘The Fly’. You mean they have to use a shuttle to disembark from the ship? Absolutely shocking. I quite enjoy space opera, and that fills in the ‘fluff’ role in my reading, although to be honest my reading has been a bit heavy going and serious of late. May have to do something about that. Anyway, I appreciate the review and may begin watching that show. I watched the last episode of the current series of Grand Designs UK last night and the ‘cob house’ which was so over scaled it was bonkers, was eventually completed, although I did note that the guy got divorced somewhere in between beginning the building and completing it. I’m genuinely surprised that people build such over-sized buildings when they can’t afford it. It makes no sense to me at all.

    And speaking of which, you probably already know this, but: Egypt unveils ‘one of a kind’ ancient tomb with intact colours and statues. Pretty cool.

    For some reason, that article rated lower than Spencer Tunik’s release of one of his latest photo – I honestly don’t know what to call them (installation, perhaps?) – from Melbourne. I detect a sense of playfulness in that blokes art work. Or is he taking the piss, and I’m frankly unsure which it is. There were no shortage of volunteers for his last photo and I saw advertisements for it.

    Exactly, the preservation of such works is an epic undertaking, and it is not lost on me just how much would have been lost during those years. And the thing that interests me is that people have become so specialised that whilst a huge chunk of the population could reproduce texts to a high standard of comparability, how many of those folks know how to produce paper / parchment, quills, ink and then know how to store the items. Not many at all. How do you feel that we compare to the final days of the Roman Empire on that front?

    Hehe! Yup! Nobody wants to see that gear. The next time I head to the coast, I’ll take the camera with me and you can judge for yourself. I mentioned to DJ about the flooding of the Mediterranean basin at the end of the last Ice Age as being the source of that story. What are your thoughts on that subject?

    Pretty doesn’t necessarily cost a lot, but it does take a desire to move away from what is expected. I see a bit of the rural area and many people have told me how much they like the sheds that we build, but then when I travel around the place, most rural sheds are really very ugly – because they’re cheap. But it also doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be that way. I have a suspicion that people have forgotten that they themselves can build structures, and in fact people have outsourced that task themselves in the past.

    Call me cynical but if jails are privately owned, then there is an incentive to jail more people and increase the utilisation, because there is a profit motive behind it. Historical accounts of the ‘Second Fleet’ to Australia mention that the food was often withheld from the transportees so that it could be on-sold to the free colonists and administrative folk in the new colony way back in the day.

    I was wondering about that combination of words: ‘cultural appropriation’, because it frankly makes little to no sense to me, other than from the lens that you mentioned. Take the forest management practices down here. I’ve read historical accounts about the land management practices. Imagine if I then said to myself: Yes, I acknowledge the original land management practices were better adapted to the country than what we’re currently doing from an Anglo-Saxon perspective, but I should just ignore the original land management practices because that would be cultural appropriation. Anyway, that is what actually happens on the larger scale, despite the repeated poor outcomes, and it is bonkers.

    The SJW crowd are using another form of ‘Neg’, and I hate negs.

    Hehe! You betcha he didn’t get the memo. We’ve never lacked for information, we lack the incentive to adapt because the pay-off is too great not to do so. Of course all policies are subject to diminishing returns – and that one is a whopper!

    Oh yeah, Prof. Tolkien’s work fits into the ‘lavish’ category. The poet puts in a line or two of verse, and then the good Prof. explains the line/s over several pages. Honestly, I would not have understood the richness of the tale without the commentary. I took history in High School, but one subject was European history and that seemed to involve a whole lot of wars and appropriation of resources. The other was Australian history and that seemed to involve a whole lot of convicts and appropriation of resources. Who studies the meanings and the drive behind the events? That is the interesting bit. Like why ever would Napoleon attempt to conquer Russia and then starve his way back to France, tail between his legs and all that? It seemed like a bonkers thing to do to me. A standing military is an exorbitantly expensive bit of kit.



  66. @ Lew:

    Ah – I see a 4.4 earthquake in Tennessee a few days ago. I also noticed two 2.5 earthquakes in Louisa County – next to my county of Albemarle – a month ago. Louisa County is where the epicenter of the earthquakes in our area originates. Louisa is also where the cheapest properties are (ah ha!) and where our youngest son is looking for a house to buy, as that is where many young people around here are buying.

    Anyhow, thanks for the heads up!


  67. Hello again
    I have had a job trying to keep up with the comments this week and remembering other things that occurred to me, but here goes.
    I watched the film ‘The big short’ yesterday and shall now re-read the book with an enhanced understanding.
    There has been a programme on a travel channel, I think it was called ‘Surviving the arctic’. There was a bit about a chap setting up his solar system. One saw his incredible number of batteries and his wiring. Might be interesting to you if you can track it down.
    I am curious as to why you see a connection between allergies and a shortage of insects, the connection escapes me.
    Oh yes, become a plumber or an electrician or a mechanic.
    Drying washing in winter:- that was a major point of a bride’s dowry. She needed to bring enough linen to see them through the winter. I remember my mother telling me that when Spring arrived, the neighbours looked to see what the recent bride had hanging out on the washing line.


  68. Yo, Chris – Well, at least by my very unscientific count, there were at least two temporal anomalies and one quantum rift in season one of “Orville.” Nice to know that some things in outer space (or, outer space writing), never change :-).

    Yes, I saw articles on the new Egyptian tomb. Fantastic preservation. And five untouched shafts. Which we shall probably never hear the contents of, unless it’s something really startling. Archaeology stuff drops off the radar, pretty fast. Remember the black stone coffin? Not much news from there.

    Oh, we’re probably on about a par with the Roman Empire as far as widespread knowledge of useful skills. If not worse. In decline, I think we’ll be “salvaging out” for so long, instead of putting our minds to problems, that skills will suffer further loss. And, it depends on if knowledge is valued and preserved, or, demonized and destroyed. It didn’t help that the Christians were running around burning every book in sight because “demons” lived inside them.

    In “This Victorian Life” the author spent a chapter talking about writing in the Victorian age. She didn’t have too much to say about paper, but a lot about quill pens. And inks. The whole thing took a lot of trial and error, practice, and the results still weren’t very good. She finally pretty much went with fountain pens (available at the end of the Victorian era) and inks from companies that had been in business since then, and hadn’t changed their formulas. (Cont.)

  69. Cont. Great flood stories probably didn’t have much to do with the Mediterranean basin filling up. As that happened about 5.33 million years ago. But you’re on the right track with “end of the last ice age.”


    Sea levels rose and there were a lot of glacial lake outbursts. Worldwide. See: Epic of Gilgamesh. In my own part of the world, there was the Missoula Flood (15,000-13,000 years ago) and the Bonneville Flood (14,500 years ago), which fall well within the recently adjusted years of the peopling of North America. I vaguely remember that something similar happened in eastern Canada and the NE United States. St. Lawrence Sea Way? Of course, coastal people also have to contend with tsunami, which also yield lots of flood stories. Bottom line? There was a lot of water slopping around.

    For profit jails. I guess there’s another “law.” “Where there’s opportunity for graft and corruption, there will be graft and corruption.” A few years back, there was a judge on the east coast who was caught railroading juveniles into a juvenile facility, for minor problems. It was discovered he was heavily financially invested in said facility.

    Dare we ask for a pic of Chris’s white board? :-). You can always use that highly scientific and technical method of closing your eyes and pointing. Actually, that sometimes works, cause whatever comes up, you go, “No, I’d rather do … whichever. Lew

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