But why?

The other day I was at the petrol (gas) station filling up the new dirt mouse Suzuki. I happened to glance across to see that another customer’s fuel bill was $188. The shock of seeing that extraordinary bill almost caused me to vent out a loud naughty expletive!

Long term readers will know by now, that when it comes to bills, I’m a bit of a tight-arse. Being a tight-arse, I do everything I can think of to reduce or eliminate bills. Unlike the ongoing War on Waste that other people like to talk big about, I take the War on Bills seriously. I’ll fight them on the beaches, and I’ll certainly fight them in kitchen vegetable garden, orchard and brewing systems! Yes, I absolutely take bills seriously, and so I was in a state of total shock after having seen the huge fuel bill that the bloke stoically faced.

When it comes to bills, there has been an awful lot of talk in the newspapers down under about the ever increasing electricity bill. It is a thing to be feared. Most pundits appear to believe that future electricity generation based on renewable energy systems will make the bill things cheaper, otherwise the pundits would be backing fossil fuels as the answer. Reading those stories in the newspaper makes me happy that other people also care about bills as much as I do.

However, talk about renewable energy systems replacing the current fossil fuel generators, and reducing bills all at the same time, makes me feel very uncomfortable.

We’ve lived with off grid solar electricity for about a decade now. It is not lost on me that the system had an extraordinarily large up front cost which is probably the equivalent of about thirty years of electricity bills for the average household. And then we have to stump the mad cash and time for the inevitable ongoing maintenance, repairs and upgrades to the system which somehow seem to be necessary every single year. And for that expense and effort, I can just get through the winter without having to run the petrol (gas) generator. But no electric heating, just in case you were wondering. That means no electric blankets either.

Despite peoples complaints about the rising cost of electricity, it probably would have been far cheaper for me to simply connect up the house to the electricity grid. That act would possibly not be such a good outcome for the planet though.

On an interesting side note, over summer and only during the daylight, I have a crazy amount of electricity at my disposal, if only I could work out how to use it. So coming up with new and useful ways to utilise the otherwise wasted energy, always warms my cold accountants heart. This week we purchased a second hand electric food preserver for our existing preserving bottles. This means that we can stop using the LPG gas stove top unit – and I call that increased use of electricity – winning!

Anyway, when it comes to bills, this renewable energy stuff makes very little financial sense from my perspective. However, large vehicles that cost a lot to purchase, operate, and maintain, make even less financial sense to me. As I stood at the petrol (gas) station in a state of mild shock after having seen the large fuel bill, I thought to myself: What kind of story do you have to tell yourself to purchase a vehicle like that one? It seemed like a fair question to dwell upon.

Stories are funny things because, over the past month a number of people have expressed surprise that the editor and I would purchase a new version of the same decade old car that had become no longer economical to operate and maintain. The question was usually posed as: Why would you buy the same car? The other assertion that was made to us was that it would be: A good opportunity to upgrade the car.

Both the question and the assertion have an underlying assumption that we should be progressing to somewhere or something better. I’m unsure where that actually is and what it would even look like. But clearly, other people don’t think that it should look like a new version of the dirt mouse Suzuki that was replaced!

When I was an earlier teenager, my Grandfather said to me: “Chris, those that look ahead, get ahead.” I was a passenger in his locally made VL Commodore Calais vehicle at the time, and so I took his advice and looked up through the window and far off into the distance at the traffic. It was then that I noticed that there were an awful lot of cars on the road!

Of course, it took me a few more years (well maybe more like three decades) before I realised that the old bloke wasn’t talking about cars. No, I later guessed that he was telling me that old blokes sometimes keep themselves entertained at other peoples expense through the process of obfuscation! And despite that, for all I know, it is possible that he may have been talking about vehicles.

The old bloke died long ago, so I can hardly ask him what he meant, and anyway he didn’t seem to me like the kind of guy to answer foolish questions. All I can take away from that day, was that there are a lot of vehicles on the road, and perhaps it is not such a wise thing to aspire to the sort of stories that the majority of people tell themselves.

I’ve made a Captain’s call and I’ll declare it early: The weather this summer is completely bonkers. I feel much better having typed that. Earlier in the week, the days were hot and sunny. The sunsets were superb!

Earlier in the week, the sunsets were superb. Note the moon – not a dirt mark on the lens.

Since I elected myself Captain of this here Starship (err, sorry farmship), I sat on the bridge in my command chair (err, sorry I meant: sitting at the dining table – the editor was actually at the head of the table), pondering the weather warnings that a mid altitude low pressure system that had originated in Antarctica was intersecting with another low pressure system and also tropical cyclone from… Look, let’s avoid all this technical weather talk and just shout the necessary instruction to the crew: All hands brace for impact! Shields!

Shields! All hands brace for impact! A notable storm dumped a huge bucket load of rain over the farm

The sunsets were pretty good too, just a lot more damp than earlier in the week!

The storm produced more extravagant sunsets. Where is the moon now?

The Southern Brown tree frogs which are all over the place, loved the weather:

A Southern Brown Tree frog goes a hunting in the wet weather

The fern gully also loved the wet weather:

The fern gully loved the wet weather

The shady orchard looks incredibly green for this hot time of year. And the fruit trees are growing faster than in any previous year.

The shady orchard has grown strongly this year

The weather was so wet that I was unable to work outside. I had a dream that the ‘tree dudes’ would turn up looking for some work, and sure enough the next day they did. It was uncanny, but it was a good thing too, because a large bifurcated tree (the fancy name for a tree with two trunks) fell over in the wet weather. The tree dudes worked for a couple of hours, but only whenever the rain stopped. It was a hard day to be working outside.

This is what a bifurcated tree looks like:

A bifurcated tree (which is still standing)

Observant readers will note that rainfall is directed towards the centre of the tree where it collects and can cause the timber to rot. You can see the two separate trees in a disc I made from the stump of the fallen tree.

A disc from the stump of a bifurcated tree – note the rotten organic material in the split between the two halves

The rotting organic material was easily cleaned out as it makes a great soil additive. And when the disc is held up with the daylight behind it, you can see the extent of the damage and why the tree split and fell.

The author holds up the disc cut from the stump of the fallen bifurcated tree. Note the damage to the core

I too had to work the following day in between the rainfall. I like to keep the place neat and tidy, and so we grubbed out the tree stump.

The author grubs out the tree stump

In the above photo you can also see in the background, the interesting collection of mixed indigenous understory trees that we have been planting and assisting along.

A few weeks back we planted ten table and wine grape vines in the recently completed (mostly) strawberry enclosure. When the weather allowed, we began installing the first of four stainless steel cables for the vines to grow upon. The cables sit about a foot in from the outer edge of each side of the enclosure and they run the complete length. It is a form of espaliering (a fancy name for growing vines and fruit trees flat along a structure) that is commonly seen in vineyards.

Stainless steel cables were run end to end inside the strawberry enclosure

I only managed to install the first of the four cables this week due to the weather. And in the photo above, you can see that I have used twine to train the vine up onto the cable.

It has been a very disappointing year for fruit in the orchard, however, the berries are making up for the lack of apricots, cherries, plums and pears. Each day we are harvesting good quantities of strawberries and raspberries:

It has been an excellent season for strawberries and raspberries

The strawberries in particular have been very good to us, and we are going to have to steel ourselves to the task of removing the older plants in autumn. In the meantime we’ve begun making strawberry wine, which as you’d expect is very tasty!

We made two demijohns of strawberry wine this week

Apples of all varieties are surprisingly outperforming every other fruit and nut tree in the orchard:

Apples look like they’ll make up for the dearth of other fruit and nuts this summer

Other berries are almost ripe, like this Jostaberry (a relative of the Gooseberry):

Jostaberries are almost ripe

This lone Anzac Peach looks as though it will be the most prolific stone fruit here:

An Anzac Peach is producing well – despite the adverse conditions

The corn have shrugged off the excessive rain, and just continued to grow:

The corn have shrugged off the excessive rainfall and just continued to grow

Due to the excessive humidity, we decided against exactly following the native American ‘Three Sisters’ approach to growing corn. The approach is a combination of corn, squashes, and beans. Squashes provide shade to the soil during hot summers. Beans draw nitrogen from the atmosphere and get it into the soil which benefits the corn. We planted the squashes elsewhere, but have planted the beans on the outer edges of the corn enclosure. And this week, they have begun to germinate.

Beans were planted on the outer edges of the corn enclosure so that they can climb up the fencing

The squashes, melons and pumpkins were planted on the (yet to be excavated) next terrace above the corn and strawberry enclosures. They too have begun germinating.

Melons, squashes and pumpkins were planted on the next terrace above the corn and strawberries

Triffid Alert! Zucchini (courgettes) are growing really fast. Observant readers will note the coriander also growing in the zucchini raised garden bed in the next photo.

Triffid Alert! Zucchini is growing fast

Onto the flowers:

Penstemon flowers bravely rise above the other plants
How amazingly detailed are the passionflowers?
The bees love the complex passionflowers. I hope I get some passionfruit
Poppies are feral and will happily self-seed
This bush rose produces more flowers every week as it climbs through the garden
Hydrangeas are loving the damp weather and the shade – although this one is also incredibly sun hardy
The yellow flowers of a native elderberry. The leaves smell very nice when crushed in your hand
A Victorian Christmas bush in full flower

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 932.4mm (36.7 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 856.4mm (33.7 inches).

79 thoughts on “But why?”

  1. Chris,

    Those are wonderful pictures of the passion flowers. The one with the bee is spectacular. The bifurcated tree and the rotten inside, well, that Is a case where a picture explains what happens quite well.

    My knowledge (limited to reading rather than experience) is that dogs would get injured or wear out on trail anyhow, and were considered expendable. If the humans still had food but the dogs were running low, well, yes, the dogs would feast on their mate. If the 4 legged peoples (dogs) AND the 2 legged peoples were both out of food, then the 2 leggeds ate the 4 leggeds, who of course didn’t appreciate watching the humans eat their mate, from what I’ve read.

    As Lew said, there was the Missoula Flood , or actually a series of floods, that totally changed the geography in these parts. I’ve spent a lot of time in what is called the “Channeled Scablands”. Those were events nobody wanted to be near, that’s for sure.

    Looks like snow might hit Christmas Eve and then more right after Christmas. Pretty normal for an el nino winter. A large storm system just came through that was supposed to dump 20cm of snow in the mountainous regions. But, as it’s been followed closely by another warmer system, I figured that today’s would come in warm and not drop as much snow in the mountains. I’ve seen this too many times before, right? Turns out I was right.

    That also means we just had 1.25 cm of rain (no snow here) with more expected and highs nearing 10C later this week. We’ll probably get twice that amount of rain in the next 2 days. Not abnormal amounts for December, just a bit warm…


  2. Hi Inge,

    There were quite a lot of delightful comments last week weren’t there?

    Did you enjoy the film? I thought that the film compares quite well to the book, although it might be worth mentioning that plenty of details get lost in a two hour adaptation of what was quite a complicated story.

    I wonder what the intrepid chap plans to do when the winter sun is very low in the sky – or snow sits heavily on the solar panels. Surely, nobody would consider surviving off such a power system at such a high northern latitude? Out of curiosity, did the chap look chipper at the prospects of such a power system? It seems bonkers to me. The occasional snowfall here brings the system to a grinding halt. And interestingly, batteries in ultra low temperatures are not that easy a technology to utilise because they are first and foremost chemical reactors, and the reaction slows as the temperature drops. I wonder if people have considered that with electric vehicles? Probably not.

    A decline in the Insect population and an increase in the human incidence of allergies are most definitely linked. Absolutely. The same sort of thinking behind spraying insecticides willy nilly is also exhibited by people who attempt to eliminate every single bacteria and any other life form for that matter in their properties. Nature works best as a symphony of life forms, and many conditions are being linked to overly sterile environments and inputs such as food.

    Do you recall glory boxes? I have heard reference to those and they were full of linen and part of a prospective wives dowry. It wasn’t that long ago.



  3. Hi Lewis,

    An outstanding achievement for the series. Incidentally, I just had a quick whip around of websites and one in particular (denofgeek – what a great name, I’ve been to a few of those in my time 😉 Possibly more fun than a den of iniquity!) suggested that season 2 will begin airing next month.

    I was quite startled that the colours had survived in the tomb for so many millennia. It is a very impressive find. It makes a person wonder what else is hiding underneath the earth just waiting to be found? The black coffin was an amazing find and I thought that it was quite interesting that there were three adult occupants. What was your take on that? I was sort of wondering whether it was some sort of cost saving thing for that particular wealthy household? Maybe the wealthy household had fallen on hard times? I recall that one of the occupants had a skull fracture, but that was put down to a medical procedure at the time. Perhaps some sort of plague got them all? That would make for a good story: ancient tomb gets opened and the bodies exhumed – only to find that they carried an awful contagious disease which was still viable after so many millennia. And the tomb was covered in curses and warnings to the unwary which perfectly describes our intrepid grave robbers / future zombies who looked a lot like the usual clueless bunch of young adults in a horror film… I’ll bet that one has already been put to paper?

    It would be interesting to know the future intentions of the entities that fund these archaeological works. Like in the article I linked to, there was the unsubtle implication that the excavations would fuel tourism and that would bring in some mad foreign cash.

    Thanks for providing an opinion upon the subject. You’ve got me thinking that perhaps the salvage side of the story is akin to the bargaining phase of the decline? Not sure really, but there is a lot of stuff floating around the place – and a lot of very high quality stuff is going for an absolute song – like the electric preserving device that I mentioned in this weeks blog. I was actually going to purchase a new one, and it was the editor who talked me around to waiting to see what the market spewed forth! And yet again, it delivered one in near new condition… My mind boggles at the sheer waste, but at least it provides for a very enjoyable niche for anyone who but thinks to ‘look ahead’.

    Weren’t those early Christian’s a bunch of naughty so and so’s! Book burning is not cool. But now that I contemplate deeply upon the matter, I am rather concerned that my Jack Vance pulp fiction collection will eventually turn to dust. The paper they used in those days is not so good. I may have to shell out for the finer versions which Damo is currently trialling. It would be nice if the publishers were considerate enough to print the text on low acid paper. I’m curious because of your background in the library system, what did they do to preserve books? Or did they just sell them off to the public? I have a few hardback books that were sourced from library sales.

    Well, you learn something new every day. I would never have believed that fountain pens were available as far back as the Victorian era. I have quite the soft spot for that era because I have repaired a few Victorian era buildings and I was always impressed at how well those buildings (the ones that survived of course) were constructed. It was always the little details that were not thought of, or overlooked, or not known about, that caused the buildings to become unstuck over the years. That was a lesson that was not lost on me, and I still apply what I learned to this day.

    I totally enjoyed the Flood myth interweb rabbit hole this morning over breakfast. Well, I was out by a couple of million years, but in the grand scale of the Universe I’d have to suggest that that was peanuts! Of course, I had read Julian May’s excellent fictional series of ‘The Many Coloured Land’ and that put the Mediterranean flooding back in those days so perhaps I should have put a few more brain cells to the problem. Mind you, when I began looking at just how far the sea level moved in only the last dozen millennia – when humans would have been out and about all over the landscape – then far out! Clearly there would have been a land bridge between the mainland of Australia and the (now) island state of Tasmania given how shallow (about 100ft) the long strait is between the two.

    Years ago, we travelled to a very large island off the coast of South Australia by the name of Kangaroo Island (about 90 miles long, but a bit detached from the coast). It is a beautiful place and was just so quiet it was lovely. They had a sheep diary that produced some of the best Haloumi cheese that I’ve ever consumed. But the Aboriginal population died out long before the Europeans ever arrived and I’ve often wondered about that. The story reminds me just how rough this continent can be.

    Mind you, we picked an inordinate number of ripe raspberries this evening and I feel very fondly towards those plants. We’re storing them in the freezer (one of the few preservation techniques I put the device too) and may make a batch of raspberry jam when we’ve collected enough. Plus we keep aside enough for breakfast every morning. The editor is talking about expanding the berry patch…

    Yeah, tsunami’s would most certainly have made the occasional special guest appearance… The comet / meteor strike between Western Australia and Madagascar during that era would have raised some serious waves too. The basin it left at the bottom of the ocean sure was big enough.

    That sort of ethics with the detention facilities is very dirty, but also a very old story. I am reminded of Annie Hawes most excellent observation that in a small community of limited resources, any gain of one member comes at the cost of another and so everyone watches everyone else to ensure that things are just so. I’d have to suggest that we have entered such times…

    I’ll see what I can do about the photo! Call me superstitious, but I don’t even talk to the editor about stories before they are written. Her editing is a very light touch on the words these days. I don’t actually know where the stories come from, they sort of ooze out of the cracks and spaces in my mind. And the whiteboard contains prompters to my mind about the various stories that could be written. Inspiration comes at odd moments, and I usually have an old school pen and paper to hand to record those moments – and then they get converted into a story. For your interest, I always talk about the small events that people encounter on a day to day basis because that is what they can relate too. I’d like to climb upon a soapbox, but people are immune to such things nowadays. Take the ‘Big Short’ for example, the author tells an amazing story about the sheer craziness of the systems – and he knows the underlying story because he has first hand experience – but the story itself is told by how it plays out. To my mind it is like the difference between the books of: “The Limits to Growth” and “Overshoot”. One book talks to the reader as if it was a high school text book, and the other shadows the human dimension and leaves no wiggle room. I can tell you which book shocked the heck out of me! 😉 But you already know that.



  4. Hi DJ,

    Thanks and those flowers in particular are the most complex ones that I see here. Mind you, the spider orchids are not far behind them, and after such a week of wet weather, the spider orchids have suddenly produced large spears that look like asparagus spears and perhaps they will send their seeds (or spores) to further afield? Dunno. The life here is very complex, diverse and intricate.

    A year back I took a course with an old bloke that had lived all his life on orchards north of here. He’d even attended a prestigious horticultural college in Melbourne way back in the day. And he mentioned that bifurcated apple trees rarely lasted – and I could hear the echo of his thoughts last week as we worked out in the rain.

    Thus proving that dogs are no fools! Incidentally you can read about the convict (if you dare): Alexander Pearce. What surprised me was that despite giving an honest account of himself, he escaped a second time with friends. The prisons had no walls because the distance and isolation was wall enough, although Alexander Pearce made it all the way to Hobart the first time around – no easy feat. I guess it is like the old story about crayfish in that it is always the first meal that is the most difficult…

    Ouch! Yeah, like down here, 18,200 and 14,000 years ago is certainly not that long ago – and there would have been people around to witness it (or be smooshed by it). Hey Barney, did you hear that noise mate?

    A good call! Are warm winter’s wetter winters for you? Winters here are incredibly damp, and the air often has over 90% humidity for months on end. Still, such weather gives the forest a good drink and so I regard it as a positive feedback loop of global warming.

    I impressed that you’ve got your mind around the metric system! 😉 And half an inch of rain is a very wet day in anyone’s language. You winter is not that dissimilar from what I experience.

    Today was at least dry, but thick fog has now settled over the mountain range and it is like pea soup outside.



  5. Hello Chris
    Glorious photos which gave me great pleasure; I went back to admire them again.
    I am also amazed at the notion that larger and more flamboyant is better.
    Not sure of exact details but I gather that firms here have been buying cars that run on either fuel or electricity because it is cheaper. Regret my ignorance but I am assuming that they have to pay a lower tax on them. However, they are then running them solely on fuel!
    I agree that allergies increase because of our excessive cleanliness and use of chemicals. Also that insect life decreases for the same reason but not that fewer insects cause an increase in allergies. Correlation not causation. Boy am I being picky here!
    I formed the impression that the arctic chap knew what he was doing. He was not expecting to get through the winters on solar power
    I have never heard of glory boxes.
    I much enjoyed the Big Short film and it increased my understanding, so I am eager to re-read the book.


  6. Hi Chris,
    I really appreciate that you write something interesting each week and include all the beautiful pictures.

    You have certainly demonstrated that is neither cheap or easy to meet your needs with solar energy. I just shake my head when I hear people around here spout that line especially considering how much colder it is.

    Several of the major car makers are discontinuing smaller cars like sedans and only manufacturing SUV’s and trucks as that’s where the demand is. My sister gets the same car all the time – Toyota Camry with as few bells and whistles as possible because she and her husband like it and find it works well for them even though they could afford something bigger or better. It gets decent mileage, is dependable and long lasting so why not. As they both put a lot of miles on their cars due to long commutes they’ve gone through a fair amount over the years. We’re the same way but don’t have to replace very often like they do.

    Last night on 60 minutes there was a segment on plastic – mostly in the ocean. Since the show has a large audience it was a good segment for any who weren’t aware of the severity of the problem as well as the issues with recycling. It featured the floating boom system to collect plastic invented by Boyan Slat. I had seen him a few months ago on the news saying we can take all this collected plastic and make these – pointing to the sunglasses on his face which is unlikely if even possible with the mix of different plastics. At any rate the visuals were quite awful but not once did I hear anyone really talking about using less but rather how people needed to dispose of it correctly.

    Our weather has calmed down and warmed up to the mid 40’s (F). Long range forecast has no major storms and normal temps if not above. With the crazy weather on the coasts and the southeast I feel that we’re pretty lucky here in the midwest.


  7. Yo, Chris – Io, Saturnalia! Yup. Todays the day. At least on this side of the date line :-).

    Yup. That gas bill would have sent me reeling. What was the make and model of that beast? Although, if you’re like me, and didn’t get the gear head gene, I’m lucky if I can tell the difference between VW bugs and Nash Ramblers. :-). And, could care less. Hummers (Humvees?) were a big deal here, for awhile. They even made a “domestic” model. Horrendous weight, hence, horrendous gas mileage. All that armor.

    I guess I’m as stuck in the mud as the editor, and you. I had two VW bugs in a row. And one would be hard pressed to note the difference between my last Ford Ranger, and this one. Even the same color. Did I mention that someone tried to buy it off me, last week?

    Maybe your grandpa was telling you to be a “defensive driver.” :-).

    I saw an article last night, that Sydney is just getting slammed by the weather. That’s rather an ominous storm front moving in on your place. I do like that kind of thing. Gives me a sick thrill. Our region has some pretty ominous forecasts going, but so far, nothing unusual, here. A bit of wind (25mph gusts) and maybe more to come. Flood warnings are out, but it’s too early to predict which rivers will be effected.

    What are those red things in the fern gully? The hole in the tree round looks like a quantum rift. Stick your hand in there and it ends up in another dimension. :-).

    The berries look yummy. I made a blackberry crisp, last night. In oatmeal, the seeds are a problem. In a crisp, not so much. Corn are heavy feeders, and that includes water. But, with your mulch and shading the ground, probably won’t be much of a problem. The passion flowers look other worldly. Maybe they hitchhiked in, along with the Triffids? Cont.

  8. Cont. Egypt’s been pretty good for color preservation. Dry air, low humidity. But there may be problems with all those people thundering through there. Humidity from breath and tracking in spoors of fungus. But, the archaeologists know that and, I’d guess, measures will be taken. Archaeologists are getting pretty good at stabilizing paint so it doesn’t begin flaking off as soon as it’s exposed to air. The Chinese have figured out how to preserve the paint on the terracotta soldiers. The occasional Roman or Greek sculpture that still has it’s paint has been stabilized.

    The black coffin is a mystery. Three in a box at that time and place was unusual. What will be interesting is when they determine if it was a family group. Father and two adult children? Some unexpected disaster, happened. Plague? Chariot overturn? The people of Alexandria were known for their tendency to riot. Kind of like the French :-).

    Oh, I had to look up when the Mediterranean filled up. I was familiar with the story, but not the time frame. So I’d, you know, appear to know what I was talking about :-). I recently watched a series about Australia. The whole history of peopling, climate and sea level rise and fall. I didn’t mention it, because I had re-watched something I’d already seen. And mentioned, awhile ago. They figure Tasmania emptied out when the climate changed. It went from savanah (easy to hunt in) to thick forest (not so easy to hunt in.) And it happened so quickly that the native people couldn’t keep up with burning off.

    As far as graft and corruption go, invasive tech makes it harder to get away with that kind of stuff. It’s a (slight) silver lining. Of course, it’s easier to manipulate information.

    Lots of authors don’t talk about their current or future projects. Sometimes, it’s for superstitious reasons. Other times, because they don’t want rivals to steal their ideas. “Small events” appeal to a wider audience. They relate to their lives, or, close to. It’s something one can imagine.

    SJW’s slam other people, as it’s how they accrue status. Usually, they don’t have much else going for them :-). Lew

  9. @ Damo – In one of those weird coincidences, that seem to fall thick on the ground around here …

    Now I’ve never made, nor eaten a creme brulee. I don’t know. Something about blow torches and cooking just seems “wrong.” But that’s just me.

    I picked up a book from the library, yesterday, “The Bloomsbury Cookbook: Recipes for Life, Love and Art” (Rolls, 2014). I was giving it a quick look through, and ran across a picture of, what looks like an individual brulee in a small ramkin (like a mini souffles dish) that’s served at Trinity College, Cambridge. Somehow, they burn the college coat of arms, into the top.

    I wonder how they do that? Branding iron? Maybe the same instrument they use for fraternity initiations? I hear those can get quit wild. Lew

  10. Hi Inge,

    Many thanks and how cool was the sunset with the moon just hanging there off towards the west?

    A lot of the time it makes little to no sense that story. I see a bit of ‘get big or get out stories’ and sometimes it works, and other times not so much. A long time back I tried to caution a bloke from going down that path and the story which he stuck too didn’t work out too well for him. He could have done better as a smaller version of his business. Water under the bridge.

    Yeah, I can’t speak for your part of the world, but dual cab utility vehicles (what they call trucks in the US) get a pretty good tax break when they’re in a business, and it’s hardly surprising that they are usually the number one or number two mostly commonly sold vehicle. The rest of the community in effect subsidises the costs. And for some reason they seem to be getting bigger and biggerer! I’m not short, but I’d have trouble peering into one of the vehicles trays they’re so high off the ground.

    I guess so, but the correlation may also have the same causation? Incidentally I read an interesting article recently that suggested that incidence of auto-immune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis is far higher as a person’s usual dwelling is at ever higher latitudes. There is talk that it might have something to do with exposure to sunlight. We’re complex beasties and hardly meant to spend all day indoors.

    Ah yes! One of my favourite films and glad that you enjoyed it. The wiggling young lady in the scene with Steve Carrel was alerted to the fact that she may not have been able to renegotiate her many loans. Interestingly, that story is playing out down here, and neither the book or the film discussed that side of interest only loans in that they are fixed term and have to be reapplied for, but usually as a principle and interest loan – and so I’m reading anecdotal accounts that people are being knocked back by the lenders and may have to move into the shadow banking sector, or sell. It is a nice act by the banks to loan the people the money, and then withhold once the risk goes up. Tidy work. Watch this space as at one stage it was 30% to 40% of all loans issued and they’re coming due for renegotiation.



  11. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you and I look forward to our regular chats. And it is nice being able to share the place with you.

    Hehe! Far out! I wish it were otherwise, and you know, that’s why a lot of that sort of renewable energy future business is more talk than action as nobody wants to pay for the stuff. Incidentally, what I notice is that most people usually preface their enthusiasm with a comment that more or less suggests that the technology will get ‘cheaper and more efficient’ at some unspecified point in the future. That’s a dead give away to me, because batteries are a really old technology and in fact you can see them in use on the series “Deadwood” in the telegraph office. Beautiful old Nickel Iron batteries in glass cases! Incidentally as an interesting side story, those particular batteries have a lifespan of up to 80 odd years, but they’re not very efficient and require a lot of extra charging. It is one of those stories that I have to repeat every now and then because people just don’t get it. Hopefully you will indulge me as I come at the same story from different angles occasionally over the next few years? Hehe! 🙂

    It is weird isn’t it? When you look at private vehicle purchases the cars are often rather small cars (or at least they are considered small these days) such as Toyota Corolla or the Mazda 3 that lead the sales race. I’ve noticed the recent shutdown of manufacturing in the north of your country, and I was surprised that the company would do that given they asked for and received a handout not that many years ago. I would have to suggest that there are obligations there.

    The Camry is quite a good car, and that was what the taxi driver drove us back home in when we got stranded in the big smoke – by the old dirt mouse. It was a hybrid too, not that that would make much difference on the freeway.

    Well done you! Exactly! What other option is there with the plastic? It is a funny world that we all live in. Are you still involved with the recycling centre? That is a very strange story down here, and nobody has really grappled with the practical dimensions of the problem. I read that the local councils still expect to be paid for their recycling waste and are struggling to come to terms with the increased costs of disposal…

    That is quite warm. Shorts and t-shirt weather? Hehe! It is quite nice here at 68’F and with cool nights so I’m not complaining. It will be interesting to see how the plants grow on the next really hot day.



  12. Hi Lew,

    The traditional way to toast and carmelise the top of a creme brulee is with a grill. Not sure how they made a grill before electric or gas elements, perhaps they didn’t have creme brulees before then? At any rate, gas torches are scoffed at by the older, more traditionally minded chefs. Those of us whom are more pragmatic, use the blow torch 🙂

    A seared logo sounds fascinating. Maybe they cut a pattern with foil?


  13. Hi Chris,

    As an aside, when we had the Tesla on the camping trip last month, the overnight temp’s were regularly below freezing. In the morning I would nervously check the battery level and it had usually lost a little bit, but less than what I feared (typically around 5-10 miles worth of power out of a total capacity of 280 miles).

    I understood that when driving there was often cooling fans running to keep the battery pack at optimum temperature.


  14. Hi Lewis,

    Go the Romans! How good were all those public holidays and festivities? My but we work hard nowadays. And I find it fascinating that the early Christians adopted plenty of ‘cultural appropriation’ (bad Chris!) from all sorts of cultures, but I guess whatever works and it is hard to chuck out the good stuff and recruit new members! It also makes it hard to suggest that yours in the one true way when other folks believe same, same, but different, things!

    I didn’t look too closely because I physically recoiled upon seeing the large fuel bill. It was some sort of ‘truck’ and I use that word in the sense of your meaning of the word. Yeah, used to be a petrol head (your gear head) myself and after walking away from a head on accident that was may have been my fault and recognising that I’d used up one of my lives, spontaneously cured me of that interest. I used to do all of the repairs and maintenance on the beasts too, but all good things come to an end, like the vehicle interest.

    Have you come to any decision about the Ranger? Mind you, as a funny side story – and I may have mentioned this to you before – about twenty years ago I encountered a drunk bloke on a late night dog walk, who offered to buy “The Fat” who was a dachshund – corgi mix known as a ‘dorgi’. She was a good dog and wasn’t for sale. A strange incident. The Fat would not have been happy with me. She barely tolerated my presence anyway and would only take instructions from the editor. Although I did teach her one trick which was that I’d command “nipples!” and she’d roll on her back and get a tummy scratch. She knew how to enjoy herself that dog. She got me into trouble with the local vet because she starved her little Jack Russell terrier mate, and the vet thought that it was me. I fed them separately after that and monitored her closely.

    Oh no! Now you’ve given me another option to consider. Far out, talk about unresolved business with the old bloke. 🙂 Thanks for that one! Hehe!

    The red things are proof of origin tags. I kept them on the ferns just so the neighbours didn’t think that I’d knocked them off out of the local forest. Everyone gets so upset these days about a whole bunch of rubbish. One person I know up this way doesn’t have the social credit to be complaining to me as much as they do. Nowadays I give them short shrift. But as you say, it’s all about power and control, although that is a very passive-aggressive technique, which I just don’t respond too well and that makes them look even more out of sorts! I’ll bet you’ve encountered your fair share of those types in your time?

    You might be right about the hole in the tree. Lucky I didn’t do that. But now you’ve mentioned it, the temptation is there. Who knows what might be lurking in the vortex? I’d have to suggest the elder folk are to be found in there – and they may not be too happy with us. Anyway, if I’ve learnt anything about dealing with them, is don’t get snared in their business, and definitely don’t accept any gifts from them that aren’t specifically excluded from any obligation whatsoever, for anyone that you know, or who will be somehow – even remotely involved in your life, now, in the past and into the far future. That might not have been enough qualifying disclaimers. They’re a tricksey folk.

    The storm moving in was very cool – and very epic, but not much wind. Just a lot of rain, lightning and thunder. Hope you liked my Star Trek reference. In a brief journey into the land of geek, I was reminded of Sulu’s encounter with the exploding moon Praxis in Star Trek VI, which was the best of that crews films. Star Trek VI: Destruction of Praxis. Excuse my dreadful pun, but it’s a blast from the past!

    The big event was further north in Queensland where cyclone Owen made landfall. Epic quantities of rain, in fact there was some mention of record breaking. It sure looked wet to me.

    Hey, the terracotta soldier exhibit is again coming down under. I may have to make some time to go and check that out. I saw it as a kid and it was pretty interesting. They did a Pompeii exhibit too and as a kid there was a certain macabre fascination to the exhibits.

    I didn’t realise that about the three in a coffin with the black sarcophagus. There is definitely a story there, although it is a bit of shame that sewage worked its way inside the coffin. Yeah, the French do riots properly. Speaking of which, you might be interested in this little bit of Australian history: What was the Darwin rebellion? It is a good story.

    Yeah, costs and benefits. Interestingly I’m noticing more articles about invasive technology such as tracking devices. And somehow that story got linked with a story about telling kids that Santa and the Elves know what naughty gear they’ve been up to as a sort of cultural grooming activity. Very weird.



  15. Hi Chris,

    What a fruit haul! I confess, I look forward to the flower pics the most. It´s continuously chilly and rainy here, so much so I can´t even work up enthusiasm for Christmas decorations. Maybe I´ll make mince pies instead.

    So based on the comments here, I went ahead a watched a few of those Grand Designs episodes on Netflix. Maybe it´s because I´m not really a fan of ¨modern¨ architecture, but there wasn´t much to my taste. I liked the Japanese house, the Welsh eco-build and thought the cob house project was interesting (but waaaaaaaay too big). And the host is kind of annoying, though I understand he´s supposed to be pleasantly snarky. I´m staying up later than usual to take the puppy out, and running out of things to watch. Wish there were more gardening shows. Oh, and then I made the mistake of googling the projects, the eco house burnt down and the cob guy got divorced and remarried before the project was done. Sigh.

    A very happy holiday to you, the editor and all your readers!

  16. Hello again
    I abase myself. Thanks for your courteous response to my sniping. Of cause the correlation has the same causation. Actually I realised what you probably meant, as soon as I had posted my comment. This happens a lot to me when commenting. Face to face conversation is so much easier as one can make instant corrections.

    We have interest only mortgages which are coming up for renewal here also and people are running into trouble.

    Forgot to say that I found the bifurcated tree very interesting, we have some of those also. The most interesting tree though is in reverse. It is an oak being torn apart from the base as the land slips. It has been doing well for many years, a small version of the huge US one that vehicles can drive through.

    Our leeks are now being left alone. This also happened before. I am wondering whether it is rats that are made ill so stop eating the leeks. Rats are very canny at discovering that certain things are bad for them. These leeks are far enough from the previous ones to have been attacked by a different family of rats.


  17. @ Damo – Here you go. Trinity Creme with the coat of arms burned in the top.


    The picture in the book had the coat of arms much more distinct. The cook that did the one in the picture should be sacked. :-). In another article, it mentioned that they do use a hot iron, to caramelize the sugar. Maybe no blow torches or broilers, involved?

    Now the question is, which came first? The iron to use on brulee, or an iron to brand the bum of fraternity aspirants? Lew

  18. Yo, Chris – Judging from the context, I think your “glory boxes” may be what we call “hope chests”, here. A furniture company named Lane, made their name on those. Usually cedar line. The Lane cedar chests come up at auction, from time to time. In good shape, they still bring a pretty good price.

    I forgot to respond to your inquiry about acid paper. Sooner or later, acid paper in books will do the book in. But, if you take good care of them, they probably won’t fall apart in your life time. Might turn yellow. More likely, you’ll sooner or later “break the spine” and then the pages will start falling out as the glue (as opposed to stitched binding) will have dried out. The libraries I worked in didn’t worry much about acid in paper. Things fall out of interest or favor, before the book falls apart. If it’s a “classic”, they just replace it with a new copy. Publishers are more aware of the problem, now. Occasionally they use acid free paper (and, recycled) as a selling point. Usually, it will be noted on the obverse of the title page, along with the copyright information. Or, a note on the last page.

    I vaguely remember that very early on, there was a papal decree suggesting using pagan temple sites for new churches. And, a suggestion to work in (and go easy on) any local bits of lingering folk lore or celebrations.

    I can’t quit put my finger on it, but there was something a bit creepy about the offer to buy my Ranger. Oh, I think about it, but inertia will probably have me holding onto it. Given my age, it will probably be the last vehicle I own. I’ll probably drive it into the ground. I use less than half a tank of gas, a month. Sometimes, not even that.

    Those passive aggressive types get a good solid eye roll, from me. Apparently it’s been reported I do it quit well. Then they see the back of me.

    I watched the “Destruction of Praxis.” Pretty cool. But even cooler was the YouTube video right after it. A 12 minute survey of all the space ships and stations destroyed in the Star Trek movies. But I didn’t watch the whole thing, as the picture quality was pretty poor.

    The Darwin Rebellion was pretty interesting. The Powers That Be got what they deserved. Judging from what I read, they treated the Northern Territories very bad, in a number of ways. You think The Powers would have learned their lesson. You know, “taxation without representation” is what kicked off our revolution.

    Any noises over there about any of your states, breaking away (’cause I can’t seem to spell succeding.)? We here those kinds of rumbles, from time to time, here. Texas, California (or, a split between north and south California), the entire SE of the US, or, the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think it will happen, unless there’s some huge crisis. Lew

  19. Chris,

    Alexander Pearce? What a story! Just shows what happens if desperate enough, eh? That he started off as a convict, well, there was a lot of that in Georgia and south Carolina in the early colonial period, too. Most people don’t get that what’s now the USA was settled by religious dissidents, prisoners, and indentured servants. Many of the latter two groups were often from the losing Jacobite side from 1689 through the 1740s. My opinion is that the USA has never totally come to grips with those roots.

    Oh, yes, dogs are smart! Cold out? Time to stay someplace warm and sleep. Raining like crazy? Time to stay someplace warm and dry and sleep through it. Hotter than the sun’s surface? Find someplace cooler and try to sleep through it. Humans, on the other hand…

    My father spent a lot of time in the California and Arizona deserts when growing up in the Depression. One lesson he hammered home was that you NEVER EVER make your camp in a dry riverbed. A thunderstorm that you don’t see 30 km away can kill you via the flash flood. And the only warning you get is a noise and someone saying “Hey Barney, did you hear that noise mate?”

    Yes, the warmer “el nino” winters are typically wetter than normal. There may be some Arctic cold mixed in for variety, and those snaps will be bone dry. A typical scenario is for it to be drier than usual, then around December 20, the rain starts. We’re right on schedule. Just had another 1.5 cm of rain in 16 hours. More expected Thursday and Thursday night. Then “seasonal temperatures” with moderate chances of snow showers for a few days, but the highs will all be between 1C and 4C, so nothing will stay around.

    Thanks for the compliment on the metric system. It’s all we used in my chemistry and physics classes back in the Pleistocene, er, the 1980s, so I learned it well. I enjoy the mental task of doing the conversions to metric. I do them in my head for extra mental sharpness. My math teacher when I was 12 and 13 made us do a LOT of arithmetic in our heads. She made it enjoyable, so I kept up with it after she was transferred, then, just kept with it because I enjoyed it. That ability has served me well on many occasions.

    I was new on my job in 1992, at a large open house regarding multiple projects in which the public would be charged. People would ask me what their probable charge would be for their property . My boss had our only calculator, so I just fell back on my training. During a lull, the #2 guy in the organization said that he had been standing behind me with his calculator for 20 minutes and that I was never off by more than 1% or so, which was well within “tolerance”. I gave all the credit to my old teacher, Sister Dolores Crosby. Yup, Bing Crosby’s niece. She was proof that the family was well versed in things other than acting and singing. (She had those talents, too.) I consider myself fortunate to have had her for a teacher.


  20. Hi Coco,

    Thanks, the flowers are nice! One thing in favour of planting a diversity of edible plants is that hopefully, when the weather hits the proverbial fan, there is something to eat! 🙂 This year seems to be an apple and berry year.

    Your puppy looks like a delightful personality and good luck to Breo! I think the appeal of the show for me (and others) is the journey. And for some reason most of the people set their backs to the task of attempting to make the house bigger than they need (what were they thinking?) and all the while they cost more and take far longer than expected. If you look at the story from a cautionary tale point of view, it might give you a different perspective? Dunno. One of my favourites was the ‘woodsman’s cottage’ and the revisit is well worth watching. It had the whiff of a redemption tale, but the bloke was sharp as a tack with an eye to simple beauty. I recommend it.



  21. Hi Inge,

    No worries at all and you have plenty of social credit, and don’t we all have the occasional slip up? I sort of guessed where you were coming from too, so no stress. Exactly too! It would be much simpler to conduct a discussion where I can hear the intonations and see the cues, but you know, this format is all good too – it is simply a bit raw. I see people having text shouting matches on the interweb and they don’t do any good. Interestingly, the story of Beowulf had something to say, or more correctly imply, about that story.

    Oh? Out of curiosity, was your inverted bifurcated tree due to the soil washing away from around the base of the tree? Trees are extraordinarily hardy aren’t they? You mentioned a long while ago about the trees down here being buttressed and it is so true, and interestingly the soil does recede a bit, but in the drip line of the tree. I suspect that the tree is consuming the soil?

    Good call. I’m going to keep my eye out on the leeks and rats too next autumn. But the same thing happened here in that the leeks were consumed, but they soon were left untouched.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, the glory boxes were a real thing and they stopped being maintained about maybe the early 1980’s. Oh that’s them alright. That’s exactly what they looked like. It is interesting, but the federal government pulled the support out from under the textile industry way back in the day, and you know, textile imports soared because they were cheap and I guess people stopped thinking that far into the future. The thing is, people have forgotten to notice that textiles still wear out and long supply lines have been the bane of many a historical disaster.

    I made a custom textile box for the editor years ago. It is still in use today, and the lid doubles as a seat. Of course, I am a bit guilty of over engineering things and that was no exception. I used spotted gum local hardwood and corrugated iron. It looks pretty good too and has withstood the years.

    Thanks for the explanation. Hey, some of the pulp fiction paperbacks date back to the 60’s and 70’s and those ones have definitely yellowed, and yeah the binding is 100% pure glue of some sort. Actually I have noticed some commentary pages within books about the quality of paper used. I guess we’ll never discover the difference in life spans of the different paper grades. Out of curiosity, have you ever read about the paper making (or parchment making) processes that were used in monasteries way back in the day. Interestingly too, the more I read Prof. Tolkien’s commentary on Beowulf, the more fascinated that I am that the original poet wove elements of heathenry and christianity together for his own purpose of introducing the newer religion to the nobility. Little wonder the story was preserved by the scribes. I was wondering about the motivations of that lot and at first I thought that it was they that introduced the religious context into the story. Mate, I’m getting cynical to have thought that at first!

    Definitely a clever stratagem of the early church. I’ve always thought it was a clever strategy to interpose themselves between people and their deity and then claim that any other deities must be the devil. A nice touch and I would never have come up with such genius.

    Mate! There was something slightly creepy about the drunk guy who wanted to purchase “The Fat” out of the blue so it is probably true of your situation too! Someone once remarked that if it looks like a banshee, sounds like a banshee, it probably is a banshee!!! Have you had any insights into the offer? Being a stick shift meant that it was probably not wanted for criminal activity.

    Yeah, maintaining and running them until they can go no more is probably the best middle ground thing to do. Financing is not set up these days for people to attempt that strategy, and I reckon it puts people on a cycle of debt.

    Yeah, let’s blow some starships up! I saw the link to that intriguing video. I never enjoyed Star Wars as much because I thought the Empire were a bunch of numpties for trying to continue building Death Stars only for them to be blown up. The ancient Egyptians were possibly more successful because the pyramids are at least still there.

    Mate, I read plenty of comments over at Mr Kunstler’s excellent blog this week – and what I’ve noticed more clearly than before is that people are staking out positions and then shouting at each other. I’m honestly surprised by the depth of feelings displayed. Generally I’ve noted that when people are arguing vehemently, often what they’re arguing about is not at all what the words are about. There are sores and boils that need lancing – and that was how they decided to go about doing that trick which isn’t necessarily the only way out of that trap – but you know.

    No, I haven’t heard anything on that score, although a few months talk about ‘A republic’ got aired, and then Prince Harry and Megan Markhel turned up and charmed the pants off the population. The last and only referendum we had on that matter I voted against change, but basically the position of President was to be chosen by the Parliament. And I note that on taxpayers dime one of them has become embroiled in a sex scandal. It is not a good look, not because he was looking for some action, but because he is married and has strong christian family values. We have a word for that: hypocrite.



  23. Hi Damo,

    Apologies I almost missed your comment! Ah, the system has collapsed, and yet below is a reply – so perhaps the system has not indeed failed? It’s definitely complicated…

    Cool about the Deadwood film. I was rather fond of Al Swearengen as a character. He had a certain sort of small business mentality that I quite related to, in fact I reckon that the character would have made a good war lord. His side kick Dan was a formidable human too and the fight scene with the other blokes champion was memorable, if somewhat gory. I forget, but have you watched the series?

    Thanks for mentioning your experience with the Tesla. That sounds far better than what I would have imagined. My experience with lithium batteries is rather limited to what I’ve been told by the off grid folks who flocked to them, and the general reason that they gave was that the batteries didn’t suffer from voltage drop anywhere like lead acid batteries do (i.e. you could drain the daylights out of the batteries which is something that you can’t do with lead acid).

    The reason I recognised that something had gone horribly wrong last winter with the system here was due to voltage drop, in that the voltage dropped low enough to switch off the inverter – and that has never before happened. Mind you, the fix has taken quite a while to sort out at considerable expense, but far out, it is working better. I still have one modification to do over the next few days. This stuff is extraordinarily complicated. My original concern about the batteries really related to their use in places as cold and as at high latitude as the Arctic circle.

    I suspect once they’re used in a heavy current application like a car, the chemical reaction will generate its own warmth in the conditions you were in, and as you correctly point out the problem then becomes keeping the batteries cool – as I have to do that here too with the lead acids. Too hot and the capacity also reduces. The temperature has to be just right! Wasn’t that the three little bears or some story like that?

    Someone was trying to scare me about lithium batteries the other day and they suggested that if the casing was compromised, the likelihood of a thermal runaway was very high. I’m not sure I’d want to see that, but as I said I have very little exposure to the lithium batteries and I’m a bit old school in that regard.



  24. Hi DJ,

    Your comment for some reason went into the trash today and that is no drama, but I have run out of time to reply and promise to reply tomorrow. The system has had a few hiccups…



  25. Hello again
    The oak tree has been split by the massive pull of the moving clay aided by a sharp drop in the land close by.
    Our water table has now reached the top again after masses of rain. The leaf drop was huge this year and all I see is leaves on my path. Then when I step on a path, my foot sinks and the water comes above the leaves.
    Shopping in town today and hurrah it was my last shop till the New Year. Son will bring me milk and any newspaper that I want.


  26. Yo, Chris – And, from news of the world you may have missed and might find interesting …

    California has passed a law that starting in 2020, all new home starts must have solar panels. They’re shooting to have 50% of their energy needs being met by non carbon sources by 2030.

    And, there was a longish article about wildfires. How they had been predicted (with accuracy) and why nothing was done to prevent them.


    Glory boxes, hope chests, dower chests … Wikipedia has a pretty good article on them. Google images has some really cool pictures of them (didn’t see the one you built for TheEditor :-). An interesting factoid. Lane cedar chests used to have self locking lids. Until 6 children were trapped and smothered. Then they got around to changing the design.

    Well, you need a lot of sheep to keep yourself in parchment. I haven’t heard the term in a long time, but degree certificates used to be referred to as “sheep skins.” Because degree certificates used to be on parchment.

    I did a bit of rooting about, and Wikipedia has a good entry called “Christianity and Paganism.” It wasn’t a Papal decree, but more a suggestion in a letter that Pope Gregory made in 601 CE. That idols in temples be destroyed, but that the building should be re-used, for Christian purposes. No sense letting a good building go to waste. :-). He reasoned that it also made sense that some places put people in a religious frame of mind, and that was a good place to have a church.

    While I was looking around for “Christian concessions to paganism” I also ran across another article that mentioned that sometimes, The Church would invent a saint, to cover a pagan holiday.

    Oh, the guy that wanted my truck said he needed something to “haul stuff.” Given what I’ve observed about his business and others similar, that makes sense. But you raise an interesting question. I didn’t point out that it’s a standard transmission, and I don’t know if he noticed.

    I used to comment on Kunstler, but stopped after I felt a bit threatened by one of his whack jobs. And, after he spun off into politics, which I find less interesting than city design and the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it. I think I mentioned that I only read the first days comments. And, I suspect Kunstler does, too. And, most commenters I skim right over, and only pay attention to some. I usually quit find what Walter B. has to say, as interesting. Being an official in a small(ish) New Jersey town, his view from the “inside” is often enlightening. Green Alba is also worth a look. A very sharp English woman, she usually has an interesting “woman’s” perspective on some of the comments. Few women, among that lot. Cont.

  27. Cont. Seems like quit a few of our TV evangelists and politicians who beat the “family values” drum, get caught with their pants down. Literally. Always makes my day. :-). Of course, they’re recovery is now getting so rote, it’s referred to as “an apology tour.” Shed a few tears on TV, disappear into “therapy” for a few weeks and all is forgiven. Quit amazing.

    I’m marshaling my forces to get a final bit of shopping done and then hunkering down until it’s all over. I stopped by one of the dollar stores, yesterday, poked my head in and pulled it right out again. The place was madness. At 9:45am. Luckily, the next place was a bit more sedate.

    Although here’s one for you. That whole “social contract” thing. While I was in the store, a young woman in a wheel chair came hacking and coughing down an aisle. People visibly pulled away from her. I do hope it was due to her being in a chair (hard to keep the lungs clear) and not some infectious disease. Like the crying baby incident, no one stepped up and said, “Would you please take yourself and your germs home?”

    And, finally, there’s this …


    Plucked from a list of this year’s grim scientific studies. And, relates to a conversation you’ve been having with Inge. The official title is: “More Than 75% Decline Over 27 Years In Total Flying Insect Biomass in Protected Areas.” Lew

  28. Hi Chris,

    We aren’t holding any more recycling drives until March. Even then there will be some big changes. The county is supposed to be taking over the electronics. For years a man donated the use of his large company trucks and the services (paid) of a few of his employees. Supposedly the county had agreed some time ago to take this over. Those of us who volunteer will still collect styrofoam, batteries, old clothes, vhs and dvds etc. At least that’s what I’ve heard at present. Much to our dismay our refuse company does not pick up recyclables at our new address. It’s the same company but I guess it’s not an ordinance in this county so we’re stuck with throwing it out. I’m looking to find someplace to at least recycle glass (which is what we try to use as much as possible) so I can take ours maybe once a month.

    Still nice weather which is good for all the holiday travels. We’re having our usual three Christmas get togethers. First at my daughter’s home (the one with the twins), the second at my sister’s and it’s the big one with all the extended family and the last and least stressful is here on Christmas day with a friend and youngest daughter and her boyfriend. It will be sad though as Michael and my mother-in-law were always with us too.

    Do you and the editor have any plans and/or traditions?


  29. Hi DJ,

    It is a difficult story for people to accept, especially when it runs counter to current beliefs about origin stories and how they got where they are. Ours was a very grubby history down here. Incidentally, it only took about 17 years from the first European settlement and the consequent change in the land management practices until a major disaster struck. Fully one quarter of the state burned in a few days (the state has the same land mass as the UK). People say fires are bigger nowadays, and I can’t quite agree with that.

    Hehe! Dogs are pretty clever, and wasn’t there an old timer saying about: Mad dogs and Englishmen? 🙂 I avoid the mid to late afternoon sun over summer, but official work routines rarely take into account the season or the weather. Dunno why, it might be worth cogitating upon that matter. Have you got any thoughts about it?

    Hey, that was my line! Hehe! And a very good use of it too. It reminded me of a hippy festival I attended (I went more to hang out with friends rather than partake of any hippy activities) where the rain was epic and the campsite was washed out. The funny thing was that after that people wore serviceable leather boots, jeans and t-shirts, just like I was. Earlier they’d been bagging me off for not wearing tie-dye. That look didn’t work so well for them when push turned to shove.

    Mate, it is not dissimilar from winter conditions here.

    A shame you didn’t get to see the dinosaurs, but the Pleistocene sure would have been interesting enough! Where is that DeLorean when it is needed? That skill is an endangered species these days. My accounting teacher in high school refused to let use use a calculator, even in exams. But few things teach mental arithmetic like working in retail. It would serve you well, and I had to make a conscious choice a few years back about taking up the gentle art again. The cogs had become rusty, so to speak! You were very lucky to have had a good teacher. The school bully sat next to me in Year 9 math and I never caught up, of course I was behind after two years in what could best be described as an experimental high school, but at worst a den of hippy dippyness! I can’t imagine what the creators of that place were thinking? Probably nothing good.



  30. Hi Inge, Lewis, and Margaret,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however the mid-week hiatus has come around again. How fast do the weeks fly by, and 2018 is almost over?

    Lewis – The Californian solar panel goal is a worthy goal. However, what we are seeing down here is that the infrastructure is having difficulties with the intermittency issues. Not to mention usage patterns have not quite altered to accommodate the supply. Even over a beast as big and complex as the grid, the basic function of balancing supply against demand is not as simple an act as you’d think. Eventually, demand will follow supply if only because that is the only possible outcome. We have thought in terms of supply issues for quite a number of decades now, but it wasn’t always that case.

    The awful thing about the wildfires is that resources probably won’t get directed to the task of reducing the fuel loads, because nature has already done that job, and some other sector picked up the costs for consequences. People’s memories are short indeed, and there are so many roadblocks put in the way – basically because it is cheap to do so. Despite having a Royal Commission into the 2009 fires which made some sensible recommendations, I haven’t seen too much in the way of managed burns in the nearby forests. My best guess is that people tend to believe that it doesn’t matter, until it does matter.

    The thing is, the smaller fires prevent the larger fires from occurring. And very little survives a larger fire.

    Oooo. Not good about the self locking lids, and a good device to be rid of.

    I’ll check out the entry on “Christianity and Paganism”. Surprisingly, the light bulb went off in my head this morning as I read Beowulf, and it occurred to me that one purpose of the story was to proclaim that our heroes are tougher and can pursue more noble goals than your heroes. It should have been obvious, but I had no idea what the Sigmund / Sigurd / or Siegfried stories were and so the reference in the story went straight over my head. It was interesting to me that the earlier heroes were considered pretty tough and not to be messed with, but they did enjoy a bit of plunder. Beowulf was a different sort, prideful and yet with a touch of humility. Interesting. Aren’t culture wars fun things to observe?

    Better run! Will speak tomorrow.



  31. Hi, Chris!

    I too have seen people with such petrol bills. Maybe they have really big gas tanks? I never let my truck get less than half full, possibly something to do with living 8 miles (13 km) from the nearest gas station, so I can only guess at what a full tank costs as our gas is only $2 per gallon right now. I think my tank holds 15 gallons of gas.

    I have been thinking about Australia’s supposed energy shortages. I have read recently of a new coal mine opening up and that already a great deal of coal is mined in Australia, but my impression is that a huge amount of it is exported? So, if one is going to use the stuff, at least be conservative and keep it for use at home.


    The sunset with the moon is one of the most fabulous photos I’ve ever seen. The other sunset photo is astonishing, too, as is the storm clouds photo. I love the contrast with all the bright summer greenery.

    Quite a lot of our trees are bifurcated. We call them “split” as in a split oak. I think at least some of them got that way when deer browsed the small saplings by nipping off their tops, then two new shoots grew out where the tree had been one straight young trunk. They do hold water in the split, as it gradually rots out. Boy, do mosquitoes love that!

    That’s a nice stump grinder.

    Will you be pruning your grape vines? I am so slipshod about that. Possibly it doesn’t matter? Things eat our grapes anyway . . .
    The corn looks superb; fingers crossed!

    Sunday morning we had no water and spent 12 hours that day tracking down the cause – it was the well pump – and then several days replacing the pump. I was so pleased to find that there is still a drilling supply store here, the same one that was here when our well was drilled 27 years ago (we had the same pump all that time). We bought a new pump from them (same brand) and they had much useful advice. My son made a tool for pulling the pump out of the well and he and my husband did so. The well is 150 feet (46m) deep and the pump was 117 feet (35.6m) down. I had always thought that the pump was much higher up. We do have water again. A switch and a valve were replaced at the pressure tank, too.

    Thanks for the flowers!


  32. @ Lew:

    I did read Judith Curry’s article on Cliff Mass – it was excellent – and I wrote to all of the people you suggested, using their names so that they would understand that they have some personal responsibility in this. I liked this final comment in Ms. Curry’s piece:

    “And finally, a closing comment about Cliff Mass. While this can’t be fun for him, I’m not too worried about Cliff Mass: Cliff has friends in high places and an enormous ‘bully pulpit’ in terms of his blog and radio show. Trying to take him down isn’t going to work.”

    When our water went out lat weekend (it was the pump) I immediately thought of you and your old place.


  33. Yo, Chris – There ARE Christmas miracles! :-). I think I’ve found a reliable source for free range eggs. And, duck, rabbit or chicken if I want it.

    There was an EF-2 tornado, up on the west side of Puget Sound. Cliff Mass talked about it, a few days ago. It happened at a town called Port Orchard. About 400 homes were damaged or destroyed. Plus, a wooded area was flattened. Prof. Mass seemed, not surprised that they happen here (they do) but at the time of the year.

    Right now it’s pouring down rain and we may get high wind, this afternoon. Lew

  34. Chris,

    Yes, retail keeps those arithmetic muscles well toned. I worked retail for about 8 months in a “convenience store”. Our cash registers went out one evening during the evening rush. The boss took the calculator, I did things in my head, although we both had to write everything down so we could enter all the transactions when the registers came back on line. That was a wild 90 minutes!

    So, why do humans work fixed schedules year-round regardless of the weather and length of daylight hours? We think we’re above nature, aka, I think it is a symptom of Mr. Greer’s current essay at Ecosophia regarding “running from nature”. If we take a look at any “primitive” society, we’d find that these people are smart like dogs, know when to be outside and active, when to be in the shade, when to hunker around the fire under shelter. When relating to others and to nature, in all of nature’s aspects, is more important than money or possessions, then one can behave naturally. When these ideas are subordinate to money and things and objects, then, well, Mr. Greer’s idea comes into play.

    There’s likely more to it than that, as some “brands” of some religions think that nature is here for the pleasure of humans. Some more extreme versions of this belief suggest that man is supposed to subdue nature. And it’s hard to subdue something if you’re living in harmony with it! So that nature is already a foreign, objectified other. Add that to “running from nature” and it’s getting close to the heart of the matter.


  35. Hi Inge,

    Trees are enormously hardy and I recently saw one of my favourite species of trees, Blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon) which was sitting in the middle of a creek bed, and the roots had been exposed by the action of water over the years. But the roots had also wrapped themselves around the rocks (some of which were quite large) and the tree was enjoying a good drink of reliable water. Trees are quite clever and they’re survivors.

    Reactive clays are a problem soil down this way too, and I read an article suggesting that some houses are cracking because of the swelling and shrinking of the clay with changes in the water table. Oh! And it affects water pipes too (which may also be a problem in your part of the world): SA water pipes replacement program gets $55 million boost after Adelaide flood incidents.

    It is raining here right now and outside the wind is blowing and honestly it looks like winter. Next Thursday looks set to reach 97’F, but with no wind to speak of (which is a good thing). All up, summer has been very pleasant – and I moved some errant hollyhocks today and relocated them into the fern gully where they should do quite well.

    I hear you about not going into town, and I expect to hang around now for the next few weeks – and I’ll thoroughly enjoy that time too! 🙂



  36. Hi Margaret,

    Electronics are a tough one, and I have no idea what happens to those items and even the extent to which they are recycled is honestly a bit of a mystery to me. There are a lot of very interesting minerals in those devices. I was in the big smoke on Wednesday evening and dropped off two of our old dead interweb modems into a bin that was purportedly for electronic goods. I’m finding that I get between one and two years use out of those devices, but they are also extraordinarily complicated and they work very hard, so that does not surprise me at all. I sent one of them off for repair once under warranty and I’m not exactly sure that the manufacturers did anything at all to it, other than send it back to me. There are very few locations down here to send such items off to be recycled and it may be that they end up in landfill.

    The entire recycling situation is complicated and nobody wants to take the big stick to anybody: Paper waste collected by Visy Industries proving to be landfill problem for Gundagai community. The old timers used to say something about not upsetting the apple cart although I have no idea what they meant by that. I tend to feel that the problem is like the fat berg problem in sewers, in that they are caused by human behaviour. I watched a lady in the city today wipe a park bench – with something that looked a wet wipe – before sitting on the bench, and then she flicked the wet wipe onto the ground, in a park of all places. I dunno, not much of that makes any sense to me.

    Your Christmas traditions sound lovely and it is nice that you’ll enjoy good weather. This Christmas day the forecast is for 84’F and sunny weather with not much wind, which frankly sounds like a very nice day. We have Christmas traditions usually with our mates of the big shed fame. It is a lot of fun and they’re excellent cooks and often aim to supply their own produce. Yum! One year it was over 100’F and a spontaneous water fight broke out. Best Christmas ever, but not everyone enjoyed the water fight and some feathers were ruffled, but I sure did!



  37. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Yes, you are correct, they probably did have a huge fuel tank on that car. Incidentally, they were pumping diesel fuel and that was at about $1.60-ish a litre (about $6.08 per gallon) on that day. I’ve noticed recently that world oil prices have dropped a bit, probably due to demand reduction combined with increased supply. Just to freak you out, the new dirt mouse holds 10 gallons and can travel just under 500 miles per tank. The old dirt mouse was good, this new one is remarkable.

    Oh yeah, we’re sending heaps of coal to Asia. And they get the black coal (which is drier) in preference to the brown coal (a far higher moisture content) that we use in generators in this southern state. Of course brown coal does not burn anywhere near as cleanly and produce as much energy as black coal. We seem to be getting up there in terms of exporting natural gas too, although there are dark stories that mention domestic gas shortages: Gas shortage, price surge could be ‘death knell’ for business owners. I’m not sure what was done about that, but the issue has gone quiet for a while. That doesn’t suggest that the issue has gone anywhere… We have to export because we import so much stuff (almost 91% of oil products now).

    Pam, thank you! That is high praise indeed. 🙂

    I’d heard that term ‘split oaks’ used from your part of the world and had no idea what it meant. Thanks for the explanation. Mosquitoes… An itchy and scratchy experience! Down here, the core of the tree holds water in the split, but only the burrowing insects can access it.

    Absolutely, R is for ruthless, and as time goes on, we’re getting more so with the plants. Of course there is a give and take too with that and we’re looking for the middle ground between the factors of work; resiliency; and productivity. It is complicated, but the grapes have a second run of wire to climb along, and we may let them escape out of the fruit cage. And yeah, the birds are fans of grapes…

    You are also lucky that the pump failure had not occurred during the Christmas shut down of local businesses. It is interesting that you mention the well pump switch, but I use a few of those devices too, and am wondering whether I should give them an annual squirt of insecticide and lubricant. It is the sort of space that spiders would enjoy moving into, and the device is as much mechanical as it is electrical. Your pump was an extraordinarily good purchase to have lasted as long as it has and the effort of having to pump water up from such a depth is no small matter.

    My pleasure about the flowers and I hope that you enjoy the window into summer as the season here continues!



  38. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! Good one. Do you know, I sort of suspect that the ability to estimate the approximate answer to a basic arithmetic problem has been also lost somewhere along the way (we may all have to look to see whether it has fallen behind the couch?) On a serious note, during a massive thunderstorm the other morning, I was in a big hardware store and their power went out. Fortunately for them the power was restored within a minute or two, but at the time I was trying to find some stainless steel goodies and wondering how they were going to cope with the cash registers (and scanners s nothing has prices on it anymore).

    Mate, I’m in nature up to my eyeballs, and will check out his essay after replying here! I see that there are 191 comments already… I’m impressed that Mr Greer can cope with such a volume of comments. Respect.

    It is a complicated philosophy to feel that you stand apart from something that you are also immersed deeply (and in fact are a part of) within and indeed rely upon every single moment of your existence. I am not nearly intelligent enough to understand the world through that lens.

    Mate, I was in the big smoke yesterday and saw a single insect. One insect, and that was near to a large park. It is not good at all. And nobody seems to notice. Oh well.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    The weather here is completely bonkers. Inside the house is quite pleasant at 68’F, but outside the rain is arriving in waves, the wind is roaring, and the air is quite cool at 54’F. Obviously you would consider that to be quite warm given the weather you are currently enjoying. Next Thursday may get up to 100’F… I moved a few errant hollyhocks into the fern gully earlier this afternoon. The hollyhocks have done extraordinarily well in the fern gully and so a few more won’t hurt. Plus just before the rain hit I dumped a huge load of wood ash, coffee grounds and coffee husks, all about that area. The plants and soil are going off like a frog in a sock there! And I discovered another yabby up in that part of the farm. Obviously the conditions are good. I have no idea how those crustaceans survive predation from the local birds. Mind you, they may walk over land at night, but then there are the owls and nightjars… Dunno.

    Got the new electric preserving unit in the mail today and I’m so impressed with it. A good way to describe the unit would be “old, but unused”. Or the folks sure knew how to clean the machine. The whole thing is stainless steel and they supplied it with ten bottles of the size that we already had. It is genuinely bonkers the stuff that people dispose of thinking that they have no further use for. I suspect that the device was a wedding or engagement present to a disinterested person many years ago, and they just never used it. The domestic economy is where the great savings are to be found these days! You know I’ve encountered folks who pride themselves on having a very low score on that front, and I’m uncomfortable with that. Imagine eating three meals a day and not knowing how to cook from scratch – or even where produce comes from. It is outrageous!

    The other day I had to travel into the big smoke to go to an electronics shop to pick up larger circuit breakers for one circuit in the solar power system (a sad tale that one, and the final modification I believe – at least what I’m aware of) and I got lured into picking up a digital radio. Some of the devices that are sold these days are phenomenally high quality and this was one of those things. The radio that I use when I’m working about the property died, and I spent a while in the shop comparing all of the devices because they were not the same at all. The staff were rather bemused by my testing, until a young lady who worked there and looked like a lesbian revolutionary (all tough and scary, but she knew her electronics unlike some of the other staff) remarked that I’d picked the best of the bunch and we had a bit of a pleasant chat about the device and the general quality of things these days.

    Really, degree certificates on parchment? There is something quite earthy about that. Mine looked like it was churned out of a colour laser printer, which was a bit of let down. I was expecting to see a wax seal or something exotic like that. Nowadays you barely see rubber stamps being used, let alone wax seals. An elegant technology from a more elegant time.

    I’ve never quite understood the middle eastern desert religions distaste for idols when there seem to be plenty of them in churches. It could be argued that our system of writing is a form of iconography, especially if the words are used to produce art. I read a lovely short story today by an Australian author, if you have the time I recommend it: Tim Winton: The swimming chair.

    Oh! And Sydney had green skies and cauliflower shaped hail. Green thunderstorms: there have been many theories behind the mysterious glow. Nothing interesting like that happens down here, it just sort of rains (except when it doesn’t)!

    It is a problem and most people are unable to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission (stick shift). Something like over 80% to 90% of vehicles down here nowadays have automatic transmissions and that is despite them costing far more. I dunno!

    Yeah, you’ve mentioned that before about the comments. Such folk don’t scare me, because they would never say such things to my face. I can’t really fathom Jim’s motivations and that is because he is an interesting guy. Most people I can clearly see their motivations, but not Jim, he appears as obscure to me. And he always has interesting things to say, even when I fail to understand the political dimensions of the discussion (due to being an outsider) of the discussion, I still enjoy his sharp wit. I support his writing efforts through Patreon, but I keep noticing dark murmurs on that front and have no idea what to make of it. Writers need to be supported. And yes, there are some very sharp brains commenting on that blog.

    Haha! We’re a bit less forgiving down here on that score, and the tears look a lot like crocodile tears. Religion doesn’t play a big part of politics down here, but if it does, far out, they better be good to their word, or people are coming for them. 🙂 But yeah, I feel that there is a general sense of enjoyment at their fall from grace – and then they become unemployed ex-politicians. Better not to claim higher morals in the first place!

    Good luck with the shopping! I discovered the market that is closer to me (than the one in the big smoke) is open later and is quiet in the late afternoon. When I went there in the morning once I was reminded of the time I used to have to go to the bank to deposit cheques for a business on pension days… It was a two hour extravaganza queue in those days!

    It is funny that you mention that about the hacking and coughing, but there have been some fascinating developments in the state to the north of this one: No Jab, No Play: Health researchers register rise in vaccinations following welfare payment cuts.

    Thanks for the link. Ouch! You know, to me I see the contrast between here and the big smoke and it is frightening. But it has occurred on such a time frame that it maybe not noticed by most, and anyways insects are bad aren’t they? Looking ahead I suspect that plant and other diseases will move into those niches because there will be an increase in the available biomass to consume. Already I read reports that a flesh eating bacteria seems to be spreading in the big smoke and that sort of thing may become more common. Flesh-eating bacteria could be spread by mosquitoes, scientists warn. The vector for the disease is currently speculated upon but unknown. I tend to feel that such things get a look in because, it is a bit like: I bake my own bread and so bakers yeast would be on my hands now whether I like it or not. But if a household took germ eradication seriously, which they could, then their skin would be very different and who knows what might move into such a niche. Better to have the niche already full with not so nasty lifeforms.

    Well done finding the local source for free range eggs and meat. Yummo! I’m salivating thinking about free range roast duck.

    Ha! Our weather patterns are in sync! Right now outside it is pouring down rain and the wind is blowing hard. 🙂 I’ll check out Cliff Mass’s blog post. He too has interesting things to say.



  40. Chris:

    Thanks so much for the gas shortage article. I hardly know what to think; it seems a case of cutting one’s throat while at the same time shoveling food into one’s mouth. It can’t last. Here in the States we were doing the same thing, though I think it has slowed down. We were exporting liquefied natural gas and coal that we may well need some day. I’m not sure how much oil the U.S. exports – I think it is quite a lot – but western Canada has been quite chaotic of late over petroleum production:


    Another one – this one needs popcorn. I have seen a photo of this mayor, he is really young and I wonder if he couldn’t have been a bit more circumspect and kept the tourist funds coming in while dealing more tactfully with the very wealthy energy companies. Perhaps he does his town a disservice. Note that the town of Whistler itself has increased energy usage.


    I have just discovered that President Trump has just signed an executive order that from now on Christmas Eve shall be a federal holiday. This means that the bank I was going to on Monday will be closed, so I will have to trek into town today or tomorrow. You would think that he might have planned ahead. I see that the post office will still be open that day; I guess it couldn’t be brought to an abrupt halt. I have a feeling that this is a bad political move as the 80% of Americans who don’t work in government may well resent this.

    You are having way crazier weather than I, but yesterday’s high was 39F (3.9C), yet when I got up this morning it was 59F (15C) with a warm wind. We have had lots and lots of rain, too.

    Bleach was poured into our well after the pump was installed because some of the pipe pulled up looked a bit like they might have mold. It has been awful clearing it out. We have been drinking bottled water for 3 days and it seems ok now, but thousands of gallons of water had to be run through all the pipes to clear them. It’s a terrible waste. Before I realized how much bleach was still in the water I did a load of laundry with my work clothes. I now have tie-dyed work clothes and have lost my status as best-dressed farm girl. I am now a hippie.


  41. Yo, Chris – I watched “I Think We’re Alone Now”, last night. A post apocalyptic tale. A small (no pun intended) story staring Peter Dinklage (who is also one of the producers) and Ele Fanning (who I also saw recently in “Mary Shelley” which was quit good). Dinklage lives in a small, upstate New York town and works at the library. One afternoon, everyone but him drops dead. No explanation. So, he moves into the local library and generally putters around, cleaning up the town, one house at a time. Then Fanning shows up. He asks her to leave, being quit content with how things are, but, of course she weasels her way into his life. To say more would uncork spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. I quit liked it, but it may not be to everyone’s taste.

    Go Yabbys! Wonder if there’s a sports team, out there, somewhere, that take the yabbys as their mascot? Properly managed, The Editor and you may get one good feed out of them, a year.

    Kudos on scoring the electric preserving unit. And, the radio.

    Oh, I think degrees were more of a “big deal” in Ye Olde Days. Graduation ceremonies, and all. Nowadays, your lucky if they don’t get lost in the mail.

    Well, according to the book I just read, “The Darkening Age”, early Christians thought demons actually lived in the idols. Of course, they thought actual demons lived in a lot of things. And then there’s the whole thing about the commandment (one of the big ten) about other gods. Which has been interpreted pretty fast and loose, depending on time and place. There was even a period where Christians ran around smashing up their own pictorial stuff. See “iconoclasts.”

    Different religions and sects have different … tolerances (or not) to art. The church I was raised in was very “plane.” But I realized recently, that they were ok with 2D art, but anything that slipped into 3D, made them pretty uncomfortable. The Amish supply their children with home made dolls, but they have no facial features. For religious reasons.

    Well. The poop has hit the fan, around here. Media attention and lawyers are becoming involved. I did a quick Google search and there are at least 12 stories floating around on the net. Including CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) which is a pretty big deal, among some segments of the population. Here’s a link to one of the less hysterical articles. Nice picture of The Home, too. This is the side of the building I live on.


    Head down, nose clean. Think I’ll bake banana muffins. (Cont.)

  42. Cont. That’s an interesting article on the green cloud. Swamp gas? :-). My theory is that the air is getting so laden with moisture that algae is beginning to grow up there 🙂 . I thought it was going to be one of those “whole sky” deals. When the sky turns that sick green yellow, and you know something really bad is on the way. The hail looks more like rosettes, to me. Quit pretty, unless they’re coming down on your head, or through your car window.

    The whole vaccination thing has, as the article says, become polarizing. Politicized. A can of worms. Some believe (with an almost religious fervor) that vaccinations are the cause of the rise of altism. (sp?). Which, if you dig a bit, seems to be based on some pretty shaky (and discredited) science from one doctor.

    Yeah, flesh eating bacteria stories get a lot of play here. Sounds like a bad horror movie. Too many antibiotics? Swim in the wrong place and microbes will eat your brain. Lots of anthrax lives in the soil. Life is like that. You pay your money and you take your chances. Lew

  43. @ Pam – I dropped a couple of e-mails, too. I hope Prof. Mass isn’t suffering too much disruption in his life. Pies being thrown in lectures. Hacking problems. And, all due to a small, very vocal, uncivil, minority. Well, maybe Christmas break will cool things down, a bit. Lew

  44. @ Lew:

    I got a reply (a form letter) to my email concerning Cliff Mass from the Office of the President, the University of Washington. I hadn’t realized that the whole fracas was about this:

    ” Several months ago, Professor Cliff Mass wrote a post outlining his position to the proposed carbon tax in the state of Washington (Initiative 1631). In that post, he included a picture that some members of the UW community and beyond found offensive.”

    I don’t think I read that blog post. Do you remember it?


  45. @Coco

    RE: Grand Designs

    I find Kevin’s snark delightful, in the context of making an entertaining show. Most of these people are spending way too much money on a house they don’t really need. Getting taken down a peg or two is warranted 🙂

    If you are looking for something else to watch, and want to see what Kevins actual personality is like, check out a series called Man-Made Home. The first season is best (4 episodes). He makes a cabin from hand, using a lot of recycled materials etc. Worth checking out!


  46. Estimating the answer before even doing any calculations is more important than most people think. I was fortunate to get a lot of that idea in university physics courses. One of my first bosses on my current job called it the “dumb test”: one MUST have a general idea what the answer should be, because believing the computer without any critical thinking can lead to severe blunders. Apparently that is no longer a skill being taught, as I’ve had to correct some of the younger engineers for some very shaky answers. I’m not an engineer, and have a lower level job than the engineers, so life gets interesting. (Giving my best Richard Nixon impersonation, both hands flashing peace signs while saying, “I am NOT an engineer!”) And yes, I have been known to do the Nixon impersonation on the current job…

    I have no idea how MR Greer does what he does to begin with, but to respond to (nearly) every single post is awe inspiring. I say “nearly” because he does skip one sometimes. Not understanding how he does it, I really don’t get upset when I’ve been skipped in his replies, the one time it has happened. He’s impressive.

    I’m finding that my understanding of the world is diminishing regardless of the lens I view it through. Life was MUCH easier when I was 18 and knew EVERYTHING!

    Bugs and insects? Even though we’ve had a few nights around -10C, I notice the odd bug or insect outdoors on occasion. To see only one in late spring/early summer, man, that is NOT a good thing.


  47. @ Pam,
    I’ve read Trump’s Christmas Eve executive order. Although I’m local government, I do get any day off that the President gives to Federal employees. I’m pretty sure that the order is for this year only, due to Christmas being on a Tuesday. Both Obama and Bush did the same thing as a one time only when Christmas was on a Tuesday. If this had been a permanent thing, all my coworkers and I would STILL be dancing and the local elected officials would still be in a collective swoon.


  48. Hi Chris,

    The system works, thats all I can say!

    I have indeed watched Deadwood – it is a favourite of mine and comes from the golden era of HBO tv series (The Wire and Carnival are also well worth your time if you like the “sprawling novel type show”). I felt Deadwood captured the essence, and often ugly, truth of building a community, although I have no personal experience to know if it is indeed like this. At any rate, the show came across as a form of truth.

    The Tesla did indeed perform a lot better than I thought. It is worth pointing out the car costs around $120k USD brand new, so one would hope it works well 🙂 Now, to just convince people that buying a premium, luxury sport sedan is *not* actually saving the planet….

    My experience with Lithium Ion batteries is limited to model aircraft. They are pretty fantastic, but very dangerous. You can reliably drain them to 20% of rated capacity with minimal ill effects. But if you take them lower….. (hint, it rhymes with fire). And that is not taking into account the mass of wiring you need – each individual cell needs to be monitored and charged separately. Very expensive and complicated. For applications that are *not* weight or space sensitive, I don’t think they are the best choice. But then, when I try and tell people that using a grid connection is the most environmentally friendly option, their blank looks suggest maybe I have no idea :-p


  49. @Chris and Lew
    RE: stick shift

    Fun fact, when walking streets in Germany earlier this year – I would count the number of parked cars that are manual VS automatic. It was consistently ~90% of cars with a stick/manual transmission. Very high, and suggests cultural factors at play.


  50. @Lew

    I wanted to see that Peter Dinklage movie, the trailer for it was interesting. And who doesn’t love a good post-apocalyptic tale? 🙂

    I read the link on your Wardens Christmas Spirit crackdown. What a mountain out of an ant-hill! The mind boggles at what is really happening here. The sad thing is, it really creates stress for the inmates, who all things considered, are probably at a phase in their life that don’t want it.

    Mind you, my grand-parents, bless them, go on and on about the latest happenings at their golf club. Once, someone left a rubber snake on the green at hole 15. They are still talking about it now, it was *very* inappropriate!! Maybe they have the right of it though, you can never change the big things, so fussing about the inconsequential probably makes more sense :-p


  51. Hi all,

    I read the latest Greer article the other day re: hypocritical nature of modern, left-leaning, environmentalists. In particular, their inability to walk the talk, and actually consume less.

    These sorts of posts always seem to be pretty popular. And for good reason, everyone loves to hate a good hypocrite. But, reading all the comments, “I grow vegetables”, “I dry my clothes on the line” etc etc, I was reminded of taking confession with a priest. It all felt like everyone was wanting their lifestyle absolved by Mr Greer. I have felt this religious/congregation vibe before with Mr Greer, and it makes me slightly uncomfortable. But I still read his posts, they are often very insightful.

    For myself, I am fully aware my lifestyle is not sustainable for the planet if multiplied by 7 billion. But then, this is true of anyone reading this. I am not sure what getting hung up about tinkering with numbers on the margins will achieve. Am I too cynical?

    It might be time for another drink :-p


  52. Hi Pam,

    It is a conundrum isn’t it? The stories are a bit same, same but different. We pretty much have to sell the gas and coal overseas because we’re now at about 90% reliant for imports of crude oil products and 100% for the heavy oil products. The local extraction I’m told is light and sweet crude and not much good for heavy oil uses such as bitumen and diesel.

    As far as I understand things, the state I’m in has a moratorium on fracking, but the two states north of here produce quite a lot of gas for export via that process. I’m not sure that it is good for the ground water table. The Canadian experience sounds very, err, not good. Yeah, drought assistance to farmers down here often comes in the form of loans and they’re probably not a good idea to accept when in trouble.

    And Whistler, well I see a lot of people wanting to keep their cake and eat it too. People are bonkers about this stuff, and act as if it doesn’t matter, until it does matter, and usually by then it is way too late. Most people are reasonably well meaning, but mostly we just lack a larger perspective and a respect for the biosphere that keeps us all alive and fed from moment to moment and we try to cheat it and pretend it doesn’t matter. It is like the lady I saw the other day who wiped the seat the in the public park and then pushed the used towelette onto the ground.

    It might be that the benefits aren’t spread very evenly with the public holiday, but the costs sure are! Public holidays have to be published in the government gazette down here.

    We’re having about the same weather as you today. 63’F but partly cloudy. I did the final fix on the solar power system today – and in a nick of time too. The sunny cold days are the ones where the panels produce more power than what their maximum rating is meant to be. And sure enough after the fix, I checked and away the system went and exceeded outputs again!

    What sort of pipes have you got running into the well? I would have assumed that they were some sort of food grade plastic like polyethylene – which is what is used here. Drinking water is a major chunk of infrastructure.



  53. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the film review. He’s a good actor and thanks for not sharing the spoiler! Hopefully it was not a rom-com with zom’s (zombies) given the nature of the topic? I enjoy a good rom-com and they are thin on the ground these days. I’ve made a note and will track down a copy.

    I modified one of the circuits in the solar power system today. The pesky panels are rated at a maximum output, but for some reason when the air is cool and the sun is high in the sky around the summer solstice, the panels produce more energy than what they are rated at. I set the cut-off for the circuit at too low an amount based on the maximum rating and that particular circuit has been very occasionally switching itself off. Not good, because it doesn’t switch itself back on again… So fixed that this afternoon. Surely something else new and interesting will occur with the solar power system between now and I dunno, at some unspecified point in the future. Although I may add just one more panel in autumn. That is the plan anyway. There is no roof space for further panels!

    The yabbies are interesting aren’t they, and they arrived – like a lot of wildlife here – unlooked for. I’ll have to learn something about their life-cycle, but two turning up in quick succession is a good sign. I’ll try and take a photo of the mud sludge that it excavated, but the rain yesterday may have washed it away.

    The preserving unit is pretty good. It is the real deal 70’s device but is extraordinarily simple and should go for years. I will test it tomorrow. I had to face the indignity of going to another orchardist that I know this morning and purchase a huge box of organic apricots to bottle. It has been a rough year all round for fruit trees – although the apples and olives should do very well.

    Degrees have value these days, but the over supply of graduates keeps student debt running high and graduate pays low, which in turn reduces the value of the degree. Incidentally, the legal profession has itself been scrutinised by the authorities for their own work practices: King & Wood Mallesons’ Worksafe investigation lifts lid on a can of worms. It appears to be an ugly business.

    Gotta run will speak tomorrow!



  54. @ DJSpo:

    Ah – a one-time special! Thanks so much for clarifying that and that is what I get for reading a news bulletin and not delving more deeply.


  55. @ Damo:

    What a fascinating observation – and it took a Damo to think of it! -about the German cars. Maybe somewhat understandable in the place that manufactures Porsches, BMWs, and Mercedes-Benz.


  56. Chris:

    It was 63F here yesterday, just like you, and the bugs came out and they were all over the place and the birds that eat them. I feel so fortunate! We let them live in the house, too. Maybe that helps a bit?


  57. Chris:

    My son says that the pipe running into the well is a type of Black Polyethylene Tubing. I missed most of the fun Monday when they were installing the pump as it was my day for town.


  58. Hi all,

    Happy solstice, Festivus and/or Merry Christmas. Taking an internet break for a few days.


  59. Yo, Chris – Not a rom-com. No zombies :-).

    Your solar system. How do you stand the excitement? :-).

    Our craw dads, seem a bit more aquatic, than your yabbies. I’d guess your lot probably use the winter rains to expand range and dig burrows, while the ground is softer.

    I was trying to get a “fix” on your electric preserving unit. I gather it’s like this:


    Check out Ball’s other canning appliances. Some interesting stuff. I hope you got a manual with your rig? Also, you may want to check out the comments to, maybe, head off some potential problems.

    Oh, I wouldn’t feel to bad about having to purchase apricots. If the apricot guy has as many crops as you do, something probably didn’t do too well. Does he even HAVE olives?

    I couldn’t read much of the article on lawyers, as it’s a subscription site. But, I’m aware of how the low level lawyers at large firms are often the dog’s bodies of the legal profession. Ohhh! A “listening tour.” Do tour, write a report, file it … somewhere. Nothing changes. Although, maybe they’ll present certificates of appreciation, once a year. Probably not printed on parchment. That will fix everything. Or, am I being to cynical? :-).

    I was looking through a “books to give for Christmas” catalog and noticed an “Annotated Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.” He was an effective Union general, during our civil war, and one of the president’s, soon after Lincoln. I’ve been meaning to get around to reading a newish book about him (not the memoirs), but the library hold list is long.

    I’m interested, only because Grant was post commandant at our very own Ft. Vancouver, down on the Columbia River. For a few years before the Civil War. I visited the Grant House Museum, decades ago. Saw the ACTUAL bed that Grant slept in. Made my day. 🙂 Lew

  60. @ Pam – Initiative 1631 was going to be a State carbon tax. I read Prof. Mass’s post, pretty carefully, as I’d have to vote on it. In general, he didn’t like it as he thought it could be so much better. He also thought, the way it was being proposed, that the tax would fall heaviest on the poor and middle class.

    Also, his sense of Democracy was offended a bit, because the people overseeing this vast windfall of money, wouldn’t be elected officials. In other words, not answerable to the voters. And, the bill was pretty vague about how the money would be used to “reduce carbon.”

    The way I read the picture of “pigs at the trough” was, more pork barrel politics. Through some convoluted logic, the PC Police saw that as some kind of an ethnic or religious slur. Hmmm. I wonder if the PC Police still refer to law enforcement officers as pigs? Or, has that fallen out of favor? Sigh. So hard to keep up. Lew

  61. @ DJSpo – I used to do a pretty good impression of Nixon’s “I was born in the house my father built.” Which is the opening (and much laughed at) line of his autobiography. Shaking jowls and all. But as Nixon slips out of living memory, fewer and fewer people “get it.” Lew

  62. @ Damo – Maybe I’ve always gone with standard transmissions as I’m half German? :-). They’re also cheaper and easier to repair. Which a lot of people don’t take into consideration. Standard transmissions, here at least, also still have a bit of a guy/hotrod vibe.

    I think some of the absolution seeking over on Greer also has a bit of a whiff of virtue signaling. But, yeah, all the self flagelation (sp?) gets a bit tiresome. I could brag on about my small carbon foot print, but I’m very aware that were I not retired, it would be a lot harder to pull off. And, a lot of the stuff I do are pretty much small economies, that I do automatically. More thrift, than save-the-world.

    I think it’s in the comments this week (and, I’ve seen it before) Greer says we do the best we can given our circumstances. Be at least thoughtful, and maybe try and do better.

    The situation here at The Home, is pretty complex. We have an house manager, who works on-site, 40 a week. She replaced a manager who had been here since the place opening. Her, I feel a little sorry for. She’ll be the fall guy / flack catcher. But only a little. We all know how “I was only following orders” plays out. The Beast flies in on her broom, but spends a bit of time here as we are such a “problem.” Above her is some guy in Seattle we never see. He “fully supports” his minions.

    Yeah, the distress of the Ladies, distressed me, a bit. Sure, some of the changes have inconvenienced me, but then, I look at it as a “place I live.” They look at it as “Home.” And, this latest blow out is just one of a string of things to “institutionalize” the place. Just as an example of one of the small things that contribute to the whole, residents used to hang a bit of “art” outside their apartments in the halls. The halls were repainted. A directive came out yesterday …”do not hang anything (underlined) in the freshly painted hallways. We will be working to obtain some new artwork that will be professionally hung in these areas.” As the hallways didn’t need painting, and the new color is identical to the old, I can only guess that the whole thing was to get residents art off the walls. But, you see how something like that seems so … small. And not worth complaining about. But when you take it all together. This whole religious thing is the only thing that’s attracted outside interest and pressure.

    And, the Ladies don’t like being treated like infants. All these changes are for “your health and safety.” Any resistance is written off as “old people don’t like change” or “we know your still grieving over the last building head retiring.” But enough of all this …

    LOL. I identify with your grandparents. I parked in the wrong parking spot (second time in a year and a half … there were extenuating circumstances…) and I’m still hearing about it, two weeks later. :-). Lew

  63. Hi Lewis,

    Better get writing tonight, so apologies for my briefness of reply!

    Demons seem to be quite adaptable if they can live inside an idol. Thanks for mentioning the word ‘iconoclast’ as I was unaware of that historical background. You know I’m sort of the mind that spirits hardly need our protection, so I do wonder why people get all in a lather about such matters, but then they do, so it is a matter that can hardly be ignored. The author of the Beowulf poem was really weaving a giant magic spell along such lines, and her or they probably knew full well what they were doing, as perhaps did the audience.

    That is quite the insight about the tolerance between 2D images and 3D sculptures, and I note that differences, no matter how minor, are often promoted, when in fact the differences when viewed on a larger plane are probably not so great. One thing I noticed in travels to third world countries was that most people pretty much just wanted to get on with their own and their kids lives.

    Just read the article that you linked to about your residence. Well, not good. Firstly, the building looks very nice. My reading of the article is that the ‘Building Manager’ has a specific issue with a particular ‘Resident’ who is only identified as female. I’d have to suggest that there is more to this story than meets the eye, because at face value it sounds a bit bonkers, but underneath I detect that someone has possibly been selected to be made an example of. I’m very uncomfortable with such a policy, although have used it once myself in order to heal a very dysfunctional group that had been through an extraordinarily destructive period of former leadership. My understanding about your crew is that things have been ticking along nicely, so it perhaps is one of those times that someone is applying a tool inappropriately? My advice is to keep your head down – as you already understand. And yes, banana muffins can soothe a plethora of ruffled feathers.

    You already knew that algae is small enough to be transported along with the clouds! 😉 My gut feeling is that some parts of the planet are heading towards a warmer and wetter experience and other parts may experience another extreme. Agriculture as it is practiced requires things to be like the three little bears in that the climate is ‘just right’.

    For the record, I’m in favour of vaccinations because I’ve read plenty of historical accounts of what things were like before the days of vaccinations. Of course some kids and adults will have negative reactions to vaccinations, but the case for that has been far over stated when other possible causes are too uncomfortable to reflect upon. Time will sort the whole mess out. And yes, I suspect the religious fervour is a reaction to peoples unspoken concerns about life today. Mind you, the people I have known who hold such strong beliefs against vaccination, also want the medical industry to provide a risk free landing for their kids if anything untoward should occur- and I have a problem with that line of thinking.

    Exactly, our very day to day existence is a gamble. I mentioned to you before about teasing Scritchy the boss dog a few years back caused me to come unstuck and become very seriously ill. That came out of the blue, and I was culpable.

    Happy winter solstice to you too! And I won’t mention that today was the almost perfect summer’s day. No breeze and a maximum temperature of about 80’F. Christmas iconography is very weird and confused down here! 🙂

    Hehe! No problems at all about the film. We just watched the trailer and it is on the ‘to get’ list! A review shall follow sooner or later…

    The solar power system does my head in. But I have spent so long observing it that I believe I’ve now ironed out most of the major issues – other than entropy eating all of it, and who can do anything about that? Mate, I really get nervous when people clamour for this renewable energy stuff. They know not what they ask for!

    Yeah, the yabbies seem to have expanded their range to here, because nature has given me the thumbs up at my efforts to get more water into the water table here. I hope my neighbours don’t pump the water table dry…

    Thanks for the link to the preserving unit. And I did read the alarming comments. Nope, this one is from about 1980, and the shelf inside the drum is made from a strong sheet of perforated stainless steel, so most of the issues will be new and interesting problems that the readers and commenters probably have never even considered. Back in those days, things were made properly. An overloaded wire tray collapsing onto an electric element is the stuff of nightmares… I wonder how much the manufacturer saved in the production process? I’ll give the machine a proper road test tomorrow. The thermostat on the one you pointed too also sounds a bit bonkers to me based on the feedback. Don’t laugh, but the machine came with a hardback book (almost 40 years old). The bottles supplied haven’t been manufactured since the 70’s, but they are extraordinarily well constructed and will hopefully be around long after I’m in the ground.

    For some reason a couple of young ladies who rent farm space at that orchard were manning the store where I bought the apricots. I had a nice chat with them about the season, and the weather conditions that are good for the goose are not necessarily good for the gander! 😉 They seemed pretty cheery as they grow mainly vegetables, and I sort of have to agree with them because so far I’ve barely had to water anything this season. And the orchard that he leases is quite diverse, but it could be more diverse. They do grow some olives in that part of the country and they have extraordinarily rich soils – better than here – due to being on the side of just the right sort of volcano (Mount Alexander).

    Answering an employee survey honestly may be a possible career limiting move? I’ve encountered a couple of surveys that asked so many personal questions that anybody with half a brain could identify the respondents.

    I’m reading Mr Kunstler’s blog about the treatment of one of your General’s in the court system and I’d have to suggest that the bloke is made of sterner stuff than the actors realise.

    Hehe! Yeah, I’ve seen a few of those historical exhibits too, and I don’t know about your perspective, but I reckon they’re there to hold a mirror up to our own lives?



  64. Hi DJ,

    Yup! Advanced math is a subject that is beyond me, because if I can’t see what the answer more or less should be, how the heck am I going to know whether the answer I’ve come up with is more or less the right one? And then there are all the disclaimers in the previous sentence… 🙂 But yeah, it is a good skill, like that of map reading, both of which have died along with the Dodo’s.

    Your Mr Nixon would have made for some colourful articles in the newspaper back in the day!

    It is impressive Mr Greer’s replies to most of the early comments, and his essays are always thoughtful, and I hope never to receive that many comments, and would take evasive manoeuvre number six to dodge that number of future additional commenters. I could tell you what that is, but then your computer may self-destruct and the reply here would disappear! Is this a situation that you would want to risk? 😉

    Hehe! Me too. After high school I thought to myself: what more is there to learn? It seemed like a sensible question for a person who was both young and dumb! And haven’t we all been there?

    The insect issue is indicative perhaps of a larger issue. Watch this space, because nothing gets left uneaten for very long.



  65. Hi Damo,

    Mate, apologies, it is a crazy social time of year, and I but do my best with the limited time available. Hope you and Mrs Damo are having a nice Christmas and break?

    Yup, the system does indeed work! After a huge amount of work that few if anyone ever sees… Oh well.

    Yeah, people have recommended ‘The Wire’ to me before and it sounds pretty gripping. I like finishing things so am always a bit cagey about starting a new series, although that didn’t stop me from ditching “Breaking Bad” after about the third season. The show used to drive me bonkers because every decision the characters made was the exact opposite of what I would have done, and after a while I’d just had enough. Although people still have a great love for the show…

    Yeah, that is the problem with electric cars – they cost a small fortune. Batteries ain’t cheap, and I did read a review of an electric car over the past couple of days and it sported a 90kWh battery! That is freakin huge. The house batteries here are 30kWh, but probably a whole lot heavier than those lithium ones. As a rough back of the envelope calculation, a 15A mains circuit at 240V (15 x 240 = 3.6kW) will take about 25 hours to fully charge 90kWh. They probably require 3 phase connections which can supply higher voltage at more amps, but still…

    Mate, you do this renewable energy stuff because you hope that it is good for the planet. It makes no economic sense whatsoever as do most of the things here, although people fixate on the economics.

    The complications in relation to balancing cell voltage with lithium batteries is not lost on me. Those circuits operate down to three decimal places and if you’ve ever picked up a digital volt meter, well you’d probably feel that the accuracy is not there. And what happens if the case is punctured? Not good. There are too many uncertainties for my comfort. The case can be punctured for the batteries I have here and it is not the end of the world.

    Nice observation about European cars, and I reckon that may be a cultural thing as well as a price of fuel thing. Dunno as I’m just guessing. Manual gearboxes generally use less fuel than automatics as there is loss in the fluid drive mechanism.

    I’m curious about that story too, and I may have mentioned to you my encounter with an environmental activist / chugger – who was soliciting money from me – when I suggested that they reign in their own energy use and how much of this stuff is sustainable. The bloke said to me that he felt sorry for me. What more did I need to know?

    Exactly, do the best you can and above all else, learn some skills that can keep you in good stead in the future. When all else are drowning as the Titanic has gone down below the surface, do you really want to be without some useful skills that you can trade? I had a long conversation yesterday with an old bloke who grew in Sardinia before moving down under, and I noted that some well practiced knowledge and / or resources made a big difference. And there is so much low hanging fruit that it is not funny.



  66. Hi Pam,

    That’s lovely and I’m enjoying a mental image of your early winter forest with the sun streaming down and insects and birds everywhere. Do you know, I suspect that the trees are far hardier to change than we can imagine.

    I’d like to miss that sort of fun too, and I salute your efforts in that regard. Me personally, I would enjoy consuming a coffee and fruit toast with lashings of butter than removing grotty pipes and a failed well pump. One can but try! 😉

    Ah, we use polyethylene tubing here too. It is good stuff and if not exposed to the sun, it should have quite a long lifespan.

    Better do some writing tonight as I’ve gas bagged overly long. My report card at school often read: Chris is a good student, but easily distracted. No fun at all!



  67. To all
    A Happy Christmas or whatever. I am currently overwhelmed with cooking and visitors.
    @ Lew
    I read the article on the Home. Ye gods!


  68. @ Lew:

    Now I understand Mr. Mass’ blog post better. Some of those people are absolutely bonkers, but that has been said before . . .

    I agree about the gas, coal and, oil.


  69. Yo, Chris – It’s always interesting to see what you’ll write about, each week. “To boldly go…” 🙂 . And the photos are always outstanding.

    I’m always surprised at what causes schisms. Seemingly minor points of doctrine. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin, etc. (I meant to look up where that came from. Oh, well…) Usually boils down to two groups or individuals struggling for our old friends, power and control. I just had a brainstorm. I’m going to start my own religious denomination. The Church of Power and Control. :-).

    Yup, that’s what The Home, looks like. I think that picture, they lifted right off the website. Photographed in high summer. My digs are on the top floor, right past that portico / entrance thing. Magnify the picture and you can see me flinging myself out the window. You can also see just the top of the trees in the park, up the hill, peeking over the top of the roof.

    The one they’re after is the leader of the resistance, our very own self appointed tenants advocate. If it wasn’t for her, I suppose we’d mostly mutter among ourselves and suffer in silence. They’ve already threatened her with eviction, over the graffiti incident.

    The muffins turned out pretty good, and, like the last batch the papers pulled away, without much problem, after a night in the fridge. I tried an experiment, replacing the oil called for in the recipe with unsweetened apple sauce. Worked out fine. I’m keeping this whole batch for myself, as they’re “healthy” muffins and all people do is moan about the missing sugar and butter topping.

    For the record, I’m also in favor of vaccinations. I can still remember the terror of polio in the early 1950s, and what a relief it was when the vaccine came along. Your right. People want zero risk. Life’s not like that. You pay your money and you take your chances.

    Maybe the young ladies at the orchard are swapping a bit of labor, in the store, for a bit of a reduction on the rent? Or a bit of the crops that they don’t raise.

    Historic exhibits can be a lot of fun. Not so much as in the past, but some of them can be so … dorky.

    Well, I finished “Renoir’s Dancer”, about the model/artist Suzanne Valadon. She did, when she could still enjoy it, get a lot of recognition (and money) for her paintings. I’m just surprised I’d never heard of her before. But then, every once in awhile, I stumble across an artist who is unknown, to me.

    Now I’m finally getting to “Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain” (Aldhouse-Green, 2018). Very interesting, but requires close reading. She had a bit about Roman temples, built on Celtic shrines. Not to replace, but to incorporate into the Roman pantheon. But in one sentence, the author nailed what I was trying to convey when we were talking about Christian churches on Roman temples. “…for there is abundant evidence that special places, once sanctified, remained so even where political and religious situations changed.” Lew

  70. To everyone:

    Happy, now belated, Solstice of whichever flavor your particular Solstice was! And happy, also belated, full moon! (We saw the full moon yesterday night … it was glorious, shining through a thin layer of high clouds … hope you all got to see it too.) And happy whatever end of year holiday you celebrate, and happy 2019 too!


  71. And now that I got the happy holiday said (and I really do wish that for all of you, as I quite enjoy this blog and the comments and interactions among all of us), I’m going to climb on my soapbox for a moment, per the comments above on Greer’s latest post.

    Of course it matters what you choose to consume. Just look around you to see examples of how peoples’ individual choices not to consume certain things have led to their disappearance. Why have chains like Sears and KMart gone out of business or nearly so? Because hardly anyone shops there anymore. Why did Ford just announce that it will no longer build sedans in the US? Because people no longer buy them. Why can’t you buy a good wind-up watch at a reasonable price at retail, only at a yard sale, and when you find one it’s hard to find someone who repairs them? Because people quit buying wind-up watches when digital watches came out, and so most of the people who repaired windup watches quit doing so. You all can add to these examples just as I can. And not a single one of these changes happened due to any governmental action: it was individual people making choices and then acting on them that caused the larger change to occur in due time.

    In the same way that all of these changes happened, so individual people can make choices in their own lives that result in less fossil fuel use, and those choices inevitably affect larger-scale structures. Given the percentage of people who claim they are concerned about global warming, their drying clothes on a rack, changing the thermostat setting, or reducing the amount of stuff they buy and buying more of what is left used would make a noticeable impact, and their driving and/or flying less, even more. But the same people who stopped buying at Sears and KMart because they no longer wanted to shop there, and who stopped buying sedans and wind-up watches because they no longer wanted to buy those things, now claim that it won’t make any difference to do the same thing in regard to lowering their energy use. Since they realize that exercising consumer choice in other areas matters, however, I have to conclude that they don’t want to reduce their own energy usage and thus that they don’t care enough about the issue to make that choice. Fine, but then don’t say that it’s because your choices don’t make a difference, and don’t get on anyone else’s case for being willing to point out the obvious.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that any of you are the “they” who isn’t concerned about the issue, or that you aren’t trying to live in a way consistent with your values. Your comments make it quite clear that you get the connection between your values and how you live, and I have learned much from each of you. But some of you were uncomfortable with Greer’s post. I’m not; I think what he said needs to be pointed out more often, if anything, per my comment.

    And now I will climb off the soapbox and eat some lunch.

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