We’re going home

Long term readers will know by now that I rarely write about the subject of accounting. From time to time the subject of accounting can be quite interesting, sometimes it can even be amusing, but mostly the profession has a well earned reputation for being rather dull. Occasionally I’ve been cornered at a party by a well meaning, if slightly intense person, who upon discovering my profession, wants to bend my ear about the various ins and outs of their own business. They often look hurt when I bluntly tell them that: “You’ve got five minutes, get it out of your system”.

I’ve decided to break my own rule this week, and write about accounting. One of the down sides of being an accountant is that I get a lot of spam email from robots working for nice businesses who send endless emails imploring me to purchase courses, offer marketing assistance, and/or other stuff, some of which has nothing at all to do with accounting and everything to do with making me blush!

Some of the emails can be quite surprising, and they often follow various trends and fads. For example, a few years ago the robot emails were urging me to send my work to be prepared off shore (generally in India). I presume that the nice people over there would do my work for a small fraction of my fee. It sounded like a dodgy offer to me, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that sooner or later I would be cut out of this picture, so I deleted the emails.

This week, the robots sent a fascinating new offer. The robot produced spam email asked me to consider: Inviting artificial intelligence into my accounting business.

Artificial intelligence isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays, the term is used to describe clever algorithms that somebody coded up. I tend to feel that it would be hard to have a meaningful discussion with an algorithm, no matter how cleverly coded it is.

When I was a kid I thought that artificial intelligence meant that one day you could have a nice and pleasant chat with a computer like HAL 9000 (the fictional character and the main antagonist in Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey series). And all the while HAL 9000 is making witty banter and proving how much smarter it is than yourself, it is also planning to quietly maroon you in a very unforgiving environment (HELL 9000 perhaps) which will ultimately lead to your death. And the Terminator series of films hardly soothed my ominious feelings of foreboding. Yup, those stories informed me that artificial intelligence sounds like bad news, and it will most likely leave you with a bad ending.

So, it was surprise to me that this week that my email inbox included an offer suggesting that I should introduce artificial intelligence into my business. It just so happens, that I occasionally get to experience how some of those clever algorithms work out in the real world of accounting. As a rough guess, I reckon they’re right about 50% of the time, which is frankly not a good hit rate and would probably get a human accounts employee sacked. And any transaction that is complex or just plain old wrong, the algorithms don’t even attempt a guess. But all the same, I’m forced to use them in some circumstances and I can’t shake the feeling that in some strange way, I’m training these programs to do better in the future.

The other thing I notice about that these new fandangled algorithms are that they are expensive. And I assume that if they somehow get cleverer, they’ll be even more expensive. I reckon that unless they score better than a 95% hit rate, businesses will still need me to fix up all the errors generated by the use of the artificial intelligence algorithms. The thing I wonder is, can the businesses afford all of these increasing overheads and still turn a profit?

Considerations of artificial intelligence to the side, computers are only a fairly recent cost for businesses. For thousands of years before computers, businesses managed their accounting processes just fine. And I’m old enough to have been involved in some large businesses that used paper based systems for their accounts – and I understand and remember exactly how they managed that feat. Over the years I’ve observed that whenever an innovation in the accounts process was introduced (usually involving computers), sure there were benefits, but behind those benefits the costs began piling up. And often those costs began as small amounts which rapidly increased as businesses became dependent upon the innovative systems. And promises that the innovation would reduce employee costs rarely materialised. Not to mention time, energy and paper.

I have been considering these matters lately because the Australian government recently introduced legislation (with bipartisan support) that stipulates that any business which employs people, must electronically report details of the staff payments to the tax office, every single time an employee is paid. It sounds like a rather innocuous request, but it has the effect of forcing every business in the country to sign up to software that supports the legislation. And until this point there has never been a legal requirement to maintain accounts records in an electronic format. A business could use whatever format took their fancy (including paper) as long as it adhered to a few common sense principles. The new requirement though forces greater costs and obligations onto small businesses with few, if any, benefits that I can discern.

Of course, I may be affected by a certain sense of nostalgia for the days of the paper based accounts systems. But mostly I have a vague sense of unease that the few accounts software providers in the market, have suddenly captured a lucrative feed trough by increasing their revenue through legislative requirements. I note that the software fees have gone up with this change. And once there are only a few suppliers of accounts software, at what point does the government gain access to the raw data for every single business in the country? What fun work would the artificial intelligence machines be put to then, and what happens to the poor business should the machines get it wrong?

Long term, I suspect that paper based accounts systems are more resilient than the massively expensive artificial intelligence systems, and to see them again would be like coming home.

The air has been thick with smoke this week. In this state alone, a quarter of a million acres of land burned during the summer. The island state of Tasmania burned twice as much land again, some of it very old and very remote forest. The one bright note to all the smoke is the superb sunsets:

How amazing is this sunset from a few days ago

The critters living on the farm tell me that the season has changed and that rain will be arriving sooner or later. I spotted this mud tunnel which may have been produced by a yabbie (which is a tasty blue crustacean):

A mud tunnel protecting the occupant from drowning should the rain re-appear

And early one morning, the outside temperature dropped rapidly overnight to 4’C / 39’F and I have it on good authority that earlier in the morning it was 2’C / 35’F. The day before that temperature, I was wearing shorts, sandals and a t-shirt and sweltering under the hot conditions.

4’C / 39’F one morning and I’d accidentally left the windows open to cool the house down – which it did to a very chilly 14’C / 57’F. A few days before that it was 40’C / 104’F. My head hurts…

Another day was spent weeding and feeding some of the trees in the shady orchard. As part of that job, I also prune off all of the lower branches which forces the trees to grow taller.

Another day was spent weeding and feeding the many fruit trees

Now that there is some cool-ish weather, we began excavating again. The job is done using hand tools and an electric jackhammer and it is hot and hard work. We set ourselves the goal of excavating about 10 feet of soil so that we could place the recently constructed steel rock gabion cage onto the excavated site.

Halfway during the excavations we took a short break out of the hot sun


After many hours of digging and moving soil, we could place the recently constructed steel rock gabion cage onto the cutting

We brought in a trailer load of locally crushed rock with lime and placed that down onto the excavated surface. It looks very neat and provides an all weather surface.

Ollie and Toothy both approve of the all weather surface

And we also used the crushed rock with lime to finish off the recently constructed concrete stairs leading down to the blackberry terrace.

Looking down from the highest terrace, you can see the strawberry cage on its own terrace, then the blackberry enclosure and terrace, and the final terrace with the house and other sheds

Despite the hot and dry weather, there is plenty of summer produce and activities relating to the produce:

A batch of blackberry jam was made. Can’t wait until these are enjoyed on freshly baked bread during a cold winters day
Canteloupes and water melons are continuing to put on size and ripen
The pumpkins are also getting larger
We had a good haul of almonds this year despite the trees not being watered. We had a bigger harvest, but Ollie ate some when they were out drying in the sun
The geranium cuttings in the nursery bed have suddenly grown with the prospect of cooler autumn weather
We harvested the first ripe non-astringent persimmon
Which was excellent!

The other evening I spotted a very interesting looking moth:

How cool looking is this moth?

The wombats have been very grumpy about the lack of rain this summer and one of them even knocked over a fern tree in the fern gully. I was surprised to see that whilst the tree fern had green growth on top, it had no additional root systems.

A wombat must have knocked over this tree fern – which has now been placed back into a deeper hole

Onto the flowers:

Nasturtium and sugar beet grow like weeds here
A combination of salvia and geranium defies the hot and dry conditions
This aromatic geranium is a favourite of mine
Gazinnias are colourful and this poor plant was only planted a few months ago
Californian poppies defy the heat and drought
Some of the herbs are extraordinarily hardy like this soap wort

Leaf change is almost upon us. Most certainly the leaf change display this year will be poor due to the stress from the ongoing heat and dry that the trees are suffering through.

A tulip tree has begun to turn yellow before losing its leaves
This summer crepe myrtle is putting on a nice show of colour

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 14’C (57’F). So far this year there has been 36.4mm (1.4 inches) which is the slightly higher than last weeks total of 33.8mm (1.3 inches).

69 thoughts on “We’re going home”

  1. Hi Inge,

    Ah, thanks for the explanation. The dogs here play silly games with me all of the time where they are trying to out-alpha me. Toothy is the worst for this behaviour, and sometimes he does a trick that I call “Death Doggie”. He’ll seek to trip me up, causing me to fall, or stopping me from getting to something, for example stopping me getting close to a bench top in the kitchen. I’m onto him though, and whenever he is around, I usually prod him out of the way with my foot. A simple but effective treatment for such mischief and he doesn’t like me spoiling his games.

    But yeah, dogs are incredibly expressive and they certainly let you know what they are feeling about a situation, as Tess did with you. It is quite complimentary to you, that Tess feels that you are worthy of her efforts in registering her feelings of disdain. 🙂

    Never bred dogs, so I can’t say I know how that side of things works – but I have heard similar stories.

    Did more digging today and created a flat site where a new water tank will go in a couple of weeks time. Need more water… I’m doing fine for water despite the heat and drought, but if I expand the growing spaces with a new terrace over the next few months, I also have to add more water supplies. Ah for a natural spring! Oh well… The upper limit for water storage here is 180,000L and the new water tank will bring me to about 120,000L.



  2. Hi DJ,

    No worries at all and I always enjoy hearing how other people’s gardens are going. There is always so much to learn, and so little time to implement! 🙂

    Minneapolis is an awesome achievement for only 65W in the transceiver. It is not as if commercial radio stations don’t pump out signals into the many kW’s – and those signals don’t travel that far! Back in the day, the units were really expensive, as were the power supplies and antenna’s. It was not a cheap hobby, so I hear you. Those old units were probably really well made, and there is a bit of a market for them nowadays in a refurbished state. I wouldn’t know the first thing to look for though. The Green Wizards forum used to have a lively ham radio discussion and it was conducted by a guy who is seriously into repairing the old units.

    Sounds like a nice weekend.

    The Chevy Blazer transmission, was that a manual or an auto gearbox? It never would have occurred to me that gearboxes would contain plastic components… Not good at all. It was good that the mob you sent the transmission to for repair understood the difference and could replace the plastic with metal.

    It reminds me of a time a couple of decades ago when I was sold paint, and the sales dud (sic) enthused that the new paint technology was amazing. And I lapped that story up, and the paint eventually bubbled as it hadn’t adhered properly to the surface. I guess it was new technology.

    The rock gabions have this feeling of indestructibility, which I quite enjoy!

    Thanks for the daylight savings story. I’d never heard of the daylight savings change during the Oil crisis during the 70’s. It wasn’t as big a thing down here because a local oil field had only just come on line (Bass Strait), but that field does not provide heavy oil, and so diesel and bitumen and those sorts of products were fully imported and still are. A few years ago I remember a time when diesel fuel was very hard to obtain and there were shortages.

    But back in the 70’s down here, people drove relatively small cars. Even the cars that were meant to be large family cars are actually quite small these days. My mum drove a Mini Moke – the Californian model. The original locally made Ford Falcon coupe used in the Mad Max movies is not a large car, although at the time I thought it was huge. I used to live near a racetrack and me and my mates used to sneak in and watch the cars race.



  3. Hi Damo,

    It may have been I that mentioned to you that the plastic gears are put in those machines so that the motors were protected from burning out. We may have been speaking about a kitchen aid mixing unit where my mates stripped the gear teeth out of once or twice due to overloading the machine. They have now purchased a commercial sized mixer – which is frankly a good idea. I had a mixer machine a year or two back, but I could mix more with my hand and arm than the machine could, so it was a complete waste of money and the blades kept breaking. Electric motors rarely have clutches which protect the motor in the unfortunate case of the device being overloaded.

    Mrs Damo is very cheeky. 🙂 Bunnings sausage-gate was a real thing. Apparently the decree came down from on high due to fears (real or imagined) that a customer might slip on a spilled onion if the onion fell from the bun had it been placed in the upper position of that foodstuff. When you hear news like that, you know that all is good with the world and nothing serious need bring itself to your attention for at least one day!

    Incidentally, I add salt to bread mix because I find that the salt free loaves taste a bit bland for my tastes. A year or two back I read something about salt being important in the bread making process, but as Claire quite rightly points out – other than the taste aspect – the loaves rise just fine without the salt.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    The author’s technique was pretty good, because it saved the reader from having to be subjected to unnecessary lines of text explaining the various ins and outs of coding. And frankly that would have bored me because I was anticipating reading an engaging story, rather than a coding ‘how to’ manual. Ah, so you believe the change was the work of the author rather than the editor. Thanks for clarifying that as I was genuinely uncertain. Well, authors do use their favourite writing techniques which get honed over time though sheer use, although in Mr Penumbra, the author blurred the line between inner dialogue and actual dialogue as you rightly observed. Like you, I just went with the technique, but it did cause a mild double take when the actual dialogue began. Who knows, the author might be onto something? It kept a fast pace that’s for sure.

    I tend to find that story concepts arise in the day to day world, but the story itself has to be fomented (if that is the correct use of the word). I quite enjoy blogging because I never wanted to write for financial gain, but no one seemed to want to take the quantity of output and respect it for what it was.

    Exactly, building the top soil for the fruit trees is probably an easy path to get them to survive in such a variable climate. Now if conditions were truly fluffy optimal for the various fruit trees, which means that the rainfall is regular and the soil is fertile, then you could pursue other strategies which generally involve benign neglect. Alas, my path does not include such an enjoyable work free life. I tend to feel that soil fertility has been so hammered across the globe that not many people – if anyone at all – can enjoy a backyard of benign neglect and still enjoy a high yield.

    Hey, you scored some seriously high praise from the master gardener, well done! Although I can’t recall you mentioning that you were an adherent of square foot gardening. Mind you, that is exactly what intensive gardening looks like and you have the added advantage of incorporating a bit of randomness and crop rotation into your garden beds. Were you chuffed hearing the praise?

    Mate, if someone openly sported an AK-47 (which I’ve used and it wasn’t as accurate as an M-16) down here, mate, the swot teams would descend upon the miscreant – and that would be the end of that. Tools are good, but most tools can be misused, and after the Port Arthur massacre (Australia), we collectively chose to ban the public from owning automatic assault rifles. After the massacre, a levy on incomes was enacted for a year and a general amnesty was introduced where such tools – even unregistered guns – were bought back from the population. It is not hard to get a gun license down here, and even own a gun, but we drew a line at automatic weapons. Gun crime is rare, although I do read from time to time that nefarious groups attempt to import prohibited weapons.

    The kitchen aide discussion sounds like other conversations that we’ve had over the years about consumer demands for cheaper stuff – like who are these people happily demanding that their stuff is cheaper and breaks far more frequently? It is a real mystery that! Thanks for mentioning the steel gears. You know the copper windings in the motor and the bearings are probably higher quality too. If I was a school teacher, I’d give a report that reads: “Chris is a good student, but he could do better”.

    The stupid thing is, the old units are probably far cheaper than the newer units…

    Non-morning-people of the world unite in their shared misery at having to get up earlier. Oh the indignity! Hope you are doing OK in the new time zone? Dare I suggest that the patterns are no longer right? That’s how I feel, but we’ve got another month to go here and then I get my hour back, although things will feel strange at night then… Already the chickens are in bed way too early.

    I’d never heard of daylight savings time being introduced for the entire year during the oil crisis. I was a bit young to be honest, and I walked to school and we never ate exciting meals with ingredients from afar (how does lamb chops and three boiled veg sound to you – every night?), so it probably didn’t rate in my awareness. My mum drove a Mini Moke, the Californian model with the slightly larger engine, so fuel use was never big.

    Yeah, the tetanus story was not good. Incidentally I read more about that bacterium. It is of the Clostridium family and as such is awesomely common, and the disease apparently used to have a 10% kill rate down here. Given I have contact with the soil, and animal manures, I have a note to remind me to go and get a booster shot.

    I’m always impressed with your kitchen experiments. You might be onto something with the addition of the grain in the muffin base.

    Well, England and Italy are not that large. Hey the state that I live in has about the same land mass as the entire UK, but with about 1/12th the population – most of which inhabits the big smoke of Melbourne. It would be quite confronting to me to experience how populated a place like the UK or Italy actually is. Incidentally, you rarely see prickly pear nowadays – although from all accounts it tastes like water melon, but good luck with the fine spikey hairs.

    Mate, the fishermen were lucky that there was an active coastguard and that the ice didn’t break up in the relatively warm waters. You’ve raised the bar for folks stuck out on the ice, and whilst I can’t manage to beat you for sheer numbers in your story, but one can but only try: Grandmother saved by boat captain as she drifted out to sea on chunk of ice.



  5. Hello Chris
    I particularly liked the photo of the moth and would love to see other clear insect photos if you can get them.
    Doesn’t worry me if salt free bread tastes bland, after all one puts something tasty on it.
    Lots of bits and branches down, we have had serious winds for a few days.


  6. Hi Lew,

    Shazam does look like it might fit into that narrow window of so stupid it’s good. Looking from afar I find it fascinating to watch all the studios try and replicate Marvels success by building their own “cinematic universes” (code for endless sequels and tie-ins you need to watch to understand what the next Batman movie is about). Universals the ‘dark universe’ is a well known flop. The recent mummy movie with Tom Cruise was meant to successfully launch dozens of new movies based on the swamp thing, black lagoon, dracula etc etc. If only they had spent as much time making the first movie good instead of planning the next 20 years of sequels :-p


  7. Hi Chris,

    It is a neat trick of moving the goal posts isn’t it? For decades we were promised (threatened?) with super-smart AI that we talk philosophy with and get to solve all our problems. Instead we get what is basically a souped-up VLOOKUP function, slap an AI label on it and say jobs done!

    In other news, my chocolate roulade did not turn out 🙁 The rise and texture was awesome, but unfortunately I overbaked it. The chocolate colour hides what is truly happening during baking and I am not game to open oven doors randomly to prod things when doing sponges. This has happened a few times with this oven, I have long suspected the thermostat might be a bit off so have invested in an oven thermometer.


  8. Hi Chris,

    Yeah, I suppose it was you who talked about plastic gears. And now the information has returned to you like a boomerang of knowledge 🙂

    I love my mixer already – it is so good to have it mixing things while I faff around rinsing bowls or getting the next ingredient. I won’t say you are incorrect to prefer the use of your hands, but you know, questions are being raised! I note my manual says you cannot exceed 1.5 pounds of flour mix when making bread. So, for any large batches I am out of luck, or must upgrade to serious industrial level mixers!


  9. Yo, Chris – Well, AI is coming down the pike, unless things unravel quickly enough, to head it off at the pass. Hmmm. And how to put this? From the headlines I’ve been seeing, once again, it’s going to be the Adult Entertainment Industry that drives the technology. (See, “Westworld.”)

    And, there’s a bit of an idea out there, that AI will be benign. Way back when, Bradbury wrote a short story about an electronic grandma. It’s been dramatized, several times. And there’s a whole genre of cute electronic kids, on the run from big bad government agents. But there’s always the counter story of nerd scientists getting lured to their doom by electronic sirens.

    Well, I think I’ve fairly well established my high skepticism of computers and other electronic gizmos. As far as algorithms go, every time I use the library catalog, it’s apparent how lame they can be. I search a specific title, “Class” (as in sociology) and get over 500 hits, because the algorithm can’t tell the difference between that and “class”, as in school levels. And just for interest threw in anything with “glass” in the title.

    But tolerance to nonsense is an interesting thing. Yes, 50% error rates are beyond the pale. When they outsourced the cataloging of books, I started to note errors. When I brought that to the attention of The Powers That Be, I was told that they had an error rate of “only” 5%. My response was, “That’s not good enough.” And was dismissed as a grumpy old crank. (Not that I reject that personification.) On the other hand, (but I realize it’s apples and oranges), I’ll buy something on-line from a vendor that “only” has a 95% positive feedback rating. But that’s just because I’ve dealt with the consuming public and know that at least 5% of them are nuts, and won’t be satisfied with anything, at any time.

    Well, of course part of that whole shift to electronic records is to stamp out any gray, cash economy. But more likely, the politicians are in the pocket of someone, due to campaign contributions. And there’s this simplistic assumption that electronic records can’t be “fudged.” (A highly technical and scientific term.) The old “it will help stamp out crime!”, defense. Then they’ll trot out the old “The benefits (unspecified) will offset the drawbacks.” Drawbacks that don’t impact whoever is saying that, directly.

    The sunset pic is a zinger (another highly technical term). And aren’t the yabbies clever, with their little smoke stacks? Sure there aren’t dwarfs, down there, getting ready to set up a smithy?

    Well, you sure have been industrious this week. Excavations, crushed rock paths, gabion cages. The whole thing wears me out. :-). Ollie fancies almonds? Who knew?

    The crape myrtle is quit pretty. But can the leaf peppers be far behind? Maybe the pretty little moth can be induced to eat them? Cont.

  10. Cont. Oh, I don’t know. A certain amount of benign neglect can be useful. As long as it doesn’t get out of hand :-). Of course, I don’t do anything near as formalized as square foot gardening. I just plop stuff, here and there, with only an eye to height, and which way the sun comes in. And, a lot of it is just squeezing and shoe horning in stuff I like, or an curious about.

    Well, now you don’t even have to go to the trouble of smuggling an illegal gun in. You can have your 3-D printer spit one out! How convenient. Takes whole steps out of the process of knocking over the local liquor store.

    Well, the whole time change thing makes me grumpy. And, as an extra added attraction, my neighbor is under the weather and I’m on call to Her Royal Highness, 24/7. I quit enjoy it, but because of the time change, things are a bit up in the air. Previous set times are in flux.

    I’m still plowing through “The Great Cactus War.” Fascinating stuff. Some poor soldiers came back from WWI to discover their farms had been completely consumed by the cactus. And since the stuff reproduces about four different ways, it’s almost impossible to stamp out.

    It all started with the English, trying to break a Spanish monopoly. On red dye. This tale unravels over several hundred years, and involves lots of espionage. They finally figured out that a bug, called the cochineal, was the source of the red dye. But the bug only fed on certain cactus. And, there were several species of the bug, some of which yielded better dye, than others. They are finicky eaters, and species of cochineal, will only feed on certain species of cacti. The botanical classification of cacti was in chaos (still is) as it freely hybridizes, and may look different, under different growing conditions. So, the Brits stole cactus, and spread it anywhere there was British territory. In anticipation of stealing some cochineal, and breaking the monopoly. There were probably prickly pear cactus, sent along with the First Fleet.

    Skip forward, a couple of hundred years. The cactus are completely out of hand, and the hunt is on for a natural defense. There is a moth, who’s grubs will kill the cactus.But which moth? Turns out, moths are just as finicky eaters as the cochineal. And, back in those days, it takes at least 5 weeks to ship biological specimens from South America, to Australia. The irony? Industrial dyes came in, in the 1850s, and the whole cochineal dye market, collapses. By the way, cochineal is fed to canaries, to turn them red. :-).

    Yes, I saw the article about Granny on the Ice Floe. I once got a big laugh, but quipping, “Oh, just put me on an ice floe. Lew

  11. @ Inge – I ran across the website for your Brading Roman villa. I really like the museum building. It may not be pretty, but at least it’s interesting. At least the architect, and the selection committee resisted the siren call of a concrete block.

    I’d say, they’re marketing is pretty clever. It looks like the cafe puts out some pretty good tucker. And, they have films, once a week, for L5. Which these days, is pretty cheap. I was a bit puzzled, by their current exhibit. Star Wars memorabilia. But when I thought about it … first you got to get them through the doors. The old bait and switch. A kid might go for the exhibit, but who can resist the mystery mosaic of the man with the chicken’s head? Lew

  12. Chris,

    That was an automatic transmission.

    Paint? I worked for about a year in a paint factory, mostly putting latex based polyurethane coating into 55 gallon drums. Small, locally owned place, but that coating was their cash cow. Rumor had it that Dupont was nearing production of a product that was maybe 90% as good, so the chemists went to work. The new crap was separating in the 1200 gallon mixing tank, in my holding tank, and in the drums. BAD test batches. The chemist visited, but was disinterested in my evidence. He also ignored my boss’s opinion. Never mind that my boss had been making that product for 10 years.

    So, the company sold it, untested, to companies in the Middle East with a lifetime guarantee. The junk peeled within 6 months, and the company lost the lawsuits and went bankrupt.

    I think it was August Johnson who was refurbishing old ham gear. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for him at Green Wizards.

    More tomorrow.


  13. Hi Inge,

    The moth is beautiful. I’ll try and put some more insect photos on as the insects turn up. It’s stick insect time at the moment and I’ve also seen plenty of Christmas beetles too. Your insects will be soon making an appearance.

    Tasty bread toppings are always good – and we make all of our jams and peanut butter (which is mind bogglingly easy to make). What is your favourite variety of topping? We had such a good crop of raspberries earlier in the season that we put away many jars of raspberry jam – which is by far my favourite. Dare I mention the yawning chasm that is the difference between marmite and vegemite (which is probably not so great)!

    Hopefully no tree branches fell on any sheds? There was a tiny bit of rain here earlier today and the day has been cool, but nothing out of the normal for this time of year – except for the prolonged dry spell (about 4 inches down on the average for the past couple of decades).



  14. Hi Damo,

    It’s bonkers isn’t it? And nobody seems to want to call them out on the difference between the earlier promises of what AI would be like – and the grubby reality that it is defined as today – which simply looks like a clever database to me. Enjoyed the VLOOKUP joke (and it is a very handy function is it not?) Where is the philosophy or the higher intelligence urging us to quest as: ‘hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who are searching for the ultimate question.’ Phooey to that!

    Maybe it was the hippy dippy school that sent me to the cinema to watch the 1983 War Games film with Matthew Broderick that set my expectations about what AI would be like? It must have been a bit of a thing in those days – like the robots are coming to take our jobs – because in 1984 there was the even more nightmare inducing ‘The Terminator’ film. The school wasn’t shy about entertaining us kids with films, so I probably saw that film with them too! We saw quite a few slasher films too for some reason. I do hope they weren’t trying to tell us kids something?

    Mmm, so it was a chocolate roulade? By the way, it looked good on your blog. I would have made the sacrifice and undertaken serious testing… Not much beats a digitally controlled oven for accuracy. The outside electric oven that I use here has an old school thermostat – simple but effective. But given the oven is outside, I have to take the weather into account whenever I bake things. It adds an error / guesstimate margin of around 25% to anything that I cook – which is not good, but the results are normally edible. The inside electric oven has a digital controller, and mate unlike AI, digital controllers are good.

    I believe we did have that conversation about the plastic gears in the mixer. I’m envious of your electric mixer – it is a good buy. You may have an eye for such things given your experience with the seagull motor – an engine of sheer simplicity and beauty – like an old lister engine.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I might have to agree to disagree with you there. If AI ever makes an appearance, then I suspect that the cost of running the behemoth will outweigh any benefits that are gained by speaking with an alien intelligence – and what if it decides that we are all a disreputable bunch of numpties that need a bit of cleaning from the landscape? Who would be left to argue ethics and philosophy with the machine then? Personally, I’d be more than happy to pull the plug on the device and I’d never think twice about the act. It seems a bit of a strange goal to me to want to produce an AI machine when there are plenty of smart people kicking around the land looking for work. But you know, it doesn’t stop some sections of the community wanting to speak to robots – although I doubt they’ll be happy with what the robots might want to tell them about themselves? Maybe those people might just need a good old fashioned tape recorder and then they’ll be able to listen to themselves? Just sayin…

    On the other hand I suspect you’re right that it may well be the adult entertainment industry that leads the way. I never really had any opinions about porn, but in the past couple of years I’ve heard stories on the youth radio news of wide spread addiction, and the stories trouble me. In that mode, it is a pacifying tool – and that is no good at all. I feel sorry for the young people exposed to such things as it is not right. It is like the lure of the siren call, and nobody speaks with the kids early enough to warn them of the easily reached danger that lurks along the shore beckoning into the deadly embrace.

    I’ve heard those stories about AI being benign, but I’m a bit younger than the Bradbury audience, and I grew up on other stories that said that AI would come and kill you. I mentioned to Damo about the film: War Games 1983, which was followed by The Terminator 1984 (and sequels). What about Robocop 1987? And who could forget the revolting AI robot masking as a human in the 1977 film Alien – how good was the scene where they reconnected the androids oozing head and it spent the time talking the truth about the humans true value in the entire enterprise? Gruesome! Nope, my early lessons were that AI is bad – and I’ve seen nothing to change my mind.

    Zombie films often employ the trope of nerd scientists being killed by their virus creation. Who can forget the scene witnessed from the other side of a blood stained glass door with a soon to be reanimated scientist sliding down and pleading silently for help all the way down to the ground? I put AI and zombies on about the same level.

    Anyway, the Terminator 2 film employed the trope of the excited scientist getting high on the possibilities of a technology sent from the future. That film left me with nightmares too…

    Yes, we both share a healthy high scepticism of computers and other electronic gizmos. Over at the old Arch druid report, someone once quipped that every automation is an amputation. Ouch! Did I just lose something? I heard a news report today alleging that somebody cut their hand off to make an insurance claim… Ouch!

    Exactly, the search routines were never tested in the real world to see how they worked with the users. I see that every time I’ve encountered one of those clever algorithms, and the software designers would be bonkers to not record the misses and analyse what went wrong. But can they implement something workable at an affordable price that can operate with any speed? Probably not. The cloud based software that I have to use is slow when compared to locally run software.

    I doubt that the changes will impact upon people who are already outside the formal economy. Those people are already criminals so why would they give a stuff about one more piece of legislation? I was reading today about the politicians talking about coal fired power stations and one of them made the charming quip that: when has a government ever constructed a chunk of infrastructure that turned a profit? Mind you, they had not been smart enough to understand that such neoliberal viewpoints could also be applied to themselves and their unusual bickering?

    Anyway, I was thinking about electricity generation earlier today. I had a quiet few hours so I ducked into the big smoke and picked up another solar panel to add into the system. I really like the people who work at the shop that sells the solar stuff – and they know their gear. I was very interested to learn that far less panels these days are being constructed with 72 cells (36V) off grid and most now are being constructed for grid tied systems at 60 cells (30V). That lower voltage (30V) is not quite high enough to push electrons into my batteries and so I’m glad I made the spontaneous decision to visit the guys in the store today. Lovely people. Voltage pushes electrons (exactly like water) from high to low – which is how people get electrocuted. Amps are like the flow rate of water in that the higher the amps, the more electrons will flow for any given voltage.

    Hopefully the dwarves don’t discover the reefs of mithril where the yabbies dwell under the soil, as that might lure a dragon – and I’m not man enough to fight off one of those.

    Ollie also enjoys sea food – he see’s food and tries to eat it! I suspect the shelter folk where I got him used to under feed him and he was basically starving at some points in his earlier life because he has an unhealthy relationship with food. He once stole an entire plate of Anzac biscuits off a kitchen bench. I know somebody who liked them so much they ate six of them, but three is my limit. They’re good – with the Ollie stamp of approval.

    There were so many leaf peepers last weekend that the local pub ran short of many meals. I’d never seen that before.

    Incidentally, whilst I was out and about today I also ordered another 1,050 gallon water tank which should get manufactured over the next week or so. One can never have access to too much water during a drought. Mind you, it will take a bit of stuff falling from the sky to fill it…

    Benign neglect is a wonderful tool – and it is one that nature employs to advantage. The best way to begin building top soil is to stop removing it! Hey, I never thought that you were practicing that label either – but did you note that it was an engineer that developed the system? I tend to be a bit loose about following systems – like you – if only because you learn more that way.

    I’ve seen a few 3D printers, but I dunno whether they’re that useful? Anyway, I could just go and buy one and have no intrinsic problems with the tool… 😉

    Princess would hardly be the sort to concern her royal self with such delicate matters such as daylight savings time. Walkies time is the same as the day before regardless of what the clock says. On the other hand it is nice to shake up the hive every now and then – and then run!

    Yes, I knew cochineal was a red dye – and had first heard of it as a food colouring and wondered what it was derived from. I’m not so squeamish about insects as long as they’re not trying to bite or sting me – as they usually are down here.

    Hehe! I kind of felt sorry for grandma on the ice floe as the ocean didn’t look very calm that day in the photos. Not good, but whatever was she doing out there in the first place? Selfie deaths are a real thing – it’s uncanny.



  16. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for that, and I can sort of see how plastic components could sneak into one of them fluid drive thingees (which I’ve never owned). The automatic transmissions feel strange to me in a car as they don’t slow down when I take my foot off the accelerator – and that seems a bit weird to me. But I am in the minority in this matter and more than 80% of cars nowadays down here are automatics.

    Yeah, poly paints are a tough item for me here – and I really had to think long and hard upon the subject. You see the bushfire risk means that whilst the external cladding might not burn (as it is rated for 90 minute contact with flames which is a bit scary – no vinyl cladding here), the paint itself becomes a problem. I had to choose between oil based paints and poly paint – and eventually went with the highest quality poly paint that I could get my hands on.

    And yeah, I’ve seen that stuff not adhere to a surface – and also separate in the tin (how good is that?) It wasn’t always that way with paints, but mostly nowadays it is.

    Yes, it was August Johnson, and I was leaving that bit of information for you to discover for yourself! I have spoken with him in the past, and he is a really lovely and helpful bloke – who has I believe a famous relative. He may be able to set you up with some refurbished gear as he’s a very smart bloke to boot. I wasn’t setting out to be disingenuous or deceptive, it just wasn’t my place to talk about the person in question.

    It is funny we’ve been mentioning paint, but I may be correcting some paint on the house this weekend. I went with three coats over the entire surface, except in one area which had two coats. What area do you reckon would be showing signs of ageing in the paint (which has meant to have a lifetime guarantee)?



  17. Yo, Chris – Well, I just woke up from a wild dream about visiting Australia. Other people’s dreams are rather boring. And, hard to explain, as they seem full of mysteries and non sequiturs. But, two things. 1.) I doubt your that diminutive and 2.) there was a rather long segment in a restaurant (you weren’t along) and there was a donkey on the menu. The photo was a rather benign looking white donkey (drugged?) being carried strapped to a pole by two men, down a village street. I inquired as to sourcing, and who was going to do the cooking. The waiter said he really couldn’t say… and whispered, “Animal Rights People.” Oh, I told him, I wasn’t going to order it, I was just curious. Then he yelled back to the kitchen, “Cancel that code!.”

    I must not have been clear. Oh, I entirely agree with your assessment of AI. And, I really liked “War Games.” I guess I’m just a bit relaxed about the possibility, as either the tech won’t be developed by the time things unravel, or, I’ll be dead by then. :-). But people will keep trying, because there’s money to be made (by someone), it seemed like a good idea, at the time, and, what could possibly go wrong?

    Hmmm. We’ll agree to disagree about the gray economy. There’s quit a few people out there who skate along the edge of the real economy, and the gray economy, as a subsistence / survival mechanism. I don’t think there’s a waiter or waitress in the world that claims their entire tip amount. Which is often in cash.

    I saw an article, the other day. It’s kind of related. Several cities are banning “no cash” businesses. The reason being given that so much of the population is “unbanked.” Again, those that are living close to the line, and can’t afford the bank fees and any penalties that pop up, seemingly at whim.I can see those being challenged, in court, and wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually winds it’s way to the supreme court. We have a thing called “equal access” in our Constitution (Bill of Rights?). It came out of the Jim Crow race laws, in the past. But will it apply to economic equal access? Aside from race or gender? The no cash policy does tend to keep the riffraff out.

    I think Ollie samples anything that MIGHT be food. :-). And, yes, I remember the Great Anzac Biscuit Debacle of 2018.

    Saw an interesting article. The Local goes local!


    I’ve seen a few articles, about the British pub being in trouble. As an institution. But this one had the most detail. So, you’ve got this holding company that owns 1.300 pubs in Britain, alone. I’d say from the story, they squeeze every last drop of profit out of a pub, through neglect. And then, toss the husk, aside. And their stripping out the building seemed just … mean. I mean, how much profit can there be in that? After you pay the wrecking crews, store the stuff and then have to dispose of it, probably for pennies on the dollar. I may go down the rabbit hole, again, as now I’m curious as to who owns the company. Might not be easy to find out, as sometimes, they’re shells, within shells.

    If I may get into the conversation about paint … My Dad, who was a painter all his life, got rather grumpy when it became harder and harder to obtain enamel paints. Especially when it came to painting kitchens and bathrooms. I’ve lived in enough places, where I did a bit of repainting, to agree. But, they seem to have gotten a bit better. But it’s a case of, “you get what you pay for.” Sometimes.

    You know, some of the old paint formulas were pretty tough. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of some of the old “milk” paints. I’ve run across a few pieces of milk paint finished furniture, and that stuff was harder to get off than enamel.

    Well, I finished “The Great Cactus War.” The author, Terry Domico, sounds like an interesting bloke. According to the author notes, he divides his time between our San Juan Islands, up in Puget sound, and Port Stephens, New South Wales. He’s written books on foraging wild plants, here in the Northwest, and a book on kangaroos: “Kangaroos: The Marvelous Mob.” Also writes for National Geographic and other nature periodicals. Lew

  18. @ Damo – That’s tragic about the chocolate roulade. But if a horse throws you, get right back up on, and keep riding.

    When I moved in here, it seemed like the electric oven wasn’t heating properly. Stuff was a bit underdone, or took a long time. I got an oven thermometer, and discovered it under heated by a constant 10F. So now I just add 10 degrees to whatever recipe I’m baking. Works a charm.

    I could care less about Tom Cruise, but I did rather like that version of “The Mummy.” I’m interested to see what they do with the other classic, Universal monsters. Though I doubt I’ll live long enough to see out the whole series :-). Lew

  19. Hi Chris,

    To answer your question from last week, I am starting three types of flowers;
    Calendula, Tithonia and zinnias as well as several types of tomatoes. The rest of the garden will be direct seeded. It’s not going to be too big this year as I will be observing where the sun will be through the growing season.
    I mentioned in the past that accounting was my first career which I just sort of fell into. I was first in accounts receivable and we had a machine that would post each transaction on a separate card for each client. I was promoted to full charge book keeper and all that was by hand. I used a calculator with a tape and became really fast at it. Next job was a bit more computerized as the, much larger, company had a huge mainframe computer housed in a cold room. We filled out sheets from which punch cards were produced. These were fed into the computer to generate reports. Doug was transferred to New Jersey early in our marriage so I found a job as the accountant/office manager for a small BMW dealer which also was all done by hand. We moved back to Illinois and a couple years after the birth of our second daughter I was the office manager/accountant for a small graphic arts company and interior design company (owned by husband and wife). Here are the types of slide charts they manufactured. https://www.sliderulemuseum.com/Slidecharts.htm
    Accounting here was also done by hand in the beginning except for a payroll service but soon after I was employed there they got some accounting software which, of course, took forever to install and transfer information. That was my last accounting job as I decided to return to school to finish up the few requirements necessary to get my teaching certificate. Accounting jobs always had a great deal of overtime and as Doug was traveling quite a bit I decided I needed a job where I had time to attend to my kids. Additionally I felt that teaching would be more satisfying than just keeping track of other people’s money. It was interesting to work for many different types of companies though. I agree with you about paper based accounting systems. One thing I observed that clerks that worked under me understood what they were doing and why better with the paper based systems than computer software. Also want to add that all I had were a couple of accounting classes so I just learned on the job and continued to get promoted or move on to jobs with more responsibility – something that wouldn’t be possible today.

    What beautiful sunsets but not for a good reason though. Loved the yabbie tubes!!

    I think we might have broken winter’s back finally as there’s quite a few 40’s and even 50’s coming up. We’re seeing more and more of the ground rather than ice and snow. Now waiting for robins. We are hearing cardinals, Canada geese and sandhill cranes.


  20. @Lew
    You are too funny and a wealth of information as well. We recently watched Westworld. I liked it better than Doug. Interesting statements from some characters i.e. Ford saying something to the effect that humans lived in loops too. Been reading several books dealing with the downsides of technology, “Shrinking the Techno sphere” by Dimitri Orlov, “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport and just arrived to the library, “Reclaiming Conversation” by Sherry Turkle.


  21. Hi, Chris!

    I’m still rather sickly – blah! Nothing life-threatening, but it’s going to take a while to recover; a cascade of afflictions. I’ll tell you about it sometime . . .

    Thanks for the flowers!


  22. Chris,

    I much prefer standard transmissions, also. My wife doesn’t, so we held a vote. We know who won.

    Mr. Johnson isn’t your story to tell. I could either remember (which I did) or research and figure it out. Knowing when NOT to say things is important, and a skill that I appreciate and respect.

    Really enjoyed the sunset pictures this week, although the reason for the spectacular scenes is not good. The moth was also very nice.

    I dunno how things are in Australia, but in the USA a lot of small businesses complain that both Federal and local regulations are making their lives harder and more expensive. One of my jobs with local government requires me to work closely with a lot of small businesses, especially this time of year. I’ve been fortunate in being able to eliminate some costs and to streamline some processes, making things easier for the small businesses. A gentleman today was new to my program and was amazed at how user friendly I’ve made things. He also discussed how all the regulations are drowning him. As he said, it’s not the big businesses that fix broken pipes or pump out a septic system.

    So I’m wondering about the accounting AI regulations you’re seeing. Perhaps the big accounting firms have lobbied your government to implement changes that will knock out some of the little guys and give them more business?


  23. @ Margaret – Thanks for the title suggestions. I’ll see if my library carries them. You might also be interested in:

    “Silicon Snake Oil.” Now that one is an older title. Might have to Interlibrary Loan it. Can’t remember the author’s name, but I remember he was an interesting fellow. Besides helping build the internet, he is (was?) a cave explorer and astronomer.

    Next up: “The Revenge of Analog.” (Author escapes me.) That’s how a lot of analog formats are making a come back (vinyl records, photographic cameras, etc.) because, well, they’re better :-).

    I heard an interview on NPR, yesterday, where one of their reporters decided to go for a week, without the internet. So, he’s talking about GOING TO THE LIBRARY and actually pulling a book down off the shelf. “The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature.” The young lady reporter, who he’s telling this to, had never heard of it. (“The what?”). So, he’s telling her what it is, and how it works. She is gob smacked. I seem to remember back in grade school, being introduced to those august volumes.

    There was an article in our local newspaper about our regional library’s strategic plan for next year. You may remember the ruffled feathers, last year, over possible branch closures and open libraries with no staff present. All that’s been smoothed over (a bit.) But one line bothered me, a bit. “…with an eye toward non-traditional library service and reaching more people without physical buildings.” O course, that’s code for more expensive electronic devices and delivery. Which I find disturbing. Lew

  24. Hi Lewis, Margaret, Pam and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but it is the dreaded mid-week hiatus. Will speak tomorrow.

    Lewis – Went to see the film The Favourite tonight. It was a long film, and I got home very late.

    It was an intriguing film and all I can say is that with friends like those… I’ll be curious to learn of your opinion regarding the film.



  25. Yo, Chris – That was an interesting article about the insurance industry. Runaway price, runaway coverage. (Run away! Run Away!). (Monty Python or Doctor Who?).

    Seems like I’ve known for quit awhile, now, about insurance withdrawing from areas, either due to storms, flooding or wild fires. I’d say (like to think?) that anyone not entirely distracted by the sordid carnival of scandal and celebrity is aware of that.

    But I did have an interesting thought. I wonder if car insurance and renter’s insurance in those areas, will also be impacted? Anytime there is a disaster, you always see pictures of piles of burnt out or flooded vehicles.

    So, did you use the interactive tool? How do you stand? Inquiring Minds Want To Know. Lew

  26. PS: By haunting the library catalogue, I’ve also managed to get low on the list for “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grimswald.” Number 5. Score! Not much coming out on the DVD release date lists, in the next few months. Maybe I can get my hold lists cleaned out?

    Looking forward to seeing “The Favorite.” The reviews have been interesting. I should get it in the next two or three weeks, I think. Lew

  27. Yo, Chris – Oh, darn. I forgot. I looked up the holding company that owns the bulk of the English pubs. Oh, my. Punch Taverns Corp. Oh, my. You’d need a flow chart to keep up. What a bunch of convoluted mergers, acquisitions, buyouts and hostile takeovers.


    If you get down near the bottom, to the current owner, (Patron Capital) you get another page. Scroll down a bit, and there’s a section marked “Investments & Exits.”

    The whole thing is a dizzying merry go round. Can you imagine being an employee? You show up for work wondering, “Who are we working for, today? Who employs us?” Lew

  28. Hello again
    You can keep your vegemite, I think that it is horrible. I like marmite but tend to only use it in cooking. I very rarely put jam on bread as I prefer various kinds of cheese or fish or meat pates and salami plus other sausages of that ilk. Breakfast is the only time that I eat bread.
    Bees and wasps seem to have been around all winter which is an indication of how mild it has been.
    One large tree has come down but it is on the land that I am selling so they are going to deal with it. Too dangerous to go looking for anything else that may have come down as the wind is still strong.

    @ Lew
    It is many years since I have been to the Brading Roman Villa so you probably know a lot more than I do. I did know about chicken head though.

    @ Pam
    I had been wondering how you are and hope that you continue to improve at a reasonable pace. Take care.


  29. Lew,

    I saw your mention about “The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature.” I remember it well and had frequent reason to use it. There were also a lot of guides strictly for math/chemistry/physics periodicals. Do you remember the “Occupational Guide” or some similar title? I used to use it, also.


  30. Hi Margaret,

    I’d never heard of Tithonia species of flowers before. They look great, and a bit like the some of the gazinnia flowers here. I might see if I can track some of them down. Hey, I read the other day that calendula is a potent anti-inflammatory? I’m not sure that I’d heard of people using the plant before that way – and usually it is a common companion plant.

    It took years for me to get my head around all of the different seasons here, so yeah taking your time is what I’d do as well. And I reckon we’re down to about 4 to 5 weeks of growing time left for the season. It is funny, you’re planting out the spring and summer plants, and we’re in the midst of getting the winter crops in. Moved a fair bit of mushroom compost today! But mostly I spent high up on a tall ladder painting a gable end on the house – it was never properly painted because a shed used to sit in the courtyard, and I couldn’t get to that wall on the house (it is a long way above the ground)! Then I forgot to paint it, and well, the rest of the paint on the house is good, but not that section of wall…

    Exactly, it is funny just how different things are today, and I doubt any of us will ever see the likes of those punch card machines again. I never found that the paper based systems were slow to complete, in fact when I think about the cloud based systems, the paper based systems are just faster. And did you notice the huge interweb outage yesterday? Didn’t affect this website which doesn’t rely on such large and vulnerable servers! Oh well. To be honest I hadn’t noticed the outage until I heard about it on the radio…

    Back in the day, accounting was learned by apprenticeship – and I’ve known plenty of older accountants that worked their way in by that path. I just wished they hadn’t thrown so many huge hurdles at me – all of which I’ve jumped, but far out they took a lot of time and money. I once trained a very talented accounts lady to work as assistant accountant and everyone had a cow about it, but she was really good and knew her stuff. A lot of accountants skip the progression through the accounts roles and they miss a lot of fundamentals.

    Go the yabbies! I’m really pleased that they are here – it is a good sign about the groundwater – especially given how dry it has been in this country.

    Enjoy your warmer weather!



  31. Hi Pam,

    Nice to hear that you are on the mend. It is never good being ill, and multiple afflictions sounds, well not good. Ollie, Toothy and the charming Sir Scruffy send their best wishes for a speedy recovery. Hopefully you are keeping warm in your freezing early spring weather.



  32. Hi Lewis,

    Well, being tall and gangly means that diminutive is hardly a word I’d use, but did you enjoy the country in your travel dreams? And unfortunately – and blame the very wrong comedy, Clerks 2 – anytime anyone mentions a donkey… Maybe it is my maturity that is diminutive? Possibly so! Animal rights people can get a bit funny about animals, so maybe in the dark spaces of their internal workings, they occasionally chef up factory farmed meat? I’d like to think so, I tend to try and have a good relationship with the animals and treat them well, but spouting hot air is often easier than raising chickens. Hey, speaking of dreams, I had this awful dream the other night about ghosts approaching me, and I was in a very old house which I didn’t recognise, but no doubt had seen in some dodgy horror film – probably like the Amityville horror. Gothic architecture at its finest.

    Oh, thanks for the explanation – and that makes perfect sense about AI. Of course, but the implication is that maybe it will be a complex toy if it ever comes to fruition? Certainly it can’t be economic. Did you note that some very large web servers went down yesterday? I didn’t even notice because I don’t use them.

    Ah yes, the black economy is one of those conversations that I can’t have publicly. I have a suspicion that those that are already immersed in it, won’t give a fig for the new software / legislative requirements – for obvious reasons.

    That is really interesting about banning the ‘no cash’ businesses from doing so. Fascinating. The banks down here always drool about a cashless economy, probably because some middle man will then enjoy a small cut of each and every transaction in the economy. It is a bit like the old plot of the Superman film! I’ve read that millennials are not taking up credit cards, but are leaning towards the use of shadow banking lenders. The shadow banking lenders which look like pay-day loan sharks to me, unfortunately take a small cut of the retailers margin – which makes bricks and mortar businesses less profitable, and they’re already squeezed pretty hard. I dunno, in the past the kids paid for the use of the credit, but that cost appears to be being transferred to the retailer. Dunno. Anything to keep prices down, I guess.

    That is really, really awesome about the pubs and the local commitment and support for them. The previous owners business model looks a bit strange to my way of thinking. Like how does a local pub, no matter how greatly multiplied support a corporate head office – along with everything that goes on with such a place? The debt story in there would be a very interesting story. The Six Feet Under series had that same story, but with funeral homes. Sometimes the point is loading up the debt, making the behemoth big, paying certain folks lots of mad cash, and then leaving someone else to hold the baby. It happens.

    You can still get good quality enamel paint down here – and it is tough and glossy stuff which is very hard to clean out of the brushes (even with mineral turpentine). But it no longer keeps in the can well for very long and so I’m guessing it is an emulsion, or maybe the chemicals separate? Dunno.

    Don’t know anything at all about milk paints. Did you ever try and cook some up for your antique biz?

    The author sounds like he enjoys quite the adventurous life. The climate up at Port Stephens is pretty nice.

    Definitely Monty Python – who can forget the killer rabbit scene in the Quest for the Holy Grail? And speaking of quests (which are get a look in here over the past week), I’m about half way through Mr Penumbra, and the protagonists are off on a quest to New York! Very cool, and delightfully written.

    I suspect the insurance industry may withdraw from the periphery – and it may be that cars (which are often financed) can be insured, but the houses may not be able to obtain insurance. Dunno. What do you reckon?

    I’ve gotta run, but a quick summary follows:
    Less Windy; and
    Slightly more rainfall (this dry year is an exception rather than the rule)

    How does that compare to your part of the world?



  33. Yo, Chris – Maybe my subconscious sees you as diminutive, as I’ve only seen you on my small screen? :-). Can’t have ghosts without Gothic.

    I’m looking forward to seeing “The Favorite.” It finally clicked that Sarah, is Sarah Churchill. Years ago, I saw a BBC series called “The First Churchills” (1969 … but I saw it much later). She and her husband John, were that eras power couple. I ran across an interesting factoid. Those two always did worm their way, into Court. John’s sister (Arabella) was Queen Anne’s father’s (James II) mistress. For ten years and had 4 children, by him. Clear? 🙂 Some of those children are direct ancestors of William and Harry. Through the rather raffish Spencers.

    About AI. Well, the rich (or, deep in debt) will always have their complex toys.

    Sure, someone makes a bit of jingle off a cashless economy. That’s why I think it will go to court. Will freedom of trade trump equal access?

    It’s not about corporate support. It’s about striping assets. And, if you can loot a retirement account, somewhere along the way, all the better. Hmmm. I am the cynic, this morning. Must be the weather. :-).

    I’ve never made milk paint. Had a few pieces with the stuff on it. Tough as nails. You can by it pre-mixed, now, in cans. For that authentic colonial, look.

    Not much in the news here, about the world wide internet outage. And, most of the articles I did see were all slanted to “Facebook Down!!!”. “Instagram Down!!!”. (For a whole 15 hours. I’m sure it seemed like several lifetimes, to some.) People were slashing their wrists and throwing themselves out of windows. Some of the tales of inconvenience, were pretty ridiculous. “We couldn’t send out the details on the retirement party, and had to resort to e-mail!” The horror. The horror.

    The weather here has been dreary, sun, dreary, sun. Temperatures up, temperatures down. And, back again.

    Daffodills are beginning to bloom. Ditto, primroses. Time to put the mason bees, out. We’re supposed to get temperatures over 60F, next week. Lew

  34. @DJSpo – Oh, yeah, I remember the Occupational Guide. I don’t know if it’s still available. Several good old print reference tools, went entirely on-line. I was surprised from the news report, that the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, was still around in a 3-D form.

    Prof. Cliff Mass had an blog post about how your side of the mountains really set records for low temperatures. By comparison, we’re pretty balmy, over here. Lew

  35. Paper or silicon?
    Once again you have goaded my inner crotchety old guy in to a mild rant. Working in a large company, we had our own IT department, programmers, and a bit of home grown software.

    I lived through the transition from just a few mainframe based accounting and high end engineering programs to where everyone has a networked computer on their desk, and everything is digital. Well, almost everything.

    What I saw happening, as secretaries ( yes, we called them that back then) and banks of filing cabinets were phased out, was a situation where the use of the new technology was not wisely thought out. It became harder to find things.

    Gigabytes of data and correspondence was filed in inconsistent and arbitrary ways. All the third party software didn’t play well together without a gang of IT techs standing over them with whips. Can’t tell you how many times my own personal files ( digital as well as paper) enabled follow up on decisions that somehow everyone had forgotten were made, or who’s action item they were. And then, with the inevitable migration to the next OS, or “enterprise solution”, things only got more complex and opaque.

    So, as with all things digital, GIGO. AI will once again point out how humans are still creating tools that merely magnify both good and bad in our nature.

    Enough of that. Planted my onion seeds this week. We still had a foot of snow on the ground two days ago, but a strong warm spell is clearing it quickly. Will commence to apple tree pruning as soon as the snow melts a bit more. Also tapping a few maples this week.

    We’ve had an especially cloudy winter, my PV put out half the kWh this past two months compared to last year. Nope, not ready to go off grid yet. Just waiting for the magical battery breakthrough to materialize. 🙂

    Glad to finally get outdoors for more than just a quick trip to the barn to tend the chickens. I seem to have developed a bit more paunch than usual this winter.

  36. @ Lew,

    Yes, we were VERY cold for February until now. We were about 20F and more below normal for lows, even a few nights near zero F through March 5. We’ll hit the 50s this weekend and be pushing 60 by the middle of next week, meaning temperatures about 10 to 15 F above normal. The snow is gonna melt FAST.


  37. Hi Inge,

    The past couple of days have been hectic, and I’ve only had very limited time to reply. Not so this evening! Hope the wind has died down a bit in your part of the world? It takes a lot of wind to topple a tree. And yes, it is very wise not to be out underneath large trees on windy days. It sounds common sense, but you’d be surprised at how few people consider such things.

    I thought you might feel that way about the vegemite. Not to worry, the rest of the world does too, so that puts you firmly in the majority! 🙂 Let’s just say that it is an acquired taste.

    Fair enough too about the bread toppings. They’re all good to be sure, but I have a very soft spot for our home made jams, and over the past few years I’m discovering that the berries produce the tastiest jams of all – and it is simply another food preservation technique, much like turning them into wines.

    That is a mild winter. The European wasps disappear around here from about May, but it depends on the rain and whether their hives get flooded by the rain. Those insects like dry seasons and they’re flying about here right now, but in far lower numbers than over in the more fashionable western end of the mountain range where they seem to enjoy themselves more than here. But the European honey bees usually get out and stretch their wings any day during winter that is warm and sunny enough for them to do so (which is rare, but not un-heard of). I just had a little flash of insight that tells me that warmer winters will probably make things a bit easier on the beleaguered honey bees, because there will be more food, less cold weather where they have to feed themselves and they’ll be able to forage more over the year. I assume the rains have returned for your winter? How has the past winter rains compared to previous years? Although I assume that given you are on an island there is a lot of variability – like here (the mountain range stands above the surrounding area like a sore thumb).

    Speaking of insects I was way high up on a ladder yesterday painting the very top of a gable on the side of the house, when a rotten horse fly landed on my shoulder and proceeded to take a few chunks of my flesh. I had to climb down the ladder and place the paint brush and tin on the ground and only then could I deal with the horse fly. My shoulder now looks as though it has several mosquito bites in one location. The rotters.

    Had a nice day today and visited an open garden which was delightful. I took a few photographs of the flower beds and hope they work out OK. The owner was lovely, but a bit defensive for some reason. I have noticed sometimes that plant folks can be a bit uppity, so no doubt that he has encountered some unwarranted criticism over the years, but still…



  38. Hi Lewis,

    Haha! The idea about being diminutive on a screen had not occurred to me, but yeah – so true. 🙂 Funny stuff! Just had to take a short break to deal with a fluffy situation: Sir Scruffy the charming was sulking his socks off because Toothy had camped out on Sir Scruffy’s sheepskin rug at my feet. There was a great deal of unhappiness, so Toothy was forcibly removed (with a bit of a grumpy soundtrack). Dogs…

    Had a quiet day today and went to an open garden and also to the nearby sourdough bakery for lunch. And the bakery was doing… ta da… Sourdough hot cross buns! Yes, they advertised that they were employing the goodness of wild yeasts in the fermentation process – and I could not walk past such a temptation (after a tasty BLT). The buns were excellent consumed warm from the oven (it was 70’F here today), and the butter melted from the heat of the bread alone. I realise sourdough hot cross buns sound a bit strange, but they were really good. The experience led me to take away a six pack to consume over the next few days. Unfortunately the bakery were not believers in the toasting of their hot cross bun which were still warm from being fresh out of the oven, but you know, sunny autumn days means lots of electricity here and so we toasted a hot cross bun later in the day – don’t tell them that, because they might cut off supply and that would be highly unfortunate Pah! Purists and all that…

    It makes you wonder doesn’t it? What came first, ghosts or gothic? Like did the Roman’s experience ghosts or did the clerics and scribes in the middle ages do their best to expunge such Roman records? To be fair to the scribes, they did a good job given the lack of pay and the extenuating circumstances. I doubt our digital records will be as well maintained in the future.

    Incidentally, I’m about two thirds of the way through Mr Penumbra. It is a delightful read, and I can’t yet quite say whether I’m supporting Corvina or Penumbra and his youthful cohorts. And I can’t shake the feeling that the mysterious character Grumble was based on the equally mysterious real world character Banksy? I’m very fond of Banksy’s body of work. Incidentally, I do enjoy that the central character employs a good quantity of scepticism when all other characters eschew it. Myself, well I realise life is short, but provisional living sort of seems to be a bit of a mental trap to me. What do you reckon about that?

    What can I say, but Sarah Churchill was a true giant and strode tall among her peers. I am nothing if not impressed. The film unfortunately did not do the real person justice. Mind you, I probably would have annoyed her for having my own thoughts and stupidly daring to share them with her. 😉 Before my eventual downfall which would most likely have been terminal for my poor soul, I’m certain that she would have enjoyed our lively conversation. Such is the way with those folks, and her legacy looms even into today. I was never a fan of the now deceased and beloved Princess Diana because I thought that she could have done better than she did and she squandered the opportunities presented by her station. I was uncertain how other people were so touched by her passing, but that is an unpopular point of view.

    And I totally understand your meaning! It happens…

    A true way to put the situation. Of course, I realise that toys (no matter how impressive) do not put food upon the table. Mr Lodgsdon wrote that his family had been paid in gold at point in history for their produce – and he didn’t mince words at all.

    Incidentally, Sir Scruffy and the raffish Toothy have now mended their differences and have both settled upon the sheepskin rug. Much snoring has ensued!


  39. Hi Lewis (cont),

    The chickens are now safely in bed!

    As to the cashless economy, I suspect that you’re spot on, but I can only speak for what is going on down here where it is nothing more than a pipe dream. It may eventually get tested in the courts and my knowledge of the historical basis of cash is a bit sketchy. But I do know that cash has replaced the older form of social obligation to the lord of the land, who in turn had social obligations to the folk of the land. I dunno, that one is unclear to me, but I suspect that longer term the social obligation will trump the cash obligation if only because the money supply is being expanded out of reality and possibly into a spatial anomaly (which might be useful to disappear some of the excess supply). A crash is built into the story (or the Smaug option) because otherwise inflation will run away.

    Of course, sorry I was unclear and yes, asset stripping seems to be the way of it all. I hadn’t had the chance to read the link last evening. The risk that is run by the behemoth is that covenants may be breached should the value of the properties or goodwill fall below a certain point. The thing with debt is that if the asset price falls, the debt does not also fall. And the covenants on corporate debt is often based on a measure of the asset to debt ratio. In such cases, although the covenant ratio is breached, often the issuer of the debt lacks the recourse to call in the loan – because of the train wreck that will ensue. Of course, that is only my guess. The real question becomes, what happened to the money received from the loan notes issued in two separate tranches, and who holds those notes? The thing I like about the word ‘notes’ is that it is the fancy name for people or pension funds etc. buying debt notes that may or may not be listed that yield a specified return. Nope, I do not feel that you are being cynical, worse things have happened on the wide accountant-sea that is the murky international fiscal waters. 🙂 Mostly, it is like the shoe shine boy that Joe Kennedy encountered, and if it makes no sense, then perhaps it doesn’t make sense.

    Yeah! Funny. Maybe it is because I listen to the youth news radio that I heard that bit about the interweb services being down. It looks like geo-politics to me or maybe some groups flexing their muscles. Dunno. Did you notice that this here blog was not taken down? I’ve been waging war against the spammers, but in doing so I lose ground, but not to worry as we all lose in the end. The interesting thing is that it accounts for about 15% of interweb traffic here that I can see, but it may be more.

    I noticed that the dreaded ‘Bombogenesis’ failed to deliver any spectacular weather to your region, although I did note that Cliff Mass suggested that a stay in Yakima would probably be a record breakingly cold affair. We call ‘Bombogenesis’ by the less excitable name of a ‘cut off low’ and they’re pretty common, although that doesn’t help when you’re faced with one in the flesh. I could use the rain from such an event…

    Good timing, and I hope that your mason bees have over wintered nicely! Go the daffodils and the ever hardy primroses (a favourite of mine).

    PS: I’ve booked in for the flu and tetanus booster shot.



  40. Hi DJ,

    Apologies, the past few days have been beyond hectic, but not so tonight. 🙂

    Yes, of course, it is a wise man who knows which are the fights to back when it comes to one’s spouse! The editor is fortunately a fan of manual transmissions which are usually about a $2,500 cheaper option for new vehicles down here. “We know that where there is no contention, there is neither defeat nor victory. The supple willow does not contend against the storm, yet it survives.” (sorry, my dodgy memories from the Kung Fu TV series from the 1970’s just took over my brain and it seemed somehow appropriate).

    Thanks! I don’t really know where I picked up the idea that perhaps it was bad form to speak about people who may be present, but are not actually present. It is complicated. Honestly, I learned a marketing maxim a long time ago that more or less suggested that it was not appropriate to advertise mentioning other people, groups or products. It seems common sense to me, but nowadays what with politics being the odd thing that it is, most people in that arena seem to have forgotten that – but then that may well be because they have nothing else to say? 😉

    The sunset was spectacular, although like your summers, the smoke lingered over the area. It certainly set my sinuses on edge, but I seem to be doing better now. The moth was really cool, and if I remember there is a stick insect lurking around the house and it is an impressive beast that is worth a photo.

    What a fascinating job that you have – and there is nobody down here that does such a thing. It would be helpful, that’s for sure. The red tape is onerous on small business and this new requirement is a ripper. What is rarely mentioned is that the requirement is being enforced with a big stick that few have noticed, and it is that payments to employees that aren’t properly accounted for apparently will be made non-deductible for the employers.

    That thought had occurred to me too, but the requirement had bipartisan support so who knows who is actually pushing for it? We rarely discover such things. Well in a declining market, gains can be made by cannibalising other businesses. It is a strategy, I guess. Not everyone is up for working in a large corporate entity, and I’m probably one of those people. And there is a tipping point where you put too many people out of work and…

    I’ll bet that you were glad that you weren’t in Yakima for the record breaking cold temperatures? Far out! Brrr…



  41. Hi Steve C,

    Haha! My job has been done, and done very well! Hehe! Who doesn’t love a good rant every now and then? It is cathartic for the soul. 🙂

    I saw that transition too, and have you noticed that despite having enormously powerful computers sitting on our desks nowadays, we’re heading back to the future with all of these cloud based services? Talk about turning powerful PC’s back into dumb terminals. It is the scale that I’m uncomfortable with, as any one fault along the line brings the whole lot down. Paper was much more elegant and resilient, with the exception of the physical destruction of the records – which I’m sure happened from time to time.

    I recall secretaries, and even recall the days of the typing pool, where something hand written was submitted to be converted into a word processed digital format (stored on a mainframe in those early days).

    I’d never considered the difficulty of accessing the old data, but yeah – it makes sense. Who sets the policies for such things, and who enforces it? Talk about a can of worms… And yeah, it does magnify the best and worst aspects of our natures. Very nicely put, and I would not have considered the problem from that perspective. We keep a simple and effective filing strategy for our business – and it has been tested at times and not found wanting.

    Best wishes for the seasons harvest, and all that snow will hopefully mean that there is plenty of groundwater and stored water for your forthcoming growing period. I’m really in awe of your maple tapping, and although I have a few sugar maples – which are extraordinarily hardy trees – they may not flow as well as yours, if at all. Or they may flow at a different time of year. Who knows how it will work and it is a few years off yet before I can begin tapping them?

    Very funny! You’ll be waiting for a bit… Yeah, snow and cloudy winter weather is a real bummer for solar PV. Mate, I’m genuinely pleased to read that you have at least considered how this stuff works in the real world. Every time I hear people betting the future farm on this stuff, mate I worry. At least you’ll be producing some good power now. Hey, I’m intending to put up another 200W solar panel tomorrow (all being well – like not windy). Every season is different. Down here some off grid folks have suggested that winters are getting cloudier, and they may be right. I’ll do an update on the statistics for the past nine or so years as the graph is interesting.

    Hehe! The paunch is because you are living in a good paddock! It happens to all of us living in such conditions. 🙂



  42. Yo, Chris, Time, flies, tis the season … for hot cross buns, again. I’m sure there are some, about, here, but right now, it’s all about corn beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day.

    The ghosts came before the Gothic. Scroll about halfway down, and you get the Roman take on ghosts. Well, the poor scribes never knew when a Viking was going to kick down the door and knock over the ink pot. :-).


    Well, I was never much of a subscriber to the Cult of Princess D. I thought there was a lot of bad behavior, on a lot of people’s part. But the end was a bit of an unexpected shocker. And, yes, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing, when I heard the news. Not to throw a damper on all this princess mania (thank you Disney), but perhaps the little darlings should be reminded that there’s not always a happy ending, and that sometimes, even a princess can come to a bad end.

    Well, I really didn’t understand half of what you said about financial investing in companies. I really don’t think, in some cases, value of property, or, horrors, good will play much into their calculations. They acquire these concerns, partition them off from each other. Squeeze all the blood out of the turnip. Then, either dump what’s left on some unsuspecting rube (it will be different, this time). Or, just bankrupt the thing. Somehow or another, “other people’s money” and what looks like ponzi schemes, play into the whole thing. The shell game also offers opportunities to break unions. Being the old softy that I am, I guess I look a lists like those, and can see the human misery, behind them. But then, “it’s only business.”

    I thought “bombogenesis” (hmmm. Spell check doesn’t recognize it as a real word) was one of those made up words, like snowmagedon. But, it turns out it’s a real weather term. If the barometric pressure falls 24 (or more) millibars, in 24 hours, then you get bombogenesis. Speaking of weather, for at least the next 5 days, we’re going to have overnight lows in the high 30sF. Sunny. And, the temps are going to sour into the 60sF (+15.55C).

    I went out quit late last night to retrieve something out of my truck. I heard a clicking sound (nails on pavement), and observed a very strange beasty. Not a racoon. Maybe a very odd looking dog or possum? Long legs and a round little body. A rather mincing step. I clicked at it, and it stopped and looked at me for a few seconds, and then went on about it’s business. But I still couldn’t get a fix on it. On reflection, this morning, I think it may have been a pig! Maybe someone’s miniature pig has taken it on the ham? (Now, that is the worst pun I have ever come up with.)

    I hit a couple of the cheap food stores, yesterday, and managed to score a gallon of ammonia, for $1. Got the last one. And, a good thing. I’ve started my nightly slug patrol, again. So far, nailing them in 6s and 8s.

    I’m off to the other cheap food store, this morning. The one that looks like it ought to have rats. And, our monthly food commodity box, comes today. Who knows what exotic treasures will be contained, therein? Lew

  43. Hello again
    Still very windy here and it is supposed to get worse tonight. All though we have had episodes of rain it has still been a much drier winter than usual. Nice not to be walking through mud.
    I agree about home made jam and I used to make a lot when raising a family. Not worth it now when it’s just me and I prefer the cheeses etc. Son doesn’t eat jam at all as he hasn’t a sweet tooth.
    Daffodils, primroses, celandines and violets are all flowering.
    Horse fly bites are dreadful, the worst that I ever had was on an eyelid.


  44. @Pam
    So glad you checked in. Hope you’re back soon – miss your quick wit.

    Interesting suggestions. I may put on my to read list. Three books on the topic are enough for the moment. Certainly recognized some of the less than optimal ways I use technology but I pale in comparison to many I know. My sister told me the other day that she finally read a book on a flight to California because the plane’s wi-fi was down (sigh).
    I well remember the “Readers Guide to Periodical Literature” mostly from researching papers in my college days. Not surprised that many are not familiar with it.


  45. Hi Chris,
    Tithonia or Mexican sunflower is a a great plant that grows to almost six feet tall and spreads as well. It attracts both honey bees and some natives, several kinds of butterflies and hummingbirds. If you deadhead it regularly it’ll keep going until frost as well.

    A friend gave me some calendula salve which helped with some skin issues.

    I heard about the internet outage but was not affected though wasn’t online much either. I imagine this will become more and more common.

    I was at the bank yesterday opening a CD as they finally had a half way decent interest rate. The young man who assisted me used to be a teller so he knew me quite well. Now he’s a “personal banker” with his own office. He has just a semester of college, worked in construction and with his father doing plumbing. His mother was in banking so he thought he’d give it a try and said he’s learned quite a lot just on the job. It was nice seeing someone being promoted without having to have a degree.

    We had two days of well above normal temperatures so probably 90% of the snow has melted resulting in flooded fields, road, rivers and streams. It is nice to see the ground though and there’s even a slight tinge of green though we’ve returned to slightly below normal temperatures for a few days. We had our first tornado watch yesterday but luckily nothing developed. Temps are supposed to rebound to close to normal in a few days and no rain either so we should dry out a bit. Kildeer, robins and red winged blackbirds are back and vocal.


  46. Hi Chris,
    Forgot to mention that Doug and I went to a talk on native bees. The woman was self taught and definitely not an expert but it was interesting to hear how her interest began when she was examining insects with her then young children. She related that there is some possible legislation in some areas requiring that European honey bees (or as she referred to them – commercial) would have to be separated by 4 miles from areas with native plants that would attract native bees due to the fact that those bees push out the natives and also spread diseases. I will have to research to see if her claims are true. Doug said it looks like bee wars could be on the horizon.


    PS My very first job was as secretary to a retired army colonel at the National Safety Council – really showing my age.

  47. Hi Chris,

    I’m impressed by your almonds! While I don’t think the weather here is favorable for almonds, they might be a good nut to grow if for no other reason than their being within the pit of a stone fruit, where squirrels might be unaware of them. Squirrels get almost all the nuts from the nut trees around here.

    The bomb cyclone brought us rain and 60mph winds. Later on it will bring flooding to the Mississippi River, as water from rain and melted snow upstream travel downriver to St. Louis. The only effect it will have on me is flooding the site on the nearby creek where I and several other people do volunteer water quality monitoring. We will have to reschedule the date we’d planned to do the spring monitoring.

    It’s actually spring here – the first of our daffodils are blooming, and I planted peas today!

    @ Pam – I’m relieved to know that you are still among the living, and I wish you a rapid recovery from any remaining illness!


  48. Chris,

    No worries. I totally understand how reality steps in and then plans and time posting hereabouts, etc. disappears due to important events.

    As an example, here’s my past week outside of work. Had to visit a cousin of my wife’s in hospital in Spokane on Sunday, as wife is with her brother in Toppenish. Recall that said brother had a stent in December, has dry macular degeneration, cataracts, and lost his wife 5ish years ago. A friend had a lung biopsy this week (good results) but still has pneumonia. A cousin of my wife near Yakima died in an accident last night. My wife needs to help with the services. BUT, her aunt, 300km from there, is dying and called for her to visit. Auntie can depart any moment. I will attend her services when the time comes, so will disappear from here unannounced for perhaps a week or so. I don’t talk about this stuff much, as this type of “lifestorm” has been pretty much the norm for us since October 2005. My job is to stay grounded so she has some stability to fall back upon.

    The point being…life intervenes and you really don’t have to apologize to me when life keeps you away from replying to me. Fluid, supple and adapting are sometimes hourly occurrences.

    I love that Kung Fu quote! It sums up how my wife and I have to live this days.

    Stick insects are cool. Any pictures would be fun to see.

    We had enough record breaking stuff in Spokane. Being home for it was MUCH better than being away! And one of my predictions is coming to pass: It hit +11C today. We had 7 cm of snow earlier this week with lows near -11C. Now everything in the lowlands is melting rapidly. We should hit +15C next week. Yup, sudden warm up and everything is melting all at once. Which is already making the work function I mentioned overwhelming. I *might* get to partially train the new hire to help me next week.


  49. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, there are a lot of flies around at the moment and I was bitten several times yesterday by a horse fly, whilst I was at the top end of a ladder and couldn’t do much about the fly. Thanks for asking! Hehe! But yeah, time is getting away from us all. The important question is do you prefer hot cross buns or chocolate Easter eggs? I’m leaning towards the hot cross buns.

    St Pat’s day celebrations down here tend to involve a lot of green beer consumed at Irish pubs (themed or traditional), with the occasional U2 cover band thrown in for good measure. Is the corned beef (one of the tastiest varieties of beef as far as I’m concerned) and cabbage consumed as traditional St Pat’s day fare? There sure is a bit of hagiography going on with St Pat’s life and work and I’d never have guessed that he had contemporaries (Palladius) who were over shadowed (or talked up and then later talked down) by the St Pat. I’ll bet he was a larger than life person. And who would have guessed that he had a martial aspect to his history?

    Thanks for the link to the essay discussing ghosts in an historical context. I’ll read it after replying to everyone tonight. I enjoyed the Roman satires involving ghosts in the text.

    I can’t argue with your analysis of the situation regarding the errant Princess. A tragic ending, with fingers of blame pointing in all directions including the people involved directly in the tragedy. Many situations are like that. Wasn’t the possibility of a bad ending the whole point of fairy stories – the same as with the Greek morality tales?

    Read a funny line in Mr Penumbra today: “a renewable energy system powered by hubris”. Good stuff, and the author innocuously slipped that one in. 🙂 The author has a good sense of awareness of the larger currents and stories circulating around society – especially those that rarely get much air time, other than the “hopium” side of the story.

    It is really hard to ignore the human cost to those economic stories, but despite your protestations you really do display a good understanding of the mechanics. It is the ongoing human cost that leads me to believe that the next economic cataclysm will be caused by too much money and too few consumers – it is a complex conundrum, but largely unavoidable given the policies being pursued. When I was at Uni, I used to really struggle with understanding what all these exotic financial instruments actually are. Then one day it dawned on me that you are not meant to understand the details – that is the whole point of the obscurity and obfuscation exercise. All of the exotic financial instruments – like the notes – are really just plays on a few themes which basically involve: capital invested; market valuations; and rates of return. Of course the details are horrendously complex, like will you get your capital returned – and how safe is it? Simple in principle, but extraordinarily complex in the details, but inevitably a bit same, same, but different

    Well yeah, some of them have the sniff of ponzi scheme about them – but who really knows? I see funds returning capital to, I guess, boost the cash returned to investors – and they call it something else altogether. I dunno. But isn’t that what ponzi schemes did? Nope, old softies of the world unite in outrage at all the goings on. Mind you, if it makes no sense, it might be that things actually make no sense…

    It is a real weather term, although I believe it has been only recently coined. Big storms are like horror movies, and it is best not to be involved! 🙂 Mate, the weather here has stalled, and for the next week it is either 79’F or 81’F. Bonkers, huh? And there is little to no wind. I shouldn’t complain as things could be worse. Rain is finally forecast for the 25th and 26th of March, so fingers crossed…

    The weather is forcing us to change our plans, and we’ve decided to take advantage of the warm and dry weather. Today I almost finished painting the rear of the house. When I originally painted the house, there was a shed very close to the house and I was unable to put on more than a cursory coat of paint. Now is the time to remedy this lack! But far out the gable end was way high above the ground. It was a long way up the ladder, and I was glad to have finished that job. Overall the paint on the house was very good, but we’re thinking about adding another coat of paint to one side of the house each summer. That way in four summers, the entire house receives a top up coat of paint. It is not as if the external cladding materials are likely to break down this century, but still if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well! I keep reading references to vinyl cladding used on US houses and mate, that stuff would last about 5 seconds in a fire. It would be brutal and sort of melty. But still nowadays I’ve seen houses clad in rendered polystyrene and I ask myself what sort of stories do you have to tell yourself to use that stuff? It would be OK if the rendering never cracked, which is nigh on impossible.

    I’d be quite happy with a few miniature pigs roaming around the forest. I’d even plant them a few more oak trees so they could enjoy the acorns. Miniature pigs rarely stay small and given it didn’t shy from you, it might be used to human handling? Dunno. Pigs are good forest dwellers as they turn the soil much like the lyrebirds and ground dwelling marsupials like wombats. A really massive wombat lives here and it is awesome to behold – and neither the dogs nor I get involved in its business. It gets a bit grumpy if I forget to top up its water supply. Like the pun! Hey, has anyone else seen the pig?

    Please keep your snails up in your part of the world! The birds here destroy any snail that is foolish enough to venture forth from the worm farm. Top work, and the little blighters will eat your seedlings if given half a chance.

    Did you discover any exotic treasures in the food box?



  50. Hi Inge,

    Hope the wind eases off for you. Did the wind get worse over night? It is dead calm here, and every day for the next week is either 79’F or 81’F but no rain at all to speak of. There are tentative indications that the following week it may rain.

    I rarely see mud here, but I do try and keep plants growing over every surface (and the locally crushed rock with lime on walking paths), although with the hot and dry summer I’ve had, there are plenty of dead plants covering the soil surface. Dead plants perform the same role and hold everything together. However, when it does rain again, there may be some erosion in some of the other areas surrounding the mountain range. Fortunately, I haven’t seen to many properties that have allowed the animals to over graze the vegetation – and that is a good thing. Sheep are the worst as they can exist by consuming the roots of dead plants.

    Fair enough about the jam. We usually produce about a dozen jars per batch and each jar takes a week or two to get through. Did your son always not have a sweet tooth?

    Nice! Aren’t the spring flowers lovely, and may they herald the beginning of a gentle summer for you and your forest.

    Oh my! Out of curiosity, how did the horse fly manage to settle on your eye lid long enough to be able to bite the skin? It sounds very unpleasant and I’ll bet it swelled up? The three bites on my shoulder are an almost perfect triangle. Not nice at all. Do you get many mosquitoes during your summer?



  51. Hi Margaret,

    A lot of the Mexican plants are very hardy to both heat and dry and so they’re really good value in the garden. I’ve never seen the Tithonia plants down here, but you never know what has been introduced over the years. In the open garden I visited on Friday, the bees were everywhere and were having a grand old time of all of the flowers. The garden had access to more water than I could possibly dream of as they’d dammed up the local creek and it was a surprise to me to see the green patches of grass, let alone the massive and very structured flower gardens.

    Yeah, calendula is an old school medicinal herb.

    I don’t doubt that the outages will become more common as time goes on. However, it looks this time as though it was possibly a software issue at the actual company rather than a denial of service attack.

    My gut feeling is that things will eventually revert in some professions to the long term norm, and college and Uni degrees will again become a thing for the wealthy. It is the debt that has to be taken on for students that has little in the way of any return on investment which is I reckon the key to that story. I was in the very first year of Uni fees – and it hurt a lot, but I’d already committed and didn’t know what else to do.

    I’d like to write that your snow disappeared quickly, but you’ve just had a brutal winter. The bombogenesis produced some big winds to the south of you and some big snow to your west. It is nice to read that you largely avoided the worst of that one. No rain forecast here for the week, but maybe next week? I’ll believe it when I see the wet stuff falling out of the sky. 🙂

    Native bees are great. Hey, do your local native bees begin gathering pollen and nectar as early as the European honey bees? My lot don’t which is a worry. The whole native versus introduced argument drives me bonkers and whenever it gets raised by really concerned people I ask them the simple question: What native plants did you last consume? That usually puts an end to such talk. You know, the honey bees escape and find hollows in the forest to set up new hives – that is how they work, and once they’re introduced, I hardly see the point in eliminating hives…



  52. Hi Claire,

    Thanks and I’m impressed with those almond trees too! I had to take down a few buckets of water for them tonight as they are very drought stressed. I’ve had a few plant deaths this summer, but most of the fruit trees that are well established haven’t skipped a beat and are looking good. It might be that the trees that are drought stressed will bounce back once the rains eventually arrive again. Who knows?

    Yeah, none of the birds can crack the really tough outer green skin with the almonds, not to mention the inner nut casing. Those are one tough nut to crack! Not good about the squirrels. I also grow hazelnuts, chestnuts, horse chestnuts, pecans, bunya bunya, and a really long shot – macadamia’s. Only the almonds and horse chestnut produce nuts at this stage as the other fruit trees are a bit young. Please keep your squirrels. No seriously, the parrots here are unrelenting… We get possums (marsupial herbivores) and the owls destroy them.

    Far out that is windy! I hope there was little to no damage in your part of the world from the wind? On a positive note, the stream that your group is monitoring has probably just enjoyed a good clean out, although flooding does wash in a lot of organic matter.



  53. Hi DJ,

    Thanks, yeah life does intrude!

    Oh my! You have my sympathies and you’ve been displaying fortitude in your replies and so I would never have guessed at the ‘life-storm’ going on in the background. I’m so sorry for the loss of the cousin of your wife. Life can be uncertain and loss can hit without warning. In fact life I feel is replete with tragedy.

    Glad you enjoyed the Kung Fu quote. Perchance did you ever watch the show?

    Your maximum temperatures are about my minimum temperatures, but I feel that soon the batten shall pass and no doubts I’ll be complaining about how cold it is down here (positively tropical by your winter standards!) and you will be complaining about how hot and dry is in your part of the world! 🙂

    Hope you get some quiet time to spend out in the garden and remember to take it easy on yourself?



  54. @Chris, Inge, Margaret, and if I missed anyone, as I am behind in my reading:

    Thank you so much for the well-wishes. And thank you Ollie, Toothy, and Sir Scruffy. Is Scritchy alright?


  55. Hello again
    Son certainly had a sweet tooth as a child. Is there any child who hasn’t? I don’t know when he lost it.
    The horse fly bite was 60 years ago and I don’t remember the details, just the swollen eyelid and pain. It could have happened in my sleep as I was sleeping in a hut in the depths of the countryside..
    Whether or not we get mosquitos in the summer is dependent on whether there is rain around. They vanish when there is no stagnant water around for their reproduction.
    The wind is still strong.


  56. DJ
    Up to about six months ago my life was similar to your wife’s so I can definitely relate. Doug was always there to hold down the fort and provide support as you are doing.


  57. Yo, Chris – Hmm. Hot cross buns or chocolate Easter eggs? Well, it depends. Are the buns, homemade or commercial? Are the Easter eggs milk chocolate, or the healthier dark chocolate.? Is the chocolate, fair trade? Were the Easter bunnies who laid the eggs free range? Fed only on organic tucker? :-). I think I’ll just avoid the whole controversy by consuming neither.

    I don’t know where the corned beef / cabbage / St. Pat’s Day comes from. But it even was around when I was a kid. Probably a marketing plot by the Corned Beef Council. The stores have it “on sale” this time of year. The Ladies, here at The Institution are having a corned beef feed.

    I think we talked about how it dawned on me that those St. Patrick hagiography covered the period of Roman unraveling, in Britain. And, that if you read between the lines, can pick out a lot of details of what life was like.

    I ran across something interesting. About Beowulf, which I know you found quit engrossing. To set the scene (stick with me.) I’m watching one of those Great Courses, “The Medieval World”, which is being conducted by Prof. Dorsey Armstrong. That’s the same professor who did the Great Course on King Arthur, that I watched last year. She also edits the academic journal (which I’ve never seen) called “Arthuriana.” Any-who. She was talking about how the Anglo-Saxon sagas were preserved by the monks, who either copied older texts or set down oral stories. Now, you have to remember that the Anglo-Saxons were pagan. So the monks (it’s thought) tended to put a Christian gloss, on texts. Or, added a bit at the end, to give a tale a Christian twist. And then the good professor just tossed off a bit about how, though Beowulf and his merry band were pagan, the narrator of Beowulf was Christian. It’s an interesting “take” on the Anglo-Saxon sagas, and if I ever read one again, I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    Hopium. A rare and precious material. May be entirely mythical. :-).

    Hmmm. When it comes to exotic financial instruments, I’m beginning to think they just make it up as they go along.

    I’d never thought about painting one side of a house, per year. It sure would break up an onerous task, into more bite sized bits. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone doing that. Perhaps you should patent the process. You might make oodles of mad cash. 🙂

    No one else has seen the pig. So, in some quarters, is considered a fig newton of my inauguration. My Idaho friends are firmly in the “It was an possum,” camp. But one of the Ladies, here at The Institution, told a tale. Years ago, in Chehalis, she had a neighbor who had a miniature pig. It escaped on Christmas Eve. The police were called. So, you had officers of the law, chasing a pig on the ham, all over town. Given the Christmas Eve aspect of the story, maybe I can sell the story rights to Hallmark or Disney?

    I kill the slugs, but save the snails. I’ve only seen three snails, since being here. I always move them to a safe, out of the way area.

    The most exotic treasure in my food box was two enormous bags of jelly beans (!). Those I swiftly gave away. I could actually do better with my box, if I wasn’t so finicky about the quality of my food. There was a perfectly good 5 pound bag of Gold Medal flour, but I prefer the Bob’s Red Mill. There were 18 eggs, but I have my source for local free range. There was a big box of Lipton tea, but I prefer the Stash brand. There was a bag of rice, but it was white, not the long grain brown, I prefer. A container of vegetable broth. Would rather make my own. All of that hit the swap table, and I contributed a lot more than I salvaged out. But more things will appear, over the weekend. I did find some pretty good oatmeal, and, several cans of different veg. A small tin of smoked ham. A can of evaporated milk, which will come in handy for some deserts. Reorganizing the pantry is becoming a priority. Lew

  58. @ Marg

    Thank you. It’s ironic, your situation and my wife’s. My name is Doug. Yup, Doug holds down the fort. To avoid confusion between Dougs is one reason I chose the screen name DJSpo.

    My wife and I have been trading back and forth for over 13 years on who is support and who is in the frying pan. In a period of 5 consecutive years, at the rate of one per year, her oldest brother died, then her mom, then both of my parents, then my only uncle. With a lot of other things crashing at the same time. We’ve had to learn, as a matter of survival, how to be supportive and stay grounded and pay attention to just plodding along and doing what needs to be done.

    Oh, and humor. We look for humor wherever we can. It’s a lot better than brooding and continually whining to everyone that life is hard.


  59. Chris,

    Thanks for the compliment. As I said to Marg, brooding and whining is not the way to go. Being pragmatic and keeping up with what needs to be done is much healthier. And nobody wants to be around somebody who only talks about how sucky life is at the moment. Yes, I’ve learned that the hard way.

    One thing I read over and over again in James Heriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small” series was these farmers, when faced with disaster after disaster (stud bull dies, husband breaks his leg or worse, two plow horses die, several milk cows are seriously ill, all within a few weeks, etc.) these folks would just say, “Aye, well, these things happen.” Then they’d get on with life as best they could. As the events were in Yorkshire, the farmers were of mostly Anglo-Danish background, I’m thinking, so I’m finding myself trying to channel my inner Viking. 😉

    Kung Fu? I never got to watch the series way back then. I’ve seen several episodes over the years and always enjoy them.

    So, today, yes I found time to take care of myself and sit outside. In addition to my normal Taiji and qigong sessions, and discursive meditation, I took a nap, had lunch at my favorite place and just sat on the back patio for about 45 minutes. Although the snow is melting, the yard and garden areas are still under a blanket of 15cm of snow. So I sat and watched a squirrel and marveled at its athleticism, and enjoyed the sun shining on the shiny Oregon grape bush leaves in an area where the snow has melted.

    And I was especially grateful for the mountain chickadee who, immediately upon my sitting on the bench, landed nearby and chattered at me while I chattered back. This family of birds entered the neighborhood as 4 adults a few years ago, quickly realized I’m no threat to them, and let me approach within a few feet of them. Now there are over a dozen adult mountain chickadees here, most of whom fly to our yard and perch nearby and chatter whenever my wife or I step outside. And by “chatter”, I mean they make noises at us that I normally don’t hear them using with one another. And they keep on until we say something back and acknowledge that they’re talking to us.

    I’m also enjoying these lines attributed to the Tang dynasty poet Wang Wei:
    “Look! I make no plans for the future
    but to go back to my forest home again.”


  60. Hi Pam,

    Don’t fear for Scritchy. She is a bit self absorbed at the moment as some food item has irritated her skin and she is a bit scratchy. Not to worry, she is on the mend now as I’ve cut out two items of food from her diet and additional am feeding her Cod Liver Oil on beef jerky strips, which is excellent for her skin – although she doesn’t much enjoy the taste of the oil.

    Glad to read that you are feeling better!



  61. Hi Inge,

    As to all kids having a sweet tooth, I can’t actually say. I know I did, but there wasn’t much of that stuff around to consume really (and I never recall soft drink being around, although we did use to have cordial) if only because we couldn’t afford it. As an interesting side story, I have only had a few fillings in my teeth over my life, and they’re doing OK. I keep reading stories about rainwater not containing fluoride and that is a bad thing for your teeth, but I have not noticed any deterioration in the decade that I’ve been drinking the stuff. Dunno. There is probably more to that story.

    Oh! The rotten horse fly, to have done that to your eyelid all those years ago. Talk about leaving an impression. Bee stings make me swell up.

    Yeah, this dry and hot summer season is like that too – and I’ve rarely seen any mosquitoes this summer, although I don’t have standing water for the insects to breed in. Wet summers are whole different story.

    Best of luck with the wind, and I hope that there is no damage. Wind is often the tool that nature uses to prune trees.



  62. Hi Lewis,

    Talk about opening a can of worms. OK, that it is clearly a thorny subject – and wars have been fought over less. 🙂 I don’t really consume much chocolate these days. When is Easter anyway? Ah, it is about a month away, and we get Anzac day public holiday that week too. Although, I’m a bit sad because I recall the days when Easter Tuesday used to be a public holiday. Not fair. I recall as a young kid, my grandmother told me that way back in the day, Saints days used to be public holidays, but I never experienced that and can’t vouch for the truth of it. No doubts the economists are rubbing their hands with glee for the increased labour productivity, or whatever that means.

    It is interesting how these tradition things start. Like, neither of your traditions in relation to St Pat’s day are a thing down here. Cabbage is a long way out of season anyway and traditionally it doesn’t make a lot of sense to slaughter a bull or cow at this time of the year – because of the heat. Not that people consider seasonality in their diets these days – which is a bit of a shame. I may write indirectly about that tonight. Dunno.

    Have you been invited to the corn beef feed? If it is done well, the stuff is superb and even better on freshly baked bread. When I was a kid they used to wrap the meat up tightly using twine and then boil the daylights out of it, but far out, was it worth it what? Are you going to take anything to the cook up?

    Yeah, that hadn’t occurred to me about those days. But then when I was reading about St Pat, there were more than a few references to the declining influence of Rome but with links remaining, martial activity and prophesies. It would have been a truly fascinating time to live through (unscathed and in comfort, of course) and I always get the vague sense that there was a tremendous freedom – but at an extraordinary cost. What do you reckon about that? And do you reckon the martial label was a remote possibility for the Saint? It seemed like a big call to me.

    I was confused about that side of the story between the christian and pagan influences. Some of the add ons in that story seemed a bit heavy handed and out of line with the general text to my ear (I suspected they were added by a scribe to justify the work), but to be honest I really needed Prof. Tolkien’s analysis to gain insights into the subtleties at play in the story. It might well have been written in another language the subtle concepts were that alien. Incidentally the good Prof. suggested that the story was written by a christian poet and then recited to people who had a good grasp of both sides of that story. I’d have to suggest that at some point in history, tolerance was thrown out the window and had the living daylights stomped out of it – but at that time, both worlds were well known and co-existed. What is your take on that story?

    Nice one! Yes, very mythical. 🙂

    My thoughts exactly. With the financial instruments, the cake gets baked and then sold. I’d imagine that there are plenty of cakes that fail to rise and remained un-eaten. But with people grasping (I feel that is the correct word to use) for yield, the cake can often be half baked! I feel quite chuffed by that bit of text, and I’ll have to get writing soon so as not to lose the mojo!

    Write the story down, and get legal advice about the source – there may have to be a cut in there, if you want to avoid pointless years in court defending your ill gotten story gains. Hehe! You know, my thinking is that it was far better that it was a pig rather than a big cat which could have been a far more complicated and uncertain encounter. Has anyone ever seen a big wild cat in your neck of the woods?

    PS: Don’t work as a consultant on the film as it would inevitably be a disappointing and exasperating experience (if somewhat lucrative).

    I’d probably prefer the Bob’s Red Mill flour too. Hey, I’m buying unbleached flour these days – which candidly is quite good. I’m very dubious of factory farmed eggs as I’ve become accustomed to the far richer and tastier home grown eggs – and the gulf is quite wide and getting wider. Evaporated milk is rather handy for desserts – a good keep. Hey, how is the admin coping with the food swap? Hopefully they’re not stick in the muds about it all?



  63. Hi DJ,

    Exactly, one must always do the needful, whilst taking time out to enjoy the land and all its denizens. I really enjoyed the poetry and mention of Wang Wei. It is not lost on me that you pursue discursive meditation and eschew emptiness – which is a state of mind that has little to no meaning to me. Life can be a good teacher, if but we are good students! 😉

    When I was a kid I really enjoyed James Heriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small” series. The protagonist and his lady in the story were the right people at the right time for the village. It is now many decades in the past, but I recall reading the book of the series but particularly enjoyed the TV series. Good luck and I hope that you discover your inner Viking. 🙂

    Your day sounds quite fine indeed! And glad to read that you enjoyed some quiet time for reflection. Oregon grapes grow very well down here too, although I don’t have any plants here and should remedy that. Have you ever made jam from the fruit?

    It always surprises me that the birds in particular would take the time to attempt to communicate with us humans – but they do. Even the chickens have a limited language that they use to communicate important things within their immediate surroundings.

    In the forest, I discover quiet and terror, and all points in between.



  64. Chris:

    I very much appreciated you “going home” and discussing accounting. I reckon most humans are smart enough, that when they find that AI does not prosper them, they will eschew involvement with it. And I strongly doubt – trouble though AI, and many computer programs and algorithms may cause – that AI can “take over” the world.


    P.S. I apologize if my thoughts may have been covered in the comments. I am behind!

  65. Hello again
    I don’t think that one needs fluoride for ones teeth, in fact I reckon that it is better avoided if possible; it is just one more unnecessary chemical. Sugar is the thing to seriously avoid. My teeth are fine thanks to wartime and sweet rationing. I have never had soft drinks. I remember someone giving me ginger beer after the war. I didn’t like it.

    Gusts of wind and rain are still coming in, it was actually scary yesterday evening.


  66. Yo, Chris – There’s been a few articles on-line, this week, on how corned beef got attached to the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day. Pork, potatoes and cabbage were pretty traditional in Ireland. For special occasions. When the Irish began arriving here, they discovered that beef was actually cheaper, than pork. But I still think the Beef Council had a hand in popularizing it :-).

    I really don’t see much of a martial aspect in St. Patrick. Whence does that come? But, in general, the idea of warrior monks isn’t so unusual. Friar Tuck? :-). Kung Fu? (Grasshopper.) In actuality, several sects of Buddhist monks were known for their martial skills. Knights Templar.

    The Irish church pretty much went off and did it’s own thing, for long periods of time. In fact, the Great Courses refers to the Eastern Church, the Western Church (Roman) and the Celtic Church. It took the Western Church quit awhile to bring the Celtic Church, to heal. One huge point of contention was calculating the date of Easter. The Irish monastic system had a different form. Abbots of monasteries, generally, had more power than bishops. They weren’t from “outside” and were often related to the Irish royal houses.

    Things were very much in flux, early on. Many people, being polytheistic, just saw Christ as another God. In several instances, Christians and Pagans seemed to joggle along in relative harmony. You see Roman villas, with both Christian and Pagan iconography. Several treasure hoards are a mix.

    Now, depending on how far you want to go down the rabbit hole … 🙂 (Evil laugh.) There’s the Sutton Hoo ship burial. Wikipedia has quit an entry. It is thought to be the burial of Raedwald, one of the kings of East Anglia. He was cited as being an early Christian convert. But he hedged his bets, a bit, and also maintained pagan temples. His wife was pagan. (More usually in these stories, the Christian wife nags her husband into converting.)

    Any-who, Wikipedia has quit an entry on Sutton Hoo, and, another one on Raedwald. There’s a section on the ship, of a couple of paragraphs, that discusses it’s relationship to Beowulf. As the culture and time frame are similar. Cont.

  67. Cont. And on the financial front … I ran across an interesting (frightening?) article about exotic financial instruments. It gets interesting down around paragraph four, when it starts talking about local councils buying into these things.


    The corn beef feed (today) isn’t an invite kind of a thing. it’s a pay your $3, and go, kind of a thing. But, also, potluck for sides and deserts. But I’m not going. It would defeat my nefarious plan to become an urban hermit / recluse (non-religious.) I’ve realized that I’m not very good at this communal living thing. But here I am, so there you are. So, I’m withdrawing from face to face society, as much as possible. It’s a long term goal. See where I’m at, in a year.

    I put my mason bees out. When I opened up their storage box (which had been out in the dumpster / garden storage area) I discovered mouse calling cards (poo). Not much. I’d say, just an overnight stay. A mouse BnB? Lew

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