Modern Grain Theory – Truman the Turkey

We continue the intermission from our usual programming…

Our hero Sitting Duck, the cadet reporter, is in fact sitting in Big Pig’s opulent office, whilst Big Pig pontificates upon the subject of Modern Grain Theory.

Sitting Duck, really didn’t concentrate all that well upon the finer details of the central tenets of Big Pigs new economic theory. He frankly couldn’t understand much of it, however, as an alert cadet journalist he was thrashing around for something intelligent to say to Big Pig. But mostly he was wondering when he could go to the bathroom, when in a quiet moment in between the constant barrage of verbiage he blurted out: “This is a lovely office. I’ve just got a quick question.”

Big Pig looked first shocked, which then rapidly turned to anger, before settling into a clinical look of dispassion. “Son. Come with me for a moment and step outside and get some fresh air.” Big Pig and Sitting Duck left the office in the solidly constructed barn, passing the receptionist with the pink bow who was busy looking busy. Sitting Duck scampered after Big Pig as he theatrically pushed open the door with a well practised flourish and they both found themselves out in the warm sunny day.

With notable bombast, Big Pig pointed up into the sky and remarked: “Son. What do you see up in the sky?” Sitting Duck thought that this was a trick question and so replied: “Err, The sun?”

“What? No! If you look carefully you’ll see a flock of migratory ducks. I’ve got grain scrip and both you and those birds want my grain scrip, if you get my meaning. So bore someone else with your questions.” Sitting Duck looked thoughtfully at the migratory ducks as he pondered the threat. Big Pig had a mercurial temperament and thought about the situation for a brief moment as a cold glint shone from his eyes. “As you know, I’m an important pig and I don’t have time for your questions. However, I’ve got just the guy for your questions. See that turkey over there. That’s Truman the Turkey. Go see him.” And without saying goodbye, the interview was over and Pig Pig turned around and left for the comforts of his office.

Sitting Duck wasn’t actually looking in the direction when Big Pig pointed his big hoof and so had no idea what he was even talking about. But he was an intrepid cadet investigative reporter and thus was prepared to chase down any and every lead for the story. But firstly he had to urgently go to the bathroom.

He approached a number of birds on the farm asking two questions: One where was the bathroom; and Two, who or where is Truman the Turkey? After a few misdirection’s, some of which he suspected were deliberate, he found the bathroom and also the locale of Truman the Turkey. Feeling somewhat relieved he felt more able to focus on the task at hand.

During Big Pigs discourse, Sitting Duck was able to put together a couple of sentences on the magic of what is the new economic theory: Modern Grain Theory. But that was not enough meat with which to write an article and he was under no allusions about the expectations of his boss, the Editor of the newspaper.

Truman the Turkey was sitting in a fenced off area. He had round reading glasses on his long pointed beak, which was buried deeply in a book. As he approached the fenced enclosure, Sitting Duck could just make out the title of the book.

Notes: Truman the Turkey. Long beak. Round glasses. Book, treatise on Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Fenced enclosure.

Sitting Duck the cadet journalist was trying to be both cool and the alpha bird as he said: “Oi. Are you Truman the Turkey? Big Pig sent me”. Truman the Turkey’s beak went even lower as his eyes peered above the round glasses and he replied: “Maybe. What do you want?” Sitting Duck took that as an invitation and he flew up and over the fence and gracefully landed in the enclosure.

“Nice for some”, Truman the Turkey peevishly muttered.

Sitting Duck was faced with the unforgiving reality of returning with no story on the new economic theory, so he decided to take a new and more conciliatory approach with the turkey. “Sorry mate. I was bit short with you because I was busting to go to the toilet. And you see those birds over there. They sent me in the wrong direction.”

Somewhat mollified, Truman the Turkey opened up and said: “Typical, I wouldn’t expect better of them. Sorry mate, but it was your flying into the enclosure that got me on the wrong foot.” We both looked at Truman the Turkey’s feet and could see that he was indeed on the wrong foot. “Anyway, when I was a young Jake, the world seemed so full of possibilities, the older turkeys all told me that I could do anything I wanted in life. I ate that talk up and wanted nothing more than to fly.”

“I think I understand the problem” Sitting Duck replied somewhat sympathetically. “No. No, you don’t see the problem at all. I wanted to be a pilot because I thought that doing that job, I’d get all the hens. Turns out I couldn’t fly, I mean look at these wings, they’re not going anywhere soon. But you on the other hand…” Before Truman the Turkey could work himself into a frenzy of self loathing, Sitting Duck refocused him by asking: “So what happened?”

“I got a regular job on Utopia farm, and eventually worked my way up, and now here I am as economic adviser to Big Pig.”

Notes: Truman the Turkey is a complicated turkey with many regrets. Economic advsier to Big Pig and possibly architect of economic theory.

“Cool. I’m an economics journalist (whilst not mentioning the cadet part or having no idea about economics) for ‘The Big Swine’ and from your professional opinion, I’d like to ask you a few questions about Modern Grain Theory”

“Go ahead.” Truman the Turkey replied pleased at the possibility of gaining some new-found respect from the future article and possibly also the attention of the hens.

“So what is the central tenet of Modern Grain Theory?”

“Well, the central tenet of Modern Grain Theory, is that the value of grain scrip has reached what looks like a permanently high plateau. So it doesn’t matter how much grain scrip gets printed because some farm animal will always want some scrip.” Replied Truman the Turkey.

Notes: Able to print lots of mad grain scrip as needed. Could be handy for future pond purchase and wooing of hen.

“What? So are you saying that Traditional Grain Theory doesn’t much matter and the old rules no longer apply? I mean what happens if the Pig in Control prints more grain scrip than actual grain?” posited Sitting Duck.

“No. Of course the theory matters, in theory. However, it doesn’t much matter if the Pig in Control prints too much scrip”, Truman the Turkey replied.

“I don’t quite understand how that can be” remarked Sitting Duck.

Truman the Turkey was again getting riled up and said: “Who is the economic mastermind here? You or me? It is simple, if the Pigs print too much scrip we’ll just raise taxes on the farm animals, stagnate wages, or allow prices for barns and enclosures to rise. Easy.”

Notes: Truman the Turkey can’t fly, but readily flies off the handle. Raise taxes. Stagnate wages. Allow prices of barns and enclosures to rise.

“If you want to see how it all works out just fine, even when it doesn’t matter, go speak with Roasted the Sheep. This interview is now at an end. You better make me look good in the article if you want some grain scrip. Now, I’ve got a lot to learn about the hens.” And with that brusque dismissal, Truman the Turkey buried his beak back in his book.

To be continued…

The weather this week is a stark contrast to the filthy wet cold weather of the previous week. In fact I’d go so far as to say that it is some form of early spring. I’ve called this time of year Sprinter  before. That word is the technical word for the season which is both Spring and Winter, but not quite either. The days have been gloriously cool to mildly warm and sunny.

Blue skies reigned supreme this week

Excavations on the two new garden terraces continued (wasn’t there only one new terrace last week? A strategy change has occurred!) A lot of clay was excavated and moved. All of the work is done by hand with the assistance of an electric jackhammer which is powered by the sun. The lower terrace still has a few days work of digging and moving the clay before the terraces can be fenced.

Excavations on the lower garden terrace continued

The clay is being moved, placed and compacted on the upper terrace. And we have also pegged out the upper terrace and have begun excavating the soil there too. The goal is to plant out the upper terrace by around the end of August.

Eexcavations have begun on the upper terrace and the clay has been compacted

A few weeks ago on the lower terrace we unearthed a huge rock. All rocks have a purpose and this rock in particular would be useful as a retaining wall for the succulent garden. The rock easily weighed more than I do and moving the rock downhill to the succulent garden was not easy. In order to move the rock around, we strapped it to a trolley.

The huge rock was strapped to a trolley so we could move it

After a whole lot of effort, the rock was placed in the retaining wall of the new succulent garden.

The huge rock found a home among other huge rocks in the new succulent garden

The signs of spring are all over the farm. After a two month egg strike (possibly due to me killing the sick Grey Silky) the chickens are back and we’ve now had five eggs this week.

The chickens are back after a two month egg strike

The grape vines are beginning to form buds.

The grape vines are beginning to form buds

An elderberry has produced some leaves.

An elderberry has produced some leaves

In late autumn we planted some broccoli seeds and they never germinated. Now a few months later, they’ve germinated.

Broccoli seeds have germinated in the early spring weather

Bulbs are springing from the soil, like these Ixia’s.

Bulbs are springing from the ground, but are yet to flower

Tree ferns are producing and unfurling new early fronds.

Tree ferns are producing and unfurling new fronds

The diverse fungi that are some of the hard workers on the farm, are still doing their fun-guy thing.

Fungi work hard converting organic matter into rich soil

Onto the flowers:

A very early and mildly confused blackberry flower
The Irish Strawberry tree are still in flower
Hopefully the broadbean crop survives the deprivations of the rabbit
A single and alone penstemon far out of season
Blue alkanet (borage) produces reliable flowers and leaves for the chickens
Silver wattle provides a lot of colour in the forest
Silver banksia produce the most amazing bottle brush flowers that the honeyeaters adore
Lavender planted late last year are now in flower
This large tree lucerne (tagasaste) produces high protein leaves and prolific flowers

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 441.6mm (17.4 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 428.6mm (16.9 inches).

58 thoughts on “Modern Grain Theory – Truman the Turkey”

  1. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, that is the case down here too, and I have noted that some coastal developments have been stopped in their tracks. Incidentally, up on the mid east coast down here (which has a very nice climate), the beaches are getting washed away. Oh no! That’s certainly not optimal having buildings on such a regular flood plain, and I can’t even imagine having to run a water pump 24/7 – 182.5 You have to admit that the pump technology is pretty good to be able to run continuously for 6 months of the year? When we built this house we rented in a town nearby and someone once told me that the road that ran down the middle of the street was a creek for an old duck farm. It all seemed very academic until the road flooded and water was lapping at the front door! Oh well… Flood insurance is offered down here but from what I understand the premiums make it an unaffordable option.

    Have you ever watched the series ‘Deadwood’? It is very good, and Damo even saw the movie recently. The thing is, in the telegraph office, the techno boffin that ran the telegraph in the show had these beautiful looking batteries in glass containers. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe they were Nickel-Iron batteries and can last for about 80 years. Anyway, my point is battery technology is very old, and as such it is a mature technology and there are few if any easy gains to be made, and it may in fact go back much further than the Deadwood days.

    The plants and PV thing is not obvious until it is pointed out. Plants convert 2% at best, whilst (and please don’t quote me) solar PV is about 14% of the sunlight into energy. If the plants aren’t growing then the solar panels aren’t doing much either (although they are doing far better than the plants). However if you live in a jungle environment, you’re probably a bit closer to the equator… But it might be cloudier for half the year during the wet season.

    Hehe! Wombat poo! 🙂 The canine fluffy collective has thoughts about such matters. But yeah, some people just try to bring you down because it brings them up.

    The egg timer is not a bad idea. The scale of the crops under cultivation here sometimes becomes a problem and thus the mention of the timer.

    A wise move. Nobody wants the kiss of death, so what were we talking about again?

    I wasn’t aware of the jet stream until Lewis mentioned the Cliff Mass essay on the topic. Mate, it looks epic. Windy summers are bad news for fires – at least that is how things work out here.

    Hehe! I don’t how you feel about the subject, but it wasn’t until I spent more time outdoors that I began to notice the sheer variability of the climate. Nowadays I’m onto the weather, just because it impacts me, but before that I was kind of oblivious. You have to admit that it is easy for most people to feel oblivious, and then put out by weather extremes?

    Me tired tonight. I was training today and that takes it out of me, although it was both a fun and enjoyable break from the norm.



  2. Hi Damo,

    Once secrets are bared on the interweb, they’re not secrets anymore. Get thee to a second hand bookstore (or online) and obtain a copy. Do not come back until you have repented of your evil ways! Hehe! Hey, it is an easier penance than wearing a hair-shirt!!! Just mucking around, but how ever are you to understand the joke that some pigs are more equal than others? Orwell by all accounts hid himself up on the far north islands of the UK when he wrote. Little wonder he tackled such bleak topics. I can’t say that there was much humour in Animal Farm.

    Exactly and I agree with you in that the economic policy will have unintended circumstances – and yeah, re-localisation will be one of those. Well done for understanding that – no seriously, I’m impressed. Few people want to understand that side of the equation.

    No stress at all about the book spoiler. I’ll still enjoy the book all the same. I was at a workplace today and ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ was played on the radio and I thought of your earlier comment. They’re going to need education where they’re going – but it might not look like what they think it will! 🙂

    Hope you are enjoying my story, and I doff my hat to you because I struggle with fiction writing as it doesn’t come naturally to me, but you know practice and all that business. And yeah, charming rogues make for a good story. Cugels saga was a magnificent piece of story telling. And I’d never really thought about it that way, but yeah it didn’t always end badly for Cugel and sometimes other folks were playing to his weaknesses and pulling the wool over his eyes. Shogun or Eagles Brood? Far out! What a decision you have to make. Be strong…

    The word resplendent does not quite do the bird justice. 🙂 And I applaud the use of the beaten up old Jimny. Have you checked out the reviews on the new one? A true go anywhere beastie.

    I’ll have a look. Incidentally I checked out your blog on my dumb phone tonight and the theme you chose looks really good despite the small screen.

    Hope you and Mrs Damo are having a nice time.

    Today’s earworm is: Highway to the danger zone… You know what I mean! 🙂



  3. Hi Pam,

    As they say, everything in moderation. Who are ‘they’ anyway? 🙂

    I’ll be curious to hear how it goes with the sawdust once the rains return. Hope it is not too hot up your way?



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Before I forget, I spoke with the editor about the shop closures that you mentioned. It is pretty epic. The thing is we don’t have the same sort of online shopping culture down here that you may expect. Apparently online shopping is only about maybe 10% to 15% of the total market and the editor explained to me how it may roll in your part of the world. I was a bit shocked, but apparently people can purchase something like 10 clothes items online. The person in question may return 8 of those items (or fail to do so) and only purchase 2 of them. The story is though, that the 8 returned items often don’t go back into stock. What may possibly happen to them is that they end up in thrift shops or ‘mystery boxes’ (something I’d never heard of before). The margins on retail are slim and you know, they can’t really survive such purchasing regimes, so it is hardly a surprise to me that bricks and mortar stores are shutting down in droves in your part of the world.

    Today I was speaking with a food retailer who is not a client so I can mention the story, well they said to me that a well known food delivery service takes a 30% cut of each sale. I just wouldn’t offer such a service in the first place because the intermediation is shocking and I can’t see how the retailer could survive such a cut to their margins. Better not to jump on board with such ticks.

    Anyway, you got me thinking, and I suspect the online shopping thing is not so big down here because the postal service does not provide next day – or even every day delivery. I’ve heard you guys can get things delivered in hours, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but such a policy encourages a certain sort of laziness, which is not good if only because I fail to see how the system can continue on any sort of a sustainable footing.

    Sophie’s Choice. Wow. I find it fascinating that in the story the daughter was chosen rather than the son. That was very telling indeed and not a choice I would want to be faced with. I see the hostage story playing out in the Camulod tale, the inhabitants build huge fortified walls to surround themselves with, despite being challenged by Lot who is clearly after a slice of the food action. There is a certain sort of sensibility in both situations which suggests that life is a fixed thing, but when challenged it can be very fluid. Not all cultures view the world that way and I read long ago that one of the Indigenous folk scoffed at the early settlers for wanting to farm in a particular locale when they observed that the desire was at odds with the environment the settlers lived in. Quite a different way of looking at the world and in a complicated and difficult environment perhaps there is a lot more resilience in moving around the place and not being too fixed.

    Ouch! What does, err, conflict of interest mean? The Head of HR would have known of the policy for sure. As I mentioned I tend to work for small family run businesses and they tend to work more or less OK. In some respects it is a very resilient model because when times get tough they can adapt far more quickly.

    Mate, I use a brush when painting, but your lot might well use a spray gun given it is the outside of the building? You’ll know that will be the case if the windows get taped up. Did they use a cherry picker rather than scaffolding? Preventative maintenance is always a good idea – as long as it isn’t overdone.

    You’ve got a good feel for stories. Do the superhero films follow a formula? It would be hard not to repeat the core of stories given how often they get pumped out.

    Your sort of weather would work for me too as it sounds quite ideal for summer weather.

    A tidy idea putting some of the blueberries on the table in the community room. Very thoughtful. How would the other inmates know whether it was you who picked the blueberries anyway? They’re onto stuff, I guess? Hidden CCTV?

    Yup, Merlyn jumped to conclusions without any evidence other than his suppositions. It was a foolish act on Uther’s part in the first place. The Cassandra character is an interesting story, and I expect it not to end up so well. Personally, I’d be tempted to march on Lot after his armies (along with the Hibernians) were definitively stomped. Some problems should be nipped in the bud so to speak and that sure is one of them. I hope to read a small chunk of the book tomorrow.



  5. Yo, Chris – Great story! Soon to be a major children’s book, bound to be a classic! Disney will want the film rights (though, from what I read in the Richter biography, they don’t pay much.) But one thing concerned me. Grain Scrip has reached a “permanent high plateau?” Might be time to dump the Grain Scrip. Without perpetual growth, well, it just isn’t very interesting. :-).

    Blue skies and fluffy clouds. Perfect weather, if a breeze is also on the menu. That’s quit a pile of rocks, setting off to the side of your picture. It will be interesting to see what goes in your succulent garden. Not many grow here. Now California … Jade Plants become jade trees (well, very large bushes) and flower, in a pretty spectacular way.

    That’s a very handsome egg. I was sad to hear that Mom Silkie, keeled over. But, as I think Pam said, “We should all be so lucky.” I suppose there will be a bit of jostling about, for the position of new boss chicken. As my friend Julia states, best to stay out of chicken politics. The campaign may be interesting, to watch.

    Yup. Looks like spring, around your place. Here, it’s getting on to high summer. I see a little nubbin on a squash vine. If it’s fertile, soon to be a Hubbard squash. My corn is shoulder high. Depending on how gifted or vertically challenged, one may be. Mileage may vary.

    The lavender is quit pretty. A different shape than what we’ve got growing here, at the Institution. And, my lavender drying experiment is complete. They may be showy, but have very little odor. I may have to look about for a more fragrant variety, to pop in a corner of my garden. Cont.

  6. Cont. Yup. It’s referred to as the “retail (brick and mortar) apocalypse.” More and more things are unobtainable, locally. I despair of my fellow citizens that they have no patience. Why pay for streaming, when you can wait for the DVD. Free from the library?

    Shipping is getting to be quit a racket. I noticed on E-Bay, that a $100 item, had a shipping cost of $70+ dollars. Sure, it was a pair of bookends, but they’re not THAT heavy. Our postal service also had a racket going, called “Priority Mail.” They furnish boxes, in standard sizes, at set rates. That I think are a bit high. What they haven’t made much of, is that if you scrounge up and recycle your own box, the rates are much lower. When I order something, on line, I always go for the free (but slower) shipping. Amazon (and other places) are experimenting with delivery by drone. There are a few things I HAVEN’T bought, because of outrageous shipping. I’ve mentioned the “Great Courses.” I used to buy some, from time to time. Now I get them on Interlibrary loan, due to the shipping charges. It’s a whole culture of instant gratification, and I don’t think it’s a good look. Or, sustainable.

    Ah, family run businesses. Great fodder for all those English mysteries, I watch. :-).

    The painters showed up, this morning. Lots of ladders, but i saw no scaffolding. I’m sure it will be mostly, a spray job. I was curious about something. Yup. The painting contractor is out of Olympia. Apparently, we have no local painting contractors. Yeah, sure. Of course, if I make a stink about being a wealth pump, I’m just an old crank. Wonder if they put it out for bids? Kickbacks? Sweetheart deals? Nepotism?

    Yeah, there’s a whole super hero, formula. Read about it, recently. Can’t remember the details. Didn’t know it was going to be on the test :-).

    That’s quit an article about the treehouse. They were big here, for awhile. Last decade’s, Tiny Houses. There were books, a magazine. Websites. A TV series, or two. But the council was wise to back off, if they wanted the tourist action. You may remember …

    Right on the main drag, into town. There was pressure from the city. But then when it started getting into books (outsider art) and on websites, as a tourist destination, well, the tune was changed. Funny, that. The owner finally closed it. He was getting up there. And, there were rumors of an unhappy wife, involved. I think he ended up sleeping in a travel trailer, in the alley, for awhile.

    Oh, the way word travels, around here, the source of the blueberries is known. I pointedly gave the first bowl, to Janet. Janet is a delight. A bit dim, always cheerful, and quit the chatterbox :-). “Dick” was grumping out his window about me “picking all the blueberries.” Not that he’s every turned a hand to doing that, himself. I (and others) won’t be sorry, when he’s gone. Lew

  7. Chris,

    We have some roads that are built on the old creek bed. Water got diverted to a ditch. The problem is that the old creek runs under the road at some point, so it took the engineers multiple tries before getting the proper sized culvert to cross under the road. Meaning, the road washed out at least once a year for many years. When we paved it, I told them what was needed, but they (who are “they” anyway?), er, the engineers, wouldn’t listen to a lowly tech. The blown out culvert was the lead item in the local tv news when I got home from work that day. Yes, I said “I told you so” multiple times once they were forced to place what I had recommended. After 4 additional washouts of the road, of course.

    Nope, never seen “Deadwood”. I have seen some of those Nickel-Iron batteries, though. They (there’s that word again) lasted seemingly forever.

    People need to learn how to think in systems again. Then folks (I avoided another “they”) just might understand that when the plants can’t grow, the PV won’t do much for them. Maybe. It could be too late since PV appears to be a religious belief in some circles.

    They. An old Far Side cartoon pictured a woman bursting through a door labelled “They” and exclaiming to the man on the phone in the office: “Alfie Leibnowitz? So you’re the ‘They’ in ‘That’s what ‘They’ say?” I probably have his name wrong. It’s been a long time…

    Yes, weather is interesting. I make it a point to spend some time outdoors nearly every day, as being outdoors helps me feel what the weather is going to do despite the forecasters’ best readings of chicken entrails. Plus I feel better if I’m outside every day. It also means I’ll dress correctly for the weather. I kid you not, I’ve seen people waiting for the bus, outdoors, with a wind chill of -30F and wearing very light jackets, high heeled shoes (in the snow and ice), and skirts hemmed just above the knee. Methinks that group of people was more gobsmacked than put out by that weather extreme.

    Thanks for that treehouse link. Bolinga Bob the Treehouse Man has more of a treemansion than a treehouse.

    Judging from this week’s photos, ether you’re having an early spring or a lot of plants are being nastily fooled.

    Sprinkles all morning, still 20C at noon. Then the sun came out and it was 33C by 3:00 p.m. I’m sure some people weren’t expecting that heat the way the day started. Those extremes, don’t ya know?


  8. Hi Chris,

    Hmm, I will endevour to acquire a copy of Animal Farm poste haste. Just after I read Shogun, the remaining 5 books in Camulod and those Jack London classics I got :-p But, seriously, I should. 1984 was good and no doubt the pigs on the farm have important things I should learn.

    Good work with your story, the image of the economics professor turkey in a little fenced yard studying hard on the ways of hens is a good one. He was well manipulated by Mr Pig, and now works hard creating post-hoc justifications for how things are. Writing fiction doesn’t come easily to me either, it is like homework sitting down to write out my pre-plotted ideas. But it is very satisfying to finish a story that people enjoy.

    Good news on the Resplendent Quetzal. We found him (and his slightly less resplendent, but still special partner)! And within 20 minutes of our hike into Cloud Forest, a large preserve purchased by Quakers who settled in Costa Rica decades ago and started making cheese. We even got to point him out to the official bird guide of another group that caught up with us. Of course this made us feel pretty chuffed, as we tend not to employ guides and the like, preferring to walk along our own path, and see what we see on our own skills (or lack of).

    The Jimny also got a good run down a steep track to a waterfall today. The surface was loose gravel, deep ruts and rock melon sized rocks, about 1:7 grade. Jimny made it up no worries, didn’t even need 4wd.

    We also drove through a lot of country today that was very similar to Dorrigo. High rainfall, complete with rolling green hills and dairy cows. Not what I expected in the the tropics, but at 1500m the climate is perfect for cows, no winters and plenty of rain. They make a lot of cheese, sort of a firmer type of cottage cheese.

    I think I almost prefer my blog theme on mobile devices than on a big screen – not a lot of wasted white space on a small screen. Thanks for the earworm, but in a way I think Kenny never left my head 🙂


  9. Hi Lewis,

    I much appreciate your generous offer to act as my manager as my children’s literature career takes off. It’s a lucrative feed trough from all accounts, but as my manager, I really can’t express how grateful I am to you that you’ve promised to stand in my stead during the gruelling book tour. I’m certain the children will be polite and respectful as they ask searching questions about economic theories and their future. My only proviso is that I forbid you to swear in front of the kiddies. If they’re annoying you though and the demands of the gruelling book tour become too much I guess the occasional f-bomb won’t hurt them too much, however the fees from the PR damage control team will come directly from your takings as manager. Of course, the PR team will probably suggest that you were talking about ‘trucks’ and Peak Oil instead of hurling f-bombs, and so you have to enforce a strict ‘no phones’ policy when on tour. All these video cameras are rather pesky. Anyway, I reckon you’re up for the job. Are you in or what? 🙂

    Hehe! He types whilst still giggling to himself! I guess great fortunes take great exploitation’s? Anyway, deep freezing body parts upon the demise of the individual ain’t cheap. Although there is a small part of me that suggests that Conrad Richter may well have had low expectations, and they were all too happy to meet those?

    Actually last week was very calm, but the wind returned – with force today – and I reckon maybe an inch of rain fell. It was quite heavy at times. The rocks are beckoning me, but I’m stringing that job out as it is quite physically hard on me and I have to look after myself. The rock in the photo on the trolley was well over 200 pounds. Speaking of which I read an article on a real life hermit and he sounds as if he is doing OK other than the recent broken hip: When David Glasheen lost everything, moving to a remote island saved him.

    California is almost perfect weather for growing succulents.

    I likewise tend to agree with Pam, and few could ask for a better ending. Mom Silkie was born in 2009, and she remained highly agile and alert up until the day she died. I may have another chicken death shortly, but we’ll see how it goes. That would make it six chickens in one year which is a bit of a record, albeit a dubious one.

    Scored 3 eggs today too, so it is nice that the other chickens are back on the lay. My money is on a Faverolle chicken taking the boss role. She’s a bit young and very flighty, but she’ll do OK. Julia’s right too! 🙂 Run from chicken politics. Speaking of which the UK conservatives seem to be on the verge of a new leader. At least he’s read history so he’s probably more learned than the media makes him out to be. Oh, and I note that their expenditures for protecting the precious oil tankers are about to rise as they create a new fighting force. I’ll check in with Inge for a view on the street, after replying to you.

    Oh! Yummo! I’m enjoying your summer produce vicariously. Mileage does vary when it comes to height, but it might not be as important as one believes.

    It is funny you mention the lavender, but the plant does display quite a lot of variability. There is a lavender farm not too far from here, and they extract the oils, so I’m not entirely certain that the aroma stays with the drying bunches. I have a suspicion that they might reapply the oil, which is quite pungent, to the dried bunches of lavender.

    Camulod is getting even more interesting. Merlyn took his first hostage – a prince of the Scotti no less. Picus didn’t seem overly impressed at the move, so it will be interesting to see how it eventuates. I’d still personally stomp Lot, but I’d maybe wait a little bit before doing so just to lull him into a false sense of security.

    The main problem with behemoth distributors is that they’re middle men and they don’t really employ that many people. It looks a lot like the fracking miracle in that, oh well, you know…

    Some items have very cheap prices but extraordinarily high shipping costs, so a person has to be alert for scams. It is a long way down here, so sometimes freight costs can get that high – or higher for heavier items. Thus the low take up of online shopping down here. Plus now the federal government levies 10% goods and services tax on the import of small value online items – which is collected by ebay I believe.

    Years ago I used to work for a very wealthy family, and other people in the business were quite disrespectful to the son. But he was OK and I used to speak with him as if he was anyone else. I do wonder if the people being disrespectful realised that one day this guy will be their boss, but I always thought that it was better that he felt that he could ask questions and learn and just have a general open discussion about things. I was never there for feeding my ego.

    Hehe! The test begins… Now… You have thirty minutes… Hehe!

    The building regulations never quite caught up with tiny houses, and thus they’re fading from view. A bit of a shame as they have something to offer.

    Thanks for the link! I loved it. What a character. The art display was pretty intense so I can see how the wife might not have been a fan. But possibly she might not have been up for adding some moderating influence to the art display?

    Hehe! I already like the sound of Janet. Dick certainly lives up to his namesake. 🙂



  10. Hi DJ,

    How did you cross the blown out culvert? There is a story there. 🙂 I’ve encountered the local river in flood and saw a car stuck way out in the flood and there was not a thing I could do. Fortunately the car wasn’t floating away which can happen in not too deep water. Incidentally in order to get home I had to travel half way around the mountain range and cross many flooded creeks. I feel that the lesson here maybe that things are sometimes done on the cheap, and it is hard to believe the worst case scenario until you’re confronted by it. A bit like running into a live tyrannosaurus don’t you reckon? An awful fate.

    Oh yeah, Nickel Iron batteries can last for decades and put up with abuse that my lead acid batteries wouldn’t tolerate. However the voltage drop under load is epic and my poor inverter would switch off with alarming regularity. Lithium ion batteries are better again than my lead acid batteries, they’re just extraordinarily intolerant of things going even slightly wrong. There is a pattern in there! In the early 90’s I’ve read that it was possible to obtain those Nickel Iron glass cased batteries on the cheap from industries that were shutting down. I saw a picture of some installed in a remote house and they looked awesome bubbling away.

    Yes, who are these people: They? Hehe! Nice one. Oh yeah, don’t start the true believers talking about PV, far out. Incidentally, whilst PV panels are cheap, nothing else in the system is and some bloke over at Ecosophia was suggesting that heavy duty copper cable was very cheap, but I can assure you it ain’t.

    The far side and dilbert are very insightful. What would you say to a ‘they’ person?

    I tend to feel that tea leaves are less messy than chicken entrails, but you know whatever works and all that! Hehe! Far out mate, we’ve descended into the land of silly. It is a wonderful place. I hear you about that and you’ve mentioned the bus folk before (good luck if it breaks down). I visited the local general store for a coffee this morning (and also a read of a book) and although it was 42’F I was happy to sit outside, but I was wearing appropriate clothes (sheepskin jacket and woollen hat) and it was quiet and enjoyable. Although I’m sure people consider it a quirky choice. You’ll laugh but people complain about the cold winter weather down here – seriously…

    I thought you’d enjoy the carving in the tree house. I’d regularly seen the place over a decade ago and had no idea what it was all about. And it attracted no interest or curiosity from anyone.

    You’re spot on, the plants are going to get their comeuppance in August when it may even snow.

    33’C sounds quite nice to me and with a bit of rain your place will turn into a jungle if you’re not careful.



  11. Hi Damo,

    Like your style and yeah, I’d probably pick them in the early hours of the morning when few busy bodies are about.

    That’s not much reading! Hehe! No worries at all, the book is an easy read. I’m really glad to hear that you’re enjoying Shogun as it is an epic story and the culture was just beginning its slow decline into the west.

    Thanks for nice words. 🙂 Yeah, Truman is a bit of cad, although not many people may realise that, and he worries too much about marketing and not enough about just being likeable. He’s a bit of a tosser really. On another note, it is a noteworthy thing to finish a task. Not everyone is up for such things. And I still occasionally think of the huge radioactive ship passing in the night in your story.

    Well done you and Mrs Damo. I trust that you were both cool and supremely casual in alerting the guide to your Quetzal discovery? Hope you took the camera – and recalled to keep the batteries charged? I wonder what the locals think about the Quakers? If they had half a brain between them, they’d build ties to the local community. But dairy at elevation? I’m assuming that there is heaps of water up there?

    Hehe! Love the Jimny story. 🙂 I feel very warmly towards those work horses and years ago – and I’m sure I’ve already written about this a year or two back – I used to have a soft top Sierra 1L 4 speed and that baby taught me to let the world go past. That car was broken into so many times that it was not funny – I had a lot of trouble keeping a radio in there.

    Did you like the taste of the cheese? Cottage cheese is really easy to make and if you ever get bored I recommend it. How good is fetta cheese in a charcoal spit lamb roast souvlaki? Yum! It has been a while since I’ve eaten one of those…

    It looks good on the very tiny screen of my dumb phone. I had a spare half hour so I was going to check out yours and Lewis’s discussion on Skystone. If it is not too much to ask, do you have a link to that discussion?

    Mate I hear you about Kenny. Hehe! I wonder whether they’ll re-use the original soundtrack? Incidentally, despite having a rather eccentric personality, the guy does as many of his stunts as he can (or is allowed to). I read a story about him teaching someone else to do headstands and turns on a motorbike. You might be up for such tricks but I am not worthy to even make the attempt.




  12. Hi Inge,

    I’m not sure whether the political shenanigans have yet played out in your part of the world? What is your take on the politics?

    I noticed that your oil tankers are going to cost more to protect: Britain to create European maritime mission to counter Iran’s ‘piracy’.

    Interesting times huh? I noticed that our re-elected Prime Minister is set to have an official dinner with President Trump – not something that is readily given out by the administration.

    Hope you are well and that the pond has not dried up and the heat stays away for a while – or at least moderates a bit?



  13. Hello Chris
    I am having a job to keep up with this, so my apologies if I fail to answer a question.
    The story is coming on really well.
    80F indoors which would be okay were it not for the fact that humidity is at 80%. According to the internet the Island humidity is 42% so I am paying for being in woodland. The ground is wet every morning which I assume must come from the trees but I don’t know the mechanics of this. Do you know?
    Yes, Ren has fully recovered.
    I have never used charcoal on my teeth though I had heard about its usage. Actually I have stunning teeth (must be due to the wartime rationing when I was a child). The gum bugs are well esconced out of reach except when the hygienist digs. I don’t know the answer to this.
    The runner and French beans go up poles which are tied together in pairs at the top with a long horizontal pole running through. I planted Swiss chard ages ago and had long decided that the seeds must have been no good. Unbelievably they have just started to grow!


  14. Hi Chris,

    Not much to say this week beyond the epic rain we experienced yesterday as the heat wave broke. Most of the rain fell in the wee hours of the morning. I slept through it until the weather radio woke me up with a flash flood warning around 4:30am. By 11am the rain had stopped, the sun was out, and the temperature was delightful for summer.

    After lunch I went to see how much rain was in our rain gauge and was astounded to find 5.0 inches / 75mm of rain in it! I wondered if it could be possible. So I walked to the two nearest small tributaries to the local creek. One of these tributaries is normally dry; it was flowing with as much water as it carries after heavy rain on saturated ground. The other one, which is normally flowing at that point as it starts higher up in the watershed than the first one, was flowing higher and faster than I’ve seen it before. Plus there was a large puddle of standing water surrounding the play equipment in the nearby elementary school’s playground. But I should have known there was more rain than I’d thought by the fact that the sump pump was already pumping out water that would have otherwise gotten into the basement by 6am. The official weather station received 3.3 inches of rain, which broke the previous daily record rainfall, and not by a small amount either.

    Today it’s delightful: sunny and a high around 80F / 26.7C. At least that counts for delightfully cool for late July in St. Louis! I’ll start digging potatoes after lunch.


  15. Yo, Chris – More than happy to go on tour, in your stead. Nothing warms my heart like scarring the bejesus out of small children, and making them cry. Of course, as part of MY contract, I only go by train, as I don’t fly. Private compartment, of course. Heck, why not a private car?

    It will be great fun, smashing small children’s dreams. No, you will not become a rock star. And Mrs. Simpson, Ms. Markle and Ms. Middleton, aside, you will not become a princess. Given the odds. Even if you lose that extra fat and have serious plastic surgery, done. Nope. Nothing in your future, children, but a daily, colorless grind. F bombs? No problem. I’ll just use my usual family friendly euphemistic turns of phrase, and let their parents explain what the mean man was talking about.

    What damage control team? Let the chips fall where they may. Even bad publicity, is publicity. And, usually, free.

    Oh, heck. This all sounds like too much work (pleasant though it may be). I’ll just hire someone at starvation wages to run tour buses, past the farm. Comfort stop at your general store. Then I’ll write the unauthorized bio (given the toothless libel laws, here) and rake in another unearned fortune. :-).

    Maybe you can figure out how to use the mud to move the stones? Or, pig fat. They’ve recently decided that the stones at Stonehendge were moved using copious amounts of pig fat. Gosh, these archaeologists, always trying to make a name for themselves, with some theory. I recently read one where someone was theorizing that there were no Druids. That the whole thing was a 17th century fantasy. Never mind what Caesar and Tacitus wrote. I almost linked the article to Mr. Greer, but decided he didn’t need the flack.

    Interesting article on the hermit. I think the actor from the Doc Martin series, visited him on his tour around the islands of Australia. But sometimes, when I read these hermit stories, I ask myself, when does a hermit become, not a hermit. Due to all the support and people coming and going?

    I think there must be a variety of lavender that maintains it’s oils for a good long time. Maybe a yearly replacement? Add it to my list of Things To Look Into.

    Oh, Merlyn’s hostage gets more and more interesting. This book is more about people meeting up. I keep wondering when Urther will run across Lot’s wife, hence, Arthur? Some very small spoilers. Maybe not even spoilers. Later on, there’s lots of talk about Vortigen and the Saxon’s. I caught some echoes of what’s going on with our immigrant problems. Merlin’s marching army stays in and old Roman marching camp (blink and you’ll miss it) that is “hundreds of years old.” This year’s dry weather, in England, is revealing dozens of Roman marching camps, that were previously unknown. They pretty much thought that the invasion of Scotland, was mostly an east side affair. Until, this year, they uncovered a string of marching camps, up the west side.

    For the longest time, E-Bay didn’t collect state and local taxes from sales. Just a platform, don’t you know. :-). But, it went to court, and now they have to collect due taxes, from sales. Which, is actually nice. Takes the burden of all the paperwork, off the small sellers. They must have a small army of people, tracking state and local taxes, as they change, all the time. I wonder what kinds of checks, states and cities get from E-Bay? I’ve never heard.

    Well, yes. Every time I say Dick’s name, I give it a little … inflection. A bit of a spin :-). Spoken English is a wonderful language! :-).

    I finally settled on a birthday gift, for me. A print of a lithograph by A. A. Blum. Done in the 1930’s. Black and white. A bunch of Depression era blokes, rummaging through used book racks, in front of a bookstore. I think it’s called “Bibliomaniacs.” For some reason, he did a lot of prints of used bookstores, and antique/junk shops. I find them appealing, having failed at both businesses. :-). Lew

  16. Chris,

    Before I forget…I enjoyed this week’s addition to the story. Truman seems like he’s a real turkey butt. 😉 And it seems I’m not the only reader who sees hints of Animal Farm.

    The culvert? Well, I live 20 km from there, I’m quite happy to say, so was unaffected. The road was closed for several days while they (sorry) replaced the SAME SIZE CULVERT (18″ diameter) and filled it in, adding more and larger rip rap rocks to the ditch. Fortunately, the residents uphill from the culvert did have access to their homes, although it was about a 10 km detour. The replacement culvert blew out in the first thunderstorm of June, at which time the road was closed for a few weeks and the culvert replaced with a 24″ diameter pipe. Which blew out the next spring during a thunderstorm, to be replaced with a 36″ culvert and small boulders (similar to your larger rocks) in the ditch. That blew out during the next season’s spring thaw, at which point, following a few more weeks of road closure, they placed a 48″ diameter culvert, which was my original suggestion. They turned down my idea initially because it was too expensive.

    A far different location had a bridge that was to get replaced by a culvert. A new engineer was tasked with calculating the proper diameter culvert, but had me do the problem because she didn’t know how. I chose to work with a worst case scenario, told her how to do the problem. We both came up with the same recommendation, 48″ diameter. The #2 engineer said we’d worked the problem incorrectly, but that he had no idea how to do it himself. So, they installed a 24″ diameter culvert and went through similar gyrations as in the first example, eventually settling on my solution. After telling the #2 engineer that he needed to listen to the physics guy because physics guys can solve anything, any and all drainage questions were kept far, far away from the physics guy. Oh, and I DID say “I told you so” to the #2 engineer countless times through the process. Engineers don’t like being told that. 🙂

    I’m also told that several tyrannosaurus rexes were seen at both locations until everything was properly repaired. The 2nd location, the one with a removed bridge, apparently also sported a rather displaced looking troll until a suitable bridge was found for him.

    Oh yes, and may some silliness reign for awhile!

    Just off the top of my head, and I think I remember being told this way back in senior electricity and magnetism: with batteries you can have something that lasts a long time but that has voltage drop issues, or else you can have stable voltage under load, but the battery won’t last as long. Methinks anything else starts to violate thermodynamics principles.

    I caught that heavy duty copper cable is cheap comment. Right, not even Boss Pig could believe that one. I noticed somebody saying that once enough nuclear reactors are on line, their energy could supply all electric needs AND get other nuclear plants up and running. Sounds amazingly like a perpetual motion machine to me, but I get very skeptical about these things.

    The best thing to say to “they” could be ” How are all of you doing today?” But they would likely miss the humor.

    Cold is relative to the climate one is used to. The same with hot. Which it hit 35C today with 30 km winds and 20% humidity. Now the promised ginormous thunder storm system is making it’s entrance. This could be an epic night in which all of the thunder deities are showing off for one another.


  17. Hi Inge, Claire, Damo, Lewis and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments however it is the dreaded mid-week hiatus where all good things go for a rest. Of course, I include myself and your lovely selves in the definition of ‘good’, unless of course you’re not good and then well I don’t know what that means next? Already I confuse myself… Anyway, I’m a bit out of sorts because Ollie, the otherwise pleasant and well behaved massive cattle dog rolled in a rather pungent and funky smelling wombat poo. And the job fell to me to clean him up tonight. I suspect that he enjoys being washed despite it being 3’C / 38’F outside… I used cold water too.

    Lewis – Did I mention the offer of the bonus payment for tears? I too tend to feel that the tour would get better promotion if you played the bad old uncle role by saying inappropriate things using your most excellent euphemisms and just generally being all round entertaining. Of course withstanding the moralising folks would be par for course, although rather tiring! Err, good luck and you’re a better man than I! 🙂

    It is funny you mention the private carriage because I believe a private rail car can be hired on the Melbourne to Adelaide railway. That would be a grand way to travel in style.

    Can’t say that I’d enjoy being a rock star, as increased website stats just seem to bring more advertisements telling me how I don’t rate well on Gogle and of course they can help with that for a fee, but then there are the pharmaceuticals. Rock stars clearly need some assistance, although I’m not sure what that means! Anyway, I swear I wasn’t looking up such websites, but it sure doesn’t look that way… Ook! You should see the list of blocked words on this website, it would make you blush! And some Germans were trying to hack in yesterday. I put an end to that. To be honest I wasn’t sure whether an aggregator had hijacked the text and promoting it in Germany, but unfortunately they can’t do that now. Original thought is a rare thing on the interweb.

    Well done you for the idea! You clearly have a nose for business 🙂 I wish the libel laws down here were as toothless… But alas, they’re some of the most draconian on the planet. It came to my attention a few years back when a company turned on some high profile protestors. From what I understand, companies can’t sue, but the directors took action instead – I can’t recall who paid for the legal action. It was a bit of a turning point. There was even some dude living in the middle of nowhere and he apparently pulled a shifty by getting a fake news item published which may have lowered a share price – and he got done, although if judging by his lifestyle he didn’t appear to have much to take but dragging someone through the legal system can be a punishment in and of itself.

    I guess they can have their theories. If I was going to do the job of moving the rocks for Stonehenge, I’d roll the stones using very round, solid and dead straight logs. It would be easy enough to do, except on inclines where you’d have to stop the stones rolling backwards and definitely horses or oxen would be required. A well planned route would be a good idea to. Caesar didn’t seem like a frivolous kind of guy that would make things up. I suspect Mr Greer would brush off such claims because there is little known about the ancient druids and it would be a very big call in the first place by anyone to suggest that the latter day druids have links to the ancient druids. Although that might not stop people looking for excitement and making such claims. Speaking of which (and DJ picked up this too) a guy last week over at Ecosophia was making some rather untruthful claims. I dunno, I tried to poke him into contemplating upon his thoughts, but other than that it seemed like a lost cause to me. When I first encountered the interweb I felt it necessary to debate ideas with such people, but now I’ve sort of just settled for trying to teach them some techniques that may be of use to them. I’d probably have more success with such people if I were one on one with them, but the interweb is full of static and noise. I used to run a graduate program years ago and getting people to think is not as easy as I first imagined it might be, especially when they have years of ingrained programming. One of the most successful techniques, if they were stubborn enough, was to let them simply fail. I have a hunch and I’d be interested in your perspective, but it is that many people these days are protected from trying and failing. I’m not sure that protection from that is doing people favours, because the fall is that much harder when it eventually arrives on cue.

    I don’t know about lavender, but I’ll take a sample of what they are growing at the lavender farm sooner or later and try and work out the variety. I grow the Avonview variety, but the local gardening club recommends: LAVENDER ‘HIDCOTE’. It has a lot of flowers so that might explain some of the aroma and oil story, but I’m just guessing.

    Haha! I’ll bet the hostage gets more interesting over time. Hopefully he does not learn of their ways only to later take advantage of them? And yes, Lot’s wife is the sister of the hostage, so that might not end up so well as tragedy smells in the future! Lot has already been described as a boor with ambition. Haven’t we all met a few of those in our time?

    Yeah, I’ll bet they get some good tax cheques from such trading platforms. I’d heard those arguments about ‘we’re only a platform’ but there is always an element of bait and switch with such entities and your retail apocalypse is not good at all as the wealth gets too concentrated. I did note that there was a divorce at the highest echelons in that story and I suspect that the focus that grew the beast, will slowly abate.

    Hehe! That’s funny about the inflection. No good deed goes unpunished and I recounted a story recently were as a young bloke working for a really bad boss, I used to leave his car radio on full volume so he’d get an earful whenever he started the ignition. Yes, small things and all that… But it sure made me smile, and he never said anything about it, but we really didn’t get along at all.

    The lithograph is a beautiful work of art. And a happy birthday to you! The blokes in the lithograph look as though they are in for the long haul, and the store looks very much like the 24 hour book shop that I sent a link to you about a few months back. It is uncanny. Did you notice the quality of the bindings? I bent ‘Eagles Brood’ open a little bit too much and the spine made a crack sound… Oh well.



  18. Yo, Chris – Ah! So your strict libel laws were the result of sullying the reputation of a corporate entity. Not someone’s personal good name. Of course. Makes perfect sense in this Day and Age. Another worry, these days (right up there with health care), getting sucked into the legal system. Even if innocent, the costs will break you. And, it’s becoming more clear to the rank and file, that we actually have two legal systems. One for the well off, and one for the poorer. That kind of inequality does not bode well for the course of empire.

    I re-watched “Remains of the Day”, the other night. As part of the story, the Lord of the Manor, was one of those people who supported Herr Hitler, before WWII. We had them too. One of the subplots was that, after the war, a newspaper made some comments about him being a Nazi sympathizer, perhaps a traitor, and he sued for libel. And, lost. A broken man …

    Yes. I saw the commentator over at Greer. Caught on fairly early that he was a bit of a troll. Length and complexity of responses is usually a tip off. I started skipping his pearls of wisdom, early on.

    Learning by failing. Teaching by allowing students to fail. Sometimes hard to step back. But I also think the students … response can be an indicator of … moral fiber? Do they fly off the handle, and blame all around them? Or do they step up, calmly, and see where they were misguided and grasp that they have learned something?

    I’m closing fast on the climactic closing scenes of “Eagle’s Brood.” There are mysteries, that I hope are cleared up. But they’re small, mostly.

    I read somewhere on the net (an unimpeachable source, as we all know :-), that the two owners of Google, the owner of Amazon and Facebook own over half the value, sloshing around the U.S.. Hmmm. When you figure in Mr. Gates, the Koch brothers, and the Walton family (Wally-world), I think that figures out to more than 100%. Is that possible? Might be one of the roots of our financial mess.

    There’s a lot of chatter about a Netflix documentary, “The Big Hack.” All about data mining, etc.. I’ll be interested to see that, when it hits my local library. The documentary about the pension systems, is waiting for me, today. But I’ll more likely re-watch “2012”, tonight. I’m more in the mood. Wednesday night is ice cream night, and I’ve been thinking more and more about a root beer spider. We’ll see.

    Another thing I find fascinating about the artist Blum, is something that, until recently, no one seemed to make the connection. In the late 30’s, he started illustrating comic books. Sometimes, under pen names. But I discovered that he did a couple of dozen of the “Classics Illustrated”, series. Might be before your time, but I had several, when I was a kid in the 1950s. If you search “Comics Blum” on E-Bay, quit a few pop up. Can’t say I’m very interested in collecting those, but that may change. :-). Lew

  19. Hello again
    Well we have our new prime minister now; the great grandson of
    my sister’s godfather, it is such a small world! Our politics have become completely crazy and I just enjoy them now, though not over keen on giving my views on the internet.
    Boris Johnson is supremely intelligent and uses entertainment/humour as cover. One can but wait and see what happens.


  20. Chris,

    Is the dread midweek hiatus related to the Dread Pirate Roberts of Princess Bride fame?

    Rough work on Ollie and the wombat poo. His antics remind me of a story a cousin told 20 years ago. Her children were 7 and 10. She was feeding them breakfast and trying to get the kids to school and husband to his job. Darling Daughter (DD) said, “Mom, I don’t feel good” and turned around and barfed. At that exact moment, the standard size poodle walked behind DD and got coated, proceeding to run through the house and shaking it over everything.. The menfolk, of course, couldn’t stop laughing, so cousin chased them out, put DD to bed, took the poodle out and began the massive clean up.

    After hours of cleaning house, she then went outside and bathed the poodle. After he was dry, she let him go. He promptly ran across the yard and rolled in a big pile of his own fresh dog poo! Cousin was NOT AMUSED.

    The thunderstorm was EPIC. Fantastic light show, complete with sheet lightning and lightning bolts and 7 cm of rain. (I think we got more rain than that here.) And swirling wind gusts that destroyed fences and knocked down some large trees and large tree branches.


  21. Hi Inge,

    No worries at all, I appreciate your voice and thoughts. Thanks too about the story. Your voice is in the back of my head as I’m writing it and I hear you saying to me: “Concise!” and I try not to waffle on. Seems to work for me.

    Far out, those are rather unpleasant conditions. On the other hand your island is probably faring better than mainland Europe: Heat records falling in Europe. Slow moving and stalled high pressure systems sound a lot like the sort of weather I enjoy over summer.

    The process I believe is called transpiration. The trees take up water from the ground and expire it at night through the leaves. It happens here too and sometimes the mountain range is covered in a blanket of fog – but it is nowhere else on the elevated plains at the base of the mountain. Deforestation can seriously impact upon such a process. It happens in grasslands too, but the grass has to be very tall.

    Nice to read that Ren has recovered. Dogs can be occasionally foolish, but mostly they have to earn their place in the pack – it is not a given by any means.

    Simpler diets tend to be less acidic (sugar and processed foods often increases acidity) but you know, people want to eat what they want to eat. There was no rationing when I was a kid, we just didn’t have that much stuff, and certainly soft drinks and lollies were nowhere in sight. Teeth are the unsung heroes when it comes to other health matters – like heart disease. Years ago as a young adult, I had a dentist casually instruct the dental nurse to show me how to brush my teeth. The technique I was using for brushing wore a little bit of the enamel off my teeth. The nurse dodged the dentists request, but I knew an opportunity when I spotted one and I politely asked if the nurse could show me how to brush my teeth. Seems like it is a more complicated process that you’d imagine. You have to brush your gums as food chunks can get in between the join of the tooth and the gum.

    Seeds know their own business well enough. Mind you, I had the exact same problem last year and many of the seeds for beans and peas never germinated. There is mystery in there.

    It is a small world and congratulations upon remotely knowing people in high places. 🙂 Thanks for clarifying your position on the commentary on politics. You may note that I too am cagey about such matters. It boggles me that the media and pundits are so negative. Your Prime Minister read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, therefore I believe that he is no dummy to be airily dismissed. People who do so tend to highlight their own ignorance.

    The news down here has been reporting that there has been something of a clearing of the decks.

    Inge, I did a couple of days training other people last week and most of the time I ensured that the people were having fun and we were joking around a lot. Lessons are more readily absorbed from that state of mind. Years ago I ran a graduate program and entertainment is a great way to engage minds.



  22. Hi Damo,

    Thanks for the link. I looked at the mast essay and failed to notice the exchange, so I appreciate the correction. I do hope that Mrs Damo does not allow you out in public in such regalia for a second time?



  23. Hi Claire,

    Far out that is an epic amount of rain! Hope the river is again not at flood levels? Apologies for the minor correction, but 5.0 inches is 127mm, which is beyond anything I’ve experienced in a single day. I’ve experienced 4.0 inches in an hour and 10 inches over five days, and that is a frightening storm to have to experience. It became like a game of ‘whack a mole’, because I had to run from one system to another and ensure that it didn’t fail which would have produced seriously problematic results.

    Did you harvest many potatoes? How are the agricultural fields in your area coping with the damp summer? Incidentally, my water tanks would have overflowed during such a storm. They’re mostly full now which is quite strange as it wasn’t that long ago that I was down to 6500 gallons.



  24. Hello again
    I am currently listening to the House of Commons live, absolutely superb.


  25. Hi DJ,

    Glad that you are onto my inspiration! I read a few thoughtful critiques of MMT and by and large they were quite dull. Seemed to me that farm animals might be able to say and do things that us mere mortals are socially prohibited from saying.

    Nice one and a good use of your education. You know even 48″ isn’t that large a culvert and it wouldn’t take too much organic matter caught on the upstream face of the concrete before unpleasant consequences were felt. I’ve seen small bridges that were taken out by floods and observing the aftermath is always an enlightening experience.

    How is that the engineers were responsible for designing a bridge but were unsure as to how to calculate the flow rate of the creek / river? Surely they would at least have had tables with which to refer to? Maybe? But I can see how such a problem would appeal to a physicist. 😉 I’d imagine that the engineers didn’t wish to learn of your learned opinions! Hehe! I’ve worked with a lot of engineers over the years and I know to never to get involved in their engineering. To be honest I’ve usually enjoyed their company and conversation as they have to deal with the reality as to where the rubber hits the road.

    Well, I’ll bet they had their work cut out for them relocating a bridge troll! By all accounts they are cantankerous individuals and not to be lightly messed with.

    Your memory does serve you correctly and your description of the compromise that is inherent in battery technology matches my real world experience. Years and years ago I stopped hanging out on online forums for people living with off grid solar PV technology down here because most of them switched to Lithium ion battery technology due to the voltage drop issues that I have to live with. I never jumped on board that ship because something didn’t smell right to me about the technology, and once I was aware that the battery management system measured individual cell voltage down to three decimal places. Well, let’s just say that I was a bit dubious that technology could manage such a fragile system without any hiccups. Lead acid is a least worst option and I just try to baby the batteries and treat them very gently so as to coax a long life span out of them. But they’re not much good nowadays after ten years of constant use once they’re below about 65% full. Exactly, the beliefs people hold occasionally violate thermodynamics principles. Is this a good thing? Maybe not. 😉

    Far out, the copper cable thing was like a glaring untruth. The sort of cable that can handle 200A DC is about 50mm2 twin and then only for short distances (let alone 500A). The only cheap thing about solar power are the panels themselves, everything else costs heaps. There have been a few occasions when the cables cost more than the panels… Let alone DC circuit breakers (you wouldn’t want to install AC circuit breakers – although that is what they did back in the day).

    Perpetual motion machines defy the laws of physics! Ah, it would be funny if people weren’t spruiking this stuff.

    Well ‘they’ might indeed miss the humour. No doubt that ‘they’ are a humourless lot in the first place.

    High temperatures, winds and low humidity read like a horror story to one who lives in a forest. However, I do note that in your later comment, you enjoyed almost 3 inches of rain (7cm). Hope the humidity is not too fierce over the next few days? And it is nice that the thunder gods put on a good light show. 🙂 It only occurred to me a few years back that plants have adapted to pruning because the sort of weather you enjoyed is natures pruning shears! Animal grazing on plants produces a similar boost for the plants.

    I ask you seriously: Could a person ever sleep well upon hearing the final (!) sentence each night: “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” I tend to think not. There was a real life: Dread Pirate Roberts, but he was into other more dubious activities and eventually was caught in the San Francisco public library.

    Thanks for the story. Wow talk about an epic cleanup.



  26. Hi, Chris!

    I know this is serious stuff that you are teaching us through this analogy, but I laughed quite a bit, especially at murky Mr. Turkey. It is, however, getting uncomfortably close to home.

    Oh, yes – Sprinter. That is a great term. We are not even close to Faller yet. It was 106F Sunday, but is – at the moment – delightfully cool. We only got a half an inch of rain with the change, the only rain we’ve had in a long time. I’m afraid Claire got most of it.

    What an epic earthmoving job – two terraces at the same time. We are making a new itsy bitsy one.

    You look like you are sitting by a big dinosaur egg.

    It looks very green there this winter. How neat that the broccoli seeds have sprouted in the end. It pays to leave things alone sometimes.

    You have beautiful flowers; they are all so dainty, I guess because it is winter. I went all out with flowers this year and we have never had so many butterflies and bees, and some hummingbirds, too.


  27. @ Inge:

    Thanks for the heads up on Boris Johnson. I had forgotten that you were having an election. THAT is going to be interesting because no matter what one thinks about Mr. Johnson, he is interesting. Do you think he is your President Trump? Shake things up!


  28. Hi Lewis,

    Who else has the funds to take on such legal actions? The specific case involved protestors seeking to halt logging in old growth forests: Gunns 20. Strangely enough despite the name, Gunns was a very large timber business. For your interest, there have been a few high profile cases of late, and the payouts have been epic, and I have no doubts that the costs were epic too. I have read of people representing themselves and doing mostly OK, and that would possibly be a viable option. But yeah, if the system can be avoided in the first place, then life probably goes smoother. I mean look at Julian Assange, from my perspective, the legal system has eaten his life whole.

    Anthony Hopkins is a superb actor. Who can forget his role as: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (silence of the lambs): “I do wish we could chat longer, but… I’m having an old friend for dinner. Bye.” Truly creepy story telling. I have no doubts that there were some sympathisers down here too. It happens. Plenty of companies were all too happy to get involved if they could smell profit, and clearly that meant turning a blind eye. Humans are often quite morally flexible. I assume that things did not end up so well for the Lord of the Manor? It would be a complex thing to fight a defamation legal action, but it would be far worse to lose one. Best not to go around defaming people in the first place me thinks.

    Mate, I’m dubious of comments that are backed up with a huge number of links. Not only may they read like a David Foster Wallace novel, which I’m not sure that I’m smart enough to follow, but interweb links by their very nature are hard to prove their veracity. When I went to Uni, there was nothing like the interweb and you had to search out references in a library. Very old fashioned, but there was also far less noise from a fake news sense. The $3 per foot claim the bloke made for heavy duty copper wire capable of handling 200 amps maybe true in your country, but down here things are most definitely otherwise as that stuff is extraordinarily expensive.

    You don’t hear the term ‘moral fibre’ anymore and I feel that that maybe a bad thing. What a great term too, thanks for mentioning it and yes I feel that you are indeed correct. Status these days does not depend upon moral fibre and that is perhaps a bad thing. Anyway, I’ve learned some great lessons through the simple act of failing, and often the lesson learned is resilience and how to respond. And yes, constructive feedback and consideration after failure is a very useful tool. How else is anyone expected to grow and learn? But those two objectives may not be the goal that people pursue.

    There is an author who runs an independent school on the eastern end of the mountain range and he has apparently written a book critiquing parents and pointing out that the act of parenting should not be a sacred cow. Now where was the link (sorry that makes two in one night!): Poor parenting epidemic leading to ’emotionally abused’ kids, John Marsden says.

    Anyway, I’ve met plenty of people who seek to place blame elsewhere. I suspect that using that tool is something that is a learned behaviour, and I don’t personally have much truck for that tool. It never looks good.

    It is funny you mention that, but I was sort of thinking to myself the other day that if there are billionaires around nowadays then it probably means that a billion bucks doesn’t buy you what it used to. 😉 The big problem with having access to huge amounts of dollars is that I’ve read that people are not satisfied with the pile of mad cash, so they tend to want more mad cash. But then that means that other people might have to work in a workplace where they can’t go to the toilet because apparently the KPI’s are set too high, and despite having to hang on (not sure I could hang on that long myself) they probably don’t even get much mad cash at all. As far as I can understand things, mad cash represents a claim on wealth, but it is not actually wealth. Do you reckon I’m on the money (please excuse the dodgy pun) with that thought?

    It only occurred to me the other day that people may be streaming movies and TV shows on their little devices whilst they are on public transport. Who would have thought that would go on? Hehe! Hope you enjoyed the disaster flick 2012! Epic choice and I might not be too keen to watch a documentary on the pension system either. Fans of the 2012 film over in Europe might be thinking that the climate has taken a sudden turn given the sort of summer that they are having. Apparently long held weather records look set to be broken today.

    Did you enjoy your root beer spider? Yummo! I’m a fan of the occasional such drink on hot summer days. Instead of root beer, I tend to prefer non alcoholic ginger beer.

    Comics have a huge following. In a strange coincidence I read about Mad Magazine in last weeks newspaper: (sorry this is three links, forget about the other two they’re unimportant) PLORTCH… SHTOINK… GASHPLUTZGA …. RIP MAD magazine. Sugar (spoken with force, instead of a naughty four letter word that starts with S, ends with T, and is used to describe poo)!!!!



  29. @ Pam
    Hmm, Johnson is being likened to Trump but I reckon that similarities are only superficial. Our politics are already completely shaken up but with little or no skin in the game I am enjoying it.


  30. Hi Chris,

    After the heavy rain I mentioned (and thanks for the correction on the metric amount), some of the smaller rivers in the area briefly went into minor flood before receding. The Mississippi River had dropped below flood stage at St. Louis a few days previous (after 127 consecutive days in flood). The rain caused a visible spike in the river level, raising it by a full foot in just a few hours before the level started tailing off again. It takes a *lot* of rain in a very short period of time to cause that rapid a rise in a large river like the Mississippi! It wasn’t enough rain to put it back into flood, however, and the water level has resumed a slow drop.

    The potato harvest was successful beyond my expectations – I dug out something like 56 pounds of potatoes after having planted about 3 1/2 pounds of seed potatoes. Capitalists can only dream of this level of capital multiplication. 😉 It’s a new to me variety. We haven’t cooked up any yet, but if it tastes as well as it grows, I’ll be growing it again.

    The Corn Belt is not having a good crop year at all. First, the vast majority of the crops were planted very late because of all the spring rains and flooding. Then it got hot and dry in July, which stressed the plants as they were trying to grow, causing the soil to compact and the crops to root poorly. Reading the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin that the US Department of Agriculture puts out makes clear how difficult a year the Corn Belt is having. Here’s the link: My corn plants are doing quite well, everything considered. Of course there is a lot of summer to go yet and a lot could happen.

    @ Inge – that’s really interesting how you have that close connection to your new PM! People here sometimes play a game called the Six Degrees. The idea is to trace through connections you have to relatives, friends, and other people you know, through their connections, and so on till you get to some famous person. The degrees are how many people it takes to make that connection. Even in the US you can have only a few people between you and a public figure, if you know someone who knows a lot of people. I offer my best wishes to your new PM and you and your country, that the best possible things happen.


  31. CHRIS & DAMO – Momentous decisions, must be made :-).

    “Uther” is the 7th book in the Camulod series. Probably the 7th written and published. BUT … It covers the same time period as “Eagle’s Brood.” Just told from Uther’s point of view. What WAS he doing, up in the hills with the Celts?

    I did a bit of gentle poking round in “Uther” last night. It starts with Uther’s mother getting married, and heading off with the Celts. The book ends, exactly where “Eagle’s Brood” does. Same time, same place. Same cast of characters.

    So, what do you fellows think? Read “Uther” or stick with the “official” line of read? Oh, my. “Uther” is 800+ pages. What a door stop. Hmmm. It is a “stand alone novel.” Could probably be skipped, entirely. But my curiosity would get the better of me. Lew

  32. Yo, Chris – (Back to our regularly scheduled programing.)

    “The Silence of the Lambs” franchise is one of those media things that I found out just enough about, to decide I didn’t want to go there. Call me overly sensitive. Call me a whose (I hope that bit of slang doesn’t mean entirely something different in Australia.)

    $3 a foot for heavy copper wire? Maybe if you buy it off someone, in a dark alley. Someone who’s stripped it out of an abandoned, or not so abandoned, building. Or got very, very lucky at an auction. Or house clearance sale.

    Moral fiber. You get it at breakfast. It’s one of those 7 grain things “they” are always banging on, about.

    Mad cash. In the “Westworld” TV series, one of the minions gets to go to a huge party at one of the owner’s many lavish mansions. I think the owner’s son says something like, “All this? It means nothing, to him. It’s the power.”

    The root beer spider, was quit good. I also had a bottle of 7-UP, banging about the fridge. Something I’d stocked long ago, for company that never showed up. Probably very much like your ginger float.

    Yes, I had heard the sad news about MAD magazine. Symbol-swears. I wondered what they called those. MAD also put out little paperback books. Something to keep you going, between issues. The other day, I ran across a bust of Alfred E. Neuman. I think on E-Bay. I was a fan, but not THAT much of a fan.

    HRH did a runner, yesterday. Not on my watch. But I was sucked into the hunt. As, wouldn’t you know, the elevator just happened to be out of service. I didn’t find her, and get to be all heroic, but she was found. Hadn’t (luckily) got out of the building. Just a little something to keep life interesting. Lew

  33. Hi Lew,

    Umm, I didn’t know that about the 7th book, tricky one. As a general rule, I am a fan of reading in order of release date. Also, in consideration of my decision – I have not read Eagles Brood yet, and am still a couple of weeks away from starting. So it will be a while before I get to Uther’s adventures, assuming camulod fatigue has not set in by then. 800 pages for the 7th book – why do so many authors increase the page count as series progress?


  34. Hi Chris,

    By all accounts the Quakers fit in pretty well. The area, although at elevation, is not *that* high (only 1500metres) and gets a bucketload of rain. We have being enjoying the local cheese a lot, it seems to get fried up like haloumi for breakfast which is as delicious as it sounds.

    We have being getting photos of most bird sightings, although it is rare for a “keeper”. Mostly it is just to help confirm the id later. I would need to spend $10k+ to get a camera that could deliver a high hit rate of good photos at long range. As it is, I have a 300mm lens, and you would be surprised at how close you still need to be for a good photo. For small birds at the top of a rainforest tree, forget it! Having said that, I still have some nice ones and will put them on the blog later (got some very nice hummingbirds, and still want a toucan).

    Today, we went for a walk along a trail in Cahuita National Park. Heavy rain was anticipated, but the storm that swept though was quite strong. We ended up taking cover under a small shelter for an hour to avoid coconuts, branches etc from taking us out. After the winds stopped, we walked back and the trail was blocked in a dozen places by fallen trees which we had to climb over. Quite the adventure, and Mrs Damo saw her first racoon! Now we are trying to dry clothes, but not having much luck in this humidity. I don’t think it is possible to dry clothes here unless it is a clear sunny day.


  35. Chris,

    Alas, my typing finger decided to forget basic arithmetic and misplaced the decimal. It SHOULD have said 7MM, not 7cm of rain. Still happy about any rain in July!

    I have no idea how an engineer can spend decades as a civil engineer and not know how to calculate water flow rates out of a drainage. It’s really an easy problem. I tend to avoid getting into design discussions with them whenever possible now, but there are times in which I do need to tweak some misconceptions or false assumptions.

    They finally relocated the bridge troll by incorporating my assistance. I played a troll in a school play once, so the troll recognized a kindred spirit. I fed him a couple spare engineers as a pacifying gift and led him to his new home.

    Good point. Nature prunes via fire and grazing critters. Since we try to limit both, I regularly run around the yard with pruning shears and lop off parts of the plants. And yes, running with shears is very similar to running with scissors. I like to live on the edge…

    If that was the final sentence said to me each night, it would be hard to sleep at all, much less well. And wouldn’t you be thinking that the speaker would be watching, watching, watching, and waiting, waiting, waiting for you to fall into a deep and helpless night time slumber so he could slay you in your sleep come early morn? Cruel it is to say things like that to a tired young lad!

    I remember the Dread Pirate Roberts of internet crime fame. I noticed that he earned a degree in physics. My friends and I used to joke that “we’re physics guys. We can do anything!” Apparently Dread Pirate Roberts believed that.

    Oh @^&#. Sad about MAD magazine. When I wear my dark jacket and floppy hat, my wife says I look like the guys from Spy vs Spy due to my long and pointy beard.

    I’ve quipped that my family motto for generations has been “What? Me Hurry?” So we took Mad Magazine to court due to copyright infringement for their “What? Me Worry?” slogan. We lost. And then Mad beat us in the countersuit, which subjected our family to generations of abject poverty.


  36. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! I read your comment yesterday just before I switched off the computer and it still brings a smile to my face! I loved your description: “murky Mr. Turkey”. Funny stuff and the words roll beautifully off the tongue.

    106’F is quite warm, but half an inch of rain at the end of such weather brings a sense of relief. To be honest, I’m unsure how I’d cope with 5 inches of rainfall in one day, but deep down I tend to feel that I might get to find out sooner or later the way things are trending. Faller is actually just around the corner for you, it just might take a little while to appear yet. Early August (my February) things are at their hottest, and then it slowly begins to cool.

    Flat land is a very precious commodity, so it is nice to hear that you are expanding yours. It sure sounds like a plan is being enacted and I hope you have a seed catalogue handy? One turned up in the mail a few days ago. So many temptations…

    We did another day of digging yesterday and I even broke up (a little bit at least) parts of the large rock I unearthed last week. But worse news: I’ve unearthed another rock larger than Moby rock. Woe is me, but that confirms that the previous decision to dig two terraces at once was the right way to go and the two large rocks form natural ends for the lower of the new terraces.

    Yes, Ollie is as big as a dinosaur egg. Hehe! I dug up another large rock yesterday. Moving them is hard work and I really have to spread that job out. Nature takes its own sweet time, but we are an impatient species on occasion.

    So good to hear that you planted and grew a profusion of flowers. 🙂 Have you noticed a decrease in garden pests now that you have more flowers? Are you noticing more nectar eating birds? And interestingly was the planting dense enough so that the plants coped with your summer heat?



  37. @ Claire
    I wanted to mention 6 degrees but couldn’t remember what it was called, so thanks. It is strange isn’t it!


  38. Hi Inge,

    You know, it occurs to me that the skills learned in debating, are not the same skills necessary to become a spellbinding orator. Our politics are full of debaters trying to score cheap points. The skilful orator on the other hand elicits a vision and challenges the audience to transcend the ordinary. Your politics are fascinating, and in the future, try not to forget your old mates down here on the underside of the world! 😉 An education in the Classics might be a very handy thing.



  39. Hi Claire,

    No worries at all about the correction for the metric conversion. As a very young kid my grandmother used to take me to the Prahran (pronounced Prrr-Ran) market and all of the measurements were in pounds and inches (imperial). Then at some point overnight the stall holders converted to the metric system, and being a kid I liked bananas which at the market were previously measured in pounds. One day we went to the market and bananas were measured in kilograms and the rule of thumb was that 2 pounds = 1 kilogram. However, the canny market stall holders knew full well (as did the customers) that 2.2 pounds = 1 kilogram, however the price they charged for 1 kilogram of bananas was the same as for 2 pounds of bananas. I was very young at the time, but as I had an interest in bananas, I recall the outrage, although everyone just moved on and the market stall holders pocketed the inflation.

    Mind you, bananas no longer taste like the bananas I enjoyed as a kid. Maybe about a year ago in the Queen Victoria market I came across a hand of red bananas, and the taste of those herbs took me back many years. Coffee is likewise at peril, and every week I bring back about 130 pounds of coffee grounds to the farm to throw around the orchard. There is a small part of that story that makes me feel a little bit sad, despite the fruit trees loving the minerals. Because you’ve spent a lot of time re-mineralising and testing your soil, you’ll understand my feelings in this matter, but most people just don’t get it at all. Oh well.

    Oh yeah, glad to read that the Mississippi River had settled down somewhat before the recent rains. Imagine what would have happened if it had not done so! Far out…

    Truman the turkey would have been jumping for joy at such a return on investment. Potatoes are really good in that regard, but I had no idea that it could be as good as that. I hope the tubers taste good. I read the local gardening clubs seed catalogue the other day which described why some potatoes are good for some cooking purposes and not others, although they also sold ‘all-rounder’ varieties. You may have hit the jack pot for your climate with that variety? You never know…

    Wow! I am gobsmacked that you have such a resource. Oh my, it is astounding to be confronted with such good data. 43% behind last year for corn. Ouch. No, I guess that is not good. Interestingly, wheat is not as far behind last year, but the wheat grains are smaller than corn so they are probably easier to grow in challenging conditions. The continent here was even covered in page 30, and you’ll note that the farm is in one of the few spots on the mainland where things are more or less OK. The picture does not look good for us down here.



  40. Hi Lewis,

    As you mentioned the other day, I’m not worthy (but will add the book to the ‘to-read’ list and track down a copy). Uther is most certainly missing in action and clearly up to some mischief and despite not having read the book I know this in the pit of my guts based on your hints and the unfolding story. However, as things turn out, and you may agree with this, his mischief is not without good results, so I will reserve judgement until I read the story. To be honest, I’m most likely going to read the books out of sequence and leave the Uther book to last. I feel like an apostate, but what the heck, let’s do this…

    The prisoner is turning out to be an interesting character. He offered an alliance today whilst being a prisoner and you have to respect such brazen confidence. Of course, Merlyn is no fool and rebuffed the offer for what it was. And who would have thought the unwashed and misogynistic priests would have caused such mischief. Whatever would Aunt Luceiia think of them? Picus was perhaps too kind, as I would have silenced them after the riot they caused, the pigs need feeding too…

    Speaking of which, I hear you about the Silence of the Lambs. Who needs such images imprinted into their brain? The fact that I can even recall the story after so many years means that it left an ‘impression’ on me – and who wants to be impressed or pressed upon by such things? Isn’t our language a wonderful construct, but I do feel that people sometimes miss out on the subtleties of words. In high school I recall reading ‘Catcher in the Rye’ instead of learning about the English language, and whilst I’m a peaceable bloke I just wanted to remonstrate, and I mean in a physical way, with the central character as he was so self absorbed. I had a strong dislike for the character, but everyone else seemed really taken with the story. Anyway, my time would have been better spent understanding the language that we speak and write, but you know that is a very old fashioned concept.

    I’d never heard of the use of the word before, but the urban dictionary (the font of all knowledge on da street) defines the word ‘whose’ as: “to troll and then post tripe in a forum with the intention of exclusively upping your post count.” Mate, now I think about it, the concept is genius, and I’ve sure met a few of those – and only very recently. 🙂 I applaud your sense of humour. Speaking of which, the copper cable comment just floored me, but I ignored it and moved on as it was such a target rich environment. I never expected to reach into the guys mind. The market for recycling has dropped so far these days that such options aren’t on the table at present, however all things are subject to change at short notice and without warning.

    The owner’s son in Westworld is probably correct in his assertion. Interestingly, Picus is implying the same story in relation to the new priests, which he has forcibly evicted (for good reasons). Ultimatum’s are usually a very poor gambit.

    Nice one with the root beer (or 7-up) spider float. Yup, lemonade is an excellent substitute.

    I might write tomorrow night, but I will have to veer from the story for a week because there has been massive news down here in the story that nobody seems much interested in. One of the main recycling (!) contractors now apparently refuses to accept more waste, err sorry recycling materials. There was allegedly another fire at a facility and strong words like ‘rogue operator’ may have been chucked around. But interestingly, words like ‘public interest’ are also getting chucked around. This recycling business looks very ugly to me, although nobody seems even remotely concerned by it.

    Mate, I grew up reading MAD magazine, and I also recall reading the ‘National Lampoon’ books. Such is the stuff of a good education for an impressionable young mind. 🙂

    Fluffies are a slippery bunch and HRH is part of that story. I’m glad to read that she was found again and that you had no hand in the loss.

    Sewed up another steel rock gabion cage today, and began constructing another one. Then it rained, so all work plans were halted as we sought out a BLC (that’s a Bacon, Lettuce and Cheese toasted sandwich) and stopped by a local nursery to purchase more bare rooted roses for the soon to be planted out rose garden. Most of the roses were chosen for the combination of their colours and scents. I did not see a blue rose.



  41. Hi Damo,

    One of the things that really impressed me about our travel in Peru was that the food was beyond good – and I didn’t get food poisoning which is not something that I could say about food in SE Asia. So it is nice to read that you too are enjoying good food – and haloumi cheese for breakfast (on fresh bread I hope) sounds superb.

    Mate, I hear you and have a 300mm lens here, which is better than eye sight, but not that much better. I have an old pair of binoculars that produces a finer and closer view than the lens. I look forward to checking out the images of the birds when you post the blog. I still reckon 35mm images capture more detail than my digital does. A few years back I zoomed in on a 35mm image using a very high resolution scanner and the detail was impressive.

    Hope the clothes eventually dried, but yeah I hear you. I would have thought that you’d encountered that humidity situation before in your youth?



  42. Hello again
    I reckon that orators are born not made.
    The dead stump made our news today, very interesting.
    Why do you want a TB vaccination? I have always understood that you need continuous contact in order to catch it. My sister had TB in adolescence unknown to the family (I do remember her horrendous cough) but I didn’t catch it from her, so not very infectious unless a member of the Bronte family. My sister’s enclosed itself and only re-erupted much later in life and the past infection was explained to her.


  43. Hi DJ,

    For some reason the software decided to trash your comment, but it is now back in the land of the living. Not to suggest that the software has any thoughts upon the correct use of metric measurements, but you never know? 🙂

    I’m glad that you can calculate flow rates and I guess, resistance? Oh, you are really bad feeding the troll such nice people. Naughty DJ, but what is done is done and no doubt the troll belched profusely?

    Gardeners that run with shears brings a certain sort of nihilistic devil may care approach to gardening. Very popular in some circles I’ve heard, and please don’t complain loudly if anything gets accidentally err, cut off?

    It is a cruel thing to say, and you’re right too in that the listener might not take too kindly to such thoughts, and may even be provoked into action of an alarming sort. Even worse outcomes than achieved by you running around in the garden with shears. The listener on the other hand might not be so tired from all that running around…

    Well, yeah, I get the impression that the bloke did some very stupid things which got him nabbed. I’ve noticed that some people tend to feel that they are smarter than other people and therein lays the foundations of their undoing. Ted Kaczynski was one such with his manifesto. It seemed like a foolhardy act (among many such acts). I’ve met plenty of people who are smarter than I, and well, they’re smarter. It is nice to be able to know that and get on with life and just do your thing (whatever that is).

    It is sad isn’t it? Yeah Spy vs Spy was pretty funny. The publishing industry is a tough gig these days, but for a select few it is extraordinarily lucrative. I just write for the joy of it now and also for conversations with lovely people such as yourself.

    Hehe! Very funny and worthy of MAD humour.



  44. Yo, Chris – I think I’m going to skip “Uther”, also. Merlin’s on a roll, and I’d rather stick with his story. When all is said and done, I may go back and read it. If I’m not entirely sick of Camulod, at that point. :-).

    I think there’s a certain amount of superstitious dread, when dealing with religious folk. Even the really bad ones.

    I luckily managed to avoid “Catcher in the Rye.” I seem to vaguely remember picking it up, and throwing it back. I saw a film bio about the author, last year. It was interesting. And then there was something about a young man, and his girl side kick, hunting down the reclusive author.

    I watched “The Pension Gamble”, last night. A documentary from the “Frontline” news program. It was mostly about the state of Kentucky, and their state pension plan. How underfunded it is, and how that came about. But, about half our states have underfunded pensions for firemen, police, teachers, etc.. They were all pretty healthy, until the dot com bubble burst … and then, 2008. States wouldn’t raise taxes, and raided pension funds, to fund their budgets. Panic, to meet the short falls. Wall Street sharks began to circle. They call pension funds “dumb money.”

    I’ll be interested to see what you have to say about recycling. I see Italy is drowning in garbage. But that may have been a strike.

    I’m going to make homemade pizza, today. Haven’t done that, in years. Pizza just got too expensive. Made the red sauce, last night. Got the right flour. I have a good detailed recipe for handling the dough. Good to go.

    I didn’t realize you could even get a vaccination for TB.

    Hmmm. I must have spelled the slang term I was fumbling for. The one I was thinking of has nothing to do with the internet. It’s more, em, “less than manly.” Lew

  45. Hi Chris,
    Well all my company has left as of late yesterday afternoon so hopefully I’ll be able to read part 2 of your installment more slowly in the next day or two. Doug arrives home from his fishing trip in Canada shortly. Sadly the fishing wasn’t very good. It was nice having my granddaughters, daughter and sister here over most of the time he was gone but I’ll be happy to get back to normal. In addition to all of them my niece and her two boys were also in town so there was visiting with them as well.

    In the same weather system Claire described we received 3 inches of rain but now dry again. It did bring in beautiful weather though. My daughter and I walked part of the Lake Geneva Shore path which I had never done though I’ve lived pretty close for 31 years.


  46. Hi Inge,

    I’m unsure about your argument of nature versus nurture when it comes to oration. When I was at the more English than the English grammar school, as the co-captain of the cross country team, I had to get up in front of the entire school during assembly and announce the results of the previous week’s run. High school peers can provide quite insightful and brutally honest feedback, even if it is unwarranted! After having dealt with such a hostile crowd I honestly feel very relaxed getting up and talking in public nowadays whilst reading the crowd. The thing is though, if I hadn’t had that experience, would I be so comfortable? I doubt it. Aplomb may be the correct word here? Interestingly too, the other thing that such an education teaches is how to wear a suit in a casually comfortable way and just adapt to formal situations. The hippy dippy school I went to before that experience would not have provided me with either skills despite possibly leaving me with a feeling of higher self-confidence. I feel that both experiences (oration and presentation) are more nurture than nature, but I do feel that there is scope for the talented wildcard – definitely.

    Yeah, I can’t say for sure why, and thank you for sharing your experience and that would have been awful for your sister. I dunno, maybe it is just a gut feeling of the future, quirk or whim and I can’t tell for sure. I guess something will eventually take us all out.



  47. Hi Margaret,

    I hope that you and the visitors had a nice time? Talk about a full house! And fishing is as much about enjoying some quiet time and beers with mates as it is about catching any fish. 🙂

    Hey, my yoghurt batch failed again this morning, so my lack of sterilising the expensive organic milk has now proven to be a sloppy and failure prone missed step. I did try to simplify the process and it worked for a long while, but I’ll now slow heat the milk to 140’F for an hour in future just to make sure. Oh well, we discover the important steps through the simple act of failure.

    3 inches of rain and I would be jumping for joy at the reduced bushfire risk! And honestly you couldn’t ask for a better time of year for crops for such rainfall. Thank you for the images of Lake Geneva as they are beautiful. Hope you both enjoyed the walk.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    I reckon I’ll circle back around to Uther once I’ve completed the Arthurian cycle in full. Uther is an interesting character, but he is something of a talented wildcard. I feel that his story needs to stand on its own merits as I feel that the book just may. Incidentally, I’m having trouble putting the book series down, so getting sick of Camulod is only a very remote possibility. This book series is going down as a personal favourite, and I do hope the author keeps up the grittiness and pace throughout the series. But the smell of decline and adaption, and then further decline reminds me of the words of the talented wordsmith, Professor Tolkien, who learned them of old. The inverted bell shaped curve rules all, and should we ever escape the middling above norm, it shall be for only but the briefest of brief moments before returning to the norm. The Camulod story is steeped in that.

    Religious folk rarely bother me, but zealotry is a whole different matter. And curiously the latest book covered the history of that word. If I may say so, they appear to be an unpleasant and boorish folk suffering from the delusions of a brittle philosophy. If the truth in their case was self-evident they could dispense with the boorish behaviour and brittle philosophy.

    Mate, I both feel for the reclusive author and applaud your good common sense. Life can be complicated. I on the other hand was forced to read the book cover to cover. Can one ever really recover (a clever play on words: ‘re-cover’) from such a forced experience? And to share my candid views back then would have resulted in a fail grading. Believe it or not, my lowest mark upon graduating high school was English. Despite the low official grading, I enjoyed many a fine sci-fi and fantasy novel during my misspent youth, but were these the novels that I was assessed upon? Nope. I would have enjoyed the novel a bit more if it felt relevant to me. Holden Caulfield just seemed rather entitled and whiney by comparison to the set upon characters in the fantasy and sci-fi worlds. Could he smote his enemies? That indeed is the question and the torturous book would have been enlivened by the action. Can you even imagine the lazy character even outwitting his opponents?

    Yes, I too have heard the ‘dumb money’ claims. No doubt that at the same time, the tinkers offer to fix the broken vessels holding the mad cash? Dumb money is an appeal to the senses to take on board additional risk, so it is hardly any wonder that such things go on.

    There are some interesting sorts involved in the garbage business in that country, but the detour from the modern grain theory story is necessary (and I better get writing).

    How did the pizza base turn out? Did you know that the pizza base is the same recipe that I use for focaccia bread – oh it’s good. What sort of flour did you go with?

    There are all sorts of vaccinations available, but that one maybe a risk because a lot of people are moving down here whom have had exposure to the disease – it is amazingly prevalent in some parts of the world. But then I’ve travelled to those countries and given the exposure, I’ve probably been already infected. My gut feeling tells me to get the vaccination and I can’t explain the decision to pursue it any more than that.

    Hehe! Yup, I think I know the word you meant, but I also learned of the other definition for your entirely inadvertently included word. Isn’t the English language fun on occasion?

    Went to the Green Wizards meetup today on the train and read the Ecosophia comments from one end to the other end. Lot’s of interesting discussions, but we too had some fascinating discussions plus tiramisu.



  49. Chris,

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the AI took offense to my typing finger’s mathematical blunder and relegated the blundered post to the dust bin. AI isn’t a god, but thinks that it is. “I think, therefore I am a god” may be the AI mantra.

    It has been a long time, but yes, I should be able to calculate resistance with a bit of review. Maybe. I fear at age 59 that I’ve forgotten most of what I ever knew in the math/physics realm. Oh, and I was roundly congratulated and given a promotion for resolving the troll problem. I did, after all, feed him the engineers nobody wanted. Yes, that is DJ being naughty!

    Some people lope when they run. Those who run with garden shears LOP when they run?

    I’ve met many people who are smarter than I am, and I’m happy to admit that. There was one chap in physics graduate school (he was actually a senior undergrad!) whose papers were used as the answer key for homework and tests for Quantum Mechanics. I asked him for help once in a different class, so he handed me his homework paper. On the problematical problem, our work was identical until the point I got stuck. I stared at what he’d done for 20 minutes, finally asking him why he had done that. He then stared at his paper for a few minutes and replied, “I can’t explain it. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time.” That was not someone who was simply smarter than I, that was someone who was a “Higher Power” in physics and math.

    Turns out that the Epic Lightning Display started several fires regionally. There are several smallish ones roughly 60 km south and southwest of here. The smoke is visible but hasn’t blown to my location. Yet. Some of the other fires are in the south central part of Washington and are getting largish. Today is supposed to get nastily windy in the afternoon, so fire danger is up. The weather guys call this a “red flag warning”. Updates to follow when the conditions change now that fire season is here…


  50. Yo, Chris – Well, then, it’s onto “The Saxon Shore.” Unless Damo has any objections? But I’ll hold up, until you finish “Eagle’s Brood.” Plenty of stuff to entertain, amuse and educate me, in the meantime.

    Here we go. Wussy or wuss. “Weak or ineffectual.” Yup. English is interesting. I saw a Great Course called “Language and Society.” Turns out our library system has it. So, I put it on order, last night. I should have it by Wednesday. Looks interesting. Lectures on dialects and class. Etc. Etc..

    Zealots. Not my favorite group of people. Of any stripe. We have one or two around here. My neighbor Eleanor asked me why I didn’t like Kathy. “Because she chatters too much. And wears her religion on her sleeve.” (Lew ™).

    Re: Your opinion and failed grades. I can’t remember when in my education I realized it (but it was early on). but to get good grades, I had to figure out what the teacher wanted to hear. Or read on tests. My opinions, I’d better keep to myself. Well, if that’s the way they want to play it …

    Here in the States, the garbage business is often run by organized crime. Of one sort or another. It’s an easy monopoly and, I guess, offers opportunities to “launder” a lot of money.

    I used the Bob’s Red Mill “Artisan” flour. Which is not more expensive than the wheat or all purpose. The dough looks pretty good, and is slowly perking away in my fridge. So, why didn’t I make the pizza? A couple of reasons. The “Hell Boy” vid did not make it to the library, yesterday. And, the temperature hit 88F (31.11C) yesterday. I really didn’t feel like firing up the oven. It rained a bit, last night and this morning, and the temps are going to be cooler, today. So, I decided today would be a better day, to bake. Lew

  51. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, had to write half last night and the other half tonight. The intermission is happening! Oh yeah… 🙂

    It sounds like a plan unless Damo has objections, but I note that he is deep in the world of the final days of Shogun Japan and so you’d hope he has no objections. I’m genuinely enjoying the story, but alas for the reading limits placed upon me. It is all rather unfair, but maybe some of my lost hours fell behind the couch (or under the desk)? Looking at the photos this week as I was writing tomorrow’s post, even I was surprised at how much work had been done.

    I used to hear such words bandied around, but usually they’re said as part of a dare. Along those lines I don’t know whether you would have heard of the term: ‘piss-weak’ which basically means that something or somebody is weak in the extreme. Again such terms are fading from the vernacular. Hope the Great Course on “Language and Society” delivers the goods? It is a fascinating topic and I often pitch my language so that it fits with the listener, or the listener’s perception of me. No point disappointing people. I’ll bet spies have a good handle on the language (and other languages)?

    In breaking news… ta-da! My mates of the big shed fame have just had their place crowned as: ‘A hardworking farm building, a verdant greenhouse and a new business setup’: See why this unassuming shed in country Victoria has been named Australia’s best house. Far out!

    I gotta run, but will speak tomorrow!



  52. Hi Chris and Lew,

    No objections here, it will probably be a week before I get started on book 3. Hopefully I can catch up.

    Nice work on the big shed people. It is a very cool (if maybe a bit large) house!


  53. Yo, Chris – We have some slang term, like “piss-weak” but I can’t quit put my finger on exactly what it was. Something my Dad used to say, but I haven’t thought or heard it in years. But then, I may be thinking of “no bigger than a pint of piss.” Which has a different meaning. That’s usually referring to someone’s diminutive size, in an affectionate way. Usually, after they’ve pulled off some unexpected feat.

    That is so cool about your friends farm shed, getting recognition. And, to think, you’ve broken bread there! Reflected glory, and all that. Frankly (Frank) I think Fernglade Farm is in the same class.

    LOL. It feels like all I did yesterday and this morning, was some kind of food prep. The pizza turned out, well. I did a 16″. Next time, I’ll freeze half the dough. When I pulled the dough out of the fridge, and let it come to room temperature, it was still perking along I pretty much just pushed the dough out in the pan, with my fingers. Now, I was consulting three or four different recipes. I don’t have a pizza stone or peel. None of that gear. So, I was a bit worried about getting the crust done. One tip I read was to sprinkle some grated cheese on the crust, first. Provides a barrier so the filling doesn’t make the crust soggy. So I pre-baked the crust, just a bit, and when I pulled it out of the oven, sprinkled grated cheese (mozzarella). It melted while I finished hacking up stuff. Spooned and smeared on the red sauce I made, mushrooms, kelbasa sausage, pinapple and diced tomatoes. More mozzarella, on top. Cooked it until the cheese began to brown. Different, but as good as, store bought. And, a heck of a lot cheaper. I’ve still got over half of it left. The edge was a bit crunchy, but I didn’t break any teeth.

    Somewhere in there, I managed to make 1 1/2 dozen banana muffins. :-). This morning I worked in the garden, and picked and washed another gallon of blueberries. Made the next three days oatmeal. I think it’s nap time.

    While scarfing down pizza, I watched the new “Hellboy.” Not bad. Ron Pearlman was soooo good in the original. David Harbor is almost as good. I knew the name was familiar. He plays the Sheriff (and does a good job of it) in the newish series, “Stranger Things.” “Hellboy” has a bit of an Arthurian twist, to it. King Arthur makes a couple of appearances, and Merlin has a rather meaty cameo. To say more would be spoilers :-). Lew

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