Modern Grain Theory – Roasted the Sheep

We continue the intermission from our usual programming…

This is the final instalment of the gripping tale of a duck that ends up in murky financial waters. Editor says: Thank goodness you’re winding the story up, I can’t recall the previous three instalments!

Our hero Sitting Duck, the cadet reporter, has been sent by Truman the Turkey to seek out Roasted the Sheep for further comments upon the new economic theory. Sitting Duck lost his way on that journey, and was almost squashed by Basashi the Horse after he had the temerity of questioning deeply held beliefs about debt and dates with hot mares.

The fleet footed (and winged) Sitting Duck once again, took to the skies over Utopian farms, and with better directions this time, he rapidly located the correct paddock.

Roasted the Sheep gazed quizzically at the intruder who settled into the green paddock. Roasted the Sheep is a mild mannered Merino sheep (bred for wool production) who looked at Sitting Duck as if he was surprised to find a duck sharing his paddock.

“This is my paddock, you know”, remarked Roasted the Sheep.

Sitting Duck is an intrepid and fearless cadet reporter, and so he blithely ignored the peevish complaint and pressed on with the task at hand: “I’m Sitting Duck a reporter for the ‘The Big Swine’. I believe you are Roasted the Sheep. Nice to meet you. Truman the Turkey sent me to interview you about how Modern Grain Theory works out for farm animals”.

Roasted the Sheep positively beamed with happiness at the sudden break in routine. “Nobody ever asks me about anything. So I’ll tell ya what I can tell ya, and hopefully that’s enough.”

The sharp witted Sitting Duck had no idea what to make of the reply, so he abruptly changed tack and asked the searching question: “Cool. So what do you do around here?”

The sheep thought about the question for a moment before replying: “I work hard. I crop my paddocks, produce fertiliser, and once a year the pigs take my fleece. And that’s about it.”

Roasted the sheep didn’t mention the subject of Modern Grain Theory, and the fact wasn’t lost on our intrepid cadet reporter. For a few moments, Sitting Duck anxiously wracked his brains about how to progress with the interview, all the while trying to look intelligent. The sheep on the other hand looked at the duck with big gooey eyes. With no better questions to ask, Sitting Duck blurted out: “So is the work hard?”

A moment or three passed by, and Sitting Duck worried that the sheep’s mind had turned to other matters. Suddenly, Roasted the Sheep re-focused his attention on the duck and the gaze from the eyes was now sharp and lucid. “See that ewe in the paddock over there?” and with a raised hoof, Roasted the Sheep pointed to a nearby paddock.

Sitting Duck’s eye’s followed where the hoof pointed and saw a happy ewe grazing in a distant green paddock.

“That ewe over there is my mum. Way back in the early days of Modern Grain Theory, she purchased her paddock for three years of fleece from the pigs. Nowadays, my mum uses the surplus grain from the sale of her annual fleece to purchase trees, reliable water and extra feed from the pigs.” Replied Roasted the Sheep.

After a brief moment of contemplation, Sitting Duck said: “That is a good looking paddock and your mum looks pretty happy.”

In his slow way, Roasted the Sheep contemplated the duck reporter for a while and then said: “Yeah, she sure is happy over there. I dunno whether you’ve heard, but since Modern Grain Theory has been around, and don’t tell Truman the Turkey or Big Pig that I said this, and you can’t quote me as a source, but paddocks sure are getting more expensive these days.”

With the guts of the story now opening up before Sitting Duck, he agreed with the conditions whilst encouraging the sheep to go on (now anonymously, of course). Satisfied that he wouldn’t be directly quoted, Roasted the Sheep continued: “Nowadays a paddock will set a sheep back about eight years of fleece. I live for about a decade and so I says to the pigs: How come my mum could retire so early and I can’t? You see I’d like a few nice trees in my paddock, the summer sun you know, it sure is hot. And it would be nice to take a break from the relentless paddock cropping and fertilising business. But what with the price of paddocks these days… And you know what the pigs said to me?”

“No. I have no idea what the pigs said to you” replied Sitting Duck.

Mournfully, Roasted the Sheep replied: “And so the pigs said to me: ‘Look. Just give it a go. You might like it. It’ll give you purpose and stability.’ That was their words and I didn’t know what to say to the pigs. The pigs are working hard too, or so they tell me. And so I just went on back to my paddock. And here you are now. That was a while ago”

The story raised further questions in the mercurial mind of Sitting Duck and he asked: “How long have you been at the cropping, fleece and fertilising business?”

“Long enough, I guess. I’m getting to be an old fella and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep up the pace though, and I haven’t yet repaid the pigs. The pigs said something the other day about mutton, but I wasn’t quite sure I heard them right. Tell ya what, I sure would like some trees in the paddock though. What alternatives have I got?” Roasted the Sheep looked forlorn and shorn.

“I’m not sure mate.” replied Sitting Duck, and the interview had clearly run its course. Sitting Duck thanked Roasted the Sheep for his time, and again promised not to reveal him as the source.

With much to think about and notes to review, Sitting Duck flew back to his rented apartment. After several beers, Sitting Duck sat at his desk and began tapping away on the computer keyboard. The article began to unfold:

Economic Reform of Modern Grain Theory Sweeps Aside Old Order

Sitting Duck was rather pleased with the title. And he sat and considered how to proceed with the story. Then before he knew it, something special happened and he began rapidly typing away.

Once upon a time, in the paradise of Utopia farm, several pigs concocted the economic theory: Modern Grain Theory. The pigs cried to all who would listen: “The old rules no longer apply!” And for a while all was good with the land. Then one day…

And so continued the fairy tale which Sitting Duck wrote that day. Of course upon reading the story, the face of the editor at ‘The Big Swine’ turned an unusual shade of purple (he knew and socialised with the pigs of Utopia farm who regularly purchased advertising space, and with whom he was distantly related) as he devised plans to either sack Sitting Duck or just basically yell a lot at the intrepid cadet reporter, or maybe both.  Thus proving that no good deed goes unpunished! THE END.

A cloud band brings rain late in the day

Spring is on it’s way. The days are warmer and the UV is now rated as medium. And some of the very early fruit trees have begun the slow process of producing leaves and blossoms (flowers). Still, the cold weather can return without warning and late in the week, a very heavy frost arrived.

Early asparagus spears poke through the frost laden soil

We didn’t let a bit of freezing air stop us. Well, it did delay us a little bit whilst we waited for the morning sun to burn away the frost. Such times are always a good time for a coffee, fruit toast and a read!

After a long day excavating and moving soil, we finally completed the upper garden terrace.

The upper garden terrace excavations are now complete

There are now 24 roses planted on the upper garden terrace.

24 roses have been planted on the upper garden terrace

Some of those roses were planted last week, and they’ve already grown, as can be seen in the next photo:

Some of the roses have grown over the past week

On the lower terrace, we began constructing the ramp at one end of the terrace. Before we began constructing the ramp, we weren’t quite sure how it would look. As construction began though, it became clear what the ramp should look like. Eventually the ramp will connect with a path (yet to be constructed) that will run above the house.

The author and Ollie dance for joy now that the ramp leading away from the lower garden terrace has begun construction

From the far side of the lower garden terrace, it can be more easily seen where the new ramp is heading.

Looking at the lower garden terrace (and upper) from the eastern end

Observant readers will note that there is still a fair bit of soil to be excavated from the lower garden terrace. We’re not really sure how long that excavation job will take, however there are no urgent deadlines for completion of the project.

Long term readers will note that we maintain a very tidy and neat property.

We maintain a neat and tidy property. (edit: Tidy AF)

Mostly we keep the farm that way because it suits our nature. However, from a fire risk, it is not a bad idea to keep a property neat and tidy. I recall reading a year or so back that the Aboriginal people describe the process of getting to that state of affairs as: “Cleaning up”. And I can’t argue with their logic. The surrounding forest is a bit of a mess after over a century of logging which began in the 1860’s.

Remnants of logging activities that may even have been burned in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires
An unmanaged area of the surrounding forest with lots of flammable forest materials

If a fire swept through either of the areas in the above photos, it would burn very hot indeed. The fires are generally driven by a combination of hot days, high winds and dry and fine forest litter. It is not a complicated story. Even when green this stuff burns.

A recent burn off of wet forest materials

The best thing about winter, is that such burn offs don’t try to escape and get bigger. But all the same, it is better to burn off the materials now, rather than let a very hot fire sweep through and kill the big trees that live here. Some of those trees on the farm pre-date white settlement. As part of the clean up process we harvest a small amount of firewood. Much of the firewood is from wind fallen trees and branches and it is better for us to harvest and burn it for heating than to have a huge bushfire sweep through the property.

We began harvesting firewood early this year

The farm is a haven for wildlife which lives in the surrounding forest, and a local farmer once amusingly remarked to me that we’d: “created a supermarket for the wildlife”.

Kookaburra sits on the sapling fence

The warmer early spring weather (sprinter as I call it) has caused the vegetables to grow.

Green mustard and rocket are growing strongly
Leeks, chives and parsley provide a choice of flavours

Onto the flowers:

A couple of very early Echium flowers. The bees love this plant
Jonquils and Daffodils provide a splash of colour in the paddocks
Silver wattle blooms in the forest surrounding the farm
One of the first flowering fruit trees is this plumcot
Rosemary is as beautiful as always
The succulents survived the hard frost and have produced flowers
Some of the succulents produce amazing colours

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 3’C (37’F). So far this year there has been 539.2mm (21.2 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 527.0mm (20.7 inches).

56 thoughts on “Modern Grain Theory – Roasted the Sheep”

  1. Chris,

    My opinion, and only an opinion, is that doors need to open on moving public transport vehicles. Some people just need a little, ummmm, well, there’s nothing to say here, really… 😉 Once upone a year there was a saying in Montana, which I’ll paraphrase: “He just needed pushing, your honor.”

    Retraining the gut sums it up nicely. Although there have been times when “reStraining the gut” was closer to the actual effort.

    Some employers offer some type of a match for 401k, but not all. The match varies. On the government job, I qualify for a Washington State retirement program, and part of my income (before tax) and some local government money goes into the system. I also have the option for a 403b, sort of a 401k for government employees, with no match. It is through an insurance company, and the management fees are hideous.

    I’ve also avoided hypothermia, as I pack expecting bad weather and cold just in case. One year some friends and I trained all summer and climbed Mount Baker near the northwest corner of Washington, 10,700 feet elevation. First weekend of September, was when, and there were record high temperatures. There was a fair amount of technical work on glaciers, so we had the crampons on, were roped up and had ice axes. And we all carried emergency packs with cold weather gear even though the temperatures were above 20C at night on the glacier. We had no business being on the glacier at those temperatures. Anyhow, we scaled the peak at night and headed down in the late morning. I kid you not, there were people climbing the glacier wearing flip-flops with only a water bottle for equipment. They were asking for trouble. One self-proclaimed “expert” (who was acting quite foolishly on the glacier) from the local mountaineering group ended up breaking his leg and needed a helicopter to remove him.

    The ladies know when we do something for them that is truly from the heart. What I consider to be trivial, such as the love spoon or the horse I carved are Big Items in my wife’s mind. I bought a heart shaped bamboo box once, and finally wood burned some things on it that I know she’s like. She was so happy that I had made something FOR HER. She keeps it in plain sight.

    Yes, there will come a time when there’s another dog here.

    You wrote “It might be that there is an expanding money supply and not enough productive enterprises to invest the stuff into? Dunno.” But that’s what Modern Grain Theory does for us. Being the banker makes money for the banker at the expense of everybody else, while making people think that another business trading digital chits is a productive thing.

    I liked the end of the story, by the way. Roasted the Sheep, who overheard the mutton word, summed it up well. And whoa to Sitting Duck for exposing the emperor’s new clothes.

    That’s good that the new roses are already showing signs of growth. I’ve got several varieties of roses here. Some are near the house and get some shelter, but some are at the mercy of the most severe weather extremes. They all do okay, but the varieties I planted are supposed to thrive in our extremes. The roses of saturated clay fame that dad had near Los Angeles survived the occasional frost just fine.

    Did I detect some “moving firewood” with a tail and with Ollie’s colors in the firewood picture? As someone else said, he IS a camera hound.

    And that’s a wonderful picture of your house. I’d be proud of something that looks that good if I had built it and kept it up.


  2. Yo, Chris – Not quit “Animal Farm”, but you’re getting there :-).
    Well, I guess this story just goes to prove, that if you want the Hot T (Truth), get down in the trenches where the real work is done. Maybe Roast Sheep will inherit Mum’s paddock … if the vet bills don’t entirely gut the estate. Of course, Roast Sheep could always add a year to his tern, to finance a tree. A second mortgage?

    What’s the bright spot, in the cloud band photo? Distant small town? Power generating plant? A casino? The Mother Ship?

    Will the Upper Garden Terrace (henceforth, UGT) be launched with a bottle of bubbly? A ramp is a good idea. For your dotage. You can tear around in your electric (solar powered, of course) chair. Might consider a side car, for the Editor. There are a few of those around the Institution. Not solar powered, of course. Susan Who Always Has A Better Idea, pops wheelies, in hers.

    Does Ollie Tango? Oh, wait. Waltz. Waltzing Matilda, etc.. Which reminds me of something, I’ll link to, later.

    “Tidy and neat.” Photoshop? :-).

    Well, that looks like a very good start on next years firewood. So, plumcots bloom in Sprinter? So language changes.

    The rosemary is very pretty. Ours is well past the flower stage, but even without flowers, it’s still a very handsome bush.

    Picked a gallon of blueberries, today. I’d say, there’s a gallon or two left. And then, season’s over. :-(. Didn’t make it to the green beans.Maybe, tomorrow. Lew

  3. Hi Damo,

    Well let’s just say that the return from the religious conference was interesting for Merlyn! No spoilers though… I hadn’t noticed that about the author using the same voice, but you’re most likely correct. It is hard to bring different voices to characters. You’re a better fiction writer than I and I’m still left wondering if your rogue character will make a new appearance in a future adventure?

    Never read anything by Gore Vidal. I was always a bit put off him by his comment regarding friends successes. It seemed a bit odd to me, but years ago I have a very old mate who is beyond competitive. It annoys me, because I do not care about such things. Anyway, have I misjudged this author? Well as a salty sea dog the problems with calculating longitude are well known to you.

    How good is it discovering a good second hand book shop? Hope there was plenty of good finds in there. Life is short, and there are a heck of a lot of books to get through. 🙂

    Hey, you inspired me to replace the 10 year old hard drive in my trusty decade old laptop with an SSD drive. It is happening right now and so far so good, and thank goodness for utube tutorials! Plus I noticed that the guts of the laptop had a spare memory slot which I may add too. However the first hurdle was that the Win 7 system image (held on a USB drive) did not restore, and I’m unsure why. But I’m just re-installing windows now anyway and I’ll give it another go in a while.

    I haven’t watched Discovery, so I have no opinions on the matter. Mate, there are only so many hours in the day… How was Orville? They did a season 2, maybe?

    Inge made an astute observation regarding negative interest rates, and I agree with her. One is visible and the other is hidden – and human nature always adds a complexity to these matters. I’ve never met a fully rational person. Even Vulcan’s can sulk their socks off from time to time – or crack the sads.

    I’m not really sure myself. My gut feeling tells me that the debt story is hiding the underlying energy and resources story. It’s complicated. Hey, I paid $1.559 a litre today. Hardly surprising given the decline in the exchange rate.

    Haha! You jest, however, I am aware of at least four recent applications for new banking licences in the country. The big four could stand some competition.



  4. Hi Inge,

    Your comment to Damo was truly insightful, and the thought would never have occurred to me. Thanks for mentioning it.

    Extreme humidity makes a warm day feel even hotter than it actually is, sorry to say. The summers here are usually low humidity, whilst the winters are very high humidity. When things are turned around though – Ouch! Stay hydrated, and keep a fan close to hand.

    Sometimes the black plastic pipes which carry the garden water produces incredibly hot water during summer. I do worry that the plants will get burned by the initial burst of hot water, but so far they seem OK. I spent a bit of time sorting out the irrigation system for all of the garden terraces (there are five of them now). We’ve hit the point at which we need to work out a way to make life easier for us.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my! Such news about home insurance in bushfire areas makes for poor listening over here. It is hardly a surprise that our efforts in cleaning up the forest is considered time well spent by us. I was whingeing about an 18% cumulative increase, but 300% is the whole next level. Such an increase would cause me to perhaps double and triple our efforts of cleaning up. Although to be honest I have no idea what those residents were paying in the first place. It may have been a very cheap premium? House fire risk in urban areas is not inconsequential either. A while ago, I read that flood insurance had been mandated by the state government, but high risk homes cost something crazy like $35,000 per annum – which seems bonkers to me.

    Amusements. Yup, that was how things were. The cinema’s were open late of a weekend and so were clubs and bars. Reaching back to before my time I believe that the public bars closed at 6pm sharp on a Saturday evening. The last train home on such nights was quite a wild ride from all accounts. The trick was that as last drinks were called for, patrons used to go hard and order the rest of their allocation. There were even lock out laws in place for a while. As a youth I encountered a pub which had a late closing time and they did the same thing, and the bar keep yelled out something along the lines of: “Last drinks ya filthy mongrels!” It is hard to argue with such logic.

    The change in hours was a slow creep and it is interesting to have seen the before and after effects of such a change. I’m a night owl by nature and so longer opening hours works for me, but it is hard on the people having to make a living by providing such long trading hours. I was speaking with a trader about that situation today.

    There is an update to the unfolding blue hat situation. I may have mentioned to you that the hat was too cool for me? Well, the retailer mentioned that someone in the UK was pestering him for the very same hat. So I swapped the blue hat for a nice rabbit pelt hat. It is much softer on my head. The blue hat was very cool, but it also gave me headaches so I just didn’t wear it and the hat was brand new. Everyone was happy with the result. The hat retailer tells me that in a month or so, he’ll have his linen hat supplies restocked. Linen hats are awesome for the summer months.

    There were a few ‘Fashion faux pas’ going on in the Aretha documentary that’s for sure. I don’t generally feel that way about the past. I acknowledge that not everyone shares that point of view though. It is a real achievement that the cameras were even there for the event and that the sound quality was so amazing, although a bit of post production clean up was clearly done. It wasn’t always the case back then. I can chuck on an old image from here and back in the day if anyone cared for such a thing? Doesn’t bother me in the least.

    Really? Thanks for explaining that. I’d always felt that maybe down here we had misused the word. The change to the definition for the casual summer footwear has not made it down here.

    My mind is spinning around and around. I replaced a hard drive in my decade old laptop. The drive was hardly full, but was groaning because what is required of it these days. I thought that I’d done everything right and then found that I had a 32 bit version of Windows installed. I’m now mucking around trying to get that problem sorted as I installed a 64 bit version, so please forgive me if I am wandering off track!

    Today was pretty nice down here. 60’F and sunny. I had a nice BLAT for lunch today as I was out and about and on the road.

    I like Woody, and have always appreciated his acting skills. The liberals might be onto something. If you can handle your thought, you might be able to handle this take on the same matter: Harold & Kumar G-Bay / George W.Bush Funny. So very wrong, but somehow just so right!

    Well Abby and Landers proves that those that do not bend with the wind, are liable to break with the wind. Hopefully they do not break wind, especially in public! I used to love reading those agony aunt columns. Where are their like these days? But yeah, folks can be strange.

    The name of that pea says it all! Alaska… Yup. Have you ever been that far north? I’ve never experienced a day without daylight, although some seriously cloudy days here can be quite bleak.

    Life is a precious thing and bad films can be a turn off. Fast forward buttons come in handy on such occasions. I wish I could fast forward the headache I’m getting from this computer craziness business. What a waste of precious life. Still, I did bring this situation on myself.

    How are the blueberries going? Hope you score more than a few. I have to confess that I have not looked at the tea camellia’s since the recent heavy snowfall. They’re probably some of the more cold sensitive plants that I have growing here. Believe it or not some of the cacti plants died during that snow. I thought they were hardier to cold than that. Oh well.

    Hope you enjoy my little joke at the end of the story. 🙂



  6. Hi DJ,

    Apologies, I’m a bit distracted this evening because I foolishly replaced a hard drive on my decade old laptop with a solid state hard drive and then realised that I had a 32 bit version of Windows installed on the machine. I only have 64 bit versions… However, I’m getting on top of the problem now, but have to keep an eye on the blasted machine. Maybehaps I’ll sort it out, because I have to use the thing tomorrow… Ook!

    Hehe! Pushing indeed. Hey, I saw a stand up comedy show a while back when the comedians were in their dressing room and awaiting to go on stage. An alleged murder had been committed in the club the previous night. So a gangster (now deceased) rolls into the dressing room and announces that the show must go on, and by the way, nobody is sure whether the deceased was pushed off the gallery, or stabbed off. Imagine having to hear that news from such a dodgy person! No doubts he would have done well in Montana. 🙂

    Hehe! Restraining the gut indeed. Hope you didn’t have to strain too much?

    Ah, we have only the single system down here in relation to savings for retirement, and for some reason it is called superannuation. What does it mean to superannuate something? I’m not sure, but wiser brains than mine will perhaps know the answer. Ouch! Yes, management fees are apparently 2% of the balance per year. It doesn’t sound like much until you have to fork it over. And official interest rates are now lower than that number.

    You and your friends were lucky that the glaciers did not move whilst you were on them. The elevation and latitude is not that great. Mind you the editor and I snuck past a barrier in NZ to touch the face of a glacier. A foolish thing to do, and others have been squashed by the ice. What! flip flops and a water bottle as equipment for climbing a glacier is bonkers! Far out.

    Yeah, that is my take on how your lady would perceive the lovespoon carving. Well done you! Exactly, it is personal and it carries meaning. People can ask for more, but they might not get it.

    Ah-ha! I see a new dog in your future. All I can tell for sure is that it is furry. But you may prove me wrong by getting one of those Chinese crested terriers. By all accounts the owners seem to be quite taken with them, but still. Down here they’d suffer from sun burn. Had a cat years ago that I had to get its ears lopped off due to skin cancer. The cat didn’t seem to mind at all.

    I thought that it was cheeky to describe the article as a fairy tale, but there is truth to that, and your reference to The Emperor’s New Clothes was very apt! 🙂 I was trying hard to write Roasted as a despondent character. Dunno. Fiction is a tough gig.

    Glad to read that you too can grow roses – even in your cold winters. They’re tough as old boots (Lewis)! Your summer climate would be almost perfect for roses. I may have lost some of the tags in the recent windy conditions and may give up on labelling any of them. In future you may see that I write that such and such a purple rose has a nice fragrance. That is code word for: “I have no idea what named variety of rose this plant is, but appreciate it all the same”. The fruit trees are a bit like that too. I know a commercial orchardist up about an hour north of here and she said to me when I asked her about the situation: “Chris. Everybody loses the tags.” I felt much better then as there is safety in numbers.

    It would be good if I could harness some of that ginger freckle gangle chunk energy, but alas… Ollie is his own keeper. He has issues with one of the local dogs and tonight an attempt was made by all parties to get the two dogs to play nicely together, or at least respect one another.

    Thank you! I really appreciate reading that.



  7. Yo, Chris – Well, I sometimes think the rising insurance rates are a plot to drive people out of the woods and off the coasts. Soon, only the rich will be able to live in scenic places. But, I think it’s a lot of trends, working, together. High insurance rates make people more likely to accept government buy outs. Of course, some will decide to go without. Some will wrap there heads around the idea of perhaps losing everything (and, maybe work out a plan B) and others, won’t.

    Liquor laws, here in the States, can be bonkers. It’s a hang over (pun?) from the Temperance Movement and Prohibition. Sometimes called “Blue Laws.” There are some counties (mostly in the Bible Belt) where there’s not a drop of liquor to be had, legally, at any time. Washington State had some pretty odd stuff, on the books. Until the Seattle World’s Fair rolled around, and cooler heads didn’t want to spook the tourists. One law I remember is that if you were sitting at the bar, and decided to move to a table, you could not carry your own drink. A waiter had to move the drink. I have no idea what the “reasoning” behind that arcane rule, was.

    Back in the day, I often gave the shout out of “Last Call.” We’d embroider on that, a bit. One of my favorites was “No Tell Motel, Time!” The ever present liquor inspectors were loathed and feared. One night, just after closing, I was putting the garbage out on the curb. Now, by law (at that time) the bar could not be seen, from the street. Just as I turned around, I discovered a man making for the front door. I grabbed his shoulder, spun him around, and said, “Excuse me sir, but the bar is closed.” He asked if anyone else was still in the bar. “Just the staff, counting down their tills.” Which was true. Except each member of the staff had a shift drink, sitting in front of them. Well, he went on his merry way. After I could breath, again, I told my boss the story. I got a small bonus on my next check. If we had been discovered, there would have been a hefty fine, and maybe closure for 6 months or so. Losing the license, was also possible.

    So, the rabbit pelt hat, gives you a soft head? Or did I misunderstand? 🙂

    Computers. I think as little as possible, about them.

    The Harold and Kumar sketch was very funny. But, I’ve never, in general, been able to warm to them. A bit too Lad-ish.

    Oh, the Agony Aunts are still around. Dear Abby and Landers are still carried in the newspapers that are left. I’m sure they probably have an on-line presence. Slate Magazine, on line, has the most outlandish Agony Aunts. Some entries are behind pay walls, but not all. Of course, there’s still (I think) “Letters to Playboy and Penthouse” magazine.

    Reading over your shoulder … the penny dropped and I realized that DJ and I are in the same retirement program. But since he’s a young buck, his is a bit different. I’m a (fan fare, please) Pers 1. Which is the oldest and most lavish of the retirement programs. No planning on my part. See: Falling Face Down in Good Fortune. Well, lavish if you put in your 20+ years. I got barely vested (at ten years) and had a year or two on top of that, before the job went away. I think they’re up to Pers 4 or 5, now. My friend from Idaho is also in the retirement system. But, again, her plan isn’t quit as good as mine.

    The Ollie related link … well, the URLs are just impossible long. Just search “William Wegman dogs” and check out the images. You may have seen some of them, before. The dogs are all Weimaraners. We had one when I was a kid. Sweet dogs. At least then. Gosh knows what they’ve done to the breed, since. Of course, now, Wegman could just photoshop his dogs. Back then, everything had to be staged. Lew

  8. Hello Chris
    I have just finished reading the story from beginning to end. I agreed with the editor so had to start at the beginning again; while cursing as I hunted for the episodes. Noting the dates for the episodes over to the side, might be a nice idea. Anyhow, let me repeat that I really enjoyed it.
    Still very hot here though fog horns were going all night, but the fog cleared rapidly through the morning.
    Vegs have been growing insanely in this weather. Neither Son nor I want to freeze anymore runner beans, we have enough for the whole winter so the pigs are getting them now.


  9. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the story – a cautionary tale to be sure.
    I noted your comment on Ecosophia regarding Paul Kingsnorth. He’s a favorite of mine and in fact I had watched that particular documentary just a couple days ago. Are you familiar with Mark Boyle? His most recent book, “The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology” was a good read.
    I believe he and Paul Kingsnorth are friends.

    I very much enjoy watching the wildlife around here though the variety pales in comparison to yours I think. My aunt who lives in Chicago was here last week and commented she saw more wildlife here than in 5 years where she lives. A hen wild turkey traveled through the yard with her eleven poults and a couple of hummingbirds were hovering right at the window. It took a bit of doing to get her to take a walk around the property as she’s deathly afraid of ticks because here daughter has chronic lyme disease.

    Because fire is not a major risk around here we leave quite a bit of wood just lying around for the various animals and bugs. We have a couple of dead trees that are full of woodpecker holes. They are far enough from the house that there’s no danger if they fall.

    That Ollie is one big boy. Leo and Salve are both
    around 60 lbs so he’s significantly bigger.

    The weather has been quite pleasant and a bit cool for this time of year though we’re getting more than enough rain today.

    Doug found a couple large hen in woods mushrooms but we’re going to have a more knowledgeable friend check them out before eating. Hopefully this link works.

    Is there an end in sight for new terraces?


  10. @Inge

    That humidity is awful. Hope it doesn’t last too much longer. Good luck with the land purchase.


  11. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for the praise. I enjoyed writing the story, and at the back of my mind whilst I was typing away at the task, I could almost imagine you telling me to remember to keep it concise (which hopefully I did with many thanks to you). 🙂

    Vegetables love heat combined with the humidity. Although, I do hope for your comfort that the humidity abates soon? Gluts of produce are one of the nicest of all problems to be faced with. I was thinking about the folks who you know (and I also know such people) who grow produce but then don’t know what to do with it. Your sons pigs will be very happy with the glut of produce.

    Believe it or not, it may yet be winter down here, but over the past week or so I’ve been contemplating the watering arrangements for the new garden terraces. Yesterday I spent over an hour at the local irrigation supplies store as the helpful lady there walked me through the various methods for getting water onto the plants on those new terraces (as well as the other two existing terraces). Decisions were made and over the next few weeks, I’ll start getting the system set up.



  12. Hi Margaret,

    It is a cautionary tale, and thank you very much for the kind words. I’d never thought of the story that way, but yeah you’re spot on. The Ancient Greeks used to love their morality tales, and they must have been of use because after the couple of millennia we can still read them.

    Thanks for the referral as I am not familiar with the person and many thanks for mentioning the book. It is nice to read other peoples journeys and tribulations as they navigate through an uncertain future. Integrity is a word you don’t much hear used these days. It is an important word. And maybe there will be (from the conclusion of the article) – who knows?

    Wildlife watching is part of the fun of living with all of the various critters that dwell among us. Last evening I took the venerable and elderly Scritchy boss dog out to go the toilet and we almost bumped into a wallaby which was only less than a dozen feet away. The wallaby was trying to be very still whilst hoping that we did not notice it chewing on the branches of a flowering cherry tree.

    The city is a quiet place at least that is how it seems to me. So you’d sort of imagine that Chicago would be pretty similar, given the patterns of living are similar. It never ceases to amaze me at how few insects or birds I encounter in the big smoke, and few if anyone seems to notice the lack.

    Not good about the chronic Lyme disease. I have heard of that disease your niece has my sympathies. Unfortunately I encounter ticks quite regularly because of the dogs proclivities. There are some strange diseases popping their heads up about the traps and you never know what will be a persons undoing. Of course as our species moves further from regular exposure to the natural world – especially at a young age, we unfortunately become more vulnerable to the tiniest of critters that live there.

    Lucky you! There are times that I wish that it was otherwise with the fire risk. And yes, fallen timber provides a safe haven for all sorts of forest critters. The over story trees here are still too young (despite some of them being over 165ft tall) for any sort of low fire risk equilibrium to emerge. The trick I feel is to protect the over story trees which provide the hollows for the forest critters.

    Ollie has a good 20 pounds on both Leo and Salve, but I have no doubts they’d best him in a battle of: ‘sheer force of personalities’! 🙂 He’s a big softie, and I encourage that personality because people are scared of him due to his size. He has authority without actually having to do anything.

    Lucky you! I’ve heard that particular mushroom described as ‘chicken of the woods’. But yeah, positive identification is probably not a bad idea given the risks. I have mushrooms growing all over the place, but I dare not consume any of them.

    Hehe! You ask the hard questions regarding the terraces. Only time will tell. I’m really unsure how much land I need to cultivate. Dunno. What I do know is that there is little in the way of surplus to be wrested from the soils.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, there is something in what you say about the rising cost of insurance pushing people out of out-of-the-way-places. A bit of a shame that, because the natural disasters take out the un-insured and also the under-insured, and then complicated building codes stop them from re-building and/or returning. People living in cities are far more easily intermediated anyway.

    However I feel that there may be a larger issue at stake and that is the insurance paradigm. Just because we want to believe something is so, doesn’t necessarily means that it is. And if capital returns are low, then insurance is a tough business to be in.

    On the other hand, a plan B is always worthwhile!

    Hey, the Temperance Movement scored a few wins down here. I recall a huge old building that had long been converted into a residential building. It was a large Art Deco style building and in the facade the render proclaimed that the building was a ‘Coffee Palace’. My understanding is that years ago such an establishment was provided as an alternative to the local pub. Interestingly, I had noted that the local pub was still in operation, whilst the Coffee Palace was now a series of residences. Not sure what that means but there is something in there.

    Someone told me years ago that the Temperance League used to visit schools way back in the day and get the kids to make all sorts of promises. Such activities have the sound of ‘purity rings’ about them, however in practice I don’t believe such ‘appeals to abstinence’ actually work out in practice. I mean the facts speak for themselves. Speaking of which, Lucanus has revealed himself as something of a magus. It is rare that any story has held me in its thrall like this one. 😉 Anyway, I would never have known that an area might possibly be declared a dry area, until I lived in such a place. It was fortunate that an enterprising soul had way back in the day constructed a large establishment on the border of the dry area…

    Mate, there is an inordinate amount of regulation in force, and I sort of feel that some of it has become complicated enough to trip people up who were otherwise not up to any mischief in the first place. Not everyone is onto the detail from what I’ve observed, and life can be quite a surprising series of unusual turns of event with that particular outlook on life. Nowadays I’ve also noticed that systems have become an ‘opt out’ process rather than an ‘opt in’ process. The difference maybe minor, but the consequences sure aren’t and only recently the editor has experienced an unusual side effect from one such ‘opt out’ system. It was outrageous.

    That’s quite a funny saying for a last call. Top work sending the inspector away and I respect your quick wits. A lot of live music venues are having a lot of trouble down here due to noise complaints from neighbours who have moved into an area. I mean far out, even the Sydney Opera House has alleged troubles with its neighbours over sound levels. What did they expect? My old world conservative values spring to the fore in such instances and I’d probably tell the neighbours that if they don’t like it, they should consider leaving the area. Anyway, relevance to your story: I have heard anecdotal accounts that up to three sound engineers have to monitor the sound levels at the venue just to enforce the regulations. Bonkers and unnecessary.

    Possibly so about the soft head, and that might explain a thing or two. I should write about the blue hat and the how and why of it all. Hmmm. The replacement hat looks as if I have more hat than cows! And I kind of like it. 😉

    Really, are you two in the same retirement program? Good for you two. You know you have to play the hand you get dealt, and sometimes it is not a bad hand at all. The sheep in the story was having a big whinge, but if he but cast his mind back several centuries, retirement was not even a thing. Exactly, good fortune is something to be respected.

    Ooo. It is uncanny those William Wegman dogs. Anthropomorphised! I wonder how the dogs feel about the sets? Ollie can barely sit still long enough to pose just so. 🙂 Dog breeding is a strange game, so who knows what is going on with that lot. Ollie was I reckon a bred dog that was rejected because he may not have had the right characteristics or markings.

    Thanks. Orwell was my inspiration for the basis of the story. Sometimes farm animals can say things that people can’t. Hehe! You’re possibly right though. I dunno about the inheritance thing and I’m unsure how much benefit people get in their lives from such an occurrence. I read somewhere or other some analysis on people who win the lotto – and apparently they invariably lose it. Part of the thought behind that situation was that people who have won big once tend to feel that it will happen again in the future. Dunno.

    The bright spot in the photo is the tall sulphur lights hovering over a large round about interchange. Years ago the round about used to be the end of the freeway and the cars fed onto a dual lane road from there. It’s all been bypassed now, but the lights, old road and round about remain.

    Ramps are actually pretty handy for wheelbarrows too. They can navigate stairs, but it is not easy. We have access to most spots in the garden by either stairs or ramps.

    I try not to encourage Ollie to jump up and dance, but he is of occasion full of the exuberance of youth. He’s big and over 80 pounds now. Rather than waltz, I feel being the sassy dog that he is, he may prefer Salsa.

    You know people have said that to me before about Photoshop. I wouldn’t honestly know even where to begin. I know you are mucking around and joking, but feel that such comments speak volumes when people say such comments and are earnest.

    Thanks. And yeah, I feel that firewood should be done early this year. Not sure why, but it is best not to ignore gut feelings.

    Hey, do you enjoy the taste of the Rosemary leaves? They’re very good with lamb or roast vegetables. Yum!

    Sorry to hear of the end of the blueberry season. However it has been good for you, and perhaps given some of the other denizens in your establishment something to grouse about. The question becomes, what will they whinge about next? 😉

    Today was superb down here, so no whingeing from me. Sunny, calm and 60’F. I had the fresh air blowing into the house during the middle of the day. There has been talk here of a spring clean! Such talk strikes fear into my heart, but the floors do need re-oiling.



  14. Hi, Chris!

    I enjoyed your whole story. I found it to be great comedy; you have a flair for humorous writing. And you still made your point.

    That terrace is enormous. You could build a motel there. Twenty-four roses (plus the ones you already have) – that is going to be so beautiful. And you can take cuttings from them and start even more.

    Egads! Ollie is almost as tall as you. And I didn’t know he weighed that much either.

    We are all ramps and no stairs. There is no neater property in two hemispheres than yours and the editor’s. My son is cleaning up the woods around us. I think he may be overdoing it a bit. He heads out there with his weed wacker, lawnmower (made out of 3 old lawnmowers – I call him Dr. Frankenstein), and leaf blower in Mr. Musty the Toyota pickup and when I go out in the woods to see, it is all bald – not counting trees. You must remember that the deer have eaten everything under 5 feet tall, so he is not killing off delicate native species. In fact, it is because of the invasive weeds – which deer don’t like! – that he is doing it.

    Kookaburras are one of may favorites. Thanks!

    You certainly have a lot of things growing already. I have to wait 8 months for asparagus. I have planted spinach, lettuce, radishes, and bok choy. The silver wattle is amazing. From a distance it reminds me of our native spicebush when it blooms in early spring. Same size and color, too.


  15. @ Inge:

    I hope that you get that land for your son.

    I am having so much trouble with humidity this summer. I can hardly breathe in it sometimes.


  16. Yo, Chris – Well, I must say, the insurance industry was one of the few businesses that took climate change, seriously, early on. So did the military, and, the intelligence community. Though the last two have been forbidden to use the term, in any of their reports. Depends on the administration. A retired Navy guy said that when they put through allocations to rebuild docks. they can’t say it’s because of sea level rise. They have to say (if they want the money) that the docks are old and need replacing. There’s also a couple of states (Florida? One of the Carolinas?) That forbid the use of the term. Silly.

    It has always been so. A “wet” county, next to a “dry” county, does a land office business. We’re seeing something similar, here. I think I’ve mentioned that our county has drug it’s feet on the mari-hochie business, while some of the cities within the county, and the next county over, are raking it in, tax wise. Our county that has been regularly dipping into their “prudent reserve” to make budget.

    Currier and Ives did a number of Temperance prints. Even from my point of view, I think they’re a hoot. I’ve got one. In the late 1900s, there was a woman named Cary Nation. Doesn’t look like a fun date. :-). She and her minions used to march into bars, singing hymns, and laying about with axes. I think the term “old battle ax” may have been inspired, by her.

    I’m up to chapter V (just to get all Roman on you) of “Saxon Shore.” Merlin is knee deep in the dreary business of governance. Well, someone’s got to do it.

    Opt out systems, disintermediation, “we’re only a platform.” It’s all part of an abandonment of responsibility.

    Our fire alarms were tripped, yesterday, by a minor (since it didn’t happen to me) flooding event. Who knew water could trip the fire alarms? And, no, I don’t know how that comes about. One of the flexible plastic hoses came loose, under a sink. We may see more of that. They’re all as old as the building. Happened in a library I worked in, once. Unlike the library, the apartment dweller was home, and damage was limited.

    Phantom smells are so … phantom. The villagers, here at the Institution, are often whipped into a froth (torches, pitchforks) over imagined smells. People move to the country to get a good view of the cows, and then complain about the smells from the paddock.

    I understand that Wegman’s dogs are quit eager to play. I think I’ve mentioned that HRH has quit the wardrobe. I think she’s a little miffed that she washed up here, instead of some New York catwalk.

    Interchange. What we call a cloverleaf. What I call a spagetti bowl. We have a few round-abouts, but mostly in residential neighborhoods. I think they’re kind of silly, and a pain, but that’s just probably because I have a bit of a time navigating them.

    Oh, yeah. Just pulling your leg. I’ve seen enough candid shots of Fern Glade Farm to know all is neat and tidy. Looking around my apartment, it’s just sheer envy, on my part :-).

    Next time I slaughter a lamb, or roast a vegetable, (both rare events in my kitchen) I’ll give rosemary a whirl. Can’t say it’s one of my favorite herbs. All those spiky little leaves.

    I see I have a third cob of corn, appearing. And, one of the first two is shooting out a bit of silk. I picked a good sized bowl of green beans, last night. While refreshing my memory on blanching, I ran across several articles that say blanching is not necessary. Well, one less thing to do. I pinched back quit a bit of my basil, this morning. While leaving a few flower spears for next years seed. Lew

  17. Chris,

    I feel your pain with the computers. Sometimes they are evil.

    Hahaha! A gangster trying to make it in Montana. He’d have to dress like a cowboy, acause trying to act “Montanan” in a pinstripe suit and wingtips would get him, ummm, pushed.

    There was only one strain of the gut. The other occasions were restraining. Sorta like Lew is retired, which means he had to be tired once before he could retire.

    Us little people really are getting hosed with the low and negative interest rates. Inge’s explanation of losing to inflation was spot on. I shudder at having inflation with zero or negative interest rates misadded on.

    The glaciers moved. There was one crevasse that was about a meter across the day we went up to base camp. Roped up, we had to run and dive over it, as the slope was steep, and reach out with the ice ax and dig it in. Nobody had a problem. That same crevasse was about 20cm wide on the way down. A year of movement overnight! And rocks that you’d use for your walls were routinely rolling down one slope, the same slope that the arrogant mountaineering club member got injured on. We had a father-son team on one rope and a boulder was rolling down the mountain heading for the center of the rope. Nothing anybody could do, and hitting the rope would’ve thrown the father-son team over a 300 meter cliff. The boulder hit a rock a half meter before the rope, and flew over the rope. Nobody had any business being on that glacier in those conditions.

    Yes, Lew and I are on the same system. However, Plan 1 is by far the best! I started with 2, which is very good, but moved to 3 when it first opened. (Only Plans 2 and 3 are currently offered.) Although not as good as 2, there was a reason to move to 3. I got a 111% match of my contributions and earnings in 2 placed into a 401k style plan. I also get half of the traditional pension that Plan 2 would have. Why move? A large area of the County had voted to incorporate, and it looked as if we might lay off a lot of our staff. So, with the 111% match, taxes and penalties for early withdrawal, I would’ve had enough to pay off the house and have a little left over.


  18. Hi Pam,

    Thanks, and it is quite the challenge to write about something as bleak as a critique of modern monetary theory whilst chucking some humour into the mix. Thus the need for talking farm animals. 🙂 The characters were a rather mixed bunch full of foibles!

    Yeah, the terrace is big alright. Last week, the editor jokingly suggested going up another level. Except I’m not sure that it was a joke. 🙂 There’ll probably be another enclosure and terrace where all the firewood now sits.

    Have you taken rose cuttings before and started new plants? Any tips for the newbie over here?

    Ollie is a true force of nature. Since owning him, I’ve discovered that some people are fearful of large dogs. I can understand their point of view, but I also read an account of someone being mauled to death by a pack of Dachshunds. Haven’t mentioned that one to Toothy as he might get some ideas…

    Hehe! Thanks, and yeah we do neat. With the fire risk it is a bit bonkers to do otherwise. It is a strategy that your son is up to, and I’ll be curious to hear how it turns out. I’ve noticed that the deer when wild tend to stick to the shelter of the forest. Deer and wallabies (and goats for that matter) sort fulfil the role of keeping the understories of forests a bit more open than the plants would like them to be. I reckon there is a balancing act in there and I’m of the mindset that doing something is better than doing nothing. We’ve had a long and painful history of extreme bushfires, so clearly doing nothing is a dead end idea – although everyone seems really comfortable with it. I mean how many times does it have to be proven as a bad idea before it is recognised as such?

    They’re great birds aren’t they? And the call is so distinctive.

    Asparagus – ah, the temptation to harvest. Yum! We leave them for two full seasons before slowly harvesting. Those are all good plants and hopefully you don’t get an early or harsh winter? It’s uncanny (from a distance) the similarity. The Silver Wattles can get a bit weedy.



  19. Hi Lewis,

    The authorities have released the bushfire outlook for the coming summer: Bushfire outlook for 2019-20 not good news, but will we heed the warnings? In reality, much depends, but some parts of the country are in a very serious drought. The summer weather looks set to be hotter and drier too, due to a factor known as the Indian Ocean dipole (i.e. measurements and comparisons of sea surface temperatures between the west of the continent and the far west of the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, a lot of my summer rain arrives from that direction. Oh well.

    It is a bit strange discussing bushfires though when the temperature outside is in the low single digits and the rain is belting down. It is quite heavy out there… But then things just did get weirder on a weather front: Sudden stratospheric warming: what it means for Australia. The air above Antarctica has apparently warmed of late.

    Not mentioning climate change does not remove the possibility. However, I do note that the very act of not mentioning, dare I say it? Climate Change, does tend to ‘imply’ that some corners of our community tend to feel that there may be some choice in the matter. I’d heard that it was Florida too that apparently took that particular stance. It is a policy option, I guess.

    For the record, I’d like to point out that ‘budget’ implies an aspirational goal rather than what is achieved. If prudent reserves are exhausted, does that mean that there is no prudence in the community? Curious minds want to know the answer to that one. But yeah, I’d pick the increased tax revenue option. For the record I don’t smoke, but I can well understand that people who do would be able to purchase legit product and not have to deal with dealers. Of course, the dealers may lose a revenue stream…

    Carrie Nation looks like a formidable lady who trucks no nonsense. I wonder what dark secrets or obsessions led her to such a path?

    For once, I’d like to point out for the record – and this is the only time that it will occur – is that I am ahead of you in reading the book. 🙂 One must celebrate the small wins from time to time.

    The opt out systems really annoy me because sometimes I am unaware that there is even a system that I could opt of. That was the case this week. It was an outrageous breach of privacy too. And they blamed us by saying you agreed to the conditions – like we had a choice in the matter.

    Bad plumbing can do a lot of damage to a building. Mr Kunstler had an eye sore of the month a while back where a building had some sort of crazy waterfall arrangement on one external face of the building. I kept wondering what sort of pumps would be required to lift the water back up again, and what happens in high winds when the water blows away. But those were the least of the problems. I’ll bet the Roman Empire failed due to bad plumbing.

    Oh! I hadn’t realised that about Wegman’s dogs, but yeah some dogs are like that. HRH is one pampered pooch.

    Interestingly, you reminded me of a story when you mentioned the imagined smells. Those can be quite the catching obsession too – and they might not even exist. Your embassy over in Cuba recently had such a strange herd reaction.

    Round abouts are used all the time down here – they have the benefit of being cheap, and also slowing the flow of traffic. They do work though, I’ll give em that.

    I inadvertently read that you were slaughtering vegetables. Watch out for the grumpy pro-veg brigade. They might come and get you! Hehe! Easy for me to say as a mostly vegetarian.

    Good stuff with the corn. Your growing season ain’t done yet, not by a long way, although it will slow down next month.



  20. Chris, ‘sprinter’ – love it! We are definitely experiencing sprinter here right now. Sunny spring weather one day, winter rain and sleet the next.
    @margfh – I really enjoyed Mark Boyle’s latest book. In fact, I have enjoyed them all. He is one to take ideas to extremes, isn’t he? First deciding to live without money, and now to live without technology? I say, good for him. We need all the experiments in alternative living that we can get.

  21. Hello Chris and others
    I probably won’t get that land. It is definitely going to auction and I won’t deal with that auctioneer. I have asked to be informed if it fails to sell. We put in a particularly good offer and Son reckons that they should have bit off his hand; not a phrase that I have heard before. Should the opportunity for a further offer arise, it would be less. I do feel sorry for the seller as he is dealing with having power of attorney and I did put him in a spot.


  22. Yo, Chris – I forgot to mention, it was National Dod Day, a couple of days, ago. All the archaeological news sites were full of doggies. Sculpture, tomb stones, mosaics, and doggie prints on roof tiles. I can imagine a clay worker saying, “Oh, well. No one will notice it, way up there.” 🙂 See? Ollie is genetically predisposed to “make his mark.”

    The brush fire article sounds fairly ominous. Ditto the article on stratospheric warming. Look to our arctic, for a preview of your future. Polar outbreaks, etc.. For some reason (tilt of the earth?) our arctic is warming a lot faster than the antarctic. But sometimes, I feel that given all the weather weirdness, one might as well read tea leaves. Grim future, but no details.
    Did you have the fortune telling 8 balls, down there? They were outsized plastic 8 balls (like from pool) and you’d ask it a question, turn it over, and an answer (usually fairly obscure) would float out of the murky ether, to be displayed on the bottom.

    I’m pretty much in the “legalize it” camp, and rack in the revenue. As, I really don’t think the stuff is any worse than booze. But, I fret a bit about the recovery community. People tend to switch around. Name your poison? Before they get to the place where they realize they can’t flirt with anything that lights up those reward centers in the brain. Not and lead a life with any semblance of order. LOL, revenue on gambling, smokes, booze … are sometimes referred to as “sin” taxes. 🙂 And what was that movie, years ago, about Washington D.C. lobbyists? The lobbyists for alcohol, drugs and firearms formed a merry band who called themselves “The Merchants of Death.” It was a comedy, I think.

    Well, you are ahead of me, in reading. Of course, my only defense is, I’m also deep into “England, Their England.” And, a few other things. I’ll have to rectify the matter.

    Who in the heck can slog through (and, understand … without a lawyer) all that fine print? As well they know.

    Oh, the Romans had great plumbing. But, after a certain point, it was the maintenance that got them.

    Was 90F (32.22C), yesterday. Supposed to be hotter, today. But then, Thursday, on shore winds fire up again, and it will get cooler. There’s even a “slight chance of showers.”

    I stopped by the veg store, yesterday. Hoping to catch the tail end of the blueberry harvest. Nothing left but of eye watering, costly organic. There “might” be a last shipment, this morning, from the lower priced farm. If not, it’s over. Still a gallon or so to harvest from the Institutions, bushes.

    I picked up a bit of blood and bone meal, yesterday. Hit the corn with a bit, and see if I can kick a few more cobs out of the patch. Alaska pea seeds, might arrive, today. Lew

  23. Hi DJ,

    Computers can be a pain in the… 🙂 On the other hand, my trusty old laptop has now reached about a decade old and it is used for work and I noticed of late that it was slow. Chucked in a new solid state hard drive and doubled the memory (second hand) and for about $100 it runs as fast as a new one again.

    The thing is, I’ve noticed with computers that way back in the day when I was a kid, they used to be dumb terminals with distant servers. Then along came PC’s which became increasingly gruntier. And now we’re back to using very powerful PC’s with distant servers for applications. To me that looks like climbing the peak, reaching the peak and descending over the other side. A lot of the server applications are quite slow nowadays, especially when compared to how the applications used to run on a PC. Oh well.

    Montana sounds like quite the raw experience! 🙂

    That’s clever! Hehe! We could go on like that four hours… Sorry for the groaner. On a serious note, I assume that you had to be quite regimented in the foods you ate when you retrained your gut?

    We’re certainly heading into strange territory with negative interest rates. I’m still uncertain what to make of it, but my gut feeling tells me that it is a situation that is indicative of the fact that it is hard to make a buck.

    Sometimes danger and risk are not obvious up front, or we try to minimise the potential of it in our heads. I’m not sure I’d want to walk or climb on a glacier in those conditions either. It would be no small thing to extricate oneself from a crevasse. And the ice could shift on a person so stuck.

    Playing the system is always an option, and retiring with debt is probably a very bad idea – although interestingly I’m reading more articles about just that situation. It defies belief, but I dunno, when people get into trouble they inevitably head off on holidays. Not sure why that may be, but I’ve seen it happen enough.

    Tonight should provide a whopper frost. Brrr!



  24. Hi Jo,

    Oh yeah! Brr is the word that you heard! Looks like tomorrow morning will produce an epic frost. Melbourne’s low is forecast to reach 3’C, so it will be colder here.

    Hey, FYI both tea camellia’s survived the snow and appear to be doing OK (although we’ll see how the frost goes). I believe their original source was Daley’s nursery up in the north coast of NSW.



  25. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to hear about the land opportunity. I assume you have your reasons which I won’t delve into.

    How interesting has your Parliament become of late? It is not a bad strategy, and if faced with such a dysfunctional system I would probably have chosen a similar path.

    From my perspective, if the possibility was undesirable, why put it to a referendum in the first place? And once the population has chosen a path, move on and get on with the job at hand. I possibly have unpopular views, but one has to be pragmatic.



  26. Hi Lewis,

    I had no idea that only a few days ago it was International Dog Day. No wonder the fluffies were pestering me for extra snacks that day. 🙂 Like most mysteries, it all makes sense from hindsight. Actually, I kicked them out into their enclosure that day because I went into the big smoke on a hunter gathering run and also to swap the blue hat.

    I particularly liked the idea of dog imprints on the roof tiles. Down in the island state of Tasmania, I’ve seen old bricks made by the convicts where they’d stamped the convict logo (or a thumb print) into the brick. It is a bit eerie to wonder whether the convicts (or your Ancient tile makers) wondered whether their work would be admired and commented upon at some future date? Ollie most likely knew what he was doing with the footprints in the damp cement. He uses the concrete stairs all the time, as does the wildlife. And they leave their calling cards on the stairs too as a form of thanks for the easy access to the edible plants, I guess. One of the geranium varieties is getting hammered by the wildlife. I suspect the trunk of the geranium has some sort of gel in it which the birds and animals enjoy consuming. Dunno.

    It’s not good. Add in more energy into a dynamic system like the atmosphere and I guess we’ll see what happens. It is not good. And one article was suggesting hot and dry weather and the other was suggesting cold and wet weather. The mention of 2010 worried me because that particular year I saw 55 inches of rain here. There was water everywhere… Incidentally, I’m just guessing that things are a bit slower to heat up in the Antarctic due to the sheer thermal inertial due to the dense mass of frozen continent. The Arctic on the other hand is all water and ice, and water can move quite rapidly and the sea surface can heat far more rapidly than the land in Antarctica. Dunno. What do you reckon about that guess?

    Never seen one of those fortune telling balls, however I recall back in the day an amusing decision making machine. You’d press a button and an LED would light up indicating one of among several amusing and frankly dubious decisions to make. Yup, it was a Tandy Electronics / Radio Shack thing.

    I’m in the legalise it camp too, however I do, from time to time wonder whether the current state of affairs is a Devil’s bargain so as to reduce the incidence of violent organised crime?

    Thanks for acknowledging my small victory. However, I note that the battle is long and there will be sacrifices, and I have no doubts at all that within a few days (or maybe just a single 24 hour period) you will have the upper hand! 🙂 I read a bit more of the story today, and was fascinated at the mention of a leper’s colony and Lucanus’s good deed.

    This is true about the fine legal print. However, this is the first time that it has been flung at me and used as a screen to hide behind. The legal print is not there for our enduring good health and I had no choice to not agree to the terms and conditions.

    Mate, I see that here, and this week have had to fix a leaking toilet seal (the cistern had dropped slightly on the wall) and also a blocked hand basin drain pipe. One of those old school plungers did a fine job of unblocking the block in the drain pipe, but it was the plumbing arrangement in the first place that facilitated the blockage because it slowed the movement of the water through the oddly arranged pipes. It is very unusual to have a blocked drain pipe here because the worm farm sits below the house and the entire drainage system operates using gravity.

    Oh! With the news report of drier weather, I topped up some of the remaining and yet to be filled water tanks so that they’ll be full and ready for summer. Plus I’ve been putting a huge amount of brain cells lately towards working out how to water the crops on all of the five terraces…

    The cool change will be felt for you as a nice relief from the heat. No wonder your corn is growing strongly now. The plant requires the heat from what I’ve observed here (but also it enjoys a drink of water being a huge grass). Speaking of weather a deep frost looks set to land on the farm tomorrow morning. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the tea camellia’s and fruit tree blossoms survive the freezing and thawing process. Once the sun is up, it looks like it will be a nice day at 61’F and sunny and calm. Might dig tomorrow, but we’ll see how it goes.

    Yup, organic ain’t cheap, that’s for sure. Hope you score your final gallon of blueberries. And are plans for blueberry crisps still on the horizon?

    Great stuff. I throw that stuff on the soil in the corn enclosure too. Yup, blood and bone is awesome for the plants. Did you get your Alaska peas in the mail? You might be onto something with getting in a late crop? Have you tried doing that before? Some greens would probably do quite well in that arrangement like green mustard. Yum!



  27. Chris & DJ – Montana. Where men are men … and sheep are afraid :-). Lew

    (Don’t know how “family friendly” that is. Thought I’d set it off by itself, for possible deletion. Lew )

  28. Yo, Chris – Arctic, antarctica … your theory sounds as good as any other. I reckon, it’s complicated … :-).

    I’m up to chapter IX. :-). I’ve found it interesting that the author gives the physician, the given name of “Luke.” Also the name of St. Luke (of that well known rock band, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John), who was also a physician. Merlin has two narrow escapes :-).

    Old school plungers (here, called plumber’s helpers) are the best. I’ve got one for the drains. Unfortunately, the bog is some weird configuration that requires a different kind of plunger (New! Improved!). Luckily, there’s one on offer in the community rest room, so I don’t have to go out and buy one, myself. “Modern” plumbing seems to be moving in a direction of evermore complicated configurations, meant to baffle and cost the consumer.

    It got to 94F, here, yesterday. I’ve noticed that I can generally keep my apartment pretty cool, as long as I don’t fire up the oven, until about 5 or 6 in the afternoon. That seems to be the time when outside temperatures overcome the buildings thermal mass. But, by then, I can start pumping in the slightly cooler air from outside. Our apartments don’t have very good air circulation, and it takes a bit of effort (and expense) to keep it moving around.

    Odds and ends: I watched “All Is True”, the other night. Quit a good picture, and I really enjoyed it. LOL, the only drawback was from inside my head. We know so little about Shakespeare’s life, that I thought it ought to be called “All Is Speculation” or “All Is Fiction.” :-). I kept reminding myself to turn off the critical part of my brain, and just enjoy the movie. I also kept thinking “happy families”, “unhappy families”, Tolstoy, etc..

    Well, I am gob smacked. The Queen suspended Parliament for a month? Maybe I’ve been watching too much BBC (“Victoria”, “The Crown.”) but I didn’t think she could do much more than “advise and warn.” Must be some arcane escape clause in their somewhere. I think (having a unique insight into the Royal mind … ha!) that, perhaps, she was just tired of all the rancor. Like a good Mum, just decided to give everyone a “time out” to draw a good long breath. She’s to give a speech, when they meet again. That ought to be interesting.

    Tis the season :-). I saw pumpkin Halloween Oreo biscuits, at the store the other day. Tried them, last year. Taste like ca-ca. But can other pumpkin delights, be far behind?

    There’s quit a hoop-la, going on in our county, right now. Through some quirk in the county zoning laws, a water bottling company has plans for a plant on our Cowlitz River, up in the east county, that will suck 400 gallons of water, every minute. I guess the session was quit lively. There was the usual Progress and Jobs, contingent. And, a lot of crusty old farmers and loggers with their “I Don’t Drink Bottled Water”, buttons and signs. The county commission has called a moitorium on the plan going forward, to “study” the situation.

    It did rain, last night. Don’t have to water the garden, though I’ll keep an eye on the Jerusalem artichoke. It lets me know if the rain wasn’t enough. I’m on my way to the Veg store. I stopped by yesterday, but there were no local blueberries. But, I heard straight from the horse’s mouth (Jeremy) that there will be one more shipment, either last night or this morning, of the east county, non organic blueberries.

    While I was there, I saw a bin out front full of water melons. Probably, a foot across. The sign said $1. I went back inside, to enquire if that was $1 a pound, or each. It was each. Now, I generally don’t crave water melons. But thought I’d pass along the news to The Ladies. So, I headed back to my truck, and then thought, “That’s awful cheap social capital.” So back I went and bought one, and threw it to the ravening hoards. Much to our surprise, it was seedless, and had yellow flesh, instead of the traditional pink. I did sample it. Just slightly past prime, but very sweet and tasty. You know, you can pickle the rinds. Lew

  29. Hello again
    As I may have mentioned before, we should have left the EU immediately after the referendum and dealt with the problems as they arose; by now we would have been thriving. Instead we have messed around for 3 years. All quite shocking and knocks out any belief that we are a democracy.


  30. @ Damo,

    Good one! I’ve got several I can add along that line, but, well, they push the limit far beyond where you went. I’ll leave it at “the sheep quit being nervous now that the boss got married.”


  31. Chris,

    The computer thing is interesting. You did it the right way: add a new hard drive and more memory and it’s just as good as a new one.

    When the County Information Technology group began threatening to put all our data and software on the Cloud, I said much the same thing you did. Terminal and mainframe that was slow, then fast PCs, to slower PCs on a locally housed network, to a glorified terminal on a remote “mainframe” Cloud thingy that is now slow. And the data isn’t even local any longer. I snarked, “What could possibly go wrong?” Well, a LOT goes wrong daily.

    It reminds me of shopping. The western USA was built, furnished, etc. via the old Sears catalogue mail order. Then came chain stores and malls and a few catalogues. Then the internet and Amazon and now the stores are disappearing and many items are available only via mail order, er Amazon or other internet purveyor. Yup, the technology has taken us back to where we were 100 years ago.

    I mostly made sure I ate plenty of the right things and lessened the amount of grains, even gluten free grains, in my diet. So, squads of legumes were joined by platoons of fruit and companies of vegetables. Yes, my diet was well regimented.

    Yeah, the negative interest rates are concerning. Nothing good can come of them.

    There’s a certain technique for climbing out of a crevasse. We had to practice it in teams before the climb. Thing is, they’re predicated on at least one member of a roped-together group remaining OUT of the crevasse and being able to brace those attempting to climb out. Yeah, right…

    We paid off the house 14 years ago. Took less than 10 years. That was the final debt we had. It’s a lot easier to sleep debt free, and it gives us a lot more flexibility. Meanwhile, a coworker lost a house because they kept on buying too much stuff: a bigger house than they needed, built a giant garage to house the RV that they used 2 times a year, new cars, a boat, motorcycles and 4 wheelers for the kids. Both parents had to buy an expensive coffee every day and also went out to lunch every day. That’s “normal”. And more and more financial planners, for 2 decades now, say to never pay off the house. What could possibly go wrong?

    You’re getting frost, we’re doing the slow transition from summer to autumn, although we keep getting the odd day in the 90s like Lew is.

    Montana has 3 seasons: mud, snow and dust.


  32. Hi Inge,

    I wonder why the option that you mentioned was never attempted? I have noted in the past that wasted time is also lost time, as you I agree that opportunities have also been missed. And I was wondering why a staged retreat from the EU was also not attempted? It needn’t be an all or nothing thing.

    I tend to feel that shutting down your Parliament was probably a good idea. Toddlers throwing tantrum’s can often benefit from a bit of time out. Far out, now that I mention it, if I’m feeling a bit out of sorts I tend to recuperate after a bit of quiet time too. Focuses the mind.

    Today was a glorious winters day! Dead calm, sunny and 64’F. We dug and moved soil on the lower terrace, after a late start due to the mild overnight frost.

    Haven’t heard about Ren’s exploits for a while. Has he accepted his lesser role in the pecking order? And has your son managed to curb the activities of his dogs? Toothy and Ollie were chasing rabbits today, and I note that the rabbits are living on the neighbours property because I observed the rabbits there with the dogs on their tails.



  33. Hi DJ,

    Thanks mate. It seems to work, and the new memory was purchased second hand as I believe that the business recovers it from another disposed of laptop. I was entirely unaware that such things went on. Damo actually suggested the idea originally, and one of the benefits we all get out of this medium with the blog is the sharing of ideas.

    I wish it weren’t so, but the trajectory of software is a sad story. There is also the little, but not insubstantial story of intermediation. Cloud services are provided by only a small number of already very wealthy organisations. I feel that it may be a story that won’t end well. I’ve already had such cloud services fail, and that was that for the particular day. Interestingly, it is rather difficult to port some data off the cloud once it is on the beast. At least on a PC or a local network you own and control the data. I could take businesses back to paper if ever it was required.

    Yeah, that big online store has apparently had a lot of troubles down under due to the lack of immediate delivery, or even next day delivery. I read an anecdotal report that the employees are on such tight deadlines and the warehouse picking system is so random that they are unable to go to the toilet and also achieve their key performance indicators. The allegedly cult like management of that particular business may benefit from watching the onion soup restaurant scene in Fight Club and maybe cut their employees some slack and allow them to go to the toilet. It all comes back to Fight Club in the end…

    Thanks for recounting the gut retraining episode. Yeah, I’m not saying that the diet sounds a lot like what I normally eat (with some fun stuff chucked in there too – like the pub last night), but it sure sounds that way. Legumes get a bad rap, but I quite like them. French lentils are a favourite. What sort of legumes did/do you enjoy?

    Tell me it is not so! Do entire teams get dragged into crevasses? What a nightmare.

    Mate, I have no idea what to make of those sorts of stories either. Like you, I am an old school conservative and treat debt like how it was thought of when I was a kid, which was akin to inviting the Devil into your house so that he could run amok and chow down on the delightful smelling barbecue. And who wants that? Incidentally, the story that gets spruiked about not paying down debt is that it is apparently a ‘passive decision’ whereas getting into deeper waters is an ‘active decision’. I’m not entirely convinced with that particular story, but people, I have observed, want a story that speaks of easy gains with no effort. I dug and moved soil for most of that day, so I can’t readily suggest that I’m a believer.

    Soon, you’ll be passing the weather baton over to us and you will enjoy frosts and snow and driving winter rain. 🙂 Happy days! It was 64’F here today and just stunning. The perfect late winters day.

    Mud, snow and dust! Hehe! Thanks for the gentle correction of my erroneous thoughts.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    There was a theory that was espoused somewhere or other, that some systems are so inherently complicated that our brains are: dare I say, not worthy enough, to understand how the system actually works. I sort of feel the climate is a bit like that, and our brains can only ever comprehend a chunk here or there, but you know, as you say, it’s complicated. Us humans tend to want to break complex systems into their components so that we can better understand them. That is one tool in our species toolbox, but I reckon with really inordinately complicated systems such as climate, we just have to step back from the detail and observe and then hope for the best. Of course that also introduces the little and not inconsequential problem that we’d best not muck around with systems that we don’t or can’t understand. Unfortunately, that conservatism is an unpopular belief. I only twigged to the Antarctic land mass idea because the soils here are slow to warm, and then slow to cool, and I have been frustrated over the past few years by not being able to direct sow some seeds such as capsicum, eggplant and chili’s which require much warmer and moister soil in order to germinate. It is a funny conundrum that at times the air temperature can reach over 110’F here during summer, and yet the soil does not get hot enough to germinate those plants.

    Saint Luke was apparently a mysterious and yet fascinating individual. It is hardly a wonder I’m enjoying the books so much, because the erudition and sheer understanding of the human condition of the author shines through on every page. But yes, your point is well taken, and the crew is only just about to send Lucanus and his wagon of goodies off to the leper colony, so I tend to feel that you have made up for any slow poke behaviour on yours or my part. 🙂 Merlyn is a master of the narrow escape – and even the character himself acknowledged the eerie nature of that.

    We dug and moved soil for most of the day. The frost this morning wasn’t as bad as forecast, however we got off to a late start because plans had been made. The sun in the mid afternoon felt quite hot actually, despite the air temperature being cool. There is still about another two days worth of digging soil on the lower terrace, but light can be seen at the end of the project tunnel.

    The old school plunger just sorted out the blockage, although it took a while and some elbow grease. The unidentified chunks of black/dark green organic matter that accompanied the workings of the plunger were rather unexpected! Spare a thought for the large sky scrapers. I know a thing or two about water pumps, and the sheer energy required to get water at pressure to the top of one of those buildings is something that is not lost on me. If ever the power went out, those buildings would be abandoned quick smart. I recall seeing one of those buildings in a zombie film and the characters had placed every tub and container they had access to on the roof so as to catch rainwater.

    Yeah, getting around not having air-conditioning (or minimising its usage) means that you have to actively manage the flow of heat energy into and out of a building. I have to do that here too, and fortunately the night time air is cooler than the daytime temperatures. Don’t feel too bad, not many apartment buildings are good at allowing in fresh air. I’ve often wondered whether it is an attempt to stop people throwing things out of the windows (or themselves)?

    Really? I had no idea. Surely somebody at the time wrote a biography on the Bard? Perhaps not… As a suggestion, perhaps at the time, Shakespeare’s fame was so great that his life was common knowledge? Tolstoy was so astute to have begun the book with such a notable observation – and it’s true.

    Ha! Well, the same personage sacked our elected Parliament down here back in 1975 possibly due to the parliament acting like a bunch of toddlers (you may note the similarities to today’s crisis but over in the UK). Oh yeah, the Windsor’s wield power, and they’re the head of our government. Tired of the rancour is a great way of putting it. For the record, I’d be less tolerant. Yes, I’m looking forward to the speech too. I’d probably be quite blunt and state that a referendum has been decided upon, so get your backs into it – it is not a decision for the Parliament – the decision was already made.

    Dare I mention, pumpkin ice cream? 🙂 We’re still consuming last season’s pumpkins, and we may even grow the smaller squashes again next season too because the skins are so thick that they just keep and keep.

    Can the hoop-la in your county match this: Video of man fishing while dangling from drone under investigation by CASA? That was in a lake that was not far from here (a little bit to the north of the mountain range). Some people have all the fun!

    Oh my! 400 gallons per minute is an extraordinary amount of water, and the question that comes to my mind is: What happens in a drought and how would the water be allocated between existing users and the water bottling plant? Far out, and not good.

    Your blueberry season is rapidly drawing to a close, but then that is what the stuff in the freezer is for! 😉 Hope you score some of the additional blueberries from the far east of the county. They’re local and so haven’t travelled far whatever else people may say about them. I’m no purist on that front, and local often trumps organic produce brought in from far and distant places. I tend to eat with regards to the season nowadays and a person wouldn’t ordinarily be expected to have a clue about such matters unless they get dirt under their fingernails.

    Nice work with the watermelon. And yes, the yellow variety are very good indeed. We’ve grown a sweet Siberian variety in the past, and I highly recommend it.



  35. Yo, Chris – Well, interesting weather, here. Several of The Ladies commented that thunder had woke them up, night before last. I slept right through it. Then, yesterday, the temperature never went over 70F (21.11C). Thunder rumbled, all afternoon. There was lightening, but being daylight, not very spectacular. Then, the “possible scattered showers” forecast was blown out of the water. We had a monsoon. No wind, to speak of, but the water poured down, for a good hour. I happened to be down at the Club. Now, that building has a roof of 8 acres (32,375 sq. meters). The gutters and downspouts were overwhelmed. Water poured off the roof like Niagara Falls. The downspouts shot water, half way across the parking lot. According to the National Weather Service, we got a total of 0.24 in 72 hours. Most of it yesterday afternoon. My maths are weak, but I think that’s 2 1/2 inches. The weekend is supposed to be cool, with more of that “possible scattered showers”. We’ll see.

    Hmmm. I wonder if your soil temperatures run a bit cool, as you have that tidy blankie of mulch? Water retention or warmer soils? You can’t have everything. :-).

    I read up to Part 2 of “Saxon Shore.” Eire is within sight. I got curious about Glevum. Wikipedia has a short, interesting entry. Besides Merlin’s talents, soldiers, in general (at least the one’s that last awhile) develop a kind of 6th sense. That creeping feeling that “something isn’t right.” I think we’ve seen that, in play, several times in these books.

    Skyscrapers work just fine … in times of energy abundance. Sealing them up is more about overall, interior climate control, I think. And, it pretty much takes it out of the hands of the tenants. Which may be a good idea. More squabbling goes on here, over which common area a/c units or heaters should be on, or off, and when. Same with windows, open or closed. Everybody has a pet theory. Windows are left open, and whoever opened them, forgets to close them. Which besides climate control, does present some possible security problems, especially on the ground floor. Our current night manager hits the sack around 7:30pm. A lot of mischief can be done, after that time. Eleanor, Michael and me (being night owls) are always running our own checks, on open windows and locks.

    I saw a movie, a couple of years ago. Might have been from a book by Ballard. “The Tower?” Takes place slightly in the future. Huge residential blocks are built in the London dock lands. Status is very dependent on what floor you live on. The infrastructure begins to break down and the tenants go feral.

    Nope. No one wrote a biography of Shakespeare, until long after his time. Putting together bits and pieces of wills, court records and church records. That we know of. After his time, London burned to the ground, several times. Odd bits and pieces keep turning up. But nothing of much import. Of course, the scant information lends itself to all kinds of bizarre theories.

    Yup. Won’t be long now, before there is pumpkin flavored “stuff”, everywhere. I keep reminding myself that most of it is pretty bland, or just downright awful. Like the pumpkin Oreos. There are some biscuits that are filled with maple cream, and shaped like maple leaves. Small companies and odd brands. Don’t show up, often. So, when I saw some maple cream Oreos, I gave them a whirl. Rather bland and not as good. I saw some (believe it or not) carrot cake Oreos. I was tempted, but given the track record, so far, I’d guess they’ll disappoint.

    That drone story, was just crazy. And this year’s Darwin Award goes to… 🙂

    Agriculture, industry. At least in this State, water rights, in time of drought are allocated depending on length of time. Those with the newest, water rights are likely to be cut off.

    Well, I bought 10 pounds of blueberries, yesterday. That’s considered a “flat.” Most of them are already in the freezer. I get about 2 1/2 gallons, out of a flat. I went back and bought another flat, this morning. I think that will bring me to 18 gallons, in the freezer. My goal. They were $32 a flat. But, if I consider this year overall. There was the $40 in government coupons, the flats I found for $25. And, the free berries I harvest from around the Institution. Overall, probably not too expensive. I’ve got to get better organized, next year. I should have bought more of the $25 flats. I heard this morning that over in the Boisfort Valley, they’re growing a lot of blueberries. I’ll have to keep that in mind, for next year.

    LOL. I had an adventure with salmon, last night. Someone had given me a couple of salmon fillets, last year. I thawed them out. They were quit large, and I decided to have one, last night, and the other, tonight. Well, I discovered that they were attached with a bit of skin. So, first I go at them with a serrated knife. No dice. Then I tried a safety razor. Better, but a final ligament defeated me. For the last bit, I resorted to a pair of scissors. Of course, everything is slick and smelly, and I’m trying not to cut off a finger.

    I put it on a plate on a bed of rice. Lemon juice and two large sprigs of fresh rosemary. Covered in plastic, poked a few holes in it, and nuked it. A bit bland, as I had forgot a bit of salt and pepper. Although the rosemary was aromatic, I can’t say it added much to the flavor. Tonight, I’ll remember what I forgot, and try fresh basil from the garden, instead of the rosemary. Lew

  36. Hello again
    The majority of our MPs want to remain in the EU and that includes a majority of the conservatives, hence they have covertly fought to remain in which is the reason that so little if anything got done. Also, the EU don’t want us to leave. Those of us who voted to leave in the referendum are constantly being told that we didn’t understand what we were voting for. It is all quite sickening.

    Son’s dogs are all being kept very firmly under control, so I have not heard of any exciting adventures or confrontations.

  37. Hi Chris,
    It’s quite cool here for this time of year though it’s beautiful weather. The tomatoes got off to a slow start with the cool and rainy spring and now it’s fairly cool so they’re slow to ripen. However, garden plants overall are doing well. I canned some pickle relish and dill pickles and have two gallons of elderberries in the freezer for elderberry syrup and/or wine.


  38. Hi Chris,

    I hope the SSD and ram upgrade went well – it doesn’t surprise me that your system restore failed at first (did that end up working for you?). I always recommend doing a clean install of windows anyway – otherwise you are just importing all the old gremlins and cruft from your old system onto the shiny new one. Best to reinstall from scratch and have a clean slate, the difference can be night and day. This plan can fall apart if your backups are not current, missing install files etc.

    The longitude story is great, John Harrison built four chronometers for the prize, over the course of nearly 40 years. He was an uneducated carpenter who built the worlds most accurate timepieces (many of them using ingeniously cut oak for friction free gears).

    I don’t know when another story of mine might see the light of day, there are maybe three in various states of completion. But yeah, allocating time for a mentally intensive task is tricky.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Gore Vidals Empire (the first few chapters were tough sorting out character names though). As a rule, I try to ignore author “intent” and character when enjoying a novel or film. This is not always possible, but I feel these things need to stand on their own merits. If I limited myself to books written by people that I would like, or agree with, I would live a poorer life. Apparently this is a topic of hot debate in literary circles, and revisionism is rife.

    Inge’s comments on negative interest rates is spot on, but us rational members of the fluffy collective know better of course, and never succumb to emotion or flights of fancy! Perhaps entropy applies to finance as well, time wears away at all things, especially a large, static pile of assets. Best to go for cashflow maybe? Guns and ammo? Ticket to mars? Cugel the Clever would not stress too much on the future, best to enjoy what you can find now.

    Father is here this weekend, it is time to wake him up from the afternoon nap!


  39. Lew and others,

    I watched Captive State last night. Alien invasion movie with John Goodman. Premise is what happens 10 years after a successful alien invasion? Collaborators, resistance cells, that sort of thing. Nice spy/thriller type movie with sci-fi theme. Aliens were different as well. Thumbs up!


  40. Hi Inge,

    Another superb early spring day today here. Except, your son’s canine collection has been cur-tailed (please excuse the word play!) and so Ollie the obstreperous decided that today he would begin chasing cars. The editor informs me that at one point today a car pulled into the top of the driveway for some unknown reason, and Ollie decided to run rings around the car. Of course the occupants were perhaps afraid to alight from the vehicle given his enthusiastic response. There were one or two other vehicles that he also took off after. This is new behaviour for him. Ollie was then restrained for the remainder of the day, much like your son’s canine collective. We are now training him to come and sit when so instructed. It will take a bit of time, but mostly because he thinks his own thoughts.

    I too would have voted to leave the EU. When you stop and consider the history of the continent, 10% of last century was spent in some pretty horrific warfare. And that’s just last century. Old habits die hard, and given the history, how long can the peace prevail is an awkward question that probably should get more air time than it does. But largely, when I looked at how the results of the referendum played out on a geographical basis, it stood out to me that some parts of your country benefited from being in the EU, and other parts were gutted. That sort of suggests that as a policy, the EU benefits some and not others and if the benefits and costs aren’t equally shared then it’s a bad policy choice.



  41. Hi Margaret,

    Today was a superb early spring day down here! Sunny and warm at 61’F, with the threat of some rain tomorrow. It is really nice, and yesterday I spotted the first honey bees out and about foraging on the rosemary flowers. Over winter I lost one of the hives, but that was mostly my fault. It is a sad tale of ineptitude because the last time I inspected the hive (and it is a custom hive box) I took the lid off and had not noticed that three frames were stuck to the underside of the lid. You guessed it, I probably lost the Queen in that stuff up and the colony dwindled in numbers after the inspection and eventually died off. I was hoping they’d raise an emergency Queen, but no… Some people have a natural knack with bees, but alas I am not one of those people.

    In other news, Ollie took it upon himself today to begin chasing the very occasional car that drove down the road. I’m sure it was entertaining for him, but it is just not on. He was confined for a few hours this afternoon and we’ve begun training him to come and sit when so instructed. He’s a smart dog, but I can see he thinks all humans will be nice to him and when it comes to cars that is an error of judgement.

    Tomatoes can struggle with cooler seasons down here too, and given the variability of growing seasons I tend to stick to mid-sized varieties that we’ve been breeding for the past, err, maybe five years, maybe more I forget. I have it on good authority that the tomatoes may have developed their full sugars whilst green, but yeah one growing season a few years back was not dissimilar from what you’ve just enjoyed and whilst it’s OK, somehow green tomato chutney just doesn’t seem quite right to me. At a rough guess, you’ve still got another month for them to slowly ripen and I’ve harvested ripe tomatoes as late as mid-April (your mid October).

    Yum! Dill pickles and relish. Do you use white vinegar in your canning process? Elderberry wine is a fave of mine, and the one we make always has a slight amount of fizz to it too. Plus who can argue with the extraordinary Vitamin C content?



  42. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, many thanks for the suggestion! It would not have occurred to me otherwise to perform the upgrade. It was fun taking the laptop apart and I now have a spare DDR2 2Gb memory module just looking at me right now. I looked around for some 4Gb modules, but just didn’t find them, but 2 x 2Gb is always better than 1 x 2Gb. The old hard drive (pre SSD) was being used by Windows as a memory extension and it ain’t fast enough.

    A fair call, but the laptop is used for only a very few business applications and so a fresh install wasn’t really necessary, although I hear you and it is normally a good idea. The problem with the reinstall of the image was that the image was 32bit and I only had a 64bit system recovery disk. A rookie mistake, because one needs a 32bit system recovery disk for the re-install and they are not interchangeable (as I now know).

    Some people are put on this world to both challenge us and make the rest of us look like the mere mortals that we are, and John Harrison is one such. I noted that his final clock designs were proven to be as good as his claims.

    Yes, managing one’s hobbies and obligations is always a complicated story. Good luck and I hope to see your characters come to light again one day.

    Is it? I try not to read about authors or musicians lives and their back stories, if only because you discover that they’re full of complications, quirks and foibles like the rest of us. With Vidal, the quote was recounted to me well before I knew the bloke was even an author. No doubts literary circles can be a rough bunch.

    Well, maybe just a few flights of fancy… 🙂 Yeah, you’re probably right because entropy is another way of expressing the theory of diminishing returns. Cugel would deal with the situation as it appeared to his senses, and you know, I reckon there is something to be said about that.

    Zombieland 2. Nuff said!



  43. Chris:

    Nip – as you are doing – Ollie’s new game of car chasing in the bud. We had a dog named Maggie once who got into that game. One day she decided to chase the neighbor’s car as the neighbor was driving up her own driveway. The neighbor decided the best plan was to accelerate and get away from the dog, and Maggie was caught under the wheels and killed. Imagine how bad our neighbor felt, and imagine our guilt for ever letting Maggie off of our property.

    My rose cuttings have been hit or miss, but some did work out. Mostly I just take a cutting and put it in a pot of soil and keep it constantly moist. With the big rose bushes, especially climbers, you can just pin a branch to the ground and it almost always developes roots.

    “Wasted time is lost time.” Worthy of Benjamin Franklin – thanks!


  44. @ Inge:

    What a shame about the land.

    I love reading your comments about the leaving the EU debacle. You are quite the horse’s mouth!


  45. Hi Lewis,

    You’ve been lucky to put off the wildfires and smoke this summer due to the regular bouts of rain. Cliff Mass wrote about your thunderstorms. Hey, are thunderstorms a regular part of the climate in your part of the world? I cannot in all honesty challenge your math skills, so 2.5 inches of rain sure is a lot of rain in such a short period of time. It would present those sorts of challenges here too. Incidentally, I had not realised that your club building was so enormous.

    Ah! That would not have occurred to me, but I reckon you’re right about the mulch providing an insulation barrier on the soil surface. Yeah, it makes sense and I do use thick layers of the stuff. I guess what you’ve just alerted me too is that it is a balancing act, and frankly (don’t call me Frank!) I don’t have the water reserves to expend water so liberally, so mulch it is.

    We’re reading at about the same pace now as I too reached Part 2 on the train home from the Green Wizards meeting today. Yet again, our heroes in the book escape yet another close encounter with hostile salvage men in the town of Glevum. With luck like that, you’d think that Camulod didn’t get eventually destroyed like the book already revealed… I was fascinated that the salvage folks were stripping out the marble, which I might add can be turned into lime somehow, by some process or other. A very useful product. We had not learned how Lucanus’s mate the physician at the Leper colony also became infected. I always believed that the disease was caused by a bacterium. Ouch. It is spread by airborne droplets. Interestingly, Lucanus seems unconcerned at the personal risk. I’ve encountered lepers when in India. They were in the town of Varanasi. It was, as you’d imagine, quite confronting. It was unfortunate that early folks tended to believe that the disease was a consequence of poor morals.

    A hyper developed sense of things out of their place, can be quite handy when things are out of their place. Of course such a survival trait would be by its very nature and evolutionary adaption to circumstances. If it works… It is a tool used by the author to build suspense, and it works. The author need not have worried, there is never a dull moment in any of the books.

    Green Wizards was a great discussion today and the subject was the electricity grid and we had an electrical engineer take the lead. He was more sanguine about the large scale implementation of electrical cars than I feel. Time will sort that matter out, and I could be wrong.

    Hmm, well I may remind you that I have actually encountered city folks who have said to my face that ‘people in the country are stupid’. Yeah, it’s not a good look, but the book ‘High Rise’ by J Ballard clearly speaks to that level of: ‘living in bubble land’. I’m sure that bubble land is a beautiful place, but is it the real world? I’m reasonably sure that such questions rarely get raised, but I see melt downs over the 2016 election result in your country, and Brexit over in Inge’s fine country are possibly part of that larger story. It is a shame that the tenants story of the high rise building don’t have a few zombies chucked in for good measure – although they probably didn’t need them!

    Bizarre theories is a great way of saying, let’s make it up as we go along! And if the records are unknown, conjecture about the subject is clearly rife. Academic careers can be won or lost on the strength of the arguments!

    The Great Fire of London has touched my life, although it is a long stretch. As part of the buildings that I’ve mucked around with over the years I’ve had to install fire rated walls which mean that if the neighbouring property goes up in smoke, then the house I was working on didn’t – and vice versa. This house I’m in now took that idea to its logical conclusion and I tell ya, it was a bit of a head trip during the design and construction.

    At a guess, what about pumpkin muffins? Have you ever come across one of those? I have had pumpkin bread before, and it was OK, but it never occurred to me that bread (way back in the day) had its flour content much reduced and all sorts of other substitute products were chucked in as fillers. The pumpkin bread was dense, although I ordinarily bake loaves that are more dense than what people expect bread to look like (fluffy white stuff). Maybe in the last month someone observed me consuming it, and mistook it for cake.

    Hehe! The drone bloke lives to fight another day. Of course, the implication was that he was in a lot of trouble. I note that small drones are being used as weapons now, and some small and cheap drones are crazy fast. I would never have allowed such a technology to get into the hands of the public.

    I can’t say that I understand how water rights are allocated down here, but I do note that properties along water ways can be sold with water rights. There sure seems to be a lot of unhappiness about the application of water rights in drought year. Two of the largest rivers on the continent travel across many states.

    Wow! I’m impressed as your blueberry harvest works out to be about 32kg. That seems like enough to me until next season, but produce sure can add up in weight can’t it? I’ve got about another, maybe a month and half left of apricots in the cupboard from last summer. They keep well in bottles, but by the next season, they have lost some of their freshness. I’m considering bottling plums next year, but we’ll see how the season goes. Each year you get a little bit better at all this stuff.

    Hehe! Nice to hear that all of your digits escaped unscathed from the salmon kitchen incident. Fish oils can do that, but at least they’re good for your skin (and brain apparently).

    Nice one for trying the herb, but fresh basil is far tastier. I just have rosemary when not much else is growing in the depths of winter. A small patch of winter savoury grows, but it is a very slow growing herb. You’re in a great time of year for garden produce. Winter is a bit light on, even down here in sunnier climes!



  46. Hi Pam,

    Many thanks for the cautionary tale, and your loss would have been keenly felt in your household. I’d feel really badly too in the same circumstances. He’s not normally a car chaser and something got into his today (perhaps the wind?) But we’ll sort out that character trait as quickly as we can. He’s sucking up to us tonight as he knows he’s in the dog house, but no cigar, he just has to not chase cars.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with taking rose cuttings. I’m unsure that we have enough water to keep any soil constantly moist especially during the long hot summer months, but the layering, yeah I could do that. I’m hoping to plant a few more climbing roses tomorrow. They’ll hopefully amble through the geranium and wormwood dominated garden beds. It should look quite good as some climbing roses already do that here – and it works.

    Oh! Far out, just when you think you come up a good quote, somebody much smarter than yourself has already said! Thanks for the correction and most likely I read his quote somewhere else, some-when else!



  47. Hello again
    The EU benefits the ‘elite’ and large business. The labour party is in a complete mess as most of their members want to remain in the EU and yet they reckon that they represent the working man/woman.
    I am receiving mags. wrapped in something called ‘potato starch wrapping’. It claims to be completely compostable yet I have read something which said ‘not so’. Do you know anything about this stuff?
    All ponds are dry again. One part of my woods is called ‘Three great ponds’ in old maps; all are quite dry at the moment.


  48. @ Damo – Been there, saw that, got the t-shirt. :-). “Captive State”, that is. I concur with your opinion, Dr. Damo. Great movie. I think I commented to Chris, when I saw it, that it put me in mind of the French Resistance, during WWII. I also thought it was a really good alien invasion story, that didn’t depend on a lot of CGI. Lew

  49. Yo, Chris – Thunder storms here, are kind of semi-rare. A rather extra special treat, that Mum Nature puts on, every once in awhile. The Club takes up a rather small bit of that building. Other things under that roof are Frank’s auto repair, Garrison Auctions, the enormous flea market. And, there’s a lot of square footage that was a grocery store, that is now empty. Garrrison uses it, every once in awhile, if they have a big auction. Otherwise, they have a sizable chunk of a corner with storage and sale room. It was built after WWII. It just occurred to me that the architecture is probably based on air line hangers. Areodromes. (Sp?)

    Down through history, one civilization will reuse bits and pieces of previous civilization. Can’t let a nice piece of worked stone, go to waste. :-). Egyptian obelisks ended up, all over the place. The Romans took some to Rome. Napoleon took several to France. There’s one, somewhere in New York City.

    Sounds like your Green Wizard’s meeting was interesting. Did your electrical engineer discuss how shaky the electrical grids are? Subject to EMPs, hackers, solar flares, terrorist attack, or just plane old lack of maintenance?

    I made a batch of pumpkin muffins, last fall. Very nice with shelled roasted pumpkin seed, mixed in. Well, better than some additives from the past. Sawdust or plaster dust :-). I think a lot of those recipes developed for two reasons. To conserve flour, which could be pricy or rare, at times. And to use up crops of things that were in abundance. Maybe.

    When buying property, here, one has to be careful that the “rights” are carefully spelled out. Water rights, timber rights, mineral rights. Rights of way.

    Eighteen gallons of blueberries is “only” a gallon and a half, a month. Easy to run through. One crisp could put quit a dent in it. Some goes for muffins and pancakes. I probably use 1 1/2 cups, every three days, just on oatmeal. I picked up another 10 pounds, yesterday morning. That ought to take me up to (and a bit beyond) 18 gallons. There’s another gallon on trays in the freezer, that are ready to bag up.

    The salmon, last night, turned out better. I remembered the salt and pepper. :-). Basil leaves on top, but I can’t say they really enhanced the flavor, a lot. they were knock out aromatic, but it just didn’t translate, very strongly. Probably due more to my dead taste buds.

    I watched a bit of a series, last night. “Titans.” Couldn’t even remember why I put it on hold. The premiss is, that Batman and Robin have a tiff. Robin gets all sulky and goes off to be sulky and angst-y with other disaffected young people. It’s barely holding my interest. Lew

  50. Chris,

    The practical ideas that are shared here are fantastic! I’ve learned a lot in the year I’ve been here. Good group you’ve got posting here.

    I’ve also heard the horror stories from Giant Online Retail. We’ve got a distribution warehouse nearing completion near the Spokane airport along with multiple road projects to widen roads and provide better access to the Interstate highway. I’m not looking forward to another quiet area getting overdeveloped for a quick dollar.

    Legumes? Garbanzos/chick peas are the favorite, but after that I’m an Equal Opportunity Legumist. When I toss soaked dried beans into the slow cooker, it’s usually a mix.

    It is easy for an entire team to get dragged into a crevasse. I weighed about 63kg on that trek. The other 2 team members were much heavier than I was. If they both lost their footing, no matter how well dug in I was with ice ax and crampons, it would’ve been hard not to get pulled over backwards when the rope snapped taut. That said, our group leader had a lot of glacier experience, and wouldn’t have taken a group of 3 rookies and one moderately experienced guy with him if the climb were too technical and dangerous. Mount Baker is the easiest of the 5 Washington volcanoes to climb.

    I was talking with a coworker’s close friend this week while on a break. She grew up working class and struggling and was pleasantly surprised when we started talking debt and gardens, etc., to find that I was on the same page. She understood when I related some of my parents’ experiences from the Great Depression.

    94F today! At least late August starts cool in the mornings and it takes time to hit peak temperatures.

    Our front porch, concrete, has corners on some of the steps breaking off at the points where the metal railing has rusted through. So I spent the morning with a sledge and chisel working the areas so that I could wire some short rebar to the good parts of the railing and have a decent spot for the rebar to rest on existing concrete. After that, I molded concrete patch onto the broken areas so that the railing/rebar are well enclosed. After this has cured, I’ll hit any spots that cracked while curing with crack filler, then coat with concrete sealant. Hope the fix works! No concrete companies want to do it because the job is too small.

    My adage of owning a home: Owning your home is good because there’s always things to do. Owning your home can be difficult because there’s always things that have to be done.


  51. Hi Inge,

    I don’t doubt it. There are a lot of career politicians these days, and I’m unsure that that cadre represents the average person on the street. How can they? And I rather suspect that career politicians feel fear for their tenure.

    The simple answer is that I have no idea what that stuff is. The more complicated answer is that Australia Post does not deliver mail to my street address (due to remoteness) and for all I know the use of the ‘potato starch wrapping’ is quite wide spread these days. One of the up sides of not receiving junk mail. The magazines I do pay for and receive are usually covered in plastic and/or thick brown paper. You just reminded me that I have not mentioned the ongoing mail mystery which I’ll include in my reply to Lewis.

    I’m glad that you have a reliable source of water piped over from the mainland. Your part of the world is starting to sound like summers here with ponds evaporating. There was a thunderstorm today and about half an inch of rain fell in a very short period of time. But for now, Spring is here!



  52. Hi Lewis,

    You tempted the weather Gods with your talk of thunderstorms, for one made an appearance today. Up until about 2pm, the day was warm and sunny, and then… The thunder Gods stomped the daylights out of the area and warmth disappeared and half an inch of rain fell in an inordinately short period of time.

    When a thunderstorm rolls in, it is a treat from Mum-Nature. 🙂 We had plans to watch the storm from the verandah whilst enjoying a cup of coffee and an Anzac biscuit or two, but the rain was feral and the winds that accompanied the storm blew the rain all over the verandah. As a postscript, the storm was enjoyed from the other side of windows. Glass is a wonderful material.

    I had no idea how large the building was that housed your Club among the other enterprises. It is enormous and on a scale that would rival small shopping malls. For your interest, some of the old WWII hangars and armaments manufacturing buildings have been turned over to industrial uses in the inner western part of the big smoke. From time to time I’ve looked at a website of a photographer who takes photographs of abandoned shopping malls in your country and they’re eerie places. I have to park the dirt mouse at such a place every now and then. The empty shopping mall has a certain abandoned and stale smell to it that I’ve encountered in houses that were shuttered up for a while. It is a distinctive aroma and it brings back memories. A few decades ago I once considered purchasing a house that someone had died in. In the living room there was a burnt patch were I guess the deceased had been enjoying a cigarette before the incident. All of the soft furnishings had been removed and the house was a shell, but it had the benefit of being cheap.

    Waste is a terrible thing and all that Roman marble could be used to produce some tidy and useful quicklime – although the process escapes me. Far out, you weren’t kidding around. Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park. I must say that obelisks have a certain sort of phallic intent in their construction. And the sale of the obelisk facilitated trade so surely that was a good thing? Well done you lot for scoring it on the cheap.

    Well, it is funny you say that but the Interweb of things was mentioned. Apparently the story goes that increases in the number of electric vehicles with their large batteries is going to be used as a tool to smooth out the ups and downs of the electric grid. Of course my mind reels at the sheer complexity of such a system. I’m pretty certain that it is technically feasible, but the details are bonkers and any system that complex is only one step from failure or a major hacking effort (just my opinion).

    I better get writing… Ah, yes, perhaps you’ve previously mentioned the pumpkin muffins and they did sound rather tasty. The local gardening club sent me an email today suggesting that I get my tomato seeds sown now. Fortunately I reckon I’m about a month behind them, but time is rapidly running out. Stretching the flour supplies sounds like a good idea. It is not lost on me that down under due to the prolonged drought, as a country we imported grains for the first time in decades last year.

    I hear you mate. And yeah, storing and eeking out produce is a real skill and its every bit as complicated as growing the stuff in the first place.

    I have a bit of a mystery. I’ve had a suspicion for a while that my mail is being inspected, but by whom is an interesting question. Possibly I should never have begun spouting off on the interweb about renewable energy systems being good, but they’re not good enough, or maybe we should consider that limits are real things… Yeah, it’s a mystery. There are sometimes little inspection rips in my packages and the other week I imported some rechargeable 9.6V batteries and one of the blister packs had been opened and then put back in place to look innocuous. It is all very strange.

    Top work with the salt and pepper. Fish need both condiments in my experience, but I rarely cook fish. And my taste buds have likewise deteriorated with time. Perhaps both of us need to look to see whether they’ve dropped behind the couch (or desk in your case)?

    In a way, it makes sense that Robin would be the sulky one of the duo. However, wouldn’t it be a more interesting story if Batman were killed off and Robin had to make do?



  53. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the comment. This evening I write! Tomorrow I shall reply. That sounds all very alpha, but not to stress I’m very much a beta! Hehe! Who’d want to be an alpha?



  54. Hello again
    The potato starch wrap is slightly less see through than plastic and proudly tells one what it is.
    Son’s dogs were howling like a pack of wolves this morning. I did tell Son that he is lucky that no-one has complained about them; I am actually the nearest neighbour to them. Son says that Ren is the vocal one and then the others join in.


  55. Yo, Chris – Always fun to have ringside (protected) seat to view the weather. Who needs cable, or streaming this and that? Don’t know if Prof. Mass still has it up, but there are some spectacular shots of our clouds at sunrise/sunset. Up here in the Sky Box, I’ve got a spectacular view. I should really spend more time, watching it.

    Here, it was a pretty familiar story. Two brothers, or, army buddies came back from WWII. They set up a business selling military surplus, and other stuff. The military surplus plays out, and the other stuff takes over. There names generally involve some kind of military slang. Ours was called “Yardbirds” and in Portland it was “G,I. Joes.” About the time I moved her, it had evolved into a more standard, mall form. Lots of small independent businesses, leasing space. An electronics store, pet shop, a coin dealer. Then it begins it’s final descent into pure flea market. Retail rise and fall is a rather interesting study. To me.

    Obelisks are interesting. I’ve had a hankering for one, to add to the decor (part of the Victorian classical / ruin vibe). There’s one on Ebay, English Victorian, made of slag glass. Slag glass is a opaque glass, usually molded. It will be white, with another color of glass, swirled through it. Brown, green … or, blue :-). The price isn’t bad, because it’s got a slight bit of damage, to the point. I keep squinting at the pictures, and wondering if I can live with the damage? You may remember marbles, from your childhood. Your first one, not the second :-).

    Lime kilns. Marble was burned to make lime. For mortar, fertilizer, to dispose of an inconvenient body, etc..

    All that business about electric cars, and the grid. I have just thought an idea: there is vapor ware … and vapor ideas. I’d say resources and a tottering economy might put a crimp in the scheme.

    Well, I got the 18th bag of blueberries, into the freezer. There are a few left over, and I think I’ll inspect some of the earlier bags I packed, to see if they’re “light.” Do a bit of filling in. Then it’s back to the rest of the harvest.

    Mail inspection. Well, we had a saying back in the radical 60’s. “Paranoia isn’t paranoia, if it’s real.” I’d guess the poking about is rather benign. Now, before you’re back goes up, at some of the reasons I’m going to suggest, remember that it is random. They don’t know (and don’t care) who you are. They only get interested in that, if they find something “interesting.”

    Of course, there’s always the possibility of an attache case full of cash :-). Banned drugs are an all time favorite. Exotic small pets or insects. Here, they occasionally check to see if you’re shipping something at a lower postal rate, that should be shipped at a higher postal rate. Which seems to be the all time favorite, here. If they happen to find something more exciting, well, it’s a red letter day. Many businesses, here, label their packages, “May Be Opened For Postal Inspection.” Does that signal innocence, or is it a ruse to hide guilt? Of course, there’s the whole school of thought, that if you have nothing to hide, then you have no worries. I’ve never been quit comfortable with that. I’ve always been tempted to send off for my FBI file. I guess you can do that. But how disappointing would it be if I didn’t have one? 🙂

    And finally, here’s an interesting article. We were ruminating on unpaid medical bills, and Atlantic magazine, provided. Not anything about foreign visitors, but just more about how awful our medical system is. But I also thought you might find it interesting as it’s a view of our bill collections industry.

    Student loan debt is not dischargeable, through bankruptcy. I keep wondering if medical debt can be far behind. Lew

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