The Help

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. My deeper understanding of that particular aphorism took me a long time to acquire. And as usual, the understanding came with a whole bunch of unnecessary pain.

As a young adult I was very earnest. The unbearable lightness of earnestness is a difficult state of being, mostly for the other people who may be around you and get to experience it first hand. Friends would complain to me about something or other, and I’d respond by saying: “That’s awful, you-we-or-I could do something about the awfulness of the awful situation.”

Now I’m not the sort of guy to go around complaining to other people about the awfulness of an awful situation. And I only ask for help when I actually really, really need the help. In such circumstances, I don’t hesitate asking for help, I just have no desire to abuse relationships. Relationships can get abused, and I recall years ago volunteering my time, but after a few years of that effort it ended up feeling and looking a lot like an unpaid and demanding job with no social benefits – and who wants that?

However, many long years ago a mate of mine was in a spot of bother because he hadn’t completed required taxation paperwork for about a decade. I resisted the urge to get involved in my mates dodgy paperwork drama, but at the same time I also had to listen to the tales of woe and also the direct and implied requests for help.

Friends are great things to have. Business relationships are good too. But should the two be mixed and stirred? Possibly not. Friends can be enjoyed despite their foibles. Business on the other hand, is business. There is an ill defined line which can be crossed if the two were to be mixed, and that is when best intentions often go awry.

To cut a long and dull story short, I decided against my better judgement to become involved in my mates dodgy paperwork drama. And the outcome of that situation gave me a bizarre insight into the human condition. Once I’d decided to get involved, I was like a blood hound let loose on the trail of the ever tiring quarry. It had never even occurred to me that other people wouldn’t want to complete such a task, despite their words to the contrary.

So I crossed the line, stirred and mixed, and the resulting cocktail left a sour taste for the friendship. As far as I can understand matters, the task was almost completed – but not quite. Someone who was a long term friend, gave me an opportunity to peer into their decision making processes and motivations, and I did not like what I saw. The insight forced me to reflect upon the friendship itself, and for their part, I suspect that they just blamed me for their continued plight. And nobody won, and I haven’t spoken to them now in over a decade. I can’t with all honesty say that it was a smart move on my part to get involved.

Still, it was a good lesson learned and it has proven to be a valuable one. (Edit: there was another nasty tasting cocktail shortly after this sad episode which truly rammed home this lesson. Another friendship lost too.) With only a single exception, I now do not provide any professional services to friends. And with new clients, before taking them on, I assess the state of their mess. If the mess has been caused by a short term mishap, and everyone gets to enjoy those from time to time, then I’ll over look that, and work with them to move on. But with people who enjoy living in a state of chaos and have taken that on as a lifestyle choice, as far as I can ascertain, there is little help for them. And certainly help from me is not forthcoming.

The notion has larger implications for all sorts of relationships. I see the political discourse descending into a similar state of chaos – which looks like a lifestyle choice, and it leaves me with deep uncertainties that those so called ‘decision makers’ can rise to the challenge should any present itself.

One of the most interesting challenges over the past two years has presented itself in the form of the recycling debacle. The short form is that: China sends us a lot of plastic goodies to buy; and the Chinese no longer accepts our plastic waste, mostly because it is too contaminated (i.e. we don’t clean the plastic waste before sending it back to them). We’ve known for years that the Chinese would stop taking plastic waste as of January 2018, but the politicians haven’t appeared to be able to address the predicament. They do seem very good at waving a whole bunch of paper (contracts) at companies, despite the underlying realities of the situation. And all the while, the plastic is either being mostly stockpiled, put into landfill, or shipped elsewhere overseas.

Recycling is one of the myriad problems facing decision makers and society. Another is that we’re exporting so much natural gas these days that shortfalls are predicted as early as 2022. The city of Melbourne is predicted to face a shortfall of fresh water by 2028. And by 2040 I believe most of the countries coal fired electricity generators will have reached the end of their lifespan. Given the track record with recycling plastic, I do wonder how those problems are going to work out.

The thing is, you can’t really help people who are unwilling or unable to help themselves. And if decision makers enjoy chaos so much that they are unwilling or incapable of making decisions, then they have to be very careful that someone doesn’t just come along from out-of-left-field and slot into that role.

Spring has definitely arrived. The days have been warm and sunny, when it hasn’t been raining. And even when it did rain, the air has been warm. Another day was spent excavating clay on the garden terrace project. We’re hoping that another day or two will complete the excavation stage, and then things will get really interesting. But for now the lower (of the three garden terraces) looks like this:

Excavations on the lower garden terrace are nearing completion

The view of the lower garden terrace from the other end looks good too!

The view from the other end of the lower garden terrace showing the ramp at the far end

Observant readers will note in the above photo that at the far end of the ramp there is a large stack of seasoning firewood. The firewood was placed there in order to cure (i.e. lose the sugars and moisture inside the timber) a few years ago. The idea for the terraces was not even the dimmest of thoughts when the firewood was stacked there. The situation had become a problem and the path had to be cleared of firewood. The reason for concern was so that I can use a wheelbarrow to bring the (possibly) six cubic metres (10 cubic yards) of organic matter onto the terraces for the gardens that will be growing there. The alternative option was to walk all of the organic matter in crates up the concrete staircases.

I wasn’t really too keen on the option of walking so much organic material up the stairs, and so we spent a day in the warm spring sunshine splitting and moving (throwing) a whole bunch of firewood. It was a massive job, but we completed it in a day.

A path has been cleared through the large pile of seasoning firewood

Over the next week, as long as the weather is OK, we’ll hopefully finish the lower garden terrace excavations and use the clay to construct a flat and wide path through the area where the firewood pile only recently sat. Alert readers will know that having a path there, will also mean that I’ll be able to use the same path to remove the firewood by a wheelbarrow (all downhill of course). From the very furthest end of the lower garden terrace, you can now see the path leading away from the ramp and towards the driveway. All three garden terraces can also be seen in the next photo.

A clear path leading to the driveway can now be seen from the top of the ramp

This week, all of the clay which was excavated on the lower garden terrace was used to construct the third higher garden terrace. The clay was moved up hill using a wheelbarrow and slowly compacted over the course of a day using the weight of the full wheelbarrow.

The lower and downhill side of the highest garden terrace is now complete

And it wouldn’t be Fernglade Farm if we hadn’t unearthed some unfeasibly large rock during the days excavations. Here is a close up of the rock (and it weighs far more than Ollie, who is no lightweight).

Ollie pretends to be well behaved, whilst Toothy defiantly pokes his tongue out

The olive oil soap making has continued, and this week the editor poured the mix into the silicone trays where it will continue to cure. You know when the curing process is completed because the soap bars will turn white.

Olive oil soap making activities have continued

During the recent heavy snowfall a few weeks back, some concern was expressed regarding the Tea Camellia plants. Both green and black tea can be produced from the leaves of these plants. I grow two of them (after killing about four) and they originated from a nursery in the sub tropical part of the continent. But so far they seemed to have survived and have even produced a flower this week.

The tea camellia has produced a flower this week

In the same garden enclosure, we’ve planted out a whole bunch of red and black currant cuttings, and they’ve all taken. We use the currants to produce a very tasty (and one of my favourites) country wine. Getting the plants to take took no more effort than taking cuttings in autumn and then poking the cuttings in the soil. It really was that easy.

Lots of black and red currant cuttings have taken

As the early spring warmth breathes life into the plants, the European honey bees have been working hard around the property. Other insects are beginning to make a special guest appearance as well.

European honey bees are enjoying the warmer early spring weather

Onto the flowers:

Lavender always enjoys the sun
Daffodil flowers are prolific
Acer Negundo produces beautiful and majestic flowers
The Anzac Peach looks like it may produce a good crop
This Manchurian Pear produces a colourful display
The grass sure is green
The orchard is coming to life in the warmer spring conditions
Leucodendron always puts on a good show

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 576.2mm (22.7 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 568.0mm (22.4 inches).

70 thoughts on “The Help”

  1. Hi Hazel,

    It is a pleasure to entertain and enlighten you! 🙂 Plus, it’s a whole bunch of fun.

    Yeah, it is not a bad idea to be wary of such beasts, and saving your skin is a good enough reason. You know how hot summer days can get, and I kept up the full leather kit during those days during commutes for the reason that you mentioned, and it really wasn’t that much fun.

    Thanks for mentioning the two Asian greens, and with all this extra growing space, I might begin some experiments along those lines. Oh yeah, don’t they bolt to seed during summer or what? Even the tiniest of those plants bolts to seed, so I sort of gave up on them. Not sure about your garden, but I’m swimming in fresh greens now – and none are better than the green mustards.



  2. Hi Damo,

    It’s the best isn’t it when you get one of those ‘item awaiting collection’ notices! Happy days, and apparently according to some text message there is a 500Gb SSD waiting for me. Christmas is here (and the desktop hard drive is rapidly running out of space – blame all the photos that are taking over the interweb and my hard drive despite limiting them to 6 megapixels). Technology – meh! Which reminds me that I sat through a Windows 10 update this morning which took about an hour and half to process. Makes you wonder just how wrong it all was…

    What a nice looking bike. Respect. Yeah, you’ve gotta love straight through pipes for making a good first impression. With those, err, modifications, nobody can suggest that they didn’t hear you! Mate, you can feel the individual pistons pulsing, via the exhaust note. And heaven help anyone if the bike backfires (which happened on the old XV750). People would be jumping for cover at the noise!

    It’s funny you say that, but on Saturday night I had dinner with a mate who had recently upgraded from a Honda CBR1000RR, to a BMW (I forget which model, but it had around the same horsepower). Interestingly, he said the bike was a 2016 and cost about half of what the original owner paid for it. It looked like a good bike and it was a smart move, and I note that bikes are less likely to have been mistreated than second hand cars – for obvious reasons. But yeah, I was stirring him up about getting older because the BMW is a real mile eater and much easier ergonomically. He could see the funny side of that story.

    How would Auckland be for getting around on a motorbike given the crazy traffic?



  3. Hi Lewis,

    You know the interweb has that sort of self defeating limiter (a self referential bubble) built into it? Well that is what I reckon anyway. You mentioned a long while back that the interweb looks like a vast echo chamber and I have seen nothing to gainsay your opinion. I just sometimes wonder about the process as to how and when some innocuous entry goes ‘viral’ and then gets replicated and repeated by a whole bunch of people. Please don’t get the idea that I’m at all interested in such an outcome – the notoriety alone would do my head in. I’m just curious as to whether the result is spontaneous or contrived – if only because the result would be quite telling. Do you have any opinions on the matter?

    It does make you wonder about whether truly creative and left-of-centre artists eventually get sucked into the self referential bubble of critique or would they be able to thumb their noses at the folks? Incidentally, credit where credit is due and it was Mr Greer who tipped me off to that concept in relation to the endeavour of art.

    Hehe! Well as another sweeping generalisation, I tend to feel that the profession as a whole looks down their nose at some of the work that I do when at clients. But on the other hand, the work is extraordinarily complicated and there are few if any people meeting that need. I identified it as a growing need over a decade ago, and if anything things have gotten more complicated since then. I do wonder how other less agile and cost burdened accounting businesses deal with the sorts of matters that I regularly have to deal with. And the thing with the technology story is that it is possible to off shore some work, but no Asian off shore worker – no matter how cheap – can economically turn up to a business and have face to face discussions. I have been rather annoyed with the professional association who have talked up off-shoring work over the past few years. They forget that they do not exist without their members (that sounds like a double entendre).

    But yeah, I’ve worked with older accountants who had gone through the apprenticeship system. In my more cynical moments I feel that businesses have somehow externalised training costs onto individuals – and at the same time provided a great hot bed of opportunity for teaching institutions and governments to provide predatory loans on students. It wasn’t always that way, and one negative outcome is that wealth becomes concentrated.

    So many steps down the economic stairs are a ‘bait and switch’ style operation. The services are originally provided at a reasonable level of quality and service, and then things ever so slowly and imperceptibly change. And before you know it, your insurance query may be dealt with by a person living on the other side of the planet. They probably need the job.

    Didn’t the incurious Roman folks in Britain express similar thoughts after the legions had left their shores? Surely it is but (a flesh wound) a temporary hiccup? Hehe! Always good to slip in a Monty Python quote. Who can forget the dreaded Black Knight?

    And the people buying such bunkers really have no ties to the land and the people – and eventually they’ll get hungry or some component will break, all other concerns to the side. It is a bonkers strategy.

    Hehe! Yeah, I guess so. What’s with going from one extreme to another extreme? And I reckon lowest liveable weight is an extreme perspective.

    The garden had a century of age under its belt, so it fitted its skin well – and reminded me that I’d planted some fruit trees a little bit too close together. Fortunately there are always pruning shears and saws! I always learn things at open gardens, and this one had an impressive collection of flowering bulb plants scattered throughout the garden. The place was huge.

    Word on the street is that the Meyer lemon is the most cold tolerant of lemons, and yeah planting it in a barrel is a great idea. I can confirm that they shrug off -2’C (28’F) and snow easily. I have it from a reliable source that out of the wind, they can survive down to -9’C (16’F) so it is well worth giving the citrus tree a go – but keep the blanket handy for your more extreme weather. I doubt that it could get hot enough up your way to even remotely trouble the tree, although citrus are shallow rooted plants and they enjoy a good regular feed (even during winter when the roots are still active) and water. It is a milder tasting lemon than my Eureka variety, but it still great for preserving, cooking etc. Your placement sounds about right to me. Out of curiosity do you have any notions as to the approximate origins of the tree?

    It’s pumpkin time in your part of the world! 🙂 Good luck with the ongoing hunt. You’ve left me on tenterhooks! Was the expensive chocolate any good? Hehe! Good stuff with the other regular pumpkin chocolate goodies. I find it intriguing that such a large corporate would want to purchase an op-shop chain. Such a possibility would never have occurred to me. Out of curiosity, were the staff in such a place the same sort of staff that you’d find in the big corporate retail stores? The op-shops down here often provide employment to people who want to work but for all sorts of reasons may have difficulties.

    Haha! Very funny, and also the reason why your comment went straight into the Trash basket and had to be rescued!!! The naughty word filter on this website lacks any sort of discernment. I’ve been so busy with paid work over the past two weeks, that once I was ahead, but alas now I am falling way behind in the reading…



  4. Hello Chris
    You provided quite a lot to think about this week. On the very rare occasions that I have mixed business and friendship, it has been okay. Am I a good judge of character or just lucky? I don’t know. Oh dear I’ll have to take that back! There was one disaster with a friend (now dead) who was a charismatic conman. I lost a great deal of money. The extent of the charisma can be shown by the fact that I still care for him and miss his company.

    The acer negundo has a very weird flower, I have never seen anything like it.

    Still very warm and dry and it is supposed to get much hotter towards the end of the week.


  5. Yo, Chris – “…unbearable lightness of earnestness..” is a great line. But then I realized that one must be fairly literate to get the reference. Funny, I’ve never read the book, or seen the movie, but I caught the reference.

    Well, I don’t quit know what to say about the main topic of your post. People are like that? That’s life? But I do know what you mean by people who enjoy living in a state of chaos. Best to be steered clear of. They suck you in and exhaust you.

    The recycling, water, electricity. It will drive you bonkers, if you can’t accept some of those things, as inevitable. But, at least, being aware, you can perhaps work out a personal plan B. As far as the natural gas goes, well, people don’t quit “get” it here that natural resources get sold off to the highest bidder. Either by the companies, or impoverished governments.

    The Lower Garden Terrace (LGT) looks like a super highway. That was a heck of a lot of earth to move. The picture of the path through the firewood? Is that where the round-about is going? :-). Is that an enormous rock, off to the right? Well, that will make a nice feature in the middle of the round-about.

    The tea plant is looking good. You might get a bit of seed off that flower. Brown, about the size of a marble. I even got a few seeds off the tea plant I had, that died. Not that I’ve done anything with them. Wonder where they got to?

    Were all plants as easy to cultivate, as currents. Looks like you’re going to get good crops, of some fruit. Your probably past any chance of more frost. Fingers crossed. The Lavender reminds me to cut a bit in our gardens. See if they’re more aromatic, later in the season.

    The picture of the daffodils, with the rustic fence, is quit nice. Is that one of your olives, growing among the rock feature? Cont.

  6. Cont. Things that go viral. Spontaneous or contrived? Probably, a bit of both. I suppose if you’ve got a product … a book, movie or snake oil, you pray that it goes viral. And, some people just thrive on notoriety. Good or bad. Back in the day, there was a theory that even bad press, was good press, as it kept you in the eye of the public.

    Interesting. I started watching a series last night, called “The Toys That Made Us.” I thought it would be more of a history of toys. But, so far, most of the toys were things that became “hot” after my time. Last night I watched the segments on “Star Wars,” “He Man,” “Barbie” and “G.I. Joe.” It was interesting to observe, how in pre internet times (B.C. …before computers), companies manipulated desire and methods used to keep a product, in the consciousness of the public, and flying off the shelves. How a product might go stagnant, for awhile, and then have a re-boot.

    Quit a few of the left of center artists, who answered the siren call of notoriety, came to bad ends. To thumb your nose might mean no notoriety, or revenue. But a few pulled it off. Warhol, comes to mind.

    Libraries, or accounting, as old gray beards, we have an overview. :-). Over the years, usually in comments, here and there, I run across people, in shock, who have run up against the new reality of the health care insurance system. It’s not pretty.

    Well, the Romans in Britain, also didn’t see it coming. The legions had left (or been greatly reduced), before. But always came back, to set things right. Until they didn’t. That “moment of clarity” probably varied, from place to place, and person to person.

    Origins of the Meyer lemon tree? Well, Burnt Ridge Nursery, or Raintree Nursery. :-). But I don’t think that’s what your asking. One has them priced at more than double, of the other. And, it might have to do with grafted stock, or not. I’m hoping I run across Carl, in the next few months, so I can pick his brains. He’s the fellow who retired from Raintree, and used to do my pruning. I usually see him from time to time. It’s three months for the stars to align.

    Well, since the op-shop was taken over, there’s more of a mix of donated and new goods. I figure the new stuff is loss leaders, or stock over runs. Prices in general, have gone up. All the “collectibles” have disappeared, and I see listings on E-Bay from the different Goodwill stores. Part of their appeal, was that they provided “sheltered workshops” and training for the disadvantaged (in one way or another.) Don’t know how true that is anymore. One hears stories …

    LOL. I had to go back and figure out how I tripped the naughty word filter. Roman numerals. They’re a mine field :-).

    Gosh, the internet was target rich, this weekend. One hardly knows what to link to. There was an interesting story at Daily Beast about how climate change will make some US areas uninsurable. Old news, except for one twist I hadn’t thought about. Most mortgages have a clause where the property must be insured. So, if you can’t find insurance, you’re in default. Even if you’re paid up and current. I suppose it depends on who holds your mortgage. And if your structures are at least paid off. In other words, is the value of the land, more than the balance on the mortgage? Would they take that into consideration, or just swoop in and foreclose?

    A solid gold (working) toilet was stolen from Blenheim castle. Some kind of an art instillation. I guess you could make a 15 minute appointment, to “commune” with the art. Then there was a very nice, white marble sculpture of … a stuffed trash bag. Maybe it was a “statement” about recycling?

    But I settled on this …

    I think I should have been a fire look out. Or, a light house keeper. Oh, well. Opportunities missed.

    The pumpkin spice chocolate ball is very good. But, like the orange balls, too pricey to pay full retail. So, I’ll just watch the cheap food stores. They turn up there, at a very reasonable price, from time to time.

    I was going to pick the last of the blueberries, yesterday. But the weather didn’t cooperate. Rain, on and off, all day. But I got a few minor things, done. Plates under my pumpkins (or, whatever they are) to keep them out of the damp. Harvested some basil seed, to dry. Hacked back some horseradish leaves and tomato vines that will never produce, in time. Harvested a few green tomatoes, to see if I can get them to “red” up. I don’t think any will, on the vine. So, it’s onto a plan B. But mostly, I fiddled in the kitchen with green beans and blueberries. Topping up “light” bags. And, I pulled two more gallons of blackberries out of the freezer. There’s another crisp in my future. And, I might take a stab at blueberry jam. We’ll see. Lew

  7. Hi, Chris
    If you meant the Asian greens bolting, you are right, IF you plant seedlings. They hate having their roots disturbed! But if you just scatter seed, they grow brilliantly, and don’t seem to mind the heat. I learned that the hard way, but as I was too lazy to pull up the flowering plants, I got seeds later in the season anyway, so I can’t complain.
    The only professional help anyone has ever asked me for, was to read their first couple of chapters of a manuscript. As I love reading, this was no hardship, and luckily the book started well, so I was able to give it the thumbs-up. I suppose a more negative response might have strained the relationship!
    As usual, your garden looks amazing, and I look forward to seeing the terraces when they’re planted. The amount of work that you and the editor manage astounds me.


  8. Hi Inge,

    There’s a story there for sure, and everyone gets taken once or twice in their lives. What do they say, something about it being a salutary lesson? I can’t say that I’ve ever met a genuinely charismatic person, and when I was taken, the people sort of seemed to me from a position of hindsight like small time grifters. My experience was that such people tell you what you want to hear, and I heard stories of above market returns, but then I was a very young adult with little experience in such matters.

    The Acer Negundo is known as an ashleaf maple in your part of the world. Like a lot of plants it is listed as an invasive species, but I’ve only ever seen a few of them around here. In the more fashionable end of the mountain range, Acer pseudoplatanus (Sycamore) most certainly has a strong hold in the Eucalyptus Regnans forest. It is a prolific understory tree. The flowers are amazing aren’t they?

    The weather is warming here too, and Friday it is forecast to reach 77’F before a band of rain arrives to cool things down.



  9. Hi Hazel,

    What a day of weather you’ve just had! Snow this morning, and then heavy rain this afternoon – the best apparently in 6 months. Hope the garden appreciates the drink of water?

    It was cold but very sunny here today and the outside temperature was 0’C this morning. It looks like tomorrow morning will bring a medium frost risk, and I do worry for the apricot and almond crops. The other trees are too clever to be producing blossoms at this time of the year. No doubt it has something to do with the name of the trees beginning with the first letter of the alphabet that they want to produce the first blossoms?

    Thanks for sharing your experience and I’ll try some seeds during this coming summer.

    Nice one, and glad to hear that you enjoyed the task and the relationship was not strained by any deserved critique of the manuscript. Some folks can get a bit touchy about such words, and it is funny you mention it but I did read a friends short story recently, and had to tread carefully so as not to upset the apple cart.

    Thank you and I hope to start getting some organic matter down over the clay this weekend. I’m planning a mix of woody mulch, compost, blood and bone and dynamic lifter, but even so, I reckon the crops might not do so well in their first year. I’ve found takes the soil here about three years of additions before plants really take off. If you have any suggestions in that regard I’d be more than happy to hear them?



  10. Hello again
    The interesting thing about my disaster is that it was very recent and the fellow in question had been a friend for about 25 years. His widow is still one of my closest friends. She has been left in a terrible mess, which is one of the reasons that I am not pursuing things. He had a horrible death and people are saying ‘karma’. I don’t know about that but it is weird.


  11. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Milan’s book is sitting in the bookshelves. It is a complicated story full of difficult people with a dash of the occult. Glad you enjoyed my little joke. 🙂 Respect! I’m still chuckling to myself about the bloodhound bit, if only because it was a too bit close to the core truth of the situation. Oh well, what do they say about: “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread”?

    Exactly. I read somewhere a good quote that I have long since forgotten, but it related to unsolvable mental health issues and the person described dealing with that situation like being near to a black hole that sucked in all of your energy, and yet the black hole still demanded more energy. Some fights you can’t win, and that is when one has to become the artful dodger and dodge away.

    Incidentally, I’m only up to chapter XVIII. I was able to read a few pages today, if only because (and I have no desire to tempt fate here – always unwise to do so) but I’m on the other side of an extraordinarily busy period of work. I don’t know what happened over the past few weeks, but it has been feral and I’ve only just been keeping my head above water. And then late today the feralness can still be seen in the rear view mirror – taunting me, of course – but hopefully it fades for a while.

    That’s the thing isn’t it? I believe that we are the number one exporter of natural gas, and yet there are repeated forecasts that local demand is set to outpace supply in only a few short years. Speaking of which, how about the unfolding Saudi disaster? I read a few of the comments over at Mr Kunstler’s fine blog this morning and who’d have thought that desalination plants over there were targets? Anyway, you don’t need to be Einstein to know that industrial scale farms utilise very little human labour and a whole lot of Oil. And I suspect somebody, somewhere is going to be missing out on their Oil deliveries pretty soon.

    Hehe! I applaud your introduction of acronym’s with which to identify the various terraces and personally, I’m looking at the fourth terrace and thinking to myself, why the heck not? On the other hand the fourth terrace is getting a bit too close to a walnut tree and that may pose some difficulties due to the propensity of those particular trees to poison the daylights out of every other living plant. This project may well have gotten slightly out of hand… 🙂 Not really, but I do hope to start getting some organic matter onto it over the next few days. It looks like rain is forecast to arrive on Saturday morning, so it would be nice to keep the moisture in the clay. The sun has some heat in it now.

    I’ll keep an eye out for the camellia seeds, and do you have any advice to offer in relation to getting them to germinate? I’ve seen camellia seeds before, but never tried to grow plants from them. A bit busy at the time and all that stuff. Now that we have a goodly collection of roses I’m beginning to wonder about how new varieties are produced. Given the sheer quantity of the plants available, you’d have to suggest that they hybridise readily? Dunno, just speculation as to the possibilities.

    Out of curiosity, do you store your seeds in any semblance of order? We keep them in paper bags and then store those in a box. It doesn’t seem to harm germination rates.

    Ouch, well that tempted the weather Gods because there was a light frost this morning at 32’F and tomorrow looks set to bring the same conditions, but perhaps slightly colder. The wood heater is roaring along nicely.

    Thanks. The rustic sapling fence is a little ripper and it keeps all but the birds and lone rabbit out of the enclosure. I prefer steel fencing, and will modify the inside of the fence (so it can’t be seen) so as to exclude the rabbit. Ollie is rather lax in his rabbit hunting duties and feels that such quarry is beneath his dignity. I really miss Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy as they just dealt to the rabbits.

    It is 3’C / 37’F outside, and Scritchy is now bundled up in the woollen jumper that dare not leave the property. She’s now fast asleep as a result, but I tell ya, she’s getting much older that dog and feels the bite of winter.

    Yeah, there are heaps of olive trees growing around the place. The local parrots have taken a liking to olive seeds, but I suspect the plants are so consistently prolific that they’ll out produce demand.

    Interesting, and I recall the old saying about any press is good press. I’m not sure that it holds true these days because there seems like there is an awful lot of moralising going on and no matter what your take on the world is, somebody is going to come along and piss large chunks of the population off. I suspect that the press will get over it all sooner or later if only because society tends to swing from one extreme to another. It gives them an excuse not to focus on more important matters. I feel that young folks do it the hardest because this awful interweb thing records every slip up and gaff, and people tend to be only as good as their last public slip up, and then everyone appears to enjoy a solid roasting of the slipped up person who then proceeds to fall from grace – and sight. It makes you wonder how Warhol trod that murky grey line of both offending and sending up, all at once. I’ve never read any biography about the man, have you?

    There is a bit of re-booting going on in the film world, however the dark forces of marketing are beyond my ken. I took enough of an interest to realise how manipulated we are but then realised that it all appeared a bit heavy handed because there were only so many emotional buttons to push that would work. Nowadays I suspect that in order for that trick to work again, the process has to be dialled down, but there are too many competing interests pushing and pulling in all sorts of different directions – and they’ve hit the upper limits of the techniques.

    Old grey beards of the world unite! 🙂 Hehe! The health care stories from your part of the world sound like a true horror story. And no it ain’t pretty at all. I managed to score an appointment – next year – for a TB vaccination. It took a lot of dodging, wheedling and weaving to score that shot. I have an unfounded and only gut feeling that it will be a problem in the long term. But I could also be wrong, and I’d like to be in this case.

    What interests me about the Camulod story is the length of time that Arthur’s story extends. The fall from the protection of legions took a long time to shake the foundations. And I had not realised that the Scots once lived on Eire and displaced the Picts.

    Interestingly, Meyer lemons are sold as grafted and/or seedling trees down here too. I’ll be very curious to learn of your choice when you eventually run across (and hopefully not ‘over’ in the Ranger – that would be unfortunate for him) Carl. Incidentally ensure the lemon has plenty of water, but also excellent drainage.

    The shops I frequent continue to employ the disadvantaged and that is a good thing. If a big corporate took them over it would not be good for them.

    The interweb was feral for poor tidings over the past few days, not that people want to look. And I had read the article about the gold toilet – an unusual choice of art if I must say so. Keeping it sparkling clean, as you say, would be a real problem. And I’m unsure that some people would require any encouragement to use the gold device as a weird form of performance art.

    Oh! Thanks very much for the article on the fire lookout bloke. He’s alright, and what a lovely job – with the occasional serious emergency (a bit like living here). It is a shame that there is a move towards making those services virtual as such a move involves loss, and I do wonder if the communications with the drones don’t suffer from radio blackouts as they dip into valleys. And views were something else. I did enjoy his quote about: “Here I think we lose some deeper wisdom and connection with the landscape”, because I too feel that way. I’m aware of the fire lookout towers because we have them down here, and whilst there is one up on the main ridge of this mountain range, I have direct line of sight to one over at the top of Mount Blackwood – and you can clearly see this house from there. A story from the Black Saturday fires of the person that manned one of the lookout fire towers can be found here: Fire spotter saw blaze was ‘going to kill people’.

    I reckon you’d enjoy a stint in a fire tower. I would too and it would certainly change your perspective on the world and give time to reflect – people don’t give that important option much of a go these days. Something or other about being busy – whatever that means.

    Plates under the pumpkins is a good idea. I tend to use dry straw which I can get locally for that job. No doubts that your green tomatoes will ripen to red once inside the house (and kept dry). It won’t take long and they’ve already developed most of their sugars.

    This talk of Blackberry crisp and Blueberry jam is making me salivate. Hope the frost tomorrow morning doesn’t knock off the apricot blossoms. The trees did fine this morning, but tonight it is colder. Oh well.



  12. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your long term friend – and also for the disaster he left behind.

    Years ago I knew a bloke (who had worked in a job before I took it on) and he had a streak of what can only be described as a duplicitous nature. I can’t say that things worked out too well for him based on why he was sacked, but I have no idea how his story ended up because once I took on the job, he was out of the picture. I ran into him once on the street and he scuttled away – as he should have.

    Is it possible that your friend suffered some sort of brain injury or condition that caused his behaviours to change in negative ways, or was he always like that and everyone looked elsewhere and ignored the signs? Dunno, but I have seen peoples personalities change markedly with medical conditions that affect their brains.

    I believe that karma may work in a little bit more of a complicated way than how people generally refer to it.



  13. Downhill all the way! We have a rather hilly place ( not quite as steep as your place) and are always considering placement of materials or infrastructure with respect to gravity. As it is, we still have to go uphill with loads, but try to minimize it as much as possible. Sometimes there is no alternative, and then we try to figure out a path for the truck to make the trip.

    Have been harvesting our hazelnuts this past month, and did an experiment with scything, threshing and winnowing our own wheat. One of these days, I’ll post at my blog.

  14. Hello again
    I am afraid that my friend was always like that, just very clever about it. More and more extraordinary cons. are still coming to light. He lost his touch during his last two years due to his declining health. Interesting man though; he had been in a children’s home and then in a reform place after getting into trouble. Never in prison as an adult,his intelligence prevented that. I do wonder whether his personality was innate or whether his childhood caused it. Probably a mixture of the two.


  15. Hi Chris,
    I agree that mixing business with friendship can be tricky. Even worse is lending money to friends or family. Doug often offers his services regarding friends and family’s real estate assessments since he’s now got experience in that area. He’s been able to help quite a few people reduce their assessment saving them a fair amount of money or let them know when it’s not worth their time appealing the assessment. Just recently he got my brother-in-law’s assessment dropped considerably (he’s the husband of my sister who recently passed away) saving him at least $1,000. Luckily my BIL followed through on his end right away. However, reading about your experiences I can see why you’ve soured on helping out.

    I’m somewhat conflicted regarding volunteering. Yes, it can turn into a lot of unpaid work if you let it. It’s usually when someone can’t say “no” that this happens. About a decade ago when I was active in the Unitarian Church we had this great discussion group. It was originally started by the minister who could be the controlling type so we just cut him out and met on our own. It was a great group – about eight of us ranging in age from the 40’s to 80’s. We would agree on a topic for discussion let by one of the members each month. We had a pot luck dinner first and that was the social time to catch up and then afterwards it was on to the topic of the month. One month we discussed volunteering and it was suggested by several that volunteering often served a need or needs of an individual that was not altruistic. I think of my SJW sister who plasters what she’s doing all over social media as well as talking about it to all who’ll listen. Now I think she’s sincere in her concern for the various causes but to me volunteering is serving her need for attention. For others volunteering is their social life or an opportunity to assuage a sense of guilt.

    It remains fairly wet here and very humid. My cherry tomatoes are doing OK but any larger ones are mostly rotting on the vine.

    I imagine both you and the editor will be relieved when the current excavations are complete.


  16. Hi Chris,

    Great article & musings on mixing business and friendship. And getting into other peoples business. And maybe minding our own business! I really like how you teased out the political implications of such behavior. Thank you!

  17. Yo, Chris – Better keep an eye on your magpies. I see a man was killed, south of Sydney, in a “swooping incident.” There’s a “Magpie Alert”, website. Shades of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

    Yup. The whole Saudi oil thing, is worrying. Especially, as winter moves in on the northern hemisphere. And, no Secretary of Defense, at present time. Odd timing, that. But I don’t really understand all the panic. We only get 5% of our oil imports, from Saudi Arabia. Of course, I don’t understand the stock market percentages, either. Stock market losses 5% of it’s value, and people are slitting their throats and throwing themselves out of windows. Are the profit margins so thin?

    But not to worry. I see they’re releasing some of the strategic reserves, which they always do in an election year. Nothing moves a government out of power faster, than pain at the pumps. I just gassed up last week, and it was $3.29 per gallon. Will be interesting to see how much it is, next time I need a fill up.

    Terrace placement: An art or a science? :-). Probably a dissertation, in there. Advice for growing tea seeds? Google. Yup. Roses freely hybridize. Most roses on offer are clones, grown from slips. So, to get new varieties, you have to grow them from seed, which is a long process. And, you never know what you’ll get.

    I’ve managed to corral my seed into one small box. I picked up some seed packets, from a nursery supply. Sometimes I store them in envelopes or small brown paper bags. Sometimes I even manage to record, on the outside, what seed they are! 🙂

    My neighbor Eleanor, had an interesting career, at one point. Where to start the story … A slightly eccentric, semi-hippie couple, with some kind of bio degrees started a small lab to propagate plants. A shed and a green house, on their land north of Centralia. They trained Eleanor as they went along, and the business expanded, and Eleanor ended up supervising the lab, with many people under her. The couple eventually sold the lab and retired, and Eleanor did the same, not long after. She said it was the most fascinating work she’d ever done.

    The couple wrote a book. Now in it’s 4th edition. The owner’s name is still on it. For old time’s sake, Eleanor wondered if the library had a copy. One. Languishing in the Winlock branch. I took a quick look at it, but it seemed beyond my interest. Lots of test tubes and petri dishes. But, if you’d like to take a look, it’s called “Plants from Test Tubes: An Introduction to Micropropogation.” First author is Lydiand Kyte. Amazon has copies. Cont.

  18. @ Hazel,

    Thanks for the input. Sometimes it appears that the Weegies can’t even understand themselves talk. You certainly verifies my suspicion about Aberdonian, too.


  19. Cont. I’ve never read a full bio, of Warhol. Just some brief biographical sketches. His “art” really didn’t interest me, much. I thought it was interesting that he used to spend part of each day, scouring flea markets in New York city, back when you could still find stuff at a reasonable price. He had a whole townhouse (separate from his residence) where he parked his finds. Still in their bags and boxes, never touched again. Until the estate sale … Classic hoarder behavior.

    Not only young people, caught up in the interweb. Quit a few of the seniors around here, are Face Plant junkies. Eleanor needed a new TV set. And, somehow ended up with a new phone and some kind of a “device.” They convinced her it’s just what she needed to “keep in touch” with the far flung family. Like the new great, great grand baby in New Zealand. She was quit distressed when a picture of a topless couple (Who she didn’t even know!!!) popped up on her feed. Oh, well. She has a great grand daughter and daughter to help her navigate through all the ins and outs of a new TV (with complicated remote), new phone and … whatever.

    You know, if you don’t text, have a device with the right App, you’re totally out of the dating pool. Might as well go an become a light house keeper, or fire watcher. Applications available, on line. :-).

    Yup. The Camulod story line is a long one. But, I think it was Mr. Greer that pointed out that when you in the midst of history, you don’t notice much. Yup. I knew the Scots were from Ireland, way back when. Lots of people moving around, at that time. A bit later on, Merlin gets a lesson in the differences and similarities of the Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Frisians. Among others. Berbers? Danes?

    Just to get an idea of what Merlin’s men went up against, the bore before the bear, take a look at this …

    Just to give you an idea of scale, the man posing with the beast is 6’2″.

    Wildfires make their own weather. Including tornados. I can’t see a drone doing very well under those conditions. Poor Mr. Willans. I suppose he’s up nights, wondering if there wasn’t something else he could of done. What happened in Marysville is very similar to Paradise.

    Your worried about a late frost, I’m worried about an early one. My peas are up and showing their secondary leaves. Hadn’t been on a slug hunt, but thought I’d better go out, the other night. One slug could mow down my peas in short order. Only found two! That was a surprise.

    I’m hoping for an “Indian Summer”. Thought of that, the other day, but wanted to poke around before talking out of my … ear. The official definition is a warm, clear period, after a killing frost. I think of it more as a warm, clear period, as a break in the rain. The term first appears about 1800.

    Today, it is feral, outside. Rain and wind. Some of my corn has, not snapped off, but bent over. The weight of the cobs did them in. But I think they’re ok, as the silks were turning brown. We’re supposed to have a clear day, on Thursday. I may harvest those cobs, above the bend, then.

    My friends may have a house for sale, in Council, in the future. Probably, $85,000. So, a 20% down would be about $17,000. They carry their own contracts, so, the property transfer would be relatively cheap and painless. Interest would be low. Hmmm. Lew

  20. Chris,

    Head spin? Here, let me help. Notice that 72 is divisible by 9, as is 27. Their difference, 45, is also divisible by 9. Another rule of arithmetic: the sum or difference of two numbers divisible by 9 is also divisible by 9. A further rule of arithmetic, or should I call these the Rules of 9? Take a multidigit number. Scramble the numbers to form a second number. The difference between the original and the scrambled will be divisible by 9. Every. Single. Time. So, 1428 minus 1284 equals 144 which is divisible by 9. (9 multiplied by 16). Does that help the spinning head? 😉

    Oh yes, if that eejit had hit me with his truck, he would’ve been at major fault of several infractions and perhaps vehicular homicide. Small comfort to me that would’ve been! I consider myself fortunate for surviving that unscathed. Similar incidents are why I quit riding a motorcycle nearly 40 years ago.

    Ahhhh, nude gardening. Can’t say as I ever tried that, myself. Although, once upon a year there was an old website that had a regular contributor who called himself “Billy Barebutt”. He did a lot of gardening. He also got banned from the website, perhaps for pushing the idea of nude gardening too much.

    We went to the movies yesterday and saw “Angel Has Fallen”. Long on action, short on plot. With the frame of mind we were both in, it was exactly what we needed. More interesting was one of the previews. There is another Terminator movie coming soon to a theater near you: “Terminator: Dark Fate” starring Linda Hamilton. In the preview, she blasts a terminator with a bazooka or something similar. Who would’ve thought that they could take our recent conversation and put it on film that quickly!?!

    My sister had a friend whose family moved to Australia. After a few years she came back for a visit, trying to pass herself off as an Aussie and sporting a thick accent, which sounded contrived and fake to me. I said as much to her, and that everybody knew her. She quit the accent and never ceased looking daggers at me. Oh well, she was my sister’s friend and had looked daggers at me for many years before that, so no big loss.

    Nice essay this week. I had a job once in which a close friend of mine was one of the managers. That didn’t work. In the government agency that employs me, most of the managers start at lower level jobs, form friendships, get promotions, and are unable to be capable managers because the don’t want to harm the friendships. My experience is thus similar to yours: friendship and business often don’t mix well.

    You said “The thing is, you can’t really help people who are unwilling or unable to help themselves.” That is my experience, too. I know several people who are quite willing to wallow around with totally screwed up lives but refuse to do a thing to help themselves, simply expecting friends and family to help them whenever they want. They want others to give them what they want but refuse to do a thing to change themselves or find a different way of doing things. Giving a boost to someone is okay, but being treated as if we’re someone’s personal charity organization with endless funds and time wears thin quickly. The ability to say “No” is very important.

    I see the “Photo Hounds” were enjoying being the focus of attention again.

    Oi, what a past few days! Got a lot of outdoor work done. Too much, actually. The awning over our patio was becoming a problem, so we hired a contractor to replace it. Long story short, they didn’t get the required permit from the city government. I found out one was required, so I obtained one after the work was allegedly complete. The inspector came by yesterday, and I dug out portions of the dirt around the concrete footings before his arrival: failed inspection. The main reason: the concrete footings for the new awning were supposed to be 24″ thick below grade. The contractor only had 9″! And the posts may not have been connected to the concrete properly.

    When the contractor’s lead worker pressured me for final payment 2 weeks ago, at the same visit in which I had given him a copy of the permit, I told him, politely, that the final half of the payment would NOT be forthcoming until the job had passed inspection. I followed that up with an email to the owner of the company, who now also knows the results of the inspection. I’ve requested that they get the required work done before the weather turns. Will keep you updated…

    Oh, and the company is owned by some guys who bought it from their dad when he retired. I’ve known their dad since before the offspring were born. In other words, more data that friendship and business don’t necessarily mix well.


  21. Hi, Chris
    I was really surprised when I went out yesterday – the surrounding hills were covered in snow, even the lower ones. Apparently, it snowed down to 500 metres, which is very unusual. But the weirdest aspect was that we didn’t have a frost. The overnight minimum was 3C.
    The rain was great, although my area got less than the north of Canberra. However, 20mm is not to be sneezed at, especially when the place is as dry as a biscuit!
    Maybe apricots and almonds grew originally in coastal areas? No worries about frost, there, and plenty of rainfall. I can remember an article someone wrote during the last drought, which said that we should stop growing oranges and almonds in Australia, because they need too much water. They suggested pomegranates and pistachios instead. I think it would take some re-education of tastes to get most Australians to consume pomegranate juice for breakfast! Though it is probably full of antioxidants and other good stuff?
    At this point, I suspect that you have a lot more experience in creating new soil than I! The only extra stuff I could think of is maybe gypsum, to break the clay bonding, and sheep manure, which is very fibrous, and holds water really well. But maybe Ollie would eat it?😀
    I hope that you get a rest from the crazy professional stuff, and can recharge your personal batteries with some growing and mulching. It’s good for the soul!

  22. Hi Steve,

    Gravity is a pretty handy force isn’t it? Unless rocks have to be taken up hill, then a truck makes it all possible. Yah, you’re onto something for sure! It is hard to know in advance how to set up a farm so as to make it simple.

    Yum! And wow, respect! Look forward to reading the story.



  23. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for mentioning the Notayesman essay. And it was a great read and I was curious that the reported stats for household debt to income ration could have been so wrong. I have a gut feeling that the policies being pursued are nearing their upper thresholds of err, ‘workability’. The squeeze between income, costs and debt maintenance are taking the air of other parts of the economy, don’t you reckon? I see that story playing out with the house and contents insurance premium increase – which is why I mention it. The Americans see it playing out as the retail-apocalypse.

    It is interesting, but your description of the blokes background suggests to me that he used the early social difficulties and disadvantages as a learning experience, and at a wild guess there would be occasional signs of a very hard personality under the charm. Although I would be troubled to hear his actual assessment of other people whether it be a sweeping generalisation or otherwise. Declining health would certainly take the edge off his art and skillset.

    I tend to avoid such folks as they usually provide little tests and then escalate from there. The tests annoy me and usually they move on to other targets.



  24. Hi Margaret,

    Far out, thanks for mentioning that one. Lending money to friends and/or family is like the A-Bomb of personality tests. Bam! It’s like the whole next level.

    Top work on behalf of your BIL to take Doug’s advice and then run with it. I tend to have a rule of thumb which is pretty much that: If a person can’t take advice (and they’re in trouble and asking for help), I can’t help them. Then there are the people that cherry pick aspects of advice – that is a show stopper for me too. But yeah, souring on the relationship is a great way of putting it.

    Smart move cutting the minister out. You know sometimes I reckon people who are controlling sorts tend to use that tool to manage their anxiety. It doesn’t work too well though. Your discussion group sounds a lot like the Green Wizards group. Good fun.

    It is hard to know what peoples motivations are, and I tend to lean towards darker explanations, mostly because it tends to be less disappointing when that guess turns out to be true! Oh well. People aren’t really encouraged to have hobbies and interests, so when they retire (or get near to that) I reckon it can be really hard on them. I feel it speaks to a deeper malaise within society which may have something to do with a lack of sense of purpose.

    Phew! We’re going deep here… 🙂

    Cherry tomatoes and mid-sized tomatoes are the best that the climate down here allows me most years. Your rain and cloud certainly wouldn’t have helped matters for you. There’s always next year… Sunny here today, and tomorrow looks as though it will be warmer.

    Thanks. We’ll see how things work out over the next few days with the excavations.



  25. Hi Justin,

    Hey mate! Thanks very much. So true, it is hard to know when to mind one’s own business. The politics of the situation are extraordinarily complicated. It’s funny you mention that perspective of the story, but you sort of learn as you go, but.of course we’re like a good drop in that we improve with age, others, well they start to resemble vinegar! 😉



  26. Hi Lewis,

    The magpies and I are on friendly terms at the moment, and given they live for up to 20 years, I sort of go out of my way not to annoy them. Who’d have thought that a magpie swooping would lead to such an outcome? I notice that in the articles that people are baying for blood – and I quote: “It swoops quite a lot of people. It swooped a kid yesterday.” You know I walked past many gardens in the city earlier today and despite seeing flowers everywhere, I did not see a single insect. Hmm, not good. The magpies see the people as intruding on their turf where they harvest food.

    Hehe! So true. That is the funny thing about depressions and recessions, it is not as if the physical capital is destroyed by the lack of capital. Of course, not having any mad cash when that is the way people keep rain off their heads and food on the table can present some emotional challenges. I’ve done so many low level jobs in my life that I just get on and do what has to be done. Like during the recession of the 90’s I just did debt collection for years. Better than starving is my take on the world, but I know plenty of people who are quite fussy about the sort of work they feel is within their dignity.

    Far out, you get fuel cheap. The funny thing is that the fuel costs here are down too $1.32-ish a litre (3.8 litres to the gallon). That’s really weird because the exchange rate has not been favourable of late.

    Nice dodge with the camellia seeds. Respect! Yeah, I’ve got no idea about how roses are produced by seed either. Grafting, yeah, seeds – nope. So much to learn…

    Hehe! What, those seeds weren’t mustard greens? What’s going on? 🙂

    Wow, Eleanor has had a fascinating life, and is also proof that with good teachers, the apprenticeship system works very well. ‘Slightly eccentric hippie couple’ would make for a very interesting workplace and also work culture. I have no experience to even comprehend what working for a couple of eccentric hippies would be like, but it sure would be interesting. Thanks for mentioning the book too and it is readily available. Out of curiosity, what was it about the book that made it beyond your interest?

    The radio is playing softly in the background and the journalist are decrying the burning of the Indonesian rainforests which is a similar story to what is going on in the Amazon. I do wonder whether the same concerned people would give up on their own non-essential air travel? Indonesia produces a lot of palm oil following the burn offs and I really don’t like the taste of that stuff, but in terms of yield, there isn’t much in the way of plant oils that will match it.

    Ah, I don’t know much about the artist either and yeah, the painting of the can of soup did nothing for me. I was not, err, moved or amused by it – and I’m sure there is an in-joke in there somewhere for the cognoscenti to enjoy. It just doesn’t seem funny to me. Really? Well I never would have picked him for a hoarder – you can never tell. Do you reckon hoarders know where everything is in their collections? Incidentally, I have spotted a well known designer perusing through an op-shop.

    Who’d have thunk it? Never dabbled in Face Plant myself, but you hear stories about addictions to checking up on status updates. Certainly I feel that some people driving might be checking on such things, whilst they’re meant to be doing other things, like err, driving. Do you reckon it has gotten to the addiction stage for some? I mean your choice of word ‘junkie’ says it all. I don’t really understand the business case with porn on the interweb, but I have heard recently when they had a ‘porn discussion week’ on the youth radio station I listen to that such possibly websites use algorithms so as to whet the appetites of the viewers and escalate their viewing tastes – albeit slowly. Can’t say I’m a fan of such practices or services.

    Friends have mentioned the desire for a smart TV, whatever that is. How can a TV be smart? You’re on the zeitgeist.

    Better run, will speak tomorrow.



  27. @ DJSpo
    Though not particularly good at maths, I became fascinated by the number 9 when still at school. Then 50 years ago when working as a librarian, I came across a fascinating book. It was a different system of arithmetic which the author had worked out while he was a prisoner of war. I think that that was it though my memory of it is dim. I would love to know what that book was and who the author was.


  28. Hi, Chris!

    It is always good when one can stamp something: Lesson learned. Perhaps that is the whole point.

    Your weather sounds quite nice. Our nights are cool here, and we have had a very nice spell of weather. We are eating the first fall radishes and could eat the bok choy, but I want it to get a bit bigger.

    Hi, Toothy’s tail! It seems impossible that two mere human beings could do so much excavation work (not even counting firewood) in such a short time (we are not counting foul weather days). It makes it easier to see how things like the Pyramids got built. Just slog on and on. The steps look especially good.

    I understand about putting things in a spot way removed from the garden, only to have the garden area eventually encompass it. I had a spot where I piled small rocks for years and it is now in the middle of the garden. I am still removing the rocks. I love the photo “A clear path leading . . .”. It is a wonderful view of all the excavations – and the Very Long Path!

    Ollie – I see Pointer blood in your heritage in the photo of you standing in front of the terraces. It could account for the freckles, too.

    That’s a photo in a million of Toothy with his tongue out.

    Your lavender seems to always be blooming. Mine doesn’t. Maybe it’s that sun shortage again. Yet they grow it in England . . .

    It is time to plant bulbs here. I had been waiting for it to rain (which it has) because the ground was so hard.

    Your orchard is so beautiful.


  29. and again
    Hmm the upper ends of workability. Actually there don’t seem to be any ends, so on and on we go!
    You were spot on about moments when a hard personality showed through the charm. It was usually towards his wife and very unpleasant though careful. He absolutely never mentioned his opinion of anyone.
    He certainly played the long game. he had houses abroad and I holidayed with them there. In fact it is both fascinating and educational to look back on those years with my current awareness.
    Weather remains dry and hot though colder at night.


  30. Yo, Chris – Oh, I’m on the side of the magpies. I think if a bit of due diligence (vigilance) is applied, there wouldn’t be so many problems.

    “…quiet fussy about the sort of work…” He says to the guy who has slung hash in a skid row cafe, been a janitor, exotic dancer, made wooden clogs, security guard, etc. etc.. :-).

    I also had that thought about Eleanor and apprenticeships. Though she said last night, if she hadn’t come to it so late in life, she’s have liked to have gone back and got a degree, of some sort. So we are convince (gulled) by the idea of the importance of “higher” education. So, why didn’t I warm to the book (keeping in mind I just gave it a quick look). Well, as I said, all those test tubes and petri dishes. :-). Pictures of lab interiors. Had more than a whiff of a textbook. There were chemical formulas. And, horror of horrors, graphs! :-). Didn’t look like any information I’d use in this life.

    Oh, I think Warhol was having people on, a bit of the time. One thing he always picked up was old cookie (biscuit?) jars. Quit a few people collected them, at one point. Some of the more desirable ones have even been reproduced (fakes). When his estate was auctioned off, a lot of stuff went for astronomical amounts of money, just because his name was attached to it. Auction houses are more than happy to give you a “certificate of authenticity.” You see a lot of that in celebrity auctions. The urge is rooted in the veneration of saints, or some such. Books signed by the author. Heck, even in Pompeii they found a marble table that had an inscription that it was about 150 years old, and had belonged to Julius Caesar’s nemesis, Pompey. Sometimes called “association pieces” in the tat trade.

    Oh, sure. Parts of the internet can be addicting. As can many things. Just light up those reward centers in the brain, often enough. Now I haven’t had a TV in probably, twenty years. But, I suppose a smart TV, is all part of that “internet of things.” They’re cable ready. And where does that cable go? It plumbs the depths of the internet. They’re programable.

    I watched “The Professor and the Madman”, last night. I quit liked it. Although, as with most of those things, I wonder how true to history, it was. There was a book, that I’ve never read. Next time I run across a copy, I might give it a look. I didn’t know the madman was an American. A doctor, during our Civil War. To me, I figured he has a severe case of PTSD. But, in the afterword, they said he had schizophrenia. There was also a background drum beat of class snideness. The “Professor” was a self taught man, with no degrees. And, wasn’t connected to “the establishment.” Besides, he had a thick, Scottish accent. Horrors! Some of the Oxford dons, wanted to take him down a peg. Same story as that recent movie about the guy who invented radar, during WWII.

    With luck, “The Dead Don’t Die” (Bill Murray’s zombie movie) will be waiting for me, at the library. An ice cream evening, is in order. Will Safeway deliver pumpkin?

    A bit of music for you to enjoy (?) on your hiatus. It was an early music video, that stuck in my mind. All I could remember is that it had the “bee” girl, in it. Finally found it.

    Blind Melon, “No rain.”

    The corn bent in the wind, on a few stocks. Due to the weight of the cobs. The silks are beginning to turn brown, but not quit enough to harvest (I don’t think.) But as they’re bent, not broken, I’ll keep an eye on them and see if they continue to ripen. As long as the leaves, above the bend, don’t start to brown, I’ll know they’re still getting fed. Otherwise, I’ll harvest those cobs, early. Note to self: Next year, rope them in at two places. :-). Lew

  31. Hi DJ,

    I had the radio on today and during the science hour, they had a mathematician whom was discussing how one infinity could be bigger than another infinity. In this instance I would like to blame sitting next to the school bully in year 9 math, but yeah somehow it seems like a long bow for me to draw! One has to be careful that their head does not in fact spin like the kid on the Exorcist film.

    You definitely used up one of your nine lives by dodging the eejit in the truck, but yeah, life on a motorcycle can be occasionally full of such incidents. They’re too close for comfort, and afterwards, you kind of know that there were only seconds to spare, and sometimes fractions of seconds. I’m not sure that I’d call that fun.

    The sun is a bit harsh down here for nude gardening, and I can’t really recommend having ones delicate bits sunburned. Even today I wore sunscreen because the UV is picking up and I could feel the suns sting. People that have never been to this sunny country have no idea how harsh the sun is here.

    Long on action, short on plot – sounds exactly like a zombie film. The turn around time from idea to completed film product these days is amazing. 🙂 Thanks for the heads up about the Terminator film, but I thought they’d smashed the net several films ago?

    Just goes to prove that you can’t be friends with everyone! But you do actually pick up the local accent if you live in a place long enough.

    Thanks, and I’ve had that exact same situation too of being managed by a former friend and peer (who was promoted). Of course, there is also the underlying assumption that those being promoted actually know how to manage other people.

    Yeah, people are happy with disasters and chaos and just can’t be stuffed getting their act together. It happens, and nowadays I tend to ignore their words and look at a persons actions, because often the two tell a very different story. Have you ever noticed that when people are takers, that if resources and assistance are taken away from them, they inevitably resort to anger?

    The photo hounds are dirty for the attention, but Ollie was being well behaved as I had asked him to sit for the photo. He needs training that dog.

    Far out. How did it all end up with the footings?



  32. Hi Hazel, Inge, Pam, and Lewis

    (Cue deep voice) In celebration of the almost (but not quite) completion of the excavations on the lower garden terrace today, I have called for a national holiday known as the double secret mid-week hiatus with pint and feed.

    I can’t believe that it was almost finished, but the start was early this morning, the sun was hot and the day was long…

    Plenty of time to speak tomorrow!



  33. Hi Lewis,

    I’m on the side of the magpies too – they’re nobodies fool and I’d like to believe that I’m on friendly terms with the family that live here on the farm. And us humans are seriously annoying them. It is hardly like the magpie actually killed the bloke.

    Thought you might appreciate my sentiment, but yeah I hear you and don’t shy away from doing the work that needs doing too. I’m unsure how people became so fussy about jobs and status, because as far as I can understand things, work is work. There is no fulfillment to be found, unless of course a person eats for a job. Then they’d get full, but that’s probably the one exception that comes to mind.

    Thanks for the honest assessment of the book – and I’d make a dreadful scientist mostly because I like employing rules of thumb and I try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. So from time to time I have the occasional failed batch of yoghurt, but then that’s why I now keep a frozen backup from a batch I know has worked. I suspect that the contamination with the yoghurt was because I also use the same apparatus for making sake.

    Ha! Eleanor didn’t need to go and get a degree, because she did the work without it because of the circumstances. I’m not really sure how much of my degree is utilised in my day to day work. Maybe a bit, but the whole thing is a requirement because it is a barrier to entry and businesses have managed to foist the cost for training off onto employees. Eleanor was trained, and that would have been a cost for the business – and that was how things used to be done.

    Really? I’d never heard of people collecting cookie jars. That’s a new one to me. Ah, saints bones, mysterious old nails etc. It is a bit like an old school fetish don’t you reckon? And the certificate of authenticity provides the manna. Everything old is new again.

    It is funny you mention Caesar, but there was a mention in the book chapter XX (which is not as auspicious a number as you put to text, but still good all the same), that before Caesar, the Roman Senate was dominated by farmers/landholders. The book is fascinating.

    Speaking of the interweb of things, I encountered a device the other day that was connected up to the interweb and it responded to voice commands. Now, I know it sounds all a bit conspiracy theory, but if that device can understand spoken commands, what is it doing with all of the other bits of talk that it picks up along the way? It almost sounds like a priests confessional. Interestingly the government has taken away the Catholic Churches ability to hide behind the confessional seal for certain crimes. I can’t say that the Church has been well behaved, so they don’t clean up their act and this is what they get.

    Thanks for mentioning the film as I had not heard of it. Did the story track closely to the historical events? And go on and tease me. Did you enjoy the ‘Dead don’t Die’?

    Wow. Thanks for the link, but the uploader did not intend for the video to be viewed in this country. Well, it is nice to know how they feel. I’ll see if I can track down another copy. Not nice at all.

    Plants can be pretty hardy so I reckon your corn will be OK.

    Almost finished the excavations on the lower garden terrace today. All of the soil moved is being used to create the path at the end of the ramp. So the path has extended about another maybe 33 feet today. It’s looking good, but we got so close to finishing the job, but how do they say it? That’s right: No cigar.

    I might have a crack at finishing it tomorrow given it is only a few hours work.



  34. Yo, Chris – “…how people became so fussy…” Well, it became an option, and people decided to exercise the option :-). “Progress” created Lands of Cushy. “We’ll get to a place where we don’t have to get our hands dirty, or break a sweat. Those that do, we’ll cast aspersions on them, and make them feel bad about having dirty hands and being all sweaty. And for those who really don’t care, and see through our game, we’ll ostracize them.” An old, old story.

    Oh, I can understand Eleanor’s yearning after a degree. Did it myself, in a minor fit of madness. When I started taking classes, over the internet, to finish up my library degree. But then I came to my senses, and just took the classes that had real value to the job at hand.

    I suppose cookie jars had a kind of cozy aura. Grandma’s cookie jar, and all that. Quit a few of them were gently humorous. Along with other areas of collecting, there were whole hardback books, with lavish color photos. Price guides, updated yearly. Annual conventions. I wonder if there’s a cookie jar museum?

    I finished “Saxon Shore.” Onto “Fort at River’s Bend.” But I’ll take a break and read that book I mentioned, which is waiting for me at the library. Something about a pet raven, a zombie apocalypse and Seattle. 🙂

    Well, there’s been some interesting developments in the whole voice device area. Turns out they record and store quit a bit of their owner’s patter. Some fellow tracked down his archive, and was rather startled at what was (and wasn’t) recorded. It was quit a laborious process to find and access the archive. And, an equally onerous process could be employed to wipe it clean. And, maybe, stop the archiving.

    Oh, I don’t know how closely to history the “Madman and the Professor” is to history. I haven’t even gotten around to checking out the Wikipedia entry, yet.

    Well, I watched “The Dead Don’t Die.” Every copy should be rounded up and destroyed. Anyone connected to the production should be sentenced to several years of hard labor. In the first place, it dragged. I kept waiting for the thing to take off. It never did. Just one low energy scene, that lasted a bit too long, after another. In several places, the actors let us know they were in a movie. Cute? No. If you run across this DVD in a dollar bin somewhere, throw it back. And then wash your hands.

    Well, that’s the pits about the music video. I’ll bootleg a copy, and send it to you. Australia should not be deprived of The Bee Girl! Liberate the Bee Girl!!! The Bee Girl wants to be free!!! :-).

    “Close, but no cigar.” Wonder where that phrase came from? But I’m all for a National Day of Thanksgiving. Will there be cake? Large, baked birds? Pageants? There should at least be a ribbon cutting for the opening of the Ramp/Driveway Interchange (and round-about). Lew

  35. Chris,

    Some of the esoteric advanced math in physics deals with weird concepts like infinity multiplied by infinity, different sizes of infinity, imaginary numbers (square root of a negative number results in an imaginary number, which became very useful in certain applications) and other head spinning notions. My wife just cautioned me to move to another topic because she’s never seen my head twist that far around before.

    I sold my motorcycle after a few months of riding because the dangers far outweighed the fun and the economics. The final straw was when someone purposely tried to force a friend of mine into a ditch when we were out for a ride.

    I have to cover up in the sun. I’ve found that I’m allergic to most sunscreens. So, cover up and watch my hydration.

    The hottest I’ve ever been was NOT either time I’ve experienced 115F temperatures. It was 100F in Santa Fe at over 7,000 feet elevation. There’s not much atmosphere to block the UV at that elevation.

    The Terminator series will never end. Well, if THIS movie bombs in the box office as the last one did, maybe that will end it. They think a new movie featuring Sarah Conner might have mass appeal.

    The zombie series “Z Nation” was filmed in Spokane. I’m not a fan of the genre, but we watched one episode because it was filmed here. I recognized two places in that episode. One was in the State Park across the river from where I grew up. I spent probably thousands of hours hiking and wandering there, and was very familiar with the location in one scene: the undergrowth was all ponderosa pine and various varieties of brush. The characters topped a rise and…the next scene was from a distant part of the county, nowhere near the Spokane River, in which the plant growth was radically different and the trees were firs and spruce near an abandoned sanitarium. I lost interest when they couldn’t even attempt to keep the plants consistent.

    My friend and I became estranged by the end of the summer. The good news is that he landed an Air Force job near Albuquerque, New Mexico. A year later, I was in graduate school in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and drove to Albuquerque regularly to visit my relatives who live there. I visited my friend every trip and we just never mentioned the tension we’d had. So it worked out, for which I’m grateful.

    I see the anger from takers quite often. There are family members that we have as little interaction with as is possible for that very reason. People like that are toxic, and life is too short to subject oneself to that level of toxicity.

    The footings. I heard from the contractor today via email. They are trying to schedule for Tuesday. I will be present, which will make them foam at the mouth. However, due to a mandatory work meeting that afternoon, they will either do the 2 or 3 hours of work early in the day or schedule for a different day. The permit means that the local authority can demand that they do things right. I can also pursue several different avenues of legal action should they try any more shenanigans. For example, they are licensed and bonded by the State of Washington. I can always file a formal complaint with that agency. And I have only paid half of the bill, so the final half will not get paid until the job passes inspection. There is nothing that they can do about that.


  36. Hi Hazel,

    Yesterday I woke up at sunrise and moved and excavated soil until about 4.30pm when I reached the upper limits of what I wanted to do on the project. And there was still 4m of clay remaining to excavate… Still, the new path above the house has continued to grow and is now much further along than I believed it to have gotten to. We’ll both get a bit of rain tomorrow which will be nice.

    I loved the photos and videos of the snow from your part of the country, and it just looked great: NSW wild weather brings surprise snow to Goulburn and Blue Mountains, and heavy rain for Sydney.

    You got me wondering about almonds and according to Louis Glowinski’s most excellent tome (a thorough recommendation for the book) “The complete book of fruit growing in Australia”, he suggests that almond cultivation is restricted to warm climates and probably originated in Western Asia or Asia Minor, where the winters are mild. Interestingly, their chilling hours is around 300 hours (below 7’C) which is really short, so little wonder they are the first fruit tree to produce blossoms here. And they prefer hot and dry summers (with some irrigation for good fruit set).

    Absolutely. I’ve tasted pomegranates and have a plant growing here, but I can’t say that I enjoy the fruit – much like the orange passionfruit (not good) which grows instead of the nicer black passionfruit which I can’t seem to manage to survive.

    Thanks for mentioning gypsum as I hadn’t considered that, but it might do a lot of good as a first layer over the clay. Hmm. Believe it or not, I have no access to sheep manure that I’m aware of.



  37. Hi Pam,

    Conversely, wouldn’t it be awful if there was a good lesson to be learned and the valuable lesson sailed off into the wide blue yonder and was unfortunately lost to sight? Last evening, I had nothing to give and so went to the pub instead. We got up at day break and were determined to complete the excavations on the lower garden terrace, and then as the clay was being used to construct the path above the house (leading to the middle terrace, if you include the existing strawberry and blackberry/raspberry terraces) started forming out of the primordial murk. I remarked to the editor, who was instrumental in this project, that you had once mentioned that your son had never met a project that he didn’t like. Well, the editor liked that project and so the path leading onto the terraces has begun being formed. I digress, I was tired and a feed and pint was just the thing to restore my flagging energy reserves – and it was good. 🙂

    Nice, and yeah I hear you about that. Knowing when exactly to harvest is a very complicated aspect of growing any edible plants. I was looking at the Asian nashi pear trees today which are ever so slowly breaking their dormancy, and thinking to myself that I should harvest the fruit at the first sign that the parrots are thefting off with them. Pears as I have learned over the past year or so, ripen off the tree.

    Toothy sends tail wags and greetings to you and yours! Thanks and it is just like the story of the rabbit and the hare, or was that the tortoise? I forget, anyway, one of them was faster than the other, but maybe it was the hare that was the fastest that did the most work? I’m not really sure! Hehe! But yeah, a little bit here and there and just keep plugging away at the projects and they eventually get done.

    Rocks are good, and I hope that you are putting them to good use? Hmm? 😉 I tell ya what is worse, asking a guy with a 20 tonne excavator to push them down the hill and out of sight, only for you to learn the errors of such a decision. Might have to do something about that.

    There is a lovely lady that I know who reads the blog and she casually said to me one day many months ago that guys don’t pose for photographs. As to that opinion I don’t really know, but I do know that the scale of this place is bonkers huge, and if I don’t pose for photos and/or get one of the dogs to frolic around doing whatever dogs do, it is just really hard to see what the scale is of the various things in the photographs. The scale of the terraces project sometimes even leaves me feeling like it is an epic project. 🙂

    You are most perceptive, and Ollie does in fact have German Short Pointer heritage in his background. He loves being a ginger and full of freckles. He has been a surprising dog for me in that he is the biggest dog that I have had the pleasure of knowing, and he is just gentle, intelligent and mostly well behaved.

    Toothy was clearly tasting the air with his tonuge!

    I’ve noticed that lavender prefer a very sunny position, so you’ve probably got enough heat, but not enough sun. And they thrive on neglect here.

    Ooooo! What sort of bulbs are you planting? And do you dig your existing bulbs up and spread them around? The open garden I went to last weekend had been at that task for about a century, and the results were good.

    Thanks! The orchard is only just breaking its dormancy, and the trees are getting quite large. I do have to obtain an orchard ladder sooner or later.



  38. Hi Inge,

    I don’t doubt your observation about the possibility that there may be no upper limits to the monetary policies that are currently being pursued. A lot of central banks are in on the action too so I wouldn’t suggest that it is unilaterally supported, however it may get down near to the end game as to a question as to who has the energy and resources. It looks like a murky mess to me and I wouldn’t play this particular game, and I’ve read histories of the Reichsbank and how that story worked out for them. No doubts we’ll find out how the story progresses as new events unfold. I did however pay $1.71 per litre of fuel today which is a new price record for me (3.8 litres to the gallon). Fortunately, neither vehicle that I own uses much in the way of petrol, although they are unpopular choices due to their small size.

    Your friend was a very guarded man, and I just had a flash of insight which leads me to believe that maintaining such a guard would have cost him in terms of energy. And I’m really sorry to say this, but such people can often use their partners as ‘soft targets’ for their displeasure, but they might also – and this is a sweeping generalisation – just want to keep them off balance and on edge for their own purposes. Honestly, I’m just guessing based on what I’ve observed of similar folks. It’s not good, but occasionally it could be a lot of fun and therein lies the conundrum.

    By and large, most people play the short game these days. I disagree with such policies, but how else can anyone explain the competing messes that our society faces? So he was probably onto something with that strategy, if only because it is a neglected strategy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and like you are clearly doing, I too review the past with the knowledge of how things turned out, as an extraordinarily useful and under rated tool.

    Autumn is upon you. It was rather warm here today at 77’F and at this stage of the year I am unused to such heat, although the garden probably enjoyed it. It is very green here at the moment, but the fruit trees are only just beginning to break their dormancy.



  39. Hi DJ,

    This talk of advanced math is making my head spin around and around like the kid on the Exorcist film! Yikes, please spare a thought for my neck which may not quite be up to the task of accommodating so many spins… Your wife is a wise lady who has no desire to see either of our heads drop off our shoulders! Imagine the mess and cries from your poor wife decrying to the police that: “I told him to stop it!” But then the police hearing that would go all cool and stuff and then offer the incriminating question: “So, you said you were having an argument mam?” Then she’d end up in the slammer all because we were discussing advanced math and the Exorcist. I tell you this, nobody is going to understand.

    Ouch. Yup, I saw your story of motorcycling myself, although mostly the interactions I experienced were of the more careless and thoughtless variety. Being somewhat tall, drivers had to worry whether they’d cop a thumping from me.

    Really? I’ve never heard of anyone allergic to sunscreen. Mate, that is no good at all, and your summers would be a nightmare. Have you ever considered moving further north and/or west? And 115’F is as hot as it has ever been here, and the results were not good.

    It is possible, a mate of mine spoke about the last Terminator film and it seemed a bit over the top. I’m a bit old fashioned as I expect a story line with my movies. I’m gutted by Lewis’s review of the zombie film, but it confirms my worst fears because other reviewers have not even been as kind to the zombieart. Alas, I’ll hope for Zombieland 2 to reaffirm my faith in the genre.

    Far out, how stupid do film makers believe the audience to be? You’ve raised that, I raise you the end of the 1990’s surf-crim cult classic film ‘Point Break’. Apparently, the end of the film was a 50 year storm off the coast of Bell’s Beach which is to the south west of me (and I’ve been to). Think Mad Max the original film. Thesurf-crim film didn’t look anything like the beach and what was with all the pine trees and the dodgy Aussie accents (I await your analysis): Point Break End Sequence. All the same it was a good film and had an excellent story line. They do occasionally get storms like that one and the last surf comp produced some very large waves, although most of the year the beach is quiet.

    Yeah, sometimes you can move past circuit breakers in relationships. Often at those times I’ve observed that there is a reapportioning of power within a relationship, and that’s cool.

    I too haven’t worked out any better way of dealing with such people who are takers. I tend to not let them in in the first place and just sort of keep them at arms-length. We’re not put here to change others behaviour.

    Not paying all of the bill is probably the best leverage you have. Descending into the legal system for a redress is a minefield that will eat both your time and your energy. Best to leave that option for when you’re backed into a corner with no better path out of the mess. But for now, they probably want to be paid for the rest of the job! 😉



  40. Chris:

    So the editor has also never met a project she didn’t like!

    We ripen virtually all fruit off of the tree or plant, except the berries, and those I have learned to eat mostly unripe – blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. I have been experimenting with putting plastic sandwich bags tied on with twist ties on the figs, which is ridiculous, but I love figs so much that I am willing to go to such extremes; it is mostly working. I reuse the bags and twist ties. We apparently have every four and six, and multi-legged varmint in these parts. The birds have mostly left things alone – since we don’t have parrots!

    Outside the garden I am only planting daffodils – the deer eat everything else. Inside the garden – daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and maybe tulips. Chipmunks eat tulip bulbs, but we are bereft of chipmunks right now. But they will be back. Yes, I do move the existing bulbs around.


  41. @ DJSpo:

    How can infinity be multiplied? It is endless, so you would only get infinity as your answer, so what would be the point? Like zero multiplied by anything results in zero.


  42. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for that perspective, as it never occurred to me that being fussy in that regard could be viewed as an option. I mentioned the word ‘discriminating’ a couple of days ago and I’ve been pondering what it means. It is a complicated word because it implies a certain world view that implies that in order for a person to be able to discern in the first place, they have to have a base level of, and I’m not really sure what the right word to describe the situation, but possibly the word: perspective, fills a bit of the gap? Dunno, but I’d sure appreciate your thoughts? There is also a level of hungriness that is often absent from the mindset of people who appear to be fussy in relation to work. I was never able to indulge such thoughts – and clearly you were from the same school. Dunno, but people sure do look down their noses at physical work and I’ve had neighbours describe us to other people as some of the hardest working people around – and I don’t believe that the observation was meant as a compliment.

    And I had no idea that there were historical parallels with this story. Pray tell, as that was news to me? I would have thought that such perspectives were only possible when a society was exhausting its resource base?

    The higher education thing is a funny story which to me has the sniff of a ‘bait and switch’ routine about it. So when I was born, very few people had a University education and training was done on the job. That was only because the costs of obtaining such an education was quite expensive – much like international travel. It was a thing for the wealthy, unless you were in the military. About 1974, the government decided to offer free University education and the general populace picked up the tab. I’m sure there was some talk about becoming the ‘smart country’ or some such rubbish. In those early heady days, degrees were rare and held in high esteem. Now my mum, who was a single mum in the latter part of that decade picked up a degree part time at night after a long slog – like me, she worked full time (although I’m pretty certain her employer offered some incentives of paid time off with which to study and attend – which I never received). And it was all free of mad cash fees, although I’m sure she had to pay for books etc. But then by 1989, every man and their dog – including me – wanted to get a degree, and clearly the populace no longer desired to pick up the tab. Employers demanded a degree for certain jobs, and I just sort of went along for the ride (and paid the fees as I went because I worked full time). A lot of people by then were getting degrees, and if I recall correctly it was something like maybe 17% or 18% of the population which has been reasonably stable – growth in the industry was driven by overseas students. Whatever the case, we were a real smart country. But from 1989, the student debts ratcheted up and because every man and their dog had a degree, they weren’t worth as much, and salary rates for labour went down and stayed down – and in fact with inflation I reckon they may be worse now. The thing is, sometimes I reckon a baseline can change, and yet our perceptions of the story may not have caught up with the change and we recall things as they were and not as they are. Incidentally, I paid $1.71 per litre for fuel today (3.8 litres to a gallon), it was something of a record! Thankfully the dirt mouse only requires 4.9 of those litres (1.28 gallons) to travel 60 miles.

    As a collector with experience, I am curious to know whether there were fads and preferred collectables which cycled in and out of fashion? I read about the concept years ago in relation to the marketing of certain products which can enjoy an upswing during depressed economic times just because they’re considered old-worldey.

    An impressive feat which I cannot match. Chapter XXII over lunch today. I had a very tasty Bacon, Lettuce and Avocado toasted sandwich during lunch and scoffed that back and lost myself in the goings on in Camulod. A fascinating place. And I really like how Merlyn is having to do the hard yards of growing as a person through the simple act of learning. Super heroes these days seem to just be, they never had to learn the ropes – it would make for a far better super hero film don’t you reckon? Chuck in a few failures and losses for good measure and it would be a real winner.

    Pet raven, a zombie apocalypse and Seattle? Surely you have travelled there recently and seen such things? There goes my readership base from that town! Hehe!

    Well, yeah. The stupid devices have to listen to whatever is said in order to be able to respond to any instructions at any time. And the devices just can’t have the computing grunt to be able to convert speech to text, so that job is possibly being done somewhere else. And then what happens to all of the other words spoken? Did anyone sign a contract suggesting that they won’t be sold off to the highest bidder to mine? I thought all of that story was so obvious that it didn’t need spelling out. There was some suggestion recently that cameras installed in National Security offices down here which were manufactured outside the country were reporting back to their masters. Who’d have thunk that was possible? The whole thing is bonkers… Like the stupid fit bit story that some Aussie kid blew the lid on during the hot 100 broadcast a year or so back.

    Lewis, you have confirmed my worst nightmares about the zombie film. I’d read poor reviews, and thought that like the Tolkien film, the reviewers got it wrong, but your opinion counted for more than theirs. Ouch. Whatever, there is always Zombieland 2! Yeah!!!!

    It was not fair at all about the Bee Girl video. Whatever did the uploader have against us? Bonkers.

    Who knows, but the saying is a goodie. We did have a national day of celebration today if only because I got up this morning and thought to myself: There is no way in hell that I am going to dig anymore clay today. Fortunately the editor felt much the same. Other than the BLT for lunch, I picked up a box of seconds apples in the orchard area north of here, and also a very tasty carrot and walnut cake. It was very good. The seconds apples are a great idea because the cool store flogs them off on the cheap and they’ve barely been handled or travelled far and mostly they’re just odd shapes, insect and/or sun marks, and the occasional bruise. I feed the dodgy ones to the chickens, put the almost dodgy ones in the dogs food and eat the rest. The funny thing is because they never travelled far from the orchard to the cool store in the first place, they’re really good – and far better than the stuff you can buy that’s been at market or at the super markets.

    Ate the first asparagus spears tonight on a home made pizza. Yum!



  43. Hi Pam,

    Well not all projects get the green light, but this one has been epic – and we keep bouncing ideas off each other, but then it gets more epicer! What is the word for the most epicest? 🙂 Yes, she’s on board with this project.

    Exactly, it is really complicated working out how to produce edibles whilst keeping every varmint off the stuff. And yes, figs are good. The trees here have not produced any figs, mostly because they’re still small, but I do purchase trays of them at the market and they make an outstanding jam, so yeah the effort is worthwhile!

    I could loan you some parrots, they’re very colourful and I’m sure they’d fit right in given I’ve seen them in some of the coldest and remotest mountainous areas of Tasmania! Hey, I read an alarming article about the decline in the bird population in your country. I’m sure the same thing has happened here and I rarely see any insects in the big smoke – which seems really weird to me, if only because nobody seems to notice.

    Daffodils and jonquils are apparently pretty toxic, which makes them great plants. I tell you this, wallabies will thoughtlessly squash daffodils, and we recover the flowers and put them in a vase at this time of year. I could loan you some wallabies too if you want? 🙂

    And tulip bulbs must be very tasty, because I planted a lot and I reckon the rats have dug them up and eaten them.



  44. Yo, Chris – To quote someone else from somewhen, “It’s getting deep in here!” 🙂 I usually here “discriminating” linked with “taste.” Which, I think is taught and learned. By example, if nothing else. Just throwing stuff against the wall, here. See if anything sticks.

    LOL. I’ve heard it said that some criminals, work far harder at their crimes, then if they just went out and got a job. I suppose that’s true, in some cases. Always on the hustle …

    I think “Golden Ages”, when people have a bit more pick and choose when it comes to work, is when an empire gets it’s wealth pumps up and running. Somebody “pays” for all that leisure. When empires start to falter (wealth pump starts breaking down), there is less choice and a yearning for a return to that (semi-mythical) Golden Age.

    I think you’ve got the arc of high education pretty well nailed down. At a certain point, value (highly suspect from the beginning) of degrees begins to slip. How valuable are they (other than for gate keeping purposes) if “anyone can get one.”
    But then you have the development of “some colleges are better than others.” Some degrees are perceived to be better than others, depending on where they were acquired.

    Fads and collectibles. Well, I’ve seen whole vast areas of the collecting market, collapse. We’ve talked a bit about the whys and where for’s of that, before. I had another thought, this morning. Not as much disposable income around, or, people put their disposable income into other things. Like cable service and devices? Some collectibles were bubble markets, that collapsed. Leaving a bad taste in a lot of wallets and mouths. With the internet, things that were perceived as rare and expensive, turned out not to be so. By the way, I meant to comment on the famous designer you saw at an op-shop. Maybe beating the brush for shabby chic ideas?

    Yes, I think the reason the Camulod Chronicles might be popular (at least to us) is that the author avoids what Mr. Greer called “The Chosen One”, a couple of week ago. No waving wands. Just lots of grunt work.

    I got quit engrossed in the Seattle zombie book. Stayed up WAY too late, last night, reading. “Hollow Kingdom” (Buxton, 2019). I don’t know if it’s for everyone. The collapse of civilization, told from the inner perspective of a very smart aleck crow. So, what caused the zombie apocalypse? I get the drift that everyone’s brains might have been rotted by devices. At least, the zombies seem more interested in screens of any kind, then brains.

    Devices that track. I guess there’s some kind of an Ap, used worldwide, that … how to put this delicately … that tracks women’s fertility. To be used to either enhance, or avoid, conception. And all that data goes … somewhere. To be used for … something.

    Well, as you probably know, the 19th was International Talk Like a Pirate Day. :-). As you’ve got parrots, on tap, probably an easy look to achieve. Kudos on scoring the apples.

    I looked into cookie jar museums. There was one, outside Chicago, that closed in 2009. I’d guess, due to the age of the owner. There’s another one, that is apparently still going strong, in Delavan, Wisconsin. Lew

  45. Hello again
    I think that your insight into that friend of mine is spot on and I am impressed by your understanding of different people.

    It was explained to me why we would not go the way of the German financial disaster in the 30s but I am not sure that I understood. I agree that lack of energy and resources could bring us down. My anxiety would be the possibility of war.

    One of my Jerusalem artichokes is flowering, this is not common. Our weather continues on the same path but rain is supposed to arrive with low pressure on Sunday.


  46. @Pam
    You sure have a challenging time growing food (or should I say harvesting before something else eats it). I’m not sure I wouldn’t have given up.


  47. Chris & Lew
    Patrick and Michael attended a sheltered workshop for some years while going through job training. They both landed jobs at Albertson’s (a fairly large grocery chain) as baggers and retrievers of carts. At first they had job coaches. Patrick was finally able to do the job independently and worked part time for years – even getting transferred to another store when he moved. Michael, due to his lack of concentration because of his medications unfortunately lost the job which was very upsetting to him.

    There’s a man here in town, Paul, who has downs syndrome. He was the greeter at Walmart for decades until he retired last month. A couple of years ago Walmart was no longer going to have greeters but people in town put up such a hew and cry in support of Paul and a couple of other long term elderly greeters they changed their mind. Paul continues to be a fixture around town often doing odd jobs for small businesses.

    My father passed away just after I graduated from college so I was the only sibling who had college paid for (it was a lot cheaper then too). Two sisters worked and received scholarships so they finished their degrees. The other two received associate degrees at community college for specific jobs in the medical field. They both felt lesser for that. One did much later get a degree in finance which she never really used. The other to this day feels she’s deficient in some way because she never did get a degree.


  48. @ Pam,

    I fear that my answer will be somewhat unsatisfying and lengthy. Any 2 numbers can be multiplied. So, infinity can be multiplied by infinity. Infinity can be multiplied by negative infinity. (My head is starting to spin and my eyes are glazing over.) That is as far as I was ever able to comprehend. I mean, infinity is really, really, really huge. So infinity multiplied by infinity is even humongously huger, and I just never could deal with that, having the very same question you raised. No math or physics professor was ever able to explain it so that I could comprehend it. Ditto many of my fellow students.

    Said another way, infinity is a theoretical construct. So that infinity multiplied by infinity is a very theoretical idea. Which leads to some practicality: “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re not.” Or, when the numbers get too abstractly theoretically theoretical, they really have no practical meaning.

    I also think that multiplying infinity by infinity is rather useless, as the Universe does have limits. Einstein’s Special Relativity says that nothing can exceed the speed of light. (Experiments that “disprove” that only “disprove” it IF several underlying assumptions are correct, and I think that several of those assumptions are faulty. My point of view is heretical to orthodox physics, but I’ve been called heretical on many topics for quite some time.) Also, Heisenberg showed that on subatomic levels we can’t know both the exact velocity and the exact location of an object simultaneously: there appear to be observational limits.

    In my mind, the concept of infinity multiplied by infinity exceeds some limits. Of course, in some of my advanced math, symbols were invented to use as a mathematical shorthand, and operating with these new symbols became more of a game, a code to decipher, and was extremely far removed from any representation of physical reality until the entire decoding game was completed. Infinity is likely akin to some of those other symbols.

    Hope that didn’t confuse things further.


  49. Chris,

    My reply to your exhortation to exorcise the Exorcistic math is…crows. An event the local murder performed about 15 years back. The magpie divebombing reminded me, although I may have posted the story before. Anyhow, the juvenile crows started divebombing a neighbor who was raking pine needles, letting loose with a loud scream when just above and behind her head. When she screamed and started swinging the rake at them, the ENTIRE murder of about 60 crows joined the juveniles, chasing the unsuspecting neighbor indoors.

    They then moved to the next house and did it again to that gentleman, then to a third house, chasing indoors yet another neighbor with their playful divebombing and cacophonous cawing.

    Then the murder gathered throughout my yard, where I had been raking leaves while watching and laughing. I looked around and said, “I’ve been watching you guys. You’ve been having fun, and I enjoyed the entertainment. But I know what you’re doing, just playing, and it won’t work with me.” One adult gave what sounded to be a distinctly disappointed croak, and the entire murder flew away.

    I have no idea what item in the sunscreens gives me a rash. I simply adapt. Fortunately, it rarely gets over about 102F here, 108F being the official record. And I’m indoors when it’s that hot!

    I remember the end sequence of Point Break quite vividly. I found the accents “wanting”, and am not surprised about the beach and trees shown in the film. I agree, though, that the story and the plot were interesting.

    The contractors are scheduled for 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, and will be completed so that I can attend a mandatory meeting with the elected officials and my boss and his boss. (That’s allegedly way above my pay grade, so I will get out of class pay for the meeting and prep time. I joke that I’ve been called to the Principal’s office. It should be a low key meeting.) I verified with the inspector that what the contractor is doing is what the inspector discussed with them. The corrections should be completed and (hopefully) pass inspection in early to mid October. I told my wife last night that the contractor is probably anxious to get the job completed correctly, get their money, and never hear from me ever again about anything.


  50. Hi Lewis,

    Maybehaps (nod to DJ) you are correct and the time has come to discuss this murky time of somewhen? It is getting deep isn’t it, but I’m certain we’re all up for swimming in the murky intellectual depths. 🙂 I likewise tend to agree with your definition, and ‘taste’ is a learned thing. As a kid I recall copying my mum’s opinions (hopefully this is not a form of echolalia, but probably was?) but it didn’t take too long before I had my own thoughts and opinions – which I realised early on I had to keep to myself. The other thing that strikes me about the word ‘discernment,’ is that it involves at some indefinable level, the ability to look through the talk and see what your senses are actually being presented with. We have a filter which allows us to believe circumstances which do not in fact comport with reality, if only because there are social benefits for doing so. And that also implies that we can ignore tools that work, but which the mechanism is beyond our grasp. Mr Greer wrote about that this week. Speaking of which I have been negligent on that front last week for about the first time in over a decade. My life was not my own last week.

    Speaking of which, Mr Greer did mention the concept of the chosen one, and I have pondered of late the whys and whyfornots of the subject. Anyway, I freely acknowledge that the thought was his. Ideas are like symphonies where one idea can yield many different branches and directions of thought.

    Aren’t we all on the hustle these days? Phew, last weeks work caused me genuine anguish and complications, but by Wednesday things were on the up again (or more correctly – the level).

    It’s funny you mention that story about the wealth pump – and I agree with your excellent analysis of the situation. Yesterday I was at the petrol pump and the idea for the story I’ll write tomorrow struck me out of the blue. Inspiration comes at strange times and I like to keep a notepad handy for such ideas. On Wednesday morning I had a great idea involving the word ‘investment’ and a 21st birthday celebration (not mine) but now the story has evaporated because I didn’t write it down.

    Surely people can understand that the cheap energy and/or resources which drives Golden Ages is now gone? Sometimes news is a blink and miss it affair, and this morning I noted that another large coal fired generator operator has been threatening early closure: With Yallourn threatened with early closure, does Germany’s exit from coal provide a blueprint? I get that closing the generator is the gift of a poisoned chalice in that it is good for the environment, but at the same time they know not what they ask for, and at a guess the body count will be quite high.

    Thanks, and yes your summation was spot on. And yeah, I’ve seen the: ‘my University degree is worth more than yours’, discussion occur. It was quite a long while back when I worked for a large corporate and there must have been about 25 accountants all working in the same area. That was when I ran their graduate program. Anyway, the awful topic came up, and I saw where the wind was blowing and put a solid stomp on the discussion by making the people advancing the idea look foolish. It is rare that I act, but that day went down a very ugly path which was best nipped in the bud.

    Interestingly, given that in your country charges have recently been laid against high profile people scamming the entrance processes for University / Colleges for their kids, why is there a politician wandering around who pulled the ‘I’ve got native ancestry’ and apparently does not in fact meet the criteria? If it looks like a fraud banshee and sounds like a fraud banshee, it might be just that? At the very least it is a credibility issue and they suffer from the curse of the liar.

    In this corner of the globe, there is a fortnightly magazine published with the title of: “The Big Issue”. I’ve been a long term purchaser of the magazine and you form relationships with the vendors who are usually on the margins of society for all sorts of reasons. You mentioned: “Not as much disposable income around”, and I have been wondering whether that is being felt in the retail world which is in decline and I was reading about the fall of that in the business section of the newspaper today. Anyway, I spotted an article on a vendor for the magazine over in the state of Western Australia, which by many accounts is in recession since the mining boom ended: Seller of The Big Issue in Bunbury struggles to sell street mag due to ‘tough economic times’. But yeah, your point is valid as there are bills today that were not even a twinkle in the average citizens eye two decades ago. And they seem to be on the increase to me.

    The designer in question has fallen on hard times. The editor who has an interest in fashion, recently read a biography of the designer and the person had a very tortured relationship with her mother. Some creatives can use pain as inspiration, and I suspect that was the case here. I would have long since walked away from such a pain riddled situation.

    It is a shame that so many people are looking for magic wands. I’d call them the 99%-ers. Hehe! I’ve never encountered that sort of magic myself, but you know, people want they want.

    Lewis, you are officially a bad influence. Crows, dogs, zombies – I love it! A copy is working its way here, and the bookshelves are groaning. No doubt I’ll have to get rid of Stephen Donaldson’s painful chunks of literature, just to clear some space. 🙂

    You may note that neither the editor nor I have smart phones – if only because they’re not smart. Years back I listened to a youth news radio program about smart phones and hidden apps. Mate, so much nefarious stuff was going on that I just chose not to join in. There was an old comic about Faceplant and the caption was: “You are the product”. Nuff said.

    The parrots don’t play well with either myself or the canines. Yeah, I got onto the apples many years ago when I began poking my nose into the world of the food that feeds us. It is an unremarkable story, but the details are quite shocking, if anyone dared take a peek.

    Can’t say that I know much about Wisconsin, although my gut feeling tells me that it’s a quiet place.

    Oooo! I almost forgot. Yesterday in my travels I just happened to notice out of the corner of my eye (less than a seconds notice) that there was a brick two storey Victorian era building. I went up to investigate and it turned out that the building was an old abandoned railway station. The track is still used on the hour for country trains, but for some reason (i.e. trucks) the railway station was abandoned. It was in the apple growing area to the north of here and I just walked around the old station poking my nose in here and there. It was a bit eerie, and at one stage they had a siding which was clearly used to load apples (and other produce) onto freight carriages. The buildings and platform seemed quite sturdy, although all the windows were boarded up. I’ll try and remember to take my camera next time.



  51. Hi Inge,

    Thanks. The insights have been a strange journey. My first job after debt collection work during the recession that we ‘apparently had to have’, was working for a real piece of work. I was desperate to get out of debt collection, and he was desperate for someone to kick around. I didn’t work there long and needed the experience on my resume, but it was a real eye opener of an experience. In such situations you really have to look long and hard at how you contributed to being there in the first place. It was then that I decided to take a good long hard look at peoples motivations, and I’ve kept it up as a hobby ever since then. It is a useful hobby. I posit a theory and then test it out in the real world, and you get better as time goes on. Of course it does lend a certain dark view to the world, but I’m just not wired to get down about that view – it’s a thing and I live with what I see. Anyone can hone the skill, you just have to look.

    I’ve read a fair bit of European history, and one aspect of that story stuck out to me: They’ve been pretty good at the activity of warfare for a very long time, so it is hardly likely that things will change any time soon. I doubt ‘boots on ground’ will a problem for you in your lifetime, and maybe not even that of your kids, but all machines break down eventually – even nuclear machines. I wouldn’t worry about the possibility if I were you, which you may feel is a flippant reply.

    That isn’t common here either and some years Jerusalem artichokes fail to produce any flowers. They love the heat and dry weather. Hope you get the rain? It rained here today and I could only work outside in fits and spurts, as they say.



  52. Hi Margaret,

    You may have caught my discussion with Lewis in relation to The Big Issue magazine? At one of the massive stationary suppliers (the place is so big I can rarely find what I’m looking for!) they too have a young lady who has downs syndrome characteristics as a store greeter. She is always cheery and it is not lost on me that she must love working there. There is a place for everyone, if we but make space, and yeah I’d imagine Michael would have been gutted losing the job. The governments nationwide youth radio station has a blind lady who reads the news. She has a lovely voice and apparently listens to her pre-recorded audio of the news whilst reading it out during the hourly news break. There is of course the occasional stumble, however being a guy I am unable to conceive that anyone can do two tasks at once, so I’d get a big fail if I had to do that task! 🙂

    Just for your comparison and if I recall correctly I believe the degree might have cost me about $26k which I paid for as I went along (although that hurt). I know of people with student debts that are double that amount and with house prices what they are, I fail to understand how they make it through financially.

    Your sisters did well getting scholarships – no small feat. Respect. I hear you about the feelings of ‘lower status’ and ‘unfinished business’, but I can only say that such things are not worth what they once were worth – and who has noticed this change?



  53. Hi DJ,

    Crows. Where have I just read recently about crows? That is right, Lewis snuck in a sneaky book recommendation for a book about zombies, crows and a dog! That’s like winning the trifecta but in book form! 🙂 And oh yeah, birds muck around and play and get up to all sorts of mischief. There is an old saying down here which you don’t much hear anymore but it was an admonishment to: Don’t be a Galah! All right thinking people know that a Galah is a pink and grey cockatoo. They’re quite the sight when they’re dangling around upside down high up in the canopy of the trees – they’re intelligent birds and love playing around. Incidentally back in the day, being called a Galah was not a term of praise – quite the contrary!

    108’F and I’m out of the sun too. But we have no air conditioning and rely on the insulation of the house and overhead fans to keep cool. Occasionally I’ll just head outside on those hot days to remind myself how cool it is in the house.

    It was a good film, and unravelling the story of the crim-surfers was an interesting story – and they came unstuck when they got greedy and ignored their own self imposed limits.

    Yes, it does sound as though you’ve been called to the principal’s office – but hopefully not for a telling off? Good luck! I was never much of a fan of meetings in the corporate world, but other people seem to enjoy them. 🙂 Hopefully the contractor just sorts the problems out and you can get on with your life.

    Had a nice day today pottering around just fixing little projects that require doing but I haven’t seemed to be able to get the time to do – until today of course. I quite enjoy that sort of a day and they’re rare.



  54. @ DJSpo:

    My head was spinning with your first sentence. 🙂 Ah! – does infinity only apply to the Universe? It makes sense then that it could be multiplied if it is confined. I much appreciate your explanation. Thanks.

    To me, theory is only – and always – theory.

    I loved your murder of crows story. I rather jumped into it and at first thought that there had been a murder BY crows!


  55. Chris:

    I am trying to imagine the projects that you have rejected!

    No thank you to the loan of any parrots or wallabies.

    I like “fraud banshee”.

    Yesterday my son traded three of the steel I-beams (that he had acquired by trading something else) for a 1988 John Deere 20 HP garden tractor. It does not run, but he has already taken the motor apart. The rest of it is in great shape. Apparently he can add a hydraulic system and add attachments – a plow, a front end loader, a grader on the back, etc. He has already bought a secondhand snow plow attachment for it. It looks like a hybrid of a riding lawn mower and a small farm tractor, with very fat tires.
    It looks like this, though not as nice – yet.


  56. @ Margaret:

    I suspect that your new place has its own challenges. 🙂

    I have no college degree of any sort. I did go to UT El Paso – so barely north of the border that I could watch people crossing the Rio Grande from my dorm window – for 2 1/2 years, but then got very sick and had to leave, and never felt the need to finish it. I have only once regretted, very slightly, that I don’t have a degree, which was when a friend who worked at a nursery school, which was basically daycare for toddlers, needed part-time help and I could not fill in because I had no college degree. These were two-year-olds! I did much volunteer classroom work at my sons’ schools over the years. Apparently my talents have value – as long as they are free!


  57. @ Inge – “Travel to America” is waiting at the library, for me to pick up.

    I am so envious of your blooming Jerusalem artichoke. Two years and mine still haven’t produced a blossom! Lew

  58. Yo, Chris – Reading over you shoulder, some of the comments you made to Margaret, about people with downs syndrome … a few of the stores, here, have people with Downs who are baggers and grocery cart (trolly?) wranglers. I recently started watching a British police show called “No Offense.” The first season was very good. The over arching plot, was chasing down a serial killer who targeted young women with Downs. Many young actors with Downs got to display their acting chops. Which were formidable. “…a place for everyone, if we but make space.” True words.

    “Intellectual depths” make my head hurt. I think it’s a pressure, inner ear thing. Or something in the general vicinity of ears :-).

    You may have been negligent of Mr. Greer, but I see you posted to The Daily Impact. Once again smashing the beliefs of small children, by telling them there’s no Solar Santa. :-). Keep up the good work.

    I think I picked up the concept of a wealth pump (again) from Mr. Greer. It’s really an elegant construct to illustrate a system. That can be applied to a lot of things. How DID we exchange ideas and concepts, before the Net? 🙂

    “Cheap energy and/or resources that drive golden ages.” Because The Powers That Be, would rather convince you that lost Golden Ages are due to other things. Take your pick. “They” will find something to push your buttons and distract you. Women’s rights? Environmentalists? Labor unions? Immigration? Bad Orange Man? Marriage equality? Must I go on? :-).

    That was an interesting article about the Latrobe Valley. Interesting that they picked the word “resilience”, out of the hat. I don’t think our transition packages are quit so lavish. Seems they bang on about retraining people to be … computer coders, or health care workers. And, what are they beefing about? There’s always those wonderful student loans to grease the path, into a whole new career. :-(.

    Margaret mentioned her sister, “…feels she’s deficient in some way because she never did get a degree.” That puts the finger exactly on what Eleanor and, occasionally I feel. And where does that come from? And why does it take a certain amount of fibre (very important in one’s diet) to stand up to that sort of thing? Why should one care? Because there are forces at work, attempting to make you care.

    I don’t know if you, in elementary school, had a thing called “show and tell?” Bring in stuff, maybe interesting nature stuff, or, items gleaned on vacation. LOL. I remember I once took in a buffalo hunter’s rifle (black powder, tamper, ball) that my Dad had. Can’t see that happening, now :-). Any-who, back to show and tell. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in social groups and people start banging on about where they’ve gone to school, their travels to exotic foreign places, they’re military service, etc. etc.. Kudos for nipping that thing in the bud, when you were training. Everyone (it seems) jostles for position.

    Yes, our little college entrance scandal, was interesting. But what do you do if you have the means, and have a rather dim, uninterested child? :-). Some of the commentary on that was pretty interesting, though I didn’t pay to much attention. Ho, hum, another day in the stratosphere. I was rather disappointed in that whole Ms. Warren, native debacle. Otherwise, she’s got so much going for her, from my point of view. I was reading her books, years before she “got political.” Wall Street and The Banks, hate and fear her. Points in her favor, I think.

    The indiscretions of youth. I don’t know if, when you were young, they ever banged on about stuff going “on your permanent record?” Then, we discovered that there was no permanent record. Or, that a lot of people really didn’t care about your permanent record. But, apparently it does, if they can use it, against you, to their own ends. Cont.

  59. Cont. Average citizens bills, that we didn’t have in the past. My friend in Idaho is all in a froth about her bank, charging her $3 a month, for a paper statement. She can only get an e-statement for “free.” Different financial institution, but mine went the same way, a couple of years ago. Not so much strung un drang, on my part. Just a long sigh.

    We’ve talked about all the “issues” involved in that, before. “Free”, but she’s got to pay for all the computer set up, and service. Of course, she could go without a computer, maybe use the public libraries (which comes out of her tax dollars.) But, she uses her “device” for so many other things, so, why not…

    That was an interesting article about “Big Issue”, magazine. It rang a bell, about our homeless selling magazines and newspapers. So, I did a bit of poking around. “Street Newspapers,” is the best search term. I found this …

    Magic wands. Magic food boxes! :-). Talk about being on the hustle. I now get two, from different agencies. I think I explained how we work it. But, as a refresher course … Due to my food foibles, there’s not too much I can use in the boxes. Other people here at the Institution, also have their likes and dislikes. So, the stuff we don’t or can’t use, we toss on a big table. (Which I end up organizing, by the way. Being neurotic and not being able to sleep….) So, what did I score? Twelve pounds of brown rice. NO ONE else in the place will touch the stuff. Two small bottles of some super hot, hot sauce. Some secret Mayan recipe, from Mexico. That ought to be interesting. There seemed to be a lot of canned chicken. About the only canned veg I hold onto is the garbanzo beans and, some of the tomatoes. There was a couple of cans of a really good brand of beef stew and chili. I also get to do a bit of building of social currency. Eleanor got her favorite butterscotch candies. Another neighbor, who is diabetic really likes the canned peaches. But, they’ve got to be the one’s in “extra light syrup.” The boxes are all slightly different, and we never know what’s going to show up. This time around, no sugar. But the last couple of months, there was plenty of 5 pound bags of cane sugar. At the end of the week-end, whatever is left we take to a homeless shelter, and, a women’t shelter.

    I finished “Hollow Kingdom”, last night. So, I’ll have to watch out for spoilers. I do like the way the author threw in lots of collective nouns, for different species of animals. The language is a bit rough, in spots, but, not, I think, over the top. T.S., the crow, by the way … well, the T.S. stand for something I can’t mention on a family friendly blog :-). And, his name for humans, is pretty funny. But only reflects what his owner called other people. So, that’s what he thought humans were called, collectively.

    Wisconsin = cheese :-).

    So, what are your plans for the abandoned railway station, that you are about to purchase? Condos? Salvage out all the brick and sell it? Indoor farmer’s market?

    Off to the library, where all kinds of goodies await. Lew

  60. Hi Pam,

    Now that you mention it, I can’t recall any projects that were rejected out of hand. The rejected projects get put on the back-burner and done later if and when time and resources allow. I’d like a wood fired oven again, but that is one expensive project which will have to wait.

    Really? I’ve got plenty of wallabies and parrots. Are you really sure you don’t want some of the excess fauna? They won’t bite – much! Hehe!

    Your son is to be commended on his bartering skills. And I also respect his ability to pull down a motor and recondition it. As a person who lives on a sloping chunk of land, I’d perhaps also recommend maybe chucking on a steel roll over protection bar – but you know I worry about such things.



  61. @ Lew
    The Jerusalem artichoke stalk has branched into 3 flowers. I don’t know its age as I usually dig them up and promptly re-plant each year, those that I haven’t eaten. Some escape my search and then re-grow. I do have 2 varieties but only know that one has far larger leaves than the other and produces larger artichokes. The flowering one is one of the larger variety.
    I look forward to hear how the American book compares with the English one.


  62. Hi Lewis,

    Oooo, we finished really late this evening and um, err, lots of digging took place today. However, the lower and middle garden terraces are now done. Yay! But, me tired. Ugg!

    I checked out the trailer for the ‘No Offence’ series and it would be right up the editors alley. The lead character has some pluck!

    Clearly you’ve been diving and the pressure on the inner ears precludes you from such activities in the future. 🙂 The inherent problem with intellectual activities is really this: Are we up for it? I’m not sure myself, because it’s complicated and difficult and my brain can only handle so much – and nobody wants brain popping situations like say the Scanners film from the 70’s or maybe early 80’s. Hehe! There’s a blast from the past. I liked the premise of the film as it would be a neat trick to pull on people that annoyed you, but I can’t recall whether they protagonists could do anything else with their powers, but they sure did put on a good show.

    Thank you, and busting solar heads is easier for me than the deep discussions that go on at Ecosophia, during this particular week and alas for the limits of my poor brain. Please spare me a moments thoughts because last week was feral.

    No, you needn’t go on, I hear you. Lost Golden Ages are by definition, lost. The name says it all as far as I’m concerned. It would be better if we spent the time looking for our lost youth. Incidentally have you spotted yours yet? I just checked behind the Green Couch and Ollie was upset because he was looking at me and asking the hard question: Why are you moving the couch, dude?

    Words get misused, and I sort of felt for the mayor of the council area as he is dealing with forces larger than himself. He seemed to me like he had a realistic attitude. And I did enjoy your amusing observations about getting boiler makers re-trained to perform coding or nursing – perhaps in aged care facilities? Hmm, one of the great lies of the economic world is that people are economic units, and that displays a callousness that is unconscionable in my book. And boiler makers (or fitters and turners) are a really skilled trade.

    Yeah, you do have to be careful as to what you end up caring about, and that was the only conclusion that I too can draw from the higher education racket. Baselines can shift, but we’re left remembering the glorious recent past – and hankering for it.

    I recall show and tell, and yours was a really interesting talk. I had to laugh. I recall when they did the gun amnesty after the Port Arthur massacre, and the police did advise people to call up and let the people at the police station know that someone was coming into the station to drop off an unregistered firearm (which the person in question was paid for).

    Didn’t the Spartans used to leave such children out for the wolves? It is a very harsh ideal, but if the kids survived the ordeal, they would at least have earned some merit. I’ve never been able to indulge such disregard for opportunities, but that is me. I hear you about the person who claimed native heritage, but the person also suffers from the paradox of the liar – because with such a well publicised gaff, how do you know when they are being truthful in their convictions? It is a real problem and if I were squaring off against such a person, I’d exploit the weakness – it doesn’t look good however anyone pretends it be and it undermines a lot of good that they may otherwise have done. There is an old school concept known as ‘integrity’ and you don’t hear that word much these days.

    But really, it is like an actor – how do you know when they are expressing a real emotion if only because they’re paid to produce emotions at will (the good ones are anyway)?

    I’ve never heard about a permanent record, but it sounds like a fearsome thing. Well that’s the thing, if you (the theoretical other person in this context) sets themselves up as a target, that person has to understand that there are dirt units that investigate peoples backgrounds. And with so much stuff on the interweb, it is not good. But sometimes the dirt unit work backfires and I can recall a former Prime Minister who visited a legal strip club and his popularity went up, because most people went: So what?

    I’m unsure how your Idaho friends would feel about my bank charging me $10 a month for a paper statement? True story.

    I’ve gotta run and get writing. Will speak tomorrow!



  63. Hello Chris
    I didn’t think that we would go to war, am simply concerned that war may come a bit closer than is comfortable. It is the Israel, Iran, Saudi, USA situation that concerns me.

    Hurrah! It has been raining for hours. Just as well because I hadn’t watered anything for the last 2 days. I tend to get fed up with tending my harvest towards the end. Different if I were starving.


  64. Chris:

    A roll bar is a fantastic idea. I will mention it to him. Thanks!

    I forgot to mention that he plans to take off the back tires and turn that into treads (like on a tank).


  65. Yo, Chris – I hope the Editor likes “No Offense.” It’s one of those series, where the arc of the season, from episode to episode, is solving the major crime (tracking down the serial killer). But there are a lot of other interesting cases, along the way. And, another thing I think that makes it engrossing, is that a lot of the supporting players are pretty interesting.

    I got the new “Men in Black” movie, from the library, yesterday. It’s a bit of a romp. Not bad, if you can see it for “free.” Lots of globe trotting, and pretty scenery. But, there was a spot or two where I thought it “drug” a bit. I got a bit curious about (the oh, too perfect) Chris Hemsworth, and see he’s from your neck of the woods, Melbourne. But also spent a lot of his youth, up in the North Territory.

    I heard of “Scanners”, but don’t think I ever saw it. About this time of the year, the library orders a whole slew of old horror movies. It might be in that lot. Most of them I’ve seen, or am not too interested in.

    Treating people as economic units. Besides the whole retraining boondoggle, (though it provides rich pickings for the student loan industry), what I find disturbing is a rather off-hand attitude that “Oh, well, people will just move to find work.” Uproot themselves from an extensive support system, and maybe an area where their families have lived for four generations, or more. We’ve talked, in the past, about why Americans are so mobile. Well, some of it is choice, but a lot of it is economic. I ran into another person who’s spouse drives from here to Seattle … daily. That’s a good hour and a half. In the best of conditions. My mate Scott’s wife, did it for years.

    I’m aware of the Spartans, but not in too much detail. I don’t think I knew about their “test by wolves”, but I think they also indulged in that fine old tradition of exposing damaged or unwanted children. You find that in a lot of cultures. I must confess I find some ancient cultures more interesting, than others. I’ve got the basics of Greek culture, Western civilizations debt, and all that, but mostly, I’m not very interested. Might have to do with previous incarnations? :-).

    Yup. Your fee for paper statements will make my friend’s head explode (like “Scanners.”) Just out of curiosity, is that a business rate, or do civilians pay the same?

    Well, I noticed yesterday that one of my hot pepper plants IS going to produce a pretty good crop. They’re far enough along that I’ll get some. It’s an “early” Jalapeno. Lew

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