The Joke’s on Them

Last week, the editor suggested that a trip to the cinema was in order. I quite enjoy going to the cinema to watch films on the big screen and who doesn’t enjoy the comfy seats? Plus the editor always nabs a particularly tasty bag of lollies. And at the end of the film there is the gourmet hamburger and chips to be enjoyed.

However, the particular film which the editor wanted to see was apparently something of a sore trial. I’d encountered several people, and read a fair few reviews which lent weight to that point of view. In fact, one person told me that they needed to be psychologically prepared to watch the film. So, due to all of the negative feedback, and despite the promise of a gourmet hamburger and chips, I was mildly concerned.

Still, I’m easily bought with good food, and after watching the film, I could not relate to the concerns that other people had expressed. For the record, the film (Joker) was not psychologically shocking at all, and I’ve had the unfortunate experience of watching more terrifying movies (John Carpenter’s film Dawn of the Dead) or films with bigger bullet budgets (Ridley Scott’s film Black Hawk Down).

Anyway, this was the first Batman film that I have seen. I’m not a fan of the franchise. And I wouldn’t have gone to the cinema to watch the film in the first place, if the editor hadn’t suggested it. At the core of peoples concern was that the film turned the Batman trope upon its head. The normal good guys became the bad guys, and the bad guys ended up looking pretty good. I guess that could be disturbing for many people.

I actually left the film feeling sort of sorry for the character who had become the Joker. And it wasn’t lost on me that at several points along the characters journey from schmuck to supreme evil doer, that he had not only asked for help on several occasions and was rebuffed, but he had also been hounded into the role. The Wayne family (who Batman was the sole surviving heir after his parents fell to the meager bullet budget in the film) as well as all of the figures of authority, didn’t look so good to me – even the ones who pretended to be nice. And there were unfortunate and rather terminal consequences for the nice pretending characters.

Whilst the editor and I were enjoying the film, in the two states to the north of here (New South Wales and Queensland), there have been some serious bushfires. Those two states have been in the grip of an epic drought for at least the past two years, and bushfires are a consequence of that.

During the bushfires, our Federal politics managed to get even stranger than it usually is. I’m not going to dignify the strangeness by repeating the politically motivated slurs that were thrown around in the Federal Parliament. I have the perspective that politicians re paid by the community to represent the community and resolve communal problems. The actions of the Federal politicians this week, unfortunately suggest that they are doing otherwise. And the character of the Joker would possibly have some rather disturbing and unexpected ways with which to deal with the likes of them.

However it was not lost on me that the real joke of the matter is that bushfires and the management of the forests, are largely within the control of the State governments and State politicians. They’re the ones who set the planning rules which describe what landowners can and cannot do with forests and grasslands. They also provide the resources with which to fight bushfires. And lastly, the same State governments solely monopolises the job of managing the forests. The Federal politicians have largely no influence on the matter, other than making a lot of noise and providing additional resources to bushfire affected areas, such as deploying the armed forces. It seems bonkers to me that they’re even talking about a subject, over which they have little to no control. And it is a poor reflection upon their credibility.

Over the years, the thing I have learned first hand about managing a forest is that it is extraordinarily hard work. The indigenous folk managed the task for dozens of millennia (that’s dozens of thousands of years). I’d be pretty sure that they didn’t get it right all of the time, but historical accounts of the early settlers suggest that they did extremely well. And a very good case can be made that they did far better than we are managing the environment today. And there is the nub of the dilemma for us nowadays: Things were actually better in the past.

After each epic bushfire, or series of bushfires, the politicians call for some sort of report such as the recent 2009 Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires (as a hint, it wasn’t the first such high level investigation). The investigations are a good way for the community to air their stories and grievances and the dead be metaphorically laid to rest. At the end of such a investigation recommendations can be made, some of which may even be implemented (or not). And the lawyers involved probably earned some serious mad cash.

But then maintaining forest is actually seriously hard work. And seriously hard work usually translates these days into expensive work. My gut feeling has long been that governments don’t want to pay for the work to be done, and they’ll seize upon any excuse to get out of doing it.

Years ago by sheer chance I had the opportunity to speak with a local politician about the matter. I received a rather surprising and candid opinion that whenever forest management activities were announced, the politicians were flooded with complaints. And the complaints were as unusual as (and this one was impressed upon my memory): “Your burn off will ruin my daughters 21st birthday party”. Indeed.

So nothing gets done, and the will to do something by the authorities is pushed to the side as other priorities are pushed to the fore. Until the next bushfire that is and then the braying of the politicians will bore us all again for a while. But here’s the real joke of the situation: The environment was actually better managed before us people of European ancestry began suggesting that we knew better about such matters.

The weather this week was again cool, with only the occasional bit of rain. The smoke from the bushfires up north is blowing east and out over the Pacific Ocean, so none of it is making its way down south to here. On the other hand, the UV (Ultraviolet Radiation) is marking its journey this week from a rating of ‘Very High’ to ‘Extreme’. Even on cool days, the sun still has bite and can burn skin.

A glorious sunset in between thick clouds earlier in the week

Each year the editor and I expand the amount of land under cultivation. Last year we reached the point where watering the annual plants was taking up more time each day than we had available to us. Over the winter we’d decided to purchase a watering robot. That is my name for an automatic drip watering system for the vegetable beds. This week the watering robot was installed.

The author installs the automatic watering system for the garden terraces

All up it took two days to install the system. In my naive and complete lack-of-experience worldview I’d allocated a single day to install the system. I was wrong.

Water pipes were installed under the ground in PVC conduit

Installing the system was seriously complicated and very hard work. Even after two days of solid work on the system, only two of the five garden terraces have the automatic watering system set up and running.

The corn enclosure now has drip line irrigation installed and running
Ollie assisted greatly by getting in the way. And here he is inside the strawberry and vine cage
The tomato / capsicum / chilli / eggplant enclosure also now has drip irrigation

The dripper lines can release about 2 litres (a bit over half a gallon) of water each hour at about every foot (30cm). Over the years we’ve tested a lot of different watering systems, and we don’t really know how this one will work out. What we do know is that as the farm expands production, the amount of time required each day to achieve tasks becomes greater.

The editor managed to mow about half the farm in under two hours the other day. It was an impressive achievement. When we first began having to manage such a large piece of land, the annual mowing job took about a week. It wasn’t long before we got the job down to 3 days. To complete the job this year I believe it will take about two full days now.

Half the farm was mowed in about two hours the other day

The other half of the farm will take the bulk of the time to achieve. Without a bunch of labourers to achieve easy gains, we have had to resort to the assistance of machines. And about a month ago I managed to track down a rare beast of a mystery machine. It is a ride on mower that is especially designed with a low centre of gravity so that it can navigate steep land. Best of all, we managed to purchase it in near new condition and under half price.

The mystery machine is a cross between a go-kart and a ride on mower

I’ve ridden motorcycles for years and I have little fear of such machines. However, I read somewhere not long ago that somewhere in the country, someone presents at a hospital emergency department every six hours due to an accident with a quad bike or ride on mower. That’s not good, and I never considered such a machine due to the steepness of the land here. On the other hand, this new mystery machine feels reasonably stable on the 15 degree slope here, although you still have to concentrate when you’re using it.

Scritchy the possible boss dog, likewise needs to concentrate. She is now well over 18 years old. The other evening she jumped off the veranda and fell 900mm (3 foot). Such a feat is not outside her usual repertoire of moves. Unfortunately for her, this time she fell onto her face. I thought that she’d broken her neck, but no she seems to have fully recovered. I’m only hoping that she has learned from that experience, but it is not a good sign for her future.

Scritchy enjoys a quiet moment on her favourite resting place

Spring produce update:

After a rubbish season last year due to extreme heat and dry weather, the strawberries look as though they’ll produce a bumper harvest.

Strawberries are just beginning to ripen

Unfortunately the pesky Portuguese millipedes have a taste for the early berries. We’ve taken to physically removing the millipedes, and each day we capture less of them:

A Portuguese millipede dines upon a recently ripe strawberry

The soil temperature has risen this week, and so the earliest tomato and corn seedlings have germinated:

The first few tomato seedlings have germinated over the past few days
Not wanting to be outdone by the tomatoes, the corn seedlings are surging from the ground

The almonds are as large this year as I have ever seen them:

The almonds are huge this year

The red and black currants are putting on good size too, and they’re usually ready to eat/ferment just before Christmas:

Red and Black Currants are plentiful and they make a great wine

Apricots are likewise many weeks away from being ripe and ready to eat, but even now they look good:

Apricots are looking good

The broccoli plants are beginning to form good florets (the technical name for the edible bit of the vegetable):

Florets are forming on this broccoli plant

Onto the flowers:

Neither Ollie nor this Tree Fern are flowers, but I reckon they look good
The bees native and European adore this Lavender
The flowers surrounding the dog enclosure probably bring me more delight than the dogs
The garden beds are a riot of different plant varieties
Bearded Iris’s are stunning
Poppies ramble through the garden beds and happily self seed every year
Bees also love catmint. Yum
Daisies and Lavender make good companion plants
However, during summer Geraniums form the backbone of the heat and drought hardy garden beds

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 682.8mm (26.9 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 680.0mm (26.8 inches).

63 thoughts on “The Joke’s on Them”

  1. LOL. You closed the comments while I was composing :-). Let’s see if this works?

    Nope. Gone, all gone. Well, I’ll reconstruct it, later. Lew

  2. Chris,

    Pruning is risky, no doubt about it. I will remember to stay away from the falling branches when I get around to using a pole saw. I don’t need to be knocked senseless by a branch trying to exact some revenge for being lopped.

    I think the main advantage aging is giving me is that I know when to quit for the day. Or when the project can be delayed. Pushing through just to get it done can sometimes have negative health consequences. Although, you are in a different situation by far!

    Frozen firewood burns fine. Well, if it was properly dried before trying to burn it, that is. One year all the stuff that was properly seasoned got burned by late January. The cord of not entirely seasoned fir had sat in stacks all winter. It had dried well enough to burn well when I needed it to, as it was protected from getting wet. If not above freezing, our winters are dry enough that further drying occurs throughout the winter.

    It’s good to see that things are starting to germinate and grow! The picture of the bees on with the lavender is spectacular: you even caught one flying. Nice job.

    I never appreciated geraniums until I keep seeing them in your pictures. They are a nice addition to the flora.

    Speaking of which, you keep anticipating some of my waggish comments with captions like this: “Neither Ollie nor this Tree Fern are flowers, but I reckon they look good”. No way can I make a quip about the dogflowers when you’ve already made a pre-emptive statement about that!

    And I see that one of Lew’s friends already quipped about milking the almonds.

    Although this one, “Ollie assisted greatly by getting in the way.” reminded me of something from Heriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small” series of books. The farmers all claimed that their dogs were “working dogs” and were kept on the farms to assist with herding the other animals. But, without fail, whenever trying to herd a sick animal to the barn so the vet could make an examination, and the dogs tried to help, the farmers would yell, “Ho! Gerrout dog!” Proof that they were pets after all.

    Nice mower. The saving grace on it is that it is so low to the ground. The higher ones are plain dangerous. A sister in law had a 4 wheeler flip on her and crack her chest. That machine will need as much caution as does climbing a ladder.

    Good job on the sprinkler system. Hope it does what you want.
    Oh, there’s a saying by physicist and author Douglas Hofstadter: “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. ”

    Poor Scritchy. I remember the first time Rakhi the Samoyed showed signs that she was no longer young. We were out for a run in the woods. She attempted one of her graceful leaps over a series of berms, a leap she had made countless times. This time, her front feet nabbed the edge of the last berm and she skidded on her chin. I thought she was going to break her neck for sure, but she was fine. Well, other than a great deal of embarrassment. The look she gave me was nearly audible, “Don’t you dare laugh at me or I’ll chew your leg off!” I didn’t even crack a smile.

    A few weeks later she tried a graceful leap over the low fence into the garden and fell over the fence in a heap, complete with a loud thud. I made sure she was okay, opened the gate for her. Dad thought it was funny and began teasing her. Over my protests, he continued. Being smarter than us, Rakhi was getting mad at him and rushed him, jaws open, aiming for his crotch. He avoided that, but ignored my admonitions to either apologize or to go indoors. When he turned his back, she ran the length of the yard and leaped for his throat, but I had yelled a warning so her teeth missed him. So he increased the teasing.

    Her next charge and leap, well, I said nothing. He turned at the last moment, Rakhi landing square in his chest. He flew backwards arse over teakettle. I kept the enraged Samoyed off of him and he beat a hasty retreat for the house. She just looked at me with a look that said, “Well, you did tell him to leave me alone!” I had to agree. Dad was very apologetic to her when he next went outside. I think he saw the hackles rising on her neck and decided to make amends before she could have another go at him.


  3. Hi Chris,

    The Joker movie has certainly found an audience. I look forward to watching it, although I will probably do this at home in a few months via other means. It says something about our current society it has found an audience, but this is old ground for us here at the fluffy collective (or Greers blog). On a related note, I heard today a US congressman posted several twitter updates. If you take the first letter from each post, it spells ” EPSTEIN DIDNT KILL HIMSELF”.
    Such a blatant murder of a high profile witness with tight connections to the elite is unprecedented as far as I know, and the media is mostly silent on it.

    I assume, at some point, the constant provision of cheap entertainment will not be enough to cover up problems and a real Joker (or another Occupy movement, Extinction rebellion etc) will emerge and the elites will face a change of the guard. Or maybe not! At any rate, I will try and watch Ford Vs Ferrari tomorrow. I love the story of the GT40, a simpler time when plenty of engineering “low hanging fruit” was available for the right, dedicated team to exploit. In a twist of irony, it also has “Batman”, aka Christian Bale, who acted in some recent Batman movies. Coincidence? I also have a hardback copy of “The First Man of Rome” to read this week. I look forward to a gripping story of the pleb’s discontent with the entrenched elite, and the rise of a new elite who exploited this to grab power. No doubt it will be different this time!

    Looking forward to reports on your robot watering system – are you feeling confident about the drip hose UV rating? The last lot I bought did not last long, with small blow-outs after a few months (they were cheap though – I couldn’t tell if the pricier brands were worth it – some of them felt low quality as well).


  4. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for the book review and recommendation. A copy is wending its way to me.

    Unfortunately, the potential situation you outlined is a possible problem. I’m aware of a story that a neighbour lost several goats to two hunting dogs who had escaped from another nearby property. The neighbour took the incident with good grace, captured the two dogs and contacted the local ranger who returned the dogs to the owner. The owner was fined, and promised to pay reparations for the loss of the goats. This happened quite a while ago, however I do not believe that the reparations were paid. Such acts make for bad blood in rural areas.

    On the other hand, your son has reason to rejoice that the recalcitrant canines were returned to him unscathed. I hope they do not repeat their adventures. And yes, that is a problem and was one of the reasons that many years ago I decided to come out of hiding and begin writing the ongoing account of the place. It might surprise you, but I’m actually a very private person and don’t seek the limelight. However, misunderstandings were piling up behind the quest to be left alone and in peace. It is complicated.

    Did the recent floods affect your property?



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Oh no! You are correct in what happened. When I first began blogging, for some strange reason people wanted to post comments to older blogs. And believe it or not, I actually received a few very whiny comments from people decrying the sad fact that I didn’t respond to their comments on the older blogs. Hmm, I suggested to them politely that I’ll send them a timesheet and they can remit the payment for services rendered.

    My response hardly mollified the naughty commenters. If anything my response escalated the rapidly unfolding situation. And I’d have to suggest that the cheeky blighters would never dare say such things to my face.

    As a person who relies upon the ancient wisdom of Sun Tzu, his words whispered to me from well beyond the grave. I could almost hear the words spoken to me (in an ethereal sort of tone): “Chris. Chris. Chris! Wake up bro! Don’t make me get louder! Word up brother. Here’s what you need to do with pesky commenters. And you already know what to do but you need to man up and just get on with it. Simply block comments on previous blogs. That’ll (a very family unfriendly word beginning with F that rhymes with the word ‘truck’) ’em! (as an amusing side note, John Lennon may or may not have said exactly that upon completion of his Magnus Opus ‘The Walrus’) Now stop mucking around and get on with it!” So said the words of the ancient long dead military genius.

    Well, what the heck if it sounds like good advice and all, then the question becomes: Why not? 🙂

    Alas, you my friend were collateral damage in the forever war (hope you appreciate my dodgy sci-fi reference?) against relentless interweb trolls. Please accept my humble apologies.

    Ah, ordinarily I push the publish button somewhere between 1pm and 3pm on your Sunday. Hope that helps, and sorry that the website ate your comment. That is a first by the way, the old blogger website regularly ate comments. It was a hungry monster. Even my own replies occasionally disappeared, so I do understand your annoyance.



  6. Hi DJ,

    Oh yeah, pruning is risky as, and chuck a ladder into the mix and all I can suggest is that the heady scent of danger is hardly far away. The branch that fell on me when using the pole saw was much larger than I’d anticipated, and it really hurt.

    Mate, you’re starting to sound like Kenny Rogers – The Gambler. On the other hand, the metaphor extends into the wider world so it is of note and merit and also a worthy goal. Unfortunately, years ago when I participated in distance running I learned how to push through. There are downsides to exercising that knowledge.

    If the firewood froze here, well let’s just say that you’d be hearing me whining about the situation from up your way! It makes a lot of sense with the really low humidity that the firewood might continue to dry. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that by the process of osmosis?

    I counted 18 corn seedlings tonight so things are progressing. Another couple of hundred to go! 🙂

    Thanks and you’d be amazed if I took video footage of the sheer number of bees on the Lavender plants. The hum is audible and even the native bees are in there too. I don’t worry about much, but the gardens in the big smoke of Melbourne are very quiet and it bothers me that nobody notices.

    Geraniums are feral for flowers and they are so easy to take here from cuttings. Unfortunately of late the King Parrots have taken a liking to one of the varieties which just happens to grow the nicest flowers. I guess it’s good to be the King?

    Haha! You lot are merely training me to be a smarty pants and come up with smarty pants lines. Consider it a pre-emptive strike by the Fluffy Collective. 🙂 I’d score us as: 1 point to the Fluffies!

    Sorry to hear about your sister in law’s accident. Yeah, a few years back I too knew a local lady who had been involved in a quad bike accident. She was not a fan of the machines after that and her recovery time was long indeed. You know, do you need to be told a second time? New quad bikes are now sold with roll over protection bars, but back then… It took many years to find one of these particular machines second hand with a low centre of gravity, and I can tell you first hand that the wait was worth it. I still have to concentrate when using it. We’ve set an upper limit of one hour for using the machine. Interestingly the editor is more cavalier with the limit than I am.

    The sprinkler system is working quite well. I’m pumping a bit of water into the vegetable beds on the new terraces at the moment just to get things off and running. Once the seedlings have all popped out of the ground I begin backing off the amount of water they receive. Water reserves are not unlimited here, and at the moment the system is using twice as much as I can afford to sustainably use. It’s a gamble to get the germination to break its dormancy.

    Douglas Hofstadter was a smart bloke to have coined that theorem.

    Rahki is possibly a bit like the disgruntled and elderly Scritchy and not up for any criticism? If I hadn’t known her for years and years, I’d declare her to be very poor company. But we go way back, so I can cut her some serious slack. Hope your dad cut Rahki some slack after his effrontery? Anyway, I hope folks cuts you and I some slack when we too are nearing to our dotage? Who wouldn’t want to be one of those straight talking old folks who just tell things like it is! Hehe! How much fun would that be?



  7. Hi Damo,

    I actually enjoyed the film, so hopefully you do too? It was more of a background story than any sort of Batman film, and who can argue with a good story told well? And heck yeah. That is exactly what I thought – I mean what does it say about the state of the culture? It’s ain’t good that’s for sure. And yeah, it is old ground, I hear you.

    The whole thing stinks to high heaven of really stinky dung. Unfortunately for the authorities, it was just too convenient. Wasn’t there an aircraft called the ‘Lolita Express’? Far out, you’d have to be sort of brain dead to not understand what that means. If I was a victim of that particular bit of dirtiness, I’d be keeping a very low profile because of body counts and all…

    There is a theory around that someone will eventually begin connecting with the forgotten middle ground. All bets are off after that.

    How good was the GT-40? Did you get to watch the film, and did it tell an engaging tale?

    Colleen McCullough, well you’re in safe hands. Hopefully the book is very good. Yes, no doubt things are different this time and we’re in a new era of unprecedented unicorn flatulence. Hehe!

    The drip hose was locally made, so it should be pretty UV stable. Hopefully, I’ll let you know in a couple of years time how it goes. For your interest, I took that aspect into account and you may note that the pipes leading to the brown dripper hoses are rural 3/4inch (20mm) black and green stripe agricultural pipes. I know that stuff is UV stable as I’ve been using it for years. A lot of people use the cheaper and much thinner poly pipe, but I reckon it’s a false economy in the long term. Years ago I knew a local bloke who had one of them leak underground, but where was the problem…



  8. Hi Chris,

    The mystery machine unveiled! And in the proper green color as well so you can lose it in tall grass. 😉 Actually it looks like a fine addition to your stable of powered tools – and with the amount of grass you need to mow to reduce bushfire danger, a wise one.

    I hope Scritchy remembers her experience so she doesn’t repeat it. May she enjoy her well-deserved rest!

    I am glad to report that it has warmed up to near average temperatures for this time of year. Last week was not enjoyable. We received about 2 inches / 50mm of snow and the temperature became colder through the day on Monday, setting new record low temperatures for that day just before midnight and for Tuesday morning before sunrise of 16F / -8.9C and 11F / -11.7C respectively. St. Louis set a record snowfall for the day as well.

    I had been concerned that the cold weather last week would freeze the soil so it could then thaw and frost-heave the overwintering garlic and potato onions out of the ground when it next warmed up, but it wasn’t cold enough for long enough to do that. I’m now in the process of mulching the beds with a thick layer of leaves, 6 inches / 150mm or more. The soil may freeze underneath the mulch, but if so, it does so very slowly and then thaws very slowly in spring, which keeps the bulbs in place. Outside of collecting more leaves for next year’s compost piles and doing winter pruning, I’ll be done with garden work till about the end of February once I finish the mulching.


  9. Yo, Chris – All these people concerned about the Joker film. They do know it’s fiction, right? Well, years of intensive psychotherapy ought to set things right. Hmmm. Might be a good marketing gimmick. “The theatre will provide licensed psychotherapists, standing by, for those in distress.” Another over-the-top example of tender sensibilities? Not that it hasn’t been done, before. Some horror movies, in the 1950s had nurse and ambulance standing by. Pure showmanship.

    Well, that’s interesting. Here, it’s usually The Fed that does forest management and firefighting. That public push back over controlled burns. I recently read an article about Paradise, California. The mayor, and city council tried to put in new zoning laws, to prevent future brushfires. They got a lot of push back, and didn’t get all the safeguards they wanted. Near as I could figure, the residents valued privacy and “pretty”, over good forest management.

    Another glorious, calendar ready, sunset. Ollie looks like he’s considering, “Hmmm. Will this be worth digging up, at a future date? I’ll have to tell my social secretary to pencil it in, on my calendar.” 🙂

    What are the big plants in the tomato enclosure? Looks like they might be sprouts. Maybe, broccoli? Go corn! Go tomatoes! The tree fern is looking well established.

    The flower pictures are, as always, spectacular. Of course, I have my favorites. Won’t mention which ones, as the other flowers might feel bad. And need psychotherapy. :-).

    Almost forgot to mention the mystery machine. It sure is … green. Lime green. Very lime green. Maybe you should name it Sherbet? :-). Or, maybe paint it camo? Looks like it will be a very useful machine. Always wise to pay attention to centers of gravity. When I got my new Ford Ranger (back in ’04) it was the same make and model as the one I traded in. But I noticed right away, that the center of gravity was higher. Don’t know why. Someone had a better idea? But for quit a few days, I took corners, very carefully, until I got a feel for the difference. Cont.

  10. Yo, Chris – No worries. Usually I say, “Technology is wonderful when it works.” I might have to revise that to “Technology is wonderful when it does what you want it to.” :-). I did post later, than usual, on Sunday. So, avoid 1-3. Is that Standard Time, or Daylight Savings Time? :-).

    What was odd is that I thought, “Oh, well, I’ll just copy and paste into this weeks comments.” Oddly, the only thing that copied, was one URL that was in my post. Everything else had truly vanished. Oh, well. Probably best for you that it all vanished. I’d mentioned a lot of books and films. :-). I’m not going to try and reconstruct it. Time and media moves on.

    Last night, I watched a Chinese sci-fi film, that got a lot of coverage. “Wandering Earth.” A pretty good action packed space opera. The premise is, the sun is going to explode, so, the world pulls together and decides to move the entire earth, through space, to another galaxy. There are problems … I’m sure it’s an aspect of the language, but I find the delivery is always a bit over the top ernest and harsh. The dialogue.

    Night before last, I watched “Light of My Life”. A new post-apocalyptic film. A plague has swept the earth, killing most females. A father is hiding out in the woods, with his 11 year old daughter, who is immune. The same premise was used in Frank Herbert’s 1980s novel, “White Plague.” The film was very slow moving, in parts. And, the ending was a bit open ended. It was filmed up in British Columbia. Spectacular scenery and the forests are very similar to ours.

    I’ve also been seeing a lot of Melbourne. There was a TV series, a couple of years ago, “The Miss Fisher Mysteries.” I mentioned them, at the time. Took place in 1920s Melbourne. This is a spin off, with entirely different cast. “The Ms. Fisher Mysteries.” Takes place in the 1960s. Mini skirts and white go-go boots are thick on the ground. :-). It’s a pretty good series, and could probably stand on it’s own. But in my mind, suffers by comparison. Probably just because I like the time period of the 1920s, better than the 1960s. Supporting cast (so far) isn’t as interesting as the old series.

    I made squash / raisin muffins, last night. Not bad. Pretty good smeared with plane yogurt. Lew

  11. Hi Lew,

    You mentioned a book I have read, the white plague! In my mind, Herbert never reached the heights of Dune. But I still enjoyed the white plague (and, is it wrong of me to say I actually really liked God Emperor of Dune?).

    Right now, I am reading the Cats Cradle but Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t know what to entirely make of it, but I am enjoying it!


  12. Chris,

    Well, I was a bit of a cheeky scamp and watched Ford Vs Ferrari today after lunch (on a school day as well!). Long days on the road, I take the gaps where I can 🙂 Anyway, prognosis. Pretty good. Maybe a fraction too long, but lots of good racing footage. One bit was obvious CGI, but the rest looked pretty sweet, I think there was lot of GT40 mockups/replicas used, or CGI has improved another notch. Henry Ford the 2nd seemed like a bit of a jerk. I would have liked more engineering, the movie was mostly focused on Shelby and Miles. But yeah, enjoyed myself 🙂

    We used a lot of black poly pipe on the family farm, mostly buried underground, but the stuff above seemed to be pretty durable. Hope yours lasts the distance, sounds like you know what to use!


  13. Hi Claire,

    Thanks and the mystery machine is a bright shiny green! I’d be curious as to your perspective on the matter, but as we put more land under cultivation, the amount of ongoing labour goes up proportionately, and I can almost envision a time in the future where the energy (or desire) / resources from us just to main the place takes away from the ability to increase the infrastructure. Dunno, but I sure feel that there will be a tipping point in there somewhere. We’re not there yet by a long way and the occasional additional machine is part of the managing things story. I have no desires for any other machines to assist maintenance.

    Scritchy is reclining on the green couch behind me, and Ollie is allowing her to snuggle up to him. He’s really good with the smaller dogs, and they’re his mates. I feel that before he arrived here he spent his first few months in a cage, and that left an imprint on who he is.

    You are more stoic than I, as I’d be whining really loudly about such cold temperatures. Hope all the work on the house is paying off on that front in terms of your comfort? It looks like Thursday here is going to be a corker. The long term average temperature for this time of year is 22’C / 72’F. All very nice, except Thursday is forecast to reach 39’C / 102’F. Far out, batten down the hatches for the wind will also blow that day… It is not a record breaker though, but still it’s right up there. To be honest it looks like a southern monsoon, but without rain until a few days after that.

    Really? You may have just answered a question that has long troubled me. Down here, old timers used to lift bulbs before the winter, and it may have been done because of memories of frost heaving? Dunno. I’ve asked the hard question: Why? But there has never been a good reason for the labour. I really like your strategy with the mulching. Soil organic content is a worthy goal in its own right, all other considerations to the side.



  14. Hi Damo,

    I salute your fine effort at striking a right and proper equilibrium. One needn’t bust their gut all the time when on a fixed salary. As a contrast I am often paid on an hourly rate basis and as such have to justify the time spent – and it is a matter of pride that I have never succumbed to the darker side of a query about a bill. The unfortunate other side of that story is that I have to maintain a detailed diary and that is not my usual mindset. Imagine writing the note: Watched Ford vs Ferrari film! Hehe! On the other hand I am a recalcitrant home body nowadays, but have in the past travelled for work, so mate I hear you and would do no less in the circumstances.

    What I really loved about that story was that back in the day, my managers used to act as if they were doing me a favour by sending me off to travel for work. Here son go and have an adventure. Possibly I have hobbit blood in me? I dunno, 4am starts to catch the ‘red eye special’ to Sydney just left me feeling out of sorts for the rest of the day. Anyway, enough of me whingeing (I have a flair for this not so hidden talent) and I give you music: Hoodoo Gurus – Waking Up Tired. And that version is live on Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday! A blast from the past man! The band used to tour with TISM (short for This Is Serious Mum) during the school holidays because one of the TISM band worked as a public servant and another was a teacher, and the shows were a true hoot. The mosh-pit was intense and very sweaty. But as usual, I digress and the point of the song was that it isn’t much good waking up tired. Early mornings and all that…

    I recall that back in the day a person could purchase and register a fibreglass replica version of a GT-40. Of course there was always the little hassle of getting an engineers certificate before the beast could be registered, but you have to admit that it is in the same vein of the original. When I was a younger bloke I almost managed to purchase a Purvis Eureka. I visited the factory, but couldn’t come up with the mad cash. Some things are just too cool. 🙂

    Exactly, the right stuff is very durable. Knowing which is which is not so easy though.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    The powers that be spend an inordinate amount of effort convincing people that fiction is reality, and so it hardly surprises me that people confuse the two states of thought. On the other hand I wasn’t kidding about being terrified at John Carpenter’s version of Dawn of the Dead. The film didn’t let up for a second, and the terror continued even into the credits. On one level I know that I have not experienced a zombie, but on another deeper level, the images of the film were terrifying. It’s complicated.

    On the other hand, the bad guys in the Joker film got what they had coming to them. A nurse and ambulance on hand back in the day at a cinema was a nice touch. There is always a place for the showman.

    Same, same, but different. And the push back is real. I have heard some green politicians speaking out about controlled burns, so I’m not sure what makes them so green. Back in the day the term ‘green’ used to be a disparaging term highlighting a person’s inexperience. How times have changed, and the language is taken along for the ride, I guess. I do rather hope that our language survives the lack of willpower to teach kids how to spell and more importantly, how to write. They may no (sic) how to answer a test, but do they no (sic) how to create?

    The folks in Paradise paid a high price for their beliefs.

    The weather here has been on the cool side of late, but hold your hat as Thursday looks set to reach 39’C / 102’F. Far out that will be toasty, but not quite record breaking.

    Ollie has a mind that is full of mischief, so the sensitive person knows when mischief is about to explode. He’s sitting right behind me as I type this and his face says: “What. Me worry?” And I suspect that he is actually not worrying.

    You wrote ‘tomato enclosure’ but I suspect that you meant to type ‘corn enclosure’? The big plants are Broccoli. I chucked a whole bunch of seeds in there to over winter, and four plants germinated. This sad state of affairs was due to me mistiming the date of planting, and it was just too cold. I’ll collect seed from the ones that did germinate and actually grew. A lot of experiments with the plants are like that.

    The tree ferns are amazing plants – and they are incredibly hardy. They are one of the first plants to recover from bushfire, so it makes you wonder what sort of conditions the plants had to surpass back in the deeps of time so that they’d evolve that little trick.

    Very wise. If I knew your favourite flower image, I might be tempted to add more of those photos. You may not be aware, but the editor takes most of the flower photos, and there is a bit of competitive stuff going on in the background between her and I to see who gets the better photos. The bee ones are amazing and a testament to digital cameras. Anyway, I’m taking notes and no (sic) that the gazania’s are not on your list of favourites! Hehe! I’m not really taking notes.

    I like that name. Fun fact: Did you know that Sherbert was a rock band down here back in the 1970’s? No, probably not. Anyway, it is a good name. We should really run a ballot and see what the beastie should be called? It is a very useful machine and the thing is as rare as hen’s teeth. Pam unwittingly had something to do with the purchase, because I hadn’t looked for a while, and then she mentioned her son’s project. Coincidence? Maybe? Cue eerie music. Interestingly the Joker film had a traditional music score which was heavy on the stringed instruments. A nice backdrop to the film.

    The newer Rangers are even biggerer off the ground than yours. I often wonder to myself as to how folks get anything in the trays? I mean it’s a long way up there.

    I enjoyed your take on technology and it always reveals new and interesting weaknesses. If the software was really good it would have advised you that the previous blog was closed for comments. It was unfortunate that you were collateral damage in the forever war on the unrelenting trolls. I tell you what I really like about the new software. I can specifically disallow particular words from comments. Before doing that I was inundated with sale pitches for antibiotics. What a fine joke that is – have they seen how alive this place is? Bonkers stuff.

    Talk of Daylight Savings time just leaves me feeling sort of distraught for the lost hour. Treat it kindly my friend and when you’re done with it, return it as you found it. And I swear those scratches on it had nothing at all to do with me. Promise. Enjoy your sleep ins. That sounds a bit of a sour note and it may be true. Hehe!

    You are very naughty. Inge got me the other day with a book recommendation. I’m weak on that front, so please lead me not into temptation. A few recommendations every now and then are worthy additions to your fine comments.

    Anyway, I’ve been told by good authorities that you can’t go back. We must always go forward and progress to somewhere better. Of course it is not lost on me that lemmings are probably also progressing off a cliff, but can a person argue with the masses, I ask you?

    That’s putting it mildly. The rays from the sun are feeble things when one is as far out as Pluto. And interestingly serious folks are beginning to wake up to the fact that the Universe is chock full of stuff, and not the empty blackness previously thought. Wandering exo-planets would probably be quite cold, and I note that we are due for another interstellar visitor shortly next month. It sure is travelling fast and about a third the size of the thing that wiped out the dinosaurs. No doubt that there are a lot of them zipping about at extraordinary velocities.

    You managed to sneak in a sneaky book recommendation after your protestations about software and lamentations as to lost words. I’d read all of the Dune series when I was a kid and loved them, although like the Foundation series it went on a bit long. I was frankly Bored of the Robots by the end and folks who can travel between star systems need not fear packs of wild dogs. I feel much better having written that and it should save me some on the psychologists next bill. I assume you’ve read both Dune and the Foundation series?

    There were probably quite a few miniskirts and white go-go boots around at the time. Ah, my history lessons were not totally adept (sic)! Hehe! On a funny side story I once read a CV for a job application where the foolish person has accidentally written that they were inept at a task rather than adept. And the pool of candidates was so poor that they scored an interview. It would be funny if it weren’t true. Oh yeah, inept history, mini skirts and Melbourne: White shift dress of Jean Shrimpton. Quite the scandal back in the day.

    Yummo! Here’s to raisins / dried sultana grapes in muffins. Not good or the pooches though. I had to do all of the baking for the next few days today due to the hot weather forecast for tomorrow and Thursday. One must be flexible.



  16. Hello Chris
    It is many many years since I have been to the cinema. The sound is far too loud for me, I have to assume that a large proportion of the population is deaf.
    Notayesman had an interesting article on negative interest rates today (19/11).
    Forest management, oh dear. I assume that, as is the case here, the less a person knows the greater their input.
    Floods don’t affect me at all really as I am on a reasonable slope and have appropriate culverts. Incomers who try to grab every last inch of their land, have actually made things even better for me. As they flatten their ground and remove the gullies, so they increasingly flood. Regret to say that I find this funny.
    Son’s dog Flynn was absolutely ecstatic when Son appeared to collect him. So why didn’t the silly animal come home of his own accord?


  17. @ Damo – I could never quit “get” “Dune.” My loss, I suppose.

    No one knows quit what to make of Vonnegut. But they keep coming back. :-). Lew

  18. Yo, Chris – I giggled through “Dawn of the Dead.” Both versions. But by then, I had worked in malls (and seen a lot of other zombie films) and rather saw it as a send up of consumer culture.

    In the future, people may not know how to write or spell … but they may know how to read. I’m still trying to absorb what Goodman had to say about that, in “How to Be a Tudor.” I had never considered them to be two distinct talents. Maybe because they’re so closely linked in language. “Read and write” often feels like one word. Literacy in the past is always hard to estimate.

    Our weather here is going to dry out, for a run of days. I see by the forecasts that the nights are going to get colder, again. Hovering just below freezing. Maybe. 102F sounds ghastly.

    More broccoli may turn up if you tossed around seed. As I’ve discovered, seed travels around and lies dormant for awhile. I’ve got some camomile that just popped up, yards from where the original patch was. Who knows how that pumpkin seed traveled all the way across the gardens?

    There may be a meteor storm (not shower) on Thursday night. Don’t know about your hemisphere. We might even get a cold, clear night, by then. Isn’t that what brought the Triffids, to earth? :-).

    I think I read all of the “Foundation” books. Decades ago, and probably not in order. I floundered around in “Dune” for awhile, and finally gave up. It just didn’t make much sense, to me. It’s interesting. Back when I had my early flirtation with cable, there wasn’t much content and things got played, to death. (The mention of “Clash of the Titans” still makes me twitch.). Well, they ran “Dune.” So, I sat down and carefully watched it. Still didn’t make much sense. Later, they ran it again, and I had it on, but was in and out of the kitchen, and watched it in snatches. Then, it made sense. 🙂

    Ohhhh! Thanks for an idea. When I can’t spell something, I’ll just toss in (sic), instead of diving for the dictionary and magnifying glass. Ought to save oodles of time and frustration. And everyone will think I know how to spell the word, correctly! Genius idea! :-).

    Shrimpton’s dress looks rather sedate, these days. Lew

  19. Hi Chris,
    Funny how those jobs always take longer than expected but the watering system should pay off in time saved in the long run. That is a mighty fine mower even if it is green it’s so bright you probably won’t lose it. I’m glad Scritchy was uninjured after her epic jump. Had to laugh at Ollie “helping” by being in the way. Brought to mind the three cats we left at our old house. They were often helpful when I was planting transplants by rolling on top of them. Maybe they thought they were firming up the earth. Then if I was putting up one of my small plastic tunnels or some floating row cover one in particular would either run into the tunnel or go under the row cover before I could secure them down. This was pretty much a regular occurrence.

    Weather is moderating here somewhat and the snow is about 80% melted.

    My last living uncle passed away late last week so I’m leaving tonight to stay at my sister’s in Chicago so we can catch an early train to South Bend, Indiana to attend the funeral. We’ll stay overnight as well and catch up with the cousins some of whom we haven’t seen since in 40 years. My aunt had let us know that he was in hospice and was expected to pass fairly soon – that was four months ago. He was a very vibrant man who played the cornet in jazz bands, ran marathons and was the CFO at a bank in South Bend. When he was in his 50’s he had heart surgery and all was well for awhile. Sadly the mail order pharmacy sent the wrong dosage of the blood thinner, Coumadin resulting in a brain bleed which caused enough damage that he could no longer work. He wasn’t too bad but just was “off” mentally for the remainder of his life. His passing at 84 was really a relief for his family.

    We had already discussed the movie “Joker” but I did want to mention (small spoiler alert) that when his government agency case worker informed him that there was no funding for his medication – the scenario is realistic and I imagine happening more and more often. Seems one of the first places to cut is funding for mental illness.


  20. Hi Lew,

    You have done well to watch, and perhaps even understand, the Dune movie. It was a real mess and had only a passing resemblance to the book. At the movie premiere, apparently your ticket included a small booklet with a glossary, cast of characters and other such useful bits of information a “normal” movie does without.

    On its surface, the book was a pretty conventional story about revenge and overthrowing the evil empire. But, yeah David Lynch did his thing. Denis Vilenvinue (sic) just finished filming a new version of Dune. He was responsible for Arrival and Blade Runner: 2049, two of my favourite sci-fi movies of the past decade – so keen to see what he comes up with. Hopefully, something watchable!

    Vonnegut, well, yeah I dunno. I was worried I might be putting myself in another David Wallace/Infinite Jest type scenario, but Cats Cradle is perfectly readable, and seems to be progressing somewhere. So thumbs up so far.


  21. Hi Chris,

    That Purvis car may indeed be a little too cool for school. Although the homebuilt nature of the beast does lend it a little bit of “uncoolness”, or perhaps wonkiness, at the same time. You of course are aware, the truly cool expend no effort in being cool – so a homebuilt car, or indeed any true sports car, is actually a little too cantankerous for those who swan through life with sunglasses always on.

    Did you see TISM live? I never knew what TISM stood for until now. I seem to remember they would always wear masks on-stage? And Greg the Stop Sign is a classic! I would never have guessed they would tour with Hoodoo Gurus, at first glance it doesn’t seem like much of a cross-over. My god – that Hey Hey clip brings back memories. So many saturday nights, when I was too young to go out and do something interesting, watching that show. At the time, an 830 finish did seem pretty late as well.

    Completely unrelated, but you and others here may find this 3min clip very funny, an explanation of how bank loans work by the famed (mock)umentary film maker, Roy Mallard:


  22. Chris,

    Me sounding like Kenny Rogers? Yikes! I prefer Clint (aka Squint) Eastwood: A man has got to know his limitations.

    I think the proper term is sublimation. That’s when a solid changes phases directly to a gas (or vapor) while bypassing that pesky liquid phase. 🙂 However, I wouldn’t be surprised if a bit of osmosis is required in order for the water vapor to travel through the wood? I dunno enough botany to answer that for sure. Anyhoo, sublimation is NOT the same as subjugation. The former is a physics term whilst the latter describes what Genghis Khan and the Mongolian hordes were talented at.

    Your lavender collects bees the way my Russian sage does. It is nearly coated with bees for several months. The sage is beautiful, the bees are happy and I am happy because there are a lot of happy bees.

    Good luck fighting the King Parrots. As you said, being King is good. Emperor, however, is easier to defeat – emperors have no clothes.

    Go Fluffies! Score more points!

    I’ve also found germination to be tricky. Keep the seeds too wet when the ground is too cold, and they might rot. Not wet enough is a problem. Seeds gotta have it Just Right. At least the Just Right is a range, but some things just don’t work. Have you found that what works can vary year to year?

    Those 2 incidents were when Rakhi was 9 and were the first signs that she was no longer in her prime. I cut her a ton of slack, as I thought then and think now that teasing any intelligent being who is staring their declining years in the face is mean. Dad had no choice but to cut her some slack. She was tougher then he was and probably smarter than he and I combined. (Yes, the dog was smarter than 2 physicists combined. She also often acted more human than canine.) If he hadn’t cut her slack, she would’ve found devious ways to get back at him.

    Mate, you’ve hit upon a Grand Plan for Old Age and Dotage: act slightly off so that you can just tell things like it is. And get away with it. Gotta find amusement where you can, right? In his old age, a nearly decrepit Egil Skallagrimsson (at least according to Egil’s Saga) wanted to go to the Thing (Iceland’s public parliament) and sit on the giant rock overlooking the natural amphitheater. Why? So he could dump his 2 chests of treasure into the crowd and “watch the small fry fight each other for a few coins.” His family prevented him from attending. I always thought he had a good idea.


  23. Hi Inge, Lewis, Margaret, Damo and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments however the mid-week hiatus has struck with some force and tonight involved 2 fish and 2 chicken tacos plus a bowl of excellent chips. All up a satisfying meal and the evening temperature was hot and humid enough that it reminded me of nothing other than a hot night in an Asian city sitting out on the sidewalk eating dinner on bench seats.

    Apologies, I digress but the point is I shall speak with y’all tomorrow. Until then, happy dreams of giant sand monsters, spice and endless deserts.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Your guts are made of sterner stuff than mine. The George Romero zombie films never troubled me, but it was the fast zombies in the John Carpenter film that were somehow more frightening. Not sure why that would be. I guess there is an element that with the Romero zombies you’d have a chance of survival (yes, yes, I know it’s fictional), but the fast ones were like Alien in that they just keep coming at you – like a particularly dodgy litigant with too many resources and nothing else to occupy their time. I am aware of one such person who was banned from the court system for being a serial litigant. Trained in the legal profession at the governments coin too.

    Ooo! Well such a possibilty had not occured to me. The thing is though, the written word is almost a different language to the spoken word. Nobody speaks with the sentence structures that are used to put words to paper (or text), and the forms have already diverged. And need I point out that the kids aren’t trained any longer to produce cursive script, and that is a really bad idea from my perspective.

    I’d swap you for the cold weather, and ghastly was perhaps an understatement: Bushfire threat spreads to Victoria as first Code Red declared since 2010.

    Meteor shower? Cool, although it will be cloudy down here by then. They’re really hard to see as the meteor’s travel very fast across the sky and are nothing like the slower moving ones that fall to earth with a trailing smoke tail. There is an interstellar visitor passing through the solar system early next month. It is only the second one detected, and I believe it is larger than the first. I’ll bet they’re moving through the solar system quite regularly.

    Damo covered the Dune film story better than I could. It was epic, but I recall that the book was huge and many pivotal moments were cut from the film. I recall from when I was a kid that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was regularly wheeled out on television. Well, Dune probably made sense the second time around because you may have been preparing very tasty taco’s. Possibly fish taco’s? Or maybe nacho’s – everything tastes better with melted cheese. 🙂

    Glad to entertain you! I feel that it is my sacred duty to bring smiles. It is part of the Fluffy hidden talents. 😉



  25. Hi, Chris:

    Well there it is – the Mystery Machine, and I am not disappointed. What a nice machine it is. I think that you, and especially the editor will find much use for that workhorse. I am glad you have a helmet.

    Poor Scritchy – it comes to all of us. She’s such a game trooper.

    I haven’t watched a new movie in years. I seem to relate better to the old ones. And I have a strong feeling that whatever the eyes view, the brain registers as real. I rather take to heart “What you contemplate, you imitate.”

    I’ve never seen such a glorious sunset; what superb photography.

    What a job your new water robot was, even though you read the instructions . . . It makes me worry a bit about what we should be installing to water the garden. We have tried other systems, like you, and have not been very happy with them.

    I was always told that strawberry plants were easy to grow, which made me feel very inadequate considering the amount of trouble I have always had with them. I don’t wish Portuguese millipedes on anyone, but I am glad that I am not alone in my troubles.

    When I was a girl it was my dream to look like Jean Shrimpton. Oh, well. Sheesh, when I think of the miniskirts we used to wear, I actually blush. We had to have a friend walk behind us going up stairs sometimes, though if that friend was wearing a miniskirt too it could be challenging.

    Your flowers have never been more beautiful.


  26. @ Margaret:

    I am so sorry that you have had yet another death in the family, though I understand the circumstances are different.

    Take care.


  27. @ Margaret – my condolences to you and your family, and to your uncle who had to live with the results of pharmaceutical malpractice for so many years. From your description he sounds like a very well-rounded person who would have been a joy to be around.

    I understand about his being your last living uncle; Mike and I also have very few relatives left in that generation, and those we do have are declining at various speeds. It’s kind of odd to think of ourselves as being the family elders, but that is fast becoming our position.


  28. @ Damo – I liked both “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049.” Maybe we’ll get a coherent “Dune?” Lew

  29. Yo, Chris – The “dodgy litigant” bit, was a nice turn of phrase. We used to just call such people, “sue happy.”

    Finger’s crossed that the brush fires stay out of your State. Sounds like you may get a bit of wind. Tie down that patio furniture and the chickens.

    I started reading Bill Bryson’s new book, last night. “The Body: A Guide for Occupants.” (2019). It’s quit a door stop. 400+ pages. His usual wry and gentle sense of humor. Can I recommend it? Hmmm. Early days yet. There may be stuff in there, I don’t want to know. The Ick Factor. Also, I don’t know how it might sit with you, as there’s so much we don’t know about what makes us tick. Can you live with the mysterious, unknown? :-).

    I also started watching one of the Great Courses lectures. “Books that Matter: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” (Prof. Damrosch, Harvard University.) Now I’ve never wanted to tackle “Decline and Fall”. All six volumes, of it. I figured in 250 odd years, there was probably lots of newly uncovered sources and archaeology. But I may have to dip into it, here and there. It was a new kind of history writing.

    First, there are the foot notes. Gibbon was about the first person to use those. And, they take up about 1/4 of the books. The professor becrys (sic) the fact that some of them are in the original languages, which have not been translated in any modern edition. But the footnotes are where Gibbons wry humor shines through. Gibbon was also very aware of his own prejudices, and made no effort to hide them. He was a man of his time, and knew it. Also, up til that time (and, occasionally, today) Gibbons didn’t believe that the Romans were “just like us.” He knew their world view could be quit a bit different, from ours. He was aware that when things went well, in history, there wasn’t much documentation. When things went bad, everyone had something to say about it. An event might be told from two different sources, he would cite both, and let the reader decide. But state his opinion. Sometimes, he’d just say, “But we don’t know.”

    A meteor shower is 2 or 3 meteors a minute. A meteor storm is 2 or 3 meteors a second. According to a news report, I read.

    We had a bit of frost, last night. The next three nights will be clear, with temperatures hovering right around -0- C. Lew

  30. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! It’s a goodie isn’t it? Years ago I used to work for a wealthy bloke who had high end lawyers on-call, and he wasn’t afraid to use them. Not someone to seriously annoy and it would make for a nervous existence for his adversaries. I learned at that workplace that people can be beaten around the head pretty badly with thin chunks of paper covered in densely typed fine print. One can only hope that the paper comes to a good end, and is either recycled or used as toilet paper? It makes you wonder what happens to piles of useless paper in offices. I’ve seen a bit of that over the years. And computers just progressed us all to using more paper. Talk of paperless offices has remained just that.

    Fortunately little old Scritchy didn’t blow away in the hot winds today. She took her leisure upon the slowly disintegrating bean bag, whilst hiding inside from the heat. I didn’t have the heart to chuck her outside for very long, other than to do her canine business. The outside thermometer reached 102’F by around 2pm. The cool change finally came through with a blast at about 4pm, and it delivered about 1/10th of an inch of rain with some lightning and thunder. Nature at her finest – and I love a good storm. There were some fires in the area, but they seem to have been rapidly put out. Fire restrictions come into force on Monday morning.

    You know, that is the second time this week that I’ve encountered the good authors new book. It sounds fascinating and he has a wonderful way with words. To be honest it does rather sound to me a lot like the famous ‘The Gut’ book which was released a few years back. It was an interesting and entertaining read, but I had to be in the right frame of mind in order to take it in. Do you find that is the case for you with some books?

    You’re a brave soul with more free time than I have to bring to bear upon the problem that is the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Although I see that boxed copies of all of the volumes are available at reasonable prices. Edward Gibbon he does display a fine wry humour as I scrolled through some quotes and spotted this fine example: “instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long.” That sounds to me like the words of a wise historian. We are all of our time and shaped by the culture that we find ourselves in. At times when the culture is frankly a bit odd, you just hope to be the one to keep a cool tool and don’t indulge in the cultural silliness. On another note, and to be candid I’m rather confused as to how an author can believe that they are a highly rational and independent thinker, and then lapse into moralisation. Ah, I see the good historian expresses a belief that Rome turned its back on the gritty realities of how the Empire was built and maintained in the first place. Makes sense, and I note that there are parallels with today.

    Suggesting that a person ‘does not know’ is a step along the path to wisdom.

    Is this evening the night of the Meteor shower for you?



  31. Hi Inge,

    I didn’t find the audio volume at the cinema to be overly loud, however the cinema displays an eclectic variety of films. It is usually a very busy cinema too, however I recall the days when there were a lot more of the businesses in operation. But then things can always be taken too far in relation to volume and I have been to a number of live music events were it was so loud I had to wear earplugs. Industrial deafness is a real problem and you may note that I use ear muffs and/or ear plugs when working with machinery here. Do you have particularly good hearing or does the high volume present other issues for your hearing? I usually sleep soundly, but a truck drove past at first light this morning and due to the heat over night I had the window opened. The sound of the truck roaring down the road accompanied by flashing lights was quite a shock. The truck was picking up the neighbours rubbish.

    Thanks for mentioning the economics blog and I’ll try to get to read it this evening or more likely tomorrow evening (the mid-week hiatus is still in I dunno, happening phase).

    I had a quieter day today, but it was quite tense due to the high winds and high temperatures. About 2pm the air temperature reached 102’F outside and it was just hot. A cool change swept through at about 4pm.

    Floods have little impact upon me either, as long as I disperse the effects of the heavy rain. Very few people around here are constructing new houses. I have a suspicion that the process for permission to do so has been made far more complicated than it should otherwise be. I’m comfortable reading legislation, but that isn’t a task for everybody. How else do the new comers learn, other than completely stuffing their projects up? Especially if they cover-commit all of their resources to a single large dwelling. I have counselled many people in the past to design a small residence, and people say to me ‘yes’, and then go and do the exact opposite of my advice – and then get into trouble.

    Flynn and Ren may be just a bit naughty in their very bones. Hope your son is happy to have the prodigal canines return?



  32. Hi Margaret,

    It’s really hard to be able to estimate how long a job will actually take when you’ve never done such a job before. 🙂 And I’d never used the dripper lines before, but I have high hopes for them. I tell you, years and years ago I was very careless with estimating time, and the outcome of that was a lot of trouble. These days I’m careful, but still I get it wrong, but usually let people know that I have no real idea how long things will take.

    The bright green mystery machine sets off the (now rusty and demanding more paint and replacement steel) bright yellow trailer? 🙂 Before I bought the machine I had to pay a visit to the local farm machine repair dudes and check with them to see whether they could actually maintain the mystery machine. I’m lucky to have that business nearby.

    Scritchy is doing OK and hid in the house from the high temperatures today. She wasn’t awake for most of the day and it seemed like a good strategy. About mid-morning she took a break from sleeping and was happily munching a bone outside.

    Felines have a mercurial mind that can seethe with devious plots such as: Do you reckon I’ll get a pat if I trip up Margaret? or Do you reckon I’ll get fed if I block up the entrance to this cold frame? 🙂 or Do you reckon this plastic cover looks as though it will be fun to put my claws through?

    We had the opposite blast down here today. 102’F and very windy at about 2pm. Right now, the thermometer is barely surpassing 64’F, and it will be light for hours yet. What a sudden and dramatic drop in temperature and shift in the winds (which is a serious fire risk).

    Sorry to hear that the light of your remaining uncle has now been extinguished. May he rest in peace and you have my condolences for your loss.

    The medical industry makes mistakes, and I’ve seen some of those. I tend to believe these days that a good middle ground is to use the industry, but always recall that few people will care more for your health than yourself. And that means using common sense. Dunno, I just sort of deal with what I’m presented with. The editor was told that she had a Vitamin D deficiency maybe two years back. That just didn’t sound right, and we later read that there was a bit of fee gouging apparently going on. The thing with integrity, you don’t just have to have it, you have to be seen to have it.

    I didn’t quite get that the agency case worker at the very end of the film was a younger version of the older agency case worker – who made that particular observation. But yeah, I hear you about that.



  33. Yo, Chris – I suppose, if you wanted to get all highfalutin, you would say the lawyer was kept on retainer.

    Then I though, “Chris may be curious about the word highfalutin (preferred: no “g”, no apostraphe (sic), one word), so I’d better do a preemptive strike.” 🙂

    Been around from since the 1830s. The comments were very interesting. Speculations run from Chaucer, to steam boats, to sad irons. (Sad is from the Old English, meaning “solid.”) Well, enough of that.

    That was quit a temperature plunge, in just a few hours. Sounds like a breeze, straight off the Antarctic. We, on the other hand, had a steady 32F (-0- C), most of the night. Fog rolled in around midnight, and I think it provided a certain amount of insulation.

    Books and the right frame of mind. Well, some nights I’m up for watching something, and some nights, reading something. Some nights, both. Last night, after a bit of a hiatus, I dipped into “Hadrian’s Wall,” again. And then nearly polished off “The Sorcerer.” Maybe I was in a more “Roman” frame of mind, due to watching the lectures about Gibbon. Sometimes, my choice of reading or watching material has to do with approaching due dates of library material.

    The meteor storm is tonight. But now NASA is saying we won’t be able to see it on the west coast, at all. :-(. I’ll still take a look. Last night’s fog didn’t roll in until after the projected viewing time.

    The professor lecturing about Gibbons can be a bit of a wit, himself. A bit of the source material that Gibbons put in the foot notes, and left in the original languages, were the naughty bits. The professor wondered how many of Gibbon’s readers were mentally flogging themselves, for not paying enough attention in Latin class :-).

    The Editor’s flower photos are quit lovely … and skillful. And, you don’t do too bad, yourself :-). Have either of you ever thought of entering some of the photo contests? Might pick up an extra bit of jingle. I don’t know the details, but National Geographic Magazine is always running a photo contest, of one type or another. And, there used to be a yearly (may still be) “Photographer’s Market Place.” There used to be all kinds of yearly “market place” books. I don’t know how they’ve fared in the Internet Age. Lew

  34. Hello again
    102F sounds horrendous to me though I am assuming that the humidity is low.
    I always understood that I can hear higher pitches than is usual in human beings. It was a nightmare when I was a child. I fainted on the only occasion when I was taken to a firework display. Very embarrassing when one has to put ones fingers in ones ears at the opera. Fortunately I had a burst eardrum in my late teens and after that I only had to put a finger in one ear which could be made less noticeable. I still have trouble with thunder, gun shots, cars back firing and police and ambulance vehicles sirens. However it does mean that even in my dotage, I have excellent hearing.
    I am drinking a stunning wine made by Son at the moment. It is damson, made Oct 2018. It is as good as any wine that I have ever tasted.
    Son is very happy to have his dogs back plus the fact that they don’t seem to have caused any trouble.


  35. Hi Damo,

    The VW underpinnings used in the Purvis Eureka are probably not consistent with the sort of get up and go response expected from such a unique looking beast. However, some tricky folks have chucked Mazda Rotary engines into VW’s. You’d hope they upgraded the brakes as well? Oops – didn’t think of that… I mentioned kit cars because back in the day I recall that there were GT40 kit cars. They looked pretty cool and who’s to know the difference other than some propeller head? 🙂 Of course, purists need not apply…

    Cool is difficult. For some people it’s a gift! Hehe! What else can I say!!! Alas, I am not one such. Imagine having to stress over whether your actions were going to be perceived as being cool? They’d have to find the really difficult balance between doing nothing, and doing something. My brain is not up for that. Anyway, I’ve noted that people who are cool, are only cool for the briefest of brief moments – thus indicating that there is a bit of flash in the pan to the whole experience.

    I did indeed see TISM live on more than a few occasions. My favourite gig was an outdoors gig at the Torquay football ground, and they supported Hoodoo Gurus who were the headliner. The gig went late into the night and the mosh pit was very hot and sweaty. Unfortunately after cooling off after the gig I recalled that I hadn’t brought the roof of the Suzuki Sierra along with me, so the drive back to Melbourne was err, refreshingly freezing. I was a bit of a tragic fan, woe is me. They put on a good show and it was very high energy, and they apparently didn’t retire until they were in their mid-50’s. If you’re interested there is an excellent Double J, J-Files on TISM which is worthwhile listening to. The program was done by none other than John Saffran, who is as entertaining as the band. And yeah, the band always dressed up in rather unusual attire, and frankly they looked to me like a bunch of amusing terrorists on stage. But jeez could they put on a good show or what. One of the band members works as a public servant. Go figure that out.

    Hey, hey was pretty good. Who would have thought that a presenter with a co-presenter which was actually a stuffed puppet Ostrich could be so amazingly popular? Heady days!

    Thanks for the film clip and I’ll check it out tonight. I’m currently out of interweb range whilst sitting in the orchard monitoring the chickens. After yesterday’s crazy weather it all seems rather pleasant.



  36. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! Well if the shoe fits… 🙂 Bad, Chris! Clint had some pretty good one liners over the years (and that one was good), and the guy is a prolific actor and film maker. For some reason I have this strong memory of one of his films “Kelly’s Army” where a bunch of allied soldiers during WWII do a heist on stolen nazi gold. All seemed like a good idea at the time. For some reason there was a scene with Donald Sutherland where he was reclining on a tank and was asked what he was doing. Apparently he was: “Catching some rays, man”. How cool is that response during a war zone? Meanwhile I can barely remember last week… Thankfully it’s all there in the blog.

    I defer to your greater knowledge. My high school didn’t let me anywhere near the subject of physics due to my poor grades in math. I don’t have inherently poor math skills, I was just unlucky enough to go to a very hippy dippy school in years 7 and 8, and then in year 9 things abruptly changed for me, but I was chucked into the bottom math class due to poor results in the initial tests. Unfortunately, that particular class was very disruptive and as the new kid in school, I was fresh meat, and had no other choice than to sit next to the school bully. He left at the end of that year, and three dodgy years of math education, well some things a person cannot recover from easily. 🙂 I’ve heard it said that a man’s gotta know his limitations! 😉

    Russian sage is a great plant for pollinating insects. In fact all of the Salvia family are extraordinarily heat and drought hardy – and they still produce flowers. I grow the Salvia Officinalis and a crushed leaf is very useful for treating mouth ulcers, should a person be unlucky enough to have such a thing. Happy bees, happy garden. Grumpy bees and hungry bees are not your friend.

    Germination is a tough one, and in the sort of colder year that I’m having, there just doesn’t seem to be the sort of combination of wet and warm weather which gets the seeds to germinate. This year is very slow, even with yesterday’s 102’F. But I’ve been through such years before. That last time was serious panic stations, but by about mid to late December the plants germinated and then grew faster as if they had to make up for lost time. The growing season can be quite short and sharp in a temperate climate.

    As to what works from year to year, I really don’t know and am making it up a bit as I go along and just adapting. Bizarrely enough, things are actually easier in hotter seasons. I add in the caveat that this is the case so long as you have enough access to water.

    The chickens are now milling around me. A group of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos just turned up and are kicking up a racket high up in one of the large trees. And my fingers are starting to freeze… It is hard to believe that it is barely 50’F now after yesterday’s weather.

    Some dogs are highly intelligent, although they’re not all gifted that way, that’s for sure. It was nice to have cut some slack for the aged Rahki. Dogs sense of self interest can express itself as redressing the balance for some previous slight. Cats are rather similar, but quicker to respond. Dogs may believe that: Revenge is a dish best served cold.

    Thanks for mentioning Egil Skallagrimsson and Egil’s Saga. No doubt the family were thinking less of Egil’s amusement and more of their own financial future? Hehe. I can almost hear the whispers of their echo down the long ages for their annoyance at his plan. To me it sounded a lot like they said: “Nice for some!”



  37. Hi Pam,

    The mystery machine is a little ripper. And need I mention that I did a random search for the machine (which I’d been doing on and off again for many years) after you mentioned that your son had begun his interesting project involving a similar machine? This makes you an official fluffy (think bad influence, but in a good way!) And there it was for sale, like a little lost and forlorn item awaiting upon a good home. I’d like to think that we’re a good home, although opinions may vary. All I can say is that over the years I have made a few friends, many acquaintances, and a few enemies. Unfortunately, I’d be certain that it is a path that we all travel. When I was young and naive – and this was despite evidence to the contrary – I used to believe that we could all just get along. Now that I am older and crustier, I know this to be a falsehood.

    Thank you for your concern over Scritchy. I was mildly worried that she was going to get run over this morning by a visitor, but no she survived unscathed. Despite having dumped a large poo in the hallway this evening, she is now blissfully asleep next to her protector, Ollie the gentle. He loves his Scritchy, despite her flaws.

    I hear you and it has been about a decade (or more) since I’ve watched television, but I enjoy the occasional ad-free show or movie for entertainment. But yeah, horror films just seem to horrify me. In the days I went to a hippy dippy school we watched horror films in a subject that was called ‘media studies’. I wasn’t a fan of the class and I was less sure what we were set to learn. Jason from Friday the Thirteenth just seemed like bad news to me. And the hockey mask was a disguise, pure and simple.

    Thanks. Lewis also had suggestions that I should enter the images for public viewing, but they’re already out there for that purpose. The blog is my gift. The rich soils, plants and water here are gifts for the many wildlife residents that reside here. It is complicated, but I have this strange belief that if I look after them, then occasionally they may return the favour. The magpies get the bargain and we’re on good terms.

    I’m unsure how much water you have access to, however here it is limited to what I can store in water tanks (and of course the top soil). For a start the annual plants that we like to consume originated near to rich soils with adequate water: e.g. River flats. For the majority of folks that don’t live near a river flat (and that is pretty much 99% of the population), the best we can achieve is to breed plants that enjoy less fertile soils and inadequate watering. It is an important job that few put their resources towards. And most other watering systems have either been extraordinarily wasteful or they have rapidly broken down by the elements. Yes, not happy is a fine way to put the conundrum.

    Well, you are in good company. Strawberries from what I’ve read have a low sugar content (thus they’re early in the growing season), but they mask their inadequacy by producing a complicated chemistry of flavours and aromas. I cracked the complete sad’s the day that even the fluffy collective turned their combined might against me and devoured the berries in the old enclosure. Mind you, the leeches and ticks were no fun either.

    One must occasionally reach for the stars and Jean Shrimpton is very beautiful. Ah, you’ve encountered the pragmatic side effects of fashion. It is no bad thing to be pragmatic.

    Thank you very much. This year will produce little fruit, but everything is taking the opportunity to grow.



  38. Hi Inge,

    Actually the humidity was higher yesterday in the 102’F heat than it would otherwise be. I believe I saw about 40%, which rose after the rainfall to about 60%. And the air was full of pollen. All up it was a very unpleasant day, compounded by the fact that the local pub had closed due to the extreme bushfire risk. Fortunately, I’m flexible and so headed into the nearby town to grab dinner. In other nearby locales, the heavy wind had brought down trees and branches. It looked like a war zone, but the wind wasn’t so bad here.

    Hmm, your experience with hearing would be rather complicated, and you have my sympathy. Although retaining good hearing as one ages is an excellent thing. The editor by contrast has the opposite hearing spectrum to you, and she is particularly sensitive to low notes (and likewise had hearing troubles as a child). As an amusing side story, in the Dirt Mouse Suzuki Swift, on a whim, I optioned the upgraded speaker pack which came with a sub woofer. It is rare that I do frivolous activities but I just had a gut feeling with that choice, and went with it. Sub Woofers produce very low notes. Normal speakers do not generally reproduce low notes very well. And I can’t tell you how thrilled the editor is with being able to hear the quality of sounds produced by the machine with the sub woofer. As I wrote, the purchase was but a whim, and who knew that would be the outcome?

    Oh yes, Damson plums would produce a fine drop (not in the first few months though!) And if your son allows it, as the wine ages (as long as it is kept cool and out of the sun) believe me, it will get even better again. We aim for a minimum of 12 months of ageing with the wines we produce, but recently we cracked open a 3 year old mead. And it was very good indeed. The editor has a science degree which covered food microbiology, but she is unsure why the wines get better as they age. It is a mystery, although no doubt people have researched it.

    I’m glad to read that the prodigal canines have returned to your son, and without having gotten into trouble. There seems little point in upsetting the neighbours.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    I quite like that particular word. Highfalutin has a nice ring to it, don’t you reckon? Haha! Oh that’s funny and rich indeed and seriously worthwhile repeating the quote from 1948: “When all the highfalutin and magical jargon of diplomacy is removed, you’ll find the diplomats like a group of children aged about three or four” I’m, still giggling to myself about that one, and haven’t we all been dropped into such social circles… 🙂 You’ve brought such a fun word to my attention, that all I can but do is chuck it into next week’s blog. It’ll fit the story, that’s for sure! My whiteboard full of story ideas has again filled up, and some of the ideas may need to be jettisoned. Extremefalutin indeed. Oh, the comments are rich indeed. Thanks for the serious laughs. Even Chaucer got a look in and was dismissed as a latter day addition. And yes, adding the ‘g’ to the end of the spoken word only goes to prove that such folks are indeed highfalutin. And someone even spoke up for us poor folks down here (lowfalutin for sure) in Orstray-ya.

    Still chuckling… Hey, I’m old enough to have seen the old cast iron ‘irons’ in use. With the rise of electric clothes irons, the old cast iron ones were often electroplated with what I recall may have been bronze or copper and then sold as curiosities. Those original cast iron machines would have gotten to be very hot, and if memory serves, they were used covered in a thick towel over the handle. But then I recall the days when only a single room in a house was heated, and you went to bed on a winters night with a hot water bottle (which was not glass but some sort of rubber). And nobody had air condition in their homes.

    I enjoy our tours through the murky landscape of the world of words. I read in ‘The Sorcerer’ this morning that the young Arthur wrote his first report to Merlyn whilst he was with Ambrose on campaign to Vortigern. Ambrose was forcing Arthur to keep a daily log of events – and the cheeky young scamp had not learned the finer arts of producing a draft or editing the final result. Events are certainly heating up in Cambria against the dodgy combo of Carthac/Ironhair – and who would have thought that they’d lack honour?

    Had a quieter day today as I felt in need of a rest, but in the late afternoon I cracked out the old electric chipper mulcher for an hour and a half and produced some mulch. The machine is 22 years old and it runs perfectly. The editor headed off for dinner with a mate, and so I was left to my own devices. After mucking around with the machine I let the chickens out into the orchard for about an hour. Despite yesterday being 102’F, by the time I went inside my hands were quite cold and the temperature had dropped below 50’F.

    I tell you a funny thing about the brief rain storm when the cool change hit here yesterday afternoon. The rain brought with it red dirt. That soil must have travelled all the way from the arid lands in the centre of this hot and driest inhabited continent. I took a photo of the dirt chunks. It must be bonkers hot and dry up there for that to happen.

    Yeah, I find that too with fog, and it acts like a blanket and keeps the night warmer than it otherwise would be. The mountain range often produces its own cloud on summer nights even when the sky is otherwise clear in the nearby areas. And sometimes the cloud falls to the ground and hugs the mountain range like a thick toasty blanket, and it looks very strange from the nearby plains.

    Hey, how revolting was in ‘The Sorcerer’ book Connor’s story of the conditions of the slaves in the Roman Bireme that he and his merry band of followers managed to theft off with? I just don’t believe that slaves would have made for a good crew in those circumstances. Take for example, an engagement with the enemy, the slaves may have upsides to not co-operating with their captors? And if the conditions were as bad as recounted in the story, then there’d be some in the slave crew who’d prefer a swift end during a naval encounter. Still, it made for a good story.

    No good at all about the meteor shower. This article may make up for the lack of meteors in your skies: South Pacific Heathland Reserve in Ulladulla sees flowers flourish after fire.

    Interestingly, I read that Edward Gibbons went straight to the source document, so clearly he was fluent in Latin, and history is replete with naughty bits. Interestingly, I recall that my mother was required to take Latin classes when she was at High School. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure how widely the language was taught even not that long ago. What is your take on that? Given that the language is used in the sciences, you’d imagine that it is taught somewhere? The editor took classes at Uni where knowing Latin would have been an advantage, and botany comes to mind. But the language itself wasn’t actively taught and the Latin names were just expected to be the ones known. And yes, Monty Python did have some rather amusing things to say about diction in that language! 🙂

    Thanks, but we sort of shy away from the limelight. Anyway, the blog is a gift of sorts to the world, although I must say that it is the conversations with lovely people such as yourself, that make the effort well worth the while. Corn is now up to about 30 plants after the hot day yesterday. I had to reduce the amount of water they were receiving from the watering robot, as the quantity was not sustainable.



  40. Chris:

    Me – a bad influence! “In a good way”, thank you. What an honor to be a fluffy.

    And thank you for the gift of your blog.

    Precious Scritchy.

    We appear – appear – to have a great deal of water in the underground water supply that serves our well. It has never diminished, even in a drought.

    You certainly have had hot weather! We’re pretty warm, too, here. No signs of snow (rain is coming), which I am glad of.


  41. and again
    I forgot to say that I was fascinated by the fact that the Editor hears lower frequencies. The powers that be try so hard to make us all homogeneous, anything else is an opening for medication.


  42. and yet again
    Why is homemade wine so much more alcoholic than the wine that one buys? My head is swirling after one glass of Son’s damson wine. I do react quite rapidly as it is very rare for me to drink more than one glass, so I don’t become inured to alcohol.


  43. Yo, Chris – Well, how about the word “flibbertigibbet?”

    Say that fast, three times. Rolls trippingly across the tongue :-). We have a few flibbertigibbets, here at the Institution.

    I never saw the sad irons, in use. Sometimes, they had wooden handles. I’d guess a lot of them lost their wood handles, due to heat. A matched pair make great bookends (no, I don’t have any). There’s a fellow here in town who collects them, and has close to 200 … all different. My Idaho friend collected roosters, and I found a Chinese sad iron, with a rooster perched on it. They’re on E-Bay. There are reproductions. Those, you’d load of with hot coals. A lot less back and fourth to the stove. Years ago, I saw a nifty little Victorian cast iron machine. It had a crank, and detachable rollers. It was for ironing in crimps, for collars and cuffs.

    Every once in awhile, I run across a pottery hot water bottle. I don’t know anyone who collects them … but I’m sure they’re out there :-). I’ll stick to my heated up cookie sheet method, in a pinch. Needs must.

    Well, I finished “The Sorcerer”, last night. And, read the first chapter of the “Lance Thrower.” But, I’ll give it a rest, for awhile. How many slaves would you have to throw overboard, before the rest got with the program? Imagine being chained to a rowing bench, and having the ship go down? A scenerio (sic) of many a movie.

    I ran across something rather incongruios (sic), last night, on Ebay. It was a Currier and Ives print, “Lady of the Lake.” So, there’s a woman in a boat, holding a sword (Excalibar), and a dude standing on the shore (probably Arthur). What was so jarring was that they were both done up in Highland drag. Over the top plaids and kilts. No I didn’t get it. It was $140, and I thought it was just “wrong.” I suppose it was some weird manifestation of Queen Victoria’s making “all things Highland”, the rage. Sir Walter Scott was also, probably, complicit. The poet Robert Burns, probably didn’t have clean hands, either. :-).

    That is really interesting (?) about your red rain. Australian dust bowl? Hmmm. Wasn’t their a rain of blood, in Revelations? The Apocalypse? Our fog, yesterday, lifted … but never burned off. Didn’t see the sun, all day. And, it continued into the evening. So, even if we could see the meteor storm, we couldn’t. As I’ve said before, anytime there’s anything interesting going on in the sky, we’re socked in :-(. Now today, it’s all sunshine.

    That was an interesting article, about the Ulladulla Reserve. I’m glad the idea of controlled burns, like the indigenous people, is getting out there. Though not implemented, yet. Hmmm. Arsonists, or someone getting with the controlled burn program? More likely arsonists. Bored teens from that suburb they kept mentioning.

    The first high school I went to (the enormous one), you had to take two years of a foreign language, One of those on offer, was Latin. And, since I already had a budding interest in archaeology, and the Romans, that’s what I took. Can’t remember much, other than the opening line of Caesar’s “Gallic Wars.” And, a few odd verb declensions. Abamas, abatus, abat…etc.. I do think it helped a lot with vocabulary. So many Latin word roots, hiding in the English language. The study of Latin and Greek is still alive, mostly in University classics departments. But there’s also a movement, to teach Latin, to children. There’s lots of material floating around out there, aimed at kids. Remember Winnie the Pooh, in Latin? The yearly Latin class banquet, was fun. Swanning about in bed sheet togas. The grape juice flowed free. Lots of pastries, made with honey. No door mice, however :-(.

    I think it’s Oxford that’s having an exhibit, right now. “Last Meal in Pompeii.” A look at the Romans, via their food. Lew

  44. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Someone has to do it (i.e. the bad influence thingee)… Your mentioning of your sons project was a timely and fortuitous reminder which resulted in the mystery machine. Did he get the machine in working order?

    My pleasure!

    Ah, the water table drops here in a normal summer. You can see the shrub layer getting water stressed. A number of properties around here have wells (we call them water bores) and people tend to treat such things down under as if they’re a never ending source of fresh water. You’re very fortunate that it is not a problem in your part of the world.

    Winter is coming in your part of the world, and summer is likewise just around the corner. Nice to read that you’re getting some rain soon. It looks like it will rain here on Monday night and into Tuesday morning.



  45. Hi Inge,

    Thanks and Latin words are at the origins of many of our words, but alas I am not aware of any of my peers who were taught the language: Latin. It is odd that the language was quietly dropped from the curriculum.

    Like you, the editor also had hearing troubles when she was a very young girl, and at one point I believe that she may have burst her eardrum. Low frequencies can be a problem in that a lot of very heavy construction machinery produces such noise, but other than that. I don’t believe that she is able to hear the higher audible frequencies.

    Hehe! I too usually stick to a single glass. It works for me too. Alcohol content is usually a factor of the available sugar in the original brew. And yeast are unfussy critters and are happy to consume either fructose or sucrose. And from what I’ve observed, if there is enough sugar to keep the yeast happy, then they’ll eventually get the alcohol content up to as high as 18%. They eventually poison themselves and the fermentation stops because all of the yeast are then dead. Commercial beer and wine makers use preservatives to do a pre-emptive strike upon the unfussy yeast critters. Preservatives in this case are a form of poison, and some people have notable effects from the inclusion – I tend to feel mild hay-fever symptoms, but some people feel nothing at all from the preservatives (usually sulphur based chemicals). Of course if brewers or wine makers over do things, the preservatives in the drink may possibly wipe out some of your own internal flora and fauna.

    The upshot is that the yeasties were having a serious party in the Damson Plum wine, and the wine was probably closer to a natural product than commercial wine. Hope that all makes sense? Back in the day, most likely nobody had access to the volumes of preservatives that are being used these days.



  46. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yes, air-brained motor mouths of the world unite in celebration of the true state of world affairs. Incidentally the opposition party in your part of the world may have taken the term: “opposition”, too far back to its literal roots in the meaning of: “to oppose something”. The literalists who walk among us are some of the duller people that you’d ever likely encounter. And thus your opposition party has dwindled into a most excellent irrelevance of which they are blissfully unaware. Anyway, I digress, the ‘Word Detective’ mentioned: “The Sound of Music”, and mate I hear his exasperation and now also suffer from the preternaturally evil effects of the awful theme music (Ear Worm alert!) I applaud the truly family unfriendly in-joke within the musical (which I have done my best to dodge) when Mother Superior lets slip a very naughty word when she asks the innocuous question of the accommodating Maria as to: “What can’t you face?” Who would have thought that fans of musicals would stoop so low? I only know of such secret Female knowledge because the editor went with friends to watch the annual replay of the film. A tough fate and not one I would share.

    I’d only ever encountered the word ‘flibbertigibbet’ via the wordsmith Jack Vance – and at the time I had to look it up, although the context was not lost on me. And, oh yeah, I’ll bet you have a few of those types around the traps. Almost as bad as the literalists.

    Actually the cast iron ones I observed used by my grandmother had a wooden handle, but all the same she kept the handle wrapped in a towel so as to reduce the heat from the iron. Thanks for clarifying that you did not have any of the cast irons. No doubt this is because a local collector has purloined all of them? For your interest, I have actually removed old copper tubs and copper / concrete wash tubs from Victorian era houses that I’ve repaired. Just then I recalled what the old pressing and first stage of drying machine was actually called (and I’d seen those used too). They were called a: Mangle. All hand cranked. Now interestingly the word ‘mangle’ was also used to describe the after effects of a person who had been unfortunately subjected to a very nasty industrial (or otherwise) accident. The correct usage would be: That person was seriously mangled in the incident. As a side note, nobody wants to be in that particular situation. These days you hear it referring to car accidents and the vehicle itself, like: That car got badly mangled. But back in the day the device was quite useful.

    Collectors are a rare breed, and few know their ultimate motivations and passions. 🙂 What is the “heated up cookie sheet method”?

    Far out, you read fast. For but a short and brief moment I was ahead of you in the book. Now, I am sadly but the apprentice, and you are the master. No spoilers please. Are you enjoying the series? A friend has asked me to read their short novel, and I am torn. What to do? Dive into: “The Lance” or read my mates short novel? I’d appreciate some advice here?

    It’s uncanny, the Currier and Ives print of the ‘Lady of the Lake’, looks as though she could be one of my distant relatives. Need I add that she is a bit of a hottie. What’s with that? And what was Arthur doing mucking around up in Scotland? And if Byron in the Highlands isn’t more careful with the casually held sword in the print, he might lop the head off the unfortunate pooch who has attended the demise of the stag. In the real world, Ollie chased off three deer this morning. He looked very proud of himself after having achieved that. The deer just ignored me, despite me jumping up and down and yelling like a loon. Ollie is a more substantial threat. Anyway, mentioning loons reminds me that fortunately it is not a full moon down here. Hey, would you defy Queen Victoria?

    That is an unsettling thought about revelations. Anyway, I did say something or other previously about literalists? A rather tiresome lot. Anyway, I saw rains of blood in the terrifying film: The Amytiville Horror. Yes, here is a door to the Underworld, should we open it? Absolutely, what could possibly go wrong? I’m not sure whether you ever watched ‘Tales of the Unexpected’? But back in the day, one of the stories flipped the horror story on its head. The parents had done the blood and stuff just for good effect and so as to produce a tidy earner. Unfortunately, the kids were a little bit distraught and they took revenge upon the parents – in a most definitely final way. Note to self, try not to annoy impressionable kids. 😉

    Did the clouds clear up? You never know, the meteor shower may continue for a bit this evening? We’ve been socked in at night too.

    Today, I cleaned up more of the surrounding forest. I’m feeling it tonight though. It was slightly too windy today to burn off in the forest, so we removed all of the materials to the steel brazier. A very civilised solution.

    Well, the implementation of indigenous knowledge thing is a bit of a problem. It is one of those occasions where the reality runs far ahead of the legislation. And the legislation is usually drafted by a bunch of townies who have never set foot in one of the many types of forests down here. I suspect that the townies feel very guilty about their lifestyles and the impacts upon the planet and so they make rather unusual decrees – just because they can.

    It might surprise you, but I had a similar experience and took two years of French. The stupid thing about the way languages are taught is that to my mind, the language has to be used first and foremost, and then the details explored by those who have the interest. We make teaching languages an inordinately difficult and complex task, and so people shy away from such tasks. Hmm. Toga party! Toga! Toga! Unfortunately one of my formative films was the classic: National Lampoons – Animal House. It taught me everything I needed to know about your college education system. 😉

    Thanks for the link regarding the indigenous burns. A very excellent reporter and story teller down here (Tony Wright) wrote a story recently about his background (he’s an old fella now): Forests burn and reason goes up in smoke: a family memoir. He hints at the cultural cringe that is evident in land management practices.



  47. Hello again
    Thanks for the wine info.
    We are having a glorious Autumn, more beautiful even than usual. We don’t get any red but I am surrounded by a yellow, gold and brown wonderland.


  48. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the kind words. My uncle’s passing was really a relief as he has been very ill for a long time and a real strain on my aunt. We haven’t seen him for other 8 years as any change in his routine upset him. My sister and I took the train from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana (the home of mayor Pete btw) and stayed overnight. We had a good time reconnecting with our cousins most of whom we hadn’t seen in decades. We made a commitment to have a cousin reunion in the summer.

    Like Inge, I took two years of Latin in high school which was very helpful when I took Spanish. My Latin teacher is one of the few I remember well from high school – a good teacher, funny and made the class relevant. Interestingly, a couple of my younger sisters also took Latin with a different teacher and had much the same experience- something about Latin instructors maybe.

    Also like Inge I hear lower tones very well – high ones not so much. Doug is the opposite. Between the two of us we can hear everything.


  49. @Inge
    Many of Doug’s meads pack quite a punch though they do vary. We do warn people when we serve it.


  50. Chris,

    I keep reading the word “flibbertigibbet” in conversation hereabouts. I first ran into the word when “The Sound of Music” movie first appeared. It was used by nuns to describe Maria when she was a novice nun (I think that’s what it’s called?) in the song “How Do You Solve a problem Like Maria”. She was described as “a flibbertigibbet, a will-o-the wisp, a clown”.

    I really enjoyed Donald Sutherland in that movie. The USA release was “Kelly’s Heroes”. My wife and I still enjoy the movie. Sutherland also had an interesting role in “Dirty Dozen”.

    I totally understand about the school bully. I was undersized throughout my youth and got bullied liberally. In high school I finally learned how to fight back. I was able to embarrass the two worst bullies eventually. Yes, and they were physically hurting when I was done. I was left alone after finishing with them, both of whom dwarfed me.

    Agreed, hungry and grumpy bees are not friends. The wasp family is worse when grumpy and hungry, however. They get aggressive, becoming more than willing to have a meal of the nearest human.

    I’ve seen the same thing: germination works better in the hotter years. Adapting to that year’s actuality is the only way to go. Which appears to be a continual learning experience.

    50 F? I wish! We might approach 46F Sunday. Maybe. The updated 3 to 5 month forecast was released Thursday: warmer and wetter than “average”. Naturally that means that a cold front will move in early this week, with a small chance of snow and temperatures near -10C at night. In other words, below average temperatures and dry.

    My experience is that cats are quick to respond and then let it go IF they are satisfied with the outcome. Dogs will wait for revenge or even exact revenge on the “installment plan”.

    My sister had an on again-off again boyfriend for a few years. He was a piece of work. He wanted to play basketball in the backyard but wouldn’t wait for me to go outside first because “I know Rakhi and it’ll be fine.” The Smart Dog understood that he was a skank and he came running inside screaming about how Rakhi tried to emasculate him. We all laughed uproariously at him, especially my sister.

    Yeah, I think Egil’s family wanted his loot. However, he had the last laugh. He and 2 slaves took the chests outdoors one night and secretly buried them. The slaves were “mysteriously” never seen again. The treasure was never found, although it has been speculated that not much of it was left by then anyhow.

    I’m reading a book “Finding Arthur” by Adam Ardrey. His thesis is that THE Arthur was the Scot Arthur mac Aedan of the late 500s. There ARE a ton of places in Scotland with Arthur in the name. His thesis rests on the ideas that several dates weren’t really known and were then put together in order for a Welsh Arthur to “fit”. It’s a complicated and convoluted argument. He glosses over a few things, including that there were 2 kinglets of Elmet and Bernicia(?) who were contemporaries of Arthur mac Aedan. These blokes all were born after the Welsh Arthur died and it seems probable to me that they were ALL named after him, including the Scot. He has me unconvinced at the midpoint of the book.


  51. Yo, Chris – Even though I have a higher tolerance for musicals, than you do, the thought of “Sound of Music” usually sets me to twitching. You see, when the movie came out, I was in high school, and dating. And, I only dated “nice” rural girls. At that time, the only movie playing that could meet the “family friendly criteria” was SOM. I ended up seeing it three times, in a short period. Oh, well, at least it was at Portland’s Egyptian Theatre, which was one of those old 1920s movie palaces.

    I’m sure I heard “flibbertigibbet” a bit, when I was a wee small lad. But, I think mostly in old movies and as part of The Golden Age of TV westerns. Heck, maybe even “Little House on the Prairie.”

    One of Stephen King’s early short stories was “The Mangler.” Helped cement his reputation. I think it was even made into a very bad movie … or, maybe it was in one of the anthology films. I think there was a couple of old time wrestlers, whose nick names were “The Mangler.”

    Ah, the Cookie Sheet Method. Well, as you know, the last place I lived, I lived a lot colder than I do now. One gets acclimated. And develops strategies for staying warm. Hmmm. I was just thinking it takes a certain amount of training, to throw on a jumper, rather than turning up the electric heat. Well, anyway. I did pretty well at adapting. But getting into a cold bed … an icy cold bed. Well, not having any hot water bottles available, I struck on the idea of tossing a couple of cookie sheets in the oven, giving them a quick blast of broiler heat, picking them up with my hot pads and whisking them under the covers. Between the sheets was thus, toasty warm. I’d also drag my next days shirt in, along with me. Getting out of bed could be a bracing as getting in. A nice warm shirt to put on made the experience almost feel like a luxury. I also took to wearing a stocking cap, to bed. A night cap. Something I had never done, before.

    No spoilers, but all I’ll say is, “Oh, wicked day!” :-).

    You’ll learn. Never agree to read anyone’s, anything. Unless you’re an editor, and are getting paid for it.

    Speaking of novels (we were, weren’t we?) I see Robert Harris has a new novel out. Now, I really liked his “Pompeii”. In fact, I read it twice. But have not cared for any of his other novels. But this one (“Second Sleep”) sounds like it might “grab” me. Sounds like it’s a Greer kind of a novel. 600 or so years in the future, etc.. I’ve got it on my library hold list, but don’t expect to see it until sometime after Christmas.

    Ask, or even idly mention something, and the internet provides. Weather you want it to, or not. When I went to take a look at your link to the brushfire article, up popped an ad for some company called “American Kilts.” With a video of two old fat dudes, obviously courting coronaries, racing about in the brush, in kilts, waving swords. But I digress …

    The article on brushfires was interesting, and I’m just glad the idea of controlled burns is getting “out” there. Turning it into a political football is stupid, but such is political life in the 21st century. Too much contemplation of that and you’ll end up with some kind of political derangement syndrome. There’s probably a pill, for that. Ignore the possible side effects.

    I did find something interesting in the comments, that I’d never thought about, before. I wonder how much “brush” differs from the “old days.” Due to introductions, and such. And how (or if) it effects the behavior of brushfires? I know our Scotch Broom (introduced) really burns easily, and very hot.

    “Animal House” is a classic. The scene that sticks in my mind is the folk singer, who gets popped in the mouth. Back in that time period, those people could be so irritating. One of those “I’ve always wanted to do that, and I’m glad someone finally did”, moments. I see season two of “Star Trek Discovery” is winging it’s way to me. My library should have it waiting for me, by Wednesday.

    There’s a big pot of mums, just a couple of meters from my peas. I noticed quit a few pollinators, buzzing around it yesterday. Maybe they’ll find my peas. Lew

  52. @ Marg,

    I was sorry to hear about your uncle. I’ve been there; even though he’d been ill for some time, the pain is still there. Good thoughts are with you.


  53. Hi Inge,

    Autumn leaf change is a beautiful time of year. Has your son ever made oak leaf wine?

    It was likewise a stunning late spring day today – and we took the day off from any forms of work and visited a nearby garden that was open to visitors.



  54. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks. Hmm, yes, brain injuries can be hard for the people supporting the injured person. It’s great that you both could catch the train to the adjacent state. As a side note, I’m learning quite a lot about your geography, and I reckon you’d be amazed by the geographical isolation between the largest cities down here. And yes, as a complete outsider, your politics appear to be entertainingly corrupt. Sometimes I feel as though they have been suborned by a bunch of literalists who take the word “opposition” too literally and act the belief out by opposing anything and everything. It’s a bit bonkers.

    Hehe! Well teachers could do worse than applying some of the techniques of the showman – and also possibly the drill sergeant.



  55. Hi Lewis,

    The editor has accompanied friends on their annual pilgrimage to watch the ‘Sound of Music’. You know, I just went with my gut feeling in the matter and declined. Apparently the last time she went, she fell asleep – and that should tell you something about the experience. Anyway, like you my gut feeling was based on a sort of twitchy (as in this is going to be no good at all), sort of feeling. Set’s one’s teeth on edge. Mate, all I can add about your experiences was that:
    a) I would have done no less;
    b) total respect; and
    c) such experiences builds character – whatever that is! (but, it would have been better if there was a George Romero film playing – just sayin!)

    It is funny how words come into use, and then fall out of use again. Mind you, it is probably not politically correct to call someone a flibbertigibbet these days, but far out I have met a few such characters. The word may disappear from usage, but that doesn’t mean that some people just aren’t ‘out there’ today. I recall a memorable young lass who described other people as: “Logic People”. Yeah, it was my view that it probably wasn’t a bad idea to be a ‘logic person’ as the comparison was not good.

    Who wants to face off against some dude called: “The Mangler”? The name itself reeks of mojo, and really unpleasant endings. Thanks for mentioning Mr King’s story. A mate of mine works in an Industrial Laundry, although I can’t really say for sure what he does there, and his work sends him off around the country to other industrial laundries. You never really think about such industries, but they keep the place going that’s for sure.

    I like to believe that I’m immune to the darker side of advertising, but this morning I was eating breakfast and reading the fine comments here. Then an email popped into my inbox from a machinery supply place that I’ve purchased stuff from before. And I felt sympathy for their purported over stock situation (possibly a direct result of distant trade wars), and after a brief consultation with the editor, decided to assist them by purchasing an item that was 50% off. It’s another mystery machine, so now a new small shed is definitely on the cards. Lewis, I’m weak… Penance will definitely take place in the form of more excavations by hand, several Hail Mary’s, and constructing a new small shed. I must not look at such emails again in future. Got any advice for me?

    Thanks for sharing the Cookie Sheet method. And yeah, I have worn a night cap (woollen) when camping out on multi-day walks. It really helps keep you warm. All very wise strategies, and don’t you reckon we’ve (as in society) lost the real basics of day to day living? When I was a kid nobodies bedroom was heated. It just didn’t happen. And I recall reading accounts from earlier times when the kids slept out on closed in verandas because it was felt that the fresh air would protect them from disease. Probably built character – whatever that is. Incidentally, the clothes people wear these days are made from synthetic materials which don’t provide the same toasty factor that natural materials such as wool does. I have mentioned this toasty factor to people, but they don’t believe me as they believe that a jumper is a jumper and will perform the same regardless of the material that it is made from. Bonkers.

    I keep waiting for Bedwyr to come to a bad ending based on one of Shelag’s dreams.

    Yeah, you’re right about the reading, there is little upside and mostly downside to the activity. I must be a soft touch for aspiring authors. But yes, I promise less each time. Most people want to be told that their story is great, but it must not have done well because a unicorn farted at the very moment the publisher decided to read the story, and then distraction set in and the moment was lost forever. Or they could have edited it properly – several times – and taken some constructive criticism and worked upon the text. It is hard graft writing.

    Robert Harris sounds like a fine author. And yes, Pompeii sounds like a great read. I’ll keep an eye out for the book. Lead me not into temptation… A mystery novel. Intriguing. Did you get any sense as to what the purported future would be presented as?

    Here’s a joke for you. There’s two dudes in a forest waving swords at each other, and they’re wearing kilts. One dude says to the other dude… WTF? Was the video entirely necessary? 🙂 Fun stuff. My mate who moved over to the other side of the country used to play LARP games in an actual reproduction castle that some eccentric constructed just out of the town of Ballarat. I recall visiting the castle in the early 80’s and I must say that it was an eye opener. They even had displays of torture gear – which the adults like to parade the kids past just so I guess they realised how easy they had it. In these politically correct days, I do wonder if such displays are still there?

    The side effects of the pill for political derangement syndrome may be why I’m feeling twitchy now? No, that’s probably just me. Hey, today was such a nice day, I woke up this morning and just said to myself: ‘stuff it’ and we did no work, other than the stuff that had to be done and couldn’t be gotten out of. We visited a nearby open garden which was nice. I like cottage gardens, and they had a huge rose collection. They were also trying to flog sculptures from local artists, and I can’t say that I was tempted by the offerings, although that’s not to disparage the work – it just didn’t call to me.

    Hehe! I loved that scene, and it was nice to see the earnest folk singer get his comeuppance. Jim Belushi. It was nice to recall that he apologised for his actions, but they were very necessary.

    Oooo! I better get writing. 🙂



  56. Hello again
    I have never heard of oak leaf wine, so assume that Son ditto. I shall mention it to him.


  57. Yo, Chris – George Romero films wouldn’t have flown with the kind of girls I dated … or, with their parents. I should have dated a different kind of girl :-).

    Seeing people as Logic People seems like a handy excuse not to be logical.

    Well, as long as we’re being weak, and getting all confessional, and stuff, I’ll have to fess up to buying another Currier & Ives, print. That’s how I spotted “The Lady of the Lake.” OK. I’m a sucker for ruins. I saw a C&I titled “Temple of Sybil”. It’s a crumbling temple, in a wooded landscape with a couple of waterfalls. You may see it on-line, but the one’s I’ve seen, the colors are quit garish. This one has nice muted colors. I’m going to slap it on the wall between two blue and white Wedgwood plates I have of … yup, ruins.

    All I can say about avoiding our mutual weaknesses, is to repeat a bit of 12 Step wisdom. “Stay out of slippery places.” 🙂 Do not click on machinery ads, and I should stay away from E-Bay. Speaking of temptations, the antique mall is having their pre-Christmas sale, next Friday. Everything 10-50% off.

    Besides the nuisance of having novels forced on them, most published writers side step that by claiming their agent or lawyer has forbid them to do that. Why? Because the published author has a best selling sci-fi novel, with a character named Mary. The unpublished author has an awful western that no one wants to touch, that also has a character named Mary. Obviously, the published author has ripped off the book, from the unpublished author, Stolen his idea. Such things have ended up, in court.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard, but some on-line authors are discovering (usually tipped off by a fan) that bad people, “out there” are taking their on-line content, changing a title, and lifting whole sections of books and claiming it, for there own. I guess Amazon is particularly bad, as, wait for it … they are only a platform.

    Reviews for Harris’s book have been brief, but as near as I can figure, it’s 600+ years in the future, and some tech and books are forbidden. And, it sounds a bit Medieval.

    I don’t know if Damo will stick a head in, this late in the week. But I must remember to tell him that in January, there’s a new HBO comedy sci-fi series, coming out. There’s a trailer, on YouTube. It’s called “Avenue 5” and seems to be about a huge, luxury space ship. The trailer is not family friendly. 🙂 Lew

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